On Writing: Missed Deadline

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Writing frustrations are about in my life.

The sheer stress and workload of my day job is consuming a portion of my life as expected. After moving, having to find a new place to live in a new state as well as learning a new job and new people and new responsibilities has interrupted my writing.

My tweeting is down.

My blogging is down.

My planned youtube series is pushed back.

And as a result, my stats have collapsed on twitter and wordpress. Additionally, my submissions to agents have stopped and my writing contest submissions have been impacted.

This is a difference than 3 months ago. I had a quasi-agent who had agreed to submit my stories, although on a conditional basis with a weird plan to submit to half the publishers, then get feedback, then to revise and submit to the other half. My blog was taking off. I had up to 800 views a day at a certain point. I was interacting with other writers. I had hired a freelance editor to proofread my completed manuscripts. I had submitted two short stories to writers of the future and a screenplay to The Blacklist. I was editing and curating the Midnight Traveler story collaboration with other writers. There was some minor cost to all of this, but generally, I was only out a couple hundred bucks, mostly through website hosting fees. I balanced all of this with my daily life and a full time job.

Then, I moved, while starting a small company on the side. This side business generated income so fast (up to $4k a month in gross sales) that I spent more time on that after my day job. The money was too good, especially after I moved. The art would have to wait.

My writing essentially stopped. I was making $0 from writing (maybe losing money and time). Some people I know in the new business make fun of writing in a way. They say Amazon publishing is dead. That was in maybe 7 years ago. The first mover advantage is gone. It is yet another industry where 1% get 90% of the income.

I don’t know. I have dreams. I want to do everything and don’t want to waste time.

Then my phone got destroyed by batteries plus and I lost 100 outlines to stories.

I could have given up. Why chase the writing dream?

For most people the answer is simple; because I enjoy it.

No. I fucking love it.

I was a weirdo who daydreamed stories in school instead of paying attention. I get bored watching movies knowing what will happen next. I get annoyed when things are dumbed down and exposition is there to spoon feed audiences. I read novels that are utter garbage. I get annoyed at big name authors who have every damn story ghostwritten for them because they don’t give a shit anymore about anything but the income stream. I get really annoyed at estates and publishers who pump out ghostwritten stories of dead authors.

I began writing again a few weeks ago. I had a few weeks to hit the quarter deadline for writers of the future. Out of the gates, I wrote a solid outline and wrote the first few thousand words like it was nothing. Then the story expanded. New characters were introduced until I reached a point a week ago that I admitted there was no way I could fit the entire story in 17,000 words. I spent a few days trying to deconstruct and simplify but it was all for naught.

The deadline was Friday night and I missed it. I spent Friday night playing XBOX and drinking Guiness because I deserve it.

I might have lost the battle, but I hope to win the war. I’ll keep my full time job. I keep my side business. I’ll be more efficient with my time and make a few hours for writing each week. Stories will get finished.

Deadlines will come and go; keep charging ahead and writing. Write for yourself. Write for your dreams. Write to bear your soul. Write to get famous. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is, just don’t quit. If you see other writers struggling on twitter, maybe spend a second away from spamming your self published kindle story and say hi to someone new. Share some trials and tribulations. They are not the competition. They are fellow writers with dreams like you.

Mad skills at Photoshop: A Vader Tutorial

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A couple weeks ago, I didn’t know a damn thing about photoshop. Now, I can do all sort of snazzy things and you can to. Don’t pay some scammer “artist” or “graphic designer” when you have it in you to make art yourself. I have the artistic talents of a 5 year old, but with some quick youtube tutorials, I can just about create whatever I want. The below graphic was drawn using the above picture as a guide. All of the coloring and tracing is pretty easy to do, but a little time consuming if you have OCD. If you want to make a bunch of Hope posters, you can create all sorts of variations using what I show you below.

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Now, this wasn’t easy nor was it fast. In total, I think I spent around 2.5 hours making this work. This is because even though I mastered the concept of layering, to do something of this detail, I had to do a ton of layers. How many?

52 fucking layers.

It was tedious as shit, but if you are making a unique book cover, or decorating your website you can pretty much do the same thing if you have the time and patience. After spending this much time, I will be retiring ol’ Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China for a while, and letting Lord Vader do my greetings on twitter. (If you haven’t followed me on twitter, I recommend you do so to catch in all the weird shit I say all day long).

STEP 1: Lasso Vader out of the pic. You have to then use the eraser tool, and set the size to small and zoom in to erase all the extra shit you got. This will take a little time if you want it to be perfect.

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Step 2: You then use the pen tool, and zoom in again, and trace an outline around the helmet and interior of the helmet, and then the neck. The three different depths should be separate so you can put closer parts of the helmet using a different color. This takes a little time to zoom in and ensure you get rounded edges. Then, I added a red background with a slight color gradient because I’m a baller like that. Be careful to recognize light colors on the edge that should be traced in another layer.

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Step 3: This is where the detail work comes in. Using a slightly lighter color, I traced interior shadows on his helmet to give it a little depth. Each area is a new layer to add and name. (By the way, name your layers otherwise it is confusing a shit to find which one you want to tinker with later). Adjust the colors and tones to get the color you want. I kept using a color overlay with an opacity adjustment in the 60% range to get it where I wanted.

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Step 4: Keep adding layers and adjusting the colors. I came to the conclusion that to get it perfect meant doing around 200 layers, which I didn’t have time for. This was merely a beginner practice session.

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Step 5: Boom, this is the easy final step. You add the lightest colors closest to your perspective (you know, the light gleaming off of Lord Vader’s helmet) and you color that in  on the highest layers with the lightest colors you can, all using the pen tool. A key thing to remember was to get the brim correct, and then to remove the basic picture underneath. I used the spray can and a light texture to match the underneath helmet shade in the picture. The final step is text, which is easy as shit. You just type the font and change it to what you want. I simply downloaded the Star Wars font (hopefully I didn’t get a damn virus).

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NOW SEE ANOTHER PHOTOSHOP TUTORIAL

Make comments below on what you want me to try next. Ask your friends what they want to see.