Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Draft done!

Just last post, I mentioned that another novel will be hitting the streets in the near future. Can I tell you how wonderful it was to finish that initial draft? I wanted to jump up and high five someone when I typed that last word out and thought, "Finished!"

Who needs drugs to get high?

This novel was a blast to write--just like previous stories have been. Though it took longer than expected to get through the draft, I had a great time watching things unfold. I shared it with my wife as I went along, and her help was invaluable in shaping events and characters. Likewise, her encouragement kept me pressing forward during times I'd rather not have.

The premise of this book is that a guy with no luck in love finds himself the recipient of one wish. He gets it. Then, he spend the entire book trying to get rid of it, so he can actually lead a normal life.

Above all, I absolutely loved the ending. It went more or less as I'd planned, but when I sat down to write it out, those few mornings ago, I just pretty much let go, and when I got done, I just sat there with this big, dumb grin on my face and thought, "Wow. I nailed that."

It felt great.

So now the real work begins. Editing and revisions, more editing and revisions, marketing, interviews, etc. Fun things in their own right, but still work. But hey, if you can love what you do, you're in a good place.

And man, do I love what I do.

Now, on to the next book.

What we are.

So last night, my wife and I find ourselves at one of those shindigs where people invite their friends and neighbors to come to something disguised as something enjoyable, and yet is actually a marketing presentation. We knew what was coming, and went anyway. Fortunately, it turned out to be rather educational, all things considered.

Before the main event got going, however, our good neighbor who invited us spent some time introducing us to some of the people who worked at the place that was giving the presentation. Not surprisingly, I got asked, "What do you do?" Pretty common question for a guy to ask another guy. My response was to talk about my day job.

My wife opened my eyes to what I should have said. "He's an author," she chimed in, "who also used to do some engineering."

It struck me that, here I am, in the early stages of doing the professional author thing, and I still haven't fully ingrained the idea in my head that, yes, I am an author, despite the fact that I'm published and selling, and that more books are on their way out the door (that's right--a new novel should be out in coming months; more on that in later entries).

Rather, I'm so accustomed to defining myself by what pays the bills rather than what else I am that it didn't occur to me to even consider answering the other guy's question the way my wife did.

And yet, she was more right than I was.

I think it's natural to define ourselves by the things that occupy the majority of our time or attention or--especially for modern men-- to define themselves by what they do to earn a living. Certainly, that's the intent behind the question, "What do you do?" Really, however, people are vastly more complex than their day jobs. Considering how often people change jobs--and even careers--in our times, it almost seems foolish to slab such fickle labels on ourselves. Yes, those labels are accurate, and yes, they work perfectly well to satisfy the question. But how much am I limiting myself by allowing myself to get stuck in the rut of believing who I am and "what I do" is a function of "which activity produces the largest paycheck"?

I'm not sure, really. But this is something I'd like to change about myself. Let's work on that.

Monday, March 4, 2013


The one constant in life is change. At risk of sounding Darwinian (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), learning to adapt to that change is generally a wise course. Learning how to make something constant despite change has also been very useful, I've found.

For instance, a couple of weekends back, I attended a three-day writing symposium. I came home from days 2 and 3 on a total high from the experience, and was dead set on pressing forward with hardcore writing.

Putting that into practice has been a different story. And yet, it's just like any other habit, I suppose. If you really want it, you'll make time for it.

I really want to write.

So it would seem that momentum, while a great thing to have from an external source, actually relies much more on sheer force of will than circumstance.

Speaking of external momentum, just days ago I hit another high as I wrapped up the first draft of the novel I've been working on for the last couple of months. It felt great despite the fact that the real work has only just begun.

I've chosen to use that "high" as a springboard to launch my next novel--to hit the ground running. And you know what? It feels good to be producing more constantly. There really is a sense of accomplishment that comes from creating, and from pressing forward.

Three cheers for the ability to form (or break) habits.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Journaling, biases, and life in general.

After a much longer hiatus from this blog than I expected (not to mention some technical difficulties in the meantime), I return.

I spent a bit of time reading from the journal of Mircea Eliade, the Romanian scholar/novelist, just this evening. It reminded me of my earlier conviction to actually write more of my own story--the life I live, as mundane as it may seem.

Frankly, much of what Eliade says probably will only ever have much meaning to himself and to those who knew him and his circles personally. I suspect that will be the same with anything I blog about. And yet, what is so valuable about his journal is that it teaches me about him--as a person. The intimate glimpse into his interests, his passions, his life, and who/what he cared about say more than a mere chronicle of his activities ever would.

For this reason, I think I'd more likely prefer an autobiography than a biography of any given person. That said, I suspect that people who write autobiographical are often picking and choosing what they want to present, simply because they know they're painting a picture of themselves to the world. And yet, the opportunity still presents itself to see what picture it is they're attempting to paint. You can probably make some educated guesses about them from the things they choose to exclude as much as those they chose to include.

And so I tip my hand to the fact that I write according to my own biases. I often wish we'd get past the fact that biases are natural to all people, and not inherently bad. The idea that a human being could be "perfectly objective" is, in a measure, absurd. It's a nice ideal,  but it's just not reality. I think a more accurate  goal is to try to act with wisdom and discretion based on the best information we have, and do that despite unnecessary interference from biases.

I know this blog gets read by others (and, in time, I hope it gets read by a lot of others; I just need to start putting up the content, and making it worth reading), and so, dear reader, expect that my biases will come through in one way or another. Whether you agree or disagree, understand that we're all going to see the world just a little differently (perhaps, very differently). I hope I can provide a bit of perspective into the mind of another human being.

That said, life in general is still good. The wife has been riding the ups and downs of pregnancy (2nd trimester--it's the eye of the storm), but the older kids have helped me pick up the slack, doing more chores and what not. Granted, we bribe them with computer time (typically an hour a week), but in the words of women wiser than I (and who both had 8 children--they should know a few things), "Do what works." And right now, bribery works.

What's really interesting of late is  the momentum I've been building as a writer in general, especially in the midst of a pregnancy on top of everyday life. I avoided professional writing for years (despite my great desires) simply because life happens--and life isn't always conducive to being a professional writer, especially when you're newer on the scene, and still need to work a day job to make ends meet. And yet, the transformation (and it has been that) has been rather remarkable in the sense that it has taught me more about how to focus desires, make time for things I need to do, and generally just bring a dream to life that life wouldn't normally allow on to grow on its own.

Seriously, it's so much easier to just punch a time clock and let someone else pay you bi-weekly. For those of you who think that writing is a "get rich quick" thing, think again. Do not go into professional writing unless you're willing to give it your all (and that's not as easy as you think; I love what I do, and I'm still behind the curve in my efforts).

But I digress. The point I'm making is that right now is a time of real change in my life. If I'm to commit anything to memory, this would be one of the best times to write about. Daily living is still mundane as ever, but what's new? It's the time of my life as a whole that I think I really ought to record. My biases and perspectives on life are changing as I grow. The actual growth almost always seems minuscule at the moment, but I expect I'll look back on blog entries like this and think, "Wow! Look how far I've come!"

Or maybe just, "Geez... I was such a dork."

Either way, that's progress.

More later.