Back To The Drawing Board – Sorta

It’s been a couple of weeks, well production wise it’s been a single week.  My Severed Fic hit a bit of a SNAFU.  This was the first time I dove into a story with nothing figured out, other than the main character.

pencil_by_hankinsIt’s true that I’m a pantser for the most part, but I enter with a full understanding of the cast and crew and how they will interact with each other.  The story tells itself, but I always have a handle on the characters.  This is also my first long form fiction that doesn’t take place in Janus – well not technically.  So I also did not have two years of world-building to support the characters.

Of course, I think it’s all good.  I can just wing it and it’ll be fine.  This is going to be an awesome story.

This is the power of having a first reader – who is NOT yourself.

Six chapters in and I am told my by fiancee that the story reads like it was something artificially constructed by someone trying to figure out what will sell.  Of course, that is exactly what I’m doing.

The main character, Dedd, is the only part of the story I had fully conceived before production began, and that turns out to be the only aspect that was positive.  His voice and character was enjoyable, everything else was rigid and artificial.

The complaints she made synced up beat for beat with the parts of the story I struggled to produce. – Yes, this story produced my first real example of writer’s block.  Of course, hindsight is twenty twenty and I know now it was due to the story not working.  It didn’t work for her, and somewhere in my mind I knew it wasn’t working for me either.

For example, the story has two false starts.  It opens with the main character basically getting geared up to leave town and hit the road.  This is false start number one.

On the road he encounters a side character in need of help – In helping this character Dedd brings the character back to the original town where the rest of his people are.  They then invite Dedd to hang around… he does for the night.

The following night he is getting ready to go again.. this time the antagonists show up and he ends up basically impaled for the evening, it takes him till the following day to free himself.  This is false start number two.

Once freed, THEN he gets to move along.
What was I thinking?  I know technically plot things happened. You met allies and enemies blah blah, but psychologically that felt like the most counterproductive way to start a story.  It’s like I wrote three different beginnings… one solo, one with friends, and one with enemies.

Anyway, It’s been tweaked and fixed.  It reads better now, and after four days since the rewriting began I passed the 16k mark today.

I don’t have a lot more to say, and I still want to try and get more words down before calling it a day. So that’s it for now.

~Cheers

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Four Years, Nine Months, Three Days

 

Today she would be turning twenty-nine years old. The date always sneaks up on me and catches me out of the blue.  In the last four years I’ve developed a psychological routine that prepares me for May.  She was admitted May 1st, and passed on May 31st, the entire month is a psychological battle of endurance I have struggled with for the last four years.

n665245586_1086785_9894There were only a few cracks and relapses last year so I feel like I’m finally getting to a point where I’m ready to live twelve months of the year instead eleven.  There’s news coming this May that should help me reach that milestone – news I can’t talk about yet.  Though it will probably be the most trying period yet – aside from it being the fifth anniversary, I struggle with my own memories.

As per usual, the human mind is a great, yet unreliable machine.  I remember the stories, and the times I spent with her but a lot of them have now become just a memory of facts.  I’ve been telling the stories about her for so long I’ve become very good at the details, yet the more time passes, the more they become stories instead of memories.

I remember her crying after our first kiss, because I know it happened. But I’m losing sight of the look on her face as it happened.  Today she would’ve turned twenty-nine, I’m sure there would be some low-key event with some of her friends.

I still feel guilty even talking about her sometimes, there are so many of you who will read this who were closer with her, in fact I’m willing to bet most of you were.  I spent most of her battle with Cancer and the fallout from her treatments living on the west coast and talking to her off and on.  As I said before I had to leave the city years ago to find my own sanity, and although she changed my world and shaped the person I became – It was mostly done from afar.

She was always one of the two people I MUST see when I came to St. John’s.  #1. Elaine Mahon, #2. Chrystal Horwood.

Her death was the single most influential factor of my return to St. John’s. For that I can never express enough gratitude to her.  If I didn’t come back when I did I fear my life may have taken a different track and there’s no telling where I would be with now and with whom.

