Category Archives: anxiety

Bloody Banquet

Bloody Banquet is currently in the hands of my editor, which means that it shouldn’t be too awful long before it winds up on bookshelves… well, on virtual bookshelves everywhere.  I’d like to think that it won’t be too awful long before it ends up on physical bookshelves, but let’s be honest here, they’ll probably put out book one first, and since I still don’t have an ETA on that… I guess I’ll just focus on my end of things.

Anyway, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m trying to pull off in book three, but I still need to organize a few of the major events and decide what foreshadowing I need for future books, and which lines of foreshadowing I need to make sure continue through this one.  I’m going to have to get a lot more organized, I think.  I’m also going to have to reread my books which I’m not looking forward to… hey, don’t look at me like that, I’ve already read both of them, like, half a dozen times while I was writing them!  There’s a limit to how many times you can read your own work before it starts to make you a little crazy.  Of course, I’m already pretty deep into crazytown, so maybe I just need to quit my bitching and get back to work.

Well, wish me luck, Book three, tentatively entitled ‘curdled cuisine,’ is going to be my focus for the next couple of months.

That being said, if you enjoyed book one, and if you like book two, please make a point of mentioning it to your friends.  As I understand it, I’ve currently sold about twenty-odd copies of Awfully Appetizing, which is somewhat on the disappointing side.

Anyhow, hope you’re all doing well, talk to you soonish.

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Daily Struggles

One of the things that I, as a writer, try to do, is write every single day.  I have a file where I keep track of my daily word count, and I try to make sure that each of my writing sessions is at least four hundred and fifty words long.  Ideally, I’d like them all to be much longer, but… well, you have to put the minimum somewhere, and for the time being I chose 450.

But, inevitably, there are days when I don’t have writing sessions.  Sometimes I’m working on editing something.  Sometimes I’m critiquing stuff for friends.  Sometimes I’m helping someone move.  These things happen, nothing you can do about that.  The problem is that I know myself.  If I let myself get away with really and truly missing a writing session from time to time, then, very slowly, I’m going to start increasing the list of things that are allowable.  So I have a sort of ‘carry over’ rule for myself.  I can have more than one ‘session’ for day, so long as each session is distinct (ie, I can’t just sit down, bang out nine hundred words on a story and call it two sessions), and by the end of the month, I’m all caught up.  Any longer than that and I’m just going to let myself get farther and farther behind until… no list, no accountability, no point.

A habit I’ve found myself getting into lately, when I don’t have the energy to work on one of my serious projects, it to start a story, write  few hundred words, then save it with no intention of ever coming back to it.

Part of me thinks that this is a terrible habit to get into.  I remember when i was just starting as a writer, I couldn’t finish a story.  I had a file just stuffed full of false starts.  So many stories that never went anywhere.

On the other hand, I’m not the novice I once was.  I have, in fact, finished many stories, both short and long.  And sometimes these false starts are useful.  Sometimes they tell us something, give us ideas.  Sometimes they can help us realize the direction our writing should be going in.

Still, there could be problems in the long run if I don’t make myself write with purpose at least part of the time.

Book 3

I’m almost done with Bloody Banquet.  Fingers crossed, I’ll have it sent off to my second round of beta readers by the end of the week, and in the hands of my editor near the beginning of September.

Book 3 has me a little worried, though.  It’s not that there’s a problem with it, it’s that I don’t know exactly what I’m doing with it.  I’ll be honest with you, this is going to be the first time in my life that I’ve written book three of anything.  I got to book three once before, but I didn’t really have any reason to finish it so… I let it stagnate.  But now I have a contract.  I am required to make this work.

Okay, I am being a bit optimistic there.  Given how shitty my sales have been there is the distinct possibility that I’m going to get a polite brush off soon and find myself having to self publish any further books I want to write about a ghoul named Walter.

But let’s assume that, for whatever reason, my publisher decides to let/make me keep going.  Everything I had from here on out was just a vague idea.  I know some of the things I want to have happen, but now I’ve got to put them in order, make them stand up straight and behave themselves.  I’ve got to actually make the book.  And I’m kind of terrified.

The promotion game

I just finished the first draft of my big promotion ploy.  There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on it.  Like, oodles.  The end product is actually going to be another book.  Not a full length novel like what I normally write, but a book, something to be published and sold…. Even so, I count it as a promotional device, something that will, hopefully, get people to try out my other books.  The ‘real’ books.

Sorry I can’t go into too many details right here and now, I don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet.  The thing that’s frustrating to me is that even though this project is, itself, a promotional tool,I’m going to have to try to promote it as a product unto itself.  The reason that this might work is that the new book is designed to be more of an attention getter than my novels have been.  Novels have a tendency to get swallowed up in the tide of new literature that’s released every year.  Unless something draws people to it, unless something makes them stop and stare for a second, their eyes just float right over it.

So I’m making a decoy book, something that is meant to make people stop, stare, and read, with the hope that they will then say, ‘hey, what a clever writer, what else has he written?’ which will, hopefully, lead them to my ‘real books.’

It’s a bit absurd, but let’s be honest, if you’re an artist and you want to make a living as an artist, absurd is just the first stop on your trip to crazytown.

Juggling

So here’s the thing about writing as a business:  There’s a lot of waiting around.

I think I addressed this a little bit in some earlier posts.

When you’re just writing for the love of it, time isn’t a factor at all.  You write when you want, don’t when you’d rather not, edit whenever the mood strikes you.  When you decide that you want to write for a living, however, everything changes.  After you write, you send it to people to help you edit, and you wait.  You get it back, you make some changes, you send it to people who might want to publish it, and you wait.  You mostly get rejected, but let’s say you don’t: you get accepted, and then you wait.  You find out what they want changed and change it, and you wait.  You get a little news here and a little news there, and you wait.  Everything finally gets finished you find out when it’s supposed to be released, and you wait.  Well, actually you promote, but whatever.  It gets published, you promote it and you wait.  you promote it some more and then you wait.

A lot of downtime.  So eventually you realize that you need to have other stuff going on during the downtime.  Maybe you work on another book.  Maybe you critique stuff for other people.  Maybe you help a friend write a movie script.  But whatever you’re doing, if it’s in the writing world, you will soon find yourself in a spot where you’re waiting for both projects to come back to you.  Why?  Because that’s how waiting works.  You can bust your ass trying to get your part done as fast as you can, but at some point you’ll find yourself in line behind a bunch of other people waiting for something that you can’t make go any faster.  So you start another project.  And maybe another.

Then one of the projects that you have up in the air comes down.  Usually when you’re right in the middle of something else.  So you manage your time as best you can and try to get both balls up in the air again, and when you do… guess what?  Now you’re waiting again!  You start a new project because there’s no sense in wasting any time, but just when you get started on that, one of the other balls comes down.  That’s okay, you just did this five minutes ago.  Rush, rush, rush, and both balls are up.

Eventually one of two things happens, you’re either fifty years old juggling eight projects and not doing anything else with your time, or all of your projects fall down around your head at the same time.

Or maybe I just need to work on my time management skills.

Promotional Project Woes

So, as I’ve mentioned before, my book sales are not exactly where I want them to be at the moment.  My publisher and I discussed a couple of promotional things that I can do, and I’m hoping that as soon as my book becomes available in print, as well as just online, my sales figures will start to rise.  But in thinking over what I can do to draw some attention, both to my book and to myself as an author, I remembered an idea I had a few years ago.

It’s pretty much a perfect fit with my current series, and I while nothing is guaranteed, it at least has the potential of drawing quite a bit of attention.

The downside is that it basically centers around my writing another book.

That’s right, to promote one book, I’m going to need to write another one.  And how do I promote the second book?  I’ve got a few ideas on that front, but i’m going to be playing it all a little close to the vest for right now.  And that isn’t the point of this blog.

