The Fur Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Post: The One Where I Need a New Back and More Confidence!

My back hurts.

I’m saying this because I am on some really good pain meds, so if I start meandering this is why.

I’ve been outlining the fantasy series and it’s coming along nicely – unless you’re one of the characters, then you’ve had much better days. I’m gradually working on the horror novel. I got over a hard point and I might have to change a couple of scenes, but that’s going to come during the re-writes. Things are looking good for me…and no, that’s not the drugs talking.

Why do I feel like I’m a fraud?

I feel like I’m play-acting at being a writer. It’s more than the lack of sales. It’s looking at the screen and reading what I’m writing and not feeling anything. It’s not burnout, it’s ennui. I’m writing, I’m putting in the work, but the work isn’t the sweep of emotion that it was when I was trying to finish a novel just to finish it. I don’t really want to start another project – that way leads to abandoned novels (so many…so, so many…).

I’m going to just push through this little bit. I really need to finish this book and outline the fantasy novel and maybe get another project finished. One that I started, obviously.

Do other writers have to deal with this? Does Stephen King sip at his coffee early in the morning and wonders why he feels like a fraud? Does Neil Gaiman stare at a blank screen and call himself a hack? Probably not. Maybe I shouldn’t use sales as an overarching indicator of success. Maybe just focus on getting stuff done. Let my finished catalogue be the indicator.

I should take these drugs more often.

This is going to be a little short. I usually aim for five hundred words, but the pain in my back – while ebbing – is being a little distracting and I do need to get some writing done. I’ll have a little more and hopefully be a little more positive the next go round.

The Four Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Post: The One Where I Sound Like That Obscure Song by “Queen”…

One of the problems I am having in writing The Show Must Go On is trying to keep the protagonist likeable as he descends into paranoia. Does a protagonist have to be likeable? Can I market a book where the reader’s thought as he opens the book is ‘Okay, what’s this asshole doing now?’. Probably not the thought I can really monetize.

I know that Breaking Bad capitalized on Walt’s unlikability in later seasons, but it always framed him in the cloak that the people he was working with were worse. In the end, he did get his comeuppance. Should I look to the pork pie hat for some sort of guidance? Rip off the cloak of worse people around the main character and just revel in the badness?

The Show Must Go On is a reskinned version of The Telltale Heart dazzled up for the kids. In the original tale by Edgar Allen Poe, I felt bad for the guy. He was clearly going crazy, and we were trapped in that ride all the way down. That’s what I want for the reader.

I’m trying to play it fast and loose with his perceptions of his wife’s infidelity. We’re dealing with the Unreliable Narrator trope here and I want it to milk it for all it’s worth. I’m also trying to work on my first-person viewpoint, which is my shakiest viewpoint. I like third person, particularly third person limited, but I feel like I need to branch out a little. I did do it for The Dreaded Day Job but I want to stretch my legs as it were.

I shouldn’t say any more about this project for fear of giving everything away, but I am trying to see if I can pull off some horror. I’m doing the re-writes for The Resurrectionist’s Blues, which might be released for Hallowe’en. Based on how these two books turn out, I might lean a little more into horror as my preferred genre. I’m not going to abandon fantasy, but horror might get a priority.

That’s what been going on this week – just me trying to find my particular little genre where I can find some modest success. I know everyone says that erotica and romance is where it’s at…but I’m not really good at those genres (especially romance). I also knew there is more to it than genre – there’s marketing, brand awareness and a myriad of other things I am neglecting, but for now I am going to concentrate on what I can.

So, stay safe out there and check out the books to the right, especially the ones written by good friends who are way more talented than me. Cheerio!

The Five Hundred and Twenty-fifth Post: The One Where I Shake My Fist at My Over-active Imagination and Big Media!

I’m thinking of giving some of my writing away.

I have another idea for a progression fantasy series (Serious, I can’t stop myself), but rather than writing it with a serious eye towards publication, I’m thinking about initially putting up on a free site like Royal Road to get some feedback, then moving it over to publication. I’m not going to start writing it until I have cleared a couple of other projects first: The Resurrectionist’s Blues and The Show Must Go On are my pressing needs right now. Both are slow going right now, I have to finish the editing for the second half of the second chapter and the first half of the third chapter by the 12th of August, when my writing group meets again.

