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.

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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

Happy Throat-Punch Day

Disclaimer: I have, in the past, been guilty of indulging in one or two April Fool’s Day pranks. My mother can confirm that I once called her, convincing her I’d dropped out of college and would need picked up from my apartment as I was being evicted for no longer being a student. My memory’s a little hazy, but I’m pretty confident the phrase “you’re an asshole” was involved in her response in some way or another. Deservedly so, I should add.

If you felt so inclined to prank someone today, I hope it was in good fun and nothing too harmful (preferably not harmful at all, really).

I promised myself I’d write more of a post, but I spent my morning cleaning and my evening at work, and 7a.m. will be here far too soon.

Given this laziness, I feel a preview is in order: I plan on writing about my thoughts on Tidal, adding to the thousands of other voices on this topic because why not?

PS: I’m actually a velociraptor who learned how to type words in a way that comes across as a convincing portrayal of a youngish writer who enjoys scotch. Hurr hurr hurr; April Fool’s. I’m actually just a jackass.

The great vacation book catch-up

I made a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, but now I’m ready to hibernate and I couldn’t think of a topic for tonight. I glanced up from my laptop screen for only a moment and discovered, duh, I have the answer right in front of me. I’m referring to the well-stocked, largely-neglected bookshelves in my living room.

My habit of buying new books before I finish reading all of the ones I have isn’t exactly a secret. It’s actually the opposite, given how often I’ve mentioned it on multiple occasions. However, I have a vacation coming up soon. Once I survive–no, dominate–these next six days of work I will have at least a little time to sit back, relax, and get some reading done. I plan on getting back to working on stories and my novel, too, so that’s rather important, but this is more about reading. I’ve got three books I’d like to finish before returning to work, and so here they are (and why I’m reading them out of my options) in no particular order. Continue reading

Stumbling ineffectively towards goals

Life as a writer and day-to-day life typically intersect in ways that could be considered overlapping, more or less. I add “more or less” to that sentiment because there are times when those two things feel like they exist instead in parallel dimensions. I’m offered glimpses of one or the other in fleeting moments, but the two lifestyles never quite line up in the ways I hope they would. Or in the ways my delusions wish they would. I’m fully aware that I’m only 27 years old, and that great things have been accomplished later in life than that, but I’m frustrated and so I’m bemoaning my–and a common enough–fate. Deal with it.

The novel-project better known as A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders is at an unfortunate stalling point, as I have reached one of a small handful of segments of story that aren’t particularly fleshed out yet. This wouldn’t be so bad on its own, but the deeper regions of my brain feel like some sort of fictional waiting room where a number of very impatient characters are sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing while I try to resolve my combination of misplaced motivation and uncertain destinations. I’m looking at you, Tick and Tock from Joshua’s Nightmares. Only compounding upon this problem is that I have an editorial I haven’t even started yet (for shame, me) and a few short stories that keep poofing in and out of existence at odd intervals.

Not helping: this One Hundred Days of Blogging and the various other changes I’ve got going on (my tattoo not included; that was a great idea, damn it). And I keep piling on projects, which then don’t get proper attention until later. Whoops?

Mostly, when I get in moods like this one, I go from dwelling on how great it would be to write for a living–how it would be nice to do what I love as my career, and so on–to thinking it would be shocking if I could even manage to do this as part-time work. It’s not a cheerful place in my brain, to be sure, but it’s one I’ve come to terms with because that’s better than just failing to acknowledge it.

Alternatively, this and the chocolate donut I’m eating seemed to have gotten me where I need to be mentally to at least write my damn editorial, so that counts for something. Right?

Sunday Spam Mailbag

Happy Sunday, everyone! I know, right? How the Hell could Sunday possibly be happy? Totally legitimate, reasonable question to ask in response to this post’s title. Two themed weeks later, and I’m slightly more dead as a result. I also have an editorial I need to start writing, as it hasn’t chosen to write itself. This means today’s post will be both easy and delightful(ly lazy).

I enjoy getting comments on here, as anyone with any form of web site probably does. I love getting to interact with other bloggers, people on Twitter, and so on, so this isn’t exactly shocking. However, I do occasionally feel compelled to check the comments captured by the Spam Blocker. They are surprisingly kind and genuine at times for things probably written by robots bent on selling me things that no one will ever need. Though I’ll never make those comments public, as I refuse to give spammers an open forum for their dubious links, I do feel compelled to respond to some of them. For comedy’s sake. Continue reading

Thursday Heroes – Heroes of Destiny

No, I’m not talking about the Guardians people can play as in Destiny, although I suppose they’re kind of applicable in their own way. I’m talking about heroes who, come Hell or high water, will save the day because it was prophesied in some bird droppings on an old sage’s bald head over a century ago, damn it.

These sorts of heroes are, admittedly, a dime a dozen. Their narratives often begin with “In a world” and end with some happily ever after, even if there’s a struggle along the way. The beauty about Heroes of Destiny is that they aren’t always entirely thrilled with said destiny, and so they don’t really plan to go along with it. I’d happily argue, for instance, that Rincewind of the Discworld novels is a Hero of Destiny in his own haphazard, eternally lucky way. If nothing else, he certainly knows how to escape horrible situations with most of his important bits in tact.

Of course, this also covers the heroes of virtually every Final Fantasy game ever created. A great tragedy faces (world), and so the crystals called upon forces of light to save the day. And so on and so on, and many monsters died in the process of creating this adventure.

I’d like to think the comical, resistant heroes of destiny are far more fun, as they show greater conflict with their own nature before inevitably saving the day. Thoughts?