Sunday, October 25, 2009

What You Are

I've finally got back to writing new chapters on my novel, Dreamwielder. I had a decent writing weekend and am over the 30,000 word mark (total, not for the weekend), which by my estimation is about half way there. I like where things are going with the book and think I'm still on pace to finish my first draft by the new year, but I'm admittedly too optimistic for my own good. Be that as it may, my only major issue right now is a few of my character names. I've workshopped early chapters of the novel with The Inklings II and they had problems with two names in particular: 1) Thedric Fearaghast, which is too on the nose for my main bad guy, and 2) Daeira, which is a cool name, but sounds too close to diarrhea. If you have any suggestions, feel free to make them here or join in on the discussion board at my Facebook page:

That's about the only thing new on the writing front, but one thing that's been my mind on a lot is the issue of finding a marketing niche as a writer. Corey Beason, a fellow writer and member of The Inklings II, forwared on the link to this article about how science fiction is so often marginalized: It specifically discusses how writers like Margaret Atwood purposely shun the tag of being a SF writer because they want to be considered “real” writers with literary merit.

I certainly don't like being marginalized as a writer, but on the other hand, many genre writers do quite well because they have a built-in audience base. The whole thing has got me thinking about whether I'm going about this writing business in the correct manner. Fantasy, horror, and SF are certainly the mainstays of my writing portfolio, but I like branching out to write other things as well. The most recent short story I wrote is nothing if not literary. Much of the flash fiction I write is literary. I've written erotica. Children's stories. Screenplays. Music reviews. Nonfiction feature articles. In fact, the next book I'm contemplating writing is a nonfiction travel writing book.

I really feel that writing in different styles and genres keeps me motivated and helps me improve as writer. Furthermore, I'm very much of the mind that I shouldn't put all my eggs in one basket. Diversify, diversify, diversify, is how the saying goes, right? Am I off base here with my strategy? As a writer, can I only hope to succeed commercially if I carve out a brand for myself in one specific genre? Are readers really so fickle that they won't read anything from you if you write in different genres? Are there any writers out there who have successfully crossed over and written in multiple genres (without using pseudonyms)?

I certainly don't know, but I'm of the mind to keep writing what I want. Ultimately, I can't worry about things like getting published and finding commercial success if I don't first write something that's good, and my only hope of doing that is writing something I'm excited and passionate about.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get Back

Well, September up and disappeared like a fart in the wind. Number of blog entries written: zero. Not good, I know, but I am getting back on track with my fiction. I've finished going through the first 100 pages of Dreamwielder, made all my editing marks, and I will begin—this week, I swear—making changes and picking up where I left off over three months ago. One of the writing groups I'm in, The Inklings II, met last weekend and we workshopped a few chapters from the novel. Apart from some minor complaints, all the feedback was positive, particularly in regard to the omniscient narrative, which is my biggest concern at this point. So my goal to finish the first draft by the new year is still intact and I'm pretty stoked about getting back to writing.

To get warmed up and back into fiction mode, I wrote a new short story last week. It's tentatively titled “Choose Your Own Romance,” and I sort of ripped the premise off from a student of mine who wrote a choose your own adventure story for a 2nd person POV assignment in my Flash Fiction class. My story is drastically different, but still, I wouldn't have thought of it without reading my student's story, so thanks, Zach! I workshopped the story tonight with my other writing group, The Soggy Biscuits, and the feedback was good, so after making a few cosmetic changes I'll be sending it off to magazines to see if I can't find a home for it.

In other writing news, two of my flash fiction pieces came out online since my last post. “And the Winner is...” came out in Zygote in My Coffee a month or so back, and “The Missionary,” a sci-fi flash fiction piece, came out just last week in the online edition of Golden Visions. You can find links to both stories in the sidebar to the right under “Publications.”

On the screen writing front, my friend and collaborator Pete Vander Pluym has decided to shelve production of Dark Days, which Eric Tryon and I had written the screenplay for. After budgeting out the project, it proved to be too expensive to shoot for a short film, and Pete is now moving forward with developing a feature length movie. It's a little disappointing, of course, to have the project shelved, but it was a good writing experience and one thing I've learned is that old projects have a way of coming back to life later down the line, so we might yet see some incarnation of Dark Days in the future.

Along those lines, Pete and I have been collaborating on a new song, “Ground Water,” that was intended for the movie soundtrack. We will be recording the song shortly, and we have half-joked around that we'll write the music for a rock opera based around the Dark Days story. Who knows? Weirder things have happened.

In other music related news, I've been helping singer/songwriter Mandy Burke with recording some new demo tracks. My role has been that of producer (I use that term loosely, mind you) and laying down some bass lines. It's cool to be helping out on someone else's project, and I hope to maybe work on some collaborative song writing projects with Mandy in the future, as her style is quite different from mine and it might result in some cool cross genre tunes.

I think that's about it. I haven't been reading anything new, haven't been to any conferences, or experienced any eye-opening events to write about, so I guess I'll call it good and get back to writing Dreamwielder. Until next time, here's to us all getting back to it, and being productive.

-Garrett Calcaterra