Monday, March 25, 2013




A horrendous week of writing.  I’m being stalked by a bad writing hoodoo monster.  It seems to happen when working on a massive project—everything goes wrong at once.  It’s almost like potential success is sometimes stalked (too much alliteration there) in flurries of bad luck.  The Michael Meyer of ill will has his eyes set on crushing the spark of hope and drive and ambition.  He can kiss my ass.  This week the following has occurred with my writing:            
--computer virus hijacked my computer
--lost my emergency back-up flash drive
--my printer was suddenly “not read” by my printer
--dropped my outline which blew away in the wind and down the street
--spent 100.00 to fix my computer
--my computer shut down after over an hour of highly productive work (after “being fixed,” mind you) and everything was lost despite my compulsive periodic saving
--my “consistency key” has vanished off my hard drive and, despite being saved on my external hard drive, exists only as the title “Tug Consistency Key.”
So now I’m getting pop-up errors about not being able to auto save.  This thing will probably shut down again on me.
BUT!  Some good things did happen.  I have remembered my tweaks and new stuff I’ve written and am going to do it all again—on paper.  I finally got it to print and will take out a pencil and get busy.  It may do me some good to reflect on the potential changes.  The new stuff I did write and manage to save is really progressing the story.  I decided to speed things along a bit. 
All the major information about Thaddeus will be developed in the first two and a half chapters.  I feel this is important.  Tug isn’t going to be an epic length book.  I like it like that.  Otherwise, I’m writing just to write and ripping off the story.  And the readers.  Whoever they may, hopefully, be. 
I will re-write my consistency key as well.  I realized errors I made in my first two books most usually center around consistency.  Even though I’m a fantastic liar, I even need to keep my facts straight.  But above all, I have a lot of characters in this story.  I arranged my characters sort of end of movie credit style, in order of appearance.  For the more major characters I limited myself to one sentence about them.  What is their most important element they’re bringing to the table? 
I’m at 6300 words now and going strong.  Strong except for that asshole hoodoo bad mojo monster.  He’ll lose.  He always does.  Poor guy.  Go harass Stephen King.  Please. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013



I’m not writing this week.  I haven’t been in the frame of mind for the story.  I can’t even seem to picture the characters in my head, see them in scene, predict their present—much less their future.  This seems to happen when I’m on to something good.  I get to this point where I realize it is good, may even have potential to be slightly better than good.  But what if it’s not.  What if I blow it?  You can have a fantastic start at anything then let everyone down. 

The thing is, I know where I’m at in the story.  My timeline has been modified to speed the beginning of the story along.  But I’m nervous.  It’s like crossing a frozen pond.  Right off the shore where you can fall and clutch at the land should you need to, you’re all guarded confidence.  Further out in the middle of the freeze you’re just fucked if something breaks.  Getting to the start is impossible.  You can die there, covered over by your horrible miscalculation. 

I’m going to try to stop thinking about it.  I’ll go for a drive with the music off.  I’ll review those cool ideas I had earlier in the week.  I’ll bring up my laptop and stare at the blank screen, white and pristine as the proverbial frozen water.

Yeah, maybe that will work. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013


The Entry Where I Confess

The great Harry Crews once said, "A writer's job is to get naked, to hide nothing, to look away from nothing, to look at it," he wrote. "To not blink, to not be embarrassed by it or ashamed of it. Strip it down and let's get to where the blood is, where the bone is."

And that’s exactly what I’m doing with “Tug.”  I look forward to those stolen moments throughout the week where I can revisit these characters, this down-trodden town and the pursuits within.  But I don’t miss the characters.  It’s not a happy story.  It aims to happy in the long run, but it’s not a bullshitter story.  It pulls no punches on the human condition.  Most of all, it’s me.  It’s my story.  My story too lacking of anything truly outstanding to warrant as a memoir, but too full of literary quality to ignore.  There is art all around us.  Take a look at a situation—any situation you find yourself in—and find the literary stuff that it’s made up of.  Find some catharsis in your situation and write it down.  Each and every week, I’m back at the events that made up last year.  Tonight, I cried.  Well, I guy cried.  I was back in this particular moment that had me welling up then and now.  So I write it down. 

But there’s a danger inherent to writing so full of personal emotion:  will YOUR experience translate as meaningful onto the page?  I think there’s this rule to not write fiction with you as the character.  Well, fuck that.  If you’re a good enough writer, go ahead.  If you can make your story someone else’s, do it.  If you can connect with a reader through story, write anything!  If you can control the power of your words, channel that feeling into words that nail another reader in the gut—write on (pun {or double entendre?} intended). 

 "If you're gonna write, for God in heaven's sake, try to get naked, “Harry Crews said. “Try to write the truth. Try to get underneath all the sham, all the excuses, all the lies that you've been told."

Yes, try to get beneath all the lies and excuses you’ve told yourself about yourself.  Forget all those rationalizations.  Show the dark side of yourself.  Grab onto that shit in your life that made that dark side of yourself and embrace it.  Without all that darkness, you probably wouldn’t be writing darkness in the first place.  So love on it.  Cherish the darkness.  I should thank being locked and duct taped in a closet oftentimes as a child.  I should thank quite possibly being diddled by some man and fearful that I’ll remember it someday.  I should thank being tiny and booger nosed all the time.  Messy hair, afraid to speak, in silent worship of all the other kids who were bigger and braver than me.  I should thank being told by a parent, I wasn’t able to be loved.  I should thank the mystery visitor I’m denied having ever existed who brought me toys and asked me if I wanted to live with her.  I should be happy that the tension in my house pressed upon me each and every day and begged of escape. 

