Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


Let Us Relive Our Lives in What We Tell You

Breakfast is out of the way, more or less; all that remains is the coffee, and I’m about to refill that as soon as the song I have on finishes.  Yes, it’s six fifty-five AM and the morning has already been an hour in the making.  That means it’s time for a post.  That means it’s time to start writing.

It’s a strange live I’ve chosen for myself.  Write a blog post at six-thirty in the morning, then write code all day, then come home and edit twenty pages for a while, then time line out something because I need to know when an event could take place because of something happening to one of the characters–yeah, Research Bitches!  Finally, about eight forty I was able to relax and watch How to Train Your Dragon, which is one of my favorite movies, and far superior, in my opinion, to Toy Story 3.  Because Viking kid with a dragon.

You love them, you protect them, you take your girlfriend flying on them--Kerry needs one of these.  Oh, and lets not forget the blowing up of your enemies . . .

You love them, you protect them, you take your girlfriend flying on them–Kerry needs one of these. Oh, and lets not forget when you use them to blow up your enemies . . .

And then I’m back at it today.  Same as it ever was.

Last night, while I was plotting out my time lies and thinking about some of the crap my kids will get into once the future rolls around, I wondered about some of the things that have drawn me to writing, as well as some of the things I’ve written.  Like it or not, there’s always a little bit of me in my stories.  Maybe it’s just a personal feeling, or perhaps it’s an idea I want to espouse.  There is at least one story I’ve written that deals with feelings I have towards other person, and another where I’m more or less returning to some emotions I hadn’t felt in a long time–which is probably one of the reasons why I find myself getting into crying jags now and then.

A lot of writers get caught up in their characters, and I find myself doing the same once in a while.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ll often start crying at the end of one of my stories not only because I’ve reached the end and there’s a huge emotional release upon typing out, “The End”, but in a few of my stories something extremely emotional has occurred between my characters, and it’s hard to hold back the feelings.  You’re digging deep into something within your own essence to throw into your characters, and when that moment happens, it’s like it happened to you.

I thought out a scene for my kids last night that hit me in ways that make a lot of sense, and at the same time left me feeling like my heart was going to wither.  It was a cold scene, but as I thought it out logically, it was the only thing possible for the plot as thought out.  It even involved making one of the hardest characters I’ve ever made reach a point where she starts crying–that’s some hard cord sad right there.

I talk about these characters as if they are real people sometimes, and while I know they aren’t, they are, in a way, an extension of my own ideas and feelings, so when you give them happy times, you feel the happy times, and when you crap all over their lives and throw them into the Pit of Emotional Hell, then you’re going to experience the fall.  And trust me:  I will crap all over their lives, because life is hard for Normal people, so just imagine the sort of shit that gets thrown at you when you’re a witch.

What doesn’t kill them makes your characters stronger–but what does it do to me?  It lets me tell the tales of their lives–

And by doing so, I bring a little of my life out for all to see.


Hurting the Ones You Create

For a while I when got up The Burg looked a bit like London.  There was heavy fog in the street, and even the well-lit hospital and parking garage across the street were hard to see.  Now, twenty minutes later, there is fog, but it’s not that bad.  The Weather Channel is telling me that we will have dense fog until nine AM, and there’s black ice on the highways.  Good morning!

About last night’s writing:  yes, it was good.  Yes, I finished one scene and moved onto the other.  Yes, I hurt one of my students badly–

How badly?

Eh, I just electrocuted him a little.

My black magic woman–not a gypsy queen, mind you–had something she wanted to test.  I can’t tell you what that is, because in all likelihood I won’t write down that reason for a couple of days.  Helena was going on about how she liked the spell Electrocute, and . . . she tried it out.  On Kerry.  Several times.  By the time she was done zapping him he was slumped over his desk moaning and crying.  With that Helena whisked him off to the hospital to leave him under the tender mercies of Nurse Coraline, who is going to get Helena an ass chewing before she leaves.

I knew this was coming, because I’ve thought about this scene for a while–more than a month, more than a year, actually.  It wasn’t suppose to be a nice thing, and as I said there are reason why poor Kerry needed to get his finger stuck in the magical light socket.  He’ll be all right;  I mean, it’s not like I’m going to kill him off this soon in the novel?

