Writer Thrill Seeking

If you asked me to go bungee jumping or skydiving, I’d probably chuckle and politely tell you that if I wanted to see the ground rushing up at my face, I’d get drunk and fall over. Though I’ve had my thrills and sometimes I go looking for a certain kind, nobody would rush to call me a thrillseeker. I don’t know if I’d get on a roller coaster that goes upside down anymore.

But when it comes to writing, I’m far more game for a thrill.

The first week of May I decided to spend money I didn’t have to enter a script that I hadn’t written into a contest that’s deadline was the next day.

Okay, now this only looks like a last minute decision. To be fair, I thought the deadline was actually the next week. I did think I had a little more time. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to doing the contest because, like I mentioned, really didn’t have the entry fee to spare.

But when I saw that I was wrong about the deadline, I sort of…well…went thrill seeking. The first time I entered a script in this contest, I spent a couple of months working on an entry that got me an honorable mention. When I entered last year, I spent about a week on a entry I thought would ultimately be a throwaway, and I ended up with 5th place.

I could not pass up the challenge of writing fifteen pages of script in two days and see if I couldn’t beat 5th place.

The idea is one I’ve had kicking around in my head and I even wrote a short story/first chapter for it. I already had an outline. I was actually going in pretty well stacked in terms of knowing what I was doing. It was just a matter of finding the time to get it all written.

Yeah, about that.

During the same two days I was writing these fifteen pages I was also prepping for my next Green Hornet chat with Dan, outlining season 3 of Murderville, writing my page a day, studying my four languages, and doing my daily life stuff.

No sweat.

This is how I get my high. By driving myself crazy. I honestly think that I’m not happy unless I’m committing some sort of busy-ness that pushes me to the brink of insanity. For the last few months, I’ve been taking it pretty easy on the writing schedule. I was struggling with my mental and physical health. I really didn’t have the energy to push it. Or at least it didn’t feel like I did.

I’m feeling a bit more energized now, though.

Maybe I just needed a little thrill to get going.

Advertisements

May Writing Projects

You know, I said last month that April was my oyster. Apparently, I forgot that I don’t care for oysters. I did my page-a-day and my poem-a-day. I submitted a short story twice (same story, two different markets, a rejection was involved) and I submitted (Vampires) Made in America to a new agent.

And that’s about it.

I thought I’d be able to find a project to work on, but the best I did was rearranging my To Do List of Doom so it made more sense. I’ve still got a massive list of projects in various states and none of them made any progress in April.

I have my speculations about the reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into them here.

Instead, I’m going to move on. New month…well, same me, but actual stuff to work on.

I’ve decided to dedicate May to my Patreon. I’m going to outline season 3 of Murderville and write the first draft of the season 3 preview story. I’m also going to brainstorm ways I can be more involved on Patreon. Right now, it’s very much set it and forget it. I feel like I need to provide a little more content in order to entice new patrons and keep the ones I have. Can’t get by on my looks here.

Or anywhere, really.

Speaking of Murderville, episode 5 of The End Of is live May 8th. We’re over the half-way point here. Become a patron and enjoy the ride. $1 an episode lets you read; $2 an episode lets you read AND you get some really sweet bonus material in the form of other stuff I’m working on. It’s never too late to head to Murderville!

April Writing Projects

Last month I wrapped up the first round of revisions on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and wrote the first draft of a short story called “The Support Group Meets on Wednesday”, as well as continued writing my one page a day for my experiment.

What I did not do was submit any short stories.

It’s the same ol’, same ol’. I look at what I have ready to submit and then I look at the markets that I find that are taking submissions and things don’t match up. At the very end of the month, I did find one story that kind of matched with one market, but I ended up re-writing the story to make it match better. So, I’ll submit it this month. And I’ll hopefully be able to submit another story or two to other places.

It also looks like I’ll be continuing my agent search with (Vampires) Made in America.

I’m not exactly sure, as I stare at my To Do List of Doom, what I want to work on this month. I think that’s a sign that I need to switch gears a bit.

Since April is National Poetry Month, I’m going to attempt to write a poem every day. I’ve done this before and I enjoyed myself. I have so many poem fragments around, I feel like this will be a good way to turn them into something while also shaking things up a bit.

