The Vacuum of Gaming, Writer’s Block and College

Right.

Hi.

It’s been a while.

Let me explain.

For xmas and my birthday the household got a Switch and a PS4. I feel that probably explains quite a bit to begin with, but my excuses (because let’s face it, that’s what they really are), don’t end there.

Then of course there’s been class, and despite it not necessarily being my favorite thing to do, it definitely has to take priority given that 1) education is important, and 2) education is pretty damn expensive these days, so failure is not an option.

So between class, Spiderman, Breath of the Wild, and my ridiculous Steam library continuously calling my name, that’s already quite a few hours gone. But I’m still writing, or trying to at least.

In comes the writer’s block portion of my title.

I’ve hit a bit of a wall in terms of inspiration, so that’s currently been a struggle over the last several months. I have the WIP I started in November, and my previous project is ready for another round of edits, but I feel like I’m sitting in a funk right now and I’m not sure how to shake it off. I’m not excited about the new WIP and that’s bumming me out, and I’m still in a confusing abyss in terms of edits and who I intend my actual audience to be.

To any writers that may be reading this: decide your audience before you begin! I promise it’ll save you some time, effort and grief later down the line.

So, to try and resolve at least one of my issues, I’ve gotten a trilogy at the recent suggestion of one of my writer’s group members. I started reading this week, and hopefully it will help me decide whether or not my finished draft should be revised with a MG audience in mind, or a YA. Fingers crossed, because I desperately want to finish and start querying for that.

I’m also considering a web-serial that I’ve been outlining for a little while now (and world building), but I won’t say anything else about that until I actually start writing it. That won’t see the light of day for some time to come.

And yeah, that’s about it really. Nothing exciting. Nothing new. Hopefully I can work up the gumption to change that here soonish though. Wish me luck.

It’s June

Ah! How did I seriously let so much time pass between updates? You know what it is — it’s a case of persistent procrastination. It’s always saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow,” and then tomorrow never being any closer than it is today. So yeah, I really need to work on my effort levels. You’d think that gets easier with age, but it doesn’t, at least not in my case.

Right. So. That being confessed… I am still working on my second draft of the current WIP. I’m more than half way through however, and in addition to quite a few large changes, I’ve also been working on the query letter for it and have also changed the title.  I am so not waiting until the last minute to get a query put together this time. I still have to do a summary and that will be enough of a pain – which is what I’ll likely do on my next full read-through once this draft is done.

Now I just have to figure out genre and age level it’s for… I think I might go back go MG (I teetered toward YA), and it may possibly fit into ‘dark fantasy’ as a category.

In other news… New job is going well enough. I’m much more comfortable there and I feel like I’m getting the hang of things. I also want to go back to school this year if I can manage it, which will really tie up whatever free time I thought I had. Ugh, the things that we do for our futures, eh?

At any rate, I want to try and pick up adding posts on a weekly basis again (or maybe semi-monthly I could manage better?). I think I’ve given myself more than enough time to slack off. The hardest part of updating is coming up with what to write about, so that’s what I’m going to do for the next week: think about what I want to write about on a weekly basis.

Wish me luck.

Progress(ish)

I’m still alive.

I’m still editing.

I’m still in training at my new job.

Of course, things were slowed the last couple of weeks as sickness struck. No worries, it wasn’t THE FLU, but it was a bad enough head cold that I developed an earache and went on antibiotics, which might have a second round coming up. Apparently I’ve been suffering from a massive sinus infection, which probably accounts for the trouble my ear has been giving me over the last couple of months. I’ll find out tomorrow if it’s cleared up at all. I probably should have gone in to see a doctor sooner, but I really am loath to see them. It isn’t a phobia, but it’s certainly on my list of least favorite things.

Otherwise things are moving forward. I’m working on draft 2 of my WIP, and waiting on some feedback from a friend to decide on some very big changes that could happen within the story. Not sure which way it’ll go, but I should find out soon enough.

I’m also going to go see Disney on Ice today with my mom. Sure we’re both adults and not bringing any children with us, but honestly I think it’s healthy to do something whimsical every now and then. The last time I went to one of these sorts of shows I was in the single digits, so it’ll be interesting to see how enjoyable it is after growing up.

