It’s been a while since last. A month, probably more. Not quite too, I don’t think.
I’ve been thinking for a long time I should write a post and share something of what I’m doing. There are plenty of things going on, and there’s no lack of things to write about. I just haven’t gotten around to it. No excuses. It just hasn’t happened.
So, to try and get back into the swing of things, here’s a short list of things I’ve done since last I wrote anything – which was back when me and J returned from our walk along the Thames.
I’ve had a lot of coffee. Not so much beer, but don’t worry, I’m fine.
My dad visited and taught me how to temper chocolate.
I stupidly hurt my arm during a workout, but I’m slowly recovering.
I decided that the massive novel I was planning to write would be better off as a series of short stories or novellas.
I’ve started on a new mix-set in the Magical Mixtape series.
I’ve released three other mix-sets, two of them for running.
I’ve gotten back into running again and I’m really happy about it.
I found a real nice little cafe up near where my friend M lives. The coffee’s not particularly exciting, but the view is amazing.
I went to Dublin to collect my dad’s iPad that he forgot there at his last visit a year ago.
I’m trying to get into the habit of doing a little more cooking of my own. It’s sort of working out in a vaguely positive fashion.
I changed shift at work and I’m with a new time working different days and slightly different hours.
I bought an aeropress and can now make my own fancy coffee.
I figured out the GoPro camera is still working and I’m shooting time lapse movies of clouds again.
I’m doing the NaNoWriMo, which is why there are even less updates than usual here on the blog. It’s not going as well as I’d hoped, but at least I’m writing, and that’s something at least. There’s five days left of the month and I’m at about 29k words total – out of 50k.
There’s no way I’ll be able to pull off 4k words a day for the next five days, but that’s not going to stop me from finishing the story.
So far, the story is quite a mess, but I think that once I finish the first draft, I can go back and clear that up. I think that for the second draft I may have to rewrite the whole thing from scratch, but even then I believe it’s a story worth keeping. It’s just the stupid romantic subplot that showed up between two side characters that keeps ruining everything.
It’s good to be back to writing actively as well. Most days I’ve spent well over an hour with my story, including work days, and only on a few occasions less. I’m still really slow compared to other writers I know, but I imagine that I’m improving. I’m missing out on a whole lot of gaming though, but maybe that’s not something to complain too much about.
There’s something about writing that’s very satisfying, once the words start flowing. In some way it’s similar to reading, in that the story plays out in my mind, except I can steer it in whatever direction I want. In most other forms of entertainment that’s just not the case.
Not even games.
Computer games come close, and role playing games come even closer, but even then it’s not quite the same. With computer games, there are limitations inherent in the game. There are technicalities that limit what you can do. In role playing games the limitations are more of the social kind, and you’re limited by the other players (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
When writing, you’re really only constricted by the limits you’ve created yourself – for better or for worse.
This is my other pet project. I made a book out of Valentine’s Day cards that I designed. It’s available through a Print On Demand service and I received a bunch of copies in the mail the other day.
Some of them are available for sale at Alchemy here in Cork. Some of them have been reserved by friends, and a few I’m mailing out to people as gifts – mostly for the members of my Burning Man camp as they never got any copies of the ones I brought to the desert.
It’s a special feeling seeing my words in print like this. I’ve got about eight different versions of the book, so I’ve seen it in a number of different shapes, but it’s still satisfying to hold a new copy in my hands.
I’ve also been toying with the idea of making the pages of the book available as individual cards – especially for Valentine’s Day. It’s still some time off, but I have a hunch it’s about time I got started, both with looking into providers and with picking out the designs. I looked into it a while back when first starting work on the book, but nothing came out of it at the time. I found there definitely are sites which do custom cards though, so that’s a start.
When/if something happens, I’ll make sure to post about it here.
I’m part of the article team for Mythic Scribes, which means that every few months I write an article about writing. That’s also why I don’t really write about the technical aspects of writing here on the blog. Today, my latest article went live on the site. You can read it here.
As I always do on these days I shared the link to the article on FB so my friends could see it and have a look. I know some of them write, and some may find it interesting anyway.
This time I received a comment along the lines of:
Your own writing makes a lot more sense after reading about the thought process behind it.
It got me thinking…
Obviously, I think my own writing makes sense, but that’s because I’m privy to my own reasoning (for the most part).
What about others. Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure. I can see how if you’re not used to my style it may seem strange. Random. Fragmented.
