Bring In the Fracking Clowns

Monday, and all is spinny like a mofo.

It was a tough weekend.  I had to work through a lot of things–illness and depression among them–to get some writing done, but I got them.  Perseverance, I call it.  Or maybe I just got nothing better to do.  Either way, I did it.  Bully for me.

I wake up today, feeling okay, but I still have this cloud over my head.  I know what I’ve got waiting for me in my Work in Progress, and it’s going to be meaty.  I know what I have to edit in my NaNo Novel.  You set your mind to what is ahead and get ready to do it.

Then I get distracted.  Not in bad ways, mind you . . . but there are distractions.

One is from someone in my family.  Not my immediate family, but someone in it nonetheless.  Someone who is becoming a annoying conservatoid who enjoys posting crap on my Facebook wall while they can’t be bothered to post anything on their own.  In the past I’ve warned them to stop, and even deleted their posts, but this time I called them out.  I pretty much told them they were full of shit and they should get the fuck off my wall.  Not in the mood for their political BS this morning, let me tell you, particularly when their line of reasoning tends to just pull an opinion out of their butt.  As I like to say, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence–and since you don’t have the later, I’m calling bullshit on the prior”.

Onward.

This morning I’ve also had to console a writer friend.  They are having one of those moments of doubt that I feel a lot of writers have, the one where their voice starts telling them, “You suck, dude.  You’re wasting your time with this crap.  Why don’t you stick to something that’s a little more soul sucking and leave the creativity to the hacks making billions off garbage?”  They’re at that moment where they’re wondering why they both writing, because even though they’ve published a novel, they’re not feeling that ego stroke that comes from getting nice 4-star reviews and the like.

I relayed to them something I read long ago.  It was a quote from Stephen King, something he wrote in “Danse Macabre”.  Without having to look it up, it goes something like, “If you write because you want to, because you have to, you’re a writer.  If you write just for the money, you’re a monkey.”

I also feel if you write because you just want to hear how great your stuff is, you’re also a monkey.  Yes, we all want to feel that ego stroke, but if that’s the only reason you’re writing, then writing is your form of masturbation, and the review you get from those people who’s job it is to give reviews, that’s your climax.

I’ve literally spent decades decrying my own writing abilities.  Every time I’d get close to finishing something, my mind would tell me, “You suck, dude.  Forget about it.  Leave the creativity to the hack who make money off crap, ‘kay?”  I’d do this because it’s easy.  Yeah, it’s real easy to tell yourself you suck and that your stories don’t matter, try doing something that’s a little more soul sucking.

I’m tried of that crap.  I need more.  I need to do this, because this is what I want to do.

I write for myself.  But I won’t like.  I have someone out there who has read me and likes my work.  They want to see more.  And if I stop writing they’ll not only be disappointed, they’ll be sad.  I don’t want that.  Even more than my own sadness, I don’t want to contribute to theirs.

Forget the fracking clowns.  Forget the reviewers.  Forget the pandering of substandard work as something spectacular that’s going to change the world.  It means jack.

All that matters is that I write.  And I write well.  And I tell damn good stories.

All else is secondary.

Got that?  Good.

Now go write.

Homemade Rocket to the Stars

Despite feeling way the hell under the weather yesterday I managed a lot.  The good news is I’m sort of half way through my NaNo Novel with my edit.  37,600 words in, 12 chapters out of 24 down, and it’s looking very good.  I’ll likely start in on Chapter 13 later in the day; once that’s finished I’ll be over the 40,000 word limit and closing in on the real half way mark of the novel.

Sure, I said I’d start up on my new stuff in the mornings before getting into editing, but I finished out the night with a few hundred words left to edit on the novel, so I wanted to get that out of the way before moving into the new stuff.  I have a very good idea about finishing off the next section of my work in progress, and I’m of the belief that I’ll have that done with only a few hundred more words.  I will like start on the next section of that later, too, and I know this next section will probably end up being the longest.  I know I said I’d make this WiP a “short story”, but short, to me, is a relative condition.  I’ve still got the magic Word Count Target set at 7000 words, but I’m already up to 4650 after just 2 sections and change, and there are 5 remaining scenes after the one I’m in . . . yeah, getting this in at 7000 words is probably out of the question.

I slept well during the night; the pain that had greeted me early Saturday morning did not reappear.  Which was good, because I needed sleep; I needed to rest my weary head.  And when I did, the dreams came . . ..

Yeah, my head has been all over the place of late, and last night it sort of reflected that.  The strangest thing that came into my head was something pertaining to a woman I knew who built a homemade rocket with the intention of making her way to the moon and back.  I know, strange.  And even stranger, she asked me to help, because when it comes to moon rockets, I’m the go-to guy.

So off to space she flew.  She made it around the moon–it was a simple slingshot around–and headed back to land safely.  During the time I got private messages from her: one of them, as she went behind the moon, was a simple, “I love you”, and I remember feeling so nice about that one, because how many guys get that sort of message from the moon?

