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Category: Writing

These are Matt’s musing on writing.

And a Little Bit Closer

The new version of Photoshop infuriates me, but there is no need to grumble.

I made the 3D version of my cover and then I lost it. I went to my old saved versions of my cover and found that I had flattened them. They were no longer editable. So, I just spent a couple hours recreating a cover image that I can edit. Now that I see it very small, I don’t like the font I used. Oh, well. At least it will be easy for me to edit.

Progress report. I am now on page 335 of 529. I’m now over halfway done with my edit. Huzzah!

Back to work…

Editing Continues

I stopped posting every day. I went on a two-week vacation to visit family. Somebody showed me a piano and then I was all jazzed about finding time to practice…

Hold on… slow down there, buddy. What you really want to do is finish your novel. Everything else is a distraction. Posting on your blog every day is a distraction. Posting a video every day is a distraction. Practicing piano is a distraction.

The only reason I’m posting this is to say that I won’t be posting every day.

While we’re here, I decided to change the names of the books in the series. I realized that the word “sorcery” might put off my target audience: Christians. If my books are one part CS Lewis, then the names shouldn’t be off-putting. Here’s the names of the books in my series:

Time of Faith: The Sinner
Test of Faith: The Forgiven
Born of Faith: The Redeemed

As far as editing is concerned, I am currently on chapter four. A lot of the previous chapters were combined as I went along. I didn’t want to say, “I’m still on chapter two,” because I’ve actually covered a lot of ground. I am on page 82 right now. I have the first chapter sent off to a magazine editor to see if I’m making any major errors. That will likely require another restart of my edit from page one. At least I’m doing it right this time, eh?

With my new focus of doing this writing thing full-on, I edited for five hours straight. It’s not a full-time job, but I should finish this soon.

Accountability and JK Rowling

Howdy brothers and sisters,

I am recording from my laptop this morning.

I edited again yesterday and I wanted to give you an update. I realized that I didn’t ever tell you about my story. This book is over ten years in the making…. wow. I started in High School, and my 25 year reunion is coming up. This thing is TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD! There’s nothing like time to make you feel old.

That reminds me of that song by They Might Be Giants:

“You’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older
And now you’re even older
And now you’re even older”

I guess it’s high time I got this thing finished. I don’t want to be looking back on this when I’m on my deathbed and wished I had finished it. Anything worth starting is worth finishing. Somebody famous said that once. I like this quote. This gives you a very special kind of responsibility. You need to be choosy about what projects you start, because we are tenacious. Anything we start is gonna be finished, gosh darn it!

I also wax on a little bit about JK Rowling. It’s something that has been kicking around my mind as of late. It inspired me, at least.

Cheers, and Happy Writing!

–Matt

 

Editing Success

Yesterday I said that I was going to start editing. That was one part to keep me honest and one part wishful thinking. I’m happy to report that I was successful. I edited chapter one and part of chapter two. Now the train has left the station, and I will have the novel edited in about a month (hopefully).

A month? Well, 42 days. A month and twelve days. That is August 17th, 2017. Here let it be said. Then I’ll pass it to my alpha-reader for reading notes. Then I’ll take yet another pass at it. THEN I’ll start working on book two. Let’s call it October. Shall we pick a date? How about October 25th, 2017.

Here’s a silly thing I did on my last revision. I thought my chapters were too long. I thought it would pick up the pace of the novel if the first few parts were divided into smaller units.

The problem is that each longer chapter had about one main point. If that chapter were then broken into three chapters, only one of them would be left with a point. So, as part of this edit, I’m bringing the parts of the baby together. At the same time, I’m looking hard at the orphans without a point. Are they really necessary? They are prime candidates for deletion.

That all means that chapter one is not “finished” until all the orphans are brought back.

In chapter one, we are introduced to Kerr, some soldiers, and time travel. When I come upon the action in another chapter, I’ll drag it back, kicking and screaming.

Every Journey has a Beginning

I spent my writing time yesterday preparing to write. I told myself that the work was necessary to move forward.

Well now we see if I can put my money where my mouth is. I have felt resistant all morning to write. But then if I don’t get around to writing, the work I put in yesterday WAS procrastination. I don’t want that to happen.

Thanks for keeping me honest, internet. I’ll dive into it now and let you know how it went tomorrow.

New Writing Vlog

Howdy, Internet! I’ve been recording my vlog for a few days without a focus. I realized this would be of most use to you if I talk about writing.

I worked a lot on writing today… not the actual writing, but some admin work. I have already written a rough draft of my novel. No one told me that the first draft of a novel is not very good. So, rather than start working on my second in the series, I am going back through my first novel and editing. Of course, I could really use a professional editor. That would get the job done faster. It would likely be better, too. But, then, editors are expensive. Unless somebody wants to do an edit for the share of the profits… yeah, it’s all me for now.

I heard an interview with a writer who said that if she could tell her young self something, it would be to write and release the whole series at once. We live in a culture that likes to devour entire seasons at one time. As soon as they are done with book one, they want book two. If book two takes a year to complete, those fans will either be angry or find another bright, shiny–Hey! A squirrel! I love squirrels.

My book was intended to be a trilogy, and it has a pretty major cliff-hanger at the end of book one. It might take me three years, but I plan on working on it every day. We’ll see how fast it goes.

I created an editing spreadsheet. This is not procrastination! I really think this will help me on the edit.

  1. Chapter. With 42 chapters, I need to keep track of what I’m working on.
  2. Main Point. Each chapter should have a least one “thing” that happens. That “thing” cannot be flashback (those don’t move a story forward). If a chapter does not have a “thing,” then it has no point. It can be cut. OFF WITH IT’S HEAD! (I always wanted to say that).
  3. Too Short? I want to find chapters that are too short. Since I am going to be adding some new scenes, I would like to find places they would fit. I can also combine short chapters. My end goal is to have one average length for each chapter.
  4. Edited. This is just a reference row to see if something is done or not. Move along. Nothing more to see here.
  5. Addition. If I find a perfect place to add scene Q, I want to mark it.

That’s about it. Of course, I will let you know how the editing goes.

I also started to set up MailChimp for my newsletter.

I’m outtie (actually, I’m an innie… sorry for the TMI).

A Parent’s Pain: Finding Hope After the Murder of a Child

It is the worst nightmare of a parent. It is the death of a beloved child. Murder makes it that much worse.

Once a child is born, a parent would do anything to protect them. A parent would even sacrifice their own life so that his or her own child would live.

The tragic death is the worst pain imaginable, and it comes with months and years of anguish. I hope that none of you experience this pain, but if you do, here’s some things that helped me. You aren’t alone.

When Does the Pain Stop?

When I first started attending support groups,
this was my first question:

When does the pain stop?

I really wish the answer were different, but the
answer is ‘never.’ When someone is fresh to their grief,
this can be a punch in the gut, so it’s important to quickly get to the next point. Over time, the pain will get softer and possible to bear.

In the first year, the pain is quite severe. This pain is not endless. You will eventually find a new normal.

Your old life is dead. Many parents live their lives for their children (me included). When the life of a child ends, the life of the parent ends. Not literally, but all hope and joy can drain away. It is important for the parent to begin to live a new life. They need to come to terms with a new normal life. This is the new normal.

You never intended this, but you are now on a mission for your own self-preservation.

It’s Not Your Fault

This was not your fault.
You could not have prevented it.
You are worthy of life.

These are very important statements. For those of you that have not experienced traumatic loss, you would be well served to memorize the above. The parent in pain needs these three important points. At first the parent won’t believe it. He or she is in shock. You must repeat it until he or she believes it.

  1. This is not your fault. A parent feels responsible for the health and welfare of their child. They couldn’t stop the murder of the child. They feel guilt. They need to be released from that guilt.
  2. This could not have been prevented. The tragic events are playing over and over in the head of the bereaved. He or she is wondering if they had done this or that. Would their child still be alive?

    This endless loop will try to drive a person insane. Put a line in the sand early. Any of us could play, “What If?” games. What If is no longer allowed.

  3. You are worthy of life. It is very unlikely that this statement will be agreed upon. The surviving victim will be very hard on themselves. Even if he or she does not yet agree, they must accept the fact. Other ways to prove his or her self-worth is to have a close friend talk about the impact the survivor has made in his or her life. Affirmation of this point might be a full-time job while the tragedy is fresh.

‘You are worthy of life.’

Survival Steps

Here is a list of things that helped me. I have been on a quest for recovery. I found out that this is a life-long quest. The only other alternative is to give up. I refuse to give up.

1. Talk About Your Pain

I recommend finding and joining a support group. A great organization is the Parents of Murdered Children (POMC). There are many chapters across the United States. Talk to your victim’s advocate about the nearest chapter. These people have been through similar circumstances, and will let you talk. They know how important it is to talk.

The story of your tragedy is unbelievable. Your brain cannot process it. Talking about it makes it real in your head. Only then can you begin the process of rebuilding your life.

Your pain is a sharp bundle of razor-blades inside you. If you bury it, the pain will make you sick. Many victims of homicide develop horrible diseases. Grief and stress, if not treated, can do a lot of damage.

Friends will often reach a point where they no longer want to talk about the tragedy. In some cases, they might even ask you to move on. They do not understand that there is no ‘moving on’ for you. This is another reason to find a support group. They will never tell you to move on. You can tell them the same story as much as you need to.

Your story may have tears. It may be angry. Any and all emotions you feel are all right. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel.

2. Stay Busy

It’s time to break out the to-do list.

When you dive into a project head-first, you can lose yourself and forget about the pain. Don’t worry about forgetting the pain – you will never forget the pain. This is just taking a temporary pain-reliever.

This is also a good time to start a new hobby: Art, crafts, writing… you name it. You never know what you will like until you try it. Grab a catalog from the local community college and sign up for a class or two (or three!). Not only is this a distraction, this will help you in creating that new normal we talked about before. You may discover a hidden talent that can help form your new identity.

