Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

This is what momentum looks like.

Despite work deadlines, two days down with a stomach bug, a major financial planning session, and getting a windshield replaced, I still managed to get another scene completed and entered. This was Scene 3 (begun last week), which ends Chapter/Day One, and it was the first time for a couple of things.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Writing on the novel continues, albeit slowly. In the middle of Scene 3, now.

In talking to my wife about my struggle, I mentioned that it felt like I’ve broken through a barrier, and that both my interest and enthusiasm had increased, to which she responded with a question: why is that?

I honestly hadn’t thought about why—I was just glad it was—but it engendered an interesting discussion.

Last week, I posted about how in this character-driven novel, I must engage in a lot more forethought. As I explained, writing about how a character reacts to action is a lot easier than writing about their motivation before that action is undertaken. That reality hasn’t changed, certainly not in the last week or so.

What has changed, though, is that I’m finally getting a handle on who my characters are.

This is a critical point, for me.

I’ve built and rebuilt my characters’ backstories close to a dozen times. I’ve changed family structure, occupations, names (lots and lots of names), affiliations, history, and well, damned near everything except their gender. I’ve also worked and reworked my outline, refining it, bringing in subplots, dropping subplots, chucking extraneous secondary characters, tightening it all up.

So, when I started writing, I had a pretty good handle on where my main characters had been and where they were headed.

All set, right?

Wrong.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Progress on my book has been slow—not stopped, just slow—but I choose to view this as a good thing.

After years of thrashing about and achieving zero forward movement, I’m finally getting words on paper (yes, literally; I’m a longhand writer). Last night I finished the second scene, and now that it’s all keyed in and backed up, I decided to reflect a bit and see if I could identify the reasons why I’m having such a tough time building momentum.

It didn’t take long to find several culprits, including a slew of bad habits that I’ve developed during the fallow years. While I certainly have to deal with those bad habits, they’re specific to me and my life, and thus irrelevant to writing, per se, so I’ll skip discussing them here. Two issues, however, I think are worth discussing, as other writers may experience something similar. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This morning, the ocean threw a brick at me. 

My wife and I are out at the coast for a few days (we’re working things out, which is Very Good News) and, as is my wont when at the seaside, I got up early(ish) . . . earlier than she, anyway . . . and went for a walk along the shore.

Most people, when they walk along the seashore, do it in one of two ways: either they walk up along the high tide limit where the sand is still hard (but they won’t get their feet wet), or they walk down along the wave limit (where the occasional seventh wave might submerge them up to the ankles).

Yeah, that’s not me. I grew up on the Pacific coast, and the Big Blue is a critical actor in my emotional life. It’s where I go to purge my buffers and reevaluate the importance of things. Sitting on the edge of the world, glass of wine close at hand, I can look out along the curvature of the earth and watch the sun sink into the quicksilver sea; this is my heaven, my Fortress of Solitude, my recharging station. But walking along the water’s edge and not being in contact with the sea? . . . Yeah, not an option.

When I walk along the shoreline, I walk that gantlet between surf and shore. I’m always barefoot, and the water is always rushing in or flowing out around me. Sometimes this puts me knee-deep in some very cold water, but after the first five minutes, my feet don’t care anymore. They’ll complain loudly later, but for now, numbed by the northern Pacific’s chilly grasp, they’re quiet.

This morning, the colors of the water ranged (appropriately enough) from aquamarine and pale jade to cobalt blue, the deepest teal, and a series of greys from gunmetal to steel. Foam topped the curling waves and washed in on gentle rollers, highlighting the crests with white, ivory, and an algal yellow. 

At one end of my walk along this section of the coast, in addition to long stretches of soft sand, there are outcrops of rocks, half-drowned at low tide, that add interest to the seascape. I walked among them, thigh-deep in the rushing grottoes, smelling the funk of barnacles and anemones warming in the early sun. Seagulls pried at the shells, hoping to find a loose one among the tightly packed multitudes, and plovers poked thin beaks between the stands, searching for worms and other digestibles. The scents of salt and seaweed mingled with the iron smell of sand and the tang of carbonate. It was . . . luscious. I felt at home. I felt at peace. I felt whole.

At the other end of my walk was the D River, the shortest river in the world (running from Devil’s Lake to the Pacific in just under 124 feet at high tide). I stood in the debouchment, where river meets the sea, and silently marked the pendulum of wave and outflow with the words “Fresh water. Salt water. Fresh water. Salt water.” as the river and the sea pulsed to and fro around my feet.

But it was midway along my trek that the Pacific got stroppy. I was walking through a rip, where the curve of the shore focuses the waves and forms a strong seiche of power. The sea pulled back her skirts to show me a graveled bed of pebbles and shells, and then launched a wall of water in my direction. Beneath that lunging froth I glimpsed a flash of red, a sizable chunk, tossed and tumbling in the clear salt sea, coming right at my shin. I stopped and saw that it was a brick, a full-sized everyday brick, red as a brick, hard as a brick, with clean sharp edges. It rolled past my foot, missing me.

Where the hell did it come from? There were no brick buildings I could see along the miles of shoreline I’d walked. The Pacific was adept at throwing pebbles up on the shore here, stones perfect for skipping across a placid lake, bits and pieces broken off from the outcrops I’d visited, but nothing the size of a mason’s brick. Nothing even half that size.

Was it personal? Was the Pacific angry with me? Had I been away from it for too long?

It’s tempting to think these things, to assign reason to an event that is completely random, but that is folly. The truth is that the Pacific, mother of my youth, heart of my soul, is just a body of salty water that has no mind, no intellect, no will, no reasoned purpose. She—and I continue to call her “she”—cannot even recognize my existence. She cannot sense anything.

I know this. 

Yet, I still love this ocean, this birthplace of what I call “me,” and I will still talk to her as I walk her shores, ask her what I should do, and, depending on her mood, I will hear the answers in the murmur or the roar of her waves.

k

Read Full Post »

summer’s iron hand
beats me with light
with heat
my mind winces
whipped dog shying
hiding in darkened corners

then, for a few hours
clouds bring respite
moisture’s brief touch
salves my skin
saves my soul

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

While I’m working on something more meaty, here’s a bit of fun.

Like most people my age, I learned to type on a manual typewriter, an old Smith-Corona, to be precise. It was heavy — damned heavy — and came in its own nearly-as-heavy hard-sided case. It had a black-and-red ribbon that always got twisted, the keys continually got hooked onto one another, and after typing up an evening’s homework, my forearms ached from the physical exertion of pressing down the keys. That’s no exaggeration; it took some oomph to make those levers thwack with enough force to register through to the carbon copy.

What’s a carbon copy, you ask? Well, it’s a … nope, I don’t have time or space to explain it all. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: