My friend Evan “FromTheWastes”, the Last Librarian, is one of those guys who absolutely loves the genre of Post Apocalypse, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, SHTF, and anything tangentially related. My friendship with him is probably the only reason I keep my twitter account active; a chance to meet other people that I click with as well as him.
We got together recently to BS about my books and other things. The result of that interview is here.
Not saying what it is yet so as to avoid pressuring the guy working on it. Rest assured I’ll share links when when available. Fun times!
Been quiet a couple of days. Things have been hectic.
One of the things I’m gradually learning during this whole writing thing is that you have to spend as much (if not more) time running your mouth about the books you’re writing as you are just writing the damned books.
I’m an introvert. I wrote my first book with the understanding that:
Joke’s on me! I didn’t have the first clue what’s actually involved in marketing a book and getting people to pay attention to it when I wrote my first book. I knew there was some sort of thing you’re supposed to do to tell people about it but that was really some nebulous, undetermined activity to be reserved for later after all of the publishing activity was completed.
Holy Jesus. I feel like Jay Sherman…
If you’re a true introvert, you know where I’m coming from. You see, they have these people called extroverts, who get a deep psychological charge from interacting with other people. They go to social events and gatherings, hang out and mingle with everyone all night long, and feel invigorated and energized the next day; ready to just go out and beat the shit out of the week.
Guys like me need a weekend of recovery after going out to dinner and a movie. We literally feel like we need our batteries recharged.
For me, this is typically focused towards face-to-face social interaction. I should and do have a higher tolerance for internet activity. This, too, has a limit, it seems.
This is all a long, roundabout way to say that blogging a lot is freaking draining, man. I’d rather be busy writing my next book; not writing about writing my next book.
Oh well. Writing the second entry in the Commune series is actually tearing along, so I guess I’d rather have this problem than the alternative: the dreaded Writer’s Block.
A lovely person left me a 5-star on Amazon today. Man, it tickles me stupid that people are digging the book 🙂
You all know who you are, and because of all the fancy sales tracking and analytic reports offered by the various distribution sites, I know who you are too!
Well, okay, I don’t know who you are. But I do know that you’re out there, and I see every purchase that comes through. I feel it’s important to keep repeating how gratified you all make me feel when you decide to invest a little time and money into a story I’d like to share with you. You didn’t have to do that but you did.
The point is that there’s a guy on the other side of that book you’re reading that hopes he hit all the right marks and made you feel satisfied when you get to that last page.
If you’d like to check in with me, ask me questions about the book after you’ve read it, ask me questions about the upcoming book (getting closer to done every day), or just talk about writing in general, I’m easy to track down.
You can come hit me up on goodreads, or like the page on facebook, follow me on this twitter thingy (all the kids are using it, I guess), or come try out this new mighty networks thingy that I set up and yet currently seems to be swarmed with manifest chirping crickets (I’m not sure this thing is going to take off, you guys).
Or you can use the contact form on this site. All of these avenues filter back to me in the end and I make it a point to answer everyone.
I was fourteen years old the first time I started writing a novel. The first time I finished a novel was a couple of months ago. I’m thirty-eight.
As you might guess, I have some experience with running out of steam.
Now, the first thing to understand is that I didn’t just live through twenty-four years of continuous attempts and failures to complete a novel. That was twenty-four years of attempting to write a novel when I became inspired to tell a story (I’m bolding “became inspired” for reasons I’ll explain shortly). My best guess lands at five or six distinct stories that I tried (and failed) to complete over that time line. A lot of these occurred early on; very few of them in later years.
Having never completed a novel, I began to accept the idea that some people are writers and I simply wasn’t one of them. I was a good communicator. I was certainly skilled at writing my thoughts down. And yet, whatever bit of internal wiring is required to tell a cohesive, 70K+ word story was apparently a gift with which I had not been born. Without any great deal of regret (I didn’t really know what I was missing out on), I stopped trying.
Let’s fast forward a bit to now, where I’ve published my first novel, it seems to be getting pretty well received, I’ve signed an audio book deal, and I’m well on my way to completing the second book in the series and starting up the third soon after. What the hell changed?
It’s actually pretty simple but the answer was so far removed from storytelling that I didn’t even realize it until fairly recently. The pursuit of two activities literally gave me all of the tools I needed to complete a novel:
Power lifting and software development.
These are two vastly different disciplines that have a couple important parallels: namely, they take a long time to do well and you will definitely not enjoy every part of the process.
The problem I had with writing was that I was pursuing it as a leisure activity, to be done only when I was “in the mood” or “feeling inspired”.
