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!
Here we are at the last Welcome to Bridgetown entry of 2022. It’s been a busy year of change here: getting a new Day Job, being in-person social again, putting multiple novel projects on indefinite hiatus, and allowing myself to focus on personal needs. I’ve already gone over most of what’s gone on this year in previous entries here so I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that all told, 2022 has been a rather positive one.
So what will 2023 bring?
For starters I will be focusing most of my creative time on the MU4 project and the Bridgetown Trilogy Remaster. It’s been a long time in coming, and I’ve put it off for long enough. The Mendaihu Universe was always supposed to span several books and different generations and settings and not just stick around as a trilogy. Mind you, I’m vaguely thinking of this new project as another set of three books, but I’m not holding myself to it. If it’s a duology, or a single, or even a tetralogy, I’ll let it be what it needs to be. And I think I’m going to be sticking around in the MU for a while, filling in the blanks in its history.
I’d also like to get back to using the 750Words site on a consistent basis again. I haven’t made any decisions in to what I’ll be writing there, though I have a few possibilities. I’d also like to finally make something out of all those Drunken Owl demo outtakes I’ve recorded over the last several years. Some of them are just thirty second riffs and some are full-on three-minute tunes. I haven’t written any songs for years now and I kind of miss it, to be honest. I don’t know if these will have lyrics or if they’ll remain instrumental, but the plan is to make them more than just soundbites.
What about the personal side of things…? Well, some of that is going to stay personal for the time being of course. But what I can share is that I see the new year as one of exploration and expansion. Having spent the last two years cleaning out the mental and emotional detritus, it’s time for the next step: discovering what should go in its place. I’ve had self-built barriers up for the longest time, and after spending the last two years tearing them down and creating a much stronger foundation, it’s time to start rebuilding. What will that entail? Well, we’ll find out in the future, won’t we?
In the meantime, thanks to everyone who’s been following me here or just stopping buy, downloading my ebooks, and talking with me on social media. You’ve all been wonderful these last few years despite everything that’s gone on in the world, and I appreciate it all.
Everything is still up in the air right now and plans have not yet been fully made…but there is a chance that I may return to the Mendaihu Universe in 2023. I think it’s time.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done wrong with MU4 over the last couple of years, why it’s always stalled at almost the same exact place every single time. But I’ve also been thinking about what I’ve done right with it, especially the storylines of the two or three characters that I’ve resonated with and are demanding more attention. I know what the main story arc is for this novel (and its possible sequels, if things go the way I’m expecting), and it’s worth telling.
And I’ve also been thinking about how there’s no rule that I can’t revisit the Bridgetown Trilogy and, well, give it a remix and remaster, to use musical parlance. Creators do this all the time, right? I’ve heard of many musicians and writers who’ve revisited their older work and made it better. I’m still incredibly proud of the trilogy but I will admit that it also has a few issues that I wouldn’t mind finally fixing. Especially now that I have a few more years under my belt and a better idea of what it needs.
But what about all those other projects, you ask? What about your infamous Best Laid Plans that never work out? Well…harsh question, but fair. I’ve been known to talk about things here only to have them duly crash and burn soon after. So it may happen this time too, but I won’t know until I try, right? And about those other projects: I can’t say for certain if I’m going to trunk them or hold onto them for a later time, but they are not what I should be focusing on right now.
This does mean that I’ll need to do another deep-dive revisit into the Mendaihu Universe before I go too far, but believe me, I’m not complaining about that. They say that writers often write stories they themselves want to read, and I love returning to this universe each and every time. I may even try my hand at a few related short stories and standalones that I have hidden away.
Again…none of this is set in stone, but I’m perfectly willing to give it a go.
I’ve been focusing on my outlining and synopsis writing with my current and backburner WIPs this past week, and I’m happy to say that it’s working quite nicely. I’ve managed to reach the end of Act I for one of the current stories, and do some major scene rearrangement and rebuilding for another.
The outcome of all of this is that it’s kind of fascinating to see the difference between “all the ideas are in my head and I have a vague idea where it’s headed” and “here’s the roadmap, have at it”. I mean, I’ve done this kind of preproduction many times before (and to varying degrees) and this time is no different. Just that I’m taking this step more seriously this time out.
