Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Actually, the real title is: “Is Violence in Movies Okay as Long as it Involves Good Guys like Soldiers, Superheroes, cops, etc.?” 

You can see why I decided to keep cut it down to a couple of words. When I was a kid, I lived on Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Black Hawk Down. The only other movies I watched beside those involved dinosaurs. (Land Before Time and Jurassic Park marathon, anyone?) However, I wasn’t allowed to watch movies with gangsters until I was much older. When I was allowed to watch those types of movies, I was accompanied by my parents, and that too had a price to pay: a long lecture on why I shouldn’t be a criminal entitled, “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

Why? Any ideas of mine to become a gangster or a con man were squashed whenever I watched movies like the Godfather, Goodfellas, or shows like the Sopranos or Breaking Bad. They are the single greatest testaments of why you shouldn’t become a criminal. Michael’s descent into the darkness after he is forced to take over the family business is reason enough for anyone to go “straight”. You can see it in his anguished reaction when his pregnant wife is killed. You can see it in the haunted stare he gives his wife in the closing scene.

Image

It sends a clear message. “You may have a mansion, but are you really ready to deal with losing everything you hold dear?” I have watched the Godfather over a dozen times, and I still ask myself that same question after each viewing. This question is also asked in Tv shows. In the past decade, we’ve experienced a growth in ‘prestige television’. The Birth of the Antihero technically began over fifty years ago with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, wherein he regularly made ‘good people’ do bad things. There was an episode called ‘Revenge’ where a woman is raped (implied, of course. This was the 50’s. Everything was implied), and when she and her husband are driving, she spots the rapist walking down the street. Her husband pulls over, and they kill him. They get back in the car, and drive away. A few minutes later, she points again, and says she’s spotted her rapist. 

Image

In that single episode of an anthology suspense series in the 50’s, it approached the subject of rape, psychological trauma, vigilantism, and of course, revenge. So, as you can see, we’ve had morally ambiguous characters for a very long time. I remember watching the Sopranos for the first time. My Dad was worried that I might resort to a life of crime because of it, but I simply kept asking myself the same question I asked during Godfather.

The thing that makes the Sopranos so addicting and visceral to watch is the fact that I would never do anything like it, and the realization that Tony Soprano never thought he was capable of doing it either. He’s unhappy with his family, his work, and more importantly, himself. There is a scene where Christopher (his nephew) talks about his trauma after killing someone, and Tony oh-so-subtly asks him if he ever feels depressed. His sideway glance at him says: “Did I do this?”

Image

Why is it okay for thousands to die in superhero movies (the best example right now is Man of Steel. I assumed by all the screaming and falling buildings that a couple thousand died there), but it’s deemed immoral for a gangster to kill a few people in a movie? Why are children allowed to watch Captain America kill hundreds with barely any effort (as long as there’s parental guidance), but watching Al Pacino shoot the man who tried to kill his Dad and a corrupt cop not allowed? Of course, there’s also a matter of sexual content in some of these movies, and also the amount of swearing. For years, Goodfellas had the most curses in film history. I think Django Unchained got the crown in 2012, but Scorsese stole it back with Wolf of Wall Street. 

Image

I hope someday there will be a PG-13 movie centered around a gangster. I’m not saying it’ll be any good, but the idea behind it will be more than enough. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my favorite superhero movie, by the way), no one talks about how Steve Rogers is a cold-blooded killer. It’s mentioned here and there, but our thoughts don’t dwell on the number of men he casually kills. Why? Because they’re bad, and he’s a superhero. 

I’m not asking Marvel to pull a DC, and force Chris Hemsworth to talk like someone kicked him in the throat over a dozen times. (In the eternal Marvel vs. DC debate, I’m with Marvel all the way.) I just think it would be interesting if people took a look at what they’re already allowed to get away with in PG-13 movies, and took it to a different level. There was talk about a Deadpool movie, and how it would be impossible to do a PG-13 version. I think they’re right, but if it’s acceptable to show a dinosaur munching on some random guy, why isn’t it acceptable to show a morally ambiguous character doing morally ambiguous things? (“How ambiguous!” the posters say.)

