Once Again

Fabulous of writing like crazy. Started early, didn’t take my dog. Don’t have one. Sorry. Didn’t take any of my cats, either.

I know, I know, you weary of reading these self-congratulatory blog posts. I don’t blame you. I weary of writing them.

But, publicly celebrating small successes isn’t something that I do well. To others, I continue a Sphinx imitation. “How’s your writing going?” they ask. “Good, thanks,” I reply. Smile for effect.

But what am I going to tell them? So I turn to this as an outlet, the carrot with which to beat myself as part of my encouragement. Did you know that many writers write alone? I am one of them. Because of that, writing can be a lonely but satisfying endeavor.

You don’t need to read this, but I need to write this. I need to post it and publish it. It’s all part of confronting and pushing myself. It works for me.

Done writing like crazy. Let’s go for a walk to think about what’s been done and what’s to come.

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The Flowing Dream

Posting a great deal today, I know. I blame the dream. 

Last night’s dreamisode had me spilling out out of myself. See, I was me, and the hairy flesh-colored white male that I am, except I spilled out like mercury, flowing over sidewalks and streets, splashing around buildings, plants, and fire hydrants.

I’d been walking through a warm, sunny day in downtown Ashland when this began. I didn’t understand what was happening at first, and then, I panicked, because, oh my God, I’m all over the place. I worried about people walking on me, or having my liquid flesh clogging the sewer drains and drowning others. In a fit of Lucille Ball-like comedy, I scrambled to collect myself and return my mercury-ness to my corporal existence, scooping up handfuls of myself and shoving it into my shirt and jeans. But I couldn’t hold onto myself. It just flowed through my fingers. As my efforts to collect myself wasn’t working, I just let it flow.

Then I was sitting, trying to understand what was happening. Settling back, I watched me flow across the land. My body, like went around others, but didn’t kill them. They embraced it with surprise. As I sat on a chair by a table on a patio and watched myself flowing out, I saw that there was more, that I wasn’t everyone, that I was spreading, but I was still there. I wondered, how far do I go?

With more astonishment, I saw that where I flowed, other things grew and flourished. I wasn’t killing anything at all. Whether the light had changed or my vision was clearer, the day seemed brighter. As I watched, I realized that I was growing even as I sat. From where I sat, I began to see over trees and houses. Soon I saw across the valley and then over the mountains, to the beach and the sea.

Then, in a part that brought tears to my eyes in the dream, the sun was rising wherever I looked. Even as I thought, that’s not possible, I saw, but, yes, that’s what’s happening.

The dream ended.

***

I’d forgotten the dream until I was walking and thinking about my character, Anders, and who he was. In a flash I remembered the dream. I was walking in Ashland, and for a startling moment, I felt like I was in the dream, and experienced this bizarre sense of duality. As that passed, I sharply aligned with Anders and who he was. A black teenager in America, I was trying to get a handle on him, but then saw that I was tagging him through the prisms of my experiences.

He, though, doesn’t think like us, not because of his skin color, but because of his generation. His parents are black, and he loves and respects them, but their experiences don’t shape him. To him, that’s an old way of being. The new way is to shape himself. He eschews and shuns much of popular culture because of that because popular culture attempts to normalize him and push him to conform to a popular conception of who he should be, what he should buy, and how he should behave. Anders rejects and resists that.

As I explored him and his friends, I saw all of this, and how it applied to them. We have stereotypes of our segments of culture and society, from the one percent down to the homeless, from the self-proclaimed Greatest Generation through the Boomers and the rest. Anders and his friends are resisting being called a generation. They’re seeing and seeking fragmentation, breaking old norms and behavior. They don’t want to build something new; they just want freedom to find for themselves if there’s something new out there. 

They think there is something new. They can’t see it, but they’re looking through other’s eyes. It’s not until they can find their own way of seeing that they’ll discover their own country.

***

After all of that, it was a powerful and liberating day of writing like crazy. I know that it’s silly, but I felt privileged and flattered to have experience that dream, because it felt so empowering. I felt special, humbled, and amazed as I wrote.

The session is over. Time to go on to other things.

What’s What

Out of what I am, what I read, what I know, imagine, and think, come thoughts that I didn’t know, things absorbed which now push up out of my mind’s mantle of thinking and into the novel.

