Back on Hiatus

Hey, everyone. I’m going to keep this one short.

First thing’s first . . . I hated last week’s post. I rushed through something I’d intended to be important and beautiful. While at the Met, I’d taken a bunch of pictures I intended to use in “The Emperor’s Gun,” explaining how much inspiration museums provide for worldbuilding. Here’s one of those pics:

LS-BackonHiatus1

And here’s another:

LS-BackonHiatus2

The idea was to talk about how limited our understanding of the world would be without help. Without the desire to learn — particularly to do research — we’re left to assume how cultures work, and how our past happened. And, yeah, knowing that is important for us as human beings, of course, but, in terms of writing, we wind up grasping at straws and deviating into ridiculous, nonsense plots if we don’t make an effort to understand our own history and that of others.

Unfortunately, all of this fell to the wayside because I was burnt out from work, trying to post at 2AM. I wound up settling for a short, confused post about a gun. And, sure, back when I was a kid, that gun had blown my mind, and started me down the road to an important lesson . . .

. . . but I would’ve preferred to take my time. Write something that actually felt poignant. It upsets me that I didn’t.

It also upsets me that, in about two hours, it will be August — just one month until September 1st.

At which point it will be a year since I was published for the first time. My entire goal for this year had been to get another short story published.

Instead, I got a promotion — a good thing, for sure — and then spent the majority of the year struggling through the first chapters of a new book. I finished a final edit of Memory as well — also good — but I should’ve planned better. Should’ve known my limits.

What I’m saying is, I don’t regret writing here more — my stint of posting every day was a bunch of fun — but I genuinely need to dial it back. I said this exact thing a few months ago when I stopped posting every day, but that was a half-measure. I’m a man who’s only had one piece published, posting on his blog every week about writing theory.

It just feels ridiculous. And, maybe it’s taken this long for the glow of “Aixa the Hexcaster” to die down, but, once again, it feels like I have no right to talk about my process here.

It feels like the part of me that wants to keep posting is the last bit of young douchebag Louis. The guy who started this blog and almost immediately wrote that a classic fantasy series was lacking because one edition’s cover was bad.

No. No, I refuse to be that wildly bling guy anymore.

What I’m saying is, I’m not an amazing writer. And I’m not going to post on here every day until I become an amazing writing. I’m going to dial this blog back to “one post when I have something important to say,” because, otherwise, I’m just rambling on here. Or I just feel like I’m rambling, and that’s all the same.

I have many, many goals, and I have to start working on those without distractions, set up to pamper me.

This blog is one of those distractions.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me here over the past year. You guys have absolutely kept me going. I’ve never had this steady of an audience, and it’s been every bit as validating as getting my work published. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who’s commented, everyone who’s subscribed, everyone who’s Liked a post. I will, without a doubt, write you again.

