Memorial Day

Saturday, May 29, 2010

8 Chiming In
I come from a family where military service is common.

My paternal grandfather was in the Army; WWII - Africa, where he survived a sniper attack. He was shot at night by a sniper taught to aim for cigarettes. Papa was in a crouch with the cig. in his hand, so that's what got hit.

My maternal great uncle was a Marine; WWII; Okinawa - 18 years old and he lost his leg above the knee. Someone tossed a potato masher into the middle of him and his friends and he threw his body on top of it. It cost him a kidney and he came home full of shrapnel. He only made it home at all because a general in the area thought he was a dead man and gave up his seat on the chopper so he wouldn't die there. He had horror stories of Naha City of the most literal kind.

His brother was Army Corps. of Engineers; Korea - they built what needed to be built when and where it needed to built whether it was possible or not.

My father tried to join every branch, but the combination of color blindness and flat feet excluded him. His brother was Navy, but never had to go active.

My maternal grandfather was one that worked for the guys making the equipment at General Dynamics; Ft. Worth. (I have a piece of the original test model for the chimp capsule he helped design the insulation for. A insulation "space sandwich", which is cool.

My paternal grandmother was an Army WAC; WWII.

After High School I was offered a spot in the Navy's nuclear sub program.

And most recently, my cousin did 3 tours in Iraq with the Marines.

Thankfully they all survived their service. Others didn't, and this weekend makes the time we honor that as well as the reasons those who didn't make it back died. It's easy to say Freedom isn't Free, but their sacrifice deserve more than that. There are as many reasons as there are fallen soldiers, but I'll focus on the big 10.

1. It's thanks to the men and women who serve that you don't have to hold your church services or Seders in darkened basements. That whatever icons are important to your religion can be displayed with pride instead of hidden in fear or made a source of shame. Thanks to them, Christmas trees and menorahs can be lit bright in the window and those who participate in the Festival of Color can enjoy their day. No one's forced to eat during Ramadan for fear of being discovered. You can wear a head scarf, but can't be forced to sew a Star-of-David on your coat. That's freedom of religion.

It's thanks to the men and women who serve that our news comes from different outlets and different angles and isn't stamped "Approved Government News". We don't have someone looming over our shoulders to make sure we don't find out what's going on in another part of the world or cleaning up opinions of our leaders. We don't notices telling us not to worry about hurricane season because our leaders took care of that problem or warning us to ignore "propaganda" that exposes short comings that could impact the public. Things like the oil spill in the gulf don't suddenly disappear from the papers as though it never happened while it continues to poison the Gulf, and you don't have to register every moment on line so someone knows where you look and what you say. That's freedom of the press.

It's thanks to the men and women who serve that we can gather together in peaceful protest and shout with a louder voice than we'd able to use on our own. We can get attention directed to the people who have no voice of their own at all and keep the spotlight on those trying to hide things that shouldn't be covered up. That's freedom of assembly.

It's thanks to the men and women who serve that you know who represents you in government and that you know where they stand on what issue. You can get together with like minded individuals and bring your wants and needs to them and if they don't act the way they think you should you can tell them your vote's going elsewhere in the next election. That's your right to petition.

2. Even though most of us will never have to use a weapon to defend our home, family or person, the men and women who serve do so to make sure that the right is there if you need it. That's the right to bear arms.

3. Those who serve do so to ensure that your home is your home and not a convenient place to park the local reserves. You have a right to a locked door that can't be breached because a person in uniform wants to use or abuse your property, family or person. That's the right not to quarter.

4. Those who serve do so to ensure you have a right to what's yours and a right to tell others that what's yours is none of their business. You have a right to security and privacy in your own home and a right to keep what belongs to you in whatever legal manner you choose inside your own space. That's the right of no illegal search and seizure.

5. Those who serve do so to ensure your right to keep your mouth shut. Government officials can't force or coerce you to say you've done something wrong, nor can they put those words in your mouth. They don't have the right to write your confession and have you sign it or take what's yours just because they want it. They have to compensate you. That's the right not to self-incriminate.

6. Those who serve do so to ensure that you aren't shuffled off in the middle of the night never to be seen or heard from again. They make sure that you get a trial where your can be heard and your face can be seen, where friends or enemies can speak on your behalf and where your fate is decided by those of your own station rather than an arbitrary decision by someone in authority. That's your right to trial by jury.

