About long breaks…

I took a break from this blog for a while to work on things.

If you follow me on social media, you saw my post. I have been working on this collection for most of the summer and another project that fell apart.

The latter of these things made me realize a few things about myself and my writing. I am really good at writing short horror stories. But when it comes to a longer form of horror, I have trouble. let me explain.

From April 4th to May 4th I wrote the first draft of a 100,000 word novel.

This novel is different from anything I’d written prior, and it is the only novel I’ve followed a beat sheet and outline to the letter.

It is a very strong first draft. Possibly the best first draft of a novel I’ve ever written. I owe that to the set up with the outline and beat sheet.

The book will be coming out in January and it is not horror.

When I was a teenager I read the military and political thrillers that were popular in the late 80’s and 90’s by authors like Tom Clancy.

At the time I wasn’t allowed to read any other books, or at least that’s how it felt. Any time I asked to read something other than those books, my father rebuffed me and it was only in my room where I could read the books I wanted to read; horror, comics, fantasy, and science fiction being my favorites.

When I began to write my own stories I swore I’d never create worlds like Clancy’s. This came about because of the way I feel towards me father(he and I don’t have a relationship).

With the books I felt I had to read it was about control and I have an issue with being controlled, as we all should.

I believe that by allowing the way I was treated to enter into my head, it stopped me from following a path that maybe I should have followed.

The first idea I had for a novel was along the lines of the military/political thriller, but I closed myself off to that because of the trauma I experienced growing up. In other words, I allowed it to stop my creativity because I worried old feelings would come back.

Now it comes back around to the novel I’ll be self-publishing in January. There are other novels I’m currently writing or ideas I’m pondering contained within the same world.

It is a change that maybe I needed to do. I believe by allowing myself to be stopped creatively because of past trauma, I rejected stories which I would have enjoyed as well as ones that would push me.

Today, I’m moving forward with these books because I really enjoy writing them more than anything else. I consider myself a writer who does not limit themselves to one genre. I will write in whichever genre a story comes to me, I only wish I knew why I had such a difficult time with creating outlines for horror novels.

Maybe this is just a learning experience and I need to figure it out at another time, but for now I’ll write these political/military thrillers because they give me a joy that I’ve rarely found in writing.

Here is the link for the short story collection. I hope you enjoy the stories. There are some dark ones in there and I enjoyed writing each of them.

Writing is like using a big flashlight.

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Finding your way through a story is like having a big flashlight with a little beam. You’re hoping to find something, but the small beam doesn’t allow you to search a wide area. So you’re stuck searching with this big flashlight. Hoping you see what you need but know you might not.

I started work on a new project. I mentioned it last week, and it was fun, but there were times I felt the flashlight wasn’t in my hands.

It’s frustrating, and I kept thinking I should move on to another story. But I loved the fear it created in my mind as I wrote, which kept me going.

I wanted to know what happened to the characters. I worried about them. And although some writers say writing is like playing God, to me it’s more like being a harbinger of Fate.

One thing leads to another. I worry about whether the characters will live or die, but as a pantser I don’t have that control, the story does.

I’ve written all different ways, but discovery, or pantsing, works best for the way my brain works.

Not sure why it’s that way, but it is.

Anyway, I finished it yesterday. It was over 5k but needed a different pace than the 86k fantasy novel I finished in December.

Either way, I finished another story.

But I hope you’re having a good day and meeting your writing goals.

How I get through the hard days.

This past week I’ve struggled to write.

It may be a hangover from the previous book and the thoughts of writing in a new world or it could be a disruption in my schedule.

I think it’s all of the above and it’s thrown me for a loop.

While I’ve worked; squeezing only a few hundred words until yesterday, the words have been stilted. There’s been no flow.

As I said already, I wrote 86,000 words in a month. This may have given me a writing hangover.

There is another thing. I stopped reading a book because it was in the same genre as the book I finished and since I stopped, so has my writing, mostly.

The schedule issue is another thing.

Every day after I take my kids to school and get breakfast, which is usually from 8:30 until 11:00. I do four writing sprints of twenty-five minutes, with a five-minute break in-between.

This is one of the ways I wrote so many words last month.

I was also more focused last month on writing, but in being focused, I did screw up a few times. I didn’t get my critiques done for my writing group.

This is something I’m really upset with myself over.

The other thing is by not getting any solid writing done, doubt and depression have nudged their ways in.

I’ve written numerous times about depression. Check out my page about Transcendental Meditation or my post on TM.org to read more about it.

I won’t let myself get stuck in the spiral again. I went back to the book I’d been reading and I wrote more than I have since last week.

Every day as a writer, especially an unpublished writer, is an adventure, but I wouldn’t quit for anything.

On to the next…

How I learned to embrace the narrator voice.

For the longest time I’ve had a fear of using the narrator voice while writing.

As I write mostly fantasy, horror, and science fiction, I’m sure this fear comes from being told show don’t tell and of the dreaded info dump.

I spent the latter months of 2018 dealing with this fear.

I knew a couple things would have to change in my writing, and mindset, to fix this.

I would have to let the narrator speak what needed to be said and I would have to stop worrying about info dumps. Sometimes a small info dump is needed in a story.

When dealing with an info dump, I’ve made sure it’s either a character explaining things or if I’m using the narrator, it’s in small chunks.

I also didn’t want to sound pretentious. Which is something my wife says I’ve done with the narrator.

I read a lot of books this past year, and I took to analyzing how the author would speak with the narrator, either in description or in regards to world building.

The Wheel of Time series writer by Robert Jordan and finished Brandon Sanderson are a few of the best examples of this.

I love how Jordan does narrator voice. I don’t feel like there is an info dump when he’s world building and the narrator is consistent throughout the books I’ve read in the series. I’m on book 5 in the series.

With horror, it’s the same. I looked for how the author differentiated between the narrator voice and character voice. Doing this helped my writing a lot.

From the end of September until the end of November I focused solely on improving my narrators and how they dealt with the world.

These stories turned out well and I’m happy with them. I only wish I would have done it years ago instead of being afraid.

I’ll be talking about how I did this for the month of January.

What did you improve upon in your writing or life the past year?

Let me know in the comments.

Working, grinding, writing…etc.

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but I have been writing.

I’ve been submitting stories, getting rejections and contemplating life outside of writing. That doesn’t mean I intend to quit.

I’ve been think about whether I’m working hard enough to achieve my goals. The conclusion is, I haven’t. I don’t edit after I’ve finished something. I let it gather on my hard drive, sometimes never to see the light of day.

There is a problem, as you’ve all guessed, in this. It makes it look like I’m not producing when I am. I wrote 25 short stories over the summer, finished a novel and started querying another.

I hate editing more than almost anything except spiders. I’m working to break myself of this.

I started the read-through for the novel I finished this summer and started editing short stories as well. The writing group I joined is helping immensely.

My goal was to be published this year, it’s still my goal but publication may look different from what I thought it would be.

Anyway, happy writing. I’m still here just busy with writing and bartending.