Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Weekly Re-Motivator: The Anchor


So, you’re a writer.

And you have this project.

It’s a project that you’ve had for months, or maybe even years. It’s a project you return to time and time again, when inspiration for other work deserts you or when a bolt from the blue strikes and you just have to, have to, go work on that project again. Maybe it’s your first project, maybe it’s your latest one, maybe it’s a project you started and forgot about and go back to every few months. When your mind goes blank, inevitably your thoughts turn to that one project, and even if you’re not actively working on it, your brain is always bent toward it.

This project is the anchor.

anchor-954927_1920

Like a security blanket, you need this project. It comforts you in times of need, it fills you with nostalgia; even just opening the file (or turning the pages, or unrolling the parchment you scribed it onto, you insane purist) makes you smile. Like a true anchor, this project keeps you moored. Keeps you grounded. Keeps you from getting off course, keeps you true to yourself — or at least true to the self you were when you started the project. Without the anchor project, you wouldn’t be the writer that you are, you wouldn’t write the way you do.

The anchor project is a good thing.

But the anchor project can’t stay forever.

Like a security blanket, it works wonders for you for a while, but eventually, you start to outgrow it. People stare if you’re still dragging it around in public. It gets threadbare and worn-out, and not even functional for its original purpose beyond a point. Like a true anchor, well, it keeps you from drifting off during the storm, but it also keeps you from letting down the sails and exploring the ocean.

Comes a time when you have to cut the anchor loose, when you have to accept the fact that you’ve outgrown it and move on. When you have to drop the anchor and sail out into the wild blue. When you realize that the anchor is not the project that needs your time, your effort, your constant thought anymore.

Accidentally Inspired has been my anchor project since I was in college, which is to say, for about fifteen years. The idea was born in a scriptwriting class in 2002, I expanded it into a full-length play by 2004, when it actually saw production with my old high school. Then I mothballed it for almost a decade, though I always hung onto the idea of turning it into a novel, and there it nested in the depths of my brain, ripening on the vine.

Well, I’ve followed through on that seed of an idea, finally. I wrote the novel. I’ve revised and edited it through several iterations. I’m working on one last edit now.

And somewhere along the road in this last edit, I realized it’s time to cut this anchor loose.

I love this project. I always will. but the longer I keep reworking it, the more I’m neglecting other stories I want to tell, the more I give in to the fear of putting it out there and letting it walk on its own, like a wobbly-kneed colt.

I’ve got about one more month left in this phase of the work, and then it’s time to pull up roots and let this puppy go.

Bittersweet, to be sure, but the time is right. It’s time to move on.

Am I alone in this, or is there an anchor holding you back, too?

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.

Advertisements

It’s ALMOST Time


So a weird thing happened.

I was sitting here, working on the novel (you know, that thing I NEVER talk about), and it struck me. I’ve enjoyed the work over the last few days. Really enjoyed it. Story’s pretty good. Like the dialogue. Love the plot. It’s starting to feel pretty close to finished.

So on a lark (literally, I mounted a lark) I googled literary agents in Atlanta.

I’ve done this once before, years ago when I wrote a play that I thought was good. It filled me with faceless dread and mindless terror then, because I knew (or maybe only feared, it was impossible to tell) that the work was … I won’t say bad, but it certainly wasn’t everything it could be. I googled and then I cowered in fear and self-doubt, and I never submitted anything.

But now, I’ve put in the time. I’ve slaved over this book. It feels ready. So I googled for agents, and it didn’t fill me with terror.

It filled me with purpose.

I think the book is ready. I think I’m ready.

I'm Ready

Well, almost ready. Another ninety pages to edit.

But then I’m ready.

So … uh … how the balls do I find a good agent?


Glimpses of Non-Suckitude


I was beginning to get a little fatigued with this latest edit. Cleaning up the junk language, tightening up all the moments, trimming out the unnecessary. It felt like most of what I had written was crap; that it all needed serious work before it could be “ready”.

But I reached a few passages today that absolutely crackle with life and energy. Passages that had me laughing to myself while I sat in my darkened room reading jokes I myself had written, even though I already knew all the punchlines. Passages possessed of a sort of self-evident, unconcerned eloquent beauty, the like of which I would not attribute to myself. Passages that make me think maybe I’m not so bad at this writing thing after all.

This novel (and this blog for that matter) is keenly interested in the question of inspiration: where it comes from, how useful it is, what it can do for you when you have it. And by and large, I have come to believe that inspiration is just a bunch of baloney sandwiches. You either work or you don’t, but some days are better than others.

Still.

As I read my own work of the last year and a half, it’s encouraging — and kind of awesome — to see those flashes of inspiration peeking out through the cracks.

I like to liken (like to liken, tee hee) writing to a long, arduous slog through vine-darkened jungle, or to a hopeless trek in a desert. And it damn sure feels that way a lot of days. But every now and then, light penetrates the canopy and wakes up the critters on the jungle floor, and the rare flowers open their petals to the light. Here and there, water bubbles up to shape an oasis amid the scorching sands.

For now, though, it’s back into the caves.


Save


I’m just gonna say this. Not that it needs saying.

