Words, I like to..write..into sentences…and stuff…

Writer’s block is not a rare problem for me.  I often bitch on the facebook and the twitter and on here about having difficulty finding the words to put to paper.  Most of the time, it’s in the middle of the project and I get frustrated because I know where or how I want the story to go but I can’t actually pull the trigger.

This last bout was different.

I was able to bust through my sci-fi/noir novel last week and actually finished the bad mamma jamma on Friday.  It was a wonderful feeling.  I was giddy and screaming with joy and bouncing around the house like I was my three year old daughter after being told she could have ice cream.  A great weight was lifted from my shoulders.  It was like breaking us with a selfish lover who was fun to fool around with but eventually going to bed with her felt more like work.

So now my docket is empty.  That becomes its own problem by itself.  When I finished Time With His Fools last year, I’d already had the wheels spinning on the as yet untitled sci fi noir book.  I’d already started some preliminary research, created the core characters, drawn a flow chart, etc.  With all of that figured out, I was able to sit down and start flying almost immediately.  In a way, it was as though I was 3o pages in before I even got started.

Then there was Friday.  I panicked a little bit after I finished because I had no idea where to go next.  I’ve got one book, a follow up to Our Own Devils, that I’ve had on the backburner for maybe two years now.  I was maybe a third to halfway through it when I decided to shelve it in favor of doing a small re-write on Devils before putting it on Amazon.com and then writing Fools.  Obviously I’d go back to that one, right?

Nah, don’t feel like it.  I already know it needs a re-write before I even finish it and it’s a bit disheartening so I’m staying away from it.  Well, for now anyway; it’s one of those books that I often think about and still know where I wanted it to go and how I wanted it to end.

But I didn’t have anything else on tap, either. 

Through the entire weekend I felt that I was suffering from a creative paralysis.  I finally settled on something that has been on the backburner even longer than the Devils follow up; the story that started it all with the characters of Mac and Alex: The Darkling Plain.

Is the title awful? I don’t think so, it’s a quote from a poet whose name I cannot remember and it’s a quote that I cannot even entirely remember.  I’ll worry about that later because the internet is a great source to reclaim old inspiration.  It’s the book where Mac and Alex first met.  I started it when I was 20 and muddled through it for 3 years.  As a result, I know there were probably some fractured ideas that weren’t properly followed through and were too terribly influenced by a 20 year old who watched way too many Shane Black films.

That said, I now have a plan again.  It feels good.  I have something to focus on and something to think about in those waning moments before I drift off to sleep at night.  I’m going to come at it kind of fresh, too.  Instead of attacking it with the old manuscript in front of me, I’m going to start it off from memory and try to take it into a better direction.

(gulp)

Here we go…

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Crazy, crazy, crazy

It’s a weird morning here at the office. I’ve been stranded for a few hours by chance.  Well, chance and a truck in the shop.

Things have calmed down at work so I actually find myself twiddling my thumbs this morning; I’ve already organized the next few days work, organized out of town work orders, and the phone isn’t hardly ringing.  I am also without my notebook.  So now what the hell am I to do?

What has me the most frustrated about not bringing my notebook is that I am so very close to finishing the first draft of my 30’s noir/sci-fi book.  It’s been a bear, too.  The first half of the book flew by so quickly while the last half has been mired in self-doubt, lack of time, and writer’s block.  In a rare move, I actually spent the greater majority of my day writing in the thing.

I read or was told once that a solid goal for a writer should be to bang out ten pages a day.  It doesn’t matter if they’re Pulitzer worthy or not, just bust em out. Well…when you have a full time job, a part time job, five kids (three of whom are in activities), and a wife going to school full time plus working on her own side business that goal gets a bit problematic.  It would be less so if I didn’t enjoy sleeping and watching TV.

But on that note…I actually banged out 12 pages yesterday.  I know, I can’t believe it either.  What’s better is that I actually feel really good about those 12 pages.  For me, as of late, that’s been a rare thing.  Anymore if I can bust out two or three pages in a day I mark that as a win and I may not even feel that great about those pages.  Not yesterday, though.  At the risk of totally neglecting my wife and kids, I could have banged out even more and maybe even finished, too.

By far, though, the strangest bit about my day as an author was the phone call I got in the evening.

Without sounding boastful, it was a call from a fan of my podcast.  It wasn’t some crazy, “Uh, hi…I’m just calling cuz I think your podcast is like totally super cool and I love you…”  I didn’t worry about having to change my number or anything like that.

The gentleman who called got my number from my dad. He is a local Rotarian and actually asked me to speak at a Rotary event in two weeks.  To say the least, I was flabbergasted.  Two things ran through my head as I was speaking to him: A. The podcast is doing what I meant for it to do! and B. This poor schlub likes my stuff so he must have no idea what good writing is.

The word I keep using is “surreal”.  In many ways, it’s because until recently I never really talked about being a writer.  A close, handful of people have known about it but I’ve never been very open about it.  But in the past year I finally decided to bite the bullet and “put myself out there”.  I think I’d had a book available on Amazon for almost six months before I finally mentioned it on Facebook and a  year ago I never would have even thought about doing a Podcast featuring me reading my own material.  To a degree, I still am a bit embarassed about it.  I listened to a little bit of the recent episode this morning and had to turn it off because I was flustered and almost shut the website down.

Then I remember the phone call last night.  This is why I started it: to get the word out.

Yes, I’m going to attend the Rotary event.

Hopefully I don’t embarass my family name anymore than I already have.

Shit’s all frakked up…

There’s been quite a bit going on lately, that’s why I haven’t blogged in a while.  To the two people that have missed it, I apologize.

