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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

But Don't Take MY Word For It


For 1 month only, 1/3 of Writing About Writing’s proceeds will go to Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter.

So as some of you know, I donate 10% of all the money we make here at Writing About Writing to a local children's literacy charity. Usually this goes to my very local branch of the Oakland Library, earmarked for their children’s literacy programs. I walk it over there with The Contrarian if it isn't too hot or raining. But a couple of days ago, I noticed that Levar Burton had launched a Reading Rainbow Kickstarter.

So for June, we’re going to do that instead.

I was already nine when Reading Rainbow debuted, so it was mostly something I watched when I was home sick from school and even then I usually was a bit too old for the books that they talked about. I think by then I was mostly reading Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Roald Dahl.  But I remember watching other reading shows on PBS like Follow the Yellow Balloon in kindergarden and being very excited to find the books they talked about. Also, I couldn’t help but notice how powerful Reading Rainbow's influence was in getting younger kids to read.

So for ONE month, from today until June 30, (The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter ends on July 2), I will keep tabs on every penny that W.A.W. makes, and give the normal 10% of our proceeds to the R.R. Kickstarter instead of the Oakland library.

NOT ONLY THAT, but instead of the 10% we normally save in Hen Wen to go toward improvements in the blog, I will kick down that 10% to the Kickstarter as well. (20% total.) Hen Wen will cry bitter tears, but I'll deal with her.

But wait! There’s more….

For just this month and just this promotion, I will match the 10%. That’s 30%!

And because I’m a humanities major (who did an oral report on fractals for my final in a class called "Math For Liberal Arts"....7 years ago) and because math is hard, I will just go ahead and throw in the extra 3 1/3% and make it an even third.

So for one month only, 1/3 of W.A.W.’s proceeds will go to the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter*.

Obviously if you just want to fund the Kickstarter, you should just go fund the Kickstarter, but if you’ve long thought to yourself “I should send that Chris guy some money for filling my days with merry chortles and the occasional guffaw, now is a great time. Plus, if you turn off your ad blockers for chrisbrecheen.blogspot.com I will get a penny or so for every hundred page views. (And you might see an ad you like since they’re targeted to be about books and writing.) Now is a great time to share a couple of your favorite classic articles from THE RELIQUARY on Twitter or Facebook.

And hopefully we can help a lot more kids fly twice as high as those loser butterflies!



*I know there are some quibbles about this Kickstarter. It’s already hit its goal. It’s technically funding a for-profit company. The tablet app is going to end up requiring a subscription fee. However I know they want to cover the subscription fees for underprivileged schools, and they've already stated that if they reach FIVE million, they will make the subscription free for 7,500 schools.



This is literally what I want to do, but on a global scale.

The success of this Kickstarter also may open up a new way I can work with the Oakland library. While I love giving them money earmarked for their children’s literacy programs, I would love even more to be part of a tangible, concrete project instead of just handing them a check, and if Reading Rainbow the app is a reality, then I can do something like buy them tablets so that kids can go there to watch R.R. (or pay their subscription fee…or both). I think that would be a really awesome.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Catching My Breath

Since Blog gave me leave to take some time off after we failed to reach 1000+ hits every day for the month of May...

And since I am going to head over to Texas to see my mother this weekend because there's nothing like quite like the 100 degree weather and oppressive humidity and seeing the American flag every eight feet....

And since I'm having some company next weekend....

And since the next day I start teaching summer school and middle schoolers take some mental prep to be ready for (and karate lessons)....

And since I'm behind on things like replying to e-mails and thanking recent donors and saving Skyrim from those fucking dragons....

And since I actually need to write some fiction instead of just talking about it....

We're going to take the time from now through next weekend to catch our breath a little bit here.

As usual, even during Writing About Writing's "time off," we won't REALLY be off. Usually it just means that we toss out the schedule for a few days and do some improv and lighter fare. The staff assures me that they can put up some quality content and hold down the fort while I'm gone even if they have to get Grendel to write a biography or something, and I don't ever really stop writing even when I'm on break, so I'll be able to post some stuff as well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou in Memorium

I woke up this morning and turned on my iPad to check my mail and Facebook from bed. (Yes, I'm that guy.)

I knew the minute I started scrolling through Facebook what had happened. Too many Maya Angelou quotes by too many people who don't know each other. I also knew she missed a recent engagement due to health concerns since I follow her Facebook page.

I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in high school not because we had to but rather because I didn't. It wasn't on my school's curriculum (except for an excerpt in our English books) and I wanted more of that lovely writing. I fell in love, and never fell out.

Her activism and poetry have always moved me, even before I really understood or appreciated either, and it is not an exaggeration or hollow eulogizing to say that her words have very literally made me want to be a better human being, have often made me strive to be, and I hope have sometimes even helped me to succeed.


One of the greats of our time. She was the best of us.

As I noticed three, four, five of her quotes on my Facebook wall, my heart gave a cry and broke a little. The first news article was just a perfunctory period at the end of a sentence that had already been written. I knew.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
― Maya Angelou

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
― Maya Angelou

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style
― Maya Angelou (and did you ever!)

And perhaps my favorite with the possible exception of the macro up above...

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you. 
― Maya Angelou


Podcast Addenda


Non-traditional publishing; all the things I didn't say...

I like writing a lot better than speaking. The reason why will become (painfully) obvious if you hear me speak.

Like I did a couple of Saturday's ago.

Ace of Geeks hosted a panel at WOWcon on non-traditional publishing in which I joined John Westley Hawthorne to talk about social media, self-promotion, getting comments mere minutes after publishing something, and avoiding gatekeepers.

Unfortunately I kept thinking of things I wanted to add. Sometimes I thought of them when John was holding the microphone.  Sometimes I thought of them after I'd already answered the question and we had moved on (and I didn't want to be like a politician: "I'm going to go back to the last question for a second..."). I even thought of something three days later while I was washing baby puke off the kitchen floor with a sponge in an absurd, "I totally should have said that!" moment.

This is why I'm a writer, not an orator.

So today's post is a minute by minute break down of the podcast, and all the things that I thought of but didn't say.

Here is the podcast for you to listen along to while I make comments.  

0:40- Lots of technical difficulties in this panel. Plus some pervy hosts. Good times. Good times.

I think our microphones are going to cut out at least three times over the course of the panel, but it mostly affected our presentation at the venue–the podcast microphone stayed on the whole time. You can hear it happen, but our voices only get a little lower.

1:14- "Very unique." I'm supposed to Hulk out with English major rage when someone says that phrase, I think.

2:00- I misspoke here. It was more like 35 years old, not 40. The people around my age could go either way, but they tended to be more into the book as a physical object, the traditional book deal as an act of validation, and looked down their noses a bit at non-traditional routes.

2:30- John was awesome to share a panel with! I'm very interested in reading his books now.

3:00- Wait, why are we hating on "speculative fiction?"

