"Oh, bard of my dreams, wake up. It's me, Rae, your favorite character."
"Go away, Rae, I'm sleeping."
"Precisely! What better time to insinuate myself into your subconscious?"
"It ain't working, Rae. All you're doing is insinuating yourself into my doghouse. Now go away. I need my rest."
"Is that anyway for an author to speak to his favorite character?"
"It is when he's trying to sleep. And who said you are my favorite character? You're reading your own press clippings. Now, vamoose, Goose."
"Aren't you even the least bit curious about what I have to say?"
"Nope. I'm the author, remember? I tell you what to say. And right now I'm ordering you stick a sock in it."
"Fine. But your writing sucks."
"Wait! What did you say?"
"Don't look at me. That's what Desiree says. 'His writing sucks'. And I'm inclined to agree."
"Desiree? Who the hell is Desiree."
"A character friend of mine. Her author gave her 'fulsome ample bosoms' and 'lips so red they make fire engines weep'. That's what I call writing! Why can't you write like that, huh?"
"Like what? An Avon Lady turned romance novelist?"
"After all these years of collaboration, you never once mentioned my lips. For all your readers know, I don't even have any. Do you have any idea how humiliating liplessness is?"
"Of course you have lips. Everybody has lips. Don't you think I'd mention it to my readers if you didn't?"
"I suppose. But are they so red they make fire engines weep?"
"How would I know? I don't often run into emotionally unstable fire engines."
"Sure, mock me. Why can't I have lips like Desiree's?"
"What would you do with them if you had them?"
"I don't know. Kiss? Desiree is always kissing."
"Is that what you want?"
"Good. I don't write many kissing scenes. Now, let me get some sleep."
"Weather. You never give me any good weather, either."
"What are you yammering on about now?"
"Desiree's stories always start out with weather. You know, "Plum purple clouds poured plentitudes of purifying rain on the puerile citizens of Broken Promise, Nebraska."
"That's not weather, Rae. That's verbal diarrhea. Haven't you ever heard of purple prose?"
"Purple's the color of royalty."
"And royally bad writing, too. Inexperienced writers start with 'brooding' weather because they don't know where else to begin. Nine times out of ten, the grandiose weather report winds up having absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the story."
"You usually start your stories with someone saying something stupid."
"That's because I favor stupid characters. So, maybe you are my favorite after all."
"Really, Rae. A good story doesn't need weather. And it doesn't need endless parades of marching adverbs and adjectives, either. Embellishments are rarely enhancements. A smart writer starts with the bones of a story, then fights the urge to add flab every step of the way. Kurt Vonnegut recommended starting a story as close to the end as possible. That usually precludes facile and florid weather reports."
"Remind me to strike 'well-read' from your Character Resume."
"So, does this mean I'll never have lips?"
"Of course you have lips. And you live in weather. But readers don't need me to go out of my way to describe those things--unless they're relevant to the plot."
"Could you write a plot where my ruby red, pouting lips are relevant?"
"I don't think so, Rae. It's just not my style. I indulge my readers by writing tight, well-paced stories. I don't write to indulge my ego ... nor the frivolous whims of my characters."
"How hard could it be to mention my lips?"
"Fine. Next scene I write for you, you'll be reading a Kurt Vonnegut novel . . . and moving your lips. How's that?"
"It's a start, I guess. What shade of red are they?"
"Good night, Rae."
You are so immersed in the page you are reading but you put the book down and stare into space, unaware of your surroundings.
You are watching a gripping DVD but you press the pause button and glare at the monitor for some seconds before playing it again.
You are listening to a boring a lecture but your mind drifts off to what-could-have-been until your teacher promptly calls you back to reality and accuses you of daydreaming again.
Nope, you are not in-love. You merely have urges to come up with your own fanfiction. It may be because of an unsatisfactory story-line or a bitter ending that could have been better. Your favorite characters could have had a special glance at each other but the movie or the book never explored that meaningful moment of history. What do you do then? You turn your laptop on, or even grab your smartphone, pray to the muse or Shakespeare inside you, open a word processor and write those what-ifs and what-could-have-beens.
After you are through, you go to your favorite fanfiction sites and read the recommended stories, those that have received thousands of hearts and reviews, and you are rendered speechless by the intricate details in those plots, the amazing imagery the writers employ to describe the emotions of the characters you love.
You are not alone.
Fanfictions are indeed enjoyable and even rewarding, albeit some popular authors don’t- didn’t- like it, *cough* J.D. Salinger *cough*. Here are seven of those perks:
Fanfictions, it seems, are here to stay as long as there are creative writers that can show us different angles of a book or movie and hungry readers who continuously feed on those wonderfully written stories. Once they cease to exist, we can always go back to daydreaming.
If you wish to publish Fanfiction for profit, be certain to have written permission from the creator/copyright holder first. -N.K.
How do I deal with imposter syndrome? And what profession besides writing is so emotionally fraught with problems of believing in yourself? On my bad days I remember gathering with professional writers as colleagues, perfectly accepted. Was this at a writer’s conference? I learn a lot from writer’s conferences but I pay to attend them. Professional writers are my teachers there. No, here at this event, I was an equal.
What’s the secret? Professional credentials. I was- am credientionaled media. You know who I mean, the reporters close to an event. And it wasn’t hard to do.
What are professional credentials? Those are official passes that can get media into events and get close to important people. And the first time I got a press pass I was barely out of college, writing for magazines so obscure that no one heard of them, but for one week I was hanging out with pros that had been working for decades. I learned how to take part in a scrum to help get a colleague the interview he wanted, how to take notes for a colleague who had fallen asleep at a press conference and, mainly, that I belonged at the writer’s table. I learned that the hobo-looking guy always knew the right questions to ask and that everyone respected him for that. I learned that even pro writers can be short of money and all of us had editor horror stories. We discussed important things like where to get cheap food, how to get the good assignments and how to avoid being run over by the camera guys. On my bad days, I look at the seven tags on my desk and know that I am a professional writer.
But how did that happen?
A coincidence. A small press magazine I wrote for had an article in it about a couple who had gone to a motorcycle rally and wrote about the acceptance of wheelchair–adaptive motorcycles. A normal enough article, at least for this magazine. There was a brief sentence in the editor’s notes at the bottom of the article saying they had a press pass to the event and that he was open to sending out press creditientials to other authors. I thought that sounded exciting and thought I could try it. I live in Oshkosh, WI (home of EAA) so I thought I’d take him up on his offer. Back in those days, (OK, I’m old) I had to call him and he had to send a fax. But it worked,
Months later I was standing in a line with other writers, reporters and people carrying big cameras. I got to the front of the line, showed my ID and the next thing I knew, I had a waistband on and a press pass around my neck. Even now, 15 years later, I still remember that thrill. I was sure that someone would tell me that I didn’t belong there; instead the closest I got was someone glancing at my tags and saying, “Cool name,” and he meant the name of the magazine. I got asked if my magazine was a monthly or a weekly. The TV crews griped that we print people had days, weeks or more to get our introductions done when they had only minutes to accomplish the same thing. And all of us honored the effort it took the put out a daily paper for the event, especially on the days when the night airshow ran until 11:00 and they managed to have a paper with pictures of the event avaible by 6:00 the next morning.
From that event I have spun out other articles on aviation, and now I’m considered an expert in aviation. At least by my editors. I’m still an amauteur at EAA. I have learned things no website or book could teach, from the sound of a full wing of World War II planes to what a helicopter powered by hydrogen peroxide and soda sounds like.
I learned about a lot more than airplanes. I have heard astronauts and airmen from many wars speak, and that has improved my writing in articles and in fiction. I’ve meet old men who could kick Rambo’s butt tell stories with lines like, “after the water buffalo I was riding fell off the cliff," heard conversations that began “my friends put me out” and realized they were talking about being on fire, and learned about a very strong and strange community from the inside. Other writer friends have told similar stories about things they have learned from attending conferences as diverse as librarian to plumbing. It is a good way to understand different people and see what a profession is like from the inside.
Depending on the convention, there may be other perks. Many of them give free meals, drinks and other rewards. Individual press conferences at an event encourage as many reporters to be there as possible, so there may be perks for this as well. I have attended a press conferences because I was nearby, and they offered donuts and the next thing I knew there was a discussion about turning corporate jets into flying tanks.
Usually about this time in a writing article the author will tell you to join their club or pay money to get the details of how to get a press pass but I can tell you now: ask.
First look around your area and figure out what local event you would like to cover. Make sure to leave plenty of time. I start working in January for an event in July. It doesn’t have to be big. It also doesn’t have to be someplace that you know a lot about. You’re a writer; the point is to learn. Go to their website and start looking, there will be a place called “media room”, “Media access” or something like that. There will be directions on how to get a press pass. For EAA, I had to have an editor of a magazine or website fill out an online form, with my name, address all the usual stuff and give them the name of the article they wanted me to write. You might say, “I don’t know any editors.” If you’re a writer, you’re already submitting queries for articles. This is no different, just start the usual way by selling your article and yourself and then…
Sometimes the hardest thing is assuring an editor that they are a real editor and can get a press pass for you. It turns that editors also have to deal with imposter syndrome, too. Soon you may find yourself beside me at the big writer’s table. And no one will say that you’re an imposter.
It’s difficult to find a book suitable for everyone from young readers to octogenarians like me, but Tomas P. Gill has done it again in Return to Emerald Isle.
This sequel to The Bridge reintroduces Kirby as a mature adult recovering from the West Coast tragedy that left her a military widow. Home again on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, this time with teenaged son Journey, she meets an Adonis nicknamed “Abs”. Their mutual attraction makes Kirby question her need to leave life unlived, while Abs’ friendship-turned-courtship causes her to take a dangerous detour on her path to a new life.
Return to Emerald Isle is a fast, fun read filled with good, clean romance and sprinkled with details about turtle patrols, Crystal Coast cities Wilmington and New Bern, Tryon Palace, and great places to eat.
And, no, you won’t guess the ending.
Keep your eye on this talented storyteller, who makes this reviewer want to move to the beach if only to experience Kirby’s profound sense of home.
Available in trade paperback and electronically from amazon.com and now on the shelves in Barnes & Noble.- N.K.
Lee Allen Hill is just a leftover hippie with a penchant for word-slinging.