Thursday, May 24, 2018

It’s 80 degrees in Chicago and I’ve got the day off. That can only mean one thing.
It’s time to take the top down. 
At 8 in the morning it’s still chilly outside, but that’s not a good enough excuse not to enjoy my youth.

So I’m out to find a place to focus, cruising, living life, blasting some alternative rock trash whe-OH FRICK BASTILLE JUST CAME ON.

I’ve also not written a GOSH DANG THING for two weeks on account of me being busy turning 23, going to graduation, and all other forms of tom foolery. I could have written on Tuesday. I didn’t. Mother Dearest took me book shopping. “Get whatever you want,” she said. “You’ve made a mistake,” I replied.
The amount of money that was spent was shameful to say the least.
Also, I came across a printed volume containing the first two acts of Homestuck at the bookstore, and it confused me. It doesn’t make sense for Homestuck to exist anywhere other than on the internet, you understand. The world doesn’t work that way.
But there it was, staring at me. Daring me to get it. 
*So I did. Take that book.

Last time I read Homestuck was in middle school, that’s a good decade ago. Now it’s finshed, clocked in at around 8,000 pages. Back then I saw it as an edgy mess for prepubescent tryhards (because, of course, I knew everything and was disillusioned to the world). Now, having gained all the worldly knowledge 13-year-old Nikki did not have, I can appreciate how freaking ambitious this project was. Idea Channel once compared it to the modern day Ulysses, I don’t think they were far off. It’s a dumb comic, yes. But it’s also a brilliantly constructed multi-layered plot, a grounded coming of age story, an Alternative Reality Game, and a showcase of late 2000’s flash animation. And it’s so. Well. Written.
Now my life a battle between re-reading Homestuck and being productive. I’m surprised I’ve made it this far into the post without taking a break.

I’m going to go now. Peace.

P.S. Sweetie Pies is a treasure. The baker was super friendly and the sweets, they called to me. It’s a tragedy the place was as empty as it was. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Photography - Faith O'Leary
Prose - Nikki Macahon

The Dress
I used to think professionals wore dresses to compromise. They wrote to survive, they didn’t enjoy it. Professionals write articles, manuals, essays, and all other things that bored them to death. Their work was taken from them and rewritten by someone else who didn’t respect them or their vision. Professionals were artists that sold out.
Now I know better.
This dress is a challenge, it’s daring me to try new things. It wants to be taken seriously. It’s a commitment. It will do things it doesn’t think it’ll enjoy, if at least to say that it gave it a shot. It welcomes critique. It knows how to meet in the middle and still love what it’s doing.
This dress is saying that while I’m more comfortable in jeans and a tee, if the occasion rises I will do what I need to do. I will put on that dress. I will walk across that stage. And you’re never going to be able to tell I’m out of my element.

The Shoes

The path I’ve walked is the reason why I’m here. I came to this spot because of the things I turned to in the darkest moments of my life. I needed to create because I had something to say, but no one to say it too. I wrote because I needed stories when I was alone. I read comics and played video games because I wanted to escape.
All the things I used to tolerate life eventually became the foundations of what life would become for me. God used my passions, my interests, my crutches, to teach me that there was more to the world then what I saw.
It’s because I created that people listened to me. It’s because I wrote that I found friends. It’s because I read comics and played video games that I found a place to belong.
So I remain what I’ve always been. My shoes are scruffy, dirty, and worn. My apartment is messy. If you need me, I’ll be sitting here, in the corner, with a book. Many things will change, these will not.

