Archive for June 2015

A Reason to Write: Revisited

Another article from our series of self-publishing blog posts, written by SIP Head Honcho and resident Author, Jay Norry.

I’ll start off by saying that I am the first to admit that I can be a bit wordy at times. I though of writing more when I wrote the blog I am revisiting, but I wanted to keep the length reasonable. I didn’t call it part one and part two because it’s not a two-parter; it’s a revisitation. It’s a different way of looking at the reason that I have for writing.

One of my favorite parts of my favorite books have always been the author’s notes. A peek behind the curtain at what the writer was thinking or doing while writing the story, or the way parallels and connections start to happen in real life to echo the tale’s voice, have always been interesting additions to the stories I have loved. I don’t do much in the way of author’s notes in my books because I blog in two places, keeping the curtain constantly in motion for anyone interested in what I am up to.

The main reason I wanted to revisit this subject is because I don’t just write. I write a particular way, with a particular bent and a particular purpose. Of course, any writer could say that; but those particulars would be different for them, and thus their reasons for writing are different as well. I don’t just write because I feel like I have ways of saying things that I wish someone had said to me that way before; I don’t just write because when I close my eyes I see scores of untold tales that each fascinates and compels me in its own way; I don’t just write because it’s where it’s easiest to lose myself, and to find myself: I write for all of these reasons, and more. Yet I am more apt to refer to myself as a philosopher than an author, and I think that the biggest reason I write is to think things through.

Much of what I write is just for me. There are some journals that I have written that I am sharing bit by bit on my blog, along with updated commentary, that once fell into that category. The rest of the ridiculous number of pages I have filled consist of writing exercises from books or devised by me to make me happier or healthier or better at life, notes about things I’ve learned or felt or seen or done and chicken-scratch descriptions of things I’ve built or am building or will build one day in some world.

Even the things I write to share in publication or online are built on a foundation of notes and outlining and rewriting and editing that is all hidden work. What do you do with the stacks of pages that made a publication possible? I don’t know, but I can’t muster up the courage to toss them or burn them just yet. I guess it seems strange to me to think that a structure could still stand long after its foundation has been destroyed.

That’s a perspective that is long cultivated. When I looked at writers and philosophers as models for a way of life, I found that those who could marry the practical to the mystical without neglecting either one were my favorites. I’m not a huge self-sufficiency nut or anything, but the practical philosopher in me sees the importance of learning as much as possible about the world around me. Whether it’s auto mechanics or gardening or connecting low voltage DC power (or high voltage AC), I find the unbreakable laws of physics as fascinating as the amorphous rules of philosophy. I also find that my interest in one is intimately tied in with my interest in the other, and I make sure my mind is asking why a thing works as often as how between blessed moments of stillness.

I’m really just getting started with my writing in many ways, with only two very different books published. Working a day job that demands my attention and dedication as much as my writing does has both helped and hindered my writing. It has helped to work with deadlines and scheduling, seeing the big picture and at the same time making sure the details are handled properly. It has hindered it simply in that writing takes time, editing takes time, and all my maintenance writing needs to keep happening throughout it all just to keep the pipes clean.

The value in becoming proficient in fields unrelated to your chosen field of study is evident to anyone who had done it. For a writer, it’s a necessity. For a practical philosopher, it’s a requirement. Nothing bores me more than a story about a main character who happens to be a writer, though it’s fine if the story hinges on it in some way other than that it is the easiest perspective to write from. Telling your readers what it’s like to do some job, even in passing, shows them that you see that there is a world beyond books.

Another cool aspect of doing some real life research are the little surprises you can leave your readers. A bit of specificity here and there about some little-known fact or detail can endear me to an author in itself if they do it right. I know so many goddamned airplane words, after years of reading Richard Bach, I could get by for several minutes talking to a pilot before they realized I’ve never sat in a cockpit. Yet imagine a pilot picking up one of his books for the first time; he knows Mister Bach is authentic even sooner than other readers. They call little surprises in video games Easter Eggs, so that’s what I call these hard-won passing details.

One of the best reasons to publish is to make enough money writing on evenings and weekends and vacations to write full-time. Fact is, research and writing and editing all take a tremendous amount of time, and that extra forty hours a week means more books. I hardly see a complete end to day jobs in my life, however, and I’ll tell you why. Jobs are a great way to learn new things and meet new people; they give the writer or philosopher or just the person interested in life and fascinated by people opportunity to explore a facet otherwise hidden away from them.

A book might be an escape for your reader; it can’t just be fantasy for the writer. If the writer doesn’t bring their whole being to bear on a book, it shows. I write the way that I would want my favorite stories to be written, and I write the stories most willing and able to win me over. I can’t do anything else and still feel authentic in my art, which is a rare word for me to use. My favorite definition of art is that it’s the product created by someone who has something to say that has found an entertaining way to say it. The only person who has to love their art is the artist, but it helps to find others who want to own a piece of that work in a way that gives the artist more time to create more art.

The writer does not get to take vacations, and I suspect comics and painters and musicians feel the same. If there’s not some work underway consuming the writer’s thoughts, there’s at least one upcoming project on our minds. Peace only comes after long hard hours that nobody else sees, and it is followed by the new tension of another story that needs to be told more than the writer needs peace. It’s the only full-time job I will always do, because writing is how my mind already works.

Anthology news

Hi there! We hope you’re spending some quality time enjoying all things Summer, and working on those anthology submissions. Here at SIP headquarters, we’re enjoying our nice air-conditioned office and hanging out in the pool out back after-hours.

Anthology News!

