When S.M. Carrière isn't brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cats. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and cuddling furry murderers. Her most recent titles include 'Daughters of Britain' and 'Skylark.'
Floating around the Twitterverse yesterday was a long thread of new authors bemoaning all the extra stuff they’re expected to do — all of that extra work extraneous to their craft — that writers are expected to engage in if they have any hope of being successful with their publication.
It’s true. When I first started on this publishing quest oh, some [indistinct] years ago, my research revealed that I had a lot of things to do if I wanted to be successful. I had to be on several social media site. I had to belong to several writing groups. I had to blog. I had to do a book blog tour. I had to secure book reviews and interviews (but good luck getting either if you’re self-published or published by a small/micro press, and entirely unknown). I had to create a launch party. I had to create and maintain a newsletter. The list seemed endless and entirely overwhelming. I understand the dismay and frustration expressed on Twitter yesterday.
It’s valid. There is a lot of hidden work behind being a successful writer (unless you’re very, very lucky).
When I was a young(er) person, I was a voracious reader. I blew through books all the time. Once, during a school reading challenge, I read so many books that I ran out of books to read, and ended up doubling up on some titles. I read so many books, my teachers didn’t believe me. They thought I made up the lot. Reading so much, and loving every minute I got to dive into another world; that I got to escape my reality for a little bit is in no small part of why I’m a writer now.
But I will admit, that I’ve been struggling to read of late. A combination of a time-consuming job, several side-hustles, and the added stress of a global pandemic, and all the stupidity of (some) folks regarding it, losing a long-time flatmate and having to move…. It’s all added up. The result was that I could barely pick myself up, let alone a book.
Last weekend, I splurged a little and bought myself a ticket to see the new Mortal Kombat film. Film is giving it a bit much, to be honest. I saw the new Mortal Kombat movie. Here is my review:
Silly nonsense that was nonetheless very entertaining. I do not regret the splurge.
Look, this movie isn’t great. It’s barely good. I’d so so far as to say that it’s bad. However, it’s precisely because it’s bad that it’s good. Hear me out.
One of the best things about Mortal Kombat is that it leans heavily on its own silliness. It doesn’t shy away from the ridiculousness of the video game premise: that there are multiple realms, and every realm sends forth champions to fight in a high-stakes tournament. As part of the rules, if one realms loses enough times, another realm has permission to annex it. The film opens with Earthrealm (us) on the verge of invasion from Outworld. If we but lose one more tournament, it’s over for us.
I’m not sure if this is a sign of anything in particular that might be wrong with me, but growing up, there was no one in any field — sports, literature, politics, or life — that I considered a hero of mine. There were certainly people whose skill and success I greatly admired. My favourite artists come out of the surrealist movement, and they are remarkable, both in how well the portray realism and how expertly they undermine it; twist it and make it strange. I have always loved Tolkien and regularly stand in awe of what he built. I feel the same way about Steven Erikson, a more contemporary writer. Martin Lass was my favourite violinist, and Tommy and Phil Emmanuel my favourite all-time guitarists. I was enamoured with the skill of tennis stars Pat Cash and Pat Rafter…
If you needed proof of my Australian-ness, I think that’s it right there…
A few weeks ago, actually probably a couple of months ago, now that I think about it, an artist I have been following for a while dropped a music video. Ordinarily, I’d not really mention it here, though I do think the artist in question is extraordinary and the song is a bop, as the kids say. It wasn’t the song that kept me watching, however. Most times with music videos, I open them on my YouTube, then go to a different tab to do work.
Not this time.
What I watched wasn’t really a music video. I mean, it was a video and it did feature a single song, and was created for the specific purpose of presenting the song to the world. However, the video itself was a story – a short film. It had an inciting incident, the hero’s lowest point, and a satisfying conclusion. This tale was specifically, it was a short cyber-punk Robin Hood tale. The visuals were spectacular, the acting quite good (if somewhat melodramatic), and the story compelling.
I have been thinking a lot recently about life, writing and all the things that orbit around those things. Currently, while I’m waiting for things here in Ottawa, Canada to return to something approaching normal again (it looks like we’ll be close at the beginning of 2022), there isn’t much else I’ve been able to do. I find in my writing endeavors, I’m chugging along well enough, but a daily routine of writing at lunch isn’t really anything worth blogging about. As for films and television, I’m falling back to old favorites, as they are comforting and relatively without stressed. I know what’s going to happen.
It has been quite depressing to all my youthful hopes and dreams that I haven’t been able to make a living writing. I wasn’t expecting to become rich. But I was hoping to be able to scrape by. That has not materialized. It was a hard lesson to learn, really, particularly since I have to keep relearning it every time I get any time at all to think about life and where I am in it.
Writing, however, has taught me an awful lot about life that I’m extremely grateful for, that translates well in almost every other endeavor of mine.
I was recently quite ill, and while under basically house arrest, stuck in my room with neither the ability or the will to go anywhere else, I came across a trailer for the new Mortal Kombat movie that piqued my interest. At the end of the trailer, I literally scream-laughed. Needless to say, I’m going to see this movie for, and only for, Kano, who was so quintessentially Aussie it could not help but make me roar with delight.
There have been a few hot takes in writing Twitter since the last time I posted. Most of them I’ve already made comment on in older posts either here or on my personal blog; mostly refuting these hot takes… though sometimes with caveats.
Let’s see, there was the ill-conceived screed against fan fiction by an author whose published work is ironically a ‘retelling.’ I don’t have the time or the energy to go over her nonsense and point out all the ways it is, in fact, nonsense, not least of all because writing Twitter did such a thorough job of it on Twitter. It’s highly amusing, if ever you want to seek it out.
The other one I’ve noted is the recent wave of harsh writing advice (™). Twitter immediate took the original poster to task, writing some of the funniest, silliest harsh writing advice (™) I’ve read of late. This gentle mocking of the idea of harsh writing advice is, to my mind, the perfect way to deal with harsh writing advice (™).
Good morning! What a fortnight it has been. The news is insane, isn’t it? I’m not going to talk about it here. Instead, I’m going to talk about something that I did a couple of weeks ago that brought me joy.
I am a member of my local SFF writing community here in Ottawa (Canada, just to be clear). Thanks to the raging pandemic, we did not have our annual gathering of incredible minds and imaginations that is Ottawa’s own Can*Con. I find the press and bustle of people incredibly stressful, but this convention is always so enjoyable, I risk a panic attack every year just to attend. I love it.
Thankfully, the organizers of Can*Con haven’t left us entirely floundering in the dark. They are live-streaming incredibly thoughtful panels on YouTube every so often (by the by, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel here), and the Facebook group is pretty active with articles and sometimes even book recommendations.
Our humble little community is genuinely lovely to be a part of. I’m terribly glad for it. One of my favourite things, though, is something that I’ve only done once thus far, that the organizers of Can*Con has set up for its members.
Blessedly, I have returned to writing. As a birthday gift to myself, I bought myself an iPad, which didn’t arrive until the middle of December (thank you order delays) to replace the laptop I had that was long dead. I was going to get Word for iPad, but because of the new size of the device, Microsoft decided that I had to pay for it. Had the screen been half an inch smaller, I’d be eligible for the free version. So instead, I went and found a really decent free word processor that serves really well for my writing needs. It’s simple, intuitive and can save as .docx. So far, I can highly recommend WPS Office.
But that’s not the point of the post. The point is, I have a problem. It’s a low-key anxiety sitting in the back of my mind as I write. You see, I am currently working on two stories that centre characters that are not… well, white. And I’m struggling.