3:50- John mentions fear as a factor for him and I think it's worth pointing out that non-traditional publishing is not really a way to get out of being rejected. People will still judge you, and some quite harshly. The only difference is that you're dealing with that power of gatekeepers in traditional publishing. It can be more intense to have your whole opportunity come down to one opinion, but I think the difference between one gatekeeper and a thousand readers commenting can be just as scary.

More people can tell you that you suck, but no one can tell you no.

5:00- So apparently this is me not actually answering the question and getting so wrapped up in my own fucking tangent that I lose the plot. What I'm getting at in this train wreck of a reply is that one of the fundamental freedoms a non-traditional writer has is the freedom to not make a profit. (At least not immediately.) They can make a few dollars here and there and do not need to clear a certain amount to justify their existence.

8:00- Mike's talking about Coming Out as Feminist which I had written the day before, knowing it would probably get me some hate mail.  I never did get any. I will work harder.

10:30- I did some research before I started blogging, and I am doing a little better than average blogger (with daily updates who's been writing for about 2 1/2 years) to be getting 30,000+ hits a month, but most bloggers work several years with daily content before they make any kind of "day job" money. It's work. It's not a get rich quick scheme.

If you update less frequently it can take even longer.

12:00- I said this, but I want to hit it again and again, self publishing isn't any faster than traditional publishing in terms of how quickly a writer can expect to start seeing progress. (But it sure is nice to get a tiny paycheck and build up a bit of an audience in those early years.)

15:00- I've got a post coming up about all that time management stuff that went wrong a few weeks back and what I learned and this is what I started to talk about here. I think I've discovered a lot of things about blogging by trial and error, but the biggest mistake I've made, by far, is that I was just HEMORRHAGING time on Facebook. I am in the process of completely reorganizing my schedule to be better about writing when I'm writing so that I have time to do other things without feeling like I'm a shlub.

16:30- Approaching reading strangers on the BART? John is bolder than I. Also his book store promotions were exactly what I was talking about when I responded to this hate mail about paid promotions. You have to promote. The only question is how you're going to do it.

17:30- John brings up one of the great points about promotion in general. You can't count on the world to find you because you're just that awesome. Everyone thinks that they will be found, but it just doesn't happen that way.  Once you get a few fans, they are like walking billboards, but to spark the initial interest you must, must, must self promote.

18:00- Hire an editor! Editors rule. If I ever put out a full manuscript–no matter if it's an e-pub book or in chunks on the blog or PDFs or what–it will be polished and clean.

18:20- An under-employed English major? It's hard to imagine such a creature.

19:15- I post on lots of places but most of my time and energy goes to Tumblr and Facebook.

24:00- Man, John sure knows a lot more about this than I do. I'll just stare at the floor for this part.

28:00- I have a writer's group, after a fashion. I've cobbled together a close-knit group of readers who I can trust to read me objectively (and who I am happy to read as well). In a way they are my writing group. So it might be more fair to say that I don't like some of the artificially constructed writing groups. Hold tight to the readers you respect.

33:20- What a great question! Playing "the game" with integrity is a really great personal decision for each writer. Posts that no one reads might be brilliant, but an artist needs reach.

34:45- You may not hit a glass ceiling so much as you might find you aren't growing as fast as you could be.

36:40- I think I have nightmares where I'm blogging naked in front of a camera.

37:30- Some of the searches that have lead to Writing About Writing are very strange. Some of them make me worry about the fate of humanity.

38:30- Changing the Creepy Guy narrative is the article I'm talking about that went up on the mirror sites.

Also, someone turned The A to Zen of a Writer's Life into a Tumblr without even asking me.

You'll be sorrier when I make you say hello to my little friend.
(Jesus, is that reference really over thirty years old?)
Some people will take it down if you ask them, but most of the time, their response is more like, "I'm doing you a favor with my free exposure. What are you going to do about it?"  In one case, (which I won't name because they are just anal sphinctery enough to be litigious about it) I was told that all their hits to my site wouldn't have happened if not for them, so they were basically free advertising, I should be thanking them, and if I had any further concerns, I should get myself legal representation and formally contact their legal department. (Which I know is probably just the same guy using a stolen letter head from his parents' divorce lawyer, but I didn't want to chance it.)

41:30- Creepy Guy still gets about 5% of my traffic (I checked that figure again today, and it's still holding), but more than that, it brings people to my site who then find other things they like. And some of those people stick around and share other articles. I still maintain that the right philosophy is to accumulate tributaries–because you never know what is going to go viral.

Creepy guy may be a major tributary (the Missouri River of my analogy), but don't forget that the other 95% of my traffic doesn't come from there.

42:45- I guess I am a feminist blogger, but W.A.W. isn't generally about feminism. I think every time I write something popular that has a feminist tack, I get some people interested who then leave when they realize I'm mostly going to do book polls, tell people to write daily, and make threesome jokes.

47:00- This question threw me because I'd never heard of a blogging platform retaining the rights to your words (and I wouldn't have blogged on one if it had) and I was PRETTY sure they actually couldn't write a TOS that could strip a writer of their own copyright. (It's actually pretty hard for someone else to own your writing without you explicitly signing a contract.)

48:30- A few people have asked me if I'm going to continue to stick with non-traditional publishing if I get the opportunity at a book deal, or if that "opting out spiel" is just something I say to make me feel better about a decision I've already made. I actually have been contacted by an agent (not a huge one, but a real one) who told me my pre-generated audience (giving me marketing power through social media) could basically guarantee me a book deal if I could give them even a halfway decent manuscript. I turned them down.

So my money is where my mouth is on that one. Or I'm just stupid and like making my life harder than it has to be. Either one of those would probably fit.

51:00- I totally missed the actual trajectory of John's question. I gave this terribly long term, 5-year-plan type answer about being an ally, and John was really asking about the "Die Happy" moment.

So here is my actual "Die Happy" moment: all joking of groupie threesomes aside, I would love to overhear a conversation about myself as a writer between two people who I'd never met and who didn't realize who I was. They could even be having a fierce conversation about how much I sucked, and I think I would just squee myself into rapture.

After that I just make an ass out of myself trying to tell everyone how to find Writing About Writing online.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Poll: Best Fantasy Series (Semifinal Round Two)

What is the best fantasy series?  

It's time to vote in Round 2 of the Semifinals to see who will be going on to our final round for the best fantasy series.

Thank you for everyone who voted in round one of the semifinals. The winners, who will go on to our final round are:

The Lord of the Rings- Tolkien
Harry Potter- Rowling
Jhereg- Brust
Earthsea- LeGuin

Now let's see who they will be up against! Your choices are...

Amber–Zelazny
Oz–Baum
Dragonriders of Pern-McCaffery
Chronicles of Narnia–Lewis
Belgariad–Eddings
Dresden-Butcher
Chalion-Bujold
Discworld-Pratchett 

The poll itself is at the bottom left of the side widgets. It's long and black. Everyone gets three (3) votes. The top four books will go on to our final round.

