Category Archives: Writing

Milking a picture for more than a thousand words

It’s stupid how many different directions your mind goes running in after seeing something cool.

Late into the process of writing a first draft I had an idea that my main character would be interested in/drawn to abandoned places in her city. I put the idea on the back burner because as my original outline went there wasn’t much room for it. But here I am going through a finished draft and working on revisions at a snail’s pace. The more I look at what I have the more it feels like an expanded outline with plenty of room for all the ideas I thought of too late the first time around. Thankfully my main character’s city is my city, so I went looking for some hidden, urban ruins. And I found one. And it was terrifying.

From anything I read online this was supposed to be sealed, so when I turned the corner of the concrete wall that ran down a steep, bramble covered slope I almost had a heart attack. I’m not too courageous. I honestly expected some deranged hobgoblin to come screaming out of that small opening waving a couple of rusty daggers over head while he pooped his pants and made a run at me. Thankfully he didn’t, but one probably will in the book. (No it won’t).

Over the forty-five minutes I was there I got more and more comfortable. Not comfortable enough to go in (I was alone and had no light and that shit was death dark) but comfortable enough to snap some photos and sneak around the grounds, which were very wet and very cool. I’d like to go back with a small group of people to pop our heads in and take some interior photos but in the mean time it’s more than jump started my slow moving–when its moving at all–revision process. Characters and situations I’ve only ever give half-thoughts to at best started to come to life here. The trick will be making room for them.

One of the toughest hurdles, I’ve found, is parting with words that I’ve already written. I sit down and look at the fat stack of paper that is my first draft and hate myself for even thinking of getting rid of large parts of it. I slaved over it for months, how can I justify destroying thousands of words and weeks worth of progress after a few hours or at most days of thinking of something I’d rather do. The trick is talking myself into believing that its okay to do that. None of it was a waste of time. Committing mediocre ideas to paper and then scrapping them for something better isn’t a bad thing. It’s progress.

I’m very excited about Tunnel Town. It’s not one of Providence’s more well known neighborhoods, but it’s got some cool shit going on. Visitors beware.

Also: tentative title for the new book is Lady Jackalope.

Ever Playing Catch Up

So no Voyager write up this week. For those of you who have been watching along or throwing in your two cents after each post, my apologies. I appreciate that you guys are as passionately nerdy about this as I am and I’ll be back to form next week.

The snag in the schedule came up because I had hit a point a couple of weeks ago where I found myself banging my head against the wall whenever I sat down to work on the new novel. So instead of wasting time staring at my screen cursing the lack of words pouring out of me I decided to take some time off. I didn’t touch the project for a solid week and it was wonderful!

I finally finished China Mieville’s The City and The City, which I liked a lot more than I had expected. I love Mieville’s work but going into it I was expecting this to be a bit of a black sheep, which I guess it sort of is, but I found it really refreshing. It was different for him and quite different for me as a reader. 10 thumbs+ ! I also started The Hobbit, which I had read so long ago that I may as well have not read it at all. Lots more reading on the horizon, including the second and third books in William Gibson’s SPrawl Trilogy, Game of Thrones (shut up, I like bandwagons!) and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens.

Beyond reading the week was just very stress free. I tried not to think too hard about the novel. When an idea came up I’d think it over and write it down, but I wasn’t constantly carrying my notebook around and forcing myself to think about it. The gamble paid off. Instead of completely losing steam I came back to work yesterday and busted out a chapter that I’m pretty happy with. Little to no forehead slapping involved.

Here’s to keeping that ball rolling. And I swear, Voyager next Monday.

Work Update, or: I swear I’m not JUST watching TV

So after months of the rare blog about video games or doodles of guys eating hamburgers made from a machine powered by his own poop I show up here with two consecutive weeks of posts about TV. Though Netflix truly is the water to productivity’s fire (shitloads of John Carpenter stuff on instant watch drooooool…) I swear I’ve been actually busy.

With my doodle post–not a post of my doodle, pervs!–I dropped a hint about a new project. At the time I was forcing myself to take it slow and work out a rough outline, something that I was able to hammer out quickly with My Best Friend is a Wookiee. Not that I didn’t take it seriously, it’s just, you know…memoir. The outline was there already, the tricky part was working out how to take those memories and work them into a story that flowed nicely over the course of nearly twenty years which I sort of did as I went. But I’m not writing a memoir this time, or even non-fiction.

This is my first serious crack at fiction and the prospects that come with that are both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand I have free reign, within the context of the world I’m creating, to do whatever the eff I want! On the flip side is the daunting, overwhelming sense of not knowing what the eff to do! I was eager to start writing but kept wanting to put it off until I had worked out some sort of concrete guideline. Knowing myself too well, I knew that without an proper outline I would come charging out of the gate only to find myself written into a dead end, get frustrated and put the whole project on the back burner, which is now so cluttered that it’s choked out any actual burning. It’s really more of a back heap now.

So I gave myself a deadline. I gave myself until June 1 to work out an outline I was happy with and on May 30–I jumped the gun JUST a little–I stared writing. Progress has been going slow but steady. Something always manages to come up but I’m working through that. I find myself making fewer and fewer excuses to not sit down and bust out 2000 words–my goal for any time I commit to the desk. When I’m in the zone I can’t be distracted. When I’m not in the zone I check Facebook, Twitter and The AV Club every five minutes. But I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

Right now I’m at 34,655 words and have just started chapter 13 out of 29. My Best Friend is a Wookiee was around 60,000 words and had 20 chapters. Comparing the two doesn’t mean much. They will be apples and oranges when this new project is done. That figure is really more of a personal motivator. I’m shooting for at least 80k and if progress so far has been any indication I’m on the right track.


I’ve been taking a lot of notes for a new project lately and, as always, I quickly found myself spending half of that time doodling in my notebook. I’ve always done that, and for the most part the sketches I end up with represent what I’m working on. For example…

A self portrait while working on My Best Friend is a Wookiee

Notes from editing ...Wookiee

Sketch for the "hanging out with stoners" chapter of ...Wookiee

For my current project I’ve been sketching out ideas for what some of the characters, things and places in my head might look like…

If the Disney villain Pete and Carl from Aqua Teen had a baby you'd get this guy



While I find a lot of this helpful in terms of working out some visual ideas, sometimes I go completely off the rail and just do something stupid like sketch a guy pooping into a funnel that feeds a machine that makes hamburgers which are in turn fed directly into that guy’s mouth via conveyor belt like some sort of fast food commentary ouroboros.

From a man who loves fast food...

And of course sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, though I’m sure a shrink would have plenty to say about it…

This speaks for itself, really...