Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On Writing

A follow-up to my first post on writer's block.  Read this.  First drafts of some famous works.


On Waiting

N0S4A2 was released today.  My hope was to start reading it today.  But distractions, errands, and life conspired to delay my reading of The Blinding Knife (not that I'm complaining about reading that, as it is fantastic stuff) so that I will not be starting the new Joe Hill in the near future.  

The accumulated anticipation of its plot and character will foam up about my mind and all of my desire and patience will look up and shout "read it!" and I'll whisper "no." (at least not yet - next).

Packing is nearly complete for the big move.  Timing is set.  Money is ready to change hands.  The glimmer of a key will soon shine from my hand.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

On Drafting

Lost amidst the lights and noise of the NFL Draft.  I don't even watch college football.  I suppose it's just a short FOOTBALL fix between the Super Bowl (go Ravens!) and next season.  Not even knowing who the players are, there's just something about the idea of drafting that is intriguing.  Maybe it spawns from picking your dodgeball team in elementary school.  Maybe there's just something in our nature that makes us want to "pick" things from a list of items.  It's collecting.  Gotta Catch 'Em All.

It makes me miss the trading card games.  They don't play World of Warcraft TCG at my local store, and I just cannot justify starting Magic: The Gathering this late in the game.

This does remind me that Blizzard announced...

A man can hope his trading card game cravings are sated by an online card game.

Drafting also reminds me of colors (read the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks; which I am currently on book 2), which reminds me of writing, which reminds me of how little I have accomplished.  Perhaps now is as good a time as any to research some more names.

EDIT (4/26/13):
Conked out before the end of the NFL draft.  Happy with the Ravens' selection.  Everyone thought they'd go with the Notre Dame linebacker - replace Ray Lewis! they screamed.  But, in Ozzie we trust, and I have to believe in the Free Safety choice.  His highlight reel is pretty crazy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

On Purpose

I saw another blog that had something like this and I like the idea, so, as they say in creative writing classes...  steal, steal, steal.  What I want to make is a list of accomplishments to strive for over the next year.  Maybe having something as such in writing will help.  And since there's power in the number seven (seven kingdoms, seven gods, seven satrapies, seven colors, seven great purposes, seven elevens, seven dwarves, seven chipmunks twirlin' on a branch eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch), I shall have my own seven purposes.  They tell you goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  I probably won't hit all of those as some of these are more vague notions than SMART goals, but without further ado...

1.  Be a better father
This is not to say I am a bad father, but this will probably tie into some of the other items on the list (watch less TV didn't end up making the list...  so...  just read on).  I have the propensity to take the easy way out of things, and thus the kids probably watch more TV than they should.  So, in this will be - less TV, more interactive playing, reading, etc.

2.  Be a better husband
I would like to start dating my wife again.  Over time, and with the addition of children, careers, responsibilities, chores, hobbies, etc. it is easy to start taking things for granted.  Daily life falls into a rhythm, and the spark that brought it all together sometimes falls to the background, sometimes in a slow fade, other times in a ball of fire.  LionEyes and I are in the process of buying a new house, and maybe it is a time to start things with a clean slate...  to make each other a higher priority again.  
    (brownie points for picture choice?)

3.  Read more (at least more than last year)
Entertainment has been mindless for too long.  As it stands, I am on pace to exceed last year (and the year before that...  since there's the fun discrepancy of I read more books last year, but more pages the prior year).  I should pass both with so many things to look forward to...  NOS4A2, Joyland, Abaddon's Gate, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Codex Born, The Republic of Thieves, Steelheart, and that's not counting all the prior year books I never got to.  

4.  Go on a trip
Note, plans to go to Disney were postponed due to the aforementioned home purchase.  So, this needn't be a major trip, and likely this will include two - as it should be something with LionEyes alone, and something with Munchkin and Peanut coming along, but away from home for a long day or an overnight just as an escape from the routine.  

5.  Add 50,000 words to work in progress
This may be lofty considering I've been frozen at 3,000 for near a month now and requires my getting on the Naming issue (and considering the overall goal is really over the 100,000 mark).  I would like to write a novel length work one day, and the only way to do that is one word at a time.