Remember, because of a quirk in Polldaddy (the polling program) it can only hold your IPS addy for a week, so if you vote early, you can technically get in a second vote. We will combine the winners of this poll and the last poll to form the final round poll in two weeks.

Also, please be aware that I have all but been promised another round of "ballot stuffing" by our mischievous Pratchett fan, so if you want to see your beloved series do well, you might have to put this poll in front of some fan pages and galvanize support.

"Comforting" the Blog

Yesterday, I went to visit Blog; I had put it off long enough.

When Blog first came to me with its insane idea for having an entire month of nothing but 1000+ days, I thought it was out of its mind. Blog is always trying to hit some crazy goal with page views or set some new record that we've never hit before. So the crazy aspirations were nothing new, but this time it was really ambitious and unrealistic.

Yet, against everything I thought I understood about my current levels of traffic, and despite every month prior (that wasn't riding the wave of a viral article), somehow, it just kept happening. We just kept doing it. And some days it was only by 1007 or 1004, but we still made it. And Blog just kept saying that we were going to get a whole month of nothing but 1000+ and that we had never done that before.

I'll admit, by the 20th I had gotten a little swept up in Blog's enthusiasm. I started posting pictures to Facebook of our successes each day. People began to talk about the month of 1000+ as something that had already happened. Blog began to contemplate the next big goal.

But then it happened...

Fifty-two of you out there like seeing Blog cry, don't you?

Since then, I hadn't actually checked in on Blog. The convention was a blur, and I had been pretty busy, but last night I finally had a moment. I stood outside Blog's door and took a deep, deep breath.

I tapped at the door before poking my head in. "Hey buddy, you okay?"

"Yo, C-DAWG! Good of you to stop by!  I'm awe to the sizzum." Blog said. "Come on in! I was just adding up these numbers. Did you know that we will probably go over 35,000 hits this month. That's a non-Creepy Guy record!"

"Wh-  You're okay?" I asked. "You're not in here listening to emo music and reading Emily Dickinson? Didn't you see our numbers on Sunday?"

"Yeah!" Blog said. "They were fan-damn-dizzle-lizzle-astic-tastic, and not made out of plastic.

"What?" I asked, shaking my head. "What does that even mean?"

"Man, half your friends were at conventions this weekend and were trying to save the universe from the orc's paradox bomb, it was a Sunday which is always slow, and there was that huge social media storm about misogyny man, and you couldn't get content to upload because of the hotel's wifi, but we still got 950 hits.

"But... But we didn't make it," I said. "Four ninety eight. We dropped the ball on the 25th day by fifty two people."

Blog's smile didn't even slip. "Twenty-four days in a row without a viral article in play.  BOO YAH! That's a record. That's over ten days longer than our last unbroken chain of 1000+ days. BOO YAH! We used to miss a thousand by hundreds, now we miss it by a few dozen. BOO YAH! And we're about to have our best month since last August when you were still coming down from Creepy Guy. Double BOO to the YA YA SISTERHOOD!!"

"What does that even mean?" I asked.

"How is all of that not absolutely totes awesome–like totally dude-a-cle to the max with spoon gags."

"I just really wanted to hit it. You were so excited.  You got me excited." I said.  "Oh, and don't try to do 80s valley speak; you're not very good at it."

"If there weren't a possibility of failure, it wouldn't be interesting when we succeed. I can't say BOO YAH!!! because the sun came up.  Well, I could, but everyone would find me outrageously insufferable."

"Yeah...we wouldn't want that."

"Exactamundo, Chrisalicious."

I sighed.  "The worst thing is that we could have made it.  If I had posted yesterday's article on Sunday we would have gotten the hits. It's gotten like five hundred views already."

"If you had posted it then, it would have been most heinous. You knew it was coming across too flip and making light of a mass murder. You gotta get that shit right, dude. You needed that time to work on it."

"But I–"

"Chris," Blog said, looking right at me, "if I didn't care about what you post every bit as much as how well it does, we would just post porn, click bait, and articles about home-birthing, Christian-hating atheist, homeopathy-endorsing, feminists who make lists about why everyone else is wrong and post it to Reddit. I mean...that's all Slate does."

"But...you were so excited about the first named month," I said.

"Do you remember when we were happy to get twenty hits a day?"

"Sure."

"Remember the first day we ever hit triple digits?"

I smiled. "Yeah."

"Remember the first day we hit a thousand?"

"Yeah, you were like a puppy."

"Remember when you realized that pretty much you were never going to get below 500 in a day no matter what you did."

"Yeah."

"Every one of those milestones has happened in two years and four months. Imagine where we'll be in another two years and four months."

I licked my lips.

"You know why I'm demanding copious amounts of lip zippage here, brah?" Blog asked. "In just a few days we're going to reach THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION page views. And a little bit after that, we're going to pass the average pay that a paid writer makes in their writing career. And maybe in June or July or maybe this winter we're going to hit that goal of a month solid of 1000+. And then we're going to hit another goal. And we're just going to keep hitting goals. Because we're growing, and we're getting better, and we're building readership. Because that's what happens when you sit your ass down into the chair every day and do the work. That's how artists get better and find an audience.

"You should have seen yourself, Chris. Two posts a day. Weekend posts. Some of your best work yet. Just keep putting your ass in the chair and doing the work. You make me awesome. There'll be other months."

"Yeah, okay."

"Now do me a favor, okay," Blog said. "You've been working non stop all month. Take a couple of days off, and relax. Eat a Twix. You look like a PSA for the dangers of methamphetamine abuse."

"Not just yet," I said. "Maybe I'll do some light posts these next couple of weekends since I'll be out of town for one and having company the next. For now...I think I'm going to go write."


Monday, May 26, 2014

Elliot Rodger and The MRA/PUA On Writing

Not ALL Fedoras are worn by assholes!
#notallfedoras
If you're like me, your social media feeds EXPLODED with the story of a Santa Barbara MRA/PUA (Men's Rights Activist/Pick Up Artist) who posted a manifesto about how he was so lonely that he just had to go kill a bunch of women who wouldn't give him sex.

It occurred to me that there is an opportunity here to learn about writing. And right now, people will be most receptive to the topicality of these lessons.

Verbal Irony- Calling Alpha Males: "Brutes" in a manifesto video you post right before you kill six people and wound thirteen more.

Situational Irony- Killing six people in order to show how foolish they were for not recognizing how nice you are.

