Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Self-Publishing Struggles!

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Sometimes I don’t care. I mean I just don’t give a damn. It’s not always and the feeling goes away pretty quick, but it happens nonetheless. I mean, devoting all your time and energy to positive thinking is great and all, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work. Sometimes you just have to say screw it. Forgive me if that’s blunt and crude, but it’s true. That negativity seeps in and takes hold; it’s like a poison. And in real life, every once in a while it wins. 

The trick is to make sure negativity’s win is only once in a while.
Right now, I’m struggling to get my book ready for publication. It’s a long, slow, involved, long, slow, difficult, long, slow, and stressful process. Anyone else who’s been through it can attest to that. And it feels like it’s going to take a thousand lifetimes to get finished. Keep in mind, the story is actually finished. Right now I’m just working on getting it ready for readers to actually enjoy. I mean, I’d love for you to read The Odyssey of Ryou Un Maru right now! But you can’t, because it isn’t ready… yet. Anyway, the point is, it’s hard and I’m struggling with the thought that even after all this, I’m still motivated to get it out there albeit much later than I originally planned.

Also, there are times when I ‘just want to write’, but that’s only a fantasy I indulge in periodically. Part of being a writer is marketing what you’ve written. It’s not the most glamorous thing but it is necessary. It’s a weird dichotomy but a necessary one for anyone that wants to make it as a published author. I know that, but it still sucks. In a perfect (read: fantasy) world, I’d just write the books and a legion of editors, proofreaders, and publishers would do all the grunt work of getting it to press. But that is just not the case, especially since my name isn’t StephenKing, JK Rawling, Dick Francis, Dan Brown, Jackie Collins, or any other best-selling author you could name off the top of your head. It’s when I compare myself to these successful folks, look at what they’ve accomplished and then look at my small body of work I get disheartened and just want to quit. A little guy voice in my head starts whispering negativity and cynicism and I start to believe him.  That ‘just screw it’ attitude sinks in and I want to quit. Man I Hate that guy!

I listen to him every once in a while and agree. It’s then I wish I had someone to smack me in the face (proverbially… or maybe actually). I hate failure; I hate not even trying waaaaay more. So I cry a little bit, sniffle, feel sad for a while and then do a ball check and suck it up. Because I just can’t quit.

I have found a few things to keep me going. The latest book I’ve taken the time to read is Self-Printed (3rd Ed.): The Sane Person's Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard. It’s pretty much a how to combined with a personal experience book about how she managed to get through the whole publishing mess that is self-printing. There are lots of useful tid bits and it’s nice to read about others that struggle with the same issues.

Even though it’s taking a billion billion times longer than I want or could have believed, I’m still on my mission to be a successful writer. Hell, I might not ever make it, but I just won’t give up. Is that pathetic or perseverance? I don’t know, I guess maybe success is the only way to answer that for sure…

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What’s your favorite book?

I was an English major in college. I read a lot of books, some good, some terrible. I’ll admit though, I’ve been reading for enjoyment since I was about ten years old. I know, I’m a dork right? Ha. I remember standing in the book store at the mall (back when book stores were a dime a dozen) and agonizing over which book to spend my meager allowance on purchasing. Back then it was Dr. Who stories. Later I graduated to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. I’ve always been a bit of a Sci Fi and Fantasy nerd. Heck, I read Tolkien when I was 12. High School brought on a bunch of ‘classics’ that I’d rather label garbage. In college I read even more material, much of it terrible, but also some incredible gems.

One of my favorite books of all time is Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Read that in my Junior year of college. I’d say that’s number three on my all time favorite list. Number two is a non-fiction book about the human mind and how it constructs myth and morphs it over time. When They Severed Earth From Sky, by Barber and Barber will undoubtedly force you to change your perspective on religion, history, myth and the meaning of societies’ values.

My all time favorite book is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Surprisingly, I did not read this book in high school or college. I read it after that, while I was in the Navy.  Imagine the irony of that sort of thing, reading a book about military and societal insanity, while in the military, serving during a time of societal upheaval in the wake of 9/11. Regardless of when I read the book, it stunned and captivated me. I was intrigued and perplexed at the same time. Each character vividly came to life from the written page; each possessed disturbing yet personal quirks that made them ‘real’. I also identified with the central conundrum the book presents; that of the struggle to conform or rebel against society’s rules while being true to yourself. 