I still owe everything I am to her, a lot of you may have been closer with her physically, but she was one of the most important people in my life I have ever and will ever know.

Just in the way she looked at me I know she saw a man lurking in there someone, one far better than the one in the room.  She saw the person I have the potential to become, not the slack, unambitious, passive, waste of life that I was at the time.  I will forever be indebted to her for that.

It breaks my heart that I had to lose her to learn my lesson, but at least I can say that when that fifth anniversary comes I may finally be able to visit her with my head held high.  There won’t be anymore excuses, no more reasons why I haven’t hit the goals I wanted to hit – in her name.

I presently live in Paradise, I share a four bedroom home with my Fiancee, her father and our six year old daughter. (Before people scratch their heads about me having a six year old – I will clarify I met the little girl when she was two.)
I have two full length novels finished.  I have a six novella series that I’ll be wrapping up its first arc today or tomorrow.  By summer’s end I will be a self published author on Amazon.
There is other news I can’t mention yet, but I’ll fill you in later.

All of this I owe to a lot of people.  My parents for one, and others who have helped me along the way.  But with all due respect, I don’t think anyone deserves the credit more than Elaine Mahon.

Without her, I don’t know if I ever would’ve made it to Telelink where I met Jess, I doubt I ever would’ve got to the point where I FINALLY started taking my writing seriously.  Whether I crash and burn or not, it doesn’t matter – I’m trying.  I have a supportive family that are behind me and I’m giving it an honest to God shot.

I work as many hours writing as I do at my full time overnight job.

I believe nothing in my life is completely independent from Elaine’s influence in some way. I know she wouldn’t want me to still be upset, or depressed, or sad in any way about her situation – yet, days like this remind me of just how much I miss her.

Happy Birthday Elaine
~Devin

If I Saw You In Heaven <- Still as true today as it was back then – Still the hardest entry I’ve ever had to write.

In Memoriam: Alan Rickman

In the last year there have been a number of significant figures who have passed away.  Some were very close to my heart as personalities and role models who shaped a large portion of my childhood.  Some of these names even had a role in the man I am today.  Names come to mind like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes,  Robin Williams, The Original Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen, Wes Craven, Yvonne Craig (One of my earliest celebrity crushes from the Adam West Batman TV series),  and Christopher Lee are just to name a few.  This doesn’t mention the musical legends we lost. Ben E King, BB King, Scott Weiland, Lemmy, and most recently David Bowie.

d7409744ca1badce7ceb427b1e7ae3d8There are a lot of heavy names listed above, it’s been a rough year for celebrity deaths.  Today we add another name to the list, the one of a kind Alan Rickman.

It may strike you as odd that I choose now to write a memorial entry, anyone who knows me would probably suspect Roddy Piper, Christopher Lee, or Wes Craven are more expected names to provoke this kind of response.  Well, I will not discredit those men, and above the others these were the big three that really got to me, Rickman is something different.

Alan Rickman is a respected name in the industry, and a multi-award winning actor.  He is the kind of guy who carried himself with professionalism rivaling the biggest industry snobs, and yet never presented himself as anything but a man who enjoys the craft of acting.  He was the kind of actor you would expect to see in critically acclaimed masterworks, and yet I find him in a Kevin Smith movie telling a scared woman that he is as “anatomically impaired as a ken doll.”

For me Rickman is a lot like Bowie. He was an artist I enjoyed watching, before realizing it was all the work of one man.  I remember watching Die Hard as a kid and thinking how bad ass the villain was, then watching Robin Hood and loving the Sheriff.  I even remember my first viewing of Dogma and thinking, “Holy shit, it’s THAT guy. he’s awesome.”

I discovered his name after watching An Evening With Kevin Smith where Smith goes on with an amusing story about how nervous he was having a “real” actor play in one of his films.

As an adult I can say with confidence that there are very few actors I enjoy watching more than Rickman.  Even in Dogma he gave a stellar performance with such a ridiculous script.  The scene where he explains how hard it was to be the angel to tell a young Jesus Christ about his family lineage is one of my favorite parts of the film.