And when she made it back to Earth she married some other guy and asked me to help them set up their patio because, obviously, I understand the casual life.

It seems that even in my dreams I get owned in ways that are designed to knock my ego straight back into the dirt.

But all wasn’t lost.  Even though I had a dream that would, normally, leave one wallowing in their tears while curling up in a corner in the fetal position, something else happened to bring this out of the gutter–

I was visited by Kerry and Annie.

If you’ve spent any amount of time reading these diatribes that pass for rational thought, you’ll know about Kerry and Annie.  In short, Kerry is a character I’ve played in a Harry Potter-style online role play, and Annie is his girlfriend.  During the previous summer of 2011 both characters got a lot of chances to strut their stuff, but of late, what with real life sometimes being a pain in the butt, they haven’t done much in the way of interacting within their world.

Even so, they still come to mind in the most unusual ways.  Yesterday we had just the smallest touch of snow here in northwest Indiana, which was enough to make the roads incredible slick but little else.  It actually looks beautiful in its own dangerous way, giving one a sense of serenity that is very calming.

My dream had to do with snow.  And with Kerry and Annie.  Kerry is half-American, half-Welsh, and while born in California, he currently lives in Cardiff, Wales.  Because of his upbringing, snow isn’t something he sees very often.  (Yes, I know they get snow in Cardiff, but not a lot.  Must have something to do with The Rift.)

Annie, on the other hand, lives in the mountains of Bulgaria, so snow is second nature to her.  She probably thinks Kerry’s view of snow is rather strange, because for several months out of the year she’s bundled up in heavy coats, mittens, and boots, while Kerry was probably moping about in a jacket regardless of the Welsh weather.

In the dream it was just starting to snow in Maine, and for Kerry the snowfall seemed like something magical.  Sure, being the middle of Maine it was a little more intense than the snow fall I saw yesterday morning, but still . . . two kids, out in their winter clothing, walking around a walled school laying in the shadow of a mountain, staring up into the snow-filled sky . . . when I woke up I really felt a certain peace for them both, and relish the days I had playing with them–as well as looking forward to the days when I can romp with them once more.

Ah, they have so many tales to tell.  If only I could tell them all.

Because and Effect

I’ve been very lucky with my writing the last few months.  There haven’t been very many hardships to keep me from sitting down and getting into my work, very few impediments that might prevent me from getting to the computer and whacking out a story.

Today was the first day I’ve wondered if I’d be able to to anything.  Why?  Let me tell ya–

I ended up crawling off to bed about midnight as is usually my want.  I wasn’t doing a lot, and I should have gotten into bed a little earlier–like just after 11 PM–but one thing or another kept me up.  By the time I did get to bed I still wasn’t all that tired, but I managed to fall asleep pretty easily.

My dreams were . . . nuts again.  They’ve been like that for the last month or so, and I’ve gotten used to it.  However, these were even more bothersome that before, and not only did I seem to have something going on that involved looking up something on Wikipedia about women’s health issues, but I had a new Cranberries song running on continual repeat, and that was really driving me batty.

It was only then that I realized (1) I wasn’t really dreaming, I was more in a half-dream/half-awake state, and (2) I had an incredible amount of pain in my upper abdomen.  This was the sort of pain that I might have said was caused by a gall bladder attack, but since I had mine removed years ago–back when I having horrible attacks every month–I could discount that.

Without going into any detail it was bad.  I was up most of the morning, unable to relax and lay down and try to get a little rest.  I hurt a lot and had a bit of nausea, but never really got sick to my stomach.  Finally, about 5 AM, I caught a little rest–

Only to have to wake up 75 minutes later because I needed to get up to take my daughter to her martial arts class.

So here I am, feeling not in the best of shape, sitting on the floor with my back against the wall, with some Emerson, Lake, and Palmer coming out of YouTube.  As I’ve done the last few days, I worked on my new story, and while things didn’t flow as well as I would have liked, I managed 600 good words.  (599 really, but who’s counting?)  And now I’m taking about it, banging out the blog, and while I wished I didn’t have this pain in my side, wishing I didn’t have to look up “acute pancreatitis” later to see if the pain I experience this morning was anything like those symptoms . . . my work at the keyboard, my work as a storyteller isn’t going too badly.  (Though the debate still rages if I’m really doing well as a storyteller, yuk, yuk.)

I can’t say I’m done with the work in progress; last night I wrote 200 words, and the story stands now at 4650 words, and I have a feeling I might get back into it tonight.  If I’m not too tired.  But I will do the NaNo Novel edit this afternoon . . . when I’ve had a little nap and my head has cleared a bit.  And I will take that slowly, because I know I don’t have to kill myself to get it done.

Though I’m interested to see my lesbian vampire eating bacon.  ‘Cause, you know . . . vampires, like everything else, go better with bacon.

Tripping the Multiverse

Days like today I feel like Jenny Everywhere, tripping from one reality to another with some concern about what I’m going to find.  I think that’s the nature of writing, and even more so when you write about those things that are on the rather fantastic side.

My NaNo Novel deals with a far different world that the one we know.  Well, maybe not different, but when the main character is a sorceress who lives in a modern version of the Holmes Murder Castle, it’s not going to be your parent’s world.

And my work in progress . . . it’s a bit stranger, in that it deals with a different world, a different time, totally different situations, and even when you think you know what’s going on, I’m going to surprise you.

I don’t think it really hit me until after my nap (and, yes, I needed one for some reason) that when it comes to writing, I’m all over the place.  Someone asked me in a chat, “What genre do you write?” and I told them: I have published horror, I have just sold an erotica piece, I’m doing a novel that pretty much paranormal fantasy, and my work in progress is straight up science fiction.

I think it says something about me when you realize that of those four titles, the erotica comes closest to being in the “real world”–and even then, my old erotica got about as far away from the real world as you could imagine.

I am not a “normal” kind of guy.  I’ve always been interested in the those things that were just a little different.  And my reading interests went along the same lines.  One of my favorite science fiction series was John Varley’s Gaea Trilogy, of which Titan was the first novel.  It was one of the best stories I’d ever read, and even to this day I’ve been hard pressed to find a written work that impressed me as much.  Any time you have astronauts stranded inside a living creature as big as a moon, and they discover said creature has creatures its created just because, you know you’re going to have a good time.

And even among friends who read science fiction–and that was never a lot, trust me–nearly all of them had neither heard of the novels, or decided they couldn’t be bothered to read them.  Given a choice between vanilla science fiction and reading something interesting, I’d always go for the interesting.

And I’ve tried to go there in my writing.

I’m not saying I’m another John Varley, but I would love to go in that direction.  I feel the need to be different; I feel the need to go after things that interest me and, I would hope, interest others.  But like I’ve said before, I have to write for myself–because if I can’t write things I enjoy, then I’m just writing for a paycheck.

The funny thing is, my science fiction story isn’t really “out there”, but I like to think it’s very character driven.  And that’s important to me, because I like my character, and I like to have them drive my stories onward.  That was one of the great things I loved about Titan: the characters kept it moving.  Even when you wondered how strange things might get, the characters kept it interesting.  Because, in the end, it really was about them.

I want my multiverse to be everywhere and everything.  But if I have characters that don’t seem real . . . you know, you’re better off staying home and watching reality TV, ’cause when it comes to unreal characters . . ..

What Comes Before–

Strange things come to mind when I’m sitting before the computer.  Like . . . what should I write next?

Yesterday I was commenting to someone about how my new writing seemed to have slowed up of late.  Why is that?  Could it be because I’m tired?  It’s possible: I’ve been getting a lot more sleep these days, and it’s probably due to my body telling me, “You’re tired, lame-o!”  It could be that I’ve got the normal holiday stress that everyone else gets this time of year.

Or maybe I’m getting distracted by too many things.

I came up with this idea: try writing new things before I did my edits.  Why is that?  Because, to me, editing and writing are different mindsets.

The edits on my novel require having to read what I’ve already written, reading it carefully, and not only correcting the stuff that I messed up, but to rewrite things that don’t make a hell of a lot of sense.  You have to forget about what you wrote the first time, and go about making it better.

Now, maybe you won’t do a lot.  Maybe your first draft is so good your edits are trivial.  Even so, you’re in that mind set to make change–not to create.

And if you shift right into a new story . . . I believe I was carrying that mind set of “Don’t create, revise” over to my work in progress, and it seemed like I was taking way too much time building a new story.

So I tried mixing things up today.  I worked on my work in progress first–well, I should say, that’s all I’ve done so far.  Research for the work in progress, and then writing.  I wanted to see how it went.

Now, I had a few distractions.  I had someone contact me on IM.  I had someone start emailing me with drawings for a story of mine that’s being published.  But I wrote through that.  And when it was over, I had a little over 750 words of new content.

Now, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was done over the course of maybe an hour total, and when I considered I was struggling to get out 600 words the other night, it kind of confirmed my idea that new should come in the morning, and edits should come later in the day.

New hotness first, old stuff later.

I’m going to try this for a few days to see if there’s an improvement, see if my work in progress times improve.  I still need to see how my edits are going to go, but I’m probably not going to start on that until this afternoon.

After all, now I might look at the first draft of my novel and want to start over.

Echoes of the Subconscious

There’s an interesting correlation going on, I think, between what I’ve begun writing and what I’m seeing when I doze off to sleep.  It’s hard to say because my dreams have, of late, become a very strange place to reside, even for me.

Let me see if I can make sense of this.