But, for now, I have to pick up my big boy pen and become the writer I’ve always wanted to be.

~~~

My name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx, trying to become a professional before it’s too late for me. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster” was published in 2016 at Mirror Dance Fantasy, and I’m currently preparing three more pieces for submission. I no longer post here on a set schedule, but if you’d like an email notification when I do — my words delivered right to your inbox — then please subscribe at the bottom of this page. All I get from posting on this blog is support from readers, but that support means the world to me.

Until next time, thank you again. And, as always, write well.

The Plot, As It Is Now

Hi there. Apologies for this one being late, but I used my days off this week to hunker down and finish editing Memory: Shadow of the Lord Sun. I completed it on Tuesday, then had to work the rest of the week until today, so sacrifices were made.

I’m still really happy about it though, because I’ve been struggling with this last edit for a long time.

With it, I had to fix one huge issue that kept smothering my queries: the beginning of the novel — a part that needs to impress — was weird, confused nonsense. It is, as I’ve said in previous posts, my curse as a discovery writer; I start with something meant to catch the eye, then figure out what the rest of the story is, but when the story’s done, it creates a world in which the intro no longer makes sense. Figuring out a fun, new intro without completely breaking the story, was difficult . . .

. . . because I felt like I was getting closer and closer to that point when you, as a writer, hit the foundations. When you decide, “Well, this important part of the story should maybe be completely different . . . Yeah! Let me completely redo it!” But completely changing the one thing turns into, “Let me change all the things!” so easily. In my youth, I thought that was fine. As an adult, I’m way less keen to give up on a story that has merit in order to change it into a completely new story. I acknowledge, these days, that those new ideas are meant to be short stories, or different novels altogether. I also acknowledge that scrapping and creating a new story is the easy way out.

Because it’s easier and safer to never finish a project. If you keep editing forever, you don’t have to deal with rejection. You don’t have to actually make sure any of your subplots have pay-off. If you keep editing forever, you get to keep feeling like you’re making progress, even when you aren’t. You get to tell a skeptical friend, “I’m making it way, way better!” even though you aren’t making it better — you’re making it different.

There’s a point when you just have to stop editing. When you have to accept that the manuscript you have is the one you’re going to put out there.

I have absolutely hit that point with this novel; a lot of the changes I made this time around were erasing changes I made in previous edits. Because I’ve reached the point where I’m just tweaking the plot based on my mood. There’s nothing else to do aside from making sure that the plot, as it is now . . . is cleanly and tactfully presented. On that note, there is one scene that I actually have to revisit (the new dream sequence) to make sure it’s as intense as it’s supposed to be, but that will take a day, tops.

And, regardless, I can still strap in . . . for the unbridled joy of submissions. Today, I can work on my submission package, editing the synopsis accordingly. And, yes, the synopsis is right up there with cover letters on the list of Things I Hate Writing, but at least this time, I’m writing a synopsis for a plot that makes total sense, instead of trying to hide an intro that’s strangely incongruous.

More than anything, though, I’m excited to get back to short stories. I’m going to tank the next few months on three in particular: Lokisday, A Dead God in A Silent Realm, and Hard Reset.

It’s going to be . . . amazing.

My plan for this year was to get another short story published. I got a little distracted by the promotion at work, but I’m getting back on track, and it feels great.

~~~

Thanks for reading. I’m going to grab lunch, come back, play a video game, then work on that synopsis . . . Yeah, ya know what? I’ll pick up some wine while I’m out there.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was published last year in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process — still trying to figure it out — which means posting here every week, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting updates by email — 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.

Thank you just for passing by, and, as always, write well.

“Aixa the Hexcaster” has been published at Mirror Dance!

I said that I’d post again if I got published.

So, with a ton of self-control, I’d like to say that . . .

OMFG YOU GUYS . . . <clears throat> My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” has been published at Mirror Dance Fantasy.

I have the privilege of sharing the Autumn 2016 issue of Mirror Dance with a bunch of stellar authors. Please check it out if you have a moment; especially because Mirror Dance, a fantasy e-zine devoted to publishing high quality short stories, does it all for free.

“Aixa” is set in a New York broken by a magical apocalypse, divided among the mythics–beings that crawled out of the earth when the old world shattered. More powerful than we are, possessing strange abilities we don’t understand, and enjoying an immunity to all of our weapons, mythics became our masters almost immediately, dividing the city into overgrown wilds that they control, and pushing us into scattered camps where they leave us be. Or use us for their wants and whims. But, no matter what they do, they always demand one thing from us.

The truth. Clean and cruel.

Aixa Silva, a sherpa who guides the uninitiated through the wilds, knows all of this well. But, even though she has no love for the mythics, she finds herself unwilling to fight them–even with her hexcaster–a weapon that she knows can harm them. For a long time, she wonders why.

This is the story of how she finds her answer. And how she learns to hate humanity’s new masters.

What’s Next:

When I wrote “A Long Break,” I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever be published. Now, finally having a piece accepted for publication, I feel . . . I mean, I wish I’d somehow recorded my reaction to the acceptance letter.

I . . . freaked out.

It’s just . . . incredibly validating–and somehow humbling; I’m ecstatic to have finally made it here, but I also know that this is just a first step–one on which I have to build a foundation. It took . . . so much work to get this far, and it’s going to take so much more to get published again.

But now, knowing that I’m at least doing it right . . . I suddenly have the confidence to write everything. So many old story ideas have resurfaced because I have the privilege to consider them again.

Staying on point though . . .

