Tag: Passion

Took Long Enough, pt 1: People Want the Familiar

Or: The Difference Between Being Told Something and Experiencing it. A note to myself.

Something clicked while I watched Ready Player One with my son. Finally.

A bit past midway of the movie, I caught myself thinking, “yeah, here’s the moment when she thinks he’s betrayed her, and it looks like it’s the end and that things are going to fall apart. Wonder how they’ll resolve this.”

Then, I recalled that I thought just about the same thing in Black Panther. And in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

The movie took me back into its world then, but on the walk home, I realized I could find examples of this from many other movies and books as well:

  • Hero and heroine who start off not liking each other (two heroes or heroines)
  • Eventually, they overcome this dislike
  • They join forces, many times with a dollop of the romantic
  • Then something happens. Many times it’s a misunderstanding, sometimes something beyond the characters’ control leaps between the pair, seemingly putting an end to the new team
  • Now all appears lost

But, this isn’t the Marquise de Sade or Baudrillard, so somehow, someway, something, almost always foreshadowed, will happen, and things will turn out positive. Not necessarily happy. But the bad guys will get defeated, and the pair with newly repaired differences head off to some future or another.

  • Separate, but with mutual respect.
  • Together as firm partners.
  • Or good friends.
  • Or lovers.
  • Or some combo.

If only in memory—heroes do die at the end sometimes. All depends on the flick or book. And the genre.

Fleshing out this truism as I walked home was an idea from an intensive copywriting course I recently completed. In the class, Bryan Cohen beat into us is that people crave the familiar. Therefore, you give it to them.

You write copy that fits genre expectations so someone reading that little bit of text will think, “Oh. This is the kind of book I’d like”, meaning the book will have the expected problems, solutions, etc. that the person likes to read about.

For example, in romance: Each person has an issue, and the question is can they overcome these to find love. It’s what Romance readers read romances for. The same in for any genre. Even literary fiction, which appears not genre by definition, but it always has someone whose life/livelihood is in jeopardy, and if only they find something in themselves will s/he save the day. †

Then these ideas jelled. What I’d superficially known became obvious. To me. At long last.

This is why people watch movies.  Or read books. Consume anything with a story in it:

To find what they crave, something satisfying to them. The kind of story they want to see or read.

Sure, different characters, places, plots, circumstances—different in the details, but fundamentally recognizable.

  • Will Joe and Sally finally find love?
  • Will Joe or Sally finally find it in his- or herself to do the right, the good thing, regardless of personal cost?

That doesn’t mean all heroes or heroines find or do the same thing, in the same way of course. If one is even passingly acquainted with Campbell’s Hero with A Thousand Faces,  the monomyth is familiar: the one great story, in which the details are merely costumes various functions dress in while describing this one basic story.

So, while the details and specifics of the plot of a story are (or should be) unique, it will have the expected, craved, problems and solutions/resolutions of its genre. If it doesn’t, it has little chance of being popular. A cult hit, perhaps, but generally not popular.

I’d known this intellectually. I’d read about it. I’d seen lists of what sells and what doesn’t. I know romance/erotica is the best selling genre.

But only when I was sitting in a movie and heard myself thinking in genre tropes did I actually understand what I knew. That romance/erotica is a best-selling genre because it delivers the needed fix to the reader.

Bottom line:

If it’s genre or sub-genre lit, it will have X, Y, and Z. If not, most readers/viewers won’t like it. And one thing people want, logical or not, is a positive ending *. Life is hard, mysterious, full of disappointments: Why would I spend my free time reading about unremitting misery and failure?

* Notice, not Happy, but positive. Even the hero dying in the end can be positive if they’ve accomplished something imporatnt with his or her life. Unrelenting dark fiction is out there I’m sure, but mostly with a small, cultish following.

Sure new genres do appear. Ones that actually work are freakishly rare.

And if you look at the numbers, take the outside view, books in established genres sell. Literary fiction as a “non-genre” continues to sell less and less. (Especially when the target audience is the author, or “people like me.”)

Now, about what writing what one wants to write vs. writing something to sell—I’m going to follow Jonathan’s lead, from A Perfect Blindness:

            “I don’t want to play between shifts,” Jonathan says. “I want playing to be my shifts. How I make my living. To be what I do. All the time. I don’t give a rat’s ass about art. Purity, selling out—those are just excuses masquerading as virtue for people who can’t make it. I’m done with ramen noodles.”

Back here in Brooklyn, the answer to the question I recently posed—what should I write next? Is that I’m going to write genre fiction. Fantasy. It’s what lit the fire in me to write in the first place. And genre fiction sells. (Fantasy and Scifi are the second best selling genre, it turns out.)

And frankly, I can’t stand answering questions about how a relatively expensive book of literary fiction by a first-time author is selling.

’cause it’s not. Not really.And understandably. For many reasons.

So, I lift my glass to Jonathan who saw this before I did. Art, purity or selling out be damned. (Kills me that I created him and WROTE THAT LINE—YEARS AGO!!!)

Next up from the writing studios of W. Lance Hunt: portal/high fantasy, with a dose of sci-fi. About a middle-aged man (shocking like me) who stumbles on a reality that exists just beyond our own. Magic. Physics. Adventure. It asks the question: what if you could live out your childhood dreams as a middle-aged man. Of being a hero. Saving the world. Being more than a number, a job title, a marital status and an address.

(†I’m explicitly excluding experimental fiction, the sole purpose of which is to defy expectations, which is in itself an expectation, but so very protean. And extra hard to sell for that very reason.)

Know someone who might like one of these stories? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To join more Adventures in the Interzoneexcursions to the way things might have been or might yet be click here. 

 

What to Work on Next

I need some help. Yours.

Because I keep finding myself saying “I hate everything” or “I’m sooooo unhappy right now,” as I sit at my computer or walk the empty hall of my apartment.

Why? I’m not writing anymore.

Yeah, sure, copywriting is writing. So are writing proposals, and this blog, and emails, and updates, and Tweets and FB posts. But this kind of writing merely needs to be done.

None of it is the kind of writing I want to do.

The kind that made me want to write in the first place, that I’m increasingly desperate to write: fiction. Telling tales of made up people living in alternate worlds, or sometimes alternate lives in our world. I want—no need—to be a guide in the Interzone—excursions to The Way Thing Might Have Been or Could Yet Be.

So an effort to right a foundering ship I’m asking for help.

Yours.

Right now.

Continue reading “What to Work on Next”

An Interview and Refining a Description

On a recent trip to Chicago, I was interviewed by Moresby Press writer Greg Beaubien. He asked several great questions, which lead to the following conversation:

The Cost of Ambition and Deceiving Ourselves: Author W. Lance Hunt Discusses His Novel A Perfect Blindness

As part of the never-ending campaign to help readers who would enjoy reading A Perfect Blindness find it,  I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 3 weeks working on headlines, hooks and one-liners: those bits of short copy that entice someone with far too little time to spend a bit of it, reading a little more. Such like as the first line in a book description, or the bit of text in an advert, that little string of words that a reader glances at before deciding—”oh, that sounds promising” and then clicks on whatever to find out more.

In the case of A Perfect Blindness, this is the copy that will be found in the book (product) description on Amazon, iBook, & Barnes and Noble.

Not long ago, I updated what can be found online after realized that even I wasn’t excited reading it. What’s up now was that baby step to repair a wrecked launch. What will be up next week will be a leap forward.

So I ask you, would you read or recommend this book:

Jonathan has the talent. Scott has the drive. They’ve put it all on the line for their band. Now they discover the true price of everything they’ve had to sacrifice.

At the beginning of this striking novel, two longtime friends face the crushing realization that the fame and freedom they’ve been chasing for years might be nothing but a fantasy. Then on an unplanned trip to Chicago with its vibrant music scene, they abruptly abandon everything for that city and one last shot at making it.

