The Five Hundred and Twenty-Second Post: The One Where I Try to Push on Ahead!

The novel is not popping with me. I don’t know what it is. I’m finding myself changing things mid-stream and that’s a sign that it’s not finished in my head. Now – there are several wrtiers who would say that it’s important to keep going. Just make a note somewhere and write as if you made the changes where they need to be made. I should do that. I should keep on going and get it all down because it’s at least getting done.

But, I’m itching to make those gutting changes.

You know what? I am not going to. I’m going to push on ahead with the novel as it is. I can make those changes with the first set of revisions. My first priority should be to finish the damned thing. I have a habit of abandoning works like a series of sinking ships (…and one day, I’ll finish them…but it ain’t today, folks). Som after my truncated workday, I am going to crack open my laptop and get back to the saga of Chuck, Lin and Joe and the poison of suspicion.

That was easy. It’s the execution that’s the hard part.

But enough about that. I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. I actually too a little break from writing to enjoy hamburgers and the smell of cordite and other pyrotechnical chemicals. I also got little sleep because my neighbors subscribe to the “the bigger the explosion, the happier I’ll be” philosophy. At the rate of this mini-arms race is going, I fully expect to have someone wheel in a pocket nuke or something (“This’ll put the Hendersons in their place…” *beep* *beep* *beep*).

There’s not a lot else to speak of. I’m going on vacation next week, but I will try to post something ahead of time so that I can maintain (for now) an unbroken string of posts. When I get back, I might post some vacation pictures or something boring like that.

Until then – take care.

The Five Hundred and Twenty-First Post: The One Where I Try to Get All Artsy and Stuff!

I’m always looking ahead to my next project (or distracted, but whatever), and with this one I think I am going to go literary.

I have no ides what that means, but hey – why not? It’s never stopped me from writing fantasy, comedy or romance/horror. Don’t get me wrong, I love the genre fiction I’ve written, but this is more of me getting out of my comfort zone and trying to write something that is a little more grounded in reality. A challenge of what little talent that I have.

First off – what the hell is literary genre? I don’t know and I tried looking it up and all I got was lists of all the genres and none of them are listed as a literary genre. So, I looked up literary fiction and got some better answers. Word count (which I am fixated on) is around 55,000 to 100,000 words. The story tends to be character driven (the character in the work changes over the course of the story) and there tends to be a social or political theme behind it (mine is going to be the heady theme of how fame and society co-opt art for their own ends – or something like that, I’m still in the plotting stages) and there is an irreverence for storytelling norms (Okay…maybe not this one, but the main character is an ASL poet and mute…maybe that’s an irreverence? I don’t know).

I do have a working title, based off a quote from Werner Herzog: ‘I’m fascinated by trash TV. The poet must not avert his eyes’. My interpretation of this is that the duty of the artist is to not only view on what is uncomfortable for him or her, but meditate and reflect that discomfort in his or her art. What about society and art makes me uncomfortable? What should I point out? Those are good questions. I have an answer in the earlier paragraph – that society and fame co-opt art for their own ends, and art seems to be fine with it, but I want to go a little deeper if you’ll allow me.

If you ask me, society doesn’t co-opt, it absorbs and neutralizes rogue elements of society by adopting them. It takes those rebel elements and puts them on, robbing it of the rebellious nature by saying ‘Look – we’re alike’. Businesses and attention seekers help this phase along by aping the exterior looks and mannerisms of whatever rebellious moment is happening in order to sell a product. A perfect example of this is the infamous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner. A better example of this is the lampooning of it in the show The Boys. This is the sort of thing I want to examine in the story.

How will I do that? Have no friggin’ clue. All I got is a cast of characters featuring an ASL poet, a media influencer and a dancer with our viewpoint character being a documentarian. Also stuck in there is a title (Eyes Unaverted, Staring Blankly Ahead) and a desire to stretch myself (only going to use Word – no Scrivener with this one) a little as far as how I am going to approach this. Might work on a full outline and might even develop a timeline.

I think this might even be good blog fodder. Let people read what’s going on with this, maybe even put up selections for review and/or criticism. Let’s do this and see what happens?

The Five Hundred and Twentieth Post — The One Where I Ask What Day Is It?

Oh, wow – it’s Thursday, isn’t it? I am sorry that I don’t have anything planned for today. I’m getting over a stomach bug that knocked me out yesterday, when I should have been writing this.

My wife knows when I’m sick when I don’t talk about writing or ask where my laptop is (it’s very confusing up here and I don’t have the time or the space to keep track of everything). I did neither yesterday. I really just sat on the couch every now and then between doing laundry and dishes since it was my wife’s late day for work.

Sorry I don’t have anything good here except pace yourself when you eat Slim-Jims apparently.

I’m not going to bore or disgust you with details, but I really needed the break. According to my co-worker, I was paper white and very quiet. Also, the battery on my laptop is getting low and I don’t have my power pack with me – I forgot to plug it in last night. It’s been a loopy few days for me, and I beg to indulge upon your mercy this one time. I will have something more substantial next week when I am a little more with it.

The Five Hundred and Nineteenth Post: The One Where I Hate Numbers!

Another thing that I find myself obsessing over is word count. Need to get this many words down today, or I can put down half as many today and just double up tomorrow…or I can take arrest day and just try to regain lost ground over the course of the week.

Whoever said writing was relaxing was never an obsessive sort of person.

This went hand in hand with the whole deadline thing. I would be more concerned about the numbers than the words. Granted – the sayings: you can’t edit a blank page and everyone’s first copy sucks are drilled into my head, but there is to be said for trying to put quality over quantity. With that in mind, I am going to not completely disregard daily word counts, but I am going to try to not lose sleep over it.

I may have said this before, but I feel I need to repeat it to myself as a way of giving myself permission to do this. Like I said earlier, I have an obsessive personality, and sometimes it latches onto the wrong things. I read several articles that I need to pump out 2,000 words a day. This was told to me in a roundabout way by people whose only job was to pump out 2,000 words a day. At that time, I was working a full-time job and freshly married, so I felt I had to give my blushing bride some time, so when I didn’t hit that 2,000 word count, I felt bad, and it led to depression and no writing. You can see the problem I ran into.

So – for people reading this and thinking that they can’t get two thousand words a day: DON’T WORRY. Get some words on paper. You got two words down after an hour? Congrats! You did three thousand in three hours and still feel like you can churn out a few thousand more? Great! As long as you’re making some sort of progress, you’re doing better than that person sitting and watching TV and silently complaining that he has no time to write.

Me? I’m now doing about 600 words a day mostly in the evenings, but I am being constant about it, and if I miss a day, I just need to get back on that horse and keep going. No doubling word count or other Devil’s Arithmetic (if you ask me, all arithmetic comes from the Devil, said the ‘D’ student in math). I miss it, I miss it, I just have to keep on going.

Just keep going.

Let this be your muse…

The Five Hundred and Eighteenth Post: ACTING!

In acting, there is something called “Method Acting”. It’s been taking lumps as of late, but there is use to it as long as you’re not being a jerk about it. I learned this method in high school and college and applied it to writing. I think it makes scenes easier to write because I imagine I’m the character and I’m in the moment. It works and I recommend using it if you’re in a tight spot in finding a way through the scene, or looking to improve upon motivation. If you’re writing a murder scene…maybe use your imagination.

The main character in The Show Must Go On is a ghost hunter for a small time show, but he’s a skeptic. For him, there are no ghosts or life after death. This is not my position. While I’m sure shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and their ilk ‘ham’ it up for the audience (and by ham, I mean make stuff up at times), but I think every noe and then there’s something that happens that the main character can’t explain. What makes this especially hard is that this is all a first person narrative.

Remember what I said about “method acting”?

I’m finding it difficult at times to hold on to the skeptic’s view. There are times writing that I want to grab Chuck (the main character) by the collar and say “HOW MUCH MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED, MAN?” Yes, this is a work of fiction and yes, I am practically planting evidence for Chuck to find everywhere. Open your eyes, Chuck!

Perhaps I should take this as a sign that this is a good character. If I’m reacting to him on the page the same way I would react to someone in real life (sans grabbing), then the reader should have the same reaction, or I would hope. The most terrifying novel I’ve read – Misery by Stephen King – was achieved by me seeing a little bit of the character in me at times. I hope that it translates into some sort of sympathy for the character, which I think would make a lot of the scares more intense.

The proof will be in the pudding when I finally release this…whenever. Sorry, like my last post: no more deadlines. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go mumble to a skull.

The Five Hundred and Seventeenth Post: The One Where The Kitten Wakes Up and Looks at a Calendar!

I’m back! Sorry I’ve been away for so long, but I thought I would take a couple of days off from blogging (or weeks, whatever) to think about other things I wanted to talk about. Among all of this was the frustration of trying to meet self-imposed deadlines. Finish a novel in a month, get this novel edited down in a week, and so on and so forth.

At least it’s cardio…

I’m done with deadlines. I rarely meet them, even when I have the best of intentions. It puts pressure on something that I am supposed to enjoy. It makes it a job, man. I already got a job. I don’t really need a second one.

Which harkens back to some advice I read earlier: you need to treat this like a job. I can see where that would be good advice to everyone else but me. A job means pressure for me. A majority of my jobs have been ones I’ve hated. I know this is everyone’s experience. Every once in a while, we have a job where we have to suck it up and go in. A lot of people cn do that. I’ve done that. I was in call center customer and technical support for ten years. I know all about putting on the plastic smile and wading into the thick of it. I’m just saying I’m done with it.

I’m currently writing the horror novel The Show Must Go On and it was supposed to be finished by today, but life got in the way. So, rather than drive myself crazy with guilt – I’m embracing it completely and I am going to say it will be done when it gets done. I want this to be pitch perfect. I want this novel to make people jump in their chairs. So I’m going to just focus on making it the scariest it can be. That should be easy, right? Right?

Well, enough of that. I am going to come back to blogging with updates coming every Thursday (hopefully), with enough content to hopefully push a book or two.

Thanks for reading and be safe out there.

The Five Hundred and Fifteenth Post: The Existential Horror of It All!

I really don’t know what to write about this time. I’m taking a break from Valentina’s Repast and writing the outline to Resurrectionist’s Blues – which is going to probably be a trilogy if I’m lucky. I’m thinking about combining the first and second books into one book. Unless I can stretch out book one a little bit and maintain book two as the crisis of faith. I’ll have to think about it. What might have been five books could get compressed to three. Can I write a single novel? Yes, but what fun is that?

What I’m trying to do with Resurrectionist’s Blues is write an existential horror story. I am trying to carefully tread on Lovecraft’s territory, but less tentacles. This particular story is going to deal with fact vs. faith, corporate rules vs. conscience. Now, whether or not I can carry this out remains to be seen, but at least I’m getting an outline done and following the horror beat sheet (which is making things easier). I might even try to apply it to my other problematic horror story The Truth Will Out, only because it is giving me some sort of structure to plug stuff into.

To be honest, beat sheets are becoming useful for me when I am writing out of my genre. I’ve got one for romance and the horror beat sheet. At first, they struck me as cheating, but now that I’ve seen just how good they are. I should find others and hoard them like a dragon hoards gold, or a librarian hoarding books. I’d imagine that there is going to be a beat sheet for every genre, and there is nothing saying that I can’t tweak it.

That’s it, really. Working overtime, so my writing has been curtailed a little, but I am working on the outline. Just taking a break from one project, but I have to work on something else. I always need to work on something and get it finished. No pressure at all. Really.

The Five Hundred and Fourteenth Post: The One With Crippling Doubt!

I’m getting Valentina fatigue. At one time, she gnawed and clawed her way into my heart. Now, I’m just blasé about her cannibalism and her ‘I’m having someone over for dinner’ jokes. I know that this is normal for me, but what’s not normal is that I have a hard deadline. I have to have everything done and uploadable by Hallowe’en. If I follow my normal route, I’ll work on something else and poor Valentina will fall by the wayside until October 27th when I have no way of getting everything finished. Cue depression spiral and ice cream.

Yes, it’s the first week of March as I write this post and October seems so long off. Yes, I have dozens of projects I can work on, but this is a test for me. Can I hold myself to a hard deadline? If I can, then writing professionally can be feasible. Of course, I can always fall back on the wisdom of Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Maybe I’m doing this because I don’t feel professional, yet. Yes, I am making money (very little…) and I am (eventually) finishing projects, but I still feel like I’m pretending to be a writer.

Maybe it’s my approach?

Is this imposter syndrome? Looks like that on first blush. I don’t know. I feel like I’m waiting for a fairy to tap my head with a wand and say “You’re a writer! Now go forth and create the Great American Novel! Or at least the next Successful Kentucky Novel!”

God, this sounds so needy. Does Stephen King go through this? Probably not, then again – he’s got the track record to prove it. He’s even won an O. Henry Award for one of his later short stories. I can barely write a short story. I’ve written four and put them out there, but they were all stretches.

I know what I need to do. “Sh*t or get off the pot” as my mom would delicately put it. I think I’m going to work on ‘Medicine Show’ for a month, then see how I feel. Maybe by then I’ll have a better idea on what to do…or I’ll finish ‘Medicine Show’. Either way, I am going to be done with something by October.

I should get to work.