January 15th 2018

My birthday is in 4 days.

I guess you could say I’m not content to turn 28, despite what some people have told me about my accomplishments thus far.

Someone once said to cherish every step of your creative journey.

The Buddha compared the the life of a human to a river.

Whether by climbing or by current, life keeps moving and changing.

Let me tell you something I’ve discovered about myself in relation to something that once obsessed me. In fact, I tend to discover this eventually about everything that obsesses me eventually.

Let me tell you, I tend to realize, after far too much investment of time and energy into an activity, that the premise I approached the actions I took under was completely false.

It happened to me with tabletop war games like Warhammer 40,000. I played for years, invested a good chunk of my limited time and resources. I figured out how broken the game was after years spent on it.

The digital card game Hearthstone recently met this realization. I haven’t played it since.

One addiction. Yes, I might call these addictions, I desperately need to kick is my old habit of listening to advice shows by other writers. Mostly these take the form of podcasts, and I have been listening to them religiously for over 14 years.

While I have removed the ones I feel are most egregious from my diet, I know (And my brother has often told me) they aren’t worth hanging onto.

Over fourteen years of listening, the advice podcasts, even when they don’t sound repetitive, often simply make me feel uncertain about what I already learned. I’ve kept searching for some means of ‘fixing’ my writing, my style, my characterization… The list goes on, but I won’t bore you with that.

I’ve been realizing, and I use the word ‘realizing’ because I think I already knew this on some level, the amount of pain that comes from rejecting what you love in favor of what someone else has told you is necessary to be loved.

While there are characters in fiction I enjoy reading about, I’m ready to disagree with the idea that only people matter to readers.

I’m a reader, and knowledge of these characters often does not appeal to me as much as the worlds they live in.

While I can rail against stories and their tellers for not abiding by doctrine of character and conflict, I’ve always been a liar when I did. Self-hating world-builder. Self-loathing designer.

I’m not an actor, not a performer when it comes to wearing the minds of my characters.

I want to write what I love.

When I was an English Major I tried to write a book that would please both me and my professors. Foolishness, for sure, I see clearly in hindsight. However, just last year I tried writing books for snobby writers, people who ‘know’ the rules of storytelling. Doubly foolish I’ve been.

Eventually only one piece of writing advice remains for me to follow if I want increase my joy in what I do.

I must write. I must write what I love.

Analysis.

Structure.

Sympathetic and well-developed characters.

None of these things are the vital component of my process.

The only piece of advice left is that most simultaneously transcendent and trite truism: Just write.

It pains me to add just after writing the previous line, even this advice could use some revision.

Or perhaps that is not the kernel of truth.

It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, or what any writer does. Someone is going to hate my work, their work, your work.

Someone already does.

I’ve met other writers eager to tear each other down. In fact, I believe most of us enter that stage, but not all get out of it.

Be wary of advice. Even this advice.

Doubt every fragment of advice, even the oldest one.

Don’t JUST write.

Bye.

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Monday Check In

It’s late (for me anyway) so I’m checking in on this blog instead of Youtube.

Happy Monday!

I was going to try using a two-minute timer for this episode.

Today I:
-Wrote 4000 words in a fantasy novella.
-Developed a splitting headache
-Got another review on my book “The Mangrove Suite.”
-Drank more coffee than usual. Can you tell?

That previous stuff all accounted for, I feel pretty good about the day. How about you?

Friday Morning Rambling and NaNoWriMo

I don’t recall exactly what happened in my dream last night.

I wish I did because they left me feeling pretty cheerful when I woke up.

It’s been a pretty odd week. For one thing, early on, I stayed up for 30 consecutive hours, hoping I could focus to finish my current work in progress in one day and night. I got a lot of words, but the book is still in process. I should be able to finish the book sometime between now and next Tuesday.

And yes, it is NaNoWriMo this month. Many writers of all kinds and commitment levels go to the trenches to try to write 50,000 words in one month.

I have done word counts like this before, but I’m a bit out of practice at the moment. Last month I almost managed it. This year, I’m not signed up to participate, but make no mistake, my goal is to write as many words as I can this month. No staying up all night, though. I want to make this more sustainable than my past mentality of writing as a special occasion (Which is silly for a lot of reasons, not least because it’s over half my job right now).

So, as November begins, let me encourage those of you doing NaNo to keep in mind sustainability for the future. A burst of words is a good time, but words week in and week out is even better, in my opinion.

Good day and good luck.

Thanks for reading.

Today’s Goal

Hey everyone!

I missed posting last Friday, but today I’m warming up for a big day of writing by putting this brief post online.

Writing has been okay these past two weeks. I always want to go faster, and I’ve been feeling that lately.

Overall, though, life is pretty good.

So, today I’m planning to swing for the fences. For me, this means a goal of 5000 words. Should be doable, if a little difficult.

That’s it for now. Have a good day.

Thanks for reading.

The Deadly Sins of Writers

Let me explain the title of this post for starters.

I’ve been kicking around a nonfiction idea for writers, I think of as the seven deadly sins of writers. Greed, sloth, etc, as they apply to writers. As I consider this book (Along with my many and varied fiction projects), I realized one of these sins stands out the most to me as it applies to writers.

I think envy is my greatest challenge at the moment (With sloth/indolence being a close second).

Lately, I look at the success of others, and though I think I’m managing the envy well compared to how I’d deal with it in the past, you could say I’m a bit nervous of how long I can maintain a good attitude about my feelings.

There are lots of independent authors who do very well. I’m working to become one of them, as I’m sure many of you know. The only way to get there is to work more. That’s where sloth arrives to join forces with envy. I’m less skilled at dealing with envy of other peoples’ attitude or work ethic, and that’s what I find gets to me these days. It’s not about the money, it’s about the process. If I felt freer, I would be on my way in no time.

Of that, I feel certain. But never mind the negativity.

I have more words to do today. Just wanted to check in with you readers first. I’m still working on the sequel to The Mangrove Suite. It’s going pretty well right now, though it could always be better.

No excerpt this week. Would be too spoilery given the subject matter of the recent chapters.

The Return of Blogging

 

Hey, everyone.

 

Let me just dust off this old blog here.

 

Whew.

 

By god, it has been a while.

 

First off, I want to say thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed the serials Tenlyres, Stolen Parts, and Invisibles. Those are going to be on hiatus for the time being, to give me more time to write other fiction. I love writing stories, but right now I don’t have the ability to split my focus and construct fiction for sale and fiction for this blog simultaneously.

 

Next up, there are only a couple days left before October, at which point I will be ending my giveaways on instafreebie.com. If you want to get Rem’s Dream for free, head over there using this link before the first of the new month.

 

Now, a quick update on my writing process.

 

I picked up the writing pace on Sunday, and maintained a pretty solid rate (for me) through the week. All these words either went to notes in the “Clean” universe, where my latest release is set. This is a pretty unusual genepunk/cyberpunk setting which also features an alien occupation of the Earth in the near future.

 

I decided on Sunday, after a solid day of writing on the second book in the series, that I want to keep this setting alive for a good long while. I don’t want to be bound to one story-world for my whole career, but I think I can commit to this one for a while. Along those lines, I started brainstorming some new spin-off story ideas on Tuesday, for use once I get some more released in the main series.

 

It’s also worth noting that I have begun a consistency challenge to write at least 100 words every day for 100 days. Lately, I haven’t always been consistent, and this has hurt my momentum on the stories I’ve been producing. I started this challenge on Sunday, so I’m now on Day 6 of the challenge, as of this writing.

 

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with my progress. I’m sharing a brief sample of the week’s writing below. It’s good to be back and talking as myself. Feel free to leave a comment, or click on the sidebar at mentalcellarpublications.com and check out any of my books. Thanks for reading everyone.

 

Weekly Writing Excerpt (Rough Draft)

He nodded. “It felt good to help. To be one of the good guys again.”

“Is that how you felt when you served?” Elizabeth’s voice was soft. “Like a good person?”

I remembered how she once told me her father had been in the military. Elizabeth rarely discussed her family, and I could tell at the time she and her father were not on good terms. She looked down at her plate with a sigh.

Thomas glanced at me. I unfolded my arms. The silence seemed absolute despite the other residents eating at neighboring places all around our table.

I said, “Don’t rush into anything, Thomas. It’ll be dangerous out there.” Outside the window, snowflakes started to scatter from low, gray clouds.

Thomas gave me a small smile. “I promise, I’ll tell you first if I decide to do something crazy.”

Just Stop or 13 Years Writing

Just Stop, or 13 Years as a Writer
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As many of you will have read before, I started my writing journey as a complete novice in August of 2004.

That reunion has come around again. I don’t always notice these, but this year I have a song that has been speaking to me about my journey.

And because it’s me, it’s a heavy metal song. This one is by a little band called Disturbed. You may have heard of them.

A few years after I started writing, Disturbed released an album called “Ten Thousand Fists.” This song is the second song on that album.

It’s called “Just Stop,” and for the life of me, I cannot think why I never noticed it before the past few weeks, despite having listened to “Ten Thousand Fists” many times. Cheesy as it sounds, the lyrics in this song really speak to me as a writer who has trouble with his internal critical voice.

Some of you may not be familiar with the kind of split that many say goes on within writers. There is the wild and carefree creative voice and the sternly admonishing critical voice. The lyrics of “Just Stop” are what the creative voice should say to the critical voice during the rough-draft stage. My creative voice has been having trouble doing that over the past several.

I’ll leave you with the chorus, courtesy of Disturbed:

 

 

“…Step back a moment, and look at the miracle starting in our life

Don’t stop the moment, and let the incredible happen…”

 

Now imagine saying that to part of yourself and not another person.

Thanks for reading.