Dusty Shoulders Be Damned

Unless you’re willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won’t happen.

-Phillip Adams

tumblr_nlcy4scQfi1upv7zco1_540This applies to many human endeavors. This is why I already believe my first book will not be received as well as I would hope, that and because it’s my first and there is much to gain from practice. I’m not saying I don’t believe in my own work, I just don’t believe in my ability to sell it. I’m not a salesman. Still I won’t let a flop in my first book be a deciding factor in my continued writing.

The photo I included in this post is from haystaak.tumblr.com. I thought it looked like an interesting place to visit and write about. It would make a good setting for a mystery. “An old fishing town, where the houses are built wall to wall with no space in between. The ship owners houses are built above the cliffs, while the poor fisherman and sailors live down by the wharf. The old mill sees no work anymore, it’s age told by the rusted tin roof. The houses look like a unraveled color wheel, with all the primary colors side by side. The wharf is the busiest place through out the day, as ships bring in there haul and mongers peddle the days catch.”

The third part of The Rise Of the Cult will go live today. Just thought I’d give a heads up for those that are reading it.

If you don’t fail, then you’re not trying.

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Non-Absentia

“Men weary as much of not doing the things they want to do as of doing the things they do not want to do.”

Eric Hoffer

I know I’ve been silent for a little while. There is the usual excuse: I’ve been busy. There are others, but none of them really matter. The house is still in shambles, but the contractor is going to get us a quote today. We are hoping that this quote will be better for us. We are still seeking assistance, and if you cannot help monetarily, just spreading the word helps tremendously.

I’m begin a little hard on myself over not writing here in few days, I want to keep drawing in readers, and entertaining the ones I have, or at least trying to make sure they don’t regret the time they use to read my posts. That said, I don’t like using excuses, even valid reasons seem like excuse sometimes. However, I do believe that as long as we own up to our mistakes, and make efforts to resolve them, then we can forgive ourselves and, in turn, be forgiven by others.

Another phrase I detest is “it is what it is.” I think that’s a poisoned and stagnant way of thinking. Sometimes, very rarely is something immutable and only then should that phrase be used. Even the laws of physics are being expanded upon and changed as we learn more about the physical universe. Just think if we always thought “it is what it is,” then the human race would have never progressed. Being against that way of thinking is what generates change. The Wright didn’t think that humans couldn’t fly because, “it is what it is.” Marconi didn’t think we could only communicate over wire because, “it is what it is.” Bill Gates didn’t think that only business will have computers because, “hey, it is what it is.” “It is what it is,” is just a quick and lazy way to say, I don’t have a solution to that problem at this time.

Sometimes we don’t have a solution, and maybe the technology isn’t far enough along as a whole to get us that solution in a timely manner. But don’t shrug it off and blame the universe. Take the responsibility to give a reasonable explanation to why we cannot solve this problem. We are all responsible for our actions and inactions, if you can’t fly to another solar system don’t say “it is what it is.” Instead, try finding a reason why, “with the current technology I would succumb to old age before reaching the next solar system. So, for today I will aid in the progression of that technology, so the next generation will be closer to this goal, than I am today.”

Sometimes our goals are just to big, scale it back a bit, then accomplish great things.

Go Down the Rabbit Hole: A Writer’s Manifesto

I agree with most of these, everyone should take these and use them in their own way.

Writing for Digital Media

1. You are the work. The work is you: both an articulation of the self and a possibility for self-reflection. Be honest in creation: allow yourself to bleed into the work, but also allow it to work on you. Your work can show you things: illuminate and clarify your own thoughts, motivations, actions. If you do it right, you will find the work changing you, too.

2. Thinking is process. Laying on the floor. Sitting on park benches. Getting lost on purpose. These are all working. Learn the difference between mindless distraction and mindful wandering.

3. Go down the rabbit hole. Sometimes the work isn’t about what you think it is. Allow yourself to get lost down alleyways, to follow a train of thought around a corner. Don’t feel you need to reign yourself in. Too much focus squeezes all the possibility for revelation out of the work.

4. Fear…

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The Writing Process: Part Three

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
-E. L. Doctorow

traffic-cars-headlights-head-light-bokeh-lightsNever a truer statement than the one above.

Last time I went on about how I plan and execute a short story. Now we’re going to talk about how much that can differ from writing a longer story, such as the novel I’m writing Dawn Vernalis (working title) . If you didn’t yet read the first article in this set, about my process for blog posts check it out here. If you want to know more about Dawn Vernalis you can see the synopsis here. With the boring plugs out of the way we can get to it.

The biggest difference, for me, when trying to write a longer work of fiction is the use of more words. All jokes aside, I mean that my notes are also more wordy and organized. I need more detail in the outline in order to save myself from reading my entire story everyday before I write. The beginning of the process is not too dissimilar from that of the short story.