The characters develop sympathies that I didn’t expect. Vulnerabilities and phobias that I’ve never known are introduced. Their attitudes harden. The new attitudes shape their directions and decisions, flexing the story’s direction.

I play catch up with my thinking, but I’m always falling behind. The characters and I go through the story together, seeing what happens and catching our breath.

It’s been a good day of writing like crazy, but it’s left me somber and reflective. After all that’s happened so far, the main character now faces a large metal door. It seems to be brushed steel.

We’re both waiting for it to open.

Even as I contemplate it, the door sneaks open. Whispers of the next conversation float out. “Who are you?”

“I think that’s my line.”

“How’d you get here?”

“That’s also my line.”

So it begins unfolding as doubt and confusion wrestles with truth and expectations, and story forms.

Another day of writing done and gone, at least one more time.

 

Negotiations

Thinking about my writing process this morning, I think I may have left people with the impression that my muses just dictate to me. That’s a false impression. I write about it in that vernacular a lot because of how the entire process ends up happening, but it’s more involved than that. I’m sure most understand that, but as I’m overly bent toward being pedantic and over-analytical, I’m going to enlarge on my process.

The muses fill me with a concept, general story arc, and the main character. A few other characters and some reveal points follow. This all happens very fast. Ideas constantly bang on my mind to enter the writing realm. Many are rejected outright. Some are briefly entertained about how they can be expanded. Others get a more thorough mind treatment but had deferred until later (which may not ever come).

A few ideas enter the writing hopper where they’re given more writing cogitating time. This is where the muses really enter, tossing ideas about the story and how it can develop. Sometimes, these come on very strong, concrete, and specific. When that triumvirate arises, the writing urge is ignited. It then depends on my schedule and projects that are underway. When I was younger, I split myself between projects. With more experience, I’ve developed a routine of focusing on one project until it reaches some stage of completion. They’re then often edited and revised. After that, they can go in different directions.

Meanwhile, my organic writing-like-crazy process isn’t that straightforward. The muses suggest and I counter suggest. I’ll often consider and present multiple possibilities for character development, story arcs, and how a scene goes. I present them to the muses. They reject, accept, or modify them.

Even then, when I sit down to write, it often doesn’t come out as envisioned. Things take place that I never foresaw. This is the true writing-like-crazy process, and when I give full control to the muses. It comes out and I do my best to type it up without analyzing it or putting it into perspective with the rest of the story, arcs, etc. That comes afterward, when I think about where this piece has taken me and what needs to change, along how it’ll be changed, and why it needs to change.

Of course, the muses and the entire process is mine. There aren’t little elves or gorgeous creatures inhabiting and haunting me, telling me what to write. What I call out as the muses is a deeper subconscious level of thinking and creativity that seems to work at high levels of complexity and speed, and its my intuition. I can’t keep up with that thinking on my conscious levels. I’ve learned to trust that process, not because of great creative or critical success, but because, from that process comes the story-telling, novels, and tales that I enjoy. I write for myself. It saddens me that others don’t enjoy it. I hope that’ll change someday, preferably while I’m alive.

Likewise, when I say that the characters have taken over, I’m using a shorthand to describe a process. The characters were put into a situation. I thought about what could happen and different directions that they might take, and then let it settle into my subconscious mind’s chasms for greater process. Results then spring out when I sit down to write. Sometimes, of course, they spring out beforehand, and sometimes they just explode into my thinking an awareness at awkward moments. Words heard or read, realizations, photographs, a piece of song, a splash of light, a burst of noise…multiple things trigger that explosion.

In the end, my process is all about negotiations, negotiations about how commercial or artistic I’ll let myself flow, the directions I do and don’t want to take, and my acceptance to write like crazy, accept that it needs work, and then keep working on it later, and the intuition to accept this feels right, coupled with the understanding, nothing is permanent. Better ways might emerge. Stay open to them.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy. at least one more time.

Lapses

I fumbled through routines. Did I feed the cats? Yes, I remembered, I did.

But I didn’t bring in the paper. Oh, yeah, go get it.

I forgot my gloves. Right, go get them.

Jesus, I forgot that refrigerator light bulb. That’s right, that’s right, I planned to go to Ace and get that after I’m done writing, and wanted that bulb with me. Christ, go get it.

You better think. Do you have everything else?

