How it all Begins


by L.P. Stribling

 

With a thought,
That’s all you have a first, even before the blank slate,
A thought of something great,
Something that elates you, makes your eyes say, “Ooh my!”
It tickles all through you then,
Because you think, “I can do that!”

And you move,
Through fields, buildings, obstacles,
And you pass people,
They don’t notice, though,
Oh there’s this social media thing that they’re sort of sucked into,

But they don’t feel your passion,
They’re not hooked like you,
Books are loot, you read and gain,
And then, of course, the pain,
There has to be pain,
The insane are, in the end, those who’ve never hurt,

And you fail,
Part of the game (full sail now)
All you have to do is get back up, on your feet,
Most cannot meet this objective,
But you can. The next morning you take one breath
More easily than the day before.

People enter.
You don’t know them, but they know (of) you.
You talk, you trust, you let them do their work,
And you wait, drives you berserk, but you wait,
Because you’ve had wounds, and they’ve had to heal,
By degree.

And you doubt while you wait.
What if this isn’t right? you think. What if it never was?
What if it was a waste.
And the pain returns.
Leaving burns on your person, in your life, with your wife? Your husband?
Perhaps,

And you stand tall when the day comes,
You’ve been running so long,
You’ve been waiting, wanting, hungry.

And they know that;
They knew it all along.

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Eating Bees – a CW post


**Taken from L.P.’s Home Page

If you’ve never read Chucky’s stuff, he’s got a real way with words. He’s got a way with words the way Charmin has a way with toilet paper, or Lucky Charms has a way with rainbows, or MacGyver has a way with turning a shitty Chevy into a moderately useable vehicle. I’ve been reading Chucky’s stuff for the past few years and I must admit that he’s a fantastic source of writerly inspiration (see below).

This right here, is the usual stuff you can expect to find from this mastermind of writerly inspiration. He reminds us here that all writing advice is bullshit. There’s really no one way to make this thing work. You either, as Steven Pressfield argues in his book The War of Art, you either get it done or you don’t. It’s pretty much that simple. Yes, you can, like a wonderful podcast I listen to called Writing Excuses, take every microscopic area out of the field of writing and try to approach it that way. Some people function that way, and as long as they’re able to pin the tail on their word donkey, then who gives two pence about the other stuff?

Below I have attached Chucky’s Smile for the day. Go to his Terrible Minds site HERE to read it in the original.


If you want to be a real writer, like, a really real writer, a writer who does it right, a writer who is officially official and who will earn the respect of the rest of the tribe –

You have to write longhand. Forget your phone. Put your phone away. Your phone is just beaming nonsense into your head — telecommunications chemtrails. Real writers write longhand, on notes stuffed into secret underwear pockets. If you don’t have secret underwear pockets, then you are not a Real Writer. That’s just fact. That’s just science. You write your first draft on notes stuffed into underwear pockets, then you write your second draft carved into a fundamental surface: driveway asphalt, a granite countertop, the stump of an ancient and magical tree. (Hemingway once famously carved THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA into the back of an impudent busboy.) When that’s done, eat some bees. Because writers, Real Writers, definitely eat bees. Writers also all have English degrees, or they all die. It’s like water to fish. We need it to swim.

Also, kill a goat. TRUE writers kill goats. But you gotta kill the goat in a real specific way. You have to get a goat, then yell into the goat’s ear the full text of your first rejection letter. You scream it into the goat’s ear at top volume, then as the goat is reeling from the disappointment borne of such rejection, you seize the moment and snap its neck. (Though Edith Wharton famously dispatched her goats with a blunderbuss full of dynamite.)

Of course, none of this is true.

Because all writing advice is bullshit (though bullshit fertilizes). I’m writing this thing because once in a while we are treated to missives from well-meaning expert writers who have come to believe that The Way They Write is the Only Way To Write, because their process has been tainted by the strong smell of Survivorship Bias. “I survived this way, and so you must, too.”

There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.

Everything else is just picking out drapes.

If you need a handy flowchart reminder, here’s my ARE YOU A REAL WRITER chart, written by me and designed by Rebekah Turner. Feel free to share!

Don’t care how you have to keep yourself honest. Don’t care how you have to do it. You just find a way to keep writing.

lp

P.S. If you’re in need of the right tunes to get your fingers plopping along the keyboard, feel free to slide over to this week’s BEAT.

