Helpful Distractions

Snowy Night

We finished up work early this afternoon, so after visiting with my mom and Gianna for a while, I went over to Hastings (a bookstore/coffee shop in case you don’t have them where you live), and worked on my current novel. I figured it would be good to get out of the house and away from the tv and secure internet (I don’t like to use unsecured WiFi if there are a lot of people hanging around since they might be trying to snatch my info) and get some writing done.

Usually, when I write in a coffee shop, I put on my headphones, crank up the music, and only rarely check Facebook. I put myself in a solitary spot within a group of people I’m not interacting with, and somehow, it stimulates me to get things going.

Well, today I forgot my headphones.

At first I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal–I would just tune out the music, the conversations, and the coffee machine then get to work. But the place was packed, and it took a while for me to tune out everybody and get into the flow of the story. This was especially due to a pair of older ladies sitting behind me who kept talking (really loudly) about things: hot flashes, irascible husbands, bible study groups, their kids, crocheting, among other things. One lady kept going on and on about her daughter (Jessica), and it became pretty quickly apparent to me that this woman felt a huge desire to show off to her friend.

Still, I persevered and managed to get into my character’s angry discussion with his current nemesis (an ancient lady who has screwed with his life since he was a kid and now wants him to do some things for her, even though she helped ruin his life). I kept hearing about Jessica’s amazing-ness, and the hot flashes, but I just kept going.

In the end, this conversation between 2 older ladies became part of the background of my story, part of the creative soup that I drew from in putting together this scene. In a weird way, I think the old lady nemesis will have had some hot flash issues in her past that she wouldn’t have had before, and her husband will probably have been a numbskull who always thought he was right and was obsessed with reading Val-U-Pak coupon books instead of exercising. I don’t think the amazing Jessica will make an appearance any time soon, but you never know.

So get out there and get to work. Turn off Facebook, tune out your neighbors, and make something. Write. Draw. Cook an excellent dinner. Pick up your pencil, and do it. Don’t tell yourself that you need the stars to align, that you need absolute silence, or your special writing music. Don’t make any more excuses. Just get out there and do it!

Do or do not. There is no try.

Something Out of Nothing

Gianna in Her Yoda Hat

I like making something out of nothing.

Creating stuff feels good. It’s meaningful. It’s productive.

But despite all that, it’s just so easy to procrastinate. In this age of constant stimulation from tv, the internet, video games, Facebook, you name it, it’s simple to just plunk down on the couch and soak in other people’s ideas. I love wasting time just as much as the next guy–in fact, I waste way too much time playing Skyrim, checking my news feed for status updates, and watching Chopped.

In fact, I’m addicted to Foodtv and have been for years. Sometimes it’s just background noise, a backdrop to writing or working on MisCon stuff. But more often, it’s just a fun distraction that derails me from getting things done. Guy’s Big Bite is on right now, but I’m not really watching it.

My friend Amy made Gianna's fantastic Yoda hat so she could wear it to MisCon 25!

One tip that works for me: decide to spend 5 minutes doing nothing except brainstorming. Being a writer, it’s easy enough for me to take a break from my day and just start writing. You never know what might bubble to the surface in that 5 minutes. And if you’re lucky enough to hit on some good story ideas or figure out where your story should go next,  you’ll feel like you did something meaningful.

It’s like building a wall one brick at a time.

So today, I’m not going to play Skyrim, and I’m not going to have the tv on all day. Nope. I’m going to listen to Pandora while I get some business paperwork done this morning, and I’ll work on my novel this afternoon.

What about you? Do something creative today and you’ll probably feel good. You might nudge yourself into feeling so good that you get back to work on a project you’ve been putting off. You might build the motivation to make something out of nothing.

Then once you’ve done that, go kill some bandits in Skyrim!

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Turkey Tuesday

Well, JP and I made it to the Good Food Store for Turkey Tuesday this morning. I now have a fresh, 21 pound Hutterite turkey in the downstairs fridge waiting to be cooked and devoured on Thursday. We also picked up potatoes, stuffing, sage, and salad stuff. Still need to get some Rhodes Bread rolls and a few other things. Ooh, I just remembered that I haven;t yet bought any chicken hearts or livers, which I need to make an excellent stuffing . . . I always seem to leave the chicken parts to the last minute and sometimes don’t get any.

I am almost done going through Andrea’s edits and will be sending it out shortly.

Thanksgiving is upon us.

Holiday season again. The fall has gone by really fast for me this year. That’s one thing about painting that I don’t like–busy falls where we are trying to get as much work done as possible before the cold weather settles in. This year turned out pretty well, except for arctic cold in early October.

So now that all the work is done for a little while, I am back to making progress writing. Andrea Howe, of Blue Falcon Editing, just sent me her complete edit of the Child of the Myriad. I am pleased to say that she likes the story (and as I have already said many times in many places, Andrea is a great editor–she polished it up better than I expected, improving the whole thing). So for those writers among you out there reading this, check her out. www.bluefalconediting.com. You can also meet her at RadCon, MisCon, SpoCon, NorwesCon, and the Surrey Writer’s Conference. It is also worth mentioning that she is donating her services to the MisCon Writer’s Workshop again this year as a critiquer–AND will be line editing one manuscript of her choice! This is a great experience, so enter our workshop and see if she chooses your manuscript.