I may also work on some non-fiction. I’ve got some possible projects that I’ve been speculating on and now might be the time to take a harder look at them.

Maybe I’ll work on a script since I have so many of them in various stages, too.

This month is my oyster, really.

Speaking of sea things…

Come to the Rocks is set to be released by NineStar Press on April 16th! Pre-order it and you get three days early. So order today! It’s like set it and forget it and then you get a surprise that will have your future self thanking your past self. Trust me.

Episode four of Murderville: The End Of goes live on April 10th. Become a patron for only $1 an episode. $2 patrons will get a bonus on April 24th. It’s never too late to get in on a killer good time.

The Long and Short of Some First Drafts

Safe to say that since I started doing NaNoWriMo, the majority of the first drafts of the novels I’ve written have been written during 30 days (or less) in November. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve written the first draft of a novel outside of November that I can’t remember the last time I did it.

I mean before this last time.

My bright self decided after finishing the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant to immediately start on the first draft of The Coop Run. Had the former gone better, then perhaps the latter would have, too, and I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But the former didn’t and that could be why the latter took me more than two months to write.

The original goal was to write The Coop Run in the two weeks I had left in November. Once I finished writing the slog that was the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, I didn’t have the energy to keep up the needed pace of 3,500 words a day to get it done. I decided to take it a little easy for a while, only writing 1,000 words a day, and then I’d pick up the pace. It looked at the time like the first draft would only be about 35,000 words and if I picked up to 2,000 or 2,500 words a day, then I’d have it done in the first week or so of December.

Oh, how dumb I can be.

It’s no secret that the holidays are my least favorite time of year and I actively try to not work on big projects during them because the entire month of December drains my life force. Let this past December be a good reminder of that.

Instead of my word count on The Coop Run picking up, it went down. I was basically writing 500 words a day most days and calling that good. I just didn’t have the energy to write more. I did end up picking up the pace to 2,000 words after January 1st, though that dipped again the week of my birthday. The slog feelings from The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant carried over to The Coop Run, though I think overall it turned out to be easier to write, especially toward the end.  It also turned out to be longer than I thought it’d be. Instead of 35,000 words, it ended up around 56,000.

I actually ended up sick of writing the story. I wanted to be done so badly but just couldn’t push hard enough to finish it. It was a miserable feeling. And instead of feeling satisfied when I wrote the last word, I felt relief. Overall, it wasn’t the most enjoyable first draft writing experience I’ve ever had.

I do believe that I’ve learned my lesson, though.

No more novel first drafts in December!

Writing–So That’s NaNo 2017 Done

After two weeks and 50,011 words, the garbage first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant is done. My official 2017 NaNo is done.

Now, the plan was for me to start on The Coop Run right on the heels of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and I still intend to do that.

But not at the same pace.

By the first weekend of NaNo, I decided that I needed to pick up the pace so I could be done by the 14th. For some reason I had it in my head that this was the plan all along. Sometimes I’m dumb. Anyway, I wrote 5,000 words on Saturday to get my word count up to where I wanted it to be and then spent the next week writing 3,500 words a day instead of 3,000. On the next Saturday, I wrote 4,500 words to guarantee that I’d finish by Tuesday.

Yesterday, I wrote less than 3,000 words to finish the first draft and hit my 50,000.

I’m tired now.

The past two weeks, it felt like my life revolved around this NaNo. I think part of that is because of how difficult the story was to get started and the challenge of trying to write that many words in a day when I only have a few hours every afternoon in which I MIGHT not be interrupted. It felt like my focus was down to a pinpoint, just totally tuned in to NaNo.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done NaNo in 14 days or less. I did two novellas back-to-back in 12 days back in 2013 (while I was working 3 jobs, no less) and I did two novellas back-to-back again in 14 days in 2014. After both years, I swore I would NEVER do it again. And yet, here I am once again. Finishing 50,000 words in two weeks. And I planned to do it! Thought it was a good idea!

I’m not very good at keeping certain promises, I guess.

