Cake or History

When you have little to do, your nights get a lot longer.  I ran into that last night, while I looked for something to occupy my time while I had . . . nothing to . . . write.  *sigh*

There was some good news, however:  the woman looking at the full manuscript for Her Demonic Majesty told me she found one typo per page for the first few pages, then didn’t see anything for like a full chapter.  After all the freaking out about how I was a total failure at getting my editing done, this made me feel a hell of a lot better.  At this point I just wait for her to finish her reading, and her markings, and do what is needed when the manuscript comes back.

So I played around.  One half of my mind was trying to figure out how to import images into Scrivener, and the other was working on an idea for a story.  It helped that I was in my Story Ideas project, where I jot down ideas when they come to me, and try to flesh them out little by little when the mood strikes.  So I was in the right place to mull over two ideas . . .

One of the ideas has to do with a . . . lets call it “fantasy smut” story I wanted to write for Camp NaNo July.  It all came about during a discussion with another writer, where we were making fun of some of the stories that show up on Smashwords–you know, stories about incestuous stepkids, werewolf breeding, and horny unicorns looking for wimmin.  It was during one of those discussions that I went, “Screw these losers:  I can write something like this, only it’ll be Better!” and then my mind started working.

I used to write strange, fetishy fiction, so coming up with something that would involve sex and fantasy shouldn’t be a problem.  I have the characters in my mind–borrowing liberally from friends I know, and who have already been told they’ll be in a story–I have the location set, I have the sex ready to roll.  I do need a title, though, and a set up, which is what I was thinking about last night.  And a little bit this morning when birds woke me at four AM.

I’m considering just “doing it” and writing the story the month of May.  It shouldn’t take much to do, and shouldn’t be that long.  Actually, I’m going to keep it short, or as short as possible.  It’s going to be all about Teh Sexy, so character development is out.  Okay, maybe a little development, because I don’t write smut.

The other thing I was working on was a time line for another story idea.  I posted it on my Facebook wall last night, because I do things like that.  What I was plotting out was a “What If?” sort of alternate history of space from the 1960’s through the 1970’s.  I didn’t include everything in the time line; I was mostly adding missions that never flew but could have, so that I could establish a different history for those who grew up in that time–namely, the characters in my possible story.

I love doing alternate history, and while it might not be something that a few people would consider realistic–hey, it’s my universe!  Get your own alternate space history!

Don’t you just love having an imagination?

Golden Week

The weekend is over, the week begins anew.  And this is a very particular week for me, because there is so much going on . . .

First off, today is the Second Anniversary of this blog.  Yes, it is true, I created my first point on 13 April, 2011, but that didn’t really count.  Two years ago today I scribbled some nonsense, and I was . . . well, sort of creeping along, because I had no idea what the hell I should do with this space.  You want to know something?  I’m still not sure.  But I keep coming back because it keeps getting funnier every time I’m here!  Not to mention, you’re talkin’ to a . . .

Sorry.  I must have mispronounced a star’s name three times.

Then we have 1 May, and that’s a time of celebration.  It’s May Day, it’s International Workers Day–something we in the U. S. used to celebrate until we got pissed off at the Commies and said we were taking our holiday and going home–and it’s Beltane.  Anyway you look at it, it’s the traditional start of summer, and time to enjoy the coming warmness.  It’s also the start of Golden Week in Japan, which is suppose to be the one week when people get time off from their jobs–about they only time they get a holiday, actually.  Golden Week is also the period where Japan sees its greatest number of suicides, and they put additional people on hotlines to handle the surge, so to speak.  Why does this happen?  Is it because the down time gives workers reason to reflect on their lives, and realize how their jobs turn it into a huge crap sack of nothingness?  Probably one of the reasons they don’t do something like that here . . .

And then we get to the end of the week, and it’s 3 May, and we all know what that means?  Yeah, Iron Man 3 opens.  I, for one, do so want to see Pepper Potts in the suit; just something about a woman in powered armor brings out the nasty in me.  Though I probably won’t see it right away, ’cause . . . aliens.

The mini-meltdown is over.  Saturday happened, I sulked, I recovered.  I finished up Her Demonic Majesty yesterday, compiled it, and sent it off for a look-see.  I’m hopeful that I don’t get a lot of, “This totally sucks,” and if I do, screw it:  it’s my novel.  I’ll publish it anyway.  I want it correct, but if they don’t care for it, so be it.  It’s ready:  I just don’t need typos to mess me up.

