Why I Write

I went to the library that I used to go to when I was a kid the other day. I’m not one to be married to the past, by any means, but it had certainly changed. It’s not a city library anymore, but county, so the dusty, smelly old books that used to crowd the shelves are replaced with sleek latest editions, and only enough of those to fill half the shelves. You can request any book you want on the computer. I expected as much, just from the rise of the ebook, but still. Gone are the days of staggering out with every book that interested me (which was all of them), precariously balancing a stack, while trying to read one of them, all the while being grateful for automatic doors, which likely saved many concussions for my 10-year-old self.

I lived at that library growing up. The librarians were amazing, and always had wonderful suggestions for me. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories that gave people the kind of enjoyment I get from reading them.

That, right there, is the best piece of writing advice I ever received. Know why you write.

It’s not the same for everyone. Maybe you have an agenda, or a message. Maybe you want fame and glory and awards (more on that in a second). Maybe it’s a hobby. The list is long and varied.

A funny thing happens, as many of you know, when you go from one day I will have a book out to I am a published author, or somewhere in the middle, anyway. In fact, it happens earlier and earlier, thanks to the internet and social media. Things crowd out why you write. Twitter activism- if you follow a bunch of writers on Twitter, you are basically walking into a high school of very vocal, very opinionated people. Suddenly, you care about awards. Not just awards, but the process, the categories, and goddammit I want one.

Why do you write?

With the recent Hugo… cluster, and every goddamn controversy in genre before that (do crime authors deal with this shit?), for as much as I am interested in those things, and do care about them- guess what? It’s not why I write. I don’t need any hardware to validate my writing, me as a person, and certainly not any of my views (*cough puppies cough*). It doesn’t do me or my writing any good to dwell on them.

What’s my point in all this? Twofold, really. I never looked for any stamp on any of those books I read- Hugo Award Winner, Nebula Award Winner– and if they had some award or not, it wouldn’t have increased or decreased my enjoyment of them. So, as a writer, I have reached a point where I genuinely don’t care. Perhaps easy to say, since no one has, ya know, offered me a Hugo, but I can say I don’t particularly want someone to. What I want, as a writer, is people to read my stuff, hopefully enjoy it, and then hopefully tell someone to do the same. If things go really well, I will get to make a living off that.

As a reader, I care even less. If that’s the validation some people need, fine, whatever, that’s their business. But if your writing is a platform for your idiotic, selfish and bigoted worldviews, and awards and the process around them serves as means to draw attention to same, you can bet your sweet ass I will not be reading your book.

Wanted: Fiction Authors

Seeking one (1) qualified writer to fill desired position. Must have not less than ten years experience, and have no less than three (3) NYT bestsellers, and short fiction sales to every (literally) pro market.

Job duties to include:

  • Working long hours for no pay on something which will likely never be read.
  • Coming to despise your own work with a hatred you previously imagined impossible.
  • Renouncing vacations, friendships and any and all free time.

Required Qualifications:

  • Must love daily, cold rejection.
  • Must enjoy ongoing criticism of work you consider personal.
  • Must embrace conflict and controversy. Candidates who have experience overreacting to perceived slights are preferred.

Compensation is DOE (and name recognition) and is not guaranteed.

Listicles are the Worst

Every year, Lake Superior State University releases a list of words to be removed from the Queen’s English due to mis- or over-use, or general uselessness. I submit that certain phrases and expressions should be retired for the same reasons.

shut upComparing anything to the Holocaust: Mild inconveniences are not the same as being sent to slave and death camps! Even injustices applied to groups of people are not. The holocaust was the Holocaust. That’s what makes it so bad. If everything was that bad, it wouldn’t be remarkable. Also included is comparing things/people to Nazis or Hitler.

‘-gate': I wish to god that that incident had taken place at any other hotel so people would stop with the ‘-gate’ thing. GamerGate. DeflateGate. FIND SOMETHING NEW.

Just the Worst: As with Holocaust comparisons above, no, it probably is not. I certainly understand and appreciate hyperbole, but when you can seven different things per day “Just the Worst” the impact is somewhat lessened.

Clickbait: No, not the term Clickbait. Clickbait itself. Any headline that says “you won’t believe” or tells me I “Need to” do anything. No. Stop. All you’re doing is advertising how valueless your article actually is.

WTAF: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

What other phrases and expressions need to go?

DESR

Age of Ultron – Random Thoughts

Managed to (finally) catch Age of Ultron last night, and mostly what I have is a bunch of random thoughts, that are far too long for the twitters. So you get them here!! Feel free to comment, or poke me on twitter, because I want to talk about them! So many thoughts!

Oh, and be tee dubs. This isn’t a review, it’s my thoughts on the movie, so SPOILER ALERT and whatnot.

-The writing was bloody fantastic. I went in with very low expectations, and was impressed. I liked this movie more than the first Avengers. It felt smarter, with a more defined antagonist. The first one felt more like OMG AVENGERS and just watching them do awesome stuff. Ultron was more… well, let’s get into that.

