Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dry Run: Update 16

Alright, this will be my second-to-last post.

I wish I could say this was it, that I've typed it all up, and we're ready to move on to the next challenge, but . . . look at the word count thingie:
Yeah, even after bumping the total to 35,000, I've exceeded that, with around ten more pages to type up beyond that.  So, I could reset the goal to 40,000, which looks something like this:

But it doesn't change the fact that my traditional way of writing (notebook first, then maybe typed up) is not efficient, is not working.  Since "Into the Furnace," I've written two more stories ("Beggar's Canyon" and "True Ghost Experience"), and one was half-notebook/half-laptop, and the other was 90% laptop.  I've written nothing in the notebook since then, and have taken the laptop to work with me, or occasionally to eat.  It makes things better.

I might actually be finished by now if I'd been a little smarter.  I got to the point in the notebook where that writer's block hit, and for two pages, I just outlined the next couple of scenes, what would have to happen in them, and a few lines of dialogue.  So, when it came time to transcribe, I got to that part, and fleshed those two pages out to full scenes, writing it up over an hour or so.

Then I wen to the next page in the notebook . . . and discovered that I'd done the same thing there, writing out the scenes and dialogue.  No big deal, I know, but then I had to waste another stretch of time trying to combine the two, decide which lines I liked better, and as usual, try to shove as much of the work from both attempts into the second draft.

I also added a new scene in between them, and discovered that it sort of throws off the timeline of the rest of the story, and that's no fun either.

But boo hoo.  It's better than actually working for a living, getting blisters on my fingers, sore feet I have to soak at night, and a rash on my taint.

One more post to go. 


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dry Run: Update 15

Alright, I'm back.  That writer's block I spoke about in the last post (which was a month or so back) did not last long.  It was just a psychological hurdle I had to jump over.

Once I did, there were no problems.  Smooth sailing, all the way to the end.  Which came quickly.

Mostly, I just had to put in the work.  I had to go somewhere and focus solely on writing, with as few distractions as possible.  So I went to the park a couple of times, I went to Taco Bell and wrote, I wrote on my lunch breaks (finally taking the laptop to work so I wouldn't have to type it later), and wrote a time or three in the backyard, putting in the hours until I finally reached those blessed two words.

Ever since I started using the laptop in that way, I've been phasing out my notebook, doing less and less work in it.  Strange, since I was/am only about ten pages from the end of it.  I even bought two more like it when I saw I would soon reach the end (this was in April or so, before I even had a new laptop, or was in need of one).  It makes both writing and the word count much, much simpler, and as Big said, I do sort of wish I had been using a laptop all along.  But ah well.

So, somebody somewhere--and it honestly might even have been the guy who did the "Write a Novel in 90 Days" presentation--said that, hey, your first novel is probably going to suck.  But the second one will be better, and the third one even better.  And you'll never get to any of the good ones if you don't write that first sucky novel.

Deep words from a dude with a garish Hawaiian shirt on.

The idea that all that work amounting to something that sucks is more than a little depressing.  But ah well.  Maybe "Into the Furnace" isn't so great.  Maybe it has too many meandering plot threads that go nowhere.  Maybe it's too predictable in where it does go.  Maybe the bad guy is as all over the place as Ultron was in AVENGERS 2 (though if I can be compared to Joss Whedon, I'll take that criticism anyday).  Maybe there's no color to it.  Maybe it's too long and should have stayed the short story it was originally intended to be.

But as I near the end of the tale (typing it up, anyway), I have to think that it is worth the effort to finish it, that it was worth the effort to write in the first place.  That between seven and nine people will someday read it and enjoy it.

Too late to turn back now.

Rish Outfield, Dry Runner

So, here's the word count symbol thing today:

That's only eighty percent finished.  And I've really no excuse for that.  I sat down tonight and started typing and told myself I couldn't stop until I reached 27,777 words.  Once I got there, I did just a little bit more.  But I should be finished by now.  It's sad how much I'm dragging my feet on this.

I promise, there will be only one more post here.  One or two, no more than seventeen total updates.  Let's see if I can't grit my teeth and push through till I get there.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dry Run: Update 14 (The Stall)

I can't remember who it was, but a famous writer said that "writer's block doesn't exist.  Laziness exists."  It stuck with me because when I heard that I had experienced writer's block a number of times, and I often abandoned projects in the middle, despite wasting many hours getting there.  Now I'm a decade or two older, at least six months wiser, and I still don't know if I agree or not (about the laziness thing).  A lot of my projects that fall by the wayside happen because I'm distracted by something else, or because I start to worry that it's not very good (which happens a lot--including during this one), and also, because it's easier to not work on something than it is to actually work.

And though laziness has also been my nemesis over the years (so bad I nearly said it was my STAR TREK: NEMESIS, the worst of the Trek movies), there have been times when I set aside time to write, forcing myself to do it, and couldn't manage to come up with anything.  My mind was just empty of ideas, of any drive to create something, and in those cases I tend to ruminate on or list abandoned projects until the writing time runs out.  That happens probably five or six times a year, but the next time I mow the lawn or go on a drive or awaken suddenly in the night, I'll have another idea I want to pursue, and everything is alright.

I say all this because, for the first time, we hit a stall during "Into the Furnace."  We, I say, for some reason, when it's really just me.  The last important character, the sheriff's friend from childhood, showed up*, and now the whole idea I had originally written down on that piece of paper in January was complete.  And I froze.

Ostensibly, I should only have a few pages left.  They get together, go after the bad guy, take him down, and the story ends.  Except I still don't know how to pull that off.  Especially since this little tale, which I envisioned as a short story, has ballooned into what it is now.  There needs to be at least one failed run, my gut tells me, before they succeed, because if they win too easily, then it's just lame.  I dunno, you remember IRON MAN 2, where they've built Vanko up as this more-powerful version of Iron Man, too tough for even Tony and the new Rhodey to defeat?  And they have their confrontation, and my guess is, it's thirty seconds at most they do battle before Vanko is killed.**

The problem is, if they attempt to kill the villain and fail, how do they survive that?  The bad guy is just too powerful.  There should be no second chances, and at least the town would pay the penalty, if not every person in it.  I . . .

Okay, I think I got it figured.  Maybe.  It could be stupid, if I set something up in an earlier scene and then have our heroes do something else, won't readers know it's not the end, that the thing I set up still needs to be paid off?  We'll see, but it feels righter than what I had in mind.

But I was talking about stalling out in my progress.  I had a lot of time to write yesterday, in the morning, during lunch, my break at work, but I didn't know where to go.  If I'd had my laptop, I'd have spent that time doing this blogpost, worrying about writer's block.  Instead, I summarized three scenes that still have to happen before the story can end, and then a fourth.  So the tale is not yet told, dang it.  I have to keep on truckin'.

Luckily, nobody but me cares about this stuff, about deadlines passed and focusing my attention on this not that.  I think I can still finish, though it may be July by the time I start on my novel (my other novel, I suppose).  But I do really enjoy writing these blog updates, and though I try to make them interesting, I don't know if they're enjoyable to read.

Either way, there are more on the way.

Rish Outfield

P.S. Here's where we are in the word count:

Yeah, I passed my goal, so I bumped the total count to 30000 (which is also too short), just so there was still something to work toward.  We'll see how long it gets me to type stuff up.

*And I have no idea why he had to be a friend instead of a stranger.  I needed a big game hunter character, and when I was sketching out the book, it seemed better if they already had a history together.  So I figured that they were childhood friends in St. Louis, and had gone their separate ways for these last fifteen to twenty years.  It made for a couple of jokes between them and some familiarity--and most importantly, there was already trust between the two--but it doesn't change the story any having them know one another.  Just makes it longer, I guess.