Just get to the end – (a C.W. post)


If you’ve never read Chucky’s stuff, he’s got a real way with words. He’s got a way with words the way Charmin has a way with toilet paper, or Lucky Charms has a way with rainbows, or MacGyver has a way with turning a shitty Chevy into a moderately useable vehicle. I’ve been reading Chucky’s stuff for the past few years and I must admit that he’s a fantastic source of writerly inspiration (see below).

This right here, is the usual stuff you can expect to find from this mastermind of writerly inspiration. He reminds us here that all writing advice is bullshit. There’s really no one way to make this thing work. You either, as Steven Pressfield argues in his book The War of Art, you either get it done or you don’t. It’s pretty much that simple. Yes, you can, like a wonderful podcast I listen to called Writing Excuses, take every microscopic area out of the field of writing and try to approach it that way. Some people function that way, and as long as they’re able to pin the tail on their word donkey, then who gives two pence about the other stuff?

Below I have attached Chucky’s Smile for the day. Go to his Terrible Minds site HERE to read it in the original.


If you want to be a real writer, like, a really real writer, a writer who does it right, a writer who is officially official and who will earn the respect of the rest of the tribe –

You have to write longhand. Forget your phone. Put your phone away. Your phone is just beaming nonsense into your head — telecommunications chemtrails. Real writers write longhand, on notes stuffed into secret underwear pockets. If you don’t have secret underwear pockets, then you are not a Real Writer. That’s just fact. That’s just science. You write your first draft on notes stuffed into underwear pockets, then you write your second draft carved into a fundamental surface: driveway asphalt, a granite countertop, the stump of an ancient and magical tree. (Hemingway once famously carved THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA into the back of an impudent busboy.) When that’s done, eat some bees. Because writers, Real Writers, definitely eat bees. Writers also all have English degrees, or they all die. It’s like water to fish. We need it to swim.

Also, kill a goat. TRUE writers kill goats. But you gotta kill the goat in a real specific way. You have to get a goat, then yell into the goat’s ear the full text of your first rejection letter. You scream it into the goat’s ear at top volume, then as the goat is reeling from the disappointment borne of such rejection, you seize the moment and snap its neck. (Though Edith Wharton famously dispatched her goats with a blunderbuss full of dynamite.)

Of course, none of this is true.

Because all writing advice is bullshit (though bullshit fertilizes). I’m writing this thing because once in a while we are treated to missives from well-meaning expert writers who have come to believe that The Way They Write is the Only Way To Write, because their process has been tainted by the strong smell of Survivorship Bias. “I survived this way, and so you must, too.”

There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.

Everything else is just picking out drapes.

If you need a handy flowchart reminder, here’s my ARE YOU A REAL WRITER chart, written by me and designed by Rebekah Turner. Feel free to share!

Don’t care how you have to keep yourself honest. Don’t care how you have to do it. You just find a way to keep writing.

lp

P.S. If you’re in need of the right tunes to get your fingers plopping along the keyboard, feel free to slide over to this week’s BEAT.

Page glitter pancakes


You know what? I just pimped out my page. Added all kinds of new colors and glitter and words and shit. Added a cool little progress bar for my current work. Fuck yeah! So, Now all I have to do is work on that work and update that work and put that work into action…work, basically.

The progress bar is an idea that I took from Brandon Sanderson’s page. There’s one thing I have to say about the guy, one thing I respect greatly, and that is how much he really includes helping out other writers as a part of his craft. It’s wondrous. There isn’t much of his work that I have read (though there will be, the farther down the WoT rabbit hole I travel), but what little I have read has been mediocre. Bro suggests that I read The Way of Kings at some point in my life, but if the Stormlight Archive is supposed to be a nine-book series, there’s no way I’m starting out on that before the whole thing is over. That’s been discussed; it’s just not something I do – sort of a once-bitten-twice-shy kind of experience with Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. Same reason I haven’t read Game of Thrones as of yet. Call me crazy, but I’m just not going to get into it.

Anywho, Sanderson has the progress bar on his page and it keeps the fans updated on where he is and what he’s got going on. Now, he’s got like three or four progress bars because he’s a professional author and that’s how his life works at present. I’m not a professional writer as of yet, but there are still things I’d like to do to get myself moving.

At the time of this writing, I have upwards of eighty seven thousand words on a page. I’m happy with that, but I don’t want it all to be stagnant. The goal is to keep moving. Sort of a Rocky thing when he talked about no one hitting harder than life (from the movie Rocky).

