A novel conundrum

Oh, hey. It’s six days into 2016 and I’ve managed to not continue writing the date with a 15 at the end. I’ll chalk that up as a pretty solid victory. Hopefully you’ve all had victories of your own, both creative and otherwise. (Really, though; can we take a moment to appreciate how easy it is to slip up and put the previous year on something? Because if you think otherwise, you clearly have your shit far more together than I do.)

With a new year, I find myself with new ideas. This shouldn’t be mistaken for me having new ideas and knowing what I want to do with them, of course, given that the new year also brought me being relocated to a new store at work. At least the ideas are there?  Continue reading

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Misadventures in writing a second novel

Oh, wow. How far is it into January again? I’m pretty sure the year just started yesterday.

Unless I’m actually a time-traveler who doesn’t realize he’s a time-traveler…

It goes without saying that I’m a little dazed and confused. I’d like to shift the blame to being a time-traveler, but I think this gloomy, post-Christmas gray-and-frozen weather is to blame for my inability to remember what day it is. What I do know, however, is in this haze of work and naps and new things brought along with the changing over to a new year (or a New Year) has also got me working on something new and exciting, and that’s lead to an interesting couple of revelations.

The something new is a new novel-project-mess, which I may have mentioned. It’s another new novel. I lose track because I start too many projects only to let them wander around My Documents, alone and bored until I remember they exist. All of this is especially worth talking about now because it was around this time last year that I went absolutely crazy in terms of cranking out new pages of material for Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King, a title I have grown to regret as it might as well read Joshua Harkin and the Paragraph-Long Title.

Progress is a bit more slow than with Joshua’s Nightmares (I’m aiming for brevity here, people), taking into consideration I have a different job than I had this time last year, complete with different hours, responsibilities, and so on. I am also, I’ve found, more prone to taking naps. That’s something I still need to work on.

What I’m also noticing, however, is that this novel has already taken on enough of a life of its own that it’s impossible to really compare it to its predecessor in any real, meaningful way. Joshua’s Nightmares was general fiction in the broadest sense. It features elements of sci-fi, fantasy, humor, horror, and so on. Current Novel Without a Name (the file name, which doesn’t really betray much in terms of plot, is currently The Princess, The Lich, and Some Murders) is more restricted in that it’s a blend of humor and fantasy, skipping out on sci-fi (read as “this will be lacking in epic battles between space pirates”).

The plot itself is taking more time to unfold, as I don’t want to rush getting the major players where they need to be. Events need to unfold over the right amount of time, and getting that figured out is taking up…well, more time.

Fortunately, I can say I’m starting the year off with plenty of writing instead of plenty of slacking, as even on my worst days I’m still adding to this project’s word count.

Of course, there’s always Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King to keep busy with until this book is finished (and eventually published, I hope). Definitely just a little proud of having a four-point-three star rating for my first novel. Please check it out and, if you’re feeling extra generous, write a review once you’re done. I’ll be donating 50% of the money I earn from book sales to the American Cancer Society via Relay for Life.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re creating, and no matter how many days you forgot just what point in the week it is, I hope you’re all having a good start to this new year so far.

A vexing night

This is going to be short, sweet, to the point, and a pretty healthy dose of “get your head out of your ass and move on already” for myself. That last bit’s kind of important, even if it’s a little selfish. It’s been a weird night of running into walls, struggling with inner demons, and other meaningful cliches for the headaches I associate with dwelling on the gap between where I’d like to be and where I presently feel I am.

Warning: There be some f-bombs a-lurkin’ in this here post.

I could easily put together a post on how many creative-types are weighed down by their own doubt, fear, self-loathing, and so much more (I came way too close to listing the various Sha there, and I’m not sorry to point that out). That’s very nearly what this would have been, but I couldn’t. It felt wrong and unpleasant. Plus it was the last thing I needed to read in the mood I’m in, and so I doubt it’s the sort of thing anyone else would want to read if they’re trying to muster up the energy to get back to work.

Here’s what I’d like this post to be instead. The instructions for myself and any other creative folks, or really anyone, who find themselves frustrated and feeling stuck.

Create. Don’t force it because it’ll only end in regret, but create as often and as passionately as possible. Build amazing, awe-inspiring worlds and populate them with characters both sympathetic and heroic as well as ones who are irredeemably loathsome. Let them move through lives that are only somewhat guided by the art you create and enjoy where things go. Don’t let the goddamn what-ifs and why-nots, the feelings of doubt and failure, all of the shit that makes creative types like myself into their own worst enemies. It accomplishes no good, and only results in nights spent after long days at work only thinking of the things you’ve not accomplished. What you haven’t done or where you think you should be. All of this instead of celebrating where you are and what you’ve accomplished.

I say this as someone who won a book contract, which should be a big deal for me as a writer. I’ve been so busy worrying about never managing to create something that big again and dwelling on how people will perceive my book being published not based on its merit but because of a contest victory.

Screw that.

There’s a reason the saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” has endured the test of time. My schedule may be a bit all over the place, and I may question my merit as a writer a good deal. I don’t have a five year plan or a ten year plan. Hell, I don’t even have a particularly well-assembled one year plan. While I recognize such things as long-term planning are crucial to being a successful artist, I’m pretty sure there’s more than one way to handle them.

Most importantly, and veering a little bit back from the rather self-centric post we have here, I hope any artist who finds this gets enough of a boost to keep going if that’s what they need at the time.

Going back to my post about almost being to Pumpkin Spice Season/Hot Apple Cider Season – I need to just focus on finding time to create, not worrying about the outcome. Far easier said than done, especially when every fiber of my being is saying to just go to sleep. What’s the point in busting my ass at a 9 to 5 if I’m not going to find time and energy to do what I love most (hint: I’m talking about writing).

So I end with a challenge to anyone who reads this. Create, with or without a plan, but with all of your heart and soul. Make something you think is awesome, even if upon editing you decide it’s not the best thing ever. At the end of the day, you’ve still made something new that wasn’t in the world before that point, and that’s pretty fucking rad.