Ignore The Delay

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Here’s another short short story for all of us, courtesy of a prompt by BeKindRewrite the Amazing! Prompt for this week is Ignore The Delay. Enjoy!

* * * * *

“Ten!”

The ball began to drop.

“Nine!”

“Eight!”

Beer was swigged, children were hugged, the dogs howled.

“Seven!”

“Six!”

“Five!”

Them on their feet now, chanting, cheering, Uncle Terry on his knees, overcome with the relief at the end of 2017.

“Four!”

“Three!”

And then…nothing.

The ball stopped.

The crowd in Times Square let out a pre-emptive “Two!” and a halfhearted “One” soon after, the kind that turned up at the end like a question.

We stared mute at the television.

The dogs looked up at us with bright eyes.

I alone looked back at them with the same feeling.

The announcer on the television: “Well, folks, not sure what’s going on with the delay here. Rest assured 2017 will be over in a matter of minutes if not sooner. For now, we’re over to Haley Klinkhammer with a performance she was saving till next year, but looks like she’s going to have to be all right with playing for the world right now.”

Nobody moved.

And around the room they all sank.

Auntie Genni, still without her son, deployed in Ukraine and slated to come back in February 2018.

Cousin Jayden, stuck with his braces for even longer. September 2018 even farther away.

Dad. Longer and longer without his driver’s license back. Court date was going to be in three days.

Uncle Terry. Crying. Stuck even longer in the year that took everything from him.

And Aunt Melinda, not quite able to make a resolution which, to be honest, would lighten the load on the floorboards quite a bit.

I smile.

She said she was going to leave me, next year.

She can’t leave yet.

* * * * *

Hello everyone–the aforementioned Haley Klinkhammer does in fact exist and I have full confidence that she will play Times Square one day! Find her blog here and her Youtube channel here!

Leave comments in comments!

May you remain existential,

Evan

A Breakthrough: Oh My Holy Freaking Goodness It Makes Sense

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’ve recently been removed from my wisdom teeth…as of this morning, actually…and right now I’m very much appreciating my dentist’s idea of an Ice Hoodie. It’s rather ingenious, truth be told, so…shout-out to them.

However, that is not my point.

Readers…I’ve hit a breakthrough.

About my current story, the one I’m writing.

So…a few basic plot details, to start. I’ve been holding off on these for purposes of marketability, but this won’t really give away too much.

My book, the one I’ve completed already and was going to finish edits on over the course of three days, follows a kid going through foster care. He had an absentee father and his mother (teen mom) died when he was young, so he went to live with his grandmother, who died when he was fifteen. The story picks up there and he goes through a series of bad foster homes and meets some people and avec avec avec, to demonstrate my immense knowledge of French. Really not that immense, considering I just said “with with with” in exchange for “et cetera”, which in hindsight may be French itself, but…you know.

**BREAK FOR HINDSIGHT** After finishing this post I realized it’s a LOT longer than I expected…know this, but still, feel free to read to the end.

So anywhom.

I’ve been confused at my character’s purpose in this book. Like…I know what it is on a superficial level, in finding a stable home and all that jazz, but…in terms of something I could say to another author, I’ve been unable to grasp at it.

Until a couple days ago.

So I sent the book out to a few beta readers, including the wonderful and ever-knowledgeable Stephanie of BeKindRewrite, and a sub-group of them, including Her Aforementioned Illustriousness, got back to me with their honest edits.

I’m not sure if anybody’s familiar with the feeling where you’re looking at your own work, after you’ve finished it or even as you’re writing it, and you know something’s wrong but you’re not sure exactly what. And you’re not disillusioned with it, at all, so you still keep writing with that sense nagging at you, and while you end up feeling good about the work it still seems incomplete, deficient in some way.

I’ve been wrestling with that feeling for the past…well, nearly two years now, from when I started writing it. And I’ve kept on and finished and took a year off and had a month-long editorial frenzy that ended about two weeks ago so I could send it out to people, but that feeling never left. And truth be told, I agonized over it, very much. I didn’t find what I was looking for.

Well, the beta readers responded, most of them, and I got my feedback…and in it were the gems I was looking for.

They put it into words.

The problems, the struggles, the things my Inner Critic (whom I will talk about at a later date) held behind his back and taunted me with.

I know what they are, now, and I can act upon them.

