Rain and Jurassic Park

Welcome back. Thanks for coming by for this first in another week of posts.

So, I realized . . . I do a lot of series. In fact, since I started posting every week day . . . I think every single post has been part of a series.

It’s getting a little exhausting.

So I thought I’d kick it old school and just talk about something random.

And, since it was showering earlier today, I thought that random thing would be . . . rain.

Because it’s a really intense trigger for me.

To be clear, I don’t mean that rain is my muse; I don’t get ideas from walking out in the rain. Inspiration doesn’t come to me from the unique roar of a storm.

No, rain just–very regularly–motivates me. And we’re talkin’ stop-what-you’re-doing-and-go-write motivation. Literally; a bunch of times during my life, I’ve stopped the moment a first drop hit my window sill. I’ve blinked, gotten up, walked to the window–or, other times, I’ve just sat and stared.

Either way, the clean scent of billowing atmosphere would roll in through the window.

And I’d breathe it in. Let it out with a sigh.

Then turn off whatever game or movie I’m distracting myself with, and immediately get back to my manuscripts.

I almost want to suggest a totally fun name for it–something like Writer’s Guilt–but a name like that wouldn’t be 100% correct.

Because, when it starts raining, I’m not hearing a voice pressuring me. I’m not remembering something someone told me or some promise I made.

I’m remembering . . . the feeling of watching Jurassic Park for the first time.

I know–that’s weird. But it’s true. Jurassic Park came out when I was 11 and I saw it in theaters. Naturally, the part that had the biggest impact on me was the scene at the T-Rex enclosure.

If you haven’t scene Jurassic Park, I’ll just explain that, at one point, the majority of the cast is stranded at the T-Rex paddock when the park’s power grid is turned off. The loss of power means that their automatic vehicles stop moving.

Right beside the T-Rex paddock’s electrified fence . . . which has also lost power.

When the T-Rex arrives, it turns into a scene with a ton of suspense.

In part because there’s no music.

Just the constant sound of rainfall.

At that point, I’d already played Final Fantasy III on my Super Nintendo. I’d already realized that stories were really awesome because they had the power to make you feel things–experience stuff that was cool . . . and important.

But Jurassic Park was the moment when I first thought, “I want to make something like this.”

And that something was, of course, a ridiculous short story about my cats becoming giant-sized and chasing me and my cousins around our apartment (I was so 11).

But, decades later, with significantly less cat-heavy stories under my belt, the sound of rainfall is enough to remind me of why I write in the first place. The feeling that I want to give to other people.

