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Where Have You Been?

Honestly, I don’t really have a good excuse for why I haven’t been updating my blog. For that matter, I don’t have an excuse for why I haven’t been writing in general. I can point to reasons why I haven’t been diligent in my craft, but none of them area really good.

More often than not I’ve found it easier to sit around and watch a few episodes of MASTERS OF SEX or ELEMENTARY with my lady. Then it’s off to bury myself into whatever game I’m playing that month (Seriously, have you played Darkest Dungeon?).

You’re right, no excuse.

It also didn’t help that I received a pretty brutal critique recently and it stalled all my progress on all my projects. I feel like a living insect pegged to an exhibit case. Struggling to take off and get back to what I was doing before being skewered.

And it’s time to do just that.

To do that, I have several projects I need to get focused on.

  1. Start on my sixth draft. I have a major revision ahead of me. We’re talking novel spanning, character changing, revisions. But after much deliberation with trusted writing friends, it’s the right choice.
  2. Work on my short story collection. These stories will follow the characters from my short story “White Flame” published in the SWORD AND LASER ANTHOLOGY. I want this collection to be like the old Conan the Barbarian serials. Little one-off stories following, in this case, a group of miscreants as they travel across the world.
  3. Have fun with my new blog called STRANGE SCRIVENINGS. I set it up to be a sort of playground for writing. I play table top RPGs and some time ago the gaming company Monte Cook Games released a setting called The Strange. Everything about it screams at me to write some fiction set in their world. Using the blog, I plan to have some fun and write little bits of fiction. Most of it will be bad, but above all I just want to have fun.
So that’s my long term plan. In the short term I’ll be attending the Atlanta Writing Workshop this Saturday. I have the opportunity to pitch my book to two agents and get their feedback. And that’s exactly how I’m going into it, just expecting feedback. With the major revision I have planned, I’d doubt an agent would want it in its current state.

The Second Book

Some of you are aware that last year I finished writing my first book. In addition to that I was very fortunate enough to find an agent willing to represent the book. Ultimately I’ve been hesitant to say much about the book or series in general. At most I’ve posted a few sketches of the main characters and made a few references to it here and there. If you look into my archive hard enough, you’ll actually find the flash fiction that kick started the entire idea.

All that said, I’d sent off the final draft to my agent who has been shopping it around to different publishers. This leaves us in the waiting game. Which, with the larger publishers, could mean months before we hear anything. And I’m fine with waiting. I really believe in this book and this series and I’m willing to see it done right.

So I’d been waiting, trying to determine what I should do next. General advice I’d read has been to never write the second book in the series until it’s been picked up. “It’s a waste of time if you can only sell the one. Write a different book for the time being.” Taking that advice I’d started looking into some of my other ideas. I’d even started on one during NaNoWriMo. What I learned is that I can’t write under that kind of pressure. I’d also learned that I hated the main character I was writing for that particular book — probably not a good thing, that.

That’s when my agent, Meredith Brown, swooped in and made a proposal.

Write the second book.

I’ll admit I was hesitant at first. Internet advice kept spinning through my noggin. But Meredith brought up her own good point, we want to be able to demonstrate how long it takes me to write a novel as well as show that I’m not just a one-hit wonder. She had a great saying, “You have all the time in the world to write the first one.”

Not wanting to let her down, I jumped on the outline. It blazed past. I was really amazed at how quickly I was able to put it together. Knowing the characters really helped, as well as having already figured out the entire series arc.

Then came time to start writing.

I’ve written the opening paragraph five times.

I’m still trying to write it.

It’s funny how all the things I’d learned with the first book are still giving me problems. Chiefly, that even though I’m having a hard time, I should just put something to paper and keep moving forward. I can always edit it later. But there is this clawing notion in the back of my head that I need to get this beginning right before I can continue. That it is going to set the tone for the entire book and if it’s off then everything after will be terrible.

You know what, I need to be fine with terrible. I need to be fine with everything being a mess. Because — as I’ve said to others before — you can fix a mess, you can’t fix nothing.

Get to writing you slackers!

And my slackers, I mean me.

Tumble Me Sideways

I decided to go ahead and start up a Tumblr. Mainly to secure the name. I’m probably thinking too far ahead, but I thought it was worth it. I wonder if there is a way to publish some of my the back history on this blog to Tumblr… Something to look into.

If you have a Tumblr, let me know. I’d be happy to follow you. Seems like an interesting place.

A Creator’s Note to “Gatekeepers”

Scalzi has something great to say to those people that feel that only they can decide who is worthy enough to like any particular nerdy book, movie, or cartoon. As a creator of these things I will agree with John, please stop.

Whatever

Which is to say, a note to those (mostly) dudes in geek circles, who decide it’s their job to determine who is geeky enough to enjoy the same entertainments and recreations that they do (hint: If you’re a woman, you start off with a failing grade). Yes, we’ve talked about this before, but they’re still doing it, because apparently some dudes just have a hard time learning.

So this time, let me talk to these dudes from the point of view of being a creator, i.e., one of the people who creates the stuff these (mostly) dudes spend their time defending from the horrible encroaching interest of others (mostly women).

Dudes: Cut that shit out. You’re fucking with my livelihood.

Let’s break this down a bit.

First: I didn’t ask you to be a gatekeeper. Did I, John Scalzi, come up to you and say, “Dude. I am so

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Marduk’s Rebellion Concept Art: Mallory McLain

Check out this awesome concept art for a friends novel. FYI, she drew it!

Marduk’s Rebellion Concept Art: Mallory McLain.

The Spirit is willing, but the Brain is weak

I haven’t written in days. Ugh. I feel bad for it too. I’ve been on a really strong roll but just hit a Gelatinous Cube of a wall. It’s not a brick wall, because I’ve made some slow progress into chapter 12. I’m very near to being complete with it. But right now it is extremely slow going.

Probably because I had to stop to do a little bit of research. Trying to determine if the small town I’ve created would realistically have any kind of levee or spillway system. It is right on a major river with a smaller tributary running along the north of town. So it would seem plausible to me that they would require some time of system to control water levels.

I also can’t remember what these particular structures are called. The best I can describe them as is the big cement trenches like in Terminator 2. Its the scene where Arnold is driving on a motorcycle and chasing the T1000 in a Semi-Truck. Bah.

I’m aware those are sometimes filled with water and can be very dangerous. But I just can’t remember what they are called.

Oh well.

I’ll do some more research and try to have a breakthrough.

Not so good.

The move has broken my email address. So right now I’m working on trying to resolve the issue and figure out what can be done to fix it all and at least get my email back on track. Ugh.

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