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4:30 is whiskey and water time. That’s an important, wait, essential part of my day. Especially since my boys got me a bottle of Bushmill’s 16-year. One shot a day. The other thing that is essential is writing. I’ve been on vacation since the 19th of December and have worked on my book for 16 of those 17 days. I completed the second section of the book, and got in a bit over 2k words today to finish the vacation with 30k words.

I feel good, but i’ll feel better at 4:30.

Keep writing!

Ty

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Yep, it has been. I’ve been off since last Saturday and have one more day. This week I’ve kept a 1,000+ word a day pace and will finish up a good first draft of the first act of the book. And I’ve kept a family life together by writing in the mornings whilst the rest are sleeping. Me and the Mrs. got to see Brandi Carlile last night with the Seattle Symphony. Wow, when she comes through your town, make it a point to go see her. I’ve you don’t know of Brandi, check out this video of her singing one of her most popular songs.

Excellent Thanksgiving, too!

Oh, and I wasted time had fun playing Diablo 3. 🙂

I started off my writing journey as a full on pantser, just writing as the words and images coursed from my brain to the page. I wrote out of sequence. I wrote adverbally. Every day was an adventure. The story emerged on the page. I discovered who the characters were, what they were like, what they were doing, and where they were going.

Then I got stuck.

Why. Yep that was the question. Why were the characters doing things. Why were they motivated. Why were they in this setting.

Then I learned to write back story and plot. I chafe at structure. I want to be free. My job is structured, why can’t writing just flow without structure? Well, maybe it does for some, it doesn’t for me, at least not yet.

So, I’ve become more of a Plotter/Planner. I have my editorial map, which is a great tool for me. I’m 12 of 24 scenes into the first act. I’m off all week, so we’ll see how I progress on this next 12 scenes.

Two years. I started this blog two years ago as an accountability partner for myself. To keep myself writing. To track my progress, ups, and downs.

UPs:

  1. The act of writing itself
  2. Encouragement from other WordPress bloggers
  3. Meeting other writers at the PNWA annual conference
  4. Working with my first editor
  5. Working with my author coach
  6. Finishing a draft of the full book
  7. Getting positive feedback from agents at a conference
  8. Getting feedback from family, friends and the writing group
  9. Learning at conferences and seminars
  10. Learning from reading so many great novels and writer books

Downs:

  1. Revising (Until I learned to enjoy it)
  2. Writing back story (Until I figured out a method)
  3. Crap, this is taking a long time
  4. Man I’m a crappy writer
  5. I’ll never finish this thing
  6. I’m so tired of this story
  7. Killing off my first character
  8. Switching main characters
  9. Learning how much I don’t know
  10. Not being done

It’s been a great journey. I’m 11k words into this current draft. We’ll see if this is the one.

Thanks for riding along with me.

-Ty

 

 

I’m quickly coming up on two years work on this book. Seems like a long time, but it is my first, and I’ve learned a bunch. I’ve learned better by doing than if I’d started in classes. Sure I’ve taken classes and read books along the way, but they didn’t make sense to me until I was facing problems with my own work.

So, why is it a new beginning? Because I wrote a new beginning to my novel. I’ve heard from more than one critique partner/reader that they didn’t feel much empathy, if any, toward my main character when she worked through the opening scene. That’s not good. So, I backed up in the story, just a bit, just enough to give the reader a sense of the main character, their relationships, and the things important to them. Seems like it worked.

Oh, and all these months I’ve been working with an author coach; a couple month long sessions. I’ve also been writing back story, history, character profiles, etc. All that work was like drudgery to me, but has led up to now when I can actually focus back on writing the story. I’m 10k words in on this draft and the story feels stronger, more three dimensional.

Here’s hoping that this draft will be worth the time to edit and finish. Well, I will finish it, regardless. Just to be done and move on to a second book.

-ty

chainRecently, I was invited to participate in an author blog chain where I answer a few questions about my book and the way I write. I’m thanking my author coach and fantasy author Lindsay Schopfer for the invitation. (Lindsay’s Amazon page for his two books – Under Two Moon’s and The Beast Hunter). Check out his blog as he discusses his writing, the classes he teaches for the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association), and his service as an author coach. I also highly recommend checking Burnham Wycoff, who preceded Lindsay in the blog chain. Burnham is also a fantasy author.

What are you currently working on?
I am writing my first book, Nuisancer. Nuisancer is a YA dystopian story set on earth toward the end of the twenty-first century. I’ve spent two years writing the story. The story has changed and matured over the past two years. I’ve used a few different titles. I guess that is normal. This is my first real work with prose. I’ve written insult poems, lyrics, regular poetry, and more lyrics over the past 40 years. My experience with verse gives me a love for the taste and meter of language.

Currently I am working with author coach Lindsay Schopfer, and am focusing on exploring the history behind my characters, and world building. I’m ready to work through the third draft of Nuisancer, but need to understand my characters and their world before I can adequately complete this next draft.

How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I’m trying my best to make more of a social statement than a political statement. It is inevitable in dystopian stories to make some statement about governments and social structures. While I have the typical subject of a government system as the antagonist, I’m exploring more of the social impacts between differing people groups. Oh, and one of the characters is a cannibal. Not like a Louis Suarez type of cannibal, but a part-time practicing one. Not sure how that will work out.

I’m sure to be influenced a great deal by the authors I read. I hope to be influenced positively! I read across various genres, not just dystopian. I focus on the way the author tells their story and how they make it interesting enough to encourage me to read the entire book. Some of my favorite authors are: Gaiman, Murakami, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Gillian Welch, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and Chuck Wendig. I also love poets: Theodore Roethke, James Dickey, Sharon Olds, Robert Lowell, Ted Kooser, Peter Wild, and Seamus Heaney.

Why do you write what you do?
My love of language and writing started off with a trip diary from a time my family drove from Wisconsin to California and back. I think I was 9 or 10. When I neared teenage years my friends and I exchanged insult poems, like “You are so smelly, oh it is so terrible!…it smells like your nose was stuck in the shit of a grizzly bear” We wrote over a hundred of those poems which are unfortunately lost to history now. Stupid decisions. I was also the lyric writer for my band in the 70’s, influenced by Neil Peart and Alice Cooper. What a combo. I reluctantly entered college to pursue a business career when the whole rock-n-roll thing didn’t look like a stable career. But, I did take three semesters of poetry from the wonderful Dwayne Rail. He was an awesome teacher and helped my understand why I loved writing, who to read, and how to write better. After marriage, I didn’t write much for years. Over two years ago I took a Berkleemusic distance learning class with Slam poet and coach Caroline Harvey. The class was a real motivator and encouragement. I decided to try my hand at writing a story and seeing if it could turn into a book.

The short of it is, I have to write. Writing clears my head and frees up my emotions. Creating is essential to living and breathing for me. I love music, but I’m not a good enough musician to do much creating there, though I have written some songs. Writing is something I can do on my own. It is work, but it is comfortable.

How does your writing process work?
I’m still developing my process. I started this book by writing every day. I wanted to complete 500 to 1000 words per day. I used IA Writer on my iPad, typing on the glass. This was a pain in the… But, I forced myself to learn and coordinate this method so I could write while sitting in the living room with my wife. Her love language is “presence”. In other words, not demanding, but enjoys being near the people she loves. I transitioned to writing on the weekends in my office, when everyone is sleeping, and when I got into the editing phase. I just couldn’t edit on my iPad. Nearly a year ago, I moved to Scrivener and do my writing and editing there. I’ve tried Margie Lawson’s editing technique, and still use that method occasionally.

Now I write directly in Scrivener on my PC. I write a scene at a time and don’t worry about the sequence or chapter orientation until that full draft is complete. So, I don’t write sequentially. I write which ever scene seems exciting to write that day. I do plan my list of scenes, but I don’t really plot or outline. I’m a pantser. An organized pantser. I love letting the story discover itself, and finding out how things turn out for my characters. Much the same reason I like to read. I shoot for 1,500 words per day on the weekend.

I listen to music when I write. Everything from metal to progressive rock/metal, to punk, to bluegrass, to classical. Just depends on the mood.

My favorite writing coach authors are Donald Maass and James Scott Bell. I’ve belonged to writing groups and am looking for another. I’ve had great help from professional editors/creative coaches like Barbara Varanka and Lindsay Schopfer. Input from others shortcuts my flailing about and wrong paths. 🙂

The Next in Line
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading a little more of my writing process and why I’m a writer. Be sure to check out James Osiris Baldwin, the next author in the chain. James recently published an intense military science fiction novella Lilium. James is a world traveller, but spends a good part of the year in Seattle.

old-typewriterI feel like we live in a world where the extreme achieve their goals. Sometimes I see the wreckage of that extreme focus on the rest of someone’s life, sometimes not. So, I wonder, will I ever really achieve what I want to achieve in writing since I am not following an extreme path? I don’t spend every available moment writing in isolation from my family and friends. I tell myself that I’m trying to achieve a level of balance. Yes, I love to write and believe I can finish the nth draft of my book. I believe I can write a second, third and fourth book.

My next post will describe my writing process in more detail. I’ve been invited to a blog hop about writing process. For now, I’ll say that I write only on the weekends. During the week there is work, spending time with my wife, my friends, and reading. A teacher I had once said that one must live life in order to write about it. I believe living life and reading good books are the best compost and fertilizer for my writing. So, instead of hermiting away during the week, I live life with my family and spend time reading and learning.

The weekends are my writing time. Everyone else sleeps in on Sat/Sun. I get up at my normal time of 5am and do the normal morning things before settling in to write for 3-4 hours. Initially, when I decided to write a book, I wrote every day and blogged about those daily experiences here. I think that was fine, but not sustainable for me right now.

Every writer is different. I’m torn inside because I wonder if I’m pursuing/achieving balance, or just making excuses for not writing every day. I guess it doesn’t matter, but I’m just saying that I do have that internal struggle.

-Ty

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