Sunday, April 25, 2010

retreat

No, not me - I’m still deep in the trenches duking it out with my muse and distractions.

Actually it’s my wife - she is off for the weekend leaving myself and my daughter to our own devices.

Call it a Daddy-Daughter weekend extravaganza. And yes, so far it’s been grand.

We spent Friday night ordering take-out pizza with fresh garlic, pineapple, ham, red onion and green peppers. Yeah, I do have one of those kids that eats pretty much anything.

Either that or she starves - guess that long term strategy paid off!

We went out and got a movie to watch as well. Don’t remember what it was called (one of them young girl things) but it starred Alyson Stoner - who, by the way, looks uncannily like Alyson Hannigan used to. Guess the human gene pool is only so big.

Slept in Saturday morning and then we played a couple rounds of Carcassonne. I won both games, but there was no tears. My daughter is not like that - she just likes to play, I hope. Wouldn’t want this to scare her for life - kidding, I hope.

Then, to top up the our bellies with more nutritious treats we went to Mr. Sub, for, you guessed it - Subs.

Next stop, the dollar store so my daughter could pick up a new notebook to record her daily thougths - I just use my mind for that - of course after a few days go by, I have no recollection of what took place - still, that method works for me.

Then, her friend called her and came over for some Daughter-Daughter’s Friend fun. They are pretty much two peas in a pod. - same age, same temperament, same body shape, same zany sense of humour. Both are rough and tumble and silly.

They had a great time since I took them to the candy store where I let them load up on sugar treats. Man, but I don’t recall that much Diabetes inducing selection when I was a kid. I do remember Poppie cigarettes though with paper wrapping and powdered flour on the inside so you could simulate real smoke with them. Guess those are no more - sends a bad message - but they were way cool. Double Bubble was a penny a piece back then too and had a cartoon strip in it.

Now I feel old.

Anyhow, after the sugar kicked in I took them to the park by the lake for two hours - ran there energy tanks down to about half.

I made them spaghetti for supper. They played outside afterwards and then it was time for her friend to go home.

Once my daughter and I were alone again we played a computer game for a bit.

Then it got late and bedtime beckoned.

This morning we had waffles and are hanging around together waiting for her mother (my wife) to come home.

Damn it was a fun time - I’m sure when she is a teenager (which will be too damn soon I’m afraid) weekends like this will no longer take place. She will be out with her cool friends and I’ll be left at home to wash laundry and scrub toilets.

Anyhow, I hope this weekend was as much fun for her as it was for me - only time will tell. Maybe she will recall our times together fondly when she gets to be my age.

Well, even if she can't remember, she can always consult her daily journal.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, April 18, 2010

into the fire

Been reading way too much on how-to-write.

Now it’s time to stop that diversionary tactic and start getting the job done.

Just over a year ago I tossed in the cube-squatting, mind-numbing job to pursue a career of fiction writing.

And yes, I have been writing quite a lot.

But that alone does not and income make.

For an actual income you need to have your current written works circulating and selling and always be working on producing more - and I’ve none at the moment in that cycle - not good, not good at all.

And I’ll take a moment here to bitch a wee bit about the new boss - he’s a bit too wimpy and not nearly the slave driver I thought he would be. It’s time he smartened up, strapped on those Kodiak steel-toed boots and gave my rear a good hard thumping.

It’s what I expect from him starting - right now!

I’ve been spending the better part of a year revising and rewriting my novel, which is coming along, albeit slowly, but should it find a publisher (he said with hope) it will still likely be a year or more before it sells let alone shows up in a printed form you can buy at the bookstore.

What I’m trying to say is, I think I’ve missed writing short stories and sending them out for publication. It’s been like forever since I’ve seen my short work in print - and I’m hoping to start seeing it again soon.

I have told myself this past while (likely as a subconscious excuse) that I can’t write short stories and novels at the same time.

What a crock of crap with a cherry on top!

Professionals do it all the time, and I’m supposed to be one of those now, aren’t I?

Now, don’t get me wrong, this does not mean my novel will grind to a halt while I crank out new short fiction. It means I’ll be spending even more time writing (sorry house keeping) with short story production getting some much needed attention on top of the hours I already spend revising my novel.

So enough brooding and sniveling and avoiding - it’s time to start my engines and get those short works written and in circulation again. Nothing is more exciting than getting that SASE back with an acceptance - well almost nothing.