Tragic Irony- Writing for years on MRA message boards about misogyny, holding a number of overt and well documented misogynist beliefs, writing a manifesto outlining your misogynistic beliefs, making multiple Youtube videos in which you reinforce your misogynist beliefs. Making a final video of "the day of retribution" because no one will give you "pleasure" where you explain that you're going to kill those "blonde slut[s]" for not sleeping with you, literally saying that you were going to punish women because you hate them, committing mass murder, and then having most of world blame Aspergers, gun control, mental illness, the zodiac, a little piece of cheese named Whipperwil, and basically twist themselves into pretzels to blame anything and everything but misogyny.

The world is filled with tragic irony if you know where to look.

Warning: Works only on white people. 

The Unreliable Narrator- A narrator who repeatedly insists that he is a really nice guy–in fact "the perfect guy" and if you can't give him sex, love and adoration, he will indiscriminately murder people and turn them into "rivers of blood."

The "Nice Guy" trope- A man who thinks he is entitled to sex and companionship because he isn't an utter asshole (though evidence suggests he is less sweet than he claims), and who blames women for not giving him sex despite this niceness. (Like women are vending machines in which niceness is deposited and sex comes out.) Or one who hates women for not finding him attractive based on some deep positive qualities of which only he is aware.  From "The Wooing of Ariadne" to modern cinema women are constantly overcome by ecstasy for how nice dudes are and how being treated like a person is so refreshing that their panties just fly off their bodies. And not just any women either. Nice guys are entitled to HOT women, so simply lowering their standards is not acceptable. (This doesn't work both ways, you see. Guys don't go around getting sprung by nice girls...unless those nice girls are also hot.) If a nice guy isn't getting laid, it's because women don't appreciate the really deep qualities of their awesomeness. It can't be because they aren't as nice as they think, are openly racist and sexist, are a jerk, need to shower more, have unrealistically high standards, are socially awkward, laugh like a donkey, say violent things, are simpering people who would rather harbor resentments than voice their desires, or expect people to fuck them for driving a nice car.

It must be because women like assholes.

Misogyny in the western tradition- A long and enduring cultural tradition of marginalization towards women which is steeped in the literary canon (and conversely steeps within its influence) as well as having pervasive, almost invisible influence today. From Pygmalion and Symposium to Emily Gould's "midcentury misogynists,"right down to our modern authors who can't seem to pass a Bechdel test even when they know it's there. It is normal for women to be treated as a reward for the hero, as a commodity, as property, only in a story as a romantic interest, and for women's voices to be marginalized. It is so invisible yet pervasive at this point that a guy can basically declare for the world, "I'm going to go kill a bunch of women because I hate all of them categorically for not fucking me" and people will scratch their heads wonder about what factors could have lead to such a thing.

Scapegoating- To help you design realistic characters, the MRA has shown us how to scapegoat. You would think that after making a Youtube video saying that he was going to kill every "blonde slut" he saw for not having sex with him in his personal "War on Women," and then go kill everybody including the guys over the fact that they were having the sex that he was entitled to, the ONE thing that people wouldn't try to write off as a contributing factor would be misogyny. But you would be wrong. Blame the mental illness, the Aspergers, the gun, the entitled upbringing, or just call him a madman.... Blame anything but the culture the guy had been marinating in for years and invoked on video as the reason he did what he was about to do.

See also the more insidious versions of scapegoating that they do when they blame women for pretty much all of their misery and suffering.


The "Not all men" clichéA man who needs to interrupt a discussion about hatred and violence perpetuated against women by men to redirect the focus onto himself and how he doesn't behave like that, and therefore everything the woman is saying is wrong. It is a classic derail that misses the irony of how making something all about him with all that narcissistic stop energy plays into the larger problem that men need to make everything all about them. Like their shining paladonic presence means harassment or domestic abuse or sexual assault can have no gender bias, and women should stop talking about it right away because it hurts their feelings.

I know. I know. Not all men.


Double Standards- Make your characters even more realistic by giving them double standards about their cultural blind spots! If you can imagine for a moment the way Islam would be deconstructed if a Muslim made a Youtube where he said he was going to kill "all you Christians," right before a killing spree then you probably have a pretty good idea for the pass misogyny is getting in this whole affair. We'll go to war (with two countries at once) if 3000 Americans are killed, but look the other way, clear our throats, and delegitimize the problem when 4000 women are killed every year because of domestic violence. And don't forget of course that extreme misogyny is equated with extreme feminism even if only one of them has a body count that grows by quadruple digits....annually....in the US.

The Human Condition- Everyone thinks they're the good guy. Nobody actually twirls their mustache or talks about the power of the Dark Side. Most people don't even realize how entitled they are (certainly not when they're blaming women for not fucking and adoring them). They have urbane, erudite, reasons that what they're doing doesn't actually harm anyone. They may even think that they are oppressed and treated unfairly and speak passionately and eloquently about that. All it takes is being unaware when one's behavior hurts someone else and it's especially easy to ignore that harm when your entire culture is telling you it's something else. So these guys who are literally still defending E.R. or believe that hating women is a good thing, they don't actually realize how much like a cartoon bad guy or Monty Python satire of evil they come across as by blaming feminism or women.

Of course anyone who would like to know how much harm is actually done can read about it at #Yesallwomen, but this is all just a satirical point in a funny about the writing.....right? No one would really defend his actions or blame the victims here right?

Right?

Right??!?

RIGHT???!!??

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Donors, Patrons, and Artists

I got a huge donation from a Canadian reader whom I've never met. (Which reminds me that I still have several thank you letters to write to donors.) But it also reminds me that I need to thank those who have had so much faith in me.

It is hard to describe the relationship with patrons and donors. I know in the movies it's always some dramatic thing where the patron tries to control the artist or they're sleeping together or something. Reality is much more banal, but also much more sublime. These are people I can barely think about without being a bit overwhelmed. Some are friends who embarrass me (in the good way) by supporting my creative efforts, pressing ungodly amounts into my hands over my protests or sending me money even though our relationship is more a running game for who can pay for dinner. However, many are total strangers and that is almost more embarrassing in a way--to have those I've never met give me such a measure of support and confidence.

All are absolutely amazing to me. I never understood why so many artists revered their devoted fans almost more than the fans liked them.

Now I know. It's because they do.

They literally inspire me. There are days when I wake up and hits are crap and I'm not sure what to write and I realize that I spent three hours on some Elliot Rodger article that is too soon and too snarky and probably too insensitive, and I'm in no mood to write, and then I remember that some people believe in me that much and I somehow, manage to start believing in myself.

Some days they may even be more like a commitment and fetter when I want to give up. I am done. Tired. Ready for an extended vacation or to simply say that W.A.W. is not working out and I'm going to take it down to one or two entries a week. In that moment before I start to write my excuses, instead of throwing in the towel, I think: "My patrons and donors would be so disappointed. I would be letting them down. Maybe...I should just stick it out."

And so, I slog on and of course the inspiration and the energy and the passion come flooding back, and I literally have them to thank for helping me stay resilient to the next upswing. It is so touching that people out there care enough about W.A.W. to pay dozens, even hundreds of dollars to help keep it going. Whether it is setting up a monthly payment or simply handing me the kind of money that must feel like passing a kidney stone to give to keep a blog up and running.

