Integrity and Creating Comics

INTEGRITY

Integrity is achieved when our actions match our values.  When I decided to embark on this journey of creating a comic book, I never expected it to take over my entire life like it has. Don’t misunderstand my words, though. I have loved every second of every obstacle and overcoming them to continue progressing forward to my goal of publishing B.U.D. Mostly though, I have found that creating a comic book takes integrity, patience, perseverance, and research. So much freakin’ research.

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In the early days of creating B.U.D. (some might argue it’s still the early days) I was soaking in every tip and trick that YouTube had to offer. One of the first things I learned was that my comic would just be a blip floating in the internet ether of failed comics, unless I started building an audience now. So, I set off to build my community, unaware of the lesson in integrity I was inevitably going to learn.  I employed one of the tactics I had discovered, email scrubbing. I downloaded programs that promised loads of followers and email addresses for mailing lists. “This will be easy and fast!” I thought.

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All I ended up with was a huge list of uninterested people who cared nothing for indie creators or comics, or even zombies! That’s when I realized that these “shortcuts” were not how I wanted to make my comic. In general, I prefer when my actions match my values, and I value my readers a lot. They deserve a comic that I put a lot of hard work into, not a bunch of half-assing. So, I set out to research ways to create a targeted audience. I didn’t want to stand on a park bench with a megaphone speaking to a bunch of people with better things to pay attention to. I wanted my voice and ideas to reach the comic book lovers, zombie enthusiasts, and comic creators like me out there, So I gave up the “quick and easy” way and started building a proper following.

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I started small. I created a twitter (@NewZombieComics) to share and connect with the internet community of zombie genre lovers. It was slow at first. Every retweet was something to celebrate as I would call out to my girlfriend “Somebody retweeted a tweet about my comic!” I shared cool, fun, and interesting zombie content from makeup artists to memes. I built connections with other creators and have even collaborated with some, and now that it’s been a few months, I have over 3,000 followers. My phone blows up hourly with twitter notification from zombie lovers like me, and I have a community with a strong core of interactive followers who have seen some teaser content from my comic and are vocal about their support for me to continue. It really is an amazing feeling when strangers begin to demand the content you create for the first time. It’s quite humbling.

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So, what was the cost of my integrity towards building an audience without the aid of “easy fix” programs? The main cost was time. As fun as it would be to see my follower count increase like a snowball rolling down a snow dusted hill, I’d rather my followers grow like moss on a rock. Steady, but slow. A snowball gives the snow it collects no choice, but the moss decides where it wants to grow, and now I have followers who are interested in what I have to share.

As I continue moving forward with my comic, I know the easy way isn’t always the best way. In fact, it rarely is. If you’re a comic creator like me and you value the right way over the easy way, then this is the advice I leave you with:
Have integrity. Allow your actions to speak for your values, and if you value the right things, life might not be easy, but it will be good.

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How have you displayed/seen integrity within the comic creator community? I’d love to hear from you, so share your thoughts in the comments below!

How to Harness the Power of The 10 Year Cyclicality in Pop Culture

 

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Have you ever had an idea to create the next Harry Potter or Twilight except with an original tweak to the genre, but thought the market was too saturated with those kinds of stories, so it seeped away into the fog, eventually forgotten.

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What many people may not be aware of is the cyclical nature of pop culture.  As I ascend to my 34th year, I’m starting to see my friends marry and raise children.  It’s beautiful yes, but the same thing happens every time.  Parents raise their kids to be fans of their passions.  Do you love Star Wars?  Think back to this post when you find yourself taking a picture of your baby dress as Princess Leia for Reddit karma or Facebook Likes.

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Inevitably when the kid of a Star Wars fan grows up having light saber fights with his dad and having Star Wars movie marathons with mom, that kid will have 10-15 years before they have disposable income of their own and an interest in Star Wars…

…and there are millions of others if not more doing the same exact thing, as if training an army of fanatics.

