Getting the work part done.

With any project it comes to a point where the work part happens.

After the first draft, there’s the part you let it sit, or at least I do. It’s usually a few months, but can be longer.

The reason for letting it sit is so when you don’t constantly revise, restructure or rewrite all of the time. Doing that, at least in my opinion, causes more problems than it solves.

The first draft is where you find out your story, or if you’re an outliner, you put what you’ve outlined into the story.

Being as I’m a mostly pantser, which means I will have a beat sheet and know where those beats will be places, but as far as the story itself, I don’t really know where it will go.

This may cause some people reading this to freak out, those are the outliners.

For the pantsers, here’s some truth: I have no idea what will happen at the end of the book, or if I do, it’s usually discovered as I’m writing. This works for me as I write in various genres.

Thriller as it pertains to all of its classifications: Political, Military, Spy…and yes sometimes horror is thrown into this category for the sake of selling books. Take a look at Silence of the Lambs, at it’s core, that’s a horror story.

I enjoy things that frighten me. I grew up in the 80’s with the threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviets. It’s something that has stuck with me growing up. Knowing that fear and chasing it has lead me to write thrillers in the respective classifications I mentioned above.

I grew up next to an air base. The sound of planes taking off and landing is a fond memory of my childhood. There were also the times the base opened to the public, showing off the latest aircraft.

The first time I saw an F-117 Nighthawk was at one of these events. The sleekness of that aircraft combined with it’s dark color and insectlike bumps and ridges, still gets me excited.

Aircraft is a thing that I’ve always been enthralled with and watching them take off from the base as well as building models at home are great childhood memories.

But I’ve gotten off track.

The work part is what comes after the first draft. It’s the editing, rewriting, revising. They used to be things I hated, but the process feels different than it has in a while. I’m actually enjoying this 100k rewrite I’m working on.

But I am getting the work part done and that’s important. Without the work, the project wont be able to stand up, and at the end, when it’s done, it needs to be.

Have a pleasant rest of your week. Stay safe and I’ll see you Friday, where I’ll talk about my love of aircraft a little more.

Embracing what you fear

As I’ve said numerous times on here, I avoided writing certain books because of things that happened as a kid.

I worried about what it said about myself, what it said about my writing, and whether my mind wanted to go in too many places at once. This fear has permeated me since I put pen to paper in high school.

The past week was one where I had to have talk with myself about this. I can’t move forward in my writing without either adjusting to writing military/spy/political thrillers, as well as horror, or I can stop writing one or the other. I chose to adjust.

Growing up in the 80’s Tom Clancy was the king of the techno-thriller. I looked up to him as a storyteller. Writing in that playground always scared the hell out of me. Mostly because I am not nor have I ever been in the military, CIA, FBI, or any other acronym.

But writing happens and last April I wrote a book in that genre and it scared the hell out of me for a couple of reasons.

One: I felt it was good.

Two: The fear of judgement from others about writing in genre, and that I’ve said numerous times how disrupted my childhood was because I felt forced to read those books.

But maybe it’s not so much that I felt forced, but that there’s the longstanding obstacle of my relationship with my father. He chose those books and I read them, even though there were other books I wanted to read, I read those.

I attribute my knowledge of history and politics to my father, something that maybe I should deal with personally.

That I’ve now chosen to write in whatever genre rears its head, is possibly a breakthrough for me.

I avoided writing these books because of childhood trauma. As I consider it now, those books did more to help me navigate my teenage years and early twenties, than perhaps anything except Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

The Chronicles helped me deal with other things.

Now that I’ve gone and changed my author’s bio, and all of my bios on social media, I’m ready to deal with the fact that I love spy books for the simple fact that I enjoy them. I enjoy the hell out of writing them and if not for my father pushing them on me I wouldn’t be writing them today.

Here’s a writing fact for you. I read Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising in sixth grade. That book stayed with me as have most of Clancy’s books.

Have a pleasant week. I’ll be here this week.

Finding my genre identity

When I started writing regularly this past year(and by regularly I mean unless I was sick or working, I wrote), I decided that I had to put the effort in if I was going to see any results.

This meant that I had to decide what I was going to write. This meant if I finished a story the day before, I’d start something new.

This schedule has helped my writing improve and has shown me where my weaknesses lie.

The one thing that I fought with over this period was my identity as a writer. Yes I have a collection of short stories that are in the horror genre on Amazon, but I’m also aware that I enjoy writing in various genres.

This became more clear to me yesterday when I started rewrites on the novel I wrote during lock down in April 2020. I wrote around 3200 words a day during that month and during the first few days of May, I completed the 100k first draft.

Fast forward to last month. I gave my wife the draft. She read everything that followed that draft and I came to me with worry on her face.

“I think this needs to be rewritten.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Everything you’ve written since has been better and I think you need to rewrite it. You’re a better writer now.”

I hadn’t thought I’d improved that much since I finished that novel. But according to my wife, I had.

It took me until yesterday to get started on those rewrites for a few reasons. Fear that I’d screw it up and a greater fear of my identity as a writer. I’ve clung onto the belief that I was a horror writer, because I like horror a lot more than most other things. It doesn’t matter the form, I love it.

But I thought about my struggles with long form fiction. One that has persisted through the past year.

I have written over a dozen short stories since the novel I speak of. But as for novels, nothing.

I think the point is to write. It doesn’t matter the genre and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about your writing as long as you enjoy it.

So, with that viewpoint, I started the rewrite process, with an eye towards improving and/or removing sections in the novel which didn’t work.

It’s a process that I threw away for writing an outline. I write better when I’m partially winging it. It’s the rewrites that get me down.

On that note, I will leave you to your own writing, whatever you may be reading and the reminder that your identity as a writer is not beholden to one genre. Write in all of them.

Moving forward

Growing up in the 80’s I read a lot of Tom Clancy books. I read Red Storm Rising in 6th grade and that was my first of his books. It wasn’t my choice to read these. I had to read the genre my father read. I was never given a reason for this but I read other books on my own.

When I started writing in my late twenties I avoided writing stories similar to the Jack Ryan books. I did this because of childhood trauma and bad memories.

That ended during lockdown when I wrote a 100k novel in 32 days.

I’ve avoided doing rewrites on this book because although I loved writing it, I’ve always felt like horror was more me and spy/thriller was more him.

My father and I are not close. I’ve seen him twice in the last 10 years

Now I feel that writing this book is a way to exorcise some childhood demons and maybe find my way a bit better.

I read a tweet the other day that said write what ever you want and while I love writing horror, I think the 13 year old me would like this one.

So I’m off to rewrite this 100k novel. I have short stories going out in the next 3 months for submissions and they’re all horror but this book is for me. I’m not sure where it will go, but it’s the 11th book I’ve written.

While I’ve only published a collection of short stories this one needs me to write it more than the others.

Have a good Tuesday.

End of the year thing

I won’t tell you this year sucked, we know it did.

I did a few things this year that I never expected to do.

I submitted a lot more, published a short story collection, and pushed myself to write things that make me uncomfortable. I also read a whole lot.

But I didn’t quit.

I know there have been a lot of writers who just could not get words on the page this year. I understand that. The year had the opposite effect on me. I wrote more stories than I’ve written in any prior year.

In the next year I plan on writing and submitting more than I have this year, which will be a hell of an accomplishment.

I wasn’t able to work a lot of events as a bartender this year. It put a strain on our finances but good planning by me in the early months of the year sustained us through the year.

I look forward to doing events next year, but I’m so tired of people not being cautious or saying things like, “If it were up to us, you wouldn’t be wearing a mask” or “We’re all friends here, you don’t need to wear that mask.” As if being friends makes the virus go, “oh wait they’re friends, I won’t infect them.” The virus doesn’t care about your family or friendships.

This year I also started to use my whiteboard more. I list when a story is due, how many words it needs to be and who the publisher is.

This has helped me write a lot more and keep my focus on publishing. I haven’t had a story picked up yet, but I’ve come close.

I’ve made a list of submissions until May for short stories as well as for novels I want to publish or submit to agents. I have four novels or novellas I’ll be submitting, self-publishing, or writing in the next 12 months. There will be others that come along, but I know what I need to have done by certain dates and that keeps my head in writing.

I know I have a bit of privilege as my wife works from home and pays our bills with her salary, which allows me to write as much as I do, but if I’m not writing I feel like I’m letting her down.

I will continue to grind, to push myself in directions of horror and other genres that I’m uncomfortable with. I have to push myself because it’s the only way to improve.

Hope you all have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