Part of what I saw last night was like a movie.  I didn’t actually sense myself there, but rather I sensed I was seeing things as if I was seeing things unfold.  The reason I didn’t feel like I was there was because the scenes were dealing with people who I’d never associate with in real life–that’s to say, douchey frat-boy types running around spending money and being jags with the ladies.  It seemed that what I was seeing was a run on the checking account of one clown’s parents, and while there was much partying going on, there also seemed to be a great deal of concern that sooner or later the parents whose checking account was being assaulted were going to catch on very soon.

And that’s when I stepped onto the stage–more or less.  In the next phase of the dream I ended up on an ocean pier where I was speaking to said Frat Douche’s parents, and they were asking me for advice on how to deal with sonny.  My advice was very sound: he wrote off over one hundred thousand on parties, pizza, and poon, so have him killed–and for ten thousand I’ll take care of him.  (Hey, don’t we wish it was always that easy?)  See, I’m hiring myself out as a hit man in my dreams; how quaint.

The end result was I ended up meeting with the kid in question on the same pier, where I chloroformed him, then jumped off the pier and dragged him underwater to his doom.  Since he’d had a few beers before the meeting, it looked like he feel because he was drunk.  I love it when a plan comes together, even in my dreams.

And then it comes to the next section . . . with a lot of changes.

Now I’d switched genders, and I was walking around outside my house–and it was a really nice house, trust me–in an outfit that would be nice for the late fall, when the weather is changing and the leaves are falling.  I was trying to set up something on the roof, but for some reason I couldn’t get anything up, and the neighbor woman from across the street came over to help climb up the ladder and place things on my roof.  And after that we sat on the patio and drank hot chocolate and talked about writing.  No, seriously.  We talked writing.

And then right after that . . ..

Now, for something a bit different.  Lately I’ve been writing up a storm.  I’ve got the blog (all you people following me, thank you!), and I’ve got my NaNo Novel that is in the editing stage at the moment (Chapter 8 done and Chapter 9 to come).  I’ve also begun work on another story, a science fiction short (though I’m already up to about 1,700 words, I don’t know how short it’s going to be) that concerns characters in my first, unpublished novel.  The story begins with one of the main characters having a dream of someone they haven’t seen, or even thought of, in five years, and by the time it’s over this character ends up seeing things about his life that he never realized could have happened.

Without giving too much away, the story involves time travel and multiple realities, and this main character gets a good look at one of the ways his life could have gone, instead of how it did go–which was, to end up somewhere in the future.  Confused?  Good.

But the story is bookended by dreams, which is why the last part of my dream is so unusual–

My girly self ended up going from the chocolate-drinking patio to standing in a dark hallway.  I recognize this place, because I’ve been here many times before.  I call it “The Big House”, because that’s exactly what it is.  Sure, you could say it’s a museum, because the damn thing is big enough to be one, but it doesn’t feel like that, it feels more like a very big mansion.  (As long as it isn’t the mansion from my NaNo Novel, because that would be bad.)

I was in a nightgown, walking barefoot through this silent hallway.  It wasn’t dark, but it was night.  It was very quiet, and because I was barefoot I didn’t hear myself while walking.  I could hear music, off in the distance, and I headed in that direction.

I could feel my body as I moved, and things felt . . . different.  Trust me.  I don’t have a good idea what it would feel like to walk around in a nightgown while being a woman, but it would probably feel the way I felt it in my dream.

I kept walking towards the music, and came to a doorway.  I look beyond the door, and there was a large room on the other side.  And there, in the room, was another person.  I’m not certain if I knew them, because they had their back to me.  I do know they were a woman, because I saw their long hair . . ..

But I saw nothing else, because I woke up.

The thing that hit me while I was laying in bed remembering this is that, last night, I ripped off a bit more than 500 words on my new story.  And the section written was the retelling of the dream that starts the story–which, if you haven’t figure it out by now, was a lot like the dream I had, only it was told from a guy’s point of view.

What does it all mean?  Are my stories following me into my dreams?  Or have my dreams become an extension of my stories?  Or am I spending too much time trying to figure things out that don’t need figuring?

We’ll see, because I’ll work on this new story each day.  I want to work on it only because it’s something I need to tell.

And, perchance, to dream of as well.

Snip, Snip, Scissors Will Clip

Writing, editing . . . it’s all ongoing.  I don’t know if it’s a symptom of NaNoWirMo to just start adding words so I could make the word count, but going through my novel I’ve found thing that were really in need of a shave.  Or, in some cases, out-and-out decapitation.

The art of writing is something of a violent endeavor.  You labor to produce a piece, and that’s often fraught with the pain of trying to find the right things to say, or the need to slam words onto the page so you can get your story told.  Then you go back over said work and start cutting and mending your words, because the chances are very good your first draft came out in less than perfect condition.  And when that is finished, there’s a very good possibility you’ll have to look over your manuscript once last time and throttle the story one last time.

Then you hand it all over to an editor who might just euthanize the whole project.