First I imagine the main points of the story, setting, characters, plot, but it usually stops there. At this point I need to begin the outline. I write a synopsis from the world I’ve imagined in my head, this gives me direction. This direction takes me into the plot line and details.

The main section of notes begin with outlining the plot, like a story board. I’ll plan out the introduction of characters, including detail information like a dossier. This includes the physical features, as well as character quirks; I don’t like to call them flaws, since quirks make us who we are. I’ll include setting details, such as ambiance, features, and landmarks. I might also add lines that I feel need to be added to the story, things that I come up with while brainstorming that are so critical that they fit in the story word for word.

I’ll plan out maybe the first act or major scene this way, then begin to write it out. Most of all I try to avoid going back to make corrections at this time. There will be plenty of time for grammar corrections, spell checks, revisions, and name changes after the story is finished. Once the first act is written, I’ll take all the information up to that point and plan out the next just as I did with the previous section. Wash, rinse, repeat until the story is complete.

And, as I said, we have plenty of time to go back and polish the work once the story is complete. Just think if you start editing before completion you might change the story you imagined, this type of thing would lead me into a serious case of writers block. Writer’s block is just your mind telling you that something in your story doesn’t make sense. This is the only caveat to not editing until completion; if you get writers block before completing your story, you may want to go back and try to find the thing that doesn’t make sense. Once you get that resolved it should be smooth sailing, at least until the next storm.

I have a hope that somehow these three posts will help someone realize, that with time and effort they too can write. It’s not just about that one story you carry, but maybe the stories you can imagine to get you closer to that story. Writing is work, the more you do it, the better you will get.

Part One and Part Two

The Writing Process: Part Two

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
-Thomas Jefferson

twisty-treesIn the first part of this three piece article I covered my writing process for the blog posts I put together. I also included some of the things that I’m doing to add more oomph, gusto, pizzazz and a bunch of other outdated buzz words. As previously stated I’m going to shift gears and touch more on my process for slamming together a short story.

I brought up the part about imagining the basics of my story. Such as, but not limited to, the setting, characters, plot, climax and whether there will be a resolution or not, and what that resolution might be. I might write these things down, or I’ll keep them in the ole noggin. The latter generally being considered bad form, but it happens. Then I might start to hash out the first few paragraphs, introduce the main character(s), giving them some detail and body. It’s usually at this point I stop and open another writing application (I prefer Google Docs, but more on that some other time).

In this second document I’ll start writing high level notes of the story that I began to write as well as what comes next. I will generally work on a three act system for both short stories and longer works. Acts one and two come easy to me these are mostly exposition, plot and character development and some build up. The climax and fall of act three are often a little more work. I know that these are things that I have steadily increased the hype about for the first parts of the story, so this is something that must blow the reader’s mind. Because of this I usually wait until all the details of acts one and two are complete before making notes about act three.

The notes contain only the most important of details, everything else is setting the scene. That comes to me as I write. I visualize the scene in my head, all the details, then I find things that stand out to me, where did the blood flow too, was the painting crooked, did the killer leave any evidence, what color are the unicorns; well you get the picture. Getting the picture is the idea, however, I don’t want to force you into my frame of mind, I just want to put you in my world and let you see it how you would see the world around us. That’s why I write, not paint, if I wanted you to see exactly what I see I’d paint it, and you would probably still see what you want.

Act three comes with the climax, the big shebang. All that effort was for me to control your emotions. That’s right, writers just love to toy with our emotions and anyone who tells you different is probably lying. I want to make you anxious about what’s going to happen next, so I have to be sure to include that in my notes. Then I either want to make you feel good or completely dash all your hopes. Which ever I chose be sure I put effort into the outcome, and I felt the same before writing notes about it. After I have the notes I take myself into that situation and write out everything I would notice if I was experiencing it. If it’s a game of cat and mouse most of the details will be a blur, if it’s a battle field you will see a commander’s bird’s eye view, and if there is an unspeakable horror you won’t see the forest for the trees.

I left titles alone here, for the simple fact that titles are personal. If you can write the story, but can’t come up with a title, try that one phrase you wrote into the main character. The one you said out loud three times after you wrote it. Or don’t, I’m not the police, I’m just trying to explain my writing habits.

More to come in part three, the process for writing a longer story is, as luck would have it, more work.

Part One

Just a Little Assistance, Please

20150302_123616This is my baby boy and my dog in the hotel room we are using for running water. We noticed water seeping up through the floor of our house a couple weeks ago and figured with all the cold weather we had a pipe burst. So we did what any homeowner would do, we called the insurance company and if you must know our insurance policy is through State Farm.

