When It All Goes Sideways

As I was making what I thought was some fairly impressive progress on my novel “Requiem for a Laborer,” moving right along with finding research for the opening of the story, I hit a small snag.

Well more of a major disaster, really.

I lost the file where I had an annotated map of the setting for the opening, as well some character notes and plot points. You know that feeling you get when you’re already late and you are about to step out the door for an important appointment just to realize, at that point, you have no idea where your keys are? That is a pretty good summation of how I felt. Just when I was going to start the rumbling engine that is to be my story, somehow I had lost the keys.

NowI know what a lot of you are thinking, “Why didn’t you back up the thing, to begin with?” I have a perfectly reasonable answer for that: “I have no idea what the fuck I was thinking.”

“I have no idea what the fuck I was thinking.”

We all make bone-headed play like that, don’t we?

So after the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and finally coming to acceptance, I thought that what I would need was a little time away from the site of the now key-less story. So that Is what I did. I worked on the house some and the yard a little. I read a good bit, too.

What I am learning, as a writer is to take these inopportune happening and see how I can turn them to my advantage. In this case, I reread my first draft and I am trying a different angle to open Requiem. Although I liked the changes that I had made, I felt that I was still telling more than showing. This had been the demise of many of what might great novel

This had been the demise of many of what might great a great novel. If the writer doesn’t grab the readers’ interest early on, it’s pretty much, “Ya know? I could be doing many more fun things than reading this. Sitting in a dentist’s chair come to mind.”

So for me, this has been a learning experience, Not only will I be saving more often, but also taking the chance during something negative to build something positive.

How To Get Out of Conversations With Cowokers

Short answer: Be a writer.

Longer answer: One of my coworkers asked me what I was doing this weekend. I told her the absolute truth. I told her that I was working on my novel again and then I went into fairly grim detail of how in my novel the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. I went on to explain how the fire caused the fictitious Chicago Steam Works to catch fire and explode along with the Central Chicago Gasworks to also meet the same fate, further expanding the destruction.  how the entire area of the manmade island between the North Branch Canal and the North Branch of the Chicago River were also consumed in my version of the fire. How because of these, more people were lost in the disaster and how I could really do justice to both what happened historically and what happened in my version of the Great Chicago Fire. How the fire jumped the north branch and continued!

Well, apparently, the fictitious imaginings of a novel writer, when explained with increasing excitement about a tragic event of huge proportions made worse by said imagination, produce horror in those that ask the simple question: What are you doing this weekend? The response I received was well, shocked at best, to be honest. My coworker, who’s eyes had grown quite wide, slowly backed away and never let her eyes leave mine. Although, I’m sure that my excitement over the imaginary happenings might not have helped.

I have come to the conclusion that the only people that would understand me, in this case, are fellow writers. What’s more and the added bonus is if I want to make my hasty escape from an unwanted conversation with anyone whom I really don’t want to be chatting with at that moment, is, to be honest about what in on my mind regarding my writing.

Why? Because only writers understand other writers because we are our own special breed of crazy.

 

When I Should Walk Along, or Over the Edge

I want to let you in on something, Y’all.

I’ve has a kind of a downer week where I work. But I don’t blame my job, or the managers there, or my coworkers; I blame myself. When I’ve told my coworkers that I want to be a writer and that I’m writing a novel, I’ve let their negativity make the decision for me that I am not a writer.

One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made.

I’ve never been one to have much faith in myself, even when my English professor, Alayne Peterson assured me that I have talent and she liked my writing.

I always had my doubts: “Is she just being nice to me/ feeling sorry for me?”

But tonight, as I was plodding along in my writing through researching the Great Chicago Fire for a plot point, I realized that even though this is the most tedious work of a fiction writer, that I am loving what I am doing.

Christ, I hate looking at the surface of aluminum extrusions for surface imperfections, setting up a saw to run the same length of part for gods know how many cycles. Cut the metal, stack on a skid, repeat ad nauseam.

But after (my real?) work today: I was reading about the Great Chicago Fire, it impacts on the citizenry, And trying to fit in how the protagonist of my story finds his first steps into the chaos of his future. I was trying to incorporate concepts like Maxwell Street, South Branch Chicago River,  Monroe & Dearborn to make a realistic storyline.

My point is writing is hard, like really hard! I am glad that I am doing it. Damn glad, in fact. To do a good job at it I need to be on my best game, but I need to have my writing friends with me, because dammit, I’m with them!