But save your work. Save early. Save often. Save like you’re tapping out the drumbeat of a Bantu dance. Autosave is a lifeline, but that lifeline may or may not be looped around your neck or your genitals.

At least I only lost a day’s worth of work.

Ugh.

Which reminds me… I need to make some backups.


The Apocalypse Ticket


An illustration of an asteroid on its way to Earth. See more space dust images.

The Crimson Fist streaks around the corner in a blur of aerodynamic fins and chrome, scattering a crowd of shoppers clustered around a street vendor.

Stomping the accelerator, the Fist grits his teeth and steals a glance toward the sky.

Less than thirty minutes til impact. The oncoming asteroid — a small planet, really — hangs in the sky like an anvil, eerily unmoving despite hurtling toward the earth at interstellar speed.

He’s been waiting for this. He hasn’t hit anything in months, and he’s itching to strike with the energy of a dozen neutron bombs.

The Fist swerves past the traffic bumbling through the intersection, clips a pickup and sends it spinning up onto the sidewalk. Frustration rises: he makes to smack the dash but stays his hand. Calm. Focus. Don’t waste it. He grunts and checks his rear view. The damage is minor, and he zooms ahead. Then: the flashing of lights from behind. The chirp of a siren. He bites his lip. Wouldn’t be the first time some newbie on the force tried to pull him over. Then it’s memos. Depositions. Fruit baskets delivered to the injured officer’s house. A two-week anger management course. A tractor trailer parked in the middle of the road ahead.

“Damn!”

Crimson Fist stands up on the brakes. Pedestrians cluster on the sidewalk behind the semi, a three-car pileup sits in front. No way out. He yanks the emergency brake and whips the car around, but before he can gun it back up a side street, the police cruiser slides up in front of him and nudges his front bumper.

The PA boops and then booms: “Step out of the vehicle.”

Grinding his teeth, Fist hops out of the vehicle and flings a finger at the sky. “Do you see that? I have to go.”

But Officer Krups is in no hurry. He hooks his thumbs in his belt and saunters over. “Know how fast you were going, back there?”

“You can’t be serious. Hello? The world is about to end!”

Fist’s reflection wobbles in Krups’ aviator sunglasses as he shakes his head. “World’s always about to end, ain’t it? What with you superheroes and villains always feuding about this thing or that. Day always gets saved in the end though, don’t it?” He unclips his citation pad, deliberately licks the end of a pencil.

By me!” Fist fumes. “save the day. I have to –”

Krups holds up a finger. Writes. Slowly. “Running a red light.” He flips the page. “Fleeing the scene of an accident.”

Serenity. Breathe. “Come on. Look, write the ticket, but can you at least hurry up?”

Krups lowers his head, stares at him over the tops of his shades. “Speeding.”

A sudden shadow falls on the street. A hundred heads rotate skyward; the asteroid, taking up a lot more of the sky now, has drifted in front of the sun. The Crimson Fist mashes the knuckles of his right hand into the palm of his left, showering the pavement with sparks.

“Officer.” Fist speaks through grinding teeth. Consider the Other. “I’m sincerely sorry for the danger I’ve caused to these civilians. But if I don’t get to the rocket and get to that asteroid in the next –” he checks his watch “– seven minutes, you, and me, and everybody else on Earth is going to die.”

Weasel eyes narrow behind his aviators as Krups curls his mustached lip into a smirk. “There. Was a simple apology so hard?” He tears the tickets off his pad — rip, rip, rip — and presents them to the Fist, who snatches them away and stalks back toward his vehicle. “Hold on a minute, son.”

The Fist whirls, heat energy distorting the air around his hands, two tiny suns burning in his eyes.

“Wanna tell me about that expired tag?”

Krups explodes backwards and goes sailing through the front window of a coffee joint, scattering hipsters and overpriced coffee before cartwheeling over the counter and coming to rest on a couple of very startled baristas. The Fist is almost back in his car when he hears Krups calling weakly from the ruined shop, “Assaulting an officer!”

The door deforms as he slams it, and the Fist guns it across town. In minutes, he’s strapped into the space suit, and the one-man rocket blasts off into low orbit with thirty seconds to spare.

The asteroid looms like an inverted, rocky earth as he clears the stratosphere. He ejects from the ship and sails toward the rocky mass, like falling toward a mountaintop out of an airplane, except upside-down. His knuckles glow.

The craggy, pitted peaks drift closer. The Fist draws back his hand. The wispy atmosphere around his fingertips churns and ignites.

He lets fly.

His fist strikes the asteroid with the force of a dying star going supernova. An explosion of light and a deafening crack and he’s falling to earth again …

But something’s wrong. It wasn’t enough.

Only pulverized dust should remain, but the asteroid has sheared and fragmented and become many, hurtling toward Earth with deadly inevitability. As he falls, with the doom of the planet swirling all around him, the Fist can only think of one thing.

Krups.

Down below, Krups has hauled himself out into the street. He regards his upended police cruiser and the oncoming shower of meteors with the same sour scowl.

“Knew he was a fraud,” Krups mumbles, as the first of the meteorites pepper the street.

 

**********

This week’s Flash Fiction is brought to you by Chuck Wendig’s random title challenge.


%d bloggers like this: