scatterbrained

It’s disorienting.

I’m predisposed to having a scattered brain. Things seem like they are all over the floor every day and I have to pick them up and put them where they need to go. At the end of the day, most of the time, this works and the pieces fit. Sometimes they don’t and accepting that is learning how to be an adult.

The holidays make the mess seem bigger than it is. Holiday season knocks me off of a routine that I have cultivated, a routine that helps me with my scattered mind. I do embrace the holiday season, have fun and enjoy the moments. When the time off and the family time ebbs, the mess on the floor of my scattered brain looks bigger and more chaotic. My diet has gone off the rails — not a diet in the traditional sense, but my usual lifestyle of eating healthy — my weekly goals are blown out (some of you might have noticed that I didn’t post last week.) and inevitably something new is in the works. On top of that, the kids’ routine is shot, the family routine is shot and Monday hits with the momentum of a freight train that wasn’t planning to make a stop. As the adult and the parent, I have to get up, be even keeled and keep the ship tight and moving along.

My writing suffers too. During the holiday season, I find it difficult to work with steady vigilance because the money-making ventures and the accountability work gets done first. I don’t know why this is, but it is. I always end up figuring it out, we all do for the most part.

So, don’t let the holiday season get you down. Roll with it. If emotions are running high, let them. If chaos reigns supreme, let it. Stand back and watch the show. No one will get hurt, too badly. The dust will inevitably settle and life with course correct. ‘Tis the season.

I. You. She and he.cerberus

I was working late on my outline and had a freak out. What is the point of view going to be?

My first draft was in the first person. I kept getting stuck because I wanted to convey what other characters were going through. My other drafts played with third person limited.

First person: This is the “I” narrator. The character is telling the reader the story. The reader experiences what the character experiences. It’s really great to read but too limiting for what I would like to do. Joe Clifford is a master at this one.

Second person: This is the “you” narrator. Bright Lights Big City is probably the best example I can think of. Great damn book. No idea how Jay McInerney http://www.jaymcinerney.com/ pulled it off.

Third person — two types here:

Omniscient: The all-knowing narrator. This style uses “he” or “she”, can climb into the mind of any character to convey what any “he” or “she” character is thinking and feeling at any time. I’m not that good.

Limited: The narrator is telling the story about “he” or “she”. It’s like the character is wearing a camera on his or her shoulder. This can be used with different characters with page breaks and chapters. Tom Pitts, currently one of my favorites to read, uses it so well he might actually be a wizard.

I’m going with third person limited. I have three characters, maybe four, I’d like to work with. I hope I can pull it off.

All said, the outline is done and my first chapter is under way. Writing is fun again.

Untitled designHere are a few helpful links about point of view. Remember, no one will actually tell you which point of view to use. I know, I want my hand held too.

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/what-point-of-view-should-you-use-in-your-novel

http://thewritepractice.com/point-of-view-guide/

http://www.thebeginningwriter.com/2012/03/look-at-different-types-of-point-of.html

http://nybookeditors.com/2016/01/all-about-point-of-view-which-one-should-you-use/

Yes or no?

hipstermoose

I’ve asked a lot of writers this question, many accomplished and many not.

It’s a fifty-fifty split, roughly. The writers who use the outline tend to need it. The writers who don’t outline tend to despise the idea.

I was of the latter ilk until recently. I’ve rewritten my book three times. No outline. I don’t think the “no outline” is working for me. I’m not getting crazy with bullet points or roman numerals. I’m paraphrasing what happens in each chapter. This has helped me flush out the story, which is what I struggle with. I can write pretty sentences and compelling scenes, but they never go anywhere. The outline helps me figure out how to move the story forward, find plot holes, character flaws, keep track of characters and make sure that all the moving pieces are where I want them. It’s a helpful tool and I think it will give me more freedom to write the story without worrying if the story is working. I’m sure an editor will eviscerate it someday, but at least I’ll feel good about handing to and editor.

prisoneroftheoutlineIt’s not fun for me to write an outline. That’s a problem. I like things that are fun and I don’t like to do things that are not fun. Christ, I rewrote my novel three times instead of tackling the outline. The word, “outline” makes me cringe. It’s simplistic, I know. It’s a difficult truth that I must face. Learning how to do the not-so-fun stuff is what separates the hobbyist from the professional. I’m learning, and I like to learn.

Rejection

A necessity that invites pain.

rejection_shakespearI need it, thrive off of it. It might be a sickness, but it works.