We recently received a question regarding anthology submissions that tie-in to unpublished books; specifically, would we consider these stories? After discussing the issue, we’ve decided to allow the submission of any story that ties-in to a book that is published by March 30th, 2016. This is a great opportunity for you to promote your upcoming book, and we’re more than happy to help you get the word out if your story is accepted.

If you’re submitting a story that ties-in to an unpublished work, please make sure to include your release date, as well as any other pertinent information about your upcoming book, with your anthology submission.

For more information about the SIP anthology benefitting the SPCA, please visit www.suddeninsightpublishing.com/anthology.html.

A Reason to Write

Another article from our series of self-publishing blog posts, written by SIP Head Honcho and resident Author, Jay Norry.

It may sound a little cheesy, but I don’t care: I think that everyone has something they were born to do. When I was a kid, I looked at cars and said, “That’s freedom. I want one of those.” I had more than one friend that looked at cars and said, “That’s interesting. How does it work?” That baffled my young mind. I didn’t understand then that the mechanics of something could be more interesting to some people than its actual function. It took me even longer to understand that that’s why the world is full of so much cool stuff.

I used to draw a lot. I thought I wanted to draw comic books or graphic novels, until I pictured myself sitting at a desk and doing it for eight or ten or twelve hours a day. I enjoyed drawing, and I still do from time to time; but I knew before I ever got started that it was a hobby level of enjoyment. If I had turned it into a profession, I would hate drawing now.

When I was sixteen, I learned a little guitar. I started singing and writing songs, and I wanted to be a rock star . . . as long as it came easy. Once again, I looked ahead and saw a dream of tomorrow that looked like a nightmare to me: playing the same songs over and over, spending endless hours on a tour bus, and all the local groupies lay the same.

By the time adulthood came around, the only thing I knew for sure about what I wanted to do with my life was that there were a bunch of things I didn’t want to do.

I was not unaware of the clues around me. The things I had tried to draw were often scenes or characters from my favorite fantasy novels. The only thing I felt like doing when band practice was over was reading books. While other band members read guitar magazines or practiced scales or guzzled whisky (it’s on most drummer’s resumes, I assume it’s a requirement), I gobbled up stories about life in some future or past or alternate world.

It wasn’t just the stories that fascinated me; it was the authors, the process that they employed to get these stories from their minds into my hands. I couldn’t read a book without getting some feel for the author and either liking or disliking them for it. Either way, it seemed a daunting task to write a book and somehow manage to get the story straight. Who but a writer would think like that?

Clues were there when I was younger, too. I always considered English an easy grade, and watching others struggle with it was mystifying. I would write an assignment that everyone was given two weeks to work on while riding the bus to school on due day. Other kids were clearly more disciplined and studious and even smarter than me, but they often couldn’t get the grade I could get by dashing something off last minute. Teachers hounded me all through school, telling me I wasn’t living up to my potential. I agreed inasmuch as I understood, though I understood better at the time that none of those people were living up to their potential either. I was much more occupied with being annoyed with public school teachers using me as some distorted mirror they could view themselves through than I was open to the possibility that they might have something worthwhile to teach me.

When I became an adult, the need for cash flow sent me in some delightful and despicable (and despicably delightful) directions. A little while on any treadmill saw me bored and listless, and I saw why: most of the ways in which folks make money working for other people is because what they’re getting paid to do isn’t very fun. (This is where the reluctant leader that I have always become in my day jobs pipes up and says, “That’s why they call it work! Now do some!”)

My inner supervisor is not writing this blog, though even he would agree that working for someone else is a great way to finance making your own dreams come true. If all you’re working for is the chance to sit on the couch and watch television for the better part of most days, you probably won’t work as hard as the person trying to start their own business or fervently pursue a hobby in their off time. That’s not theory, but rather my experience.

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about twenty-one or twenty-two years old. No, that’s not quite right. Here’s a better way to say it: I finally stopped fighting all the inner and outer voices telling me that I needed to write to be happy when I was about twenty-one. One of the voices in my head had been telling me all along that I didn’t have anything worth writing about. Then a pleasantly overwhelming cascade of love flowed through me for several months, unbidden, and the direction of my life changed forever as that demonic chant was replaced by an angel singing, “You should write about that . . .”

(To read more about my experience, read my first book “Stumbling Backasswards Into the Light”; to read more about the beautifully blessed role of demons and angels in our lives, read my second book “Walking Between Worlds; Book I: Demons & Angels”. I have to at least mention them; I am still working a day job.)

I started writing, journals at first and then my book (see above). I saw something in my first book that would change the way I worked and the way I wrote forever. Namely, the development of a process for learning and practicing a thing is essential to getting good at it; for me, at least. There are levels of skill and knowledge in every facet of every thing that only reveal themselves when I can set aside everything else and lose myself in that thing. In writing my first book, I learned that I needed to work. Furthermore, I needed to work at a job that was as complicated and intricate as writing in its own way, so that I might learn about how the world works and how different perspectives deal with it to better both myself and my writing. I also needed to learn as much about the way other aspects of life worked, so I worked on my own cars when I could and travelled a lot and listened to people talk about the things that fascinated them and bothered them and bored them.

Now I’m writing pretty aggressively. The last few years have been about building and refining a process to self-publish, and with the help of an invaluable teammate we are doing just that. The second book in the “Walking Between Worlds” series is coming along faster than anticipated as this process is further refined, and a part of me that has felt like a caged animal for years is finally running free in the world. I write because it’s what I was born to do. I write because it makes me happy. I write because it’s who I am.