I’m Plagued Out, Man.

kuma-kum-ARcYI6x6msQ-unsplash
Photo by Kuma Kum on Unsplash

It’s been a while since we talked.

How are you? Seriously, how are you?

Are you working?

Are you safe?

Healthy?

How are your friends and family?

I’ve been damn lucky.

My wife and I are working and have everything we need to get through this crass, banal dystopia we are all struggling to get through. Something I have tried to do, and to a relative level of success, is remember that there are so many out there trapped in dangerous situations and that I have nothing to complain about. So, if you are out there and things are painfully bad, terrifying, or you have lost someone this year, my heart goes out to you.

Not prayers though.

I donate money to organizations that ACTUALLY help.

With this being said, this is a processing post. It’s a light word salad of writer whines, a brief yet rambling shuffle of thoughts that may sound familiar, or might feel a bit, ehhh…trivial.

It’s fine if you just move on, especially if you are dealing with real problems.

But, if you are a fellow writer and you have had a tough time of dialing in and getting some writing done during the hell carnival of pain that 2020 has turned out to be (and we are only halfway through – what a fun thought), then you might enjoy some asynchronous commiserating.

AN EFFING STRUGGLE.

That’s what writing has been for me this year. I haven’t had a win for a good stretch now – no new publishing credits, a novella that can’t seem to find a home, and my current manuscript is currently somewhere in the long middle. I can’t see the end, I have my doubts about the beginning, and I am lost in the deep weeds. It’s been so long since that writing-sparked dopamine hit. No rush, no thrills, just the grind of it all. Feeling very flat indeed.

My professional writing hustle, the script writing (marketing stuff) has slowed but is still going strong enough to remind me that I make money writing. It’s not a hobby. It’s paid, real work.

This helps.

Barely.

I’m not a fast writer. If I am working with a set deadline, I can lean in and get about 1500 words a day. 2000 if I am willing to accept that half of them will totally suck. Since the plague fell on our collective houses, I am able to get about 300-500 in a day before…

I. JUST. CAN’T.

I’m slowly crawling forward, but at least I am moving. About two weeks ago, I broke 50k on my current novel project. I had hoped to be into a second draft by now. Sigh. I feel like I have been writing this for YEARS. It’s more like a year but time is passing so strangely now, right?

Stuck at home for thirteen weeks. Haven’t been published in two years or so. Fighting a war of inches with the creative writing. Disturbed more by each passing day, the spiritual cost of this year immeasurable. Not sleeping that great. Bored beyond all known levels. Looking for hope lurking in the shadows that only grow longer as the hot, punishing sun blasts us from above. Stuck in my head, desperately fighting a stalling passion engine before I smash into the ground…

Not the best headspace to be stuck in. I hope it’s better for you but it’s just such a strip mall of a hellscape out there. Not even good enough for straight to video. The worst science fiction movie I’ve ever seen.

I dunno, I just thought the apocalypse would look so much cooler.

And here I am (and maybe you too), hitting this keyboard. A one man army of a 10,000 chimpanzees pounding on keyboards hoping something comes out of it that makes sense.

And gets published.

Man. Ugh. All right enough of this.

I’ll leave you with this promise. If you keep trying, I will too. After all, this blog post is almost 700 words. That’s at least 200 more words than I thought I would write today.

How about that?

Later, skaters.

Here’s 30 Seconds of Writer Inspiration If You Need It.

slide

The world is on fire and fevered egos threaten the utter collapse of civilization. I find each day more difficult to de-toxify than the last. Maybe if we’re lucky, a heretofore unknown meteor will smash into the earth and hasten our inevitable extinction.

Oh, and I got another rejection on my novella.

A bit of a tough morning but this isn’t a pity post.

Far from it. Whenever I get a rejection, I give myself a couple of hours to feel disappointed and then I get back to it. Whether it’s a yes or a no, the next step is starting another project.

Submitting and rejection are a part of the process. In my non-fiction writing life, I write scripts for marketing videos and they are routinely revised as they go through a company’s marketing and legal departments. I embrace it.

And this is only the second rejection for my Cthulhu vs. Encyclopedia Brown novella, and there are many fine publishers still out there. I have no doubt it will find a home.

The first rejection was much more difficult as it was a solicited manuscript. A handshake deal. After many months of waiting (not unreasonable for a small press), I was told “we are going in another direction.” I really love this publisher too. Great people, cool books, and they have mean hustle.

So it goes.

Many writers and publishers fill my news feed. On any given day, there are two things I can count on – someone announcing a book release and seeing an ad for Geico auto insurance. It can feel like standing on the side of the road watching the cars zip by. A bystander while the world moves on.

Maybe you can empathize.

I grew tired of this feeling. My solution was to set aside an hour every morning (6am-7am) for writing projects.

Anything that moves me forward, even if only inches.

I’ve been doing this for about 5 months now and have revised and added new content to a current manuscript, revitalized a few professional relationships, conducted a ton of research as I had a comic book thing taking off for a hot minute there. Currently on pause as the artist just had a baby. Of all the nerve! I’m also working on school applications as I have decided to pursue a doctor of education.

Once this manuscript is done, I’m moving to one that I have in the drawer that is already at 60k words. Also, plans for revisiting the universe of Pax Titanus in the next year or two.

