Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What Other Skills?

The theme of this fortnight is "other skills" and, well, I have to admit I'm kind of reaching here.  I guess I have some skills, like your standard skills, because I'm good at my day-job, I'm a good listener, I'm a decent cook, I generally rock at Dr. Mario and Yoshi's Story on the original Nintendo, but... like... do I really have skills so good they're worth dedicating a whole blog post about?  I dunno.

It's not that I'm being defeatist or self-deprecating.  I think it's me recognizing where my strengths lie.  And, I believe, my main strength is in writing.  I don't just write erotica under the name Cameron D. James -- I actually have multiple pen names and I write more than one genre.

Last year, I wrote almost 370,000 words.  That's about the equivalent of four full-length novels.  And I really wasn't taking writing too seriously until the late summer.  (Until the summer, I had only my one pen name, this one, and in the summer I expanded to two, and later in the year I picked up a couple more.)  So, most of those 370,000 happened in the latter half of 2015.

Am I perfect?  No, of course not.  Like any writer, I look back at some of my older stuff and I cringe. Sometimes with something I'm working on right now, I just can't get the story right, I can't get it to have the right tone or the right feel or whatever.  But it's a skill, it's not a gift.  If it were a gift, it would be effortless and it would be perfect.  Skills need to be honed and improved, they need to be exercised and expressed.  Writing is a skill of mine -- I'm constantly striving to do better and I'm continually working on doing more and more of it.

So, do I have other skills?  Not any worth really sharing here, but since that is the topic for this fortnight... Let's say another skills is an ability to learn.  I love taking on a new challenge and trying to figure it out and then get better at it.  Really, the ability to learn helps me hone other skills, like my writing.

I was able to go from completely clueless about self-publishing a few years ago to being a sort-of expert at it.  I've had a couple other authors turn to me for help when faced with a self-publishing challenge -- and it was always something that just took a few moments of my time.  My ability to learn allows me to try new adventures.  I'm currently learning the violin.  It's not going well. However, I'm willing to learn, to be patient, to ride out the scratchy weeks until I can get a solid note. I know a lot of adult learners of music give up pretty quickly because we put such pressure on ourselves as adults to learn something right away.  Learning is a process, it's not instantaneous.

Anyway, yeah, I guess writing is my main skill.  None of the others are really worth writing home about.  Unless you're a fan of Dr. Mario.  I kick ass at Dr. Mario.



Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Seduced by My Best Friend’s Dad (co-written with Sandra Claire). He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.

8 comments:

  1. Heh. Cameron, I tried to learn violin as a teenager. It didn't go well. However, your word count is impressive. It seems you found your calling.

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    1. Thankfully I have a very patient teacher that doesn't scold me for not finding time to practice between lessons!

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  2. I really like this, Cameron:

    "But it's a skill, it's not a gift. If it were a gift, it would be effortless and it would be perfect. Skills need to be honed and improved,"

    Too many people believe that you either "have it" or you don't.

    On the other hand, I think it's ALSO a gift. You wouldn't have the urge to express yourself in words if there wasn't some innate motivation.

    I just revised my first novel. Talk about cringing! The only saving grace was the passion. (Though even that early book was quite a bit better than some of the stuff that gets published these days.)

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    1. One of my grandparents was very much a "you have it or you don't" type of person. There was no point in learning a new skill as an adult because if you were going to be any good at it, you should've started when you were a kid. That grandparent might've looked at my violin lessons with a bit of humour, but likely would've concluded I was wasting my time and money.

      I believe picking up new skills keeps life interesting and engages the mind and body in new ways. Challenging oneself is, I believe, the key to a happy, successful, and healthy life.

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  3. With that amazing word count, and learning to play the violin as well, you must have amazing manual dexterity! Which could definitely be called a skill. Just thinking of typing that much and playing the violin as well makes my fingers ache, and dexterity has never been anywhere near a strong point for me.

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    1. I'd be much better at the violin if I would find more time to practice! I hear the eight-year-old kid that has her lesson just before mine -- she completely blows my skills out of the water! But it's not a competition -- I keep telling myself that. ;)

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  4. Dr. Mario! I loved that game and never got to play it enough. I think that's an admirable other skill to have. :)

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    1. I actually find my Dr. Mario skills to be an effective way to hit on cute gay guys. ;)

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