And I wrote an article.  One about mecha, one that involved me having to put out the math skills.  It was actually sort of fun to do, and I hope it is enjoyed.  It’s always a crap shoot when you send out something like that, but it’s just another way to keep the writing going–

Which reminds me:  I have nothing to do tonight.  Nothing.  It’s sort of sit and think time, I guess.

Or I can sit and do . . .

What a choice for Golden Week.

The Consequences of Truth

Well-made plans have a way of crashing around you when it’s least expected.  We’ve all had things we planed on doing, only to have life come up and smack us straight on in the face, leaving one a semi-bloody mess.

The measure of your personality is how you deal with the situation.

I didn’t deal with mine very well.

Allow me to explain.

I started out in a good mood.  I was writing, I was blogging, I was looking forward to the end of my novel.  I was looking forward to having a good time today, to maybe finishing an article and getting that out.  The path was clear, the way ahead was sunny.

I posted an excerpt from Chapter Six of Her Demonic Majesty, and was getting into my editing.  It was going to be a wonderful day–

Then Trusty Editortm came along.

They were reading the excerpt, going through it with the trained eye they have.  And just like that, I’m getting PMs on Facebook.  “You have this wrong . . . this should be . . . I think you meant–“.  It wasn’t much, and my Trusty Editortm was only helping me as they have done in the past.

But it killed me, because this was what I feared all along:  that no matter how much work I put into getting my manuscript clean, it would never be clean enough.

I lost it.  I logged off from Facebook and just shook for a few minutes.  I cried.  I doubted my own abilities to do anything right.  I’ve spent so much time on this story that it really felt like a kick in the gut, and with everything that has happened to me this week, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.

I actually reached the point where I was ready to say, “Fuck it, I can’t take this anymore,” and just wander away from the scene for . . .well, who knows?  I feel alone, I feel that I get very little support, I feel like I’m working in a constant vacuum located inside a singularity of indifference.

So I stepped away from the story for most of the day, simply because I couldn’t stand to look at the manuscript any more.

I finally finished editing the chapter I was on when I had my meltdown, then I headed out for the night, something I haven’t done in over a month and a half.  I wasn’t in much of a mood to talk, though, but I manged to get though the night without being too much of a Debbie Downer.

It was only while I was driving home with the late night light drizzle falling around me that I found my center.  See, long ago, Trusty Editortm was going over another manuscript that was my then Work in Progress.  And they had issues with a few things in the first couple of paragraphs.  I freaked out, because I thought what I’d written was pretty good.

Their comment to me, after I’d expressed my fears, was, “You need to get your ego in check.  Do you want this to be good?  Or do you want this to be the best?”

That’s an easy one:

I’ve never wanted to put out shit.  I can’t stand the idea that I’ll put out a story that’s crappy, with things that will give haters reason to go, “Yo, you used an and not a, loozer! ”  If I can’t put it out right, I’m not going to bother putting it out, period.

After buying a pretty cover I don’t have the means of paying someone to edit a couple of hundred pages, but I did have a friend offer to look over the manuscript for errors.  I have a bit of fear here, because they told me they didn’t like the title, but beyond that I think they’ll find errors and not much else.  I hope.  And if all goes well I’ll be back on the original path I’d set, which is to have Her Demonic Majesty published at the end of May.

It’s okay to freak out.  It’s okay to think you are worthless, that you are alone, that you even suck.  It’s happen to the best writers, sometimes to the point where they decided to end it all because they were told their novel sucked.

But you need to listen to people and know when they are helping.

Because it’s never okay to kill your dream.

Never.

Firmly Upon the Upward Path

Here we are, the penultimate weekend.  As of last night I had only ten thousand words remaining in my edit of Her Demonic Majesty, and given that I have a whole lot of nothing ahead of me today, that means that by the time I return her tomorrow, I’ll have but one chapter remaining, or I’ll awaken feeling bright and shiny, and there will be nothing left but to compile the story into a Word document and created the Table of Contents.

Either way, I finish the edit and format within the next thirty-six hours.

That means next week is filled with fun and frivolity.  I know I’m going to be interviewed, but it’s going to be an interview the likes of which many of you have never seen.  I’m thinking up a book giveaway, But I want it to be something different–which means I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’m investigating means.  I had considered asking people to guess what color I look best wearing, but one person would walk away with everything then . . .

The interesting thing I find is that I’m overly excited.  Worried, yeah; I’m always worried that something will show up wrong in the story, that it’s not going to sell, that it’ll be rejected after all my hard work.  But that happens, you know.  My friend Jo Custer said yesterday that she was told that the movie she’s trying to Kickstart into existence is “filthy”.  Many jokes were made of this comment, not the least was that someone should tell Lars Von Trier there’s a new bitch in town.  Though if you want to get into Lars Von Trier territory, you need a leading lady to come up and spit on you every morning and tell you what a horrible person you are, because she knows she’ll be spending the afternoon her standing naked in a mountain stream masturbating while being yelled at to “Look natural!”

