Writer Woes: An abundance of details

Sorry, needlessly complicated subplot. We're gonna have to let you go.
Sorry, needlessly complicated subplot. We’re gonna have to let you go. (creative commons, source: wikipedia)

This is the second part of my response to this blog post, asking about writing woes.

I write fantasy. And because it isn’t rooted in our world, that means I have spent a whole lot of time worldbuilding.

My current WIP deals with the interaction of three separate countries, as well as the influence of a fourth country that’s only mentioned in passing. Each of those countries has a dominant religion (or in Tarlam’s case, several dozen religions vying for dominance), creation myths, geography, technology, primary imports and exports, unique social structures, languages, taboos, dominant attitudes toward gender and sexuality, histories, virtues, vices, etc, etc, etc.

Each of the characters has their own backstory which shapes his or her attitudes and behaviors– and these actions have consequences. Some of those backstories overlap and influence other characters.

What’s frustrating is that many of these details will never see the light of day. I’ll know them, but they’re not relevant to the plot, so often they will sink beneath the surface, becoming little more than currents and subtexts. Sometimes one of the biggest writer woes is the struggle to know what to cut, especially when you really liked it.

Here’s an example from DREAMKEEPER:

Twenty years ago, one of the major characters helped send a ship full of refugees to a neutral country. While some of those refugees went into hiding, others banded together to form a resistance against the forces that drove them from their homes. The son of one of those resistance fighters grew up to become a spy, and planted himself as a footman in the same house as Aren, the protagonist. For years now, Aren’s been mistaking his attention for a crush, when in reality he’s been doing surveillance on her.

He’s still in her household, keeping watch– but in more than 100k words, he gets mentioned maybe twice. He doesn’t even have any lines. Because while he and the resistance are effective elsewhere, they don’t actually influence Aren’s story. And that means they got the ax.

Me, I like to think his story was interesting. But that’s what they’re talking about when they say to murder your darlings.

What about you? Have you had to cut any characters or subplots like these? Here’s a chance to share the darlings that might not get to see the light of day!


Writer Woes: The right path up the mountain

Zugspitze von der Alpspitze aus gesehen. Links...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reading this blog post, which asked, “what are your biggest writer woes?”

One of my biggest– the one that’s currently got me beating my head against a wall– is what I like to think of as finding the right path up the mountain.

Our Hero has made her grand journey across perils unnumbered, and needs to find the next clue. It’s at the top of that ol’ mountain over there. I know it is. Seriously, it’s right there.

The problem is, I can’t figure out how to get my Hero up that slope. She could just skip on up there, but that rings false and shallow. She could go through endless harrowing experiences, dealing with avalanches and close encounters with cliffs… but this mountain is just one tiny obstacle, not the subject of the entire book. In the end, I just want my Hero to get up the damn thing so she can move on to the next plot point, but do so without it seeming too trite or too over-the-top.

There are a lot of ways to handle this, and each situation usually requires three or four coping mechanisms to chug through:

  • Rewrite the trek up the mountain. And then rewrite it again. And then rewrite it again. I have a single minor transition scene that has nearly a dozen completely different incarnations for this reason exactly, and my final draft ended up being a combination of several of them.
  • Talk to someone who’s unfamiliar with the story, or only passingly familiar. Kya is my go-to with this sort of thing, but there’s only one of her and I’ve got dibs. Sometimes just the act of explaining the problem is enough to get you thinking in the right direction.
  • Read a book. Watch some good TV (or hell, watch SharkNado). Take a break from your own efforts and try to absorb how other people handle story.
  • Act it out. It’ll look silly, but you and your best friends are going to have a grand ol’ time, and you’ll be amazed at what you find.
  • Ask a professional. If your character is trying to climb a mountain, then locate a mountaineer and interview them. If you’re trying to get through a cave, find yourself a spelunker, and so forth. They’ll have insights you couldn’t even dream of.
  • Crowdsource. Ask a whole group of people about the problem and see what they come up with.

Do you ever struggle with this sort of thing? What do you do to find your way up that mountain?

Writing Exercise: Out of Costume

Two of your characters, who are the most bitter of enemies most of the time, unwittingly sit down and have a chat. Maybe they met up on Chat Roulette (is that even a thing anymore?), maybe they’re a superhero and supervillain who ran into each other out of costume. Whatever the case, at least one of them (perhaps both) doesn’t know who the other is.

