Monthly Archives: June 2016

Project Update


I can’t write about the thing I really want to write about. I can’t. Dammit!

I just can’t. It’s too close to home. Fargo. That’s okay. There are other things.

So instead, I’ll share with you something I haven’t done in quite some time. Here, then, is my favorite passage from today’s writing session:

“Just go away.”
An ordinary little sister might climb up on the mattress and bounce on him to frustrate him. Rip the covers off and throw the blinds open. Maybe dump a cup of ice water on him as he lies there. But Kitty is never so subtle. She lifts the entire bed and shakes Linc out of it, like a chef sliding an omelet out of the pan. He thumps to the ground, clutching at the blankets and pulling them close around him, but she rips them away with enough force to spin him around on his rear end.

So I’m not 100% on the names as yet, but I’m 110% on the dynamic between the two of these characters. (That’s a lie. I’m never 110% on anything, because YOU CAN’T BE 110% ON ANYTHING. 100% is the max. People who say otherwise need to go back to … sharknado, I dunno, 4th grade math, or whenever you learn percentages. I’m especially talking to you, high school coaches of EVERY SPORT.)

Did I mention that the new project features superheroes? The new project features superheroes. AND SUPER VILLAINS. Especially villains.

Anyway.

I got 1200 words done today, which is a pretty good yield for a one hour session. I only crank out that kind of word count when I’m really feeling the idea, and today, well, I was feeling it. I’m about 13,000 words into the current project and it’s finally catching its wind and moving under its own momentum. Which is actually kind of late, actually — things should probably get crackling way before that — but that’s what the first draft is for, innit?

You can always fix it in the edits.

1200 words. A solid workout. A trip to the pool with the kids. A storm that threatened but never materialized. None of the kids barfed or shat on me today. Stayed on top of the dirty dishes.

Sometimes, all you can hope for are the small things.

Happy Tuesday!

 

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The Weekly Re-Motivator: Nobody Would Blame You For Sitting This One Out


The first “official” day of summer just passed, and it feels like it. This morning I had one of those runs that lets you know summer is here to stay.

The sweltering heat, like a dragon peeking over your shoulder while checking your Facebook feed.

The oppressive humidity, like stepping out your front door into a Jello mold past its prime.

The stale, hot breeze, like walking through the exhaust cloud of a semi hauling boiled cabbage.

And all this at 5 o’clock in the morning, before the sun is up!

Firefighters, Training, Live, Fire, Heat, Waves

Actual footage from my run this morning. Not pictured: me, the charred husk just out of frame.

It was one of those runs that teaches you the value of a nice, long, cool drink of water. You get back to the house after five miles in heat like that, and you want nothing more than to jump in an ice bath and guzzle a few gallons straight from the kitchen sink.

And nobody would blame you for not running when the weather is like this. God invented air conditioning for a reason, right? Maybe it’ll cool off next week.

Still, the runner needs these runs. The weather is not always sixty-two degrees with patchy cloud cover and a cadre of angels following you around to blow cooling breezes up your butt. If that’s what you need in order to get outside, you’re dooming yourself to the couch with the rest of the schlubs who “take up running” for a few weeks in April. I see them twice every year — wheezing and puffing around the mall because they haven’t put in the work, they just sat around waiting for the perfect conditions so they could put in work.

Which is the same as a would-be author sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike while he binge-watches another season of The Bachelor, or the would-be dieter buying another week’s worth of chips and cookies and sodas because, well, with family coming in to visit this week, and that company bowling night on Thursday, this just isn’t the week to start dieting.

Make no mistake — weather like this is not fit to run in!

But we get out there and run anyway. Not because it feels awesome (though it still kinda can, once you’re crazy enough), but because it keeps us in shape so that when the weather is good, we can run free like a flock of gazelles bounding across the savannah, and not like a bunch of tubby, hibernation-starved polar bears trying to run down an elk. (Can a polar bear run down an elk? Sharknado.)

And we write anyway, even when the words flow more like syrup than like water, so that when the rare buffalo of inspiration trots by, we have the agility and the insanity to leap on that buffalo and ride it until we fall off from exhaustion. Without the practice, without the bloody-headed tenacity that writing every day teaches, we’d get bucked within seconds.

Point is, we have to put in the work even when the work sucks.

There’s always a drink of water at the end of the run.

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. This week’s post was very little about process, but it made me laugh anyway — deal with it!


Murder Mystery Card Mom


I meant to post this earlier in the week, but … well, you know how that goes. Fact is, it’s summer vacation, so the fact that I remembered to do anything at all is more than I expect.

Anyway, I got a Father’s Day card in the mail on Monday. I knew it was coming, but it was still pretty nice. But receiving it made me laugh, and then think, and then laugh some more.

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You know you want a psychedelic, Stalin-esque Darth Vader Father’s Day card. The inscription inside? “A dad like you is impressive. Most impressive.” Bahaha.

