for the Creatives

Sorry, but there’s no market for your idea…

Many artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers hear that there’s no market for their dream. It’s dire, folks, but here’s some hope for ya.

Psst! I heard that some odd sort of people prefer watching videos over reading articles. Super weird. But weird people are my type of people, so I made a video preview of this blogpost. Now you can go watch the great quirky awkwardness of me instead of reading my awkwardness in blogpost form. 

 

So I was walking through Barnes and Noble and stumbled across these books:

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They were on the shelves in the front, the money-maker shelves. You know what I’m talking about, the shelves that mean publishers have bought into this book, that have said “Yes, these will make money, put them prominently on display for all to see!” Those kind of books.

But these aren’t your typical money-maker books.

Exhibit A: poetry.

Let’s be real, I totally judge books by covers, and I bought “The princess saves herself in this one” without even opening it. But when I did open it, I found poetry. A story in poetry form.

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Poets are notorious examples of being told “there’s no market for your work.” When’s the last time you read poetry from a book? Probably high school. Poets are told they’ll only get interest on cutesy Instagram or Facebook images, and they’ll never get a publishing deal, and if they self-publish, they’ll never have any readers. Yet Amanda Lovelace, I don’t think she listened to that. At least not entirely. Because she wrote poetry and convinced probably an agent and a publisher that her work was worth front shelf placement at Barnes and Noble.

Exhibit B: Cartoon drawings with bad spelling, for adults not kids.

Like seriously, how do you pitch THAT to an agent or publisher? Got me! I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it on a blogpost.

It’s a book of cartoon drawings. An alien comes to earth to study humans, but the alien is bad at spelling and grammar so the book is full of cutesy misspellings, and the alien is actually befriending non-humans like rocks and animals and trees, but it’s insightful and philosophical into what actually makes us human. Oh yeah, it’s not a children’s book, it’s for grown-ups.

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Okay, I have no idea how he pitched it, probably better than me, but I’m just saying if your dream sounds crazy, you’re in good Barnes-and-Noble-front-shelf company.

 

The business guy top secret insight:

After posting that Facebook video about these books, my business school brother messaged something insightful.

I had mentioned that poets often hear stuff like, “Nobody buys poetry anymore, they only read it on cutesy Facebook or Instagram posts.” I had said these authors didn’t listen to that negativity.

My brother noted my claim isn’t quite correct. They did listen to that. They noticed where the audience was and went to it. Amanda Lovelace started on Tumblr before ever being published, and I heard that Jomny Sun was on Twitter before being published. They both went to their market to get their big break. You can find your market and build interest now, too.

There’s a step in the right direction for ya. Past the dreaming and onto a practical tip. This is why my bro will make the big bucks 😉

for the Writers, Musings, Showcasing other Creatives

The story of how I became a storyteller

Today I am stoked to welcome my creative friend Maggie to the blog. Enjoy her post and share your own storyteller journey with us in the comments 🙂 


 

mags2The story of how I became a storyteller goes all the way back to when I was in first grade. Life was easy back then. Days were filled with coloring book pages and thinking blocks, both which helped light way to my passion for creativity. It didn’t take much to amuse me in those younger years. I would sit in front of the doorway of our house, battling harsh sunlight and racking my brain for the perfect solution to an imperfect array of building blocks. It was there where I constructed the first of many masterpieces. And it was there where I used to proudly gather pastors and patrons under the safety of makeshift sanctuaries. When I was not playing church, I could be found scribbling away my free time. Occasionally, if the mood and temperature was just right, drawings of helpless horses and terrifying wolves would come to life.

These are my earliest memories of visual narration. While there inevitably must have been more instances in-between, it was not until my fourth grade year that I really reunited with my roots as a storyteller. In a new town with some new friends, I strung together countless episodes of a recess superhero saga. I was featured as “Ice Princess,” a kick-butt heroine who welded magnificent powers similar to that of Disney’s Snow Queen.

mags1Later that year when my days were not as filled with Frozone imitations, I found myself able to pursue other activities such as jump rope and church picnics. This is how, in short, I met one of my long-term running best friends. We instantly bonded over Littlest Pet Shop, and together configured names for hamsters and lizards alike. It was not long before we decided to take this obsession with small animals to a whole new level. Together, we crafted a story inspired by an episode of Pet Stars, one of the most interesting and entertaining shows at the time. Perhaps even more unique though, was the story we produced as a result of the series. It centered around a dog who could do math and used his abilities to tutor those in need. One of his primary pupils was his owner, the ever-troubled and renowned actor, Josh Hutcherson.

