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Category: Personal

Personal notes

Hello, it’s me.

Hello, it’s me. I know it’s been a while. It feels like years, even though it’s only been a few months. How the world has changed in the three months since my last post.

I should start by saying I didn’t stop blogging because of the soft apocalypse. To be honest, in a lot of ways nothing has changed much in my life because of the lockdown. I worked from home before, I work from home now. I didn’t have a significant out of the house social life before, and that has remained status quo. With only sporadic outings for undeliverables, what I miss most is the freedom to run out and get something. Not enough to risk a contagion, but that’s what I miss.

So why the silent treatment? Well, and if you follow me on twitter (and you probably should, it’s the one platform I’m active on still), this is not surprising news. A few weeks ago, I finished the first draft of The King’s Lament. There is a lot of work to do on it still, starting with rewriting the first six scenes for POV corrections, plus all of the revising and massaging I think the story needs, but I am fairly satisfied with the rough draft. I finished around 60k, which is a meaningless number for now. I know there are scenes and chapters I may yet add, and for every had and still and that I remove, there will be plenty of text stirred in.

I was silent on the blog because I have a bad track record of talking up a story when I’m working on it, then never finishing. I wanted to avoid that this time, so instead I wrote the story first. Novel, I know.

Long time readers – and this takes little effort given how sporadic my posts have been – may recognize the working title. This is actually a book I tried to start writing last Spring before my life was turned upside down. I’ve still not quite recovered if I’m honest. The coming week is the anniversary of my father passing, followed a few days later by my mom. I’m in my mid 40’s, and I won’t lie, I’m still shaken up when I say that. I guess you’re never too old to tremble at the realization your parents have passed.

So there we are. A blog post, to remind the spammers where I am, and an explanation of my absence, which is namely to say “writing.” And sure, I could have blogged about other things besides writing since February, but let’s face it, I can’t keep a secret for more than a few days. Ask my wife.

And since it was the song that came to mind when I started writing this blog post:

How deep is that drawer?

I was trying to work on a post about creativity for the blog. It had graphics, and memes, and was really a deep introspective on how I struggle to manage creativity in a life of interruptions, peppered with the observation that as I get older I am finding my creative mojo time is getting earlier and earlier in the day. Where once I was a night owl, now I’m more of a “let’s see if I can get up and get some things done before anyone else wakes up and realizes I’m awake. Starting with the dog…”

Guess I don’t need to write that post since my summary is more than most people will get out of it. But I did like this graphic I was going to use for those times when the creativity faucet is set to max.

But surprise, we’re still going to talk about writing. One of the pieces of advice you often hear is that when you finish a piece, you should put it in a drawer. The time recommended varies, and really, it varies because no two people are alike. I’d wager not even identical twins who both happen to be writers in the same niche genre would have the same habits or techniques.

I thought I understood the advice. I dutifully put a story aside when I finish it, set a timer for three months, then come back to it later. Usually. OK, I’m not so great at that, namely because three months later I’m either not in the same mental space, or I try but it just doesn’t sit with me at the moment.

Well, today I found the box under the box where I hid the boxes under the boxes. I found some stories I wrote not three months ago, not three years ago, but over five to ten years ago.

And let me tell you, they are crap.

I remembered the salient points of these stories. I’ve even referred to them in notes for ideas as “I wrote about this thing once and it was cool!” But today I actually found those stories, and to sum up:

They are at best incoherent. And that’s being generous. I picked them up wondering how much work would be needed to make them usable. I put them down wondering how I could ever have written these.

I am not despairing, and neither should you. I think if you have the means to look at things you wrote years ago, you should. If nothing else it’s a great study in how you’ve improved. In my case, it was a reminder that it’s better to start fresh with the “talent” (ie, practice and hard work) that I’ve accumulated over the intervening years. Because when I look at these stories, although I see the gem of what I was trying to do, I also recognize that this isn’t how I would write them today. My voice has improved, my storytelling has developed.

Maybe at some future point, I’ll post those old stories – along with a critique of where I think they went wrong (is there that much red font in the universe?). Or maybe I’ll post that other blog post, the one about how do you find the creativity faucet when everyone keeps siphoning your time.

Books and writing, oh my!

Sometimes, even I forget that I’ve self published a few books. A little honest background will help explain that.

My first book, A Scent of Roses, was a fabulously fun book to write. I wrote it with a solid Hammer film, B-movie vibe in my head. I tried to keep it coherent, but I gave my imagination complete free rein on the project. “Go where you want,” I told it, “and I’ll just follow along and make sure the pieces almost fit together.” And me and I muse did just that. When I finished, I was staring at this novel, just sitting on my hard drive, and got to thinking – even if it only made a few bucks self-published, that was more than it was making collecting digital dust on my computer.

For a book with no real editing and no publicity, it did (to me) surprising well. Well enough that when I finished Chrysalis, the first chapter in a series I’d been messing with for a while, I went all in. I got an editor, spent money on banner ads, the whole nine yards. And it sank. Or stank. Either way, it didn’t do nearly as well as that first effort. Even on KDP, where you earn money for people just turning some pages (at least when it was first put on there), I never made enough to get something on the dollar menu.

And then, a few weeks ago, I decided (quietly) to pull it off of KDP, set the price on both books to 0.99, and push it out with Draft2Digital to all ebook venues that would take it.

Meanwhile, back at the castle…

When I finished Chrysalis, I actually started – and finished – the first draft of the sequel. But then Chrysalis bombed so badly, and then life, that funny beast, rose up and made itself very intrusive. Writing, even revision work, wasn’t on the list. The few times I tried, either to write new or revise The Mermaid’s Tears, I got interrupted just enough to lose what steam I had.

At about the same time I moved my books to D2D, I also started feeling like now might be a good time to finally put some work into Tears, a book that needed a lot of polish and attention, but in a lot of ways was already written, at least to some degree. Any lingering doubts I had were dismissed when I checked my sales report on D2D. Granted, I’m selling my books at $0.99, but I also haven’t done much to point people their way. AND YET- I’ve made some sales. Kid’s menu meal once a month sales so far, but it’s enough to fill my sails with a bit of wind.

I am happy to say that I am finally working on both revisions to Mermaid’s Tears, as well as another full length novel. And it feels good. For the first time in a long time, I am actually feeling like I can call myself a writer again. Maybe not successful, maybe not popular, but a writer.

Now if I could figure out how to blog more often.

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