Archive for category Writing

NaNoWriMo and the aftermath thereof

So I “won” NaNoWriMo 2012 and have a nearly-good-enough-to-pass-as-mediocre-if-not-inspected-thoroughly novel to show for it. Now what?

National Novel Writing Month is an annual event that aims to convert an otherwise unextraordinary November into a stressful and anxiety-inducing 30 day separation from family and night night time. It’s considered a competition by many, but the real goal is to have no losers. There’s a loose support system in place, what with the non-stop pep talks and local NaNo groups that have cropped up in most “civilized” areas, but the good people behind it have yet to develop a remedy for life. Stuff happens and priorities shift. People get sick and die. Work stuff builds up and drags you into its malevolent grasp, seeking to syphon away any vitality you might miraculously still retain. So… there are lots and lots and lots of losers, and I guess that’s where the competitive spirit kicks in: I was a winner, and my smug bastardness proclaimed that fact all December long.

So I won. My new friend, Nate, in Chile, won. My old friend, Jed, who introduced me to Nate, lost like a stinking awful loser. And all of those things made me really happy.

Winning NaNoWriMo guarantees you end up with a short novel, and that’s exactly what I have (Inis Ealga is 50,009 words long, which is WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than NaNo’s 50k minimum. Can you say, “Overachiever?”). Unfortunately, as Jed Fecker the Loser points out, the quality of the finished work isn’t emphasized. That means that my book isn’t a book at all, but rather an extremely rough draft. But–!–it has accomplished the task all real books must: it’s been read. Twice! And not by me!

So, the excitement being as long over as it possibly can at this point, I’m back to my original question: “Now what?”

Editing, that’s what.

Euch. Gross. Sounds like a whole lot of work. Is it even worth it? Can this mess of a novella even be salvaged? Do I even want to pencil monkeying-with-it time into my busy schedule when, honestly, the only thing that could possibly give is my veg-out-and-recover-from-working-a-job-that’s-not-quite-awful-but-far-from-gratifying time? What about that hysterectomy Lynn’s about to have? I’m going to be one busy motherscratcher for the next six weeks or so! So… isn’t fooling around with a potentially irreparable piece of trash a really, really, really bad idea?

Yes, it is. The end.

But hang on–dammit, why do I always do this?–I’m going to finish my book, bad idea or not.

I enjoy writing. Editing, not so much. But, since my story is going to have to double or triple in size before it’s really done, I’m looking at the editing process as more of a scoping-out of the cool stuff I’m going to have to write later. Plus, fun as Skyrim is to play, I think there’s a far better story line waiting to be pulled from the muck that Inis Ealga currently is… and the fruits of laboring in the real world will always far exceed in value those produced in any imaginary one, regardless of the level of effort expended in either case. So, in a short time I could become the hero of an imaginary land (or, more likely, given the immense replayability of Bethesda’s ridiculously good game, I could have beaten the game as three or four different characters). Or I could be the proud author of a much-improved draft and the keeper of the hopes of a fully de-loused book and of the dreams of what such an eventuality could mean. I’m not supposed to have such dreams, apparently, but I do. I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life… and as one former friend (whose pseudonym here escapes me at the moment) put it, “Real writers write.” So I write. And then I keep doing it. And when I’m done doing it I do it again and again until, dying, I abruptly stop doing it.

Will Inis Ealga ever be finished? I don’t know. But that’s my goal. Will it ever be a “real” book, bound with glue and paper and sold to unsuspecting dupes all over the world? That crosses into the territory of stuff I shouldn’t really think about too much. But it would be pretty dadgum awesome, I reckon.

I do know this for a fact, though: October is going to suck. Why? Because I plan to do NaNoWriMo again this year, and Lynn now knows exactly what I won’t be able to do for her in November.

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Tapping in?

So… I haven’t been around here for ages upon bloomin’ ages, but maybe I’m sort of kind of back. I’ve had several moments of near-clarity regarding my future and the whole writing dream recently and, while it’s not really that important what ran through my seldom-used noggin, the result is that I’m hyped like I haven’t been in years (wow – literally).

