Book 3 and The Repeat of Everything I Thought I Already Mastered

I’ve completed 2 rough drafts of 2 novels and a couple revisions of the first one. Right now I’m trying to finish the 3rd rough draft so that I can make all the books work together nicely … and I’m stalling.

Stalling. Flaking. Procrastinating. Whatever you want to call it. All of my successes are irrelevant, and right now I’d like to do nothing more than get the f’k out of Paris.

The feel of book 3 is very different than book 1. Charlotte has undergone a lot of change, yet her primary problem remains the same. Book 3 is where she realizes this and has to confront it … or not because she has more options than ever. Book 3 is where she faces what it really means to be a monster even though she thought she had that down in book 1. Book 3 is where I take a bunch of loose threads and pull them all real nice tight on the back side of the story so its tits pop out real nice on the front side. Except … I’m not yet sure I have the tits for it. Or if I’m pulling the right stings. OR if I’m even working with a corset here … maybe I have some man’s stained tighty whities instead, and I’m showing junk most people don’t want to see. This has me kind of paralyzed despite knowing that this is exactly the kind thing (if not the same metaphor) I was dealing with toward the middle of books 1 and 2.

And then I have to remind myself … “Yeah OK, so what?”

Done is better than perfect because perfect is impossible.

I’ve wasted weeks of not writing because … I’m lazy. I’m blocked. I’m scared. I’m bored. I’m busy. I’m a liar to myself saying that I’ll do it tomorrow, yet every day is the same.

Still, people believe in me, or at least believe in my potential – which is just as good for me. And just as bad. But you know what? Fuck it. I’ve got work to do. So I’m going to do what I can to do and be happy to have it done.

You go do the same. Go create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Who the fuck am I to be a writer?

So … yeah.

I need to go back and read some of my prior posts because lately, because lately I feel like the imposter that I often believe I am. I’m going to assume this is my default emotion until such time as all I’m doing full time is writing for a living.

It’s really hard to support myself and tell myself “Dude, you got this. Just do it. Who cares if it isn’t perfect? Done is better than nothing. Your family will give you positive reviews if nothing else. People love you. You’re the man. Two people actually enjoyed quite a bit of your first book’s crapy 2nd revision. That’s got to mean something. Think of all the things you can do when you’re doing this full time. You write 2000 words per hour. If you could do that for 4 hours a day, that’s 8000 words per day. That’s 240,000 words per month. That’s two novels a month! For half the work you’re doing now! And one day that will feel routine! JUST FUCKING WRITE ALREADY!”

And then I’m all … “nah”.

What the fuck is wrong with me?!

So yeah. I’ve got that going on.

I only fill you in on this because frankly I think future new writers need to know that the future great writer, Joseph K Little, was once a complete fraud just like they feel like they are.

But that’s the thing. I’m not a fraud. I might be shit as a writer, but I’m not a fraud … not unless I let myself become one. So that’s what I have to remember, to keep writing. I have a bunch of stories in me I don’t even know are in there yet, and they have to wait in line behind a bunch of others. I gotta write them all! *pikachu punch thing*

*sigh*

OK. Seems the dishwasher is being a dick. I need to go “fix” that. Again. Then I’m back to writing.

Now go create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Mindset

One of the harder things for me to get around is my current mindset. I live in the negatives of life, always watching out for things to go wrong or for people to do me wrong. I am constantly considering what I have done wrong and how I could do things better. Rarely to I look at the positive sides of things, and when I do, I’m usually doing it in response to giving others critique or support. I’m also quick to forgive others, but I rarely forgive myself nor do I believe others will be quick to forgive me. After all I don’t deserve their forgiveness especially when all I can see is how wrong I’ve been.

Let me tell you that’s a shit way to live.

In my writing journey I have gotten to the point where I have my eye on the prize. It is a little terrifying, but if I can just keep my eye on the prize, and keep marching step by step toward it, I’ll get there. Yet somewhere deep inside, I keep telling myself, I don’t deserve the prize.