  1. The blog’s back. I’m not sure what the schedule will be, but I’ll definitely post once a month, at least. I’m also going to go all in with series ideas I had (things like The Writer’s Gauntlet, and 30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2).
  2. I’m spending September and October polishing a single short story, “Lokisday,” and a single novel, Memory, both of which are in final tweak stages (although Memory is definitely veering toward, “Just send it out again because maybe too much editing is a bad thing” territory).
  3. I’ve also been working on a table top game. It started as a new puzzle to consider when I really, really didn’t want to think about writing anymore, but it’s snowballed into a complex rule set. A 100% complete version of the game, with board and cards, is still ages away from happening (especially if I’m doing the art), but I’m taking it seriously now. Seriously enough that I’m butchering some flash cards, writing stats and drawing sword-wielding stick figures on them, eager to finalize the rules and test it out.

That is to say that now, finally validated, I’m eager as hell to give voice to other stories. Stories that I finally feel like I can tell as cleanly and honestly as I’d always hoped. I still have to work on my craft–of course I do–but now I genuinely feel like I can become a better writer… and make a table top game… and do pretty much anything else I want, as long as I devote myself to doing it right. Doing it well.

So, that’s what’s next, starting with more submissions before NaNo hits again.

As for this post, that’s all I’ve got. As always, thank you for reading. And, if you must write, write well.

A Long Break

Early October, 2015:

“It’s postin” time!”

I thought it–or maybe I actually shouted it–at my computer.

And then I sat there, staring at its screen.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of a topic; there was always some aspect of writing I could spend hours writing about. Dishing about. Nit-picking.

Hours. Hours that always absorbed whole writing sessions. Because, as manic and critical as I am, something like a blog post wasn’t a thing that could possibly be finished in just a few hours.

A blog post. Because that’s what it was, wasn’t it? Not an author’s website, because Louis Santiago wasn’t an author. By definition, authors are published.

At best, I’m a blogger.

Late October, 2015:

While trying to decide what to NaNo, I realized I still hadn’t posted for the month.

At some point, after telling a friend that I was considering taking a break from the blog, I’d been so eager to kick it off–so absolutely exhausted with the biweekly grind of writing posts–that I’d done it without realizing.

Because, after five years, the original plan for this site wasn’t working.

Step 1 – Make an author website.
Step 2 – Build a platform with that site while working on my writing.
Step 3 – Get published, in part because of the platform built on this site.

The writing part? That was coming along beautifully. When I started this blog, I was incredibly, naively confident about my writing skills. A few years in, I was questioning every story I thought up–fretting about every last word I wrote. But, at this point, I’m back to being confident, in part because I finally have my own technique. A style and a voice. Write it quickly, editing as you go. Don’t question whether an edit will make a scene less _______; just make the edit if it leads to a story you like. Don’t fret over first drafts–just get them out and give it your signature nit-picking and crimping when it was done. Plan stories, but not every scene–not every action. That’s my balance and I love it.

But, in contrast, I do not have the same grasp on this blog. The original plan for it just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t unfair–not a mystery why the site wasn’t working. I wasn’t beating himself up about it.

It was just suddenly clear, with the second year of NaNo approaching, that spending a week or two’s worth of writing sessions every month on blog posts… didn’t make sense anymore. Doing 30 Days 2, although tempting, wouldn’t help with the short stories I had to edit. The submission process I needed to keep working on.

And it wouldn’t help any of the new short stories, like Rainwater, get finished. After five years of writing about writing, I just wanted to write. The oddly sudden wave of new ideas that started crashing in the moment I understood that I could actually finish them. The characters I could indulge in because I could confidently give them voice now.

Since I was young, that was my dream. Writing.

Posting on my blog every other week, feeling awkward about it because I didn’t have any published stories to back up my observations about the craft? Not so much.

That was it then. Time to write a “last post for now.”

Yeah. With NaNoWriMo less than a week away.

On average, my blog has had about ten readers per post. Not enough to actually miss one of my posts. Not enough people to inundate the site with outrage over a lull in content.

But “about ten” was absolutely enough readers to stop me from posting right before NaNo. No matter how improbable it was, I refused to negatively impact anyone’s November in any way.