What do they talk about? How do they treat each other? Do they broach the subject of their rivalry, or do they steer clear of it?

This sort of conversation isn’t uncommon in fiction (or in real life, for that matter), but it does make you look at this antagonistic relationship in a different light.

Fresh on the shelves!

In case you hadn’t heard, Michelle Hauck and I are working together as freelance editors.

Today I’m proud to announce that not one, but two of our clients just hit the shelves!

black parade Kyoko M. just came out with her first book, The Black Parade, an urban fantasy NA thriller with a holy twist. 

One bullet is all it took to transform eighteen-year-old New Yorker Jordan Amador into the last hope for souls of the dead. However, it also transformed her into a cantankerous asocial waitress with a drinking problem. Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can communicate with ghosts, angels, and demons. Worse still, she did so on the eve of her own awakening, making her the last Seer on Earth with no one to guide her. As penance, God gives her two years to help one hundred souls with unfinished business cross over from Earth to the afterlife or she will go to Hell. Just as she approaches the deadline, Jordan finds her hundredth soul: a smart-mouthed poltergeist named Michael whose ability to physically touch things makes him distinct from her usual encounters with the dead. However, the deeper she delves solving his sudden death, the more she realizes something sinister is on the horizon. With time running short, Jordan stumbles across a plot that may unravel the fragile balance among Heaven, Hell, and Earth. Her life is plunged into chaos as she is hunted by demons that want to use her valuable Seer blood to bring about the end of the world and discovers that these creatures have a frightening connection to her family bloodline. Plus, the budding romance between Jordan and Michael makes it harder for them to let go of each other so he can become part of the eternal black parade.

Kyoko M is a recent graduate from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She hails from Riverdale, Georgia, a metro-Atlanta city, and currently lives in Ocala, Florida working on her novels. She has written articles for toonaripost.com, and is a 2011 winner of National Novel Writing Month for her title The Starlight Contingency, as well as being a first round finalist for the 2013 Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest for her debut novel The Black Parade. She has a passion for urban fantasy, science fiction, high fantasy, supernatural, and paranormal works. She is also known for being a sarcastic nerd whose influences include comic books, anime, movies, and various novel series.

iron jawed boyKyoko is joined by Nikolas Lee and his debut, The Iron-Jawed Boy, the first installment of The Sky Guardian Chronicles. It’s a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, set so far in the future that it curves back around and starts looking like the past. 

Being the freak with the iron jaw isn’t easy for Ionikus Reaves. It’s cold, heavy, and worst of all, it’s bound to his skin with magic. Father attached it, but left only a riddle as to why, and now he’s in the war, fighting on behalf of the pompous, evil Illyrian gods who drafted him. Now with Father gone, Ion blames no one but the Illyrians for his new freak status. Then Ion discovers that, due to an incredibly infuriating reincarnation, he’s a Guardian: a wind-riding, lightning-toting god created to serve the Illyrians he so hates. The gods promise to free Father, however, and possibly solve the mystery of Ion’s jaw–so long as he agrees to train as a Guardian–and Ion accepts. But Ion soon finds his new world to be a dark, secretive one, where not every promise a god makes, a god keeps, and not accepting who you are…can have the deadliest of consequences.

 Nikolas Lee was born in Evansville, Indiana, moved with his family to Las Vegas, Nevada, when he was eleven, moved back to Indiana when he was fourteen, then moved back to Las Vegas when he was sixteen. No, neither he, nor his family are under the witness protection program. Though that would be much cooler than the real reason. He currently resides in Santa Monica, California, where he’s usually watching anything with Tina Fey in it, or writing. He and Ion have been friends since he was eight years old, when Ion’s name was Thunder and Nikolas’s concept of proper comma usage was poor at best.


Both of these books are fantastic reads, so what are you waiting for? Hurry up and grab a copy!


People Watching

People in the Bus for Public Transportation
The bus is a great place to sit back and observe. (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I was digging through some old notebooks this evening when I found a page of People Watching.

You can’t ever hear enough about this: writers, artists, filmmakers– no matter what your brand of creativity, it’s imperative that you go out and actually look at people.

I’m not talking about the standard stuff– you know, the way we usually get categorized:

  • Sex: Male/Female/Etc
  • Skin: Black/White/Brown/Beige
  • Eyes: Blue/Green/Brown
  • Hair: Long/short/bald
  • Body: Fat/Thin/Tall/Short

If you’ve ever got a spare moment– whether you’re waiting on the bus or enjoying a lunch break– take a second to look at people. Actually look at them. Listen to the way they speak. Watch the way they move and hold themselves. Observe what they look like. The features that catch your eyes. The mannerisms that make you take notice.

Even if you don’t think of it consciously, those descriptions will start to bleed into your work.

Here are a few from my list, written down while I was killing time between classes during my undergrad:

  • A small face on a small body, all mousy and pale, with radioactive pink lips glowing in the middle of her head
  • Thin, with dark hair like quills hidden under a crocheted cap
  • A Willy Wonka crooked grin (Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp), with milk chocolate skin and sugared-coffee hair
  • Long, twiggy hands
  • He had a complexion like raspberry jam, flushed and pocked and all the more sweet because of it
  • A round face like an almost-full moon, encircled by night-black hair
  • Her confidence betrays a deeper self-consciousness. She uses too many big words, struggles never to smile or look too happy. Every action underlines a single message, bolded and underlined until the print of her face runs out of ink: THIS IS IMPORTANT! TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!

(That last person was talking about her classes. You get a cookie if you guess her major.)

Have you observed any interesting people lately? How do you feel about people watching? Tell us about it in the comments!

Changing the background

If you look at the majority of non-modern fantasy, be it medieval, pseudo-victorian, what have you, you’ll notice a pattern: everybody’s white and straight. If genderqueer or homosexuality is brought up, it’s with a heaping helping of homophobia and transphobia; if people of color are included, you can expect to see racism that would make the KKK hang their hoods in shame. And if a woman has a “non-traditional” role, it’s because she’s a spunky, norms-defying rebel.

Guys, it’s getting old.

“But we’re just being historically accurate!” you may say.

Historically accurate for some times and places, sure. But remember, there are plenty of other houses to rob.

Yesterday I talked about borrowing story elements from more than the few overtapped sources that have donated to most of our mainstream media. But when I say we should look at other cultures and sources, I wasn’t just talking about mythological animals and pantheons.

From the Library of Congress: TITLE: Thos. W. ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let the spectrum in

William Shakespeare gave us what I consider a compelling Primary Source Document on the presence of POCs in European society when he wrote Othello.

The movie Arabian Nights did a great job of portraying the way international interaction happened in a lot of the ancient world: we have an African wizard venturing out to China to make deals with Aladdin; we have Englishmen and Chinese men and locals alike living within a few blocks of one another in a bustling metropolis.

And that’s the thing– any major urban area is going to attract people from all over the world, especially traders selling rare exotic goods to the social elites. Often enough those traders will be foreign themselves, or have non-locals in their caravan/on their ship/etc. Unless there’s some major isolationist movement going on, there should be a healthy population of out-of-towners.

Homophobia is so 1950…

Keep in mind that

  • Gay male relationships were considered the purest form of love in ancient Greece, and Plato believed that only barbarians would condemn such a love
  • Historical records suggest that bisexuality was considered the norm in China before the Tang Dynasty
  • In New Guinea it’s believed that sharing semen through male/male sex promoted growth, while excessive heterosexual sex led to “decay and death”
  • Several cultures have a third gender (or more than that!)
  • There are entire websites dedicated to this sort of thing. I recommend you check them out.

Women wearing the pants

Several cultures are matrilinial in their leadership and inheritance. Even among cultures that weren’t, women were often encouraged to know how to fight.

Keep in mind that females have held pretty much every conceivable male role. History is full of powerful female rulers, such as Hatsheput of Egypt, Empress Wu Zeitian of China, and Queen Elizabeth I of England. Hell, the world’s first novel was written by a woman (The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu of Japan). There are plenty of websites to explore on that topic as well.

Stealing from another house

It’s no secret that I’ve got a bit of a sore spot regarding certain elements in fiction: specifically, I’m frustrated by a glut of fiction featuring Tolkien’s Elves/Dwarves/Men, the standard Vampires/Werewolves civil war, the obsession with Norse and Greek mythology.

It’s not that these elements are bad– not by a long shot. But I’ve seen them so often that I’m getting sick of them.

This morning a philosopher friend of mine came over, and we talked about a whole slew of things (topics always tend to wander when he and I chat), and while we meandered onto the subject of literature, an old phrase came up:

Good writers borrow; great writers steal. 

It’s been attributed to Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, TS Elliot…it’s such a good quote that nobody can keep their mitts off it. But I digress.

The philosopher framed my frustration in terms of the quote, and we wound up with this scenario

(Note: This is all metaphorical. I don’t actually endorse stealing stuff in the real world.)

Living Room - Big Couch
It’s nice, but it could use a touch more Coelho… (Photo credit: TomBorowski)

We writers are a pretty light-fingered bunch. Like I’ve said before, most of what we create is based at least partially off something else. When we see another author use something we like, we can’t help ourselves– we just have to grab it. Some people are careful about the matter; they’ll file off the serial numbers and give it a new paint job, but it’s still got the same base underneath. Some get proud of their acquisition. They proudly announce that the mirror in their front hall belonged to HP Lovecraft, and that at midnight you can see Cthulu reflected in its glass. And that couch you’re sitting on? That’s a Tolkien original, swiped straight out of the Last Homely House.

The latter are lovingly referred to as tributes, homages and allusions, and they can be pretty damn cool… but some of the coolness wears off when you start to notice all your friends have the exact same couch in their living room. After a while it starts to look a bit threadbare, and you’re pretty sure a spring is coming loose underneath the cushion.

This doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a damn comfy couch, and hell if those Elves don’t know their way around upholstery. But it’s starting to look… old. After all, even if Tolkien had some great stuff, but there’s only so much of it, and those sticky-fingered writers have rearranged it those same pieces in every configuration imaginable.

Bay Ridge McMansion 1b
Just look at all those potential plot points… (Photo credit: Whiskeygonebad)

But while Tolkien’s house has been pillaged down to the studs, there’s a whole city full of houses to rob. Hell, a few miles up the road you’ll find a veritable neighborhood full of McMansions, each full of themes and archetypes and symbols and mythical creatures, almost untapped by the kleptomaniac writing population. Maybe you’ll find a better couch for your decor in one of those. Or maybe you’ll decide to keep your classic Tolkien couch, but jazz it up with a Tale of Genji area rug and some Aztec cushions. Maybe your HP Lovecraft mirror would look better with some ancient Nubian wallpaper.

How would your medieval High Fantasy be different if, instead of Elves, one of the dominant races resembled shapeshifting Encantado?  What if your werewolves had more in common with hyenas? And moving past the superficial, what lessons and motifs can we glean from the fairytales of, say, India? There are values systems, fashions, family structures, mannerisms, superstitions, combat styles– many of them unknown and unappreciated in the mainstream.

There’s a whole world out there, my fellow thieves. I invite you to explore it all.

(Note: I fully expect somebody to call me out for encouraging cultural appropriation– namely, grabbing stuff from another culture because it’s nifty, and usually horrifically stereotyping and misrepresenting a that culture and its members as a result. First of all, this happens a lot. It’s not good, but it does. Second, just because a creature/theme/clever anecdote doesn’t belong to your native culture doesn’t mean it’s off limits. There’s such an incredible wealth of stories out there that you would be doing yourself a disservice by only skimming the surface and taking the most obvious details. I find that some of my favorite fantasy cultures/creatures/settings are ones which are not drawn wholesale from another culture, but inspired by aspects of an extant culture/myth/setting, and then advanced and reworked until they are something entirely new. And that’s something I’d love to see more of in the future.)

Mood Whiplash

Alex and Chris are running from the monster. Alex is pretty sure there’s a bit of their mutual friend, Pauline, on Chris’s shirt–

possibly part of Pauline’s kidney– left over from their last narrow escape from the beast. Every breath comes in a gasp as they turn yet another corner, and they can hear the monster gaining on them.

Chris pulls Alex into a side corridor and slams the door shut behind them, barricading it with a filing cabinet in a burst of adrenaline.

Suddenly Alex can’t help but feeling aroused– Chris has never looked so sexy before.

Cue heartfelt confessions of attraction, followed by a hot-and-heavy makeout session.

This, my friends, is known as mood whiplash.