For now, I’ll just write on.  I’m at 5097 words and it’s going well.      

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I'ts not the size that counts.  Doing my very small part to take out a forest.


 I ended the week at 3,999 words.  I’ve printed this thing out, read it, read it again, crossed this out, enhanced that, went back and back—which is against the rules of writing—to the same material before moving on.  But screw that rule.  I CAN’T move on until I have what came before it in an ACCEPTABLE place.  It’s not perfect, but I have all my material lined up.  I MUST have my characterization consistent, their actions, the time of day, the weather, the goals, the dialogue, the freaking color of shirt their wearing—everything—consistent.  Writing anything of length is like telling the biggest lie of your life.  You’re on trial for murder and you did it.  Shit, THEY know you did it.  But you have to keep all these details in your innocent story straight, you must maintain your credibility in at least one juror’s mind.  For all it takes, is one to believe in you.  Same thing with trying to get published.  I have to convince just one agent or publisher to believe in me.  I must have them read past five sentences in my book, maybe even read a paragraph.  Then maybe a page, then maybe the entire first chapter.  Believe in me!

So, yes, I break that little rule.  It is a good rule though, if followed correctly.  You don’t want to lose focus of the ends you mean to meet but spinning your writing wheels (unnecessary alliteration) with editing.  I’m talking about consistency, getting your traction back into the meat of the story before moving on.  Your voice, your feel as you write.  Hell, think of it as stretching before a run.  If you don’t run, think of it as foreplay.  Ha!

Print it out, take a pen to it, input the changes and enhancements, ignore the grammar.  Print it out again, take it to work in your lunch bag.  Take it onto the toilet with you.  On the bus.  To the gym when you jog or sit in the sauna.  Just keep it with you and in your mind.  Keep printing, keep scribbling. 

 You can’t be a writer and want to save trees.  To hell with them.  You want to see an en masse printing of your novel, you want the National Park Service pissed off at you.  So print away. 

As I was running through my first chapter I thought about what sort of feedback it would receive.  A writer should do that.  What is the reader going to think?  What assumptions will they make about the next thing to happen?  What do they think of Thaddeus?  What do they want for him?  Most importantly, is he likeable?  Writing is a business that tests your trust, you’re faith in others.  On the one hand, you want positive feedback.  On the other, you want honest feedback.  But who do you trust?  And if they are kind enough to give honest feedback which highlights negative aspects of your piece or areas they feel can be improved, who are they to say so?  What credentials do they gave.  If they’re a college professor, are they a good one?  Have they been published anyway?  If so, was it a good book?  Does earlier said positive reader just want to get in your pants?  Are they afraid of giving anything less than positive review because they want a positive review from you?  Are you just masturbating your own ego by providing it to people you know will give you a glowing review?

--I just said masturbating in a blog about writing…

Talk about the trust and rejection, the irony of wanting to trust for honest feedback, but the ire at sometimes hearing it.  You’re an unsatisfiable bitch.  So, I’m posting just my first two paragraphs.  I would appreciate some honest feedback.  If you’d like to read more, let me know.  I won’t let you, but let me know.  If you’d put this book back on the shelf and forget it before you’ve finished checking out with your new issue of MAD magazine in hand, let me know.  And if you’d like to offer me your first paragraphs of anything you’re writing for my honest feedback, I promise, even if you destroy my first paragraph with brutal honesty, if yours merits a glowing masturbatory review (that was completely unnecessary and illogical) I’ll let you have it.

                Until next week…


 Wind lashed at Thaddeus Pulliam, the driving rain cooling him as he pulled the mud heavied rope against the young tree.   His lungs burning and hands gone 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 the energy infusing into his body, charging him like a battery for another pull.   Quickly, he dug into the mud with the side of his military boots then braced for the next 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 without training and the tree had not been worn smooth by thinking about another pull.  And he had to win.  At all costs.  He wouldn’t face another day knowing he’d given up with another pull left inside.  He’d never pull the tree down, he was fairly certain of that.  And that was fine.  He’d damn sure try though.  Thunder sounded against his back prefacing a lightening strike behind the shed, a mere 20 yards away.  Thaddeus yelled at the rain and the mud and the tree, squatted and pulled.  The tree bent and Thaddeus screamed at it, smiling as he took another inch of ground from it in a sidestep.  He pulled, stepped, and fell hard onto the tore up ground.

The back porch light flashed the usual two-times code.  It was time to come in.  With a growl, Thaddeus released the rope and stumbled to the back porch.  The muscle tissue in his legs pounded, all flushed with blood as they began an immediate recovery.  All the exertion gone, it became suddenly apparent to Thaddeus that this was a cold November rain.   Under cover of the porch, he stripped off his boots and sweat suit, stopping at his underwear.   The door parted open and without looking at him, his daughter handed out a towel.  He dried himself then stepped inside. 
            “Thank you, hon.”