Developing software is a part of my day to day job and, if you’re going to produce anything remotely useful outside of a miniature test app or school project, it takes a lot of time. It takes time to first build an idea into a working platform and then it takes a significant investment of time to support that software and keep it from going stale (software of any moderate complexity absolutely will degrade and break down over time). I certainly enjoy developing software, but I don’t enjoy all of it. I like tackling difficult or unique tasks like developing TCP socket based command-response protocols, writing flight simulation software, or automating complex systems. Mundane crap like file IO, serialization, and GUI design are the pits; to be classified as the painful, repetitive garbage that I have to slog through each time I want to develop a new thing from the ground up. We design for code reuse and inheritance to mitigate this, but there is still always a point where you have to put a button somewhere or write the code to read a file. It’s mind numbing and I hate it.
But, if I want to enjoy the finished product, I have to plow through that ignominious work.
It was the same story with power lifting. If you’re of the inclination (not all of us are, which is cool), pulling a double body weight dead lift for the first time is an exciting, heady experience. Getting to a point where you can do that is a never ending, punishing, mind numbing slog unless you learn to love the grind. Power lifting is ALL ABOUT the grind. You make no progress; you see no improvement whatsoever unless you get your work in every day, you’re consistent, and you stick to the program. There are literally months of work invested for the sole purpose of accomplishing a lift that might take a total of ten seconds. The first time I hit a squat for 380 lbs, I spent roughly 8 or 9 seconds under load, followed by racking the bar, feeling fairly good about myself, and then walking out of the gym to the amazement of no one at all.
Nobody cared but me, which is as it should be (I don’t compete). All that aside, you need to understand that I trained for roughly three months to get to that point from my previous max (which at the time was 350, I think). Those three months were not fun. There were plenty of times where I would have been just as happy to stay in bed and sleep in rather than get up and go train.
In these examples, you learn that the days on which you aren’t feeling it are the most critical days of all. It’s not about what you can accomplish when you’re feeling inspired. Inspiration is bullshit. Inspiration is enough to get your ass moving…and that’s about it. By the time you’re looking at coming anywhere near the finish line, your fickle friend Inspiration is long, long gone (probably sleeping around on you, by the way).
When Inspiration has left, there is only The Grind. And what you do during The Grind determines whether you achieve your goal or fall short along with everyone else who quit at those most critical of moments.
Writing a novel is no different from pulling 500 lbs off the floor. That one act (i.e. publishing) is preceded by months of dedicated effort which must be spent whether you’re in the mood or not. The days where you simply aren’t feeling the drive are absolutely the most critical days. These are the times where you have to sit down and write no matter what. When you’d rather be sleeping, rather be playing video games, rather be watching some show on TV, rather be out with your friends; these are the moments where you’ll be able to tell if you have a snowball’s chance in hell of finishing what you set out to accomplish. If you can sit down during these times consistently and just write (even if that writing is shit), you have a good chance of finishing.
You’re not going to love every minute of writing your book. Get over the fantasy and learn to love The Grind.
Author Dean M. Cole is doing a really cool thing that I wasn’t even aware was a doable practice in this game; a virtual blog tour! He’s going to be feature alongside the narrators of his latest book, Solitude: R. C. Bray and Julia Whelan. This looks like it’s going to be a really cool feature for a guy who is already drumming up a lot of buzz in the independent and audio markets.
For those of you who run your own book blog, this is your chance to get in on the action (CLICK HERE). There are a number of dates open in which you can submit to host these folks over at your site. This is a good thing for everyone involved; it means traffic for them and it definitely means new traffic for you.
I happened to see an ad for this new-fangled Mighty Networks thing run across my Facebook feed (ironically, they were advertising on Facebook to tell me how ineffective Facebook is as a platform, but that’s neither here nor there) so I thought I’d go take a quick look at what they had. There were some pretty interesting things over there, I thought. It seemed like there were a lot more options for personalized, live connection with other users, many of which were a lot more elegant and better done than what I’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter, and even through what’s available here on WordPress. Because of this, I’ve gone and setup a presence there that I’m hoping will become a place that readers find useful. Among some of the other features provided, you can go there for:
And various other stuff besides. I’ve also added links to the areas I think will be most useful in the top menu bar of the sight (see below).
Come connect with me, IF YOU DARE….
Or, maybe go eat a pack of Oreos. Those are good too. But totally come say hi after getting your Oreo on.
I just got word this morning that Audie Award winning narrator R. C. Bray will be joining me for my interview with Mr. Townsend at the Speculative Fiction Cantina on August 25th, 6 pm PST. Bray will be saving my sorry ass by performing the live reading of my novel Commune Book One. This is profoundly good news as far as I’m concerned. You know how they have the expression, “He has a face made for radio”? Well, I have a voice made for writing…