The feeling of being 11 years old and in complete, wordless awe.

~~~

Thanks for reading. This week is going to be a little crazy for me with the promotion, but I’m still going to try to get these posts on a better schedule (getting them out during the day instead of around midnight). I’ve been prioritizing other things over writing on here, which means sometimes, I’m get started on these posts really, really late. The result: I’ve been fighting sleep to finish some of these. We’re talkin’ writing a sentence, passing out, jumping up a minute later, determinedly writing another sentence, passing out again . . . It’s obviously not good for quality, so I’m going to try to figure something out.

But, anyway, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Monday, AM #4 – ON / OFF

So, this is probably the last Monday, AM.

The series just isn’t doing well, which is fine–I’ll take another day to post whatever I want (currently just Friday), but this weekday posting gig requires me to make new series all the time, so I’ll have a few Monday standards figured out before long.

In the meantime, let’s get to it.

On

For the first time in forever, the future actually seems pleasant.

It’s a strange feeling.

I usually tamp down on my neurosis here, but whatever; I’m used to the future always being bleak. That’s possibly because I have a hard time imagining it. At few years ago, when I was in much worse shape emotionally, a friend who I absolutely love suggested I start with the small things. I did, but I never went beyond that; my modus operandi in life had become taking care of the countless small problems without ever looking ahead. Maybe it’s bleaker than that–maybe I just hate my day-to-day so much that I prefer to not imagine the future, where I’ll see more of it.

Whatever the case, I usually convince myself something will go wrong.

So, it’s strange to be in a position where . . . everything’s just going right. Writing is working, I had a vacation that was amazing, my debts are in order.

And with all of these things, there are completely normal switches that are being flipped on again–parts of my brain that I’d shut off without realizing at some point.

Making friends–ON.

Having faith in my abilities as a professional–ON.

Actually accepting the idea that I might be a smart, funny dude after all–ON.

Just countless switches for completely normal things that the average person takes for granted.

I realize that I need to start planning for the future. Because the idea that I might actually have one has suddenly been turned on.

Maybe that sounds incredibly strange coming from a man who’s been writing short stories and novels. But, among all of those switches, there’s the realization that I’ve been writing for other people the entire time (and that those people like what I’m writing the same way I like it).

I don’t know if this will ever get to someone who’s been in a similar place. But, just in case it does, I understand why you turned all of these things off. I’m not going to say “Try and be happy,” or, “Stop being sad,” because I know how incredibly frustrating all of that shit is.

But I will say . . . find the thing that will turn everything back on.

I can’t tell you what it is, but I know that it isn’t a person. Not a friend, not a lover. It also isn’t a physical possession. It’s something about who you are . . . that you need to work on.

Figure out how to work on it. Not for anyone else–fuck everyone else. Figure out how to work on it . . . to make you happy.

For me, it meant keeping away from people who wanted to help without understanding what I was going through (a formula for bad times). It also meant forcing myself to be social, starting with posting on here more often, ending with pushing myself to spend time with new people–finding those I could trust to help me as much, or as little, as they wanted.

But that’s just me. You’re different. I wish I knew how, but I don’t. I can’t tell you how to work things out, but I hope that you find a way to make your life better.

Because I know how terribly easy it can be to just leave everything OFF.

The Hand and the Tempest Progress

I took such a break for PAX.

Still on chapter 5, but I’ll be done with it by tomorrow. Unfortunately, that chapter suffered from a little scene shuffling, where I lifted a few pages to use later in the novel, but the chapter itself is still fine. I have to gussy it up a little, for sure . . .

But that’s what tomorrow will be, since I have the day off for what’s supposed to be a really insane blizzard.

Do not let me down, Accuweather. I am not kidding.

~~~

For the record, this post did not go how I expected. I guess if I had to use this last Monday, AM to send any message, though, it was that one.

If you’re a regular, thanks for stopping by. This week, I’ll be posting a new Let’s Make, a series I’ve been eager to return to since Let’s Make: A Fantasy Beast did so well.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for dropping by, and, as always, write well.

PAX East 2017 – A Brief Summary of The Last Night on Earth

I’m closing out the week with another brief story from PAX.

Only, this time, actually a story.

One of the things I love about board games is the way they sometimes yield cohesive plots. Reading between the die rolls, you can find narratives that are accidentally perfect.

