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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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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Depression: It Sucks

Hey folks, I know I haven’t posted in half a year, but I’m trying to change that. I often feel like I have to have something to say before I can post anything, but that’s because I’m lazy. Mostly. It also seems I have depression. I’m getting treated for it now so my willpower only has one major hurdle to overcome to get me to do things instead of two (depression and laziness).

I decided to make this blog post because I think people have a lot of misconceptions about what depression is. I also think most people who’ve never experienced a mental illness can’t quite wrap their brains around what it is like to experience it. So I decided to post about my experiences so that those that may be wondering just what in the blue blazes is wrong with you might be able to find something they can relate to and so that others might understand what sufferers might be going through when it is all but impossible to conceptualize something that is literally alien to how our brains are supposed to work. (Wow that was a long sentence).

So here’s the best description of my depression that I can conjure to date.

I continued to have ALL of my emotions, all of them. I could be happy. I could be sad. I could be angry. And I could be content. But slowly, so slowly that it was imperceptible, I started to feel a nothing in between. As that nothing feeling grew (and it totally did), I started to do less and to care less in general. I just wanted to relax because having to do things meant having to summon my willpower to gather the feelings necessary. This was a task that was getting harder and harder to do. It was much easier to sit and play video games.

Eventually the only real emotion I could have easily was anger … well anger or nothing. I could still feel everything else except maybe true contentment, but it was getting to be more and more of the extremes of those emotions. I wasn’t often sad, but if I ever did get sad, I’d burst into tears. When I was happy, I was ecstatic. But I was always just a little bit angry. I still had good days and bad days, but what I didn’t realize until after my meds kicked in was that my depression saddled good days were actually worse than my normal bad days. And since I was so easy to anger, anything that made me really angry just pulled me deeper and deeper.

I logically knew many times that *something* was wrong, but I figured it was my anxiety eating away at me. What drove me to the doctor was that I couldn’t concentrate without there being a ton of pressure to get something done. I assumed it was the anxiety or maybe ADD. I mean I definitely have some anxiety issues, but what I didn’t know was that anxiety and depression are VERY similar mechanically, and one can spawn or worsen the other. So my general practitioner sent me to a psychiatrist (a specialist because apparently a psychiatrist is also an MD – who knew?). She told me that the inability to concentrate mentally is analogous to a cough physically and therefore could be caused by a NUMBER of conditions.

So she asked me some questions, and I answered. I explained how I felt. I used a lot of metaphor, the two biggest of which were that I felt like I was wearing a lead cloak most of the time that held me down and prevented me from wanting to do anything because it was so much harder to do it. The second was how when things got bad on my bad days, I felt like I was spiraling deeper and deeper into a dark well or through dark clouds and I didn’t know if I could pull up and out or crash. I didn’t realize it until I was talking to her either.

So she was all “yep, you have depression,” and instead of giving me attention pills she gave me a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). After about 7 weeks, I started to realize that things were going to be better. First because I ended up having a classic bad day, but instead of it spiraling out of control, when it ended it was done. A couple months later I realized I was actually feeling a wider range of emotions. I got angry without it being OMG ANGRY! I got sad without it being a sob session.

THAT’s depression.

Not feeling sad. Everyone feels sad sometimes. Not feeling numb, everyone feels numb sometimes. But the slow sapping of your emotions, your energy, and your sense of self.

At least that’s what it was like for me.

IF you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms like these, and if those symptoms have lasted for more than two weeks go to your family doctor. S/He will point you in the right direction.

Also know that if you EVER feel like committing suicide, unless you’re going to literally take out a half dozen Alien Xenomorphs as you go out (and I mean LITERALLY – so yeah, it’s not going to be in the cards), GO GET HELP! It gets better with help. It may take a while, but you’re just sick. You just can’t see it because the sickness literally hides itself from your brain’s ability to see it. You can get better.

No go forth and create something new.

© 2017, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

Back to Alpine

... to earn it
The goal

Recently I remembered what it was that I wanted to do with this site, and I need to get back to it.

When I was trying to figure out what my “author platform” would be, I wanted to stay away from things like politics or religion or basically anything that told people how to act or what to think. I don’t want to be the kind of guy that tells you that this group of people or that group of people are bad, because when it comes down to it, those groups are usually incredibly large and contain vast numbers of good people. Just because you and I don’t agree about some political point that one or both of us are passionate about doesn’t mean that we disagree about everything. Hell maybe we agree about everything else. When people belittle and deride others for having the audacity to have a different viewpoint on the world, I get sick to my stomach. Even if they aren’t talking about me, they might be talking about someone I love or someone I know to be a good person. And writers, writers who are supposed to be good at looking through the eyes of others, often seem to be the worst of those belittling others. I don’t want to be that person, so I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to teach.

It’s kind of laughable that I might teach anyone about anything related to writing, and I agree. BUT the one thing that I haven’t seen from any of the authors that I follow, is how much they screwed up along the way. How much worry and how many mistakes did they make on their journey to becoming published? Many write about much of what they have gone through after the fact, but I couldn’t find anyone who documented their struggle as it happened. That’s what I’m trying to do. That is why you’ll see me post stories about not writing. I struggle with not writing. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to just sit down and do the work. A dozen authors can tell you “sit your ass down and just do it,” but how many have shown you how badly they have done? Wouldn’t it be inspiring to see that some schlep posted story after story about how he couldn’t sit down and write? OK. Maybe not inspiring until he finally made it.