When you start, you sort of imagine donations will be like a thin spread. A lot of people will give you a small amount because you're fucking awesome like that. But the reality is that many people do give generously in smaller denominations, but most do not. They read, they may even enjoy, but those that reach into their pockets are very rare. And then some people just blow you away. They give with such generosity that I have had to learn to overcome my initial impulse to tell them that it's just entirely too much.

Over 3/4 of W.A.W.'s income (up around $150-$175/month at this point) comes from fewer than ten people. And they are absolutely breathtaking to me. Every one of them.

Anyway, it's been entirely too long since I've given them a shout out. They all know who they are. And every one of them humbles me and presses me to be better than I am. Thank you.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Coming Soon (But Not Sure HOW Soon)

Just a quickie for those of you following closely.  I promised that I would do a timeline commentary on my panel appearance, but Ace of Geeks hasn't put the podcast up yet, so I will have to wait on that.

We Might Actually Pull This Off

Back when Blog first proposed the idea of going the entirety of May without dropping below 1000+ hits, I thought it was out of its processors. We've had some pretty incredible runs here at Writing About Writing, but the hits always eventually dip below 1000.

But it's starting to look like Blog may have called this one. We've made a few days only by eight or nine views, but so far we've done it.


Blog is dancing in the street (and reminding me to get back to work). I am actually just shaking my head in disbelief.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Mailbox: Copyright and Editing

When should a writer worry about editing? Shouldn't editing be an editor's job? What's the best way to copyright work?

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And beware that I might not always agree with you.] 


Steven's questions:

When should the writer really worry about editing and grammar? Editing is for Editors, writing is for writers; they should be separate entities, don't you think?

Writers are supposed to worry just about writing; grammar and rewrites, that's what editors are supposed to do, agreed? Writers should be concerned about grammar a LITTLE but Editors do all the nuance grammatical work otherwise, what use are they right?

What is the best way to copyright your work? I'm kind of new at this as I want to copyright my work before I send it out to a publisher. I'm almost ready to sent out my manuscrip (mss.). [sic]

My reply(s):

Note: Steven actually sent me three different questions through Facebook, and I'm going to answer them all. Because I like a little three on one action, if you know what I mean.

Steven, I hope you like the memes and bad puns over there on my Facebook page because you're not going to like my answer today. I'm probably the most outspoken proponent that a writer has to be more than just a grammar codex, and how obnoxious prescriptivism is, but even I know how important it is to the clarity of written communication. You've given me one of those "Sort of...but...." questions.

Like if I came up to you and said "Awesome news! I just met this girl who asked me to marry her after only an hour. That means she's really into me and not afraid of commitment right?" My answer would be: "Sort of, but....." And then I would tell you to run faster than you had ever run from anyone in your life. I might even tell you to change your last name, let your hair grow out and spell your name Stephen while you work at a beach bar in Guam for a few years.

That's just about how not-completely-true your sentiments about editors and writers are right now.

In theory, if you had an editor on retainer who could just walk around behind you everywhere you go and fix your writing, you would never need to really learn grammar. I'm guessing that would get prohibitively expensive for most of us though–especially if they don't do windows while you're watching The L Word and not really writing. They would have to have a British accent though, and say "Very good, sir," every time you gave them something to edit.
"Begging your pardon, Sir, but this Facebook status picture
of your lunch does appear to employ the wrong 'you're.'
Or perhaps you have neglected a noun after 'jealous.'"

For most writers, they will need to learn grammar. Not "a little" grammar, but rather a lot actually. Most writers are wicked good at grammar even if they often miss their own mistakes. (It's got to do with a writer knowing what they meant and reading past their own errors.) When you read a lot and write a lot, you improve. But they at least need enough grammar knowhow to fulfill several key functions.

You need to be able to write most things fairly cleanly without an editor. Having an editor is like wearing your Sunday best, and you want to trot it out if you have a major project like a novel or a very prestigious article. But no one will say you're a good dresser if you wear your Sunday best on Sunday and the rest of the time wear the oversized t-shirt with the holes in it and the pit stains and the sweats with caked on cheese dip and the funky crotch smell when it goes over 72 degrees. There are times when it is impractical to hire an editor, but if you still want to be taken seriously as a writer, you better know at least enough grammar not to embarrass yourself.

Make the work you put out as good as you can. You're on your own for most writing you will do, and it's not always practical to hire an editor for everything. You want the skill set to be able to clean something up as good as you can without passing everything off. People will judge your writing based on your grammar. That's because most of humanity is petty and sucks, but it's just the price of doing business. If your grammar makes your writing hard to parse, it doesn't matter how brilliant the writing is. You can make a few mistakes (I sure do, don't I?) and most people will kindly point them out. (And a few will be total butt nuggets about it.) But if you start making too many mistakes, no one will take your ideas seriously. Creative writing is an art and a craft and a skill and if you neglect the skill, it almost doesn't matter how much of the others you have.

Submissions should be polished, not rough. So since this isn't cranky mail from someone anonymous, I'm going to try to be as nice as I can about this, but based on the questions you asked and some of the grammar mistakes in the questions themselves, I'm guessing that you have finished a manuscript and you've maybe been told that you need to clean up the grammar before you submit. You're thinking that an editor will do that for you. Unless you hire said editor, this will not happen. (Please feel absolutely free to do your own research if you don't believe me.) Many publications might have copy editors who will help you polish something, but you won't get accepted if you make large, glaring mistakes, and they won't bother trying to salvage something that will be more trouble than it is worth.

Most submission readers have a stack to read about as tall as they are, and won't even read past the first page if they see more than a couple of errors. When I worked at Transfer (the SFSU undergrad lit magazine) we considered it an insult if someone didn't care enough to send their best and we just tossed it. Round filed. Sent to shipping. Lost in the maelstrom. "Misplaced" (where we did the scare quotes with our fingers). Rejected with extreme prejudice.

An editor has to know what you meant.  Editors are amazing and wonderful and every time I work with one, I end up sounding way smarter than I actually am. But even when I can count on having one (which isn't often) we work together to clean up my writing. But they are trying to help me say what I want to say even better, and if they can't tell what that is, I just get my copy back with a bunch of question marks and expletives. If an editor can't figure out what you meant, they spend most of their time and energy just getting you to comprehensible.  What you want them to be doing is polishing you. You want to hand them tarnished silver not corrugated steel.

You want to be easy to edit. Unless you want to spend a lot of money on freelance editing, you want to be easy to edit. It makes editors happy to work with you, and it makes your writing much better when an editor is helping you be the best you can be and not proofreading your work like a 9th grade English teacher with an inflamed adrenal gland and a thick, red magic marker. It's good for your end product (the better what you hand them is, the better the finished product will be), and for your professional reputation.

