Monday’s Theme Music

Discussing my dreams with the cats as I fed the coffee maker and overfloofs, we went out for the paper and agreed, yep, just another day.

Paul McCartney’s song, “Another Day” (1971), squirted into my stream. Milliseconds later, I’m singing, “It’s just another day. At the office where the papers grow, she takes a break,
drinks another coffee and she finds it hard to stay awake, do do do dit do do. It’s just another day.”

The song is an observation of a woman’s life as she cleans, dresses, and works. Under that melody and the surface word, as they sing, “So sad, sometimes she feels so sad,” is a sense of milieu ringing through other pop-rock songs of that era, is this it? Is this life? And accepting that, yes, this is life, people hunt escape. It’s just another day, over and over and over, going through motions while looking and hoping for some unspoken other thing.

 

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Mirrored

He had no sense of direction, she noticed, but then she observed other oddities. When he entered a room, if the door was closed on his arrival, he left it open. If the light was off, he turned it on and left it on, and if it was on, he turned it off.

As she realized these things, she also saw that he was always confused about which pull to use on the up/down blinds, lowering them when he meant to raise them, exclaiming, “I don’t know why I can’t remember which one of these to use. I’m always doing this.” Of course you are, she thought without telling him. When she asked him to look right, he looked left, and when he was told to turn right, he often began turning left. Sometimes, she heard him tell something that he’d said as something that she’d said, insisting that the false memory was true.

With these traits piling up, it didn’t surprise her to realize that he always thought that lies were the truth, and that truths were lies. It was, she decided, that he lived in a mirrored world. With that observation, she understood him much better, and could use words to get her way.

And she lived happily ever after…

Saturday’s Theme Music

After feeding the cats, I read the news and skimmed social media while drinking a mornin’ cuppa. After reading a bit o’ America’s plight, the rush toward extinction of the Monarch Butterfly, some murder and scandal updates, I was ready to move on. Thinking, gotta get away from that same old, same old, I need a chance just to get away. If you could hear me thinking, this is what I’d say.

Poison’s song, “Nothin’ but a Good Time” (1988) burst into my stream. It was almost like their video.

Hah. Yeah, right.

 

 

April Showers 1921

I wrote about a new novel that came to me in a dream the other night (“Spinning Up”). One unmentioned aspect was the newly conceived novel’s cover. I saw it in the dream. The cover felt and looked so real and substantial to me that I was nonplussed. The title, April Showers 1921, was embossed gold letters on a silver cover. It seemed so real that I looked up the title to determine if that book already existed. Without surprise, I found songs, books, and short stories called April Showers, but none had the 1921 addition, and none featured silver and gold covers. I seem safe with it.

I’ve worked on April Showers 1921 some since dreaming about it, fleshing out characters, setting, and writing some scenes, but I didn’t throw myself into it. After two days of that, I wondered, why not? I realized that indecision caused by my greatest weakness, over-analysis, was paralyzing me once again.

It’s a familiar scenario. I overthink something. That drains my resources, and I stop making progress until I resolve what I’m overthinking.

Naturally, this paralysis is all founded on a writing issue, specifically — this time — finding an agent for the Incomplete States series. I think I’ve identified several potential agents. I narrowed my search to one lucky agent. I’ve written a synopsis and query letter. That’s where I stopped.

The Incomplete States series employs several styles. In terms of recent books, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. My series science-fiction infused, but its mostly literary, except the first novel has a science-fiction military noir feel to it. Fantasy flares strong in another book, while yet another has the sensibility of historic fiction.

Yes, I enjoy genre B&B – bending and blending – whether I’m reading or writing it.

On a side note, the great and all-knowing Internet says, don’t mention any of the rest of the series when seeking representation and publication of the first book.

For grins, I hunted down the rejection records for successful writers. I’ve followed this path before, so it’s very familiar to me.

J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times, you know. Dr. Suess was rejected twenty-seven times before he found a publisher willing to take a chance on his Cat in the Hat book. The author of  The Martian, Andy Weir, had given up on being published, but kept writing and self-published. When The Martian found success, publishers came running. Kathryn Stockett, The Help, was rejected over sixty times. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, had twenty-six rejections. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, twenty-two rejections. Twenty for William Goldberg, The Lord of the Flies. Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. Pretty amazing was that Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, experienced over one hundred rejections. After she self-published and had success, publishers came calling, and her novel was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for her performance.

There was also Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, over five times, and Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, rejected one hundred twenty-one times.

Reading about these rejections is invigorating and inspiring. You gotta have hope, optimism, belief, and determination. You gotta keep writing for the love of writing.

Writing about my paralysis cleared matters up and broke the log jam. (I now have a featured image of logs floating through my mind.) I’m ready to submit. (Ha, ha, I love how that can have multiple meanings.) All they can do is say no, right?

The day is full of promise. I got my coffee. Time to submit, and then write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.

Color

Red, white, and yellow peered out from the covers of foggy drizzle and gray sky, an aberration among the bare trees and stolid grave markers, calling to him out of their difference. Swinging that way, he strode past the long dead, eyes mostly on the colors, finding a small, cheery snowman in the decorations of poinsettias, daisies and lilies, along with a petite bluebird of happiness.

Reaching the stones, he stared down at them for a few seconds. He’d expected recent deaths, but none of those were recent. Grandfather and father, side-by-side, born seventeen years apart, had died in the early nineties. Grandmother – “I’m just taking a little nap” – was born in 1929 and passed in 2006. She was the most recent.

