My mission, which I have chosen to accept, is to carry the wonderful feeling of a truly productive yesterday into the hours that stretch out ahead of me today.
I woke yesterday morning with little recollection of the despair I felt on Wednesday. The questions and doubts that had me feeling rudderless on a sea of uselessness were gone. I sat down with my coffee to read, as I do every morning at 7 a.m. and promptly stood up. Why was I doing this? Every morning I would read for an hour, have some breakfast, check email and then finally settle in to write. By then it was nearly 9 a.m. and I had been up for almost three hours with nothing to show for it, other than an enjoyable hour spent reading with my coffee.
I’m not one of those people who need their coffee to function. I don’t like waking up, but once I do, I’m humming along at 95% capacity within seconds. By the time I’m out of the shower, I’m operating at full-speed. Reading is an important part of the writer’s job description. To be a writer, you must be an avid reader. I am. I’ve been for a long time. But it’s not the best use of my most productive hours. I put my Kindle down, grabbed my coffee, and went upstairs to my writing office.
Two hours later I was printing a fresh 2700 words, the two scenes that comprise one of the major plot points in my novel. It was barely 9 a.m. and I had a solid day’s writing already behind me.
Achievement Unlocked: Rockstar Status!
I enjoyed writing those scenes. And I must admit they came out quite good, far better than most of what I’ve written so far in this first draft. Finally, I felt the emotion of my protagonist’s inner struggle. I agonized along with his wife as she recoiled from the effect of his choices. The knot in his stomach was in mine. The hurt she felt, I felt. It’s so hard to see someone make a choice that they think is the right thing, but to know it’s going to hurt the very people they think they’re helping most. I see now that this is the blessing and the curse of the novelist. I get to create these characters, set them on their course and understand the depths of their reasoning and how their actions impact others. I see the train wreck coming before anyone else, yet I can’t intervene. I have to accelerate, I can’t clear the tracks. The readers want to see the crash. They want the carnage. Fortunately, readers want to see the rescue crews pull out a few survivors as well. That’s going to be fun.
With such a great start to the day behind me, I took my mountain bike in for a tune-up, read in the adjacent cafe, then hit the trails. Strava tells me I laid down some really fast times. I was feeling it. Back home, I began work on another videogame strategy guide project. I have the pleasure of updating the books I wrote for one of my favorite franchises. Speaking of which, it’s time to get working…
- The Nit-Picking Glory of The New Yorker’s Comma Queen – An interesting TED Talk from Mary Norris, a copy editor for The New Yorker magazine. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team of editors in the country with more scrutinous eyes cast their way. A great ten-minute talk.
- 5 More Ways to Trim Your Book’s Word Count – Another helpful article by K.M. Weiland. This set of tips for tightening up your word count gets into the micro level and includes some Scrivener tips for people who use the writing software (I do!). One of the things I’m most looking forward to is taking the hatchet to my first draft which, at my current pace, is going to exceed 500 pages. Too long for a first effort!
- Your Guide to Reading the World – I’m pretty sure I linked to Ann Morgan’s TED Talk in which she discussed spending a year reading a book from every country on planet Earth. Well, this is the interactive series of maps which shows you just what she read from every country, along with some discussion of her favorites and biggest surprises.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Stephen King Books – If you never read much Stephen King, this is the article for you. With 54 novels out (and counting) there’s a lot there to go through. I’m a fairly well-read King fan though I have to admit I haven’t read much from him in the past 15 years. The one book not on this list that I would definitely recommend is Misery. If you thought the movie was good (it was!) then definitely read the book. But start with The Shining. One of the best horror books ever and much deeper than the movie.
- The 10 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations of 2016 – The Jungle Book is getting rave reviews but the animation seemed really off to me when I saw the trailers. On the other hand, Spielberg’s adaptation of The BFG, one of my wife’s favorite childhood stories, will surely be must-see viewing in my household. Can’t say I’ve heard of many of the others on this list.
Who Is Craig from Craigslist? – The story behind the founder of the world’s favorite online classified section. Also, if you’re curious about just how useful Craigslist can be in bringing people together for good, I highly recommend watching the movie Craigslist Joe, a documentary about a guy who spent 31 days traveling the country and relying completely on the kindness of Craigslisters.
Post Image by Mark Freeth, used under Creative Commons.