In Hunt’s hands, this “sharply atmospheric” tale of struggling to matter and escape anonymity becomes something far greater: a dazzling dive into our deeply human need to connect with another person. The story first swings between Jonathan’s voice, whose world is full of passion, opportunity—and near impossible choices—and Scott’s voice, whose world turns on power, control—and avoiding his role in a close friend’s death. Soon joining this duet, Jennifer’s voice brings a world steeped in the imagery of TV, films and magazine advertising.

No other writer working today moves as effortlessly between such startlingly different points of view. Harnessing their contradictions, Hunt is finally able to demand answers to the questions of how it’s possible to create anything of beauty or even love when we are all just the misunderstood characters in the stories other people tell themselves.

As Jonathan, Scott, and Jennifer each struggle to find a personal answer to these questions, late 80s Chicago is resurrected in “masterful detail” and a band that readers will wish had existed comes vividly to life. In the end, it’s hopeful, tragic, and triumphant in turn, ultimately claiming its place as “a worthy […] addition to the literature of rock n’ roll’s agony and ecstasy”.

If you liked Ellis’s Rules of Attraction or Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet or just always wanted to play “live on stage, ” you’ll love this passionate ode to friendship, love, and the need to create.

Get A Perfect Blindness today and experience the madness and joy of rock’n’roll dreams.

This strikes much closer to what the book is really about: being a human trying to find some sort of connection, when who we really are hangs someplace between the stories, suspended in the contradictions.

 

 

 

Squinting like Blondie

“Of course,” Scott says. “Your life as performance art.”

            The night only gets worse. Sean walks out as soon as he closed up his bass’s case and picked up its stand. Marsha demands we drop of her drum kit at her house and won’t stay. Breaking down with only two of us is a real bitch—especially lugging those W-bins with Scott.

Dropping off Marsha’s drum kit, Scott’s pissed in that crazy quiet way that makes me nervous, squinting like Blondie from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He says nothing on the way back home.

            I know I fucked up and burned bridges. Yet what really cuts into me is that Amy didn’t deserve that.

            But what were you even doing there? You said you’d be working all night on whatever the hell project it was. I needed to talk to you. Alone.

            Now that’ll never happen.

Mercurial Visions Memorabilia

When Scott and Jonathan founded Mercurial Visions with AnnMarie and Nancy, they had little more than hope and energy. Below is a collection of CD artwork, articles and the like from the four years they were together 1988-92, starting with:

the official home of Mercurial Visions, right through this link. 

Discography

From 1988, their Self-Titled EP “Mercurial Visions” (self-recorded and published)

From 1989, their breakout CD, Joie de Vivre, on Wax Trax! Records

PRESS

Their first review, from the Chicago Reader 7/20/1988

See Them Before They Vanish

A Review of Joie de Vivre Chicago Tribune 1/18/1989

Joys of Love, Loss, and Clubs

More stuff in the offing.

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

Any thoughts or comments. I’d love to hear them

To join Adventures in the Interzoneexcursions to the way things might have been or might yet be click here. 

The lastest review of A Perfect Blindness (1/16/18)

Excerpts from Fran Lewis’s review in  Just reviews/MJ magazine

Sometimes your eyes see what they want and there is a veil of darkness covering them as both Scott and Jon hear what they want but often get blindsided by their own fears and the need to not be alone. Ron’s photographic skills are very graphic and the rest of the crew seems centered and ready to perform but there are many scenes in bars, late nights, shifts that interfere with their lives, sleeping and the awkward morning situations that are related.

Jennifer seems bent on her own agenda and each time things go against her she reminds Jon of all that she claims she has done for him but both he and Scott seem bent on total destruction.

“We all need something to live for—a mirror in which to look and see ourselves reflected in a way that matters, to somehow matter, to someone.”

What killed Charlene? What ruled Jennifer’s imagination and what deaden the eyes of anyone who looks in them too long? A story tragic with an ending that just might be a beginning if the person who’s getting a final chance moves away from the past and rides ahead into the future.

Author W. Lance Hunt takes us deep inside the music scene allowing us to see the struggles, the ups, downs, and the hardships many face before any success is found.