We creative times, we do our own thing.  We love praise, but be usually get criticized to hell and gone.  As I’ve said many times, the non-creative out there don’t get us.  Yes, they want to be entertained by us, but they don’t get what we do, and why.  If you’re like some of the people I know, their notion usually boils down to, “You wanna make money.”  Well, yes, dude:  I would like to make money.  I’d like to make enough money to do this full time.  There isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t love to spend their days crafting stories or making movies or producing pretty pictures.  And I’m not talking talking making mad J. K. Rollinbucks cash here, either.  If I was making fifty thousand a year writing, I’d be home all the time writing.

Why do we suffer the pangs of criticism,  though?  I think part of it comes from the un-creative being unable to build their own works, but damned if they don’t know what a good work should look like.  There are things out there that are broken, that is true, and creative works that are totally Teh Suk.  But the hate does seem to come at everyone and everything, and it’s almost impossible to avoid.

The trick comes from deciding if the criticism is of the good kind . . . and if you can learn from it.

As for the other kind . . .

Write your own stories, then get back to me.

The Outside Looking In

I am a fan of Zen Pencils.

I’d never heard of it before last September, just as I was in the final stages of preparing for NaNo 2012.  I don’t remember who posted this strip, the first that I saw, but I remembered it vividly, so much so that I went back to read it many times.

Why did it touch me?  It may have had something to do with NaNo, with some of the people revolving around NaNo, or some of the people revolving around my life.  I was posting excerpts from my project, showing my chapter layouts and my time lines, and there were more than a few snipping remarks about how I was doing NaNo “wrong”, that I needed to “just write”, and that all this prep meant I was incapable of writing anything “imaginative”.  There were a couple of people who objected to the title of my work, and, of course, a few who were like, “Why are you even bothering?”

The “Why are you even bothering?” crowd are always easy to figure out, by the way:  they’re the ones who feel since you’re never going to make big money off your work, why don’t you do something else–you know, like clean the house, or pay the bills, or something?  These are usually the sort whose most imaginative thought of the day is wondering if they should change their underwear, and if so, what should they wear.

In other words, they got no idea what makes a person like me tick.

Since that first encounter with The Zen, I’ve not only visited the site often, but I’ve showed it to others.  Some have ignored it, some have loved it.

This last one brought back way too many memories.

I have written many times throughout my life.  I’ve tried a lot of things, actually:  I’ve always loved art, loved reading, loved music, loved writing.  I was never content to do things that were–shall we say, easy?  I was never a good artist, but on a couple of occasions I let my imagination go, and the end result was to get some intense praise from the instructor.  I didn’t just read, I was off into advanced stories and concepts long before high school.  I didn’t just listen to music:  I found things that made me think and wonder, and devoured the sources.  And my writing?  I was doing nutty stuff even in the mid-1970’s.

However . . .

There were always people around me who thought my art was “strange”.  By the very fact I read I was considered a “weirdo”, and I even had one person who’d been a friend for years stop talking to me because he thought I was “nuts”.  I was always being told I listened to “freak music”, and that I should stick to stuff more popular.

And no one gave a shit about my writing.

I finally took up writing in a serious way in the late 1980’s, and kept at it for a while.  I once brought my spouse to a writer’s group I was in–more a collection of friends than anything else–and I read what I was working on at the time.  On the way home I asked my spouse what they thought, and they comment was, “It was crap.  I hate when you write stuff like that.  The only good story you ever wrote was your first.”

My first story that they knew was a quick, fast, first person horror story that was filled with so many clichés that H. P. Lovecraft would have killed it with fire.  But, to my spouse, it was the best thing I ever wrote, and they were of the opinion that I should go back to writing stuff like that.

Between a life time of hearing stuff like that, and having to deal with my other problems, I gave up on writing for a long time.  You start believing that everything you do is crap, that you’re never getting ahead.

You become a willing participant in killing your dreams.

These days, I write in a vacuum most of the time.  I know there are few people around me who care about this work, but screw them:  I do this for me.  I have a daughter who wants to be an artist.  I encourage her to draw, and to draw as much as she can.  She posts some of her work on her Tumblr, and has gotten great feedback.

I don’t have to tell her to do anything differently than is being told here.

When I am down, when I feel I am wasting my time, when I feel that all that I do will be for naught, I think about what has come before, and what could be next.

And then I use my time.

