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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Back in the Swing of Things

I’ve been dormant for several months. There are reasons. The reasons don’t matter to my writing, but they exist. The real problem is that I’ve gone cold. It isn’t that I have writer’s block so much as I have writer’s don’t-give-a-fuck. I’m not sure, but I think that’s worse. Anyway, deep down inside I know that this is a temporary thing. I just want to ensure that it is more temporary than not, so I’m trying to force things along.

My new writing routine will be slow at first. What I’m aiming for is that each day I do two of the following:

  • Read Something
  • Journal Something
  • Write Something
  • Learn Something

I’d like to do each of those everyday, and I hope that eventually I will.

I’ve also decided that I have to do some writing prompts, if nothing else, on my writing days. I’ve resisted those for a while because I felt like, “If I’m not going to try to publish it, why would I ever write it in the first place?” But now I think I see that I’m just being foolish. I need to be able to write some throw-away stuff. Hell my entire first few years of writing is likely to be thrown away, so why worry about what it is? Additionally, maybe there will be some scraps of awesome in those throw away items that I’ll reuse later, or maybe I’ll get inspired by a throw away item to work on my novels or short stories. Who knows? I surely won’t if I don’t at least try.

© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Procrastination is a Lie

My daughter has difficulty with completing her homework each night. She’s more than capable, she just doesn’t like doing the work. She also doesn’t like lies or liars. In fact for the longest time she didn’t like many of my jokes because they were predicated on some form of lie, but now she understands the difference between lies for the sake of a joke and lies told in an attempt to deceive someone in a harmful way. I still don’t think she gets “white lies” but I’m not pushing her on that regard.

She’d had a bad day with her homework one day, and her mother and I asked her why she hadn’t finished. ‘Procrastination,’ was her honest answer, but then she blew it off like procrastinating was just something that happened to people, like traffic or allergies. So in an attempt to get her over her homework hump I told her something I thought would get her moving or at least thinking.

“Procrastination is a lie,” I said, and as soon as I said it, I believed it to be true, because it is.

She was thoroughly confused with what I said. She thought I was calling her a liar because she used procrastination as her excuse. No, that wasn’t the case I assured her, and I laid out my reasoning.

Procrastination is a lie. It is a lie we tell ourselves. The lie suggests: “I will be happier if I don’t do this now and do it later.” “I will feel less burdened if I don’t do this now.” “I will do this later.” “It will be easier if I do this later.”

Those are all lies.

If procrastination tells you that you will be happier or less burdened if you do something later, that’s a lie. You might feel an instant sense of relief, but deep down inside you know that the task lies just over the horizon. The task becomes a distraction and worrying about the distraction or the impending task becomes a burden that you may feel. The truth of the matter is that if you simply buckle down and complete the task as soon as you can, when you have completed it, you will have no distractions, no limits to the remainder of your time. Burdens are shackles and true happiness comes with freedom.

“I will do this later,” is my favorite lie to myself. I always get more accomplished if I simply do something as soon as I think about it – assuming I have the time. There is one caviot to this however. One needs to ensure that s/he is not procrastinating on a harder, less enjoyable task by taking on a simpler or more enjoyable one. I often do this, and I never complete any of those tasks. If I focus on getting things done and avoid putting off tasks as they come, I get more done. Later is a lie. Now is a house in which truth dwells.

“It will be easier if I do this later,” is a lie that can occasionally be true. Unless something is literally keeping you from a task, finishing will usually be quicker if you simply start something as soon as possible. Sometimes some event happens that makes the task much easier. I encounter this on occasion at work. An individual might read email and add information regarding a task I have assigned to me. That information often helps me narrow the scope of my research and achieve completion of the task more quickly, but in reality this happens less often than not. Most problems I solve at work are the result of my starting from square one and working to find the solution. Sometimes additional information is a distraction, and until you’ve done the work to understand the full scope of your problem, the information is just more junk to sort through on your way to understanding. Therefore most often, it has been my experience that one should start work as soon as possible. If new information comes along that makes the task simpler or more correct, then give thanks for your good fortune and get the task done, but if you wait and new information never comes, then you have simply wasted valuable time for no good reason. The possibility of help is usually a lie. You can only count on yourself to get things done.

I’m sure there are more lies that procrastination tells. If you think of any, please share in the comments.

© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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New Schedule

I have a new schedule. My assistant/manager/wife and I worked it out recently, and right before I was to start the schedule, I got sick. I think what I had was allergy related, but while I didn’t feel horrible, I felt terrible. I couldn’t focus, and I slept an inordinate amount of time. I didn’t write a lick. I’m just not that disciplined yet. On my new schedule, Tuesdays are supposed to be when one of two blog posts per week drop. The post that I would have posted today should have been written written last week and edited yesterday, but that didn’t happen because … well the schedule wasn’t yet in place.

So I’m going throw something together really quickly and call it done. Congratulations, you’re here for my version of a flashback episode.

WEAVING A DREAM or HOW I GOT STARTED AND WHERE I LANGUISHED

Several years ago, around 2010, I attempted NaNoWriMo for the first time. It was a staggering flop. I wrote maybe 15,000 words. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing or where I was going to go with what I wanted to do with the writing. Plus I have to admit that I’m just not as disciplined as one really needs to be to complete 50,000 words in thirty days. Plus I’m ridiculed with self doubt and a really negative inner voice. “You always sucked in English class.” “You have a hard time sitting down to read for more than a minute.” “You are untrained and unskilled.” Honestly, I’m a fucking asshole to myself.

I tried NaNoWriMo again in 2011 or 2012 with an even worse record, so I shelved the idea, the dream. I mean really? Who was I to think I could write a book? If I did, it certainly wouldn’t be any good.

But I’m a glutton for punishment.

I am usually the DM for my D&D games, and I love coming up with complex scenarios and interesting and unexpected surprises for my players. So I always kept looking for helpful hints and perhaps classes that could teach me the fine art of creative writing if for no other reason to help me with my gaming, but honestly I wanted to “legitimately” ‘learn’ how to be an effective writer. Nothing ever fit however. Every option was too formal, or too intimidating, or too … whatever. Then I stumbled upon writeaboutdragons.com, a website constructed by a student of Brandon Sanderson’s 2013 creative writing class at Brigham Young University. The student recorded the entire lecture, and I watched the complete set of videos multiple times – often while playing Minecraft.

For me the class was everything I was looking for because frankly, I fucking love Brandon Sanderson. And the cool thing is he’s a giant nerd too. He plays Magic the Gathering and writes really neat fiction. He’s kind of goofy and really nice. He was in the band in high school. I like to think of him as ME if I hadn’t let anyone tell me what to do in college on my first go around. Sorry. You have to forgive my grandiose dreams. I do love my fiction, but the similarities between him and me are pretty convincing. I mean I *do* play Magic (well used to). And I *am* kind of goofy (No qualifiers, it’s true). And I *am* a really nice guy (even if I am a real asshole to myself and have a horrible sense of what one should and should not say in polite conversation). And I was even in my high school band. The similarities are almost endless!

So I started to write again, but this time I tried to do some of the things that Brandon outlined in his class that I had never done, namely come up with a full plot first. I wasn’t successful with my next attempt – well not at completing the book … yet, but I did craft a pretty nice little story for myself. It was the first thing that I’ve written that people asked for more of. I finally thought, “Hey I might actually be able to do this. Some. Maybe.” My friends and family were there pushing me on, and that was really nice, but what do they know?

SITTING DOWN TO SEW FOR THE FIRST TIME or WHERE AND WHEN I REALLY STARTED

In 2014 I wrote a short story to be read at the Writer’s Symposium being held at  GenCon 2014. My fabulous friends and family were encouraging me to write more. So being both horrified at the idea and delightedly giddy, I wrote a short story, revised it several times, and read a portion of it in front of four complete strangers, all accomplished editors. It scared the crap out of me. They gave me honest if lengthy critiques, and I was happy for it, but I wanted to go further than just that. I needed a full review of the work by someone in the know, not just friends and family.

The San Antonio Writer’s Guild short story competition was accepting entries shortly after my GenCon adventure. I took my short story, applied the critique I received at the panel, and revised it once more. I submitted the story. The first round of judging was performed by two separate individuals. These two judges were very different. The first really liked what I had done and gave me very high marks across the board. I think this individual was exactly the kind of person for whom I should write horror. The second judge … well based on the second judge’s grading, I felt like I had re-encountered my most stringent grammarian high school teacher. Not the one who “got me” and wanted to encourage my creativity, but the one who wore a mask of WTF while reading my work. Most of the marks were high, but a few were very low. Regardless, the two combined scores were enough to get my entry into the second round of judging. (Yay, thank you judge who got me!).

The second round of judging in the horror category was done by Joe McKinney. He said some very nice things about my ability to creep a reader out, which was my goal, but suggested that my story fell short in that because the story was told by a dead protagonist and the ending suggested that there was more after, it could really only end up being a revenge tale. I disagreed, but if I didn’t get across what I intended to get across, then I didn’t do my job as a writer. So it doesn’t matter if I disagreed or not. I framed Mr. McKinney’s judgement and I have it hanging above my writing desk. I count it as a win, even if I lost the contest.