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Now, on the bleak emotionless side, what you end up with is a 10 year cycle ebb and flow with the different generations playing a game of Telephone.  So a ghoulish, shape shifting vampire that turns into a bat, sleeps in a coffin, and is to be feared, transgenerationally becomes a glittery angst filled teenager because boy bands.

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On the bright side it’s nice that this ebb and flow exists.  My dad shared Andy Griffith with me as I grew up, and I still call him Pa’w. Be it reruns, adaptations or a whole new take, our desire to share our passions through generations could be the reason to breathe new life into that idea you once had but gave up on. Just give it time, but maybe spend that time researching and writing, so when the ebb starts to flow again you can come out swinging.

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Thanks for taking a look at the thoughts I have rolling around up there!

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @m0nkeyfire for more gems like this.

Please share if you think it was interesting enough to read (or if you just wanna be nice.)

I appreciate your support!

How to Harness the Power of Procrastination

… and the Influence of Importance on Motivation

I was doing some thinking about my choice to quit my job and pursue a chance to publish my own comic.  Counter productive thoughts began resembling a plague.  It is not uncommon that the voices of naysayers crop up from time to time to bounce echoes of self doubt inside my thoughts, and while I used to believe in their negative point of view of me, I chose to begin believing in my ability to research and persevere to tell a great story instead.

Choosing to live out the experience of accomplishing your dream is a powerful choice.  However, the path is usually long and arduous and often it is easy to find yourself eventually coming down from a motivational high and having trouble getting back into it. When that happens, I have a bit of a secret weapon for re-lighting that fire under my ergonomic office chair seat cushion.  I binge watch.  I know it sounds counter intuitive but stay with me.

When I feel less than motivated to stop procrastinating I binge watch, but only things that I can glean information from to help me in my ultimate pursuit.  I had one of those days yesterday.  I just couldn’t put myself down in front of my keyboard, so I began to horizontally absorb any information I could from YouTube and other various internet sources about such things like running a successful Kickstarter and all from on my back on the couch.  I also looked up information on building email lists.  There are definitely some morally ambiguous sorts with questionable ways to generate an email list, but I just tell them I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself, thanks.

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The beauty of my “revolutionary” Motivational Binge Watching process is that by lazily studying, it satiated my desire to indulge my laziness while still progressing me forward.  An added bonus is that because I surrounded myself with relevant information, my thoughts were naturally influenced back on track which motivated me towards the ultimate goal of self publishing my comic book. I only lost a day of writing and even if it had been for a bit longer, it was time well spent by seeing what steps have lead to success for others and allowing me to give some thought to the tasks in my inevitable future.

Actually, there was one last important factor. Realizing the importance of accomplishing my goal.  Understanding that I would gladly suffer through all the late night edits, the incapacitating writer’s block, and all the other self inflicted tortures that come with the ill advised choice to be a writer because achieving my goal is that important to me and thereby deserves only my best efforts.

I’ll end by saying obviously one should work towards eliminating those unmotivated moments from happening, but in the journey for productivity, it is sometimes necessary to indulge your inner slacker.   So, if something is important to you, just remember it’s part of the process to struggle or even to fail, as long as you persevere to the end.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed this one.  I rather liked writing it.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @m0nkeyfire (it’s a zero!) to come along with me as I work towards my dream of self publishing my comic book!

Creating a Comic the Austin Humphrey Way

Obviously, there are tons of ways to go about publishing your own comic.  I am new to the process but have a pretty good handle on what steps should be done and when.

So, if you’re just starting out I would begin with:

  1. Ask yourself “Should I write for my project or focus on my social media presence?

When I first started, I dove head first into my comic book and after I finished the 6th issue I realized that if I finish my book, who would I tell about it?  Having a loyal following on social media is important to the success of your comic book and should not be neglected.  So what do you do?  Easy.  Start a Twitter.  Get yourself one of those tweet scheduling apps and start creating content to entice followers to stick around until you finish your project.  For me, I started writing a blog (this one in fact) and am already up to 8 blog posts which I can blast on my twitter.  The more blogs I write, the more free content I have to share and the more followers I can accumulate.  Get that follower number up by offering quality free content.

