I picked up John Lennon’s Skywriting By Word of Mouth not that long after it came out in the mid-80s, probably sometime around the start of my junior year in high school. It was a collection of his post-Beatle writings mainly composed during his five-year hiatus in the late 70s. Some of it was autobiographical, but a considerable part of it (such as the above) was in his classic absurdist style, and I was immediately drawn to that. I was a kid that loved puns and wordplay, and I was immediately drawn to its stream of conscious humor and weirdness. I loved the idea of utterly random phrases woven together by shared words and homophones.
This in turn inspired me to write such things in a similar vein, my own versions written on the school computers (we had Apple IIcs in the computer lab, where I wrote this sort of stuff when I wasn’t playing Lemonade Stand or Jungle Hunt when I should have been doing homework). I think part of it was the need to find another creative avenue after multiple years stuck in the Infamous War Novel, and a need to just have fun. My version of this nonsense verse was heavy with music references (“sunshine in the shade and drink their lemonade when the sun shine my shoestring on my guitar”) and written under the nom de plume Johannes Brezhnev, with the title Oy Vay. [I don’t entirely remember why I latched onto that Yiddish phrase, though it may have been used in a then-recent Bloom County strip, of which I was a huge fan.]
I still have the original printouts! I haven’t read them in years, so I’m sure some of them have not aged very well at all — after all, this is part of my juvenilia pile — but every now and again I bring back that style just for funsies. When I’m a hundred or so words short doing my 750 Words and have nothing of import to write, I’ll bring the style back out (I now refer to them as “wibblies” because why not).
It’s nonsense verse and serves no purpose, but it’s a lot of fun to write!
I’m definitely not hitting any huge numbers or even finishing scenes as of yet, but I’ll hit those goals once again, soon enough. I’m not going to push it. Right now, my only writing goal is to get something written. The other day it was a little over six hundred. Tonight it’s probably more like two hundred.
Again, this is how I remember writing A Division of Souls: at the beginning of the project, it was about forward motion, even if it was a little at a time. This allowed me to take my time absorbing the scene and the characters within it, really get to know them a bit. These are mostly all new characters I’m introducing right now, the main cast that will take over where the original gang left off, and I’m learning about them as I go. This has already paid dividends as I’m getting to know one of the new mains more intimately, flaws and all. Which lets me figure out what’s going to happen next.
So yeah, that’s all I have to report here right now. Here, have a new groove from Unknown Mortal Orchestra that’s been playing on my PC lately!
The hardest thing about writing MU4 so far has been making a personal connection with my characters. I know what I want from them, and I think I know how I want them to evolve, but getting to those points has been fraught with missing by inches.
I also know, this time for a fact, that I’m not trying hard enough. I’m still suffering through waves of the Don’t Wannas with an equal serving of Easily Distracted. I want to write this novel, damn it all, I’m just avoiding working on it, and I’m starting to piss myself off because of it.
If this means I have to take desperate measures, I’ll do it. I’ve already uninstalled or removed several apps from my phone to minimize distraction during Day Job breaks I should be spending less passively. But though I’ve been doing all my actual writing work at home and I do close my web browsers come writing time, I still have too many distractions. If this means unpinning nearly every shortcut from the Task Bar, so be it. Making it harder to open distraction apps usually works for me simply by utilizing the Out of Sight Out of Mind method, and I’d rather not use one of those ‘won’t/can’t open until forty-five minutes pass’ apps if I can help it.
Still — the issue remains that when I am writing, I’m still not quite making that connection. I’m not connecting on that emotional level I’m aiming for. They still feel too distant. And again, that’s a personal issue I have to work through: I have to let myself establish that level, allow myself to take that deep dive. I know I can do it and I’ve done it before.
Eventually I’ll make that connection I’m longing for. I just need to keep trying.
I seem to have finally caught a cold and gotten a fever for the first time since I started the Day Job last March. That’s actually a pretty good run! I’ve had a few days where I was running on fumes (these were usually the midday 11:30 to 8 shifts) but this is the first time in quite a while that I called in sick and taken the day off!
I’m hoping the fever will have broken by the time this posts, however. Either way, I’m taking the rest of the week off from blogging to recuperate. See you next week!