Think of it more like this, Steven. Most editors are writers and so they are helping you by bringing their writing skills to your words, and every writer needs to know a fair chunk of grammar. Your roles are more overlapping than they are separate. The easier you can make an editor's job in the overlap part, the more they can do the work that is distinctly theirs. (You want them in there catching the fact that you made an honest mistake with a homophone error on page 47 and not trying to figure out what the verb is on the second line in page 2.)

What an editor does (or can do) goes far beyond catching your mistakes. They make you better.

Unless you just want a proofreader, an editor is so much more than just a grammar-check.

Most editors are going to mark things you didn't even know were mistakes, and you will get like three pens worth of red ink on a manuscript to work on, and lots of fantastic suggestions, but they can't do that wonderful job if they're stuck mucking through stuff you ought to know already.

Consider this pragmatically too. Even if your ideas are good, if you are going to take hundreds of hours to edit, a publisher won't consider you worth the investment.

The copyright thing is much more complicated, and the laws change depending on where you are. I encourage you (as I encourage any young writer) to spend an afternoon on Google. It's just the smart thing to do. You don't need to be a copyright lawyer to know the basics and way too many people are willing to tell you what they think they know so there's a lot of bad information out there (putting a © on your work is not the same as filing for copyright, for example). Here are some things that are useful for a first time writer to know:

  • If you wrote it, and you didn't write it for someone else (like under contract), it's yours. Period. No one can publish it, say it was theirs, reproduce it for money, perform it, make money off of directly derivative works, or display it publicly unless you give them the right to. It might be tough to prove that it's yours if someone does do one of those things, but they are stealing from you and when you stand on their desiccated corpse and crush their skull under your boot, you'll be totally in the right.
  • Holding copyright because you're the artist and filing for copyright are very different. As an artist, if you create something you automatically hold the copyright. As a not-copyright lawyer, you probably will never completely understand the latter.
  • No publisher in their right minds will steal your story (or allow one of their employes to do so). Seriously, Steven, that's NOT gonna happen. If word got out a publisher had stolen a writer's story, they'd be scandalized beyond any money they ever made. You might even want to hold off putting the little © on your manuscript because some publishers will be insulted by the implication that they aren't absolute professionals.
  • In today's world, anyone who would respect copyright won't steal your work. And almost everyone who would steal your work won't let a little thing like copyright stop them.
  • In today's internet era, the question is less who holds a copyright and more who's going to do anything about it if there is infringement. (And there will be.) One of the reasons to publish with one of the big five is that their legal teams are comprised of Terminator robots with no souls. You can run, but you can't hide. They will find you. It's what they do. It's all they do.

Follow Writing About Writing

We've made some changes to our "Follow W.A.W." tab–including adding Tumblr as a way to follow us and the existence of our "brunch posts" that some media will post and some will not.

Interested in following Writing About Writing??

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways to do so. Not every social medium is updated in the same way. Some get just my big posts. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. (Many days there are two posts but one of them is relatively minor.) Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where once a day, I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see some of the things they missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics). I also write for other venues, and those who are following me as a writer, rather than JUST Writing About Writing, may prefer the media where I can share those other articles. Twitter gets ALL of these updates and may be a little too spammy for many readers.

97 of the Earth's coolest people can't be wrong!
The real "Join this site" button is at the
bottom of this (and every) page.
Follow Writing About Writing through Google (Blogger, Google Friend Connect). Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through gmail.)

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner. Helps me with my "membership numbers," which are a bellwether of how cool the blog is.
Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up. Wordpress is the chic, happening blog place; Blogger is like the high school kids who eat lunch in the quad.

It's going to burn your FEED!!!
Wait...what?
R.S.S. Feed (Feedly, Feedburner) If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button at the bottom of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, Newsfire, RSSOwl and more.

Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.
Cons-Updates instantly! (Usually before I've managed to find and fix the biggest typos and dumbshit errors I missed before I hit "Publish".) No reruns. No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the fabulously hilarious images. Also, f you get a little behind on your feed, it feels like the sword of Damocles.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't punch in
the addys of all those Nigerian Princes.
E-Mail Notification At the bottom of the page there is an option to put your e-mail into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through e-mail notifications.  Every time I post an update, you will be sent an e-mail notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.
Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You already get ten billion e-mails a day.

G+ for the W.A.W. Page (The text there is also the link) This G+ page for Writing About Writing. Though I put an occasional image up (usually when I need to add text to an image to create a "You should be writing" macro), it is mostly there JUST for blog updates and reruns. If you want to get updates through G+, you should probably pick this page OR the one below, but not both. If you do both, it will appear in your feed as if every single link is being posted twice.

Pros- Show all new updates (minor and major). Includes reruns.
Cons- No posts from other venues. It's G+, so people will accuse you of working for Google.

G+ for Chris Brecheen (The text is also the link.) If I get added by a name I don't recognize in life, I put the name in a circle called "Author Updates." I post all my reruns and posts to other venues in this circle. I don't often use G+ otherwise, though occasionally I will have a public update that would also be seen by anyone in that circle.

Pros- Major posts, but not minor ones. Reruns. Posts from other venues. Posts right away. Not much other "noise."
Cons- Occasionally you'll see a public G+ post I write. Since I post all articles, reruns, and posts from other venues here, this can seem very "spammy." People will accuse you of being a Google shill because you're on G+.

Twitter (Chrisibrecheen) I don't use Twitter--not really. I don't really like it very much. I held in there for a while until all the retweets and replies became too much. So my tweets are ONLY cross posts of things I've written. Some people appreciate that it's a good place to get ONLY my updates; others find the "signal to noise" to be something that wouldn't make them want to follow me.

Pros- All posts. Reruns. Major posts. Minor posts. Posts from other venues. Posts right away. Not much other "noise."
Cons- I don't otherwise use Twitter. I also put ALL posts on Twitter even when I'm posting something different on Facebook (below) than on G+. That means sometimes Twitter has four or five links a day, and that can seem "spamish." Also misunderstandings in 140 character posts are a fact of life. Twitter pubic lice of the internet.

Facebook Page for Writing About Writing (Text is also the link) W.A.W.'s Facebook page is a whole different kettle of fish. It is, in fact, a thermo-kettle full of piranha. On my Facebook page, I actually post memes, macros, quotes, inspirational messages, videos, and try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross posting. Sometimes I skip posting "less popular" updates in favor of a "best of" rerun that will attract more of my FB audience. FB's algorithm blacks out posts, even to people who want to see it in order to encourage content providers to spend money promoting themselves.
Bitter.
So very bitter.

Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. Sticks to "best posts." Most reruns. Most posts from other venues.
Cons- Lots of other stuff going on. (Not a good place if you just want the updates or if you want all the updates.) Major posts. Not minor ones. FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Skips less popular posts in favor of popular reruns. Not a good place to get all the updates. Enjoying anything on FB the requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the antichrist.

