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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spring Comeback And Writer's Apathy #amwriting #amediting #TheWriter

Spring Comeback And Writer's Apathy #amwriting #amediting #TheWriter

Picture courtesy of google, drawn by Eleanor Davis 

Well, people, I'm back! I know, it was a very long time since last I've been here and given you guys and gals all the feels and the funnys but I have finally returned. What have I been doing you ask? What...? Oh, you didn't ask that? Wow! Pretty inconsiderate, but I'll tell you anyway.

Copyright Hallmark Channel and company 2016
My hiatus wasn't meant to be this long. I work and write every single day of the year for roughly 16 hours a day. Little sleep, and not much time to myself to relax, so I take a break from work and writing at the end of the year during the holidays. My holiday started December 20th, 2015 and lasted until January 18th--longer than usual. Doing nothing gets addictive. Gorging on Lifetime Movie Network and Hallmark Channel movies like they were a nacho cheese/cool ranch Doritos mix did not help me to get out of my "awww! That's sweet"-coma (by the way, does Doritos have the nacho/cool ranch mix? If not, it's a missed opportunity). I developed not only a few food recipes (the greatest Hot Chocolate in the World recipe), I also fell ill and realized I have a disease. Don't worry, it's nothing for now.

Once I finally climbed my way out of the mud-boggy den of pleasure that is laziness, I got back to work, fully intending to start blogging again about a few of the midseason replacement shows like: The X-Files, Galavant (You don't know Galavant? Well... Way back in days of old, there was a story told, about a--oh, you don't want me to sing? OK), American Idol's final season, The Bachelor and a ton of other stuff including the Super Bowl and the NBA (sigh! David Blatt, Cavs Nation hardly knew ye!). However, I just didn't have the time nor the brain power to tackle both the blog and other projects.

What, you ask, was I working on? First off, thanks for asking this time. You get brownie points for caring, but since you weren't considerate enough to care about where I went in the first place, you're just back to zero. Anyway, the other project happened to be my NaNoWriMo (#NaNoWriMo) project. Yes, scroll down and you'll see that 2015 was the first year I participated in NaNo, finishing an 118,000 word mystery in November. As some of you writers know, the initial writing process and the editing process are, or can be, two different things (side note: I rarely suggest trying to edit your work while still in the middle of writing it. It slows the process, can lead to over-thinking the story and can possibly ruin the magic. Just my opinion). Frankly, I would petition the NaNoWriMo people or any writer willing to participate, to declare January either as National Novel Editing Month or National Novel Brainstorming Month. That way writers would have opened a new year by not only having written a book in the last two months, but having actually followed through to edit/revise that book, or come up with new ideas and an outline/plot/3-act story arc for another book to be written next NaNoWriMo. I know, it's such a crazy idea. I'm a crazy guy!

Back to my own editing process, which saw me adding a total of three more chapters, and 7,000 more words, yet, ending with a crisp manuscript of 112,000 words (do the math). As a self-pub author, I have always tried to put out the best quality I possibly can, however, quite a few of my books have never been submitted to traditional publishers just because I didn't feel like it. But once every two years I choose one book to take through the arduous task of querying and blah blah blah! The NaNoWriMo novel is that book this year. Yes, it is a FUTURE BESTSELLER!! I know, some will say that the contest is really more of an exercise and no way anybody produces something of real merit and worth in that short amount of time, but I also believe that those people lack imagination and don't fully understand the basic tenant of storytelling--Anything Is Possible! I am telling you TMOTR (#TMOTR; remember those letters as they are the initials of the book) is going to be a future bestseller. Sadly, I failed to remember how long the process takes so it probably won't be this year, but very soon.

Coming Soon

Finally crawling out of my editing cocoon a few weeks back I was totally ready to start blogging again, and then I remembered that I hadn't filled out my yearly writing agenda and need to work on that baby before it got too far into the year. And boy did that piss me off because I realized just how behind I was in some projects. Things like the second season of The Writer (#TheWriter), which is coming back this summer, needed my attention. I still had yet to write more than three paragraphs on the sequel to A Dangerous Low entitled A New Low (hopefully coming out this Spring). I also hadn't finished editing my short story Cavity. Nor did I finish revising my first self-pub mystery The Knowledge of Fear (also due out this Spring). And I had only just finished the outline for A Negotiation of Sorrows, the sequel to A Negotiation of Wounds. I did, however, get quite a lot of work done last year and have three projects just sitting in my queue waiting to be advertised and published. Why aren't they out there already? Well, that's the subject I want to talk about.

Writer's Apathy. That's right folks, apathy. Not to be confused with writer's block. Writer's block happens when you can't find the proper thing to write or a story twist is undoing your creative process. It's poet's quicksand, a mush of the minds potato. Uh... yeah, the second part of that sentence made sense. Essentially, writer's block is imagination constipation. It is when you can't. Writer's apathy, on the other hand, is when you don't want to.

Trust, I haven't truly had a writer's block in a long while. I freaked in November when I thought I had the early stages of a huge block during the dwindling days of the NaNoWriMo race. However, I didn't and finished on time. My symptoms were the onset of writer's apathy, which can feel the same in early stages.
I've been doing this for a long time now, people, and I've had some successes and some really big failures. I detail some of what happened to me in the epic novel Unrequited due out later this year, but suffice it to say that I have dedicated a lot of time to this and honing the craft and trying to get my stories out there. But sometimes, for every writer--nay, for every dream-chaser there has to come a point in which they stop and take stock of what they're doing and if they've gotten any closer to that dream. Analysis of the journey AND the destination.

The feeling of writer's block; copyright Boardwalk Empire

Dreams are great and, for a writer, they are everything. However, even writers have to be reasonable at some point. Writer's apathy is when that point arrives. When you believe you have this great idea for a story and maybe you even have a bunch of different scenes or scenarios or you know the characters better and better each day, yet you still have to struggle to force yourself to write a brief scene which is so easy to do, you can literally see it happening every time you close your eyes, that's when you have writer's apathy. That's when you'll begin to question whether you can truly push farther.

Now, I'm gonna piss a few people off and break a few hearts, but I'll say this, these people out here who tell you that you should be happy that writing is a thankless job and you're never going to make money off of it but still do it, or you shouldn't give up on writing because it's about the readers or tons of other stuff that they say about writing and the unspoken prestige of being one are really only blowing smoke up your ass. Most of those people either haven't done it long enough themselves, teach it, or have already made their money on it, or even worse, they want you to join in their misery because they're just as pissed off as the hundreds of thousands of other writers yelling for someone to read their dreck. This is when you'll get the conflicting advice of: well, writing should really be for you, you shouldn't expect to make money (true) or for people to even read it (what?), then say "well, you always should write to your audience and consider who you are writing for." Both psuedo-revelations on the actual process and why you write. While I would love to explain why this is a contradiction as I know people will argue against it (you're a negative nanny, Michael. One is about process and the other is about audience), I just don't have the time as this is already longer than I'd like it to be. But I do always say this: decide if you want to be a professional or an amateur before you start writing!!! No professional (or wannabe professional) writer should ever write something and PUBLISH IT thinking "Oh this is just for me. It was just therapy." Just... no. This goes hand-in-hand with other facets of entertain too. Like I literally always say, "There are better ball players than Lebron James and Stephen Curry in this world, but not everyone chooses to go pro." And with that mindset, every writer at some point goes through Writer's Apathy.

"Do I really want to still do this? Is this story really that important/entertaining for me to tell? Wouldn't my time be better spent somewhere else?" If you ask yourself any of those questions, that's when you know you have it. The biggest and deepest gut punch most writers ever face is when they see another project very similar to theirs already out or releasing in the near future, especially if people already loved it. The onus to be original is often so crushing that it can get to you. Because a regular love story has been told before, but a love story with zombies... that's original, right? That's what you think until you see the film Warm Bodies or read the digital comic Zombie With A Shotgun. The many years I've been doing this, I've seen this countless times, especially within the last decade, and I rarely do this but I'll rattle a few ideas off here:

My Idea: Second--A man dies but then comes back to life in his same body only younger, only to tell others that everyone was wrong and that we actually do get a second chance at life and only now, after every original soul has lived on earth, will each person's second life begin. Conflict occurs when not everyone comes back and the ones that do, find themselves changed by having been dead. Dated treatment submitted 2009. Rejected. I shelved it, thinking I'd one day turn it into a 3-book series.
Competing Ideas: Resurrection (ABC TV series)--people mysteriously return to life in a small town in the US midwest; Life After Life (novel); The Returned (TV series). All within the last ten years.

