7 Minutes Without a Crossroads

Sometimes climbing gets tiring, folks.


Lately, I have neglected posting on this blog (As usual, I suppose) and in the next 7 minutes I want to explain a bit of how things are changing in my life.


First, I have an increased anti-depressant dose, as prescribed by doctor. It’s been a week, and energy levels are up already. I am pleased with those results, and they’re getting me back to the page more often.


Second, I am still hard at work on Well Country. I had to push the pre-orders I had up back by about a month each because of the slowness I’d been enduring before the increase in my prescription.


Third, I am in love with writing again. Hell, I may even be attracted to ACTUALLY reading books once more. I didn’t expect that to happen at all, but with a little of the energy I’m currently overflowing, I picked up my copy of “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” yesterday. It’s a traveling book I picked up at a convention several years ago and left untouched until yesterday.


I wouldn’t say I regret all my low-energy days, months, years…but I wish I had tried to get this kind of increased help sooner. So, I’m climbing again. I’m off the landing and moving up the staircase.


I’m typing fiction, non-fiction, and role-playing game material a bunch all through the last week. I’m seeing the world with more child-like wonder than I have in some time. While this post is not a PSA for anti-depressants (Everyone will have their own solutions to lethargy) I do intend this as a reminder to all you readers and myself not to leave yourself in lurch. Don’t give up, people.


I thought for years that I couldn’t get better. Much as before I got my CPAP machine, I thought that was the best things could feel. Well, I’m pleased to report I was wrong.


There is the timer. Stay safe and thanks for reading.

No Limits

Happy New Year.

It’s still January 2021, and I’m gonna stay 30 years old (Officially-speaking) for just another week or so.

I’ve been typing a bit today on the next Demon Hunter book, but feeling like I’m a bit slower than I’d like.

The story is flowing, but I’m putting in dams along that river.

My problem is I think too much when typing rough draft. I like to just go wild, but since I finished re-editing Demon Scroll I’m stuck in the perfectionism that comes on during edits. I want the sentences to sound good now. I want the details and voices and characters to pop off at the fullest in rough draft.

That kind of writing takes longer. Time is a limiter for all of us, and I know if I can just get words down 15% faster, as I’ve seen myself do as recently as early December, I can get more books done more easily. That said, the factor that is more dangerous than running out of hours each day is running out of stamina.

Mental energy isn’t always well-understood, but without it nothing gets written or edited, no matter how long I stare at the page. The good news? Each of us can rebuild that same energy by relaxing, by going with the flow.

The way I relax is the real inhibitor.

That tells me I only have one skill to master to write as fast and as much as I want.

I need to relax.

I need to get out of my head and into my fingers.

It’s 2021 folks. That’s my entire goal this year.

Good luck out there. Find your flow.

Thanks for reading.

No Timer

I’ve grown from dictating books. I conceive of story beats and turns faster than I’ve ever done before learning to dictate “effectively,” and yet.

Allow me a digression, please.

When I was a kid, before I ever typed a word of a novel, I came up with the idea for a universe weirder than any I’ve ever read to this day, at least in the geographic sense. That’s the pillar universe in which the Forces of Empire series is set.

Occasionally, I long for the days when I approached my author career with that kind of insane, child-like boldness. Someone could ask me, “Who needs a story set in a pillar universe where the majority of the physical laws are different?” and I’d be at a loss to answer them.

Sometimes you have to create the thing before you know it’s purpose.

Sometimes art is just a step to a greater piece.

And sometimes the child knows more than the man ever could, though he doesn’t realize it at the time.

I never really tried to mature. I guess the process doesn’t work that way, not really. I actively fought against my own maturation at times, wanting to remain a kid just a little while longer.

I’m a twin. I was born second, and by C-section, due to taking too long to emerge. You might say I’ve always been afraid of that next step.

Still, along the past 20-odd years since I first conjured the images of the towering pillars, the vast mists, and the creatures that plied the icy cold between bright points, I somehow grew up anyway.

Time passes, and we, mere mortals, cannot wait.

I’ve been typing more lately. I think it will be my primary mode of creating stories from now on.

