Halfway Done!

As of tonight I am 43,000 words into my 75,000 word goal! Whoa, right? It’s crazy that I’ve been able to get this much done while still taking a full load of graduate level coursework and being a pretty solid dad and husband. All in all I’m pretty proud of myself.

This experience has also made me think a ton about going back and reworking another manuscript I have. It was this little YA ditty I wrote about a girl who, living in a world where title and societal role is passed from parent to child, is forced by tradition into a role of leadership. It’s all about how she doesn’t want to take on the role and how she deals with the pressure of being forced to live a life she doesn’t desire. The first draft left me feeling less than stoked when I first finished it, but having gone through this process of writing has me thinking that maybe I ought to reexamine what I wrote. This current manuscript is going to need some serious rewriting so it doesn’t seem too crazy to take on rewriting the previous story as well. I reread the first couple of chapters and it doesn’t suck nearly as badly as I remember, so that’s something. Plus, the first draft is about 125,000 words and I loathe the idea of all that work going to waste.

What’s the Best Place to Live and Why is it Your Town?

You know what’s one of the dopest things about being in school for as long as I have? It’s totally legit to procrastinate on major decisions. Questions about where we’ll eventually live or how to crawl out from my crippling pile of student loans are easily pushed to the same dark corner of my brain where I hide my memory of the one time I left the house wearing my clothes backwards because I wanted to be Kriss Kross.

Normally I’d love to just keep pretending that I don’t have to worry about the future, except things just ain’t normal right now, dude. I’m about a month away from finishing my very first year of grad school (hooray!) which means I have just one single year left (oh god why?!?!?). That means I not only need to figure out the whole student loan business, but I gots to figure out where in the US of A we’re gonna live. And since figuring out where I want to live is way more fun than brooding about owing money to The Man, I’ll stick to looking at neighborhoods in the cities I like.

Number one on the list right now is New Orleans. Living in the South isn’t generally something I get super stoked on, but there’s something wicked cool about NOLA that I just love love love! Last time there we stayed in the French Quarter right off Bourbon, and while I’m a 0/10 on the nastiness that is Bourbon Street, I am down as frick with the rest of the city. Maybe it’s the voodoo talking, but I couldn’t help feeling that those were my people. Plus, Anne Rice lived there (or lives there still?) so I’m thinking I could probably use dark magic to help me leach some of her awesome power. A boy can dream, can’t he?

Okay, folks, I’d really like is to see some recommendations for other cities. Why do you love your town, and why should I move there?

How to Keep Writing a Book or When Talking to Yourself Isn’t Weird

Getting stuck in the middle of a scene is the most annoying shizbiz to happen when I’m working on a story, and it’s enough to make you quit altogether if you’re trying to figure out how to write a book for the first time. I’ll be working on a project, cooking along like a runaway semi, and then BOOM! The ideas just stop. Like, for real stop. I don’t even know how it happens. It’s like one second my brain is just pouring creativity and the next it’s saying, “You know what? I’m just gonna stop working right now because I can.”

Yeah, sometimes my brain can be a huge jerk-off.

A long time ago, in the faraway land of not being a graduate student slash dad slash all the other stuff I am, I’d take these brain lulls as cues to wrap it up. Those were the storybook days of endless free time where sugarplums and lollipops grew aplenty, and my landlord was cool if I just didn’t pay the rent sometimes. Those days have since gone the way of the buffalo, man, so quitting just because the words stop flowing isn’t an option. Sometimes I have to give the muse a kick in the ass.

So how do you keep the ideas flowing if your brain decides to punch the clock? Some people say writing prompts can help, but I could never really get down with writing prompts. For me, the answer is journaling, but not in like a “Dear Diary” kind of way. I just pull out the notebook and start writing like I’m talking to myself, which isn’t much of stretch seeing as I talk to myself out loud all the time. I write about where the story is, where I want it to go, what the characters are doing, what has happened so far, why I’ve had them doing what they’re doing — you get the idea, right? It only takes a couple of pages before I’ve got some plan for where to go next and I’m cooking with gas again.

So yeah, give it a try. Maybe a little bit of talking to yourself is what you need to bump that word count a little higher for the day.

Back for the Umpteenth Time

Oh my gawd! It’s been, like, forever since I put work into this thing. And that’s a shame, you know? I really put a lot of time and energy into keeping this things going for a hot minute. But then I got busy. Like, really effin’ busy.

Busy how, you say? Well, since last year I got into graduate school, moved to the other side of the country to attend said school, and my kid grew up some more — kids do that until 18 or so, apparently. So yeah, I’ve had some serious life shizbiz going on, all of which have demanded gigantic chunks of my time. Prosperity problems, yes, but problems all the same when I’m trying to find time to write.

For the loooongest time I was convinced that I could only write — or at least, write well — so long as it was the main focus of my life. I could work, but it would have to be a sham job that I only did so as to pay the bills. I was all or nothing, man. Either I was writing as the main focus of my life, or I wasn’t writing at all.

Turns out that whole theory of mine just ain’t true. It’s bologna, bro. Grade-A bologna. I can work in a career-ish kind of job or go to grad school, be a pretty awesome dad slash husband, all while getting some writing done. It’s totes possible, so long as I manage my time well. For me that means turning off the TV and writing after my kid’s asleep and my studying is done. Every. Single. Night.

The good news is that I’m back in the game! My new(ish)found writing habit has earned me a 32k-ish word manuscript that I’m chipping away at every night. I even went all mathy and figured out that getting in 950 words a night — a totally doable goal at my current pace — will land me at around 95k words by the first of August. Pretty bitchin’, am I right?