Over time the way I express myself in writing has changed. It’s become a lot more stylized, and perhaps a bit unconventional. Could it be it’s getting to the point where my prose is becoming difficult or inaccessible?
I’d like to think it isn’t so. I hope it’s not.
I like the way I write. It suits me, and it suits the stories I want to tell. I don’t plan on making any changes to it – other than what will happen naturally on its own. I think my readers get it.
The person who made the original comment brought up something else that’s also interesting: how does it affect the reader if they know how the writer thinks?
I’d like to think it’s positive.
If you’re familiar with how a writer expresses themselves you may be able to read more into their words than if you’re not. As an “experienced” reader, you might be able to pick up hints, or read between the lines, in ways a new reader might not.
Is this something that I as a writer should be taking into account? Probably.
What to do about it though? That’s a trickier questions. Being aware that readers may draw different amounts of variations from your words is good, but it’s also something that will happen regardless of your style of writing. All readers come with different frames of reference as it is already.
Sure, I can try and put in some sneaky clues now and then, but if I overdo it I’ll probably just confuse the readers who aren’t used to my way of writing, and who haven’t read my previous stories. I don’t want that.
For now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. It’s fun. I enjoy it, and if it turns out people don’t understand what I’m writing, well, I guess I’ll figure something out. On the other hand, if it turns out that people who are used to my way of writing benefit from it over someone who isn’t, then I think that’s probably a really good thing.
I’ve made a book. It’s a bit of an odd one – a collection of Valentine’s Day Cards that I’ve created – closer to poetry than story. Each page only holds a handful of sentences at most. You can read more about it here.
It’s available through a print-on-demand service online, but I had a few copies of it printed. Some of these copies are available for sale at my favorite coffee shop, where I usually go to write. They’ve sold pretty well, considering I don’t promote them, and the only advertising is a little sign that says they cost 15 euro. I’m happy with how they’re doing.
What’s fascinating, and weird, is to be there when someone takes a look at the book. I often sit there and write and I see people come and go. Now and then someone picks up the book, has a look at it, and put it back – or they leaf through a few of the pages and then they put it back.
They have no idea it’s my book that I’ve made, or that I’m sitting there looking at them and wondering what they’re thinking. Probably just as well. I still haven’t been there when someone’s decided to buy the book.
Today, it happened again. I sat there writing, drinking my coffee and wondering how the characters in my story really felt about what was going on.
Next to me, at another table, sat a group of girls. Young ones – upper teens at most is my guess, no more than 21-22. One of them spotted the book and brought it over to the table and started looking through it.
At this stage, I’m having a real hard time concentrating on my writing.
I’m trying my best not to look like my ears are reaching for every word they say. I don’t think they notice.
One of them, the one who picked it up, keeps saying how weird it is. They read the occasional page, and seem to find them cute/funny, but the girl who holds the book keeps repeating how weird she thinks it is. So weird.
It’s weird for me too. For a moment I’m considering whether or not to tell them it’s my book and explain to them where it comes from, but I decide against it. That too would be weird.
Fortunately, I have an appointment, and have to leave, but the memory sticks with me.
I think most of all I’m amused.
The girl very clearly didn’t “get” the book, and I think there are probably two reasons for that.
First, she just flipped back and forth through it, picking out the odd page here and there. Doing it like that, you have to get lucky for the book to make sense. Some of the cards do not make much sense on their own, and a few of them (Potato Angel Buffalo) don’t make any sense whatsoever. Taken like that, the book can probably seem a bit weird.
Secondly, she was young. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with this explanation, but I think it really may be a factor. Chances are that if you’re young, you don’t quite have the frames of reference to relate to all of the cards, even if you get them in context.
If you’re young, you’re fed an image of what love and life are supposed to be like that may not accurately match what life has in store for you. You’ve got more expectations than experience.
This is probably a bit rich. After all, as a middle-aged man, what do I really know of what teenage girls know about love? My theory is built on preconceived notions about how the world works, and it could very well be wrong. It’s not like I’m an expert on love myself.
I think that’s a key point.
If my world is built on preconceived notions of how the world works, it must be safe to assume that it’s the same for most other people too. Then again, that too may be just a preconceived notion…
Either way, I’m not disheartened that someone thinks my book is “so weird” although it was a weird experience hearing them say it.
It’s fascinating though. The book makes perfect sense to me. I know people who love it. I love it. People read different things into the words, and different cards speak out to them. That too is fascinating.
