Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coping With Doubt

If I had to pick the worst of my flaws, I could honestly say it begins and ends with doubt. This isn’t to say that my other flaws are trivial, but this particular one has plagued me for as long as I can remember.

In the past, I have blogged about fear holding people back. That they might fail, or sometimes, the greater fear lies with success. That is a major factor in doubt, but it isn’t fear in the Paranormal Activity sort of way. It is the belief that my work isn’t good enough. I doubt often that I am a great enough writer to find a living in this industry, or that my stories aren’t creative or original enough. In some cases this might be true, but that arguing notion of doubt is what keeps me from growing as an author or as a person.

It grips me in fits of apathy, in mindless bouts of writers block, and in excessive procrastination. It is the reason why I have multiple short stories sitting idly in a folder, unedited and unsubmitted. It is why I look at the massive manuscript for Human Echoes, afraid to tear into its pages with a red pen and a clear mind.

As far as dealing with doubt, I have not found a clear way to get past it. I have proven my uncertainties wrong on numerous occasions, and prevailed when I believed I would falter. The fact that I have a manuscript to edit is a testament to this, but now I must find the resolve to keep going; to not squander these countless hours, and to seek out the conclusion to my own story.

I would like to apologize if any of this sounds cliché, but I needed an outlet to review the problem. Due to the public nature of this forum, it may not be the greatest venue, but I know I cannot be the only one that deals with doubt frequently.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Wow, already on the last week of March and I am nowhere near where I should be. I will be lucky to break fifty percent of my writing goals for the month. As far as streaks go, I haven’t been able to write more than 500 words for about 21 days. This has been a pretty terrible streak, and it has brought me out of the habit of writing daily. I worked pretty hard to make that a habit over the past few months, and I really hope I can get back to it. I will be focusing on just hitting daily goals over the next few weeks, even if the content isn’t quite up to my standards.

Thankfully, last night I ran across an idea that I was able to run with. It is teetering between flash and a standard length short story at the moment, and is called Sublimation of Souls. Of course my understanding of sublimation being rudimentary at best, I may need to change the title. I would provide an excerpt, but it is still a bit too raw, and I am not sure what will be included.

Along with this, I am working on a few outlines for my next novel idea. It would be nice to have such a large scale project again to eat up my daily word count goals. I have three short stories and a novel to edit as well though, so I am not entirely sure what to expect of my April word counts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Desperately Seeking Words

I have had a few slumps since I started writing again, but usually they were countered with good ideas or simply being busy. This time, I have no excuses; I just simply cannot seem to find the words or the stories. It has been ten days since I have written more than a few sentences. Quite frankly, it’s getting exhausting.

Maybe there isn’t enough conflict in my life right now. Not enough bitterness and anger to work with. I always write better when I am busy and having to fit it in short bursts. Right now I have entirely too much time to sit and stare at that damned blinking cursor.

A short story acceptance would be good too, random editors who have my work, I’m looking at you! A small victory right now would get me motivated again, or at least thinking of new stories. Even writing a 200 word blog post is painful right now.

If you will all excuse me, I’m going to go on a five episode binge of Breaking Bad until something comes to me. That show is excellent by the way; I would recommend it to anyone reading this blog. Maybe the death professor has something for me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comfort


If there is a singular problem with people today, especially Americans, is that we continuously confine ourselves in what we know. The unyielding spirit and the need to explore have been relegated to brief moments of our childhood. We aren’t taught to endure, to persist beyond the pain and heartache of our trials. We are specifically taught to fear the tribulations of our time. To let someone else take care of it so we can park in front of the TV.

Quite frankly, the concession of our dreams to comfort is unacceptable. The security of what we know tempts us with submission. If we are to move forward as people, as a species, then we must overcome our own fears. We need to challenge the beliefs of others, as well as our own. We need to build a foundation of character if we are to advance. To strike down apathy based on the fear of the unknown.

How my generation fits in with the annals of American history remains to be seen. I hope that we can find our own identity. That we can find solutions to the problems other generations have given up on fixing. To be proud of the product of our toils, as well as the sweat and labor it took to get there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Important Reminder on Heroes


(Thank you sherdog.com for the image)

"This is what you call a one shot deal and I don't come back for any late show, honey. No I have not practiced the jump, because there is no use practicing something you cannot miss, and if I miss the jump in a test run that means I'm dead and I will not ever get to do it for real, so this is what you call a fucking one shot deal. This helmet is to protect me from my own momentum; this costume is to protect you from the realness of what is happening here. I am calling on death, and she comes growling and snapping into the arena opens her jaws up wide on both sides of my landing ramp, gasoline, throttle, thumbs up, open her up, let the arrow fly, and tear into the fabric of an instant. Where you can live an entire lifetime in the stardusted flashbulb infinity of a launch into impossible space that climbs to the top of its arc and beats the sky back another inch. Only to crumble and collapse, only to fall and return to the earth with no illusions of immortality and pay the cost of dreaming." – B. Dolan “The Skycycle Blues”


Sometimes an individual moment of defeat stretches past the few moments of its climax. A single fight, the fifteen potential minutes wrapped in the cage under the crowd chanting your name, praying for magic. They howl and shout, begging for that old left hand to find pay dirt. To find that miracle, that glimmer of hope, that surge in your heart that means so much more than the violence inflicted.