At any rate, felt like it was time for an update. Hopefully I’ll finish my second draft within this next month or so and I can write another short story.

Until then, stay awesome!

 

It’s been a while…

I haven’t updated in some time, and that was for a variety of reasons. I’ll start from the top and most obvious reason: holidays! Ugh, what a wonderful and stressful time of year. From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years Eve to the fact that I left the country for a couple of weeks – this was just a horrible time for me to log in and update. I know, I know; I should have make some posts ahead of time and timed them to publish during that period, but… well I am just not that organized or ahead of the game yet. Maybe next holiday season.

BUT, things are mostly back to normal now. Mostly. My job situation has very recently changed as well, so that too is a shift in my usual normalcy. Hopefully this change won’t be too life altering. One job went away but a new one popped up at just the right time. I’m not really a believer in fate and all that, however it did seem a little ‘meant to be’. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and challenges this new position will bring, so fingers crossed!

Back to more relevant things though: I did manage to finish my WIP rough draft just before my trip to Germany. That was in around the second week of December. Not in time to qualify as a win for NaNoWriMo, though I did still make my own deadline, which was to finish before I left. I didn’t get much done in edits while I was away, but since my return on December 31st, I’ve been making good progress. I’m about 2/3s the way through my initial mark up.

I printed the whole thing out: 290 pages, and around 54k words. Why’d I print it out? Well, I find marking up my work by hand is more helpful. I can see the entire book better, and it’s just easier in my opinion. I do hate wasting the paper, but to combat that I print out 4 sheets per page, so it really cuts down the amount of paper I use.

So yeah, that’s all the stuff that has happened since November. I finished a book; traveled to Germany, saw some movies, and started a new job. What a way to start 2018!

I hope everyone else had a great start to the new year, and hopefully we all see good things coming our way.

Crap, it’s #NaNoWriMo, I swear!

Bah! I absolutely, totally and completely forgot to post. I blame it on National Novel Writing Month!! I’ve been trying to remain an active participant, so it’s probably safe to say my posts may be spotty until the new year, because after November there’s xmas and a trip to see family.

That said, NaNoWriMo is going well so far and I’m 15k words in. It’s for the WIP I’ve been working on, but after some serious though I had to make some large, critical changes that have taken some time. I’m nearly caught up with where I stopped however, so soon it’ll be new words until I hit the end.

Can I get it done by the end of November? No clue – but I’m sure as shit gonna try.

Monday it is then; it was a Strange weekend

Right. Well since this seems to be becoming a bit of a bad habit, I guess Monday is the new blog day (officially unofficially). Unlike last weekend though, I do have some slightly good excuses for why I’m late on this post. I’ll list first, and then get into some details. I’m late because:

  1. I spent six hours in a car on Saturday to go get shoes for somebody else.
  2. Somebody I care about was roofied on Saturday evening.
  3. I spent all of Sunday binge watching Stranger Things 2.

And that was my weekend.

So the shoe thing wasn’t a big deal. It took forever, but overall wasn’t that bad. I don’t want to get into details about item number two, but needless to say as scary as the event was, nothing else awful happened after the fact. It just goes to show however that you should NEVER leave your drink unattended, even if you’ve been chatting with the person beside you for hours. DO. NOT. LEAVE. YOUR. DRINK. Not ever.

After this happened I heard stories from other people in my life having similar experience with equally fortunate outcomes. It just highlights how scary life can be sometimes, whether you are a man or a woman. When somebody wants to take advantage of you, it doesn’t matter how big or strong you are, once you’ve been drugged the odds are not in your favor. I’m just thankful that the person I care about made it home safely with no injuries to body or pocketbook.

At any rate, on Sunday I decided to hammer out season 2 of Stranger Things because I was tired of avoiding all social media in my quest to keep away from all spoilers. I didn’t even watch the trailer cause I’d rather go in blind when it’s something I love and already intend to watch. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but while the second season was pretty different from the first, I still enjoyed it thoroughly nonetheless. Acting was great; some very emotional scenes, and as before, the story itself was very exciting. They closed the season up nicely and left openings for the next season – and this is JUST how I like it.

