The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is an exploration in how characters succeed or fail to redeem themselves. There are many characters in various mediums who walk the path of redemption, but not all complete it.
Bojack Horseman is one character who tried to walk it, but failed.
Prince Zuko is another who walked that path, but he managed to succeed.
How they each went about their respective journeys is unique and it offers some powerful lessons worth highlighting. Enjoy!
Every now and then, it’s important to take a step back, look at what you’re doing, and think long and hard about how you want to move forward. The start of a new year is generally a good time to make that effort. Since graduating college, I’ve made it a point to use the beginning of a new year to make important decisions about the near and far future.
Sometimes that means changing something about myself, be it related to my health or my personal relationships.
Sometimes, it means evaluating where and how I apply myself on a day-to-day basis.
Sometimes, it can even mean choosing whether or not to let something go, be it a project, a passion, or a goal.
Make no mistakes, I’ve contemplated many things about how I’ll navigate the new year. Some choices are more mundane than others. A few have larger ramifications. The one I’m sharing today might very well qualify.
Today, I’m officially announcing a change as to how I utilize this website. I’ve been posting daily to this site almost every day since 2017. I originally started it as a way to sell my novels and build an audience for my writing. Aside from the twobooks I got published and several othersI self-published, not much has happened on that front. I still submit manuscripts to publishers, but I’ve yet to garner much attention.
Over time, this site has become less and less linked to those efforts. It doesn’t appear to be helping me further my goals anymore. That’s why I’ve made the following decision.
Moving forward, I will no longer be posting to it daily. If you’re a regular reader of this site, I sincerely apologize. Believe me when I say I appreciate the support, especially the kind that comes from friends and relatives. However, I think the time is right to make a change.
A couple weeks ago, I decided to analyze the overall traffic this site gets. I looked at the stats for the entire year. In doing so, I saw some clear and unavoidable trends.
This site does get a fair bit of traffic. However, over 90 percent of that traffic is to my Sexy Short Stories. Since 2019, that section of my site has been generating more and more traffic. It’s now at a point where the daily posts barely register. I’m lucky if one new post gets more than a dozen hits, whereas one of my older Sexy Short Stories get over a hundred on that same day.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for that traffic. I’m glad my Sexy Short Stories have found an audience. It has just rendered the time and energy I put into those daily posts less worthwhile. However, there’s another major factor that led me to this decision and that’s my YouTube channel, Jack’s World.
Over the past year, that channel has grown a great deal in terms of content and audience. I have over 400 subscribers at the moment and I’m eager to see that grow even more in the coming years. As such, I’d like to focus more of my energy on making videos rather than daily posts.
I’ve also come to enjoy making these videos. I’m still learning the process, the software, and all the little skills needed to make a quality video. I’d like to channel more energy into that effort and I just can’t do that while also posting regularly to this site.
I’m sorry if this news disappoints some. I know a few friends and family members were regular readers. I still hope to provide content. Some of the content on my YouTube channel is very similar to the kind of stuff I’ve written about on this site. With videos, though, I can add more media elements to make it more engage in.
As such, I feel that’swhere I think my time and energy is better spent, at least for now.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning this site completely. Like I said, my Sexy Short Stories get quite a bit of traffic. At some point this year, I’m going to go back to writing those. I don’t know how frequent they’ll arrive, but I hope to make it a regular thing that readers can look forward to.
Other than those stories, I’ll also make a post whenever I post a new video to Jack’s World, just to keep that aligned with this site.
Beyond that, there won’t be much else. That means no more weekly comic book picks, no more Sexy Sunday Thoughts, and no more articles about sex robots. Again, I apologize to those who regularly read those posts. I just feel like the time is right to make this change and move forward.
I still haven’t given up on my goals of becoming a published author. I have a number of unpublished manuscripts that I’d like to sell one day. I just don’t think posting to this site is helping me achieve that right now.
To everyone who has followed this site for the past several years, I sincerely thank you.
To the friends and family who have encouraged me every step of the way, I love you all.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve talked about my various writing projects. There is a reason for that. I won’t say it’s a good reason, but there is a reason. I still have a number of manuscripts that I hope to get published one day. I also keep reaching out to agents and publishers in hopes of publishing another novel.
To date, I’ve only gotten responses from scammers and grifters. Seriously, if anyone claims they can make your book a best seller for the low price of $1,200, delete that email or hang up on them. They’re lying.
While I am discouraged and have since stopped making sexy short stories, I’m still writing every day. I still have ideas I want to flesh out. I’m still trying to refine my craft. I treat every project as an opportunity to improve and I try to take it.
