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The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists

The general who would be king. Oh! But that’s been done so many times before! Coriolanus. Gladiator…

These were the thoughts ruminating through my head as Bobby walked me around our neighborhood. Thinking thinking thinking about this character, a very important one in my life, who decided to reappear in my mind this morning. I love him, I want to bring him to life. But how?

Beat yet accomplished, Bobby plopped down on the cool tile near the doorway while I prepared a deserved lunch. I checked my Twitter timeline, and @writersdigest had posted ‘The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists,’ which I really enjoyed reading. Each attribute got me thinking about my own journey.

TOOLS

I think about what I need to have in order to be able to write. I’m a typist, a fast one at that, so when I know I want to produce a lengthy scenario, I know I need the keyboard. But, I do like to freestyle write. I recall the beginning of December, I ran out of journal pages and thought I’d be fine with sticking to the keyboard and typing in my thoughts. It didn’t work! For the physical tools of the trade, I do need paper as well as QWERTY.

My takeaway from this paragraph was, ‘The less time you spend thinking about how you write, the more time you spend thinking about what you’re writing’ and it’s true. Not having a journal to work from disrupted my ability to flow. While inspiration wasn’t stymied, the comfort of getting it from spirit to paper was.

PATIENCE

What I am most grateful for in this current mode of existence is the abundance of time I have. Retirement in the proletariat sense has allowed me room to evolve; to slow down, to tend to my ailments, to prioritize who and what matter. The opening sentence of the article includes, ‘the single greatest ally we have is time.’ Tis true.

What’s been interesting in this venture is how much everyone around me is impatient. While I’m happy to spew out a work here or there, the conversation is, when are you going to publish? What are you going to do after that book comes out? When are you going to start a book tour? Are you doing readings??

Yo. Chill out.

I even got an email saying, you have time to submit your book to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award you should do that! Thanks, really. But I’m doing this to experience joy, I’m not vying for Best Joyful Person. Does that make sense? There are literary artists damn near hyperventilating around me when I casually mention I’m publishing one of my works this year. Are you going to submit it for this award? That award? Are you doing contests? How much are you selling it for??

YO. CHILL. OUT.

FOCUS

The reason why I’ve stopped collaborating with groups is because the ones I’ve experienced lack focus. While the group ideology is to support a creative person and develop a creative work environment, it just seems to splinter. I’m a very focused individual, ask the two people who are brave enough to claim me as their friend. Once my mind is on a project, I design it Z to A, and that’s where the project remains. I may have mentioned in a previous blog my short-lived apprenticeship with a screenwriter. When we met to discuss the existing project, she had five – FIVE – different versions of the screenplay printed out, and we’re supposed to start revisions that week! Her sloppiness showed me while she had the ambition, she had no strategy and definitely no focus. Incredibly self-disciplined, organized, focused people are allergic to sloppy, unfocused ones.

HABIT

My habits are thus: I wake up within a certain window of time every morning. I walk the length of the lake, or when Bob completes #1 and #2, whichever is first. I brew coffee as I clean up the kitchen and make my bed. Coffee is brought to wherever I plan to write, and I do two Morning Pages by hand (The Artist’s Way, people, do it, thank me later) whatever’s on my mind. After that, just depends on where my creativity takes me. Currently, I’m balancing marketing time with respite. Not trying to jump on a fresh product yet, so I’m watching movies, reading books, experiencing works other than mine. When I was in the thick of novel production, I did the same morning routine, but then I’d compose well past sunset, sometimes until dawn. Next day, same morning routine. Well stated in the article, ‘The more consistent your habits are – and this ties into having your tools nailed down – the more secure your brain will be to run free and create.’

PRACTICE

The author says it in the article, ‘Practice makes you better.’ It does. I use this blog to practice. I use my Morning Pages to practice. I use my Twitter feed to practice. I’m a writer. I have to practice. Nothing is more saddening than coming across another person who claims to be a writer, but hasn’t touched any writing instrument since childhood. It’s in the actions, not the words, we’ve heard this axiom delivered several ways. If you’re a writer, write. And practice. And do it for you.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

50,710 WORD COUNT…IT’S OVER, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! THE BOUGHT HAS ENDED! YOUR NANOWRIMO 2013 CHAMPION ISSSS…

VON SIMEON!!

