Writing–March Projects

green flowerYou may have noticed the lack of blog posts in the month of February. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t care. Whatever the case, the point is that you can expect random and fewer blog posts to be the norm for a while. My world is in a bit of transition at the moment, sort of like when I had the existential crisis last year, except it’s less crisis, more change.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing writer stuff. My goal to clear out my backlog of projects remains intact.

Last month I finished making notes on (Vampries) Made in America and it has all been put to the side for the moment. I’m sick of looking at it. I also finished revisions on Odd Section of Town and Firebugs and Other Insects. I’m satisfied with how they turned out for the most part and I think the next step for them is beta and minor tweaks/polish. I also wrote “A Ride in the Country”, which was actually less writing and more taking a chunk that didn’t make it into Night of the Nothing Man and revising it into it’s own little stand alone bit that will go into one of the anthologies.

Speaking of…

This month, I’m going to be working revising short stories that I’m going to use for future anthologies. I’ve already finished a revision on “Nadie Has a Dog” just a few days into the new month (productivity, what?). Also going to be revised this month “People Are Terrible”, “Cover Up” (a rough draft that I found that I think will go nicely in one of the anthologies), “The House Down the Road”, and “The Seaweed Man”. Of these four, it’s “The Seaweed Man” that’s going to take the most work. It’s going to be more of a rewrite than a revision.

Slowly, but slowly, the backlog decreases.

Writing–Redoing Rejected

RejectedNow that I’ve released my second self-published anthology, I guess I should point out that my first self-published anthology is no longer for sale (so if you managed to be one of the six people that bought it, congratulations, you got yourself a collector’s item now).

I made the executive decision to pull Rejected. I actually did it late last year. I didn’t think anyone would notice.

It was my first go in self-publishing and I’m still proud of it. It helped me get over my self-publishing fears and take the plunge, and I’m glad for that. And it felt good to get those stories off my board and out to be read. It was a real accomplishment on several levels.

But.

It definitely shows that it was my first shot at not only putting together an anthology, but also doing a self-published project. I’m not a pro at this now or anything, but I feel like I’ve improved. And I want that anthology to reflect it.

You see, I still love the stories and I want them to be read, but they deserve better presentation.

I plan on redoing the anthology. Maybe not as a redux of Rejected, exactly (which makes the title of this post somewhat misleading), but definitely as something better, maybe with a few new stories thrown in. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. By taking it off the market, I’ve kind of taken that first step.

If I don’t eventually follow through, I’m gonna look like a dick.

And the stories deserve better than a trip to oblivion because I’m a dick.

That’s what started this in the first place.

Writing–Time to Loosen Up

"TUESDAY" production sign

When I first started this blog, I set up themed days and a nice schedule that insured that I would update at least three times a week and I’d always have an idea of what the blog post would be for each given day. It was a way of establishing my blog, a safety net, in a way, so I never found myself slacking.

Now that I’ve been at this for a couple of years, I’m finding the safety net a little too constricting. There are times when I can’t think of anything I’d like to write for the Monday blog post, but month’s worth of Wednesday topics. There are times when I want to post something for Friday immediately…but it’s only Tuesday. And then there’s this new idea that I think Rerun Junkie should be its own thing instead of being relegated to just Fridays.

It’s time for me to loosen up and trust that I’ll be able to blog randomly, but regularly throughout the week. I need to trust that I’ve earned the freedom to roam a little, to blog when I want to without the restriction on days.

And of course, if it doesn’t work out, if I find the ideas drying up without a designated day or if I find myself posting too infrequently, the old structure will still be standing there for me to go back to.

But I feel like I need to bust out and start something new.

Time to liven up the joint.

Writing–Short Story Long

agile-testing-days-2010_13.JPG

I started writing a story at the beginning of the month tentatively titled “Gone Missing”. I’d had the idea for a long time for a story that centered around a town where missing people end up, but didn’t really have anything more than that. A few weeks ago the missing piece crashed down from idea-space, smacked in the brain, and I quickly jotted down the whole plot idea before I forgot it. I decided to start writing it as quickly as possible thinking it might be a good project to work on while struggling with my personal essay (that’s another post for another day).

Little did I know what my brain had wrought.

When I get an idea for a short story, it’s typically just that. Short. In fact, it’s been known to happen that what I think will be a decent sized short story turns out to be a piece of flash fiction. I have a tendency toward being short-winded (which sometimes causes me problems making word count during NaNoWriMo, but I digress). It’s been known that I’ve had to go back and add to my short story word count to make the minimum word count for a submission (“Land of the Voting Dead” is a published example of this).

So, I didn’t think anything of it when I started writing “Gone Missing”. I thought it might be on the longer side, like the first few drafts of “At 3:36” that hit between 14 and 20 pages. It was when I passed the 20 page point and realized that I wasn’t even half-way done yet that I knew I had something other than a short story on my hands.

Once it hit forty pages without hitting the climax, I figured that I had something close to a novella on my hands.  It sure as heck wasn’t a short story anymore.

I’ve never written a novella before and really never had the urge to, so it seems fitting that I’d blunder into it on accident. When I begin the revisions of this short story gone long, I’m going to revise it with novella in mind. Just to see what a little intention can do for this long tale.

As it stands, I’m enjoying this pleasant surprise.

I love it when an idea that I think is good (and I think most of mine are) develops into something so much better.

Writing–When the Brain Has Other Plans

I have trouble with my brain sometimes.

Here’s an example:

Last month, I got pretty tired of rewriting Spirited In Spite. It turned into quite the slog that I couldn’t wait to get through. And while I was doing this slog, all I was thinking about was how much I wanted to work on my short stories. In fact, towards the end of the rewrite and the end of the month, I did start working on my short stories as a kind of reward for getting through the rewrites.

It was easy to come to the conclusion that I was going to spend February working on my short stories.

About a week and a half into the month, I was tired of looking at these short stories (to my credit, I had three of them ready to submit and one of those I DID submit) and wanted to work on something else.

For some reason, that happens. My brain acts like a spoiled child. It gets what it wants, plays with it a minute, and then immediately wants to play with something else. It’s ridiculous and frustrating and clashes with my stubborn self and need to adhere to the goals set for me.

This time, though, I decided to compromise. After submitting one of the short stories, I took a break from them. Instead, I took the weekend and read one of my novel manuscripts (A Tale of Two Lady Killers), making some notes on it. On Monday, I went back to the short stories. The break helped me avoid the feeling of slogging. It helped me to avoid resenting the goals I’d set for myself and in the long run, accomplish them.

I have to remember that my pig-headedness is an asset only when I use it correctly. I also have to remember to be flexible with my goals. Sometimes my spoiled brat brain has a good point and maybe a day or two spent indulging it is for the best.

It’s more cooperative when I compromise.

New Year Hopes

I’m one of those people that is pretty superstitious about transitioning from one year to the next because my aim is always to go into the new year with the idea and aim to make it better than the last. (I’m sure that nobody wants to make their new year worse than their last, but I’m sure some people wouldn’t mind holding pat; either way, neither here nor there in terms of this post.) I always go into each new year with specific hopes and goals. I wouldn’t call them resolutions. Resolutions are made to be broken. Hopes are meant to be had and goals are meant to be achieved.

My hopes and goals are one in the same. I have them and I’m going to work to achieve them. Here are some of the goals and hopes I have for 2012.

-I want to be happy. I’m a firm believer that happiness is something you create and I’d like to create a lot of it this year.

-I’m going to continue the practice of positive thinking. This one is hard for me. I’m a natural pessimist. I expect the worst, anticipate it for every little thing I do. I’m like Eeyore in that respect. Whatever I do, I attach a certain cloud of gloom to it. I’ve been working on correcting that outlook and I plan to continue that effort.

-I want to succeed in my ventures. This is going to take hard work, I know. Harder work than I’ve been putting into it, I’m sure (I’ll never feel like I work hard enough). But, it’s also going to take the positive thinking. Continuing my work with an anticipation of success instead of anticipation of failure is a must. I need to put myself out there more and not be afraid to sell  myself and my work.

-I want to have fun. Sometimes I’m so dedicate to work and making money to pay bills (even when I have some sort of regular paying day job), that I forget to stop and relax and have a good time. I’ve been known to put fun on my To Do list. Might as well put it on my goals list just to be sure it gets done.

-I want to purge the excess from my life. I am a packrat by nature, not hoarder levels, but I’ve still managed to accumulate more than I need or want. I need to continue to get rid of it. I’m already selling some things on eBay, but a full-scale rummage sale is going to have to  happen this year. I’ve been avoiding it because of all of the work that goes into one, but this year I need to put my laziness aside and get it done. The dead weight needs to go.

-I’m going to make some changes. Big and small, things need to be changed. Sameness can breed stagnation and I’m afraid I’ve got ponds of it in my life. Change isn’t easy, particularly for someone like me. I like to be safe and secure, but that yearning has actually had the opposite effect. I don’t feel that way. I feel more like I’m in a prison. The only key to my freedom is change. Just another thing I can’t put off doing for another year.

The nice thing about having hopes and goals is that success lies in trying. Even if I fail, there’s a certain amount of success that I made the serious attempt to do these things. That’s more than I can say for not trying at all.

The Worth of a Dollar

I’m not going to lie, money is important to me. The making of it, the having of it, the spending of it. I’m not too interested in other’s people money. I’m too busy thinking about my own. Or the lack thereof.

Money plays a big factor in my self-esteem. I’m worth not just what’s in the bank, but what I’m bringing in and how I’m paying the bills. My ego lives and dies by my checkbook.

It’s a pretty messed up measure of worth, I know. Never mind how the stock market keeps gyrating or the fluxuating price of gold; what’s it say on my pay stub?

Now one would think that since I pin so much of my worth on my money that I’d have gone through college and got myself a good paying job and ergo I would be in the position to think my shit don’t stink. Have we discussed that I like to do everything the hard way? Yeah, that was clearly not the case.

In terms of my self-esteem, it’s lunacy that I’m quitting a regular paycheck to go back to scratching out what I can. On the one hand, the struggle will make me happier because I’ll be doing what I want to do.  On the other hand, my self-esteem is looking to take a severe hit because the money is not going to be steady and I’ll be struggling to make ends meet once again.

Because of my money issues, I’m very good with my money. I’m good at going without. I’m good at saving. I’m good at paying the bills first. I’m good at making sure the obligations are taken care of before I do something fun, and even then I usually defer to responsibility and save my money instead of spend it. My dad likes to joke about how tight I am. I don’t know why he thinks it’s so funny. He’s the one that made me that way.

My dad grew up poor. Real poor. Poorer than I grew up, for sure. My dad harbors a bitterness that my mother (who did not grow up poor) gave us things when we were kids. Never mind that a lot of our toys and clothes were second-hand, it was just the fact that we had them. That my mom spent money to give them to us. Now, my mom did run us up in quite a bit of debt with her shopping, but still, my sister and I were far from spoiled in the material sense. Money is a big deal with my dad. He never has enough and he doesn’t want to spend it. Ask him. He’s always broke.

When I moved in with him during my sophomore year, I didn’t ask him for anything. I wouldn’t even ask him for lunch money. I lived off of what I had in my savings account from babysitting and working in my mom’s daycare. It wasn’t until I’d lived with him for a while that it occured to him that he didn’t know where I was getting my lunch money. Then he started giving it to me.

My sister had to have her appendix out when we were in high school. All I can remember from that is my dad bitching about the doctor’s bill. So when I fractured my ankle before senior year, I refused to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to listen to Dad bitch about how much I cost him (yes, we had insurance, but there’s that whole deductable thing and then what insurance won’t cover, and all that jazz). Over a decade later, I’m paying for not having my ankle properly set.

There’s no worse feeling than asking my dad for money. The disgust is palpable. So I do everything in my power to have my own. To make my own.

I’m hard enough on myself. I don’t need him to add to it.

The true test of this next venture is to make enough money to pay my bills. I pay my bills, the self-esteem stays happy and my dad continues to see me as legitimate person dwelling in his house. It’s a win-win.

Sure. No pressure.