Category Archives: Writing Crises

Fog and Rain

It was a rainy, misty, foggy day here today and that feels pretty appropriate for writing this blog entry as I have no idea what to write about. That, in turn, is in keeping with how writing has been going the last while for me – it has been a struggle. This book is now, I feel quite certain, the most difficult thing I have ever written. Some of that is because I know I’m challenging myself in what I’m trying to pull off with it, some of it is just … things not coming easily.

I know my energy is very divided between trying to write fiction and trying to do a good job at the day job and trying to make sure I do other things beyond those two. It’s still easy to get down when the time goes by and the words won’t come.

Yesterday I did reach a bit of a milestone in that I believe I have written all the major scenes for the book I’m working on, and now “all” that needs to be done is to shuffle them into the right order and patch over all the transitions. Experience tells me that’s a fair piece of work to go, but it’s still good to have all the main pieces blocked out.

So I have been making progress, it’s just that every time I sit down to write, even when I know exactly what it is I want to do, it has been really very difficult. Every word I’ve written has been a struggle, and I’ve only hit those stretches where things start to really flow and come easily for very brief times.

I’m not writing this to complain or to fish for encouragement. The reason I decided to write about this today (barring, of course, the lack of another good idea) is that a lot of times when I look around on social media I see posts from writers about how they wrote 4,000 words this morning or just finished the third editing pass on their book and meanwhile I’ve just written and deleted the same sentence for the eighth time.

It often seems, I think, and we are often told, that creation is effortless and easy, and so it’s easy to feel discouraged in those moments when it’s not. Must be doing something wrong. Must not be a real writer. The thing is, that as far as I can tell, everyone has these times when creation is, in fact, super hard. It’s just as important (although less fun) to be forthright about that as it is to talk about the times when things are going very well. Difficulty is part of the process. It’s neither a surprise nor a sign that something has gone wrong, near as I can see.

The thing that I am trying very hard to teach myself is that the most important thing is not to abandon the project at times like this, but keep plugging away, scratch out 113 words in an afternoon if that’s the best you can do, and eventually, things ease up.

This is all dangerously close to advice, so I’ll stop for this week. I trust I’ll have something a touch more engaging for you next time. Thanks for reading.

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In my continuing quest to prove that I have my finger firmly on the pulse of five years ago, I thought that this week I’d write about a comic series I really enjoyed: Matt Fraction and (mostly) David Aja’s run on Hawkeye. Hawkeye had never been one of my favourite superheroes growing up (among other things, his classic costume is pretty goofy) but I heard a lot of very good things about this series and so when it started coming out in trade paperbacks I picked it up.

I’m really glad I did. Although the title is Hawkeye, it’s really about two characters, Clint Barton (classic Hawkeye of the formerly-goofy costumer) and Kate Bishop, who (in a classically comic-booky situation) picked up the Hawkeye identity when everyone thought Clint was dead. One of the things I liked about it right away is that the book isn’t about Hawkeye and his sidekick. They’re both Hawkeye. They both have their moments of brilliance and moments of disaster. It works really well. After reading Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye, now Clint and Kate are two of my favourite superheroes, to the point that I kind of don’t want to read more of the series in case it’s not as good. That’s the good part about reading comics late and selectively – I can just pretend the series didn’t continue if I want to.

Most of the time the stories are reasonably light-hearted street-level superhero-y action, although it’s probably fair to say they get a little grittier as they go along, which ends up hitting harder than a lot of straight-up grim stuff does because it kind of crept up on you from behind a fun facade, if that makes sense. Even in the early issues, though, every so often a little bit of seriousness peeks through, as when Clint wonders what it says about him that every time he goes into a room he starts looking around for things he could use as a weapon. Fraction really emphasizes the idea that while Clint is a really good archer (although Kate is probably better, or at least will be), that’s just one of the very many ways he knows how to inflict damage.

The usual backstory is that this is something Clint learned from a mentor during his time with the circus (really) but Fraction starts it off much earlier, when Clint and his brother Barney were still living with their parents, and in particular their abusive father. After one especially bad night, Barney gives his little brother some advice. “Make everything something to hit with. Then we outlast him.”