That’s bullshit. If I don’t deserve the prize then no one does, and I don’t mean that like I am the most deserving person in the world so much as the “prize” is there for whomever endeavors to strive for it.Things like education and titles don’t make one more deserving. These things may make a person more prepared or more confident, but no more deserving than anyone else. The single most skilled writer on the planet does not deserve the ‘prize’ if they never do what it takes to get it.

Or at least that’s how I see things.

Anyway, I hope you would agree with me that my general mindset is pretty shite. It’s the one thing that I have found that I need to work on right now. In Write Like a Boss by Honoree Corder and Ben Hale, they focus a significant amount of the book on Mindset. Honoree’s world and profession seem to revolve around having the right mindset in fact. During the 2018 Smarter Artists Summit in Austin, Texas earlier this year, hers was the first presentation and for me it was the most impactful. I’m still a few months from putting my marketing in motion, and I think I’ve learned everything that I can regarding writing until I practice for a while, but mindset? I’m so far behind that I seriously have to focus on that as much or more than my writing. This was emphasized to me when I read Chris Fox’s 5000 Words Per Hour. His last chapter is dedicated to mindset and almost seemed like it existed in the book just for me.

So yeah, that’s where I am right now. I’m working on book 3’s rough draft and trying to remember every day to say my new mantra, “So many people love my stories that I support my family on my writing alone.” It’s not true yet, but by making that personal mantra current, it helps set my mindset. Yes I am good enough. Yes I can do this full time.

Instead of thinking about who I want to me, I am going to start being who I can be.

Who do you want to be? Why not start being that person today? Decide on who you want to be and tell yourself every day, every hour, that is who you are. You will begin to act like that person. You will start to make decisions that person would make. Soon you will start seeing opportunities open up for you to allow you to fulfill your current dreams, not because you thought maybe one day it might, but because you said it would happen.

No go forth and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Words Per Hour and Quality

Hey folks. In my last post I said that I would soon post an example of my words per hour when I’m writing at 2000 words per hour versus 3750 words per hour. The difference is quite comical, I can assure you. Both of these examples will eventually have to be re-written or even discarded based on what happens during revision. The idea here is to illustrate that while the 2000 words per hour sample is much better in almost every sense, the 3750 words per hour example does something significant. It gets the story out faster and more pure.

So here’s my first sample. This is completely unedited from my original discovery draft of my third novel. Charlotte’s best friend has just woken her up as she sat with a pile of papers surrounding her. I’m trying to ramp up some mystery.

“Sorry,” I said wiping a small bit of very un-ladylike drool from the side of my mouth. I sat up in my chair and began shuffling the papers together. I hadn’t been able to tell what was what and couldn’t draw anything more than some vague ideas of what might be related to what, so I simply scooped those piles up together and then stacked the piles on top of one another.

“Oh Char,” Sophie said in the manner that always told me that she was about to lovingly reprimand me. “You need to get some sleep now that you are human again. And you need to eat right. Eggs and toast will not due anymore. You need fruits and vegetables too. And some proper meat on occasion.”

I winced when she said meat. I’ve eaten enough meat in the last couple years to last me several years, but I knew that she spoke the truth from a place of love. That did not make the fact any more easy to swallow.

“I know. I know,” I said. “I had gotten so used to never needing to sleep unless I was hurt. I feel like I’m sleeping my life away.”

Sophie gave me a look. “Yes my love. I know. Yet you only sleep about four hours a day, unless I count all of the minutes that you fall asleep sewing.”

I nodded.

“Or eating,” she continued.

I nodded some more.

“Or on the privy.”

“Hey!” I objected. “That only happened the one time.”

Sophie laughed. “I thought I had lost you. You had been gone for almost an hour.”

“It was some of the best sleep I have gotten in days.”

“The most disgusting too.”

I could only nod again.

