March 2014 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: March 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

Motivator-Schadenfreude

Do We Read Out of Schadenfraude?

Schadenfraude: the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

Sounds a bit harsh to think that we enjoy seeing other people miserable, doesn’t it? I have no doubt that most of you are thinking, “That’s not me! I don’t enjoy other people’s miseries!”

If that’s you, you’re lying.

Why do I say that?

What is it that you are reading when you pick up that fantasy, science fiction, romance, horror, mystery, or thriller novel?

Is it the story of how one person was so happy and had a wonderful life where everything was sunshine and roses? Was it how a person’s life turns out perfectly, and how love wins in the end?

Of course not! You’re reading a book of how the main characters suffer. A good novel always involves suffering and misery of some sort, or else it would be some insipid piece of garbage that no one would ever read. You’ll notice that most of the best novels in the world involve horrible things. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a story.

So, we all read because we enjoy the suffering of others. “Well, they’re just fictional characters” you may say. That’s true, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying their pain and suffering as they tell you a great story.

We’re all a bit sadistic deep down, and there’s something satisfying that we feel when we see other people suffer. It’s the last thing you want to admit, but the truth is that you felt a sense of glee when that high school bully/horrible neighbor/bitchy ex-girlfriend or boyfriend/person you really hate suffers a bit. You usually enjoy it in silence, but there’s still that sense of “Yes! They got what they deserve!”

Of course, no one ever says it out loud, and we all have that immediate twinge of guilt after the moment of enjoyment. But it’s still there…

It seems to me that everyone that reads fiction does so because it allows them to enjoy the sufferings of others in a socially acceptable way. After all, the characters on the pages aren’t real, so there’s no real suffering happening.

But subconsciously, we all picture the people that we dislike/hate as the characters that are suffering. The villain that meets his horrific end due to his misdeeds is that person that tormented us as a child, and the bully that finally gets knocked out by the hero is the bully that gave you such a hard time in high school. You’re the hero of course.

So, it looks like schadenfraude really does rule our lives a bit more than most people would like to admit. We’re all a bit dark deep down inside, and there’s something a bit twisted that struggles to get out. Most of us make an effort to subjugate that twisted something, as letting it out isn’t conducive to functioning in society.

But, writing and reading is what allows us to enjoy a bit of the misery of others in our lives. That misery that we only dream of wishing on our worst enemies can be written into a novel, and it allows us to play out our fantasies of getting revenge on those that mistreated us or made our lives miserable.

Does that mean that the more twisted the book, the more twisted the mind of the author? I’d say no, but I’m to busy trying to stop a Lovecraftian creature from taking over my mind…

Should It Be So Hard to Choose Hosting?

I’m going to be documenting some of the issues that I am facing as a newbie to the world of self-publishing. Hopefully, it will help make your journey easier – you can learn from my mistakes. Being terrified can’t stop you or me from doing what we have to!

The first trial all self-published authors – and pretty much all professionals that rely on the internet for business – have to go through is setting up a website, a surprisingly time-consuming task. Before you can even start fiddling with your template, you have to choose a web-hosting company.

This has turned out to be a surprisingly challenging task, even considering all that I know about the various web hosts. In my history as a freelance writer, I have written many articles comparing hosting companies like Bluehost, Hostgator, and GoDaddy. I should know all this stuff, right?

And then it came time to actually choose the web host. A friend of mine, fellow author Peter J. Story, found that Bluehost gave him no end of troubles. His site gave visitors from outside the U.S. all sorts of troubles, and he eventually had to switch over to another company.

He now works with Digital Ocean, a site he claims is easy to use, is reliable, and cost-effective. On the downside, he had to set up his own server in order to get full control over the site. I’m nowhere near that tech-savvy, so that option is out.

My brother is a web developer, and he has worked with GoDaddy in the past. He said that it was good, but the cost of setting up a website on GoDaddy seemed a bit too high for me.

Hostgator was the cheapest option around, so that’s what I’m working with right now. It’s a cheap option, but that kind of backfired. I paid for the hosting on Thursday, and only got the account on Saturday. When I called, they said that due to the high volume of new accounts, it was going to take time. Worst of all, they didn’t send a confirmation email, and they didn’t know how long it would take to get it set up.

So, cheap isn’t always best, a lesson that I hope I don’t have to learn the hard way too many more times. I’m resisting the urge to spend as little as possible on an editor, a book cover designer, and a comic book artist for all of my works, so I figure my rookie website can be a bit simplistic and affordable to start. Once I start rolling in the dough, I’ll consider upgrading.

All that to say, choosing hosting should be so much easier than it really is! It takes way too much time and research to find these things out, and you never really know what you’re going to get until you actually try them. The reviews you read online aren’t always accurate – something I found out the hard way.

My First Failure: Editing

Is it just me, or does submitting a book to an editor feel a bit like failure?

Painting, writing, and drawing are all forms of art, and art is something that comes from within. It’s kind of like exposing your innermost thoughts and feelings, and letting the world tell you what they think. It’s hard for me as a first-time novelist, and I’m dreading the moment that I get my first negative review. It’s like my novel is my baby, and someone’s going to point out, “Wow, that part of your baby is really ugly!”

I’m a perfectionist – particularly when it comes to writing fiction – so I try to write as if I never needed to edit anything. I try to make everything 100% grammatically correct, with perfect punctuation, sentence structure, and so on. I cannot leave loose ends in my story, so I try to tie everything up nicely for the reader (for myself, essentially) before the book ends.

