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‚Äôre new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I‚Äôm a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, ‚ÄúAixa the Hexcaster,‚ÄĚ was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I‚Äôm still very much learning about the writing process‚Äďstill 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‚Äďa new post from me delivered right to your inbox‚Äďthen 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 #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‚Äôre new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I‚Äôm a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, ‚ÄúAixa the Hexcaster,‚ÄĚ was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I‚Äôm still very much learning about the writing process‚Äďstill 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‚Äďa new post from me delivered right to your inbox‚Äďthen 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.

 

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.

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.
  • I¬†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.
  • I¬†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.