Thursday, December 31, 2009

On the knife-edge between past and future ...

It's not by accident, dear follower, that 2009 has been the least productive year for me as a writer since I seriously embraced it as a hobby/alternative career in 2003. As previously stated, I've been the only full-time attorney at my agency since late May. Coupled with our younger son's continuing refusal to sleep through the night--however unsurprising, as his brother was a similar beastie--the additional burden has sapped the energy I'd previously devoted to night-time typing. (And in all candor, there have been too many nights of procrastination via TV or social surfing.)

That said, I've continued to read, record ideas, and write reviews for Fantasy Literature, which has achieved an entirely new level of utility and popularity this year.

I'm delighted to announce that the blending of these activities has resulted in an exciting venture for 2010. During the year, FanLit will publish 25 of my original character sketches/flash fiction works as a series titled "25 Heroes in 2010." The series will appear HERE.

Because my agency will have a second attorney soon, and because I have no doubt that my younger son will acheive nocturnal nirvana this year (and, God willing, be potty-trained), I also have other writing plans and goals, one of which is to write at least 25,000 words of a first novel draft. I hope to provide updates in the months ahead and hope that my work will be some small part of a healthy, prosperous, and joyful new year for you and those you hold dear.


Friday, October 2, 2009

10 things I've learned or remembered from Battlestar Galactica

This week, I finished watching Battlestar Galactica (the 2003 reimagined TV series). Simply put, it's the best SF/F video-saga I've ever seen, with a remarkable (large) cast and strong writing that makes the most of a dynamic premise. (Of the approximately 75 episodes, I'd only classify about two as weak.) My favorite episodes were the pilot (movie); the exodus from New Caprica; the mutiny; and especially those following the appearance of the Pegasus.

Throughout the entire saga, themes and truths emerge with a powerful relevance. I've identified 10 I want to share:

1. In storytelling, all has happened before, and all will happen again. If the characters, setting, and circumstances are compelling, it doesn't matter.

2. Names matter. Appearances matter more. Words, and their delivery, matter still more. Actions matter most of all.

3. As an artistic element, divine intervention is like good liquor: a little will warm you up and help you appreciate the wonder and mystery of life; too much will give you a headache and may make you feel used.

4. Respect your story's past. Revelation is wonderful; retcons are pesky.

5. Technology (or magic) tends to outrun morality. This is dangerous because increasing knowledge and power, without increasing wisdom and compassion, creates the potential for greater and greater disasters.

6. Sometimes you've got to roll the hard six.

7. Life is beautiful but fragile, imperfect but worth fighting for.

8. We only have one world and one life. We need to honor and cherish both.

9. Every time you see someone, he or she may be a different person. And there's no guarantee you'll see him or her again.

10. Faith, hope, and love--with them, you can transcend disaster and find a new beginning, a new world.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Chafing at the status quo

The status quo is this: I've been absolutely slammed at work because I'm currently the only full-time attorney at my agency, which requires, at a minimum, two full-time attorneys. I hope and expect that we'll hire another attorney eventually, but it wouldn't surprise me if the process took six to twelve months. Meanwhile, our kids are still little but seem to grow up faster every day, and the younger continues not to need as much sleep as the rest of us. Combined, these factors have severely limited my potential writing time, of which I'm not making the best use, either, because it's so much easier to escape by reading or by seeking a sense of community on Facebook or Twitter.

The status quo is good. My wife and kids are truly wonderful, and these years are ones to enjoy. My job is difficult but important and provides adequate compensation and benefits. It also seems as secure as any right now. But my dream of becoming a successful writer--dream, hope, intention, calling--seems to be indefinitely deferred, and thus languishing. I've been at peace with this in the past; I am, after all, still young as writers go. But I may be allowing peace to slide into complacency, and that cannot stand.

When a situation fails to meet expectations, we have three choices: (1) change our expectations; (2) change the situation to the extent we can control it; or (3) be at peace. For now, I'll continue to be at peace, but I also need to change the little things I can control now, e.g. by refocusing on writing as a priority, if in fact it is my priority, as opposed to being a skilled user of Facebook and Twitter.

Who is Robert Rhodes? A writer or a pseudo-writer who's squandering his time and talents? That's the question I need to answer--not in my mind, but by my actions.

This weekend, I aspire to be thankful for my freedom, yes, but also to use it with wisdom, passion, and discipline.


Monday, May 11, 2009

The twitterverse

I've succumbed and opened a Twitter account: rrhodeswriter

Thus far, the twitterverse seems a fascinating place. Am following established writers such as Neil Gaiman, Jeff VanderMeer, Jay Lake, and Tobias Buckell, as well as practical entities such as The White House and The CDC. (Am also following someone posing as Darth Vader and someone's cat--but hey, the cat is rather hilarious.) Much potential here, if and when I publish the next story/stories and the elusive first novel.

Speaking of which, am leaning toward going full-bore with Misericordia. (To oversimplify: humans versus vampires after a 150-year truce. Classic fantasy elements ... but not your classic vampires. Also, abundant room for exploration of social Darwinism.)

Cheers, RR

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lean times in fantasyland

And though that caption could apply to the effect of our current economic doldrums on a certain Magic Kingdom in Orlando, it applies equally to this author's writing progress. A number of factors are responsible, not the least of which are our younger son's refusal to sleep a reasonable number of hours per night and our older one's battle with chicken pox and other forms of schoolhouse fun. Conventional wisdom for aspiring authors is to write for a certain period, however brief, every day. No excuses, no exceptions. Conventional wisdom, however, has never had to raise our kids.

That said, my plans are unchanged. As Andy Dufresne proved in The Shawshank Redemption, it's simply a matter of quietly tapping the hammer against the wall, night after night after night. I imagine some parts of the wall were harder than others, particularly at the beginning. So be it. I have one story ("Devotion") awaiting publication and two others ("Death by Water" and "Love & Winter") on submission, and my stash of ideas is far greater than my available time. I plan to write and to write things good enough to allow me, in time, to become a full-time writer. I have faith that "in time" also means this will happen "at the right time" (which could be at a time when many more people have the time and money for indulging themselves with fantasy literature).

Speaking of fantasy literature, the magnificent site (for which yours truly is a regular contributor) has republished my interview with Rogue Blades Entertainment. I hope you'll read it HERE.