7. Those who serve do so to ensure that rights to trial don't only apply to criminal cases. They make sure that your property and business gets a chance to make their case in court with facts to support your side being presented. That's your right to civil trial by jury.

8. Those who serve do so to make sure that no official body throws a child in jail for life for stealing a meal or beats someone to death in the street as punishment. They ensure that the perpetrator of a crime is the sole recipient of the punishment, and that his/her children and spouse aren't jailed as well. They ensure that torture isn't a penalty assigned by the court and that no force to engage in the practice has the right to operate. That's your right not to have cruel and unusual punishment.

9. Those who serve do so to ensure fancy words and regulations don't outsmart common sense. That's your right retain rights not specifically listed.

10. Those who serve do so to ensure the republic remembers that it's made of many parts and that those parts have rights, too. They ensure the states remember that they are made of many people and that those people have rights, too. No right of one entity can exclude another from its rights. That's the right of state and person.

Most people know about the Bill of Rights, few can tell you what they say beyond "Pleading the 5th" or freedom of press/religion. But every one of those rights was bought and paid for in blood because the men and women who died believed they were worth protecting for their families and children and friends and strangers. Every one you over look is a death in vain because you can't exercise rights you don't know you have.

Those red stripes aren't just representative of the colonies that started this country; they're a tribute to the blood spilled to birth it and used as the ink to write the contract with its citizens.

Remember those who gave more than their fair share to make sure your got yours, and remember the gift they gave you. They don't deserve to be forgotten.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

5 Chiming In
I was having a bit of trouble deciding what to post today.

You already know I had something of an obsession with Lost. So I could show you the "ultimate" alternate ending. (sadly, not my creation.)


You've seen me as an elf: Photobucket

Photobucket <--- I thought maybe I'd entertain you by standing on my head. (It's so dang hard to get the shoe prints off my skull.) What's that look for? You look like you've just spotted a crazy person on the bus.

I decided to use the first 250 words (241, whatever) that I've been trying to get into the first post slot on Nathan Bransford's blog the last few weeks. If you're not familiar with how that works, the 1st post on Monday gets a full redline crit of what does and doesn't work. Here's mine; the beginning of Arclight:

All I have to do is close my eyes.

I can sneak four... make that three... minutes before the bell signals next class. Mr. Pace won't care, he's in his own world of numbers and letters, and I lost track of what he was saying half an equation ago. A nap would be great. Four minutes where the pain stops.

But then that blue bulb starts blinking again.

Everyone sits straighter in their seats. There's a pause in the cadence of Mr. Pace's words, the chalk breaks under the pressure of his halt, and his eyes flick left to the silent alarm over the window. He takes a breath, erases his mistake, and starts over.

This time, everyone listens because the sound of his voice gives us something to think about other than the the light reflecting off our desks a half-beat out of time with our hearts. It doesn't matter that the words are artificially slow, or that his voice is higher than usual, or that Mr. Pace makes another mistake.

He never makes mistakes.

We don't look sideways, because no one wants to know that everyone else is as scared as they're trying not to be. Warnings aren't supposed to last this long.

Then the blue turns violet.

Chairs scrape across the floor as we move closer to our desks, then move our desks closer to each other. Someone in the back tries to cover a whimper with a cough.

(Copyright -- Josin L. McQuein; 2010)


Sunday, May 23, 2010

2 Chiming In
Well, it's over. After 6 years of chopped up seasons to draw out the time to a snails pace, Lost ended its run last night with what, in my opinion, was one of the single best series finales ever done.

I know a lot of people are upset that they didn't get a "Lost for Dummies" kind of ending that explained every nuance in detail, and I'd have loved a few more answers myself, but the mysteries always took a back seat to the characters. The characters were what people tuned in to see; the mystery was just set dressing.

IMO, the surprise reunion between Sayid and Shannon was one of the single best moments ever. And Locke forgiving Ben was up there, too. I loved the exchange between Ben and Hurley where they complimented each other on being a great #1/#2.

Beautifully done, people. There was no better way to end it than for the whole thing to come full circle with Jack and Vincent in the bamboo forest.

My one real gripe was the "cast party" ending in the church. It was unnecessary and felt tacked on. Going full circle back to Jack's eye was perfect. We didn't need the saccharine. (Minor gripes include the omission of Michael, Walt, Eko, Ana Lucia, Miles and Lapidus from the round-up scene. And I know everyone loves Desmond, but what kind of lousy parent creates a "perfect" life and forgets to bring his kid along???)