I could even get through the Harry Potter films solely on my admiration of this man.  Losing him so early into this year is a major hurdle I will need to get beyond.  This year is supposed to be the year I take my ambition, wrestle it down, and see what I can make out it.  Losing one of the most important creative muses is not how I wanted to begin.

Rickman has an extensive library of movies to rediscover so he’ll never be gone entirely. He was a master at his craft -I hope one day I can become half as skilled in my writing as he was to acting.

I hope to contribute to the immortalizing of this great man in my own way.  As of this morning I am redesigning one of the major supporting characters in the Krugers story line.  His name is going to become Rickman, and he’s going to have a very distinct British accent.

R.I.P Alan Rickman,
Thanks for everything sir.

Cheers
Devin

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot… – Farewell 2016

I know, I know.  The only thing more cliché than a New Year’s Resolution (especially one for weight loss), is the blog post where you talk about the whole year.

2015-12-21-1450668812-6923042-newyear.jpgWell screw you, I am not one who reflects a whole lot during Thanksgiving – which is when these sentiments are usually shared.  New Years is the time of year where I take solace in looking at the year gone by – even if I completely botched all of my goals.

Anyway, that’s enough disclaimer. Let’s talk 2015.

I rang in 2015 standing in a field with some friends shooting fireworks into the sky.  It was fun, but I couldn’t help but begin thinking about the state of the world.  There are countless explosions going off from all directions, it literally sounded like a war zone.

I won’t begin to pretend as though I understand what it’s like to live in a war torn country, I hope I never experience that sensation.  Looking at 2015 I can’t help but look back on that time and see what a parallel the night was to how the year would follow.  Both personally, professionally, and on the world stage.

2015 was rife with conflict, and the overcoming of said conflict.  Going into this new year we stand on the brink of a third world war.  The Syrian Refugee Fiasco polarized both Canada and the United States, my own Facebook friends list included.

I hope the nature of how 2016 was welcomed will do as apt a job of predicting the year as 2015.  I’ll get more to that next time.

This year will forever be noted as the year I decided to make a serious effort of this whole writing thing.  I really hit my stride this year with this decision.

It started in mid-December of 2015, I begin changing the way I thought about writing.  Especially the second quarter of 2015 – when I would be writing 4-8 hours per day.

To date, I am happy to say that I currently sit on a finished novel, a rough draft of the second novel, and two novellas.  Considering the two years prior was spent working on the first draft of the first novel, I consider this a win.

Though I guess now the pressure is on, because I’m going to need a far greater output in 2016 to feel successful, not to mention I need to get published.

After a lot of deliberation and research, in 2015 I decided self-publishing will be my avenue.  At least for now, I need to get out there now.  I need to build my audience, and I need to see what you all think of my work.  I know it isn’t going to be a masterpiece.  There’s going to be at least a handful more New Years Eve’s before I can hope to be a success story.  But it’s got to start somewhere, and I’m happy to say (and truly believe) it started this year.

Whether I’m the next Stephen King, or just another nameless hack in the kindle store – 2015 will always be the year it all started.  I focused in on my life’s ambition and decided to stop being a child and pursue it.

I’m not just overweight bachelor living on my own anymore, the only responsibility is to pay rent and to keep the fridge stock with alcohol.  I’m a thirty year old family man who needs to start adulting – even if I hate adulting.

Sacrifices, obligations, responsibilities. They are all real aspects of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It’s more than just sentiment when I say this, I know it to be true.  If not for my family situation right now, I would never have done anything serious with my writing – nor would I have even got as far as I am right now.

It’s a desire to make more of myself and provide for them that drives me to keep this up.  It’s the reason I keep coming back to this keyboard even after I decide for a fact that all the words are trash  and no one will read them.

Now, if only I can get on the ball and follow through with the New Years Resolution to get healthy, we’ll be set. 😉 I’m a walking cliche.

I did agree to a very vocal and persistent friend that I would be joining him in his martial arts classes in January.  (Honestly I believe I said December, but I’m not going to argue his generosity in forgetting that) – So I guess my first short term goal besides getting the Krugers novella’s finished is to get myself in a place where I can take this guy up on that invitation.