OK. I can’t say that’s my best writing in the world, but it’s pretty clean for me. Now below is a sample from book two. This is from a bit that I was doing for NaNoWriMo. Charlotte and Edmound have broken into a merchant’s home and are looking for incriminating evidence or trade secrets, the like. Everything seemed to be going well enough until they are discovered.

I had 2 days to write 15000 words and it only took me about 4 hours … plus some change as the first hour or so I waffled on if I was going to be able to do this or not. Needless to say I could. My message here is that you can too if you get out of your own way. Now be prepared because this is pretty hard to read, even for me. And I wrote it.

There’s a pounding at the door and the knob begins to jiggle. Edmound is all “OH SHIT” Charlotte is all darn. Let’s move the desk in front of the door. Good thinking. Wait it weights a ton? What? No it doesn’t but it is heavier than I can move. Push man push! Edmound begins to push and then Charlotte starts to push in truth. She pushes just hard enough to allow Edmound to do all the work he can. He’s sweating and his sweat is getting on some of the documents causing the ink to run. They slide the desk over to the door just as the lock clicks and the door starts to open. Something gets in the door, a sword blade wide and keeps the door from closing, but the big old desk is all in the way. Charlotte and Edmound begin gathering papers and the things the decide to steal. Charlotte is all “how are we going to carry all this?” And Edmound is all our I brought bags and she’s all out? And he pulls out a pair of tightly woven cloth bags, like sail material and all double stitched. Where did you put this? In the back of my jacket. The bags have a pair of straps. Charlotte fills hers – she still has some space. Edmound fills his. Banging on door intensifies. So the tow are all ok now what the fuck. Charlotte is all, idk but I’m grabbing some of these books. What they’ll only weight you down? I’m stronger than I look. It’ll be fine. Whatever. Charlotte packs her back full of books. They kick open a window. It’s a long way down. Shit. But it isn’ very far up? Charlotte is all, I can climb that bitch. Bitches love to be climbed. So she climbs out the window, and climbs right up the side of the building to the top of what is the tower. There she finds some well placed rope which she dangles down to the window. Edmound climbs. The door is being chopped in two as Edmound climbs out of the building. Charlotte pulls him up as quickly as he can climb. When he gets over the lip of the roof, a crossbow bolt flies up nearly striking him. Shit. They got guns …l sort of .

Now, there’s some right comedy in there, because that’s how my brain thinks at high speed. In memes and swears. I can clean that up pretty well in revision. Granted some of it is almost golden in its own way, but that’s not the kind of story I’m looking to tell. Not this time at least.

In both instances, I got the story OUT. If you remember my insistence from the prior post, then that will sound familiar. GET THE STORY OUT. A blank page is potential and in a lot of ways perfect, much like the idea of a child. But if you really want to HAVE CHILDREN then you are going to have to realize you’re going to have to do some really nasty things in the beginning. The kids will almost never be exactly as you imagine them. And you might really f’k up a time or two. But that’s ok. That’s what editing … um … psychiatrists are for. Regardless, you’ll probably find that you’re having a lot of fun in the process. Especially in the beginning. 😉

Now I’ve revealed to you my shame. Look at those examples. So much editing needed. But that’s fine. I like editing my stuff. Revision is fun … at first at least 😀

No you go out and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Writing Process

Hey folks. I know it has been a while since I last posted, so I thought I would post something hopefully kinda funny and a little informative.

If you’re just starting out like I am, then like me you may not have a ton of skills. Building new skills is a constant pursuit of mine. Well it is at least when I’m not procrastinating, fighting depression, or stuck deep in some mindless pursuit. I’m constantly trying to get myself into a consistent schedule. I’m starting to come around, but it is tough at times.

One of my original problems was thinking too much about what I was writing. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to write and the words just pour out of me. Other times I sort of know the gist of what I want to write about, but I don’t know how to get there. In those instances – which are far more common than I’d like – I worry and fret about what to write. I’ll often remove entire paragraphs or even pages of text because I decided to go another direction or it just didn’t “feel” right.