Nothing sucks more than a season ending on a HUGE cliffhanger. Doubly so if they end it that way and then the fucking show gets cancelled. So thank you Netflix, you did good. Keep it up and for god’s sake keep those writers and directors happy and healthy.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to November. I’m going to try my hardest at participating in NaNoWriMo, so hopefully by the end of next month I’ll have a finished rough draft. This latest Stranger Things season has made me consider a few things for my own WIP, so I’m excited to jump into that.

Next week’s post will fall in November, so I should have an update at that point with regards to my progress.

Happy Halloween!

Please stay safe!

A Day Late!!

Bah! I totally meant to post this yesterday, but a Saturday Halloween party more or less threw off my whole weekend, and I didn’t get home until Sunday afternoon. Needless to say I feel bad about being late, so instead of a Short Story Sunday, this will be a Short Story Monday. My bad….

At any rate, I’m trying to challenge myself more, especially on weeks where I’m just find spending a lot of time on my main WIP. As both a ‘punishment’ and a way to keep writing, I’d like to pump out a short story for those weeks. Nothing over 5,000 words, but always over 1,000, and for inspiration I’ve made a sort of ‘prompt’ sheet.

The prompt sheet as 4 categories/columns: person, action, location, object. Using an online dice roller I’ll pick one randomly from each category and use the four of those to create a story. Today I’ll share the first attempt with this method, and hopefully it’s entertaining.

Here are the words for this short story:

Astronaut | Sing | Jungle | Shovel

     Marty felt the stress of his morning melt away as he opened the door ahead of him with the press of a button. The corridors behind him were an endless stretch of gray metals and white plastics, but across this threshold was a living, breathing mass of every green shade imaginable; a perfect man-made jungle created to save the world. He stepped through, and the door slid shut with a quiet whoosh of air behind him. Humidity wrapped around him, and for the next minute he just stood there and listened. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath of warm air.

     Insects and camouflaged AL-Amazona chirped and sang, their tinny voices filling the space with a song never heard before on Earth. It was a fusion of nature and the unnatural, something all too familiar and yet strangely alien. He smiled, and a moment later their noises were drowned out by the sudden mechanical rumble of thunder, one of the hidden speakers crackling with a burst of static as its broken parts shook.

     Marty sighed and opened his eyes. He grabbed one of the ponchos hanging by the door and slipped it on just as another rumble filled the room. The soft patter of water against leaves quickly followed. The drizzle fast turned into a deluge, and with a growing smile, Marty grabbed a shovel from the nearby tool rack. He pulled his hood up and headed into the downpour, the jungle foliage enveloping him with a whispering rustle.

     With a spring in his step and the sweet smell of damp earth and decaying vegetation filling his every inhalation, he felt the sudden urge to sing. His smile grew into a grin and he lifted the shovel, holding the handle near to his mouth as he waved his imaginary audience to silence.

“You’re just too good to be true,” he spoke softly at first, only the slightest hint of a musical lilt to his words. “Can’t take my eyes off of you—”

     He caressed the space around the handle of his shovel as if it were the back of a lover’s head, his voice steadily getting louder and more rhythmic.

“You feel like heaven to touch.” He bopped the handle on its imaginary nose. “I want to hold you so much. At long last love has arrived, and I thank God I’m alive. You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you—”

     Marty spun the shovel in a circle then continued his trek forward at a faster pace as he sang more loudly than before.

“Pardon the way that I stare. There’s nothing else to compare. The sight of you makes me weak. There are no words left to speak. But if you feel like a feel, please let me know that it’s real. You’re just too good to be true; can’t take my eyes off of you.”

     As he reached the chorus, Marty jumped on top of a large root that stuck up from the soft ground, his arms spread wide as if to embrace the jungle in return. As loud as he could, he sang the words out to the trees with all the passion he could muster.

“I love you baby! And if it’s quite all right, I need you baby, to warm the lonely nights. I love you baby, trust in me when I say—” he stretched the last word out, but before he could continue further a voice called out to him.

