The Future of Memories

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2019 has been a difficult year for me when it comes to my writing.  Everything else seems to be getting in the way and sapping my brain of any creativity.  So I just sit there and stare at a partially blank page and nothing happens.

After close to a month of this, I decided to try reading some of the books that have been stacking up in a pile that only grows in height… which is a good thing.  I finally did make a dent in that pile (there was much rejoicing), but it didn’t help with the original problem, aka writing.

In the meantime, I’ve met a bunch of other writers both in person and online and it has been an exhilarating experience. Getting to toss ideas back and forth for laughs and even a possible story or two has been fun.  I did get a bit of writing done but not on what I wanted to finish.

I dove into other activities to the point where free time was only a ghost and getting any words down at all was a rumor.  At the same time, I did make some progress on those other activities but the need to write only grew stronger.  I went back to that partially completed page and just stared at it.

And now my time was up.  I had given myself an end date to get that first draft done so that I could get the second book in the Matilda series out and it was now a couple weeks back.  I figured if I can’t write maybe I can edit.  The answer to that was… no.

Ugh, what a quandary.  My brain is screaming at me to get some words down but then offers nothing but doubts in myself to write.  It reads the words that I had written and comes up with a big fat zero as to how to make it better.  So, what do to right?

After struggling with all this nonsense for longer than I care to admit (almost three months), I went back to the source.  I have been rereading the first book, The Matilda, to get a sense of the characters and the universe they inhabit and I am enjoying them again.  I am catching little things I had either forgotten or never really noticed.  New ideas are filling spots that I was struggling with in book four of the series and I feel some of that excitement again.

On top of that, my wife found the only copy of the very first long story I ever wrote at the wondrous age of twelve.  I had thought it lost forever like the spy movie I made with a friend when I was fourteen.  But there it was in all its handwritten glory!  My dreams of being a writer in those pages and there were so many good memories trapped in them.

So, why do I bring up any of this?  I feel incredibly happy right now.  Here I am struggling with getting another word down and getting the next book out while feeling like neither is going to happen.  The future looks bleak.  When out of nowhere came the voice of a twelve year old boy to show me that I can do it, because I have done it.  That little voice reminding me that I should keep doing it because I always wanted to and the only thing in the way was me!

Who knew that a memory from the past would push me back into the future it had envisioned so long ago.  I sure didn’t.

And for that, I salute that little boy and his dreams that I will continue to make a reality.

Who knows, maybe I will share that silly story here some time.

Tangents and Plans

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Whee…

You know when you have to run again, (and let’s be honest, you’re probably at an airport and loaded down with bags) and you haven’t run since you were in high school or college and everything feels out of sync or just plain wrong?  Yeah, that’s what writing feels like right now.

I have started two short stories while in the midst of the latest bloody cold I’ve caught, as well as this blog entry, and I’ve made… little progress.  This tiny thing has taken over a week to write.  Craziness and busy should not go hand in hand down the hallways of life.

So, what else have I done with my time?  Lots actually and the most important part has been research.  Well, maybe rethinking my deadlines and creating a new plan!  Yeah, that one is probably more important.

What does this all mean?  The completion of book four is going on hiatus so that I can complete the final write up on book two, Twistin’ Matilda!  It’s so close to done and I want to get that one out and into people’s hands!

What’s after that?  Get another rewrite on book three so that I can have my editors and beta readers give it a go through.  Once that is in the bag, then it’s back to book four and getting the first version completed.  I have a complementary ‘’you’re a winner’ glass of whiskey on hand for that day.  I am so looking forward to it.

Will I write anything else in the mean time?  The plan, you know about the plan, don’t you?  Well, the plan says there shall be more short stories in the near future for y’all to read at your leisure.

I am looking forward to hunkering down and hitting my goals!

***

On a side note, the following writers have been super important in motivating me to get back to it, either by kind words, their own struggles and motivations or by blatantly saying it to my face.  You guys are awesome!

Lyndsie Clark         Michael Kilman            G. A. Mehan    A. M. Schinske

I Need More Life!

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It has been over a month since my last confession…  Well, since my last “Where am I?  What am I doing?” post.  So yeah… holidayzzzz.  Sometimes it seems like they never end, right?

I had a great visit with family.  I got to hang out with the cousins and we ran all over town before we entered an Escape Room and defeated it handily.  I hit a museum with the folks and even did some padded sword fighting with my youngest nephew.  It was a whirlwind of activities and the holiday stress was low.

I knew we would be gone for a while so I brought my best intentions with me.  I packed my computer with my source files and the current fourth book project loaded.  All I needed was time.  But time is always at a minimum when visiting people (see above).  Once we got back in town, I could get some down on digital paper then.  See where I’m going with this?

But they always say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  So, did I get any writing done during the holidays?  Sadly, not a single word.  Have I done any since being back?  Second verse, same as the first.

The best part about being gone from work for a while is how much has piled up since you left.  Eesh.  But now that I have caught up on that, I have a plan!  And I’ve taken on new responsibilities as of two weeks ago and the plan has taken a back seat.  When are going to get short term cloning as an option?  I need another me for about a month or so.  Oh science.

I can get it done and by it I mean ‘all the things’.  My resolution for this shiniest of shiny New Year’s is to get that plan rolling along with everything else and see them to completion.  Perseverence is the key.

Well, that and coffee… and uh, sometimes whiskey…

Restarting My Fourth Novel Pt. 5

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NanoWrimo is done.  Did I hit the coveted 50,000 words? I did not.  Did I beat my best ever writing day of 4,358 words?  I was close at 4,180 last night but I ran out of time.

