New Avenues

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With the way the world has changed in the last few weeks I’ve been working to find a way through with my writing. I posted something about that last week.

It’s been difficult to write something in the horror genre with our current situation feeling more like it’s pulled from the pages of literature rather than the front pages of websites and newspapers.

I’ve talked about the books I read when I was younger. How my father told me I had to read what he read. I wasn’t allowed to pick my own books from the book store. He had to oversee what I read. But when I checked books out from the library, either at school or otherwise, I would read what I wanted.

I’ve tried writing the kinds stories I read for myself. The horror stories, the science fiction, and fantasy stories, but I feel, as I wrote above, that I can’t write those horror stories right now.

It would be nice to say that I could write those things, but I need something that is more fun, so I’m doing something I’ve always been afraid to do.

Those stories my father forced me to read, made me learn about politics, aeronautics, the world outside my little bedroom in Utah. and that the world is big scary fucking place.

There are things out there that can kill us, and it feels odd to write about those things with what is going on outside my little house in Utah. But now, it feels like I need to go back to the beginning of my journey as a writer, and reader.

I wrote a few stories that were like the Military Thrillers I read in the 80’s and early 90’s, but haven’t, until recently, read anything like that.

I’ve been devouring those types of books lately. Working my way through David Baldacci’s books. Some of them aren’t quite Military Thrillers like what I read long ago, but they are quite fun and I’m enjoying them a lot more than horror.

My wife bought me MasterClass for the next year, and I’ve been watching Baldacci’s classes over and over. His approach to writing makes me feel better that mine is similar.

The most important part is I’m working on a project. I read all of the early Tom Clancy books, from Red October through to the early 90’s books.

It’s been a long road back to where I started, but I’m having more fun writing than I have in a while and watching the world rise up around the characters has been a fun trip.

I hope you’re all healthy, and stay that way.

Take care of yourselves, and those you love.

We’ll get through this.

 

Back into it

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Last week was Sundance and I worked my ass off.

Late shifts and tired mornings caused my writing to falter. I was too tired to work.

My last event was Saturday night and I returned home at 4:30 in the morning. I spent most of that day in bed, as well as a lot of yesterday as well.

One thing I learned from last week is that I need to get in better shape. Doing floor after floor of stairs in one particular venue was rough. My knees paid the price for that event.

There were other things I learned, but most of all I understand I must write, but I also must take care of myself. That goes for mentally and physically.

I haven’t worked out in the last few months because of depression and that’s why I started drinking again. Alcohol is the best thing for me when I want to abandon the world and say fuck it.

It is a long road back from that depression and I apparently worried a few people over it.

Today I’m taking a break for myself, going to the movies and pondering the next phase. But I’m thinking more clearly and more introspective of my work and thought processes.

I’m thinking a lot the last few days about how hard I work and whether its hard enough to achieve my goals.

Whether I publish or not this year is in my hands, and though I have a queries out with agents and short stories out with magazines, I’ll continue working. There is not stop except the peak of one mountain. After that peak, there’s always another mountain to climb.

I will continue to take a break when needed, but today I’m going to think about where life is going and what I’m doing.

Have a good day and I’ll post something tomorrow.

Much love.

Trying to get through…

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I’ve become stuck on my recent project. I don’t know where it broke. What happened or how to fix it.

The one thing that I did different from the previous project is I didn’t think this on through.

I didn’t plan. I didn’t plot. I didn’t create a pathway to get where I need to be; where the story needs to be.

I’ve been writing a dozen short stories over the holiday break, and maybe that’s why I thought I could wing it with a longer form story.

It hasn’t worked and I can’t go back to writing multiple drafts again.

I have the story I finished before Thanksgiving and I’ll work on improving that one.

It’s strange how you write one way for so long, then you start a new way and it’s like finding the holy grail.

I’ve written 10 novels and eight of those were written by pantsing. The other two I either wrote a beat sheet or did an outline and it’s those latter ones that I feel are my best work.

They have a better flow through, a better story, character development, but after using and outline and beat sheet, I’ve gone back to a few of those and discovered what went wrong and fixed it.

I’m querying one of them right now. It’s out with three agents.

This year I want to push what scares me and that leads into a conversation I had with my wife the other day about the current slate of horror. But I’ll talk about that on Wednesday.

Enjoy the first full week of the new year.

What comes next…

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Last year I did a lot to work towards my goals of publishing, but there was still the bit of fear of doing it.

I realized that I’m completely in control of this whole thing and if I’m going to publish, no matter what form the stories are in, I have to do the work. I also must have the time to work.

I won’t be doing any events this next year if they start before 12:30 in the afternoon. That will leave the morning open for working, which is what I should have been doing from the outset, but I wanted to be accommodating to the company I work for. They are the only ones who would hire me after leaving Vegas and I felt I owed them to work any time they needed me.

I still owe them a great deal. They saved my ass.

But I’ll be 44 this year and I wanted to have more done in my life by now. I had goals that for one reason or another I didn’t follow through with.

I set standards for what I wanted to have done by the this time. I tossed them away.

This year, I plan on focusing on editing and getting things out.

Those who have followed the blog(all 360+ of you) know how hard I’ve struggled with editing. I won’t struggle this year.

I have too much at stake to toss it away.

I will publish this year, in some form.

If someone who has multiple paying jobs can do it, I can do it with my one.

I think I’ve stopped looking at my writing as a side project. It’s my main focus. I will bartend events this year but I won’t let it take away my focus from my writing. If I have to bring my laptop to an event, then I’ll do that.

This year I’ll publish.

There is no other way to do it.

I’ll take breaks from social media. I’ll avoid things this year. Events I shouldn’t have gone to last year, I’ll stay away from this year.

This year I have three projects in mind and a few others I’m thinking about.  I plan on writing to books and a couple of novellas as well as a bunch of short stories.

I wrote seven stories over the Christmas break and I’ll be going through all of them in the coming weeks. I have a story to submit by the end of the month and I’ll do that.

I have set deadlines this year for projects.

I know I’ll have to turn things off, shut people out, but I must do this. I have to focus on getting this done.

My son will graduate in two years and I want the both of us to go to Scotland for a trip after he graduates. Scotland is where my ancestry is. I feel there would be no better place for my son and I to spend some time together before he starts his life.

I will continue the blog.

Its definitely therapeutic.

I wrote some good posts last year and received quite a few new subscribers. But its about the content not the views.

Its nice to have people read what I write, but its better to produce good content. That’s what I’ll be doing with the blog.

Happy New Year and may you find what you’re looking for and what you need in the new year.

One thing after another…

So, I intended to take a break from social media, the blog, and a few other things and work on the current project.

After much debate with myself over the project, snags(laptop battery issues, what feels like constant OS updates, numerous random glitches)I’m putting the story away for now.

It feels like something doesn’t want me to write this story.

I’ve written two version, almost three, and though I love the story and there’s some scary shit in it, I feel it’s time after too many starts and stops that it needs to be put away.

I hate having to do this with a story that I really enjoy writing, but sometimes there are signs a story won’t go further, I’ve seen numerous signs.

But I’m not just quitting. NaNoWriMo starts on Friday, so I’ll be brainstorming for the next day or so over writing something. If nothing comes, that’s fine too. But I need to get something done. I haven’t finished a long form story since May.

I’ve done a few shorts, and maybe I’ll tinker with them. I also have a contest that I need to write a story for. That one needs to be done by the end of January.

It sucks when a story doesn’t come together the way you want. Especially after putting months of outlines, weeks of writing, and frustration into it.

I’m not sure where I’ll be going, but I will keep working.

I hate not working. It’s one of the reasons we left Las Vegas and I feel that if I’m not writing I’m failing my family in some way.

My wife has told me that’s not true, but it feels that way.

Either way, the very cool project I’d been working on for the last few months is being shelved.

I learned a lot from writing parts of it and there is some great writing in it but sometimes that’s not enough and I’ll step away from it to work on something else.

Happy writing and have a Happy Halloween!

When writing things click.

A while ago, like ten years or something my cousins who is published traditionally, and who publishes independently gave me a book.

It’s John Truby’s Anatomy of Story.

At that point I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how to use the book, didn’t think I needed the book, and was determined to do it on my own.

Here’s a tip, when someone gets you something and they’re trying to help you, use it. Do whatever it takes to understand it .

If you don’t get it, ask for help. It’s really okay to ask for help.

Go to Reddit and ask. The people on R/writing are awesome.

But use whatever is at your disposal.

I never asked. I was stubborn and borderline asshole.

The belief that we can do something ourselves and ignore what people tell us is stupid.

You need help, ask.

Now that I’m trying to figure this out(ten years later)I’m struggling to do so.

I should’ve listened to her. Paid attention and not just read the book and not understood it. I should have done a lot of things differently.

Now that I am doing things different, I understand she was trying to help me.

She was trying to get me to understand writing on a different level.

It’s taken me a while but I’m getting there.

The point where shit ain’t working.

I’ve reached critical mass, DEFCON 1, time to pull the holy shit handle…you know all of that.

My writing isn’t working and maybe it hasn’t been working for longer than I’m willing to admit.

The writing itself has been good, but the organization looks like my niece got ahold of crayons and paper.

Shit is all over the place!

I’ve always just written. No outline, rarely a beat sheet and it’s just not working.

I’ve rewritten whole books a couple of times because I was afraid of the outline monster.

I was worried I’d get bogged down in an outline, stop working, and just quit.

But I’m at the point of quitting right now. So why shouldn’t I take a chance on an outline?

I realized my first written draft is my outline, but a 86k+ outline is hardly workable.

It’s daunting as hell and it’s making me hate writing. I used to love sitting in the chair and creating.

Then I noticed a few things.

I was putting out a draft that had no cohesive theme or flow through, not until at least the third draft.

When my wife would ask me questions if flub through it.

The other night she asked what is motivating a certain character, I had no reply.

What the hell am I doing if I don’t know the damn motivation for what my character does?

I’ve only looked at the part where I’m sitting in the chair as the writing part. Not the thinking about the story, drawing maps or staring at screenshots which resembled the world I’d created, and definitely not an outline.

This changed over the weekend.

I thought about all the stories I’ve written. Shorts, novellas, novels and understood that whenever I’m thinking about, drawing about, or outlining, it’s still writing.

I have stories that felt too daunting to create because I didn’t understand their world and didn’t get it about the things I mentioned above.

Now as I hit the button, reset things, and journey into this new creative life, I feel blessed to have a wife who continues to stand by my side as I navigate these waters.

She’s my rock and she’s always there to tell me it’s okay. She makes sure I keep writing in whatever form it takes and I’m the luckiest man to have her.

Now on to the writing.