All in all, it was terrific. Thanks for 6 great seasons that kept us guessing.

Teaser Thursday - Let's Try a Query!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

10 Chiming In
Put away the torches and pitchforks, I'm not asking you to write me a query. Instead of posting a snip this week, I'm posting the query I've been working on in tandem with Arclight.

I start query writing before I start a given book. It's a great way to pin down the plot. Now that I'm considerably farther along, I think I've got enough together that the query's complete.

What do you think? Does it have voice? Is it engaging? Does the plot come through?

Dear SuperAgent:

No one survives The Fade. Five words of rhetoric and rule burned into every child of the Arclight from birth... until Marina stumbles out of the dark very much alive and with no idea how she got there. Anytime she tries to remember, she's slammed with a massive headache that obliterates her thoughts and makes her never want to try again.

Marina finds herself in a world where survival means staying in the light. Beyond it lies the Fade, a chameleon-like race who have driven humanity to the brink of extinction. Her survival gives the humans hope, but it also puts them in immediate danger as the Fade can't risk allowing her to live.

A savior pariah, she's blamed for the series of violent, nightly attacks that begin with her arrival, and her one ally turns out to be a boy with more reason to hate her than most. Tobias is the son of the man who died bringing Marina to safety.

Together they discover that it's not her the Fade are after, but the rescue of one of their own taken prisoner. A young Fade pleads for their help locating his captured mate. But finding her won't be easy. The Arclight isn't just built to protect its people; it's built to protect its secrets.

By the time they dig through the lies, and find Rue's lost love, Marina's left with one terrifying conclusion: she wasn't rescued from the darkness so much as she was stolen from it.

Arclight is a Dark YA Fantasy complete at [80,000 words]. I've included the first pages and a synopsis with this query and can send additional chapters on request. Thank you for your time; I look forward to hearing from you.

Josin L. McQuein

(copyright -- Josin L. McQuein; 2010)

You Never Know Who's Reading

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

8 Chiming In
It's Wednesday, which would usually mean me dissecting Lost. I'm currently mad at Lost for not only ending, but doing it in lousy way, so instead I give you this:

Last week (and a few posts down from this one) I did a review of Joanna Philbin's "The Daughters". Well, somehow Ms. Philbin's publicist stumbled upon my blog post and passed it along. Now it's on her Facebook with a link back.

The Internet is just frickin' cool! The connection points it makes possible are things we don't even think of when we're writing these posts (at least I don't think of them).

It also makes me feel sorry for the people who use their blogs as a way to vent their frustrations and name names, then don't understand why they can't get anywhere in their chosen field. One far too popular version of this is yet-to-be published writers who not only post in detail about their rejections, but give names and detailed opinions of the people who do the rejecting.

I'm not talking query stats - I've posted those myself, but they were all anonymous and I didn't cut and paste the letters for all to read. What I'm talking about are the blogs devoted to rejection where someone posts EVERY SINGLE form letter and takes them all personally. They're somehow under the assumption that only the friends who pat them on the back and stroke their ego will read it.

It's the In-ter-net, people. Words travel.

You've probably read one or two of these posts and they all go something like this:

OMG, Agent Snooty McPrissyPants is such a loser! My writing is totally awesome; everyone who's read it has said so! I got a rejection in like twenty minutes! They SOOOOOO didn't read the submission - at all. If they don't want clients then they should just say so! The joke's on you McPrissyPants! One day, I'll find an agent who isn't a total moron and who isn't afraid to publish something other than vamp-were-faerie porn! I'm just too much for you to handle.

Yeah, you probably are too much to handle, but not in the good, ultra-talented kind of way.

In one post (and the hundred or so that came before it) the writer not only maligned an agent who took the time to send them a form rejection (when most have transitioned to the "no response = no system because of replies like this), but they also insulted writers whose chosen genre is fantasy/urban fantasy/ horror, etc.

What's worse, thanks to things like Google alerts, the people you're railing against know exactly who you are. That means they most likely don't want to have anything to do with you. Ever. You didn't just burn your bridges, you burned the building materials before the construction crew even showed up.

The other variation is the published author meltdown, which usually happens in a very public forum like Amazon. Maybe they've got writer's block or maybe they're having a bad day, but all the ones I've seen have something in common -- one bad review sets them off.