I have a bad feeling about this . . .

I have a bad feeling about this . . .

Or will I?  Bwah, hahaha!

Go on, get that look off your face.  I haven’t killed anyone–yet.  But the whole idea that I was going to feel bad about bringing major harm to the character–naw, not a bit.  It was planned, thought out, and finally written, and the biggest trouble I had was figuring out how to write it so it didn’t drag, and described what was happening.  Because sometimes you gotta hurt those characters.

Whacking out people for the fun of it isn’t my style.  But if I gotta get down on someone’s butt–even if they’re eleven years old–for the sake of the story, then downing will commence.  You have to keep things “real”, even in a science fiction story (and even though this has magic it in, yeah, I’m calling it science fiction, ’cause I’m rolling that way), and people are going to get hurt in interesting ways.  There will be pain, both mental and physical, though I won’t dwell on the physical aspect.

Your characters are your babies, but some times you gotta get hard on those kiddies.  Sometimes you do need to need to point at one and think, “Yeah, in the grand scene of the story’s universe, your time has come,” and you drop an elephant on them. (A term I learned from my role playing days.)  Since you are the writer, sometimes you gotta drop more than one elephant on a character–or a few elephants on a number of characters.

Sometimes you gotta look at what you’re creating and think, “What my story needs is a Red Wedding.  With a bit more death.”  Naturally.

Why does it have to end in tears?

Because the universe inside your head won’t let it end any other way.

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The Head and the Hurt

There weather in The New Local is changing, turning cooler, and my head is killing me.

Just a few days ago it was in the eighties and humid, and it felt a lot like what I’d left behind in Red State Indiana.  But yesterday it began to change as a cold front started moving down from Canada.  The temps dropped, the humidity vanished . . . and my head began to hurt.

I know what it is:  sinuses.  Whenever the weather changes a lot I get pressure like mad.  I end up feeling it in the bad of my head, like it’s trying to leave the rest of my body behind and find a place to hide.  And I can’t blame it, because it hurts a lot.

By the time I arrived home my head felt like it had done a couple of hours in a vice.  Hurt and hurt and hurt.  Listening to music hurt.  Looking at word on the screen and trying to concentrate hurt.  I couldn’t edit last night:  just looking at the screen and trying to think about what I wanted to do brought too much pain.  I downloaded the beta version of Scrabble for Windows and started to play with that, but after fifteen minutes I gave up because of the throbbing noggin.

I finally decided to give myself a virtual makeover, and–surprise!  I take horrible pictures when I’m not feeling well.  Everything ended up looking like I’d never learned to smile.  Even when I thought I was smiling, the picture said otherwise.  It really sucked, believe me, because if I had smiled, then maybe my makeover pictures wouldn’t have looked like the worst things evar!

I finally gave up n the computer.  I dressed in something warm–which seems to help at night–and sat down to watch Scarface on AMC.  It’s amusing to see, because they don’t use a sanitized version of the film, yet they can’t say shit and fuck.  So when it comes time to offered up the swear bomb, there’s no sound.  Just emptiness where the word should be.  Which becomes amusing after a while as there was some stretches of the film where it seems as if nothing is being said.  Or there’s something shouted–then silence–then another shout–then silence.  Not as ridiculous as what has happened to other movies, but funny nonetheless.

I went to bed, fell asleep, and went right through the night, my first time in a lot time.  I woke up feeling okay, but then I got out of bed, took a couple of deep breaths, and–ah, yes.  The pain, the paiiiinnnn.  Though it seems to have dissipated a bit, since I’ve popped a couple of ibuprofen and had my tea, and generally relaxed while writing this post.  Before I get back to the homestead I’ll head to Target and pick up some decongestants, and pop a couple of those tonight, see if it helps clean things up.

The day awaits.  I hope I can get through it with a little discomfort as possible.

And work on my novel tonight.


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Sight Not Seen

It is true that if you can’t see, you can’t write.  I was like this yesterday, with my eyes burning up from some irritation that was making it nearly impossible for me to do anything but complain about how my eyes hurt, and dab water on them most of the day to keep the itching and burning manageable.