Image

In the first Hunger Games movie, they used shaky cam a lot to avoid getting slammed with an R-16 rating because of images portraying children killing other children. Ya know, usual PG-13 stuff. Why can’t we do that? I hate shaky cam, but it’s obviously possible to show that kind of stuff, so why hasn’t anyone tried it? As an experiment, it doesn’t have to be big budget. 

Here’s where the big divide between mainstream films and indie films come in. There seems to be this unspoken rule in indie films that they need  to have mature content. It’s as if the director and writer wants to make sure the viewer knows they’re watching an indie movie. “Okay, let’s show them changing clothes here, and talking about killing their estranged father. They’ll never mistake us for the new Avengers movie now!” 

Indie movies are supposed to be showing you something new and different from mainstream movies, but more and more mainstream movies are adopting an “indie” feel. The Wolf of Wall Street is a mainstream film based on its HUGE budget alone. But, its mature subject matter, morally ambiguous main character, and… well, everything in it shouldn’t be allowed. At this point, if indie movies truly want to be different, they should try a PG-13 movie with a hitman as a main character. It could be a failure, but indie movies are already risking a flop every time. It’s strange how they’ve fallen into their own little pattern, or their own safety net. I sometimes feel like you could take ten indie films, switch the actors and titles, and it’d still be the same. 

I grew up watching Saving Private Ryan. I wasn’t mature enough to understand a lot of the things in it, but the images have remained with me after ten years. I despise the idea of war because of it. I understand its necessity in certain situations, but as much as possible, I would avoid war like the plague. Because it is a plague. 

I think it’s time for people to understand that kids aren’t as impressionable as people think they are. I haven’t heard of a thousand kids jumping off skyscrapers to imitate Thor or Superman, so I think they’re smart enough not to copy Tony Montana in Scarface. 

Image

~Jian

Advertisements

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about gritty fantasy or grim dark fantasy, and I had the pleasure of talking a friend’s ear off about everything I knew on the subject. And, it struck me. Gritty fantasy, or books with anti-hero protagonists, have been around for a lot longer than I thought. Let me specify this. I mean, if we were to talk about strictly anti-hero protagonists, we would spend a very long time discussing whether or not mythological Greek heroes counted. (Achilles!)

I’m talking about Glen Cook Black Company style. Game of Thrones. Blade Itself. Those kinds of books. In Game of Thrones and Blade Itself, the magic is substantially underused. There isn’t a strict system like in modern high fantasy books (everything by Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks), for one. I think it’s an ironic thing. With a lot of gritty books that try to prove themselves to be every bit as dark as Game of Thrones, they try to be as different as possible from Lord of the Rings style novels. For the really good gritty books, they seem to use the same style of magic from Lord of the Rings style books. (Albeit without a whole new language. Who has the time for that nowadays?)

In my book, the Line of Corruption, my protagonists are all questionable in their morality. We have a former mass murderer, a mercenary with the potential to be the strongest in existence, a politician that controls everything in his city… It’s all very questionable. I like it that way. I like those types of protagonists. They’re very interesting to write, and I like to think that there’s a good market out there for them. However, I have to face the fact that everything has most likely been thought up. I didn’t create a mind-blowingly original magic system (I couldn’t access the mind of Brandon Sanderson. The guys from Being John Malkovich weren’t up for it).

So, if a kid like me is writing “gritty” heroes (although they’re in a world where a definite magic system is in place a la Brent Weeks ), it’s safe to say that the gritty genre isn’t really a subgenre anymore. At least, not what people might think. Right now, George R.R. Martin is considered to be one of the most popular writers alive, and a legend in fantasy literature. Moorcock and Cook started it, GRRM took it to the next level, and Joe Abercrombie’s now in the same level. The Knight in Shining Armor is a cliche. No doubt about it. But, I’m afraid that anti-heroes with questionable morals are quickly becoming cliches, if they’re not already.

Speaking as someone that likes gritty stories a lot, it’s hard to come to terms that it’s no longer as revolutionary or as edgy as it was in the 70’s-90’s. Winter has come and gone. Now it’s summer, and all our dark anti-heroes are baking in the sun with all the rest of the knights in shining armor.

I do think that the next “big thing” will be dark epic fantasy. The Way of Shadows (one of the most popular books of that particular genre) is already well known. But, it’s not yet at the same level of infamy as  Game of thrones. (Which is fair. That’s something that FEW writers will ever achieve.)