Which is a pretty bleak thing for a kid to be saying to his little brother, but when I was re-reading the books lately, that one line really resonated with me. I seem to be thinking (and writing a lot of these blogs) a lot about perseverance, these days, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m struggling to write. Maybe it’s because my workload these days feels a little heavy. Maybe there’s some other reason.

Anyway, even though I don’t get in actual fights, the idea behind Barney’s advice seems solid. Whatever the battle is, even if it doesn’t necessarily seem like you’ve got the weapons you want or need, you keep trying with whatever you’ve got. With my writing problems, even if the words aren’t gushing out of me, if I get a couple sentences out that’s at least moving the ball forward a little. It’s not following any ideal plans for how to write a novel, but as long as it’s moving the word count upwards, even slightly, it’s something. I can keep reading things that inspire me. I can keep at least outlining out the stuff that I’m having difficulty turning into prose on the page, so that when I’m ready to pound out the text I’ll know right where to go. I can send out some of the stuff I have done to the Eager Volunteers so that their feedback can give me some ideas for how to proceed. Every day, I can find some way to continue working on this project and refusing to quit on it until it’s done. Keep fighting, and outlast whatever the problem is.

Barney Barton’s other piece of advice on fighting (offered in the same issue, and also to small children, which is slightly distressing, although he goes on to explain that anyone can get into a fight but that doing good is difficult) is that sometimes the winner of a fight is the person who is willing to get hurt the longest. I guess I feel that way about a great many challenges in life, these days. Sometimes you just have to stand in there, say absolutely no I will not quit, and keep plugging away with whatever tools and assets you can find, whatever you can lay your hands on and make into something to hit with. Keep at it long enough and eventually you’ll find a way through, or around, or maybe under, the problem you’ve got in front of you.

It even occurs to me, as I write this, that this isn’t the worst philosophy to keep in mind given certain, uh, current events. A lot of people have an enormous battle in front of them that looks pretty difficult to win, and if you look at it quickly it may seem like we don’t have any weapons. But the battle is everywhere, and so are the tools we can use to fight it. Everything we do, every choice we make, can be part of continuing the struggle and continuing the resistance. The things we buy, or don’t buy. The voices we listen to. The people we choose to help. We can make everything within our grasp something to hit out at the enemy with. It won’t all be super effective. But it probably all adds up, and if nothing else it shows that we aren’t down yet. We’re still fighting.

Make everything something to hit with.

Then we outlast him.

Thanks for reading.


In case you missed me ballyhooing this earlier, I did an interview for Black Gate Magazine with Brandon Crilly. If you’d like to read even more of me jabbering on about stuff I write, you can check it out here. Black Gate publishes a lot of great fantasy-related content so you really should be reading them anyway.

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Jules Verne and the Stress Volcano

I’ve got a few different things for you today.

First up – yesterday was Jules Verne’s birthday. You’ll have heard of him. Verne’s wrote in French (of course) but he is (I am told) the second most translated author after Shakespeare, so plenty of readers in English and other languages have experienced his work. There aren’t many writers who have created stories as enduring as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, or Around the World in 80 Days.

Verne is sometimes (and apparently was during his life) praised for being a predictor of the future, and future science in particular. I learned yesterday, and found it very interesting, that he apparently wasn’t very comfortable with the label, protesting that he never intended to predict anything, never claimed to be a scientist, and was mostly writing about things of interest in his present, albeit using fantastic means to do so.

I guess I found that striking because SF writers continue to get called ‘prophets’ and discussed in terms of their work predicting the future of science or society, or not. Sometimes older works of SF will be criticised for failing to accurately predict how things would develop. One of my very favorite authors, William Gibson, often gets written (and spoken) about along these lines; for his books having accurately predicted technological advances or societal changes to come.

A couple years ago now I heard Gibson talk about this very issue and he said the same thing that Verne did – it’s never been his intention to predict the future. His most famous book, Neuromancer, wasn’t meant to be about the future at all; it is about the 1980s, viewed through a fantastic lens. Obviously two is a pretty small sample, but the parallel is pretty neat.