I thought about it. I’d begun the morning by thinking about an intense dream I had. Then the muses took over, writing in my head. They revealed why the other character hadn’t joined yet, and gave me more insight into her eventual appearance.

Scenes kept flowing through me on an unstoppable course. As it happens when the muses push hard, my imagination became switched on full. Story and characters flowed, along with poems and floofinitions.

In the end, though, I had to shove all that aside and re-focus energy and attention on April Showers 1921. It became one of those sessions of typing fast and hard, leaving my coffee almost full, just, I think, a sip and a gulp consumed before I launched into full writing mode.

Finally, three thousand words later, the muses relented. A stop was ordered. I reckoned seventy-five minutes had passed. It felt like I’d totally been in that church were the scenes were taking place, and not in a coffee shop table, typing on a laptop. I’d ignored my posture, of course, so my shoulders were achy from being hunched over and typing as fast as I could.

Good day of writing like crazy. These days are not terribly frequent, but I love them when they come.

Something in the Coffee

There’s something in the coffee, some sort of quantum additive that accelerates time. That must be the case, because I can’t believe that January, 2019, is done. How else can this be explained? Over eight twelve percent of the new year has passed. Can we still call it a new year, or is it now a mildly used year?

Hoping all you writers and dreamers out there are keeping up, pacing yourself with the pursuit of your goals and dreams. I’ve started out strong, I’m pleased to mention. Four on Kyrios is out with twenty agents.

Meanwhile, I’m writing a new novel, April Showers 1921. This is a return to ground processed before, a young adult SFF novel. The novel concept and cover streamed into my dreams at the year’s beginning, and I took off after it.

AS1921 has been a challenge to write. Numero uno, I’m writing in a much younger voice. It’s harder to get into their skins. Numero dos, scenes and dialogue keep pouring into me. I try keeping up, but, numero trey, the novel is much faster paced than I expected. I keep challenging that pace, suggesting to my muses, “Aren’t we going too fast?” They tell me, “Just write what we tell you.”

Yes, the muses are demanding and arrogant as always. I don’t know why I’m always expecting them to be friendlier and more relaxed. I take what they dish out because I don’t want to scare them off. I’ll endure their demands as long as they keep delivering.

I’ll write what and as they tell me now because I can always edit, revise, and slow the pace later. They vex me, though. They’ve given me five main characters, and yet they’ve kept one of those characters off the page through the first four chapters. I’ve asked them, how is that character going to join the story? When? They’ve stayed mute about that, but typing that sentence just triggered the flash of a scene. I’m beginning to suspect the muses are keeping some things back because they see how overwhelmed I am by their pace. I would be angry, but I’m too grateful.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time in 2019. Cheers

The Fighter-jet Dream

Many recent dreams have been like movies or television shows. Often feeling they’re part of a larger series, I often don’t see myself in them. Instead, I’m a viewer.

So last night’s dream was a break from that routine. My and my jet were the primary leads.

Living in a huge, hyper-modern city, I became aware that it was going to be attacked. Warnings were going out. In response, me and another person climbed into our jet-aircraft. In design, they seem like single-seat twin-engine F-15 Eagles, but flatter and smaller, and dark, dark blue in color. Blue dominated the dream. Except for the jets’ exhaust flames, which were blue with yellow, and the final celebration rockets, everything was blue.

Incoming aircraft were reported. We scrambled, lighting a darkening dusk sky with our twin after-burners. I was lead. My wing-man was immediately attacked. Unable to lose his attacker, I stalked the aircraft, causing them to break off their attack on my guy. Flashing around the city’s sky, the other tried and failed to lose me. My aircraft was incredibly responsive, and I displayed a staggering mastery of its capabilities, so much , that in the dream, I thought, the aircraft and I are one.

Finally lining up a shot, I fired a missile at the attacker. It struck his aircraft, causing it to begin breaking up, giving him time to eject.

Afterward, I took my aircraft high over the city and throttled back. My companion joined me. The air was clear. It was night. It felt like we were on the edge of space.

Other aircraft were inbound to attack. He and I went at them. Multiple intense aerial combat scenes followed. Most vividly remembered is a scene where I was being chased. I took my aircraft down along the frozen blue river that bisected the city. My aircraft flashed under blue bridges at hyper-sonic speed. Unwilling to follow me there, the enemy broke off and climbed. Standing my aircraft up on its tail, I climbed up after him, and took him out.