We're talking authors who may have multiple good reviews, and even may have a couple of not so good ones that flew past their radar. For some reason that one lousy start on that one negative review sets them off, and when they go off, it's a short fall straight off the deep end.

Inevitably, the author will create a "sock puppet" to defend their "favorite author" by calling into question the sanity and intelligence of the person who gave the review. They'll pitch an epic fit suggesting that not only did the reviewer not read the book in question, but they only gave it a bad review due to some personal agenda.

Both of these scenarios come to a head when the rant goes viral - and it almost always does. Someone will tweet, someone else will post it on walls, and within 72 hours, what could have been a tiny indiscretion that was quickly forgotten turns into a multi-day, several hundred comment incident. (Don't believe me? Check Fandom Wank one of these days. Their archives are a trainwreck timeline for online meltdowns. <---- Try saying that 5 times fast.)

If you want to go off, so be it. Type it out and go crazy - then hit DELETE, not POST.

Something to think about any time you stick a known name in post. Eventually, someone's going to find it and whatever light you paint them in will be applied to you under greater scrutiny.

Leftovers are Yummy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

7 Chiming In
Meatloaf, pizza, whatever. It tastes better the 2nd day, preferably while still cold from the fridge. And I like neither meatloaf nor pizza when they're fresh.

I don't know why it works this way, but it seems to be a universal truth. Maybe it's the cold, or the extra time the dish spends soaking in the seasonings. Maybe some of the simple sugars have started to break down. Maybe it's as simple as yesterday was a bad day for ground cow mixed with tomatoes or that today no one says I "have" to eat it. Something happens between the time food is served and the next morning that makes it infinitely more appealing.

Guess what? Writing works the same way.

Hate your MC? Think that you've just burned four hours cranking out a few thousand words of drivel? Forgot what momentary mind lapse made you think this was a good idea? Wondering if McDonald's is hiring because the paper hat would bring in more than you've earned writing so far?

Let it set and walk away.

Take your MS, put in that Ziploc baggie called a file folder and store it in that big and not so very cold fridge you call a desk. (It's that big lump of wood your computer sits on. The one that means you can call your corner of the kitchen a "home office".)

Go do something else. Take a walk, outline a new novel, or learn Portuguese, it doesn't really matter so long as what you're doing doesn't involve looking at that stack of papers in your drawer. Don't touch them for at least 48 hours. They're marinating. (And if you want to know what happens if you disturb the marinating, just picture a really angry Martha Stewart facing off with a really angry Gordon Ramsey... *terrifying*)

Once the time's up, take out the pages and read it again (this is the "sniffing" part where you open that corner of the little plastic box to make sure what's inside doesn't have fur). Most times, you'll find yourself shocked at how likable the MC is. That drivel may still not be so great, but it's no longer cause to toss the MS (and the computer that spawned it) through the nearest shredder. (Shredding a computer is never a good idea, btw, it's very difficult to get the speakers through that tiny little slot.) Your idea is still viable.

Now put down that cold chicken leg and get writing!

Leftovers are just yummy.

(Unless it's Mac & Cheese. No amount of cold congealing or setting in the fridge can make something that looks like slime covered maggots palatable... and for that I blame watching The Lost Boys when I was a kid and seeing the noodles turn to worms. TMI? Probably.)


Developing Character

Friday, May 7, 2010

5 Chiming In

Wherein I yet again pretend to know what I'm talking about.

How do you develop a character?

(By that I mean the fictional participants in a novel. If you're hoping for some secret way to develop your own personal character... um... go ask your father. Unless he's a jerk, then ask your mom, granny or that one teacher who wasn't a total loser. ;-P)

It's a deceptively simple question. You can probably picture your character in your head down to the color of the ink he used to doodle on his shoes (I write YA. Teens doodle on their shoes, okay?). The problem comes when trying to translate what you see and know about your character to the page.

You k-n-o-w, know your characters. You breathe them. If you've laid the groundwork, you know their entire history from conception to death and have pulled out the most interesting moment of their lives to put on display.

The reader knows none of that. They don't see the character in color or hear their voice. They get black and white words - that's it - it's up to you to make those words dimensional. But there's a catch. You can't just come out and tell your reader everything about your character; you have to sneak the info in when they're not looking. Otherwise, you end up with something roughly less entertaining than your 10th grade Geometry book. (Sure Geo will give you a clear picture of something's dimensions, but no one will be awake to see it. All those shapes and angles *shudder*.)