 

 

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2. Start Studying!

Most of my day is spent studying and researching every aspect of what I’ll need to know so I can publish my comic book successfully.  Meanwhile, my afternoons are spent building my social media presence while my nights are where I do most of my writing, be it for my comic or for these blogs. The more you know, the less you stumble. So don’t try to blindly wander your way to success.  Make a plan, set a path, and stay motivated to see it through to the end.

3. Finding an artist

I’ll get into more detail here in a different post, but since I’ve been building a following and I have a decent amount of my comic written, finding an artist to work with is the next step to completing the project.

 

 

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4. Start promoting your main project.

Once you have enough content on your blog to gather a following on twitter, it’s time to give them even MORE free stuff.  Once I have my issue 0 completed with artwork and all, I will use it as a freebie to entice people to do a few things.  They’ll sign up with their email to receive a digital copy, now I have a list of emails that are interested in reading my comic.  I can send out mass emails to my followers telling them when the next issues will be released for sale!  It also wets the appetite of the reader to get them hooked on your story.

5. Kickstarter

This is the last step I have given thought to as I am still in the “generate a following” phase, but there is always lots to know and learn and I’ll share more about Kickstarter when I get there.  For now, let’s assume you don’t have the money to pay for an artist, printing, shipping… Use Kickstarter to allow people to support your project by giving you the money to complete it in exchange for a thank you gift.  Usually being the comic itself among other things for different tier donations.  Expect a Big Time Kickstarter Tips blog post when it’s time to throw myself into that adventure.

So there you have it!  Some general steps that hopefully make your path to self publishing a little clearer and easier to navigate.

If you found this helpful or want to pass this info along to someone in need, please like and share.  It’s always appreciated!

Thanks and remember to follow me on twitter too! @m0nkeyfire

Setting Yourself Up For Success

 

I love people watching.  People are weird and they do weird things, and as I sat in the park with my friends this morning, my thoughts began to drift from the conversation of the group to the park maintenance man climbing up and down his ladder 5 or 6 times to switch out various tools.  I remember thinking to myself about how I would have hung the tools from the top of the ladder to save myself the back strain of climbing up and down, bending over for tools, and time.  Later, he finished the job he was working on, stretched and rubbed his sore lower back, and jumped in his golf cart and drove away. If he had taken the time to set himself up for success he would have finished earlier and avoided unnecessary back strain.  What a lost opportunity.

The way I learned to set myself up for success was by treating future me like a completely different person.  Truth is, I don’t know who I am in the future.  I just haven’t met him yet, but I know that it’s easy to make decision that future me will be responsible for dealing with.  The problem is that I eventually become future me and I look back at past me with contempt for sticking future me with the consequences of his behavior and I want to smack him for it.Related image

I wanted them to get along.  So I became a vigilant present version of myself.  Anything I could do to make future me live an easier life, I was happy to.  I even made it a point to thank past me for taking care of future me.  After all it’s easier for past me to take the garbage out at 8:00pm instead of future me waking up early to do it at 6:00am the following morning before the trash man arrives, so why not?

 

If you want to self publish your own Comic Book, how can you set yourself up for success?

First, let’s fast forward a bit.  You finished your comic!  Now go try to sell it.  What’s that?  No one knows who you are, or that you were even writing a story?  Looks like past you has some apologizing to do to your future self.  If you plan on creating ANY product, you have to cultivate an audience to hunger for it.  With the internet, it’s easier than ever.  An easy way to start would be to create a blog where you talk about topics that would appeal to an audience that would most likely buy what you will be creating.  It’s OK to only have a few blog entries to share at first. Just keep blogging and before you know it you’ll have an entire library of topics to entice people into listening to the things you say.Image result for studio audience gif

This is where Twitter comes in handy.  Use Twitter to let everyone know about all the great free blogs you’ve been writing!  I share my blogs like this one at least once every hour, and everyday interested people choose to follow me. I also have plans to start creating Video blogs on YouTube, as well as audio podcasts.  I will have so many different types of interesting information about writing and comics to share that when I finally want to tell people I have a comic book to sell, I’ll have thousands, instead of hundreds, of interested people wanting one for themselves.