However, lately I’ve been finding it difficult to write at the same rate and efficiency as I did years ago. It used to be I could write a good 5,000 words with ease and still have time for class in college. Now, I’m lucky if I can get 2,000 words out. Again, there’s a reason for that.
Looking back on it, those 5,000 words I mentioned weren’t exactly quality work. In fact, it would take me almost as much time to edit or revise those words as it would to write them out. Quality beats quantity in writing 99 times out of 100. That’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way and come to appreciate.
These days, the slow pace of my writing has less to do with how fast I can type and more to do with me wanting it to sound just right. The narration has to be good. The dialog has to be solid. It has to work on multiple levels and that’s really slowing me down. I’m doing less editing and revising on the back end, but it’s still frustrating at times.
As a result, I decided to take a step back recently and adjust my approach. In doing so, I realized something critical in my writing. The part that slows me down the most, to the point of stalling, is writing dialog. For most writers, that’s not surprising. Writing dialog is one of the hardest things to do in any novel, script, or play. Whenever I seek out writing tips, I tend to gravitate most towards those focusing on dialog.
Again, some of that has to do with quality over quantity. I try to give each character a voice. I try to make the conversation feel realistic, but memorable and witty. That is not easy to do and, if I’m being honest, I neglected that in the past. When I read over my old work, I see how little thought I put into the dialog. At times, most of the characters just sounded the same. They were just there to play a role.
I’m trying to avoid that. I’m trying to improve, as well. I also want to be efficient. I know that’s asking for a lot, but I think there’s a balance to be struck. Right now, I do not have that balance. So, after assessing what I’ve done and how to move forward, I’ve decided to try this new approach.
In the past, I simply went from start to finish with each chapter, going word for word between narration and dialog. It was simple and probably the way most people approach writing. Now, here’s what I want to do.
For each chapter of each story, I start with a script. I focus entirely on the dialog between the characters. There’s no prose or narration in between. I write out the conversations first. I add the details and structure later. In essence, this is what it looks like.
Character 1: Dialog
Character 2: Dialog
Character 1: Dialog
Character 3: Dialog
Character 1: Dialog
Character 1: Dialog
I’m going to try and use this on my next project. I don’t know how well it will work, but it’s something I’d like to try. I feel like the way I’m doing things now is just too inefficient. There’s always a better way to do something and I’m going to try this and see where it leads me.
In the meantime, has anyone else ever attempted something like this? Has anyone ever written out a chapter or book in a non-linear fashion? If so, what has been your experience? Did you find it helpful? Did it make your writing better and more efficient?
I’d love to know. Please share your experience in the comments. If you have other tips or approaches you’d like to share, please do so. I’d be happy to listen.
How much agency do we actually have in our day-to-day lives?
How much freedom do we actually enjoy on a pragmatic basis?
I ask these questions as part of another thought experiment, albeit one that requires more introspection than the othersI’ve posed. I think it’s relevant at a time when we’re dealing with a global pandemic that has severely restricted everyone’s agency to significant degrees. It’s also relevant because it’s something we rarely scrutinize.
There’s another reason I’m discussing matters of agency. It has less to do with current events and more to do with frequent criticisms of certain stories. As an aspiring writer and an avid consumer, especially of superhero media, the agency of certain characters is an integral part of that process. You can’t tell a meaningful story without characters exercising some level of agency.
What has become a major issue in recent years is the source, degree, and structure surrounding that agency. I’ve noticed critics and consumers alike scrutinizing who makes the major choices in a story, as well as what role they play, how they look, and why they’re doing what they do. While these are relevant details, that scrutiny can be misguided.
I see it whenever a female character is perceived as having no agency or having too much.
I see it whenever a male character is perceived as being the only source of agency for every major detail.
I see it whenever a character of a different race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation play a role that isn’t just restricted to tokenism.
It has derailed many meaningful conversations about some genuinely great stories. It has also established this standard for some people that if any character with agency happens to be of a certain gender or ethnicity, they roll their eyes and discount the story as pushing some sort of agenda. I find that to be incredibly shallow and short-sighted.
That’s why I think it helps to analyze how much agency we think we have in the real world. It’s easy to quantify that agency within the rigid structure of a story, but the real world is larger, more complicated, and a lot less predictable. How can we determine how much agency we actually have in the grand scheme of things?
How much agency did you have in being born into a particular time, place, or socioeconomic level?
How much agency did you have in falling in love with the person you married?
How much agency did you have in getting the job you have or the career you pursued?
