Chipping away at the wall

I wanted to start this with some clever parallel between the storm raging outside and my want to really dive into a new project, but nope. Not happening.

I’ve officially, with a necessary nudge from my wife’s wisdom, put Joshua Harkin’s Return to Nightmares on the backburner. I’m at this point where the lack of progress has become an overall headache with regards to getting *any* writing done at all. Not helpful.

So I thought it would be neat to maybe revisit a project from before, starting it fresh. I dug up the file, transferred from a previous laptop, only to discover two curious things.

Curious thing one – the last time I had worked on it was exactly two years ago to the day. Curious thing two – I actually really like how the draft started off, so I can’t bring myself to just scrap it and start fresh. However! I now feel less interested in working on it because there is so much groundwork in place.

Damn.

That all constitutes more progress than I’ve made in the past three months combined (because I’m still getting the hang of being a father to two wee beasties).

I’ll chalk that up as an overall win and try to use it to propel me forward.

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The idea that got away

I recently did something I have, on a fairly regular basis, told myself not to do. No, I’m not talking about eating spicy food and then rubbing my eyes (because I still do that more often than I care to admit).

So there was this story idea, right? A basic framework of an idea, with tangible if not fully-realized characters, right there in front of me. It could have had big, neon signs saying “Write me, Philip, you lazy, well-intentioned bastard.” It practically did.

Tonight has been spent being cranky because that idea has gone, having very fragmented thoughts that I’m fairly sure are just the flotsam and jetsam of me rereading Dreams and Shadows trying to manifest as something more, and eating ice cream. Halo Top is really hit or miss, I’ve decided, but there are a few flavors I’ll need to stock up on.

My question is this: what next? Should I revisit a novel project I already started on but abandoned? Should I really put my nose to the proverbial grindstone and get to the serious proofreading and editing for Dissonance in Harmony? Should I force myself to stop being so damn serious and just try writing stuff? Thoughts?

Eating Halo Top Vanilla Bean feels like the adult equivalent of eating paste

Sure, that’s a long-ass title, but it’s catchier than my usual go-to of indicating I’m not dead, that I’ve not forgotten I have a WordPress, or some pop culture reference. Related: how the Hell do I have 18 drafts? I need to do some belated spring cleaning.

The Halo Top, for the record, isn’t half bad, but it has a weird consistency – just to set the record straight.

“What’s new in the land of Phil’s Misadventures in Fiction (and life)?” asks no one in particular.  Continue reading

Challenging myself

Or, really, admitting that I’m a bit challenged. I haven’t decided yet.

I have a headache. It has been a trying, busy sort of day. I’m drinking a glass of scotch that was aged in bourbon barrels because I wanted scotch, I wanted bourbon, but I also couldn’t justify that kind of drinking on a Tuesday. Did I mention I have a headache?

This weekend provided a sort of fine point to a murky, nebulous series of thoughts I’ve had lately in regards to my writing. They have been mean, loud, and generally unpleasant thoughts. This point is actually more of a thought-out, nicely worded middle finger to those thoughts because I’m tired of being my own punching bag, tearing myself down, and fixating on the difficulties of writing instead of the actual craft and the joy I derive from it. Case in point: I’m really enjoying writing this, even though it’s largely unplanned, because I am applying no pressure to myself to get it done. There is no arbitrary deadline, nor is there some comparison to other writers and their work. When I hit Publish, it will appear on my site (with all typos that sneaked past my lazy editorial eyes tonight; you may live this once, typos).  Continue reading

Hello, Old Friend

It’s that time again. Time to dust off Misadventures In Fiction, evicting spiders and so forth, and return to giving it the attention it intermittently deserves. While I certainly can’t claim to have forgotten this site–quite the contrary, in fact, as I think about what I could be writing almost daily–I must admit I haven’t done the best job of keeping it alive. Or the most mediocre job, really.

However, I am moved back to Carnegie as of a couple months ago (living partially out of boxes and bags is moved back in, right?). Life has gone on, and in ways I couldn’t have necessarily predicted but I’m entirely okay with (and no, I am not suggesting I won the lottery, so don’t start asking for yachts or anything). Tonight, when I have an overnight shift to work tomorrow and relatively unlimited time to stay up, I find myself frustrated. I am, as often is the case, in the throes of a creative funk. Continue reading

Creative fuzziness and beach fantasies

That sounded a lot better in my head than it did in the title bar, but I don’t feel like going back at this point. Laziness wins this round.

Right. So I’m at a particularly frustrating point of stagnation where no new story ideas are really appearing in the murky, soupy goo that is my imagination, but present projects have halted to some degree. I’m continuing to work at them, but I’m also a particular kind of drained that doesn’t want to let up. This is a rare and luxurious time that I am grateful I’m not writing on a deadline or being depended upon by publishers (except for the short Five Nights At Freddy’s piece I need to write after this, which I actually forgot about for a moment there). It’s like turning on the television only to find static on every channel. More easily to relate to: it’s like turning on the television and having a million channels, but nothing to watch. I do have three boxes of Story Cubes (Story Cubes, Story Cubes Actions, and Story Cubes Voyages) that I may start making use of if this dry spell persists. On the plus side, I have returned to writing in my journal. That must count for something, probably.

I’m painfully aware that the best solutions for creative block of any sorts is to keep pushing yourself and creating new content, but that has gotten to be a bit of a monumental task on top of everything else (I’ve been marathon-cleaning my apartment, for instance). I don’t feel particularly guilty for hitting a dry spell and not feeling hugely motivated to fix it so much as I feel frustrated that my brain has chosen to go all soft and empty on me when it did. It’s obviously my brain’s fault, that’s the take-home point here. I really should give the Story Cubes a try, too, so maybe tomorrow will be the day I do exactly that.

As for now, however, I am already thinking fondly of my upcoming trip to the Outer Banks with my family. My mother and stepfather will be renewing their vows this summer, and instead of going on the Alaskan cruise they’ve wanted to go on since the honeymoon they never had they have decided a trip to the beach is in order. Make no mistake: I may be outrageously pale and not fond of the outdoors. Alternatively, I do love going for nighttime walks along the beach, having a private pool where I’m not as self-conscious about being a small hippopotamus, and being in the company of my family in a beach house (where privacy and hiding are both plausible when that company grows tiresome). There will be much reading and writing, too, but also plenty of winding down and enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage (with or without tiny umbrellas).

Keeping all of that in mind: I still harbor a weird, mostly-irrational fear of the ocean, as I recall one vacation that happened after a hurricane. There were bazillions of jellyfish washed up on the shore and drifting about in the shallow water, and I was convinced they would kill me if I got too close. I never claimed to be a particularly smart person, people.

Phil’s Official Writing Challenge Guidelines

I would have titled this “How to Write In Ways That Will Make You Feel Like Your Soul is Dying”, but I realized that might be a hair melodramatic. Special thanks go to my college pal Andrew Webb for texting me last night with the following texts, as he was inadvertently responsible for this topic.

Phil, I have done a terrible job with writing since I stared working full time, how do you do it?”

I responded by saying I force myself to find time every day to write, even if it’s just a little. If I get stuck working on one thing, I focus on something else. Above all else, it’s important to find time for writing. That resulted in this response:

Do you force yourself to a genre or anything goes including journaling?

My phone had conveniently been switched to Do Not Disturb mode by that point, however, because I had to be awake at 6a.m. and those texts first arrived after 12:30 last night. Feeling somewhat guilty for not answering, and finding this to be a good blogging opportunity, I decided to give a long-form answer in the form of a proper writing challenge anyone can hold themselves to (for the sake of self-destruction, really). Keep in mind that I may be a subject matter expert of sorts, but I am by no means a be-all, end-all source of wisdom on writing and so this is mostly just issuing a challenge to help writing in the same way I’ve been keeping up with my writing. Feel free to adjust it in ways, and let me know what works best for you in the comments below. It can be a sort of note-comparing among creative folks who also like finding their limits and then using those limits to inflict torment upon themselves. I’m joking, mostly.

Also, I really should note how much of a gigantic ego-boost it is to have people asking me advice on writing. Holy shit, folks, that is awesome. Right. Moving on… Continue reading