Thursday, July 7, 2016

Well, it was fun while it lasted...

A journey that began seven years ago this month has come to an end. I was informed via email last Friday that Examiner.com, a site I've written for since July 2009, was shutting down. Effective immediately, no new content could be written, and "Examiners" (what the site called its writers) were urged to go about archiving their work.

I'm not devastated by this news. Over the last couple of years, my contributions to the site have
waned, as my interest in my chosen topic, MMORPGs, has waned a bit (the shutdown of my all-time favorite MMORPG, City of Heroes, back in 2012 undoubtedly had something to do with that). In fact, for the last little bit, I'd really only been writing articles so I could keep my account active, to keep my options open in case my MMORPG writing ever really took off.

Initially, however, I was very excited to have this "job." Getting paid to write is, of course, my ultimate dream, a dream I sabotage by not actually writing enough. Granted, Examiner.com never paid (me) a whole lot, although there were some months when I got more than I'd expected. And it did lead me to writing a few articles for MMOSite.com, which paid much better than Examiner.com's click-based pay scheme.

All in all, I'm glad for the experience. Over the years, I've learned how to write more professionally, guided by Examiner.com's somewhat inconsistent coaching. Granted, it wasn't difficult to find pretty amateurish work on the site (misspellings, bad grammar, etc), which always somehow embarrassed me, but I always tried to do a good job and I'm proud of my work.

So, over the last few days, I've been going through my Examiner.com articles and archiving them (using Evernote and its excellent Evernote Web Clipper extension). Most will never see the light of day again, but some I will probably try to do something with. Maybe I'll post them here or over on my neglected Hubpages site.

It's been interesting, reading through some of those old articles. I'd forgotten about much of them, but it's nice to see chronicles of important events in the MMORPG field (the launches of Champions Online and Star Trek Online, various World of Warcraft changes like lowered level requirements for mounts and a built-in quest tracking system that WoW players now take for granted) written in my own words.

Examiner.com never paid a lot, but that wasn't the point. It was an outlet for my writing. It opened up a couple of other opportunities for me, and it did generate some (not many, but some) comments from readers who were enthusiastic about the subjects I covered. I'm not devastated that it's shutting down, no, but I will miss it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Wynonna Earp off to strong start on SyFy

I have a confession to make. Even though I've known Wynonna Earp creator Beau Smith for going on 20 years now, I've never actually read any of the comics featuring his badass Wyatt Earp descendant and her quest to rid the Earth of various supernatural threats. The main reason for this is my very sporadic comic book reading habits over the years; Wynonna and I just never crossed paths.

As much fun as I'm having watching the new SyFy series based on Beau's creation, however, I'm regretting never picking up her comics. The first episode, "Purgatory," did a great job of laying the groundwork for the series and establishing a backstory without feeling like an exposition dump.

With the second episode, "Keep the Home Fires Burning," however, the series really takes off. Each of the main characters, from Melanie Scrofano's Wynonna to Dominique Provost-Chalkley's Waverly and Shamier Anderson's Agent Dolls, gets plenty of screen time and some hilarious lines. Tim Rozon also kills it as Doc Holliday, whose mysterious mission is one of the most captivating things about the show.

If a show centered around a tough-as-nails, beautiful woman and featuring great supporting characters, a liberal amount of foul language, and bad guys from hell (literally) sounds like your cup of tea (or whiskey... yeah, make that cup of whiskey), you owe it to yourself to check out Wynonna Earp. The next episode airs Friday at 10pm on SyFy and you can watch the first two episodes on SyFy.com.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dressing for the job you want

There’s a saying that goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” If you’re like me and your day job requires you to wear a uniform to work most days, then you really don’t have much of an option when selecting your daily wardrobe. But maybe we can take that old adage and think outside the box for a bit. In this case, let’s change the advice to: “Use LinkedIn for the job you want, not the one you have.”

Yesterday I edited my LinkedIn profile to focus primarily on my writing career instead of my “pay the bills” job. It made sense to me to do that, since I’m very much interested in furthering my writing career. I have no illusions or, in fact, any desire to climb the ladder any higher in my day job, so the amount of help that LinkedIn can offer me in that area is obviously limited.

I’ll have to admit, it was a scary step. I don’t have a ton of LinkedIn connections, but my boss and several of my day job colleagues are on the list. I don’t want to project to these people that I don’t care about my day job — quite the opposite, really, as it does do a more than adequate job of paying the bills. But it’s way past time for me to start truly following my dream, and for me to start acting like writing is what I really want to do with my life.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What does it mean to be successful in writing?

Despite all of my procrastination, I've dreamed most of my life of being a full-time writer. That is, I would love to be able to support myself and my family completely through my writing. I realize that’s a big dream, and it’s one that most writers never achieve. While I am beginning to take that dream seriously and work towards it, I also don’t want to consider myself a failure if I can’t completely achieve it.

So what does it mean to be successful in your writing? There are several answers to this question. It really depends on what you as a writer want out of it. My ultimate definition of writing success, as indicated above, would be to make enough money from my writing that I wouldn't have to have a “day job.” Failing that, it’d be nice to make enough money to supplement a job that’s less demanding than my current day job, which would be pretty satisfying too.

Ultimately, money probably shouldn't be the main indicator of writing success. Most writers are
never able to make enough money to live off of with just their writing. Thus, a lot of quality work would not get produced because people would give up on themselves once it becomes apparent they’re not going to make enough money from their work.

Other definitions of success may include just getting your work out there and building up a small but vocal fan base. For some, success may mean reaping the therapeutic benefits that so often come with writing. Others may find it enough to just entertain themselves and a handful of others with their work.

Money isn't the be-all and end-all of writing, or indeed, of any career. Loving what you do, whether it’s writing or anything else, is what life’s all about.

What's your definition of writing success?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

What I've been up to...

It's been a long time since I've updated this blog. I haven't really been writing much, but that's changing. I'm starting to use Scrivener, which I've always heard was great but never gave much of a chance before, to write Sacrosanct. I'm hoping to get it finished this year and be able to publish it to Kindle by next year.

I've also been working as Content Designer for Valiance Online, a superhero MMORPG, which has been a fun experience so far. And I'm going through my back catalog of Examiner.com articles and polishing up and republishing some old pieces.

I'll try to update this blog at least once a week going forward. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Vacation over :(

Well, after a week spent doing almost nothing but writing my NaNoWriMo novel, I'm heading back to work
at my day job this morning. While I'm obviously a little down about rejoining the daily grind and cleaning up whatever messes have been left for me, I did accomplish quite a bit while I was off:


But, back to the grind I go now. I'm hopeful that the write-every-single-freaking-day momentum won't be lost now that I'm going back to work.

And today's not going to suck completely. There IS a new "Walking Dead" on tonight, after all.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is it December yet? I wanna start over

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as the kids call it, is all about getting words on the page (or the computer screen). Quantity over quality is emphasized, and participants are encouraged to resist their inner editor and save any major changes for December, for after it's over. I mentioned the other day that I was going to have a hard time doing that.

My NaNo novel this year is a superhero adventure, and it contains characters and elements that have been rattling around in my head for quite some time. Initially my concept was that this book would be a series of short stories,primarily the origins of the superheroes (and villains) that were loosely connected. The later in the book, the more connected the stories would become, until the final story of the book, which would be the culmination. The final battle. The defeat of the Big Bad.

The problem is that the stories written so far are so connected to each other it just feels wrong. Even though they're connected, POVs and story lines are switching so much it feels like it's a novel being written by a schizophrenic. I would never claim to be in perfect mental health, but I'm pretty sure I'm not schizophrenic. I've come to realize how to fix things, how to turn this into a novel with a coherent story line, an actual honest-to-the-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster main character, etc, etc.

So the urge to start over, with a clear outline for the new concept of this novel that I now have, is almost overwhelming.

But I'm not gonna do it. I've got in 11,307 words so far, so I'm over 1/5 of the way to the 50,000-word goal. I've still got more of these interconnected short stories to get out, and I'm gonna do just that. Once I get through those, I'll probably change it up and start re-forming the narrative to more closely match what I now realize is the superior way, but I'm not just going to throw away what I've already done or already have planned for the next few days. Will what I've got written make it into the final version of Breaking Paragons? Probably not. If it does, it certainly won't be in the form it is now.  But I'll have lots of good back story from which to draw to help me create this superhero world.

The most important lesson one can take away from NaNoWriMo is to just write every day (or almost every day). Without consistent work on an almost daily basis, most writers will never be successful. I've learned this lesson during every NaNo that I've done, but it's quickly forgotten, or put on a back burner. Hopefully my momentum this year won't leave me once December 1st rolls around, and I'll be able to share Breaking Paragons with you sometime in 2014.