 

Old New Old Beginnings

I have been working on this steampunk novel idea for about a year and a half now.

The only conclusion that I have been able to make is this:

“Great Idea; poor execution, Tom. Best try again.”

I love the characters, a good number of the plot points but there was something out of place. I decided that it was in the execution: I was going to shelve the idea of an alternative history and go balls-to-the-wall,  madcap, all-in, steampunk adventure; with some ideas taken from current events but for the most part out of my own little Attention Deficit Disorder brain. And why not? This is my own little world; Right?

So this whole issue stems from a mental/ creative log-jam that I’ve created for myself. Specifically, not giving myself permission to be imaginative ENOUGH. That is to say, Selling myself short in my creativity: “Would I REALLY be madcap enough to develop places no one will visit, people that will never be born, in places that don’t exist?”

Answer: “You’ll never know if you don’t try; Nothing ventured, nothing gained;…”

Aw, screw the cliches :

FUCK IT! I’M ALL IN!

I want to tell a story and dammit, I want to tell my story. I think it’s a damn good story. I think there is a story here that a few people might read. Hell, maybe enjoy. But I can’t let myself be hemmed in by what a few people that haven’t even read ten words of it tell me. And that includes those that until this point, I’ve thought were closest to me.

I WILL NOT, let those who never venture anything of theirs decide for me what I can’t and, far more importantly, CAN venture of my own. From now on, it’s me and those that support me, and those elements that I create (because who in their right mind would not support their creator?) together, amiright?

Peace, all.

An Epic Amount of Support for “Devil’s Advocate”

Here is a post from a woman that has been working so hard at her creative endeavors that I want to help her out. Please read her post, watch her short film and VOTE. She really deserves to do extremely well in this competition. Thanks!

Aether House

Last Friday, I asked something of you guys. I saw that my short film, Devil’s Advocate, was ranked in the top 20% of both the Horror and Overall categories, and I said, “Hey, that’s not bad. I wonder if we could do better.”

Guys, you did better than better. You did outstanding.

On Friday afternoon, we were at #42 in horror, #23 in Female Filmmakers, #245 overall, and I think #33 in science fiction. I tweeted, I Facebooked, I instagrammed. I pushed and pushed and kept everyone updated on the progress as our little film continued to rise in the rankings. It was astounding. My network is not huge. I have 200 WP followers. I have about 120 FB friends and 450 Twitter followers (99.9% of whom never talk to me). There was no way I was going to have a significant response.

But just when I thought we…

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Full Disclosure

Yeah, I have a degree in journalism. In getting that degree I was taught that if there is any possible conflict of interest the writer must make a full disclosure statement. But now for the part that might seem weird to most, but maybe not my writer friends.

Full disclosure: I’m scared. And to be honest, as a writer, I’m not even sure of what. Rejection? Success?

I think it’s something unrelated, or maybe in between. All I know is this: For the last several months I’ve read through portions of my manuscript for Requiem for a Laborer. I’ve been able to make a few basic edits, correcting horrible sentenses, improper word choice, that sort of thing. But when it comes to making “flesh and bone” changes, I’ve been paralyzed.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way at all thinking that my work is beyond reproach. In fact, I think that like many writers (and musicians- I fancy myself a vocalist too. Blues, if you must know.) our own worst critics.

Every time I sit down to edit, I find myself thinking: Who would want to read this? Who would want to read a novel about a group of wannabe freedom fighters on a steam powered airship? Sure the aerial battle plays out super cool in my head but…      and the thoughts trail off…

At this point, I find myself thinking what right do I have to write a steampunk novel? Cheri Preist has it down with her Clockwork Century series but is there anything of real value that I can add to the genre? I feel like I have a different approach but  maybe it isn’t different enough?

And it is at this point that things get even more sticky for me. In college, (I graduated four years ago as a non-traditional student)  I was given very positive feedback from my professors, English professor Alayne Peterson,  about my writing. My thought? Oh, they’re just being kind. I’m really not that good.

Then again, maybe this is self-destructive thought. If I produce a story that a few people find entertaining I think that I have done my job. Maybe I could it evolve it into a series. Time and ability will tell.

So what brought me out of my writing funk? Well…

I was watching a #Joe_ Bonamassa Mountain Time video, awesome guitar work awesome musician. Beyond that, I don’t think I could really tell you.

I can tell you this, however, I am trying my damnedest to start moving forward with my writing.

Peace.