And, because I love those stories, here’s a rendering of my run in The Last Night on Earth, during lunch at PAX today. I made small adjustments only to increase humor (or because I couldn’t remember exact details–it was 12 hours ago, which is an incredibly long time in PAX hours). Enjoy!

~~~

When the zombies clawed their way out of the ground, Sheriff Anderson was in the barn, with Jenny, the farmer’s daughter.

Hearing them just outside, the sheriff spun. “Jenny, you any good with a gun?”

“Uh . . . Yeah.”

The sheriff, without another word, handed her his revolver, certain he could find another one in the barn. He knew the farmer well enough–had feared a gun the man kept somewhere in this barn.

But only a moment into his search, Jenny pulled at the front door. “It’s locked!”

A sentence punctuated by a window shattering. Before the sheriff could blink, a zombie was on her, biting first, going down second, the revolver roaring in Jenny’s hand.

“I’m bit,” she winced. “Here, sheriff, take this . . . pitchfork.”

The sheriff blinked. “I . . . What?” he asked, finding it impossible not to eye the revolver he’d just given her.

“Here,” she said, pushing the pitchfork at him, eyes so earnest it hurt.

Sheriff Anderson took the pitchfork, began to run outside.

But Jenny called after him, wistful. “Sheriff . . . If I can heal this disease . . . If I survive . . . I’ll want that pitchfork back.”

Sheriff Anderson stared. “Uh . . .”

And Jenny looked out the window. “I gotta get to the high school.”

Anderson grumbled. “I’m gonna just . . . keep lookin’ for that gun.”

#

Moments later, Sheriff Anderson was outside, sparing Jenny only a glance. She was running into the cornfields. Of course she was.

It didn’t matter; the mansion in the middle of town was being overrun, and the sheriff knew that if they could keep enough zombies out, he and the other survivors could fortify–survive.

The sheriff, spitting, sweating, ran up to the side of the mansion and fired in through a window, taking down one of the zombies attacking the pastor inside.

Missing the zombie that came up from behind, clawing at his neck.

The pastor called for him to come inside, but maybe it was the pain. The fever. Maybe it was the zombie, still ambling toward him. The fact that the lights had gone out in the mansion.

Maybe it was Jenny, still headed toward the cornfields.

“Can’t trust ’em!” he shouted over the moaning and screaming. “Can’t trust no one!”

Grabbing a fire extinguisher and running into a pile of zombies felt like the best idea.

For a moment, it was. He managed to fend off five of them, pushing them away from the mansion.

But then, a moment later, all five were on him. He went down brawling, shouting like the maniac he’d immediately become.

And, not a second later, I was allowed to pick a new character from two possibilities . . . one of whom was Billy, Sheriff Anderson’s son. I had to pick him.

He was randomly given an item, which happened to be a shotgun (we immediately decided it was his father’s). Ready for vengeance, Billy entered the field, screaming a super typical, overdramatic, “Paw! No-o-o-o!”

Unfortunately, the game ended there, but I loved finding that story in a bunch of random die rolls.

And Sheriff Anderson, fist fighting zombies in a cloud of fire extinguisher smoke, already having gone totally insane after about ten in-game seconds, got the biggest laugh of the game.

~~~

Well, I hope you enjoyed this one.

Technically, the spree is over–I didn’t even start this post until Saturday. But, eh, it’s still my fifth post for the week, so I’ll take it.

If you’re a regular, thank you for the support. I’m gonna go enjoy the rest of my vacation, but I’ll be back bright and early Monday morning.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way though, thank you for passing by! I hope that you have an awesome weekend, wherever you are!

And, of course, as always, write well.

 

PAX East 2017 – The Road to Betrayal

So . . . posting from PAX . . . is a nightmare.

It’s not impossible though, so I thought I’d drop an easy post, at least.

The easiest thing to write about? PAX.

So, for tonight, I thought I’d share the best moments from my journey to PAX East 2017. A little bloggier than I like to make my posts.

But I felt like sharing today.

~~~

It was only a few hours between waking up and reaching Boston. A quick road trip with friends–Final Fantasy XV in real time.

PAX started in a lounge on the 20th floor of our hotel though.

First when a stranger, Sarah, walked up in the middle of our game of Star Wars: Rebellion.

She was doing a Pokemon themed bar crawl later that night, she explained. She also sat with us, shared a few drinks, and laughed as my friend Josh and I lost to the rebels. We blew up Bothawui (many Bothans died), but the game came to a canonical end when their Han Solo showed up at the last second to save Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader. Somehow, we genuinely didn’t see it coming.

After that, I jumped in on a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill, a game where you and your friends explore a haunted mansion that inevitably drives one of your friends insane, making them the Traitor. Our Traitor found a box that took away everyone’s voice . . . which meant that we, as players, couldn’t speak.

Betrayal turned into all of us flailing, trying to help each other, largely failing.

“Wait–I’ll send my dog in there!” became a pantomime with a beer cap.

At one point, a friend who wasn’t playing asked us how the game was going. We awkwardly gave thumbs up–at the same time, in complete silence.

I laughed hysterically. Repeatedly.

At one point, I realized, Holy shit . . . We haven’t even gone to PAX yet. The convention hasn’t actually started.

And, after working a ton of overtime, struggling through a rough start with H&T, and interviewing for a promotion at work . . . man did I need this breather.

~~~

Forgive me for the short salutations, but I have a game of Risk: Legacy to jump in on.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another short post about the floor itself.

Until then, thank you everyone for reading.

And, as always, write well.

Monday, AM #3 – The PAX Rush

Welcome back, everyone. Another brief Monday, AM–made particularly short by the fact that my entire weekend was devoured by Breath of the Wild.

I mean, I wrote and did a few other things, but when it came to going outside–catching Logan or Get Out, I passed. In my defense, I’ve always been a huge Zelda fan, so whatever. Sacrifices were made.

Anyway, getting into my biz . . .

PAX East Is This Weekend

My first Pax East was in 2014. I went with an old friend and his buddies, and it was one of the best experiences of my recent life. Got to go to a few panels, be incredibly awkward while grabbing drinks with some of my favorite streamers, try out a bunch of awesome indies (Titan Souls and Enter the Gungeon were there that year), and–most importantly–I got to hang out and game with a bunch of friends for a few days.

Unfortunately, money issues didn’t let me go last year.

But this year, I made absolutely sure to have enough saved up for another PAX trip.

If you’ve never been, I’d like to convey the experience with a summary of one moment:

Partway through the convention, one of my friends mentioned a “retro room,” a single room at the convention where anyone could come in, request a game from a list of titles, and play that game on of many ancient consoles (from the NES to the Sega CD).

Immediately intrigued, I checked it out on my own. There were a bunch of tables arranged at the front of the room, a check-in counter at the back, where they kept the aforementioned list of games.

A list that I perused for maybe 20 seconds before realizing . . .

“Holy shit . . . They have Lunar: The Silver Star.”

Timid, as if the opportunity would somehow disappear, I went to the attendant at the check in desk. Mumbled, “Lunar for the Sega CD, please,” like I was a nervous little kid. They found it for me, told me I had 30 minutes with it.

And, in a strange moment for a grown man, I found a Sega CD, popped Lunar in . . .

. . . and then got teary eyed when the intro started.

Maybe it was because I’d loved Lunar when I was a kid.

But I think that it was actually because I’d forgotten Lunar. The intro, the music. No, that isn’t true; the moment the game started, I remembered all of it: the incredibly anime intro music, the dialogue, the characters.

But I had forgotten something. And, although this is going to sound cheesy . . . I think that what I forgot was how it felt to be happy.

The kind of happy that only a kid can experience when they get to do, watch, or play their favorite thing in the world. And Lunar, out of all the things I loved as a kid, is the only thing that I got to have completely to myself; no one else I knew played that game. No one in my family cared about it, so no one beat it and spoiled the ending for me, for example. I never got a chance to play the sequels either, so my love for the first in the series was never even challenged by its successors.

So sitting there, at PAX East, I realized that Lunar was a time capsule for me; one of pure love, planted in 1992, delivered 22 years later.

There’s so much else about PAX that my story doesn’t convey–the love of games in all of their media, the spirit of camaraderie–but that moment with Lunar is what it means to me.

Fingers crossed for Flashback in the retro room this year.

The Hand and the Tempest Progress

Last week, I said I had to bring it and finish chapter 4. Well, I didn’t finish it last Monday . . .

But I did finish it Tuesday.

And, somewhere in between, holy shit, did the muse come back.

I might want to write about the idea of the creative switch–the quest to find out what turns it on–because it feels like that’s what happened. One moment sparked a really fun scene with exciting world building . . .

And now, suddenly, I know what the next three chapters are going to be like. After months of slogging, I know how a character’s entire arc is going to work out, how many chapters it’ll take to get there. I’m almost done with chapter 5, and ready to roll into chapter 6.

Most importantly though, I’m finally excited. Just . . . insanely excited to write more of this novel–this YA story that I finally love.

~~~

And, in that spirit, I’m gonna call it quits here.

If you’re a regular, welcome back to Monday. I hope you guys are having a good one, light on distractions, heavy on the words.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for stopping by. Take care, and, as always, write well.

 

Gallery of Strangers – Tattoo Mom

People watching. It’s an unfortunate part of being a writer. Not too socially disruptive, but still weird. At least it makes me feel weird, what with my guilty conscience.

Still, it’s essential. As writers, we have to watch people, listen closely to how they speak, what they say. Not because we’re stalkers, but because we need reference–like any artist.

A painter might google a reference for white tree bark before working on a new piece.

Writers can’t just google “How someone acts on the bus early in the morning,” or, “A weird thing a person might wear in public that I couldn’t possibly imagine.”

For that reason, I pay a lot of attention to people who say, do, or wear unique, interesting things. Mannerisms, sayings–any personality traits that make them stand out. Anything that I can use to make a more realistic or endearing character.

And I thought, “Hey, why not share what I’ve seen on the blog?” Not in an attempt to describe it (I’m not going all Workshop Wednesday on this [although I acknowledge that yesterday’s post would’ve been a Gallery of Strangers if I’d thought about it]). The goal here is just to share.

With, of course, the disclaimer that I’m never going to name names; these posts will never be about dishing on someone’s fashion sense.

That said, here we go.