YAAAAY!!!

And now for the Sexy Dance Party…

Bill The Self-Publishing, Self-Congratulating Non Dom

He approached me, draped in black leather duster, black button-down top, black slacks, reeking of false confidence. His eyes, attempting to look seductive, could not hide the cloud of despair swirling inside his pupils. My host intercepted him, and asked who he was. The man introduced himself as Bill. Bill’s from Baltimore, Bill found out about the event on the community’s boards. Bill wants to watch the scene.

My guy gave me a look, and I responded with a ‘no worries’ look back. Bill’s weird vibrations penetrated me, annoying me, and if I’m annoyed then he’s causing discomfort to the others in my group. I volunteered to get him away from them, so I invited him to walk with me to the bar. My guy pulled me aside and expressed his concern. I thanked him, and reminded him I have my knife.

Bill leads the way, and I immediately break him down. Left knee incapacitated, permanent limp. Shoulders lack motion, so upper spine or major shoulder injury. He puffed out his chest after removing his duster and tossing it over his left arm. Right handed.

He offers to buy my drink. Sure. I tell the bartender, “I’ll have a Jack and Coke.”

“How much is a Jack and Coke?” He called out to her. She started to make the drink. “How much is a Jack and Coke??”

Along with being a creeper and cliche dresser, he’s a cheapskate. She says $6.00, I hand him $3. Don’t want him to have to bust open his piggy bank.

My goal at this point is to let my friends comfortably hang out during the next scene and keep Bill and his bullshit away. So we sit, sip, and I, always one to field open-ended questions, started with, “Tell me your life story in 29 seconds.”

A pink-and-black corseted pixie passes by, intending to chat him up, and overheard my question. “Yes! Your life story in 29 seconds.”

He gives me a face conveying inconvenience, but I hold my interest, and he finally volunteers, “Soldier. Writer. Relocated here for work. Dom.”

Dom? As in Dominant? As in, a dominator? No, son. No, you’re not. I do my best to freeze my facial expression to placid.

My 29 second story went like this: Wasn’t born here, wasn’t raised here, finished high school here, went to college, worked in military, state, local, and federal positions, retired two years ago, writing full time, publishing my first fiction novel in February, love living in Florida.

“And what do you identify as here?” He asks, as if he can’t figure it out.

The choices are simple. Either you’re a submissive or you’re a dominant. “I’m a dominant. But tonight I’m here with my friends. Getting back into the fold after many years.”

“It’s because you were married.”

?

“You were married.”

“Years ago.”

“Lots of people get out because they get married.”

Well, now we know why you’re here. I see one of the girls searching the room outside where we are. Yes, it’s been quite some time away from them. She gives a look of relief as she approaches me. I already sense he sent her for me, to check on me. Love that man. She sweetly pats my shoulder like a concerned parent. “He just wanted me to check on you, make sure you’re okay.”

I glance across the table at shifty-eyed Bill. He doesn’t like that my guy has eyes on him. Really Bill? You really think I was gonna glom onto you because of your awesome ability to not intimidate me? Your natural ability to exude complete wussiness? Boy I’ll have you bent over this table under a flogger in 2.3 seconds! I pat the girl’s worried hand to convey confidence. “Don’t worry, darling. I’m fine. Tell him I’ll be right there.”

Bill is sipping his Coke in quick bursts. “So, what genre do you write in?” I don’t care, but he did throw out ‘writer’ in his 7 second life story. Asking out of sheer curiosity, but I can already predict his answer.

“Science fiction, creative non-fiction. I’m a self-publisher.”

“Great. Your books are on Amazon?”

“You’re publishing your own work?”

“I’m going through an independent publisher. Local.”

He actually rolls his eyes. Bill smugly offers, “I do it all. I self-publish. I’m an editor. Everything I publish is pristine work.”

Riiiiight.

“I believe in an extra set of eyes to ensure a marketable piece of work.”

“I can do that for you. It’s my specialty. I can do it all. I’m a one man house. I already have clients.”

This is sounding way too familiar, so I cut him off with, “I’m my own marketer. If I have a successful campaign, then I’ll be taking on clients.”