I’m discovering editing is a whole ‘nother beast.  Yes, there is still writing going on, but it’s of such a different form as to be a bit alien.  I’ve re-worked a bit of Part One of my novel, and I’m now doing the same thing with Chapter 8 of my NaNo Novel–I mean, the very first paragraph almost made me cringe, it was that clumsy.  The edit is forcing me to see just how good my first draft is, but it is also making me see how that first draft, good as it might be, still needs love to make it better.

I find this “look hard at your first draft” feeling filtering over to my current work in progress.  I’m only getting off about 500 words a night with the story, but I’m watching what I’m writing so very carefully.  I tend to do that when I’m starting a story.  Even if I know where the story is going I’m slow to get it started.  Then it seems like I hit a point where all the background is out of the way–and for this story there is background that needs to be included–I can fly.  I was starting to hit that grove last night when I came to a part that requires me to go into some background, and I decided I would tackle that later today, because that’s not something to write while I’m tripping on lack of sleep.

Does this mean my days of cranking out 1200 words an hour are over?  Probably not.  But when it comes to getting started, I’m sure the going will be just a little more . . . deliberate.

The Rough Guide to My Alternate Chicago

Well, Part One of my NaNo Novel is edited.  22,000 words put away, fixed, re-written . . . whatever you’d like to call it, it’s done.  It was a bit of a chore, but it taught me that if I want to do this, I gotta keep at it.

Editing is not easy, particularly when the item under the pen is a novel.  The good thing is that the novel was structured nicely; I didn’t have crazy things going off in every direction save the one I wanted, and when you have to edit the story down to something manageable, that helps a great deal.  If this hadn’t been the case, I would probably be running about the house right now screaming about how screwed I am–and that I should never get off the boat, but that goes without saying.

However, there were parts that needed to be re-written, sections that needed words removed because they weren’t needed. Over the course of editing Part One I’ve removed close to 200 words.  Not a lot, I agree, but there was one chapter where I actually added content, and that is likely skewing the word count.

But the stuff that was changed–yeah, in a few sections here and there it made a world of difference.  It made what I was trying to say clearer, easier to roll about in your brain.

So it goes great.  The novel is shaping up into a work that, I feel, is going to be worth publishing when I finish with this edit.

Which isn’t going to happen today.  Editing, that is.

Since all of my time yesterday was spent editing, I neglected doing any new work.  Yes, I have a new story I’m writing.  And, today, I said I would start an article that I need to finish either today or tomorrow, but that I do need to finish.  This is something called “a deadline”, and as a “writer” I don’t want to miss it, else I get all sorts of shit from someone who could make my life hell–also known as “the editor”.

So I have to take time to get these things knocked out and finished, else I’ll have to do penitence for not living up to my obligations.

I am going to do a bit of a blog whore here and direct you to the last article I wrote, a little piece on how missiles and nukes might be used in science fiction.  This is the most current of three articles I’ve written for the same website, and I hope you click the link and give this piece, and my others, a read.  It’s an interesting look into how I write, and you get to see all the great research I did.

It’s something I know you’ll enjoy–trust me.

Would I lie?

Altered Beings

Late night last night–but a good one.  It was one of those Saturdays when I get together with friends and sit around BSing about things.  Most of what we BSed about were games (always a good subject) and books (another).  Most of the gaming discussion revolved around MechWarrior, and the various books written within that universe.  (And how the brother of one of the guys who was there last night is a dipshit did something screwy in his Battletech game, but he likes doing things like that because it generally ends up screwing over his players, so nothing new there . . ..)

Generally it was a good time.  I like discussing games and books–oh, and I had to mention that I’d sold a story.  Yeah, tooting my own horn, but why not?  That’s what I have to do, otherwise who’s going to get exciting about you if you don’t spread your own hype?  Just don’t believe your own hype–that gets you in trouble.  Oh, and don’t guinea pig your own shit: a lesson from Miami Vice and Cyberpunk that is still ignored to this day.

It was a lovely, clear night, with a very bright full moon.  I didn’t think much on the drive home: usually I do, but last night I kept my mind on a few things and didn’t work out scenes in my head or come up with other ideas or anything like that.  It wasn’t that the ideas wouldn’t spring out of my imagination, but more like I kept them holed up in some dark recess of my brain while I kept one thing in the forefront of my mind.

Besides, I only had to wait until I feel asleep for the weird stuff to happen.

I’m working on the edit for my NaNo Novel (yay!) and set up my own work in progress novel in Scrivener (yay!) and, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m working on a new short story (Yay!!!).  Strangely enough, most of the characters in those stories are women, and as I mentioned the other day, when I’m writing I tend to come across as a women (I’m going to say “Yay!!!” because, why the hell not?).  So of late I’ve got a lot of females on my mind as well–and one of them is a vampire who can walk around in the daytime and loves bacon, so watch out!