It’s true, dictation produces the rough draft at 3-5 times my old typing speed. Despite my increases in pace after dictating for over a year, I’ve increased my rate at the keyboard so the discrepancy is somewhat less.

I am back at the typing game, regardless.

I enjoy it more. I have the time to change things, and the editing is easier as well as faster. Most importantly, my voice is stronger when I type. I bet you can tell. I hope you can, anyway. I’m happy to be back to typing, because even in my slowness, I’m not waiting around so much now.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe.

7 Minutes to Check In

We just got the first snow of the season in my part of the world. It was light snow. Nothing stuck.

Sadly, this reminds me of the position my books have been in for the past couple years. Sure, I’ve gotten mostly positive reviews, but I’m simply not putting my books in front of enough people.

I want to share these stories. Yet, I don’t really know how to get people to read them.

Sure, I’m getting better at it. I’ve learned a few things about making book covers and even a little about writing book descriptions. Yet…it never seems to be enough.

Thanks to dictation, I’m faster and mostly better as a writer than I’ve ever been.

Still…

I can’t seem to focus on a series. My ADHD is a serious obstacle at this point. The time is coming to control those impulses, because I can’t keep failing to attract readers forever.

Honestly, this post started out as a bit of whining, but I think there is a good takeaway from my emotional shift while writing the last few paragraphs. I feel better. Maybe, just maybe, I feel better because I’m writing.

Writers, take notice.

You may just need to do the work to feel better.

Today has been a struggle to optimize marketing, at least for me.

Time to go back to the pages, the stories, the characters.

Thanks for reading.

Seven Minute Check In

Well, what could that be? A 7 Minute blog? You didn’t need to ask.

I feel a little bad about almost going dark, given that last week has been the only one in a couple years I haven’t dropped a podcast episode over at mentalcellarpublications.com.

Between technical issues that wrecked the episode I recorded with the amazing Mur Lafferty and the ongoing Of Mooks and Monsters break, I took a time out from podcasts.

I’m still excited to return to releasing episodes, but writing has to get done sometime, and podcasting requires a lot of mental space, at least by my standards. Writing also takes a lot of thinking power and time, and if I really had to choose one it would be writing. Luckily, that point has not come yet.

Having put that down, I really think I’ll be happier to write more and podcast less stressfully. Anyway, the next Clean book has been punishing as a book I’m trying to write. It’s a difficult project because at first, I didn’t know what I wanted from it. The more little elements from past settings I link to this world, the better I like it. Lately, I often feel as though I’ve been preparing this alternate future-world for most of the past four years.

So many of my ideas connect to this universe and fit in it. I like that, but writing a giant universe takes some getting used to rather than designing discrete worlds with their own rules for separate stories.

Anyway, this is a seven-minute blog. Brief: I am working more off the page than on it lately.

Write again soon.

Thanks for reading.

Weekly?

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I am back for what has lately been my weekly update here. I don’t like the fact things are working out this way, but it seems Monday is the only day of the week I can get my stuff together to write in this space.

I want to change that, and you will see if I am successful or not.

That said, I’ve been up to a few things over the past week.

I’ve been reading Jeff Vandermeer’s “Wonderbook” which is amazing and inspiring as a text for writers. I don’t even know how to describe it beyond it using visuals along with words to relate ideas about surviving with a creative mind, specifically as a writer. I’ve known about this book’s existence for a while, but oh boy, I did not expect it to be this powerful. I’m still only part of the way through it, but just reading this book makes me want to write.

When it comes to writing advice I prefer the toolbox presentation to the prescription of formulas. Wonderbook has that covered. For now, I give it a thumbs up, but I’m not far into it.

So, I’ve been inspired to work on writing, and have been thinking about how to proceed with the sequel to my first novel, “Hunter and Seed” as this book is still my highest seller and in one of my favorite story universes.

Also, I am editing again! The pillar universe novel is on deck for a comprehensive read-through for the first time. This is my longest novel and has a long way to go because I learned so much over the course of the year it took to write it. I’m adding a couple of scenes at different points, but I can see some others getting cut even though I usually add stuff more than take out when I edit.