Am I going to plan out the entirety of my current WIPs? I don’t know. I probably will with the shorter one, because the more preparation I have ahead of time, the quicker the project is finished. If I keep up with what I’m doing, I’ll probably have a complete synopsis in a couple of weeks and will be able to get to the heavy writing without delay. As for the other one…that’s MU4 if you must know, and that’s going to need a lot of planning due to the way its universe runs, so I think I’ll at least get it to where I feel comfortable with being a few chapters ahead plan-wise, just like the previous trilogy. For every prose chapter I finish off, I’ll add another synopsis chapter as I go.
I’m definitely going to keep this process going if I can. I still want to get back to my plan of self-publishing at least one novel a year, and planning stories out like this will definitely keep me well-stocked in future projects! It’ll also help me when I return to the Day Job World…just like I did with the trilogy, I can easily block out a few chapters ahead during slow time/lunch hour at work, dedicating my evening hours solely to cranking out the prose.
In the meantime, I’m thrilled to be where I am at the moment in these projects…I may not actually be getting any prose wordcount done, but this prep work will definitely open up all kinds of time for it later on.
The other day I was thinking about how my list of active story and project ideas seems to fluctuate. This time last year I felt kind of frustrated and empty-headed for various personal reasons and trying to write anything felt like an absolute chore, but now I’m champing at the bit to get multiple projects up and running!
A lot of the time it can be a reflection of what’s going on with me in real life. This can be on the macro-level — such as my frustrations with the former Day Job — but it can also be on the micro-level as well, and it’s the latter I don’t often talk about. I do have days now and again where I just can’t get my shit together mentally, and working past that can be hard. Sometimes it’s because I’m heavily distracted, whether it’s by simple fun things or by lack of focus. I try to soldier on regardless, even if it feels like an uphill battle at times, but by the end of the day I might end up having completed a hell of a lot more than I expected.
The few times I’ve actually had nothing on my plate — or having cleared off a majority portion, such as when I’d finished and released the Bridgetown Trilogy — can feel a bit unnerving. With the trilogy done and away by 2017 (just in time for a twentieth anniversary of its creation), it took me a long time to get used to not having a major epic project constantly in the works. This was precisely why I chose to write multiple shorter and self-contained stories…I knew if I tried writing another large-scale project right away I would burn myself out and fail. But that initial time of a year or so, when I’d started playing around with Meet the Lidwells and In My Blue World and Diwa & Kaffi, I focused on smaller projects. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to see them through, to be honest. All I could do is just keep going, day by day. Rewire my writing brain and create new styles and processes. In the end, I was extremely proud of all three.
Right now I’m actively writing two novels in tandem*, which I know I can do, having done it with IMBW and D&K. In addition to that, I have two further book projects I want to work on that are in pre-production mode (notes and ideas, maybe a few outtakes and a mixtape, but no major writing just yet). So right now I’m in a good place — consistently busy working.
[* – These are actually temporarily on hold while I finish the D&K revision, but I’ll have them back up and running in about a month.]
Do I worry about running out of ideas (or fuel, for that matter)? Not really. I’ve worried about that before, but I’ve always bounced back eventually. Something will eventually inspire me to start something new.
It’s been what, nearly three months since I’ve posted here? I posted a fly-by over at Walk in Silence not that long ago, but other than that I’ve been keeping quiet. Continuing with the job search, keeping occupied with light projects and reading, and running errands. Staying safe.
I could say I’ve been busy planning my next project, or I could say I’ve been doing research, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t been been doing much of anything creative at all. That was kind of by design, however. I desperately needed the break.
It was probably long overdue, come to think of it. I’d been angry and exhausted for months. The successful writing processes and habits I’d set up years ago were no longer working, and the more I tried to push to make them work again, the more frustrated I became. It had ceased to be enjoyable. It was a combination of a lot of things: Day Job frustration, lack of time, lack of new ideas, lack of interest, and too much repetition.
