All posts for the month June, 2012

Real Writers Do

Published June 26, 2012 by swankivy

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Tenth issue!  Every tenth issue I figured I’d make a long one that goes beyond four frames.  Here’s the first.

Writers all write differently.  Some plot everything out; some write by the seat of their pants.  Some work better with deadlines or obligatory word counts; others are inconsistent binge writers.  Some write everything in their heads and revise and think it over until finally writing it down, and some find out what’s happening as it’s appearing on the page.  Nobody’s technique is superior.  If someone tells you you’re not a real writer or not a true artist if you don’t [blank], it’s likely that person is a lot more caught up in the mystique and image of “being a writer” than in the magic and power of writing itself.

Not all writers are going to relate to or “get” everything in this comic, even.  It’s struck a chord with some people, and there are probably others who have sniffed and thought, “THAT never happened to me” (and possibly concluded, “this webcomic chick is stupid”).  Rest assured, this is mainly autobiographical, and it is supposed to reflect my experience, not suggest yours should be identical.

In conclusion, I will now share some of my favorite quotes from other writers on writing.

“You put a character out there and you’re in their power. You’re in trouble if they’re in yours.” –Ann Beattie

“But keep characters in propinquity long enough and a story will always develop a plot.” –Keith Miller, The Book of Flying

“The bad novelist constructs his characters; he directs them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them act; he hears their voices even before he knows them.” –André Gide

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” –Red Smith

“Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. ” –Jessamyn West

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” –Ernest Hemingway

“It’s not as if the stories merge to a point where you think they are your life, but you do let them in the front door and the back door, and it’s okay that sometimes certain characters stay for dinner.” –Tori Amos, Piece By Piece

“Now and again thousands of memories converge, harmonize, arrange themselves around a central idea in a coherent form and I write a story.” –Katherine Anne Porter

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – – – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” –Pearl Buck

We Love You, But

Published June 20, 2012 by swankivy

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So happens this is a situation I’m in right now.

My word counts always get me in trouble.  I’ve never been a concise person.  The opposite, in fact.  Turns out the agent who’s interested here likes my book, but has given me a word count ultimatum of under 115,000 words.  It’s 145,000 words right now.  (Believe it or not, that’s after a massive cut before I started submissions.  The first draft was 171,000 words.)

It’s frustrating to have to play by the publishing industry’s rules, but first novels almost never get a pass when it comes to high word counts.  At least if this agent ends up not signing me either (like the last few who invoked word count or pacing when rejecting my full manuscript), I’ll have a more marketable book to show for it at the end.

If you’ll excuse me, I have some un-writing to do.


Published June 14, 2012 by swankivy

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It’s probably not worth trying to understand why writers do the “research” they do.  It’s likely it won’t make any sense outside their heads, so you’re better off not asking them to explain it to you.

My college roommate John, on whom this toon is based, clearly understood that.  He knew when to just walk away and not interrogate his roommate as to why she was sitting on the fridge.  Though he is a theatre geek and not really a writing nerd, creative types usually get this sort of thing about each other.  He is now a successful producer.

The events depicted in this comic are in fact based on reality and there is photographic evidence.  I frequently ate my breakfast while sitting on the fridge because it was something one of my characters liked to do.  My roommates learned to ignore it.  (Don’t ask what was going on with my early college hairstyle.  That was unrelated to my writing.)

Another Language

Published June 12, 2012 by swankivy

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Sorry, non-writer-type people.  Sometimes we really do speak another language, and when we get excited about it, we sometimes accidentally leave you out. 🙂

This strip features a cameo from Ronni, whose image I borrowed (with permission!) ’cause I needed a writer friend to banter with.  Though she is a real friend of mine, this specific conversation did not actually happen.  But we talk about writing a lot, and we have edited each other’s work and supported each other through all the ups and downs of this life of weirdness. 🙂

The other person featured in the strip is not a real person.  But I’m sure people like her probably get frustrated with us.

If you want to know what all those terms we’re throwing around are, though, ask a writer.  😀

Just Jealous

Published June 11, 2012 by swankivy

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I’m afraid I get this pretty frequently because I’m an outspoken critic of the Inheritance Cycle.  Either I should shut up because I clearly don’t know how hard it is to write a book, or I’m jealous of someone whose work I find flawed and unimpressive.  Couldn’t be that I actually made valid points!  So yes, critics of the critics, assign me attitudes as empty as your own if you can’t be bothered to counter my points. . . .

So You Write: A webcomic about being a writer

Published June 10, 2012 by swankivy

This is my webcomic about being a writer.  It’s very silly, with autobiographical details about my life as a writer and what sorts of things we creative types deal with while interacting with the outside world.

There is no update schedule planned; I’ll add a new one whenever I feel like it.  It’d be too demanding for me to try to keep this one regular too since I already have another webcomic that has been updated every Friday since May 20, 2005.

Please send me a message if you’d like to leave private feedback or ask questions about any of my projects.

A Real Person

Published June 10, 2012 by swankivy

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We spend a lot of time with our characters, so it only makes sense that real-life discussions remind us of them.  Personally, I find myself referring to fictional events and imaginary people whenever it’s relevant about as often as I bring up real people.  Hey, they’re real to us, right?

Terrell is a character from my novel Finding Mulligan.

Just Like Me

Published June 10, 2012 by swankivy

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We can’t win.  If we write what we know, people roll their eyes and tell us we’re inserting Mary Sues.  If we write about characters that aren’t at all like us, people suggest we’re acting out our fantasies through our characters.  Yes, our experiences and perspectives affect our characters.  But most of us are not incapable of realistically portraying characters who think and believe differently.

I have kind of written one story about an asexual person, but I’m not sure if she’s aromantic. She seemed pretty adamant about not dating until she was about eighteen, and then her relationship with a boy she lived with became not really romantic but definitely partnership-ish, and she gets jealous when he spends too much time with other people, but I think we all do that. 🙂

From My Head

Published June 10, 2012 by swankivy

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Some writers might be able to give you a straightforward answer to this question.  But I’ve never met one that really could.  For most of us, it’s as varied and unpredictable as dreaming . . . there are elements of real life, elements of fantasy, mix-ins from things we thought were neat, ideas that have been interacting with each other since who knows when.  I have no idea where my ideas come from.  They seem to sort of create themselves.