Fast forward a year or so. I had dropped stories of ridiculously cute celebrities and division-doing dogs. I exchanged them for two starkly different twin sisters and a set of handsome, case-cracking brothers. Crime-fighting protagonists and justice-serving plots came easy to me. All-too-easy, if you ask me. Considering my obsession with Franklin W. Dixon at the time, it was really no wonder. His writing was fresh and cool, and I was young and naive and didn’t care much if my stories were just like his.

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With my writing skills in check, I took the liberty to adopt yet another form of storytelling. In the simplest sense, this medium was play acting. My co-writer and I found ourselves continuously drawn to the idea of hashing out different scenarios in real-life. It was through these exercises that we were able to establish most of the credibility for our story as a whole. It felt risky and unnatural to embody the live’s of other characters. However, I found peace in knowing this was exactly the sort of thing the March sisters did in Little Women.

After a while the theatricals lost their touch as did the stories that formed them. Eventually, I let myself venture onto “greener pastures” (if you could call them that). It was here where I allowed myself to experiment with other fables; but they only managed to hold my attention for a small time. I struggled with developing full-on plots and fleshed-out storylines. For this reason I once again turned to a new medium. The philosophy I soon adopted read as follows, “If I couldn’t tell a story with words, I would do so using pictures.” As a result, photography became my new and improved mode of storytelling. Through the medium, I discovered editing as a niche of mine and used that skill to create fantastical images of my little sister performing mundane tasks.

I came out of the phase with a few mentionable awards and direction for my life study, but this was not enough to dampen my desire for the mastery of new things. In the spring of 2014, I put my thoughts online for the first time. Thanks to some pretty effective feedback, I have been an active part of the blogosphere ever since. Over the years, blogging has taught me an enormous amount, but I would argue that storytelling as a whole has taught me even more. If it wasn’t for long afternoons spent with friends on the playground, I would have never learned the value of imagination. If it wasn’t for mishaps in writing, I would have never discovered my love of photography. It was through these experiences that I realized the importance of not limiting yourself to one specialty. With constant experimentation and the desire to learn, one can readily produce items of worth. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t stop trying. Live vigorously. Accept failures. And maybe just, maybe you’ll create something amazing along the way.

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Maggie Schoepke is a Graphic Design Major and bonafide Japan-lover. She spends her time outside, preferably under the shade of a weeping willow and the appeal of a melancholy tale. When not having a good cry, Maggie enjoys pursuing art, writing, and above all, her Divine Creator. When asked what annoys her the most, she will probably reply with the tacky saying, “There are never enough hours in the day, but always too many days before Saturday.”

 

You can find more of Maggie’s musings at https://teatimewithsenpai.wordpress.com/ 

for the Bookworms, Stories

A Poem: Analyze This

One of the first moments where I felt I could actually be a successful writer (read: read writer) was when I was published in my college’s student publication Impressions. As if publication was not enough, I tied for second place in that issue with my best college friend. While it was a small accomplishment, I’m still quite proud of my poem. I feel like it sums up my college career, as well as conveys my view on the importance and tension of Author/Reader/Text interpretation. Enjoy!

 

A Poem: Analyze This

 
You pick up a poem and start reading.

          Perhaps you take pleasure in the written word,

          perhaps you wish to appear intelligent,

          or perhaps you were unaware of the content

          until you’d begun.

Regardless, you’re reading now.

Refusing to be bested by mere words on a page,

you begin your subconscious mission

          to conquer the text,

          crack the code,

          find the pirate’s elusive X.

Perhaps you start with the author – me.

          You find that I recently ended

          a serious relationship with a devoted fan,

          which suggests the poem is written

          in first and second person to design

          a connection between reader and writer,

          compensating for the woeful solitude I now face.