So, when I send the book to an editor to be corrected, it feels like I’m failing. I failed to write a 100% awesome book, meaning that I am not 100% awesome! One of the worst feelings in the world for me is to think that I have failed at something I thought I was good at – or I’m not as good as I thought I was.

This is why it was so hard for me to say, “Gods be damned, I need to hire an editor.”

Reading over my book now, I’m glad I did. When I sent it in to an editor, he sent back the first couple of chapters, and boy were there a lot of comments! There were no plot holes or serious boo-boos in the writing, but the editor brought up some really interesting points that I would have missed or simply deemed unimportant to the story.

Editing feels to me like a failure, but the sad truth is that it’s really not. No one is perfect – not even me! I have to accept that I am going to be flawed in my writings, and I can’t blame anything on “It’s the writing style” or “I left that in on purpose”. Sometimes, as a writer, you just screw s*** up. If you were to leave the work unedited, other people would notice the glaring mistake that slipped past your gaze simply because you were the one that wrote the thing.

I have to be willing to accept that I’m going to make mistakes in my writing, and I’m not just talking about the occasional typo. I’m going to make some huge mistakes, and I’ll need a friendly, fresh set of eyes to help me correct those mistakes.

Once they are corrected, the book will end up being a whole lot better in the long run. As much as it feels like failure to submit your manuscript to the oft-cruel hands of an editor, trust me when I say that it’s going to make that manuscript a bazillion times better.

Here’s hoping the editor is gentle with my works…

 

best (1)

To Be the Best or Not?

This question popped into my brain after reading an older post from a friend of mine – fellow author Peter J. Story.

His post says:

“Faith in yourself is a tricky subject, especially without higher faith in a greater power. However, I find that faith can apply fairly evenly across the spectrum of authors of varying religions or lack thereof. Personally, faith in myself translates into two primary elements.

First of all, it’s faith that I’m a skilled writer. The best writer? No–I couldn’t care less who is, which means it’s not me, and that takes a load off all on its own. Skilled enough to disregard further learning? Of course not–I’m of the firm belief that no matter how adept humans get at any given talent, there’s always room to grow. So, with that out of the way, I can have faith in the simple truth that I can group words in a sensible way to tell a story very well.

Secondly, I know that whatever I desire to write, if it interests me enough to write it, then someone else out there will be interested in reading it. And likewise, if it’s interesting enough to me, there should be a large number of others out there who want it.” [1]

It made me think about my own writings – both comic book and novel. Are there people that are interested in what I have to say, interested enough to pay the few dollars to buy the book?

I’m not talking about my friends that say, “Oh, sweet, this guy I know and (like, love, think fondly of) I writing a book. Let’s show pity on my (sibling, spouse, acquaintance) and buy his book. It’s just a few dollars, so it’s not like I’m losing much if it turns out to be a flop.” (See, even the way I talk about the things my friends and family think of me have that same negative connotation. Shows the doubt I have in myself…)

I’m talking about the people that are browsing Amazon, searching the internet, or looking through this site. They see the book or comic books, and think, “That could be interesting…” These are the people I’m not sure my writing is good enough for.

I have no doubt that this plagues just about every writer, artist, and actor out there. Sylvia Plath, probably one of the greatest female American novelists of all times, said: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

That is definitely the enemy that I am struggling with as I work towards getting my book and comic books ready for publishing. I have no doubt that many of the other authors sharing cyberspace with me are struggling with the same thing.

What helps me shut down that stupid inner voice that makes me worry about failure?

Aside from simply ignoring it, here’s a great thought from a wise man: “Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.”William Goldman

Or, on a slightly less maudlin note:

“You do not need to pay attention to those voices within you that create pain, or make you feel less competent, smart or able.” —  Sanaya Roman  

[1] http://peterjstory.com/patient-author-is-patient/

I Am Terrified

This is the first post on my new website, a website I will use to showcase myself as a writer and as a human being. Many people know me, but few people know what goes on inside my head. This blog is going to be a place where a little bit of me will come out, and anyone that is interested to know more about me is welcome to read on.

As an intro to me, let me tell you something about myself:

To me, there is nothing more terrifying than trying something new.

No, I’m not talking about eating a new food or brushing my hair in a new style. I’m talking about doing something I’ve never done before. Something that requires an investment of money.

Anyone who had the same low-income upbringing as I did knows exactly how difficult it can be to spend money on something without knowing for sure that it will pay off. Taking risks is absolutely terrifying for me, which is probably why I’m forcing myself to do it.

I’ve invested a whole lot of time and a good deal of money into this venture, and I’m shaking even as I type this. I’m worried that it’s not going to pay off, that my writing skills just aren’t good enough, that no one will ever want to buy my books or comics, and on and on the list goes…

Being terrified, unfortunately for me, is the only way that I am ever going to succeed in life. Trying new things, going new places, making investments without any guarantee that they will pay off, these are the things that are going to make me not only a better person, but a better writer.

Have you ever noticed how it’s the f*****d up people that produce the best writing? Especially fiction. They’re the ones that have the real depth of character, and that depth is what moves you beyond “Oh, what an interesting-looking book” to “Damn, that was an f*****g good story!”

I ramble, but that’s to be expected from a new blogger/author like myself. I just wanted to introduce myself in a way that hopefully will get you to say, “Hey, there’s someone that I can relate to.”

I hope you do come back, and take this terrifying new journey with me. Who knows where we’ll be in a year or two?

Let the terror begin!

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