**I could have brought up the final confrontation with Bane in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, except I actually like that Catwoman killed him so quickly.  She's not an honorable character, and so she just shoots him with that big gun (something Batman--at least the Batman we know from the comics and cartoons--would not do), not entirely unlike Indy dispatching the Cairo Swordsman.  However, I never liked that Nolan didn't spell it out for us in that moment that Bane was dead, since I expected him to pop up again before the end, but in seeing the movie a second time, it was fine.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

SDCC 2015 Post

So, I went to San Diego Comic-Con again this year.  And after trotting out my camera for the first day, I discovered that one can take as many pictures with their phone as with a camera, plus it's smaller and more handy than a camera, so I took roughly two hundred pics during the time I was down there.  I couldn't help but delete bad ones as I took them, but then I remembered the tradition of putting up my worst photos on my blog and having absolutely nobody try to guess who they were.  So, I'll see if I have some stinkers that I can stick on here too. 

This backpack of mine has seen a lot of conventions.  And I've seen enough to know that, except for a paperback book or something similar, there's not gonna be room in there when the free swag gets entered in.  Hence, I only dared take my big heavy metal laptop in there once, on Saturday (is it normal for a laptop to be made out of metal?  Are they all plastic nowadays?  I wonder if that makes mine special, and/or if it would take a bullet for me.   Hmmm).  

And my back seen a lot of conventions too, and understood that it would be expected to cart around a great deal of weight in posters, buttons, toys, and the giant offerings people fight over to purchase from Hasbro.  So I made the mile-plus trip out to my car on multiple occasions, filling my arms (and back) with as much as it could possibly carry, then trudging down the road to put it in my car, then returning for more.  It'll be sad to look back on five years from now when I'm at the end of my life, but for now, it's just another part of Comic-Con.

Oh, and one more tiny detail along those lines.  Parking for this thing has never not been a bitch. Oh, there's pre-dawn Saturday when I can find a parking spot less than a mile from the convention center, but the rest of the time, it's always circling, doubling back, searching for a spot, or hoping someone will pull out just as I happen to drive by.  It's probably the second-worst thing about the con, traditionally.  And this year, on Thursday, I noticed a trio of cars that just parked right on the road (Harbor Boulevard, I believe) in no parking spaces, just on the soft shoulder of the road itself, and after parking in the lot of a grocery store (where I parked most of SDCC 2013, and only got a ticket once), I told myself, "If those cars are still there and ticket free when I come back here to move my car (mine was a 2 Hour Parking lot), I'm going to join them."

Well, not only were those cars unmolested, but they had been joined by between fifteen and twenty other cars, obviously thinking the same thing I did.  I parked at the back of the line (in just that stretch of time, the "lot" of Harbor Blvd. was almost full), and went my way, worrying for the rest of the day that my car would indeed have a ticket on it, or worse, be towed, almost-literally screwing me for the rest of my trip.  I worried, I ran it over and over in my mind, I kept thinking I should go back and check, and then finally, I came to an epiphany: "Either my car is fine or it isn't.  Either way, it is out of my control.  Worrying about it is not going to make my car okay or not okay."

It's something you obviously realized years ago, but in this case, it did make the convention more enjoyable, and every time I hiked back to the car, it was still there, and neither it nor the other many cars in that makeshift lot were bothered.  I do expect, however, to find No Parking signs in that area next July.

So, on Thursday, I was pleasantly surprised to walk into Hall H with no line and find myself in the "Doctor Who" panel.  I haven't really been following the show lately, but I know it's insanely popular, so to not have to waste hours in line, or even wait, was a nice change.

There was also an enormously entertaining panel for "Con Men," the crowd-funded passion project of Alan Tudyk's.  Nathan Fillion was his usual charming self, but the real joy came from Chris Hardwick's relentless mockery of Will Wheaton, who had been his roommate back in college.*

So, it was a more unpleasant surprise the next day when I sat in line for more than three hours to get into the "Star Wars" panel, only to be turned away when there were only forty or so folks ahead of me.  I suppose, if I had it to do over again, I'd have sacrificed even more of my day to see Luke, Han, and Leia again as senior citizens.  Or maybe I'd have just taken an AK-47 to the place.

Not that I'm complaining.  I just thought that would be nice (to see the "Star Wars" panel, not to murder strangers with an assault weapon).

In the two years since I last stood in the Hall H line, they've instituted a wristband policy, wherein they hand out wristbands to the first, say, thousand people in line, so those folks are guaranteed to get in.  They are even allowed to leave the line to go defecate, or if they dare, to go shower, eat, or sleep.  They just have to come back to the line and they'll be allowed in before the folks without wristbands.

I think that works well.  Of course, if I had a friend in the world, that might work well too.  You end up spending so much time in line with strangers that, occasionally, you'll befriend the people around you.  In the past, I've been happy to hold their spot in line as they go get coffee, go use the toilet, or go make the beast with two backs.  It would work both ways if I physically had to urinate anymore, but my body has discovered a way to simply convert it to fat, so that's pretty nice.


I'm in Hall H again, at the end of the night, and I could have typed a little on this thing earlier, but I didn't.  I did a good deal of reading, which I don't regret, and I finished up another story, which I TOTALLY don't regret.

I was glad to come here this year, after having missed it last year.  And even though it was work getting here, cost a lot (nay, a ton) of money, and I haven't managed to see everything I wanted to, or buy everything I wanted to, I'm in a good mood.  One day, I'll not be able to come here at all, because I'll be too poor, or too unable to get here, or most likely, too fat.  But for now . . .

I like being with people who feel the way I do about things.  It's like sports, really, a group of strangers cheering for their favorite team.  Except maybe it's not like sports, I don't know.  I don't know much.

Kevin Smith talked about lost opportunities in his Q&A, talked about regret, and did his "Why not?" speech again.  He said, "Everybody has a story that's uniquely theirs.  You need to get out there and tell your story."  I tried to take it to heart as best I could, and I'm really going to try, in the next few weeks, to do the things I obligated myself to do, and maybe do more.

If I were truly serious about my art, I would quit my job and focus 100% on writing, podcasting, publishing, and doing audiobooks.  I could make a go of it, I know I could.  But who knows if I will or not?  One thing at a time, right?

I think I'll go home tonight and see if I can't type some more of "Into the Furnace" and do a post update.  I know that novel needs a lot of work, but right now I am feeling positive enough I could just publish it, and say, "There you are.  Enjoy it if you can," then go on to the next project.  That doesn't sound foolish to me.

I should exercise more.  I should get out of my comfort zone a time or three.  I should work harder at putting out my art, see if I can't get the fifty items for sale that Dean Wesley Smith said you need out there to really make money from it.

And I will.  Maybe not at once, but if I can just keep this attitude in mind, I will do it.

Except for the exercise part.  Sorry, doctor.

Rish Outfield

*Remind me to tell you about my favorite part of the panel, if I haven't already.

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Look at me, Damien!"

I'm at my annual trip to San Diego Comic-Con (missed it last year), and as I'm sure I've mentioned, every year, a group of loud Born Again-type Christians protests the con with big yellow signs and microphones.  They are on the sidewalk, shouting as the attendees (and their children) walk by, about sin, Jesus, and hellfire, and waving signs with scripture in an attempt to either sway us from pursuing these godless endeavors, or to draw publicity toward themselves.  It's always been a little bit irritating, though I suppose they're free to think (and do) as they please.  However, a couple of years ago, anti-protesters started showing up around the protesters with homemade pro-Comic-Con signs such as "Galactus Is Coming!" and "Thor Loves You!" and "Hokey religions and ancient religions are no match for a good blaster at your side!"* and "Kneel Before Zod!"  That people would do that always amused me, since it was fairly light-hearted, harmless, and pretty clearly hate-free.

So, I was of two minds today, when Fox** had a bunch of volunteers (or just as likely, paid actors) do a counter-protest promoting their upcoming series "Damien," which yes, Virginia, was a follow-up to the classic movie THE OMEN.  "Damien is the one true path!" a zealot shouted, right alongside the Jesus-criers.  "All shall worship Damien!" another one called out, looking between us and the protesters. "It's all for you!" the signs they carried read, along with the trademarked 666.  Now, I don't really have a dog in this fight (though you can probably guess my views), but it struck me as more than a little incendiary, crass, and obviously sacrilegious, though I can't say if what they were doing was genuinely offensive.