How much agency did you have in finding the friends and social circles you’re part of?
On the surface, it may seem like you’re exercising your ability to choose in these circumstance. I ask that you take a step back and think a bit harder about it.
When it comes to our lot in life, did we really have much say in the economic and social system that we’re part of? Sure, we can choose to not participate, but in doing so, we either starve to death because we don’t have money for food or we become completely isolated from the world and any semblance of social support.
We think we have choices when we go to the supermarket or a restaurant, but how many of those choices are already chosen for us? We don’t always by the cheapest brand of cereal because we want to. We buy it because we have to. In that same sense, we don’t always buy the car we want. We buy what we can afford.
To a large extent, our agency is incredibly limited by our economic resources. It’s limited even more by our social structure, as well. We can’t always do what we want, no matter how depraved. We can’t just walk outside naked, rub our genitals against the nearest person, and yell racial slurs at the top of our lungs. We’d get arrested, imprisoned, or ostracized, at the very least.
Even if what we do isn’t illegal, we still limit our choices because of peer pressure and social stigma. It’s not illegal to watch porn on a public bus, but it will get you odd looks and plenty of scorn. To some extent, we sacrifice some of our agency to maintain an orderly, functioning society. It’s just a question of how much we sacrifice and how much we’re willing cling to.
With all that in mind, see if you can take stock in the amount of agency you exercise in your day-to-day life. You may be surprised by how little or how much you actually have. It may not be the most interesting thought experiment you can do for yourself, but the implications it offers are profound.
Writing is challenging. Anyone who has written a grade school essay can attest to that. It’s even challenging for those who do it every day. I’ve been writing constantly almost every day since I was 15 years old. I’ve more than met the 10,000-hour rule when it comes to mastering a skill, but I still find it challenging.
A big part of that challenge is dealing with writer’s block. I don’t care if you’re Stephen King, William Shakespeare, or Kurt Cobain. You’re going to hit a dead end at some point. You’re going to get to a point in your writing where you feel stuck. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in that position. I’ve thrown chunks of entire stories away, along with entire stories, because of it.
At the same time, overcoming writer’s block is probably the best way to progress as a writer. Overcoming a challenge forces you to refine your skill in unexpected ways. I’ve probably learned more by dealing with setbacks than I ever have navigating a successful idea.
I know there are tons of tips out there for beating writer’s block. Most are just glorified placebos, but some do offer meaningful advice. I know because I’ve tried most of these tips in some form or another over the years. Talk to any writer and they’ll probably tell you they have some special trick to getting around it.
I can say with relative certainty that there’s no one special trick that works for every writer. If there were, then someone would’ve patented it and overcharged for it by now. At best, there are strategies you can utilize. They don’t work the same way for everyone, but they do work in most situations. What follows are some of the most effective tips I’ve used over the years. I just thought I’d share them in hopes they work for others.
Tip #1: Create A Routine For Writing
This works well for me because I like working within a routine. I’m very regimented when it comes to work. I like having set times that I can plan around. Doing that with writing has always helped. I designated a certain chunk of time of day, usually an hour, specifically for writing. Doing so helps with more than just saying productive.
Even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I often find my brain starts working better when those times arises. Essentially, I’ve trained my brain to activate its writing function at set times. On some days, it works better than others. It still works and if you’re the kind of person who likes sticking to a schedule, this is a good way to essentially plan around writer’s block.
Tip #2: Exercise (To Get Your Brain Active)
This may not appeal to those who aren’t inclined to exercise. Even if you hate it, I still suggest doing some level of rigorous activity, be it a trip to the gym or a few walks around the block. Anything that gets your blood flowing helps you feel more alert and less lethargic.
For beating writer’s block, that’s important. It’s tempting to just stop writing and lounge about, eventually falling asleep in a stupor. In my experience, that makes writer’s block even worse. I can be stuck on an idea for hours. Then, I’ll just go jogging for a bit and something will come to me. Again, it doesn’t always work, but it works often enough to be a vital part of my approach.
Tip #3: Work On Something Else (That’s Smaller)
No matter how determined you are to finish something, a nasty bout of writer’s block just keeps you stuck in place. You can punish your brain all you want. Nothing will come out. In this case, it’s important to keep your brain working. That’s when having something else to work on can help.
I rarely have just one project to work on. I always have a few little stories here and there on the side. Some never pan out, but they help when I’m stuck on other stories. As long as I’m producing something, it keeps the creative juices flowing. Eventually, they’ll flow well enough to get me back on track with other projects. It can get chaotic, but the key is to just keep your brain chugging along.