What I’ve come to discover however, was that I’m just doing this all wrong. The goal is simply to get the story out. As Ann Lamott says so eloquently in her book, Bird by Bird, “All first drafts are shit.” I’m probably paraphrasing because I don’t want to reach over the three feet it would take to pick up my copy of the book and find the actual entry, but I got the spirit of quote if not it exactly. That stuff that comes out of your fingers either by pen, pencil, keyboard, or maybe if you’re 10000 years old, a clay tablet, that stuff is all shit. You are going to have to re-write it. All of it. Maybe many, many times.

So why not just … get it out?

Get it out as quickly as possible. Just write whatever your stupid fingers tell you you want to write, and then later your sober, rational brain can read it and say “WTF was I trying to say here? Damn, you fingers write some real shit.” And then maybe you scratch that part out, or maybe you look at little more and go, “Oh wait, I was wrong. This is actually quite brilliant once you wash the shit off of it. I just need to re-write this part like … so …” and suddenly that part will be better than your first draft. As a side bonus, it will exist, which is what it will most likely NOT do if you fret about it unendingly.

For me the first draft is like pulling mud from a creek to try to make a dish or a pot. There’s a lot of mess and quite a bit of waste, but I’m new to this so I’m not going to kick myself in the ass anymore about it not being immediately perfect. I’m just going to do it. One day I may be able to do it without quite as much mess or waste, but it’s still mud. There’s no getting around that part. Hell even when I get my clay to the wheel, I still don’t know the exact shape of what I’m about to build, but I do have a good idea. Once the base shape is formed, I can modify that to my heart’s content. The fact remains that even at this step, it’s still really just mud, nicely shaped mud. There’s still more to do. So the process must be followed step by step in the proper order until one day someone is going to be eating out of the bowl or pot or whatever I made and they’ll never see, never even consider that at one point in time that thing they are eating from was once simple mud.

How freaking cool is that?

In my next post, I’ll provide some sample text from some sprints I’ve done recently. My average words per hour during the sprints was just over 2000. At the end of last NaNoWriMo, I wrote 15,000 words in about 4 hours over two days – so about 3750 words per hour. The difference in quality of my writing from 2000 to 3700 WPH is comical, but I DID get the story out with those 3750 words per hour. I probably would not have won NaNo 2018 had I wrote at 2000 WPH. Getting the story out is the most important, supreme number one, first bullet point thing period!!!!!11!11!11!!!!! (Was that emphasized enough?) 😀

No go forth and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Revision 1 Update

This is just a quick post (if that’s possible) to check in and let you know where I am.

Today is September 25, 2017. A little over a month ago, I pledged to myself that I would finish 65,000 words of revision (which I thought would be the entire novel) by the end of September. I recently topped 54,000 words and I’ve got six days left. *squee*

When I’m finished, I’m allowed to get a game I have on lay-a-way at a local comic/game store (only $6 left on the lay-a-way), and I get to compile my novel and send it out to some beta readers. *double squee*

The revision process has been easier than the rough draft process, mostly because I know where I’m going. I’ve been through the forest once, and this time I’m mostly following the original path that I’ve blazed. I have entire new chapters and some chapters that are pretty close to the original rough draft. Most chapters are a mix of old and new. It has been a really interesting process.

I’m additionally progressing in my writing habits. I’ve consistently written every week. Some weeks have been better than others. Every week has good days, but every week also has had at least one day with zero words. The worst weeks have had three days with no writing. I have had six days with two thousand or more words revised, and one day with over four thousand. The zero days out number the 2k or greater days 9 to 7. 🙁 I have six more opportunities to correct this grievous injustice … or something melodramatic like that. I plans to overcome my deficits.

So if you don’t mind, I’m going to rush along. I’m not really even going to read over this post more than once or twice. I have novel revising to do.

Thanks and go forth to create something new 🙂

© 2017, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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The Revision Process for Book One – the Beginning

I mentioned this in a my post on finding out I had depression, but it’s a big deal so I’m going to restate it. I’ve finished my rough draft!!