There are LOTS of different and clever ways to boost your efforts, but the one that pretty much covers them all is this: Never Stop Researching!

Most of my time is spent researching what successful people are doing.  For example, I had heard about how great the comic book community is on Kickstarter.  After I learned Kickstarter is a great way to help fund my project, I could have just jumped right in and started one, but I want to run my Kickstarter like someone who saw positive results with the way they did it.  Find enough people suggesting the same thing and you’ve stumbled on something that could give you the edge to really succeed.

The research you do to prepare yourself for the journey of self publishing is important to your success and the more you research, the better.

 

Thanks!

 

I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read my blog.  Please share this around and feel free to follow my attempt to self publish with @m0nkeyfire on Twitter!

 

Should I Quit My Job to Write Comics?

I was sitting at my keyboard trying to glean inspiration to write a captivating post when I deleted what must have been my third attempt at a first paragraph (it was titled “How To Give Your Characters Integrity” and it was meh.)

Nothing seemed to click so I took a step back and remembered the reason I started this blog.  To offer guidance to others in the pursuit of comic book self publication.  It led me to think about what questions I was asking when I first started and I immediately remembered typing into google the question you see in the title of this post.

I had been unhappy working a job in sales knowing there was this idea I was gaining passion for, being neglected in the background.  Most of the advice google came up with was against quitting, citing reasons that sounded more like excuses.

If you are considering leaving a regularly paying job to pursue self publishing then let me burst some bubbles.  Everything I read about why NOT to quit my job to write my own comic book is absolutely true.

I decided to take the plunge and quit my job anyway.  I moved to a new state and started using my savings to pursue this crazy idea that wouldn’t leave me alone.  The idea that maybe, just maybe, I can tell a story worth reading.

My days are filled with research.  Researching stick fighting for story authenticity, researching marketing to gather a following that will hopefully give my comic a chance, researching Kickstarter.  When i’m not researching I’m writing.  My story, My blog, ideas for my story and blog.  Not to mention being riddled with writer’s block, self doubt and anxiety over the fear of failure.
What it ultimately comes down to is do you have what it takes to weather the storm?

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If you don’t believe in yourself, then why bother trying?  It might seem like a depressing prompt to give up, but for me it showed that my only choice was to believe in myself. Once I realized “why bother” wasn’t an option I knew I was going to carry this comic book over the finish line battered and bruised if I must.

As terrible of a picture as I painted of this process, there is something special about throwing yourself into the achievement of a dream when you believe in yourself enough to succeed despite immeasurable odds….

…or maybe I’m just a masochist.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found this helpful and that you liked this post enough to possibly share it with others.  Comment below and share with me the things you LOVE about self publishing!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @m0nkeyfire

 

 

How to Finish That Book You’ve Been Working On

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One of the biggest struggles I have found during the writing process is sticking with it.  It can be hard enough to balance a work load for paying the bills and spending time with friends and family without throwing in the monumental task of writing and self publishing a book.

If you have a story idea that is effortlessly pouring out of you, then consider yourself lucky.  Most of us on the other hand have to carefully craft our story.  It’s our baby and we want it to have every opportunity to become a success, but like a baby, you can’t just stand back and hope for the best.

A way I like to tackle my procrastination head-on is by trying to understand it.  Why am I procrastinating?  Is it hard to focus on creating the next conflict?  Maybe the fact that no one knows who you are is zapping the motivation to create a product in the first place.  Whatever your reason for procrastination is, once identified, you can start the process of eliminating that road block.  Related image

Personally, I found I had trouble getting my butt in the chair. There were just so many other things that needed my attention and I was in complete denial about what I was really doing by focusing on anything else.  I thought about what was keeping me from progressing and realized that I suck at holding myself accountable, like an employee I might be managing. So, I climbed out of that pool of denial and created a schedule for myself.  I figured out what days I would do what, and worked hard to get in the habit of keeping accountability a priority.

