It’s Been a Bad Week for Writing

leonid_pasternak_-_the_passion_of_creation

Yeah. It’s been a bad week.

I started the week with high hopes of getting some writing done. I had made a little progress on just about every bit of work I have going on which includes a short story, three short novels and, of course, the dreaded SEQUEL.

So naturally I was counting on that streak continuing and getting stronger but since Monday I have not written one goddamn word. These words that I am typing represent the only thing I have written since this week began.

Naturally it has been demoralizing.

Part of my problem is my growing unease with the Trump administration in America. It’s not even my goddamned country but his obvious insanity and the fact that he controls a bunch of nuclear missiles has led to some sleepless nights. It’s like trying to sleep in a house where you know there is a machete-wielding monkey wandering around. Sure, it’s not your monkey or your machete, but that doesn’t exactly make for a restful night.

So, here I am, my allotted time for writing winding down and all I’ve managed to pen is this aimless and wandering blog post.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow will be better.

I guess that’s the mantra for a lot of people right now.

Stay safe, everyone.

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Debt’s Honor progress report

After a long period of being blocked I managed to write over 1300 words on DEBT’S HONOR the sequel to my novel DEBT’S PLEDGE (available now at Amazon.com). Yay, me!

That brings the word count up to just over 46,000 and I reckon I’m about a third of the way into it, which means the final first draft may end up being somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000 words.

Which is a far cry from the quick and dirty short novel I’d envisioned the sequel being when I started.

Hopefully it will go a bit faster from here on in.

Generating Copy

 

generating copy

I work at a newspaper. I do graphics and occasionally write advertising copy, but I work alongside the reporters. There have been directives that come down from the head office of the chain’s digital department. The directives never talk about writing or reporting. They talk about “generating copy”.

Personally I can’t think of a more insulting term than “generating copy”. That cold, clinical phrase completely guts what it is that reporters actually do. It eviscerates the process of writing in any form. The process of creating, of digging into your soul for a few measly crumbs of insight and then weaving that insight, feeling, or even just information into words — the right words — that create a cohesive passage that speaks to the reader in ways that not only make sense and impart information but touches something inside of them…

To label that as merely “generating copy” is the act of a soulless cretin. It’s a phrase that comes from someone who has never seen anything of the wonder or the beauty of the world. It is a phrase uttered by a lifeless, heartless, soulless zombie stuffed into a suit. It is the most insulting kind of corporatespeak and the more I think about it the angrier I become.

The problem is, I have been listening to these bums. They talk about how anyone who wants to get “traction” out of their blogs have to follow the steps on the ladder to increase traffic to your site and post pieces that generate “swagger”.

I’ve been listening to them, trying to do just that because I think that I need to chase some mythical ideal audience in order to “move more units” (i.e: sell books)

I am unable to do that and up until now it’s been getting me down. It wasn’t until I thought about the phrase “generating copy” that I realized what a load of cow dung it all is.

I’m a writer. I write because I am compelled to order my chaotic thoughts, to try to make sense of the jumble of random noise that fires off inside my head. I am moved to give voice in some way to the painful yearning that occasionally grips my soul. I am compelled to reach out to try to communicate my inner turmoil to somebody… anybody… or maybe just out into the void. It doesn’t matter.

I write because I have to. I write because I have no other way to say what it is I need to say. I’m not trying to drive traffic or create “swagger” and I am not just “generating copy”

This is me. This is my mind and my spirit running free and playing, leaving footprints in the sand in the form of these words. The cold and unemotional format of electronic words on an LCD field of blue-white is all that is afforded to me, but while I can I will try to breathe a bit of life into it now and then.

Anything else is just generating copy.

Coming Soon: Time Like Broken Glass

Time Like Broken Glass_Cvr

“In a world of magic one city is the focal point for a desperate struggle that is fought through all of time.

Mages harness the powers of different elements – air, fire, ice, metal, even death – and wield that power in their struggle to survive. But one powerful mage can cantrol time itself. Now mages and mortals alike find themselves allied against that power and three heroes, separated by vast gulfs of time, must find a way to save the magic, the great city and existence itself.”

This is my first fantasy novel and it will be released in the next couple of days from RAGE MACHINE BOOKS. Look for a longer post about the book and about the universe in which it is set: Magistria!

OPENING PARAGRAPHS

Most writers now the importance of an opening paragraph. Writers are keenly aware (or they should be) that they only have so much time to interest a reader in investing his or her attention in your work. You’ve got to hook them — intrigue them — right away.

First paragraphs are usually crafted very carefully and are usually one of the last things a writer does. The crafting of an opening paragraph, unless you are lucky enough to come up with a doozy in your first draft, is usually something that is worked on, filed, cut, honed and polished many times before you publish and/or submit to a publisher.

An opening paragraph — heck, an opening sentence — can make the difference between reading the book or putting it back on the shelf (or throwing it on the floor which was my reaction to the opening sentence of The Hunger Games, but the less said about that the better).

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite opening paragraphs:

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

 

He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead. He fought for survival with the passion of a beast in a cage. He was delerious and rotting, but occasionally his primitive mind emerged from the burning nightmare of survival into something resembling sanity. Then he lifted his mute face to Eternity and muttered” “What’s a matter, me? Help, you goddamn gods! Help, is all.”

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 

IT WAS ABOUT ELEVEN O’CLOCK in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

 

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

 1984 by George Orwell

 

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a `Penang lawyer.’ Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch across. `To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.,’ was engraved upon it, with the date `1884.’ It was just such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry – dignified, solid, and reassuring.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

You see, I had this space suit.

Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

 

In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul

Dune by Frank Herbert

 

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include one of my own opening paragraphs. I’ve been working on this one for quite a while now (several years, in fact) and I have changed it many times since that first draft. Here is the opening paragraph for my forthcoming novel DEBT’S PLEDGE:

Jefferson Odett found the alien skull on a tiny backwater world covered with heat blasted rocks and little else. He sat on one of those rocks, waiting for Colonel Lightyard and his division. He’d seen the Colonel’s shuttle land some ways off and he was growing impatient waiting in the merciless heat.

So what are some of your favourite opening paragraphs? Or do you have an opening paragraph to one of your own novels that you are particularly proud of? Post them in the comments below.