The point being, so what if your book’s on Amazon? If no one’s buying it, it’s not a marketable work. It’s just a work. I don’t want to get into it, after all, I have a $3.00 pint of Jack and Coke and my friends who want me at their scene. Bill the self-congratulating non-dom can go distract himself elsewhere.

I get up, walk over to the special room, assist where needed, then fall in on the display. My successful conveyance of lack of impression keeps Bill away from us. I did a good job, then.

Not until way afterwards, did he come up to shake my hand, and asked how to contact me. I pointed at my guy. “Through him.” Bill looked at him, back at me, and limped off.

My 2013 NaNoWriMo Influences

Yup, I’m a freakin’ zealot. Trying to complete my manuscript revisions to deliver for final editing by November 13. But noooo, I gotta throw my writing pen into the National Novel Writing Month ring and go for Halo Numero Dos.

Day 2 of the competition and I’m rowing along smoothly. Marie and I are planning to meet this evening for a writing session. That’s right. You go ahead and hit the nightclubs. We party hard with our word processors!

Am writing a horror story, working title, Momma’s Boy. I don’t really have to stretch the imagination too far to satisfy a lead character profile, thanks to every single strange Generation X and Y-er who’s introduced me to his exponentially stranger mother. It’s an epidemic, people. Let’s stop having babies for a minute and figure out why women are screwing with their sons’ heads!

Off the soapbox.

As per my style, I gotta have a song in my head in order to get flowing, and this is the song I’ve chosen as this novella’s theme:

But this particular episode of Key & Peele really brought my lead character to life [06:36]:

http://hulu.com/w/geo2

Dan Smith KILLED IT!!

The STAR of my horror story credit: Key & Peele, Comedy Central

The STAR of my horror story credit: Key & Peele, Comedy Central

Happy NaNoWriMo Season! May your pens be swift, your keypad be stable, your coffee be strong.

I Have Nothing To Write About

Original Post Date September 18, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Writing about nothing is actually writing about something. Von demonstrates how.

It started that way for everyone sitting around the pond. Our instructor, who I have a photo of but can’t remember her name, was trying to instill a writer’s fervor into our 11-year old heads. My fellow advanced writers and I that spring of 1988 sat staring at blank pages of journals. “But I have nothing to write about,” one lamented. We backed him up in solidarity with a whine of agreement. The instructor sighed. “Write that down, then.” So we all wrote, I have nothing to write about, across the page. And paused our writing tools for further instruction. “You have ten minutes, write from there.” And she walked off. We looked at each other. We looked at our single sentence. The ducks looked at us.

1991. Coen Brothers' Barton Fink

1991. Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink

This morning felt the same way. I opened my journal, flipped to a clean page, and stared. And stared. Most Wednesdays I wake up knowing exactly what I’m going to deliver to this blog. Today? Hoy? Nada. I thought about describing my morning dream, but I’ve done that before, and frankly, it was pretty gruesome. I haven’t written any new poetry, and haven’t been drawn to the archives to find one to offer. I’m in study mode with Juarez, so there’s nothing to expound on here yet, as it’s still in development. So. What to write about?

I sat cross-legged with my spiral journal on my lap, my pubescent mind growing anxious as it stared at those ominous six words, now given a time limit to fill the page with something, anything. I looked around and observed some of my counterparts in a flow. Some were still holding a pencil in place. I caught the eye of one of my cohorts doing the same thing I was doing, panning the group and panicking. Then I caught sight of a duck moving my direction. What’s that duck doing? Write that down. The duck started to wobble up from the pond, closer to my perch on the wall. I began to document everything the duck was doing. I was thrown into the phenomenon of duck encroachment, describing its motions, its thoughts (as I perceived them to be), its hunger for revenge for the death of its ducklings. Its embodiment of a human spirit cursed by a witch. Its thirst for blood, a la Bunnicula. Scribble, scribble, scribble, and, next thing you know, she called “Time!” The ombudsman of the group whined, “but I still have more to write!” And we chimed in with our concurring laments. She made some statement about staying there to complete our writing, but it was time for dinner. I didn’t even hear the rest of her statement. I heard food was ready. No more journal.

In my not knowing what to write about today, I developed something to write about, merely by letting my mind ramble, and then applying it in written form. This is how writers work, this is where we excel.

 

P.S. I just did the memory walkback thing. Her name was Mrs. Vickers!

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