Sunday, March 27, 2011

So I'm Writing A Book

So like the title says, a book, I am writing one. A novel. Fiction. There, I said it. It's on the blog, so it's official. I started it about ten months ago and have carried on with it with increasing levels of seriousness ever since then. It started out as the thing I dabbled with here and there and gradually -- wait, back that shit up. It actually started out as a play, a thing to put on a stage with lines for actors to speak, mangle, forget, or ask me to cut, and stage directions for them to interpret, ignore, rewrite, or ask me to cut. But it seemed like every time I sat down and tried to make something happen on paper, it was like I was trying to walk through a brick wall. I'd try taking a run at it, only to be knocked back on my ass with maybe a few pages of crap to show for it.

"I don't remember this being so hard," I kept mumbling to myself.

"You should write it as a book," my wife kept telling me.

"Yeah! A book! Make it a book!" my gut said, echoing my wife.

"Don't you dare write a book! It'll be terrible! A huge disgusting failure! They're all going to laugh at you!" said that mean little voice in my head. Yeah, you know the one. He's a dick.

Why does it feel weird to be writing a post about this particular project? I post about plenty of the other shit I do, so why should this be any different? I don't know why, but it does, like it'll come across as  bragging, which is silly since I hardly have anything to brag about. But anyway, there it is. Weirdness acknowledged. Moving on...

So I started this novel about ten months ago, and I've now reached the point where I write more days than I don't. I lay awake nights thinking about it, trying to fit the pieces together, to understand the  connections that aren't immediately apparent. Which is kind of cool. Here are a few more cool things about it:
  • Seeing faith pay off. The idea for this book started with just a few words. Three words, in fact. Sure, I churned on it a lot before I started, but I hardly knew where it was going to lead. Even now, while I can say with certainty that I know what the last moment of the book will be and I know a few of the big milestones between here and there, I hardly know every twist and turn. But I'm growing increasingly comfortable with that feeling of not-knowing. Coming to relish it in fact, because without that feeling, I couldn't experience the moments of epiphany when things become clear, the next few yards of the path are revealed, and I get a glimpse of another pixel in the big picture. 
  • Research! The idea of doing research to write fiction used to make me bristle. "I'm an artist! I make things up!" But what is fiction but fact with the names changed, a few details rearranged and, in some cases, the rules bent a wee bit? So it became clear pretty early on that some research would be in order if I was to get certain elements of this book right. This meant reading a lot about slavery, researching the nuts and bolts of dogfighting, listening to a lot of hip-hop (gosh, how awful), reading up on Austin history, etc. My knowledge: it has increased. 
  • Writing a lot is a good way to learn about writing. 
  • Werewolves. Motherfucking werewolves. 
And here are a few things that are not so cool about writing a book:
  • It brings out the asshole in me. I'm a busy guy, so my writing time is sacred. But there are times when something else has to take priority over it and it just can't be helped. And when that happens, Captain Dickhead emerges. 
  • It kind of cuts into the blogging time. 
You know, I had a few more bullet points to add to that second list, but they all sounded like whiney bullshit, so I'm gonna leave it at that. Two lovely complaints. Ah ha ha ha.

So that's what I've been up to, aside from the work and the family and the chickens and the beer consumption. Provided that I don't die in the next couple of years, I have a pretty good feeling I'll finish the damn thing. Then y'all can read it. Sound good? Cool. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Me At Indie Ink

My wife had surgery on her poor shoulder back in the first week of January. And since she was somewhat down for the count in the weeks to follow, and since we provide shelter and care-taking for the two hellions that we conspired to bring into this world, I spent a couple of weeks or so working from home. The thing is, I ran into a few technical difficulties, and I was unable to get either my MacBook or my Windows laptop to connect to my work machine. To do that, I had to bring the old dinosaur desktop out of retirement. Though it be slow and clunky and in great need of updates, it still manages to handle the job of connecting to my office's network and allowing me to remote desktop in relatively well.

If any of you IT folks care to give me an assist so that I don't have to do that again, that'd be awesome.

Anyway, while I was puttering around on the old beast, I ran across some of my old files, particularly, some old pieces of writing that I had forgotten about. Most were scripts, some of which dated back as far as 1999. But aside from pieces meant for the stage, there were also a few short stories, one of which I had completely forgotten about. If I remember right, it came about because of a writing prompt that asked you to start a story with "Where Were You Last Night?" Or something like that. I fixed a couple of typos and was about to pop it up here when I remembered something about the Indie Ink folks looking for submissions. I sent it their way and they were kind enough to put it up. So pop on over, if you would, and give it a read. Hope you enjoy it.