Day T-1: The Calm Before the Crapstorm

This morning, my head ran through about a thousand excuses why I should put off writing this new book in February… I need to write/ sell more stories, I need to put more freelance queries out there, I need to do things like eat and sleep… but for some reason, I didn’t like any of them. (Perhaps I liked the ‘eating and sleeping’ part a little, but I’m a Navy vet… I once went two months consuming nothing but fresh coffee, burned coffee, and re-re-reheated instant potatoes, so I’m already acclimated.) That means today, I have to plan everything and get ready to write tomorrow morning.

Stories are perhaps as difficult to craft as a novel, even if they don’t take as much time to write, but the easy part of a story is that there only needs to be one big question in the plot… what if a card magician is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and performing his last show, but wants to pull off a flawless version of his daughter’s favorite trick? What if the delusions that mental health patients see are real, and need their own place to stay when their person completes therapy? What if cars became too prohibitively expensive to buy but are now being sold on a ‘micropurchase’ plan? Those are all questions that can be handled in a handful of pages. Maybe a long story can get away with only one central ‘what if,’ if it’s a complicated one. But a novel needs to answer each ‘what if’ with a few ‘what nows.’ And that’s what I’m scrambling for today. I have about six or seven active folders in my new Scrivener project with about a paragraph or three each, and every time I add one character or idea in there, I have to think of two or three things that can go wrong with that. Meanwhile, while I’m typing on one idea, my Muse is pulling out another seventeen, and I should actually be working on those documents and outline scraps instead of typing this, but I had to send a short note out to the real world first.

So, that’s enough for now. Expect tidbits about the forts of the west and perhaps English and German mythology over the next few days, because my book sits at the intersection of them.

Quote for the day:

It’s splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your imagination and make them pop like chestnuts.
– Gustave Flaubert

Siege the Moment

It’s hard to be a writer if one doesn’t write. I’ve known this in theory since around the time I pasted a printout of WordPerfect 5.1 codes on the inside cover of my notebook and began typing out my stories and poems during down time out to sea. But from time to time I forget that and either get stuck on writing a piece that isn’t working or that I’m not ready for yet, or get caught up in a depressive positive feedback loop (Day 1: You suck, don’t write; Day 3: You didn’t write for three days… you really can’t write; rinse, repeat) and go for days without writing anything. So far this year, I’ve done alright, squeezing out at least five hundred words a day, but often hitting a thousand or even more. But that’s not good enough for what I want to do, so I’ve decided to deliver myself a mainline shot straight to the frontal lobes and stun, shock, or otherwise confuse my body into getting another work finished and ready to send out into the world. I made that decision in a moment of pique and unfortunately wrote it down, so now I have to do it or my Muse will get mad and quite possibly make good her threats to leave my head.

Add into this mix my difficulty in writing a new story. Over a month ago I set aside one of my short Weird Westerns and started playing with an idea I had about a group of soldiers and civilian fighters holding out in the Wyoming foothills against a mass of Ogres bent on overrunning them and avenging the death of one of their own. The idea was vivid, painted with the beautiful and dangerous landscape of the Rockies and the bold and vicious colors of the Ogres and the Human soldiers, but my three attempts at the story failed after just a page or three, no matter where I tried to enter the story or how I tried to tell it. So, I decided that perhaps a novella was way to go.

And for a while, this worked. I pushed through the part that had been blocking me and got about 27 pages typed out. I liked the direction of the story and the conflict seemed to be tight enough to push the action forward. Unfortunately, the characters came alive for me. Yes, that’s normally a good thing, but this time, two of them strode into my head and started telling me everything else I had to add. And to top it off, I realized that I had rushed the beginning, and I needed more characters for people to realize about besides the two or three that are enough for a story. Quickly sketching an outline of everything I wanted to include told me that my 30-page story would easily fill 200 pages, and maybe more. I quickly titled the outline “Craptactular Crapticles” and tried to toss it into the trash, but it was too late… my Muse and the stable of writers and typers she keeps in my head had already seen it, and they liked the idea.

So here I am. And because there’s no plan in the world that can’t be made even more frustrating and brain-chilling than adding a deadline, I’ve decided to make daily posts about my progress, with a goal of being finished with the rough by 28 Feb. That’s faster than ‘NaNoWriMo’ times. Oh, and I also work for six-seven hours a day for three days on the weekend, along with a seventy-minute drive there and back. And I haven’t written a novel-length manuscript in well over a year. Yippee.

Starting Friday, I’ll be complaining writing about my new journey. I won’t be posting the entire thing because it will most likely still be shite donkey shite fossilized donkey shite unrefined at first, but I’ll share excerpts and things that come to mind while writing my Precinct Thirteen Ripoff homage to great westerns and action films like Seven Samurai, Zulu, Dawn of the Dead, and Rio Bravo. Wish me luck.

And if you’re spending the bitter cold of the winter trying to keep your brain warm, share what you’re working on, too. Misery loves company. Err, I mean, writers work well with a good support network.


It’s a bright sunny morning in Florida, and I’m procrastinating. I swear I’ll get to my writing soon, but I’m only on my first cup of tea and breakfast is almost ready. Since I did learn how to type one-handed after an ill-advised experiment in which I learned that my collarbone was not as tough as a brick wall, I can say what I need to say to myself and the world and then go on (hopefully) about the business of the day.

I’ll be here a lot more than before, seeing as how I’m turning off Facebook and possibly my other social media accounts. Fortunately (I had to fight the urge to not add an ‘un’ there) that means I have to be more mindful about what I post and share… sure, I can copy and paste and post, but that requires a little more effort. And because my friends will have to actually navigate to this page to read what I have to say, I’ll want to share something that they will actually enjoy reading.

Awareness is a good thing, though, and it’s something I need to have in my daily life. My few resolutions are to improve my Spanish studies to the point where I can write a few detailed and complex entries in that language, and to focus on my fitness and get at least within spitting distance of my bodily condition when I left the Navy. The best way to do both of those things is to be aware about what I do every day. Rather than just shovel Doritos into my gullet because I need something to do while working, I have to think about what I’m eating, and also what and why. Rather than mindlessly click on a website while I’m trying to think of what to write next (something I almost did twice while writing this paragraph) I need to be aware of what I’m doing, and consider why I’m doing it. There are so many minutes in the day that I can turn into reading time, or study time, and the trick, I suspect, is to catch those minutes and put them to good use before they get pulled away from you. When I post a meme, or a picture, or a comment, it’s going to be because I saw it and wanted my friends to be happy. When I eat, it’s going to be because I need nutrition. My goal is to do neither of those things just because I got bored or frustrated… something I’ve had a serious problem with, myself, for the last year or so. Maybe this will work for me, maybe it won’t. But I’ll try.

Alright, time to write. Today’s agenda sees me editing an old book, and starting a short one which I hope to have roughed out by the end of the month or so. I need to finish one book I’m reading for encouragement and research. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll have time to play a game or two in the evening, and not because I don’t know what else to do, or I’m putting off what I know I should be doing.

  • READING: The Last of the Renshai, Mickey Zucker Reichert
  • WRITING: A weird western novella, and an outline for a cozy mystery