So it’s not out of the question I’m going to have “girl dreams”.  Though these probably aren’t the sort of “girl dreams” you might imagine.  Yours probably involve you being with a hot actress of your choice, rubbing her back while she’s  playing Skyrim wearing nothing but tiger-print underwear and sitting in a tub of lime Jell-O.  Mine involve being the hot actress.

Last night mine were very crazy.  First, I was late for work, so I parked my car near the loading dock of the restaurant where I was a hostess.  I did my job, taking orders, smiling a lot, and generally being really good with people.  I was pretty cute, too: I remember having sort of dark, reddish hair, a lot of freckles, and purple nail polish.  And glasses, I always seem to have glasses.  I zipped around the restaurant in a blue dress and high heels, never once complaining about my feet, and my last order of the night was Bart Simpson (no, really: I told you it was crazy).

Then I go out and find a parking ticket on my car, which pissed me off.  I stop at the mall to do a little shopping, and I have to go to the bathroom–only I’m not allow.  Why?  My head wasn’t covered.  Seriously.  So I throw on a head scarf after which I’m allowed to access.  I do my business, freshen up (which is where I got the best look at my cute self, yay!!!), then head back out to my car where I find another parking ticket.  Bummer.

Then I’m suddenly I’m at home and in front of the computer.  No, I wasn’t playing Skyrim in my boy shorts.  I was writing–actually, I was editing my Nano Novel.  I could tell because I saw the chapter layout on the screen in my dream. With my head still covered up, I began editing–

And then I woke up.

There were a few more things in there as well–for some reason I remember talking to another woman who was riding in my car on the way to the mall, and I was alternating between complaining about the parking ticket and the need to get some leggings, but for the most part it was working, trying to go to the bathroom (which took forever in the dream–“Why can’t I go in?”  “You have to cover.”  “But I need to go!”  “You have to cover, first.”  Oi), and writing.

The funny part was the writing seemed very natural and easy.  And much like I really am when I’m writing–though I’m never in a blue dress and wearing a head scarf and purple nail polish when I write.  Okay, almost never.

I thought the strangest part of the dream was coming home to work on my novel, because I have never dreamed about writing before last night.  However, my new work in progress, Echoes, deals with someone reminiscing about writing, so maybe that’s rubbing off on me and working it’s way into my dreams.

Maybe the next time I’ll see how my edits are working out.

Maybe I’ll have different nail polish, too.

Old is Way New

Crazy day of writing, but then they all seem that way these days.

Blogging usually takes up an hour of my time during the day if I’m looking up a lot of things (also known as research, and some of you know how I feel about research), but when I’m just flying about, saying things, it goes a lot faster.  Most of the time I talk about my writings, other times I speak of my dreams, and sometimes I feel like calling wankers out on their BS.

I’m five chapters into doing the edits on my NaNo Novel, and I think I’ll have Part One finished this weekend.  It’s a great feeling to go through your work and see what was written over a month ago.  Part of the time you’re thinking, “Oh, this is such crap; why did I write this?” but that’s only due to seeing your work with new eyes and understanding that you wrote all this stuff while consumed by some white-hot fever, and now it’s time to make it really come to life.

Because the rest of the time you’re re-reading your novel and realizing that it’s all pretty good, that you didn’t do that bad of a job creating a story.  Sure, there’s a lot of work ahead of me–I’m starting on Chapter 6 today, and there’s a total of 24, so I’m only a quarter of the way through editing–but it’ll get done.

I started something else yesterday as well: a new story.  This one has bugged me for days, and it came about because of the work I’ve been doing with my very first novel.  I spent a few days plugging that sucker into Scrivener, then looked it over and decided what was needed to get it finished.  While doing this everything about the characters that I loved when I created them started coming back . . . and this began mixing with something else that’s been kicking around in my head for a bit.

Though I said I wouldn’t work on a story with these characters–mostly because without the first novel explaining so much, their existence and back story might not make much sense–I couldn’t help but at least plot the story out.  So I created a new short story in Scrivener and went to work.

In about an hour I had the story.  It wasn’t all that difficult because I’ve been thinking about this story for more than a few days, so when you can’t get it out of your head get it down on paper, or some electronic media.  Once the scenes were finished I sat there looking at it, thinking, “Yeah, I should do this . . . I should . . . it wants me to tell this story.”  I know that sounds strange, but Harlan Ellison has stated on many an occasion that his stories wrote themselves, so why can’t mine speak to me?

So last night, after 10 PM my time, I began Echoes, which is what I’ve named the story.  Only 547 words so far, but most of that was due to writing several hundred words describing the late night scene outside the main female character’s window, and damn, has it been a long time since I’ve seen that view.  Oh, yeah, I know what it looks like–I’ve known for 20 years–but it’s been a long time since I’ve had to tell anyone what I looks like.

So, we’re going to see where that goes.  Maybe it’ll go alongside this next piece . . ..

I can say this now: I sold a story.  Signed the contract last week and, this morning, sent along information to the publisher so they can do a cover.  I’ve told a few people about it, and it’s been great happiness all around.