“Jesus Christ Marty, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

     The voice appeared out from behind some underbrush, and Marty grinned at Jim before jumping down from the root. He shrugged, giving the man a quick once over. Jim’s fingers and uniform were dirty, but otherwise there was nothing else to note.

“Just felt like singing is all.”

“Yeah well, you know damn well that extra noise is gonna piss Marie off when she checks through the video later. She—wait, wasn’t she supposed to be on shift with you? Where is she?”

     Marty’s grin damped a little, and he shrugged again.

“She wasn’t feeling well. I told her I’d handle everything. Where’s Kate?”

“She’s just packing up the samples.”

“Well let’s not keep her waiting.” He motioned for his colleague to lead the way. “I’ll help.”

     Jim nodded and turned, and when he took a single step forward Marty’s grin bounced back onto his face. Before his friend could take one more stride he lifted the shovel and swung it forward as hard as he could.

     Metal smashed into the back of Jim’s skull with a sickening crack, and the man fell forward before he even knew what had happened. His face landed into wet soil, and Marty pulled the shovel close to his mouth again.

“Oh pretty baby, don’t bring me down I pray. Oh pretty baby, now that I’ve found you stay—” he walked forward as he sang softly, stepping across Jim’s back as he headed towards Kate. “And let me love you, baby; let me love you…”

     Marty hummed the next bit as he closed in on the woman. Her back was turned to him, and her hands were buried in a box as she sorted small biological samples. When his feet crunched against a branch she looked over her shoulder. Kate gave him a quick acknowledging nod before facing her work again.

“Heard you howling from all the way over here,” she commented as glass clinked at her fingertips, a small piece of tarp supported on poles keeping her hands, and the samples, dry. “I’m surprised Marie didn’t tackle you down and shove a ball-gag right in.”

“Oh,” Marty stepped up behind her and lifted the shovel to rest against his shoulder, his grin so large and constant it was beginning to hurt his cheeks. “Marie didn’t come with. She’s in bed right now; wasn’t feeling too good.”

“She’ll be giving you hell later then. Better get ready for it.”

“I don’t think she’ll mind so much,” He argued, bursting back into song a second later. “And I love you baby—!”

     Kate jumped and turned in surprise at the sudden outburst, but she only managed to open her eyes wide in surprise just before the shovel slammed across the side of her head. The metallic thunk rang out in time with her grunt of pain, but unlike Jim she didn’t fall. In shock, Kate stumbled to the side and grabbed her head as a line of blood appeared on her brow, the rain quickly washing it down the side of her face in a steady pink stream. She swayed and looked up at Marty in horror, but he merely sang and walked closer.

“—and if it’s quite all right, I need you baby—” he swung again.

     Kate’s hand was quick to block him, but as he made contact with her fingers they folded backwards and a strained shriek escaped her mouth. She staggered backwards and clutched her broken hand to her chest, her head shaking in furious denial as she blinked rain and tears and blood from her eyes.

“Marty, no—please, no—what are you—”

“—to warm the lonely nights. I love you baby—”

     He sang over her words and pulled the shovel handle to his mouth again as winked at her.

“—Trust in me when I say—”

“You crazy son of a bitch!” Kate looked up to the cameras on the ceiling as she continued to backtrack. “Fucking help me goddamn it!”

“—Oh pretty baby—!” Marty rushed her then, leaping forward as he stabbed the shovel straight at her chest.

     The tool’s head sunk into her torso with a wet crunch, and his song stopped as abruptly as her pleas. Kate’s head dropped to stare at him in surprise. Mouth gaping, her unbroken hand lifted to feel the new wound as if she couldn’t’ believe it was real. They stared at one another, the clink of rain on metal louder than the wheezing that escaped with Kate’s every labored breath.

“B—B—I—Why?” It was the only full word she managed, her tears disappearing into the reddened rainwater on her cheeks.

     Marty’s grin wavered, and he licked his lips. Why indeed, he thought. He looked up at the cameras, then back down and past Kate’s tortured face, out to the beautiful green that surrounded them on every side. He sighed.