Out of all my books, In My Blue World seems to be my most popular ebook by a mile on Smashwords. Which, yay! Thank you so much! I’m thrilled that y’all love it as much as I do! I did my best to create a story where it wasn’t just about Conquering the Villain or Trying to Escape a Terrible Fate. This was about three strong-willed sisters who faced their fears head-on rather than run away, and about two women who never give up on what they truly believe in.
[And yes, I do of course have moments of I wish I’d written that scene differently or I could have done this bit so much better whenever I reread it, but I also know that every writer has that feeling.]
A couple years back I actually did have a loose outline plan for a sequel to the book. It was, amusingly enough, inspired not by ELO but a video by K/DA, the animated foursome connected to the League of Legends game. After all, I’d set up the ending of In My Blue World to be open-ended and ready for any number of sequels or related stories. There’s definitely room for expanding this particular created world in all sorts of directions.
So…am I going to be doing this again, writing multiple books at the same time? Or will one of them fall by the wayside again while I work on the latest shiny thing? Or will I figure out a way to make it all work despite the odds? It’s a bit early to tell right now to make any decisions. But I do have a pretty good idea of what I’d like to do with it, and hopefully I can find the time and energy to work on it!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what some of the themes in MU4 might be, and I think one of the most important is about personal connections; the ones we make, the ones we destroy, the ones we wish we had and the ones we protect with everything we have.
I posted a rough version of Chapter 1 some months back, in which a young woman named Eika is dropped off in a deserted town and forced to undergo a solo trial to prove her worth as part of the Order of the Blessed Ones. Her story of connection is about the utter lack of it in her failure to live up to her family’s and community’s expectations. In Chapter 2 we’ll see the connection between two new Alien Relations Unit officers, Lizzie Kapranos and Ruu-Sseikassi Tiiegasi, who will have a somewhat unconventional connection with each other that’s different than Alec Poe and Caren Johnson’s in the previous books. And later on we’ll see an arc about Ampryss and Shirai, and how their connections to their original fates have changed because of the Season of the Ninth Embodiment.
I’ve chosen ‘personal connections’ to be one of the backbones of MU4 (and possibly other related stories) partly because of what Denni Johnson did near the end of The Balance of Light: she pretty much broke all the rules and expectations and sent fate off in uncharted directions. Every detail, every question and every choice is related to what connections the characters make, because that is the only anchor with each other that they truly have.
Of course, this isn’t about strict maintenance of those connections…like I said, it’s also about how they can be destroyed, and why.
But then I’d be giving away too much if I kept going, heh.
Yeah, I know. I am absolutely terrible at self-promotion…but then again, there really isn’t any one way to go about it, is there? Maybe I should stop trying to dive into the overcrowded pool of self-published writers trying to get your attention and lean heavy on what comes natural to me: the outsider this is kind of weird but fascinating mystique…? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
ANYWAY. All five of my novels — The Bridgetown Trilogy (A Division of Souls, The Persistence of Memories and The Balance of Light), Meet the Lidwells! and In My Blue World — are available for FREE at Smashwords this week, so if you haven’t downloaded them already, have at it! You can find them here at my profile page:
Again, I’ve been thinking about how I pulled this off back in my Belfry days.
I’m of course feeling a bit frustrated and twitchy because I’m not getting any new words done. Chapters One and Two are still where I last left them, maybe with a few slight revisions here and there. Why am I getting nowhere with this thing?
But then I remember: starting A Division of Souls was also slow going at first, at least when new words were involved. Those first few chapters were written and rewritten so many times before I could accept them as a true part of the novel. I essentially took the best-so-far version I had and started rewriting them from the beginning.
But that wasn’t all I was doing. I was spending a lot of non-Belfry time working on the world-building. Creating short character studies of the mains and the secondaries, getting to know them better by creating seemingly mundane facts and figures about them. Sometimes they serve no purpose, but sometimes they come in handy somewhere down the line in the most unexpected ways. [For example, I came up with Caren having a scar on her leg from someone shooting at her well before I actually mentioned that fact in The Persistence of Memories.]
So this is what I’ve been doing for MU4 these last few weeks. Creating character studies for the original returning cast as well as the new cast of characters coming in. Some of them are from the several recent outtakes, but some of them are reinterpretations instead. In the process, I’m learning more about who they are, why they find themselves involved in these two important chapters, and what their stories will be during the course of the rest of the project.
It doesn’t quite get rid of that I need to write new words now, damn it! itch, but it will definitely make those new words come easier once I do have the chance to make them happen.