After the draining experience that was the last two weeks writing The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, I’m going to take it easy on the word count for The Coop Run. Writing at least 1,000 words a day will give me at least 15,000 words by the end of the month (give or take, depending on how deep my food coma is on Thanksgiving) and that’s a decent start. I normally don’t like to write anything new during December because it’s such a hectic month, but I’ve laid down this gauntlet and I’m going to finish it. Hopefully, after a few days of only writing 1,000 words, I’ll feel the urge to pick up the pace.

But right now, I feel like 1,000 words will be fine.

Writing–Was It Always This Hard?

Yesterday, I hit the halfway point for my NaNo. Well, I hit 25,000 words. I don’t know if it’ll be the halfway point of the actual story. The way it’s going, I think it might be.

I cannot remember, at least in the past few NaNos, struggling so much out of the gate. Typically for me, the first few days of NaNo are my easiest. The story is right there in the front of my brain and it is begging to be released. When November 1st rolls around, it’s like a floodgate opens and the story comes pouring out. I feel unstoppable. And I ride that momentum as long as I can because I know that come the middle of the story, I’m going to start to struggle a bit, slogging through until the climax starts to build. The middle is when the words are usually harder to come by.

This year, I was prepared for the same thing. A good start, followed by a bit of a slog, and then a strong finish. The story was in the front of my brain, patiently waiting, while I tried to keep myself occupied during the last few days of October.

Maybe that was a sign.

The story was there, waiting, but waiting patiently. There was nothing insistent about it. So, when November 1st hit, I found myself watching as a blank screen filled up with words in an almost painful way. And when I hit my word limit for the day, I looked at what I’d written and thought, “Holy shit, this is all garbage.”

First drafts are supposed to be garbage, I know. I’ve written enough of them to be very familiar with my particular brand of garbage, which has evolved over the years into a better quality of garbage. The first few days of this NaNo, however, reminded me of when I first started doing NaNo and the utter dreck that I wrote. Not that it wasn’t salvageable, by any means. But it takes a lot more work to recycle that kind of garbage into something worth reading.

The first week, I struggled to hit my stride, to find the story, to write the story like I knew what the hell I was doing. It’s like fifteen years of serious craft study had suddenly vacated my brain and in a damn hurry, too.

I hit 25,000 words yesterday, which is on target for where I want to be, and I thought to myself, “Has it always been this hard? Is it like childbirth? I just forgot about the agony as soon as it was over, only to be confronted again during the next labor and delivery?”

And the truth is, no. It hasn’t always been this hard. Or maybe I should say that NaNo hasn’t been hard in this way for a very long time. I think I do forget some of the “labor pains”, so to speak, from year to year, especially since I try to find ways to up the challenge of writing a 50,000 novel in a month. This year, the challenge was completely unexpected.

I do not relish the thought of revising this first draft. But I know that I will.

I can’t resist a challenge.

A Minor Detox

My lovely friend Chris Clayton, one half of the dynamic podcasting duo (with Tom Elliot) behind the new and awesome Lost in the Omniverse (Seriously, go listen! Enrich your lives!), recently returned from a social media detox. He spent a few weeks away and has returned refreshed and while I am very happy to see him back in my timeline, I can totally understand why he decided to unplug for a bit.

In fact, I’ve been thinking of doing it, too.

Honestly, I’m probably overdue. The constant stream of endless information has become overwhelming, especially in light of the shit slide the current US government has us careening down. It’s sensory overload of a sort and I’m doing myself a disservice by allowing myself to be exposed in such a continuous fashion. I’m supposed to be doing better at self-care, dammit.

Now, I have my excuses for not disconnecting. First of all, if I take a break, remove myself from the loop, then I will be oblivious to the horrors unfolding around me because I don’t do TV news. CNN and MSNBC are on the other TVs in the house, but mine stays on my rerun channels, CBS (for my NCIS: New Orleans needs), and whatever station is showing postseason baseball games and/or horror movies. I will also be disconnected from the lives of so many of my lovelies. Interspersed between the various dumpster fires set by this arsonist administration are the real-time existences of so many people I’ve come to care quite a bit about. I’d hate to miss out on that.

