Dealing With Pessimists

As an author, I often receive criticism about what I do. Not if I’m good or not, more like people simply doubting that anyone who wants to be an author could actually become that. Today I had an exchange with someone who called into question my ability to do what I do. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and it sure as Hell won’t be the last. But when this sort of thing happens, I always think of an old story I heard years and years ago. I think it’s good for other aspiring artists, or anyone who wants to make their dream a reality, to read. And remember it when someone tries to tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams.

There was once a swamp full of frogs. These frogs all went about their day without trouble, no one doing anything to upset the daily routine. One day, however, a small group of young frogs came across a tree at the edge of the swamp. The tree was rather tall, but had a delicious looking fruit growing from the high branches. The frogs all wanted to eat the fruit, so tasty did they look, but they were afraid of climbing the tree, because it was far taller than anything else they had seen in the swamp, and they were only small frogs.

Finally, one frog worked up his courage and began to climb the tree. As he climbed, the other frogs gathered below and started to call out to the climbing frog, yelling, “Come down, you won’t make it! You’ll fall! Come back, you’ll fall!”

The first frog made it about a quarter of the way up the tree before he finally lost his grip and fell back down to the swamp.

Another frog suddenly decided to give it a try. He hopped forward and began to climb. As soon as he started to climb, the other frogs all began to shout again, “Don’t do it, you’ll fall! It’s too big, you won’t do it! You’ll fall!”

The second frog made it a third of the way up the tree, but then slipped and fell back into the swamp.

It continued that way all morning. A frog would attempt to climb the tree, and as the other frogs all shouted their doubt down below, the frog who was climbing would eventually slip and fall.

Finally, the smallest frog hopped forward. He said nothing to the other frogs, but just began to climb. The frogs down below all yelled out as they had with all the others, shouting, “You’re going to fall! Don’t do it, come back! You’ll fall!”

But the little frog just kept climbing. He made it a quarter of the way up, a third, then halfway. The frogs down below started to yell louder, insisting that he would fall, that he can’t make it, to just stop.

Still, the little frog climbed. He climbed all the way to the top of the tree, made his way out onto the branches and began picking the delicious fruit. He ate his fill, then dropped some down to the other frogs down below. He then easily climbed back down to meet up with the group of frogs who all stared at him in amazement.

“How did you do that?” they all asked the little frog.

But the little frog was deaf.

He never heard them shouting their doubt. And because their pessimism went unheard, there was nothing to stop the little frog from succeeding.

Best Apps For Writers

Notability – $4.99

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Notability was named the Mac App of the Year by Apple! Apple Editors’ Choice on iPad, iPhone, and Mac. Notability is the one place to create, share, and manage your notes. It combines handwriting, typing, audio recordings, and photos so you can create notes that fit your needs. And with iCloud support, your notes are always available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Anytime. Anywhere.

Scrivener – $56.99

screen800x500Scrivener is the best app you could get as a writer and this is the main software that I personally use.

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers designed for composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on getting you to the end of that awkward first draft.
Compose your text in any order and in pieces as large or small as you like. View the components of your draft individually or as a whole. Import and refer to research files such as images and PDFs alongside your writing.

Whether you prefer to outline first, hammer out your first draft and restructure later, or do a bit of both, Scrivener’s corkboard and outliner tools are completely integrated with the text, so working with an overview of your draft is just a click away.

iBooks Author – Free

mzl.jftlkfsn.800x500-75-100482906-primary-idgeNow anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. Add your own text and images with drag-and-drop ease. Use Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more. Preview your book on your iOS device or Mac at any time. Then submit your finished work to the iBooks Store in a few simple steps. And before you know it, you’re a published author.

The Brainstormer – $2.49

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The Brainstormer is kindling for creative minds. A tactile tool to randomly combine a plot, a subject and a setting or style, the Brainstormer provides a moment of inspiration for writers, painters, or any creative mind. Combat creative block, spark new ideas and summon up quick subjects for doodling, sketching or journaling.

The Brainstormer has three spinning wheels featuring plot/conflict, theme/setting and subject/location. By manipulating the wheels — or do a random spin — you generate combinations that make fantastic creative prompts for writing, sketching or any creative activity. Edit the wheels: tweak the built in lists or create entirely new scenarios from scratch.

More Wheels! The Character Builder wheel combines of archetypes attributes and backgrounds, and the World Builder combines theme, mood and place to create one-of-a-kind settings. NEW! Sci-Fi Brainstormer generates ideas with a science fiction flavor.