It’s fuel. With writing comes rejection. A friend of mine actually said something a couple of weeks ago that has stuck with me, “Managing expectations is important.” There are very few truer words.

It’s important to remember that with rejection comes acceptance. It make take one hundred rejections, but when that acceptance comes knocking there is no better feeling. I read the letter/email (only email really), dance the jig on top of my roof, smile and think nothing in life can go wrong. It’s Glorious. This lasts about a day, and then I fall into managing my expectations again.

cofeepotI expect to win, be successful and take the literary world by storm… someday. Right now, I manage my expectations, take rejection on the chin like a champ and push forward. Another friend called me a mensch. I’ll take it.

Rejection is just an obstacle on the course of life. I put it to writing because that is the path I have chosen, but whenever we put ourselves out there we are open to the demon of rejection. Either live with it and push forward or fear it and do nothing. In the end, you’ll know what worked for you and what didn’t.

Go out there and get rejected. You’ll survive and feel stronger for it.

Summer

flyingfish

In the Pacific Northwest it just stopped raining. Actually, it drizzled today, and there were thunderstorms. But the real rain, the cold, constant wet stopped on June 16th. Three days later it was 100 degrees. That’s how it works here. One day it’s spring, A.K.A raining, the next, it’s summer. That’s not what this is about; I can’t just complain about the weather. Yuck.

Summer is freedom, relaxation and time for reflection… oh wait, that was before kids. Summer is another kind of chaos. It’s good, fun, happy chaos, but it’s chaos. The routine is upended, the schedule is new and the kids are feeling restless. On top of that, I still have to work. As you can tell, those of you who read my blog regularly, I haven’t posted in two weeks.

I’m good with it though. I’ve allowed myself to set the restraints of expectation to the side and let life happen, I’ve also been fly fishing a lot—I need some summer fun too. I try to keep the kids away from the electronic nanny—iPad. My son caught his first fish on Sunday and my daughter caught two last Thursday. So, instead of “my work” I have been working as a parent, getting the kids out there and having a good time. It’s summer after all.

The Adult Bully

Authority makes this villain dangerous.shutterstock_515170831

shutterstock_632121335You know who I’m talking about. There is one in everybody’s life. For the most part, these people were bullied as kids. They are angry, sad people.  So, in part I feel bad for them — but that’s as far as it goes. I waste no calories with concern for their wellbeing.

Hating this person, attacking this person or trying to help this person is more than a waste of time, it will hurt you, take time from your precious day. This person is an emotional vampire who wants nothing more than to rule the roost. They make everyone who they interact with miserable and afraid.

f334bd67d6762f55955703d2f0a2a112They abuse authority, contribute nothing of importance to society and create struggle for everyone else. Life is already full of struggle, so the adult bully can go extinct for all I care. Which I think can happen. With the access to information we have now, I think that people will evolve out of being like this. Regardless, these are fools we must suffer sometimes. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. There are just awful people in the world. Maybe they just need a hug — I probably won’t be the one to give it to them.

Some insight on how to deal.

shutterstock_445496152

One must fail to succeed. I’ve been told this ad nauseum. It keeps me from quitting, because success hasn’t happened yet. I wouldn’t say I’ve failed necessarily, but the climb can be excruciating. I can’t help but to us the Mt. Everest or K2 metaphor, both difficult, if not seemingly impossible, mountains to climb where death is a real possibility. Clearly, death isn’t possible while sitting at a desk and making shit up, but the death of my soul when I get rejected or find a massive hole in my plot is real, and it hurts. What I’ve come to realize is that my ego is getting pummeled.

shutterstock_595617548Ego is the sense of self, self-importance, personal identity.  Well, mine is wrapped up in writing and succeeding at doing so. I’m 44. I have kids. They ask when I’m going to be done with my book. “About three more years or so,” I say. My ego cringes. They look at me like I’m nuts and my daughter says, “I’ll be thirteen?” I die a little inside and say, “Yep. That sounds about right.” She makes a sound of exasperation and gets on with her day while I try not to reel on the fact that when this book is finally done it will have taken me eight years — I don’t try to explain that I have finished the book twice but the rewrites are where the real magic happens. I didn’t start this endeavor with any notion that it would be easy, I started because on my death bed I didn’t want to regret not doing it; so, it’s a long game, a slow burn and hopefully people will like the what I write.

Okay. What If I finish this thing and its wildly successful? Hell if I know, but I’ve been told it’s a one-in-a-million chance and it’s no good for the ego because I’ll always be chasing the dragon of success. I wonder if maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, but in my heart of hearts I know it would most likely not be a good thing — at least that’s what I tell myself.