So, it’s about getting it done. You just stop complaining. You stop blaming. You just put in the work. It’s as easy as that.

 

 

 

Goodbye, Brittany.


I cannot remember a time, I’ve heard the voice of Courage this loud – LP

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Brittany Maynard
1985 -2014

 

 

Choosing to Die


Brittany

I just learned several days ago about the young woman in Oregon, Brittany Maynard, who has chosen to end her life on November 1st of this year. If you don’t know the story, you can read the rest of this piece or go to her web site.

Her story started with headaches, minor at first, and then stronger and stronger until they were unbearable. Who knows how many times she went to see a doctor. Think about it, every time you go to a new doctor, you just want him/her to tell you that the previous six doctors didn’t know what they were talking about – you’re gonna be fine.

But it’s not, at least not according to the seventh doctor. Maybe an eighth?

Brittany’s condition was one of those rare beasts which asked the medical professionals to reach into the dusty section of their bookshelves, and thereafter figure out how to tell the family the unpleasant news.

“You have cancer – one of the worst.”

And then…

“Six months at best.”

From a social standpoint, can it get worse? Sure. She’s 29, and she just recently got married.

The short and sweet of it is that Brittany thought about it and thought about it, and in the end decided she didn’t want to put her family through that. With the support of her family and friends, she came to her own decision, that she would end her life on November 1st this year.

In understanding Brittany’s story, I look again at the silly notion that some countries have suicide is illegal, or at least any attempt at suicide is illegal. Why? I don’t get it. Okay, don’t kill anyone else; yeah, I get that. Every person life is their own and no other person has any other right to take the life of another. Got it.

But what’s the deal with making it illegal for someone to take her/his own life? What do you care? I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but if someone wants to go, there’s no one, family or otherwise, who has any right to tell them that they’re not allowed. Their life is their own.

I find myself in admiration of those who see their road ending prematurely and choose to ride it out to the end, simply because its their road to walk and no one else’s. They don’t want to switch paths; they don’t want to ride on someone else’s path; and they don’t want to spend the time trying to go against the Universe and make a completely new path – one the Universe never intended them to have in the first place. There is a great deal of admiration I have for these people. Aside from Brittany’s tale, how many of these types of people have you heard about? It’s not all that often that we get to hear of people who take full responsibility of their lives at all costs.

The reason I say this is because the goal for most in our society is live a long life. We often forget that along with the ‘long’ bit we want to live a healthy live. It’s not so much important to live long as it is to live well. But that’s beside the point. The thing is, in her video she talks about what she’s doing to enjoy life before she passes.

She talks about what it is like going through this. Her parents talk about it, how hard it is to deal with it, and amid all of it, there is a constant return to how much pain there is involved. But the pain mostly comes from her parents (her mom). Brittany herself seems to be at peace with it all, which seems natural in a sense. It’s sort of the kind of strength one would expect her to show considering her state.

She has talked about what she has decided her final resting place to be, where she will pass, who will be there, the music that will be playing. It’s almost romantic in its finality.

We wonder, when we hear stories like this, what it must be like for the family, her husband, certainly, to whom she has been married for a year now. What is it like for them, those who will be around her when she passes, being there with her, to hold her hand and watch her transition from the world of the living into whatever comes after that.

It’s weird even for me, to write this about her here and now. I’ve never spoken with this girl, never heard of her, and if she weren’t terminally ill, I probably wouldn’t think twice about her. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, of course, but just seems like it’s the truth. But here I am writing this about her now, and I feel somehow connected to her. Not that we understand each other, but that there is a wavelength, a thread, somewhere in the picture, the picture that none of us have been able to make out in our human history. I feel connected to her in that I’m connected to all of us, as we all are connected to one another, and I am saddened by the forthcoming loss of a piece of my spirit. John Donne said it so poignantly in his poem No Man is An Island.

                        If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

                                                                        …

                      Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind,

I write this in celebration of Brittany Maynard. You inspire me and I have a great deal of admiration for you. Thank you for another reminder of how beautiful and precious life is. May blessings and love sing you into eternity.

 

 

Writing a novel…iffn’ you’re interested n’all.