At this point I don't use any other forms of social media. Though my work will turn up on places like Reddit that has to do with other people, not me.

Tumblr (Text is also the link) I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling that basically ensures that about one quarter of one percent of my Facebook followers see any given post. Tumblr doesn't try to decide what I want to see or what my followers want to see and it doesn't hold their eyeballs hostage to try and squeeze money out of me. Mostly, Tumblr isn't run by a bunch of greedy assholes with dollar signs in their eyes. I don't post as many macros on Tumblr as I do on Facebook because I don't have to post once an hour in order to be noticed once a day. However, Tumblr is a place where it's tough to compartmentalize, so you have to put up with some of my obnoxious "feminist crap."

Pros- Only main posts. Very few reruns (only the uberbest). Some funny macros. Feminist crap (if you like that stuff).
Cons- Only major posts. No "minor" posts. Occasional reruns. Feminist crap (if you don't like that kind of stuff).

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Last Chance to Vote

This is your last chance to vote in the first semi-final round of the Best Science Fiction Series poll.

There are only a few more days to vote until our first round picks will be locked in and move on to the final round. On Sunday I will be posting the round two semi-final picks.

Our top three titles will go on to the final round.

On that day there will be tears and wailing and gnashing of teeth and some of you will look at the choices that have moved on to be in the final round and you will cry "How could THAT author make it?" Or "Why was THIS series passed over."

You alright. We learned it by watching you! (Or....something.)

On that day I will stand, unsympathetic with my arms crossed and I will look down on you with a hard face and say "Where were your votes?" Where was your vaunted concern when a simple shout out to a few friends could have made a difference. Where was this raging concern when a casual post on the right sub-Reddit would have turned the tides. In short, my friend, where were YOU when it mattered."

And in that cold moment, you will know that you stood at the crossroads, and you had the choice, and you let it go. You will know I am right.

So take a moment to scroll down to the long black poll on the lower left and give the series of your choice some love.

Oh and don't forget that those of you who voted when the poll first came out can probably vote again. Vote early. Vote often. It's the Polldaddy way!

Blogging From Kublacon!

The most fun you can have without MDMA fueled orgies!

I will be packing up on Friday and heading to Kublacon for a weekend of fun, games, and not being called a fake geek (even though I am one).

However, Blog insists that if I slack on offering new content every single day that there will be no hope of hitting the goal it dreamed up of not dropping below 1000 hits for the entire month of May, and it has insisted that I come up with an itinerary of posts that can be done from the hotel.

"But I like taking the weekend of convention's off," I said. "It's pretty much the closest thing I get to a vacation."

"Oh Chris," Blog said. "Dear, sweet Chris. Do you still not understand who controls whom in this relationship. We're not going to fall below a thousand page views because you wanted a vacation."

"I want the weekend off!" I said. I wanted it to be firm, but my voice cracked a little. "I'll post good reruns! They'll get hits. We'll make a thousand page views. Please don't make me–"

Blog quickly reached over and decapitated our latest picture-finding intern in one casual move.

"Oh I'm sorry, did I break your concentration?" It said. Then it held up the intern's head in its head and started shouting: "Now...if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, now's the fucking time."

"It's only me here," I said. I glanced at the intern's headless body.  "....now."

"I didn't want to mess up the Kill Bill quote," Blog said. "I trust you get the gist. Now go make me a postwich"

My relationship to this blog might not be...healthy.

So...for those of you with no plans this weekend, or those of you who just need something to do during the time slot when the shuffler denies you the game you really want to get into, I will be here. Whether I want to be or not.


  • On Friday there will be a normal Mailbox even as I attempt to pack, clean every litter box, and try to leave with enough time to get my Friday night geek on. Babies don't make it hard to leave for things on time, do they?
  • As I mentioned last Saturday, I did a panel about non-traditional publishing with Ace of Geeks that will be going up as their podcast on their website this Friday. Like most panels and interviews, I thought of addendum when we were on to the next question, or great things to say when the other guy was holding the microphone, or just generally thought of brilliant things to say two hours later (and that's why I'm a writer and not an orator). My Saturday post will be a timeline of additional thoughts (with time stamps) that you can read while listening to the podcast.
  • Sun: A long overdue conversation with Ima Lister. I've been putting it off because he's our highest rated guest blogger, but I can't ignore it forever.
  • Mon: I have My blog has a crazy ambition to try to do one of my "As a Writer" Convention Reports and to have it up right away. So even if it takes me until late afternoon or early evening, the hope is to get that posted–or at least the first part of one.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Brunch with Writing About Writing

More posts are coming to Writing About Writing! But you'll have to subscribe to get everything.

As part of some of the major overhaul of changes we're rolling out this year, W.A.W. will be adding a second post to many days, but the catch is that you have to subscribe or follow us on certain media in order to see them. We do so love keeping you on your toes. (And not just because it makes your calves look spectacular!)

The other catch is these posts are going to be on the goofy side. They might not be everyone's kink cup of tea.

There is actually a sizable–and growing–backlog of posts to be written here at Writing About Writing.

Seriously, I've had to start stacking them in the corners of the spare bedroom of my brain behind all the Mystery Science Theater quotes I've memorized and the Glen A. Larson shows I watched too much of as a kid.

Can we pause just a moment on that note and talk? Who? The HELL? Thinks Gil Gerard is good casting for the sexiest man in the galaxy? (Oh he's better looking than I am, to be sure. But sexiest man in the galaxy?) How did he get that role? And the slave auction episode with the bidding war for topless Gil. Those women all deserve Emmys for not laughing their heads off.

We've got meta posts about what directions the blog is going in, short posts of things like questions we've fielded on our Facebook page, random flotsam and jetsam, menu updates, super basics, potpourri posts, Pointer Sister posts, commercials for upcoming goodness, plot arc posts that answer questions you are all on the edge of your seat about like which one of Writing About Writing's Staff is responsible for posting the Evil Mystery Blogger posts. (You claim to not really be on the edge of your seat, but you can't fool me.) Speaking of our staff page, it might be nice to get those member bios that most of the staff has taken like a year to get to me. Clearly this is because they are lazy assholes. Or it might possibly be because I pay them a few cents a day and keep them locked up inside a fortified compound. Either way it is completely unacceptable.

There's even a post here about a velociraptor with an eye laser.

Why not just post this stuff? Especially if it's lower key and I've been whining more than the baby I take care of about time management troubles lately? Wouldn't posting this, instead of some thirty item list on how to be miserable, help me to cloister my valuable "Hookers and Blow" time that is so hard to come by lately.