Today – December 1st, 2015:

I just want to get back to finishing Rainwater!

I spent the majority of NaNoWriMo 2015 working on it–an effort that included the creation of a total coding mess of an Excel world-building file; a very important part of that project.

But I also started other stories. “The Eldritch Auditor.” “Not Stupid, Fucking ‘Wonderboy.'” I just want to get back to those too. And roll right into editing Drowned God (AGAIN). I want to resubmit Memory: Shadow of the Lord Sun and keep working on the loose outline for its sequel, Legacy: The [SPOILERS–TITLES SHOULDN’T HAVE SPOILERS].

But first, I want to take a moment first to thank absolutely anyone who has ever read, liked, or subscribed. Anyone who’s commented here. Anyone who’s been with me for the past five years. Anyone who’s only hung around for five minutes of it. Thank you–so much–for being here for a cornerstone of my life.

I’m not going to remove this site; it’s not going to disappear. It will be here for as long as the internet exists. But I might not post again.

If I do though, I’ll post for one of two reasons.

  1. Because I had a thought I just had to shove out into the world; maybe another long rant about how much I just fucking hate lizardmen.
  2. Or, I’ll be writing to let you know that I’ve finally, finally been published. That the posts will immediately resume because they’re a luxury I feel I could have. That I was finally comfortable talking about writing like it’s a thing I know how to do, because there would finally be emphatic evidence that–yep–I know how to write. Well enough to get picked up.

So, again, thank you. For reading. For stopping by.

And, as always, write well.

Update: First “Update” for 2015 and Last “Update” for the Rest of Time

Happy 2015, people! I hope the year’s been going well for you so far. My first fifteen days have been acceptable; pretty full of editing and working–which, along with sleep, make up the three primary modes of my life.

But before I go on here, I want to clarify the title of this post.

So, here’s the thing: this blog has changed a lot over the past few years.

It started as a super-naive and super-self-congratulatory site for War of Exiles; back at the tail end of my “I’m the best writer in the world and totally infallible!” era, I talked pretty constantly (and unironically) about how amazing and revolutionary War of Exiles would be while also heavily criticizing some writing practices and standards. Years later, I still love War of Exiles and think that it’s different enough to be interesting, but I’m also not a self-congratulating idiot anymore, so I don’t assume it’s going to be revolutionary or change anyone’s life because that’s pretty insane. I’m also not venomous about other professional’s work anymore; even if you love observing differences between yourself and other writers, actually working at the craft–being beaten down by it repeatedly–will work that raw, critical self-confidence right out of you. Years later, I respect anyone who’s gotten published and I just want to give people something interesting and fun to read; that’s all.

After that, my blog got more laid back and experimental. This is when I started Games for Writers, a series I still add to on occasion, and RED Comics, my web comic that I can officially say requires too much of my time to continue working on. This era had a little of everything, from ideas about writing to movie reviews, all posted in an attempt to find my footing. Not the worst phase of the blog, but also not what it’s become and not an era I want to revisit.

After that, and as late as 2014, this site got the tiniest bit more personal (through some of the roughest few years of my life) but eventually turned into 100% writing theory. Really, very detailed and probably too intense writing theory. “Fantasy Story Stats,” “Fiction Sins,” “3 Degrees of Story Completion:” just a lot of posts about different facets of the writing experience. Different ideas that probably already have names I’m not aware of. This I will occasionally continue doing (my next post will probably be such a post, although I’ll keep it fun because I also don’t want to die of boredom).

And that brings us to now. If my blog’s not going to be any of these things, then what’s it going to be? The one thing it has been that I haven’t mentioned here: a journal. NaNoWriMo really changed how I feel about writing. As a process, overall, but also how I feel about posting here. For ages, I tried to keep my personal experiences and my posts pretty distant from each other. For ages, it was just an article about Metal Gear, or a comic about Batman with a progress bar in the upper corner and the occasional “Update” post. But I want to change that.

Which means that this is the last “Update” post because all or nearly all posts will be “Updates” from now on. I’m considering how to do this exactly (whether to tack an update onto every post or just post weekly updates on top of whatever longer post I want to write), but regardless, the site will always be about that Progress Bar–will always be transparent about a writing process I’ve only just (maybe) figured out.

This is one of many changes I have planned for the site in 2015 and, I feel, a good beginning. I hope you agree. And I hope you’ll keep joining me for my weird, anti-social journey–our, perhaps, shared quest on the road to being published and finally sharing the grand silence of our still unseen  fantasy worlds.

Update: Memory of the Black Sun–My NaNoWriMo 2014 Project–is Finished

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-12.12.14-CompleteWhere I Wrote: At home, in the one room I always use for writing.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Strange. The ending is a complication.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: I remember being really happy. I want to say determined, but that would imply that there was some difficulty. There wasn’t; I woke up, made coffee, and sat down with my tablet, excited to edit the bit of the ending that I had and try again to complete it.

The Experience: I’d planned a return to the New York Public Library on 42nd, but the end of Memory refused to wait for that; on Friday morning, after struggling with the last chapter and epilogue, I woke up, edited, tried another approach, and wound up finishing Memory within an hour or two.

And, yes, you read that right; I finished the novel on Friday and I’m only posting about it today, on Sunday. At this point, I’ve told exactly one person about completing it. My reason: boasting about finishing the novel feels incredibly celebratory. Which would be all kinds of silly as the book is absolutely not done.

In part because it needs to be edited. Sorely. I want to smooth out the pacing. I want to add more interesting descriptions for everything. I want to hone the world of the story. I want, more than anything else, to have the required Naming Session, during which I can finally stop calling my thief protagonist Locke, and–for the love of God–decide on a less awkward name than Memory of the Black Sun.

But also because… the ending for Memory is such a conundrum that taking one possible route with it does not feel like any cause for celebration whatsoever–I have not won yet; I have not figured it out. War of Exiles had a very clear, complete, strong ending that got unexpectedly more powerful for me every time I worked on it–every time I trimmed off excess and added another scene that needed a resolution. In contrast, I’m left staring at a handful of options for Memory, the terms of my Fantasy Story Stats buzzing around in my head endlessly; the ending can be High Spirit (emotionally comforting), or Low Spirit (emotionally challenging), I find myself thinking, only to immediately remind myself that I can find a middle ground–one of the many if’s and but’s that makes the logic puzzle of Memory’s ending a terrible little loop. I’m still weighing the matter with such honest confusion that writing this just feels… wrong.

But I still have to acknowledge that I’m on to the editing part. On to it so hard, in fact, that last night saw me whipping out the tablet on my bed at (seriously) 6AM because I had to write a scene that I knew would help the pacing and reinforce the protagonists’ relationship. I have, at least, crossed over to the phase of writing during which I can–and totally do–jump backwards in the timeline and tweak and edit absolutely everything. I’m up to the point where I can stare vacantly at a wall (or maybe at people in public) while I consider the ending for the umpteenth time, knowing as I do that there is a solution for it that I will find. Being at that phase with Memory is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

It took longer than a month; I took an extra week to put in hours at work and take care of other life things I’d been ignoring and then an extra week after that to actually write the end of the novel without rushing it. But I still, suddenly have a second novel down. If you’d asked me in mid-October of this year–just before NaNoWriMo–when I expected to finish Memory of the Black Sun, I’d have shrugged and half-asked, “2016?”

But it’s down, on paper, now–and it’s good–in a month and change, compared to the… seven years it took me to write War of Exiles?

Yep. I’ll take it.

 

Very Comfortably Insane

2013-(white)WarofExilesUpdateC

Not to be a downer, but at the time of this posting, I still don’t feel it.

It’s been a week now. A week since I finished my rewrite of my first novel. And somehow, I still don’t really feel it. There were moments when I almost did–moments when I wrote to a friend about finishing the book and perked up, excited at the thought of moving on to the sequel and other, shorter projects. But every time, the near rush always cut short with a monotone, “Nope. That didn’t do it either–still not excited.”

I don’t want this to sound super dramatic; I’m not numb or in shock. I’m just… unfazed. It’s disappointing, really, because the first time I finished this book, I was out of my mind with joy; I’d finished a book and, oh man, I still had to edit it, but, oh geez–oh man–it was done!