Only it never comes. The hero, the legend, the simple man, gets dragged to the mat. The choke sinks, and like our champion on the ground, the air starts to leave the crowd. The uproar falls away to the sound of tapping and announcers pretending they are pleased with the performance.

I sit in the comfort of my home, watching a man pour his soul into the microphone. His tears ebb slowly, as the fighter tells us that he can’t hurt us like this any longer. He apologizes to us, even though his heartbreak is shown on his battered face. The fans, who venture nothing, and suffer only by sharing the dying dream of this man, cheer mournfully.

In victory, even his opponent gives into emotion. He struck the deathblow to his idol’s career, and no one could really blame him for it. Mixed Martial Arts isn’t a place for mercy or compassion.

Jens Pulver, you are still a hero to me. Your life has been one of constant struggle. Each day you have faced adversity in multiples beyond what I could endure. I hope someday we can see you get your hand raised in victory one last time. To see that warrior spirit flourish, and for that evil left hand to find dominion in the ring. Good luck.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Editing Troubles


Lately, I have actually been getting a little bit of work done. The first draft of Human Echoes is finished, though I have already decided to enact some major changes. I have two short stories waiting to be edited as well. The problem I have now is with proofreading.

I can usually give myself an honest assessment on the quality of my writing, but finding an impartial opinion as of late has been ridiculously difficult. Most of my friends will simply tell me “I liked it.” Which is of course, great, but I feel that these final drafts are not as polished as they should be. I need a few harsh critics. People that aren’t afraid to hurt my feelings if need be. I would be glad to read over their work as well.

Where do most beginning writers find stiff critiques? Is it usually in some local writing circle? I have been avoiding the one in my city because of the outrageous monthly fees. Do you go to online forums? Should I beg old teachers and professors? If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Wonders of Auto Save


My dear and ever faithful computer is becoming very ill. I’m not sure exactly what the problem is yet, but my instincts are telling me that this might be hardware related. I’ve had this one since my junior year of high school. Yet I have kept it in great working order. I have not encountered a game it wouldn’t play or a program that it wouldn’t run. I named it Radamus Crunk, successor to Cornelius Funk, and partner to Thalonious Monk, my laptop.

The reasons this pain me are many, the first being that I simply can’t afford a new tower to my specifications. That is of course worst case scenario, but it does not seem entirely out of the question. The second is that I always become very fond of my electronics. When you spend so much time working with them, they become less a reliable tool and more an essential fixture in your everyday life. Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else feel that way?

This brings me to my next point. The auto save feature just kept me from losing nearly 2500 words. I realize this isn’t the largest number, but when you are just breaking through a fit of writers block, it is quite substantial. I can only imagine what it would have done to my morale if MS Word hadn’t saved my progress. Thanks Microsoft. We have a love hate relationship at times, but you had my back this time.

I don’t intend to let Radamus go quietly. I will don my latex gloves and static strap, and begin my work. We’ll get through this together old buddy, and if you don’t make it, at least half of you will find a new home. Thankfully, you don’t need a donor card for that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The February Report



Pathetic Dachshund wishes you all a Happy Valentines, Presidents, and various other arbitrary holidays Day. Now that February is over, maybe we can all get some work done.

Looking over these numbers, I have to say that I am once again disappointed in my efforts. I allowed a few writing funks that I got into to get in the way of progress. I told myself I would make it up in the past few days, but actually got caught up in reading. I finished both of The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins over the past 72 hours. That sort of obliterated my writing time, but I was very happy to find myself lost in a story again. It had been far too long since I holed myself up and powered through a couple of books.

On the year, I am more than 10,000 words behind. I need a good month to start making up on that number, but I will try to get back to completing my daily goals. I also really need to finish Human Echoes so I can start cutting it down. It has sprawled to nearly 100,000 words on its own. Considering the genre averages, I think I might need to take it down to around 80,000.

Does anyone else near obsessively track their word counts? I only have one spreadsheet right now for everything, but I feel like I should be generating a few more for individual stat breakdowns.

Here’s to a better March.

For the month of February:

Monthly Goal: 28,000
Words Written: 22,000
Words Over/Under: -6,000
Percentage: 78% of goal completed

Writing Breakdown:

Human Echoes: 16,782
Delectable Cruelty: 1,239
Untitled Short: 1,331
This Blog: 2,571
 
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