Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Winning Formula

I have had a couple of people ask me recently what I think the "winning" formula may be for writing and getting published. My first somewhat sarcastic remark was, "How would I know?" At the time, I thought that perhaps I didn't have the right to answer. I have enjoyed a modicum of success with the contests, but have not yet been published with a major publishing house. After some thought, however, I have come to the conclusion that this is America, and by God, I shall give my unabashed opinion… take it or leave it.

A pastor friend of mine once said, "Justin, you should give the first two minutes of anything you do to God." Okay. Fine. The first part of the formula: God gets his measly two minutes - whether he wants it or not - from this foul mouthed horror writer. After all, I need all the help I can get. Ha!

The percentages that I am about to set forth represent a percentage of the time that you actually get to devote to your craft. The actual hour count is obviously going to vary greatly from person to person depending on other time commitments that they may have. My hope is that as you find success in writing, the more time you will have to spend on what you love. I am also going to make an assumption: The people reading my blog, and actually paying attention to the formula, will already have completed at least one piece of work that they feel is worthy of representation or presentation.

Here it is folks; the Winning Formula… I hope!

60% writing new material (Why bother writing otherwise?)
15% marketing current material (Reach for the golden ring… and grasp it!)
12% revising old material (Only upon suggestion from a competent authority or peer)
7% networking (Face it… we need the encouragement and advice from our peers)
6% research (it's called the internet folks. Don't lie… you use it too!)

Let me know if the formula works for you. Obviously there may be times in your writing career when certain priorities will take over and this formula will go flying out the window. Here's to hoping that it is an agent or an editor dictating your time for you!

As for me, I must get back to my writing; something is clamoring for my attention, from "Within the Shadows".

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Humble Attempt At Philosophy

As I sit down to write this blog entry, I can’t help but ponder the human dichotomy. We are truly a duopolistic species; torn between our chemical reactions in regards to fear and love… and devotion to an omnipotent deity (at least for the majority of the world). As a horror writer, I find it absolutely delicious that the human psyche performs at its most optimal when aroused, either by the need to mate or by fear. Furthermore, I would go out on a limb to muse that nothing has motivated human beings more so. I challenge each of you to think of anything more powerful in your life than; the need to reproduce, escape harm, or please the whims of our jealous God. Only after these three visceral criteria have been adequately met, do most of us humans venture further into the world to appreciate the arts and other more superlative endeavors. I allow for the fact that the need for belonging is strong among us, but even that… can it not be lumped, at least communally, under one of the other three? Is it any wonder that we are often a slave to our emotions… or our chemicals? Perhaps we need not be. Atheists confuse creative stifling with our inability to travel past our instincts… the things that make us human. I challenge us all to step outside our fragile shells and live; embrace our fears not subdue them.

I dare say, however, that fear is a dish best served at a time of our own choosing. Many self proclaimed atheist authors and philosophers such as Georges Bataille and Friedrich Nietzsche rail against the design and fabric of Christianity. Why? Please bear in mind that this explanation is simply put: Besides their ideology that religion purportedly renders us inhibited and less creative, one of their prevalent arguments is that religion instills a sense of trepidation into its constituency. Bertrand Russell said, "Religion is based . . . mainly on fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand...” I won’t argue the point that the Spanish Inquisition and the various Crusades were cruel. Never has there been a darker time in the history of Christianity. We made our beliefs compulsory. What is religion when there is no freedom to choose? What is religion when it is forced down our gaping maws on a hardened steel blade? Perhaps the Dark Ages were exactly that… dark. As for myself, if not for having witnessed direct answer to prayer and seen the presence of spiritual beings, I could quite possibly have shifted my thinking to the same vein as the above mentioned because of poor examples within the religious community – and admittedly, there are many. I have not because I do believe, at least to an extent, that religion and fear should be allowed to walk within the same circles… as they always have. Fear is not a bad thing as long as we don't allow it to reduce us to a quivering mound of mush. I believe that our spirituality may be the only way we truly can break the bonds of our innate chemicals and embrace our fears. After all, some aspects of religion are accurately portrayed as fear invoking… hell is supposed to be evil… evil should invoke fear.

I then find it of interest that God challenges us to overcome our fear and “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid…” The Bible goes on to say that we as humans have dominion over the powers of darkness. We win, they lose. Despite our body’s efficiency while fueled by the above stimuli, many come to the conclusion that obedience and reverence to an omnipotent being brings us a certain respite from exactly these things. I would then also mention that I believe the opposite to be true as well. Without fear, what need have we for our all powerful God? What need would we have for the spilled blood of Christ if there were no fear of spending eternity having our flesh burned off? Yes indeed, the Bible is chock full of horror… potential eternal suffering, spilled blood, demons, the end times… I do believe, however, that there is a bit about love as well (just to be fair).

Thus I write within the horror genre. Yes, I am aware that many of my titles spill over into the thriller category as well, but I prefer horror because it elicits fear or at the very least, creates discomfort; this discomfort thus nourishing our body’s natural efficiencies and giving us the opportunity to step outside our disquiet natures, while allowing me to write about things from “Within the Shadows”.