Did I mention these antidepressants appear to be working? Also, I really like getting enough sleep. That seems to help too.

Anyway, that’s me checking in. Hopefully, I’ll chat with you all later this week as well.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 4th

Hello again, and good day.

I am excited to be up and writing today. Don’t know what has changed precisely that put me back on the strong path of writing, but I hope I’m lodged here for some time.

Earlier bed times and wake-up times may have contributed.

Reading a bunch definitely had a big effect in the right way.

And then there’s the freedom factory. I broke from my older projects to work on a newer story. And I will go back once I’m more solidly entrenched in good practices for writing fiction. I’m still going to be editing and I plan some releases later this year. But all in all, I am just happy to be writing for myself and exploring a new universe.

The simple joy factor is hard to deny when it comes to the fact that this latest book is science fiction with supernatural and fantastic elements. That is a combination that always excites me.

The weather is wonderful this spring, though I once read never to talk about the weather. Sometimes the warnings don’t matter. Sometimes what people tell you just isn’t relevant to what you believe. When the weather is this much improved I think its worth chatting about, however briefly.

What do they naysayers know? When creativity is at hand things change. Assumptions have to go out the window.

Freedom and creativity go together.

And I am living between those two right now.

Thanks for reading, folks. Have a good day!

Cards and Creativity: Symbolic, Tactical, Powerful

I have been thinking (and will no doubt continue thinking) about my problems in working on my books.

I think part of the issue could be the exhaustion of mental resources. And I began to wonder if the human personality actually has different capacities for different types of activity. Personally and in my experience, I think its obvious that this is the case. Going by what the team behind Magic the Gathering called the types of players (Johnny, Timmy, and Spike), I imagine three types of creativity.

(The comparison to the types of Magic players is all based on the idea that people like stuff they’re good at better in most cases

Symbolic Creativity, Tactical Creativity, and Powerful Creativity

These are not direct equivalents to the magic types, so don’t assume that if you’re familiar with Johnny, Timmy, and Spike.

Symbolic Creativity means stuff that deals with compressed data. This card represents these effects. This word has these denotations and connotations.

Tactical Creativity is, for me at least, logistics-based. That can mean knowing the right place or right time in a literal sense, and sometimes can be as general as knowing what will happen in a given situation. When applied in art-making this is the skill of extrapolation.

Powerful Creativity is what I see as fuel for action. Inspiration might be comparable, and so might excitement. I think this one is more emotional than the other types, consisting of feelings as often as thoughts.

So these three are all things each person has, but I would like to propose an economy of creative resources.

If I play a collectible card game my symbolic and tactical creative energies deplete because I am identifying the meanings of cards and working to find the best time to use them. My powerful creativity is less used in that activity, however, because the need is to think realistically of what my options in the game are, rather than seek some brand new solution.

When I write rough draft I think I use all three, but less symbolic most of the time because I try to use a lot of familiar ideas and simpler words to convey them. Tactical solutions as to how to best convey the information become more important.

When I edit the symbolic becomes ascendant and the powerful becomes less important, because the raw energy of creation must at that point fit into the preexisting text.

When I outline the book I think things are most equal in usage, but powerful creativity is my access to the freedom of twists and new ideas, and that’s even more true in the brainstorming phase.

This is a fun little thought experiment, but I must admit it is, in and of itself, purely a symbol, like math but for weighing creativity.

For that reason, I will have to keep thinking on it when I have time, and try to refine the idea.

When I started this post I thought I might be able to use theses concepts to describe a shortage of my own creative juices because I overwork them. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe its more like developing muscles than spending fuel, and I need to cultivate and warm-up my mind before I can expect full stories to just pour out of me as it seems they once did.

In any case, have a good day, and let me know if you have any thoughts on any of my ramblings. I don’t often reply to comments, but I enjoy reading them most of the time.

Crunch 2: Fearlessness

I hit the jackpot with my work today. Knocked out a ton, a TON, of stuff not related to writing. My wordcount however is still less than impressive for the day.