I don’t believe it was allergies, but rather I rubbed something into my eyes the night before last (that would be Thursday, for those keeping score at home), and it took a day for it to flush out.  Today–eh, I feel better, though the connection here at the local Y is pretty much crap.  I can get into some sites (hey, that’s almost like a vision joke), but only if there aren’t a lot of pictures, or a lot of streaming.

Though it wasn’t as if I didn’t write anything yesterday.  There was the blog, and then a review I did for a game, and then almost eleven hundred words on my Camp Nano story, which is about a low as it gets for me.  Up until now I’ve been doing about two thousand or so a night, but with my mind distracted by having to blink through fire every so often, I couldn’t get out the words I wanted.

Ergo, I hit a point over a thousand where I said, “Enough,” and shut it down and went to bed.

Even so, with all the things I worked on yesterday, there was about twenty-five hundred words written.  I’m going to try and up that total today, but there’ll be a lot going on later today, so I’ll be busy and probably not on the computer as much as I’d like.  Or maybe I’m wrong:  maybe I’ll be here doing things as I like.  With less burning eyes and a sore finger.

We’ll see.

I did find a point last night to think about another article to write, and that notion, while not so great, expanded a little more in today’s morning light.  I may not get to it today–maybe not even get to it on Monday–but I will get to it by this time next week.  It’s not because I write these amazing articles that I want to write another; it’s because I like writing them.  There are also times when I actually have something to say, and it gets people thinking, and that’s always a good thing, too.  Not to mention that I’ve had a couple of my articles get linked to other sites, and that’s exposure, and that’s always a good thing.  Or so I hope.

Someone asked the other day, “How do you write when you’re suffering from a cold?”  I wanted to say, “Not very well,” ’cause it’s the truth.  I’ve written with the flu, I’ve written with fevers, I’ve written when I felt like I was going to fall over where I sat.  I once fell asleep in my chair while taking “a break” from whatever it was I was penning, and woke up like an hour later.

Is it a good thing to keep writing when you feel like you should lay down an recuperate from whatever ails you?


But when do I ever listen to my own advice?

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Without You

Some days I feel just like poor old Psylocke here:  no matter how bad assed I am, no matter how mad my skills are, I gotta get into the vacuum-sealed latex uniform and spend all my time hyper-extending my knees and breaking my spine for the entertainment of others.  At least she’s not in heels–this time.

Today isn’t so bad.  I slept well, got up at 6 AM, had to deal with a cranky computer but managed to whip it into proper form, and I’m finally getting my butt in gear here at somewhere close to nine-thirty.  I have my plan in place for today, and it doesn’t involve playing games or suffering for strange things, though the later isn’t completely out of the question.

No, what I have to do is get some writing done.  I need to get this Fantasy story finished, because I want to move onto something else.  What, I’m not sure yet, but I do want to get onto something else.  It’s been a while since I wrote an erotic fantasy that jumped into this sort of word range, and I’ve felt strange about this development.  There’s that little trip hammer of doubt tapping away in the back of my mind that’s saying, “Nope, you shouldn’t be writing this, it’s going to suck, you’re going to find people laughing at this shit.”

I’ll admit, I’m sensitive to this sort of stuff.  Sure, a few days ago I said it was okay to think you’re going to suck, because people with talent tend to fall into that trap.  Then I take my own advice and kick it to the curb because, hey, I suck, and this story sucks . . .

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Stop being so hard on yourself.  Why are you writing if you feel this way?

I came to a realization yesterday that I get way too wrapped up in my work, that I have a difficult time disconnecting myself from the story in the sense that when I’m given advice, I need to step back and look at it critically, and not get depressed because of something I don’t like.  It’s a sucky thing to start spinning because you start beating up on yourself over things that other people blow off.

Being critical is good, to a point.  You have to look at your work, all your work, with a critical eye.  If you didn’t, you’d churn out crap, which happens a lot:  that’s why we have Sturgeon’s Revelation.   When you eye turns into a frickin’ shark with a laser, however, it can kill your creativity faster than said fictitious shark.

This is what’s been happening with me that last month or so.  The Doubt Wagon pulled into town and won’t leave my driveway.  It feels like every time I touch something, it turns into fail.  It’s easy to be ripped apart by that–

What you need is someone who’ll give you honesty.  Who’ll point out some things that need correcting, but at the same time tell you, “Your story is amazing.”

Writers are their own worse enemies.  Stick to killing your characters–

It’s so much more fun to watch your readers suffer.

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Climbing Up the Cafe

In the course of writing, there are times when you find your body starting to do its best to disobey you.  Sometimes it’s a headache that robs you of the ability to concentrate.  Or your back hurts and you can’t sit right for more than ten minutes at a time.  Or it’s your eyes, or a cold, or any one of a hundred damn things . . .

Last night, for me, I was being hit on two fronts.

There are times when, after I’ve been typing for a few hours throughout the day–as I had to do with my job–my fingers start to swell.  It not only becomes uncomfortable, but it makes typing a difficult endeavor   Where once you feel as if your fingers are flying over the keyboard, they are now feeling like not just two balloons, but eight.  It’s like typing in gloves without the gloves.  You can motor through the discomfort, but you find you start making more mistakes than your ability to correct them allows.

There was something else, however:  a nagging pain in my lower abdomen.  Some people would call it “bloating”; I called it, “A tiny creature that has taken up residence in my bowels, and won’t sit still for more than fifteen seconds at a time.”  This one, more than the puffy fingers, was giving me fits.  It wouldn’t go away.  I’d head for the bathroom to “do something” to get rid of the discomfort, and within minutes it’d come back.  It was like that all the way up until the time I threw in my towel and headed off to bed.

The body:  can’t live with it, a festering pile of goo without it.

I resolved that rather than waiting until later in the evening, when I don’t feel as tried as I do when I first arrive home from work, I should write early on.  That way, I can power through what needs to be done, and get my thousand, or twelve hundred, or whatever words in before my fingers and body and brain all scream, “Viva la Vita!”, and start walking my ass to the guillotine.  Thanks, guys:  you’re real pals.

With all that going on, I still managed six hundred fifty words for the evening, with my musey sisters having their late get together, and Talia, one of the muses, remembering the last time she’d sat with her sister Erin–a time four years before, in a cafe in Austria, not far from the banks of the Danube River.  She remember the good parts of that conversation, and the bad parts–you know there’s going to be bad parts . . .

It was easy to imagine them sitting there, because I’ve done something similar.  In 2006, I had lunch in Arnhem, Netherlands, at a Turkish cafe situated on the banks of the Rhine River.  It was a gray day, a little rainy, an very quite.  As I ate my meal of beer cooked in stewed tomatoes, with a side of rice and cucumbers, and a Dutch beer as a beverage, I watched the river slowly flowing by, while directly in front of me, maybe a half a kilometer away, was the John Frost Bridge, a duplicate replacement named after the commanding officer who’d once held A Bridge To Far against overwhelming forces.

I can imagine how my muses felt, because I remember that ninety minutes or so I spent relaxing, imagining that there was no one else but me enjoying that moment.

Maybe I was meant to, because I’d write about it later?


Will You Still Laver Tomorrow?

Back to The Real Home, and it’s all rainbows and unicorns this morning.  I actually slept in, which is to say that rather than getting up at 5:30 AM, I slept until 6:22 AM, and had enough time for a quick cup of coffee, getting ready, and then taking my daughter off to her martial arts class.

Whereupon I blog.  Such is life.

I even managed another 700 words on Part Ten of Diners at the Memory’s End.  It was a tough write, not because I didn’t know what I wanted to say, but because my eyes were telling me they didn’t want to stay open the whole time.  However, I managed to find a good break point in the story, so I left Meredith and Cytheria more or less glaring at each other from across a table, a nice, big plate of bara lafwr with cockles and bacon between them, all of it a setup to the hell that’s about to come.

Even though I had half a mind in the process last night, I was starting to enjoy the play I was setting up between the women.  It’s going to get a little ugly, but at the last moment, I felt, “Hey, you know, Meredith is a feisty girl, she’s probably not going to roll over and play bottom, not even for a bad-assed duchess,” so when I ended the scene, I had Meredith doing just that–getting her back up just a little as the Duchess Scoth starts getting coolly medieval on her ass.

So much of this story is really about feelings, how people are with each other, how they handle new situations that they never envisioned.  Part Twelve will get into that more, but right now–yeah, Cytheria ain’t a happy girl.  And when you’re a woman with abilities like telekinesis and you can read minds–it’s a good thing she has a lot of willpower.  Or does she?  I guess we’ll see.

But even more so than Echoes, this is turning into a very emotional story.  That story had hit me in the stomach over and over, but this sucker is giving me some serious groin kicks.  Just when I think I’m going to be able to walk away unscathed, I write something else and think, “Damn, I didn’t need to do that, did I?”  And then I realize that I’d going to get harder before it gets better–getting better happening somewhere around the end of Part Thirteen and the start of Part Fourteen.  After that I’m hoping for a much better ending, but until then–pain.  A lot of pain.  So much so, I should be listening to country music, the music of pain . . . naw, I ain’t goin’ that far.

If there is anything I’ve discovered as a writer, it’s that we not only half to push ourselves into places we don’t often want to go, but even when it makes us feel bad, we do it again, and again, because we understand that by going there, we are learning.  We learn about our characters, our story, and ourselves.  If you aren’t growing as you write, then you’re not really writing.

Trust me, why pay for a therapist?  Just write some fiction and see what happens.

If you aren’t crazy already, you’ll probably drive yourself in that direction.


Dysfunctional Wonderland

No drinking last night, save for tea.  Why tea?  Because I was crashing out on my butt at around 7 PM, and if I hadn’t done anything, I was going to find myself going to bed about 9 PM, and I certainly didn’t want that happening.  So, tea.  Because coffee would be a little too strong, and there’s nothing like slightly flavored water to keep one awake when they don’t want an enormous caffeine buzz going.

So it was back into Diners at the Memory’s End, and damned if this isn’t one of the hardest sections I’ve ever had to write.  I mean, really:  I’m about 3500 words into Part Eight, and it seems like it’s crawling.  Five hundred words here, three hundred here, seven hundred last night–it’s just going on and on.  Part of the reason it’s taking so long is that I’m falling into a lot of socializing of late, chatting up friends here and there.  That’s a good thing, because of late I’ve really needed to have something in my life to make The Undisclosed Location even a bit bearable.

Part of it seems to be this tendency for me not to get comfortable while writing these days.  It’s been horrible; it’s as if I can’t put three words together without having to go back and correct something.  It’s been driving me a little crazy, to be honest, because it’s totally messing up my ability to write.  Nothing says, “Dysfunctional Writing,” like having to stop and correct something every few seconds.

Oh, I know what you’re going to say:  “Ray, you’re suppose to write first and edit second.”  Maybe I need to break this habit, because I could probably get a lot more done.  Then again, I’d go nuts seeing all those read lines on the screen . . .

Lastly, though, I think there is some mental thing going on as well.  Transporting was a story that, in a very meta-view, was about what was suppose to be a very short kidnapping that turned into something of a grand romantic relationship.  Diners takes place not long after the end of Transporting, and it’s not so much about the grand romance, as it is about what’s wrong with the romantics.  It’s about being unfaithful, and how it affects both partners–partners whom, by the way, don’t have the option of screaming, “Screw you, cheating asshole!” and walking away.

And said being unfaithful is coming up, very quickly.

When I wrote this story the fist time, Cytheria sort of blew off the indiscretion.  Not this time.  This time it’s going to nail her hard, and she’s going to hurt because of it.  She’ll also understand the need to reconcile, because, as stated, breaking up isn’t an option, but that doesn’t make what happened with Albert and Meredith hurt any less.

I don’t like hurting Cytheria.  I know she’s not a real person, but this is something that I get caught up in, the lives of my imagination, and knowing what’s coming isn’t making writing this any easier.

That’s one of the problems I have with Cytheria and Albert.  I’ve become so caught up in their lives that I know what’s going to happen, and where there are rough spots, and where there are the smooth waters.  Where they will find gentle waters, and where they will be engulfed in sound and thunder.  I know their lives better than I know my own.

That’s not always a good thing–not for people you love.


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