          (Funny, if I had my biography contain different

          facts – I was in the middle of Calvino’s

          If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller

          while writing the poem,

          or I receive brilliant writing ideas at 2:30am,

          only to wake up later and realize

          “Why Wrestling a Hippo is an Artistic Prey”

          doesn’t even make sense as a sentence,

          let alone as a writing topic –

          you would come up with an entirely

          different reading of my poem.)

I’m sure how much I’ve published

before will affect your reading as well.

          Since I’ve never been published,

          your reaction may be

          “no wonder it’s a simple failure”

          or perhaps “why isn’t more of her literary genius

          published?…the brilliant complexities!”

But enough about me.

You’ve finally decided

to look at the poem itself.

What do you think of its length?

          You decide the poem’s concepts

          are exquisitely drawn out and explored.

          Or you think the author – I –

          didn’t edit enough to cut out

          the useless nonsense from the gems.

Of course you look at imagery, too.

          A fighting hippo, fortune teller,

          and treasure-hunting pirate come to your mind.

          Perhaps the poem conveys the problem

          with stereotyping and making assumptions

          from one aspect of a person’s life.

          (And I am sure one day, critics will debate

          if “fighting hippo” refers to an African version

          of Steve Irwin or to sumo wrestlers.

          But that’s beside the point.)

By now you may have a mental image

of me as a crazed gypsy, gazing

into a crystal ball, what with my mix

of predicting and guiding your thoughts

the entire time. Or maybe the “you” I refer to

is no longer you, the reader you, but another “you”

than you, “you” merely being “you” the reader, “you,”

of my imagination, while you are flesh-and-blood

you. But let me assure you, actual reader, in case

you are troubled – I am not in your head.

Now on you go with your reading; after all,

it would be a shame for your analysis

to end so soon. So you move on,

tackling my use of rhyme scheme.

          You discover that rhyme is rarely used,

          but alliteration needs no X to be noticed.

          P’s in “pick up a poem,”

          B’s in “be bested by,”

          X’s in “exquisitely explored,”

          or B’s in “bunch of bull,” among many others.

          You pick up the notion that a struggle is being

          explored in these phrases, perhaps a tension

          between the deepness of text

          and the exquisite ideas actually conveyed.

          Or maybe that’s a bunch of bull utilized

          to convince you that this one poem

          of mine has some literary value.

But wouldn’t it irk you, dear reader,

to get to the last page of my lengthy biography,

after multiple readings and careful critical analysis

of my only poem, only to discover that I

had written the entire thing in just one brief sitting?

 

 

 

What do you think?

Where do we find out interpretation of writings? Through authorial intent, through text alone, through reader engagement? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear.

Faith, for the Writers

Being an Author Makes You Pray

Being an author makes you pray. Because when you have become a god of your authorial universe, you suddenly wish you would hear more definitive input from your characters. Don’t they have the next plotpoint? Why is the protagonist obsessed with pursing her lips if she doesn’t have something to say? What is the antagonist’s next step, and what’s his motivation? Surely these people have some opinion they’d like to voice. And yet the silence of writer’s block persists.

And being an author, you certainly don’t want the God of your universe to have a case of writer’s block. That’s what causes snooze-worthy dialogue, worthless details observed, and heaven forbid a catastrophic turn of events that has no plot value whatsoever – if there’s some trial to go through, there better be some reason for the struggle by the last chapter.

So you begin to tell Him your opinions of things. Regardless of His existence or lack thereof, surely He would appreciate some input. Most people might think, “While You’re working on the big picture stuff, I sure would appreciate winning the lottery; oh, and I’ll take the closest parking spot.” But no, you as an author understand God now. “The secondary characters need more depth, the protagonist needs to be more empathetic and heroic, and the plot needs to be more straightforward. While you’re at it, make the mission more apparent. And draw out the action, cut out all those lousy chapters that have nothing to do with the concept and theme.” As an author, you know it would be nice to have everything down to the most minute detail. So you throw in, “Oh, and I’ll take the closest parking spot.”