WOO HOO!

I think I need to talk a little bit about how finishing my rough draft came to be before I start talking about how revision is going for me.

I STRUGGLED to finish my rough draft. I almost quit several times because I didn’t know where I was going on top of all of my natural insecurities. I’d started writing with a loose outline and quickly veered from it. Whenever I looked at where I was going versus where I planned to go, I decided that I liked my changes more than I liked the original loose outline, so I kept going. I got farther and farther into the weeds. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going but turning back meant abandoning half or more what I had written, stuff I loved, and I wasn’t going to do that to myself. So I resolved that first I was going to finish. I was going to finish something, ANYTHING. Once I finished I would go back and fix everything, but I couldn’t change anything significant (which I always want to do) until I had finished the rough draft.

So I did what everyone told me to do but I fought the entire way. I stuck my ass in my chair, I put my hands on the keyboard, and I didn’t get up until two hours or 1000 words graced the pages.

As God as my witness, it was HARD.

Then one night, I’m working on this mystical element that I was using to connect the protagonist to her future mentor, and bam! There was the climax. Suddenly I was writing the final chapter. Where had it come from? Who the fuck cares? It worked, so I ramped up the tension, I dialed up the consequences, and I pushed my heroes to the limit forcing one to sacrifice something of him or herself for the other to prevent disaster.

When I finished I sat back and went, “wow”. I liked it. I liked it a LOT. But I knew the rough draft was broken in a dozen different places. I have really cool scenes that I know just aren’t going to make it to the final product. I cut an entire subplot. I have problems and characters introduced much later in the manuscript that I know need to be foreshadowed or introduced much earlier. I have issues with continuity. Finally I have no real external conflict, and while that might work for some stories, I think mine really needs a solid external conflict of some sort.

So I took a week off before revising.

Then a week turned into two, which turned into a month.

During the month I pitched around several ideas about what I might do to give my story some external conflict that paralleled or at least co-operated with my protagonist’s internal conflicts. I finally hit on a couple of different things I could do. One of those ideas was an externalization of her literally internal fears and desires. I asked my psychiatrist about this because it felt like something someone would read and yell about how I didn’t understand the ego and id or some such, but she thought it was a neat idea and was interested in reading it when completed. My writing coach was really excited about it too.

But I was scared.

Yes. I was scared. This was revision time. I had come to the conclusion that “the Rough Draft is Shit” (see Anne Lamontt‘s Bird by Bird). But revisions? Revisions are supposed to be better, and I didn’t know I had it in me.

Finally, after letting way too much time go by without writing, I decided to test out my ideas. I found the single most deplorable, sickest, and potentially reader-alienating scene in my book about a ghoul, and I rewrote that scene with all relevant changes in mind. The rewrite was about 6000 words, and I kind of loved it. But I’m a little bit of a sick puppy so I figured I would reach out to a few friends and family to see if they would give me some feedback.

Almost everyone loved it.* I mean of course they would, they’re friends and family, but those that loved it, really loved it. They wanted to read the whole thing right then, but I didn’t have the whole thing. I just had that one scene. But their wanting to read more makes me want to write more. So that’s what I’ve started to do.

This week I’m nearing 21k words revised. Almost 14k revised this week alone. I’ve been putting off blog posts because I’ve been writing, which is nice, but my idea for this blog was to always leave you folks in the loop on the off chance that one day, someone would be looking for some inspiration, stumble upon this site, and find out that they are not alone. This shit is hard, but if you do it, you’ll reap vast rewards even if you never sell a single copy. This is the most fulfilled I have felt in a long time – although that could be the drugs talking. Whatever. I’ll take it.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to do some more writing tonight. I need another 2.2k to hit my weekly target. My deadline for Revision 1 being done is Sept 30, 2017 which of this writing is 49 days away.

I’ll try to keep you posted.

Now go forth and create something new.

* The only person not to love it didn’t expect and adult horror novel. They were expecting a YA chapter. I felt bad.

© 2017, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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