~~~Tattoo Mom~~~

On the bus, I once saw an older woman with graying hair.

Who also had a ton of tattoos.

It wasn’t the combo of grays and tats that was striking; it was the tattoos themselves. They went up one side of her neck, along one arm and down her hand. And they were all extremely similar, simple symbols. No flowers, flags, saints, or skulls. Just lines and circles. Zig zags and spirals arrayed in a way that had no clear meaning.

The only way to be sure where she’d gotten her ink was asking her. And I wasn’t going to do that.

So, instead–without ogling–I got a good look at those symbols, trying to find a pattern. Never succeeding.

But, in the end, whatever meaning they had didn’t matter. All that really mattered was, no matter how she got them, those tattoos made her the most intriguing character I saw that day.

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you’re a regular, I cannot put it into words how much I appreciate your support. As a struggling writer, it genuinely brightens my day when I see familiar names returning. So, thank you moteridgerider, Maxxesbooktopia, daily22792, Tetiana Aleksina, and abooknation. Also thank you to Lloyd S. R. and August Kyle for the Follows. You guys . . . Just, really, thank you.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I promise my next post won’t be about random people I saw in public–really it won’t.

But, until then, thanks again for stopping by. And, as always, write well.

Monday, AM #2 – John Wick and Underworldbuilding

Welcome back to Monday. This is the part where I reflexively say, “It’s good to be back!” but it isn’t, cause it’s Monday.

I did actually get my days off this week, so I’ll get to spend the beginning of it comfortably doing posts and writing . . . although I also really want to slip in a matinee of Get Out, because I wanted to see it in the first place and it had such a good opening.

But whatever! Let’s talk about the weekend!

John Wick and the Discerning Gentleman’s Criminal Underworld

I saw John Wick: Chapter 2 on Saturday night. First of all, no spoilers here.

Second, it was . . . I mean.

Okay . . . So, I didn’t dislike the first John Wick, but I also didn’t love it.

I feel the same way about Chapter 2. No offense to anyone who does love the series. I just think I’m too deep in Fantasy town to fully appreciate an Earth-modern revenge story.

Among the other runny-shooty action movies I’ve seen in recent times, the John Wick series is the absolute best–and Chapter 2 had some moments I will absolutely always remember (while its predecessor didn’t).

But, I found myself way more intrigued by the worldbuilding in Chapter 2, which was my favorite part of the first John Wick. This sequel dives right into Wick’s gold-fueled criminal underworld, making it way more dense and fun to experience.

What that world winds up feeling like is . . . a criminal underworld for the discerning gentleman. Everyone is well dressed. Everyone is polite, and everyone is super rich. Baby’s first spoiler, John Wick starts the movie with a nice suit . . . and then gets an even nicer suit to wear while killing people.

And maybe that’s the part that really makes the John Wick series interesting for me; the elaborate background of the underworld is there to serve as a foundation for a movie that’s really just about a guy who punch-shoots a lot of people to death.

What a weird series.

But what a beautiful thing for its creators to know it wouldn’t be as interesting without its super-charming criminal underworld, where everything costs exactly one golden coin.

The Hand and the Tempest Project Progress

H&T is going well. I’m almost done with chapter 4–almost to the point where the novel becomes more comfortable for the main characters. And me.

The thing is, I had a moment the other day where I thought of the perfect opening line for Rainwater Archaic, the next big project on my schedule.