After receiving my scores and review for the short story, I was delighted because I knew that I could do this writing thing. I had only written a couple partial novel attempts, and I canned them all while I wrote the short story. They remain canned for the time being as I started a novel based on my short story which was a diary entry of a young French woman living in 19th century Paris – who gets killed by ghouls. My novel would include additional diary entries which would be discovered and translated by a man in the 1980s. I have almost a dozen rough, first drafts of novel entries of this young woman / ghoul as she tries to pass as normal while fighting off her hunger and discovering her supernatural powers. It’s fun.

Since the contest, I’ve attended several day and half-day long writing classes through The Writers’ League of Texas. I’ve watched many Writer’s Digest Tutorial videos. I’ve been on a week long retreat in Alpine, Texas, and I even took a two day class in Houston under Dave Wolverton. Without that one short story, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do any of those things. It is almost sad in a way that I could have missed all those wonder opportunities had I never gone to GenCon or had my story been judged differently in the contest, so I’m very grateful for that success.

SEAMS PULL LOOSE or SHIT HAPPENS

One thing I really desire as a writer is a writing group, a group of people going through the same process as me and needing the same kind of encouragement that I need. That would be cool. I almost had an online group, but people started dropping out pretty quickly. I am now a  member of a couple different Facebook groups, but that’s not the same. Not having someone that can read my stuff, knows what I’m struggling with, and holding me accountable when I slack off has been frustrating. In San Antonio there is the San Antonio Writer’s Guild (SAWG) which seems awesome … in the same way that the Library of Congress is awesome. I’m certain that there’s a metric shit ton of talented writers with a plethora of experience in SAWG, but I doubt (logically and emotionally) that my style or genre of writing and my neophyte status would be properly appreciated. And I have to admit, I’m not a big group kind of guy … not for this kind of thing. I want a dedicated group of about 4 to 8 writers who all love fantasy and horror. I want it. I want it. I want it. [babycrying.gif] Anyway, I don’t feel comfortable at the SAWG meetings. I feel … like an angry pimple, ugly and unwanted, ready to burst. I may not be true, but truth is irrelevant here. To make matters worse, SAWG seems to swallow up any smaller groups that are lacking leadership or structure in the San Antonio area. This may be for the best for those groups, but in my mind it already makes a monolithic group that’s already too big for me just that much larger.

Since I couldn’t have my complete way with writing groups, and since Destiny (the video game – don’t play it, it’s too good even when it is bad) has dominated most of my time, I haven’t written more than about ten thousand words in the last several months. I did cross the threshold of actual novel in my word count, which delights me, but I’ve been sitting on that spot for weeks. Longer even. My writing habit has been pulling apart at the seams, and I was simply letting it.

Have you ever simply sat back and watched a facet of your life crumble knowing you had the power, but not the drive, to change it? Well if you haven’t then let me tell you this. It sucks. In situations like this I often feel like if I cannot fix this thing that is falling apart, and fix it perfectly, then I shouldn’t even bother trying. THIS IS BULLSHIT! and I know it, but sometimes that’s not enough. So I sit and watch. Then occasionally I think to myself, “Hey jackass! Why not just pull the seam strings a little and at least slow things down a bit?” Occasionally I actually get off my ass and do exactly that. Sometimes I do more. I’m now trying to do more.

PULLING THINGS BACK TOGETHER or PULLING THINGS BACK TOGETHER

There’s something about this time of year, after all the hectic holidays are over, that makes me want to write. Plus Lent is upon us, and I am tasked with trying to come up with things I can do or things I can give up that will help make me a better person and the world a better place. I haven’t figured out the world so much, so I usually work on the ‘me’ part. Maybe one day, my example will help the world in some small way. Who knows? But it does bring me to now, the schedule, and my determination to make myself a more disciplined person, a more skilled person, and a more successful person who, perhaps, isn’t such a dick to himself.

I’ve written one short story and posted it to my site, “Draug Counts to Ten.” My first draft was over two thousand words. I cut it down to under fifteen hundred, but honestly I think some of the revisions took out a lot of the soul of the story. Lesson learned. I have couple more short stories about Draug coming in the future. I have another short story that everyone wants to think was inspired by American Gods except that I haven’t read that work yet. I’m currently revising that one. I just need to ensure I don’t lose the soul of the story in the process. Finally I have a fantasy story that involves another monk, though this one is a lizard man. I’m trying to go with a pulp fiction style of story with him. We’ll see how that goes.