That’s what was interesting about the dream. I was often in my cockpit as me. But other times, I could see myself in the cockpit, or I was watching the action from a third person POV. Whichever happened, I always knew it was me.

After we’d thwarted the attack, I radioed back to the command center to inform them that the city was safe once again. Feeling so brave and pleased with the result, I took my aircraft on a high-speed acrobatic flight over the city, and then, in a surprising twist, fired off colorful sky rockets to celebrate.

It was a damn good feeling.

I had no trouble relating this dream to my life, especially my writing and publishing efforts. My moods travel through a monthly cycle. I’m trending up this week. That translates to being incredibly optimistic and hopeful, truly on top of the world, ma. The dream reflects those emotions, taking off flying, being in control, and winning.

My last writing effort, Four on Kyrios, is out to several agents, awaiting their response. Meanwhile, the newest novel, April Showers 1921, is being dictated at breath-taking speed. I’m struggling to keep up with it. Its pace has startled me, and it’s twists and turns surprise me.

All of that fits with the dream. Even the dream’s blue coloring is cited as being optimistic by one source: “The presence of this color in your dream may symbolize your spiritual guide and your optimism of the future. You have clarity of mind. ” Of course, in their next sentence, they say, “Alternatively, the color blue may also be a metaphor for “being blue” and feeling sad.” But I like the first one better.

Time to write like crazy at least one more time.

This Phase

I began a new novel project at the beginning of the new year, April Showers 1921. I’m in the exploratory phase. While the character, story, and its cover popped up in a dream, and I can see it and hear the characters and story, sometimes ‘watching it’ like I’m seeing it on a television or movie screen. Then I’m scrambling to capture all the details, translate them to words, get the order right, and get it on paper.

It’s difficult. The pace is fast and relentless. My brain power lacks the capacity to absorb it.  Stopping to do and enjoy other things is hard because novel scenes are always popping out. Details spring into mind in the middle of conversations with other people. When I’m in an actual writing session and everything is channeled into a coherent order, the inexorable flow quickens. The faucet is opened but I have no control over the volume that pours into me. Becoming intense and exciting, I fall behind again, forcing me to break off and pace to regain control, take a deep breath, and go at it again.

I also want to jump ahead to learn more about the villains. They intrigue me, but my muses are being coy about them. They offer tantalizing glimpses but won’t let me see the whole thing yet.

Yeah, weird, but it’s my process. If I could, I’d just stay here with this novel, hour after hour, watching, listening, shaping and writing. I’d probably deprive myself of sleep and exercise, but not coffee, water, and food – a man needs to know his limitations.

I remind myself of my basic writing approach.

  1. Discipline: write every day.
  2. Patience: it’ll all come. Just keep writing.
  3. Persist: stay with the story and keep moving it forward.
  4. Write like crazy: capture what I can as I can, and then edit, polish, revise, and re-order scenes and paragraphs as necessary.
  5. Finish. The goal isn’t just to write but to tell a story in a novel.

These sessions leave me spent, as you can probably understand. I vex others because most energy is being diverted into writing this novel while I submit my last finished work to agents in search of publication.

The coffee shop is closing, and they’re kicking us out. It’s their usual Sunday thing. Done writing like crazy, at least for now.

Next

You’ve slip into another life, putting on their skins. You pick up on their words. Their thoughts and feelings float into you. You begin to appreciate who they are.

Surroundings emerge. The plot rises. Events become clearer with a sudden squirt. You’ve followed paths that you didn’t know existed. They twist into surprising turns. The characters become deeper than you’d known. Sharper edges develop on their worlds. Their love and pain quickens as their direction grows crisper.

You walk with them, feeling it all, wanting to cry, and sometimes laughing, standing aside as you witness their existence and embrace them. Insights into their relationships develop stronger pulses. Typing and thinking, picking through words, you strive to keep up the best that you can. Their lives and times overpowers yours, and then, you stop for the day and think with a soft, private sigh, I miss them.

And you wonder, will they be okay? What’s going to happen to them?

What’s going to happen?

You think you should know because you’re the writer, the artist behind these ideas, but really, you’re just transcribing. It’s all going on whether you write it down or not.

That’s what happens when you write like crazy.

 

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