Or maybe Tolkien-style stories might make a comeback. Nothing wrong with Wheel of Time-like stories as long as they’re original enough. Maybe books like Mistborn may come into the limelight, too. A Mistborn Tv series. Or maybe Urban Fantasy gets a big shout out. I don’t know. Fantasy, as a whole, is changing practically daily. I still like gritty stories, but I am looking forward to reading stories that don’t try especially hard to have “unlikeable” characters. Filling your entire cast with Joffrey-wannabes doesn’t help, from what I hear.

So, what do you think? Any ideas as to what the next BIG THING will be? Leave a comment. Might be that you’re right. Do you disagree with me? Feel free to tell me why. Now, I’m going to go read a fantasy book. Care to guess what genre it belongs to?

~Jian

I wrote a post earlier on how I was working a bit more on the sequel LoC, and it got me thinking on my current responsibilities as a writer. Jukepop Serials has given me the great opportunity of uploading three chapters a month, making it immediately available for everyone to read. And they have some wonderful incentives, too! Like I said before, I’ve reached a new point in my career as a writer because I’m also concentrating on the sequel to my first book.

So, it’s time to put behind my past as a Panster (look it up!), and adhere to a daily writing routine. Here’s how my current schedule looks like.

5 PM: Write in Radio Silence for forty minutes. Reread, edit, and if necessary, rewrite.

6 PM: Write in LoC sequel for forty minutes. Reread, edit, and if necessary, rewrite.

7 PM: Alternate between other projects, and write in whichever one I choose for forty minutes. Reread, edit, rinse and repeat.

So, that’s my writing schedule. Not as hardcore as some other writers, perhaps, but I’m beginning a slow crawl to, dare I say it, becoming a professional writer? Now, I don’t mean professional as in a bestseller. But I do want to have the habits of a real author.

I’ll be posting weekly updates on how this is going, but I want to talk a little bit on my first few days of following this routine.

Day 1

5 PM: I literally realized I had to follow my schedule when I was three minutes away from 5 PM. So, I stopped watching shows on my computer, and began writing Chapter 7 of Radio Silence. I managed to finish most of the chapter before I got burnt out, and reached the 40 minute time limit. I reread it, edited it, and considered it a job well done.

6 PM: I went through all of the existing chapters, and added a few things to tie up a few inconsistencies. Also wrote half a chapter in the perspective of both Maheus and Ambrose. Deleted a scene or two from the perspective of a new character I introduced, and planned the next few chapters. I reread what I wrote, edited the entire document, and considered it a job well done.

7 PM: I reopened an old project I started with my sister, and I started deleting and writing a few new scenes. I can’t really divulge much information about it, but let’s just say it’s very different from Radio Silence and the Line of Corruption sequel. It was a breath of fresh air, and I considered it less a ‘chore’, and more a break from the two earlier projects.

In summation… It was a good day.

Day 2

11 AM: Started a little early because the next chapter of Radio Silence had to be done. Completed chapter 7. Reread it. And… rewrote it. The ending was just terrible. I don’t know what I was thinking. Reread what I wrote, and I made a massive factual error. I’m glad my mother managed to spot it, and so I rewrote it again. When I finally finished, I was really proud of what I managed to accomplish. Had my family review it, and after some changes, I uploaded it on Jukepop Serials.

I’ll stop right here. I suddenly realized that such a strict schedule was not for me. I couldn’t really stick to times like these, because my mood varies a lot. But, I did realize that I had to have some order in my writing. So, I’ll continue to set apart some time every day to write for Radio Silence, for the LoC sequel, and for one of my numerous other projects.

It’s very refreshing to go back to a daily writing routine, and I honestly feel a lot more productive about everything. It’s difficult. I mean, I’m two days into it, and I’ve already abandoned one part of the schedule.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for my idols. So. Right now, I’m just wondering how I’ll get through Day 3. And Day 4. And Day 5…

If you don’t hear from me for over a week, at least you’ll know why.

Oh, I’d love it if you took the time to comment, and tell me what you think. Do you follow a schedule? I know I wrote a post about schedules earlier, but I’m curious to know if you tried a similar template/schedule to mine, and how you coped with it. I wanna hear all about it. Thanks.

