I’ve not yet read anything by Tamera MacNeil, but these Cheater’s Guides sound pretty cool.
I'm writing a series of guides for SF writers who want to know about something but can't, for whatever reason, go and find out for themselves first-hand. Things like, how does a sword smell, or what does it feel like to spin wool from a drop spindle? It's something I wanted to do for a while, but haven't been able to, and when I had the idea I was a little bit worried that it was yet another great idea that was going to end up on the scrapheap of great-but-un-do-able projects.
I get piles of fun, cool ideas, and I'm sure you do too, but in my case they too rarely see the light of day. In this case, the idea came from a panel I always try to attend whenever I get over to VCon, my local convention. It's called Writing About Fighting and always a good time. The audience asks questions and the panel of writers and martial artists answers. Without a doubt the most common questions are about the gritty details - what does a sword smell like? Where do you get blisters when using a quarterstaff? I realized there was a dearth of access to the telling details that make writing believable, and thought, Wouldn't it be great if someone did a writer's reference for stuff like this? And then I thought, Well, why can't I do that?
Then I got really excited. Then I got worried, because I've noticed my ideas sometimes follow a pattern that goes about like this:
Great idea > excitement > planning > realize I'm not an expert > give up > idea goes into the scrapheap
This time, though, instead of giving up after I realized there was so much I didn't know, I started looking around for help. Did I know someone who could help me with the Cheater's Guide to Swordplay? Sure I did. In fact, I knew two experts. Did I know someone who could help me on Cheater's Guide to Medieval Homecrafts? Actually, I know a woman who has raised rare-breed sheep just so she can have just the right wool to spin. She also makes her own cheese. So that's a yes.
This time, instead of giving up on my project, I started to ask around, and it turns out I know piles of people who do amazing things. More importantly, they were excited about being part of the project.
This is what I wanted to say in my Tell Me; I wanted to remind you that even though you personally might not be able to do a whole project on your own, I bet you know someone, or a few someones, who not only could help you, but would love to help you.
Those people might be friends, family, the local reference librarian, or an old science teacher. And that means those projects that seem big and frightening, well, they're totally doable.
So go on, and get doing them!
Tamera MacNeil is a Viable Paradise XVI alum who always has a project on the go. Her queer-friendly YA novella, Onsen, was released by JMS books in January 2013, and her most recent work of short fiction can be read for free over at Betwixt Magazine. Expect to see more about Cheaters' Guides popping up @tammacneil on Tumblr in February!