I would be curious to know what the protesters thought.  But part of me is pretty glad I don't know.

Rish Outfield, Been From One Side This Galaxy

*Okay, I made that one up.  But it'd make for a darn good anti-protest sign.

**The show was, if you can effing believe it, originally intended for the Lifetime channel, but will now be airing on A&E.  But it's still Fox, guys.  Don't be misled.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Dry Run: Update 13

Okay, we're well into June now.*  I have gotten all my characters into place in "Into the Furnace," having finally introduced Samuelito Quinto, who, as of this writing, serves absolutely no purpose in the story.  But I'm closing in on the end.  I think.

Did I mention that this one could also be a novel?

Something I know that I have written is how much easier this blog is to write than my book is.  I think it's still that mental crossing guard I've got up there, the one who thinks its job is to protect me from any and all risk.  If I get too close to making an arse of myself, it's there to say, "Uh, you probably shouldn't snort that, especially if it's trying to get away."  But it is too good at its job, and is often there saying, "No, no, you shouldn't try that.  You might not like it.  What will others think?  How will you live with yourself if it doesn't work out?  Think of how comfortable you are doing nothing.  Yes, that's where you belong.  Get fatter.  Get more complacent.  You are exactly where you are safe and toasty-warm."

That inner crossing guard is a bit of a taint.  And I wonder if it is eager to provide me with distractions so that I don't have to write my novel and find out that it's not good, that I'm not a great writer, that all that work was for . . . well, not very much.  Or it could just know me so well, that it's sure I'll give up halfway through, and so it doesn't want me to even try, since it's worse to get a drink thrown in your face than it is to dance alone.

I brought this up in a previous post**, but the other day, I really made it a point to focus on writing.  I knew this thing was overdue, and each day not working on my Novel in 90 Days was going to make the NIND all the harder to accomplish, so I spent nearly my entire day off typing away on my laptop.  I took it to the park with me (until the battery died), then brought it home and plugged it in again, and as soon as it had juice in it, I went in the backyard and wrote some more.  Then, I took my notebook with me to my nephew's baseball game, and wrote another page or two there.

Today, I didn't have nearly the free time (and even some of that I squandered), but I took the laptop to the park and did it again.  I am closing in on the end of this thing, and I feel like I can have it all finished with one more trip to the park or backyard.  In fact, tonight, right before I started typing this, I went outside, even though it's past one am, and fired up the laptop to write.  It then said it had to install a bunch of updates before it could proceed, so I came in here and did this instead.  But I assure you that, by this time next week, I will be done with my story.

Which means that, by the time you read these words, I will have been done with "Into the Furnace" for a while now.  With the writing, anyway.  The typing (and inevitable rewriting) will be much longer in coming.

As far as the word count goes, nothing has changed:

But that is due to me being distracted and not even once typing up my scribblings, despite having the notebook open and ready to go.

Since then, I have started on a new audiobook project, finished another Rish Outcast, and written another short story.  I actually took my laptop to work, as Big suggested I do, and managed to be a little more efficient with my writing, since it's typed rather than pen-written, and those words can be instantly counted.  On my actual novel--which as of this writing I would rather eat nightcrawlers than have to work on--I will try to do the laptop thing as much as possible.

Rish Outfield, Running In Place

*Sadly, being published into July.  I need to learn to stick with things.

**But it was a tiny addition at the bottom of the screen when I was making excuses for not increasing my word count, so scream, Blacula, scream.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Rish Outcast 25: Chalupa Dale - Next Exit

Somewhere on the way to meet somebody, Rish came up with another Outcast episode.  In this one, he presents an awful short story "Chalupa Dale- Next Exit," and he talks.  A lot.

If you feel like downloading the episode directly, right-click HERE and save this thing.