It’s what happens when we’re on one emotional track, and suddenly get sideswiped by something else entirely.  This can be incredibly powerful when it’s used wisely, but it can be a deal-breaker when it hits us in the wrong way.

When you start out in a positive emotion and get derailed into a negative one, you get drama. Horror and tragedy arguably work best when they’re blindsiding you– If you pile on failure on top of failure, or fear on top of fear with no hope of respite, then the readers are going to wind up feeling exhaustion rather than that visceral fear or grief (depending on the work, exhaustion might be the point, but it should be deliberate regardless).

Here are two examples of using mood whiplash to create drama:

  • Cindy is about to leave for her dream job with her fiance, and everything is happy and fantastic… until she finds her fiance’s severed head in her office chair.
  • Jackson is out celebrating his retirement with the rest of the precinct, when suddenly a mob boss comes in and guns the place down, killing everyone but Jackson himself.

However, mood whiplash doesn’t always have to be Postive–>Negative. For example:

  • Little Jimmy’s feeling dejected. He was so excited about the playoffs, but then he missed the big catch and his team lost by a landslide. He’s sure he’ll never be happy again… but when he opens his door, he finds a brand new puppy waiting for him!
English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That last one works because of the emotional weight or impact of the events. Getting a great new job is a big deal. Stubbing your toe or getting a parking ticket on that day are bummers, but they’re not going to break the emotional high you get from all that hope and excitement. The only thing that will break that high is either a whole dumptruck of disappointments, or else a single major event (finding your lover’s severed head) to make your whole world come crashing down.

In the same way, a bowl of ice cream might not be a big enough emotional buoy to lift Little Jimmy out of his slump, but a puppy sure is.

The big change needs to be of greater emotional weight than the previous trigger. For example, a shopoholic might go splurging to ease the pain of a loved one’s sudden murder. Being totally fine and chipper upon getting a good deal on a pair of stilettos, however, is going to make this shopoholic look shallow and a bit deranged.

Any kind of mood whiplash is going to be jarring, which works very well for horror and tragedy. Most positive emotions, however, rely on some degree of comfort, which puts them at odds with that jarring dissonance. After all, how did you feel about Chris and Alex in the example above, making out while covered in splatters of Pauline?

Like a Virgin Blog Hop

Considering I’d been driving nearly 20 hours when this photo was taken, I think it’s one of my better ones.

I’ll be entering the Like A Virgin Contest this July. One of the events is the official “Getting to Know You” blog hop, where we’re hoping to meet some other contestants, potential beta readers and critique partners. If you’re interested in becoming writing buds, let me know in the comments! Admission to the contest is still open, so if you’re interested (and you have a contest-virgin up your sleeve), come check out the contest and join in the blog hop!

  1. How do you remember your first kiss? I like to think of it as bold. So far my experience with romance had been reading and writing romantic fanfic… and as it turns out, it’s not entirely realistic. When Boxy moved in to kiss me (yes, my husband was also my first kiss), I did exactly what the heroines in all my favorite steamy fics did: I turned it into a full-on make-out session. Maybe it’s not conventional, but we both had a lot of fun.
  2. What was your first favorite love song? I’m guessing somewhere around 90% of songs are love songs in one way or another. My first favorite that I thought of as a love song, though, was Desert Rose by Sting. It’s not a love song to any one person– it’s more about the enchantment of being in love. I used to call the local radio station constantly begging them to play it, but the only times I ever heard it on the radio were completely by accident. How’s that for a metaphor?
  3. What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day? These days, I start by making a to-do list of all the stuff I need to get done by the time I get to bed, and my #nifty350 is always at the top of that list, and it’s the first thing I cross off. Sometimes I only get 350 words written, and sometimes I get really into it and write a couple thousand.
  4. Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer? Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. She wrote her first book when she was thirteen, and it wasn’t about the sort of stuff I was used to– instead it was about pretty much everything my teenage self wanted to be. Atwater-Rhodes could do it, and she didn’t need a Hemmingway-esque alcohol problem alcohol or drugs or grad school (which includes alcohol and drugs with the cost of tuition) or even “life experience” to get there. She just had a story to tell, and she told it. So why couldn’t I?
  5. Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with? Excuse me while I peel myself off the floor, I’m laughing too hard. I’m actually torn between what I’d call my “first” book. DREAMKEEPER is the first story I started writing with any serious intentions… but even then, it was just a fanfiction at the time. So the original first chapter was about a poorly disguised fictionalized version of myself crawling through a secret door in my her closet door and coming out just outside of Rivendell, and then met an orc who remembered being an elf before the whole Silmarillion deal went down. I didn’t even get to chapter five before it wasn’t even recognizably associated with The Lord of the Rings anymore. At least two dozen redrafts, rewrites and re-imaginings later, only a few accidental details bear any resemblance to the original fanfic. Hell, even the tech level got nudged forward by a few hundred years. Someday I’d love to host a contest to see who can figure out which of my characters started out as which LotR characters. I think the truth might surprise you.
  6. For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting? The first book I finished writing (my other first), started with a name: Chicago. I had a very clear mental image of this character– blond, quick and scrawny, wearing oversized clothes and shingle tiles for bracers– and immediately I knew all Chicago’s friends and family would also be named for cities, and that this would be a post-apocalyptic story. What I didn’t know was Chicago’s gender. I ended up having to consult my little sister to decide whether Chicago was a masculine or feminine name. The rest fell into place from there.
  7. What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing? I don’t want a word– I want a laugh, or a squeal, or a gasp, or one of those tumblr-famous keyboard mashes. What I want more than anything is for my writing to leave somebody speechless.