Sadly, the only way I know how to illustrate something is by example, so here goes:

We have two characters: Fitch and Angela. Fitch scrapes by. Angela's older, somewhat protective of the young man. She's known him since he was a kid, and he's figured out that she's someone he can go to when he's in trouble. Fitch has a lot of bad memories from his childhood because he came from an abusive home.

All the information you need about the characters is there, but the presentation is dry. For it to work in a narrative, you need to find something more compelling. Hopefully, I did:

Angela squeezed his arm, a mark of protection against memories and monsters he'd spent years trying to slay. Sometimes Fitch still looked like that filthy, half-starved, ten year old who showed up on her front step in a stained baseball jersey and a pair of his sister's hand me down jeans. He was more embarrassed by the glittered heart on his back pocket than he was the black eye and bloody nose.

He told her once that was the last time he ever ran away from something he was afraid of. And it was the last time he ever left anyone behind.

I think that pretty well covers all the points I wanted to convey. The memory of a humilated 10 year-old seeking refuge establishes their relationship as well as giving the reader a hint that something terrible had happened prior to his arrival on her doorstep. It gives a clue as to why (in the scene I took that out of) Fitch stepped into a situation most people would have run from to help a total stranger. He wasn't able to help his sister and something bad happened; he's decided to stop those things when he has the chance from now on.

It's the little hints that tell the reader the characters on the page aren't just confined to the page. They had lives before the Prologue and their lives continue after the book closes. That's what makes people care about a character rather than questioning his motives.

"Guy picks up a young woman and kid from the side of the road and drives them to the backside of beyond" could make a reader wonder about the young woman's sanity for getting in the car with him, or the man's motivation for picking up a hitchhiker.

But if the young woman and kid are being shot at, the kid says "We ran away from Daddy," and you know that the guy comes from an abusive home, then it makes the situation clearer and more believable. In that case, it makes sense for him to pick up this stranger and take her to the one place he ever felt safe because he knows that Angela takes care of people when they're in trouble.

Just like it might seem strange for a woman to answer her door at 3 in the morning in the middle of nowhere, but if the reader knows that Angela has a history with Fitch and that she's used to him showing up when he's in trouble, it makes more sense. The clock no longer matters because the reader knows she's the unconditional caregiver.

Packing maximum information into minimum words will help you draw your characters convincingly. (Think how much information you process in the time it takes you to think of any one person. It's a lot, and not confined to physical appearance.) It's also one of the things that makes writing so darn hard. You have to work with those pesky words until they fit just right into the spaces you've created.

I won Somethin'

Thursday, May 6, 2010

5 Chiming In

Suzie Townsend, awesome agent from Fine Print Lit, had a contest on her blog a while back, and I won the ARC of what sounds like a really cool book - The Daughters by Joanna Philbin (Regis' kiddo.) Here's the blurb.

Fourteen-year-old Lizzie Summers always expects fawning photographers and adoring fans to surround her gorgeous supermodel mother. But when Lizzie is approached by a fashion photographer who believes that she’s “the new face of beauty,” Lizzie surprises herself and her family by becoming the newest Summers woman to capture the media’s spotlight.

In this debut young adult series tailored for younger teens, author Joanna Philbin explores what it’s really like to grow up in the thick of the celebrity world. As Lizzie and her two best friends (and fellow daughters-of-celebrities) juggle normal high school events with glamorous family functions, they discover the pitfalls of fame and the importance of friendship.

And here's a link to Suzie's blog: Confessions of a Wandering Heart

Thanks Suzie.

*Real* Writing

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

7 Chiming In
That's the thing non-writers (and occasionally other writers) use to qualify someone's chosen genre. Well, guess what? It's all real writing. Even the unpublishable dreck that fills most agents' inboxes. Every single word someone wrote in earnest, and every line they poured effort into is real writing.

Writing picture books is *real* writing - you try packing character, plot, and setting into less than 1000 words. Seriously, I wanna see you try. Bonus points if you can do it in meter.

Writing MG books is *real* writing - those are the very real books you held in your very real hands when you were a very real child learning to read very real words. They took you on adventures or scared you silly. Sometimes they grossed you out and made you laugh, but they were still crafted, not blinked into being by some genie in a pink gauze bikini.