I’m not sure why we (as readers) seem to want SF to be a prediction of the future, and are sometimes disappointed when it isn’t, especially since it seems as though that’s not often the intent of the author. I guess to some extent if you write a book set in times yet to come, it isn’t a great surprise if people want to check your work, as it were – but why do we seem to start with the expectation that something fantastic should also end up being true to real life?

I know there are some writers who do (and have) deliberately tried to predict the future with their writing. I’m not really convinced that that is what most SF writers are trying to do though – I think in general they’re trying to tell a cool story. It’s of course an interesting question as to why one might choose the future as a way to express the story you’re trying to tell, but that’s a long discussion and one I’m not sure I even have an answer for.

I find I’m happiest as a reader when I just enjoy the vision an author is presenting and take the imaginary world on its own terms, rather than fact-checking it as we go along. If it’s a good story, I’m in for the duration. I think when you’ve created characters like Captain Nemo, still popular 150 years after they were created, and ideas like the balloon race around the world (even though not that much of Around the World actually takes place in the balloons), that have endured similarly you’ve done pretty darn well along those lines.

(I know much of that is my personal taste)

In any case, a happy (slightly late) birthday to Jules Verne – I hope his stories continue to delight readers for many generations more.


I also learned yesterday, via Ken Liu’s Twitter, about an app that is meant to help writers’ productivity (I guess). It works like this – you punch in a length of time that you want to write for, and the app puts you into a fullscreen writing mode. If you exit before the time you set, anything you wrote is erased. If you stop writing for more than five seconds, everything you’ve written to that point is deleted.

This sounds more like a torture method than something that will help a writer to me. My immediate reaction (also on Twitter) was that it would turn my head into a stress volcano. I guess there may be a very specific type of person who would find this sort of thing useful to their process, but I’m guessing it’s a small number.

The app, by the way, costs $14.99 and that’s my main concern with it – this seems like a pretty expensive gimmick that will be marketed telling writers that it will help them work, and then probably won’t. I’ve been amazed at the amount of very expensive stuff that is advertised to people who want to write telling them that they need this app or expensive online training session or writing retreat or whatever else if they’re going to succeed in their goals, and most of it seems like chaff to me.

I guess as long as there are lots of people who want to be writers, there will be people trying to make money off that desire, just as with a million other things. I don’t really like to think of people getting scammed with things that probably won’t do much but empty their bank accounts when one of the glorious things about writing is that you can just do it. Sit down at the computer or with pen and paper and write stuff. Show it to people and ask what they think. That’s how you get better as far as I can see.

Now, making money at being a writer is (as I continue to learn) not easy, but I don’t really think a $15 app that will make your eyes explode with stress is really going to help with that either. There’s lots of good advice out there, almost all of it free, on how to market your work if that’s what you want to do.

It’s probably not entirely fair, but I feel as though as soon as someone starts asking for money, you should at least consider running very fast in the other direction.


Ok, so process. I’m going to talk a little about mine. If you read the blog regularly you’ll know that I’ve been working on the sequel to The King in Darkness, and may even remember some optimistic forecasts about it being done for the end of November and such. As I said last week, it isn’t exactly done.

(It’s not done)

I’m trying not to kick myself too hard about this – I think it may still be possible to have the book out by fall, if all goes well – but as much as I hesitate to give any advice (I’m not sure I know what I’m doing well enough to do that) I thought it might be helpful to talk about a particular thing that I realized had happened the other day.

Without getting into too many intricacies of a book you haven’t read yet, a while ago I was working on the thing and realized there was a pretty big yawning hole in the middle of things that I wasn’t sure how to fill. At all. So I thought about it for a while, didn’t have an answer, and so I put the work aside. Sometimes this is a good thing to do because you can come back when you do have an idea and are less discouraged.

The problem is that I kept it put aside for a good long while. I did other things – I wrote on some other projects, I cleaned the house, I went to the gym. All arguably worthwhile things, but now I hadn’t worked on the manuscript in long enough that not having worked on it was A Thing and the project had acquired a kind of inertia, sitting there unworked-upon.

All of which to say that over the last week or so I made myself start chipping away at the problem again (having been startled by January turning into February), and I now know how to fill the hole in the middle of the thing, and feel pretty optimistic about getting the book finished relatively quickly.