Chuck Wendig is one of my heroes. Number 10 is my favorite.

lp

—-

25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING A NOVEL

I figured, okay, I just finished the first draft of a new novel. Just got a book deal for another one. Got DOUBLE DEAD coming out in November. Maybe a list of “25 Things” to do with writing a novel. Specifically. The other lists apply, of course — plot, character, storytelling — but this one about the mechanical act of smacking your face again and again into the meaty thighs of a novel. Only problem: I had a list that went well-beyond 25 things. So, I had to trim and trim and trim, and this is the list I came up with. It’s incomplete, of course. They all are. So, if you’re so inclined: get into the comments, add your own.

Previous iterations of the “25 Things” series:

25 Things Every Writer Should Know

25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling

25 Things You Should Know About Character

25 Things You Should Know About Plot

1. YOUR FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT GOAL IS TO FINISH THE SHIT THAT YOU STARTED

Let’s get this out of the way right now: if you start a fucking novel, then plan to fucking finish that fucking novel. Your hard drive is not a novel burial ground. It’s like building your own Frankenstein monster — robbing a grave, stealing a brain, chopping up the body — and then giving up before you let lightning tickle that sonofabitch to life. The true author finishes what he begins. That’s what separates you from the dead-beats, from the talkers, from the dilettantes. Don’t let dead metaphysical weight slow you down.

2. THAT MEANS MOMENTUM IS KEY

Say it five times fast: momentum-momentum-momentum-momentum-momentum. Actually, don’t say it five times fast. I just tried and burst a blood vessel on the inside of my sinuses. The point remains: writing a novel is about gaining steam, about acceleration, about momentum. You lose it every time you stop to revise a scene in the middle, to look up a word, to ponder or change the plot. It’s like a long road-trip: don’t stop for hitchhikers, don’t stop to piss, don’t stop for a Arby’s Big Beef and Cheddar. Just drive. Leave notes in your draft. Highlight empty spaces. Fill text with XXX and know you’ll come back later.

3. THE FIRST DRAFT IS THE BEACH-STORMING DRAFT

It’s you and hundreds of other soldier-penmonkeys clawing their way up the enemy beach of the People’s Republic Of Novelsvainya. Most of those other poor sots are going to take a stitching of bullets to the chest and neck and drop dead in the sand, flopping around like a fish, their bowels evacuating. Your only goal is to get up that beach. Crawl through mud, blood, sand, shit, corpses. It doesn’t matter if you get up that beach all pretty-like. Or in record time. Nobody cares how your hair looks. Your first draft can and should look like a fucking warzone. That’s okay. Don’t sweat it, because you survived. Put differently, that first draft of yours has permission to suck. Go forth and care not.

4. BE LIKE THE DOG WHO CLOAKS HIMSELF IN STINK

Find joy and liberation in writing a first draft without caring, without giving one whittled whit. It’s like pouring paint on the floor or taking a sledgehammer to some kitchen counters. Get messy. Let it all hang out. Suck wantonly and without regard to others. Let that free you. Have fun. Don’t give a rat’s roasted rectum. You’ll think that all you’re doing is upending a garbage can on the page, but later, trust in the fact you’ll find pearls secreted away in the heaps of trash and piles of junk.

5. THE FIRST DRAFT IS BORN IN THE LABORATORY

Take risks on that first draft. Veer left. Drive the story over a cliff. Try new things. Play with language. Kill an important character. Now’s the time to experiment, to go moonbat apeshit all over this story. You’ll pull back on it in subsequent drafts. You’ll have to clean up your mess: all the beer bottles, bong water, blood and broken glass. But some of it will stay. And the stuff that does will feel priceless.

6. WRITING IS REWRITING IS REWRITING IS REWRITING IS

Said before but bears repeating: writing is when you make the words, editing is when you make them not shitty. The novel is born on that first go-around but you gotta let that little bastard grow up. Do this through rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting. As many times as it takes till it stands up and dances on its own.

7. YOU HAVE AS MANY CHANCES AT-BAT AS YOU SO CHOOSE –

A Marine sniper doesn’t get infinite shots at his target. A batter only gets three strikes. A knife-thrower only has to fuck up once before he’s got a body to hide. The novelist has it easy. You can keep rewriting. Adding. Fixing. Changing. Endlessly anon until you’re satisfied.

8. — BUT YOU ALSO HAVE TO KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE

Seriously, you have to stop sometime. You whip mashed potatoes too long they get gluey. Comes a time when you need to stop fucking with a novel the same way you stop tonguing a chipped tooth. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Write till it’s good, not till it’s perfect. Because you don’t know shit about perfect. Aim squarely for a B+, and then it’s time to let others have a shot in getting the novel to that A/A+ range.