So the good news is that Andrea likes the story and gave me some great feedback. So now I am going to set Eddie Black aside for a few weeks and focus on getting Iridian ready to go meet some agents and editors. It has been a while since I submitted anything (contrary to what most people probably assume, I never really submit my stuff for publication, which has been holding me back. But now it feels right, so I am going to give it all I have). Wish me luck!

I am thankful for all the supportive people I have in my life, by the way. It’s amazing how many of you there are.

Writing, editing, and other stuff (namely Clyde).

 Andrea Howe, of Blue Falcon Editing has been going through my manuscript the Child of the Myriad.  It is interesting to work with an editor as opposed to (maybe I should say in addition to?) fellow aspiring writers.  She line edits, taking advantage of  Microsoft Word’s review abilities.  This means she can add comments and make changes through the text without actually changing them.  This gives the writer a chance to choose whether or not to use the edits (and makes it very obvious what changes the editor suggests).

I am excited to work with her–it’s not as though she is making huge changes or anything, but in such a big work it’s easy to lose track of things (some of which she is finding).  I feel like after having her go through it, it is now ready to withstand the crucible of acquiring an agent and getting the beast published.

I need to run to the store and pick up a few things for dinner, as well as take Clyde out for some exercise.  I must bring the camera to take some current pictures of him outside running around.

Writing/editing progress

 Got a lot done tonight on Eddie Black.  Got the story back to life in my head pretty well.  I feel Eddie’s flavor now and should be able to just push forward,  I started by editing from the beginning.  Made it to page 21 tonight.  Part of chapter 1 will need attention, but it’s good for now.  I intend to continue on editing through what I have now (about 75 pages), then just keep forging ahead.  I also went back through the mighty Jim Butcher’s writing blog and re-familiarized myself with his general ideas on story structure.  He really lays down a great process for developing stpries like he does.  And I for one, think the Dresden books have some of the best plotting out there–fast moving, amazing stuff.  You always want to keep turning pages, which is what I am going for with Eddie Black (well, of course everyone is going for the same thing, but at least I realize this).

Off to bed.  Goodnight world. 

RadCon

I spent last weekend in Pasco, Washington, at RadCon, a science fiction convention.  I had a good time there for the most part (some of the panels were boring, and hosted by low level writers who seemed to think they had wisdom to share . . .).  Overall though, it was a fun convention–lots of writers, a top editor from Tor, the largest fantasy/sci-fi publisher, etc.  I sat in on some panels that got me directed down the right path to publication.  I am kicking myself for not submitting to the Writers of the Future Contest in the past.  It is a great way to get your foot in the door and I have always just sort of thought about it, then never acted.

Today I got a rejection on my short story ‘Scavengers.’  Normally you would consider this to be a negative thing, although they sent me a personal letter with feedback, something the pros say is always good.  The guy liked my characters and story, but had a few issues with the end.  So I am actually pretty jacked up about it.  I could have just gotten the standard "your story did not capture my attention at this time" thing.  This story is perfect for Writers of the Future, in general, since it is sort of like the stuff they tend to go for.  With them I stand a decent chance of getting somewhere, since they award the top 3 submissions quarterly with cash and participation in a writers workshop held by major writers.  That’s what I am after, especially since I already have 1.75 novels written and need to get them out there.

Off to the query letters!

Editing/Writing Update

This weekend I finished editing The Child of the Myriad, my first novel.  I am now ready to start sending out query letters to agents.  Even though I finished this book a long time ago, I have been really shy about sending out queries.  I don’t know why, really.  I guess I should have handled it like I do everything else in my life, and just plowed through it, making it happen . . . but I haven’t so far.

I guess now is the time.  Nothing to lose.

On a related note, I have not trouble sending out short story submissions–I have 2 out there right now and was recently rejected with one story.  I just need to send out the rejected one again and see what happens.

Writing time

I am finally able to sit down and just delve into my stories!  We still have a lot of painting to do in the upcoming days, but at least I can sit down this afternoon for a bit and get things straight so I can finish Unleashed: The Eddie Black Story.  I am excited to do so.  i also have a short story ready to send out tomorrow in a writing contest.  We will see what happens with it.

Writing, Ivan, and Laurell K. Hamilton

Well,  other than enjoying the fine spring-like weather we have had lately, what have I been up to?  Just finished reading Laurell k. Hamilton’s first Anita Blake novel, Guilty Pleasures  which was pretty good.  It read fast and isn’t that long (less than 300 pages).  I previously read one of the later novels in this series, but since they aren’t labeled, it’s hard to know their order without looking at opublication dates.  The serties is done in the vein of Harry Dresden, although it is older . . .  not quite as good as Dresden, but worth reading.

I have now beaten 16 songs on Expert Mode of Guitar Hero.  I still have some Hard mode ones to get past, but I don’t play it steady enough I guess.  This is probably a good thing, since you don’t really need to spend too much time playing video games, right?

I am making progress with Eddie Black.  Finished my new short story, Scavengers and sent it to the Writers Group for this Thursday or Friday.  After their feedback I will send it out and see what happens. I might hear back from Realms of Fantasy today regarding The Bargain, since it only took the Mag. of Fantasy and Science Fiction a week to reject it.  We’ll see if Realms is as quick.

Ivan is feeling better/stronger, although his most recent blood test didn’t come back with as great an improvement as the vet was hoping for.  So now we’ll see what we can do.  On to step 2, I suppose.