The First Ember of Regret

Last night I reached a point that I didn’t think I’d ever reach in my writing.  Was it perfection?  Hardly.  I’ll never be a perfect writer, no matter how many millions of words I string together over the next twenty-five years.  Was it a feeling of ineptitude?  Nope.  I’m not an inept writer; I’m learning the craft every day, understanding what can and can’t be done.  Was it hopelessness?  Naw.  I start feeling hopeless enough on things that aren’t writer related that I don’t need it for my writing life.

No, what I felt was regret–over a character I had to kill.

It’s like this:  there is a chapter in Part Three where Jeannette–she who has been chased all over the city so that someone can mount her head on a pike and laugh about it–has finally gotten the upper hand, and has decided the only way to keep people from screwing with her is to lay down her own Hammer of the Goddess.  With that she figures out a way to find the people who’ve been making her life hell–a word only she uses–she goes after them . . .

With no let up, and no mercy.

This means turning her forces loose, and engaging in the magical version of The Chicago Way:  “They bring a wand, you bring a gargoyle.  They blow off one of your arms, you consume them all in black fire and smile as they die screaming.”  She knows it’s the only way to make the best of a bad situation, and she knows there comes a point where she has to get her own hands dirty in order to make a point.

In the end she decides to take out this guy–

Only . . . he’s not that bad.

Yes, he’s on the wrong side of the line here.  Yes, he’s giving counsel to the bad witch, but for the most part he’s seen a someone standing on the sideline, marginalized by one too many egos in his group.  So in terms of being a bad guy, he’s not that bad.

Still, he’s on the other side of that line, so when the time came for him to die, I smoked him.  I at least gave him a clean death, a warrior’s death, and not the “Imma Cat and I’m gonna make you die horribly” death I gave another character.  But dead is dead, and the dude went down for the count pretty fast.

Right after I edited the scene, that was when the feeling hit:  where I go, “You know, I really feel bad killing this guy.”  The character even admits he escaped death once before, so he knew how not to pee in the wrong pool.  Still . . . it was part of the plan to have him die, and he did.

Case close, even if I did feel a little bad about it.

Maybe I’d have felt better if I’d had a dragon burn his face off.  At least then I could say it wasn’t my fault, blame the dragon–

Naw.  That’s been done.

Though dragons in the story would be cool . . .

Cascading Realities

Another chapter down, another step closer to publication.  Tonight there will be the largest chapter of Part Three, but this one is clean, it’s good, and I don’t believe I’ll have a lot of work ahead of me.

Tonight will be a good night.

I had a little talk out last night about the fears I was feeling, the ones I spoke of yesterday.  That’s pretty much past now, because why dwell on it?  The novel will sell, or it won’t.  If I’m going to freak over the fact that the hard work will amount to nothing in return–that’s the curse of every creative project.  The world is full of people who’ve been ignored by the Honey Boo Boo crowd, and given that most people these days feel that entertainment is too–what’s the phrase?  Oh, yeah:  Hard to Understand, don’t expect to see trends change anytime soon.

So keep on keeping.  It’s what keeps the dream alive.

Speaking of dreams, I’m already thinking about what comes next.

I have two works lined up that could be ready to go by the middle of the summer.  In June I will write something for Camp NaNo–yes, I’m going to find a cabin and hang with my gurlz while I write tales of sexual depravity–but the rest of the time can be spent on editing and ebook formatting.  While I want to keep the new material coming, I need to get the old out, least they just sit there and sing Pictures of Lily while I stare at their unpublished goodness.  (If you know your Who, you’ll get the reference.  If not, just ask.)

Replacements I’ve just finished editing, and it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to get it out.  It’s one of the stories I have on tap to publish this year, and it could be a quick, easy turn around for me because of the length.  But there’s another I want to get out as well, and it’s been waiting in the wings for a year to see the light of day–

I’m talking Couples Dance.

This strange little novel was something I sent out almost a year ago, with no comments from the publisher beyond asking to see the full manuscript.  I’ve contacted them a couple of times since then, and there will be a third time, after which I’m going to put the ball in play and get it ready for my own publishing attempt.

Being a short novel I can sell it at novella prices, and being that it’s erotic horror–is that such a thing?–that could make it even more of a draw than my other stories.  Yes, I’m already thinking marketing, because there is sex inside, but there’s also a couple of visits to the library, and not to do the hot looking girl in glasses on the shelf where Poe is kept.  This means the people looking for hot, non-stop sex will have to take a break a read a chapter where someone is tortured–

Oh, did I say that?  My bad.

Anyway, the road trip continues.

Looks like I’ll be pulling into The Stanley next . . .