I’m gonna try and hit this thing up every now and again, but I dunno how often. Graduate school is so very difficult (who knew?) so I’m always busting my booty-cakes doing homework or studying. That said, my teeny-weeny amount of free time usually needs to go toward my novel, but as I get down time every now and then between classes I am sure I’ll be able to throw some time at this every now and again. Besides, it’s good for me to connect with fellow writers, especially when I’m surrounded by a bunch of brainy sciencey types all the time.

Have a good one, brodaniels!

 

Envy is a Mothertrucker

Sometimes I can be a real envious dude. Like, real envious. Not about everything — I’m not that much of a jerk — just the really big stuff. The stuff I want so bad it makes my chest ache like I’m thirteen and I just spotted the girl I’m crushing on. Publishing a book is one of them. The biggest, actually. There’s a few other crossroads-at-midnight type of desires bouncing around in my head, but publishing a book is def the Big Bopper.

You might not admit to it, but if you fancy yourself a writer — or just human, for that matter — then you’ve almost certainly been bit by old Green Eyes himself. You know what I’m talking about, you old humany so and so. It’s that stitch in the pit of your stomach, or the knot between your shoulders when you see somebody getting something you want — nay, need — for yourself. Maybe you know them personally. Then again, maybe not. Either way, I’d bet a handful of my teeth that you’d spit on their neck if you could get away with it. Hell, maybe you’d even get caught if it meant sticking it to that S.O.B. Don’t deny it. You know I’m right.

So why do I bring up this feeling that everyone has but can’t own up to because for Heaven’s Sake, what would people think? Well, friends, I went to the movies last night and found myself chest deep in a kick-out-your-teeth brand of Envy when I saw the film version of a very popular book. I thought about how Mr. Fancy Author was probably swimming like Scrooge McDuck through a swimming pool of money while I can’t string enough words together for a first draft. Man, that pisses me off. Maybe it wouldn’t have sucked for me so much had the movie been bad.

Now before you all tell me to lay off the Haterade®, let me explain why I’m even bringing up this whole shizbiz. You might think I’m crazy as firecrackers in a swimming pool, but I think envy is a kick-ass motivation tool to get some damn ass work done. No bullspit, friend. That is, so long as I hold tight to that sincere desire to prove myself just as good, dammit.

Why does this matter, you’re probably not asking. Well, for the next few months I’m in a position where I can spend a good chunk of my time on the story I’ve been dying to write but have had dick for time to put into it. Now with some hours free and a whole lot of desire to prove myself to someone who doesn’t know I exist, I can work on this project the way it deserves. I’m pumped to see where it goes because my writing game has been on suck status for a grip.  I’m just hoping that two parts hard work and one part envy will be enough to produce something readable. We’ll see how that whole shazam works out in the coming weeks.

Writing, Moving, and Other Problems

I don’t know about all of you, but whenever I get crazy stressed out I just can’t seem to concentrate on writing. It’s so bad in fact that I get this aversion to writing anything. That’s pretty much what has been going on lately. What with work, planning for the big move across the country, and buying a house, I somehow haven’t had room in my brain for working on my story. Kind of a bummer, but what are you going to do, right? I know that once I get moved I’ll have some time to get back into the habit, but for now I’m not going to beat up on myself too much. Moving across the country is crazy stressful without adding in the guilt of not getting some unreasonable amount of writing done.

Just as a little mental exercise I want to talk about where I’m at with the story. It’s a middle grade book — or at least my wife thinks it reads like a middle grade book — about a young girl who discovers a conspiracy going on with some supernatural bad guys. I’ve done a little rethinking of the main character (e.g. what she was like before she got to her current, conspiracy ridden school) so as to set her up for becoming friends with some of the characters I want to write into the story later. Thing is, it’s tough to go back and write in parts about a character when you’re not looking at the story fairly often. I mean, there’s a sort of rhythm that I get into when I am writing on a story regularly so that I can feel how changes will affect the whole of the story. Does that make sense?
On a little side note, I’m super excited to move! I have lived in Washington for about 5 years now and I feel like it’s time to be getting on. Plus, we’re buying a new house which makes it all the more awesome. Maybe I’ll meet some new writers in the area? I hope so.

The Struggle is Real

Ever have the feeling of struggling through every word you get onto the page? That’s totes where I’ve been at lately. A couple weeks ago I started back into trying to write regularly — and by “regularly” I mean “whenever my toddler is asleep / with grandma / busy making a pile of toys in the living room” — and I have never had such a tough time getting a single effing paragraph written. Maybe it’s the fact that I am trying to work on a story that has been sitting untouched for so long? I know that in the past I have lost the rhythm of a story if I’ve left it dormant for too long. I really hope that’s not the case because the I was just starting to love the characters and my read-through of the first draft didn’t make me totally sick to my stomach.

On an unrelated note, me and the wifey are getting ready to make the big move across the country for my graduate program. I’m crazy nervous about things working out so that might be increasing the suck-factor of my writing. Can you blame me though? Moving is hard enough by itself, but when you make it a cross-country trek with your whole fricken family, well, you might tend to get a tad more anxious.
Finally, I have a writing plan for this week that I hope will help to get the story moving again. I’ a morning person so I think that waking up at 4:30 AM before work, pounding a cup of coffee, and then hammering out 500 words is totally doable. I know I can do it! The Writing Gods demand it!