Trying

Today has been a productive day on the book. My resistance for a few days has been the avoidance of some of the topics of the story. Today, I have been focussing on a lot of the hard elements. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will like this protagonist. And there are many reasons he often hates himself in spite of enough external challenges out there he faces.

Some of the topics are pulled from my own life, and at the advice of a few of my friends, some truly supportive and awesome brothers of the writing craft, I am taking their advice to heart and truly cutting down to the marrow.

It’s not a very nice mirror to hold up, but the story rings truer than any other way.

I don’t know how many words I have gotten down today, but I will say that I have transcribed several notes and scenes and written three or four large scenes today. I’m starting to get tired and so I will attempt to let the brain wind down so this isn’t all I am doing all night long.

When people ask me how the book is going, I am surprised to say lately that it is going very well. There are days it feels like it is writing itself. It’s a story that is demanding to be written, often at the expense of a normal sleep schedule, or reminding me of awful bits of my past I wish I could have forgotten long ago.

Lately I have been re-reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and am finding that the first read through was a personal story, but now I am reading it from a writer’s perspective. There are moments I stop and open up the notes on my phone and I have to write a scene or a chunk of dialog, because her fearlessness in the narrative has been giving me permission to explore a lot of things that I would have otherwise left buried.

I’m taking the advice of Joe Lansdale to heart when he says “Write like everyone you know is dead.”

I’m not writing a story to make people happy or feel better about the world. I’m writing to break their fucking hearts. Whether or not reading about this heartbreak gives the reader some kind of catharsis is up to them. That is what it has been doing for me at least.

Right now, some decent sleep would be nice.

So, yes, the writing is going well.

Starting is the hard part, because it’s like that wince you get when you expect something to sting. Touching a hot stove.

Work in progress update

Over the last few weeks, I have been furiously taking notes, working on scenes in the book, and there are days the book feels like it is writing itself. I moved probably twenty notes over to the Scrivener document and even organized everything that I had by character, event, or timeline. It is going to be the best way to keep track of everything.

I have a lot of beautiful scenes, moments between characters, and some scenes written, but as far as plot and structure go, I was starting to get a little concerned. So, I took a walk by myself at dusk and I thought about the story. I think I have enough cathartic moments, pretty scenes, etc. to last me for a while, so it was time to start thinking about plot. So, what I decided to do was to open the Notes app on my phone. I opened up a new document and typed in three words:

Beginning
Middle
End

Then I started fleshing out what each needed to be, based on the notes I had taken so far. Oh, and later on, I wrote 2,000 words for a new chapter. This is a novel that is highly character based, especially in regards to internal conflict. There isn’t much in the realm of setting or plot, other than overcoming internal struggles, dealing with loss, and attempting to make any sense of it. This is a wide departure from airplanes with the souls of warhorses and zombie armies fighting in the trenches of my previous projects.

My goal for this book is to break your heart.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop a quick update on how things have been going, more for myself than anyone else really. I’m making progress. The book is coming along nicely. The writing feels solid for a first draft too. After all that work, I have one finished first draft of the first chapter.

But the way this story is coming together is a lot like flicking globs of ink onto a page. The spots expand, drizzle over to other spots, and eventually an image will form. The book will be done. And then I can start on the next one!