 

Inspiration

A honey trap.

renderedIt’s helpful, wild and wonderful when the sparks of inspiration fly. Creativity and motivation move through you with elegant perfection. The feeling can be transcendent. Lean back, absorb the endorphin rush and hopefully be inspired again.

shutterstock_417467353What about after the dust settles and the haze of inspiration is gone? The work still needs to happen. Whether it’s a creative endeavor, exercise or a work project, if you don’t do the work the inspiration that got you there means nothing. Inspiration comes when it comes. You can’t depend on it.

I used to depend on it, until I got serious. I’d like to say I can push through the tough times without wishing for inspiration, but I’m not there yet. I missed a blog post last week, I didn’t work on my novel and no short stories were submitted. Life got complicated and I let it get in the way of what I love to do. What happened my mind and my spirit was interesting, maybe even inspirational. I got depressed. Not severely, but life had no vigor, greens were less green and reds were less red. If I’m sticking with the color metaphor, I was blue.

Creativity needs inspiration, but can’t live on such a fleeting concept. Work is the purveyor, and part of what work means is getting through the many uninspired moments. It’s bleak, I know, but it’s reality. I try to recognize inspiration and ration it, use small amounts until it wears off. For example, after a writer’s retreat or conference, I used to come home and blast off with wild abandon; but the rush of being inspired wore off quick.  Now, I try to recognize the inspiration and use the tools I have acquired to control the drip. I know it’s nuts, but that’s how I view it.

 

 

Beauty

Not a villain, but can insight villainous tendencies.

shutterstock_607375682I can’t define it. As I’ve been told, it’s up to the beholder to define what is beautiful. This makes sense, considering I find my beat up old truck an absolute specimen of perfection and beauty, whereas other people cringe at how dirty and used it is — it’s funny when they shake their heads at me for being so “blind.”

In many a story, beauty will cause someone to falter from a righteous path, a heroic journey or be lured down the low road. This is the villainous side of the coin, so to speak. There are so many stories of beauty; my favorite being the siren song where the sailors of yore are so intoxicated by a beautiful sound, they steer off toward the rocks or jump overboard to their deaths. Transfixed and transmuted by such a beautiful sound, by their need, their desire for beauty, they die. In this, beauty is a dark magic.

In stories both real and imagined, beauty has caused war, strife, death and acts of barbarism so profound it’s difficult to think that beauty was the impetus. Never was it beauty’s fault, but the fault of humankind and our susceptibility to the allure of wanting to own, control and ultimately consume what we perceive as beautiful.

11137821_369397949918145_644810801_nI see beauty in the joy of my children, the smile and laugh of my wife. I find it in philosophy and dissent.  Yes, dissent, especially now, is beautiful. I find it in waves, mountains covered in snow, a clear lake or a river where I know the fish will be.  Whereas the dark side of beauty, for me, is hardly dark — I simply shirk responsibilities for surf, snow or fishing. Hardly villainous, unless being “unproductive” is a mortal sin these days.

shutterstock_590422925I ponder beauty many times a day without even realizing it. Life is a beautiful thing, even when it does kick you in the teeth.

Resistance

“That voice in our heads is not us. It is Resistance.”          

                                                        –Steven Pressfield

shutterstock_407496973Blind faith in my creative process gets me through the rough patches. Sometimes my fingers feel like anvils, and each attempt at a keystroke is mentally excruciating. I look at the words on the page, my characters, the story, and I hate it. A not so quiet voice in my head tells me its crap, it’ll take too long, I won’t succeed, blah, blah. It’s noise — a construction zone of chaos in my dome, looking for excuses to stop working, get angry and quit.

I’m too persistent. I don’t know how to quit. If this were easy I wouldn’t be doing it, so I relax, step back and see the big picture.

To say a novel is difficult to write is silly because, to me, it’s seemingly impossible. If the novel were a mountain and the process were the climb, then I’ve been climbing for years without seeing the top. I just have to believe the top is there. It’s that simple and that difficult. I might be nuts, yeah, I know.  But, so what. We are all nuts in some way. If you think you aren’t nuts then you are probably crazier than most, and that’s okay too.

In times like this, I tell myself to settle down, take a step back and appreciate other things. Family, the sun, the ocean.  Awareness of the simple things helps me reset. I like to look at life in the present and let the good soak in, but it ain’t easy.