Keepin’ Busy

Posted: September 5, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

Hey gang, sorry for taking last week off – school and whatnot. I did, however, come up with an interesting little example for how things have been going. One I aim to share right here, right now.

Drawing class. I’ve drawn forever. Hell, I draw a webcomic that I just started up again. However, I knew that in taking an entry-level drawing class, we’d be doing the basics first. What I wasn’t expecting was how entry-level we were talking. Or how goddamn frustrating it would be. What are we drawing?

Paper.

Let that sink in for a little bit. We’ve been drawing paper, sheets of paper, laid out on a flat surface. Let me tell you, drawing that paper has been the hardest thing I’ve done in forever.

“But Joe, how hard is it drawing paper of all things? You draw dudes and what the hell else, right?” you ask. Well yes, I do, but paper is all about perspective. It’s about making sure that everything looks like it’s where it’s supposed to be, that it’s all the same size (all the sheets are the same size) and that they’re on the same surface. In other words, making it look like it’s paper on something instead of just drawing rectangles.

It gets frustrating, because it’s never what you expect it to be. You expect all the sides to be parallel? Huehuehuehue, little did you know that they’re not. That’s what your brain expects them to be, that’s what you know it really is, but you have to learn to trust your eye. It’s never perfectly parallel unless you’re standing right over it, straddling it, and staring right at the damn things. It’s less about learning how to draw paper as it is learning to trust your eye, to see how things fit together, how it all interacts with each other. It’s baffling, head-pounding stuff, but I’ll be damned if it hasn’t been an enlightening experience.

Crows’ Harvest is currently going through the “take explosion, make fit together” stage in that I’m writing out an outline, doing a synopsis, and taking out plots and subplots that don’t have anything to do with the story or simply weren’t going anywhere. At first I felt like it was a waste of time until I realized that it’s actually forcing me to see how it all connects. What the main points of the book are, what the major events need to be, what things need to be followed up on. Does it mean starting from scratch? Back to the drawing board? Sort of. But it’s necessary. It’s basic. But it’s a learning experience.

And that’s what it’s all about.

xoxo.

j

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The Clockwork Planet Saga

Posted: August 24, 2011 by Chris Camey in Uncategorized

So, I am well aware that I have not been posting as frequently as I should be, so lets clear up a few things. First: Yes I am indeed alive. Second: I have a new story in the works. Since it’s still in the literary fetus phase, all I can give you is the title/setting.

It’s set in a Steampunk world and will be an attempt to bring back the swashbuckling adventure novel. The title of this work in progress is “The Clockwork Planet Saga”.. More info to come.

The Future is Bulletproof

Posted: August 22, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

The Aftermath is Secondary…the aftermath is secondary.

So tomorrow I begin my last first day of class. I didn’t really think about it until just now, at 11pm Sunday night, but it’s true! It’s actually true. It’s really a thing that’s really happening. Wow.

Before this, it was just, “Okay, gotta be up and ready for work tomorrow and then off to my first day of class.” No big deal. That’s been life for the past four years, what’s the big deal? Then someone reminded me that it’s my last semester and that…well, that’s where things got a little “Holy shit.

But let’s be honest here, I’m really excited about it. Not because it’s my last semester in college and after that I have to find a real job and oh my god oh my god oh muh gourd, but because with the exception of my Advanced Fiction class (emphasis on crime fiction – EEE!) it’s all art classes. All of them. Every last one.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on here before, but my first wish and hope and dream for college was to go to art school. Come out on top of my game and be a serious business cartoonist/comic artist/it’s all the same to me. However, pursuit of a Real Job prevailed and instead of going to college to better myself rather than “Better Myself”, I went into psychology. Do I regret the stuff I’ve learned? No, not at all. It’s fascinating and it’s made me a better writer. But is there a part of me in there that’s still the kid in high school who wanted to go out and draw comic books? Yeah.

And it’s no one’s fault but mine, really. I was given the option to change majors, but I was so obsessed with getting out of college On Time that I felt like it was too late. Maybe part of me felt like it was. I tried to justify it too – “Oh, a lot of the best artists out there never went to art school.” “Oh shit, I’m good enough as it is, right?” Blah blah blah. But instead of doing what I wanted to do, needed to do maybe, I just did what I felt like I had to do.

So where does this fall into the Hellfire Club? We’re all writers here, but before I became a writer, I made comic books. This involved writing stories. Lots of them. I eventually started writing because it was faster than writing and drawing the comics, because that shit takes up time, yo. So call this going back to my roots. Call it me trying to really feel like me again instead of feeling like I have to go do something that’ll make me super wealthy and get me a cushy office somewhere. (Yeah, because writing TOTALLY gets you that lifestyle.)

So here it is. Me with my slicked back hair and my box full of supplies.

Art is the weapon against life as a symptom.

Time to hit the gas.

xoxo.

j

Stop Worrying, Be Awesome

Posted: August 15, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

You want to know the best thing about being alive? You’re never too old to drop everything, re-evaluate, and then go balls-out to go and do what you want to do with your life.

That’s the message I’ve been given from the past several days. Get up, get out, get your boot lodged firmly in Life’s ass. It’s amazing.

The other day, while sitting around playing Shadows of the Damned, the new trip by Suda51, a couple of friends and I decided that we really wanted to make video games. Not just, “Oh, I really want to make video games,” but “Dude. Seriously. I really want to make video games. Right now. Right now, while I’m standing here in pants of questionable cleanliness. Do I smell urine? I think that might be urine.” Next thing you know, we’re buying office equipment, programming books, and plotting out our first project. It’s pretty wild.

The one thing I worry about most with being me is that I have too many goddamn projects or things I want to do. I still very much want to get a rock band together. (My last few have failed to get out of “jam” stage.) I’m working like a madman on the book. (I’m creeping up on the 60k mark full creeper fashion, balaclava and everything.) And now I may have just started a game studio with some buddies from high school. All of them are equally enticing to me – obviously I know writing best and enjoy it the most – and I wonder how people like da Vinci managed to juggle being awesome at everything he did. I guess that’s really what I want: to be awesome at what I do. Be awesome at it and love every minute of it.

I feel like I’m growing a lot as a writer in the past few days, due in no small part to the fact that I’m actually revising a novel for the first time. It’s a big and scary experience, but it’s an educational one. An exciting one. One that deserves to be pushed through, to come out on the other side of. But I’m also trying out a lot of other new things. Writing those steampunk stories. Writing video games, stories that need to be interacted with. It’s all new, it’s all different, but it’s all amazing.

Anyhoo, I know this is more of a stream of consciousness post than I’ve done in a while, but I feel like that’s kind of how it’s been the past few days. One thing at a time, big dreams, and a whole lot more balls than is probably healthy.

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

Stateside, at last!  Well, been here for a week, but that’s beside the point.  We have an article to churn out.  So here goes.

 

Yes, folks, inspiration can be a curse.  And it can be a gift, which is the case most of the time.

To begin with, let’s start with an inspiration primer.  Primer, you say?  What for?  Well, to recognize the multitude of places you can, should, and not feel bad about, pulling inspiration from.

I’ll start with a list.  There is no particular order of importance:

  1. Songs (lyrics, titles, atmosphere)
  2. Your daily life (the people around you, strangers, that pretty little girl in the white skirt with a tank top.  [You know what I’m talking about perverts! Those funny neon shoes she’s wearing of course.]  Routines, jobs, classes, creepy people on the metro, the bus, eating next to you in line, and that person in line at Walmart who won’t shut up about all the girls he’s slain with his mighty sword.  Yea, you can use these people and circumstances in a story.)
  3. Your love life, though I’d advise against that.  That’s just depressing.
  4. Your pets
  5. Nature (will come back to this one)
  6. A picture
  7. A memory
  8. A girl
  9. You.  In the shower.  Blaring Peter Cetera. No, really.
  10. Books, short stories, poems…The things your favorite writers write about.  If you have a particular genre you’re writing, eat up everything in that genre.  It’ll help, trust me.
  11. This place.
  12. General observation
  13. Stupid shit you and your friends do.  You know that stuff can be entertaining as hell if twisted into a story.
  14. Sex.  Ok.  This one is up to you.  But never underestimate the power of hot monkey sex leading to inspiration.  Just don’t be stupid and leave right in the middle of it to write said idea down.  That’s just dumb.
  15. Back to nature.  If you’re really lucky, places you’ve been.  Especially places in a different country.  This for example

PEACE PALACE FTW!

  1. Any other place you can think of.  Inspiration is limitless.
Alright.  So there’s the gift.  Inspiration comes from anywhere.  Capture it and form it into a story idea.  Or take multiple inspirations and make those into a story.
Now, the curse, at least for me.  Inspiration after inspiration for story ideas I want to do.  The problem comes when I’m already currently writing a story (or trying….frustratingly trying) and get a completely new idea for a new story.  Then I focus on that one.
That’s awesome right?  Maybe.  But then you get 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 new ideas.  What happens to 1&2 then?  They get relegated.  And they’re awesome story ideas.  It’s annoying.  I have about 5 legitimate story ideas I’m trying to work on.  Haven’t gotten very far in either except the planning phases of all and maybe a page or two or three of each. It’s difficult to flip a switch and focus on one while blotting on the others. You can’t do that, however.  You might be trucking along and have a particular idea fail for one story.  But lo and behold.  You have a couple others it might work in and to great depth.
I guess the thing is.  You’re a writer.  Unless you’re under a publishing deadline, you can take as long as you desire.  But, you have to cut off new story ideas at some point or you’ll never get finished.  I say the magic # is somewhere around 10.  Maybe 8.  Try not to go past it.  But, we’re all different.  My advise could mean shit to you as you might be a crazy good writer who can balance your writing.  If that’s the case…….I hate you.
Cheers.

Beginnings and Endings

Posted: August 9, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

Welp. Finally happened – the first draft of CROWS’ HARVEST is done.

At least, I think it’s done. My head’s about to the bursting point with all the writing advice and articles and everything I’ve been reading lately that I don’t even know when a first draft is considered done. But, I’ve written out the story, written out major scenes and all this good jazz, filled up a good chunk of my hard drive with it, and have ended up with a book. Neil Gaiman said something once to the effect of the first draft looks like you just took a bunch of shit and blew it up.

Thing is, I’ve learned a lot of stuff writing CH and I’m hoping to take away a lot more of it once things get further and further into my writing life. (I’m afraid to say career.)

See, thing is, the reason I’m like, “Well, I think it’s done,” instead of “FUCK YEAH IT’S DONE,” is that the CROWS’ HARVEST experience has been unlike most anything else I’ve ever done. (By the way, the title in all caps thing I’m doing? I don’t know, I’ve seen a lot of other authors do it, and I figure that it’s an unwritten rule. Sorry if it’s annoying.) There was a scene I wrote in which Remy is giving a very Holmesian speech to one of the other characters and explaining just how he’d managed to complete the task that was laid out for him. He explained everything surprisingly well and I realized that at this point, I could see what needed to be done, what had been done, and all the crap that I could cut out of it and hopefully expand on. The first draft only clocks in at about 50k, which I had every intention of beating, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m worried about it. Really. You want to talk about doubt and concern, look no further than this dude right here.