The thing that’s giving me trouble at the moment is that writing this new book involves a complete style change for me.  I’ve spent years learning to write a particular way, and now I have to make massive adjustments in how I approach my new book.

There actually isn’t all that much to write.  Where one of my novels will typically be around eighty thousand words, this new project might get up to ten thousand.  But I’m struggling with it more than I do when I’m writing a novel.  With a novel I hit maybe one or two walls in the first half of the book, five or six right in the middle, and one or two as I approach the end.  With what I’m working on now, it feels like every paragraph is its own wall.  I find myself lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to sort through one more line.

In the end I expect it will all be worth it.  Even if this doesn’t work as a promotional tool, it’s a project that is forcing me to practice writing skills I don’t usually use, and I’m a bit believe in that.

But in the here and now, I’m starting to get frustrated.

That Itchy Feeling

Human beings have a lot of skin.  I mean, a whole lot of it.  As it happens, I have a bit more than your average bloke on the street, partly because I’m taller than average ,but mostly because I’m… well, wider than average.

Anyhow, we’ve got a lot of skin, and our skin is feeling a lot of stuff pretty much all of the time.  And most of the time we don’t even notice it.

But if you want to find out just how much your skin is feeling all the time, all you really have to do is find one bug on your person.  Just one.  Maybe it’s a caterpillar that dropped into your hair as you were passing under an old oak tree.  Maybe it’s a beetle that was passing by and decided to land, just for a moment, on your arm or the nape of your neck.  Maybe, if you’re fast enough and have good enough vision, it’s a flea that was lying in wait as you happened to walk past some poor mutt.

Whatever it is, once you find one of them, your body goes on alert.  Next thing you know you’re getting information about EVERYTHING that could POSSIBLY be another insect on you.

Occasionally it’s actually in insect.  Most of the time, though, it’s not.  It might be a tiny sliver of grass that’s stuck to you, or a thread that’s hanging off your shirt and brushing against your skin.  Or it could be the wind catching the hair on your arm and tugging it just so.

You could go days without even checking to see if you’ve got a mosquito on you, but the second you catch one, you’ll spend the next four hours checking yourself every twenty seconds.

I recently sent a manuscript out to a bunch of my beta readers, and now, thanks to years and years of experience, I know that I cannot check that manuscript until I have at least half of them back.  Because if I find one thing wrong, one misspelling, one piece of bad grammar, one wrong comma, I will be spending every waking minute from now until I get those copies back searching for anything that could possibly be wrong in my manuscript.  And I’ll be e-mailing all of my beta readers with up to the minute updates.  “Found another comma splice, sorry about that folks.”  “Crap, subject verb agreement problem on page 155!”

So even if I’m pretty sure, pretty damned sure, that I forgot to take care of something in the last chapter, that I left a tiny little plot point open that I meant to shut, I cannot, cannot, cannot actually go fix it.  Not yet.

No, I have to accept the itch.  Just endure it.  Endure it just a little while longer…

Training your muse

One of the interesting bits of trying to become a professional writer seems to be figuring out how to train my muse.

I remember, when I was much younger, back when I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but had my entire lifetime to figure out what that actually meant, I would go days, weeks, sometimes even months, without getting any real writing done.  Sometimes I tried to force myself because I knew how much pleasure it gave me to sit down and watch the words roll out onto the page, but if the muse wasn’t whispering into my ear, nothing happened.

At a certain point, however, I realized that if I wanted to write professionally, I needed to be able write regularly as well.  Figuring out how to pull that off was a long, hard process.  And I mean long and hard.  Like that was of my major focuses for over a decade.

It can be done, as it turns out, you can teach yourself to write every day, although I have to admit that there are some days when I have to carve the words onto the page with a poorly balanced chisel and a two ton mallet, and other days when I seem to be able to splash chapters into place without breaking a sweat.

But as I try to make this transition, from amateur to pro, I find myself butting heads with the muse over something else altogether.

Content.

When I was a kid I had a bitch of a time actually finishing a story.  Oh, I had ideas.  I had oodles and oodles of idea.  I had ideas about aliens and machines and magicians and spaceships and other dimensions and superheroes and… well, for the sake of brevity I suppose we can stop there.

I had ideas a-plenty, so when I sat down in front of the computer, and when the muse was willing to lend me her time, I just let her pick the topic.  And off we would go!  A whirlwind adventure describing some alien planet or the strange laws that would exist a hundred years in the future.  Eventually I would find myself in front of a wall that I couldn’t see an easy way around, so I’d save the document and start a new one.  Round and round and round we went.  There were times, growing up, when I had a hundred plus stories started, and not one of them finished.  And that was fine, because what was I going to do with them if I finished them anyways?

Now, unfortunately, I have people who are waiting for things.

Ideally, it won’t be long until those people are my adoring public.  Or maybe my friendly public.  Or mildly interested public. But for now, it’s my beta readers, editors, an the people who want to work on projects with me.

Unfortunately my muse is loathe to give up her ability to channel surf in my brain.  Yes, I need to get a copy of book two to my editor, yes I have a friend in hawaii who wants to see the first couple pages of that project we’ve been talking about.  Yes, I have a lot on my plate.  But she just had an idea for that superhero story we’d been playing around with a few years back.  Let’s focus on THAT!

Well, what’s a boy to do, except lock the door, drink a bunch of caffeine, and start trying to train his muse all over again.  Stupid muse.  God I love her.

Off to the Beta Readers!

So, about four or five hours ago I finished my first round of edits on Bloody Banquet, book two of the Corpse-Eater Saga.  I currently have it sent off to three beta readers, two who I’ve used before, and one new guy.  I also have feelers out to try to get one or two more, new beta readers.  If all goes to plan, I should get the manuscripts back sometime towards the beginning of August, at which point I’ll make a series of corrections, then read it through again and touch it up, and then… I guess I’ll be sending it to my editor.  Wow.  That feels fast.  I mean, sure, I’ve been working on it for a couple of months now, but it really feels like I’m calling an egg a chicken.

I am absurdly anxious about this.  God only knows what I’ll be like when I actually have to send it in.

Just gotta vent

So I went to the gym tonight, and, as per usual, the stupid sinks there will not turn on.  They’re supposed to be the kind that you wave your hand under and boom, water.  Well I tried that on all three of the sinks and not so much as a drop.  this is not the first time this has happened.  So I complained at the front desk to one of the employees.  As I walked away I heard the other employee tell her ‘he won’t shut up about that.’

I know I’ve complained about it before, multiple times, in fact, but I’m not complaining to hear myself whine, I’m complaining because it bothers me, and I think it needs to be fixed, and I assume that if I complain to the employees they’ll pass the complaint on up the line, and hopefully at some point somebody will replace the stupid faucets with faucets that actually work.

I understand it isn’t the end of the world that they don’t work, and I know that the people I’m complaining to don’t have any control over that nonsense, but at least this is the right avenue for complaints.

Back when I was working at the theater we once had somebody complain about the rating of one of the movies.  That was absurd, not because she didn’t have a right to disagree, but because there was absolutely no connection between the theater and the rating.  We didn’t control that, our bosses didn’t control it, our bosses bosses didn’t control it, all the way up to whoever owned the place.

In this case I know that if the message goes up high enough it’s got to reach somebody who can do something about it.

Maybe I should have only complained once, maybe it was unreasonable of me to bring it up every time the sinks refused to work for me.  On the other hand, I really don’t see any other way to get them to change that.  And when somebody does something that makes me feel like I’m being an asshole, it starts a loop of self doubt an anger that takes a really long time for me to turn off.  So I really want to punch that guy in the face.

But I suppose that’s my problem, not his.

But I still want to punch him in the face.