Monday, March 31, 2014

DFWcon: The Clock Strikes Thirteen

Yep, you read that right.  In thirteen hours, regular registration for DFWcon ends, and baby Toby will officially belong to the Goblin King.

Register, people.  For yourself.  For your writing career.  For David Bowie.

I saw my baby, trying hard as babe could try.  What could I do?

Friday, March 28, 2014

What You Give Up

Still alive!  Still deep in the trenches.  Going to write one hell of a "what I learned" post about my freshman year of publishing someday, but for now I got my hands full with the actual learning.  Suffice to say that I'm doing a pretty good job of holding my hair back while I cry glitter and barf rainbows, and I wouldn't trade places with anybody else in the world.

But my good buddy S.E. Dee put a blog post up this week, about how hard it is to keep going when your grip slips and suddenly the rock that is your story is rolling all the way back down the hill you've been sweating so hard to climb. 

When you’ve slipped up so bad, like so bad that whole chapters are getting demolished, characters obliterated and whole landscapes changed, moving forward is scary.
And boy ain't that the truth!  Here I think is the real beast of this whole writing gig: when you're in the trenches, your only objective metric for progress is your word count - and so often that goes right out the window.  Because you're ripping the stitches out of everything you wrote yesterday and the day before, or because you have to stop and do research, or because you're making yourself nuts trying to map out the exact distance from the Empire of Exposition to the Kingdom of Kickass and figuring out all the names of the twenty-seven elite Masters of Midge-Slapping. It is really hard to feel like a Real Writer when everything you've worked so hard on is slipping through your fingers like so much shitty, ungrateful sand.

So here's a list that I keep to look back at whenever I get frustrated or feel like I'm writing garbage:
  • TV
  • DnD sessions
  • video games
  • leisure reading
  • regular blogging (including this year's A to Z challenge)
  • friend emails
  • social media in general
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • critique group meetings

That up there is what I've stopped doing in order to make time to write.  Some of those things are on temporary hiatus (I NEED to catch up on my emails and my to-read pile, let me tell you), while others I gave up years ago. 

"Wow, Tex," you may say, "that makes you look like a really miserable, boring, un-fun person.  That doesn't sound healthy at all." 

"Sure," I'd tell you, "but you don't see what's not on there.  Going out to eat with my friends and making wedding invitations with my sister and having epic slap-fights with my cat while blasting 'The Bridge of Khazad-Dum' in the background.  The essentials are still getting done."

So here's my point.  You might spend hours doing homework without adding a word to your manuscript.  You might flush your whole manuscript and start over again.  You might stare at your keyboard until beads of blood appear on your forehead, praying for a good idea or a swift death.  But no matter what you do for your writing, you are by definition giving up something else to do it.  The words you write today might be gone tomorrow - but the hour of TV you didn't watch will stay unwatched. You spent your time on writing instead, literally bought and paid for your work with an hour or or three hours or ten hours or whatever... and as the Beanie Baby craze proved to us lo these many years ago, anything somebody is willing to pay for has value.  Even if you don't always love it.

And that's it.  That is my deep thought for the month; I hope you enjoyed it.  So what's on your list?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Everything I Want to Say About That Stephen King Quote on Adverbs

Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick. 

Ullman stood five-five, and when he moved, it was with the prissy speed that seems to be the exclusive domain of all small plump men. The part in his hair was exact, and his dark suit was sober but comforting. I am a man you can bring your problems to, that suit said to the paying customer. To the hired help it spoke more curtlyThis had better be good, you. There was a red carnation in the lapel, perhaps so that no one on the street would mistake Stuart Ullman for the local undertaker.

As he listened to Ullman speak, Jack admitted to himself that he probably could not have liked any man on that side of the desk—under the circumstances.

Ullman had asked a question he hadn’t caught. That was bad; Ullman was the type of man who would file such lapses away in a mental Rolodex for later consideration.

“I’m sorry?”

“I asked if your wife fully understood what you would be taking on here. And there’s your son, of course.” He glanced down at the application in front of him. “Daniel. Your wife isn’t a bit intimidated by the idea?”

“Wendy is an extraordinary woman.”

“And your son is also extraordinary?”

Jack smiled, a big wide PR smile. “We like to think so, I suppose. He’s quite self-reliant for a five-year-old.”

No returning smile from Ullman. He slipped Jack’s application back into a file. The file went into a drawer. The desk top was now completely bare except for a blotter, a telephone, a Tensor lamp, and an in/out basket. Both sides of the in/out were empty, too.

Ullman stood up and went to the file cabinet in the corner. “Step around the desk, if you will, Mr. Torrance. We’ll look at the hotel floor plans.”

He brought back five large sheets and set them down on the glossy walnut plane of the desk. Jack stood by his shoulder, very much aware of the scent of Ullman’s cologne. All my men wear English Leather or they wear nothing at all came into his mind for no reason at all, and he had to clamp his tongue between his teeth to keep in a bray of laughter. Beyond the wall, faintly, came the sounds of the Overlook Hotel’s kitchen, gearing down from lunch.

“Top floor,” Ullman said briskly. “The attic. Absolutely nothing up there now but bric-a-brac. The Overlook has changed hands several times since World War II and it seems that each successive manager has put everything they don’t want up in the attic. I want rattraps and poison bait sowed around in it. Some of the third-floor chambermaids say they have heard rustling noises. I don’t believe it, not for a moment, but there mustn’t even be that one-in-a-hundred chance that a single rat inhabits the Overlook Hotel.”

Jack, who suspected that every hotel in the world had a rat or two, held his tongue.

“Of course you wouldn’t allow your son up in the attic under any circumstances.”

“No,” Jack said, and flashed the big PR smile again. Humiliating situation. Did this officious little prick actually think he would allow his son to goof around in a rattrap attic full of junk furniture and God knew what else?

Ullman whisked away the attic floor plan and put it on the bottom of the pile.

“The Overlook has one hundred and ten guest quarters,” he said in a scholarly voice. “Thirty of them, all suites, are here on the third floor. Ten in the west wing (including the Presidential Suite), ten in the center, ten more in the east wing. All of them command magnificent views.”

Could you at least spare the salestalk?

But he kept quiet. He needed the job.

Heeeere's Johnny!