Son and brother, never forgotten, had been born the same year as him, 1956, but the dead man had preceded him by a few months. Son and brother had passed in 1974, the same year he’d graduated high school, the same year that he’d joined the military. He noticed son and brother was exactly eighteen years old when he died.

Nothing told him about their lives and deaths, nor why the graves had been visited, or who visited them. A recent windstorm had knocked some of the flowers over. Water filled the fake plants’ pots. He emptied the water, set everything upright, and arranged the flowers.

His journey was resumed, nothing learned. It was just a little color on a dreary winter day, a short break in the accumulation of miles.

Summing It Up

I finished editing and revising An Undying Quest. I didn’t think I’d finish it in 2018 but by ignoring time and doing nothing else, I did, without rushing or being hasty.

The ending satisfied me. I think the five books are sufficient for the Incomplete States series.

I want to write The Final Time. Coming to me as a collateral concept to Incomplete States as I finished writing the first five books, I wanted to explore it, and began writing it. I understand that urge — I write to think, and it was a tantalizing concept, so I wanted to know what I think about it and how it develops– but I now know that the series itself doesn’t need it. I can write it later as a sequel, if I want to do that.

So many collateral stories, tangents and sequels can be written from this series and explored. Because, like other writers have discovered, and I discovered for myself, we take a slice of existence and ideas, explore and populate them, and decide where we begin and end the story, but it’s all bit arbitrary. It’s something that comes to intellectually and emotionally satisfy the urge that prompted me to write it, that now satisfies me as a reader as I finish editing it.

So, I’m done. I have a first draft of the five books of the series. In the rosy afterglow of writing, editing, and revising the books, I feel satisfied with where I’ve gone and where I landed.

Other steps are required for publication, like proper editing. As other writers know, this glorious mess is probably still a bit of a mess. I’ll address them on another day. For now, I’ll relax and rejoice about what I’ve done and what I have.

As a favorite writer’s character once said, “Goodbye and hello, as always.”

That pretty well sums it up.

Winding Down…

It’s not really winding day, but a pause, isn’t it?

I speak for myself. Immersing myself in reading, researching, and writing, I often pay scant attention to days passing, preferring to think in terms of how much writing has progressed, and what’s left. I’m pausing for New Year’s Eve and Day, mostly because my wife wants to celebrate it, places are closed for this thing called a holiday, and stagnant air and freezing fog undermine my spirit. The net of those laborious sentences is that I’m pausing for a day.

You guys out there in blogger land give me fabulous support. Reading about your projects, ideas, lives, setbacks, hopes, frustrations, and takes on life — humorous and otherwise — is tremendously helpful for me. In our secret but public blogging world, we discover that we’re not as alone as we think, that many of us share the same despair and frustration, that dreams are sometimes achieved, that others are cheering for us, and that ordinary non-famous people are often pretty damn amazing and talented.

I always say that we live and exist on multiple spectrums. In a large sense, our spectrum of experiences helps us create our identity, explore our existence, and expand our knowledge. These blogs you all write and share help others expand their spectrums, if they choose to explore.

Thanks for opening up and sharing. Hope you all have a creative and successful year in 2019 and beyond.

Cheers

Rough Diamonds

I’d hoped to have finished editing An Undying Quest, the fifth novel in the Incomplete States series by yesterday. Only two chapters, forty pages remained three days ago.

Issues were encountered. The chapters suffered from being the last ones written. As the final chapters, they’d not been polished, edited, and revised as the others had. They were raw, beta chapters. They needed work.

Among the issues encountered were a brief POV change and a few matters of grammar and punctuation. Dialogue needed tidying, but most critically, details were needed.

I love reading details in novels. I think they often add immense value. That’s how I tend to write, then. Not in the beta draft, though.

In writing’s first rush, I capture scenes and action, coloring in broad, fast strokes. It’s an intense rush. They’re here, they’re there, they did this, and then that, which resulted in this, but unexpectedly —

The writing is bang, bang, bang, bang. Even when they’re action scenes, more is required after that first rush to help the scenes breath and flow together. Sometimes changes are required to adjust to the characters’ past, and sometimes continuity matters exist.

I instantly realized that I’d not polished the chapters. The difference was clear because the reading cadence was mildly askew. That realization tempered my approach. I read both chapters completely before doing anything except fixing the most basic errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Everything else was left untouched until I knew the entire picture. After reading them, I’d established strong ideas about what to addressed, and then began reading, revising, and editing the chapter again.

So, An Undying Quest isn’t fini yet. I’d hoped to complete it by Christmas, and then by the end of the year. That may still happen today. I won’t rush it. I don’t want to be hasty or lazy. Number one, I enjoy the process. Number two, I don’t want to sabotage myself for such a silly, random idea as a self-imposed deadline.

Time to edit and write like crazy, at least one more time in 2018.

Weird

I don’t recall any dreams from last night. Even when I don’t post about my dreams, I usually remember multiple scenes, if not entire dreams. (Or, maybe I convince myself that I remember them, and the muses feed details to fill in the vacuum.) After days of often chaotic, stormy dreams that battered my psyche, experiencing this lack of dreams calms and relaxes me.

It’s weird, though. I’m accustomed to waking up and processing dreams. Not having them to process leaves me with a lot of free time. It’s like finishing a large project and then looking around and saying, now what?

 

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