In short, if things aren’t going your way, remain undaunted. Don’t ever stop.

Like sharks, we have to keep swimming.

 

Writing a Screenplay: How to Make Your Ideas a Reality

Ideas are cheap. If you are a creative, you should have a deep, deep well of ideas to draw from at any given moment. Ideas pop up while you’re stuck in traffic, while doing yard work, or when having an existential crisis at 3am on a Tuesday morning (not that I would know anything about that). Your results may very.

IMO, It’s really about the execution. How do you take an idea for a story and turn it into something viable, something that will speak to people in a meaningful way?

Or perhaps more relevant — How can you take an idea for a story or a screenplay and turn it into something that will sell?

Artistic integrity aside, if you are writing for an audience then you are dodging cars at the intersection of Art Street and Commerce Boulevard.

I don’t have all the answers for you, and with today’s market constantly changing, I could hardly tell you what’s a GOOD idea for a story. Well, I could but that would be in highly subjective terms.

That being said, perhaps this can help:

Last week, I sat down with two of my favorite colleagues, Susan and Carol, to discuss where to get ideas from, how to determine if they are viable, and how to develop that idea. We had a great time, so I imagine you will too.

The Annual Supervillains July 4th Picnic: In Review

Man on mic

I recently had the opportunity to be a featured reader at one of Orlando’s finest regular gatherings of literary types, drunks, and those that check off both boxes — Loose Lips.

Hosted by John King, who also hosts the long-running lit podcast/website, The Drunken Odyssey with John King, recorded the entire show which is now available on iTunes and for download.

Here’s the link: https://thedrunkenodyssey.com/2019/07/06/episode-374-june-2019-installment-of-loose-lips/

Listen, and the title of this post will make complete sense. Don’t, and live out the rest of your life haunted by a nagging emptiness and general lack of completion.

I finished out the night, so I’m at the end. However, you should check out the other readers…that being said, the guy before me was a stand-up comedian who thought it was a general open-mic, not scheduled readers. He is just off-the-cuff and it’s well-worn material — single vs. married, sex, etc. Not for everyone, but you decide for yourself.

 

A Brief Reflection Before I Hit Send

Counting
counting IIII (cc). creative commons by marfis75

Last year was a bit strange for me as I didn’t submit anything for publication. Not a word.  It was the first year since 2011 that I didn’t get something published somewhere. Instead, I spent the first half working on a new novel. It’s something that I’m pretty excited about. Sort of a Constantine meets Ready Player One thing. When I’m done with it, I’m going to have a fun book to take to market.

I put it down the middle of summer and began research and review for a novella. That manuscript — I just put final touches on the the draft and I’m submitting it to the publisher as soon as I finish this blog post.

Man, I feel weird right now. I know I should have some sense of accomplishment as I’ve been working on this book (if you include the research) for about ten months. I’ve lived it, filled my daily thoughts with it, scheduled daily writing time for it (before or after my job and side hustle), and never let it slide to the back of the stove top.

This morning should be a bit of a celebration, but instead, I just feel spent. And that’s okay. It’s been a lot of work. Every time I have had any level of writing success, I feel like celebrating. Go out to dinner, buy something frivolous, etc.

But I never do. I just start thinking about the next thing I’m going to work on. One day, I hope to learn to be a bit more happy about it all.

So, what’s the novella about? The quick pitch is: Encyclopedia Brown vs. Cthulhu. What happens when we take a beloved kid detective (of my own creation, not the actual Encyclopedia Brown) , pluck him from innocence, and drop him into deadly, tentacled embrace of cosmic horror? Pretty cool, right?

I originally put this project together for a pitch workshop at a little writing conference back in 2015 and although the entire room loved it, the guy running the workshop (who also is a publisher that I admire greatly) did not.  Boo! It sat dormant in my brain basket until last February, when I ran into another publisher at AWP who happened to be in that workshop and they wanted to know if I had done anything with it.

I put together a revised one-page pitch for them and after giving me some notes, I got to work.

Whammo. Blammo. Here we are.

You just have to keep putting it out there because you just never know. Things have a tendency to ripple forward and catch you by surprise — sometimes pleasantly.

But, as I ready the email to submit the work, I have my doubts. Self-doubt, based on my observations, is a common writer ailment. I guess I’m normal? So many things have to be working in order for the writing to be great, and there are a million ways for it to go wrong.  So, I worry.

Toss in a little Imposter Syndrome and it’s so easy to just keep the writing in a drawer. Just don’t hit send.

I’m not good, it isn’t good, it’s going to get rejected, the story doesn’t work, what was I thinking, etc.

I’m allowing myself to go through this awful thought life-cycle but I’m still going to submit the manuscript. We all have our process and mine is to just buckle up, feel the feelings and hope that I get to the other side of it before too long.

And all that’s okay. My worries just mean that I care an awful fucking lot about the work. Passion is a necessary thing for creating. There’s no rule that says it has to feel good.

Just hit send.

Just hit send.

There.

I hit send.

 

 

 

Let’s Talk BATMAN!

Batman at 80 Poster

Something I am really excited about — this Wednesday, I’ll be sitting on a Bat-panel as we discuss Batman’s 80th birthday, his history, and his role in pop culture.

The event is hosted by Full Sail University and you can watch live on YouTube or as an archive here.