Archive for July, 2011

CreativEndeavorSequel

Now that you all know what has been filling my Saturday mornings this year, I’d like to cover two other projects I’ve been working on. Both of these were on my list of resolutions for this year, and I have to admit that I’ve only been focusing on one of them at the moment. Still, the year is still young and I will have plenty of time to fulfill what I have set out to do this year. So, let’s start with where I’m lacking: YouTube videos.

YouTube

As many of you may already be aware, in 2007 I started a YouTube channel underneath my internet moniker of RonfarZ3. This was a very successful channel that had garnered over one million combined views, with the crowning achievement of the profile being my lip-sync to Tom Lehrer’s song “New Math”. This video alone garnered my channel over 500,000 views, at least half of the combined views of my 50+ videos.

While many of the videos on the original channel were Anime Music Videos (or AMVs for short), which are still available at AnimeMusicVideos.org, the remainder were lip-syncs to a variety of songs that I enjoy and want to share with the world. Finally, this channel exhibited some of my original works, including a short film entitled “drip”, a terrible assault on the English language entitled “Psychological PUNishment”, and the final project for my Film Studies course, “Action-OVERreaction”.

After two re-boots of the channel, first as TheRonfarZ3 and finally as lipsynchORswim, I was sad to have lost the legacy of views, but glad that I could still keep some of the videos around. While the current channel has been reduced to my lip-syncs and original videos (one of which was essentially a clip show of my first 50 AMVs), I had not made a new video since 2008. Part of the reason for this hiatus was that life kind of got in the way of making videos. Another reason was that as YouTube began to grow, I felt that I needed an equipment upgrade.

One perk of staying in Maryland for 7 months on a rotation for work was that I was able to use my hotel points to purchase a HD camcorder at no cost to myself. This key equipment upgrade was the main reason for my self-induced hiatus, and now that I finally had it, I could start making videos again. Since I did not add any new videos underneath the TheRonfarZ3 reboot, I felt like I needed an introduction. My first video of the year was just that: an announcement that I had come out of my hiatus and would be making videos again.

By February I had added another video to my channel, this time as my first lip-sync to a non-musical audio clip. Then the new videos kind of just stopped. Once again, life intervened and I no longer had the free time that I once had in college to create these videos. Another reason that I stopped was that I was trying to figure out what videos to do next. A 3-year hiatus had built up a bunch of things I wanted to do, but couldn’t figure out the gimmick to present them with. One thing that I wanted to do with my lip-syncs was to have some sort of visual gimmick on the screen so that it wasn’t just me on video singing along. These gimmicks have ranged from lyrics appearing on screen, to lighting, to kind of a “dueling banjos” arrangement.

Now that I have some gimmicks worked out for the next few videos, I just need the motivation to record and edit them. Right now that will have to wait because of a very exciting opportunity that has presented itself: being a published author.

First Name Basis [BUY HERE!]

Front Cover

Regular readers of this blog will remember that last November I participated in National Novel Writing Month and was able to crank out 54,000 words of a first draft for a novel. Once I took a few extra weeks to wrap up the plot, I arrived at a complete first draft of about 66,000 words, covering 113 pages. I then sent this completed draft to some of my friends to read through and critique. My plan was to edit the novel based on the comments I received from some unbiased sources (I thought it was great, but would others?)

Now, my plan was to edit the novel in March, but due to some delays on multiple fronts (the least of which was my procrastination), I didn’t really get started on editing until mid-April. I already knew that since I had hastily written the novel in November that there would be plenty that I needed to change. Granted, after 9 months of preparation, I knew that the plot didn’t need much restructuring, which made editing an easier endeavor. And yet, there was much to be done. Plenty of details to add to the skeleton of characters and settings. Plenty of continuity errors that I needed to fix. Plenty of adjustments to the awkward beginning and rushed ending.

One would wonder why I’d go through all the trouble to fix something that most people would probably never see. Well, one of the perks of being a NaNoWriMo winner is that you can receive a free proof copy of your novel from CreateSpace. I thought that this was a great way to get my literary debut in print, if for nothing more than a conversation piece on my bookshelf. Now, having written the first draft, and not being quite pleased with it, I wanted the finished product that I sent to the printers to be something I could truly be proud of.

Taking most of the comments I received into account, along with my perspective after having not read the draft in four months, I crafted the novel through at least three revisions before I got on CreateSpace to set up my proof copy. Little did I know that I now had a few more hurdles to jump over before I could get my free copy. Luckily, the whole editing process had a deadline of the end of June, which was when my free proof deal would expire, so I was motivated to work on the final minutiae. Fortunately, these final steps proved to be the most fun.

When you read a novel, all you ever really think about is the words on the page, but there’s more that goes into it than that. Formatting was a huge part of my task ahead, and I was fortunate that CreateSpace had some handy templates that I could use. After all, you rarely see a book printed that’s 8.5” X 11”, so some adjustments obviously need to be made. Secondly, I had to create a cover for my work. Again, I was fortunate that CreateSpace has a cover creator section on their website. I used this application to make a cover that I felt conveyed the feel and ideas of the novel as a whole. However, these tasks weren’t the most exciting part that I was discovering.

Since CreateSpace is used to somewhat independently produce and distribute original material, once I received the proof copy of my novel, I could make it available for purchase. This means I’d get royalties for my work. I’d be a professional novelist. Granted, the rates that I’d get for each copy sold are not driving me to quit my day job, but a little bit extra spending cash never hurt anyone either. When I got my proof copy, I read through it and made some much needed final edits, mainly in formatting and some tragic grammatical errors that slipped through in the previous edits.

So what does this mean to you, dear reader? This means that after 17 months from the inception of the idea for First Name Basis, you can finally buy my very first novel. I won’t say much more on this, since this advertisement video explains why you should buy this book a lot better than I can in this blog.

But this isn’t even the best part. Since I spent 9 months planning out the first novel, I have plenty of material left over, not to mention a huge back-story that I can explore. With the world and its set of rules already in place, I’m well on my way toward planning the sequel, Second to None, which I will write this November for National Novel Writing Month. I know that I was initially leery of writing a novel this year, but the ideas and the structure are flowing so quickly that I need to write it this year, lest I forget all of this inspiration. As a result, I should hope to have my second novel published by this time next year.

I feel that self-publishing is definitely the way to go for me right now, since I know that I really like my story, but I’m unsure if major publishers would like it as much as I do. Besides, if the book is truly one of universal appeal, it will spread virally: friends telling their friends and so on. Right now the book is only available through this site, but when I’ve made enough in royalties to cover some of the costs, I will make the book available as an eBook as well.

So yeah, with directing Human Videos, making YouTube videos, publishing a novel, continuing to teach myself how to play the piano and continuing my culinary exploits, my creative life is certainly diverse and exciting. After all, all work and no play . . .