Writing in Pieces

Okay, so The Sequel is gelling right now – pieces are flowing into place while I sit and do other stuff.

You’re a writer – does that happen to you? You have a scene playing out in your head. Eventually, after you’ve played with it for a while, you get around to writing it down.

While that’s going on, the structure of the new story slowly drifts into place, and, son of a biscuit, color-me-surprised if it doesn’t somehow make use of those dopey little scenes you’ve been jotting down.

The mind is a fabulous thing, isn’t it?

In between scenes, I sometimes get a little nervous that I’m going dull. You know, same-o-same-o, so-so writing, using the same, lame words.

To challenge myself, I’ll play dumb word games, like Word Cookies. The words aren’t hard, but there are a lot of them, and it reminds me that, duh, I know a lot of words.

My personal challenge is to give this game three words it doesn’t know in each round. To this game’s credit, it has a huuuuge dictionary, so it recognizes most of my words, even though it doesn’t play them in the game.

And that’s how it goes in the hamster wheel of my mind whilst I wait and wait for my book to be read.

The Way Out is Through

I was thinking about winning the lottery and wondering why, short of my not buying a ticket, I hadn’t done so. That seems a trifle unfair, doesn’t it?

If you’re following the Saga of Me, I apologize for this brief recap: my new book is on the hands of my editor wife, who is studying for a test before she touches it. The test is in mid-June. And so I must wait…

While waiting for a certain someone – at this point, a certain ANYONE, to read my book – I’ve been thinking about things. You know, quests and what-am-I-doing-with-my-life kind of stuff.

This is what I do before I decide to chuck it all and go become a cowboy in Montana (although now that I no longer agree with Montana politics, I begin to wonder to where a liberal runs when they want to get away from it all and choose to be a cowboy. In truth, at my age, riding a horse doesn’t seem all that pleasant, either. Rats. This isn’t going well.)

Anyway, you’re a writer, right? You know how it goes. Whatever you do in your day job, writing about stuff is always right there, living large in your thoughts. You’re a writer. You have a purpose and a mission. A quest.

Maybe that’s why you don’t play the lotteries, or bet on horses, or wager on sports. You’ve already got your plan.

Someday, you’re going to get your stuff published, sink that day-job of yours like a two-foot putt, and live the life you always dreamed of. Except that we don’t end our sentences in prepositions, so you will live the life of which you’ve always dreamed.

That’s your lotto, your triple crown. Every piece you put out there could be the golden ticket that wins your version of the lottery.

What that means for us, we writers and artists and dreamers, is that the only way out of the dreary black forest of daily toil is to go through it.

No, we keep paying our dues, doing the dirty, as they say, because we can’t run away from our humdrum existence with some get-rich-quick scheme.

That Win the Lottery shortcut? Not for you, mate.

In truth, I DID run away to go be a cowboy. It was a very easy, very stupid decision to make, and even though my soul knew it to be the wrongest thing I could do, I ran away from my art, and made it all the way to Northen California before the money ran out.

It took decades to get back here. Long, disastrous, anguished decades to undo the betrayal I’d done to myself.

Now I’m almost whole again. And waiting, waiting, waiting.

But like you, instead of betting on horses, I’m buying lottery tickets with my words.

And waiting, waiting, waiting.

Getting Dumber

According to this game, if you don’t beat the level you have an IQ of zero. Zero. I tried it, and, well, uh-oh…

If you’ve followed along in the Saga of Me, you’ll recall that Darling Wife, who is my editor, has sat upon my needs-to-be-read-by-her novel for 2.5 months (10 weeks, but who’s counting), waiting for other, more urgent projects to be accomplished. And they truly are important tasks, so, no pressure.

But, you’re a writer – you know how it goes. You don’t write something to put on the floor of the closet. You write something to be read. This new novel has been read by my brother, who thought it was great, and by my lifelong best friend, who also thought it the grooviest of groovies.

My nephew the doctor has it, but has already advised me that the read is likely months away.


But in swoops Sister of Darling Wife. Sure, I’ll read it. Not only that, but I’ll give you feedback! AND, perhaps most importantly, my judgement can stand in for that of Darling Wife! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Tick-tick-tick-tick. There goes a fly.

So, whilst a’waitin’, I’ve been entertaining myself, as you know. Making dumb videos, working on a sequel, writing about pirates.

And playing solitaire. Toooo much solitaire. I wake up in the morning muttering “black six on red seven.”

And worst of all, according to this game where you pull digital pins to make digital stuff fall down a digital hole, how hard could that be?, according to this game, which I’m certain was developed by brain surgeons and clinical researchers, yes, according to this game, in which a couple of the words are misspelled because we all know it’s easier to program a digital pin than it is to follow spelling rules, according to this game, my IQ is GOING DOWN!!!

The stunner for me is that, even with an IQ of zero, I can still feed the dogs and tie my shoes.

Oh, hey – black ten on the red jack…

I Love it when…

You’re probably too young to remember the A Team show on TV. I’ve only seen it reruns, so I’m not THAT old…

The A Team was a bunch of rough-and-tumble-misfit Vietnam veterans who banded together to help out those folks that had nowhere else to turn – usually the fathers of cute girls.

Now, this was the late 80’s, and TV producers were under pressure to reduce the amount of gun violence in their shows.

So, the A Team fired 50 caliber machine guns and recoilless rifles and threw hand grenades and set off land mines and fired off all sorts of weapons, but never hit anybody. Never. Oh, they blew up cars and trucks and buildings and shot the heck out of everything. Everything but people. Oh, if only the real world was like that…

Hannibal, the brains of the outfit, was played by George Peppard. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll recognize him from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Blue Max, among others. His catch phrase on the A Team was “I love it when a plan comes together…”

Okay, how about this: The Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader is laser-swording it out with Luke Skywalker, and suddenly says “Sistuh…” in that weird almost-but not-quite-British Mid-Atlantic dialect used by actors of a certain genre, like Katherine Hepburn, you ooollld poooop or Mr. Howell, heavens, a Yale man! You and I would say “sister,” but Darth Vader was more like “SIStuhhhhh” with a long, drawn out “uh” at the end.

What are you rambling about now, you ask? Howzabout this:

My wonderful wife has a wonderful sister who is herself a writer, a published author. Said sister has graciously agreed to read my book.

Whaaat? Say it ain’t true!

Oh, but it is! Think about this: said sister reads the book in lieu of my darling wife, and totally digs it. She tells said wife it’s great, the heavens open up and I ship the thing off to find a literary agent with the darling wife’s approval!

Oh, I love it when a plan comes together.

That is, of course, if said sister likes the book. I just read it through once more to see if there was anything missing. At just 50,000 words, it doesn’t take very long.

Nope, nothing missing. In fact, I like it better than the last time I read it. It’s as snug as a, well, tight as a, well, dark as a well-digger’s… no, none of those work. No stupid aphorisms. It’s good and done, and I think she’ll like it.

Can you imagine my excitement? Well? Can you? I know I can!

All the wonderful sistuh has to do is like it…

Please Don’t Tell Anyone

This is a secret post. You’re not supposed to read it because it’s… duh, a secret!

I’ve written this same post so many times that I’m embarrassed to write it again. But you’re a writer, you know how it goes. You do something that you think is momentous, and you have to tell SOMEBODY.

Please keep this to yourself, but I’ve just finished, like ten minutes ago, the re-re-re-rewrite of my book.

Not the fourth rewrite to make it beautiful.

Not the third rewrite that takes out all the hackneyed eye-roller phrases (“this ends now”).

Nor even is it the second rewrite that ties the beginning to the end.

This isn’t really a rewrite at all, but a fresh new story with deepened characters and a reasonable plot. It just borrows elements from a previous version. Now, for the first time, that old story has a bottom to it.

Architect Penn Hsu tells us that if you knock down all but one wall of a house and rebuild the rest, it is no longer the same house. Ergo, ipso facto, allegro non troposphere, this is a new book.

Anyway, it’s done. At least I can tell YOU about it and not feel too foolish.

Nope, no , there it is.

Foolish through and through, because I keep finishing the same danged book!

This time is for real, though. Done and done.


Golden Treasure Island Archipelago

My car is so old that my mechanic took off the gas cap and handed it to me. His advice? Replace everything else.

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You write the first draft, and then you rewrite, and then you rewrite it some more, and then it’s almost close to right. So you keep rewriting…

So riddle me this, Batperson: let’s say you have a house. It’s very nice, but you think maybe it’s time to remodel the kitchen, and maybe the bathroom. So you start changing things, you know. What if we did this, and put that room over there, and made a master suite, and an office, and a wet bar… and pretty soon, the only wall that isn’t changed is that one in the kitchen.

When it’s all done, is it the same house? It has the same address, I suppose, and sits on the same foundation. But is it the same joint that was built back in 1973?

The reason we’re here with this wearisome query is clear: I’m lost.

In putting cake under the icing, adding steak to go with the sizzle, I have somehow fundamentally changed the story.

“What?!? How could this be?” you ask. “I haven’t read the original, but I’m sure it was so good!”

The first draft was rather a madcap page-turning adventure story. Very fluffy and fun to write. And, according to my wife, the first 19 pages were the best I’ve written.

But everything from page 20 on is now new. Oh, they’re the same characters, but each now has more depth and solidity and backstories and stuff like that. And now there’s a clear plot and everything.

So, I ask you. Is it the same story? The same book?

This is a double conundrum because this book is actually a rewrite of my already self-published novel Droppington Place. If you haven’t read that one, well, there it is.

Sooooo, I’m thinking that I need to get out of the rewriting business and let this be a new book. The primary character is named Winchester Penrose. Maybe the new book will be called The Sawdust Man, a Winchester Penrose Story.

God, that sounds presumptuous, doesn’t it? Right out of the box, you’re launched into a series.

Shoot, I can’t even think of a sequel!