So basically when it all comes down to it, it seems like I’m actually making some progress. I sure hope so. I just have to be sure to continue without quitting forever. I started blogging years ago. I didn’t post often though. If I had maybe I’d be further down the road, but I can tell that my writing in general continues to improve. If you are like me, if you doubt your very dream, if you don’t think you are worthy of the very goal you are attempting to pursue, then join me in standing up and saying, “Ya know, maybe all this self doubt is pointless … and maybe, just maybe, that little voice in my head should just go fuck off.”

And you know what? Even if you can’t say that right here and right now. That’s OK. Tomorrow is a new day. While you’re waiting on tomorrow to come though, why don’t you go ahead and just jot some ideas down in a notebook? Perhaps one day you’ll look back and inspire yourself with the genius hiding inside.

 

© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Madame by Toni Stoop

Putting Off Writing – 01 Design Does Not Always Match Execution

Before going to GenCon and attending some of the events being presented by the writing conference there, I wrote a short story to present at one of the panels. I couldn’t find my original notes when I started writing so I winged it. I enjoyed the resulting story titled Charlotte.

Charlotte was a young French woman starving on the streets of nineteenth century Paris. She is led from the streets into the catacombs to serve as a maid for a pair of ghouls, but when she screams in fright at the sight of the monsters, she’s paralyzed, hung over a table, and bled dry. The story is written as a diary entry and suggests that despite being bled to death, she somehow goes on.

The previous 70-ish words were how I ended up executing the story which is wildly different from the following 5oo-ish words which are my outline notes for the original story I had in mind.

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Two rather well put and dandy ghouls are having diner and complaining about the state of their dining room. They lament about being unable to keep help, slowly revealing that the help never stays for very long. Except for Archibald the butler. Archibald might be able to clean the mess around the table, but then he would not be able to acquire more servants who always seem to arrive just in time for diner. And while they scream and thrash about, never cleaning up the mess they are hired to do, they do end up as the next tasty morsel – except that just adds to the piles of bones surrounding the diner table.

The story will start with two posh dandies discussing the issue of having a lack of servants. The keep refusing to do the job and have to be cut.

Vaguely describe the state of the room from the POV of the ghouls, not letting on that they are anything but extremely messy.

Comment that they are hungry, so very hungry. Vaguely suggest that they never leave the table.

The wife comments to the husband’s lace is stained with the blood of the raw meat. More so now that the juices of his last bite have seeped down his hands and to his sleeve.

The husband comments that his wife’s bosom is a mess of bits of viscera to which she looks down, delicately plucks a bit of something from just above the lace of her bodice and pops it into her mouth with a laugh.

Crying and pleading are heard. The noise gets louder. Archibald approaches with the newest recruit. She, it’s always a she, first thinks this beast of a man is going to rape her and maybe kill her too. Archibald takes her into the dining room and she screams.

The two dandy ghouls laugh and comment about her looks and squeamishness. She’s bolder than most though. Hopefully she will work out.

Somehow the girl manages to calm herself long enough to ask some questions. What is this place? It looks like a poorly run slaughterhouse. Are those human remains? She begins to lose it again. The husband warns her that she will have to be cut and her employment ended if she cannot perform her duties.

She asks if she can refuse employment, the ghouls admit that she may. So she refuses to serve them. The wife looks sad, but there’s also a gleam in her eye. She declares that if the girl will not work she will be cut, and she again says she will not work for them. The wife then says that the girl must be CUT. Both the husband and wife smile with mouths that are far too wide with far too many teeth. The girl is promptly struck in the head. Archibald loops a rope around her ankles, pulls on the rope (fixed to the ceiling through a ring), and raises the girl off the floor. The girl regains her senses and screams again.

What are you?! she demands just as Archibald grabs her hair in a massive fist. Then all she sees is the knife.

The wife says, “Hungry!”

OK if I have to be perfectly honest, my very original idea was a pair of dandy ghouls having diner when their manservant-ghoul brings in a woman for them to eat. So you can see that while the execution varies wildly from the outline, it ultimately does not vary too far from my original idea. This idea trills me somewhat. A single thought can generate two incredibly different ideas. And certainly that is not the absolute end as a multitude of different stories could be told from that first flash of images formed unbridled in my head mush. I’m very tempted to write the story presented in my original outline. Though I don’t think it would be nearly as dark as Charlotte eventually was, it would be really fun to write.

© 2014, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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