Category Archives: writing woes

Three steps forward, two steps back

So my publisher is dropping me.

I get it.  I do.  My book hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves since it came out.  I don’t know exactly how many copies have been bought, but I know my numbers are low.

And it wasn’t even my publisher’s choice.  Winlock is an imprint of Permuted Press, so when a decision comes down the pipeline… well, you don’t exactly get to say ‘no thank you’ to the people who own your company.

I am a little bit frustrated because they’re making this decision before putting my book out in print, even though I have explicitly stated that most of the promoting that I’ve got planned requires physical copies of my book.

Even so, I get it.  If a book isn’t making money, it isn’t making money.

The question now is whether I should continue focusing on the ghoul books, and either look for a new publisher to put them out or self publish… or should I turn my attention to a new project?  I’ve got a couple of ideas.  There’s a dystopian space opera I’ve been toying with for a while now, and I’ve got an idea for a multiverse saga that I think could be a fun read.  I’ve been toying with a Y.A. story-line for a while now, I could go that route… or I could go back to the very adult oriented superhero chronicles I was working on a few years ago.  And there are always the artificial intelligence stories.

But a big part of me feels like I should finish what I started.  The truth is, I’m quite proud of the Corpse-Eater Saga.  I’ve got some nifty ideas in there that I wouldn’t mind playing with some more.

I don’t know.  I guess I don’t have to know.  If they’re ending my contract, I guess I don’t owe it to anybody to decide just yet.

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Shared Disappointment

So, it occurred to me the other day that I had, in fact, left up on my website outdated information.  Specifically, despite the fact that it is December, and I have neither my first book out in print, nor my second book out in e-format, my webpage proudly announces that both should be out before Halloween.

Actually, I haven’t done anything with my website in about a month and a half.  It isn’t because nothing has been going on with me; plenty has been going on.  Sadly pretty much everything in my world has been a bit of a letdown these last couple of weeks.

And let’s face it; nobody really wants to share bad news.

Well, that’s not entirely true: we all have a great-aunt or great-uncle out there who’s only too happy to tell us about their latest growth, goiter, expellation or discharge.  But when it comes to our professional woes, the vast majority of us would rather sit on the latest bit of bad news, at least until we have something encouraging to soften the blow with.

But I think that this is a mistake.

Years ago, back when I was first trying to write movie scripts, I had a bad experience.  Or, to be slightly more accurate I should probably say that I had a Bad Experience.  Long story short, things had started to go wrong on this project I was involved in, and rather than tell us what was happening the guy in charge cut of communication entirely.

I don’t just mean that he stopped updating us, I mean that for several months he refused to answer any e-mails, or his phone, and everyone involved in the project found themselves in a state of limbo.

Now, writing books is a little bit different.  Very few other people are involved in the artistic side of the project with me, but I think that readers should be viewed as participants in your project, and I think that participants deserve to be kept abreast of any happenings.

So… just to clarify, my second book has been put off until March of next year, and I have no idea when my first book will be available in print.

The Tools of the Trade

So… I need to get some business cards.  Again.

I have business cards I made for my writing back when I wrote under my real name.  They’re pretty good.  But now that I’m writing under Leod Fitz, I need some new ones.  Standard tool of the trade, to be tucked here, lay there, and slipped into the hands of everyone with whom I happen to discuss my writing.

On the one hand, I feel kind of silly about getting business cards.  It kind of feels like a desperate plea to be taken seriously.  But it’s not about that.  It’s about people having horrible memories.  How many times have you heard something mentioned in conversation and told yourself, ‘I’m totally going to do something with that information when I get home.’

Well?  How many times did you do it?  And that’s just the stuff you remember forgetting.  If I had a penny for every time I found myself standing still, brow furrowed, gnawing on my lip muttering, ‘I was going to do something when I got here.’

Writing is easy.  I mean, it isn’t easy to become a good writer, but once you’re there, the writing itself is the easy part.  Editing is just a bit harder.  But promoting?  That’s the trick.  And god do I suck at it.  But it’s easier if you have the right tools of the trade with you.  Business card is key.  I know that.  You should also probably have other stuff.  And once I figure out what that other stuff is, I’ll let you know.

Or not.  It might be one of those things that’s only effective if nobody else knows about it.

Don’t WANNA write!

Oh, god… I thought I was blocked a week or two ago.  I was wrong.  So wrong!  Ugh, I can’t stand my writing right now!  Every time I try to write I get itchy and can only think of all the other things I could be doing.

I know I have to fight through it.  Eventually it will get easier again, and then I’ll hit that beautiful moment when I’d have to cut my fingers off to keep myself from writing.  I know it will come back around again.

But right now.  Oh, god, everything I think about writing seems hackneyed and cliched.  My fingers fight me over every word.  I can’t concentrate.

Ahhhhhh!

I will make it through.  I will make it through.  I will power through it.  I will…. ooh, something shiny!  I should go investigate that!

False Dichotomies

So, I’m becoming both increasingly horrified, and increasingly fascinated by false dichotomies.  A large part of it is the coming election.  Any time there’s an election it seems like the first thing on the agenda is deciding what we’re debating and the two sides that we have to choose between.