It also helps to set a clear path.  If you’re lost in a forest, would you feel more comfortable wandering around trying to find help, or would having a trail to direct you on your way to find help be better?  Sitting down and figuring out what tasks to finish and what the subsequent steps will be can be the trail out of the woods you need to boost confidence and make the job of working for yourself a bit more organized and efficient.

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So, if you are like I was, with a handful of unfinished ideas, seize the moment and take the leap to start taking yourself and your writing more seriously. The only thing worse than trying and failing, is never having tried in the first place.  So GET TO WORK!   Future you will be forever grateful for the effort you put it now.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope this was helpful.  If you liked what you learned then please help a guy out by sharing it with those creative people in your life that need a little motivational nudge.

Follow me on Twitter @m0nkeyfire to come along with me on my journey to publish my first comic book ever about B.U.D. a Bionic Utility Device with Artificial intelligence that wakes up amidst a zombie outbreak.  Exciting, right!?

How to Create a Story using the 8 Point Circle

Congratulations!  Not only have you decided you want to write a story, but you’ve also decided to take the first creative steps to figuring out your story!  Let’s begin.

 

 

 

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If you’re like me, a random thought big banged it’s way into existence and ideas started forming. Other’s are tasked with coming up with an idea from scratch.  Either way there is a bunch of information on how to streamline the creative process, but I will be focusing here on the 8 point story circle method that I learned from the one and only Dan Harmon (Although it existed long before he came onto the scene.)

Essentially, you have a circle that you’ve divided into quarters.  Then you number the lines and spaces so that, from the top, it goes from 1-8.

Like this!

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As you can see, each of the 8 spots should represent a pivotal point in any story.  My Comic B.U.D. is about an AI robot coming online during the zombie apocalypse so…

  1. Bud is inside his lab.
  2. Bud desires to help people.
  3. Bud leaves his lab to explore the known world outside.  Because of his inexperience in a zombie infested world, Bud encounters hardships
  4. Through these hardships, Bud learns how to better exist within his new surroundings
  5. Bud finds what he was looking for, people to help.
  6. But it comes with a price.  For Bud, he learns that not all people are capable of being helped.  However, the price can be the death of a friend or anything to make the success of the main character bitter sweet.
  7. Things return to the familiar.  For Bud it’s helping rebuild society back up.
  8. Bud is not the same robot he was when he first started his journey.  He’s more confident and self actualized.

 

Now, let’s try creating a story outline from scratch!

 

First we need a main character!  I just ordered some pizza, so my main character is a pizza delivery guy.

  1. What is my pizza delivery guy like?  Well let’s see, when I think of the pizza deliveries I have received, the guys always seem to be unenthusiastic pot smokers.  (Im not trying to disparage the pizza guys of the world.  This is just based off of my experiences.)  So we have a pizza guy who makes deliveries just to support him staying at home and playing video games, getting high, and eating pizza.  Comfort zone.
  2. What does my pizza guy desire?  A girlfriend?  To lose weight?  maybe it’s just living an overall more fulfilling life.
  3. Now that our character has a desire, he needs to travel outside his comfort zone to search for what he wants.  Maybe our Pizza guy was a college drop out so he goes back to college.  Maybe he wants to combine his love of weed and pizza to open his very own marijuana pizza kitchen.  This is where you need to figure out where your character will go to try to get what he desires.  I have decided my pizza guy wants to impress a girl he likes by creating a brand of Marijuana infused pizza for a pizza contest with a cash prize.  Since this is new territory for my pizza delivery guy, he’s going to mess up.  A lot.  Hopefully in hilarious or heart string pulling ways.
  4. After messing up a few times in plot point 3, maybe because his mom accidentally eats a weed pizza or someone sabotages his recipe, plot point 4 is where our pizza guy turns his luck around by learning how to adapt to the new environment in which he is trying to achieve his desire.  Maybe he realizes who his real friends are and who not to trust his secret recipe to.
  5. Our pizza guy finally get’s what he wanted.  He wins that pizza contest he’s been working so hard on.
  6. But at what cost?  Maybe our pizza guy was so afraid of losing that he started to ignore his friends who helped get him there.  He has an award winning pizza, but no one to celebrate with.
  7. Our Pizza guy goes back home saddened by not being happy with achieving his desire because he has no one to share it with and so picks up right where he left off.  Weed pizza and video games.
  8. But things aren’t going to be the same.  Our character has been through some shit and is not the same person he was before his journey.  Perhaps our story ends with his alienated friends receiving a mysterious invitation in the mail and when they arrive it’s for our pizza guy’s pizza in his brand new store “Pizzajuana and Gamez” where they all enjoy a slice and live happily ever after (until the sequel.)