Before I tell my story first let me say this, the local office has been great, the contractor they sent out has been very helpful, and the adjuster was very friendly. After the first call a plumber was sent out the same day, he made his assessment and proceeded to get photos. The damage was worse than initially thought. The water completely flooded the closet, bath and kitchen, it also made it into the bedroom and living room, damaging the carpet there. We called the insurance back and they schedule water mitigation for the next morning. The same day water mitigation installed their fans we were booked a hotel room. It’s nice for a hotel room, but it’s not home.

Week next week brought more snow and ice to the area delaying things further and keeping the contractors and insurance company busy. The fans and dehumidifiers were removed from the house, but still no water. then I waited for an appointment with the adjuster. The appointment was earlier this week, as I said she was very friendly. The contractor came out to include his quote and assessment.

Here is what I know has to happen, the pipe is being rerouted along the side of the house, this is direct cost to me, as insurance definitely will not cover this since it’s outside the house. So a trench has to be dug, by hand due to gas lines, from the main to the house. The vanity and tub in the bath have to be moved in order to jackhammer into the concrete slab and run the pipe into the house. The vanity and tub have to be moved back after that is complete, and the closet will need to have some sheet rock replaced and repainted. Additionally the carpet will need be replaced in the closet, bedroom and living room. In the kitchen the kick boards on the cabinets need to be replaced due to exploratory holes (1″ diameter) being drilled in over a dozen spots.

Later the same day the adjuster was out I got a call from the contractor. He told me that the insurance company is under the impression that the damage to the pipe was caused by natural settling, and that they will not cover any of the damages due to this. This leaves me in a bind.

If everything is covered it will cost me $1000 plus the cost of the pipe replacement, if none of this is covered it will cost me the entire job, which I’m going to ask for a copy of the itemized quote, but for now I estimate to be around $5000, which is probably low, but I’ve started a GoFundMe campaign. If you can and would like to help, please go here gofundme.com/ooxibg. Feel free to share this link or this blog with anybody you know. The more of you generous people that see this or the GoFundMe campaign page, the quicker we can get our house back to normal.

Thank you, even if you can’t donate, thank you for your consideration and for reading my story.

Update: My wife has just informed me that the insurance has approved our claim and the work will start Monday. This still leaves the deductible and the work on the pipe outside the house.

The Writing Process: Part One

or What Comes Down, Must Go Up

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”
-Ray Bradbury

duck-river-flood-126051297201343SpxPreviously I wrote a little about how my life has been quite disrupted by the breaking of a pipe. We are without running water in the house right now, which is rather inconvenient. Maybe inconvenient is too soft a word, a more accurate phrasing would be “a terrible inconvenience” or “a disaster.” I’m sure anyone can imagine, but it is something many of us take for granted.

Besides my home life being disrupted, work has become rather demanding again. The holidays are often slower for our business, than the rest of the year. With the holiday rut firmly in the past we are kicking things back into high gear and pushing to complete some projects. Of course, like many businesses, the upper management fails to understand the magnitude of the projects they have set forth. This leaves us, the peons, with the dilemma of completing tasks in an unreasonable time frame or not completing it on time. We usually opt for doing it right and taking the deadline hit on the front end, that way we can follow up with “see how good we did it.”

Most days when I get done with work I’m either thinking about the house, work, or trying not to think at all. But enough about earthly pursuits, let me embellish about my writing. I have a “process,” if it even qualifies as a process, that is less than professional. First, I’m going to talk about the shortest task, blogging. Then I’ll follow up with the short story, such as The Return Of the Cult. Finally, I’ll finish up with my process for writing a long story, such as the novel I’m working on (working title: Dawn Vernalis).

These blog posts have almost no process, but I’m working on that too. As you can see I’ve started adding a quote at the top. I haven’t quite decided if that’s a hook or just pretentious, but I’m not afraid to be pretentious if it’s right or I just like it. I try to find a quote about writing or inspiration and a photo that is obscurely referenced, even in hyperbole, somewhere in this blog. Most of the article topics just come from my head at the time and I’ll be honest most are written while I have down time at work. The titles usually come from the topic, but I commonly just pull something out of my hat and think, man that sounds good when you say it out loud.

Besides the quote, which I really liked the one I posted at the top of this, I’ve also started trying some other things to draw in readers. You will notice I’ve tried to include a photo in most of my posts. I’ve taken one of these myself, the rest are from public domain or are free stock image sites. I’ve also started scheduling my blogs for peak traffic time. It’s somewhat like predicting the weather; often close, but when it’s off it’s way off. Additionally, if you read this entire post you’ll see that I’m trying the time release article for longer lasting relief as well as acquiring repeat customers.

I will continue in the next article. We still have the short story and the full book process to cover, covers are another topic entirely.