2.78: On Writing and Not Writing

It pains me that I broke the streak. I haven’t thought much about it, but nearing 100 consecutive days of writing is a stark reminder that I was nearing 3,000 consecutive days of writing before my better demons took hold. I quit because I was depressed. I tripped over a failing relationship into this cavern of darkness that felt somehow more comforting than the pain of the loss I faced.

See, I’ve always had a deep and active imagination. I have created worlds and stories in my mind since I was capable of thought. Back then there was no way to share such things without writing them down. Unfortunately, I lived in a household where nobody cared about my stories or even recognized my voice. I wrote purely for me for a very long time. It wasn’t until 4th grade that anyone else recognized that I told stories and showed the least bit of interest in hearing them. That is when I started to write in earnest. I finally felt like there was an interested audience–someone who cared what I was thinking and sharing.

I wrote more and more over the years, striking the balance between writing for me and writing in order to share with others. After a time the outside interests peaked. People wanted to hear one type of story and I grew bored of telling it. I created a home life that mirrored how I grew up. Nobody was interested in what I had to say. So, I told the one type of story over and again until it killed my desire completely.

Then I found a special relationship. Then it broke. Then I stopped writing entirely.

My special relationship survived–changed but survived. Recognizing the depths of what I had–what I refused to let go of–helped me to understand that I needed to accept her into my life as who she was and wanted to be to me. If that meant coping with the demons of her choices, then so be it.

That was 78 days ago. Not long by anyone else’s standards, I suppose. But it feels like another life to me.

2.77: The Darker Tower

Cary Fukanaga gets It.

Born into experiences and history that reflect struggle, the man has always been blessed with stories of struggle. This presented him with a point of view you aren’t ever going to see from a Hollywood insider raised in the isolation of that media circus. No, Fukanaga gets it. Moreover, he gets The Dark Tower. His latest release, It, ties the book back to the Dark Tower roots that helped cement the series lore. It is about 7 children who encounter an other worldly creature in the sewers below Derry. It is really about an entity of evil that is of the Dark Tower and furthers the argument that the tower, being the nexus of all things, is not inherently good nor evil, but simply is. And from that place comes a hunger both for love (the connections between this particular Katet of seven kids) or of fear (what the creature feeds upon).

Fukanaga handles the material with expert care. It covers roughly half of the story, focusing on the lives of the seven kids and leading up to the other part of the story in which adults also face the horror of It. He also handles the deeper angle of the story with precision. It is also very much the story of the Turtle and the 12 guardians of the 12 portals pictured below. He takes care to include each in a scene.

Fukanaga gets this, but doesn’t force it or beat us up with the imagery. What we see is largely subtle and purposeful. For example, there is only one scene that focuses on a rat, despite the time spent in the sewers. That scene doesn’t even take place in the sewers.

I could go on all day about this, but I only have 10 minutes…

Some Thoughts

  1. Fukanaga is about to drop a Netflix series called Maniac. It is the dark spiritual cousin of Ready Player One–sans computers. It stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone among others. I’m in.

2.76: Waiver Wire

Last Sunday’s Giants game showed me that the G-men are a playoff team–so long as Odell is on the field. That game proved the value of the colorful receiver in many ways. It was also a week in which a lot of other teams’ futures were laid bare. This week will start to harden the cast.

 

CIN over HOU
The vaunted Houston D gave up far too much O and the O-line offered up their QB as a sacrifice. This bodes poorly for the Texans, who never fully got it going in week one and even at full tilt seem like they aren’t the team of two years ago.

BAL over CLE
I’m actually torn on this Cleveland is legit building something here and I believe they will get wins this season. The fact that they played the Steelers fairly tight means they have hope, but BAL has a stronger run game right now, with two 70+ yard rushers coming out of week one.

CAR over BUF
They gave up 12 to the Jets. Nuff said.

ARI over IND
This is ought to be a bounce back week for the Cardinals, but it is actually a trap game. They don’t have David Johnson for a few months, so they need to find a warhorse in the backfield.

TEN over JAX
KC over PHI
NO over NE
PIT over MIN
TB over CHI
LAC over MIA
OAK over NYJ
DEN over DAL
SEA over SF

GB over ATL
Another tough one. I question the GB running game, but the passing has looked solid and the ATL secondary looks a little flat.

NYG over DET
This is another trap game. If Eli gets Beckham then he has enough time for the protection to start to get confidence and allow those downfield plays. If not, he’s doomed.

Some Thoughts:

  1. I’ve gotten to the point where I wake up in the morning gearing up for what I have to say in the blog. The routine is the same, but it comes with a sense of pride once again–I’m happy to be writing in this space.