Twitter is also my primary means of promotion. I have a Facebook page, of course, but I have more followers on Twitter. That’s my homeland. That’s where people get the most up-to-date info about what I’m working on and how to find it. If I haven’t been muted, of course. It’s also where I conveniently retweet all of the neat stuff my Twitter buddies are doing as well.

And now there’s the added need for Twitter as the Cubs are in the playoffs and I need to watch these games with my people. Emotional support is at its most crucial during this time of the year.

But.

There is no doubt in my overstimulated mind that I need a break. My concentration is suffering. My productivity is suffering. My sleep is suffering. My anxiety is tweaking. The holiday blues are looming and if I don’t go into that season in the right mindset, the blues become a depression rather easily. I need a small respite.

So.

I’ve decided that my Seattle trip will be a minor detox of sorts. I plan on posting to Twitter and Instagram a bit, since I will hopefully be having a good time and interesting experiences that deserve to be shared. And I’ll check in on some of my Twitter favorites. But for the most part, I will not be obsessively timeline scrolling while I’m out and about or relaxing in the hotel room. I only check Facebook once or twice a day as it is, so not checking it for a few days won’t be a problem.

I may experience some withdrawal with Twitter, though.

But in the long run, my sanity will thank me.

Can You See Me Now?

This week, September 17th to the 24th is BiWeek. The idea is to raise awareness and visibility for the bisexual+ community.

I am bisexual. If you’re not sure what that it is, very simply it is someone attracted to two or more genders. I came to realize at a very young age that I liked both men and women*, and I’ve been out as a bisexual since I was 17. In fact, I often say that I was never really in the closet because I never hid my sexuality. I never thought it was a big deal.

However, now that I’m older, now that I’ve been around a bit, as they say, I realize that maybe I never had to hide my sexuality because nobody saw it. Nobody saw me.

Hell, I didn’t even see me.

There’s that joke that bisexuals are unicorns because no one believes we exist. And that sticks us in a weird sort of purgatory. We’re not straight. We’re not gay. And there’s this outdated idea that you have to be one or the other. Pick a side, pick a team. This is why we straight up disappear in relationships. Our sexuality is immediately invalidated the second we make a commitment to a partner. Now we’ve decided.

Years ago, when I was in my early twenties, some new friends of mine were talking about another one of our friends. She’d apparently dated a woman for a while, was single for a bit, and then got interested in and began dating a man. My friends said that she finally “figured it out”, that she’d been “confused”. Well, maybe she had been. But the idea of her being bisexual never entered the conversation and I felt like I didn’t know her well enough to introduce the possibility.

They probably would have just written me off as “confused”, too.

For years, I’ve been championing queer causes. I’ve been supportive of equal rights and marriage equality and civil liberties and all of that. But never once did I feel like I was working for my own cause. I had somewhere along the line bought into the myth that I wasn’t nearly as oppressed or discriminated against because I could “pass”. I wasn’t queer enough for that unless I was dating a woman.

I’ve been out for twenty years but only recently began to accept that even though I can pass, I’m still queer. That the validity of my sexuality doesn’t rest on the perception of others. That there is no unicorn fairy that will come and sprinkle rainbow dust on me and POOF! My sexual orientation will be valid. It already IS valid. Just by virtue of my existence.

Only recently did I finally start seeing me.

I am bisexual. I am queer. I am queer enough. My letter is right there in the damn rainbow alphabet. My sexual orientation operates independently of who I am in a relationship with. I am attracted to men and women whether single or partnered. That’s how it is, my friends.

So.

Can you see me now?

 

*For clarification purposes, yes, I like men and women. No, that doesn’t make me transphobic. As far as I’m concerned, trans men are men and trans women are women, end of. As for people who are non-binary or gender fluid or people who are intersex, I honestly don’t know. I’ve never been sexually or romantically attracted to anyone non-binary, gender fluid, or intersex before, but I’m certainly not dismissing the possibility.

September Writing Projects

So, I drove myself mad in August. I pretty much overloaded my circuits by insisting I do ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE instead of, you know, over the course of the entire 31 days. And I did myself no favors by thinking something was due this month when it wasn’t. I am a dumbass like that sometimes.