The card was from my mother. It was postmarked from Tybee Island, where my wife and kids and I were just vacationing with my parents last week.

Which means the following:

  1. My mother obviously bought the card well in advance of the trip. There are no markets that sell cards like this on Tybee that I’m aware of, and to my knowledge, my mom didn’t get in to Savannah to go to a big-box store like she would’ve had to for this card. Plus… I know my mom. She has an entire file cabinet drawer full of thank-you notes just waiting to be used. OF COURSE she bought a Father’s Day card more than a week ahead of time. Sharknado, she probably bought it LAST Father’s Day and just kept it around. For all I know, she’s got a cubby filled with Father’s Day cards for the next ten years just waiting to be sent out.
  2. She brought it with her on vacation. Again, this is just good planning. Mail it from home before vacation, and it’ll get there early and everybody will just feel dumb that it was sitting in our mail at home. So she packs it and brings it on vacation.
  3. She mailed it to my home from the island we were vacationing at together. Just let that marinate for a minute. We’re all vacationing together. Same condo, no less. We’re literally spending 90% of every day in each other’s immediate company, and rather than simply handing me the card — even a day or two early, which, for me, who cares — she finds the time to sneak away and mail it to my home address.

I mean, if you think about it, this is like some murder-mystery level planning and trickery. Who mails anything from vacation, let alone to the home of a person they’re vacationing with?

My mom does, apparently. I’m gonna have to keep an eye on her.

Oh, and this:

20160623_225152.jpg

“Kind and curious children result from your parenting.” Look, I know how she meant it. But I’m also a big time word-nerd and … well:

cu·ri·ous
adjective
  1. eager to know or learn something.
    • “a curious stare”
  2. strange; unusual.
    “a curious sensation overwhelmed her”

And my parenting, let’s not leave any room for doubt here, CERTAINLY DOES result in curious children.13497852_10105662018905570_3065079633792775605_o

Love you, mom!


On My First Rejection Letter


I sent out my first query at about seven last night.

By the time I went to bed, I had a rejection in hand. (Well, in box.)

A kindly worded, encouraging rejection, but a rejection nonetheless.

It’s okay. I was prepared. Rejection is the name of the game, so I hear, and I had no illusions that the first shot into the blue would strike a rainbow or anything. I sent it off the way I buy a lottery ticket — much more this almost certainly won’t work, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it did than THIS IS THE ONE — so the rejection is not in any way shocking.

What surprises me is how little it bothers me. Seriously. I went to bed feeling not terribly upset about it, but I figured I was still in shock over the fact that I actually mustered up the nerve to send it off in the first place. But I woke up still feeling not all that upset about it. Kind of like finding a bunch of fallen leaves and pine straw on my car: not what I particularly like to see, but not unexpected, and certainly not going to impact my day in any way.

A far cry, in other words, from the soul-crushing despair I might have expected after submitting the fruits of over a year of work to one of The Gatekeepers and receiving a resounding “eh” in return. I feel like I should be thrashing in an existential tsunami of doubt. Like I should be questioning every creative thing I’ve ever done. Like I should be getting seriously depressed about all the time I spent working on this thing. But I’m not doing those things.

This confirms — for the moment, at least, but check back with me after maybe a dozen rejections — what I’ve always known about writing: the hardest thing to do is to actually start doing the thing. The step that always seems impossible is the first one.

It’s like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There’s that cave on the other side of the cavern, with an impossible chasm in the way. The only way to get there is a leap of faith. He resists every natural instinct in his body and steps out into the void, only to find out — there’s a bridge. Just not one he can see from where he’s standing.

The worst part is over. The leap is behind me. And all of a sudden, that step doesn’t look nearly so intimidating at all. Kinda makes me feel silly for dreading it so much.

In fact, the second letter has already gone out this morning.


Out of My Hands


Well, I did it.

I finally, after months of delay and deliberation and procrastination and hesitation (and probably a few more -ations along the line, but let’s not get carried away), I typed up a query letter and sent it out to an agent.

(Yes, I know this is a thing I was talking about several months ago. See the above note about procrastination.)

It may come as a shock, but I have confidence issues when it comes to my work, all right? I am so stressed out right now. SO STRESSED OUT. I want a cigarette, and I don’t even smoke.

I know that the query process is a long one. I know that I’m unlikely to get any results from my first query letter, or even my first dozen. But you know what they say about journeys of a thousand miles and single steps. You do know, right? Because I’ve forgotten, actually. Is it hot in here? I’m sweating.

Putting myself out there like this is in my top five list of most stressful things I’ve ever done. I daresay that writing the novel — and editing the novel — and editing the novel again — and letting friends and acquaintances read the novel — and editing the novel AGAIN — ALL OF THAT was easier than pressing “send” about ten minutes ago.

Deep breaths. Baby steps. This is the way forward.

Now it’s time to start working up the next query…


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