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.