Other than following through with the post-production of Diwa & Kaffi, I decided to stop everything temporarily. The daily words, new novel projects, the blogs, even the daily personal journal. It was time to deal with Real Life stuff: leaving the Day Job of fourteen years, searching for new employment, staying healthy and avoiding COVID-19, and flushing out some old personal demons that were still kicking around. One month off has turned into multiple months, but this decision remains a positive one. Most of the heavy stress and frustration I was feeling earlier this year is almost completely gone.
I’m returning to some of these creative habits and processes again, but I’m purposely not tying them down into daily/weekly habits. I’ve taken the focus away from completion and competition and refocused on the creativity itself, where it’s supposed to be.
So. Am I working on anything right now? As a matter of fact, I am! Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing yet another reread of the Bridgetown Trilogy, for the sole reason that I’m revisiting that world for Book 4 in the Mendaihu Universe! [There may also be a secondary reason, in which Our Intrepid Author decides that maybe the trilogy needs a new re-edit and may work on this as a long-game side project.] I’m also working on an idea to gather the flash fiction I’ve written for the College Campus/D&K universe into a self-published collection. The waystation idea I’d come up with at the beginning of the year is still gestating at this point, so I’ll most likely get to that one if and when I have the time and inclination.
Will I return to blogging? Yes! Although I’m not sure how and when. Before I left the Day Job, I’d found a workable process in which I used 750 Words to write up rough drafts for these blog entries, so I may utilize that or something similar to it when I decide to fully return. I’ve wanted to revamp both blogs for a while now, and I’d like to focus a bit on that first before anything else.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and keep reading and writing!
Yesterday over at Walk in Silence I talked about using this free time I suddenly have to finally work on all those creative endeavors. You know, the “if I only had time to do (x)” things. Since that’s my music blog, I talked a bit out making more time for my guitar playing and getting better at it.
As for the writing side of things, I’ve been thinking a lot about artwork. I mean, a lot. Back in the pre-pandemic days when we went to the gym, I’d find myself listening to the same things over and over on my mp3 player, because I was working out specific scenes of my novels in my head. This is a super-old writing process that I used as a teenager, first starting out. It was how the Infamous War Novel was written.
One scene in particular that I’d work through during those gym sessions is the final scene/credits sequence of Diwa & Kaffi. The novel itself ends with the two taking off and flying towards home, with their two friends watching them, proud of what they’ve become. But there’s a bit more that follows, a purely visual segment, that’s not in the book. Set to The Sound of Arrows’ “Stay Free”, it starts with their liftoff and progresses through multiple shots of them feeling the pure joy and freedom of flying, interspersed with flashbacks and flashforwards of their lives at their apartment complex. There’s also a section of this where they fly alongside a train containing their tenants, returning back to the estate by land, showing that they are also bonded to their neighbors. [Picture credits flashing or rolling throughout, of course.]
Once I was free of the Day Job, I thought: you know, I have this film studies background that I’m not using…and I’ve been told by numerous people that I’m a very visual storyteller (“I can see this as a movie” is a common phrase — to which I secretly pump my fist, as that was my plan all along). And I also follow a lot of artists and animators on Twitter and elsewhere, so I can check out how they do their work. [Side note: Natalie Nourigat’s I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation is a wonderful short graphic novel about exactly this, and I highly recommend it both for the information and the enjoyment.]
So. Why not learn how to storyboard?
I mean — why the hell not, right? I’m a visual storyteller, I have the general knowledge of film, the practice of screenwriting, and I understand how it all works as a whole. And thanks to the artists and animators I follow, I don’t feel too self-conscious that I’m not the best artist right now — it’s been repeated by many that it’s not the artistry that pushes storyboards but the way the format’s used. Knowledge of how to visualize a story well is more important than getting every sketch perfect.
I have no idea how this will pan out, but what the hell, right? It combines my love of writing and my love of drawing, and that’s certainly a start.
More on the upcoming year, in regards to writing. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about voices in my stories. It’s a tough subject to tackle, especially in a short-form blog like this, because there’s so much nuance packed in there. What kinds of voices? Whose voices? Am I talking inclusiveness of characters, or am I talking about the style of storytelling I happen to be using? Am I talking about dialogue or am I talking about language? All of the above or something else entirely?