I’m not sure what perverse part of my brain (and perhaps, other people’s brains) makes me decide that the best way to deal with a problem that I’m not sure how to solve is to put it away and leave it unsolved. I suppose it relieves the stress of not having a solution, but it doesn’t (ever) move one towards solving the problem.

I know it works much better if I keep trying to do at least small amounts of work on something that I’m finding difficult (with writing or otherwise) than putting it aside completely. I keep trying to remind myself of that, and perhaps writing this will help imprint the concept on the sludge of my mind. Maybe it will be useful to other writers.

Keep plugging at it. Your work is good. Don’t put it away just because you’re struggling now.

The book, by the way, will be called Bonhomme Sept-Heures. I really am looking forward to sharing it with you.

Once I finish writing it.

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Well, astonishing in a way to see that this thing is still here.  I had (I swear) intended to get back at this come summer, again, but things happen.

Galvanized into action by a PK Subban tweet (of all things) – you don’t find time, you make time – I am going to make a concerted effort to finish this project ASAP.  To update, I have a very nearly completed first draft of the novel.  It needs (I think) 1 more scene plugged in, and of course scads of work on everything written up to this point.

I don’t think I can realistically commit to 1000 words a day during term, and saying that I will and then not doing it will only be 1) discouraging and 2) motivation to shut things down again.  However, let’s set some short term goals for now:

-Write the final scene over the course of the next 2 weeks. (I have an ace in the hole on this one, and it is called Study Week)

-Updates on the blog at least once a week.

Yeah, that I can commit to.  The good part is that I don’t think the writing I have done so far is entirely horrible, which is so contrary to my usual process that it seems a shame to stop now.

Thanks for reading, anyone that still is.  More updates cometh, including one by the end of the week.


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Well, I suppose this was inevitable, or at least I comfort myself by believing that it was.  Over the past weekend, I did not get any writing done.  Yes, the great Project ground to a halt in July.  While it’s true that I was sick, and the weather was oppressively hot, the bottom line is I still didn’t accomplish anything.  This is bad.

I spent today getting all the disparate pieces of out-of-order text slotted in where they will eventually need to go, and I guess the good news is I can now see where there is more work, and in some cases a lot of work, that still needs to be done.  I do still have a pretty long piece of work that has a general shape to it and I don’t hate it entirely at this point.  Now to recommit to at least 1,000 words a day and knock out the last quarter of it (or whatever the exact proportion turns out to be).

Now currently I have massive gaps in the story so whether it is finished or not isn’t in question, but I did think it was interesting to start thinking about how you know when a story is finished.  The best description or advice that I have read so far (and, as usual, I can’t remember where it’s from) is that you know it’s done when you can read it through and would not add or subtract a single word.  The thing is I’m not sure I ever do that when I read through my own writing.  Even on the final draft of my thesis when I was meant to just be fixing footnotes and so on, I kept changing little parts of the phrasing.

I think there has to be some kind of point at which you walk away – usually I have used an impending deadline to identify that point – but I’m not sure I will know it when I see it.  Perhaps I will need to put my trust in the Eager Volunteers.

Anyway, I hope I will now be un-stalled and get back on pace.  I really can get this thing done if I don’t talk myself out of it.

Word Count: 75,160

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Neil Gaiman and Writing Crisis #2

The Project forges ahead.  This past Friday was a tough one – I had a long day at work and seriously did not feel the least bit like writing by the time I got home, but fortunately the spectre of horrible public failure was not something I was prepared to confront quite this early in the effort.  So the public accountability part of this thing is working!  I think this might already be the largest piece of fiction writing I have ever done.  In order to check, I’d have to be able to open some of those arcane lost files, so I can’t be sure – but I think so.  I guess the good news is that I still feel like I know where I’m going and I don’t even hate this thing too much yet.

Anyway, by way of content, some thoughts on another of my favorite authors.



I don’t really remember how I got into Neil Gaiman, although I think Commander Rick of the much-lamented Prisoners of Gravity SF/fantasy/comics show is to blame.  That show definitely introduced me to Clive Barker and his cigar, the revelation that Tate and Velasco in The Difference Engine are self-inserts of Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, to Gotham by Gaslight and other evidence that comics writing was not necessarily seeing how many terrible cliches you could cram into the dialogue, and may have infected me with Neil Gaiman.  Man, I miss that show.

Anyway Neil Gaiman, however I got the contagion, was like the sudden arrival of a new planet.  Holy crap, where was this before and wow it’s astounding.  I read Neverwhere about a billion times.  While I was in England I bought the entire run of Sandman in trades and read the heck out of that.  I liked it to the point that I paid ridiculous rates to ship it all back across the Atlantic.  I still think Stardust is about the most charming book I have read, and that’s without getting into American Gods or his short stories which never fail to amaze on some level or other.  I’ll confess to not having tracked down his stuff on Hellblazer or Swamp Thing but since Gaiman is also on the short list of authors whose work I just assume is good … well, I just assume it’s real good also.  Even stuff I haven’t liked quite as much, like Anansi Boys, it was like watching your favorite pitcher throw a mere two-hit shutout instead of a no-no.  It’s still pretty darn good by any standard.

However much all of the above is true, Neil Gaiman also led directly to Writing Crisis #2, which was essentially this – Gaiman writes exactly the kind of stories I would like to write.  His stories of the bizarre, the magical and the horrible interspersed and intersecting with the ordinary are more or less exactly the kind of thing I am interested in creating myself.  So given that he already writes this stuff, and does it at such a high level of sheer badassery, is there any reason at all why I should write stuff which is basically the same, but not nearly as good?  My answer was, again, ‘no’, although how I explained it at the time to at least one person was that I didn’t need to write because Gaiman was writing exactly what I wanted to write but better than I could.  What I really meant, though, was that I didn’t see any point in writing things that were basically in Gaiman’s demense except far crappier.  Essentially, if not as good as Gaiman, Surrender Dorothy.

Writing Crisis #2 has only recently been overcome, I have to say, and in part because of the Stephen King intro I started the blog with.  Basically I now think that not writing because my writing is not as good as Neil Gaiman (or whoever) is like not playing the guitar because you’re not as good as Jimi Hendrix or whichever Guitar Hero you want to substitute in.  Presumably one should write because they enjoy the process of creation and they feel like the end product may be enjoyable for whatever reader(s) there end up being, wherever they are on the scale of relative quality.  I’ve been a bit reluctant to put this theory into practice (for reasons which will probably make another update post) but part of the thinking driving The Project, here, is that even if (if?  Fuck it, it’s my blog, we’re going with if) the work is not as good as Gaiman or whoever would produce, someone may still enjoy it.

So writing this thing is vaguely (although here again I set sail boldly into territory I know nothing about, hurrah!) like taking your guitar down to open mic night and seeing if people have a good time or throw vegetables.  And if Neil Gaiman doesn’t like it, well, I bet I’d kick his ass at Ultimate.


Word Count: 15, 309.  So there.

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William Gibson and Writing Crisis #1

Slightly over a week in now.   Things are going all right although I did have to push today to get to the 1,000 words.  That’s good though, that’s the point of the exercise.  Anyway I still don’t know exactly what to do with this blog outside of word count updates so here’s something I wrote about one of my favorite authors.


Somewhere out there (and I fervently hope the answer is “in a landfill”) is a purple spiral-bound notebook containing numerous probably (and perhaps fortunately) illegible stories written by a 17 year-old trying very hard to be William Gibson.   Gibson was probably my first ‘favorite author’ in the sense of an author who I admired for their style of writing and their skill at the craft as opposed to just thinking ‘hey that was a good book so this person must be a good writer I guess’.  I mean I remember writing down Terrence Dicks and Malcolm Hulke as favorite authors for something at school once but that was because they did novel adaptations of Doctor Who and Doctor Who was about my favorite thing at the time.  I kind of doubt I would have gotten the same level of enjoyment out of something else that they wrote, I just liked Doctor Who and so books involving Doctor Who were my favorite ones.

On the other hand William Gibson, once I got reading his stuff, I enjoyed on just about every level and even though the stories I read first were cool SF-y adventures (and thus, more or less in my wheelhouse), after the first one I was actively looking for more William Gibson to read, not more cool SF-y adventures.  So he’d be the first author I think I genuinely admired for themselves or their own work.  Maybe Susan Cooper should be in there, although again I haven’t read anything of hers outside of The Dark is Rising series and never felt any inclination to, so again, it’s not really the same.

Anyway, Gibson knocked my socks off.  I spent many lunch hours in high school in the library reading their copy of Neuromancer, which I would stash in a potted plant so that no-one could borrow it before I had a chance to finish it.  (This eventually led to a tragically damaged copy of Neuromancer after it turns out someone watered those plants from time to time.)  I’m not sure why I didn’t borrow it myself – perhaps the idea of bringing home a book that has an orgasm in it was not something I was prepared to contemplate at that stage – but anyway I didn’t.  But I did read it, love it, and set out to read everything by Gibson that I could get my hands on.

Eventually, Neuromancer did make it home because I did an OAC English project on it, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, which may or may not have been crap but I was super into this writing.  I eventually reached a point where I owned two copies of Burning Chrome, and I still don’t exactly understand how that happened.  But both copies travelled with me through several moves and sat there next to each other on the shelf because it was William Gibson and you don’t just get rid of that stuff.

Unfortunately (as I see it now) in admiring Gibson so much I set out to write stories that were basically William Gibson stories, and filled that spiral-bound notebook (along with various other places) with my own attempts at near-future cyberpunky dystopian tales that even at the time I had a deep and nagging certainty simply did not work, though I didn’t understand why.

I didn’t figure it out until very much later, although in retrospect I think the answer had been coming for a while.  The final penny drop was related to a story I wrote called ‘Virtually Dead’ which was supposed to open in Vladivostok.  I have no clear recollection as to why I chose Vladivostok except that a) that sure was far away b) the name is cool and c) (although I’m sure I would have denied it at the time) Gibson stories take place in  Unusual Locations.  Anyway my creative writing professor immediately observed that what I had described was ‘nothing like Vladivostok’.

Now my first reaction was to wonder what, exactly, were the chances that I would end up with a professor who had been to freaking Vladivostok, but as this criticism (valid, I do not doubt) percolated a bit I realized the problem.  I had never been to Vladivostok, and just had a vague idea of a story that I wanted to be international (also for vague, Gibson-tinged reasons) and so threw it into an international location I knew almost exactly nothing about.  And herein was the problem with trying to write William Gibson stories (leaving aside the whole problem of being a derivative parasite of course) – Gibson’s stories about shady underworld characters and the margins of society work because he actually spent parts of his life with shady underworld characters from the margins of society.

My stories had an indelible taint of lameness all over them because I had grown up in a reasonably affluent bedroom suburb in Southern Ontario and the closest thing I had yet come to an underworld character was that one guy in my Grade 7 class who shoplifted M.U.S.C.L.E. Things from Zeller’s.  (Although he was pretty hardcore about it – he got the big boxes that had like 50 of them in it, not the little ones)  Basically I was trying to write about things that I had literally no experience at all with, had no idea what they were like (aside from what I had gleaned from William Gibson novels of course) so what I was producing was like a bad photocopy of someone else’s depictions.  This clearly Would Not Work and Had to Go.

This became Writing Crisis #1 – can I write interesting stories that are not based on shit I know nothing about?  Because honestly I have not had that exciting a life so perhaps there may be a problem unless I wanted to write about life in a suburban town – which I emphatically do not.  Anyway somewhere in the midst of my undergraduate period (after the creative writing classes) I decided the answer to Writing Crisis #1 was “no” and promptly didn’t write anything for a long time.

I have since revised my answer, perhaps obviously.  In part, the solution is just the ‘smoke that baby’ directive with which I began the blog – write the story, don’t let yourself be ‘carded’ by people who have been to Vladivostok, there is no admittance requirement for this particular ride.  However, there was still a problem with trying to write William Gibson stories – they weren’t my stories.  This is the key thing to smoking that baby, it seems to me.  Make sure it is, in fact your baby.

I was trying to emulate stories that I liked a lot, not creating a story of my own.  They were set in seedy urban environments and involved shady characters making questionable decisions because this is what happened in cool stories that I liked, but there wasn’t much of me in there, just ‘me too!’.  Ultimately I had to figure out a story I wanted to tell on its own merits, and then decide if it really needed to be set in Vladivostok, or not (It doesn’t).

So even if my efforts to write my own Neuromancer were ultimately ill-fated and ill-conceived, I still love William Gibson’s writing.  Even Distrust That Particular Flavor, which is a collection of columns he wrote for various publications, is great reading.  It is (I imagine – this is another on the long list of experiences I have not actually had) kind of like hanging out with an inscrutable learned master of some elevated philosophy, waiting for the next unprompted utterance to meditate on (Japan, again?  All right…) and determining what you’ll take away from it.  It’s an unquestionably odd experience, but well worth doing.

So yeah, I still really enjoy William Gibson and he is on the short list of writers whose books I will buy without knowing what they’re about – I just take it as read (har) that whatever it is will be good.  However, I don’t think I’m trying to be William Gibson anymore, which is probably just as well.


Word Count: 10,278.  Keepin’ on.

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The Problem

First of all, Happy Mothers’ Day!  I had a whole thing written that was rather overwrought so I’ve decided to cut it down to this:  Among all the other things I am thankful to my mother for, I’m very grateful to her for introducing me to reading.  She started me out reading so young that I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read for pleasure, and it’s a rare day when I don’t spend at least part of my day with a book.  It’s an invaluable gift.

As for the Project, it proceeds!  In practice the 1,000 words a day has been working out to about an hour of writing, which seems sustainable.  I guess ask me again in August though.  I have sent the first chunk out to my Eager Volunteers and look forward to hearing what they have to say.  I also thought I would write a bit about why this blog, and this project, seems like it is necessary for me.


So this is my problem with writing, as far as I am aware.  Absolutely we need to factor in laziness and procrastination as well and a couple of specific Writing Crises I will probably talk about later, but this is the fundamental thing at the root of it all.  Basically, it works like this.

I get an idea, and I’ll be excited about it, and think it’s fantastic.  In the past, this would get me writing instantly, because the idea is just … so … good.  However, as time passes, I’ll sort of start revising my opinion.  Ok, it’s not a great idea, but it’s pretty good.  Well, some parts of it are not too bad.  Actually, it’s pretty mediocre but with some work parts are worth saving.  Maybe there’s a couple of decent elements but overall it’s bad.  No, in fact it’s just bad.  Really I should just pretend I never wrote it.

Yes, essentially I have that Statler and Waldorf routine going on in my brain.

This has happened with everything I have ever written.  When I was writing more back in the day, it led to an increasing population of things that I had written (or mostly written) and decided I loathed sitting around doing nothing.  I can never quite bring myself to delete things but I do abandon them.

I have a few things I have kept around so long that they are either saved on diskettes that I can no longer have drives for, or they’re in file formats that are so old that I have no programs that can open them.  I really don’t know why I keep them at this point but whenever I try to throw them out or delete them I get to thinking of the stories that are locked up in there somehow, theoretically preserved but effectively (at least to a technological illiterate like myself) lost in a fog of obsolescence.  At any rate, even though I think they’re awful stories at this point I just can’t quite do it.  Seems like abandoning them to digital purgatory is bad enough without eradicating the poor things.

But anyway this has caused me to not ever really do anything with anything I have written, and to not finish a lot of projects.  In recent years when my time to write has been restricted I have gone through the whole process with an idea without ever writing a word of it down.  This reduces file clutter admirably, but also writing output.  I suppose that would be fine if only I wouldn’t keep having this nagging feeling that I should, somehow, be writing, if only it wasn’t all terrible.

I am well aware that this is hardly unique and that being your own worst critic is kind of a cliche.  It may not be an unheard of issue, but it is my issue and it is one I have really struggled to overcome.  I realize that ultimately I do need to just Get Over It but sometimes these things need a bit of a push, which is what I’m hoping this summer project will accomplish.

Essentially I’m hoping that committing to writing something to completion and making myself accountable for it however I can will help me work through this and get something done.  Primarily for personal satisfaction but also to see if whatever I produce is in any way decent.  I’m not looking for a pat on the head, though – I just want to challenge myself to actually finish a project.  Perhaps (he said quietly, in the hopes of not startling the idea away) having finished something once, it won’t be quite so impossible to do so a second time.

We’ll see.


Word Count: 8.218


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