The importance of making art, people liking it and….eh, fuckit. #writing


“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” And if they still don't like it, fuck 'em.


Image: A pencil in a hand with the quote: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”  – Andy Warhol.  Below is a second quote: “And if they still don’t like it, fuck ’em.” – An inebriated writer who, right now, thinks anonymity might be smart.

NaNoWriMo – It’s the Final Countdown (5 more days)

Yeah…and instead of writing, I’m singing this.


You’re welcome.

Take care of yourself, because the self-talk will kill you – Junot Diaz talk at Brown #writing #academia

““Most people who get into select institutions have no conception of compassion, because compassion starts with compassion towards self. To craft yourself into a person to get the needed grades, you become cruel with yourself. How do you drive yourself when you are exhausted? The whip. You drive yourself beyond compassion. How much of your internal regime is based on cruelty? Self-talk like ‘I’m stupid. I’m a fraud. I’m fat. I’m lazy.’ As young people of color, we drive ourselves to superhuman limits to get to these schools. But when you are here, you cannot survive like that. You have to put the whip down. The self-talk will kill you. You must draw what your whip looks like, whether ‘I’m stupid. I’m fat. I’m lazy.’ Then you must begin, every time that whip cracks, to tell yourself no. They tell you it’s the only way, but you cannot live long like that.”” – Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz is talking about social activism in academia and I know he has spoken previously about his experiences in writing programs. The breadth of the talk is much broader than what we usually post about here on Unleaded, but his point about self-talk is one of those critical “a-ha” moments that I think is pertinent for many writers, particularly writers with minority statuses (whether that be race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation).

Take a look at the article/story that gives you the highlights of his talk and remember to be kind to yourself.


NaNoWriMo Half-Way Mark

DebbieRidpathOhi - I smell Smoke

I’m going to finish my NaNoWriMo novel if it’s the last thing I do – Wonderful art from Debbie Ridpath Ohi


We’re at the half-way  mark and right now the only smoke to be smelled is coming out of my ears. How’re you doing?


Welcome NaNoWriMo! Here’s to you, crazy ass!

Yes, it is that time of year again – National Novel Writing Month! November, when we come together, drink too much coffee, sleep too little, and write too much. Wait, there’s no such thing as writing to much. Not when on the path to GLORY (and 50,000 words)! So, to get us off to a great start, a few little graphics.

Halloween Haunted House with flying witch. Reds, blues and blacks and orange colors

Happy NaNoWriMo

NaNoShield with Blue Background, a person in black with a red umbrella - This fall, let your imagination rain.

This fall, let your imagination rain.

NanoToon 1 First day of Nanowrimo. We can do this! 2 Just need 1667 for today's wordcount. 3 staring at screen 4 a I see your mouse hovering over your Twitter tab b This is hard, okay?!

NaNoToons – Writing is HARD!

Victorian woman with a glass - Ah, another NaNoWriMo participant. Here's to you, crazy ass!

Here’s to you, crazy ass!

Guest Post: Loren Rhoads – Is Your Character a Mary Sue?

Unleaded: Fuel for Writers is pleased to host Loren Rhoads as our Guest Blogger for Friday, October 30th, 2015. Loren’s first book in a space opera trilogy, The Dangerous Type, was published by Night Shade Books in July. The series will be completed by Kill By Numbers (September 1) and No More Heroes (November 3) before the end of 2015. Loren’s blog post for us is about the eponymous “Mary Sue.” Authors are accused of using “Mary Sue” protagonists as proxies for a form of “wish-fulfillment” – beautiful, smart, skilled. In short, too perfect to be “real” for the purposes of the reality of the book. Loren gives us her view. Take a read and then let us know what you think.

Is Your Character a Mary Sue?

One of the sharpest criticisms leveled against female characters written by women is that the heroines are Mary Sues: unbelievably perfect women who are beautiful, smart, competent, and can do no wrong. Because men apparently never write about genius billionaire playboy philanthropists (Tony Stark) or Star Fleet captains who woo all the girls (James T. Kirk) or ageless madmen traveling the universe in Police Boxes who are too cool to use an actual name (the Doctor).

The term Mary Sue dates back to Paula Smith’s parody “A Trekkie’s Tale,” published in 1973 in her fanzine Menagerie #2. Only 15 and a half, Lt. Mary Sue is one of the youngest officers ever to serve aboard the Enterprise. In fact, she wins the Nobel Peace Prize and the Vulcan Order of Gallantry, among other awards, for taking command of the ship when the chief officers are stricken after an away mission. They all gather at her deathbed to cry over her passing.

Now, there is a “helpful” online quiz to check if your character is a Mary Sue. Some of the issues it attacks are double-edged swords. In real life, everyone has noticed that when they enter a relationship with someone, the object of affection is perceived as more attractive than he or she may actually be. If a POV character describes the protagonist of your story as beautiful – or pretty or striking or anything other than plain or average – is that a case of the author inflating the appearance of her self-identified character or is it actually good characterization of the POV personality?

Mary-Sue-buttonIf the author gives the main character a name that shares a starting letter with her own name, is that because names tend to have a limited number of starting letters? If a character has an exotic name, is that wish fulfillment on the part of the author or simply admiration of the Chrysanthemums, Jadas, and Saorises of the world?

If the character seems to have exotic skills or to be extremely competent, does that mean that the author is projecting – or that, as in the case of Raena Zacari and her lethal killing skills, it’s all the character knows? One of the criticisms aimed at my space opera trilogy is that the crew of the Veracity are skilled at their jobs: which they obviously would be, since they were chosen for that exact reason. It seems weird to me that competence would be viewed as a negative feature in an action story.

Then again, almost every female character has been charged with being a Mary Sue, from Bella Swan to Rose Tyler to Buffy Summers to Katniss Everdeen. It almost seems as if critics would prefer to only read about masculine heroes who are strong, competent, romantically irresistible…say, someone like James Bond?

To be honest, all the characters in my novel Kill By Numbers have a little piece of me in them: Gavin reflects my struggles with addiction; Coni depicts my fascination with legal personhood; Raena shares my insomnia.

The Mary Sue is not the skinny, muscular assassin depicted on the cover of the first book with silver hair like mine. (Because, of course, I didn’t have any say over the cover image and Raena’s hair, throughout the series, remains black.) The Mary Sue of the series is Mykah Chen, the African Chinese pirate journalist. I don’t imagine any of the trilogy’s reviewers will ever guess that.

Of all the people in my trilogy, the one closest to me in reality is Mykah, who got elected captain of the Veracity because no one else wanted the job. He’s a journalism graduate whose ideals were too high to accept an entry-level job in his field of study (like your humble narrator). He worked in food service (ditto) before he ran away to become a pirate. (Well, I haven’t become a pirate yet, but I am trying to raise my daughter to be one.) Mykah aspires to use storytelling to change the galaxy. That’s me in a nutshell.

I think it’s important – probably even obligatory – that your characters embody parts of your personality. It falls under the command to “write what you know.” I think it’s equally important for you to stretch what you know about people, borrowing both from people you know and those you’d like to, as you create your characters.

Don’t let anyone tell you they are Mary Sues.


Loren Rhoads photoLoren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes — the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy — all published by Night Shade Books in 2015. You can find out more at

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