I went to another write in, the last one for this session, and I kept writing (mostly) up to 11:59PM.  A pretty solid night, to be honest, and the second best word count in one day for me.  I know other people are punching out 7,000 to 8,000 words in a day and I can’t imagine those kinds of numbers in one day.  Maybe in the future.

By just separating out the word count on the write in night’s I attended shows that I should go to more of them.  I went to two and joined some friends on another night this week and those three days were my highest producing days of the month.

It was good to get out of the office and write somewhere else.  Words flowed and other thoughts popped up in the story.  And best of all, I am finally at the part where I want to write down my idea.  It’ll just be a blip in the book, but man, am I excited about this bit.  So, thank you Lair of Abraxas for hosting those NanoWrimo write ins!

So, is the book done?  Far from it.  Am I going to keep plugging away at it? Why yes I am!

I finally feel connected to the story and I can see its end before me.

Of course, I’m currently talking first draft.  There are a lot of rough patches in there as it is.  But I must be one of those weird ones who actually enjoys editing.  It’s fun to find the diamond in the coal and shape it to fit the story.  Because, the story must flow and he who controls the flow must know the story!

What I am trying to say is that it will get completed and I have no bones to lose for that.  So, yay!

Restarting My Fourth Novel Pt. 4

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Well, this was a bit of a crazy week, to say the least.

With the holidays, food comas and friend and family get-togethers, my writing has taken a wee bit of a backseat to life.  Oh and Monday was my birthday so there was that, too.  I took the day off so that I could get some actual writing done.  While I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, I am fully on track (I think).

I was at that point in the writing process where my muse had taken off for the weekend.  I wasn’t feeling it.  I mean, I did plug away at it as even 10 words is more progress than say 0.  Having Monday off really gave me time to look into what was needed and that was (Tada!) me knowing what all the other characters were up to while I had been focusing on the main group.

Research!  I had to go through my pages and pages of backstory and future-story.  To be honest, there are only about 50+ pages in the story bible, and only part of it is listed in a consecutive order.  So hello, haystack!  I have many needles in you and I don’t remember their names…

See the problem there?  How do I look for what character X was last doing if I can’t find them?  So yeah, umm, I reread pretty much the entire story bible to figure out who was who and what was who doing and was who with another who at the time?

I can sense anger as all those characters weep at my loss of memory of them.

But it was time well spent!  I mean not in number of words well spent, but actually having a clue of all the things happening roughly at the same time and jeez… there is a lot happening.  I think next time I will write the adventures of one solitary character with no other points of view to keep from getting lost. Yeah. Let’s see if my brain will allow me to do that, ha-ha!

Yesterday was part of a big slowdown in the word factory too, but for a more malignant reason.  Bowker Industries got hacked and a lot of people’s account stuff was stolen.  You’re asking, who is Bowker Industries?  Well, they are the one company in the USA that provides ISBNs  for books (click the link if you want to know more…).

I had purchased a block of ISBNs so I got to spend the day verifying that none of my account (bank, site, payment info, et al.) stuff was stolen.  Luckily for me, it wasn’t.  But I did get to spend a large part of the day resetting passwords to prevent damage to me and mine for the future.

All of my characters rejoiced at this… well, in my head they did…

So here I was struggling to find the time to get some writing done today when my writer friend Lyndsie Clark (you can check her out at http://www.lyndsieclark.com/) said she was going to a write-in yesterday.  Weirdly, I had just talked with someone that I needed to get out of the ‘chamber of words’ to get any real progress done. So that’s what I went and did!  Sign from the muse accepted.

The write-in was an interesting experience.  When I first got there, I thought I was the only one.  Now I was a little early, so I wasn’t too surprised by this.  Once my friends arrived, we were still the only people there writing. I had expected more.  This is when I found out the place had two sides separated by a wall and doors.  The other side had a lot of people typing away into their manuscripts!

I did get quite a bit of writing done there and it felt good to get out of the house to do it.  I am going back again on Friday, the very last day of Nanowrimo and write until the last minute!

Well, that’s my intention anyway.

Pies!

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So yeah, I was pretty excited about making pies yesterday.  Though, I was corrected that I was only making one pie and one tart in a pie crust.  Semantics!

They turned out pretty well and I wanted to share them with everyone.

I really enjoy cooking.  It’s an amazing skill to have that I get to use every day, multiple times a day.  Baking, on the other hand, is not something I am terribly comfortable with.  This was (technically) my third attempt at baking.  I know, I know, what about cookies?  I don’t include cookies in this because once you’ve got that dough, just don’t burn them.

I had attempted a raspberry crumble and while tasty, it was rather dry.  My next attempt was an apple pie but I didn’t know what I was doing and used a flan pan.  This was definitely NOT dry and tasted fabulous, but it was a mess to cut.

So, for the actual pie (thanks for the clarification, Désha), I went with a peach pie because we had a lot of peaches on hand.  Well, I mean I thought we had a lot of peaches.  Another run to the grocery store and we now had… too many peaches.

Recipes!

I am not crazy enough to figure out baking recipes of my own until I’m comfortable with the whole process.  For the peach pie, I turned to Alton Brown!  You can’t go wrong with Alton Brown.

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The recipe was pretty easy to work with and I thought it turned out really well!  Now I will offer some clarification, those are not what you may automatically assume they are.  They are monkeys!

 

Now, the next one was the one I super excited about.  For some reason, I had bought cranberries on a whim and then didn’t what I wanted to do with them.  I came across this Cranberry Curd tart recipe from Laughing Spatula.  This one was a bit more work and not a true pie (thanks Désha).  And man, is it tasty!

Well anyway, I had a blast making these and they turned out pretty well!