Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Finding a Home for Your Writing–The Struggle for Publication, and My Latest Projects!

The way you’re supposed to know you’re a writer–or any type of artist, really–is if you just can’t stop creating. Even if you receive no recognition or payment or readers, you can’t help but write. In fact, the world is so overwhelmed by writers that you’re really advised not to dive into the world of writing unless you truly do feel this drive. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who writes incessantly, whether or not anyone cares. And I understand the struggle to launch bits of your work out into the world where other people can see and enjoy them. Finding a home for your is work can be more of a struggle than the actual work of writing.

The only advice I can give to aspiring writers is just to keep trying. Successful writers have proven themselves, and they may have people falling all over themselves to invite them to write something, but until you reach that point you have to keep proving yourself. And to prove yourself you have to keep searching out opportunities, which can be hair-pulling-ly frustrating. But the benefit of this is that you can be involved in all sorts of unexpected projects!

One of the most fun projects I involved myself in this year was a collaboration with my sister, who is a graphic artist. We created a small illustrated booklet of a memoir piece I wrote, and printed a limited run in hard copy. We had a great opportunity to display it at the Edmonton Design Week! And though I was not sure how sales of a hard copy of my work would go, since my experience has all been in electronic markets, I was pleasantly surprised to see there was a small market for the kind of stories we created after all! It’s funny how just the smallest bit of support can give a writer encouragement to keep going.

Here’s a great quote from Neil Gaiman about the writing life that really connects with this idea: “A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back.”

So all in all, my experiments with launching my work into the world has provided me with amazing learning opportunities, as well as great experiences. Maybe this is why creators have to go through the struggle of finding openings for their work, as it forces them to be creative and try things they might never have tried otherwise. In my journey, I’ve gotten to observe enthusiasm from my readers, and received reassurance that what I do can benefit at least a few individuals. I’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t in marketing (though I’m far from an expert). I’ve learned about various ways you can get your work out there. And most importantly, I’ve learned that by trying I can not only learn, but that trying feeds back into my writing, and my writing gets better.

If you’re interested, my recent work includes not only the story booklet collaboration, but also two articles where I explored the impact of my faith in my life: “You Too? What Friendship Is and Why It’s So Hard to Find” (for the Reformed Perspective), and “On Not Hurting Anyone While Dating” (for Christian Connection). I’m excited for a few other nonfiction projects I’ve got in the works–we’ll see what happens in 2018! Previously I also explored the world of ebook publishing, which you can explore here. And of course this blog is my primary platform for putting my thoughts out into the world! Blogging itself is an experience that provides growth in writing, and this I really value.

Finding a home for your work can be the most frustrating part of being creative, especially if you prefer to give yourself to the world in a way that benefits the world, rather than create for your own sake alone. I’ve spent days searching for places to submit my writing, and come up with empty hands. However, when I’ve imagined there was nowhere for me to go, and all opportunities were blocked, it was never the end of the story. I hope you can relate, or will be able to as your journey goes on.


Are you working on any unique writing or creative projects? Can you relate to the struggle of finding a home for your work?


Filed under On Writing

There’s No Answer To the Question – Why Read?

Still plugging my way through NaNoWriMo (so far on track, by the way, thanks for asking), so it’s another shorter post this week! It follows up nicely to last week’s post on Neil Gaiman’s opinion on the value of reading, actually. Sure, why not fight this argument out some more? We all know reading is valuable, but it’s ironically hard to put into words why.

The value of fiction, Gaiman says, is – it’s a gateway drug to reading, and a way to build empathy skills. Now, here’s another perspective on reading from Mark O’Connell, who argues against using the ‘empathy’ argument too much. Don’t tie reading straight to making you a better person, O’Connell argues, as if reading a chunk of the work of some approved literary genius every day would eventually cause your interpersonal skills to go off the charts. Readers love hearing about scientific studies that ‘prove’ reading does actually increase empathy. But even if there was no noticeable, objective, ‘scientific’ proof that reading made you a better person, would it still be worth doing?

It would be, O’Connell argues.

“I don’t know whether all those boxes full of books have made me any kind of better person; I don’t know whether they’ve made me kinder and more perceptive, or whether they’ve made me more introspective and detached and self-absorbed. Most likely it’s some combination of all these characteristic, perhaps canceling each other out. But I do know that I wouldn’t want to be without those books or my having read them, and that their importance to me is mostly unrelated to any power they might have to make me a more considerate person.”

Here’s where I land as well. I think I am more empathetic because I read. I was never very good at reading other people’s emotions, but books have provided me a way to see inside of other people’s heads. Still, that truly is not the first reason I read. That’s not the first thing I think of when people ask me why I like books. It’s more like a side benefit.

So what is the right answer to the question, why read? Maybe there isn’t one. An answer that can easily encompass everything reading actually means to us readers, and that can actually communicate to non-readers and convince them of reading’s value – well, maybe translating that into a couple sentences, a paragraph, or even a whole article is just too much to ask.

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Filed under Bookish Thoughts

Neil Gaiman on Reading, Reading Terrible Books, and Libraries

So, at the last moment I decided to sign-up for NaNoWriMo, which will significantly cut in the time I spend writing for this blog. (In theory, at least – I hope I can force myself to churn out terrible writing for a month – sometimes I’m too much of a perfectionist!) Since this is the first day, I’ll point you to another absolutely lovely piece of writing (well, technically it was originally a lecture, but it’s still lovely). It is Neil Gaiman, explaining the value found in fiction.

I have trouble explaining to people why reading is so important, myself. Especially when I am lazy and I read terribly written stuff. Also, at times I feel bad when I sit down and read, as if I’m actually doing nothing, even though I know my brain is working.

It’s pretty widely accepted in our society that reading is important, but most of us wouldn’t know how to argue why if someone didn’t believe it. After all, can’t we get all the info we need in short little video clips on YouTube if we wanted? And we all hang out with many people who proudly declare, “I don’t read,” and we don’t know if we ought to have a good reply to that.

So, Neil Gaiman will go ahead and explain this better than I can. He’ll defend reading bad fiction too, fortunately for me. I certainly had my share of teachers who frowned on the books I read growing up. And, after defending both of those things, he’ll go on to defend libraries. Anyone who defends libraries (lovely, book-smelling places) is all right in my books.

Here it is! Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

I could add more complex thoughts on several of theses, and on Gaiman as an author in general (I have actually read a couple of his books), but I have a couple thousand words of a novel to churn out. So I’ll leave you lovely readers to discuss it amongst yourselves!

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Filed under Bookish Thoughts