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Write on the ragged edge…


 
     

Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Calix Lewis Reneau on Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:43pm

I don’t think there is anything wrong with using pseudonyms.

In fact, last week I launched a new web series anonymously (one I am now almost two days behind in delivering a second episode for - LOL!)

I did it anonymously because of political content which might cause me trouble in other business areas of my life.

Cheers,
Calix

(...which is probably cowardly, but there you have it…)

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Calix Lewis Reneau
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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Aubrey Hansen on Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:31pm

[professionalauthormode]  Using multiple pennames for different marketing purposes is an established practice.  I primarily see it used when an author wants to write a book in a style/genre that’s significantly different from their other works.  This is especially true of famous authors, it seems to me.  Say, if Tom Clancy wanted to write a cozy mystery, he’d probably use a different penname.  He’s already built up a very distinct reputation with his other words; cozy mystery would be so far removed from his style that another penname would be a wise marketing decision.  Whether or not he connected it to his other brand would depend on his marketing approach.

However, I intentionally chose a penname that was “universal” - was not genre specific and fit me as a whole - so that I could market all my works together.  So, for that reason, I would only use a different penname for a very specific purpose, something where I intentionally wanted it disconnected - like the kind of thing Calix is doing.  It’s a decision I’d have to make before the project went public so that it could be marketed that way from the start.  [/professionalauthormode]

I get what you’re saying about dishonesty and selfishness, Jordan, and I think that depends on your heart attitude.  Sometimes posting controversial material under a different name can be wise, depending on your intent for it.  However, using a different name solely out of fear would seem to indicate an issue with heart attitude.  Your storytelling should not be ruled by fear.  If fear is dominating your writing, then that is something that needs to be taken up with the Lord.

...and I suppose I ought to take my own advice?  *slow smile*

Thank you all for your wonderful words.  You all are right… but my personality requires that I be told and reassured to solidify things, even if I already know them.  smile  One of the main reasons I’m even writing this book is to face it, to come to terms with it.  I think publishing it under my name and making it and all its gray areas public is part of that process.  Publishing is the point of no return.  I can’t hide it or waffle over it anymore.  It will be done - and public.  So I think that’s the emotional hurdle I need to cross right now - specifically, breaking away from the mentality of feeling “responsible” for my readers, especially the younger ones.

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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Calix Lewis Reneau on Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:12pm

Aubrey Hansen wrote:

breaking away from the mentality of feeling “responsible” for my readers, especially the younger ones.

Funny thing is, I think what you’re doing - writing what you know to be writing - is actually fulfilling your responsibility to your readers… especially the younger ones!

We seem to want to forget or ignore some basic truths about children:

1 - children are horribly wicked beings.  That was my first thought moments after my first child was born.  I looked at that pink, bloodied, messy, squirming human-like thing under that heating lamp, screaming his lungs out solely because his world had been disrupted, his needs weren’t being met, there was nothing important - or even in existence - other than him… and I thought:

“Huh.  So *that’s* what original sin looks like!”

2 - children throughout history - and right now in most of the world - are exposed to the kinds of elements that we’re all worried will corrupt our younger readers.  Death, disease, unkindness, sexuality, whatever you want to write, God is writing that in His Story all around you, and even if you don’t buy the possibility that the sovereign God of the universe is in control of everything, you cannot deny that He is choosing not to shield the vast majority of children in the world from horror and evil and sin.

2a - a long time ago a friend around here mentioned the impropriety of minors being exposed to sexuality; I quipped that it’s a good thing we’ve moved away from an agrarian society, where not only was sexuality rampant between the barnyard and flock animals, it was actually necessary to encourage it - husband it, s’twere - to survive! <grin>

Those who know me know I am not saying “you have to make everything as wicked and depraved and sinful and outlandish as possible” for any sort of reason - God forbid!

But I personally believe the excuse of “who will protect the children” is an invalid one, if only for the way I observe God has made the world to work.

Children are stronger than we think; and protecting them is not a function of pretending that the things they see going on in the world around them don’t exist by censoring them from our fiction when they should be occurring organically and appropriately, but by showing them… well, as GK Chesterton put it so aptly:

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Cheers,
Calix

(...or, as Calix might less elegantly put it, “the purpose of fiction - especially for children - is not to deny the world exists, but to point to things greater than the world that are more difficult to see, sometimes too subtle to see otherwise…”)

 

 

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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Katie Lynn Daniels on Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:15pm

Two thoughts:

1. Isaac Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series under a pseudonym, Paul French, because they were originally destined to become a TV series and he didn’t want to be associated with said series, which he was sure would be terrible. It ended up not happening, and the rumours that resulted from people knowing he’d written under a pseudonym caused him to regret that he’d ever done it, and future versions of the book included his real name on the cover.

2. Diversity is good. There’s nothing more stale than an author who writes the same book over, and over, and over again. Finding an author that you both know is good, but every book is new, is different, is always amazing. Even the best authors get boring after enough repetition. If all you ever wrote was Red Rain type stuff the Red Rain fans would be thrilled, and the rest of us would sit back and yawn and wonder when you’re going to broaden your horizons.