~Jian

Hey, it’s been awhile. Miss me? No? Well, I’ll still chew your ear off with my stories. So, I’ve been kind of busy the past week reading my novel, Line of Corruption. I realized a few things about it while I was reading it. I have way too many run-on sentences near the end of the book (when the fight scenes became very hectic), and I really miss writing in the world of Line of Corruption.

I miss writing about the characters, I miss the magic system, I miss… Well, everything about it. So, I’ve decided to start working on the sequel to LoC a bit more. In the week after I finished the Line of Corruption, I quickly started a new file for the sequel, and wrote eleven thousand words setting up the groundwork.

After reading over the current chapters I’ve already written for the sequel, I have no idea what I was thinking at a few sections. “Who is this incompetent writer?” I shouted. But, I had a ton of fun just reading about the characters that I’d made up almost two years ago.

So, I’ve begun working on the plot for the sequel. I think I have a very rough idea of what I want to happen. I’m no longer fumbling about in the dark like I was with the first book, and now I’m working on the title for the sequel. If I’m working on the first book, I think… The Circle of Insanity would be a great title!

Nah, I’m kidding… No, I’m serious. I’m kidding. I’ve introduced maybe four new characters in the chapters I’ve already written, and I’ve fallen in love with them already. I can’t say they’re great characters, because I feel like that’d be egotistic, but I love writing from their perspectives. I can’t divulge too much, because it’d be spoiling a lot.

But, I just want to talk about both the joy and the meh parts of writing the sequel. I want to make this the Empire Strikes Back of sequels, or the Godfather II of sequels. So, it’s difficult to think of a way to make this a lot cooler, a lot more visceral, yet still staying true to the book I finished almost a year ago.

Most of the characters, at the end of LoC, experienced life changing event. That isn’t a spoiler, because that’s normally a given. Unlike the first book, I need to plan almost everything about this book. I can’t walk blindly in a circle with a blindfold. (Interesting fact: it is impossible to walk in a straight line with a blindfold. See why I’m thinking of the Circle of Insanity? )

I also need to answer a lot of questions I set up in the first book, and make sure I explain anything the reader might construe as deus ex machina. Basically, I need to work a lot harder on the sequel. Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?

Well, weirdly enough, I don’t find any of it miserable. I happen to think it’s very fun, and it’s yet another challenge of my skills as a writer. For Xenon Bane, I also started working on a sequel before I gave up on the series. I wrote maybe… twenty thousand words in the sequel before I stopped writing. It was so much better than Xenon Bane, and I want to do the same with the LoC sequel. I want readers to read the first ten chapters and think: “Well, I won’t be getting any sleep tonight. This is going to be fun!”

It’s like my reaction when I watched season two of the BBC series, Sherlock. I loved season one, but season two episode one was a game changer. Finished the entire season in one day.

Do you have any experience working on a sequel? If so, feel free to comment and tell me about your fun times and not so fun times.

I realize this has been a short post, but that’s really all my thoughts on it. It’s fun and challenging. I’ve had to rewrite a lot more than when I wrote LoC, since I’ve noticed some slight continuity errors here and there already. Like I said, there are some really slow moments, but if you allow it, it will take you out on a really great ride.

~J.A. Romano

Okay. If you’ve been blogging for at least a week, I think you know what I mean. Writing relies on people being interested in the characters you create, but blogging relies on people being interested in what you say. So, after an entire year ( I think ) of blogging, you’d think I’d have learned a way to not worry or obsess over Likes. I mean, Likes aren’t that important, right?

That’s kind of true, but I can’t help but wait for someone to Like my posts, sometimes. A single Like makes a huge difference. This isn’t my attempt at telling everyone to Like my posts, but it’s worth writing about the insecurities that I am sure every blogger – at one point – has felt. I’m now going to list all of the things I’ve tried to avoid obsessing over the Like.

So, a friend of mine told me awhile back that the trick is not to care. And you know, I actually like that concept. But, I think caring is what makes me strive to make better posts. I could just write blogposts for myself, but do you really want to read my rants about books and movies I don’t like? You do? Well, I doubt you’d like to read about it every day.