Coffitivity – Free
screen568x568Research suggests that it may be more difficult to be productive in a totally noise-free space. This is why some people are in their creative element in the middle of a bustling, chatter-filled Starbucks. Coffitivity offers the soothing background noise of a coffee shop in the comfort of your own home. Plus, the coffee is free at your place.
With the app, you can:
• Choose from several Coffitivity audio tracks to create your ideal work environment
• Open your favorite music apps while Coffitivity continues to play
• Adjust volume of Coffitivity to create the perfect mix with your tunes
• Use Coffitivity on the go – even without access to the internet

iA Writer Pro – $24.99

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This app is perfect for those writers that may get distracted easily. The “sentence syntax control” feature sets Writer Pro apart from the rest of the content creation and organization apps. This feature highlights your adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, prepositions, or conjunctions, allowing you to control and streamline your writing style. Different views for the Write, Edit, and Read functions also help you focus on different aspects of your work during different phases of the writing process. Self-editing may be one of the hardest parts of the writing process but with this app it makes it a bit easier.

Social Media – Free

Social media is onsocial_media_strategye of your most valuable resources as a writer, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or even YouTube it’ll help you spread the word and hopefully get more sales. It is even more important for those indie authors out there like me. The truth of the matter is people will overlook your books if they don’t know who you are and that is why having social media accounts are so important. To become a success at the indie game you need to have an established fanbase that will continue to buy your books and spread the love.

Letting Go Of Characters

I promise, right from the start of this blog, that I will NOT start singing, “Let It Go.” So now that we’ve got that out of the way, to the point!

When I’m planning a story or a book, I often decide ahead of time which characters are going to die, if the story calls for some death. Then I start writing. I write everything just like I planned, all the ups and downs, all the character development, all that stuff. Then I come to the crucial moment. The time has come. A character has to die. Only problem is… I’ve started to like the character!

I’m not going to go into any specifics, just in case you’re currently reading my books, so don’t worry, no spoilers. But I find myself in a strangely emotional situation. Here I am, distressed about the impending death of this character, who, by the way, is completely made up, and I’m trying to think of ways I can save their life. Yeah, save the life of a fictional person I invented. The more I think about it, the weirder it seems that I’m upset at the thought of this character’s “death.”

If you’re like me and you read the ‘Harry Potter’ series, you would know about when Sirius Black died. If you’re like me, then this would have made you sad, right? On the verge of tears, wishing it wasn’t true, going into denial, all that. This is how I am right now with my own character. I want them to live, I really do. But for the sake of the story’s progression, they absolutely have to die.

I find it strange that, as a writer, I end up in this situation. It’s like when as a kid, your favourite stuffed toy gets ruined. Like the dog ate it or it ended up in the dishwasher somehow and got shredded. It’s like a close friend or relative died. Except in this case, I’m technically the one killing them.

If any other writers are reading this, please let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been in a similar situation, where you have written the death of a character and it really upset you. I’m interested to see if this is normal, or if I’m just a big pansy.

PEACE!

EXCELSIOR!

Like every writer out there, when I have an idea for a story, I write it down and set it aside to come back to later. However, I recently found a note set aside, buried amidst numerous other papers and notes, that I have absolutely no freaking idea what I was thinking. Or even why I would write it down! The note simply reads:

EXCELSIOR!

Written just like that, as well. All capitals and an exclamation point at the end. I always associated the word with medieval times and King Arthur and stuff like that, but I have never written, nor do I anticipate writing, anything medieval-esque. So why did I write this obscure word down? And why did I write it like the idea was exciting and brilliant?

There is an episode of South Park that features a parody of Al Gore, who shouts this word every time he leaves the scene. Is that what I was referring to? Did I think it was that funny, I had to write it down immediately? Doubtful. I am left with no choice at this time to continue trying to find the answer to this mysterious note.

According to Urban Dictionary, excelsior is, “A phrase often shouted after succesfully completing a mission.”

Well, this ties in with the Al Gore thing, but what the hell did I write it down for? Was I feeling triumphant? Did I just smash out an epic chapter of Reaper and feel like shouting my triumphs, but couldn’t because I was on the train? Naturally the reasonable solution to this would be to write down my triumphant shout, who wouldn’t do that? (Epic sarcasm)

To further add to my confusion, Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel Comics, used this word as a sign-off for decades! Why the hell have I written this word down? I have absolutely no idea.

My quest for answers continues.