Despite my need to drive myself insane, I did get what I hope to be the final revision of (Vampires) Made in America done as well as Murderville season 2 revised. This was achieved by shoving the plotting of The Star Reader to the very back burner and turning the forward burners on high so I couldn’t reach it until the end of the month. I’ve got that blueprint about half done.

This month I am not going to drive myself insane because I’m going to do things to help ease part of the pains that were cramping by brain last month.

A big part of my issue is ideas. I have several right now and they’re jumbled in my head and what I really need to do is get them out and outlined so I can free up some space in that hellscape. The objective this month is to get The Star Reader, The Stories of Us After Them, and my untitled space story outlined/blueprinted/organized outside of my head so I can see them.

Speaking of The Stories of Us After Them, this is an idea that’s been percolating for years and the short stories “Take the 55 North” and “Items Left Behind” are part of that. I plan on revising and polishing another story that belongs with them called “The Zookeepers Liberation” and then posting it on Prose as well.

I’m also going to revise the Murderville Mini-Mystery, in the event we reach the $25 Patreon goal.

Hey, just because season 1 is over doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening. Become a $1 patron and get the free ebook version of The Last Joke that will be available only to patrons on September 12th. Become a $2 patron and you get the ebook and bonus material, including a Murderville Season 2 teaser poem that was released last month.

In other publishing news, Come to the Rocks will be published by NineStar Press in March of 2018. More details to come slowly as I’ve got several months to ramp up your interest.

Resetting My Mindfulness

I am self-destructive.

You wouldn’t know it to look at me because I’m not classically self-destructive. I’m not a big risk taker. Never was one for drugs. Not much of a drinker anymore. I’m not going bareback in any rodeos, if you take my meaning. I wear my seatbelt.

My self-destruction comes more in the form of apathy and neglect. Which makes it hard to detect sometimes. Because some days it’s too much work to give a shit. Some days are meant to be tossed into the trash. Some days you’re just supposed to say “fuck it” and drive on without exercising or properly hydrating and eating like a raccoon raiding the dumpster behind McDonald’s.

Okay, you’re not supposed to, but you do.

Okay, maybe you don’t, but I do.

And sometimes these days blend together to establish a kind of norm and one day something comes along to rattle the cage of my existence and I realize, holy shit, I’m slo-mo blowing up again.

The really tricky part about this is that sometimes this self-destruction focuses itself on one smallish aspect of my life so I really don’t notice it until the behavior sprouts little roots that burrow into my existence and then that weed of destruction becomes even harder to yank.

For example, right now I’m having trouble with my eating habits.

What I mean by that is that I’m eating by habit. I’m not eating because I’m hungry. I’m eating because I usually eat at this time of the day. Managing my depression leaves me somewhat routine dependent, so I do tend to do things at the same time most days. I get up at the same time, exercise at the same time, shower at the same time, eat at the same time.  And while this is very useful, it also leads to mindlessness. It leads to eating my snack at three because it’s three and not because I’m hungry.

More troubling is my response to realizing that I’m doing this.

It’s nine o’clock. Time for my evening snack. I’m not really hungry. Oh well. I’ll eat it anyway.

What? No! Bad self!

Aside from the fact that eating when I’m not hungry isn’t a good idea in general, I also have a couple of digestive issues, including GERD, so eating when I’m not hungry is EXTRA not good. It’s particularly distressing that my response to this is, “Oh well,” and doing it anyway.

This behavior is tied directly to the apathy of my self-destruction, the neglect of my self-destruction, the utter not-caring-about-myself of my self-destruction.

So, I must be mindful. I must reset my behavior back to mindfulness. Depending on the situation, it can be quite a task.

In this case it means doing the thing I absolutely loathe: tracking everything I eat. I’ve written before about turning food into math and the guilt that comes with it, so there’s some natural apprehension that I’ll become obsessive about every food particle I put into my mouth. However, this time I’m approaching it a little bit differently.

The point of this very conscious food tracking isn’t to restrict my calories, but to be aware of what I’m eating, when, and why. The point of this is to be mindful about my eating. The point of this to reinforce the idea that I don’t have to eat a snack at three o’clock because it’s three o’clock.

The point of this is to re-educate myself on LISTENING to my body.

And then responding with something better than an apathetic, “Oh well”.