Thursday, May 19, 2011

And I Feel Fine…

Happy Friday. Today I'm going a bit off topic, not that this blog has ever been terribly on topic. As the title suggests, I'm talking about the 'End of the World' which apparently is incredibly, poorly scheduled for tomorrow, May 20th.

If you aren't familiar with the story, a man named Harold Camping of Family Radio is predicting the end of world on May 20th, 2011. The story was picked up by Time Magazine, NPR, and other media outlets. What, was it a slow news day?

I'm sure he's got all his research, and Bible scripture to back up his prediction. Most people are dismissing him as just another Christian cook, which is probably for the best. It should also be noted that this isn't Mr. Camping's first attempt at predicting the date of the Rapture. He tried previously in 1994. People have been predicting the Rapture since the 1st century AD.

I will just come out and say that I'm a Bible believing, follower of Christ. I realize not everyone believes what I believe, and you might feel this admission may put me only a few rungs on the insanity lower than Mr. Camping.

What bothers me most about Mr. Camping's prediction is how it reflects on people who take the Bible seriously. This isn’t exactly a thoughtful presentation of the Gospel, and agnostics and atheists (as well as the late night comedians) are having a field day with it.

See I believe in an End Times, a Rapture, and the eventual return of Jesus Christ to this Earth. But I don't believe anyone will ever be able to predict when that event will happen. The Rapture going to surprise us all, and I personally think that it may not even be recognized when it happens.

I also know that it is pointless to try to predict it, and if I changed one thing about my life because I knew Christ was coming back tomorrow, it would declare that I wasn’t living my life as I should have been all along.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Glorious Irrelevance of eBooks

I can’t wait for the Google spiders to get a hold of that title.

It’s funny, but whenever you start to tell people about your dream to become an author, the conversation will quickly turn to the eBook/eReader revolution and your plans. As part of my education as a writer, I am in the process of learning a little bit about the publishing industry. Print is dead and eBooks are the da bomb dot com baby. Everybody whose anybody knows that you got to get on the self publishing bandwagon and make your millions.

Or not.

I’m somewhat relieved to be able to sit back and revel in the knowledge that the whole eBook/self publishing/traditional publishing debate is largely irrelevant to me at this point in my career. Whether you are going to self publish an eBook, or traditionally publish a  dead tree book, the first step remains the same.

Write a really good book.

That is where I’m putting my energy and efforts right now. I’m learning to write the very best book I can. When the time comes, I will study and evaluate the landscape and choose what is best for me at that time. But with the pace of change the industry is experiencing right now, any speculation as to what it will be at that time is pointless.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pantsing and Plotting

One of the ongoing battles that writer types face is the eternal struggle between being a Pantser and a Plotter. Each earns its name from the way they write. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. They just sit down and write and see where the story takes them. Plotters carefully plot out the story with outlines and scene cards. Pantsers typically spend a lot more time revising their work. Some people think the Pantser/Plotter dichotomy is genetic, locked at birth. Others feel its a choice and regale us with their conversion experiences.

I know I desperately want to be a Plotter, and given my 'day job' I really should be. I'm a coder (Computer Programmer) by day and that pretty much requires being a Plotter, especially if , like me, you work as part of a team of coders. Yet, when it comes to my writing, I seem to be more of a Pantser. I've done a very basic outline of my story (that Mazil was extraordinarily helpful with). I've tried to use Tami's incredibly helpful outlining techniques, but they just don't seem to work as well for me as they did for her.

Case in point, I was writing yesterday and discovered a brand new character that I had not planned on. He's going to be a pretty helpful character to my Main Character. I had hinted at him in one of my early drafts, but I thought he would get mentioned in passing. Now it seems like he's not on board with that idea. He wants a bigger part in the story (don't you just hate it when characters do that!)

The crazy part is that I like the story better now with him having a much bigger role than I originally planned. He has allowed me to create some tension and explain parts of my story that needed a better explanation than I had originally given them.

For some reason I can't seem to help flying by the seat of my pants.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crisis of Confidence

This was a rather odd week for me. First, let's get this out of the way, I only added 1,187 words to my WIP this week. That's not good by anyone's standards. Now, I had some good distractions this week like my wife's birthday, a sick baby, and the NFL draft. Yes, I'm a big football nut.  This wasn't just any draft either. My favorite team, the Carolina Panthers, had the very first pick. I also still have the HTTS course, but I consider that time well spent even if it doesn't directly contribute to the word count. But those distractions, while they certainly took time away from writing, were not the major issue this week.

This is something I've talked about before in my online writers group, but I struggle with comparisons. This started out with a good plan. I need critiques and feedback, and I think sometimes the best way to get what you need to help others get that very thing. So I want to help other writers who need critiques. I also need to read good writing to see how its done. There is a website where I can do both. Miss Snarks First Victim.

I started to read a couple of the entries there. These were opening paragraphs of the entrants manuscripts. Then I read my own opening, and I started to feel very discouraged about my own writing. I could clearly see how very far I had to go to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. I'm trying to write my first novel length story. It usually takes two, three, or even more before you work is saleable. The mountain seems so high, the climb so arduous, and I know full well, it could all be for naught.

Those nights, I was forcing the words onto the page. It was like someone had given my inner critic a bull horn. I got to the point where I decided I would just get up from the computer and go do something else.

This is a tough gig. There is no algorithm, no formula you can run your story through and know that it is of a certain quality. I have heard other writers talk about their writing not being 'fit for human consumption'. I always thought those writers were being too hard on themselves. Now, I’m in those shoes.

That was how my week was going. Then somewhere towards the end of the week, I forced myself to revisit the story. I wanted something manageable so I pulled out just the first 50 words or so. It wound up being 63 words. I determined that I was going to revise it and make it the best opening I could. At the end of about an hour, something very odd had happened. I liked my work again, and I was able to get started writing the story again.

This is the second time since I've gotten more serious about my writing that I've had this kind of confidence crisis. I need to come up with some techniques that I can go to when this malaise invades my soul.

Do you struggle with the moments of self-doubt in your writing?

What techniques do you use to deal with them?

Monday, May 2, 2011

We Interrupt this Blog Post

This was going to be my weekly word count post, however, as I was writing news of Osama bin Laden’s death hit the air. Better writers than I will expound on it today, so I will leave with this quote from C.S. Lewis I saw on a friends Facebook.

C.S. Lewis: "We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it… Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves – to wish that he were not so bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured."