Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Writing a Novel: Start to Finish, Entry 19—Now What?

Writing a Novel: Start to Finish, Entry 19—Now What?
As I’ve previously written, as all 22 of you that read the last posting are aware of while the rest of you are now baffled and jealous of the elite 22 for keeping up on such a hot blog, I’ve stepped away from TUG for quite a bit. I’ve written exactly one short story since then and then edited the hell out of it. It’s a pretty good one. I printed it and set it aside. So I’m now out of practice. Again, as I’ve said before, writing a novel is like telling an elaborately long winded lie. The problem is, I will now need to print it out then start reading from scratch to re-familiarize myself with the lie. And I’ve already had to do this a time or two before. I suck. So that’s the next step. Not sucking, but reading it all again in one setting. No notes, hell not even a writing utensil can be at hand. I want to experience it like an actual reader would.
Now, I’d to try something different. I’m going to post a sampling of the beginning. I posted a sampling before (Entry 11) and 55 people read it! I’m going to post just the very, very beginning this time. I’d truly appreciate some genuine feedback. A YES or a NO: Would you want to read further having read the sample?  
I’ll take you answers and any additional feedback into account. Thanks. Instead of acting like I know what I’m doing, I’m asking for help. If I knew what I was doing, I’d not start and stop so often. EIGHT SENTENCES. Here goes:

Wind lashed at Thaddeus Pulliam, the driving rain cooling him as he pulled the mud heavied rope slung at the middle of the young tree’s height. His lungs burning and hands gone to numb, he allowed the fat rope to sag momentarily as he recaptured any remaining strength.  Slapping rain from his eyes, he stared proudly, determinedly at the white spot of naked tree, the bark long ago worn away smooth by the rope and his pulling. Lightening strung about the sky and Thaddeus imagined an energy infusing into his body, charging him like a battery for another pull. He dug into the mud with the side of his military boots and braced for another pull. His lungs burned and his forearms twitched. In truth, the last thing Thaddeus wanted to do was pull the rain slickened rope another time. But he’d not win the tug-of-war come Labor Day without training and the tree had not been worn smooth by thinking about another pull.


Thursday, July 30, 2015



I haven't blogged since July 5, 2013. Exactly two years to the date that the fortunate event happened that woke me up. Thank You, James Patterson. I'm going to write again. 


And this time I'm serious. I know, I know--I also said I'd quit drinking. And shooting heroin, but I never follow through. But...this time...I am. And I owe it all to James Patterson. Sometimes you have to step away, to quit, to say that you're through before you realize that you can't go out with a whimper. You can still say something and say it well. Thank you, James Patterson. 

While driving home from Florida, a 13 hour ride that turned into 18 hours thanks to a horrific wreck that happened somewhere near Paducah, we'd decided to listen to James Patterson's THE LAKE HOUSE on CD. Having never been exposed to America's most successful writer (in terms of money), I was a little intrigued to hear what he had to say. A quick synopsis: kids are genetically engineered with birds in a secret government experiment. A mad scientist not associated with the project wants to kidnap them and milk them for his own nefarious needs. And there's a custody battle for the bird kids. If it sounds stupid, it's because it is. Very stupid. But, okay, one man's trash is another's treasure. I'm sure many admired this R.L. Stine quality story. Probably adults who grew up reading and watching Goosebumps. 

Patterson is awful. His writing is atrocious. His dialogue was simplistic and boring. The sentences seemed about five words long. He says the same things twice, just a slightly different way. The kids didn't speak like kids--the man is out of touch with the modern child's lingo. The adults were pathetic cliches. The mad scientist was laughably evil--if that's even possible. I just wanted every character to die in a fiery explosion right at the end of chapter one. And the chapters! I think there was like 100 chapters, each about a paragraph long or so it seemed. This was Gary Smothers writing in his shitty roach filled apartment on 5th street as he emulated, horribly, Ray Bradbury and the Twilight Zone. 

I'm serious, I'm better than this sell out hack. Perhaps he used to write well. And, yes, I'm being a bit unfair in two regards. 1) Maybe this is a poor sample of his abilities. 2) It's not his fault people snatch up his books (and CD's) by the millions. People, apparently, enjoy shit writing. I ran into an ex professor of mine in the grocery store yesterday and sounded off about the crap that is Patterson. And he summed it up well, "This is the reading level of the American reading public." I agree, But I wish he was wrong.

That's not to say that TUG is the next GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. It ain't. But it's good. And it's going to get better. I wish I could have my book, even incomplete and mostly unedited as it is, manifest itself into
a person. THE LAKE HOUSE would then do the same, book or CD. TUG would walk up to it, laugh at it, poke it in the chest, flick it in the nuts, then beat the snot out of the big bully.