9. KNOW WHEN TO BRING IN THE MOTHERFUCKING A-TEAM

You’re not Lone Wolf. You are not Ronin-Ninja-Without-Clan. A novel is a team effort. You need readers. One or several editors. Potentially an agent. True story: writers are often the worst judges of their own work. You spend so long in the trenches, it’s all a hazy, gauzy blur: a swarm of flies. It’s like being on acid. Sometimes you need a trip buddy. Someone to tell you, this is real, this is illusion. “The pink unicorn is just a hallucination. But the dead body in the middle of the floor, dude, that’s real, WE GOTTA FUCKING GO.”

10. ESCAPE THE GRAVITY OF THE HATE SPIRAL

Every 10,000 words is a new peak or valley on this crazy-ass roller coaster ride. You loved the novel last week. This week you want to punch its teeth down its throat. That’s normal. Write through it. The hate spiral will kill you in if you let it. It’s one of the reasons we abandon novels. It’s also nonsense. Sometimes your best work is your worst, your worst is your best. Everything is ass-end up. Fuck worry. Just write.

11. QFT

The other day on Twitter, the author J. Robert King said something that rang true: “No balanced person writes a novel.” You sit down at the desk, shackle your mind to the project, wade into an imaginary swamp with made-up people. For days. Weeks. Sometimes even years. That’s fucking batty.

12. GOTTA ABANDON YOUR BABY? BUTCHER HIM FOR SPARE PARTS

Don’t abandon your novel. Don’t do it. Don’t make me kick you in the nuts. There. I did it. I kicked your nuts. Taste that? In your mouth? Them’s your nuts. Still. Sometimes it’s going to happen. Hopefully not often, but it does: a novel just isn’t working. Fine. Fine. But don’t let it go without a fight. Chop it apart. Break it into its constituent parts. You put work into that. Take what works and apply it elsewhere. Build another robot using parts you stole from yourself. Eat your body to sustain your body.

13. YOU CAN WRITE A NOVEL PRETTY FUCKING FAST

It’s hard but not impossible to write, say, 5,000 words a day. A novel is roughly 80k. At 5k/day, you can finish a novel in about 16 days. Just know that it won’t be good. Not yet. Can’t write and rewrite that fast.

14. FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SAY SOMETHING

A reader is going to spend those 80,000 words with you. Hours of his life, given to you. Make them count. Say something about anything. Have your novel mean something to you so it can mean something to them. Bring your guts and brains and passion and heart and for the sake of sweet Sid and Marty Krofft, a message to the table. Don’t just write. Write about something. Do more than entertain. You’re not a dancing monkey. You’re a storyteller, motherfucker. Embrace that responsibility.

15. THE SHAPE OF THE PAGE MATTERS

A novel page shouldn’t look like a giant wall of text. Nor should it look like an e.e. cummings poem. The shape of the page matters. Balance. Equal parts emptiness and text. Void meets substance.

16. A NOVEL BY THE NUMBERS

The ideal novel is 48% action, 48% dialogue, and 4% exposition and description. I just made that up. Probably totally inaccurate. Possibly I might could maybe sorta be drunk right now. Drunk on words, or on Tito’s VodkaYou decide. Point is, a novel gets bogged by boggy bullshit like heavy description and blathering exposition. A novel is best when it lives in the moment, when its primary mode of communication is action and dialogue linking arms and dancing all over the reader’s face.

17. I JUST LIED TO YOU BACK THERE, AND FOR THAT, I’M SORRY

Dialogue is action. It’s not separate from it. It is it. Action is doing something. Dialogue is talking, and talking is doing something. Even better when dialogue manifests while characters do shit: drive a car, execute some baddies, make an omelette, build a sinister dancing robot whose mad mechanical choromania will reduce the world to cinders. Characters don’t just stand in one place in space and talk. They’re not puppets in community theater. Find language with movement and motion.

18. DESCRIPTION IS ABOUT SIGNAL TO NOISE

Description is best when subtle. Too much description is static. Paint in short strokes. A pinch of spice here. A delicate garnish there. Description is not a hammer with which to bludgeon the mooing herd. Pick one, two, or three details and stop there. I’ve heard this said about large breasts and we’ll reiterate it here for description: anything more than a mouthful is a waste.