I haven’t completely worked out what all will be changing or how… but you, my long forgotten three followers, will know my plans almost as soon as I do. Or within a month or two, or something.

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Raisin

I wrote a short story almost 15 years ago that I’ve never submitted anywhere, and that I haven’t even really thought that much about since committing my braindead scribblings to paper so long ago.

Today I found a short introduction I wrote for it a while ago, apparently thinking a particular magazine would pick it up, and it makes me want to pull out the original and rework it into something I can sell for $20. At least I could say I’d been published then.

God is God. As such, He requires nothing of the usual middle-management or bureaucratic nonsense, and prefers the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-knuckle-on-up variety of interaction over the human delegation style currently favored by the trendiest of the false gods, earth spirits and pet rocks. Because this is true—as it must be since I, your omniscient narrator, have never been asked to advise the Almighty—the story that follows must then be patently false. The more clever of this magazine’s readership will recognize the lack of value afforded such a work, and will discontinue consumption immediately. For those intrepid few low-brows who remain, however, what follows is a none-too-good example of what might have happened had God, tiring of the whimperings and supplicant fartings of the angelic host, turned ownership of a few minor details of the universe over to the wisdom of various panels, focus groups and bureaucratic committees. In this poor illustration, we consider life.

Raisin is a very special girl who figured out how to cheat the system and endow herself with various superhuman abilities before her birth. She gets these abilities, but a series of horrible miscalculations on her part whilst pursuing perfection makes life… well… not what she expected. I won’t give away the biggest plot twist, even though it’s revealed in the first paragraph, but I assure you it’s a doozie. And sort of stupid.

Maybe I’ll work on this soon. I think it’d be a quick and easy one to knock out, and it’d give me a much-needed sense of accomplishment after my mounting feelings of inadequacy over the past several months. I’ll let you know how that goes. :)

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Wordless

I haven’t worked on my crappy sci-fi novel in months, not one crappy bit, and I’m kind of depressed about that. I’ve got more important worries right now, of course, which is fine for the time being, but the person I am and the person I tell people I am are diverging by the day. Am I a writer, or am I not?

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Synopsis of Project One

I found this on my laptop tonight, and realized that one reason nobody cares about Project One is because they don’t know anything about it. And another is because they’re dweebs.

Seven hundred years after the near-destruction of the human race by an ancient but unknown enemy, the opportunity to travel back through time and witness the invasion first-hand presents itself to the government of the New Earth Colonies. After much preparation, a small group of observers is assembled and sent back to the year 1931, just months before the catastrophe is to occur.

The book actually begins with the arrival of one agent, Samuel Foote, who quickly tires of the mundane chores with which he has been tasked and begins to search for glory and meaning on his own. A combination of drive and inexperience leads him through a series of mishaps and harrowing adventures wherein he forms a tenuous relationship with the Mafia, becomes entangled with a foreign assassination attempt, accidentally saves the Earth from its intended doom and ultimately embodies the very hero whose legend was passed to him as a child and whose exploits caused him to join the observation team in the first place.

Though originally tasked only with the detached observation of the conflict, the team have rewritten history and become obligated to defend the planet from a secondary attack just weeks after the first was supposed to have struck. Conjoined with unlikely allies, the special agents fight the swarm of well-armed alien invaders alongside mobsters, U.S. National Guardsmen, Foreign Legionnaires and Native Americans. Successfully turning back the assault, the observers return to an unsure future but leave behind the troublesome Sam Foote and his battle-bonded friends, the very people for whom the adventure has just begun.

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To Podcast or Not to Podcast?

Wayne and I have had some great ideas for a couple of semi-regular podcasts. Okay, they were mostly Wayne’s ideas, but I’d like to think I helped.

Anyway, it’s something I’ve been putting off looking into for months because I’ve been trying my best to get back into Project One full swing, and my immediate thoughts were always that I didn’t need yet another distraction to keep me off task.

And I still think that’s true, mostly.

But I get bored and frustrated when I don’t get to switch gears now and then–just ask all the bosses I’ve ever had or my wife (is that redundant?)–so having other things to work on when I would otherwise just be sitting around playing Civ IV instead of pumping out crappy Sci-Fi might not be a bad idea at all. How’s that for a messed up sentence?