6.  Get a tattoo
For me, my family, and my lifestyle, this is sadly the most controversial goal.  Also, this is probably the least likely to occur due to my own chronic indecision on placement (currently bouncing back and forth between forearm and inner bicep) and design.  No, I will not share my thoughts on design as I don't want any outside influence to sway me one way or another (though LionEyes would be allowed a say more likely than not).

7.  Take more pictures
I suppose this includes buying a camera as pictures off the iPhone that look great on the computer tend to be rather fuzzy when printed out.  Pictures of the Munchkin and Peanut, of LionEyes and myself, of us all, of our home, of our neighborhood, scenery...  food (why not?).  I'm slowly reverting back to being a more physical person (holding an actual picture, book, etc. instead of digital...  though I will continue with e-books for the foreseeable future - not counting Joyland - thanks Stephen King).  LionEyes has already been researching cameras, so hopefully this can begin soon.

Now to try to remember to come back to this list as things are accomplished, or just require further reflection...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On a Version of Writer's Block

I read somewhere that writer's block doesn't exist (it does), and to a certain extent I agree (and it doesn't).  I think when most people think about writer's block they imagine sitting in front of a computer and just not knowing where to even begin.  But it's more than that.  It's perfectionism (face it, you are not going to get it right on the first try).  It's fear (not everyone is going to love what you have to say).  When you can get past these things, I think that version of writer's block is passable.  You fight through it one word at a time.  Words become sentences, become paragraphs, become chapters.  They needn't be perfect.  That's what editing is for (but no one wants to think beyond the first draft - I'm guilty of this myself). 

Yet as I am typing this now, I am writing at a time when I feel the pressure of that invisible block upon me (and maybe part of me is writing this as a distraction from doing the actual work of progressing things).  However, in this case, I know the problem and namely it's Naming. 

Someone said "names are important" and I firmly believe that (all bow to Patrick Rothfuss in acknowledgment of his awesome).  With some characters, all they have is their name.  So, even though I have 3,500 words (give or take) of a first chapter (for now it's a first chapter, but I've already taken a first chapter and bookmarked it for later on) written down, progress has come to a standstill.  Do I know where I want the story to go?  Yes (I have a general direction in mind anyway - sometimes not having everything figured out helps because the characters don't always want to listen to you...  but that's another story).  So, what's my problem?  I haven't named EVERYTHING yet, and I just can't bring myself to write something along the lines of "and the King of (Island Not Yet Named) turns to (Character Not Yet Named) and..." Sometimes you can get by naming something later (hell, this blog is titled Insert Title Here - was titled that...  we will see if the new title sticks), but with the bulk of the nouns you're dealing with unnamed it doesn't really work. 

I already know who the main POV characters are in title, in physical description.  I've started giving them personalities, traits, backgrounds (or have they been giving that information to me?).  They are becoming more than their clothes, profession, political titles (I seem to have a problem with the word "and" at the end of my lists).  Yet I can't figure out their names and without that, the story is behind the block - now picturing my story trapped under a giant children's block of wood carved with various letters (likely F and U are visible).  I've scanned baby-naming books, web sites, movies and novels.  Nothing feels right yet. 

On top of that, the scale of the story that is clawing it's way out of my head is grander than anything I have handled before.  Maybe that comes from all the George R R Martin I've been reading/watching lately (though I would never even begin to compare myself to such a master).  I'm an amateur and I know it.  I have a day job I am fond of (at least I tell myself that to help the days go by).  Regardless, I count at least six POV characters (only two of which have been named thus far), another 10 - 15 that require more in depth characterization (two or three names done), nine land names (one I am happy with), 12 or so ship names (three done), etc. 

Why is writing so hard when we've all been doing it since we were children?  It's work.  It takes time other than the time you spend actually typing (or hand-writing, as I had always been prone to do until not too long ago) the story to research names, customs, diction, etc. (throw an "etc." on and you don't need an "and" anymore!). 

So may this post exist as a reminder to (what the hell are you still doing typing here?! Get back to work!)