Time to get my butt back in this book.

I bring you this update, possibly in lieu of a post tomorrow morning, though I’ll definitely get back here at some point tomorrow. See, I have a lot more work to do, some tonight and some more tomorrow.

This is what it feels like to be struggling to become as productive as I would like to achieve.

I’m excited, and instead of talking to a personal friend tonight, I decided to talk to you, the internet readers, for a little while. You see, I’m not a very strong thinker unless I write things out or say them out loud.

I used to be better at this (I think), but as I’ve become an adult I either realized how slow I really was or I got slower.

Either way, I need to write things down to make them concrete these days. I’m about to enter into a major set of climactic scenes as I near the end of this short novel (possibly a very long novella). My love for the story felt far off for a while, but now it is increasing once more. Perhaps the regular ebb has subsided and now things are flowing again, or perhaps I really have found some additional inspiration for the project.

Either way I am on my way to the conclusion of this first story, this first volume of fiction.

I’m pleased to chat like this. I know I need to relax more when I write. The longer I stay relaxed, the more I write.

This month I will have to access the power granted by thinking aloud, the power of fearlessness.

Fearlessness. Not just courage.

Courage is persevering in spite of fear. That is useful in writing because humans are fearful creatures.

However, fearlessness, is a different quality. Fearlessness is like the Christian notion of divine love, unfettered by jealousness or expectation. Fearlessness is the empty mind, the mind that does not even understand what fear is in itself. I’m not sure how much of that is in each of us, but I know I once approached writing with great fearlessness, back in my first novel, my second, my third.

None of those books were very good, but I don’t think fear is what has helped me improve since that time. Contrarily, I think fear is a killer of creativity.

Fear says, “Why take this chance?”

But what the mind in fear does not understand is that a creative moment is not a chance to take, pass or fail. A creative endeavor is one that you take, or you let pass and waste. Creative endeavors do not, in spiritual sense, cost anything.

Fear says, “Don’t risk your life.”

I say, if you don’t use your life, it will simply evaporate anyway. Act when you are moved to act. Don’t let fear tell you to be still when that is not what you want to be inside.

This rant could go on and on. With the beautiful music I am listening to at the moment in my ears, I doubt I would mind. That said, I think its time for me to write some fiction.

I will talk to all of you tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Everything Old Must Become New Again

Listening to an old two-part episode of the Roundtable Podcast on a long break. Some of the lines from this set really resonated with me. First of all, writing well is about passion and persistence, not talent.

The important revelation I felt in that sentiment was that it is not only hard work. Hard work is vital. But Passion, drive to do, is the source of hard work.

I’m leaving this note here because I don’t want to forget it myself.

Vitality, creative power, the ability to act comes from within and from that which excites the mind.

I’ve let that go for years before I started the book I’m working on now. My career between my fourth novel and my sixth novel took a nose dive in the passion department. Fear stops me, but what am I afraid of? I’m not really afraid of feedback I get from others, except that if its bad it prompts me to beat up on myself. I am afraid of my own mad temperament. And that has stifled my creative output for too long.

Even now, with people paying me to write fiction, I can write off success by focusing on how bad I feel about my own mistakes. Some of my books are not revisable because of my embarrassment at even looking at the page. But where did that embarrassment come from except from within?

I write fiction. Writing fiction is more than my job, though it is that now. Writing fiction is my obsession. And my nemesis, the one that antagonizes my quest to do this thing that I sometimes love and always obsess over, is my negativity. The earlier post today was about attitude. Well, so is this one.

My attitude has punished me for action. My movement toward the things I want is stifled by punishment. I know I don’t react well to the stick (And the carrot is useless to me, by the way) but I have grown to fear work because I’ve used the stick too much on myself. If anyone else had tried to beat me down this way I would have fought tooth and nail.

I thought mental punishment could help me once. Perhaps it can, if I don’t overuse it. But its time to give up this lash. And its time to embrace the energy I hope will be freed with my manumission.

Open your leaves toward light. And keeping oneself in darkness will not help you grow as a person is like a plant. That’s my second slice for today. Stay energized, folks!