Monday, February 27, 2012


              One of the excuses I used to not write for a long time was that I had no passion in my life.  I spent a lot of time writing some pretty intense stuff that will never see the time of day.  These things were written during some pretty intense moments in my adult life.  It was like the anger, angst, and glee were all mixing to open a door to pure story.  The rainbow bridge of creativity was being opened to me through this intoxicating emotional brew.  I could sit down and the gates would open and out vomited this intense story line involving emotionally charged characters and a world that was as personal as it was cookie cutter of the movies out at the time.  It was amazing.  It was scary.  That character and the supporting cast hung around me for a long time but would only really interact with me when there was some emotional catalyst.  This led me to believe that the only way to write was by having these intense moments in life.  
                As with most people the drama of my life has mellowed as I’ve gotten older and helped to bring three beautiful children into this world.  The hunger to push myself over and over again so as to achieve the unachievable simply seemed to seep right out of me.  The birth of my twins was the first nail in muse’s coffin.  That black, moldy wooden final resting place of all my little imaginary worlds sat next to me and hummed a soft dirge at me while I toiled away at one in the morning feeding my little five pound babies nearly eleven years ago.  I tried to write but just couldn’t muster up the strength or the emotional angst to put ‘good’ words to paper (or in this case the screen).  My recommitment to my marriage and the birth of our third child really finished that coffin off and I found myself eagerly throwing dirt over it in an attempt to bury my creative side for good.  After all I wasn’t going to be able to become an author because I didn’t have the time, the energy, and the angst.  Everything was good in life and good stories only come out of the bad and the dark.
                I don’t think I got the lid quite nailed down tight enough because my muse still calls to me.  In those quiet moments it still strokes my arm and reminds me that it’s waiting to be let out.  After watching a good movie, or reading a good book my muse screams at me to be released and more often than not I do.  I’ll sit down and try to talk to it.  We write together and the ideas come out broken, hobbled, and formulaic.  I’ll sigh and remind him that now’s not the time.  He’ll skulk off into the corner and finally climb back into the coffin with an evil laugh and a reminder to me that it’ll be different next time.  It rarely is.
Still….it’s there, right in the back of my mind.  This thing I’ve left undone.  The stories, plots, and characters I’ve dreamed up speak to me in that quiet moment between being awake and being asleep.  Maybe it’s time to push past the beginnings I’ve created and settle into the middle.  Let the stories breathe.  Silence my inner critic so the muse can take full reign for a few hours each day.  This seems like more and more of a good idea the more times I give in. 
So over the years I’ve gone on to study the art and craft of writing through numerous books published by authors and companies that are devoted to it.  Most of those books sit and stare at me even as I write this.  I’ve learned a thing or two.  I created a few characters that have really resonated with me and one day while I was writing I found out that I was doing it without the angst and anger that I thought I needed to fuel a good tall tale.  It wasn’t that I was lacking passion because I felt passion but it was different.  I was feeling passion for the story I was working on, for the main character and the world around him.  It was amazing and believe it or not the ‘project that will not be named’ was born.  It had taken me nearly six years and too many attempts to count to get there but it worked.  Maybe it had just been a six year long writer’s block, more than likely it was the evil idea thwarting Inner Critic, whatever it was I learned that the kids had not sucked my muse from me with each time they cried.  I am happy and content with life and my family.  I’m writing and it’s been fun.  I’d like to say it the stuff is good but it probably isn’t.  I’ve learned, though, that a first draft isn’t supposed to be good.  It’s being written not for others but for me.  It has the potential to be good but not yet.  More re-writes and edits will be needed before we get to Good but at least now I know I can do it and I don’t need to be the Haunted Writer with Demons to do it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


              The beginning is an interesting idea.  In life we experience all kind of beginnings from the start of a new TV show to the start of new relationships and beyond.  These beginnings can be momentous occasions (think weddings or births) or more often they simple occur, we acknowledge them and then move on.  In today’s fast food society our beginnings are even more glossed over so that we can get on with things.  Beginnings are not always good….think the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation or if you’re really honest with yourself Star Wars Episode IV (the scene between Leia and Solo after they escape the Death Star is nothing short of horrible.).  Beginnings are even worse when you try to force them (think Star Wars Episode I or the first Hulk movie). 
                So, ‘why are you writing this’, you ask?  Well I’ll tell you why.
                I’ve started writing so many times in my life that I’ve begun to just think each attempt will lead to the dead end it usually does.  I feel this so deeply that this last time I almost didn’t even bother to start.  In the past I’ve had entire rooms dedicate to my love of all things creative and still I haven’t really ever finished anything.  This time around I had to really examine what it was that I was doing.  Why have I started and stopped so often?  Why this sense of need when it comes to writing?  This all made me think of beginnings.  I’m a professional Beginner!!