Now . . . I’ve already written the first chapter of Rainwater. It was among the group of unpolished stories I wrote last year. At first, I thought it would just be a short story–the first in a series, maybe–but I didn’t like how it turned out (the tone got way, way too heavy), so I took a break from it. During that break, I realized I wanted to take my time worldbuilding for it–figuring out that I wanted to make it a standalone novel instead.

Now, I’m just really, really ready to write that novel. And I want so badly to put H&T on hold to do it. But I’m also 100% certain that doing that will kill H&T, and, despite complications with the actual writing part, I do love H&T’s characters. I want to tell this story.

I also just want to be done with it by summer. If I stay on this schedule, that definitely won’t happen; I’d finish it until late this year or next year.

So, the next few weeks are going to be all about bumping up my average words per day.

And, if you were here for last week’s Dream Diary, I’m pretty sure that this is what that nightmare was about.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m already trying to get a lot of things done, but I’ve been trying to do it all . . . while staying comfortable. I’ll stop writing if a scene is giving me too much trouble, giving myself a day to casually figure out where I want a scene to go. At work, I’ll only volunteer for extra work if it’s convenient for me.

But I can’t keep operating like that–particularly with writing. If I want to get anywhere, my daily sessions have to be longer and produce more words. At work, I have to be more selfless if I expect to get any kind of promotion. Any more responsibility.

And, I’m not sure because that dream from last Friday was so goddamn weird, but I think that responsibility was the monster I was hunting. Not normal, get up, go to work, pay bills responsibility, but career writer responsibility. I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be writing with a schedule given to me by a publisher. I’m hunting for that opportunity . . . but I’m also afraid of the stress it’s going to bring with it–weary after 10 straight years of it.

But, I can’t learn how to write like a career writer . . . then, when the opportunity comes up.

I have to learn how to do it now.

~~~

I guess that means get ready for a way more stressed out me sometime soon. The tension’ll probably ramp up mid-March, when I get back from PAX East. Can’t wait!

But, for now, I have to have breakfast, and start building that tension with an attempt to finish chapter 4 today, action scene and all. I will absolutely try to not force anything, but wish me luck.

As always, thank you for dropping by. I really appreciate everyone who pops in, even if you just give a quick read.

Until next time, everyone.

Dream Diary #1 – A Red Rust Door

Ending the week with a weird one here. A kind of spiritual successor to my dream diary tweets from ages ago.

Again, as it happens pretty often on this blog, writing about this just feels right.

And, although I’m not sure why, I’m going all “right” on this one; I’m doing it up. I am alone, on my computer, in a completely dark room.

It’s time to get meta. To get weird and cerebral. And a bit spooky.

Let’s step back into the weird dream I had last night, made as clear as I could possibly render it.

~~~

I can’t claim to remember all of my dream from last night, but I know that it centered around a building I was exploring. A ruin, for sure, set in stark grays and reds.

Because, although I didn’t jump awake or experience anything that truly terrified me, this was definitely a nightmare.

I was looking for something. I’m not sure what, but it was living–some kind of creature that was hiding in an old . . . I don’t know what it was. A multi-leveled structure with strange plazas and surreal pathways of pitted concrete.

Sometimes, I found myself stepping into enclosed courtyards and finding walls and upper landings made out of thin sticks of red wood.

Other times, I’d walk down a hall and come out in places that didn’t make sense. The one I remember best was a perfectly rectangular hallway that ended with nothing–an opening with no door. The hallway’s walls, floor, and roof made a perfect cylinder of concrete that was cleanly cut, its other half gone with whatever structure it was attached to. As if to suit that metaphor, the doorway was leaning down–into a slate river, perfectly clean, oddly dry. I remember dropping down into that river, looking around at a world made white by a glaring sun.

And then I was back inside, looking for the creature again.

At certain points, I heard it, and despite trying to seek it out, I ran or hid. In the moments between, there were actual zombies to fight, although I was strangely unmoved by them, as if I was playing a video game. I’d already dealt with zombies countless times.

In the end, I never confronted the creature that I was looking for.