The case for creativity

Next weekend I’ll be going to Chicago to see Team Starkid’s Twisted with my husband.

For those who didn’t know, Starkid Productions started off as a student group in the University of Michigan, who created the Very Potter Musical just to goof off– and now they’re touring nationwide, and the star of their first production is People Magazine‘s #3 Sexiest Man Alive, in part because his part as Harry Potter helped get him a role on Glee.

The same can be said for the crew of Channel Awesome, many of whom began as hobbyists critiquing movies and TV shows and

Doug Walker (Photo credit: ohnogc)

uploading them on Youtube. The famed “Nostalgia Critic” Doug Walker has since been able to quit his job to become a full-time content producer for Channel Awesome.

Only one road

If you’re anything like me, you’ve grown up being told that creativity is a hobby– but don’t quit your day job.

You’ve been told that there’s only one way to become a singer/actor/model/artist/photographer/writer/film critic/Broadway star, and since every other creative person is rushing down that same road, it’s a one-in-a-million shot. With that comes an unspoken (and sometimes not unspoken) expectation that we’ll eventually burn out because of the pressure, becoming drug addicts or alcoholics.

If you’re a writer like me, you’re told that you need an agent. You’re told you need to impress the Big Four publishing houses– and wow them so much that they give you all the advertising you’ll need to be seen around the world.

That isn’t the case anymore.

A whole new world

Proponents of self-publishing have been beating this drum for a long time, and that drumbeat is growing louder with each passing day. More and more writers are able to make a living off their income– that elusive one-in-a-million shot is suddenly a lot more attainable. An industry that was once famous for its secrecy and murky numbers is becoming more transparent, thanks to the willingness of people like Phoenix Sullivan to publicize their findings, so that other writers can learn from them.

The same goes for actors, comedians, singers, songwriters, artists– everyone with a creative bone in their body.

Thanks to the internet you can now connect with your audience and market directly to them through Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, Youtube, GoodReads, BandCamp, and other sites that I haven’t even heard of.

That doesn’t mean success is suddenly instant or guaranteed. It still takes a degree of luck— rather than impressing that one agent/casting director/talent scout, we need to impress thousands of complete strangers. It still takes a lot of work– some would argue that it takes even more work than if you’d just been ‘discovered’ by chance, especially since we can’t trust in a single break-out hit to skyrocket us to fame and fortune.

But we’re no longer confined to what some executive deems is marketable, or what a think tank perceives to be the up-and-coming trend.

We’re in an age where we can make our own trends.

Choose your own adventure

You can still go the traditional route– I’m not here to demonize that road– but when you do, walk that road knowing that it’s the choice you made.

No matter which way you choose to go, or even if you decide to forge your own path, look around the internet. Read blogs, talk to people, and do your research. Learn from other people’s successes, and from their failures.

Work hard and practice until you’re the master of your craft.

Your success depends solely on what you’re willing to put into it.