A couple of the big ones, just for the sake of possibly characterizing anyone’s troubles as these wonderful people have done for me (as transposed from e-mails by beta readers):

1.  The main character doesn’t grow sufficiently.  Events happen to him, and he eventually finds a home, but he does little to earn that happy ending.

2.  Too much dialogue that doesn’t move the story forward.

3.  The voice of the main character is not convincingly teen-aged.

4.  Very few scenes from the book lodge in my memory.  I’m not sure you know which scenes are most important to establishing or growing the characters.

And so they continued. Now, to be fair, that particular beta-reader is advocating for a complete re-write of the novel because of those and some other glaring issues. That may or may not happen, depending on some other things I’ll say in a few moments. But…they’re all true, and they’re all those needling little things that have dug at me relentlessly from the very beginning of writing this.

So that was the first breakthrough.

The second came yesterday.

So there are essentially six segments to the story. I won’t describe them in detail, but suffice to say that the first is with the grandmother until she dies and the last is some sort of resolution and ending, the nature of which I of course will not disclose.

The first is okay, with the grandmother. Needs some minor reworking.

The second is actually pretty good. I really enjoy it and I’ve heard very little in terms of critiques on that. I’ve even gotten reports of a few tears from that part, which…WOW

(Sidenote: A reader wants to do fan art of my characters! I’ve been…how to say…fangirling over the fangirling for the past week. Sorry if it makes me sound conceited…but I need to share.)

The fifth is…decent, I guess. It’ll take more of a shape as I work on the rest of the story.

And the sixth is just like the second, maybe even a touch better, which I’m very happy about. Once again, it’ll take shape.

The real problem is the third and fourth.

They’ve been problems for a while, and I’ve been trying to keep the edits to minor reworkings rather than complete rewrites…but after receiving those bits of feedback, it’s become abundantly clear to me that the segments both need a major overhaul.

And yesterday I hit another breakthrough, this one about them.

So the really big problem has been that they both contain an awfully skewed proportion of talking to actually doing. Both have unrealistic parts, and in one events become downright unfeasible…and also, despite my best efforts, apparently a bit offensive to certain demographics. And to remedy this…I decided to take a leap of faith.

Based on reader feedback…I’m choosing one of them.

And eliminating it.

I realize that sounds like kind of an unspeakable action to take, cutting out a giant portion of one’s novel. But…bear with me.

In doing this, I’m not going to just get rid of all the story concepts. Oh, no…I’m going to combine them, carry over the best bits of the deceased piece to the survivor.

Better experience.

More in-depth.

More action.

And more room, for another segment I thought up yesterday and now definitely will be writing.

That’s Breakthrough Number Two.

Now…Number Three…that’s the one I’m pretty pumped about.

So I mentioned before that I got removed from my wisdom teeth today. Quick update–not any pain, really, which is a wonderful little bit of unexpected goodness. I’m sitting in a recliner writing this while watching Pixar with my little brother, who was kind enough to give me a teddy bear which is currently resting on my chest and plotting world domination. Possibly.

The key word there is Pixar.

Up, in particular.

I was watching that movie with him and it occurred to me that I based a number of characters around what goes on in that opening montage. You know, the one that should be its own movie. In particular, though…Carl and Ellie.

Ellie was a huge inspiration for me as to what I wanted the character of the grandmother to be like. That practical creativity, the uniqueness…gah, I love it.

And Carl pretty much became a character in mine as well, a very major one–arguably on par with the grandmother. I won’t disclose the details, but rest assured any beta readers who read this will know who I’m talking about.

Just a bit of housekeeping: No, it’s not plagarizing. It’s being inspired. Mucho Differencio.

Anywhom, that made me realize something, which brings me back to the beginning of this post.

I realized what it is my character’s looking for, on an author-subliminal level.

So with the Hero’s Journey model–which I usually advise staying away from, post forthcoming–there’s that archetype of the Mentor character. This person goes and helps the Hero and gives needed knowledge–think Chiron from Greek mythology or Obi-Wan Kenobi if you want to get more pop-culture. And I’ve been operating on the premise that the story is going on as he gets new Mentors.

But here’s what I realized.

It goes beyond that.

Like…WAY beyond.

This’ll make sense to anyone who’s finished it.

The entire story’s a prologue.

To the epilogue.

My main character, Jesse…I always thought I was telling his story.

But what I realized is that his story hasn’t even begun.

So the Hero’s Journey model goes as follows: Beginning in Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting the Mentor, Acceptance of the Call, and some other stuff about the real meat and bones of the story which doesn’t really apply here.