I have known some authors to write books I loved and books I didn’t like at all, but that’s the risk you take with being different. Most of the time different is good. If you do experiment with something and it doesn’t work, there’s no harm done; you just go back and do something different. It doesn’t mean the book is wrong to have been written…

You’ve made it quite clear that Peter’s Angel is different from Red Rain. If people can’t read well enough to figure that out then they really have no business reading anything at all, and you cannot possibly be responsible for their ignorance.

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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by J. Grace Pennington on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:45am

*is having an awed “Katie is so awesome” moment*  grin

Ahem.  Carry on. wink

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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Aubrey Hansen on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:52pm

Katie, you had me laughing with a mental image of you leaning back and yawning with a bored look on your face!

When the argument of “It’s realistic” comes up, I’m usually the first person to quip that our books aren’t realistic. By definion, they are fiction, and their primary purpose is to entertain.

I realize that some people approach writing with a different end use, in which case their application will be different.  But for me, the primary purpose of my books is to provide godly entertainment.  I think that is a very valid mission; we all need entertainment to relax and escape, so there’s a great need for entertainment that allows us to “shut down” without being bombarded by unnecessary content.

Therefore, I do not believe “It’s realistic” is a valid excuse for putting in unnecessary content.  I think that’s a dangerous mentality.  However, I am fully in favor of using content masterfully to tell a God-honoring story.

It’s all in the mentality and application.  Are you putting in this content for the shock or evocative factor?  Or are you using it intentionally for an end goal?  Your heart motive makes all the difference in how the content affects the book - and how it ultimately affects readers.

If anyone’s interested, I wrote a longer ramble about this here: http://www.aubreyhansen.com/2011/12/fear-for-fears-sake.html To summarize, I quit watching Doctor Who in the middle of the season because it was all scare and no meat for me.  By contrast, “Angel Fall” is one of my favorite books of all times… BECAUSE of the way it used extreme content (sexuality, horror, gore) to tell a spiritual message that struck me to the core.  Angel Fall is the most intense book I’ve ever read.  IT’s also the most spiritually impacting.  It was quite an eye-opening experience for me as a writer, which is one the reasons I respect Coleman Luck so highly.  (So please, don’t take my word for it, but go read his book!)

All of that being said…  I am wondering if perhaps one of my struggles with Peter’s Angel is coming to terms with the fact that it isn’t a “just for fun” book.  It isn’t innocent entertainment.  Perhaps it’s main purpose isn’t to entertain at all.  Perhaps the primary reason I’m writing this is to present questions, explore gray areas, and make people think.

It would seem to pair well with the way I’ve gone about this story.  Early on in the process, one of my main reasons for restarting it was that I believed my basic premise was a truly good premise with a lot of story potential.  But in the process of actually drafting and rewriting, the premise is almost lost underneath the day-to-day focus of getting into my characters’ heads and fleshing out the world, of writing all the exchanges and their mental processes with all the gray areas…  I’m not writing it primarily to tell a good story anymore, although I’m taking a lot of effort to make it as good as it can be (partly because I’ve invested so much into it emotionally).  I’m not even writing it to publish it and add to my library or earn money anymore.  I’m writing it to get it out of my head, and I’m publishing it to put it to rest permanently.  So I should probably just forget my readers exist until after-the-fact, but… *grins*

Regardless, I really appreciated your post, Calix, because I think in this instance, “It’s realistic” is a valid explanation for why the book is coming out this way… and why it feels like it works.  The stuff that’s irking me is flowing in there very naturally.  I’m not forcing it in.  It just makes sense.  And that scares me a bit, but I think it’s actually a good sign.

Thanks for that, Katie.  I hadn’t thought about it that way.  smile

ETA:  To add the link I forgot last night…  LOL

[ Edited: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:09am by Aubrey Hansen ]
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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Calix Lewis Reneau on Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:11am

As I like to quote, “reality is never a justification.”

That’s the line I use whenever someone uses something in a story that doesn’t work and they try to justify it by pointing to it’s real-world factuality.

As a quote variously attributed (most often to Tom Clancy) explains:

“The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.”

I think a little clarity on my position might help:

A Christians only obligation is to obey our Master with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Our Master’s will is communicated to us in many different ways, and figuring out what that means individually is the essence of the Christian life.

A Christian who is an author has only one other obligation as an author: to serve the story we are given to tell.

If this includes exploring darkness, we explore darkness.

If this requires the lightest touch for the most innocent expression, we put our best focus and attention into making it so.

As Christians, we serve our King; as authors, we serve our stories.

Some see a huge dramatic tension in that.  Some see that there are elements which should never be considered, never be explored, never be used.

I do not want anyone to act against their conscience (which is one of the ways our Master communicates His will to us, after all!)

But for me, I believe I must serve the story by making it as excellent as I can first and foremost, and as appropriate for its intended audience as I can secondarily - and if I don’t do this, that is a more egregious violation of my Master’s will than the careful but wrong inclusion or exclusion of any given element might be.

God above all calls us to be responsible adults.

And God above all calls us storytellers to boldly serve each story He gives to us, writing on the ragged edge of faith.

Cheers,
Calix

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Re: Write on the ragged edge…

by Aubrey Hansen on Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:04am

Thank you so much for taking the time to clarify & expound on your thoughts, Calix.  That made complete sense and really helped clear the fog in my head.  smile

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