There’s an old proverb out there that basically says, “Instead of waiting on your greatness…understand that it is your greatness that is waiting on you.” What does that mean, exactly? Well, I’ve always thought of it as a way to say that you always have a much higher goal to reach for, and you simply can’t get there by being ‘comfortable’ with whatever it is that you’re doing right now.
Does that mean that there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing right now? Of course not. Take your time, hone your craft, and enjoy your talents and reader fandom comments for everything that they are. Find your ‘home’. As always, I truly believe that being comfortable is a big part of the writing experience. You should feel as though you literally own the space that you built with your words and your characters, and you should feel as though you’re in total control of it all for as long as your fingers are touching that keyboard. That’s a good thing. And SO much fun once you’ve realized that you’ve gotten good at it. Your passion is like music. Like a dance. Embracing it in that golden moment is the greatest feeling in the world.
But…what happens when you feel like you want to grow even bigger and more effective as a writer in general? What do you do when you feel as though you’ve leveled off somewhere along the way, and want to discover a new frontier or feel the thrill of another challenge when it comes to putting out another story? Because no matter how good one of us might be with a certain type of character or genre of story…we can always get better, right? There’s always a juicier fruit on a higher branch somewhere that we could be climbing up towards, just for a taste. In order to do that…we have to evolve. We have to reinvent and redefine ourselves from time to time. Liven things up a bit to escape the inevitable monotony of comfort.
Hehehe, sounds weird, doesn’t it? We all work sooooo hard to get our stories written, learn what to do and how to do it, and we finally reach a point where we can feel, with confidence, that we know what the hell we’re doing…and here comes Comsie to screw that up for us and make us start all over from scratch. Hehehe, welcome to the world of the ambitious artist! Kick off your shoes and stay a while. It’ll be worth it.
Today, we’re talking about writer evolution. How to create new challenges for yourself, and continue to grow and improve as a writer…even when you feel like you’re already at the top of your game.
As I’ve said, many times before, I’m pretty sure that I could coast by writing the same romantic, gay teen, stories that I’ve been writing since the very beginning of all this online pandemonium…and I’m sure that it would be received well by a majority of my readers that know, for the most part, what to expect from me. But…would it really fulfill me? Or satisfy my urges to reach out and try things that I’ve never done before? No way! I’m constantly trying to see if I can find a different angle, a different twist, or a different presentation, of an idea that we all hold dear to our hearts in one way or another. Something that speaks to a wide audience, but still feels fresh and new and unique in the way that I tell the story.
That’s why I am always trying out different ideas whenever I can. “Let me try something with a science fiction twist, or something in the horror genre, or something more lighthearted, or something much darker than what people are used to.” Not long ago, I tried my hand at fantasy for the first time. Just to see if I could pull it off. Why not, right?
HOWEVER…when I talk about writer evolution, I’m not just talking about changing your genre or trying out something that you’re really not interested in. No. That would go against the whole ‘comfort’ rule, wouldn’t it? Hehehe, that’s no good. No way, you can evolve and still keep doing what you’re doing. Just do it better. Take chances. Risks. It’s not some level of pressure being put on your shoulders to somehow top everything that you’ve done before. That’s the wrong way to think about it. You shouldn’t be obsessed with trying to improve on our craft…but simply expand on it. There’s a difference.
For me, personally, I feel as though I get closer to my true self with every story, and every chapter, that I write and post for other people to read. The more I write, the more I see my attempts to make some kind of weird sense out of the rest of the world, and of myself…and that peels back another layer of self awareness. It exposes a part of myself to thoughts and feelings that I either didn’t even know were there, or that I’ve never fully dealt with. And that instantly makes me wonder…’what if I gave those hidden emotions a poke or two?’
Because, that’s the most compelling part of any fictional story, isn’t it? The question of, ‘What if?’
