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Posts Tagged ‘novel writing’

Just because I wasn’t writing, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t writing.

I know to some it seems like I’ve been procrastinating, putting off actually breaking through my years-long writer’s block, but it hasn’t been all “Mañana, baby.”

In fact, in the past month, I did a lot of writing. No words written, but a lot of writing, nonetheless.

It began with re-reading one of my older books, and culminated (well, so far) over this past weekend when I had a revelation about my difficulty getting to Page One. (more…)

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Typing. Deleting. More typing. More deleting. MOAR typing. Delete delete delete. Delete it all. Every last word, comma, and period.

That was yesterday.

I was working on an essay for this blog and … it wasn’t going well. I was working on a topic that had been rolling around in my head for a month. All my arguments and counterarguments were lined up. I even had a catchy title … well, I thought it was a catchy title, until I googled it and found a hundred thousand other uses of it (including one by Garrison Keillor, which I discovered in a moment that was both uplifting and depressing).

Anyway, for hours I wrote and deleted in precisely equal measure, and in the end I was left with the same blank page I’d started with.

At which point I stopped and wondered: why was I having so much trouble?

The answer was obvious: I had no passion for the topic.

Not anymore, anyway.

Oh, when the idea first struck me, I was all fired up and ready to unleash my staggering intellect upon the world. See my reasoning and despair! But now, a month later, things have changed. Not externally. The premise still stands, the argument still works, and I can find no flaw in my logic, but internally … I just don’t care about it anymore.

This is not a bad thing. (more…)

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Last week we screened Logan, the latest movie starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. (I was on vacation … don’t judge!) You all know I’m not a big fan of comic-book-inspired films, but Jackman has always surprised me with his talent — in comedies, musicals, and dramas alike — and from the trailer, this one looked interesting enough to warrant the rental. As it turned out, it was worth both the time and the money, but more than that, it reminded me of the harshest criticism I’ve ever received on one of my novels.

Back when I still had a New York literary agent, I turned in the manuscript of my new historical fantasy, Ploughman’s Son, in the hopes that we might begin shopping it around to publishers. I’d worked on it for a long time, bringing it from a weird idea to a published short story and then, following months of research into 9th century Brittany, Europe, and medieval life, I’d forged it into a fantasy novel unlike any I’d ever read.

It was historically accurate from a societal, cultural, and political perspective. It depicted the incredibly harsh and violent conditions that most people endured in what we call The Dark Ages. The pantheon and legends it explored were some that I’d never encountered in other fantasy novels. And yet it also included the basics of the genre, tropes that were familiar enough to engage fans of fantasy, but different enough to keep them interested.

My agent read it, and responded with her opinion. (more…)

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It's a Trap!To be honest, I started this blog because I want your money. That’s not the only reason, but it’s definitely in the mix.

As a writer, I want people (i.e., you) to read my books. I’ve worked hard writing them, I’m proud of them, and I want folks to read them and enjoy them. I think my books are worth something, though, so I (generally) don’t give them away for free, which means readers must part with some of their money.

Ergo, I want your money. (more…)

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HAL_9000I’ve finished nine novels, but I’ve probably started a hundred.

Not a hundred different ones. Just the same ones, multiple times. And that’s where I am now.

Starting a project is, for me, a difficult transition. There are so many pivots to make–away from research, away from outlines and characters and structural thinking–and so many habits to suppress, that I get locked up, caught in a loop like HAL9000. Each time I start putting words on paper, questions arise, doubts are sown.

It’s hardest when it’s a brand-new project…like The Wolf Tree, the one I’m struggling with now.

(more…)

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Coffee and NewspaperWhen I visited my school guidance counselor to discuss my future careers, the term “creativity scientist” never came up. Then again, neither did “musician” or “novelist” or even “computer programmer,” all of which I have used to describe various aspects of my “career.”

But “creativity scientist?” Wow, that sounds like a good gig. Of course, “zookeeper” sounds great, too, until you realize that it’s mostly shoveling poop. Come to think of it, “shoveling poop” describes every single job I’ve ever had, to one degree or another. Sometimes it’s my poop. Most times it’s someone else’s. No matter what, it’s poop. Everyone shovels poop.

Anyway…Jefferson Smith, who runs the Creativity Hacker website and blog, obviously attended a different school district than I did. He is a creativity scientist and novelist, and he’s got some interesting ideas and thoughts on all things creative, and especially about creative writing.

One of his ideas is his “Immerse or Die” program: Take a book, get on the treadmill, and see how long the author keeps the reader immersed in the world of the novel. (more…)

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Bath Abbey Fan VaultingSometimes, the word “interesting” isn’t enough.

This weekend past, as well as being sad, stressful, productive, lazy, and maddening, was also interesting.

It was the 31st anniversary of my wedding. It was the yahrzeit of the death of my wife’s mother. It was a weekend of plans, and of disrupted plans. It was a weekend with three reservations to the same restaurant, each one made and canceled in daily succession. It was a weekend of editing, rereading and rewriting my latest short story (“The Book of Solomon”), proofing it, polishing it, and then sending it off to a paying market.

It was also the weekend when I got an email from the Senior Librarian in Sumner, WA, asking if I’d be interested in participating in a panel, this October.

Yeah, “interesting” doesn’t really cover it.

(more…)

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