Picture courtesy of ABC, copyright 2014

My Idea: Blue Moon Station--A drama covering the trials and tribulations of a group of black slaves escaping on a branch-off northern route, aided by abolitionists. Upon their road to freedom, they stop at the abolitionists home where breaks out a firefight between them and the slave trackers under the watchful shine of the Blue moon.
Competing Ideas: While some would say that films like Roots or Harriet Tubman would be strictly against my idea, those films/ideas didn't focus quite on the escape of the slaves. Underground (WGN TV), however, does.

Picture courtesy of WGN 

I could go on but I don't want to keep dwelling on this as I already sound like a whiny little brat, however, I literally have 72 ideas of varying genres that were fully formed, worked on and submitted through traditional channels which never coalesced into anything, but still made it to screen in some form. Again, whiny, I know. My point is that at some point in time, every writer (if they're paying attention hard enough) will come to realize that the story you just knew you had to tell has probably already been told. And if no one or few people are actually reading your junk, and you're spending half of your free time writing stories (because stories take a lot of time to write regardless if they're short or novel-length), you have to at some point think, why the heck am I writing this? Most people will start to bargain with themselves at that point, saying, "Well, because even if people liked the other one, they'll still love mine because mine is so different. And plus, they didn't have a character like this or this one cool thing that happens in mine didn't happen in theirs, so..." And that may all be true, but again, why are you writing? Because at this point, if you've bargained your way through that, you're most likely writing for your ego. In other words, you're writing for legacy, because someday way down the line, someone will read your writing and have it be that brilliant and life-changing that finally your genius will be known to the world. Then you say, no, it's not genius I just want to entertain people. And then you start to think to yourself, how often do I read or watch the non-popular stories that are very similar to that one or two or four stories that it draws from? How often do I dismiss a book or TV show or film as being "a ripoff of [insert beloved piece of fiction]?" Hell, there are still people who feel they must choose sides between Star Trek and Star Wars for... uh... well because they both have aliens, I guess? Not really sure. But you see what I'm getting at here? And both traditional and self-pub writers and readers do it, so don't act like, "oh, I only read Indie stuff," to keep your street library cred.

Writer's apathy is the worst feeling a writer gets because it is the one big time that a writer has to make a very important decision that has nothing to do with the plot or characters. And while a book cover, whether to make a trailer, the price point at which to sell/share your book and etc. can be really tough decisions, there's nothing like wondering if you should continue on or not.

So what does this mean? Am I quitting? No, at least not right now. I'm currently slogging through a novel which I know the first draft won't be much good even for my standards. I will still try to push out The Writer later on this year and I still have feelers out on TMOTR, but I'll have to take this year to examine the worth of writing in my life. Because the funny thing about dreams is sometimes it is OK to give up, contrary to what they say. Sometimes, you're not meant for what you thought.

What do you think? Are you a writer? And if so, have you ever reached the point of writer's apathy? Be honest with yourself, what do you really write for? Because no way someone goes through the struggle of writing a story from start to finish, spending time and energy on trying to perfect it, edit it, revise it, edit it again, try to get it published, study the traditional and indie publishing industry to see which best fits you, research price points and how to gain readers, give pieces away and call themselves an author just for nothing. Hell, everybody knows by now that the internet (and to an even greater extent, the world in general) is not the place to go if you don't want to be seen, if you don't want recognition, even if you're writing fanfiction for free. This ain't a therapy couch either. You're putting yourself out there, opening up to tons of barbs when you really could have just stayed at home and shared stories with your family, friends and other loved ones and never worried about your clicks, views, downloads, buys or if anyone likes your story or not.
Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "If there's even a 1% chance that he is our enemy, we have to take it as an absolute certainty."

P.S. A word on my last blog post concerning Batman v. Superman. To start, people whining about spoilers is stupid. Every possible update, rumor or cast interview is a potential spoiler, not to mention the trailers that show everything. I made it clear that while I heard it from a source I know and trust, they could have just been fooling with me, which is fine. Yes, they do work at the WB. And while this is pretty late in the game to do it, movies let little potential spoilers slip all the time before the release to not only gauge fans' interest but to keep the movie in the press cycle. Some of you acted as if the rumor wasn't believable, even knowing that time travel is a big thing for the Flash, Wonder Woman and her main guy are filming during the WWII era and Doomsday does kill Superman in the comics. Some fans whine that DC and WB don't take risks with their properties (hell, they even thought WW was too risky on her own), yet when they're trying to bring something new to the screen but completely in-line with the comics, it's suddenly ridiculous? What? Hogwash! But maybe I'm wrong. That's fine.  
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