Tuesday, February 21, 2012

History month

Work proceeds. I try to ask my co workers when I see them on Mondays how their various weekends went. And whenever I do, they cordially pass the question back to me. "I wrote," I typically say, and am happy to. This weekend's chapter came out of me on Saturday, so the part of the weekend I spent free of planning to write was more voluminous than usual. I even saw a friend on Sunday. The term rip-roaring comes to mind in description of the excitement.

A few months ago, an organic conversation bubbled up between a co-worker and I about things we liked to read. He had purchased my book, and had attempted to read it, which led him to lending me several books of his own in somewhat of an attempt to apologize for not liking what I wrote. It took some weeks, but I returned one of them, and apologized for losing the other, but the conversations didn't stop. When we got around to westerns, I was excited to tell him about one western I had read that I did enjoy, so we could finally have something in common (even though we share little aside from skin tone). Eventually, I gave him two books over two exchanges separated by weeks. One he liked, read in a night, delighted that I let him have it. The other he'll "have to go back and look at again."

Both feature black cowboys. One is about a group of soldiers during the civil war, very similar to the George Lucas produced Red Tails (there, you pulled an actual name out of me) except in a different time and place. The men were proud, and soldiered in spite of an era that labeled them unique. They battled through important battles at important times. The book was a lesson, one my older co-worker felt good about hearing, and repeating, and rehearsing in whatever other stories he read. The other novel was a dark comedy at its most light-hearted. The black character, literally interpreted, isn't so much the main character as the foil for all stereotypes about the old west and blacks' places in it. He escorts a white protagonist, a bigot and a buffoon, through a variety of dangerous situations only to be shot in the back in the end. Except he doesn't die.

After the conversation today, I kept thinking to myself, "but both books do the same thing." However, it wasn't until the server at my lunch restaurant got my order wrong that I realized that it wasn't important what I ordered. What was important was what the woman thought I ordered. What's important is what the reader thinks an author is trying to do. Or, at least, that is something to be highly valued in the process. Over my miss-ordered meal, I chewed on the notion of reading and writing and how, much like food, what a writer writes and what a reader reads says a lot about that particular artist (and if you caught that, then I meant it).

But I won't be dwelling on what the various things I do, artistically, say about me. I'll just be doing them. I will admit that it would be nice if two people somewhere were having a conversation right now on what I intended. At the stroke of midnight tonight, I'll have one less day to wait.

Friday, February 10, 2012

States of being

Yesterday a friend asked me about sports. Specifically my opinion about whether or not a certain player, that I had never heard of, should have made the all-star team. After his dismay, he further investigated to what extent I just haven't been paying attention, for years apparently. Later last evening, a different friend called me to tell me one of his projects was starting to get some air under its wings. He blessed me with the opportunity to get my name out there through an outlet of his creation, and asked me how my own projects were going. I told him the next book was due out in April. He asked me if I was working on the next one. I told him that I was working on a different series currently, but that the next five books of the series in question were already drafted. Again, there was silence on the line, though dismay is maybe an improper description.

So I guess I've given up things for all this focus. I haven't quite started stashing notes in my desk at work, pieces of plot and such, but I do tend to only catch the first half of things, or not at all. I prioritize in strange ways. So perhaps there will be commensurate payoffs as well.

I actually hung out with a writer friend recently that was pretty great. I'm not sure if it was the personal interaction or just the talking about stories but I left there, as always, thinking I should be doing that more. As luck would have it, he heard about a writer's group just the other day and told me that details would be forthcoming. And that his own projects are swimming along well. He's shifted from writing on his off days, pressuring himself into production, to getting up and writing some, even a little, every day. That's something I'm just not comfortable with, given my schedule. He's also a different kind of writer, than am I. He explores, fluidly ebbing and flowing with the story as he writes it. If he feels the need for a bird, he dots one in, like a painter, and later if it turns out he was wrong he easily removes it. By comparison mine could be described as more immutable. Pre-conceived, but difficult to change once chiseled into place.

I took a break from writing last weekend, the first in a while, but I feel good about getting back on the horse as it were. I don't think there's any more editing to do... I think... so I should be fairly distraction free. I had a sad moment when I remembered the short story I never wrote a few months back. I'm not even sure where the notes are. Nor am I sure where the time is for me to crank out a draft.

But then, it was with the first friend that I discussed the difference between hoping things would happen and making them happen. Finding the time versus making the time. So, I guess, I will be making the time soon. Perhaps it will be written just in time to share with a shiny new writer's group. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

All downhill

Well, it finally happened. I'm blogging about blogging. Still, despite this being another ill omen, I remain optimistic that the Mayans were wrong. Day by day, I find more things to add to my bucket list.

But back to my doom saying. Last weekend the picture taking progressed well.The photos were amateur of course, but I did do the driving and the walking and the shooting myself, so that's something. Further, among all the other things I was busy doing, I even jotted down some notes about what I would write. A tie in to my books developed that I was very pleased to stumble across.

The first round of edits went well, also. I had a window of ten days, and set out on a pace to complete the first round in seven, which allowed me to turn back around, as planned, and refine the beginning. I got it back to the editor in nine days, confident that I could put that book to the side for at least a few weeks while I worked on the current drafting project.

To that end I wrote, and was happy with the chapter that ended up being saved and backed up numerous times. However, I was wrong about that window of weeks. I mentioned before that this editor works very differently from the previous one I had. It turns out I was more correct than even I was aware. The turn around between the first round and second round was a matter of days. I was a little stunned.

So now I'm currently in the second round of edits, and I am committing to the same plan. This time, I combat the deadline for the blog I took all the photos for and the growing exhaustion over reading the same book repetitiously. I wondered openly in conversation with a friend about how other authors don't end up disliking the results after combing through them half a dozen times. Maybe, I thought out loud, that was a big requisite for going into the process super excited about whatever draft. Editing is a guarantee that dulls such excitement.

Last year, a writer friend told me publishing three books in one year was hard work. She is a pro at marketing and networking, so I assumed she meant all the smiling and hand shaking. But I think if I had to feel all year like I do right now, jumping from information form to information form, cover to cover, editing phase to editing phase, I might go a little crazy.

But then, whenever that cartoon man finds himself atop the giant rolling ball careening downhill, there's only one direction he can run, and he knows it has to be a sprint. There is no stopping, even though gravity has plans for him.

By the by, here's the new cover.