I truly believe that we, as writers, find our greatest strengths in our vulnerabilities. In being able to talk about those private parts of ourselves that most people are holding back on, because they refuse to believe that anyone else could possibly understand them. Their virtues and their flaws. If you can continue to grow as an artist, even when your readers think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread…you will never cease to entertain and surprise them with every project that you manage to put out there for them to absorb. This is where you begin to find that ‘voice’ in your writing, and you can conquer it, story by story, by exploring every avenue that it offers you in the space that you’ve given yourself to work with. And once you’ve mastered that level of your craft…look up at the sky…and see if you can go even further. Like…what next? You know?
Perfection is boring! Searching for new levels of success is the spice of life. And there isn’t a major artist out there that doesn’t already know this.
You know, when I was still a tiny tyke, hehehe…I remember the Michael Jackson, ‘Thriller’, video being played for the first time! I mean, I forget how old I was, but I wasn’t in double digits yet, that’s for sure. And I was SOOOO fucking confused while I was watching it! Because…music videos were still pretty much a ‘new’ thing at the time. But this was…a mini movie, and the singing and the dancing…a lot of you younger guys have no idea! It was like, “WTF is going ON?!?!?!” I was so amazed! Nothing like this had ever been done before. Ever. And not long after that, Michael Jackson’s sister, Janet, came out with the ‘Control’ album…and she did the ‘Pleasure Principle’ music video…and we were shocked again.
Now, understand…this was a different time. This didn’t happen. I mean…occasionally you got Lionel Richie to dance on the ceiling, or George Michael shaking his jeans clad booty in front of a jukebox…but that was it. There was no dancing and storytelling on this level. That didn’t exist. Later on, if you could dance to Madonna’s ‘Vogue’, you were in the advanced class! Hehehe! But, believe me…you guys have Michael and Janet Jackson to thank for what music videos look like today. Because…it wasn’t like that before they came along.
Anyway, when I was a kid, EVERYBODY learned the dance steps to ‘Thriller’ and ‘Billy Jean’! I mean…everybody. Every single step. You can throw a party right NOW, and anyone who grew up in the 80’s knows that dance! All the boys knew ‘Thriller’, and all the girls knew ‘Pleasure Principle’. It was practically a task more important than any homework our teachers could possibly give us. ::Giggles:: And these videos were game changers in music video culture in general.
But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. These are edited versions, because I can’t have you guys watching videos all day. You’ve got stories to write! 😛
You see…the whole world learned every single step to both videos. Like, “Hey! I’m just as good as Michael Jackson!” or “I can do it better than Janet if I add a few extra moves here and there!” They had already changed the game in terms of music videos, and leveled the competition, and could have easily kept on that same path to make many more hits in the future. But they didn’t do that. They evolved.
As an author, you have the ability to do the same thing. When it comes to your passion for writing your stories, there’s no settling for something ‘satisfactory’. At least, not for me, it isn’t. What’s next? What are you going to try out? Where are you going with this? Are you going to bring something new to the table? Or are you slowly stepping up the wrong way on an escalator?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. I know that there are things out there that you aren’t used to or familiar with. I know that there are probably ideas in your head that you’re probably putting off because you don’t feel confident enough to handle them just yet. I can completely understand the intimidating feeling you get when your next chapter is bearing down on you and you’re worried about getting it right after all the work you put into building up to it. I get it. But this is what writer evolution is all about. You can’t reach it from your comfort zone. You’ve got to put yourself in a state of emotional peril in order to get there. Easier said than done, yes…but far from impossible.
It’s just a matter of allowing yourself to explore your true feelings and inner thought while you are writing. Extend your instincts just a few seconds before your rapidly typing fingers. Hehehe, don’t be afraid to surprise yourself with what you write. Do you have any idea how many sections of my own stories that I just wrote by ‘accident’? Especially if you read the chapters of “Billy Chase”…where a lot of those passages just expressed themselves according to whatever it was that I was dealing with on that particular day.
Remember, writing isn’t just a skill. It’s an art. You have all the room in the world to explore yourself, your feelings, your past, your present, your future, your dreams and fantasies, and your reality. All at once. Feel around, and find your space. You are the architect of your own paradise…drama and all. Write it out. Think of it as allowing your deepest thoughts and concerns about your own existence the opportunity to exhale and relax. Get it all out of your system. It’s a liberating practice to engage in, believe me.