But I did find it, on the other side of a red rust door, moving around. Not stomping or growling. Just settling and resettling itself. Perhaps never aware of me. Possibly not even waiting as I stood on the other side of its door, doing nothing until I woke up.

~~~

Apologies if you don’t like reading weird stuff. I was going to try and figure out a meaning as a second part of this post.

But I . . . kind of like leaving this dream as just a weird dream. And, besides, all meanings I could think of surrounded the likelihood that I’m feeling a little stressed–that a big challenge is coming up in my life and I have to face it.

But eh. We can talk about that on Monday.

For now, it’s the weekend; let’s just party.

Thank you for stopping by; I don’t think I say it enough, but I appreciate everyone’s support. If you’d like, you can find me on Twitter @LSantiagoAuthor.

But, in the mean time, thanks just for passing by, and I hope your weekend’s awesome.

See ya on Monday!

Monday, AM #1 – My Everyday Jam

Hey there, and welcome back to my site for this first in a new series, Monday, AM, or Monday, About Me. The name says it all, really; every Monday, I’ll post updates about my writing progress, along with any news from my weekend, including (of course) too-detailed retellings of weird experiences I had.

The idea: to have a post each week that’s more personal, because, for whatever reason, that feels right. Not sure why. “Progress Updates” used to be a regular feature on the site, so maybe I wanted to bring them back (only without little graphics)?

Whatever. Let’s get to it.

My Everyday Jam

So, if you’ve been subscribed to me for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve started posting everyday except for Saturday and Sunday. This may seem odd to you because, before last Tuesday, my posting schedule was once every . . . two months? Twice every six months?

My point is, I was on working from an “if I have things to say, I’ll say them” angle. And, immediately, let me clarify that I don’t think that’s a bad way to run a blog. In fact, I would still be running this blog that way if I didn’t have a few realizations.

And, I know it sounds like I’m about to be all, “I realized I could write more every day, cause I got motivated! The world is beautiful if you just believe in beauty!”

No.

I definitely did have the revelation that I could write more, but that’s not why I started posting more.

I started writing more every day and posting five days a week because, personally, I need it.

For a long while now, my life has been an absolute nightmare. I don’t want to get into details, because that’s not what this site is for, I’ve decided, but, unlike the average up-and-down roller coaster ride of life, mine just went down.

Just, non-stop, straight down, for about ten years. You can track it through my last decade of posts–from the ones where I openly talked about my depression to the ones where I was super slapstick, pretending shit was just swell.

But, when I recently had cause to consider my life, I realized a few things:

  • My life is finally getting better because I care about myself more than anyone else.
  • I still have a lot to say about writing and I can figure out how to say it consistently, in a way that’s fun.
  • My life is infinitely better with as many distractions as possible.
  • Video games are a very, very stale distraction.
  • want to write more. I always have. And writing has always been the thing I’m best at, so why wouldn’t I do it more every day? Especially when writing is–and always has been–a great and extremely constructive distraction.
  • love a challenge.

Take all of these things, mash them together, duct tape them, and you’ve got the the motivation for my new 2017 jam: posting every weekday. It’s interesting, it’s creative, it’s challenging.

And I love it.

The Hand and the Tempest Update

Yesterday and today were going to be days off, during which I was really going to dive into H&T. But yesterday, I got called in to work. And, today, as you read this, I’m probably at work, asked to come in again because it’s been so busy.

Of course, that’s not going to stop me. I’m just going to get tired sooner, inching my way through chapter 4, when I was hoping to be done with it by today.

Still, I’m glad with the way the novel is coming along. I find myself having to stop to do bits of worldbuilding as I write, but I love the  world that’s being produced.

The most recent worldbuilding hurdle: deciding on money–what it’s called, how it looks, how it works, its potential alternate uses. Really tempted to just lift a system from an older project, but that kind of shoehorning always seems wrong. Besides, I’m enjoying the hurdle.

An enduring feeling though: I’m eager to get to the part of the novel where my protagonists don’t dislike and distrust each other. I’m in the mood for good vibes these days (a stark contrast from NaNoWriMo 2016, when I was super allergic to the idea of writing something fun and playful).

Still, I’ll get there. Just have to keep chipping away if that’s all the schedule lets me do.

