Monday, September 27, 2010

Evernote for Writing

I have never been all that organized, especially with my writing. Recently I have been looking through my old notebooks, the insides of which are scrawled top to bottom in a nearly illegible brick of sloppy script.

For the most part, I just worked through it. I felt that the end manuscript mattered so much more than the notes, and that a system was unnecessary. Then I found Evernote. For those of you that have been avoiding cloud computing for a while, it is a comprehensive note-taking program that can sync with your computer and phone. I use a Mac at work, a windows computer at home, and an Android phone, all of which sync perfectly.

For someone like me, who carries his phone to the ends of the earth (I went hiking around 12,000 feet with it not terribly long ago), it is beyond convenient to be able to create notes with such ease. The interface is simple to the point of idiot proof, and can be learned in a few minutes.

As I have stated in a few articles before, I am trying to do a better job of outlining. I want my next novel to be more concise, and to have a clearer idea of where it is going. Trying to trim a 105,000-word novel down to 80,000 isn’t an easy task, and hopefully this will save me some work. My outlines currently exist entirely in Evernote.

I still carry paper notebooks with me at all times, but at the end of each day, I try to transfer my notes into Evernote. It helps to clarify and reinforce the ideas I had, as well as dismiss the half-witted concepts that somehow find their way to my writing.

Either way, I would recommend it to writers, and anyone else who has to do a lot of note taking. My job requires most people to leave a path of sticky notes everywhere they go, and I was able to eliminate that. Not to sound like a shill, but I am now an avid user of this software.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Great Mumbling

Under most circumstances, I can prattle on about random subjects without trouble. I have been called Mr. Wikipedia because of this in the past, and the name made sense. This isn't to say that I entirely have the gift of gab, but I do believe I have my moments.

That is, until I start talking about my own writing. For some reason, when someone asks what my new novel is about, or how a short story is coming along, I freeze up. Normally coherent and clear thoughts turn to jelly, and I am left with descriptions that would make the average English speaker face palm.

I'm not really sure if this relates to confidence in my writing, or that I am feeling pressure to keep someone from thinking less of me as a writer.

Come to think of it, I have always had a problem writing synopses and descriptions of my work. Brevity was never a strong suit of mine. It is part of the reason why I am dreading doing queries, and why I have avoided submitting to certain markets. I would say that it is rather odd for an editor to ask for a description on a piece of flash fiction. That just seems lazy to me.

I will have to work on this. Queries are an essential part of publishing, and so are descriptions. I can't change that, but I can try to change habits. As far as speaking, I think I just need to talk about my work more often. Being in a new work environment invites the question much more often, so I will have chances to practice my descriptions.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Trends

I was notified the other day that my new sci-fi manuscript is hitting a new trend. It seems that the idea of implants and human enhancement are big topics in new sci-fi novels. I thought the idea had been around for a while, but several blogs have indicated that it is now a hot topic.

This would not be the first time this has happened. I started writing a zombie novel in a time where they are starting to overtake vampires in popularity. I didn’t intend to do this, at least not for simple publication reasons; I have just been a fan for a long time.

The question of originality starts to surface when I hear about these trends. I feel like I have written ideas that on their own are original, but are still parts of long standing genres. At minimum, a new take on an old subject. I don’t want my work to be looked at as following sales trends, but so far I am two for two on manuscripts.

It also worries me, that with how fast this industry changes, that people may burn out on these topics before my books get a chance. I don’t want editors slapping a moratorium on zombie based novels simply because it was a fad running its course. I want them to read it and judge the story itself. I also worry that with the length of time it takes before a book gets published, that my novels could fall into obscurity if they did make it out into the world. If Zombies were no longer a hot topic, and my book were to fail, I wonder what sort of impact it would have on me as a writer.

Of course, there is always the option of self-publishing. I could have my book ready somewhat quickly, and avoid the long wait times. There is a pretty clear question of credibility and quality in self-publishing, but I will bridge that gap when I get there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WIP Wednesday: In The Mist

Anyone who knows me very could tell you about my love for Vikings. Those fuzzy mountains of men, the type who drank mead, plundered European countryside’s, and often made habitual public coitus, hold a special place in my view of manliness. I bet you they never even knew how to use a straw or what a scarf is. I can even like the Minnesota kind so long as they aren’t playing the Broncos.

Anyway, my current short story is about a pale American man whose Viking ancestry is awoken when his Mother-in-Law and her red Cadillac come to town. Will he have to slay the beast? Will he make public whoopee in front of a rent-a-cop? Who knows, only one thing is certain; she always comes in the mist.

(P.S. I know it sounds lame, give me a break, I need something to drive my word count.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mondays Suck

Oy. Some of these mornings hurt.

Waking up as the sun is rising should feel more rewarding. Watching the orange rays breach through puffs of wispy clouds usually feels like an accomplishment, at least, after my morning Monster.

Only those weren’t clouds this morning.

The scent that faintly greeted me this morning was that of a morning campfire. I immediately wanted marshmallows and a tin cup filled with rum. Then I remembered that it wasn’t a campfire, but a valley in the next town over. A late season fire had started, and containment is nowhere in sight.

When I got to work, the smoke was so bad that it felt like a Viking fog had rolled into the parking lot. My eyes watered and turned bloodshot, and the air felt acrid in my lungs. Children with asthma were already being sent home, though most lived in the same neighborhood so their symptoms would remain. I thought it was terrible until a coworker was talking about their friend’s house being in the immediate path of the flames.

My Monday is just fine compared to theirs. I wish them the best, and same to the firefighters working to put it out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Projects on Projects

It really is amazing what happens when you refuse to look at your backlog for a little while. There is an oddly terrifying and sometimes growing pile of perfectly bleached office paper on a table next to my desk. It is filled with stories that all lack that a finished shine they deserve.

Following through with projects has always been a weak point of mine. I started another book before really editing my last one. I have written four short stories in the time it took me to edit a single one. I would say that is starting to look like a trend. This weekend I am hoping to look over Human Echoes for a while, and maybe a few short stories as well.

Not having stories to submit isn’t the only problem that comes from this. I’m really starting to see that I have hit a small plateau with my writing ability. Though my story crafting seems to be coming around, my previous lack of editing has hindered me. I haven’t taken the time to look over my mistakes to learn from them, I simply kept treading forward, adding to my own ignored slushpile. Besides, it will help my confidence immensely to have four or five stories being looked over by editors rather than just the one.

One last little note on here. I am debating saving my sci-fi story for NaNoWriMo, and working on Human Echoes till then. I know this is what I should probably do, but not writing when I have an idea seems really odd.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Refreshing

I may have stumbled upon something awesome. I know I have spoken about new jobs before on this blog, but so far, this has been the best I have ever had. No, its not only because I have summers off (although that is a major perk), or that for the first time in my life my work will cover my nearly uninsurable ass. It is that I already feel valued, and that has been hard to come by in my previous jobs.

I’m not sure what it is like for other writers, but when I am not working, I have a hard time writing. I sit at the computer and stare, knowing that I should be desperately seeking work, or trying to come up with some creative way to make rent. Generally, it stifles any creativity I have. Having work also helps to keep me on stricter time schedules, so I cannot just put off writing if I want to get anything done.

With that said, I need to get back to about four stories that have been sitting on the editing block for a while. I think that should be my first priority before I generate a whole lot of new content. Writing the story has always been the fun part, revising, well, that gets put off for a bit too long.
 
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