What we are left with is a story about an apathetic pizza delivery guy who wants to impress a girl he likes by entering a pizza making competition.  In his pursuit he learns from his mistakes and ultimately wins, but loses his friends and the girl in the process.  He asks for forgiveness by inviting them all to his brand new Pizza and videogames restaurant where they live happily ever after.

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See that?  It’s easy to create a skeleton for your story using these 8 plot points, but remember, it’s just a rough outline.  It’s your creative writing style that’s going to give the story it’s meat and muscles.

 

Get familiar with the 8 point plotting circle by comparing it to any of your favorite films.  I think you’ll notice that almost every story uses these plot points to a certain degree.

Hopefully you found this helpful to your writing.  It would mean a lot to me if you help support my blog by sharing these posts!  I love feedback so please comment here or reach out to me on Twitter @m0nkeyfire (0 = The number zero)

THANKS!

 

An Honest Look At My Relationship With Writing

I think it’s safe to say that most writers remember the first time they touched lead or ink to paper with intent to tell a story, not for homework, but for personal reasons.  Be it a journal or a story to pass the time during Saturday detention, the exciting realization of giving your thoughts and feelings a more tangible playground can be an addicting new experience.

For me, it started when I saw the movie “Stand By Me.”  I began to think of the adventures my friends and I could go on.  It would lead me to write a story of the 5 of us being spies sent to our high school to take down murderous power hungry teachers.

It was as terrible as it sounds.

From there it was sophomoric philosophy, poetry, lyrics… all of which have never seen the light of day.  Writing became a way to express myself, as is most often the case, but it came with a catch.  Once the idea began to manifest, I found the birth of my creation so satisfying that I would set it aside, and sadly, forget all about it.

After my divorce, I decided to attempt my first novel.  With uncharted thoughts and emotions, writing is how I made sense of them.  My main character was a struggling writer who, after a divorce, attempted to find his voice through his writing.  5 chapters in and I had a fleshed out, insecure, bad decision making main character, and I began to understand my life a bit more.  I clicked “save” and closed the file, never to open it back up.

 

There is a common piece of advice out there.  “Write what you know.”  I think that’s great for many writers.  It’s how you imbue a story with truth, but for me it turned into a therapy session that, though extremely beneficial, killed my drive.  It was only once I had a thought about a story idea that wouldn’t leave me alone, that I began to put forth the immense effort to make it a reality.  Like a baby, my story woke me up in the middle of the night to take notes on fleeting ideas that risked becoming lost in the ether of sleep.  It required care and unrelenting attention until I now find myself here.

The comic book I’m writing is now two volumes deep into the 1st rough draft, and two issues into the 2nd script draft.  Every step I take to putting my words out there for others to read, the stronger my desire to finish the story becomes.  It would seem to me that my relationship with writing is not unlike my relationship with love.  When I was young, I was terrible at it.  As I got older, I was better, but wasn’t taking it seriously.  As an adult currently in love with a woman who reinvented my idea of love, I realize that writing is just as complicated to figure out.  However, as long as you are honest, work hard, and continue to grow,  a completed story can be a beautiful thing to it’s author.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter! @m0nkeyfire