                My beginning in the ‘world’ of writing came so long ago I can hardly remember it.  Through the foggy shrouds of my mind I can see myself imagining my room as the Millennium Falcon and I, some distant relative of Han Solo (usually Flynn Solo in my homage to Tron and Star Wars in one great sweep of the imaginary arm) would be out running the galaxy like some sort of ultra-cool Freighter Jock.  My desk the command console, my bed the engine compartment I was always climbing in and fixing (it’s a wonder I didn’t become a mechanic with all of the ‘fixing’ I did on that ship)
                I was nine at the time or thereabouts.
                Then I got older and it wasn’t so cool to actually be jumping off my bed and running through the house fighting Darth Vader or Cylons at every turn (I was an equal opportunity bad guy kicker…if it was a bad guy and it was in a comic book or cool movie I would fight it).  Even though it was no longer cool and I couldn’t talk to a girl about it without her looking at me like I had mutant zit on my forehead, the stories and the ideas and the desire never left me.  I had all of these ideas and characters in my head and slowly they evolved into semi-original characters and they talked to me and I’d stay up late into the night ‘developing’.  I still needed that outlet, writing was to a certain point, me ‘self-medicating’.  So at some point in middle school I started to try and write in order to get the stories out of my head.  Those were REALLY bad.
                Fast forward to my junior year in high school (or maybe it was my senior year...they all run together now-a-days) and my English class with Mr. Jones (I’m pretty sure that was his name but don’t quote me on that.) and his journal project he made us do.  He gave us topics but he also gave us some ‘just write’ options too.  Most of the time I totally ignored the writing prompts and spent most of the year writing about Flynn or some crew I made up for some starship in the Star Trek universe (yep I ‘was’ a nerd/geek to the core.) To his credit he never commented and let me write.  I remember more than a few classes that I just wrote for the entire hour and didn’t hear a single thing he said in class.  I think this was the ‘beginning’ for me.  I wish I had had the drive and tenacity to follow my heart then but alas drive and tenacity are two traits that cannot be applied to me….ever!
                So here I am age 39 and still just beginning.  I’ve started and stopped so often I probably need a refill on brake fluid.  I’m much better at stopping than going.  It’s much easier to stop when the going gets tough or the requirements of the pursuit of a goal are just too hard.   The ideas are still there...All.  The.  Time. And sometimes they don’t leave me alone.  I’m hoping I might be able to overcome it on this fiftieth or so go around. 
                In 2009 I got close.  I finished a project.  We’ll call it Project X-1.  Its 198 pages and a completed story from beginning to end, there’s even a middle.  I got the inspiration to write a complete story from reading the book ‘No Plot? No Problem!’ by Chris Baty.  Mr. Baty founded the National Novel Writing Month thingy.  This little gem of an idea has thousands of authors setting aside November each year to write a 50,000 word novel.  I read the book in June and spent most of July doing just that.  I finished the story and promptly ran out of ideas.  I let the manuscript languish in obscurity on two laptops and several memory sticks.  We moved, I lost my ‘office’ and hardly wrote anything for two and half years.  I had a few ideas; I tried to put them down on computer and failed.  Let’s just say I have A LOT of one and two page story starts on my laptops and iPad. 
                Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about things that are lost to me.  I wanted to be an Architect and that’s pretty much a lost dream.  I’m too old to be a firefighter or a cop or heck even a soldier.  (not that I wanted to be any of those but the idea that I’m too old to do them made my heart sad)  So a few weeks ago I realized I needed to put together a small office.  A place of refuge I could ‘work’ in, I’m really not wanting the idea that I could be an author to be one of those ‘I wish I did that’ moments.  I don’t even need to be a successful author, I’d just like to put out a novel, have a few people buy it and maybe even one of them say ‘That wasn’t bad.’ (I embrace the idea of Aggressive Mediocrity) I cobbled some things together and viola I have myself an office….and you know what I’m writing again….and the stuff isn’t bad.  It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination but its making me happy and content with the effort.  I printed out Project X-1 and had it spiral bound at Staples with the idea of beginning to try and edit it.  I’ve even been slightly sorta successful at doing that. 
                And that is how the idea of Beginnings came to mind.  I think it’s time to move past the beginning and get firmly entrenched in the middle.  Let myself write the tidal wave of the middle for a while because you know what……..the ending is coming on way more quickly than I’d like it to.