Monday, January 30, 2012

Quality over readers?

I have returned! But, before you read this blog post, please make sure you've read this one: Disappointment. It can be considered a prologue to this one as it introduces the main question we will consider. Should we sacrifice quality to make something that our readers enjoy?

Sometimes the human heart refuses to be challenged. Sometimes the human mind does not want to exercise. It is a good thing to have our hearts challenged. We need to get out of our comfort zone more often. It is a good thing to exercise our mind for we cannot learn if we do not exercise with something new. In writing there is a challenge. It is the challenge of interweaving take away value and pleasure. This can be done easily and smoothly, but there are times when it is difficult.

The writer can craft a rich, aesthetically pleasing story that is read by hundreds of people. But if the writer does not add any take away value (something to be learned from the story) all he really gave those readers were a few moments of pleasure that they will ultimately forget within a short amount of time.

The writer can create a story where the take away value is seen everywhere. The writer can create a story that is flooded with value and things to be learned. But, my dear friends, this makes for a rather boring story. This kind of writing is found in textbooks and cliche, dry novels, particularly Christian ones. I do not want to pick on Christian novels since there are many good Christian writers (myself being one) and novels out there. But, in brutal honesty, many Christian novels seem to be terribly cliche and the values are so vivid that the reader chokes and dry-heaves on them.

So, now that we see both extremes of the question, what is the answer? I believe that at no time should we ever sacrifice the quality, and by "quality" I mean take away value and memorability, of our writing in order to create something the reader will read. If you, as a writer, have something to say to the reader (even if it is a touchy subject) then just say it! It does not matter if you get many reactions or few reactions. If you believe it will touch someone whose heart is willing to be challenged then it was worth writing.

Remember, fellow writers, you always need to interweave take away value and the pleasure/enjoyability in your writing. But you also must remember never to sacrifice quality to give the reader what he wants. If you have a message say it! The quality is always inside the message of the work.

Sincerely,
Joshua A. Spotts

P.S. I apologize this was not posted sooner. I meant to post it on Saturday, but I did not have any internet access that day. Sunday I spent with my family. This evening I spent writing this for you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Disapointment

I have a confession to make. I expected too much from my readers. I worked hard on a short story for this week, posted it, and two days later there are no comments. It is disappointing. But if I did not write something they enjoyed reading why should I expect them to comment? I know that I enjoyed writing the story, I feel it is a good story; but if the reader doesn't like it then what can I do? This will be a short blog as I am leaving soon for the day. I may continue these thoughts tomorrow.

Here is my dilemma: I love the story and I am a reader, so shouldn't other readers like it too? I know I am probably beating myself over the head for this. I know that the real reason I am writing these weekly short stories is to practice my skills, to form them like a blacksmith, hammering out the rough edges. Yet, sometimes, I grow to attached to reader response and less to the quality and purpose of what I write. This is a fatal error on my part. By all means, we should write for the reader. But at the sacrifice of quality?

I will continue these thoughts tomorrow when I return.
Sincerely,
Joshua A. Spotts

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Adventure with Amazon

Any bold adventurer always goes to the amazon. There he can find excitement in the struggle to survive, to not get sucked into the jungle and find himself lost amid vines, trees, and a impenetrable roof of exotic leaves. There are so many unexplored areas in the amazon jungle. There are so many things the adventurers have not found.

This morning, figuratively speaking, I placed a fedora on my head, pulled some leather boots unto my feet, buckled my 66 Colt revolver to my hip, and wrapped a thick rope around my torso. Then, taking two steps, I sat down at my computer and plunged myself into the jungle that is Amazon.com. There are so many books on that website and so many things that the normal user would never find. Indeed, it takes an adventurer to find all that Amazon has to offer!

It was during my Christmas break that, while adventuring around in Amazon, I found the Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It intrigued me then and I marked the location, planting my favorites flag in its soil. I returned to it this morning and signed up for the contest and wrote the pitch for my novel. Once I am done polishing this pitch I will submit my manuscript into this contest.

Granted, there is the danger of disappointment if my novel does not win. In fact, that risk is rather high. But there is always danger involved when adventuring. I have never submitted a manuscript to any real form of judgement before. I am nervous, but my nervousness will heighten my senses. It will drive me to do the best I can. Sometimes, in the writing world, one has to explore unfamiliar territory.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Online Platform Perseverance

Creating a platform is one of the most difficult challenges I have ever encountered. It involves intense dedication combined with a ridiculous amount of perseverance. This blog is just one of the many tools I am using to try, (sometimes vainly I think,) to build a platform. This blog is probably the strongest method I use, but I also write short stories for Cleverfiction.com, interact with various writing groups on LinkedIn, circle writers in Google+, use twitter, and have an official writer's website.

I have gotten to know many people, most of them writers, through these methods, but I feel I am lacking in the construction of a platform. This consideration does not deter me. I know that the process of creating a platform is a long and arduous process; but I have the perseverance necessary, of this I have convinced myself. In the slow ticking of time I know that the only way I will build a platform is by steadily supplying quality posts, short stories, and social network interaction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Conquering Creativity

I am going to be lynched for saying this, but there is really such a thing as too much creativity. Now I use the words "too much" in reference to a hindering amount of creativity. If you have an overabundance of creativity and you let it drag you down and draw you away from your self-designated important projects, that is having too much creativity. If you have a thousand book beginnings (like the first three or so chapters) and no almost complete book projects, then you are suffering from too much creativity.

