A writing rut

So, not counting the copy I was writing for life-sized sex dolls a few weeks ago, lately my writing has ground down to a crawl. That company is now gone. The agency where I get assignments has determined that those sorts of clients are pretty offensive and chose to release them. I don’t mind one bit, because they are right.

The process of moving, doing some renovation work on the house, and of course the stress of dealing with legal BS and the impasse of those difficulties has been distracting me from working on the book. I’m not a fan. The few times I’ve been able to sit down and write, I just stare at the screen. I wonder where that momentum went that I had back in October. I used to just fly high with the word counts, sometimes writing until 3 or 4 in the morning. The story was telling itself.

Now that I’ve moved, I almost feel like the story was left behind in those walls where so much of it happened, and now the memories, the emotions, everything else are just fading away.

Tonight, I sat down to write some more copy for companies. This one was a website in Australia that sells high-end strollers and prams. I have enough versatility to write the Queens English, with all the old school spellings (just throw some more U’s into the mix), but the work is on-spec, so it could be a while before I hear of anything. I need to get caught up. I need to focus on writing for paying customers.

*As a note to my ex wife’s attorney–who seems to be one of my most loyal readers these days–just because I wrote something doesn’t mean it is/will be selling. Wordcounts don’t mean much in this game. Look up “On spec” if that isn’t clear to you yet.

The More You Know | BRAIN TRUST MUSIC

The book is stalled, but I have been working more on the personal site. My readers are always supportive and seem to enjoy the stories I am sharing. The big questions of “Why am I doing this?” and “Who even cares?” haunt me. When I get some feedback, it feels good and it justifies work that right now I have been doing for the love of writing alone. Some feedback is nice, because writing is very lonely at times. Though the words you send out into the world might affect others, and reach dark corners of their heart and shine light into them, you might never know that.

Sometimes when you talk to people they don’t understand why you would do something unless someone was paying you to do it. To them, I would have to say money doesn’t have anything to do with the currency of the soul. You should try doing something you love just once without expecting to get paid for it. You’ll live longer. You’ll be happier.

The book is stalled where I left it, which is about 3/4 of the way through the story. Maybe tomorrow will bring something new and the words will come to me out of the aether like they did before. What I do know is I am ready to do more. I just need to stop getting in my own way.

*further note. It doesn’t help a writer’s creative process when someone is stalking them online and using misquoted or out of context versions of what they wrote against them. In everyone’s common interests, stop getting in my way and let me work. Thanks.

A moment of panic

This morning I woke up at around 9a.m. and started writing. Lately I have been using a method where I jot down ideas for a scene or even a chapter right there when I need to on my phone. I finished writing a significant chunk by 11a.m. when I got out of bed. 3260 words. Last night I struggled to get the right ideas down, but eventually I did. This morning, the scene I worked on flowed better. It pieced together the scenes I wrote last night in a good way. It was really a keystone kind of chapter that begins a new section, having played out the last one to the point where I am sick of those characters.

I got the scene down in Notes. Then I got coffee. Then I fought fires through the better part of the afternoon until around 4p.m. when I sat down to transcribe the scenes I had written in bed to my master document. I opened up the file and it synched through to my computer. I watched it as I clicked on the file to select all, copy, and paste it to the main document in Scrivener. And as I did this, the entire file vanished.

Two hours of work. Gone.

I checked in deleted files. I rebooted my phone and the computer. I tried to check my backup hard drive. It was like the computer decided to be helpful and synch what was on the computer over what was on the phone. Because computers are helpful that way. It was gone and not a tech info library in all of the internet was of any help. They just kept suggesting I check the recently deleted folder.

No shit? I hadn’t thought of that!

Of course I had thought of that. It wasn’t there. And unlike the last time this happened, I didn’t think I was crazy and maybe had shaken my phone and accidentally undid typing in a file that hadn’t been saved. It was literally right there. Synched on my phone and computer.

So, I broke down and called Apple Tech Support.

The first person, though she was very nice, was exactly the same kind of tech support I used to work with when I did the job myself twenty three years ago. She escalated me to L2 tech support. Someone in Cupertino who actually knows what they are doing instead of trying to field 50 plus calls a day which can usually be remedied by “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

He took control of my phone and poked around in Apple’s secret files and…

Found the goddamned files. Saving my bacon. My sanity. And getting my eternal gratitude.

The rest of the day, I finished Utopia on Prime and also the most recent episode of The Boys. I got another coffee and prepared to do some more writing. I had some Happy Panda for dinner, poured myself a stout and sat down to write another 2,850 words on a new chapter. And then the words you are reading now.

It’s just midnight now and I feel good about the day. I could keep writing though.

Maybe I will. If I make a tea, I should have another two hours in me before the writing gets sloppy or I black out at the keyboard.

I think I might just let the chapter I’m working on percolate while I sleep. Then I can start again in the morning, hitting the ground running.

I keep holding back, since a lot of the stuff I’m writing isn’t going to sit well with some people. This is a concern. I’m not a robot and I do still have empathy for people. But the story needs to be told, and this is what I need to write if I want the story to be true. No holding back. No pulling punches. Not that anyone ever pulled a punch with me.

Maybe being nice is one of those things to consider in my second draft.

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.