The blog of D Kai Wilson-Viola

Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

B is for Books #atozchallenge2022

B is for Books #atozchallenge2022

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Blogging From AtoZ 2022

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to say in this post about books, because those people that know me also know it’s pretty much all I talk about outside of Ludosport and gaming and my family.
I was going to share a cornucopia of ‘coming soon’, but then I got Covid (next post) and that kinda got scrapped. I’ve been struggling really, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

B for Books also links to N for Nanowrimo

At the core of my writing, whether it’s clear or not, is a project called Nanowrimo. I write a lot during the three months of Nanowrimo, and am…less disciplined the rest of the year, though, to be fair, I do write, every day. Just not always my books. And to be honest? That’s something that kinda bothers me.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve said this before, but I’ve always felt I was built for certain things. Writing, being a mother (though, honestly? That came less naturally. I was still different to what people expected, but I found – and still find it – very hard.). Beyond that, I live with some other roles that I am – an advocate, a friend, an artist, a student. I’m constantly, consistently all about words though.

I wanted to announce books today, so I think I shall 😉

Out among the Stars comes first and will be FREE. It’s a short story from an old anthology I was part of. DungeonBashers and Black Monday are part of the same universe. Teine, which is Gaelic for fire, is my latest collection of essays and stories.
Get news on them by signing up on my newsletter, and all the free books (Out among the stars, Footnotes to a Lesson, The Firemaids’ Temple, Vivarium, and finally, Funhouse. Want info on all of them? It’s coming really soon!)

And how does it relate to the theme I’m trying to write about? The duality of knowing I need to write books versus finding everything from the motivation to the time, I am often at war with myself.

So, the new world order

So, the new world order

Kindle 2.0

Image via Wikipedia

I discovered a couple of things this weekend – the first being I don’t like being out of control – meds haven’t changed how pressured I feel when things start dropping out-of-order.
The second thing I discovered is I’m really freaking out about my dissertation – and with all my focus on trying to keep work flowing and keep up with all of my commitments, I’ve been pushing that to the back of my mind and going ‘la la la’. Not good given it’s due in just under 60 days and I’m only confident in about a fifth of it (of 10k). I have a meeting about that today…
The third thing I discovered – and keep discovering is that if I don’t commit to writing at least a little fiction daily, I become very negative. It’s not because my self-worth is tied to my writing – in fact it’s worse than that – it’s because without fiction, I really feel like I’m a failure.
I guess that needs to be examined some more because I can’t handle not writing fiction – but at the same time, I’m afraid to ‘put it out there’ so it sits, worthless on my hard drive. Ultimately too, I don’t need people to tell me I’m being silly, or demand it, or anything else – it’s not how my psyche works. I need to put myself out there, but before I do so, I have to start writing again.
What this means in practicality is that i am going to start small. A couple of times a week I’m going to take time out for my projects. Instead of investing (wasting!) time surfing the net, or vegging on Facebook (because I do that more often than I’m productive and helpful on there) I’m going to write my ‘own’ stuff. I’m not sure how I’m going to balance work and this yet, but it starts with my assignments and my dissertation. As they are fiction, that suits me quite nicely.

And yes, I know, I said this a couple of months ago, when I said ‘making it easier on myself’, but you know what?  Sometimes it takes me a while between making a decision and actually actioning it.  It’s a personality flaw I guess 😉
After May, I’m going to finish producing a couple of short non fiction books for the Kindle platform and start redressing this balance that’s out of whack. Ultimately I’m not earning ‘enough’ as a copywriter now and that needs to be addressed – not by taking on ever more work – but by balancing copywriting part time with being an author and publisher part-time. I have lots of marketable expertise – I really should share it.

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Pen Names aren’t cowardice

Pen Names aren’t cowardice

Illustration of a pointed pen labelling the di...

Image via Wikipedia

Though the writing community has moved on somewhat on the subject of pen names, it’s hard not to feel that the community itself has elements that are a bit behind the times.