The story is a bit of erotica–yes, I have written that.  This was actually a piece I wrote to prove to myself I could write “normal” erotica, because most of my work in the genre was more along the lines of fetish fantasy.  And it was fun writing, because I could allow my imagination to roam in a direction it doesn’t go too often.

And there’s a bit of additional goodness here: I was told they would like to see more.

Since I would like to show more, I’ve been thinking about what I could submit.  Oh, sure, I have this long erotic fantasy that might just fit the bill (and, no: you don’t get to hear it), but this morning when I woke up and started looking for the lunar eclipse–and damn it, I wasn’t there–it hit me:  why not finish a story I started a long time ago, something I blogged about back on 1 May, 2011.

That story would be Lorelei’s Lessons.

I’d started that at the start of May, and had the greatest intentions of finishing it up and sending it off.  However, one thing or another came along and I just couldn’t bring myself to write that story.  (If you’re wondering what that “thing” was, it was depression.)

Sure, I had to look for it, but there it is, 1,800 words down and maybe another 8,000 to go?  Probably longer, because I saw the story as being somewhat more than a simple romp in the hay.  Even when I’m doing kinky sex, I like to have a story; otherwise it’s porn, and porn is boring, I don’t do that.  At least I don’t set out to bore someone . . ..

So, editing–check.  Old work in progress–check.  New work in progress–check.  Erotic story waiting to be set up in Scrivener–check.

I’ve got my work ready to go.

Just need to put in the seat time.

You Write, Girl!

After a night of strange dreams, I love waking up to finding first snow on the ground.  Yeah, it’s not much–a lot of the ground is poking through–but hearing, “Oh, it’s snowing!” and “There’s snow!” for part of the morning always leaving me remembering to stay the hell of the roads, ’cause I’ve lived through 53 winters–with 54 coming up–and every one of those winters see folks completely losing their shit upon first snow fall, no matter how light, and driving like a bunch of schizophrenics suddenly off their meds.

I should have realized the morning would be whacked since, right before slipping off to dreamland, someone started a “discussion” on the NaNoWriMo Facebook group.  Said “discussion” involved the name of Stephenie Meyer, which means 50 comments later it’s turned into a “She’s a hack!/She shouldn’t be allowed to write!/Edward is a stalker!” hate rant.  Oh, and I forgot my favorite:  “She didn’t do her research on vampires!”  Yeah . . . well, I won’t say much more here other than I’ve done my research on vampires, and if you think Edward is like the most totally stalkerific character evar, you need to do your research.

Of course, I think budding writers should concentrate on other things–like improving their own work, and figuring out how to get published.  But that’s just me, and I’m freakin’ strange.  Besides, when I want to know about certain vampire flicks, I know where to go.

There was something else I was doing as well: playing with the gender slant of my NaNo Novel, and seeing who else I write like.

When I was writing my story Kuntilanak I became curious about the gender identity of the work.  I’d read a few things about how men and women “write differently” and, by examining the words used, you can tell the gender of the author.

Whenever I come across stuff like that, I become intrigued.  I use a lot of female characters, and I’ve always been curious if I’m actually coming across as a woman, or am I just a guy writing about women.  Call me nutty, but I do worry about things like that when it comes to improving my craft, rather than worrying about if vampires can walk around in the daytime.  Again, just me.

This is where The Gender Genie comes in.

The site uses the algorithm that is suppose to show the gender of the person writing and applies it to whatever work is pasted into the text area on the main page.  Put in words, hit the genre radio button, press Submit . . . and there you go.  You’ll find out if you’re really a girl or a boy writer.

I don’t actually look at it that way.  I look at it as, “In this section the majority of the characters are women, so when they speak, are they coming across as women?”  Oh, sure: I could find myself getting into trouble by trying to tailor my writing to be too “womanly”, or something like that, but I don’t do that.  I just write.  I get into the heads of my characters and have things come out.

There is a strange thing about my writing, however: most of the time my writing does indicate I’m female.

Last night I put Part One of my NaNa Novel through The Gender Genie and watched the analysis.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised by what I saw: six of seven chapters came out saying they were written by a woman, and in only two of those chapters where there any male characters.

And the one chapter that came back and told me, “The author is male” consists of a long of passages where the main female character is involved in a long argument with her male second-in-command, and her dialog–which I collected to cut and paste into the GG–is what’s coming back to me as predominately male.  Makes me wonder if what I’m doing is writing her character as adopting a male facade in order to put her male subordinate in his place . . . it ‘s an interesting point-of-view when it comes to building characterization.

And now that I know my gender, I wanna see what my voice is like–or, better yet, what existing voice I’m like.

That’s where I Write Like comes into play.  It’s really simple: you paste your passages, hit the “Analyze” button, and you’ll get the “I Write Like . . .” comment.  How realistic is this?  I have no idea, but it’s fun to see what literary giants (or not) you’re unconsciously channeling or flat-out ripping off.

