Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conventions, Conventions, Conventions!

Hey all,

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who said a kind word about my story “Super. Family.” either here or on the Realms of Fantasy forum site. I can’t tell you how much such things mean to me.

Second, just got back from Polaris (Trekcon Toronto) and it reminded me of a post I was going to make. One of the most common questions you hear as a writer is: Do you have any advice on getting into the field? Now, I wouldn’t presume to offer anything as concrete as advice at this point in my career, but I do have two strong suggestions based on my experience and the mistakes I’ve made on this strange and wonderful road. One is a classic: Write every day. I’ll touch on this in a future post because there’s a reason why everyone says it, but for a simple concept, it’s often misunderstood.

The second suggestion is no less important: go to conventions.

Being a writer of prose or poetry is, in many ways, a solitary pursuit. I work a fair bit in the improv and acting communities in Toronto. As such, I’ve been surrounded by writers for the past twenty years. Just not my type of writer. Theatre, film, improv and sketch are all social arts. With any writing you do for these arts, you're likely to get feedback from peers and from an audience. Through the process of rehearsal and performance, you’ll naturally intermingle with peers and, in doing so, feed off each other. Even long before you succeed professionally (ie. Receive a paycheck for your work) you’ll receive a great deal of visceral gratification in the form of support, applause, and affirmation of your work. And not merely from friends and family; often you’ll receive support and affirmation from strangers and even professionals in the field as well.

None of this naturally occurs with the pursuit of a career in prose writing. Even breaking into smaller, non-paying magazines can be a process of rejection for some time. It can be difficult to get large-scale feedback, especially professional feedback, without paying for it. Hell, it can be difficult to find others at your peer level. So it isn’t hard to end up wandering in the woods, so to speak. Lord knows, I did.

One recent development, the online community, provides an outlet for many of these issues and potentially makes breaking into the field within the last ten years a far less lonely prospect. That said, nothing beats human contact, and for that…go to conventions.

My first convention was Ad Astra last year and within an hour I’d learned more about my field than I did in my first ten years. I remember thinking, you idiot, you should have done this when you were twenty (it was trickier finding out about such things when I started, but that’s still a poor excuse).

At conventions you’ll hear advice from the best in the field, and I’m a firm believer you’re more likely to take advice seriously when it’s directly infront of you. You’ll learn things that you knew you needed to find out about and you’ll learn things you didn’t even realize you needed to know. You’ll meet your peers.

I found my writer’s group because I was at a convention. I found my second writer’s group (I’m in a Sci-Fi and a YA group) because I met someone at a convention. I got my NY agent (Miriam Kriss, who is awesome) at a convention. I met the author (Adrienne Kress, who is awesome) who told me about the convention where I got my NY agent at a convention.

Do you see where I’m going with this? And I haven’t even mentioned the bathtubs full of beer at Anticipation last year.

So that’s my biggest personal suggestion if you’re breaking in. First rule: Write every day. You can’t escape that one. But after that, go to conventions. Meet everyone you can. And by the way, if you’re like me and a little shy in these situations, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Most of us are. So say hi anyway. If you see me, I will never shun you, promise. If I’m with a group or someone I know, I might only be able to give you five minutes right then and there, but I will say hello, and if you want to talk, I’ll try to let you know when I’ll be free to give you a decent amount of time. And I suspect most writers, editors and agents at the cons feel the same.

So go find the convention for your genre in your area. There’s probably more than one. Then tuck your pen or netbook into a bag, grab a snack, and walk through the doors.

Your people are waiting.



Monday, July 5, 2010

I'm in the new Realms of Fantasy!

Okay, this is just silly. Three posts in the first five days? I'm setting a precedent that can only lead to disappointment for you, dear followers (I have 4 followers already, how cool is that!).

That said: I have news. I just received my contributor's copies of the August 2010 issue of Realms of Fantasy and it's got me! If you are saying to yourself: yes Ian, that's how contributor's copies work, then good--two points for you.

I'm the lead story, which is super-dang, with an accompanying illustration by Eric Fortune which is just awesome. Seriously, they told me it was a great illustration but that painting is no small amount of brilliant. Check out some of his other stuff at www.ericfortune.com

This issue should be on the newstands any day now. You can easily get a copy from Indigo or Bakka Books. You can also check out the Realms website at www.rofmag.com. "Super. Family." is a long short-story, 10,000 words, so you get plenty of bang for your Ian Keeling buck. Plus, three other wicked stories (and one's a zombie story, hey, hey, hey) and lots of great art and more. Grab your copy now or the zombies will.



Friday, July 2, 2010

The Perils of Publishing

Ahh...Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would post again so quickly.

That said, several people have, either by comment or by email, correctly pointed out that squirrel! is in fact from the fine movie Up! and not Bolt.

Someday, I shall write a bit about what in improv we call, 'The Glorious Mistake.'

This...was not one of those.

In light of this grievous error, I am deducting two points from myself and awarding them to those who caught the untruth in question. It's tough to fall behind so early in the game-I'll probably have to pull the central defender for a striker-but such is life. And life, as we all know, is like a box of chocolates.*

Stay diligent faithful ones, and I shall endeavour to reward such diligence.



* Now that one's from Bolt, right?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So, this is my blog. Hmmm. Where to begin?

Let's start with the title, shall we? Why 'The Accidental Luddite', you ask? Allow me to explain. No, is too much. Allow me to sum up. And two points if you can name the movie.

It's not so much as I have a problem with technology, it's more that I'm fairly certain technology has a problem with me. You remember the beginning of Jurassic Park, when Sam Neill touches the monitor and it goes haywire? Yeah, c'est moi.

So running a blog should be interesting.

Couple things off the top. One-what will I blog about? Okay, short bio: I'm a writer/actor/improv teacher from Toronto, ON. Not neccesarily in that order. Writing's the life-long dream, acting gets my stage-junkie fix, and improv is a love. My posts will most likely be about the writing, but I've had ADD (yea, you know me) for so long my attention will occasionally-squirrel! (another two points up for grabs)

Second, the rules. Actually, there's only one. Play nice. If you comment on my blog, I'm honoured--hell, I'm astounded you're even reading it. However, a chunk of the stuff I write is for Young Adult or even kids, so keep it clean and kind. Actually, I don't mind if you rip me, I'm pretty thick-skinned; so mainly, be nice to each other.

Finally, I'll try to post when I can. I'd like to make this sucker as useful to aspiring authors, writers, and artists as I can, so I'm going to try to post along those lines and also provide some links to blogs/websites that have helped me.

So, that's it to start. Hope you have fun.



PS. The Princess Bride and Bolt. Well worth seeing, mes amis.