Writers Block? Bah!

While some folks have to deal with Writers Block, I have to deal with this :

Whatcha Doin'?

Little creep tried to eat my editing pen.

On a side note, anyone who has ever said a variation of “Writing is not real work” has never attempted to edit a novel.

On Saturday I set what I thought was a realistic goal of 50 pages.  I started at 10am.  I finished somewhere around 8pm.  Factor in an hour for lunch and another hour for yard work and that was easily an eight hour day.

In retrospect, I now see that was a bad number.  Fifty pages equals roughly 1/6th of the entire novel.  Today I took it easy and stuck with 25 pages.  That only took me about 5.5 hours to wrap up.

Would have been five without the cat.

The Editing Begins

Seven days off and it’s back to writing.


On the left is the completed draft of Genie Memories, double-spaced and Courier font-size 12.  334 pages.  Perfect for making notes.  On the right, the single spaced draft I used while actually writing the story.  Scattered throughout its pages are notes I made but didn’t want to go back and make the changes at the time.  Eventually I’ll consolidate it down to just one stack of papers.

I confess to being a bit surprised the completed draft comes to just 63,463 words.  I was shooting for around 90,000 and I still think the final product will end up near that number.  Extra scenes have to be added, characters fleshed out, a plot line here and there tweaked.  Plus there is the abandoned scenes folder which contains 19,400 words.  So in theory, I did write over 82,000 words.

The goal right now is to get this done by mid-December.  If it takes longer than that to get it right, then it’ll take longer but that’s what I’m thinking right now.

On Finishing a Novel

So what is it like to finish a novel?

That’s easy to answer – it’s just like finishing a marathon.

See?  Easy.  Now do you … what?  Wait … are you telling me you haven’t run a marathon?

Well, crap.

Okay, let me try to explain : It is well known among the running community that after finishing a marathon (especially the first one), one experiences a period of depression and maybe even a bit of loss.  You’ll try to work out but it’s done rather haphazardly and without much enthusiasm.  It can take weeks, even months before you jump back into a training plan.

The reason is simple really.  Running a marathon is a tremendous goal.  Weeks and months, maybe even half a year has been spent preparing for the event.  And as Steph said last night, “I spent months training for this and I’m done by noon!”

So that’s a lot like how it feels to finish a novel.  Over a year and a half of writing a story and I finished before dinner.

To combat this post-event (novel or marathon) lethargy, it is recommended to have a plan.  On the running front, that’s usually a few miles a day or sign up for another race.  Anything to keep the body moving and recharge the batteries.

My post-novel plan is to tackle a couple of short stories in need of editing and send them off to markets.  Then it’s the revision process which should take a couple of months.  Before either of those happen, I intend to recharge my batteries with reading, relaxation … and ironically enough, a little bit running.

Done @ 6:58PM

At 6:58pm on Wednesday, October 20th, I finished the 1st draft of Genie Memories.

The End (for now)

According to the time stamp on the file, I began Chapter One on April 15th 2009 at 9:42pm (CST).  That’s roughly eighteen months (1 year and 189 days if you want to get picky).  A little over one year since I took it to Viable Paradise.

That is a very long time to spend in one character’s head.  I feel that Theodore Steiner and I are very well acquainted.  Needless to say, we are both due for a vacation.

I’ll come back in a week or so and see how’s he doing.

Then I’ll gut the hell out of the sucker with a red pen.

I already know that one character will be completely written out.  Three or four chapters are going to be reduced or removed and another five or six added.  A couple of the characters and their relationships are going to change to make them more prominent and important to Theo.

But for now?  It’s time to do the traditional Snoopy dance.

Lambs to the Slaughter

How I Saw Them Then

This afternoon Steph and I headed out to the farm to help her Dad with weighing some sheep before sending them off for processing.  The task itself is pretty simple – lead the lambs into a cage which sits on a scale, weigh them, then hold them still while someone paints their weight on them.

Being a city boy, this interested me.  Not just because it’s something I need to know for when we take over the farm but also I wanted to know what goes through one’s mind when picking out which lamb is allowed to live and which ends up on someone’s plate.

After all, you’ve risen in the early hours of winter mornings to make sure they survive birth and protected them against wolves and dogs.  Now it’s time to send them off to the slaughter?  Assuming money is not an issue (in our case, it is not), how does one make that decision?

After two head butts to the groin and four attempts to take me out at the knee, I no longer wonder.

How I See Them Now

Catching Up on the Week

It’s been a busy week up here in Decorah, Iowa (read that in Garrison Keller’s voice and I swear, you’ll hear the rest of this entry like that too).

Let’s start at the beginning …

Coming Home

Steph came home on Monday.  She flew from Copenhagen to New York to Minneapolis and finally Rochester at 10pm.  The plan was that I’d meet her in Rochester, we’d spend the night there, and then drive home the next day.

Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy and in this case, that was Delta Airlines (with JFK Airport playing the weasel of a sidekick).  Long story short – Delta delayed her arrival into JFK and delayed her departure from JFK by over an hour, completely eating into her layover time in Minneapolis.  I ended up driving to Rochester, finding this out, then driving to Minneapolis, back to Rochester, and then home the next day.

(As it turned out, she did technically arrive in Minneapolis before her connecting flight left.  By four minutes.  Then they took another 30 minutes to find her gate checked luggage (they had to go back and looked in the cargo hold twice), by which time her connecting flight was up and just about to land in Rochester without her on it.)

The End of the Novel

I polished off Chapters 30 and 31 in the past couple of days.  According to my rough outline, Chapter 34 is the end.  No more after that.  At least for the first draft, then it’s on to editing time where I already know I’m cutting three or four chapters and adding in probably six or seven more.  Ah, the glamour of the writing life, will it never cease?

A Book Review

I almost forgot to mention – my review of Matthew Hughes (no relation) book, Template went up on Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing.  I like Hughes.  He’s got a great name and he’s a fantastic author.  I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the book and plowed through it in about a weekend.

Progress in a Backwards Sense

Productivity – I be thy name.

Articles, a book review, and most importantly – Chapters 26, 27, and 28 of Genie Memories.  Chapter 29 is started and I should have it finished Thursday or Friday night.  After that, there are only two, maybe three more chapters until the entire book is finished.

Once that’s done, it’s a week off before I start digging into revisions.  I’ll try to get that done in a month, two at most.  Need to keep it tight.  That doesn’t mean I’m not doing revisions now.  I had an idea earlier today for changes to Chapter 1.  Given the importance of starting any book, I’m sure it’ll change ten more times but I liked the idea and had to put it into writing.

Lacking anything else blog worthy, I thought some of you might enjoy it as well.  Comments and what not are more than welcome.

Genie Memories

Chapter One

Killing Barry was not going to be easy.  He was a Genie, after all.

Set aside the genetic mutations that gave him inhuman strength and a nigh indestructible body.  Forget years of crime and before that, crime fighting.  Barry  was a Genie.  Whatever Nature or Man had granted him, he had gifts that I could only dream of.

The blip replays were fond of the target range footage.  Barry, standing in the center of a gleaming halo, laughing off all but the most powerful rifle round.

I reached down and pulled the spark plug on the generator.  The old diesel sputtered and shook, rattling the patio as it died.  The web of full spectrum lights draped over the hunting lodge flickered a few times before going out, the bayou swallowed in darkness.  A pale sliver of moon, hidden behind clouds, was all that remained.

“God damnit.  Piece of discounted garbage.”

Barry’s voice carried from inside the lodge.  I couldn’t see anything but I could hear movement.  He tripped over something and thudded to the ground, letting out a string of curses.

I stepped back and flexed my hand around the grip of my Morgan-Colt 10mm, raised the pistol to point at the door.  I tried to image the cold sweat beading down my back came from the mist left behind by the late November rain.  I wasn’t fooling anyone, least of all myself.

The other Genies hadn’t made this any easier.

The Bachelor Diaries – Day 3

Editors Note – While Steph is in Sweden, Matt is left alone to fend for himself.  Now we shall take a look into Day 3 of his Bachelor Diaries.


It has proven difficult for this non-foodie to cook for himself after years of being married to a foodie.  In normal situations I would have sustained myself using prepared meals or restaurant food.  However, I am determined to fend for myself.

My first attempt at a ‘real dinner’ was to cook a chicken in the oven.  I succeeded in this yet learned a number of valuable lessons :

  1. The feathers should be removed prior to cooking as, contrary to my belief, they do not add any flavor to the finished product.
  2. Chickens become very upset when you try to stuff them into an oven.  Fortunately, we had an abundant supply of band-aids.

I took an easier route this afternoon and had a bowl of Cookie Crisp for a snack.  Only I didn’t buy the cereal, I made chocolate chip cookies and put some in a bowl.  And being lactose intolerant, I did not put in milk.  So … in spirit, I ate a bowl of Cookie Crisp.  It was good.

Social Interactions

I feel that I am losing my social skills.

For instance, Monday evening I went to visit our friend Jim where he too expressed similar concerns about interacting with other people.  After mutual greetings, we proceeded to attack one another for the next hour in the guise of ‘Self-Defense Class’.  I kicked him in the face.  He punched me in the mouth.  We parted hoping that this practice will allow us to better interact with others.

In an effort to counter these fading skills, I wander the house talking to myself.  I make certain that most of the statements are inaccurate or ludicrous.  I then almost immediately correct myself, albeit in a slightly higher pitched voice.  This helps keep me grounded.

On occasion, I do allow myself to be correct.  I am rationing this, however, lest the euphoria go to my head.

The Cat

Sensing the absence of the dominant humanoid life form, the Cat has wasted no time in exerting his position in the household structure.  He has succeeded in this.  I am feeding him whenever he demands, grooming him nightly, and even cleaning his litter box.

I hope by continuing this he will allow me to sleep in the bed instead of on the couch.

The Dog

Also noticing the female’s absences, the Dog is doubling his efforts to fill the gap.  This involves scratching at the door every hour on the hour.  Twice between the hours of midnight and four a.m.