“They just don’t deserve this.” He answered, thinking of the dying planet below them.

     Kate tried to speak again, but as her mouth worked wordlessly, Marty decided that he was done with the conversation. He still had work to do. His grin returned, and as he held the shovel tightly, he planted a boot against his colleague’s stomach and pushed. Her body fell into the mud their feet had trampled up, and with his weapon free, he held the handle back at his mouth and sang softly.

“Oh pretty baby, don’t bring me down I pray. Oh pretty baby, now that I’ve found you stay. And let me love you, baby; let me love you…”

     Kate let out her last gurgling breath, and once again Marty was alone with the beautiful sound of rain and the quiet lull of insects and their aluminum hunters. All he had left to do now was head for the airlock. He didn’t deserve anything either, and with the entire crew of the space station resting peacefully, his work would finally be finished.

     Marty smiled and headed for the door, humming all the way.

Bordeaux Glass Thoughts

Of all the hands to touch me throughout my life, his I remember best.

Always gentle, always confident; he filled me with comfort, and I knew that he would never let me fall, never break me. There was never a moment when I questioned whether what we had was right or wrong, even when he would forget about me for hours, days, or even weeks. It didn’t matter. Whenever his eyes sought me out again I was only too happy to obey. I was too lonely without the warmth of his touch, and only when he would fill me to the brim did I feel complete; whole again. I think I was in love with him.

I must have been.

Even know, in the hands of another, he’s all I think about. His lips—oh they were the lips of Adonis. He knew how to taste of me in a way I’ve never seen or felt matched before or since. Like a connoisseur, he’d press his lips to mine and drink deeply, pouring my very spirit into his. He could leave behind impressions that would last until dawn, so powerful I thought I could feel them even after they were washed away.

And oh the nights we would spend together.

His fingers could—and would—cradle me until completion, but often we would spent hours together doing nothing more than holding one another. He would gaze into the distance and dream, whispering his hopes and fears and wishes into my ear. I was just happy to be wrapped in his warm embrace. We would stay that way until dawn, lazy lovers as we kissed our way into a haze of happiness.

It was bliss.

It’s only as this other man holds me that I reflect upon those hands that I truly long for. Hands that knew how to hold me. Hands that cared. This new man is careless; clumsy fingers and all teeth. Worse than even that, he often leaves me naked and alone without a whisper of affection to sooth my aching soul. I fear for my sanity; for my life, but I don’t believe that I can survive on my own. The mere thought of being thrown out is unbearable, even though it hurts me when he tosses me from his embrace like something dirty and disposable. I am no longer treasured.

And so I miss him

He’d never treated me this way, but he’s gone now. My emptiness is all I have left to remind me of him. I still remember the last time he held me. It was a cold night, one I won’t ever forget. We’d spent hours together already, his lips and hands and trembling fingers touching me in the ways that only he could, touching me until I was exhausted and satisfied. Laying beside him then, he whispered, drowsy and heavy lidded, about decisions he would have to make soon, about things I couldn’t understand. Things I didn’t want to understand. I watched in silence as he spoke, stilled by my fears as he said his goodbyes. Only; I hadn’t known they were goodbyes then.

To this day I still don’t understand why he left me.

Hours, days, weeks, months later I still lived in that pained memory of his gentle farewell, my lips cold and my soul empty. His friends came. They spoke in hushed voices, afraid, I suppose, of telling me the truth. Of telling me how it had ended. It was in the hands of one of those friends that I found some small comfort again, however cheap and bitter the taste.

But still I miss him.

As the days pass and I grow more brittle with age, I keep my hope that he will walk back into my life again; kiss me again. Fill me again. Maybe he could rescue me before the loss of his care causes irreparable damage. I know that he won’t—that he can’t—but I also cannot give up the hope, not when I’m already chipped and so near to shattering.

Hope is all I have left.

So in these hands I find my temporary reprieve, but never will I forget him. He was bliss. He was love. He was the sweetest wine and the warmest touch. He was my everything. I could only hope to cradle his spirit each chance that I was able, but he—he managed to consume all of mine.