Doesn’t apply.

Because the meat and bones of Jesse’s story doesn’t happen.

It doesn’t happen!

He gets the Ordinary World, before his mom dies. That’s the Call to Adventure. The Refusal is his life with the grandmother wherein he preserves a semblance of the Ordinary World, for another nine years.

But then she dies.

And he accepts the call, out of necessity.

But he can’t pursue it.

Because he’s missing one thing.

The Mentor.

**HALLELUIAH**

So the bit with the Mentor is that Jesse doesn’t have one. He loses his mother. Then his grandmother. He never has his father to begin with. He loses anyone else he could have hoped for, when he’s put into foster care. And as he bounces from home to home, he’s doing all that he does with the distant hope of finding this Mentor!

I won’t say whether he does or not, but I will reaffirm this:

This means that the entire story is about getting Jesse TO his journey! He’s not in it yet! He’s never been in it a day in his life! And he’s willing, ready and able to move on, but he’s missing that one crucial part that makes everything fit together!

His story still has yet to be written.

This book…it was giving him permission to write it.

I’m not sure if it shows, how excited I am right now. But I’m bouncing off the walls in my head.

Like…wow.

I’m VERY happy.

So anyway, that’s it for today. I very much wanted to share everything I discovered recently, and if that helps people in the throes of their own books find purpose in their writing, great!

Leave comments in comments as always–don’t be shy! We need a bit more community around here, I think…let’s get it started.

Also…for the people who stayed long enough to read this sentence…thank you. You guys are awesome.

May you remain existential,

Evan

 

Shell Burn

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Here’s a quick Inspiration Monday post, created with help from the prompt Shell Burn.

Also, if you haven’t yet checked out my last post, and commented, I would strongly recommend that you do.

* * * * *

After the fact, there was a great, big dispute about where one could have seen the red first.

Some said it was from the emergency light, hand in hand with the Klaxon, far before anyone had any idea.

Others, the aft crew mostly, said they had seen the red reflecting off the water, and that they had realized what was going on when their boots began to melt from the heat. They said that was when they knew to run.

For his part, Derrick had seen the red lights and made his way out onto the deck, at which point he had been veritably tackled by one of the hands of the aft crew. The scars seared into him from melted rubber on his leg still stayed.

But, of course, so long as he had joined the others in getting away from the stern, the means through which this was done was really quite inconsequential.

He remembered the first bit of flames licking up the stairs as he left the bridge, spreading a mile a minute from the engine room below.

Terry and Farwell, the maintenance men…word was, they still hadn’t been accounted for after that.

But then, who else could the finger have belonged to?

Derrick had paused on the way to the lifeboats, to grace the giant seashell emblem with the sight of his middle finger.

The Captain had shoved him and told him to get a head on his shoulders.

It hadn’t taken two minutes, between when the little orange boats bobbed away from their mothership to when the latter vessel had become its own funeral pyre…and what a sight it was, the flames billowing hundreds of feet in the air and going out as quickly as they had started.

Five thousand square miles affected by spill damage, they had said.

Countless casualties for the marine life.

But in the same sentence, “There was nothing you boys could have done.”

Derrick had nodded and taken the words like the rest.

Tight-lipped.

They had to, after all.

Wouldn’t do, at all, to mention that Terry and Farwell had taken up smoking.

That the other boys had let them.

* * * * *

May you remain existential,

Evan

Help Wanted–Will Write For Gratification

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’ve got a bit of a problem.

In the throes of finishing my edits on this current novel (one week till the deadline!), working on a new one and also intensely beta-reading for a friend (amazing work on his part), I’ve hit a bit of a stall with this blog.

As such, I look to you guys.

I’m well aware how good at blogging my faithful readers are, and I’m well aware that they for the most part have a much better idea than I do as to what people should be writing.

Therefore, I pose a question.

What would you all like to see me post?

Please-oh-please leave suggestions in comments, or see the Contact page at the top of the blog.

And…please don’t do that psychology thing that happens during emergencies…you know, where everyone thinks someone else will call 911 and nobody actually does…if you’ve got an idea, assume it will never be said in the history of ever unless YOU say it. Don’t worry, this is WordPress, there’s no terrible computer virus after you if you just leave a comment. I pinkie-swear.

You know what to do!

May you remain existential,

Evan

Mercury Poisoning

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So I’m 75 pages, 20,000 words, through the implementation stage of my final revisions. They’re going very well, so far, thanks in part to an amazing website I found yesterday: Calm.com. It’s very cool and very useful–check it out!