-Holy character development, Batman. Aside from Thor, every character seemed to grow. I spent most of the movie going back and forth between who I loved most. If the movie was nothing but Banner and Nat, I would have been 100% OK with it. Their growth, tragic romance (*shovels popcorn*), holy cow the bedroom conversation, all of that was amazing. And of course, for Hawkeye (AGAIN: SPOILERS), it seems basic to say he advanced a ton. He felt like the third (or, like, eighth) wheel. He was just kind of there so far, but I love what they did with him- he’s still a third wheel, but you know who he is and why now. Also he has some of the movies best lines, and certainly more self-awareness than the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. “The city is flying… We’re fighting robots… And I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes any sense” is the best part of the whole damn movie, because it nails it. It doesn’t make sense, but goddamn if it isn’t fun.

-I loved the last scene between Steve and Tony. With the events of Civil War looming (and what happens between them in the comics *sobs*), it made it tragic and bittersweet.

-On the subject of Cap, while I have developed a serious Hawkeye crush, I love what the MCU has done for him. He was never my favorite in comics, mostly because no one has ever described me as a patriot and he was a commercial for America. But in the MCU he is much deeper, and Steve is an incredibly well-rounded character. I can’t wait for Civil War, even though it’s gonna break my heart, since I’m basically Tony.

-I would have really liked to see (at least) Falcon play a larger role. He had, basically, a glorified cameo. And he’s awesome. Ditto Rhodey. We’re not gonna talk about that here, OK? *glares at the room* They know what they did. No, I said we’re not talking about it.

-The acting was also superb. James Spader was nothing short of brilliant as Ultron. I love that he wasn’t the cold, unfeeling robot. There is some snark to him. Ruffalo is equally brilliant as Banner, and his facial expressions alone sell the conflict within him. I love nearly all things Jeremy Renner, and again, he is amazing as Hawkeye (and before you talk about THAT, read THIS)(ugh, now I’m angry again) (ugh, we’re not talking about gender and race in comics) (but seriously, is it that hard to write something other than white males?)(DAMMIT I SAID WE’RE NOT NOT TALKING ABOUT IT).

-It was a fun movie. Go see it.

-Oh, I am super glad they cut out at “Avengers A-“

FREE STORIES Y’ALL

I have talked about QuarterReads before, where you can read short fiction for the low, low price of twenty-five cents per story. I have a couple stories over there. BUT NOW, you can read one of them for the low, low, LOWER price of NOTHING AT ALL. That’s right, you cheap bastards, ‘Far’ is free this week.

Go read it.

Bring tissues.

Tip your writer.

DESR

Get off your Hobby Horse

Every so often, there is a refrain that one hears from writers, or rather, generally, sees, since it’s usually on social media. It goes like this:

Non-writer: “What do you do?”

Writer: “I write.”

Non-writer: “But you have a day job?”

Writer: “Yeah.”

Non-writer: “So writing is a hobby.”

Hashtag Exasperated Sigh

The feeling being, of course, that writing is not a hobby- it’s much more, after all, we’re writers, it’s who we are. Having people call it a hobby takes away from that, away from the fact that we will make it.

Except, it doesn’t. More often than not, offense is taken by writers who don’t have much- if any- published work. Which is also fine. Consider: even if you expect to be a commercial success- is writing being a hobby such a bad thing?

Lots of people love to hunt. They are hunters. Their ridiculously oversized trucks are decorated in camouflage, gun racks, decals of their preferred prey. It is who they are. They have day jobs. Does it make them less of a hunter to do so? Why should it make you less of a writer if you have a day job that pays the bills?

So, raise your hand if you support yourself solely by writing. This includes if your have a spouse who works to support the family, if you have one. And unless Dan Brown suddenly started reading my blog, I’m guessing the list of people who chimed in on that is fairly short.

I will reiterate another common refrain here: Writers write. That’s all you can control, so write. Don’t worry about labels or what other people think. Worry about producing something people want to read.

DESR

The First Annual Deano Awards

Tired of the Hugo Awards? Ready for something new? Welcome to the First Annual Deano Awards! The rules are simple- in each category, any work by Dean (me) qualifies, and the winner is chosen by Dean (me). This way there is no room for bias, no sad puppies and I think we all agree that the result is pretty darn good. Let’s to the presentation.

Dean: Welcome to the 2015 Deano Award Show! Let’s get right to it, with the award for Best Short Story. The nominees are:

Far

Dark Night

Both by Dean E.S. Richard. Let’s see who won!

[Dramatic lights and music]

And the winner is… Far, by Dean E.S. Richard. Dean, get up here!

Dean: Wow, this is really unexpected. I’m so honored. Given the strong competition in the field, I wasn’t really sure if I would win. Hoped, of course, but thank you so much to Dean, for selecting me for this honor, and of course Dean, for putting on such a great show. This is truly an honor.

Dean: Gracious as always! Let’s move on to best Novel.

[awkward silence]

Uh… You didn’t come out with a novel this year, Dean.

Dean: I was busy!

Dean: Well, we need a novel for the award.

Dean: …maybe it should be the Dean Lifetime Achievement Award?

Dean: …says the guy without a novel out.

Dean: Hey, it’s my show, asshole.

Dean: Fine, presenting the Dean Lifetime Achievement Award…