This weekend? Write-a-Thon! Me getting together with the others in the writing group and just working. I am hoping to get a chapter or maybe two done for The Show Must Go On – which I think I am getting to the good part of the main character investigating his allegations of his wife’s infidelity. Whether it’s true or not, I am going to leave that up to the reader. It’s a balancing act keeping everything in the shadows.

Anything else of interest? I’m going to see the movie Nope tomorrow. What did you think about it, if you’ve seen it? I like Jordan Peele and his particular brand of horror, but I think the trailers have left very little to be revealed. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to avoid most major media just to get an unvarnished view of a movie or TV show. I can’t look at my YouTube feed without breakdowns of movies or TV shows I haven’t watched yet (New Rockstars – I’m looking right at you…). Gaah!

Well, that’s all for now. I do have to get some writing done while I’m at my Dreaded Day Job. I hope everyone has a good day and stays out of the rain.

The Five Hundred and Twenty-fourth Post: The One Where I Come Back From Vacation…

There’s nothing like a vacation to mess up one’s personal calendar. I knew today was Thursday, but not Thursday. This will be a quick update to say that I am still alive and able to type. I just got back from a much-needed vacation, which I will talk about a little later on. I’m back and I feel a lot better. I even got out a thousand words my first day writing at lunch. Never underestimate the utility of letting your mind have some time off, too.

Feeling much better, I am ready to continue on with my current project and start doing a little background research into my next big project which a dalliance into literary arts and writing something ‘serious’, as it were.

Other than that and discovering the relaxation that is painting miniatures, there is little new to discuss. So, with that, I will bid you all a good day and I hope to have more next week.

The Five Hundred and Twenty-third Post: The One Where I Think About Heading Into The Scrub of New Mexico…

Did you know you could buy little houses from Amazon for less than $2,000? Did you know you can buy land in New Mexico for less than $2,000 an acre?

I now have new retirement plans.

I’m going to have enough money by the time I retire to buy a small house and two acres of land out in the middle of nowhere. I’m going to be completely cut off from civilization except when I decide to head into town to buy supplies. I can throw up some solar panels for power and buy a small refrigerator to keep stuff cool. Might even be able to get a small air conditioner to keep me cool. Just me and a tiny house out in the middle of nowhere New Mexico…

Until I die of dehydration and heat exhaustion, of course.

I’m surprised that no one else is doing this. Sure – land is more expensive the closer to civilization, but it’s there. You can have a decent house for yourself on an acre of land, have plenty of room to move around – even if you buy one acre. If you have the money to buy multiple acres, go on ahead! There is something about being on my own, alone in the middle of nowhere that touches something in my soul. Of course, I’m writing this in a nice, large-ish house in air conditioning awaiting my dryer to get finished so I can fold the laundry. It’s romanticizing it to be sure. I’m not a fan of the heat, I’m absolutely addicted to the Internet and can’t do anything without Spotify playing in the background. Don’t even ask me to go without Spotify, Hulu, Paramount or Disney Plus.

But…I can stay entertained with my Kindle, and all I have to do is go into town once a week, buy a couple of series and head back to read them. While I couldn’t live with all of the above things, there is something to be said about being on my own and just reading. No distractions, just me, a chair and a bottle of something to drink: vodka, water or soft drink. Maybe even coffee in the morning. Even if I don’t want to read, I’ll have solar panels and more than enough power to keep this laptop going. No interruptions to get in the way. I say no interruptions because there is no way in hell my wife would want to do this. She’s not the wilting type, but she’s not going to like the lack of water. Even though she was raised on depending on well water, there was water there on tap. Out in the middle of the New Mexico desert? She’s going to be a little addled. No matter how much of a fan of the book series Dune.

Well, maybe I’ll do that if I’m on my own. For now, I’ll live among the roaring engines and half-empty malls of Louisville, KY. I can bear it here.

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…