I’ve got some great ideas I really want to work on as far as recurring guests and themes and whatnot. We’re talking about a spoof of an old-timey radio program (probably a variety hour thing) with lots of singing and music and interviews and what have you, but we haven’t nailed down a specific historical time period for the sucker. I’m actually of the mind that we should leave it like that, and sort of float the actual decade around as it suits us. Or just leave it vague, and allow the inevitable inaccuracies (assuming we even talk about “current” events) to accumulate as they will.

It would surely all be before Dubya Dubya Two, so there would be plenty of room to make fun of the wannabe world powers that were all shuffling into better positions to pee down each other’s neck holes (and of the wieners who weren’t concerned by said shuffling). A German choir might be an interesting choice, singing in English, of course, with plenty of ominous references that foreshadow their “adventures” to come. And lots of stuff about the puny little agrarian society known as Japan, etc. Plus, since nothing really should be sacred in such a venue, there were plenty of ridiculous domestic issues before the war that could be exploited.

Less obvious but at least as important as the state of the world (at least from a writer’s standpoint) was the writing style from back in the day. There was an odd mixture of formality and innocence in correspondence back then, and marketing certainly wasn’t the beast it is now. It would take a whole lot of research and effort to duplicate the style, but–man!–there are about a zillion and 9 different directions we could go with it.

So, anyway, I’m cyclical about stuff like this, but I think I’ve cycled back around to the “excited” setting for the time being. I just hope Wayne hasn’t given up on me like he usually does, cause he needs to write the stinkin’ music.

Oh, and, yeah… to podcast. For sure.

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Tommy Lukasik, Mob Mechanic

This guy’s going to be a minor but important character in Project One.

I’ve just recently discovered I needed Tommy, and for some reason I’m really excited to start drafting out that section of the story. I’m not sure why, but part of it may be that all the details of his personality and reactions to the storyline–and even his name, for little Petie’s sake–came rushing into my big fat head all at once as if they were real and obvious and thunk up by somebody smarter than me. That’s never happened before.

Anyway, I can’t say much about the guy, but he’ll work with Trick Dickel (Lynn thinks that’s a rude name, but I don’t see it. His name was originally going to have the “Tr” and “D” transposed, and I’ll give 100% concession to the fact that that really wouldn’t have been a good idea) in the garage up until the time his loyalties to the mob cause enough trouble for the main character and the Dickels (Trick and his daughter have integral roles) that Trick has to go all Jack Bristow on him.

That’s all I can say, other than that it’ll be “bloody” fantastic. :)

For me, anyway, because I’m enjoying putting this thing together. I realize the odds of my finding an agent round up to 100% against me and getting a book deal beyond that would be an even bigger stretch, but this is what I’m doing right now. Get over it – I have. :)

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What Man? And What Plan?

So it’s five months later and I’ve decided to give the blawgin’ thing another go.

Of course, nothing has changed as far as my having anything important to say or even having an audience to read said unimportant posts, and obviously I’m still the same old lazy me.

Writing is therapeutic, though, at least for me, and this is something to do when I’m too beat to work on Project One. Not that I’ve made much headway on my crappy Sci-Fi novel since the whole Writers’ Conference letdown, but it’s time to change that too. Looking back at the blogs I wrote earlier, I saw a small list of long and carefully worded entries (masterpieces all if not for their being drivelous who-cares-its) and grimaced at the amount of work that would lay ahead for me if I decided to keep up that kind of pace. I originally wanted to put out something meaty at least five times a week, and I got all nutty scampers when I missed a day or could only come up with a short entry. Being who I am, I realize now, it was inevitable that I would get frustrated and move on to something else. Well, something else has wound up being lots of sitting around on my butt being sick, and of course I used very little of that time creatively.

That’s all changing, just you wait and see. And don’t laugh if it doesn’t.

From now on, I’ll post when I can, and won’t worry about missing a day. Or two. Or a week.

From now on, I’ll stop worrying about writing perfect entries. Everything will be draft-quality, like this post. That long paragraph above is an absolute mess, but I don’t care. Or rather, I do care, a lot, but I’m going to start trying to ignore the screaming voices in my head that don’t want me to publish such poorly written stuff. Because really, the best I can do now will be poor in comparison to what I will be capable of if I keep practicing. Right? Maybe. Just you wait and see.