19. THE READER IS YOUR MULE

Up to you whether the reader is a mule carrying your prospector gear up a canyon path or a mule carrying doody-balloons of hard drugs in his butt-pocket; the point remains the same. The reader wants to work. The reader doesn’t know this, of course, so don’t tell him. SHHH. But the reader wants to fill in the details. He wants to be invested in the novel and to make his own decisions and reach his own conclusions. You don’t need to write everything. You can leave pieces (of plot, description, dialogue) out. The reader will get in the game. His imagination matters as much as yours. Make that fucker dance for his dinner.

20. TOO MANY DICKS ON THE DANCE FLOOR

A novel can have too many characters. It’s not a set number or anything. The number of characters you can have is limited by your ability to make them fully-realized, wholly-inhabited people. If you don’t have the time or the room to give them a soul, to lend them wants and needs and fears and foibles, then fuck it, chop their heads off and wipe their blood from the page.

21. GENRE MATTERS, EXCEPT WHEN IT DOESN’T

A good story is a good story, and that translates to novels: a good book is a good book. You write the novel you gotta write regardless of genre. But eventually you have to think about it. Agents, publishers, bookstores, Amazon — they care about genre. Your book has to fit somewhere. The secret is, it doesn’t have to be a perfect fit. Close enough for horseshoes, hand grenades and hobo handjobs. Maybe not that last one.

22. BEWARE THE SAGGY MUSHY MIDDLE

The beginning’s easy because it’s like — BOOM, some shit just happened. The ending’s easy because — POW, all the shit that happened just lead to this. The middle is where it gets all gooshy, like wet bread or a sloppy pile of viscera. Combat this in a few ways. First, new beginnings and early endings — the peaks and valleys of narrative. Second, keep the pressure on the story and, by proxy, yourself. Third, treat the second act like it’s two or three acts in and of itsownself.

23. LIKE I SAID: IMAGINE A LONG-ASS ROAD TRIP

Variation. In scene. In character. In mood. In setting. In everything. A novel can’t just be one thing. Mix it up. It’s like a long car ride. Take an eight-hour trip down a bland mega-highway and you pretty much want to suck on the tailpipe. Take an eight-hour trip through scenic mountains and pretty burgs and ghost towns, you no longer want to eat gravel and die. Put differently: don’t be boring. If the story buys a house and gets a job in Dullsville, you need to burn Dullsville to the ground and push the story down the road a ways.

24. NO ONE WAY THROUGH THE LABYRINTHINE MIRE

Plotter. Pantser. Five-k a day. Two-k a day. In sequence or out. Nobody writes a novel the same way, all the way down to which font folks like. Individual novels have their own unique demands. You write it however it needs to be written. Nobody can tell you how. Only that it needs to get done. We each cut our own way through the dark forest. In the deepest shadows, look for your voice. Your voice is what will get you through.

25. WRITING A NOVEL IS EASY, BUT WRITING A PUBLISHABLE NOVEL IS HARD

Writing a novel isn’t hard. You throw words on a page, one atop another, until you’ve got a teetering Jenga tower of around 80,000 of the damn things. Same way that building a chair isn’t hard: I can duct tape a bunch of beer cans and chopsticks together and make a chair. It won’t look pretty. And it’s an insurance liability. (“I’m suing you because I smell like beer, I have cuts on my legs and I’ve got two chopsticks up my ass, perforating my colonic wall.”) But writing a good novel, an original novel that’s all your own and nobody else’s, well, there’s the rub, innit? The way you do it is you tell the story like you want to tell it. You learn to write well and write clearly and put a pint of blood on every page until you’ve got nothing left but spit and eye boogers. Learn your craft. Learn your voice. Write it until it’s done, then write it again.

Releasing ‘Perfection’


One chip at a time.
One chip at a time.

Nothing is ever perfect on the first try,

You know why?

Because nothing is ever perfect.

The only expectation you should have,

Is one in which you will be there,

At the appointed time,

At the appointed location,

Just as you’ve told the world (as you’ve told yourself) you would be,

To again lift the dulling nib of the old iron nail,

Regaining one’s grip,

And with diligence, with focus, and a day’s more experience than the day before,

Returning to the marble slab,

And continue one’s work in yet another attempt,

As feeble as the world around you tells you it is,

At releasing the shackles of your ideal from the

Abominable grips of this dull reality.