One of my favorites is gun control.  Dear god, what a vague term.  Gun control.  It’s like ‘car safety.’  You’ve got people standing on one side saying, ‘No, we won’t you put control chips in our cars that limit them to five miles an hour,’ and people on the other side saying ‘Seatbelts should be required in all vehicles!’

I’ve gotten in debates before with people only to find out a few minutes in that we pretty much agreed on what should be done, but I was putting the emphasis on what steps should not be taken, and they were putting the emphasis on what steps should be taken.

The absurd thing, though, is that when the election comes we won’t be choosing between a range of ideas, there will be two concepts set in stone that we pick between.  Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

There’s a part of me that wants to start working on a farce based on the dichotomies in politics, and there’s another part of me that feels like I’m living it.  Sometimes I think that the most unrealistic stuff in science fiction isn’t the technology or the weird aliens or the strange mental powers or the inevitable sexual hijinks between species that should not be sexually compatible (come on, star trek, seriously?  Everybody’s bits and pieces match up?), the thing that’s the most far out and crazy is the portrayal of governments that are more or less functional.  And the united front that alien species portray to one another.

Anyway, just a little rambling to break up my day.

The slump

I’ve hit a writing slump.  Woah, it has been a long time since I’ve really had to deal with one of these.  I mean, sure, I’ve hit a few rough patches, but this one is a bit more serious.  I haven’t done any serious writing in about a week.

I think that writer’s block is unavoidable when you are a novice or intermediary writer, but I also believe that it’s something you can train yourself out of, eventually.  Honestly, I was beginning to hope that I had trained myself out of it.  Some writers I know believe that writing is a little like breathing, in that you have to have time periods where you’re only taking oxygen or ideas in, in order to have periods where you’re pumping work out.  I don’t think that’s the issue.  I still have ideas.  I have plenty of ideas, but whenever I try to put them down I feel like man with numb hands trying to juggle chainsaws.

In times like these, I don’t usually focus on my big projects.  Those are too important to stumble through when I’m like this.  Instead I search for some idea, some thought that holds even the faintest bit of appeal and start working through that.  What I produce usually isn’t any good, but I save the stories anyway to go back through later, to see if I put anything out that actually resonates with me when I’m in a writing frame of mind.

Also, as I’ve said before and will undoubtedly say again, the better you do pushing through these things when it’s hard, the longer you’ll be able to go, and the more pleased you’ll be with the results, when the writing becomes easy again.

Still, it sucks.  Hitting a slump is miserable, and the only things that really make it better are knowing that you’ve gotten through them before, and knowing that other people have suffered from them and got through as well.

Percolating

I try to write every day.  I’ve mentioned that before, I’m sure.  I try to make myself sit down in front of the computer and pound out a few hundred words every single day, whether I feel like it or not, and I think that this practice is making me a better writer.  But while it’s important to write as much as I can, I think it’s also important to put off specific projects until I’m ready for them.

I’m working on a project with a friend.  It’s a dystopian cyberpunk piece which,, I feel, has a great deal of potential.  But I’m having trouble working on it. It isn’t that I sit down and can’t think of what comes next, it’s that I don’t think i”m where I need to be for the story.

There are, I believe, pieces still missing.  Something isn’t in place, and if I write it before everything coalesces, the story I produce won’t be the one that I’ve been working on.  It will be… derivative?

I believe in letting the important ideas percolate. I let them sit in the back of my head and float around, bumping into other ideas.  I leave it to grow and connect, until the story is ready for me.

Or maybe I’m just being a lazy bastard and avoiding a project I don’t want to work on right now.

Waxing and Waning

Sometimes, as a writer, the words just flow.  Sometimes you can sit down, start typing, and the hardest thing you have to deal with all day long is trying to keep up with the inspiration.

And sometimes the words don’t flow.

Right now, the words aren’t coming.  I’ve been at this long enough that I don’t panic about it anymore.  I know that there are ebbs and flows to all of this and that in due course I’ll find myself neck deep in stories again.

But right here, right now, I’m a dry well.

And it kind of sucks.  I’ve got responsibilities as a writer.  I’ve got books I’m working on for people and with people.  I’ve got deadlines and whatnot.  Hell I’ve got a blog and I can’t think of a single thing worth saying.

One thing I have learned over the years, after going through more than a couple of dry spells, is that you fight it.  You make yourself put the words down, even if they don’t feel quite right.  You make yourself get through it now, because if you can write through the lows, the highs will last that much longer.

Deep breath, and plow forward, one step at a time.

All across the wall

I’m working on book three of the Corpse-Eater Saga, and I have to say, there is a lot of stuff to remember.  There are characters of varying importance who may or may not come back into another story later.  There are descriptions of people and places, which, though not important enough for me to remember all the time, would be embarrassing to get wrong.  There is the description of distances and drive times.  There are endless details.  And, let’s face it, I am not good with details.

Because of that, my walls are becoming increasingly crowded.  I started by drawing a map of the my imaginary city, Collinswood Colorado.  Then I wrote out very brief sketches for each of the nine books that I’ve agreed to write in the series.  Then I drew blueprints for a couple of buildings, so I wouldn’t find myself describing a place that can’t exist in three dimensions.    Now I have a couple more buildings to draw, and several character arcs that I’m going to be sketching out.  I’m also about to start a list of events that exist to foreshadow upcoming plots and stories.  I should’ve done that at the very beginning.

Dammit, I’m running out of wall space!

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.