Honoring the Muse

One struggle that lies at the heart of art, especially when you are trying to do art for a living, is the battle between art and craft. How much of your work is following the feverish commands of inspiration and how much is buckling down and taking a workmanlike approach?

I announced at a very young age that I wanted to create art. My parents, having the noblest virtues of the Boomers, responded by exposing me to documentaries and biographies of artists and how they accomplished their goals. The upshot was I became very sold on the idea that art is first and foremost craft. That putting in the work is more important than inspiration. That it is persistence, rather than passion, that matters most.

It’s all bunk. You need both. Persistence, discipline, and craft is your strong, dexterous, right hand. Without it, good luck getting anything done. Inspiration, magic, and passion is your playful left hand. Without it, your work has no life.

Good art is hard work by a thoughtful craftsman using his tools judiciously. Good art is also a magical spark, catching lightning in a bottle. If you are a writer, and you believe firmly that art is all about the magic, I suggest you immediately buy and read any book with the word “formula” in the name by Debbie Chester, and write a formula book exactly to her prescription. If you are a writer, and you believe firmly that art is all about the craft, I suggest you immediately buy and read The War of Art, and pray and meditate over it. You will not create your best work unless both hands are present and strong.

My favorite expression of this is the formulation of John C. Wright. “Like any pagan deity, the Muse requires a sacrifice. The offering you give her is words on a page, typed out daily.”

Objectives

Making kids’ books, I have these objectives:

  1. I want to feed my family and garner for myself some freedom to make more stories.
  2. I want to make cool things and get them in the hands of people who would enjoy them.
  3. I want to love my neighbor by building and uplifting Christendom, as Christendom has good things like flush toilets, whereas post-Christendom has bad things like typhus.

These objectives are independent of each other. I would prefer if I could accomplish all three at once: Make a cool thing that uplifts Christendom and those who would like it then proceed to buy it thereby allowing me to feed my family. But as long as I am on point for these three objectives, I can be content. I can gladly work a day job, make kids’ books, and promote Christendom independently of each other.

For instance, I want Jon Del Arroz, Adam Lane Smith, Alexander Hellene, and many others to succeed in their artistic endeavors, and will not hesitate to push their books. Likewise, Vox Day is trying to preserve shards of the west by republishing out-of-print classics, and I exhort you to support his endeavor, even though it is already wildly successful:

This why the Licensed RPG idea in my concept list has such a strong attraction to me. It doesn’t matter too much to me if I’m building someone else’s brand instead of my own. In fact, it’s better. It’s better to build someone else up than to build myself up.

Some Proverbs

Another post harvested from an old blog. These proverbs seemed oddly loud to me back then, and they sing out still…

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh[b]
and refreshment[c] to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

4

Reblog: Why Concede and Keep Fighting?

Here is an old post from an old blog that I repost because it is still relevant and it allows me to build up my track record of content. It is from 2013 when Obama was freshly president, and reflects my thoughts from that time.

In this present era, I realize that I’m thinking of the debate between “left” and “right” as a philosophical or political debate, whereas now I see, as Niemeier maintains, it is a religious war and we ought to go straight to witch tests instead of logic. I should also note that my attitudes have changed. I am no longer a regretful lefty forced by logic into a rightwing position, but an enthusiastic advocate of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True. But the logic is, in my opinion, still instructive, so I post it here.

The angry buzzing of the bees over this whole gay marriage nonsense makes me shake my head in sadness.

You’re fighting the wrong fight, peoples.

What is the current definition of what marriage is, according to the conservative, Church-going elites?

It is Disney marriage with an arbitrary rule. The core of marriage is that two people in love with each other ratify their emotional attachment with a big, expensive ceremony.

Against Disney Marriage

Start an Indie Game Studio in 12 Months (Seriously!)

I hate video as a format. I like text because I can read much faster than people can talk (and even speeding up a video, as I often do, I read much faster than I can listen). I like text because I can skip forward and back with ease. And so on and so forth.

Here’s a video I find inspiring and useful.

And now I’m going to textify it for my convenience, then follow it up with some thoughts.

Textify me, cap’n!

Learning on the go.

I am embarrassed that I tried (briefly) to market myself as a cover artist.

Thanks to Niemeier having a nice talk with David Stewart on nostalgia, I was introduced to David Stewart.

Thanks to David Stewart, I was introduced to some flaws in my cover art. Namely, I’m trying to make art rather than an ad.

Here’s the Hat Trick 1 cover before Stewart and after Stewart:

Changes:

  • New font! Old font says “romance”, new font says “fantasy.” Hat Trick is fantasy, not romance. For the most part.
  • Made the title bigger. Now you can read it on the Amazon Thumbnail!
  • Moved the picture to make room for the title. From now on, I have to remember that the top third to half of the frame is reserved for that title.
  • Small color balance tweaks to make it more cohesive.

With time, I would redo the picture to make it play better with the cover design, but onward and upward!

Hat Trick 1 is Done

You can get the PDF now from my patreon.

A few thoughts:

Hat Trick has the same page count as Alphabeasts. But I will be able to sell Hat Trick for $4 whereas I have to charge $15 for Alphabeasts because Hat Trick is black and white, and Alphabeasts is color. This price difference makes me consider whether producing books in black and white isn’t the best plan for now. It’s pretty darn significant.

Hat Trick was never meant as Christian fiction, though I’m putting it in that category on Amazon. I’m putting it there because some of the characters are Christian, and Christianity is true in the world of Hat Trick as I believe it to be true in this world. And its truth matters to the plot because magic is a constant and tangible presence in that world, and so prayers and grace take on an equally tangible presence. But the purpose of the story isn’t to spread the faith nor to impart good morals. Hat Trick is not a tract. Crosses glow in the presence of vampires not because I’m trying to convert you, but because I think vampires and glowing crosses are cool.

“But wait!” you say, “isn’t Hat Trick set in a world of talking animals? How is Christianity a factor in a world of talking animals?”

Yes. Here are some spoilers about my world which I don’t mind sharing as they are not directly relevant to the plot.

World Building

The Kids’ Pulp Formula, Alpha Version

We wish to write a bedtime story that will take 3-5 minutes to read, will be enjoyed by the child and parent alike, and will feature iconic and virtuous heroes, iconic and sinister villains, and iconic and cool props. We wish to write our stories fast and in bulk, for children want a bedtime story every night.

With due respect (and apologies) to Lester Dent, fragments of whose formula are scattered through mine until testing brings refinement, here is my first proposition:

Let’s do this!