Finally, a slightly modified version of the book is due out in early November. I’m reviewing the changes and letting them mature in my mind a little before I finalize it. It’s on its way though.
Or, rather, to be more correct: I’m having difficulties writing her.
For the most part my characters I’ve written about, and from whose perspective I’ve told my stories, have been people I have something in common with. They’ve been acting in ways I can relate to and which I understand.
So far, that’s been the case for Toini as well, but in this latest scene I’ve been working on that’s changed a little. I’ve had to write Toini in a situation where her role as a military commander and leader has had to shine through.
She needs to be decisive, confident, and in charge. Assertive. It’s really difficult for me. I can do all those things, but only as long as I’m on my own, or when I know no one will object to my decision.
In this case, there’s a whole lot of objections. The person Toini needs to keep in line is not cooperating and does not agree with her decisions. If it were me, I’d probably try to argue and compromise, but for Toini that’s not an option. At least not in the way I do it.
Toini has a plan and she means to stick with it. She can’t be making concessions just to fit someone else. Her mission is a holy, god-given quest, and whether her chronicler wants some time off or not is completely irrelevant.
He’s still right there in front of her though, and she still has to deal with him.
Seeing how difficult a time I have to write this I’m really glad I’m not in any kind of leadership position in real life.
I’ve been spending time hanging out with an old friend lately. Her name’s Toini, and she’s a paladin.
It’s probably more correct to say she’s an imaginary friend.
Toini is the main character of the story I’m working on – or that I was working on earlier this year and that I’m now kicking back to life. It’s been over three months since I last wrote on this story. Three months until just the other day that is.
I finished a new scene yesterday, and I put it up here on the blog today. You can find the full story so far here.
What’s more: when uploading the scene I’d just written, I realised I’d never uploaded the previous one. It gave me a good reason to re-read that bit and reconnect with the story a bit more.
There are flaws in it, certainly. It’s far from perfect and it probably won’t ever be. The story itself isn’t strong enough that I want to spend more time on it once I’ve written the last scene. I’ll finish it, put it up here on the blog, and then move on to other projects.
I’m not going to ditch Toini though. The story I’m writing may not be all that, but I love the character. She’s complex in a way that no character I’ve created before is. None of them even comes close.
Roy and Alene have the potential to reach similar levels of complexity, but I’ve not written enough about them yet to do more than scratch the surface. With Toini, I’ve gotten to know her well enough that I’ve caught glimpses of what she’s hiding.
It’s almost a little scary. Can I make her justice?
Time will tell. At least I’m back to writing again. Other stories are waiting for their attention. I hope to have Emma’s Story ready for publishing (self-published e-book) by the end of the year, and then I’ll start on the second draft of Enar’s Vacation. That one’s going to need a lot of work.
And no, I’ve not forgotten that I’m going to write a story about Elsie, but I think I may be able to do that on the side. We’ll see…
I feel like I haven’t written here in ages. When I check, I see it’s been over a month.
Things have been slow lately. My story has stalled and I barely write on it at the moment. I’m nearing the end, and the way it’s going I’m just not feeling it anymore. I also don’t have the peace of mind to sit down and dig into it properly. There are other things going on that needs my attention.
I’m doing a lot of writing for my Burning Man camp. Every year, I send out a series of mail to the entire group to get them in the mood for what’s to come and to explain to the newbies (virgins) what they need to know to survive the event.
Last year, and the year before that, I just copied the mails from the previous year. It gets the job done, but it’s no fun for the old-timers to read, and it makes me feel like I’m cheating.
This time around I’m re-writing all of the mails from scratch. It’s going pretty well. I’ve cheated once because I had visitors and re-ran one of last year’s mail, but for the other ones I’ve reworked the texts completely. It feels good.
Unfortunately, it takes my attention away from my story writing.
So not only am I losing faith in my story, I’m also distracted by other things. Perhaps that’s good? Perhaps it means that once I’m done with the mails and with Burning Man I can go back to focusing on my own imaginary world? I hope so.
That’s not everything though.
I also have another project going. It’s a secret. I’m really excited about it, but it’s still a secret. It’s taken a lot of creative energy, and it’s surely contributed to not getting any writing done on my story.
Other than that, I’ve gotten a bit more serious about my health and fitness, and I’m working out a bit more, and trying to eat more reasonable. I’m not doing a diet, but I’m cutting down on snacks and junk food. It’s working out pretty well for me.