2.75: Ashes

This is the 75th day since the period of darkness where I did not blog. Nearly three whole months since I lost contact with reality and fell into a stupor of depression. I did not intend to ever write again. Here I am today powering through a novel outline and gathering momentum to write that first tenuous draft. I write this all to reflect on the idea of rising from the ashes/being born again from those ashes. That idea grips me, because most of the stuff the forced me out of the writing game is still real and evident, but my perspective on all of it has shifted dramatically. In other words, it isn’t what you’re dealing with it is how you’re dealing with it.

One thing I’m dealing with is the loss of Shadowrun. I have lost the thread of that world, and until I find it within myself I will not be able to write in that world any further. Instead I am going to start looking at stand alone sci-fi pieces whenever I take a moment away from the fantasy novel. I’m going to try to hold two worlds in my head at once. So long as the first continues to grow.

When I quit writing I felt at that moment that I as done for good, and that felt good. It always feels good to be finished with something. Now I think I felt good because I no longer needed to worry about writing things that I had no interest in writing. That feeling is a part of what killed my drive to begin with. From the ashes me is about the passion project and about writing for the sake of writing. I want to set the words free and let them dance about the page in a rhythm only they can create. A rhythm that reverberates in my soul.

Man, I’m cheesy.

2.74: The Two-Day

Sunday morning through Tuesday morning is my two-day. It is the 48 (or so) hour period when I don’t have to deal with kids or officially even go into the office. This is becoming my passion period. I spent yesterday working on my novel, binging one of my all-time favorite shows, and watching the Giants look absolutely lost without Beckham.

I made leaps and bounds in the novel realm yesterday, because I connected with my partner and she put her heart to the project. If I’m being honest with myself, I stopped writing for personal pleasure years ago. I wrote to get published and I published a lot of first draft crap. This project is different. It is an evolution of the one true project that has lived in my psyche for most of my life and played out there over and again. At some point it no longer needed to find the page, because the imagined version gave me a settled feeling. Knowing her and being with her makes me want to share all of this with her. So I am writing it down. I am figuring it out and she is a part of it.

I am also coming to the end of HIMYM. Feels like the right time and is very reflective of a lot of what lives in my heart. Not much to say about that yet. I’m still thinking it through.

Some Thoughts:

  1. Brandon Marshall is not the receiver he was. That is to say he is completely shut down by safety help. The Cowboys showed help on Marshall all night and held him to one catch on three looks. When Beckham returns, the three WR combo will be lethal, but it is built based on having that kind of weapon. Without Beckham, the team is in trouble. I very much hope they try to get Landry next season.
  2. Youth Football can be all consuming–especially when involved with a team that treats it like this is the center of the universe. I got an email yesterday stating that we may or may not have a scrimmage game on Saturday. In other words, I was specifically told to put plans on hold if I want my kid to get playing time. I’m going to see if I can make it work, but this is our last pre-season weekend, and I was expecting to have big fun with the boys. I don’t intend to give up that opportunity.
  3. My cat, having the appearance of pregnancy, is merely fat.
  4. Grammar week in my English class cannot come soon enough. I’m going to put out a new schedule with Tuesday grammar workshops, because these papers are trash.

2.73: Reveal Day

I’ve been quickly assembling the outline to a fantasy novel. I am following Alan Watt’s rule for writing in that I’m working to, “Get it down before the hobgoblins of logic and reason kill the drama and aliveness of what you are trying to say.” What I have to say is less than perfect, a little difficult to get through, and not entirely a complete thought. Still, I’m getting there. Today I’m showing it to my partner–my alpha reader–and I’m straight up nervous.

That is new.

That is entirely because I’ve based a segment of the content on a fear-based interpretation of a major conflict in our relationship. By ‘A’ I mean ‘the’ because there isn’t a lot we battle about. This is pretty much it, and this is openly a lost battle on my end. So it went in the book. It serves as a form of catharsis the way it is written and I fear it is going to hurt her, make her uncomfortable, or affect the way she sees me–even if just a little bit. The conversation tag, “We can’t keep talking about this.” has affixed itself to nearly every interaction of late, and I feel like going through this process truly helps me excise the demon of the thing. So, it has to be done.

Now that it is done, my mind is free to do what creatives do: take a smidge of reality and screw with it so dramatically as to make it into story. In a sense, that small action reminded me that I can do that for a lot of what is happening in my life. In truth, that is how I used to write fiction. When I went away from tapping the real, I quickly ran out of the unreal.