This time, I typed the last sentence. Stared at it. Smirked… And then immediately admitted that I hated the last sentence. I changed it quickly to something I really liked and backed up the finished first (technically sixth) draft. And then I just sat at my computer for a while, aware that now, not only could I do something else with my day… but I had to do something else–even though, this time, I knew the story wasn’t actually done–because it was the next step in my writing plan. In the slow, determinedly celebratory and lazy way of humans, I wound up convincing myself to do all of the things I usually do when I achieve a solid milestone–I played some video games without caring about how much time I wasted that day (ultimately a few hours that felt like far, far too long without the banter of a friend over Xbox Live). I also had a decent lunch. I may have actually bought myself a cookie.

The thing is… I’m much, much different from the 20-something year old who blissfully typed, “The End,” and spent a month celebrating afterward (a month of down time that turned into months of carelessness). Past-Louis thought he was almost done–that the Content Edit and Line Edit would be easy. That he’d finished something great.

Present-Louis, however, has already moved on to another story because he kind of had to. Because Present-Louis knows now that it’s time for the Big Push. The Long Halloween. The Whatever You Want to Call It. This is the year where I keep going and move on to another story with my insane, custom-made, self-taught, monster outlines and try to refine them while learning more about writing; about establishing a flow of projects and trying out my approach for Growing Outlines.

Essentially, now is the time when I actually level up as a writer, again. And it’s terrifying! Maybe because I’ve already finished this same book once without knowing it was terrible.  Or maybe it’s because I have almost no outside opinions on my extremely personal techniques–no other writer to look in and say, “Do you really need to list the clothing your characters are wearing?” or “You should make an extra part in your outlines for [this]. [This] is super important and you’re missing it.”

Or maybe it’s because of that moment in front of my computer, staring at the monitor–at that last line–and realizing that I was nothing without the ability to tell stories. I’ve moved on to a new outline of a standalone idea, deeply revised from the super vague, over-excited concept I had in high school (forged from listening to the heartsick intro music from Chrono Cross), and I’m clinging to that outline for dear life. Because I’m not the kind of writer who can take breaks anymore. I’m the kind of writer that’s too far gone, who’s only real fear is the imagined point when I have no more stories to tell.

Well, that and the impending rejection letters. You hear that, slight inkling of victory? Reality’s a-comin’ for ye!

To put all drama and preemptive bitterness aside though, I am… content. Yes, everything is a challenge right now. But, for writers, toiling away, constructing worlds that may never, ever reach readers, everything is a challenge. I’m glad to have found new ones, but they’re still challenges and they’re still daunting.

Regardless, and because I want even this post to be somewhat constructive, the attack plan is as follows:

  1. Spend March away from War of Exiles before beginning my Content Edit. In that time, I’ll take the month to work on a sparse Chapter Outline for the new story I mentioned, The Hand and the Tempest (expect to see it temporarily replace War of Exiles in my Project Progress bar at the top of the page [although its bar will be stranger, as the goal is to progressively build on the outline until it goes from ‘Short Story’ to ‘Novella’ to (maybe) ‘Full Length, Stand-Alone Novel’–this being the purpose of my “Growing Outline”)]).
  2. When April hits, all outlining for The Hand and the Tempest stops as I return to WoE for the Content Edit and, after using The Hand and the Tempest for practice, begin writing a Chapter Outline for War of Masks, the sequel to War of Exiles.
  3. From there, it’s moving on to a Line Edit for WoE while Chapter Outlining the third book in the series (currently unnamed).
  4. After that, when my submission packet is finished, I’ll review the outline for The Hand and the Tempest, and write it as I submit WoE.
  5. And after that, it’s off to work on an outline for another standalone story–I have another in mind.
  6. And all while, I’ll be staring at the intimidating mountain of information that is my actual, main series–my magnum opus that terrifies me as much as it excites me.

This, it turns out, is what being a devoted, aspiring novelist is like; poor and terrified. Unrealistically devoted and absolutely proud of it (if you’re here with me on this obnoxiously lonely, writers’ path, hi there. Let’s revel in our wildly unstable, conflicting emotions together).

To put it simply, being an aspiring author means that you’re very comfortably insane.