~~~

I think I’ll call it here for this first Monday, AM. The idea was to go to a writing workshop yesterday and report on how awkward I was, but duty called. It’s not like my awkwardness is going anywhere though.

At any rate, thanks for popping in. Tomorrow, it’s back to writing about the craft with the first in another new series that I’m pretty excited for, Muse Tuesday. That name’s probably taken.

But eh. Fuck it.

Thanks for reading, everyone. And, as always, write well.

The Discovery Writer VS Chapter One

Hi there, and welcome to 2017. I know I’m a little late with that greeting, but I’ve been hanging back, trying to make sure I had some great news for an update.

And I do . . . kind of.

Maybe this has happened to you, maybe it hasn’t. If it’s the latter, I hope it never does.

But, since NaNoWriMo 2016, I’ve been engaged in mortal combat with the first few chapters of my novel. Allow me to explain.

And, because it sounds like this story is going to have a bad ending, let me just say that the novel I’ve been working on is really coming along . . . now, at least.

The road to now started with NaNoWriMo 2016, when I decided to write The Hand and the Tempest, a YA fantasy novel that I originally thought of when I was YA aged. In high school, I came up with the main character, the hook, and the arc of the story, which I reworked about two years ago to make a viable novel.

Off the bat, I struggled with it, despite knowing the characters, the plot, and the tone.

During NaNoWriMo, I thought that maybe it was because I always struggle with the first few chapters of my novels, but that didn’t really help me get past the struggling part.

I had to know why I always struggled with my first chapters.

And, in January, on my way to a Barnes and Noble, reading a Facebook post from Brandon Sanderson, I realized why.

I’m a discovery writer.

Of course!

So, hear me out: being a discovery writer, even to my degree (meaning that I have a plot structure but give my characters a lot of freedom to live in that structure) means that the first chapters of my work . . .

. . . are absolute hell.

They are the parts of the book where I know the least about everything–the characters, the setting, you name it.

With my last novel, Memory, that wasn’t as much of a problem . . . because I hadn’t edited Memory yet. I just went in, heart a-blazin’, and wrote everything that was cool. Of course, I also made sure Memory wasn’t action-filled nonsense.

But, despite my efforts, the first chapter of Memory still wound up being a huge problem. Actually, it’s the problem; all I need to do is finish fixing the intro and I can start submitting that novel.

But, what matters for this post is, the first chapter of Memory wound up being a total mess because I was discovery writing a new novel–from the heart. I went with an intro that seemed cool and then slowly wrote myself out of a world where that intro made sense.

That is something that I reflexively never want to do again.

So, when it came to The Hand and the Tempest, I was approaching it with kid gloves without even realizing it. I was leaving a bunch of details up to future me, trying to make sure that the intro made sense.

And that was really driving me crazy. Because I was trying to make sure two chapters made sense in the context of a world that I wasn’t letting myself create.

In January, after finding that Facebook post and having this revelation, I went back and took my time with the first chapter, filling in all of the placeholder names for towns and characters. I gave myself the time to invent things instead of pressuring myself to get it done.

And, letting myself do all of that–create minor details that I didn’t think mattered–made me feel more comfortable and secure in the world I was creating.

And that absolutely turned the novel around for me. After months of going back and forth between being excited about HatT and being worried about it, I finally feel free and secure about writing it.

Unfortunately, that means I’m only up to chapter 4, because I wound up deleting a lot of what I’d already written. But, the good thing is that I’m still doing it.

And I’m excited to do it. Because, in the backwards way of writers, I’m glad I went through the mess of the last two months if it means that I at least know more about my process and how to improve it.

Granted, this has boiled down to me writing at a solid rate of 50% heart and 50% brain–which means that I often write five pages, stare off into space, delete those five pages, and then write five more pages that I keep (as I absolutely did yesterday)–but being able to perfectly balance those two approaches to writing is what I’m aspiring to regardless.

As I discovered during last year’s NaNoWriMo, every bit of progress counts. Every moment of struggle leads to one moment of success.

~~~

Thanks for reading and I hope some of you out there were at least able to commiserate with this one. If it helped you out, that’d be amazing, but even if it didn’t, thanks for passing by.

And, as always, write well.