It's a blue moon tonight and I'm writing--just the blog--but I'm getting in the mix again. How far removed was I from TUG? I had to find the damned thing. Thank goodness I was able to locate my most recent version of it. So, just for tonight, I can literally say that it's a blue moon, I must write. I'm like that boxer, the boxer I never was, who is sparring a bit with the weakest guy in the gym. Getting my footwork down. Rope a dope. Jab. Speed bag thumping me in the face for a wake up call. James Patterson as Mickey taunting me. 

I can assure anyone that give a half a care, that I'm in this again. I can also assure anyone that cares that Thaddeus Pulliam will not have wings attached to him. That the kid he is training, Harry, will, not once, trill in pleasure. I also promise to have real dialogue. Most of all, I promise not to quit. So I'll sign off here. As always, this blog is not spell checked and probably riddled with grammatical errors.           

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writing a Novel, blah blah: Entry 17

Just spent an hour posting a blog for my triumphant return. Then lost it somehow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

WRITING a NOVEL START to FINISH, Entry 16: I Am a Whore. Sort Of.

So I've been going through this sort of writer's block.  I guess that's what it is.  That is to say, I still have good ideas, great scenes, characters, etc bouncing around in my head.  Pushing against my skull,trying to leak out my ears to the page.  But I can't.  I can write a short story still.  Just wrote a good one.  A fucking love story from the guy who hates love stories and will most likely never experience a love truth.  But that's another blog entirely.

I just can't pull the trigger on this book though.  I've tried writing my way out of it. I KNOW the novel is the best writing I've ever created.  I KNOW this can be great.  It never will be if it's never written then shared though.  And that brings me to my owning up to being a whore.  In a sense.  

I've identified the problem.  

I don't have faith in myself. My first novel I submitted the hell out of. This was met with mixed results.  Some houses wanted to see it.  Some agents were interested.  I even got to speak to Dominik Abel--Dean Koontz's agent.  But, in the end was met with rejection.  I was even prompted to write a short story about rejection which was then published.  It would seem I'm an expert on rejection.  You see, I'm not a romantic.  I'm not going to pretend for one goddamned second that I write for me only.  I'll never say, "but at least I got this story out of me."  That's a lie.  I write for praise. Without praise, my writing is just a hobby.  I'm not deluded.  A lot of writers are.  They self publish, convicting themselves, friends, and family that, "This is the wave of the future. This is Me sharing my story with everyone."  If everyone includes that same captive audience.  

A whore may be as such for a variety of reasons.  Attention, enjoys it, gets paid, mental mumbo jumbo.  I am for all of the above.  I want it all.  Form a train and drive, drive!  But I'm met with puritans.  So to speak.  And maybe it's because my writing isn't good enough.  Maybe it's for lack of luck.  Or both.  

But it's hard to write a novel knowing it may never be read.  Friends, family:  I don't want to whore out myself to you.  That's gross.  I've decided that today I will submit, submit, submit before I continue writing TUG.  Perhaps every now and again when a scene takes shape I'll jot it down.  But I need my confidence back to be the whore I always dreamed of being.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013



The Curse of the Chinese Finger Trap


            I’m tired of being stuck.  I’m at a part in the novel that has me, I guess, not at all that excited.  I’m afraid this will show in the writing which has been flowing well up until I reached this point.  Here is my issue.  The first 10,000 words are moving the story along, setting up future events, and building characters up.  Then I get to a point in the book where what I must write is simply that—a scene of necessity.  Not sexy, or future building, or character driven.  In short, it’s boring.  I’ve been trying to use as little narration as possible and this scene requires all narration.  You see, I believe that when a novel relies on long periods of narration it’s a sign the author is writing out of his ass.  It’s easy to get going narrating and get sucked into your own words, alight on the pretentious artsy wordage and description.  I hate that. 

            So I’ve come up with a solution to get un-stuck.  Because the harder I try getting out of this by staying in this scene, the more stuck I get.  It’s a Chinese finger trap.  Like a finger trap, I’m wagering that the less I try, the easier it will become to get out of this.  Not writing is not an option, the book won’t write itself.  I’m jumping ahead to scenes I’m excited about.  I’m stepping backwards to spruce a couple scenes I’m capable of improving. 

            I don’t like the stepping out of order, but it must be done. 

            I’ve let this entire logjam distract me completely in my writing.  I’m already seeing some success with this finger trap approach despite not having written on TUG again just yet.  I’ve thought of a new short story—not an idea that a story must be built around, but a complete story, a short-short story.  I’ve decided to slop it down as soon as I’m finished with this (the kids are with friends so I must seize to moment) to see if it further spurs the ole writing legs to get moving again instead of limping along like a zombie. 

            So I’m getting off here.  Writing on the new idea.  Writing tomorrow on a few scenes:  the climax, Thaddeus’ first day down in the mine, sprucing up a description of the town of Humphrey to fit in with an overall theme of the novel metaphorically (but not too pretentiously or artfully so), and anything else I pull—quite neatly—out of my ass.

Sunday, May 19, 2013





            In re to the last entry, I really want to believe I’m good enough to be great.  Great at writing.  But it's truly hard to convince myself of that when the writing isn’t, well, being written.  Last Sunday, when I get the lion’s share of writing done, was Mother’s Day.  I shifted it to Monday.  Monday arrived and I didn’t do it.  I can’t tell you what I even did.  So it must’ve been worth it.  I’m at a point in TUG where the real work begins.  The first 10,000 words were like the first few days of dating someone new, those days where you get that fluttering in your chest and everything between you and her is possible.  Bills due don’t matter, the clunking in your car is nothing, the ex-wife really isn’t all that bad after all…  But then reality hits.  Those little flaws in someone’s character or your own surface and start to play tricks of doubt upon your once departed brain.  The heart isn’t enough to carry thing alone.  The door is parted allowing the light of hard, cold logic to cast upon the floor and promising of unknowns.  Will things work out as once known? 

            It’s funny and pissy that writing a novel can play with your emotions and confidence.  It’s become work.  And no one who is being honest enjoys working.  Unless you’re a porn star maybe.  Even that gets old I’d assume though.  I don’t want to be that porn star.  Well, actually it may be nice to get that experience.  But on screen it ain’t going to happen.  Instead, I must make it happen on paper—or screen.  Screen first, then paper—hopefully—later.  Which brings me to the point of why I’m not writing today. 

            This evening I do that other portion or writing work that no one enjoys.  Gee, why don’t I strain my confidence and create a unique cover letter for each prospective publisher or agent, then send it off, wait for months, then get a form rejection letter.  Unfortunately, I need to operate within this business model.  After all, I did choose to write these two other novels to be read by someone other than me.  But here’s another reason I’ve been avoiding it:  Do I really want my confidence to take all these hits as I’m creating something new?  It’s the equivalent of a man thinking of baseball to last longer—except it’s completely different?   Thinking of baseball will numb the senses, prolong something pleasant.  Getting rejection has no positive benefits, but it does numb the creative process.  And the fun, the ecstasy is in the creating—when you get off your lazy ass and do it that is. 

            So to sum up, writing is, at first, like falling in love.  Then it becomes a relationship, rife with all its potential pitfalls, and logic guidance—work.  Then you wish you were a porn star.  Then you decide to think of baseball.  Now, doesn’t that make a lot of sense?  I will write tomorrow.  After work I work again.  There will be no cameras or boom mikes or lubricant.  Just me and coffee and currently intact confidence and ideas.

Monday, May 6, 2013





            Finally!  It’s been a great week writing on TUG.  I’ve surpassed the 10,000 word mark which seems like a big deal, even if it’s just a number.  But 10,000 words sure sounds like progress.  I’ve introduced, physically I mean (he’s been spoken of) my antagonist.  Jimmy Snadus is a wonderful piece of shit.  As I’m writing it I just want to bring him to life and kick his ass.  So that’s good. 

            Taking a step away, as mentioned in the previous post, has really helped.  So I’m to be doing that from here on out.  Screw my self-imposed deadlines.  Why force the issue?  I’m at a point in the story I hadn’t really thought about so I need to think.  And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Letting the story breath on its own.  No CPR, no AED device.  If it dies, it dies.  Hopefully, each weak it takes another breath and keeps kicking it with me.  Hopefully, each and every week I want to kick Jimmy Snadus’ ass.  And maybe you will someday as well.  Fuck him, right? 

            Apart from creating a good antagonist I wrote something very sweet.  I’ve had sweet moments in my fiction before, but the difference with this developing story line is it’s ultimately about life.  Nurturing.  Growth.  Love.  Fatherhood and responsibility.  So, in keeping balance, I’ve also introduced Harry, a boy that Thaddeus is going to mentor.  I wrote a scene I’m a bit shy to admit, made my eyes water.  It’s a genuine sweet moment.  A moment I wish I would have had as a child. 

I also nailed my through line.  Sure, it was always there from the beginning but when Thaddeus tells Harry:  He grasped Harry’s shoulders.  “Look at me.  Look at me, boy.  But I can promise you this:  everyone is good enough, good enough to be great.”  It kicks up the characters, the goals, the spirit of what I’m trying to accomplish.  It left me with a sense of elation.