Well, that's the end of this blog and here comes the lynch mob! No, no, I do not believe there is such a thing as having excessive or "too much" creativity. The problem comes when you let that high level of creativity control you and your work. This is also a cause of writer's block. The trick with too much creativity is learning to channel it. You see, if you must work on every idea that comes to mind you will end up never doing any real work on anything.

There are several methods you can use to channel your excessive creativity. For new book, story, or article ideas all you need to do is write a short synopsis and a title then archive it. I use an excel sheet to archive ideas by alphabetical order. It is a very efficient method if I do say so myself! You can also use Micrsoft's OneNote program and save the word documents containing these ideas in that program.

You can incorporate a new idea into a current major project, thus eliminating an excess idea flab documents that, let's be honest, you may never return to. Sure, it is a good idea to get the ideas down, but many of them won't be seen again. At least, that's the way it is with me. Now, incorporating ideas is difficult but sometimes there are benefits. Think about it. If you can incorporate a really good idea with a major project that has a really good idea behind it...ah, consider the possibilities!

Lastly, you can channel your excessive creative energies into other things like art or music, but if your focus is writing you should channel it as much as you can toward that. The two things above are more ideas on how to skim the ideas from your creativity, record them, and then channel the collaborative mass into a major project of yours. This idea is more of an outlet escape to keep you from suffering from too much creativity. There I go again, getting myself lynched.

Well, I will return Friday with another blog post. That is, if I survive the lynching.

Sincerely,
Joshua A. Spotts


Friday, January 13, 2012

Psychology And Sorrow

I have a perfectly legitimate and functional excuse for the absence of a blog post on Tuesday. (eh, maybe not.) My entire excuse is summed up in one word: Psychology. Or, if that is not satisfying, I can explain it all in five words: Four hour morning Psychology class. In truth, dear reader, this is not a strong enough excuse. Indeed, no excuse is strong enough to justify how I have failed you. I apologize from, to use a cliche expression, the deepest depths of my heart.

I enjoy my psychology class. I enjoy seeing the theories. I enjoy analyzing people (a thing I do anyway), and learning the hidden ways the mind works. Psychology is great for developing characters, but it is not great for my mental stability. (Working 9PM to1AM several nights probably doesn't help either.) This last Wednesday I was so exhausted from Psychology and work that I caught myself talking out loud to myself several times. Still, the psychological research has shown that writers (particularly fiction writers) have a 75% to have some sort of mental disorder during their lifetimes. So, I'm not really that surprised that I am talking to myself already. Overall, my Psychology class is giving me interesting character ideas and is teaching me how to develop those characters into more lifelike forms. Psychology teaches me how to connect characters with common human characteristics.

Now on the subject of sorrow,  it plays a very interesting role in the life of a writer. Recently, as in just this last Monday, I attended the funeral of my grandmother. She had lived along 95 years, it was a good life, a life worthy to admire. We loved her dearly. I take consolation in the fact that she is in the presence of her Lord and Savior now. She was a godly woman. She will be sorely missed.
An interesting thing is the fact that the sorrow at the funeral was subtle, there was no loud weeping, yet it was prevalent. It was sorrow mingled with a deep respect for my grandmother. This combination still puzzles me.

I spent most of the visitation pondering how I could comfort people in my writing who were experiencing sorrow. I am glad, in some ways, for the death of my grandmother. One, she is no longer in pain. Two, she is with God. And three, I now have experienced the death of a loved one and I can now communicate comfort for those experiencing similar sorrow. It was a good, but sorrowful experience.

Ah, the life of a writer! It is a very interesting one indeed!
Rest in peace, Grandma. I will always remember you. 


Friday, January 6, 2012

The Adventures of Blog Duck

DUCK! Ah, I do so enjoy unconventional beginnings. They allow for so many questions that force the reader to continue with the story to answer all of them; or to find out which question is the real one. For example, with the start of this blog there are several questions. Is someone commanding you to duck? Is there someone with a gun? Is someone pointing out a the presence of waterfowl? There are many, many more possibilities for questions.
         Questions are the fuel of the writing hook. In my opinion, the more questions a hook causes, the better it is. When I read a great hook (admittedly mine isn't very good for this blog) I analyze it for how many questions I can form from just the beginning sentence. I love good beginning. I believe I may continue my speculations at a later time when I am more prepared and emotionally stable to think clearly and provide you, dear reader, with a better blog post.
        I apologize for the short blog but my mind is not thinking straight due to the death of my grandma. Maybe I'll blog at that experience next. Again, I apologize.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Denying Loneliness

What is the point of denying loneliness? I'm going to put this out there. Writing is a lonely career. It consumes so much time and is such a delicate work that I have difficulty, especially being in college now, balancing work, study, and play. By "play" I mean interaction with friends. I am involved in several activities; fencing and volleyball being a few of them. But I am so tired, so so tired. I am tired and lonely. I felt this way over my Christmas break as well.
I was living my dream, but my dream is lonely and tiring. To sit and write for hours on end...you see, even I, with all my personalities, grow tired of my own company. We, as human beings, are not meant to be alone. Sometimes we must be. But we are not meant to be. I have made a decision to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to social interaction. Not so much physical activity, just relaxation, casual conversation, and card games.
Also, on a lighter note, my pining for social interaction may originate my my large family. Also, dear reader, I hope you have a wonderful new year and accomplish all your new year's resolutions, I guess this post could be considered mine.

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