Crap – I’ve had this blog a week, and I’m already behind. I want to have a couple of weeks worth of posts written and ready to go so I can just post stuff when it’s time. Am I there yet? Not a chance.
I AM putting together a series of posts to describe and get into the current book, but they’re pretty skeletal right now. So, instead, here are two “early” posts I wrote back when I first decided to do this blog…and yes, that was closer to three months ago than three weeks. Yes, I got distracted…squirrel!
Stories and characters are the ghosts in my life. They spend all of their time haunting me. The really annoying ones won’t shut up, won’t go away, until I make them.
That is, to say the least, annoying.
I want to fill my head with booze and reruns of Gilligan’s Island, not plots and characters from half a dozen (or more) universes. I want Mary Ann and Ginger, not some space opera living next door to a dystopian fantasy….okay, I did NOT intend that to sound as creepy as it did.
The problem with ghosts is that you need an old priest and a young priest, not to mention a pea-soup spitting kid. And holy water. And a goat. You definitely need a goat.
With stories, you need a plot and some characters. Okay, that’s easy enough. Well…you need a plot that makes sense and characters that are interesting. That’s a hell of a lot harder. To be honest, it’s easier to get the priests and the goat–especially if you’re in one of those countries where they come as a package deal.
I know it’s apocryphal (ooh, big words even AFTER a few beers!), but Steven King’s dictum that the first million words are practice makes a lot more sense to me now. No, I haven’t hit the million-word-mark yet, but I’m not far off. When I was just a little writer-ling (well, little-ER), and I’d barely even started climbing this damned hill, that saying seemed a hyperbolic joke. It was a throwaway line to scare folks away from the business. I’d read (a lot). I was (reasonably) well educated. I could write…even if most of my early stuff was done for the consumption of corporate cube-monkeys. How hard could it be?
That hill is pretty fucking steep right now, and Sisyphus is way the hell up there laughing his ass off at me. Fucking Greeks….fucking boulders….and fucking writing.
Why do I bother trying to climb this damned thing?
Because the ghosts won’t shut the hell up.
There is, however, something cathartic about dreaming up ideas. Yeah, yeah, I know…you’ve heard that before. It’s a damned truism at this point. But truisms are there because they’re generally…well, you know…true.
Characters, locations, scenes–imaging them is fun. Planning and writing them is even more fun. I get the same feeling from writing a well-crafted and well-executed scene as I do from a good workout at the gym. It sounds stupid as hell, but it’s true.
Editing and reviewing, on the other hand, they’re like running to me–punishment for my (many) sins. Necessary, vital even, but still miserable. If I could find a way to combine editing and running, I could work off my years of debauchery and bad judgment in a single afternoon.
People see me working and often ask what I’m writing. When I say I’m editing and revising I get the strangest looks….it’s like they expect a perfect story/scene to spring Athena-like from my brow.
Oh, if only that were possible!
I’m sure there are folks out there who get it right in just one or two drafts. That is, quite sadly, not me. I’m a wordy bastard, with all of the sins that come with that: awkward constructions, questionable punctuation, and bad word-choices. I live in hope of improving to the point where that’s no longer true, but for now the real work starts AFTER I get 150,000 words down as a first draft.