Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Novel in Progress

After being hung up for so long on various things, I've returned to writing this story. It's coming along  again and that makes me all kinds of happy. Bad things are happening to good people, well questionable people, anyway, and I'm having fun with it.

That's the important part, right?

Anyway, thought you might like to know. Look for little updates and snippets here. Watch the death bar over here on the right sidebar of the website.

More when there's something to report.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Renewed Vigor

Life in general has consumed a great deal of time and energy the last couple of months or so but that's subsiding a bit now which means that I'll be tapping away at the keys on lots of stuff:

  • A novel that's probably 25K words from being done. You can track that on the sidebar to the right. It's got my attention again for reasons that needn't concern anyone at this point. Hopefully I'll be able to explain this later on.

  • Several short stories that are in various stages of 'almost done'.

  • Another, unrelated, novel that I had previously written 40K words on. The cool thing about this is that it's actually going to be a page one rewrite with a new focus. The reason it stalled out was that I hadn't a clue what it was really about. Three years after starting it I finally know what needs to happen and why. Could be the beginning of a series of things.

And I've always got ideas going into notebooks from various scraps of paper. There are other projects that are stalled and I hope they'll be finished at some point but if not, at least I learned from them. The goal, as always, is to learn and move forward.

So I bought a copy of this book and I'll be reading it when it arrives. Plus I've got stacks and stacks of books that need reading. Let me remind you, too, that you don't have to buy online only from the big names in retail. It's not hard to find the book you want (or anything else) available elsewhere. Please support other retailers as often as you can. Especially the ones that are down the street from you. Anyway, until I can figure out how to read and move around at the same time without banging into stuff, I need to spend my time writing. (Yes, I know about audiobooks but I much prefer to read.)

Remember that energy I had when I came home from Planet Comicon? Yeah, I've found it again.

Hey, a reminder that you can buy my self-published short story Prospects in every digital format you could desire at Smashwords for only 99 cents, same as at the high profile retailer. A new story, The Masking Job, is due to drop over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Internal Debate

I read this quote early this morning:

“You have to surrender to your mediocrity, and just write. Because it’s hard, really hard, to write even a crappy book. But it’s better to write a book that kind of sucks rather than no book at all, as you wait around to magically become Faulkner. No one is going to write your book for you and you can’t write anybody’s book but your own.”
— Cheryl Strayed 
And now I'm conflicted. I'm tempted to drop all my current projects in favor of starting a new novel. I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about it over the last six weeks. In fact it's been in my head for a little over two years. An initial draft netted 40,000+ words but it's not great. I know how to make it better. Of course this goes against the central tenet of a writer: finish your shit.

I've begun combing through it for anything usable, which, unfortunately, isn't much except the ideas. The execution was --- well, it left a lot to be desired. However, I might have stumbled upon an opening. It comes from about halfway through the original draft. Here it is:

Stak acknowledged the signal. "Unfriendlies coming in from south and west,” Kafay said over the box. “Our options are disappearing. WaLah says they’re packing serious heat and they're definitely coming for us.”

Still needs work but it has potential. With all the things I've been working on the last few months off and on, this one's been burning up my extra thought cycles. I opened a new Scrivener document and began importing the things I like and transcribing the notes I've made over the last weeks.

I guess I know what I'm going to do. This book's really got my imagination and I really, really want to work on it. Dropping the novel, the novella, the short stories from the last few months to work on something new may just be an excuse to escape certain difficulties with those things. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Kingdom of the Skull

I like to think I'm generally a pretty smart guy. Sometimes I even have a little more on the ball than usual and those are great days.

I heard some audio of David Foster Wallace's commencement speech to Kenyon College from back in 2005 and it struck me: he's talking to me, too.

That's a damn good commencement speech, there.

One of the things he said, toward the end, was when he was talking about what people worship. He talks not just of religion but of power and money and all the things that make good movies. Here's the  bit that truly struck home:
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings. 
(I need to say right here that you should read the entire speech or watch the video of it. It's absolutely worth your time.)

A lot of days I feel some kind of stupid because I made a mistake or because I sent an email I shouldn't have or  I said something that I didn't really mean to say out loud. Those little things, though, they aren't stupid. They're part of everyday life. Assuming I'm not the center of the universe (there isn't one), I may not even be the center of my world. Sure some stuff revolves around me but believe me when I tell you that the world goes on as it did before if I'm not here.

Each of us can become so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose sight of so many things. You've done it, I've done it, we all have.

And that's when we need Admiral Ackbar to tell us the obvious.

On those days when I feel like a true dumbass, it's because I worship intellect. I value being smart and look for intelligence in those people I surround myself with. That, in itself, is not bad. What's bad is realizing that smart people do really dumb things sometimes. A very good friend has said that about me and it's true. It's true of everyone I know even if I don't know what dumb things you think you've done.

So what if I did dumb things, so what if you did? It's not the end of the world. Really, it's not.

What matters is that we accept them as part of us, file them away and do our damnedest not to repeat them. Or make larger, more destructive mistakes.

The world keeps turning, our loved ones will go on and live their lives after we're gone as will the multitudes around the globe. We are not the center of the universe.

So I won't live in my head, my own little kingdom in my skull, but I will value intellect. I do value intellect. Discourse with other smart people is how I learn things and make myself better, smarter. I bet you do the same thing.

Going forward I will do my best not to get down on myself for not being smarter in a particular situation. I exhort you to do the same. Instead, learn from mistakes and don't fear them. That's where confidence comes from. And arrogance, too, but that's a different post.

Somewhere, every day, millions of times a day, Admiral Ackbar shouts, "It's a trap!"

Monday, May 12, 2014

5 Things About Hard Truths

I don't feel the need to elaborate on the items listed below. You can, if you like. That's what the comment section is for.
  1. They're Not Mean-Spirited
  2. Suck It Up and Listen
  3. Don't Believe Your Own Hype
  4. Treasure Those Brave Enough To Tell You
  5. Don't Be Discouraged

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Male Behavior

If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. Grow up.

That's all.

Dear Anonymous Commenters

Dear Anonymous Commenters,

Thanks for stopping by. No, really, I do appreciate the traffic.

However, I won't be visiting your website because your approach is all wrong. I won't tell you how to fix it, how to get me to visit your site because, well, you're a grown up and you can learn to market your crap all on your own.

I especially won't be visiting your website if you outright lie and say that my blog is 'rife' with misspellings. Obviously your robots don't know what kind of site they're looking at and let's be honest - if you're insulting me then the hell with you. You may have the product I want desperately but I'll never know if you come here and bag on my writing. Besides, that's beyond rude. And rudeness never encourages reciprocation.

So, while your stop is meaningful and I do appreciate the millisecond your robot took to deliver your standard message, you can fuck right off.