I’m making my re-entry into BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday this week, after a hiatus that’s lasted a few weeks too long. Chosen prompt for this week is Mercury Poisoning. Enjoy!

* * * * *

He leaned against the railing, hands trembling on the cold metal. His lower jaw trembled as he stared.

His granddaughter next to him, pulling at his hand.

“Grampa, I want to see it go! Can you press the button?”

He obliged her, listening to the scratchiness as the rover played pretend on the golden soil, back and forth under the hanging landing-craft.

He couldn’t help but stare at the symbol.

The little golden planet, looking up at the sun in its glory.

So close.

Roasting.

Warm.

He bent into himself with a long sigh, something not unlike hunger gnawing away at his center.

Granddaughter pulled on his sleeve. “You okay, Grampa?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought you didn’t want to go back anymore.”

He stared down at her through the thick glasses, pulling himself off the railing and leaning on a cane. Though his joints screamed at him, he bent down over her.

“Honey, I promise I’m not going back.”

“But you want to, don’t you?”

He said nothing.

“Don’t you?”

“Yes.” He said the word like a whispered swear. “Yes. I want to go back.”

His granddaughter slipped little arms around him. “It’s okay. I know how pretty the sun was, when you went. But I don’t want you to leave.”

“I won’t.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

* * * * *

May you remain existential,

Evan

The Blog Has Been Toured

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

And here I thought I was done with the daily posts.

Just a bit of housekeeping and updates first:

The readthrough has officially finished at this point, as was said yesterday (see Stephen Colbert for emphasis), and I have since reached roughly page twenty-five for the actual application portion of the revision. I’m averaging about seven pages per hour, so roughly eight or nine minutes per page–actually decent, given the amount of red ink I went through. That’ll be finished up by the fifteenth of July, a day which will likely be spent in a deceptively sedentary editorial frenzy.

Secondly, I’m kind of hitting a stall as to what to write with this blog. The Inspiration Monday posts will pick back up again, given that the novel’s not demanding daily posts anymore, but unfortunately the prompts only warrant one post per week. So I turn to you, good Readers. If there are any posts you would like to see me write, or topics I should expound upon, please either drop a comment here or find your way to my Contact page.

Third and last…so I just went and changed my background settings, and I stumbled upon what I had written at the start of this blog as a confirmation e-mail to people who had followed my blog. I’d just like to take a moment for some bemused laughter…I’m not entirely sure what was going through my mind.

Hello from an Evan.

You seem to have decided to follow me. I support this decision. If you do too, click Confirm Follow and an email will be sent to you whenever I post anything. If you disagree and want nothing to do with me, or didn’t decide to follow me in the first place, ignore this message and this whole encounter will fade away to nothing. However…I do hope you follow me. That would make me happy.

Good tidings,

An Evan

Hmm. That…wow. Okay.

But anyway, time to get down to business.

So it would seem that I’ve been nominated to a Blog Tour!

I must first extend a huge gesture of thanks to Rob Akers, who was kind enough to nominate me to the tour. Rob has been following this blog since nearly Day One, and has given me so much generous support through my stay on the Blogosphere. He’s an excellent writer and a profound thinker, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to both his blog and his work. Though he may at times underestimate his own talent, he is a literary force to be reckoned with, weaving wit and imagery in with a colloquial easiness that makes for a powerful writer.

If we could shower him with thanks, Likes and Follows, that would be wonderful.

So what this Blog Tour entails is, essentially, an expository peek at authors’ writing processes. I was given four questions to answer, which I will shortly extend to my Nominees as well.

What am I working on?

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Why do I write what I do?

How does your writing process work?

So let’s get down to it, shall we?

 

What am I working on?

Well, right now I am dividing my time primarily between two projects. The first, as has been illustrated in the past week, is a novel which I have finished in its entirety and on which I am closing revisions, in preparation for release to agents in August. The story follows a teenager victim to the passage of his mother, estrangement of his father, and subsequent death of his grandmother and legal guardian. The work then follows him through a number of foster homes and situations, and works as a chronicle of his life and journey.

The second project is entirely different, a dystopian young-adult piece set in a near-future landscape, following the journeys of a juvenile delinquent imprisoned in a lightless, lawless society, and those of his sister, trying to maintain her gang’s neutrality amidst a great and roiling conflict. I’m roughly ten thousand words into this one, and have had a bit less than a month of work with it. I’m actually very excited to work on this story, which is problematic given the imminent nature of the first project and the fact that life still needs to happen outside of the parameters of my desk.