The Necklace
God made me a writer to better understand Him. Because of the way I care for the characters I create and the worlds that I construct for them, I have no doubt in my mind that my creator is loving crafting a story perfectly suited for me.
God put me in a family that was different from me so that I would learn how to be comfortable in my individuality. He let me be alone in my childhood so that I would learn to empathize with the people I would someday write for. He allowed me to give too much to my friends so that I would learn that real love needs to be a little selfish if it wants to survive. He put people in my life to disagree with so that I would know how to respect everyone.
He gave me a passion for writing so that I could apply everything He’s taught me.
God is the one who pushes me to write. He provides the means for me to do so. I am who I am so that I may tell those who are like me about His love.
It has not been an easy road. He never claimed it would be. But when I look back on what He’s done so far, I can’t say that my way has ever been better than His. Even now, He teaches me to surrender my plans to Him. Because no matter what happens, it’ll make a great story.
Make no mistake, I am not a self made woman. Left to my own devices, I would have quit a long time ago.

The Gown

Compared to what I want, it’s meager. It feels like nothing. Four years for a flimsy gown and an itchy cap. Graduation was never the goal, only the means to the real end game.
But the gown isn’t just the school work, it’s also what I took to get there. It’s the comic I drew in fourth grade with all of my friends. It’s the last sentence I wrote in my first finished novel-”Next stop, London.”  It’s the first rejection I received from an agent. It’s the first writing conference I went too where I told everyone I was a sophomore in college even though I was only 16. It was the acceptance box I got from the only college I applied too, the one that came with stickers and a sketchbook. It was the first story I got published. It was turning a guaranteed F on one of my finals to an A. It was the school conference where I stood up in front of a full panel of agents and pitched my book.
It’s what I overcame when I decided to commit to this. Writing. For God. For people. For me.

The Horizon
The day of my graduation, when Faith and I were going to take these photos, I wanted sunny weather. That was the plan. To have a metaphor about how the future would be bright, adventurous, open, something to explore and have fun.
But when it turned out cloudy instead, somehow I knew that this was better.
The future is fog. It’s gray. It won’t show you how your story will pan out, or even if it will be happy or sad.
When I was in high school I was sure that the first novel I wrote would be the one I would make my name with. In 2016 I was positive my most recently finished work would have an offer by the end of 2017. Five months ago I was confident I’d have a stable job and be able to afford rent. Three weeks ago I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to sell a story to anyone.
God keeps trying to teach me the same lesson over and over. Maybe one day I’ll learn.
You really never know what tomorrow will bring.


P. S. Faith O'Leary took these photos. She's a photography extraordinaire, she's obsessed with the Chicago Cubs, and she has the right opinion on Scott Pilgrim v. The World. That's a real life Good Person(TM) right there. Also, like, hot dang. Look at those photos. Wow! Art! 

Check her out-

Monday, May 7, 2018

You know, sometimes, you just have those weeks. 

You know the ones. When anything that comes out of your mouth is an awkward stutter. When you break a shadow box at work and need to spend the money you were saving for a book shopping spree to replace it. When it rains so hard that there’s a puddle of water in your car that you have to mop up. When you’re on your way to chill at a cafe while you work you straight up step in cement, and the lady waiting to turn left at the stop sign judges you while you use the wet grass around you to try to save your favorite pair of chuckies. When it’s only Thursday, you’ve already filled your adventure quota, you’re still grieving after watching Infinity War, and you still have half the week left to live.

So you take a breath.

You realize that, realistically, most of the people you serve at your job have already forgotten your face by time they walk out the door. Shadow boxes come and go, but books will always be there. You need to fix the leak in your car, dummy. Your favorite chuckies were breathing their last before they got caked in sidewalk pudding. And, worry not, there will be an Infinity War II.


You’ve sold a story. That’s pretty baller. And you’re prepping to take The Monster Mystery to the Writer’s Digest conference in New York come August. You got back on the treadmill this week, and ya did pretty good kid. You’re going to pass out food to the homeless tonight and spend sometime with your squad at Navy Pier. Also, frick mate, this roasted almond tea tastes pretty good. Roasted Almond. What a concept.
You could do better, sure. But you could also do a heck of a lot worse. 

‘Til next time, nerds.

P.S. The Glenview Grind is charming as frick. People here are actually nice. The guy that sat to my left offered to move his stuff and unplug his laptop. The one to my right trusted me to watch his stuff. What a world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

*cracks knuckles*
Let’s do this. 