And caring about the posts that I write is what prevents me from posting everything I write that’s less than insightful. I have technically written 100 posts, counting this. But I haven’t published the dozen drafts I have saved because I don’t think they’re good enough. So, not caring about what you do? While it’s a good concept, it’s not really great in execution.

The second thing I tried was just tell my friends to check the post out, and since we normally have the same opinions, they’d normally Like it. However, this isn’t ideal because most of them don’t actually blog. They occasionally post, but they don’t really care for it.

So, I always felt guilty asking them to check out my newest post. I still do that, but I’m much more casual about it, now. I only bring it up if it relates to the conversation. Like, when my friend was having trouble writing. I just told him I wrote a little post about it ages ago, and pass him the link. Then I just give him the shortened version of it.

The third thing you could do is to write depending on what people want to know. This could actually work, but if you always just write about popular culture like Kim Kardashian’s new baby, or Channing Tatum directing Magic Mike 2, I don’t think you’ll have that much fun at all. Unless that is what you actually want to do.

I, personally, like writing about my experiences as a writer, and I occasionally review movies and books. I get an average four Likes on my posts about writing (if it’s a good day), and maybe one to two Likes (at most) on my reviews. This doesn’t mean that people like posts about writing more, and hate reviews. I just think that there are a lot of other more popular reviewers out there, and my reviews are generally about movies that are no longer in theatres. And people have the Nostalgia Critic for stuff like that.

Yet, I just started a new series called Classic Thursdays where I take movies deemed as classics and see if they hold up to my eyes. I write it partially for me, and partially because I just think that blindly liking movies because they’re called classics is rather weird. Also, because I think my generation really should watch some unknown classics more.

The final option is to just quit blogging. No point in fussing over something if only two people pay attention, right?

Well, if everyone listened to that, schools would be in real disrepair. So, I won’t quit blogging because I haven’t earned my popularity, yet, as much as a lot of other, better bloggers. But I will continue to write about my experiences as a writer, and if anyone is interested, they can read it and enjoy reading about my mishaps.

This has been a short post, but I’ve just been thinking about this for a long time, and that’s really all the advice I can offer. It’s not much, but it’s something. Hope you’ve enjoyed the post!

~Jian

I don’t mean going without sleep for 72 hours straight. (Yeah, you only have to go without sleep for 48 hours anyways.)

Image

However, I want to talk about exercising your creative muscles. I really don’t exercise my physical muscles as much as I should, but people forget that while writing isn’t really physically demanding, you do need to do a lot of work in it, as well.

So, what do I mean by pushing yourself to the limit? A few examples of how I pushed myself in the past will be in order. The first time was when I was still writing the Line of Corruption. This was maybe late 2011, or early 2012. I was writing a massive battle, and it was honestly the first time I’d written something like it. I’d written huge battles before, but it was the first time where the impact of the results affected the main characters so strongly.

In order to keep up the pace and momentum, I wrote it like a reader would read it. Nonstop. I wrote eight thousand words in one sitting. The next day I wrote four thousand words, and on Saturday, I wrote another four thousand words. That was how I ended Part I of Line of Corruption.

I was creatively drained afterwards. Didn’t write a word for maybe a week. But I was done with Part I. It clocked in at around 53k words. Writing eight thousand words is not as difficult as I assumed before I wrote it. It’s really a question of whether or not you want to persevere. See, the reason why we normally don’t write ten thousand words in one sitting is because you will probably hit a creative wall. And there are two things you can do.

1. Call it a day, and see if you can scale the wall tomorrow with the proper equipment.

2. Channel Jackie Chan, and try to jump over the wall and hope for the best.

That’s how I always saw it. And at times, I really wished I took a few karate lessons. Since the grammar mistakes were ridiculously bad, and I immediately removed those mistakes the next day, but the point is that it is possible if you are willing to throw caution to the wind. That’s how I like to write. Make it risky. I like to think it worked, because the fight scenes had an urgency to them. (Because dinner was in thirty minutes, and I had to wrap it up before then.)

So, there’s your first example of when I pushed myself. Second example is when I wrote Radio Silence. I was preparing for NaNoWriMo, and I had a cool idea for a horror story. So, I just wrote the first four thousand words in one sitting. It’s not as impressive, I guess, as the part with Line of Corruption. But I did push myself because I had no idea what I was going to do with the story.