I guess this also makes the end of the month my deadline, since I did say January and it would be wrong to not be a man of my word right?

Anyway, 2015’s theme for my life and the whole world has been escalation.  International tension is running high, and my drive has been shifted to the next level.  Here’s to 2016 and maintaining the course – and getting to my final destination of a healthy body and a library of published works.

Thank you to everyone who has offered to beta read my work up to this point, your input has been instrumental in fixing a lot of the glaring problems – and has been incredibly encouraging at the same time.

Thank you to all of you who just simply stop by and read the random thoughts I throw on this page for you to read.  My journey into insanity isn’t as lonely knowing so many of you are coming along with me.

Here’s to 2016, and doing it all again – bigger & better!
Happy New Year!
Cheers,

~Devin

 

Accepting Limitations

I’ve made no secret about the influence of the Dead Robots Society podcast on my writing path.  Before listening to these guys, self-publishing was no where near my radar.  It was big time publishing or bust – I never considered the possibility of grinding out a career selling the work myself.

stretching_beyond_your_limits_by_gilad.jpgBig time publishing deals vs Self-Publishing is akin to the poker world.  There are those who play in the big tournaments as a lifestyle.  All it takes is a single final table and you’re looking at enough money to live on while you chase the next big payday.

But then there’s the rounders – the guys who play ring game 5-6 nights a week making hundreds of dollars a night (or week).  They bring home enough money to pay their bills, have some leisure, and maintain a steady bankroll to get them through the rough times when the cards run cold.

Self publishing is the rounder who needs to grind a lifestyle from a series of small success instead of looking for that one major payday. Of course, like the poker world, there’s always a chance at unexpected success.  A rounder can go on a hot streak and triple their bankroll in a few sessions.

Wow, that was a tangent.  Maybe I need to make a separate post about the similarities between being a pro poker player and a professional writer.

Anyway, this is about limitations.

I’ve been listening to DRS and initially I would scoff at some of their word counts for the week.  When one of the guys would say they wrote 3-6 thousand in a week and the others would call it a success, it would jar my view.  I thought how small of a goal that was, at the time I was hitting no less than 3K per day.

Of course I also never expected to hit a burn out phase either.  I thought this was just my rate of production.  I was wrong though.  After powering through that second novel and now about 25% through the second part of my serialized project – I feel the burn.  I hit near 800 words yesterday, and broke a little over 1000 today.

But you know what, I don’t see it as a failure anymore.  The guys were right, there’s no reason why you can’t feel accomplished with near a thousand per day.  There’s going to be some 3-5K word days in my future, but there will also be some more zero word days too…

After finishing the second novel and coming face to face with the first zero word days of my writing career i began to get hard on myself.  I would think about how I’m a failure – this thought process ended up bleeding into my own confidence about my work.  I began thinking about maybe nothing I’ve written is worth selling.

Negativity is a toxin that will strangle creativity.  My biggest challenge thus far in this writing endeavor is to stay motivated and silence the voice telling me that all my work is garbage.  – Not recognizing my own limitations was a big culprit for this.  By not meeting my unrealistic goals I guess I gave my mind permission to tell me how terrible I am.

Enough of that.  I know what I can and can’t do, and I still feel comfortable I have stories  to tell that you’ll want to read.  Am I right? Well I guess we’ll all find out in 2016.

Stay tuned here in the coming days to find out how you can get on my mailing list for news about publishing dates and deals.

That’s it for now, my apologies for the ranting nature of this post.  My battery is dying and I really want to get it up before the computer dies.  I won’t have time to charge it before it’s off to work.  *Sigh*

Full Time Writing Life – Hurry up and get at me.

Cheers
~Devin
@ShallopNewf or DevinLeeNL@gmail.com

Season’s Greetings

December 25th can be a controversial time of the year recently.  We live in an age where everyone is offended by absolutely everything.  Wishing someone a Merry Christmas potentially comes off as insensitive to other beliefs – but when a company removes snowflakes from their holiday cups they are participating in the War on Christmas.

christmas_by_suryakami.jpgTruth be told I don’t want to stand on a soapbox about it so I just want to extend a Merry Christmas all you readers, and I wish all the best in whatever holiday you recognize this time of year.