Sometimes I feel as though I keep writing the same story over and over again, just using different backdrops. Granted, I’m reading and rereading and revising my own words over and over again for so long, to the point where it all starts to blend together and I can’t help but see all the similarities between a character in A Division of Souls and a character in Meet the Lidwells, two completely different stories with completely different settings and styles. What I have to remind myself is that I’m not hearing the different characters…I’m hearing me writing those characters.
This was one of the reasons I was thinking of taking some time off in 2019 before embarking on another novel project. I want to find a new voice within myself. I want to continue to tell my stories, but I feel like I’ve written everything I wanted to write with my current voice. And that voice has changed over the years, but my stories haven’t. It’s time to get realigned and bring that new voice to the forefront.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working out how I’ll do this and start fresh on January 1, like I always do. I’ve already done my Year End/Year Ahead post the other day, so I can just post my whiteboard schedule plans and call that done.
This has been quite a long year, hasn’t it? So many things going on in the world. Half the time I’m trying to keep a sane distance so I can process it all clearly and intelligently, and half the time I realize I’m doing all I can to keep my head above water.
But I’ve been trying to stay positive. Even when we have people in “charge” (I say this lightly) doing all they can to obliterate the rules and exclude a portion of their constituents out of legal existence, I’ve been trying to be a positive anchor, even if it’s just for myself. Someone’s got to be.
BUT! It’s been an interesting and quite creative year here in Spare Oom. I had quite the productive 2018, which was unexpected but pleasing. I made good on my plan of releasing one e-book a year, with Meet the Lidwells! dropping in early March. I wrote and completed not one but TWO books this year (In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex project) that will be dropping in 2019. I recorded at least twenty partial demos of songs for my Drunken Owl project, and hope to work on more next year. And I made more of an effort to write more lyrics and poetry again. And I’ve been quite verbose in the personal journal this year. I stayed pretty consistent with my daily words over at 750Words. Lastly, I had quite a consistent run both here at Welcome to Bridgetown and over at Walk in Silence. So yeah, a hell of a lot of writing this year. I’m stupidly proud of myself for that.
So what’s on tap for 2019? I’ve hinted here multiple times that I’m going to make some big changes across the board, both personally and creatively. After years of having Best Laid Plans that I couldn’t always follow through with, I find that I’m now in a good place to make a lot of them finally happen. A few personal events helped force me to look at them in a different, more serious and better planned light. Will they fall through or will they come to fruition? Who knows, but I can only hope it’s the latter. I’m already taking steps to ensure they work. Let’s just say that when they come to fruition, I will update accordingly, heh.
Overall, 2018 has been one hell of a roller coaster and I’m glad it’s winding down (sort of). Here’s to hoping 2019 provides a little more sanity!
I’ve been thinking a lot about my creative outlets. I know, I know…in previous posts I’ve talked a lot about wanting to play more guitar, write more songs, make more art, but it was always in the context of trying to squeeze it in when and where I could, while also working on my writing.
Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about focusing on these outlets instead of always putting the novels first. Perhaps instead of trying to brainstorm the next project, it’s time for me to give these two other outlets some serious stage time. I’ve been recording more than a few song ideas and demos on my phone over the last few months (using the Hi-Q mp3 recorder app) and I think I can work with some of them. I’ve long been tempted to find decent (and not expensive) multi-track software and do a bit of experimenting, so perhaps it’s time.
As for art…? Good question. I have a few art notebooks, pens and pencils that are collecting dust as I haven’t used them in a while. That’s gotta change as well. I’m much more on an amateur level here, so this would be mostly for personal enjoyment than anything else, at least for now. But yeah — I miss the enjoyment of drawing, even if it’s drawing my imaginary maps. It’s a peaceful outlet that chases away everyday stress and makes me look at the world from different angles. And I’ve always wanted to try new styles; I think I’ve burned myself out on drawing my Murph caricatures. I’ve also been told (very often, actually) that my storytelling style is extremely visual, so perhaps trying my hand at visual storytelling might be something to look into.
I suppose these thoughts have been brought on by my recent decision to make a lot of personal changes in my life. I’m not chasing away my novel writing, I’m just pulling it from center stage for a bit so the other outlets can have a chance to shine. I’ve already proven to myself that I can write novels; I want to prove to myself that I can play music and create artwork as well.