Writing Brings People Together – Even on the Bad Days

This last week has been rather challenging for me.  I’ve struggled with a lot of projects going on all at the same time, with some insecurities with my writing, changes in both “jobs,” and just plain exhaustion.  Sands 3 is basically done now (1st draft), but it required several sleepless nights to get it there and a LOT of time and energy.  I don’t say this to garner sympathy or to elicit “the feels.”  It is merely so you have context.

One of the projects with which I am involved is a game based off my novel, Sands.  Having a game made from something you wrote is awesome.  It is almost as cool as having a movie made from it.  Almost.  However, for a number of reasons, I haven’t been terribly involved in the process of designing the game outside of some art consultation and an initial concept review back in the very early stages of the game.  That, in and of itself, is stressful.  Don’t get me wrong, the game is superb.  It’s awesome.  I have complete confidence in the team at Future House who is doing the game development and in the beta testers who are helping work out the bugs.  The game hits all the fun aspects of a card/board game hybrid and will be, in my opinion, something that will be enjoyed for many many years into the future.  It has met all my expectations and then some.

But, as the creator of the world upon which the game is based and the designer of the peoples, cultures, and ideas in it, I stress and I worry anyway.  Will the game do justice to the book?  Will people want to read the book because they played the game?  Will people who read the book want to play the game?  Will the game flop?  What if the final art ends up not doing justice to the concept of the world I have in my head?  It’s a surreal experience to see others talking about my world and my book as an observer and not as the main contributor to the conversation.

I worry and I stress because that is what I do.  My degree and day job is in business and accounting, so my mind works in specifics and details.  Detailed communication.  Detailed decisions.  Details, details, details.  When some of those specifics and details aren’t there or aren’t in my control to decide, it stresses me out.  Add to this needing to finish the next book in the series, AND balance the day job, AND do marketing, AND create presentations and workshops for conferences, AND worrying about sales, AND trying to figure out how to make a career just out of writing instead of trying to balance multiple jobs, not to mention the normal life of being a parent, provider, and husband –  I could go on, but you get the point.

Well, in the middle of all this, I received a message that was able to put some of it back into a better perspective for me.  As part of the development process for the game, there are game tests where people not involved in the game making process come and play the game and work out bugs in the system in order to make it better.  The first of these was a couple days ago.  The second was last night. (again, the game is awesome – if you want to get email updates about the game and the Kickstarter attached to it, sign up HERE).

Anyway, at the first of these game tests two of the participants met, started talking, and are now dating.  They seem quite happy together.  One of them reached out to me earlier this week to say thank you for making it so she could meet her now boyfriend.  I’m not going to lie.  I may or may not have teared up a little.  Her happiness was real, genuine, and plain to see even in a written form.  And I was glad to be a small, very minor part of that happiness.

I was reminded that my writing matters.  I was reminded that what I do not only can, but does, make a difference.  In some small part, if I hadn’t written the book, these two lovely people may not have met.  That, for me, makes the stress worth it and allows me to push some of it back down to where it belongs, in the back of my mind.  Writing, books, language, and the things they create bring people together.  And that is what makes it all worth it in the end.  Do I have all the details and answers?  No.  And that is still stressful.  Do I still have a million things I’m trying to balance at the same time? Yes.  And that is still stressful.  But life goes on.  People come together and the world moves forward.  Always.

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The Art of Pseudo-Swearing: By Michael Young

Micahel D Young

Michael D Young

Michael Young stops by the blog today to talk about Psuedo-swearing in lieu of actual profanity.  Michael (known as Michael D Young as a writer) is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governor’s University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, and Instructional Design. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons. Michael enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

He is the author of the novels in The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, and the Chess Quest Series. His also authors several web serials through BigWorldNetwork.com. He publishes anthologies for charity in his Advent Anthologies series. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign. He has also won honorable mention three times in the Writers of the Future contest.  Outside of these weighty accomplishments, he’s also just a really nice guy.  You can check out all this books here.

Without further ado, here’s his contribution to the blog today-

The Art of Pseudo Swearing

By: Michael D Young

I’ll admit it—I hate to swear. I’ve a fear of four-letter words, and I’m proud of it. I’m a firm believer that as the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey put it “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.” There’s the obvious way to have your characters swear in your books: call in the usual suspects.  But that’s the path of least resistance. When you are writing a fantasy novel, for example, you have the unspoken understanding that the characters whose lives you are chronicling are not actually speaking English (or whatever language you write in). You are only recording it in a language the reader will understand. By putting a little more effort into your “swearing”, you are creating an additional layer of world building that will help lend authenticity to your tale.

Consider two alternatives:

Type One: Religious Swearing

The first type of swearing has to deal with your characters being blasphemous. For example, many swearwords in Canadian French have to do with saying words used in a religious setting such as “tabernacle”, “chalice”, “baptism” or “wafer”. Part of this came perhaps as a backlash against the historical dominance of the Catholic Church in the region. You know, I can’t really this catching on in English. “What the wafer are you doing? I’m walkin’ here!”

What this means for your characters will vary depending on what your societies hold sacred. Most of the time, religious people hold certain words as being holy, and so using this sacred words in a profane setting allows them to be used for shock value.  Do some real digging here to figure out what would be the most logical choices, and how these choices might vary between characters who have different religious or spiritual backgrounds. One man’s swearing is another man’s party conversation.

I see this done to some degree in Robert Jordan’s writing, where characters simply exclaim “Light!” or some variation on that. For many of his characters, “light” symbolizes the overarching good force in their universe and so invoking it, especially in a negative context, provides the juxtaposition that gets across the speaker’s displeasure.

Type Two: Barrier Swearing

I call this type of swearing “barrier swearing”, but it is has people invoke things that get in their way. Ask yourself, “What bothers people in my world the most?” This is the kind of swearing I see favored often by Brandon Sanderson. For example, in his Mistborn series, the magic system is based on metals. Thus, the word “rust” or “rusts” becomes a term of displeasure. In his Stormlight Archive series, he uses references to the massive storms that plague that world as a way to swear.

Especially if you are building a fantasy or science fiction world, ask yourself what the most bothersome things that most people encounter will be and mold their colorful language from that.

In the end, it also depends on your publisher and editor about how much you can get away with pseudo swearing. I’ve encountered some publishers who insist on “clean” books, while others who will insert more language into your manuscript. This happened to James Dashner, author of “The Maze Runner”, whose original manuscript contained little profanity.

In the end, look at your characters’ language not as something to bludgeon the reader with, but something that reveals personality, paints the world they live in, all working toward the end of immersing the reader in the most engaging experience possible.

I invite you to devour my latest offering, an epic fantasy called, “The Hunger”.

Here’s a bit of what its is about:

“A new, epic fantasy series full of magic and intrigue.

Feed your Hunger.

In a distant, war-torn land, every man, woman and child must either consume the magical substance known as Sustenance or succumb to the Hunger. Those who succumb develop deformities and face exile — or even death.

The scholar Azil wants nothing more than to lead a tranquil life and beat back the Hunger. But when a mysterious assassin tries to kill Azil, and a stranger shows up at his door challenging him to join her on a quest, he embarks on a dangerous journey to steal the sacred gems of Sustenance guarded in a forbidden fortress. To get there, Azil must venture through a land of floating cities, ravenous mage wraiths, ax-wielding warriors, and bloodthirsty bandits.

But with the sacred gems of Sustenance come volatile magic — magic so strange and dangerous, that the prophecies foretell it could usher in a golden age, or turn its wielder into the darkest of villains.”

If you would like to learn more about it, you can visit my Amazon page here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003HCB8AE



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