So, what the next hundred words was going to entail was a mystery to me until I was literally a dozen words away from writing it. That’s how I did it. And it worked out. Then, around January, I pushed myself again with an Urban Fantasy story. I wrote five thousand words in one hour. I was chatting with my friend at the time, and every time I wrote a thousand words, I’d send him a message challenging him to beat it.

I liked the story a lot, but I made a lot of mistakes. Mostly with verb tenses. I’d written it in first person perspective, and I hadn’t written anything like that before. I think I may have deleted it, but I may have it on a forum I made with some of my writer friends where we can post our writings and critique each other’s work even when we’re not online on Skype.

So, tomorrow, I’m going to push myself again with Radio Silence. My goal is to get to Chapter 8 by midnight. I’ve got two big fights planned between Gordon and a prisoner, and it’s going to be a lot of fun writing them. I at least need to finish writing Chapter Six because I held off on posting Chapter Five last friday so I can post two chapters next Friday. (No worries – it’ll still be suspenseful. You’re welcome. -dodges a burning trashcan- )

The point is, pushing yourself as a writer is never really a bad thing. Sure, you make a lot of mistakes along the way, and I certainly wrote some pretty incomprehensible things while I was pushing myself, but it’s at times like that when you can test your determination. You get to see just how stubborn you are. I’ll most likely set out an hour tomorrow so I can write Chapter 6 and 7, and as a bonus, I’ll make a video of myself writing it. A few months ago, I learned how to record my computer screen by using this program, Screenflow.

So, prepare yourself for a video after I post Chapter Five and Six. You’ll see a lot of deleting, terrible punctuation errors, and massive factual errors. I know, sounds like a lot of fun.

It’s really a video for the people that are most interested in how I write things (yes, all ten views will be myself re-watching it to see all my mistakes), and I’ll most likely speed up the video on Final Cut Pro X so it isn’t so dreadfully long. Hope you’re looking forward to it.

When have you pushed yourself as a writer? I’d love to hear your stories down in the comments, and I bet they’re a lot less mistake-filled as mine. Have a cool day.

Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you a guest post written by one of my beta readers, T. Trian, part of the writing duo of T.K. Trian. I tried writing a similar post ages ago, but after reading this, it’s kind of embarrassing how little I understood about talent and skill. I’m going to stop myself from rambling, since I really think you should read this right now. I’ll have more to say at the end of the post. 

Love/Hate

Most people can write yet few people are fiction authors. Why is that? Simple: because writing is a skill, just like any other. It’s a craft. Like playing the guitar, making exquisite carpentry, or drawing. Crafts require constant honing or the skill starts to rust. That’s the reason why most people aren’t musicians, painters, or fiction authors. Those who try to make do with only casual practice just won’t make the cut. Some rare, truly talented individuals could, in the days of yore when the Earth was green and dinosaurs ruled, but those days are long gone. Now if you want to ”make it,” even the most talented people have to put in countless, regular hours of practice to get even close to the level nowadays required of professionals.

            What is talent? It’s a word thrown around a lot, especially with compliments. Most people who meddle with the arts, be they talented or not, will hear ”oh, you’re so talented” at one point in their life or another. Usually though, the person making the compliment is mistaking skill for talent.

What is skill, then? It’s the result of hard work that spans a longer period of time. Talent is a person’s natural capacity to learn the basics of some function a tad easier than others. A rhythmically talented person can pick up the basics of drumming easier than one of us normal folks, but that’s it; talent only takes you so far and if talent is all you rely on, pretty soon you’ll see all the humble non-talents flying by, their skills far surpassing that of yours. Should’ve practiced those rudiments with the same diligence you play World of Warcraft or whatever is the new ”it” thing on the net (yeah, I don’t really play video/computer games; I prefer to do stuff like punching and kicking people [in the ring] or shooting for real, it’s a quirk).

            I’ve never been talented at anything. Well, the only real talent I admit is a vivid imagination, but that’s it; I’m not a talented writer, guitarist, songwriter, drummer, or athlete. All that I’ve achieved in those particular areas are due to skills developed through hard work. Blood, sweat, and tears, literally. Not to sound egoistic, but people have called me talented many times in many things. They have all been wrong. And they haven’t been particularly good at the thing they were complimenting on because otherwise they would have just told me to practice more instead of offering their misguided (albeit well-meaning) praises.

