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

Revisions Session Seven: A Continuation of Continuity

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Another 8,000 words over thirty pages today, putting us on page 190 with just fifty pages to go! In a session or two, we’ll be finished!

Gah…what am I going to do with this little slice of the Internet after all the revisions are done? I doubt anyone wants to hear about the actual implementation part…leave suggestions in comments if there’s anything else in particular I should do!

So…I should mention first that this novel took about eight months to write. And as per teenagerhood, the novel was not exactly my singular focus during that time. Life happens, and while I worked on the novel nearly daily, I did tend to lose track of story details.

The reason this is important is that of continuity–the upholding of facts and such throughout the entire story.

What I found today was a vast number of self-contradictions, usually corresponding to an action or sentiment of a character and the ripples it spread–or should have spread–throughout the book. They were, to be honest, very nit-picky things…but warranted, I think. Many if not most were significant enough that–Deity forbid–a reader could have picked up on them. And I simply can’t have that.

Once again, for authors, I offer this not by way of procrastination but by way of concisely educated revising.

Don’t bother with continuity during the first draft.

Save. It. For. The. Edits.

The reasoning for this is simple: When writing, the flow of ideas is what is key. The ideas drive the story. And to keep certain elements of the story absolutely unbending is to compromise the story’s natural direction. Today I in some cases decided to redesign the continuity, so that what I did later on will stay, and the original detail will be changed.

That’s okay.

There’s no shame in that.

It’s natural.

Also, the other bit I wanted to mention….

I think I may have proactively nullified Gaiman’s Law!

Gaiman’s Law, created by Neil Gaiman, states that as an author first opens the final fully published hardcover fresh-off-the-factory copy of his or her book, he or she will inevitably find the ONLY TYPO IN THE BOOK.

I found the only one so far.

It actually wasn’t that bad. I forgot the D in the word “mind”…really kind of disappointing, in a way. I was hoping for something more…notable than that. But looking at where it was placed…if there was ever a page I would flip to, that would have been it.

So, that’s the day. Dealt with continuity, staved off Neil Gaiman. More to come tomorrow!

May you remain existential,

Evan

Revisions Day Six: The Contrived Agenda

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Forty pages today! Forty pages and 11,000 words, putting us only 80 pages to the end! It can be done!

Quick post today–life is calling!

So the really big problem I ran into today was agenda-pushing. I wrote the book planning to broach a lot of controversial subjects, which I still am enthused about doing, because as always I want to make society consider the things it tends to either brush under the rug or hide behind media firestorms. That’s not so much the problem–in fact, as far as I care it’s a good thing.

But there was an issue, of course.

That issue was that of bias. First off, I never intended there to be any bias in the work–more just presenting sides of the argument in as much depth as was appropriate, and leaving the rest to readers to hash out on their own. But at least for me, that’s only half of the issue.

The other side to this is that the bias, the agenda being pushed…it wasn’t mine. It was either my protagonist’s or that of another character in opposition to him. Which is bad, because it was stilted and kind of put on by me as overcaricaturizations of their characters. I’m kind of disappointed, actually, at how prolific it was. But, ah well.

I suppose the thing to avoid, then, is being contrived. It’s obvious that the best emotion is real emotion, so…channel it, even if that mandates an agenda. That which is produced in a first draft will be far more potent, and thus more useful to the story. And all the unneeded propaganda can be trimmed later. Just…make sure it’s worth trimming, I suppose.

This one’s been especially confusing for me…am I looking at this the wrong way? Please leave input in the Comments…that would be extremely helpful.

May you remain existential,

Evan

 

 

 

P.S. ONE HUNDRED POSTS HUZZAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!