Christmas this year serves as a one-week warning of the end of 2015. I’m certain I will look back on this year as the first year I made actual progress towards a life goal.  I’m not different from anyone else in that I always tend to make major plans to turn everything around.  Like most, they tend to fall short most of the time.

2015 is the year I finished and edited my first novel to completion.  By the time 2016 begins my library will consist of one completed novel, a completed first draft of a second novel, and two novellas in my six-eight part serialized tale.

Though there I do have a little bit of news to share.  I began the process of establishing my newsletter.  Of all the advice for aspiring writers, setting up a mail list tends to be the most frequent piece. So that’ll be ready to go in the new year, I’ll have a sign up widget here on the World Is Broken.

Another tidbit of news is that I finally registered the domain I intend to use as an author.  Until I get my website up and running on my own web space I have it redirecting to this blog.  So for now if you want to share this site with friends you can link them to http://www.DevinLee.ca

I’m waiting until closer to the New Year before I get all self-reflective here.  I’m returning to the tradition of a year end blog post.  For now I have to get back to work, that second novella needs to be finished before New Years.

So in short, Merry Christmas everyone!

Cheers,
~Devin
@ShallopNewf or devinleenl@gmail.com

NaNoProgress – The Hypocritical Rant!

This November I find myself lacking.  There are two things I desperately wish I could find over the next twenty two days – words and time.

time_by_vive_le_rockOf course I will explain it to you all in somewhere between 300-600 words, and burn at least thirty minutes.  So I’m spending potential words and a measure of time to proclaim to the world how I am so frustrated by the lack of time I have available and the absent of words on the page.

Hence calling this a hypocritical rant. – the lantern has been hung, shall we continue?

November 20th  approaches rapidly and I find myself still more than 20k words away from finishing his editing pass of Seth’s novel.  God’s sake, I still don’t even have a title yet.  At this point I am starting to come to grips I won’t get another pass at this.  I intended to make a final pass for polish and nit picking, but that doesn’t seem possible.  I’m struggling to finish this pass in time.

I’ve learned a valuable writing lesson.  It is rather unfortunate it must be in the final days before I need to submit the project, but I learn a lot about my common mistakes.  The punctuation around dialog tags, my insistence to put that in every sentence… I think further work should be at least moderately cleaner.

That’s really the whole point of all this isn’t it?  Writing and reading are the only two sure ways to improve the craft, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I’ve managed to come through this process with a couple of lessons.  It’s not just about my mistakes, but I have a much better indication for how long I need to allocate for the editing process.

So all in all, as mind numbing and soul draining as the last couple weeks have been, I’m still making progress.

The main casualty of this lesson is my NaNoWriMo project.  It’s eight days into the thirty day month and I sit at a staggering zero words.  It’s disappointing, witnessing the rising counts of my writer buddies doesn’t help.  Alas I still feel capable and up to the task.

There’s no point in setting easy goals you know you can do without a struggle.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, NaNoWriMo itself was never going to be a difficult exercise.  To win you need to write 1,667 words per day for thirty days.  Well my average is over 3k.  This delay in my NaNo beginning just makes it a more difficult challenge to aim for, without being out of the realm of possibility.

For me NaNoWriMo will be half the time, so it shall be renamed TurboNoWriMo.

I know initially it sounded like I was losing my mind, but it’s not the case;  okay, well not entirely.  I’m feeling the grind of this editing process and the pressure of the deadline looms, but that’s what being a writer is all about isn’t it?

As grueling as this whole ordeal feels I still get a small feel of accomplishment as I finish each chapter and I imagine it’ll feel terrific after the final one is complete.

I have to get back to work. Words and time are precious commodities this time of the year – so I hope you guys appreciate that you’re important enough to me to spend at least a part of it on you. 😉

Cheers
Devin