What is a pen name?

A pen name is, quite simply, when you use aliases to write under.  For example, my real name is Donna.  Everyone online knows me as ‘Kai’.  Technically, I write everything under a pen name.  While this can sometimes be acceptable (like using your middle name instead of your first name) some people still frown on it.  But why?
The main bulk of pen names are made up of people who want, for various reasons, to disassociate their writing from one or another area of their lives.  Sometimes it could be because they write a genre that is family friendly and another that isn’t.  In some cases it’s because they don’t want their ‘old’ name to impact on their ‘new’ name – either because they had very poor or runaway success with the first name.
Or, like me, they write over distinct genres, and want their fans to know what they’re getting into when they pick up a book.  While it’s normally wise to develop one voice and ignore the others, some of us just can’t do that.  Like me.

The problem with pen names

‘Problem’ is a loaded word, but in this case, the ‘problem’ with pen names is that people sometimes see it as ‘dishonest’.  after all if you’re hiding your real name, what else are you hiding?  This kind of attitude seems to be most prevalent in people who would criticise anyway, so it’s easy to ignore, but if it’s something that happens on a mailing list, it can degenerate very quickly.  Especially if people start using emotive comments such as ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ to justify what they’re saying.  It’s vital in these cases to stand your ground, politely and then take a step back.

One of the main problems that comes from Pen names, funnily enough, is paperwork.  I run my writing as a business (and I’ll post on that later this week at my other blog at Work At Home Writers).  Especially if you’re making sales in different places under different names – so pen names aren’t as straight forward as ‘today I’m going to be Marty Mcspuspu’. (not my pen name!).  Actually, scratch that, it’s more work in general.

What’s good about them?

I’m not sure how other writers see them (but would love to know!), but for me, it’s a clear ‘job description’.  If I’m writing as Sabrann Curach, I know I’m doing horror.  If I’m writing under D Kai Wilson-Viola, I know it’s thrillers for me.  Kai Viola, chick lit.  Brittany Harkness is romance, and D Kai Wilson is non fiction.  It’s straight forward for me.
I initially started out with one pen name – – Fayth C Reeves.  She was necessity of a different kind.   I joined some mailing lists where being a parent (which, by the time I was 21, I was), and writing erotica was somehow the worst thing *ever*.  So I wrote under a persona.  And in doing so, I opened up a whole new world and new understanding of pen names.  Fayth wasn’t just a pen name – she was a whole new character – one that I quite enjoyed ‘playing’ with gusto on my sites for a while.  She still resides on some of my older hard drives, but time moves on and erotica isn’t the ‘bad thing’ it used to be.

Pen names are cowardice

One of the few things I really object to, when discussing pen names, is the idea that they are in fact cowardice – that somehow they’re underhand.  I’d like to vehemently refute that – sure if someone is writing something libelous under a pen name, that’s a different matter entirely, but one of the big problems with the writing community is that there are certain people who can’t see others happy.  These ‘policers’ as a whole, are a massive minority compared to those that *do* give back to the writing community, but they have two major issue – one, they’re not writing themselves (so really have no reason to judge another person’s choice.  It’s not even a case of ‘a mile in their shoes’ – it’s more that some people just seem to enjoy ‘teh dramas’)  and two, and probably more importantly, they are tearing people down instead of building them up.

If someone is writing under one – or more pen names, I say ‘good on them’.  I don’t even think in terms of ‘how dare they, they haven’t even ‘paid their dues’ on one, why should I support a second.  We should be supporting each other, period.

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Writing 101

Writing 101

Some quills
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a writer.
I’ve been a writer for close to 28 years – since I was four in fact.
I started off in fan fiction – writing stories based on the cartoons and programmes I watched, and the books I read. And then I moved to my own stuff – my first novel was called ‘Ascendant’ – and was the story of a spaceship which sat on the junction to the ends of everything. At 13, I was even really into exploring environments, and apparently, hard sci-fi because I wrote quite a detailed explanation of the convergence between the drive and the ‘problems’ people were seeing.
I’ve gone on to outline 50 novels, a couple of hundred short stories, more blog posts and articles than I can count and more.  I love writing.  Which is why, though this is meant to be a personal blog, I’ll always talk writing here.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to try to tackle some of the biggies, the difference between the ‘I’ in writing and the person writing it, why ‘adult material’ isn’t necessarily ‘adult’ content, and why writing under pen names isn’t cowardice.  If you’ve got any other stuff you’d like me to tackle, I’d love to hear about it.

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the writer and the story can be separate – NanoWrimo day 18

the writer and the story can be separate – NanoWrimo day 18

Mask A-Peel

Image by Cayusa via Flickr

I has a migraine, so, instead of being all wise, and clever and down to earth about the fact that I’m now at 55k (WOOOOO!), I thought I’d talk about something thats bothering me for about a dozen reasons right now.

I’m writing three books – two are brand spanking new, as in I’ve only been talking about them or thinking about them, or even contemplating them for about two months, and one, Elliot’s, is a recurring rewrite.  I might talk about them later too.  Anyway, the two that are brand new are…troublesome in ways I never thought I’d get down in words till I thought about it this morning.

They’re bothering me because in some ways they’re very close to the ‘bone’ for me – either because of the mental health aspect in Change, or because of the concept that the story is reflecting what’s going on in my life (Values).  While both are true, at the same time, neither are true.

Values specifically is about a young married couple who, for whatever reason, don’t have kids – the ‘she’ in the story is unsettled and vaguely concerned by it, while he’s not bothered at all.  And the more she pushes, the more he resists. It’s true, the story *started* out life because of a conversation my fiancee and I had and evolved from there, but it’s not the be all and end all of the story.   I’ve started with our situation and played a very skewed ‘what if’ game along the lines of the entire story.

Change is a sci fi time travel story.  The lead narrator so far is a schizophrenic, who has  a very comfortable and intimate relationship with her ‘other self’ in parts of the novel, and is very distant and aloof in other parts – it’s all told from the perspective specifically of the woman that travelled back in time, so at points there really *are* two of them.  It’s boundary challenging and touches on a couple of key stones of mental health that I think tend to be overlooked – that some of us are comfortable in our own skins, even if those skins are bags for something entirely flawed and odd based on conventional norms.

The thing is though, I’m neither schisophrenic or in a relationship as extreme as the one I’m writing about in Values – I’m not a time traveller, and I don’t go around shooting perverts in the unmentionable places that my characters may.  I’m not a cop, and I don’t live in a city quite as warped as Darkness.  What I am is highly imaginative, and intelligent.  I can project the concepts into the ether and build something out of them.  I can let my brain run loose and have a look at where that takes me.  I know freedom and self interest intimately and can be very different in my expression of either of them.

Some people say that when an actor takes on a certain role, it’s hard for them – that it can pull them down and destroy them.  I think sometimes it’s the same for writers – not as often as actors, but sometimes we play a role, we assume a persona, and we write.  It pours out of us, flood and trickle, and we bleed it – the persona – dry.  And then, if we’re lucky, we can remove most of it – because in writing from another perspective, we may have learned a couple of things, so we may never be entirely free.  Other times it might cling for a bit, but we’re always – ALWAYS free to go back to ourselves, and should always be free to do so – and should never be held accountable for the ideology of our characters.

It’s not an argument about free speech though – we aren’t entitled to hurt others deliberately under the guise of ‘character’ and to be honest, if it’s odious enough, warped enough, or revolting enough to make you hesitate (which, I believe sometimes goes beyond ‘transgression’ and on into ‘bad taste’) then you should seriously consider whether you want to share it.  In an ideal world there would only be that reason, but unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s ok to be a writer – it’s ok to take on these guises and explore your character – what’s not, possibly, ok is to believe that you are responsible in the real world for what those characters do, unless you actually do it.