Writing YA books is *real* writing - sure most of it's commercial (OMG, you're such a sell out!) but commercial - especially of the highly lucrative variety - floats the publisher so all those less than commercially viable artistic tomes get picked up, too. One rockstar writer can make life easier for a whole list of mid-listers. And here's a newsflash, Cupcake, unless you're vanity published, it's ALL commercial publishing. You WANT to sell what you've got because it means someone's buying it. Which means $$$ in your pocket and your agent's and good will with your publisher for the next book.

Writing mysteries is *real* writing - Blech, it's all so formulaic! There's like 3 stories told over and over and over. Fine, write me one. Right now. Plot it out, give me a fully functional hero and villain and at least four twists I don't see coming. I'll warn you, my IQ is substantially higher than you apparently think it is and I can smell a gimmick from across the library. Show me one of those 3 magic stories if you're so familiar with them.

Writing fantasy is *real* writing - elves, and weres, and fairies oh my! Nothing but kids' stuff and geek speak. True, because only a kid or someone with half a brain can remember - or pick up on - all of the intricate storylines and histories. People who write high fantasy should get hazard pay for the amount of traps they set themselves while plotting out and entire universe that doesn't exist anywhere but in their heads, especially if they keep their facts straight. What did you accomplish today? Paperwork? These guys build planets, structure governments, and create religions from the ground up. Who has time for paperwork.

Writing horror is *real* writing - there's no SFX budget in a novel. No creepy music cues to get the reader's hair to stand on end and no mood lighting to let you know the creature's around the corner. You can't "hide it in post" like you can with a movie. The entire atmosphere is created by the author's word choice. Every creak and bump and snarl they put there on their own, and every goosebump they created.

Writing erotica is *real* writing - granted most of it's done with pen names because it's the red headed stepchild of the literary world, just like most of it's read while stashed inside other books (e-readers for the win!), but it's still evocative writing. It's still world building and it's still characterization. It still takes time and effort - especially for the (mostly) ladies who don't want their readers to scrunch up their faces or giggle because what's on the page Just. Isn't. Possible. In. Real. Life. Seriously, human bodies don't bend like a Barbie and/or Gumby. Nor do most parts interchange with others to make the placement more practical for the story at hand (of which, unless you're writing fantasy or sci-fi, your character should only have 2 - and you should know where they are at all times.)

Writing Sci-fi is *real* writing - everything I said about high fantasy to the nth power. Not only do these writers deal with world and culture building, but they tackle the tech that makes it possible, sometimes with agonizing detail. Sci-fi is the inspiration for the advances of tomorrow, and it upholds a long standing tradition of cultural commentary masquerading as entertainment.

Writing comedy is *real* writing - people need to laugh. Not want, need. Comedy is a gift and it's also one of the hardest things to get right. No one can really tell you how to do it, but everyone knows how not to. Can't try to be funny or write funny, it'll throw your timing off every time. These writers tick with the precision of a Rolex.

Writing literary is *real* writing - yeah, I'm sure you knew that because it seems to be the one genre people take seriously, and the one least likely to be read by the most people. It's beauty without form and poetry without rhyme. Snapshots of life taken often without the subjects' permission. Literary writers are the Dian Fosseys of the writing world who observe and record. They speak the way most of us think, with an eloquence that we would be embarrassed to hear in our spoken selves. They are the time and place for reflection and truth.

And yes, writing really bad things is *real* writing - for most anyone who strives to be better, it's the stuff that came before, the broken eggs and fallen souffles. It's all those NYT crosswords we tried in pen and failed on word #2. Purple prose from lilac to ultra violet and run on sentences that never end. It's the telling that later shows, if we re-write it, and it's the bricks that make the road we walk to our destination. It's the cheapest form of therapy and the memories that won't alter themselves over time.

Writing is our proof of life. It's voices that would otherwise be silent speaking to the world one pair of eyes at a time. It's a time capsule and a hope chest and even a census of sorts. There's fiction and non-fiction, and even the middle ground of faction, but the one thing writing definitely is NOT is false. It's all real writing done by real writers with real things to say, and that should never be denigrated because the topic is one you don't like or the genre is one you don't read. Fellow writers are your peers, not your competitors.

You're not competing because there's no even ground to compete on. There's no common prize to vie for. There's my words and your words and their words and they all have merit and substance and voice.