 

Some Thoughts:

  1. My kids have been playing this game where they breed monsters on an island and the monsters each sing or make different sounds. They then can put the sounds together at different tempos and pitches–literally laying them out in 4/4 time like music notes. What I’m saying is my kids are flat out composing music in a video game and don’t realize it.

2.72. Reflections on a Saturday Morning

Call. Coffee. Write. What is real always endures.

I managed to get to sleep sometime after midnight last night, plum out of excuses for staying awake. I woke to the distant sound of children and realized I’d slept past 5 AM. That is an amazing rarity in my life that was followed by the gentle buzz of my cellphone offering me a morning text from my partner. That feels right. All of it finally felt right this morning–It felt like I’d finally fallen into where I am at.

Some Thoughts:

  1. Some things ought to be without question, but questions arise in the midst of confusion and unclarity and lack of definition. Questions beget uncertainty, which beget a lack of self confidence. In such circumstances start with faith in what you know to be actual and ask yourself if the questions affect what is happening right now. Does it fundamentally change what you believe and what you feel? My answer is no. I know what I feel, and what I have in my hands and in my heart. That is always going to be enough.

2.71: On Writing the Novel

I am writing a new novel. Part of the point of the process is to let myself go and explore creating something guided completely by its own momentum. The difficult part of that is not getting bogged down in exacts. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m digging into a character’s main quest and I really don’t have a lot there that feels as epic fantasy as I was hoping and doesn’t entirely make a lot of sense. Still, there is good in that. I recognize what is necessary for character growth and what is pure MacGuffin–a stand in item or plot device put there just to push the plot forward. The one true ring in Lord of the Rings is a MacGuffin.

I’m putting my pen where my mouth is on this one. All of the lessons I teach in class over a given week are modeled through the book. In fact, this is likely going to be the basis of my sabbatical–not this particular book, but the creation of a semester long website that details daily assignments, prompts, etc. on how to create a book in a semester. I think I’ll call it the 16 Week Novel–Until something better comes along.

Some Thoughts:

  1. Missed opening night of football and it was epic. Patriots got thumped to the tune of 42 points allowed. There’s more to that. Eric Berry is probably done for the season, so the Chiefs are about to feel the burn too.
  2. Had a dream about playing football again. I was out of shape and slow. I think it was reflective of watching my son run in the football practice and realizing where his speed tops out and being a bit disappointed that he isn’t faster–which somehow feels like a failure on my part.
  3. Cats are cool, but Dogs….

2.70: Elric (Freewrite)

It is said that those who roam the Broken Sea are madmen. The squalls and storms can rise up at any moment and there are always whispers of a more malevolent nature, of ships cutting through the waters bearing flags of nations long since forgotten. Ships that, under a cloak of fog, vanish from sight to never be seen again. There is talk of creatures larger and longer than the bowsprit of Wynspurlan War Galleons with fat rubbery tentacles that can crush a man completely. For a man to be a sailor in this stretch of water is madness, but for a man to fish is quite far beyond reason.

Elric of Adon captained a small scut he titled Windsplitter. She was a sea worthy vessel, cut from the heartwood of an oak his great great great grandfather planted on their farm some three hundred stones ago in the time of Calleon. Elric spent two nights chopping down that tree. The sound of his blows carried through the thin air and rose like a warble to the village at the base of the beach. Each morning he would leave his retreating lands to find rope and tar and tether all to help him with his quest. He was not a fisherman. He came from hard earth and tilled corn and wheat well past his twenty seventh stone.

When the drought fell, he knew his farm wouldn’t recover and he turned to the great oak. He turned to the Broken Sea.

2.69: Putting the Real in Writing

I wanted to talk about infusing the real in writing. Often the things that makes fantasy accessible is how real the emotions and basic situations are for the characters. Take this scenario for example: Kastigan is a Privateer whose ship, The Flame, operates in the Broken Sea. He is protecting a barge moving inland towards Koril. None of this sounds remotely like a story that is real. However, his crew is starting to distrust him, riled up by a particularly distrustful and charismatic crew member and the sea itself is full of obstacles, so he must fear the choppy waters around him and the enemies at his back. More familiar? The second half of that conflict is real. I could just as easily written that as Evan the professor trying to deal with the rigors of teaching students who will pull any trick for an easy A while a co worker fights to destroy his reputation in order to cement her own as queen bee. Same story. Different clothing.

The key is to use all of that real in order to shape the context of the fantasy–give it the gravitas of a situation that feels all to familiar but in a shell that is utterly foreign. More and more my writing is like that. Perhaps that is what makes it work.

Some Thoughts:

  1. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve stopped wanting to say I feel good and even hopeful about my writing or even on the verge, because the moment I do is when shit goes south.