Tip #4: Read Over Older Works
It may sound vain, but I’ve found that taking a step back and appreciating what you’ve finished in the past helps maintain a healthy perspective. Even if you haven’t written much and you think your previous works were awful, going back to read them shows that you can do this. You can finish a story.
That reassurance, on its own, helps give you the confidence you need to keep at it. One of the worst effects of writer’s block is how much it hits your confidence. The more you lose, the easier it is to get stuck. Reading over old works doesn’t just show you how you’ve succeeded in the past. It shows you how far you’ve come. It can inspire you in many ways, but you only need one to crack writer’s block.
Tip #5: Write Bits And Pieces (And Combine Them Later)
I find myself doing this often with stories I’ve yet to refine. Most of my work starts off with a focused idea. The challenge is building structure around that idea. While I usually try to go from start to finish in one fluid process, it doesn’t always work that smoothly. Sometimes, I start with the parts I’ve already fleshed out in my head and then just work around them.
It can be messy. Sometimes, the story you craft feels disjointed when it’s written in pieces. You can even tell at times when something was cut and pasted into a scene. Ideally, you fix that sort of thing when you revise it. It’s still a challenge, but it’s much easier to revise something that you’ve already written, as opposed to forcing something out for the sake of breaking writer’s block.
These are all just simple tips that have worked for me in the past. If you have others you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.
Certain concepts easy to discuss, but poorly defined. You could get 100 people in a room, get them talking about art for hours on end, and at no point will anyone have a clear definition of what constitutes art. For some, it’s a beautiful painting by a long-dead artist. For others, it’s a banana taped to the wall.
Like art, it’s one of those things we think we know when we see. Given the sheer volume of superhero comics I’ve read over the years, I like to think I can point out and define an anti-hero better than most. Even with that experience, I doubt my standards are flawless. In fact, I’m fairly certain most peoples’ standards are ridiculously flawed.
I say this because I recently came across a new video by Overly Sarcastic Productions, a wonderful YouTube channel that I would highly recommend for all aspiring writers. Whether you’re writing adventure, sci-fi, or erotica romance, this channel offers invaluable advice and lessons.
My favorite part of the channel is its ongoing series, Trope Talk. It covers a wide range of writing topics, from paragons and pure evil villains to romantic sub-plots and reformed villains. Recently, it tackled the concept of anti-heroes in a comprehensive, colorful way. What made it even more compelling, in my opinion, are the characters it singled out to make the most important points.
There’s a lot I could say about it. Rather than spoil it, I strongly encourage everyone to watch the video. If you think it’s wrong on some areas or missed something, then please make your case in the comments. As both a comic fan and an aspiring writer, I’m always happy to discuss such topics.
If nothing else, I hope that video convinced you to go watch “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Seriously, even if you’re not a Star Wars fan and utterly despised the sequel trilogy, go check it out. It may not have Baby Yoda, but it has plenty to offer, both for anti-heroes and so many other wonderful things.
I hope everyone had a great New Year. I also hope everyone is starting the new year on a high note and using it as an opportunity to chart a new path for themselves. To that end, I have an announcement to make and it’s an announcement that some might find disappointing.
For the past three years, going back to 2016, I’ve been writing constantly to add content to this site. In that time, I’ve talked about all sorts of issues, from my efforts to become a published author to controversial issues like abortion and religion to sexy short stories to my own personal issues. Make no mistake, I’ve enjoyed that experience. I’ve found it engaging, enlightening, and even a little fun.
However, I’ve been doing some serious contemplating for the past month. I’ve also been looking at the traffic stats over the past few years. While the traffic definitely grew to what I feel is a respectable point, I feel like I’ve reached a point where I can no longer justify the mount of time and effort that goes into constantly putting up content.
Writing articles, musings, and what not has helped attract new people to this site, but I don’t get the sense it’s doing anything productive for my endeavors. The traffic this site gets hasn’t turned into book sales or improved my chances with publishers. If anything, it takes away time I could be using to write more novels and explore new opportunities.
Believe me, if there were more hours in the day or if I got rich overnight somehow, I would gladly keep writing more content for this site. However, I simply cannot justify that effort anymore.
That’s not to say I’m shutting down this site or anything of the sort. It just means I’ll be cutting back significantly on what I post. I haven’t gotten much feedback on my articles. Even when I write something that get a response on Reddit, the comments don’t translate into much in terms of comments, retweets, or sales.