The read the full review here— Title: “A Perfect Blindness – A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception”Author: W. Lance Hunt

Better Living Through Chemistry: Notes from Chemically Induced Depression Part 3 of 6 (Having to Think Slowly)

This pervasive, grinding ennui exhausted me.

It also challenged most of what I thought I knew about clinical depression, which I had studied while getting an undergraduate Psychology degree. I’d read about the exhaustion, the feelings of pointlessness, but had always conflated that with what I had personally experienced as feeling down, blue, bummed, hurt, let down, disappointed, fearful—yet my current state bore no semblance to any emotion I’d faced. To any emotion whatsoever.

Rather as I moved limply through the hours of my waking day, I felt nothing at all. As if emotion had been severed from me—all desire, all displeasure, and every shade of feeling in between. Continue reading “Better Living Through Chemistry: Notes from Chemically Induced Depression Part 3 of 6 (Having to Think Slowly)”

Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers: from a Tournament to a Marathon

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

As technology allowed self-publishing to rise, the Marathon overtook the Tournament as the primary model through which most authors need to view their relationship with books and publishing.

Before the advent of POD and digital books, the primary model of publishing was a tournament.

In fact most “glamorous” or “creative” jobs such as

  • “showbiz”
  • arts
  • sports
  • allied fields like advertising

any place where very many people want to get into very few available slots, and round after round of attrition winnows down the contenders for the scarce positions.

Whether one’s goal is to be one of the few new authors published by Random House, an artist in an advertising house or painter appearing on a gallery’s wall, life happens. Choices are made. Editing gets put off, portfolios lay incomplete, and canvases remain untouched as lovers arrive, as marriages occur, as children are born, as paying rent becomes too prominent.

Over time, those still competing face fewer and fewer challengers. Eventually, only a few will outlast all the others and grasped those few places on bookshelves, in offices or on gallery walls. No matter who is most talented, best, or is a genius—the ones who survive the tournament win. Everyone else fails. Period.

For books on the Traditional Publishing Path, this means completing a manuscript, getting the help it needs, attracting an agent (or risking the slush pile), both tournaments on their own, and that one won, the author joins the next: convincing an editor to back a book.

Then, this multiple tournament winner must join yet more struggles. Once the book finally appears, the chosen author must not only battle other titles for the publishing house’s limited marketing resources, but then with all other books for shelf space, virtual and not, and then with TV, games, social media, etc. for an audience’s strained attention.

Here, our valiant survivor enters the marathon of promotion: I’ve seen both Stephen King and Umberto Ecco hawking books (Pet Cemetery and Prague Cemetery respectively.)

While there are similarities between marathons and tournaments—both are about lasting—it’s the differences that are key surviving each.

With marathons: as long as you cross the line, you win, no matter how long it takes. Sure, some people get across the goal faster than you, but you do make it in the end.

With current technology, all it takes to skip the tournaments is money and time. Pony up your bucks and buy a starting place in the marathon. Of course, the amount of time and money spent on getting that starting spot can determine if it’s a half or full marathon: more money and time spent on better quality editing, the shorter distance, in theory.

The leap into the Marathon via cash and technology isn’t without it’s issues. Each technology works best for accomplishing specific goals, and next up, we’ll dive into hitting one of the limitations I’d not fully considered: page count, pricing, profit and the realities of marketing.

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.

 

Self-Publishing Part 12: How the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers, a Real Time Break

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

So far, this path to publication has relied mostly on an extended flashback, with occasional forays into general truths. Today will be a break into present time, with a quick step back a couple of weeks to prepare for what is happening now. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 12: How the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers, a Real Time Break”

Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers or A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Speaking of marathons, A Perfect Blindness has been out for about 6 months.

Sales?

Not nearly what I wanted, hoped, nor planned for. I’m creaking along with about half of what I need for the first milestone (with an asterisk explained later).

Likely owing to that I’ve avoided doing what’s important. By which I mean the hard parts. Been busy as hell. But not getting what I need to get done: outreach. The letting people know the book exists part. The scary part. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers or A Marathon, Not a Sprint”