Brand New Day – Week 3 – Caught Between the Bell Curves

It’s Thursday night. I want to knock out a post before I get to bed; I’m going to Queens Comic Con tomorrow with Kenney Broadway and Chaos Mechanica. It’s an outing that was pretty exciting until I 8PM hit earlier and I realized that I somehow didn’t get anything done for my book today.

I know that’s not exactly fair—I made business cards today. And edited a few of next week’s posts. And worked out my schedule for Comic Con. And worked a bit on my big contribution to this year’s Con (a post for Infinite Ammo that’s still incredibly unfinished considering how complicated it’ll be to execute [thankfully Darth Healthcare {we’re just full of code names on that site} volunteered to help, but even the third of its writing portion, which I started months ago, is still unfinished and needs a ton of tweaking]). Still though, the goal was to roll out of bed, lay down on my couch and do that weird thing where I brainstorm by staring up at the ceiling (and maybe dozing off) to figure out exactly how the next chapter is supposed to work (which always leads to me crossing out the first few pages I get from the brain storming session and rewriting them later, after I discover the way the chapter should really go while doing something as unrelated as, say, petting a cat [as far as efficiency is concerned, it’s about as roundabout a way of writing as using brackets within brackets to steer myself away from a point {I swear I’ll stop this now}]). I was set to wake up and write just as I was ready for this whole Brand New Day thing to be relatively simple.

Relatively, as in I knew it would still be hard, yes. But I didn’t know I’d have so much work to do for Infinite Ammo that I’d realize the sun went gone down and wonder where the time went on a daily basis.

It doesn’t help that I feel determined to be unhappy; when I’m home, I wish I was outside. When I’m hanging out with friends, I wish I was out walking (I have a weird thing with taking walks and traveling), or home writing. And it’s not like I’m ungrateful or don’t want to hang out with my friends, I just want to do everything at once and I can’t. It’s really frustrating. Now that Chaos Mechanica and I have made a site that’s still going strong and has gotten nearly 3,500 hits, it’s lost its professional luster; all that there is for me is finishing this novel and possibly starting other ventures I’ve considered lately. There’s now a gratification curve to what I do, which, now that I say it, is possibly the same reason why I probably don’t feel completely gratified when I hang out; it’s not that the people I spend time with are lame or unfulfilling friends. It’s that… Well, you’ve probably loved someone so much that you didn’t know what to do when it didn’t work out with them, no matter how hard you tried.

Well, I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m caught between the bell curves and it’s a silent kind of unhappy that I try not to talk about to anyone. I want to finish more of this book every week. And I love her and miss her so much that I’m writing about it on my blog like this is high school.

Okay. Deep breath. One of those problems I can fix. The other I can ignore.

It’s time for bed; I can brainstorm/write on the train (where, oddly enough, I do my best drafting). I can spend a few hours at this Queens Comic Con, meet up with other friends afterward, hopefully go to Occupy Wall St. like I’ve wanted to. All of that is important.

One day at a time.

Brand New Day – Week 1

Last week, on Wednesday, the 14th, I worked my last day at Borders. The rest of that week and the weekend that followed disappeared in a bunch of Borders closing parties (and the hang-overs that followed).

Yesterday, Monday, the 19th, was a brand new day. In short, it was the beginning of my gamble to finish rewriting my first fantasy novel, The War of Exiles, within the next six months. And it began with a few wake up texts from Ronin at Hot Mop Films, asking me what time I’d be in. And, no, it wasn’t that I’d forgotten—I just thought we’d discussed the projects they wanted to recruit me for enough through email (and I also didn’t expect to sleep in ’til 11a.m. [memories of waking up at 4 o’ clock in the morning for Borders shifts that started at 6 are already so distant]).

This, in all honesty, was not how I expected the first day of the rest of my professional life to start, but there are worse ways. The meeting got me up, got me working, and (probably more importantly than I’d like to imagine) got me outside. It was still a little annoying though—not because I’m not excited to work with Hot Mop again, but because I was planning to roll out of bed and get right to work on chapter four of WoE. But now the entire day’s flow was thrown off; I’d get home and someone would be on Xbox Live, or there’d be something to work on for Infinite Ammo. There’d be no time to—

Wait. No. To hell with that.