This is a tragic story of ambition vs. pragmatism, so do not even attempt to contain your tears. Because of Blog's obsession with page views he has been riding me like a drive by (what does that even mean?) to put up popular content so that the page views go up. This latest madness about not dropping below 1000 hits all May long has nearly killed me. He doesn't want to see me coasting through a day with nothing but a post relaying a conversation about cheese. Not when there are page views to be had and that sort of shenanigans doesn't tend to perform particularly well.

But that's the sort of shenanigans I really enjoy as a writer, so many the tearful days have been spent telling Blog what I wanted to write and having it look at me with tender eyes and say, "Is that going to get me the hits I so richly deserve? I don't think so. So get back in there and write me a proper entry. Because you are my butt monkey. And I am your master. And Chris....?"

I turn and look.

Blog's voice goes down an octave and slithers out as its tender eyes go granite hard. "Don't ever forget that!" it says.

I scuttle off to write.

It works the other way too. I have a lot of good writing content planned, but it's not always the most traffic heavy stuff. Basics, craft essays, things that get good hits over time due to search engines and being useful but that aren't going to get a lot a page views the same day they're posted. Blog makes me put those away in favor of some funny jazz hands.

"This is educational," it says. "It will never do."

"Please..." I say. "It's so useful to young writers. It will help them. In the long run, this article will do well!"

"No no no," Blog says, ripping open its third sleeve of Oreos for the day.  "I only have four hours to make another three hundred page views. Do another one of those Fortune Cookie things. Those are good. More jokes though."

I slink off.

So the only way to make Blog and me happy is that some days I'll be writing two posts. It won't be every day, but there may often be a second post.

  • These "less critical" posts will go up first. Usually late morning or very early afternoon. The "main" post won't be too far behind.
  • I'm not going to promote my "brunch" posts on every social media I currently post. If you are interested in them, you will need to subscribe to W.A.W. through blogger, email notifications, or a feed OR follow me on G+ or twitter (chrisibrecheen). All the other places I post will only get the main post.
  • That means that G+ and Twitter will be getting FOUR posts some days. One rerun, one "brunch" post, one "main" post, and possibly a call to vote in whatever the ongoing poll is. If that ends up being too spammy for some of you, I understand.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

No Post??? Unless You Count THIS!

Like you could resist!
So this little guy needed a DOUBLE helping of emergency watching today.  (In addition to the regular five hours.) Once because The Brain desperately needed to power down her central processors after a long night of computing actuary tables, and then again because Uberdude got called by our sister crime fighting league in New Delhi and had to spend over an hour on a conference call discussing the villain GPS tracking software that they were trying to debug.

Anyway it was about ten hours of babysitting him while he went around contradicting everything with his psychic powers. He's also working on two new powers–one which might be useful and one that is....um....well probably a little less so. He is now capable of producing ten gallons of drool per day. If you look closely at the picture, you can see him whipping up a batch right when I took it. I'm not sure how that's going to help him fight crime, but maybe he can make floors slippery when criminals run by or something. But the one that might come in handy is that he can now emit a sonic scream that can shatter glass, hard plastic, and spinal columns (trust me on that last one--mine is now made of a titanium replacement that Doctor Sawbones was able to emergency install). He's also about three decibels from shattering my will to live.

Regardless, even though what was to be today's post is written, my late night ohfuckthisislate posts rarely get many page views, and since this one will be vaguely, kind of, sort of, somewhat important, I'll post it tomorrow instead, and force you all to bask in the cuteness that are his little tiny overalls instead.

Ohmygodtinyoveralls!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Long Overdue

Low, dramatic voice: For ten thousand years I have slumbered.

Me: Uh...it's actually only been a couple of months.

Low voice: I thought you said this was long overdue.

Me: Yeah...but not that long.

Low voice: A couple of months isn't really that dramatic.

Me: Well, that's why I hired a dramatic low voice. You're getting half of today's net earnings. Punch it up. Do your thing. Earn that seven cents.

Low voice: Punch it up, he says.

Me: Okay, take two......

Low voice: For...uh eighty-six thousand, four hundred minutes I have slumbered. But now, I return to a world that has forgotten me.

Me: Beautiful. Thanks low dramatic voice.

Low voice: No problem. Glad I could help.


Writing About Writing is deliciously free. It is ecstatically free. And for some of you, it is orgasmically free. (I'm basing that last one on some pretty sketchy statistical analysis, but I stand by it.) It will always stay deliciously, ecstatically, and (possibly) orgasmically free, but we depend on the generosity of our readers. I don't like to beg, but without you, W.A.W. would have to drop to one post a week while I go get a "real job" with "prospects" and "a decent retirement plan." (Those are the demands of Unsupportive Girlfriend.) I've had one of those jobs, and they suck. They suck bad. If indolent high school student haikus were a metaphor for suckage, "real jobs" would be: "Not sure what to write/This assignment is stupid./When would we use this?"

On the other hand, if this job starts paying the bills, I can do things like bring you more and better content, get a copy editor for my posts, and make the U.I. on this webpage not suck flaming Aye Aye testicles.

Oh sure. Bring me into this.

I currently make about five dollars a day (roughly a dollar an hour). Since I don't live in Romania or Thailand, $1/hour is not as awesome as it sounds. Also, over half of that comes from only three donors. Nearly 75% comes from my top eight donors. Ad revenue accounts for perhaps 10%. My ability to keep doing this daily depends entirely on you.

(~points at Low, Dramatic Voice~)

Low Dramatic Voice: Entirely upon you.

If you love this blog, and have been entertained by its almost-daily updates, informative articles, fiction, and more, why not cruise over to the Conspicuously Placed Tip Jar and drop in a few dollars. And if you really like W.A.W. it's very easy to set up Paypal as a monthly payment. I'm a struggling artist, so it doesn't take much to impress me. You can give up a McDonalds Value Meal a month, and I will think that donation makes you the most awesome person in the damned universe.

No money? No problem!

W.A.W. will never be the kind of web site to hit you up every article for social media proliferation like some hyper dog humping your leg (ohboyohboyohboypleasesharethisontwitterohboyohboy), but that's where the money shot is, baby. Toss us some love and we won't care that you've read for years and never donated a dime. Share an article or two that you've enjoyed on Facebook or Twitter and it's like the sweet ambrosia of a growing audience.

It really does matter, and it really does help. This blog is going nowhere without you. And who knows, maybe your shared article is the one that gets my blog in front of my next patron muse.

And please, turn off your adblocker for any website you love. (Low Dramatic Voice: Any website!) You're basically killing the ability of those sites to bring you free content. We know you hate commercials, but adblockers prevent websites from making money and that means they either have to find other ways to make money or the content providers all hang up their creative spurs and go manage pet food stores or count paper clips or something. You can turn them on and off for just the domains you want to support (and right back off if they use pop ups or something). So if you're a fan of something, let it make some money.

Here are a few other things you can do if you want to help as well. Everything from subscribing to clicking a Facebook thumb will make W.A.W. a better place.

We're counting on you.

Low Dramatic Voice: Yes...YOU!