A lot of stuff has been weighing on my mind lately and as a result, my drive and ability to write was hindered for quite a while.  My bar is closing this weekend and there’s a mix of feelings in regard to that.  Three of the five kids are playing baseball this summer so we’re quite busy with that; games four of five nights this week with a practice or two thrown in for good measure.  The missus is done with school for the summer (four As and a B!), the kids finished up school Wednesday, and work has been in frakkin’ sane.

As a result, when I get home I’m often too exhausted to write; be it physical, emotional, or mental.  Some days it’s all three.

And the most frustrating bit about it?  I’m so close!  It was approximately a year ago that I finished my bar book, Time With His Fools.  I turned right around and started this current project within days.  I’ve been muddling around with the last few chapters for the past few months.  I’ve been mired in writer’s block, lack of inspiration, and lack of drive.

For those of you who’ve never experienced writer’s block, it’s kind of like erectile dysfunction only there’s no expensive pill to make it go away.  There’s Twitter, but that’s completely different.

As a result, I’ve been on a quest for literary aids everywhere.  This past winter, I’d found that the music of Motown was great for writing. Eventually, though, that ran its course and I found myself staring at blank pages for hours on end.  This current project is a sci-fi/mystery/noir themed book, somewhat inspired by the gobs of Doctor Who and Torchwood I’ve been watching the past two years.  So, on a bit of a whim, I downloaded the soundtracks for the last three seasons of Doctor Who.

Mock if you must, but it worked.

Yesterday I began writing what I think will be the last chapter.  It’s an exciting feeling.

However, as I said my bar is closing this weekend.  Thus, I took a vacation day today.  I did so to mourn the passing of my bar (and because I needed a break, damnit) and to write.

Then I remembered that I have a difficult time writing when I have a hangover.

Ain’t enough Murray Gold orchestrated sci-fi soundtracks to fight that…

But I’m trying.

MoPod Episode 1

This is why I can’t accomplish anything at home…

There are days where I think about writing all day long while at work.  I listen to a couple of podcasts now, the Nerdist with Chris Hardwick and Co. and WTF with Marc Maron.  They talk often talk about the creative process and what not and it helps inspire me to get some literary work done.  The creative juices get pumping and ideas pour into my head and I count the minutes until I get home.

But, then I get home.

I have five kids between ages three and ten.  Here’s an example of the chaos that happens when I get home:

I pull up to the house and three of the five are outside running around screaming.  Conn, the youngest boy, is wearing shorts and a t-shirt despite it being only 55 degrees outside.  He is not wearing shoes or socks and is probably not wearing any underwear (he likes going commando).  He has also marked his face with various colors of marker as though he’s been counting the Silence (Doctor Who reference, sorry).

It should also be noted he is in the front tree probably fifteen to twenty feet in the air.

On the bottom branch of the tree the youngest child, Elena, is also dressed inappropriately–pajama top and pink skirt.  She is hanging on for dear life, her feet dangling one foot from the ground, and is screaming in a panic because she doesn’t want to fall.  She is also upset that Conn won’t let her up any higher in the tree.

Somewhere, my dog is running around loose for the fourth time today because Conn went out the backdoor and left it open.

Inside, there are roughly eight dozen granola bar, fruit snack, and snack cake wrappers on the floor, on the couch, in the couch, behind the couch, in the couch, and on the entertainment center.  There are half melted Popsicles on the floor beside an empty bag of potato chips that had been purchased only twenty-four hours earlier.

On the couch amongst the litter, the middle boy AJ, is zoned out watching an episode of Minute to Win It that he felt the need to DVR from the night before despite having watched it live already.

“AJ,” I say.  I repeat his name three more times before he acknowledges me.   “Is your homework done?”

“Didn’t have any, Dad,” he says.  I will find out five minutes before bedtime that he “forgot” that he actually had three pages of math homework and a note from his teacher about AJ not completing homework for the better part of the week.

“Fine, can you clean up some of this mess, please?” I plead.

He says, “Sure,” with a frustrated sigh and sulks down to the basement to clean where he will actually retire to that couch and zone out in front of the TV.

Inside of the room she shares with her sister is Eowyn.  There is nary a place to stand in this room as everything in the room is on the floor. Is she doing her homework? Cleaning the mess?  No, she is wearing a skirt and singing a song with mumbled words while sashaying her hips to an invisible audience.

“Eowyn?”

“Hi, Daddy!”

“Is your homework done?”

“Yep!”

“Can you clean room then, please?” I ask.  Her adorable face, sans two front teeth, twists into an expression of sheer pain and misery and she throws herself to the bed and begins crying loudly.

No one knows where the oldest, Gabriel, is.

Across the hall from the girl’s room in the master bedroom is where I find Amanda with a bunch of school books scattered on the bed around her along with a box of Mary Kay products, invoices, and such.

“Oh, my gosh, Matthew,” she sighs with exhaustion, “I’ve been home for twenty minutes and I want to pull my hair out!”

Then the front door opens and the two youngest, aka Frick and Frack, come running in.  Lanie is screaming at the top of her lungs and Connor is shouting a song with no discernible melody or lyrical format.  he did something to her but we have no idea what.

Eventually, I go downstairs to the little office I’ve fashioned for myself.  I have a nice desk, my weight bench that I haven’t used in months, and all of my guitars. AJ’s drumkit is also in there, along with all of the toys that I’ve accumulated in my adult life that I don’t want my kids to play with.  Said toys are all out of their storage boxes and all over the place, one guitar is knocked over, two of my manuscripts in their binders are on the floor, and one toy I’ve had in its packaging for over ten years has been ripped open.

Creative urgency has now been replaced by unbridled rage and frustration.  So instead of writing and finishing my novel or even working on a short story I holler at children to clean until my throat is raw, sit in front of the TV, and mope for an hour.

On the upside, some of the senseless bullshit these adorable kids do is actually quite funny.