As an aspiring writer with a following that is still a work in progress get off my baCK ‘KAY HERMONO? I’M WORKING ON IT, I do not have a lot going on in the writing sense. Outside of my part time job, the projects I’m pounding out are barely anything compared to the work load of a profession. But it warrants exploring what kind of time and effort that takes. So I’m going to break it down by the most exciting metric I can think of. Numbers. 
*Skip to the last few paragraphs for The Point (TM). 

As the title suggests, the active narrative work on this sucker is done for now. It is awaiting an offer, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. So right now the focus is on market research and submission. We’re in Query Land folks, the least successful amusement park since 63% of Wisconsin. (Not just the water parks, mind you. Wisconsin as a whole.) This project took 2 years to get to in submittable-shape, most of that period spent splitting my focus between it and school work. 

DRAFTING: 6 months
EDITING: 1.5 Years
IGNORED: 2 (probably. Who knows. This business is slow.)

I’m still in the process of putting all the pieces together. This includes a lot of reading, interviewing, journaling, conceptualizing, so on and so forth. Turns out, dreams are tricky. Trying to nail down exactly how to write them, along with figuring out how to handle the overflowing Controversial Material (TM) that keeps on popping up in the book is-hang on, let me check my notes-
*knocks down tower of papers on desk
*shuffles through mess on floor and plucks a single sheet of paper
*squints at paper

RESEARCH & DRAFTING: 4 Months and still ongoing

Here, at least, I can offer you lovely readers some conclusive data. Not all that much, however, because that’d just be too much fun. To give some context, writing and sending out short stories is like the lite version of sending out a novel. Doesn’t take as long to write them, you skip the middle man, don’t have to do as much research on your markets, and sometimes don’t have to wait as long for a reply. Yet, somehow, rejection still packs the same punch. 

Mr. Pascal’s Funeral Parlor - 1 Month
WRITTEN: 1 week. Back in high school. 
*don’t ask me how I did this. I don’t know how I did this. I haven’t been able to do this again.
The Great Oak of Hypothetical Nowhere - Submission Ongoing
WRITTEN: 1 month
SUBMITTING: On Hiatus. Like Twenty One Pilots
PRIDE: HA. Itsfine. 
Siren - 3 Months
WRITTEN: 1 week
Jack vs. The Bloody Carpet - 2 Years
WRITTEN: 3 weeks
Ann - 5 Months
WRITTEN: 1 month
 Image result for gif victory
Quesadillas of Questionable Origin - Submission Ongoing
WRITTEN: 1 afternoon
PRIDE: Could be worse. I’m not dead. That counts for something, right?

Here’s a look into the workshop, all the things that could come to be. Clock them in at about 800-1800 words a piece, meaning they take a good afternoon to write if the juices are flowing. 

*Linda and the Chosen One’s Ring - Short Story - Submission Prep
*Dragon in the Hearth - Short Story - Draft 2
*A Change of Pace - Graphic Short - Draft 1
*God and the Process of Grief: A character study of A Monster Calls - Article - Pitched
*Piracy and Intellectual Property - Blog - Researching/Drafting
*Letting Your Writing Be Cheesy - Blog - Outlining
*Christianity’s Relationship with Art - Blog - Researching
Videos are hard.

So there it is. That’s the stuff I have recorded. Not an exhaustive list by any means but it’s a start. Not counting the stuff I tried to send out before college or the comic I tried to self-publish once upon a time because that is another post altogether.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because you ought to know that even in the barest of efforts, even when you distill it down to just the numbers, writing takes. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes guts. It takes heart. Put all the mushy starving artist nobody-respects-ART-man sentiments in a drawer and you’ve got a career that demands you sacrifice your evenings, weekends, days off, whatever you have feed the machine. And it won’t sustain you until the planets align in your favor. It’s a crazy business, mate. You gotta be crazy to be in it.