Discover all the parts of yourself that you never really expressed before on that level…put it out there…and then come back to see if you can dig even deeper. There’s always a deeper. Hehehe!
This is how you will find ways to improve as a writer. Not through technical formatting or mechanical punctuation or plot development. Those things are necessary too…don’t get me wrong. But there is a piece of you, a true core, that can touch people in ways that other others can only scrape the surface of until they take the same journey that I’m (hopefully) inspiring you to take now. Nobody can teach that. You have to discover it on your own. And isn’t that much more rewarding than reading it from some jackass online like me? Hehehe!
A year or two later after Michael Jackson and his sister Janet Jackson came out with those videos, and everybody was so proud of learning the choreography at home from watching it on TV…thinking that they were just as good as they were? Hahaha! Both Michael and Janet, basically, said, “Oh REALLY? Ok! Hold my beer!” And their next albums came out and the videos were like, “Learn THIS, bitches!” And then…everybody just kind of stopped trying after that! Because…who wants to end up in the hospital, right?
Now…mind you…this was THIRTY YEARS ago!!! So, the whole…ninja shit was brand new to all of us! And both of them only got more daring from there on. But, hey…thats the point, right? You’ve got to evolve. Get better. Get stronger. Get more complex. You’ve got the talent already…so why not push the envelope, you know?
You have to find ways to keep your readers interested by giving them a variety of different set ups and potential conflicts when it comes to gay stories like these. Some have happy endings, some don’t. Some are sweet and happy, and some come with obstacles and angst. Give your emotional output a workout from time to time. Don’t worry about being TOO different, as a piece of you as an author should still be visible in everything that you write…but never be afraid to stretch out and try something new. Believe in your instincts, and your instincts will grow stronger over time. Confidence is everything. And it’ll work, even when a story fails to get the kind of response that you’re looking for.
Also..remember…for every inspired set of eyes that read your story and fall in love it…they will be building off of your blueprint. Which is AWESOME! But, if you want to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant…evolution and reinvention is a must. People are watching, learning, and evolving, on their own. Read what the next generation of writers are doing and let them inspire you to go even further in your own work. Think of it as an adrenaline shot right in the heart of your creative heart. It’ll turn your creative passion into a full blown sport over time. I’ll admit, I’m competitive too when it comes to putting out new stories. I LOVE it! There will never be a time when I’m not fighting to show readers why I’ve earned the spot that I’ve gotten over the years. There’s not a challenge that I won’t accept if I can manage to participate. I began writing stories in June of 1998 on Nifty. You can go to Nifty right now, and look at everything before 1998, and except for the authors that truly inspired me and were wriing some amazing stories of their own…the Nifty landscape of ‘romance’ stories were far and few between. Not like it is now. And I’m thankful that I was there to be a part of that new Rennesaince in the archive. And there’s no better feeling than knowing that I can still hold my own…competition be damned, after all these years. LOL!
Back to music…
This is a video that is much more recent, with Jason Derulo, and Lay, and NCT…who are some of the best dancers…ummm…well, anywhere. But as cool and fun as this video is…take a close look at it. It is SO cool to see the evolution of the dance moves in this music video…but still see the obvious influence from those Michael and Janet videos up above still evident in the choreography!
Influences last forever. Make your storytelling ability be one of those influences when you’re escalating your talents to the next level.
Evolve as a writer. And never stop. Like I said, it’s not about getting ‘better’…it’s all about expanding. What’s over here? What’s over there? How else can I convey this message? What if I change the point of view? All questions that can take you to the next level. Don’t get bored with your writing, and don’t let your fans get bored with it either. The world is sooooo big! There are so many perspectives to explore! None of us will live long enough to explore them all…but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re in short supply.
Stories are more than just what we write…they’re who we are. Take pride in that. And share them with as many people as you can.
I hope this came off as somewhat inspiring. Hehehe, I think we all need that from time to time. It keeps our teeth sharp! Raaawwwwrrr!!! 😛
Take care, and I’ll seezya soon!