The Process

"So."

"Mmm."

"Sooo."

"Mmmmmm."

"Soooooooooo--"

"Shut up."

"This thing you're writing. Been writing. For some time now."

"Yes."

"It's... I don't want to put words in your mouth."

"Sure."

"That's not me, that's not what I'm about."

"I know."

"It's just that this thing..."

"I hate it."

"...that seems harsh."

"I just, I hate it so much."

"Right, but--"

"I can't look at it anymore."

"Are you crying?"

"No, I've just got my face in my hands because I am trying to hide from the fact that I am no longer any good at writing, and if we're honest, I probably never was in the first place."

"You're overreacting."

"Your face is overreacting."

"What does that even--"

"I DON'T KNOW."

"...so what are your plans?"

"I dunno, write a couple of blog posts, maybe sit down with a notebook and see what I can rattle loose. I just know I've had Scrivener open for like two hours now and I keep looking at what's there and what do I even do with it?"

"This is surprisingly personal for a blog where you generally talk about things you have to sell."

"Yes, I'm very brave."

"You recognize that you're hyperbolizing how bad this thing is, right? Like, this is what all writers go through."

"Oh, yeah, of course, it's just that right now all I feel capable of is complaining about it. Which is useful. In its own way."

...

"So."

"Hmmm."

Sick of Myself

I'm kinda in the weeds right now. 

The problem is not a lack of work. Oh, no, not at all. The problem is getting out of my own way and actually doing the work. 

Very little has gotten done so far in this calendar year of 2016. There are external forces at work, of course. Family stuff, personal stuff, things you don't want to hear about and I don't particularly want to discuss.

I'm not interested in assigning blame. It would be easy to do so, to make my first blog post in 2 and 1/2 months be a mea culpa on my part. Who needs it?

The question, the only question, is how to get out of this rut. The answer is, of course, to shut up, buckle down, and do the work. You know this, I know this.

The problem is: Inspiration doesn't last. 

At nine o'clock in the morning, I'm at my most awake and alert, running on all cylinders, full of energy and ideas. I'm also at my day job, where I can't work on any of those ideas beyond taking notes. 

By five o'clock at night, however, I'm a frog in a freezer. I'm just not as fast as I was earlier in the day. I need to find a way to move that inspiration to a point where I can use it. 

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about Resistance.  

As powerful as is our soul's call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We're not alone if we've been mown down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here's the biggest bitch: we don't even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

I've read that book several times in my life, and every time I do, it gives me a shock of energy, a desire to defeat Resistance.

But here we are.  And maybe here's a good place to be, really. Maybe I should start posting word counts and chapters recorded. Maybe I should do what the title of this page says and talk and write, defrag my headbone some. I know I feel better for having written this.

I'm not going to make any promises; they're too easy to break. I'm just going to say that I'm trying, and hopefully you'll see more from me in this space soon, more of my writing, more of my voice.

It's time to do the work. 

Your Basic Sitrep

Well, as you can see by the date of this update, the Month O' Positivity didn't quite pan out. Things are much improved now, and I will tell you of them.

My colleague Matthew Rossi and I finished a book. Finally. At this point, we have thrown out several drafts of several hundred thousand words, but we have at least one book with which we are happy, and we are now shopping around.

 

I have a new audiobook for you to buy! It's called Reich, it's by Donald Allen Kirch, and it's about Vampire Hitler. I do not feel I need to explain further. This is a special release for me, as it's the first pro audiobook I've done solely on my own. Click on the picture to hear a sample. Or just buy it. You know what, just buy it.

And I am working on another audiobook for the good people at Radio Archives; don't look for it anytime soon, as it is astonishingly long. I'll let you know when it's ready for your ears.

In the meantime, if you don't hear from me, enjoy the holidays to the best of your abilities. Hug some people. Well, I mean, ask them first, don't be that guy. Cheers.

Stuff I Like - The Meg Langslow Mysteries

When it comes to mystery novels, I am much more likely to drift towards the hard-boiled section of the bookstore. Give me a good private investigator, Spenser, Kinsey Milhone, Atticus Kodiak before he got all weird. Or a talented amateur in formal wear, Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, et cetera. The only subgenre of mystery that never really did anything for me is the cozy. A cozy is one of a series of mysteries that are usually pretty light in nature; the victim is dispatched quickly, without much fuss, and generally had it coming in one way or another. The protagonists are women more often than not, and the book is pretty evenly divided between the actual mystery to be solved and the lead character's interactions with the colorful supporting characters.

...you know, going by that description, the Spenser novels kind of ended up as cozies.

Anyway. Not really my scene is what I'm saying. But a few years ago, I was desperate for something to listen to on a road trip and stumbled into the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews.

Meg is a blacksmith in the college town of Caerphilly, Virginia, where she serves as the only source of common sense to her large, daffy extended family. The first novel, Murder with Peacocks, sets the tone of screwball mystery; Meg has been suckered into planning three consecutive weddings, including one for her own mother. Someone turns up dead, and someone else did it, but the reason to read these books is for Andrews' excellent characterization. You'd happily read a novel of Meg dealing with the residents of Caerphilly without any bodies turning up.

A new Meg Langslow book has become a summer ritual for me, something to read in the sun.  The next in the series, Lord of the Wings, comes out August 4. ...yeah, I should have mentioned, after a while, the series took on bird-related puns as its titling theme. The birds generally have very little to do with what's going on inside. Check out Meg, I think you'll like her.

Stuff I Like - The Incrementalists

Today's Thing is a novel, The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skylar White.

The story begins with Phil; he's a professional cardplayer in Las Vegas. He's also a member of a secret society called The Incrementalists, a collection of immortals who survive by placing their memories and personalities into new bodies. Sometimes the old personality erases the new one, sometimes not so much. Their task is to make the world a better place, but incrementally, a little at a time. And Phil has found his latest recruit; Ren, a software designer, who agrees to have the "stub" of Phil's partner, Celeste, placed inside her.

It does not go according to plan. 

I fell for this book. Hard. It's a clever premise and an interesting plot, but what kept me reading was the story of Ren & Phil's relationship. Even without the plot, I would have read a whole book of these two having a conversation; their love story is funny, exciting, and ultimately, deeply moving. And the writing is philosophical and funny and just right. "The door opened, and Ren emerged, and my heart did a thing." Love that.

As good as Brust and White are, their words are only enhanced by Mary Robinette Kowal and Ray Porter, who narrate the audiobook, Kowal from Ren's perspective and Porter from Phil's. This was my first real exposure to Kowal's work, and I've gone on to enjoy both her own novels (The Glamourist Histories), and her work narrating Seanan McGuire's October Daye series. And Ray Porter is so damn good, y'all. I've since listened to him read all Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger novels (stay tuned), and am just finishing up his readings of Chandler's Philip Marlowe books. He's rather become what I aspire to as a narrator.

So, whether you get it in print or audio, check out The Incrementalists. It is A Thing That Is Good.

Stuff I Like - 2,000 To 10,000

I have written about Rachel Aaron's invaluable 2,000 To 10,000 before. Many times before. Shut up. You don't know how close you came to a post of nothing but vaguely amusing YouTube videos.

I first read this book after utterly, utterly failing to complete a satisfactory draft of a novel. Oh, I completed a draft, all right, but it was a complete mess. A little searching for writing advice led me to Rachel Aaron's blog, where I found this post, the basis of the book. The expanded work is full of useful, common sense, applicable writing advice that anyone can follow, even a chump like myself. And it's only ninety-nine cents. It is, I assure you, worth a lot more. Go buy it. Obey.