From now on, my posts will all be written in conversational English, meaning that I won’t worry too much about dangling participles or preposition-terminated sentences or any of that other muckety-muck. I’ll just write something and click “Publish” when I’m done.

From now on, MWP will be secondary to Project One. There will probably be lots of times when I can work on both, but if I’ve only got a few minutes to write, I’ll be choosing the book.

So that’s the loosely-formulated plan as I see it now. But I still don’t know where the man is. I’ll let you know when I find him.

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Wha??

Watch out, cause I’m gonna say frack…

  1. Judge Julius told me today that the judging for the writing workshop scholarship is behind schedule, and that a winner hasn’t yet been named. And I was all nutty scampers in the head all week for nothing.
  2. Watched 300 tonight. Oh my. Not oh my bad because I definitely enjoyed it… more like oh my intense. That’s it. It’s visually intense even when there’s nothing going on. Surprisingly enough for a movie that features so many decapitations, skewerings, tauntings and whatnot, nothing goes on for a good portion of the rolling time. One more beheading or festering mutant parade would have probably evened out the action for me.
  3. Most folks ditched Wayne’s LAN party this weekend. Just a bad time for scheduling, I guess. There will just be 4 of us in the morning, but that number will swell to a whopping 6 when my boss and my coworker Sam show up later on. I wanted my boss to meet Wayne at some point in case a job ever opened up in our department. Wayne’s a very bright and capable guy, and he’s mentally more flexible than me in some ways. I think he’d do really well in a job that actually paid him what he’s worth but I’m not sure I could pry him away from the college campus, which is an environment in which he’s always wanted to work. Long as he’s happy I won’t meddle too much I guess.

Night. I’m beat.

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Snot Swaddler

OK, so I’m a little pink baby swaddled in his own selfishness, self-pity and snot.

I’ve been moping around for days about the whole assuming-defeat-and-not-being-informed-otherwise thing with the writers’ conference I wanted to attend. I’ve been in a bad mood this whole time and I haven’t been able to stop wondering why Judge Julius won’t return my emails about the conference. I’ve checked my mail about 35 times today already because, even though I know in my heart I didn’t make the scholarship, the lack of closure has got me all crazy in the head. I even moved all my inbox stuff into an archive folder so my new email would show up quicker after a refresh. Plus it’s hard to miss new mail in an otherwise empty inbox.

As soon as I got all that cleared out I polled the mailserver again and–bink!–there was the email that’s changed my whole outlook.

It wasn’t from Julius or the writing workshop folks, though. It was from a guy I used to do improv comedy with, and somebody I’d probably even consider a friend. He’s got three sons now (I only met the oldest, and he was a foot long and curly at the time) and the newest arrival, whose name is Feller, has been in and out of the hospital with the respiratory problem that’s so dangerous to infants. Bob and his wife have been stretched long and far over the past few months taking care of the boys (and trying to take care of themselves), and his email was a call-in of all the favors his friends and family have offered since Feller was born.

The asking for help wasn’t really the thing that twisted my guts and made me feel like such a schmo, but rather the subject of the plea: something better to eat than macaroni and cheese once in a while. Spank. Life is a lot rougher for Bob than it is for me if he doesn’t have time to make anything more complicated than a presto-magic-whip-it-up-quick meal. Thanks to my wife I’ve been eating like a king for 11 years and, no matter how bad I thought my life was, I always had good food, a loving wife and someplace to sleep. That’s not to say that Bob is homeless or has a crappy wife, though. Home and spouse are both good. It’s just… what is it? It’s a life in constant near-crisis is what it is, and Bob and his wife are making it through without all the drama and hysterics that I would bring to the table under such circumstances.

So I need to just go ahead and shut up, I reckon, about this whole writing workshop deal. Burt, one of the network guys at my office, sent me a nice email the other day, and it’s a bit of good advice that I really should take:

Don’t cry little baby. You cry like a little gurl! HAha…little gurl!!!!1!”

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