Thoughts on Writing


Brandon Sanderson is an author I respect. Not because I like his writing. On the contrary, I don’t find his writing necessarily to my taste, but more because of what he has done with the craft. and how he ultimately offers advice to those who are also climbing the mountain he has summited over and again. I am in the middle of reading of some of his stuff on his page and he has offered this one particular gem that I have decided to pull out and disseminate.

Becoming a successful author is about practice, and I believe that the most important thing to learn while practicing is to understand yourself as a writer. – Sanderson

Very true. Just a couple of sentences before this he offered another piece of advice which is to learn how your own process works as a writer and do that. He even references George R. R. Martin’s analogy of the difference between the “gardeners” and the “architects” out there – those who write and let the story tell itself and those who design the story. Either way, all authors tend to agree that there’s no one way to the end of the maze. The point is that you keep walking and find out how to get there yourself.

I’ve been writing fiction since 2008. I’ve been able to have a few pieces of poetry published (though, there’s one I’ve looked for and it’s gone – the publication went under), as well as a short story. But that seemed a while back. I still write and I’m working on the next project. But the hard part isn’t the book, or the short story, or the essay, or the poem, or whatever. It’s not the words. It’s in the strength/the pull of the tale. It’s in the motivation. I think it is an alluring endeavor – to be an author. To be called an author, a writer. There’s a sense of sophistication, even panache about one’s whose work is to wield words as a profession. But, it has to be for you. Some people just won’t want to do it. Let’s face it – when it comes down to it, there’s on one else who is going to write the piece that you are going to write. No one who is going to tell the tale that you are going tot tell. No one else. There is you, and that is all. So, the question then becomes, what do you do with this time? There is a lot that goes on in one’s life, and at a certain point, you reach a place where much of your time in the day is stolen away. But you do have blocks. And these blocks of time you have, in some fashion or another, carved out for yourself. Time is made, after all; not had. Now, you have this block of time. What do you do with it?

You just write and see what happens then.

But, as I’ve alluded to Sanderson, writing to the end is summiting a mountain. It’s only about desire, really, like anything. You want to ride a bike, solve a Rubix cube, learn to juggle, write code, do landscaping, et cetera, it is always all about desire.

Once you have that, once you’ve found the wall you would like to break down, you then find your tool and start hitting. You practice. You fall down, you get injured, you grow tired, hungry, weary, weak. You begin to question why you are doing this. You know some chips of cement are falling from the wall, but you’re not sure how thick the wall is. Are you sure this is what you want?

Most stop here. It’s not right; it’s not wrong; it just is. Most stop.

Those who continue, continue because it’s what they want to do. They’re not concerned about the result. They are concerned with simply doing. Some have planned it all out, others simply keep the work going, and at a certain point, it is finished. The final chips of concrete fall, the wall is broken, and the project is complete.

This is where I am. There is a lot of concrete on the floor. I’m not sure how much more of the wall there is left, and there are times in which I stop hammering because I need a break. I am not sure if I’m hammering the right place. Is it the right wall? Am I using the right tools? I exhale deeply, closing my eyes.

Then, when I’ve rested and I’m ready, I open my eyes again. The wall is still there, as am I. I pick up my hammer and return to the work.

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I’ve never read Game of Thrones


The Game of Thrones
The Game of Thrones

I’ve never read Game of Thrones.

I know.

Right now my fellow geekdom planet out there is perhaps reacting the same way. Something like, “What do you mean you’ve never read Game of Thrones? It’s the most epic (and I use that word only because the majority of the fantasy/sci-fi geeks out there use it, though I’m a purist linguist asshole and wouldn’t use that word in that way because, well, let’s stay on topic, shall we?*) story ever!”

It’s all good though, right? Because I’m probably following along with the television series on HBO. But, yeah, I’m kind of not doing that either.

And I’m trying to dodge the stares that my community is giving me and am ready for them to ask me to show them my true fantasy/sci-fi-geek card. They were out of cards last time I went, so..seriously.

But with regard to the topic, I confess, I am not like the rest of my geeky compatriots in that I cannot begin reading a series until it is finished. Here’s why.

 

A few years back I read Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind (from here on to be referred to as NoTW), which, if you’re the one guy or gal out there who has not read it, please allow me to be one more fervid vote that you do. A stupendous book. I burned through it, buzzed, chopped, even sambaed through that giddy fantasy goodness. I was ready for the next book.

I remember spending a couple of days jumping online to see when the next book was going to come out. I could wait.

So I waited…and waited….and waited…..and (damn dude, c’mon) waited.

You know what I’m talking about.

So I went on blogs to find out what was going on with this next book and when it would come out. I went to Pat’s blog and, cut to the point, he answered a question from a fan that was similar to what I was asking myself (and I paraphrase) –

Q: “What if it’s been so long between books that we forget what happened?”

Pat’s A: Well, I guess you’ll just have to read it again. (in so many words).

 

“What a dick!” I thought. That was it; “F*ck this guy! (PLEASE READ ON – THIS IS NOT AT ALL HOW I FEEL ABOUT PAT….Pat, you know this!) ” I’m never reading

any of his bullsh*t again.

The point is, I felt that I was basically jaded with this hype about who this dude was and I loved him, but he didn’t have the 2nd book out at the time and, what’s more, he told me to wait. It was a different time in my life and I felt pretty pissed off with what he was doing to me.

 

I decided that was it. I wasn’t reading any incomplete series again. Before I go on, it should be noted that I believe Pat to be the man – the man is a f&cking sorcerer when it comes to craft and the artistry of writing. I love the guy. Again that was a different time and I’m not going to use this post to go thorugh my feelings.

 

The point is, I cannot read series that are not yet complete, nor can I watch the corresponding television shows – why? Because 99% of the time, the book’s better than the film adaptation. I’m a literary person – love language and words.

 

A while back I was listening to a Writing Excuses episode when, somewhere toward at the back half of the cast, Howard spoke up and mentioned that an author wouldn’t want to do something or other (I don’t recall now what the cast was discussing) because it might spoil something for those who are waiting for the series to be complete before they pick up the books (It was something like that; again, I don’t remember the cast or conversation topic).

I thought, “WOOT! Yep (raised hand in the air for all to see) this guy; right here. I totally get it. I do that sh*t all the time.” And then he said…

“Yeah, there are actually people out there who do not start reading until the whole series is written.” I believe I actually heard some echoes of “Huh?” and “Really?” from the background.

I thought. “SO!?” I had no idea at that point that A. it was a big deal, and B. why wasn’t other people following my sound logic?

 

The point is, there’s a reason why I wait until a series is finished before I begin. Authors who write long series of books have (I presume) a plan, but it takes a while to manifest that plan, especially when it comes in the form of literature. But, reading a book is words is faster than writing it, and if I’m the reader and I enjoy the book, I’m going to want to keep reading. I don’t want to get into it, get a stiffy, and then have the book just end without a happy ending.

 

I want to get what I paid for!  (…assuming I actually paid, that is).

 

Books are great on their own; don’t get me wrong. But, that’s if they’re a stand-alone book. If it’s part of a series – the logical thing (not that you have to follow logic – many read Sanderson’s The Way of Kings knowing that there are another proposed nine books. NINE!)

 

Reading – it takes patience. JUST WAIT! It’s worth it.

 

 

 

*Actually, with regard to scope, Game of Thrones can actually be described as epic because, well, let’s just stay focused.

The Button Man and The Murder Tree


The Button Man and The Murder Tree

Two minutes,

One left now,

The Button Man knows,

He’ll take me before long,

Six times today, he has spawned,

The itches are getting worse, I hear,

But, that’s all the news I get, anymore,

One minute left…actually, time’s up. No more excuses.

The Button Man’s seen my name on the Murder Tree.