There’s been a lot of things I’ve had people tell me I’m not supposed to do as a writer. I’m not supposed to rewrite a scene. I’m not supposed to question the fuck-ups or plot holes because everything can be fixed in the second draft. I’m supposed to reach a certain word limit or the publishers will kick me square in the testicles, no matter how many published books from their own company that I’ve shown them that were smaller. I’m not supposed to spend more than a few days away from the novel or else the flying monkeys will come and steal my scrotum.

Lots of things I’m supposed to do and not supposed to do. It’s kinda weird, really.

And all the while, I can’t help but remember this article a friend sent to me in what was supposed to be a motivational sense. This one, to be specific. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

It made me want to put the computer through the wall. It upset me because a good friend sent it to me with great intentions. What she wanted me to see at the end was “Write like a motherfucker,” which has become my mantra of sorts lately, but I can’t stand the article. It upset me because I have never ever seen such condescending drivel being written to someone and trying to pass it off as advice. Here’s the part that I remember the most:

“The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you shouldbe successful at 26, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there. It laments that you’ll never be as good as David Foster Wallace—a genius, a master of the craft—while at the same time describing how little you write. You loathe yourself, and yet you’re consumed by the grandiose ideas you have about your own importance. You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done. We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor.”

Alright, yeah. The lady expects to be good and doesn’t write frequently. I get that. But trying to go off and say that just because someone’s young and wants to be good at what they do is arrogant? That – that’s just not something I care to mess with.

I’m 22 years old. I don’t know many authors who’ve published something that young. But you know what? It happens. It’s happened. It sickens me to think that if I go to try and hand my best work in to a publisher that they might sneer and tell me that because I’m a young guy, it’s gonna be trash and thus they won’t accept it. Is that extrapolation? A little bit. But I’m venting here – it’s my squawkbox after all. So here’s how it is:

If wanting to put out the very best work I can makes me arrogant, I’m arrogant.

If having the drive to accomplish something instead of putting it off, I’m arrogant.

If thinking that you don’t have to hit some magical age where you’re finally good enough to be a writer makes me arrogant, I’m the Brat fucking Prince.

I’ll finish my work. I’ll finish what I started. If what I’m doing is just me trashing the first draft and rewriting it and not the fabled “second draft” I hear about, then I’ll take that.

But by God, I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started.

And if some condescending advice column writer wants to talk to me about it and throw out “doll”, “sweetheart”, “sugar”, and “baby” at me like I’m a little mewling four year old all for the sake of telling me that I can’t do it because I’m 22, she can expect a boot to the face.

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

August or Back to Camp, Back in Black

Posted: August 1, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

So, last month didn’t go as planned. While the Hellfire Club had every intention of participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, things just didn’t pan out for any of us. Yours truly got caught up in the three accelerated summer courses he was taking, Pierce is always busy, Chris was looking for a job and moving out, and Dan…well, who knows what Dan was up to. But we know he was in Amsterdam for a while, so let’s just draw our own conclusions.

 

But we’re not quitters. At least, I’m not. If I’m not working on a hundred projects at once, I’m not happy. Or at least, I’m not my normal self. So, with my insanity in hand, I’m setting out to try again with Camp NaNoWriMo as their second month begins. Here are my goals for this month.

 

•Dirty Noir novella, working title ¡Venganza! (named after the MCR album). It’s supposed to be a maximum of 30,000 words, and if I go by Blake Snyder‘s beat sheet system, I’ll end up with an estimated 27,500 words (110 pages). More details on this later. Also, I intend to release it for free anyway.

 

•Crows’ Harvest: The other 22,500 words of the activity will be geared towards finishing my first draft of Crows’ Harvest. Is it breaking the rules of Camp NaNoWriMo? Yeah, a little bit. But as far as I’m concerned, NaNoWriMo is about giving someone motivation to write, to finish what they started. I intend to do just that.

 

I have a lot of writing I want to do this month, the month I’m staying with my parents. (Vacation!) What better time to get this shit started, worked on, and finished? Wish me luck gang. I intend to write like a motherfucker for the next thirty days.

 

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j