There are still some things I want to continue. I do want to continue my weekly Sexy Sunday Thoughts. I like writing those and the reward for that goes beyond clicks or likes. I’d also like to keep reviewing comics, but I may hold off on doing weekly reviews, unless I have something I feel is worth sharing. I intend to do that for movies too.
I’m honestly not sure what to do with this site moving forward.
I’m not even sure how I’ll continue to pursue a career in writing.
I’ve been searching for opportunities, but few are panning out. There are some options that I’m looking into, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll pan out. I still want to become a successful writer one day. I just don’t know how to go about it at this point and this site is just not helping in that effort as much as I’d hoped.
That may change. I hope it does change. I’d love to make a living writing the stuff I write. I don’t know if that’s possible right now, but I’m going to hold out hope and keep trying. That’s all I can do.
If you have any ideas or just want to comment, I’m happy to listen. Thanks to all those who regularly visit this site, some of which are my own friends and family. You’ve been very supportive and I can’t thank you enough for that. I hope it eventually pays off in a major way one day.
I just wanted to post a quick update on my publishing efforts, which I know I haven’t talked much about lately. There’s a reason for that, though. For the past couple months, I’ve been working with a former publisher to re-acquire the rights to a manuscript that was edited and prepared for publication a couple years ago.
That process took longer than I’d hoped, but it went through and I tried to re-submit the manuscript to the same publisher that published “Passion Relapse” and “Rescued Hearts.” I did this knowing it was somewhat of a long shot because my last three manuscripts to this publisher had been rejected. I felt if I could get this through, we would be back on track.
Sadly, that didn’t happen. Earlier today, I got a rejection letter. It wasn’t the rude kind, though. The editor offered me a sincere apology that they would not be able to publish my work. She claimed that things have been rough for small to mid-tier publishers. Unless your J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, it’s just hard to get any major project off the ground. I can understand that, but a rejection is a rejection.
I believe that after this, I’m done with that particular publisher. I’m not entirely sure of my next step. I’m still sitting on several finished manuscripts and one that is already professionally edited and ready to go. I’m not sure where to turn to next. I’m thinking of giving Writers Market a chance, but this is the part of the business I still don’t know much about.
When it comes to writing a novel or a sexy short story, I know how to do that. When it comes to the business and marketing side of things, though, I’m pretty ignorant. I’ll keep feeling my way around in the dark, hoping I’ll stumble across something. For now, though, my publishing efforts are a bit on hold. I hope it doesn’t stay that way. If anything changes, I’ll announced it in between sexy short stories.
To everyone who has supported and encouraged my efforts, I sincerely thank you.
A while back, I announced that I had submitted a manuscript for what I’d hoped would be my third published novel. I’d submitted it to the same publisher that had previously published my first two novels, “Passion Relapse” and “Rescued Hearts.” I hoped to continue building a larger catalog with them in the name of building a stronger partnership.
Well, I’m sorry to say that I heard back from them and the news was not what I had hoped. For the second submission in a row, I got a rejection letter. It wasn’t a mean one. The editors I work with are incredibly considerate and given all the submissions they get, they’ve been wonderful to work with every step of the way. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t get behind my story.
It is disappointing. I had high hopes for this manuscript. I wrote it with the intention of making it a real niche title that would’ve appeal to a specific segment of the erotica/romance market. I thought that would give it more appeal than the last manuscript I submitted. I guess I was mistaken.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with this or the other one they rejected. I’m still struggling to find other publishers who are willing to hear me out. However, I am not discouraged and I still intent to keep submitting.
As I write this, I’m putting what I hope to be the finishing touches on my next manuscript. This one is a bit more general and should appeal to more romance fans. It has many similar elements to “Passion Relapse” and “Rescued Hearts.” I have high hopes for it and hope to submit it soon. I also have another draft that I’m hoping to finish in the coming weeks.
In any case, I have plenty of sexy stories to tell, including more sexy short stories. This is a setback, but it’s not a defeat.
I just wanted to make a quick post about the recent traffic with this site. Once again, I’m proud to report that October 2017 marked another increase. It wasn’t much, but it still counts, in my book. In total, www.JackFisherBooks.com logged 1,799 views for the month.
I know that’s not going to set the internet on fire or make me a best-selling author, but I still consider it progress. I’m still working hard to make this website an enjoyable part of everyone’s internet diet. Rest assured, I will continue in that effort. I have many sexy topics and announcements to share. I look forward to more sexy discussions that will hopefully further my efforts to be an erotica/romance writer.
To all those who support this website, I sincerely thank you and I hope it continues. My goal is to leave the world a sexier place. I like to think that with these increases in traffic, I’m making progress.