Other people that have read Catch-22 agree with me; although others have said it can be incomprehensible. The narrative is fractured a la Pulp Fiction. I think that’s what I like about it most. The story is non-linear. To me that’s like life. Yes we move through time in a linear fashion but for the most part our minds meander and oscillate from the past to the present and drift off into the future occasionally, all in a day’s time. I think the beauty of a story like that is you aren’t stuck in a traditional beginning, middle, and end. Each chapter could be the conclusion or the start; it’s all in how you look at it. That’s the real gift, the gift of perspective.

Another interesting note about that book is this. Joseph Heller taught English composition at my Alma mater, Penn State for two years. I remember being on campus. Every day after class I passed by a sign outside one of the buildings. This sign was dedicated to Joseph Heller and it made mention of his tenure at Penn State and his acclaim for writing Catch-22. After first reading that sign I told myself that one day I would read his book. Although it took me ten years to fulfill that promise, I did. Consider it a conceit that I believe one day I will publish a quality novel like Mr. Heller. And I too will have a sign somewhere on Penn State’s main campus illustrating that fact.  

If you remember I’m always saying if you change your perspective, you’ll change the world. Well, here’s another example. What’s your favorite book? Do you even have one? If you don’t I’d challenge you to pick one of mine, if just for a good example and read it. You might get something out of it, if you dare.

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

You Can't Read That!

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

In the United States we have a list of things that supposedly guarantee each citizen rights – This list is called the Bill of Rights. You might have heard of these rights; they’re the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. The first one, and arguably the most well-known and most well-defended is the Freedom of Speech. It reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Expressing that ‘speech’ has become known to include the arts such as painting, sculpting, theater, cinema, and writing. Now, there are certain provisos that accompany these rights, often times coming in the form of a certain censorship. Obvious examples would be not allowing someone to shout ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater when there is no fire, or allowing children to watch pornographic or violent movies. There is a line between sensible distribution of this expression and the inappropriate display to those unprepared to interprete it.

Now I bring this up because as a writer I want people to read my work and hopefully gain a positive from it. I’m sure many, if not most or all writers are looking to have their work read and be part of the greater whole of literature. The idea of banning a book, to me, is unthinkable. Now I get it that there are some books that are vulgar, sexist, racist, gratuitous, abusive, ill-conceived, and otherwise just poorly written. However, it would seem to me that some books are banned simply because they do not appeal to the sensibilities of those doing the banning.

According to the American Library Association there is a list of 100 frequently banned books by organizations, groups, schools, etc from across the country. As an example, check out this list from 1990 to 1991. Thing is, I’ve read many of the books on this particular list at different times in my life. Not one of them was so offensive or duplicitous as to make me feel no one else should ever read it. Granted, some were unsettling or disturbing, but to me they presented a perspective I had not experienced or was aware of. This exposure allowed me to expand my scope of thinking and come to a greater understanding. One good example is from Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. The basic premise is a large group of boys are trapped on a deserted island with no adult supervision. The way Golding constructs the plot and narrative to slowly and deliberately expose the degradation of civility and society because of the lack of rule of law and authority is staggering and hauntingly foretelling. Some would say the book is too violent, especially because the main characters are all adolescent boys. I could relate to this story, first because I was once an adolescent boy, and two because there are circumstances and instances where law and authority break down, and I’ve seen them.

My point here is that even though art (in this case the written word) can be offensive and unpleasant, where do we draw the line when it comes to exposing the truth of our own society? A lot of these books are guilty of pulling off the mask society wears. They expose prejudices and conceits, our hypocrisies and deliberate lies; they expose the ugly truth if you will. 

Is the truth too disturbing to be laid out bare for all to see? And should we keep lying to ourselves and hide behind censorship? Or are these books so offensive and unacceptable they should never see the light of day again?

What do you think?

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...