Sunday, February 24, 2013


A Jaded Hack afterschool special


Ended the week at 1686 words.  I feel MOST of them are good.  I must admit, I am a cannibal.  I’ll cannibalize all that was written before this.  If it’s something you I can use, I use it.  I don’t care if it’s a sentence out of a story I wrote in the eighth grade—if it can be ripped out of the flesh of something larger, make like a zombie and rip it’s heart out and use it.  Or consider eating it.  If an entire story can be retrofitted with my new characters, that is, if it matches the tone of the new piece or can be matched, use it.  I gained over 600 words this week by doing as such.  I wanted to describe my town, or the fictional town of Humphrey as it is in my book.  But, hey, for purposes of full disclosure:  the town is my hometown of Kincaid.  The main character is me.  The other characters, well, their names have been changed for all those reasons dramatic pieces or made for television shows tell you. 

I’d written an essay in college about where I live and how it helped to shape my identity (a writer almost never gets rid of something he think has any merit).  I remember my professor had went on and on about it.  I wondered if it is still good, was his perception viable, and was I swooned with too much praise to see the faults in it.  Yes and no.  About 75% of it was crap.  But, 25% was pretty good and could now be made better because I’m a better writer.  So I ripped the decent portions out, put them together, and stitched them into my story. 

A week of only 600 words may sound lazy to some, but it was a productive week.  I fit a great setting into my novel, I re-read what had came before and upgraded it, I had some major epiphanies about the book.  I also destroyed a lot of stuff.  Some of my handwritten segments of story just weren’t right for this book.  So I burnt them.  They had no merit.  They had to go.  It’s something I do which I’ve never really shared before.  It’s a sort of hoo-doo-voodoo ritual do.  There’s not a lot of ritual to it actually, there are no theatrics.  I don’t don a special robe or kill any small reptiles.  I simply wad it up and burn it.  And what happened the next day after my burning?  I had a huge breakthrough which I will write today.

I now have a Point Z.  I can now wrote from Point A to Point Z with clear direction.  I was parallel parking my car when the ending of my novel came to me, all courtesy of an empty, junked up lot on the passenger side of my car.  I immediately wrote it down when back at my desk. 
So, become a cannibal and burn to death your babies before they grow up and tease you with a promise that never was.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


A Jaded Hack afterschool special

            This is an empty room.  A must!  Except for me in there, of course. 

My working title of the novel:  TUG

Only spent about 45 minutes Sunday night writing.  I got the intro down.  I feel that I nailed it, but that’s ancient history.  We’ll see how I feel later on down the road.  I will be re-reading several times though.   Each time I start a fresh session of writing, I re-read almost all that came before it.  That is, in the beginning.  If I’m deep into it, it’s not very practical.  In that case, I’m reading the chapter or two preceding what I’m about to write.  All this re-reading is done to get me into the voice of the story, the feel, etc.  When I do this, I’m NOT reading for content, but the tone.  That’ll come later. 

Tonight I crapped out so quickly for two reasons.  1. I’m tired, it’s the end of the day.  2.  I got as far as I could go without forcing the writing just to say I’m writing.  –Writing is not a race.  In fact, I’m happy with 500 words a night.  Tonight I had  611 good words.  I’ll take 500 good words over 1000 words for the sake of words any night. 

My next opportunity to write will be Monday night, late though.  That being said, I can spend my stolen minutes brainstorming the sticking point I’m at.  I don’t want to go any further without fully realizing who, besides Thaddeus himself, is the antagonist here?  I can appreciate the struggle against one’s self, but it’s just not something I want to try to carry an entire novel through with.  I have some general ideas and should arrive at this by next weekend. 

I ended my night writing the way I always do.  I write in bold letters a generalized statement of the next scene or any important notes.  If the next scene needs to be skipped to get to the one I already know where I’m going with, I note about it.  I do this so I can get back into the writing more quickly.  It only takes a couple minutes to do.  It’s the equivalent of putting shells in a shotgun.  It’s ready when you need it to blast away.   

Tuesday—wrote again.  Too tired Monday after a long day and kid events in the evening.  The type of writing I do may not be for everyone.  I don’t have a lot of free time.  Sometimes when I have the time I’m too tired.  I’m a caffeine compelled writer.  I am a loud and fast music writer.  I need the adrenaline amped up, the pressure of going against a clock, of meeting a deadline.  I’m a reactionary writer.  That being said, I need solitude to get to the point of all these ideas to actually put onto paper (or the screen as it is).  Some of my best writing breakthroughs come from driving in my car with the music off.  Monday night, while driving to a sporting event for my daughter an hour away, I had several eureka moments with my dear Thaddeus in mind.  I also determined who the thorn in his side will be.  I drove along talking out loud like a schizophrenic about my sticking points.  Thankfully, it was dark so the folks going down the interstate beside me didn’t witness my nuttiness.  Hey, it works for me.  When I’m stuck—take a ride and talk.   I’d returned home excited to get at it the next day.  And I did. 

Tuesday  found me ready to gun.  I mapped out my timeline.  When I do this, I can only go so far.  I don’t go all the way through.  I feel by mapping the entire thing out I would be writing like reading from a cookbook.  It’s time to do this now, put this in here right about now, etc.  That’s not very organic and stifles the creative process for me. 

 I re-read what came before and made some changes.  I realized two things the night before:  my intro was very basic.  I didn’t effectively put across who Thaddeus was in as condensed a space as possible.  I feel it’s important to get across to the reader who the protag is, what he looks like, his age, a little of his psyche, etc, right off the bat so that mental image can be provided.  I also wanted to put across what his family status is, his financial status, his town, his house.  But I didn’t want to recipe write it.  I had to think of organic telling of this.  I did so Tuesday.
I wrote sort of guerrilla warfare style the rest of the week.  A post it note here while sitting at my desk at work.  A scribble here while driving.  Talking into my iPhone to take notes.  Sitting at the laptop for a 15 minute jam session.  At week end I ended up at 1094 words.  I’m very satisfied with what I have.  I want to point out though, as I referenced earlier in sentence three of this entry, “I feel that I nailed it, but that’s ancient history.”  By Tuesday I was completely dissatisfied with what I had put down.  I’ll see how these thousand words look this Sunday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013



a Jaded Hack afterschool special

First of all, a disclaimer.  I’m no expert.  Not at all.  I do think that I have a method to my madness which works well for me.  Even when it’s not.  Writing a book is tough business.  The best way I’ve ever heard this stated is by Harry Crews, see the previous post.  Where I’m at right now in the process is what I like to call the pre-vomit stage.  Eloquent isn’t it?  All this junk, this idea, is stirred up inside me.  My mouth is salivating and, soon enough, it’ll all come spewing out.  This idea is gathering steam, it’s growing.  But an idea is not enough.  I need to add some flesh to it (I’ve skipped analogies), it’s the skeleton of something that could be grand, if I make it purty enough. 

I’m noting it all down.  It’s not a pretty business and consists of organized sittings to make some careful notes, it’s made up of post it notes, scribbled on the back of receipts, on my hand—wherever and whenever an idea hits me.  I have my main character and now I need to determine, as concrete as I can, what is it he wants.  And, of course, what’s going to get in his way.  All this beinbg said, I like to keep my writing as organic as possible.  I feel that a lot of writers can be too careful, to scholarly, and note, note note.  Organize, organize.  Map this, sketch that.  Just write the damned thing already.  After awhile all your pedantic ways are just an elaborate tactic at stalling.  Put your ass in the chair and write something.

I’m writing the history for Thaddeus.  Why he is the way he is...  What he is...  I’ll also recognize how closely this character resembles me and it’s not a pretty sight.  I’ve come to realize that all these traits I’ve put down are pretty negative.  We can’t have a novel in which the main character is largely unlikable (unless it’s Catcher in the Rye).  So I need to soften him up, right off.  I have positive traits, I need to present those right off.  I’m thinking of The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  The Man does some pretty abhorrent things to survive, he’s very strict, he teaches the Boy how to commit suicide, puts the gun to the child’s head several times.  In the beginning of that novel Cormac spells out his character’s virtue right off, “He knew only that the child was his warrant.  He said:  If he is not the word of God God never spoke.”  That’s three pages into the narrative.  So that got me to thinking about Thaddeus Pulliam.  And then I found my solution to soften him up, to make You, the reader, like him and root for him.  To me, this is the most important thing in a story if it’s going to be a nitty gritty story.  And that’s what this is going to be.  A story populated with rough characters in a rough town. 
My noting is almost done.  Later int he week, I’ll be onto some very minor research.  Some writers like to do a lot of research up front.  I’m almost never writing anything technical and find that the lion’s share of my research is done as needed—if I find I’m bullshitting you too much.  In this instance, I want to look at some stuff that will help to flesh out Thaddeus. 

So that's it up to this point.  I'm getting that image in my head, the opening scene.  Actaully, it's been in my head since the inception of this book.  I've dreamed about it.  Now comes the hardest part--doing justice to something you've pictured so well.  It's the best scene in any movie you've watched, the one you see on the trailers and think about how much you can't wait to see the rest of the story.  It can be a daunting task, but I am up to it.  I have to believe that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I’m going to start writing another novel.  I’ve always maintained this blog as a way to vent my writing frustration.  Writing a novel can be frustrating to say the least.  I’ve always tried to show writing the way it really is (at least for me).  For example, I’ve said before that I don’t write because I have to.  In my opinion, that’s usually a bunch of sissified melodramatic crap.  “I’ll die if I don’t do this!”  Bullshit.  And that’s what I’m going to do, tell it the way I think it is.  Show the process for me.  The ups, the downs, and the downs, and the downs.  But I’m not stopping at the writing.  I’m maintaining this through the editing, the re-writing, the query letter, the synopsis, the submitting, the agent hunting, the REJECTION, the small victories—and hopefully—the biggest victory of all. 

 So, nobody, I got this idea which will accomplish two things for me.  One, it’ll compel me to, literally, put up or shut up.  Two, it’ll help me to organize my thoughts.  The unofficial third thing it just might do is allow for feedback from anyone.  It’s all welcome.  

I’m not going to go into the story all that much—it’s my story to tell.  I don’t really fear my idea getting stolen so much, it’s just my story alone to tell.  Sometimes, it will be referenced to make a point.  I can say that the novel would/will be my third.  The first—a major learning process.  The second—I truly believe in, albeit it’s a much shorter book than the first one.  This third novel—I’d like to think I’m getting it figured out.  I can also say that this story is very personal to me.  It’s not autobiographical, not exactly.  It’s straight fiction.  No aliens, monsters, or teenage vampires.  Just some white trash.

I realize this may not be read that much.  Screw you if you’re not reading this.  Get it?  I’m still going through with it.  I hope that if you’re a writer, you may find some interest in this project.  I hope if you’re interested in writing at all, you learn a bit about process.  I’ve complained before about people saying, “I got this idea for a good book I think I’ll write someday.”  Really?  It’s that easy?  No, butt-face, it’s not.

These entries won’t be perfect as I’m not spending a great deal of time proofreading, pretty much just running spell-check—I’ve got writing to do.   First post, this Sunday.