Outlining vs Pantsing

Do I outline, or do I pants? It’s a question many a writer has asked before, and I’m no different.

I’ve done both, but I find my primary method is to outline. This of course has it’s drawbacks though. While I have a clearer picture of where my story is going and how it will end, it also steals away any surprise/suspense I have. It’s something I’ve struggled with, and I hate that feeling I get after I’ve finished a full outline: boredom.

This is why I’ve been trying something slightly new – a modified approach, if you will.

Normally in my writing process I follow these steps:

  1. Base idea origination: this is the bottom line ‘pitch’ in my head that starts the whole thing up.
  2. Basic main character conception.
  3. Ideal ending generation.
  4. Random event generation: this is the point in which I just start writing out all the random scenarios I think would be fun or neat to read/write.
  5. Event coordination: I then take my random events and start to put them in a more coherent order when it’s clear that scene D can’t happen until A B and C are in place.
  6. Filling in the gaps / Outline: At this point I have the scenes that mean most to me and the order (which is still adjustable in many cases) that I’d like to see them in. Now the time between those scenes need to be filled in, connecting all the dots together to create ‘the story’.
  7. Drop it like it’s hot: Right around this time that feeling of boredom sets in now that my entire story is already laid out. Sure it’s more like a lengthy synopsis, but I feel like it’s been told and writing more gives no satisfaction. So I have to drop it for a bit until that feeling goes away.
  8. Write the rough draft.
  9. Hide it in a folder for a month or three.
  10. Revise.
  11. Edit and revise again.
  12. Revise again.
  13. Get a second opinion: this is where a writers group or beta readers REALLY shine.
  14. Edit and revise again.
  15. Rinse and repeat as many times is necessary or until my sanity gives out.

So anyway that’s basically the full list, but with my current WIP I have decided to stop somewhere between numbers 5 and 6. I have my characters, my ideal ending and my random events already, but instead of doing a full outline all at once I’m going to try and do it a couple chapters at a time with plenty of room to pants-it.

Hopefully this will keep me intrigued all the way through. Sadly I haven’t made much progress since last week for various reasons, but I’m hopeful that I can dive back into it here shortly.


Regarding PitchWars:

Still no word on this which can mean 1 of two things: 1) my first chapter / query just wasn’t engaging enough or 2) my submission didn’t actually go through. I’m more inclined to think it’s #1 due to the number of competitors I was up against, but the hopeful part of me wants to consider #2 as well. I don’t recall getting any message after submitting, but then again I don’t know that I was looking out for one either.

In the end, it’s been a week and I think by now most of the mentors have chosen the stories they’d like to request more for, and mine was not amongst them. But I’m honestly okay with this. I’m trying to work on my current WIP, and while I’d like the old one to be out of my hands already, this gives me more time to do ‘stuff.’

I sincerely wish all the people who were accepted the best of luck though, and I hope all of them find an agent!

Scrivener

So I’ve had Scrivener for well over a year now and haven’t used it once. Why? Mostly because I bought it while I was already in the midst of a 4th draft being handled in Word, while my next project was steeped deeply in Google Docs. I had actually forgotten about the program altogether, and it wasn’t until yesterday (2 chapters into this new project), that I remembered it.

Thus began the great migration! (extremely exaggerated)

I copy/pasted all my stuff into Scrivener, so for the duration of this WIP I’ll use it and see what I think. Hopefully it’s as amazing as it sounded upon purchase, but after I’ve used it for a bit I’ll leave a more in depth review on how I feel about. It’ll be interesting to see if it can knock good old Word off the pedestal. Google Docs might have done so if not for the following:

  1. Holy crap does it lag when you have over 100k words!
  2. Less customization.
  3. And while this is Google Sheets related versus Docs, I still count it, and Sheets has nothing on Excel. What does Excel possibly have to do with writing you ask (or not)? It’s fantastic for outlining is what! Maybe I’ll share a picture of one of my more complex ones sometime…

At any rate, fingers crossed! I’m looking forward to seeing if it’ll be my new favorite tool or not.