Once again, I did all of Part One of my NaNa Novel, and the results are pretty constant.  Five of my chapters come back with the same author attached; the other two . . . Chapter 4 says I write like William Gibson, and Chapter 6–my only “male” chapter–says I write like Dan Brown, which therefore means I need to rewrite that sucker extensively.

As far as the other chapters are concerned?  I write like J. D. Salinger.  In fact a lot of my work comes across as being Salinger-like, which makes me feel sorta good.  Then again, does this mean at some point in the future some nutty kid is gonna get fixated on one of my characters, think they are that character, and go off to shoot a famous musician?  If so, it’s not my fault!  I’m not responsible for the insanity of people who aren’t yet born!

Just for the hell of it I took all the text above this line and ran it through the Gender Genie and I Write Like just to see what I’d get.

The Gender Genie says “The author of this passage is Male!”  Okay, no surprise there.

I Write Like says, “I write like Stephenie Meyer”.

Wait a minute–this post started out with Stephenie Meyer.

And now I’m writing like her.

Whoa . . ..

Suddenly I feel all sparkly.

Half Past April

I know it’s not April, but you gotta stick with me here . . ..

So far my plan for editing my NaNo Novel is going well.  I’m finding it’s not so much “editing” I’m doing as it is “re-writing”, but then, I knew this would, might, may happen, so no great surprised awaited.  It’s wise not to be frightened into inactivity by some “surprise”, and fortunately I’d gotten my mind around what was needed before I started, so I’m not running around screaming about this mess that’s dragging me into a pit.

But it comes along.  I’m three chapters in, and the writing has tightened up.  That’s about 9,500 words out of the way, and 75,000 or so to go.  When you’re doing a shorter story it goes so quickly, but hey: this is all about an extensive world being built and massaged, and if I can’t do this novel, what am I going to do with almost 275,000 words waiting to be edited/written?  Just give up?  The hell with that.

Which is where April comes in . . ..

I had a dream the other night, and it was one that hadn’t come to me in a while.  No, not that one, perv–it had to do with the role playing character I’ve had for some time now, the one I’ve talked about, young Kerry and his girlfriend Annie.

With the holidays and all these writing projects there hasn’t been much time to play the Kerry/Annie story, and that’s something I miss.  But that is real life, and I’ve run into that situation as a gamer before.  Sometimes you have to walk away for awhile before you can return to the story.  And, sadly, sometime you walk away and never return.  There’s any number of reasons for that, not the least of which is that the other people you’re gaming with lose interest in the game and move on to other things.

I don’t think that will happen here–no, I can see the Kerry/Annie story continuing, though it may be a month or more before we get back there.  There’s too much of a connection there between Annie’s player and Annie, and I feel the same with Kerry, so walking away isn’t much of an option.

But the dream . . . ah, yeah.

There is a point where Kerry and Annie will marry.  That’s a given, and both Annie’s player and I know it happens.  When they are in their 7th Year in their school of magic they’ll be married and sharing an apartment in the attic of their coven tower.  It’ll be an interesting time for them, because they’ve started a new life, but they are leaving behind one that has been a constant for them for over half a decade.  And that puts them in a rather interesting frame of mine the closer they get to graduation–

In my dream it’s near the end of April.  May Day celebrations are not far away, and people are busy on this Sunday, which I’m sure it is.  Kerry and Annie have a lot of free time, so they spend it walking about the school campus, reminiscing about things that happened here and there.  Eventually they end up going along the top of the wall that surrounds the school.

It’s a long, quite walk, holding hands and feeling the change in the weather.  It’s got that “Spring is coming” feel while at the same time it’s sort of like, “Winter hasn’t quite died” as well.  And being this is in central Maine, the winter feel is probably still lingering.

And in time they come to a spot on the north wall where there are heavy forest on both sides, and it’s very quiet, it’s secluded, and they are alone.  And they stand there, holding each other . . . and remember.  All the things that have come before this point flood back to them, and there comes the understanding that the last 6 years of their short lives have been nothing if not filled with drama.

But . . . now there’s the future.  In a month they’ll be out on their own.  Kerry has something he needs to do, as there is training Annie will attend, and it’s very likely once school is over they might not see each other for a month to a month and a half.  But after that–it’s all the future.  It’s all what life is going to bring them.

It’s all a question of not knowing.

I feel like I had this dream because, of late, my life has taken a lot of dramatic turns.  Hell, all of 2011 could be seen as a “dramatic turn”, but the last few months have been, to put it bluntly, crazy.  I’m like Kerry right now; standing there feeling every moment of the past sink into my soul, while at the same time feeling the future bearing down without the foggiest idea of what to expect.  I know it’s going to be a lot different, and it, too, could be crazy . . . but it can also be wonderful.

Like with Kerry and Annie being together, the future will happen.  I just need to relax and let it come.

And like Kerry and Annie, never be afraid.