If you are with me along the path, some of you, nay many of you, who do end up writing your own novels, will likely finish before me. Some will not ever finish. I’m going to. I have so many stories in me that I haven’t even discovered yet, and I know that getting that first one down and finished will start the process of the dam breaking. If you’re there with me when that happens I hope I inspire you to do it too. If you come after the fact and I’ve written several books, how inspiring would it be to find my previous multi-years worth of posts lamenting how I simply can’t write?

That is what I want to do, to inspire others. I want to do this because I know the pain of the story trapped within. I know the pressure building that has no vent, no release. It is far better to release that pressure in a controlled, useful manner than it is to let it build until there’s an explosion. After the explosion, you’re wasted inside. The pressure will no longer build, and so without that pressure, you have no useful energy to focus on doing something good. How horrible is that fate?

So, mentally I now go back to Alpine where I attended the Writer’s Conference of Texas Writer’s Retreat in 2015 (a little more than a year ago as of this writing).

The impact I experienced at that retreat was huge when I was there and shortly after. Over time I started to feel like I shouldn’t have gone at all. That was the Impostor Syndrome talking, but I realize now that I probably should not have gone so early in my journey. I wasn’t prepared. I still don’t think I am, and I’m much more qualified now than I was then. But at what point in your journey is a good time to go do something like that? Check me. I intend to return to that question.

Some of the things I really wanted when I went to the retreat included finding a writing group, finding others who write the kind of things I write, and finding some reassurance on general idea that I wasn’t crazy. Of those I found who were interested in the writing group, no one really seemed to want to keep the pace required. Everyone is busy and doing their own things, plus we were trying to do this over the Internet so it wasn’t as personal as it could have been. Finally, I just don’t think my style of critique and writing really meshed well with the other writers. I don’t think any of the others were interested in being a genre writer. In my estimation, they all hold the capacity to be literary writers, and there I was wanting to write paperbacks and short stories. I also started realizing I have no idea what I’m doing. I do think I realized that I wasn’t crazy. I mean, whenever I read for the group, people were intrigued by my story. I even had opportunities to shine a little, which for me is a big deal too. (Not because I’m all ego – which I am regardless – but because I like to think I can create something that brings joy to others. What is better than that?) So yeah. The experience was a mixed bag, and the longer I dwelt on the negatives, the more I started to think the whole experience was a waste.

What a fucking idiot I am sometimes. (No you can’t quote me, Chuck.)

Now however, I think back to that experience and the few I had since. I haven’t progressed on my path as I would have liked, but I have progressed. I’ve done more writing in the past two years than I have in the prior twenty five. If only I had been writing all that time. Actually I had been writing, just not in the novel form. Since I was eight or ten years old, I’ve played role playing games, you know Dungeons and Dragons and the like. I love the things. They are interactive storytelling experiences. With dice. And math. ALL THE THINGS I LOVE. Every once and a while I’ll find a couple sheets of paper tucked away in some forgotten notebook that details the life and times of random people. I was writing.

I can’t help but write, but my problem is that for so long I’ve been concerned with building likable characters that I haven’t really focused on building plots. Well that isn’t exactly true. I’ve tried to develop large complicated adventures before, but somehow the story always faded. Often I lost interest. That’s a significant flaw of mine. Often the players would want to do things that I as a game master didn’t want them to do. I once had a whole story written about some mutated sentient spiders. They were expanding outward from their caves and intruding on the lands of mankind because their king and queen were at war with each other.  Man. I was waiting to see the faces of my players as they descended into the crags and caves that the spiders lived. I envisioned the players descending into the caves. In the distance, beyond their torch light, they would see tiny motes of light sparkling at them. Deeper and deeper they would descend until the sparkling was all around them. Then a voice would ring out as one small cluster of sparkling light descended in front of them from far above. The voice would call out again, light would appear around the sparkling motes, and the source would reveal itself as a spider, eyes twinkling the group’s own light back at them. The reveal would have made months of adventuring so very worth the investment.

But after taking care of the small group of spiders attacking the random village my players were traveling through, they said “hey lets go to <place>!” <Place> being a thousand miles away … in the other direction.

Ah. The joys of being a game master.

So there I was a decade plus later and I realized I was done telling my stories through adventures that will never pan out the way I plan. Instead I’ll write a book or thirty, because things go the way we plan when we have all the control right? HA! I’m such an idiot. (See previous statement on quoting, Chuck).

So here I am, a year post Alpine, and I am thinking “did I do the right thing going to that retreat when I did?” The answer is yes. I may not have been ready for the lessons then as well I would be now, but I wouldn’t have made it to now had I not gone then.

If you think something will help you become a better writer, I say try it out. Just remember to take stock of your situation, and keep re-examining things at different times so you can get a better appreciation for what you did, how you did it, and what you can take from it. The journey isn’t about how well you did, if the timing was right, or when you do it. The journey is about the journey.

Keep writing.

© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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