Also, the third little brainchild I’d like to mention is a bit different. If anybody remembers that movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter…yeah. I’m a bit of a Phineas Gage enthusiast–to the point of being enamored–and I’d really love to do a parody with him. I’m debating whether to write a screenplay. But that’s just a fanciful thought at the moment.

Just think about it though…Phineas Gage: Wolfsbane.

 

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Well, quite frankly I don’t know. As much as I’d like to use this question as an excuse to throw out grandiose self-description, I won’t, because to be honest I don’t really have much to say. I’m very much dialogue-driven and have been called “cinematic” by a few known authors, though I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing–they didn’t say. But aside from that, I’m still very much coming into my own as a writer. I don’t have much of an answer to this question as of yet.

 

Why do I write what I do?

Excellent question. I’m actually going to draw upon a conversation I had with my writing partner, on that very same subject, last weekend.

Because I’ll be gone soon.

Because I’ve got a lot to say.

Because there’s a lot that needs saying.

Because swords end lives and pens save them.

Because the world is beautiful and hideous at the same time, and I feel that is where its true beauty lies.

Essentially, I write because I see so much in society either being brushed under the rug, absorbed in media firestorms isolated from everyday life, or otherwise “having their bases covered” by established organizations which ordinary people have very little to do with. I write in part to expose that, and to expose the issues at hand, and to a certain extent to force my readers to wake up and stare them in the face. The most dangerous thing we can do to our problems, quite simply, is to marginalize them and to look elsewhere.

Of course, there are other reasons…but those ones are personal.

 

How does my writing process work?

Well, that’s the million-dollar question right there.

Long story short, I work through trial and error. I have to my name one finished novel, one novel-in-progress, and no less than fourteen false starts. These range from a page of notes and a storyboard on the “unfinished” end of the spectrum to a finished novella and a pair of works written to over twenty thousand words.

The unifying theme, of course, is that they’re all complete crap.

But that’s not to say they’re done for. I save them all, and I plan to work on them eventually when I get extremely bored.

In terms of my day-to-day process, though, I don’t really have one. I just have a few select rules, and that’s it.

  1. Write every day, even if it’s just a sentence or a character.
  2. Never write at the exact same time daily. It builds monotony. There’s no variance in the thoughts.
  3. Only write a first draft forward. Never look back. No second-guessing during the first draft.
  4. If the story’s done, for three days in a row…it’s done. For now.
  5. First drafts will be terrible. The reason why is everything.

But that’s really the only set of rules. Other than that, I sit and I write.

 

 

So that’s that!

For my single nomination, I’m going to send this Tour over to http://jccphotography.wordpress.com/. The genius behind this website is my writing partner in real life, and also one of my best friends. I’ve known her for about five years, all of them in person, and in that time it has become abundantly clear that she is the most talented writer I’ve ever met. While this blog focuses mainly on photography, where she also excels, I’m doing my best to convince her to put a bit of writing up there as well. The quality of the content she produces, the originality, the dark wit and the captivating voice she employs all serve to prove that She is truly going places, in both fiction and nonfiction, and I have full trust that her plans of world domination will come to beautiful fruition one day.

Please, please go check out her blog–it’s one of the best slices of Internet WordPress has to offer.

That’s everything today, I think, in what has probably become my longest post to date. Please, leave comments in the Comments as to anything I’ve mentioned, and let me know if there’s any topic in particular you feel I should write about!

Huge thanks to Rob again!

May you remain existential,

Evan

 

 

 

 

 

Revisions Day Eight: THE END!

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

We’ve done it!

Two hundred forty-three pages.

Seventy thousand words.

Three-hundred-ninety-thousand characters.

We’re done.

Much like the aforementioned Stephen Colbert, I’ve spent the past little while indulging in a bit of happy-dancing.

And the best part is this:

There weren’t even any new problems!

The old ones were still there, of course, but there was nothing new or even particularly overproblematic! It was easily the simplest day of revisions, not to mention the most happy and readable.

It’s done.

It’s over.

The readthrough has finished.

The fun part shall now begin.

By which I mean the frenzy to incorporate everything by the 15th.

But…

IT’S DONE.

I must now return to my happy-dancing.

May you remain existential,

Evan