            In a way, calling someone talented can even be seen as a kind of an insult stemming from ignorance: it undermines all the hard work the person has put in their craft, whatever it may be. It implies they aren’t where they are because of hard work, but simply because they were born with the skill. I’ve never met anyone who was born a pianist or a boxer. Every single one of the good ones has been skilled, however, dedicated to their craft, their art.

They have often made great sacrifices to become as good as they are, usually at the expense of things dear to them, things like friends, other hobbies, fun nights out with sexy people, even family. I’ve heard of couples breaking up because one of them didn’t abandon their frequently touring band or sports team that took them to competitions all over the world. And then some derp walks up to them and goes ”oh, you’re so talented!” Yeah, thanks.

            But what does this mean when we look at the big picture? I’ll tell you in a moment. First, I just want to take a moment to giggle at every single Great Artist out there who think they’re sooo fucking talented, sooo fucking special, just like their mommy and daddy told them. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re not special.

Here’s the thing, the secret they try so hard to forget: anybody can be an artist. Abso-fucking-lutely anybody. Well, anybody with the capacity of normal bodily functions and the will to pour in countless hours of usually boring, frustrating, and aggravating practice. Anybody willing to sacrifice much of the fun they would otherwise have (like spending hours watching TV or puking their guts out in a ditch, i.e. fun).

            You, me, her, everybody and his dog could be a fiction author, but few people are willing to clock enough practice time. I mean, why would they since it’s so fucking hard, annoying, and frustrating? Simple: if you have a dream, you simply can’t live without working your ass off to reach it. If you want to be the world’s fastest swimmer, imagine how many hours you need to spend in the pool or at the gym? Or, by God, stretching *puke*.

It’s the same with fiction writing: you can’t just sit down on your lardy ass, barf out 60k words, and be the next J. K. Rowling. Sorry, dreamer, these days it no longer works like that. Not sure if it ever did, because I’m sure if you asked Mrs. Rowling, she’d probably tell you she worked her ass off to get to where she is now. Just like anybody who’s truly great at what they do. Go back in time and ask J. R. R. Tolkien if he just farted out LOTR or if he dedicated years of hard work and research to create the quintessential gem of fantasy literature.

            I seem to hate the word ”talent,” but perhaps, in the name of semantics, I could at least admit that the drive that makes you want go through hell to become great could be called talent. For instance, some could argue that I don’t have talent for becoming a pianist simply because I have absolutely zero interest in playing that particular instrument. They also could argue that I have talent for writing, playing the guitar, shooting, swimming, and martial arts, because those I do need to practice as often as I humanely can or else I’ll just become anxious, twitchy, annoyed, simply no fun to be around.

It’s almost like a compulsion, and while I don’t admit to being a masochist per se, I have to say that on some level I enjoy even those practice sessions that I hate. A paradox? Not really: I hate the grueling hours I have to practice scales with the guitar to develop my speed and dexterity, but I enjoy knowing that all that annoying stuff will eventually make me a better player. Hell, it even helps me as a songwriter when I can write stuff I otherwise couldn’t because I would’ve been unable to play it. The same goes for every other craft I love. Hate. It’s a love/hate-thing, I guess.

Bottomline: anybody can be an artist, an athlete, the next Donald Trump. All you need is love for something, the passion that fuels the drive to put in insane amounts of hard work until you achieve that dream.

 

Aren’t you glad I told you to read it? Personally, I don’t think I’m a very talented writer. The reason why I can write as well as I can now (that isn’t to say that I’m a particularly good writer) is because of lots of practice, and a few tips by much more experienced writers that decided to throw me a bone. The saying, “Practice makes perfect,” has become cliche, but the only way you can get better is through practice. Unless, of course, you’re the next Mozart. However, if you’re a regular Joe like me, you need all the practice you can get. And if you can spend hours doing the same thing over and over again (definition of insanity), and still love what you’re doing… I consider you talented. 

You can check out T. Trian’s blog at this link, where they’ve written a lot of interesting things. You can also check out their Twitter account at this link. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post as much as I have, and if you did, leave a Like and a comment and remember to check out Toni Trian’s blog. 

~Jian