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Posts Tagged ‘sf/f conventions’

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
– George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Still reading the Game of Thrones books and hoping to see a new book published in the not too distant future. George Martin is a wonderful stroyteller, whether you choose to delve into his world or not. Yes, there’s violence, language, and sex, but his world building is to be admired.

I like this quote, not just because it shows a wonderful relationship between parent and child, but because of its great truth. To pick up a snake when you’re not afraid of snakes is no act of bravery. To kill a copperhead threatening your children when you’re terrified of snakes, is being brave.

For me, it is a fearful thing to put my stories and artwork out in the public eye. I suppose it’s because I fear my work isn’t good enough. I’ve never been part of “the in group,” so I think I’m pretty sure my creative work—and by extension, myself—will be rejected or thought less than acceptable. Whether in science-fiction and fantasy fandom at cons, at writers’ conventions, bookstore signing, or at an art exhibit—I’m always one step away from running out the door. (Though I’ve been told I hide it well!)

So when you see me at public venues, know I face a fear by being there. I’m not sure if I’m brave, but I do know my heart is racing and my hands are shaking—just a bit—as I pry myself from in front of the computer or drawing board and mingle with readers, writers, and fans.

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I met Isaac Asimov many years ago at a science fiction convention called EveCon. In one panel discussion (where he was not on the panel, but in the audience), an impassioned young woman was asking the writers on the panel to create a new word for a female hero. She thought heroine was a lesser word, and read a list of words she’d come up with that were more suitable. I was about to respond (having been recently introduced at a poetry reading as a poetess rather than a poet), when Isaac raised his hand.

“Young woman,” he said, “why not just use the word, hero? I see no need for a separate word. A hero is a hero no matter the gender or species.”

My feelings exactly! And after Isaac Asimov’s wonderful answer, there was no need for me, or anyone else on the panel to respond.

Here’s a quote on writing from Isaac Asimov: “What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase in not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.”

I, like many writers, need to heed these words, and thoughtfully edit my stories before presenting them to readers.

 

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Chris Jackson Thanks to author Chris Jackson for stopping by and sharing his thoughts about inspiration and the power of positive feedback.

The Heart of Inspiration by Chris A. Jackson

What inspires you?

I’m not asking where you get your impetus, your ideas, your spark of imagination; I’m asking what impulse drove you to want to do what you do?

I think that for everyone the answer to this question is slightly different. For an athlete it could be the roar of the crowd, the adulation of fans, or the respect of peers. For a business person it could be wealth, respect, or an inner drive to succeed. One thing is certain, however: no matter what you do, when someone tells you that you’ve done it well, it inspires you to do more.

At first, my inspiration to write was something nebulous, a deep feeling that I could do something that people would enjoy, could create something entertaining. And, in the very beginning, when I was writing a story that based upon a roleplaying game campaign I’d created, it was a sense of, “There has got to be some further use for all this work I just completed.” As my writing career progressed, however, I have drawn inspiration from a different quarter. I now know that I write for the sheer pleasure of hearing or talking to people who have enjoyed my work.

The first time this happened, I was at a convention. I honestly can’t remember which one. It might have been Necronomicon, in Tampa Florida, since that was my very first. A young lady had purchased one of my books the previous year, and sought me out the next year. She so enjoyed the novel she’d purchased that she wanted to buy everything else I had in print, and begged me to write a sequel. I was, quite simply, knocked flat by that level of praise. I had received accolades before, some from other writers and professionals, but nothing came close to that simple, honest pleasure I had elicited from a reader.

Every time this happens, and I’m pleased to say that it has happened quite a lot more than I ever expected it would, I get the same thrill. One of the best complements I’ve ever been paid was by a young man who and said that he had been walking around his home reading one of my stories, and he not only forgot where he was, but also forgot he was reading. That tells me that I transported his mind into my world. That is my job, and I had achieved it perfectly. That alone, above anything else, including getting paid to write, has kept me writing.

Chris Jackson Pirate's Honor Interestingly, this is also what I did not get out of a twenty-year career in biomedicine. I enjoyed my work, and I know I achieved some very solid research, and taught a lot of medical students how not to kill their patients, which made me feel good, but there wasn’t that thrill, that big thank you that I’ve received from fans of my stories. This, I think, is the difference between simply “working” and “working to create.” When you create something, whether it’s with your hands, your mind, or the sweat of your brow, and that creation, that “thing”, brings someone pleasure, you get a feeling of accomplishment that cannot be surpassed. I know a chef gets this rush when a comment comes back from a diner that their meal was superb, and I imagine a tailor might get the same rush when a suit or gown is received by the customer with a comment of praise. Artists, and there can be artists in virtually any venue, be it food, painting, storytelling, or decorating, live on that praise. We thrive on it and it drives us to create even more beautiful things.

So, don’t hold back. When you read a book you love, eat a meal you enjoy, view a house or room that has been constructed or decorated to please your eye, laud the artist with praise. In doing so, you’re making the world a more beautiful, positive, and peaceful place. You, in your praise, are creating beauty.”

For more information on Chris A. Jackson and his books including Pathfinder Tales – Pirate’s Honor check his website: www.jaxbooks.com and follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ChrisAJackson1 and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=726625842

Thanks again to Chris Jackson for his guest post. And now that I’m home from a 2 week trip visiting New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and California – watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie

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