When I got home, I ate dinner, opened the outline for WoE, and worked from 7p.m. to 5a.m. (allowing for the short breaks that often plague writing [which I hope to siphon out in the next few weeks because, seriously, ten hours?]). Not the amount of work I was expecting, but the amount I had to do because I could (there were at least five more times when that same voice came back with things like, ‘Well, you don’t need to write this character’s bio right now. Leave it for tomorrow! You’ve been at it for like, 8 hours!’ and ‘You don’t need to figure out this cultural detail right now. There’s always tomorrow,’ but each time I fought down the arguments and just didn’t stop]).

Today is Tuesday, the 2oth. And a brand new day.

It started with a wake up text from Chaos Mechanica, asking what stories were ready to post on Infinite Ammo. I spent an hour or two editing two of them and making and assigning images to both. Now, I’m moving on to writing ideas and drafts for Hot Mop.

And I’m also doing “alpha bullets” for chapter five of WoE.

Because the outline for chapter four is finished.

And now, completely unlike Louis from last week, I know I can get it all done by tonight.

Because now, every day is just another, oddly busier work day than I ever knew at Borders. And I’m absolutely loving every second.

Saying My Goodbyes

This isn’t going to be another extremely bleak post; despite the title, I’ve decided that it won’t because, although I still stand by everything I said in Preparing for the Storm (despite how embarrassingly true all of it was), I’m determined to not be as depressed as I was when I wrote that post.

Today’s my last day at Borders at Columbus Circle. Not because I’ve been fired or found a new job; it’s the last day that our store will stay open. Tonight, coworkers have another night of drinking planned, but when I wake up tomorrow, it’s time to get to work.

The thing is, the more pressing matter for me isn’t the work because I’m more excited for that than anything else; seriously, I was approved for a Press Pass to Comic Con earlier this week because of my work on Infinite Ammo, and with that I felt so insanely validated that I’m suddenly absolutely certain I’ll be able to handle this insane, 6 month deadline I’ve assigned myself.

What’s bothering me now is that it’s the last day at Borders; what would happen today only sank in last night when an old coworker of mine, Bill, left. He’s an older man with a great sense of humor, but always kind of gruff; he would do his job and only talk to you to poke fun or make bitter jokes about Borders. He also always left without saying anything to anyone. But yesterday, his shift ended at nine and he didn’t just slip out. I didn’t understand why at first, but when I realized he was giving out hugs, it occurred to me that I’d never see Bill again; he was leaving and he wouldn’t be at any of the parties or dinners. We wouldn’t be forced into the same place ever again for any reason.

We each live with our own cast of characters, their closeness to us determined on their level of development (round or flat). It’s not that some people are more interesting than others; it’s that only some are comfortable enough around us to show us who they really are. And it’s when these people step off-stage, their parts finished, that it hurts the most. Whether it’s time or not–and usually, it feels like it’s not–these people have to move on to someone else’s stage to be watched and loved.

When Bill was leaving, it made me realize that it would be like that for everyone; unlike any other place I’ve ever worked, Borders was full of round characters. Because unlike any other place I’ve ever worked, we let ourselves be charmed and charming. I’m not saying everyone was awesome, but nearly everyone made their mark and said their words and gave us their moments and now, today, the last of us would have the stage pulled from under us. Tomorrow, and very suddenly for me, we would all be missing our scene.

And no, it’s not like we can’t make new ones; I, for one, am amazing at making scenes wherever I go. : )

But it’s an incredible understatement to say I will miss everyone I’ve worked with at Borders at Columbus Circle. Unfortunately, it’s completely impossible to also explain the countless reasons why and thank everyone responsible. If you worked with me, if you were my friend, then thank you. Thank you for contributing to one of the best work experiences of my life. And if I haven’t heard from you in a while, please feel free to text me or write because I bet I miss you (I do that pretty easily).

If I don’t know you, well, thank you for reading this love letter anyway. And thank you for being a witness to this very serious turning point in my life.

Now, I’m heading to my last day at Borders. Tonight, party. Tomorrow, the real work begins.