I don’t ever intentionally set out to sabotage myself (I’m just really good at it)…

One of my biggest obstacles as a would-be-scribe is just life itself.

I have two jobs, five kids, and a wife with her own noble persuits. With all of this comes the obligations of cooking, (some) cleaning, laundry, shuttling kids back and forth, and all that other mother jazz. As a result, I end up doing a lot of “stop and go” writing; I can only squeeze in writing at certain times and sometimes goes days, if not weeks, in between writing sessions. It’s hard to get a good flow going this way and I think that is probably also a primary factor in my often suffering from writer’s block.

I will hit a good stride and bust out a good bunch of work and think I’ve broken the roadblock. Several days later I get the opportunity to sit down and write again and sometimes forget the little details that I’d set out for myself in the last day’s work. I try to write myself notes and generally remember where I want to go next,  but the flow of the work suffers. For example, I started this book about ten months ago. I’m pretty sure I wrote my entire last book in this same block of time while right now I’m thinking I’m maybe two thirds through this one. Is this book any longer than the last, not necessarily (not that I can tell either), but I do know that I’m struggling more with the process on this one because I am suffering more of my “stop-and-go” spells this time.

Every now and then I also start to panic and think that I’ve taken this book as far as it will go, even though I have some of the climax worked out mentally and know where it will (most likely) end. That thought more than anything scares the hell out of me. I’m over one hundred hand written pages in, I’ve dedicated some time to research, I’ve isolated myself from my family for hours at a time to work on it. I owe it to myself and to them to finish it out.

At the very least, I’m not thinking about a new project and distracting myself. But, then again, maybe I do need to start thinking of the next project to help drive me to finish this one so I can start the next?

Maybe I just need to shut up, turn off the computer, and get to damn work and quit bitching…

On a happier note, a new short story will be available for Kindle this evening.  Three people have read it so far and confirmed that it doesn’t suck (my words, not theirs).

Short story is complete…

I crapped out a short story this week.

And now (***setting self up for disappointment***), I will give one lucky reader the chance to read it FIRST and give me some input!

Anyone?

No, really, anyone?

Hmmm…  I see where he stand now, Internet. Point taken.

Rambling thoughts on writing from a rank amateur with little credibility

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never really gotten a strong idea about a story idea and thought, “I need to outline this right away!”

Now, this may come as a complete and total shock to those of you that know me, but I’ve never really thought through a lot of things before acting upon them. It happens in a variety of circumstances.

  • Mo, come to this after bar party out in the middle of no where. No, you don’t have to drive, we’ll get you there and back.
  • Mo, have another shot.
  • Mo, that 500 pound linebacker said you’re a dork, go tell him off.

The same thing happens in my writing. Ever since I was a kid in high school and started writing stories, every time I would start penning a new tale it was because one image would leap into my mind. I often wouldn’t even have a full story idea or plot in my head, I’d have one image or one ‘anecdote’ in suddenly form in my head and I would then try to write an entire book (because the idea of a short story never really occured to me when it should have) based off of one tiny little idea. Eventually, the weight of the goal would prove to be greater than the meager foundation and within a few chapters the whole thing would crumble to the ground.

With that in mind, I often still start stories based off of one little idea. I’ve refined that quite a bit over the years. On one hand, I’m embracing short stories more and have penned a couple and am in the middle of one right now. On the other hand, I will now thresh out these ideas in my head (often in bed as I’m drifting off to sleep which is its own problem) so that when I actually sit down and start writing I know where I’m going and essentially know how I want it to progress and/or end.

But I still don’t outline. I like having that bit of freedom and keeping it loose as I go. While I’ve never been one to sit down and do “stream of consciousness” writing, I like having the flexibility for my stories to take on a life of their own and see where my own ideas will take me without me even knowing sometimes. For instance, right now I’m working on a short story and I had it almost all figured straight out in my head how would go. But now I’m sitting here writing and an idea leapt into my head and kind of changed things a little bit. I can now just roll with it and incorporate it into the story without changing the whole thing.

When I’m writing a detective or mystery story I almost prefer it this way. I try to validate it by saying that this how Raymond Chandler did it; he would never outline his stories. What is appealing to me about this is often times, I don’t know how it’s going to end. A detective story is a whodunit. What makes a whodunit so appealing is figuring out (duh) whodunit, and that’s what makes it so fun for me to write. Now, the other side of that blade is sometimes that leaves me in a dead stop for a month because I can’t figure out whodunit so I can’t take it any further.

This double edged sword is what gets me going, but what also makes me so angry and bitter and questions anything resembling talent that I may or may not have.

That’s when I turn to the booze, because that’s what writers do. At least, that’s what I’ve picked up from noir films.

Yes, my name is Mo. Don’t pee on yourself.

Every few months, a new patron comes into the bar. Conversations are stricken. We talk about sports, what brought them to town, where to eat in town. Then it happens. They ask my name, I tell them, and they completely lose their minds.

“Wait, Mo? Like on The Simpsons?”

They then laugh uncontrollably and marvel at how clever they are to make this connection.

This has happened a lot over the years, but two stand out. The first happened at the bar I was at for eight years. It was a busy Saturday night and there was a whole group of guys in from out of town. They had been drinking most of the day before they entered my place. One guy comes up to my station to order a round and asks the question.

“So, (hic) what’s your name man?”

“It’s Mo.”

“Woah, woah, woah! You’re name’s ‘Mo’, and you’re a bartender!” His mouth was agape and his eyes were, dialated and bulging from their sockets. He nearly fell to the floor as he spun around to face his table to yell over his shoulder. “JOE!!! Dude, get the fuck over here! This dude’s name is Mo! Yeah, the fucking bartender! Yeah! Just like on the show! Holy Jesus Christ this is the coolest god damn thing ever!”

And all I can do is just smile and nod and let them bask in the glory of making a connection dozens have people made over the last 14 years while I die a little inside.

It happened again this past weekend. This guy is new to town and makes the connection, but he’s not as pop culture saavy as he thinks he is.  We go through the usual start of this diatribe but he then takes it further by having to reference this connection everytime he sees me or needs a drink.

“Mo! Mo god damn Beasely! Just like on the damn tv show! Get the fuck over here, Mo Beasely! I fucking love this guy!”

Beasely?  I’m not sure what he’s talking about but I let it go on for somewhere around an hour before I finally brace him about the Beasely thing.

“That’s his name! That’s Moe’s last name on The Simpsons!”

“No, no it’s not.”

“Sure it is, man!”

“No, dude, it really isn’t.”

“You wanna bet?”

I smile and someone off to the side bellows, “No, you do NOT want to bet Mo on pop culture stuff.”

But New Guy is full of himself and Jack Daniels and indignant, confident in his own limited knowledge.  Now, I’m not generally in the practice of anally raping my patrons’ pocketbooks. However, if you’re going to make an incorrect pop culture reference, attach it to me, and then abuse it over and over again, then you don’t deserve that portrait of Abe Lincoln in your pocket.

Far too often, people forget that being clever is only amusing if you’re smart. This guy works for a rent to own place. Now, if I were to start calling him Pat Summerall, would it be funny? No. Because John Madden did ads for a rent to own place. I wouldn’t call this guy Randy Savage because Hulk Hogan does ads for a rent to own place.

However, I will accept your gratuitous and unnecessary tips while you shower me with praise for my bartending prowess.

Who doesn’t love a good derailment?

Like most people, I find myself drawn to the human car crash that is Carlos Irwin Estevez.  I even follow his Twitter account.  If that makes me a terrible person, then so be it.  Now, I’m not watching it because I’m a huge fan; I like Major League for Tom Berenger, I watch Platoon for the scenes with Willem Dafoe and Berenger, I’ve never seen Wall Street, and I think Two and a Half Men is crap.

I’m following this debacle because we as a society are drawn to it.

We’ve become so captivated by celebrities and have put such an emphasis on their importance that the events in their lives pass for headline news.  Last week while the riots and civil unrest in Libya were still at their peak, Charlie Sheen’s status as an employee of Warner Bros. and CBS was a lead story.  Is it because we place greater value on whether or not Carlos is using crank in front of his kids while banging a porn star or if Lindsay Lohan stole a necklace over the events in the Middle East?

No, at least not per se.

Yes, we seem to become more engrossed by these stories, but not because they’re important.  While we celebrate celebrities (is that redundant?) because their lives are more glamorous than hours, thus giving the impression that their lives are more important, we also relish in being able to condemn them when their lives turn to mush.

Why is this?  It’s validating, in a way.  It’s something of a relief to know that these people who have multi-million dollar homes in extravagant parts of the world and make love to ridiculously beautiful people are more fucked up than we are.  Sure, I’ve been arrested once or twice for doing stupid stuff, but at least I didn’t walk around wielding a machete like a walking stick/picked up a transvestite hooker/dangled my kid over a hotel balcony.

On a more rudimentary level the internet and tabloid TV has turned us all into vultures and flawed celebrities into carrion.  Instead of worrying about whether or not stars like Sheen and Lohan will truly get the medical or psychological help they so desperately need, we keep hoping that some company will insure for a studio so that they can get work again.

That way we can all sit back and wait patiently for them to screw it all up again.

Someone bought a copy of my book!

Far too often, I obsess about stupid, tiny, insignificant little things.  Most of the time, it’s because I’m a self-diagnosed internet junkie.  I get started playing stupid games on the internet and that will be all I do for varying lengths of time.  There was the free internet poker, Farm Town, Family Feud, and countless others.  This is just a manifestation of when i was a kid and TV or Nintendo were the all important things in my life.

But, still I obsess over things.  For example, on a daily basis I check my Amazon account to see if anyone bought a copy of one of my books.  It seems kind of ridiculous, I know.  What’s worse, is sometimes I find myself checking more than once a day.  “It’s been thirty minutes, maybe now someone has bought a copy!”  That rarely happens (the book buying, not the stupidity; the stupidity is always there).

Yet, I check it often, like a child running to the incubator to see if a baby chick has hatched from the egg laid two days ago.

So, if I obsess over checking it, then you guess the glee that comes when I learn that someone has indeed bought a copy.  For instance, someone bought one yesterday.  They bought a copy of my detective story, Our Own Devils, and this has me all kinds of twitterpated.  Yes, I know that’s not a real word, I just think it sounds funny.

Now, since some complete stranger was kind enough to spend $5.00 on my stuff, I’m going to reward you out there with one of my short stories.  This one has not been published anywhere and is as yet untitled.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

 

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Another year, another blog…

Hello there. Why the title? Because it’s kind of true. Every year I seem to get sucked in to, turned on to, somewhat pressured into some sort of new social networking/blog site. First it was LiveJournal. Then came MySpace, and Facebook. Right now I maintain a Twitter account, a Tumblr, and a Facebook. I stay pretty active with all of those (I’m a self confessed Facebook addict) now but mostly because, for the most part, there isn’t necessarily a lot of thought that needs to go into that stuff.

Now, to clarify, I don’t have any (immediate) intentions to spew a lot of personal vomit on here about whether or not I was loved as a child or anything like that. My main goal with this particular blog is to focus on writing. To further clarify, I’m not going to espouse my personal ethos on the craft itself or why I think writing in the present tense is crap (which I do, if you write a book written in the present tense I will not buy it, I’ll probably spit in it).

So what in the God’s name am I talking about?

Good question…What the hell am I talking about?

I try to write a lot. Granted, not as often as I should because I’m addicted to the internet and television, I have five kids and a wife who has gone back to school full time, I help run two businesses, and I’ve re-entered my community’s meager music scene. But, I’m pretty good about sneaking in time to write at work when I should be worrying about other things. Unfortunately, my ability to write well on my current project (or any project for that matter) doesn’t always line up with my calender. Yet, I do find it easy to sometimes spew crap on to a screen or a piece of paper that doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.

That, more than anything, is why I decided to start this blog. This is here for me when I feel the need or desire to write but find myself unable to form my thoughts properly for my book project(s).  I will try to keep them interesting and relevant and not just whine about my lot in life and will generally post weekly.

Will anyone read this? Who knows. I hope maybe a few people stumble across it and as I really get going and at the very least find my thoughts intriguing. I hope that maybe people will read this and take interest in my “real writing” and check out the three titles I have available through Amazon.com’s Kindle service.

So sit back and enjoy.