 

3. Help Others

One of the best ways to lessen our pain is to help others. Volunteer for organizations. Be on the look-out for way to help your fellow man (or woman). Reach out to others that are really hurting. You can help others. In so doing, you will help yourself.

This can be combined with Step #2. You can volunteer to help with the manual labor tasks of others. Digging a ditch or cleaning a house will keep your mind busy AND help someone else.

 

4. Find Someone (or Something)
to Love

You still have the capacity to love, perhaps even more now than before. You have a deeper sense of empathy for others.

If you are single, the exhilaration of a new relationship can lift your spirits. Just be cautious of falling for a person that is less-than-perfect.
Use your friends to vet your choice, if you need to.

If you are already in a relationship, work on strengthening that bond. Do things for your beloved. He or she is your lifeline, now more than ever.
Spend close time with that person.

Consider getting a new pet. An eager puppy nuzzling your face can make you smile. You need to smile and laugh right now. Deep sobs or deep laughter can move the rock that is sitting on your chest.

You could show love to a dear, close friend. This could be a time to create strong family relationships. You have love building up in the dam of your heart. You need to find a release for it just as much as you need to find a release for your pain.

5. Enjoy Life

You have just received a very bitter reminder
that life is short.

  • Pamper yourself. Take yourself shopping. Eat out at good restaurants. Eat dessert before your main dish.
  • Be silly. Where purposely mismatched clothing. Wear your pajamas and go to the mall. Learn and tell some lousy jokes. Talk to strangers. Take yourself a little less seriously!
  • Enjoy peaceful things. Look hard at the sunsets. Breathe the fresh air. Pick a flower or two. Visit a garden or a forest. Go to the zoo.

 

6. Avoid Harmful Habits

You may be tempted to crawl into a bottle (pills or alcohol). You may want to eat ten gallons of Rocky Road ice cream (a pint is ok). We might want to sit on the couch and power-stream everything on TV.

We know what is harmful to us. We could make a list.
You may be tempted by all kinds of things that promise release.
The sad truth is, no physical pleasure will help your pain. It will make matters worse because you will feel bad about yourself after you have indulged.

Let’s flip those urges on their head. Make a list of things that are good for you and do those things. Go for a run. Check. Write a long letter by hand to a friend. Check. Make a very healthy meal from scratch. Check.

You may not feel like doing any of those things (and believe me, we’ve all been there). Do them anyway. You will feel better about yourself afterwards. Plus, the act of doing something with meaning is healing for the soul. Try something with your hands, or something that uses your muscles—it is cathartic.

P.S. Go out of your way to eat dessert, just limit yourself.

 

7. Find Religion

I’m not going to preach to you here. There is a reason every 12-Step program wants you to find your higher power. It gives you perspective, and it helps. Do it. Stick with it. Practice it. Take it deep in yourself. Let it heal what hurts.

 

8. Improve Yourself

Go on a massive quest for self-improvement. Lose weight.
Start going to the gym. Take some classes. Learn public speaking. Learn a new skill.
At the very least,
you will be distracting yourself and keeping yourself busy. At the most,
you’ll be a healthy, well-adjusted human being.

Reward for Reading

Thanks for taking a few moments out of your life to read my article. As a reward, here’s a cute
kitten.

 

Image Credits:
Divider Image
Google Images

Avatar Image
Flickr user Arielle Fragassi

Gravestones
Flickr user m shaff

Cute Kitten
Flickr user Juco

Matt on Writing

I am a writer. I have always wanted to be a writer. I’d like to think that I am fairly good at it. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that writing is one of those tricky things to start up. The future earnings potential is huge. The starting pay scale… no so much. They call it a starving artist for a reason.

There is a misconception that writing a novel is free. Well, one part of it is. It is free to pound your finger against a keyboard, layering words like bricks, until you have a finished first draft. The sticky bit is that you need to put food in your belly while you lay those font bricks. This is further complicated by the fact that a finished first draft is different than a novel which is fit for the world to consume–let alone pay for.

First, the draft must be edited. This can be done two ways. One, this can be done by professionals who know what they are doing. Unfortunately, they seldom work for free (nor should they). Two, one can figure out how to do it by oneself. The upside is that it is free. You can afford a cracker or two for that rumble in your tumble. The downside is that you won’t be very good at it, and it will take a long time. Possibly a very long time. And, this whole time your tumble will want to be filled at regular intervals. Darn, tumbles. So demanding.

So, you have a finished, edited novel. Are you done? No, you need a blurb. You need an item description. You need a title. You need cover art. You may be able to do 3 out of the 4 yourself. You shouldn’t attempt the cover design yourself.

I heard of a cool site called PageFight that lets you A/B test your different novel components (blurb/title/cover/etc.). This sounds like a very cool idea. I don’t yet have those things, but when I do, I plan on testing out which one works the best.

So you’re new to this site. I’m fairly new to writing. I mean, I’ve been writing for awhile, but I haven’t been taking it seriously for awhile. Now I am. As I go on this journey, I will be documenting some do’s and don’ts (as I understand them). Join our mailing list!