So it’s ass in chair, flying fingers and word production like there is no tomorrow because, well, without any new writing in circulation, I can’t rightly call myself a full-time writer, now can I.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

delightfully depressing

I was given a great book on the practical aspects of fiction writing, and read the whole thing in a couple of days.

I absolutely loved it . . . and it depressed the hell out of me.

Why?

Well, the author held nothing back and had so much practical advice on exactly how to write, and what needs to be in your writing to make is sell. So, what did I do with this newfound knowledge? - I looked over the start of my novel, of course.

And therein lay the problem.

I found, in just the first two paragraphs, about everything that he had pointed out in logical reasonable detail as the failings of dull writing. I had pretty much made every gaffe you could, and by all accounts, and in his words, my novel beginning had “the kiss of death” stamped all over it.

I suddenly found myself driving in a large city, looking for the library (or any place) without a map, just letting my feelings and intuition guide me along until I would happen upon it.

Stupid method to find someplace, don’t you think? Oh, you would eventually end up there after a tank of gas and several days aimless driving, but so much simpler to have map to follow don’t you think?

This book lays out the map for fiction writing, which is what I need for doing revisions of my novel. It will be so much better now because of this book, but how depressing to think that before I read it I thought I knew what I was doing - fact of the matter - not really.

What does all this mean, besides depressing the hell out of me? Well, as a writer you never, ever know it all and never will, that’s what. It also illustrated to me that there is help out there in many forms, pieces of the puzzle a writer must collect and put together if he wants to move forward and grow and above all, sell.

Love of writing may get it done for you, eventually. But for me, I don’t have thirty more years to figure it all out myself through trial and error.

I figure this book will save me many years of fumbling in the dark, reworking things until they seem correct.

It’s called, “Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Swain, and it’s damn good practical advice - best book on the subject I’ve read with regards to the nuts and bolts of good fiction construction. If you have aspirations of becoming a paid writer, you need to read, understand and assimilate the contents of this book.

With that in mind, I’ll need to re-read it a few times to totally understand it, but I figure every minute spent going over it will save me and hour in the long run.

Now, to get back to my novel and all the necessary revisions that it needs.

In reality, I will need to do at least three more drafts, but they will be far smarter drafts now that I have a clear and detailed roadmap to follow.

Until next Sunday . . .

Monday, April 05, 2010

pause for the bunny

I’ve decided that the weather and my family outweigh the need for me to crank away on my novel for the next couple days.

I know - I’m a slacker and “real” writers don’t do such things. I recall reading about Asimov on a cruise ship once spending his entire “vacation” in the cabin typing away . . . Sorry, much as I like to write and create fiction, I’m just not that sort of obsessive about it. I do intend to keep steadily at it, but not at the exclusion of everything else in my life.

And sometimes I think it’s healthy to relax and enjoy your life, family and friends and temporarily set the work aside. I mean if you can’t do that what is the point of working so hard in the first place?

This mini-break comes at a good time. I’ve just completed the third draft of my second of sixteen chapters Friday. It was a good Friday . . .

And there is much excitement in the house this morning as the Easter Bunny paid our daughter a visit. She is scrambling around the house following clues to find out just what the Bunny has left behind for her. I mean write, or watch this family event unfolding in real time? No contest.

Sorry, not locking myself in the cabin with a typewriter today.

I can talk about the writing though and the fact that I’ve added about 2,000 words per each chapter so far. If I keep this up through to the end my third draft will be around 104,000, a hair above the ideal (in my mind) novel length.

That length can easily be revised down to somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 after that for the forth draft. I’m hoping the fifth draft will pretty much be it and then it is off to submission land. I planning for a late fall submission schedule, then on to my next novel creation.

Which brings me to the length of time this whole process is all taking. Would you believe I’ve been out of the cubicle for 363 days - that’s right - almost a whole year.

Mind you, the first several months were spent detoxing from cubicle hell, and I’ve been easing into my new career at a slow and gradual build-up ever since, but I feel this year things are accelerating and will continue to do so in future.

So, with all that said, look for my published works to start hitting the shelves (or the fan?) sometime in the 2011 - 2012 time frame.

Well, I can smell chocolate being unearthed - and I want me some!

Until next Sunday . . .