What is Writing?

July 12, 2015 in General Topics

In an interest in informing the general public, and aspiring authors in general, a brief primer:

Writing is not an affair generally conducted from the vantage point of a white-painted chair overlooking Cape Cod on a cloudless day.

Writing is cramming in three hundred words because you’ve got fifteen minutes before one of your children wakes up from a nap.

Writing is not rising with the sun, brewing a pot of coffee, slapping your latest royalty check atop the others that still need to be cashed, and leisurely eating your gourmet breakfast before you plop down in your sunlit office.

Writing is often your second source of income–providing you’re making any income at all from it–and the words it produces often follow your horrible commute home.

Writing is not musings from a luxury high-rise, or interviews with Vanity Fair.

Writing is a thousand words thrown down from an airport bench during a layover while you wait, at 3AM, without a soul around.

Writing is not an effortless stride to The Next American Classic.

Writing is simple, honest sweat equity, day after day after day. And you get to watch much of what you love get thrown away.

Writing is not a sure thing.

Writing is almost never a sure thing, despite what you read in that inspiring “interview” conducted by some top-shelf magazine that certainly hadn’t been motivated by said author’s publicist.

Writing is not telling your friends “I’m working on a book”, or “I’m outlining a short story” or “I’ve got this great idea I’m committing to paper this weekend”, or “Someday I’m gonna write that horror tale I thought of”.

Writing is the act of producing a finished story. Everything until that, and after that, could be forgotten or celebrated, but none of it happens without that finished story lying somewhere within your own.

How the Smut Arms Race Destroys Fiction

September 11, 2014 in General Topics

Rotting BooksRecently I viewed a Netflix original series and nearly found myself as distraught as its protagonists. One might read that and think it’s a good thing. It isn’t.

Hemlock Grove is a series drenched in all-American, old school Gothic horror. When it’s working well, it’s a brooding, atmospheric throwback that reminds me of the made-for-TV movies and miniseries spawned by Stephen King’s books. Watching it felt like coming home. The series has the substance of so much TV and film I devoured in my teenage years.

The first few episodes had their problems–uneven acting, dangling plot lines and inconsistent cinematography–but high points as well, such as one of the best werewolf transformations I’ve seen, and I believed firmly that Hemlock Grove was going to be a wonderful diversion. Lately, though, I’ve found my interest in the show waning. It’s in part due to its uneven quality.

But also the fact that Hemlock Grove is just the latest show to become an active participant in the smut arms race.

To wrap your head around my point, I want you to think about what defines premium content on the top-tier subscription cable channels, and then keep that in mind while I continue. Read the rest of this entry →

My Writing Process (Blog Tour)

May 26, 2014 in General Topics

On a regular basis I get asked for advice or guidance from folks who are wondering about my methods for creating the characters and plots that populate my fiction. Oftentimes these beginning writers have dabbled in a few chapters toward their own work, or produced an outline, or something similar, and they’re befuddled on how to proceed. I’m always happy to help, but I usually can’t go into the details that would be most beneficial to them (due to time constraints), and I regret that.

So when I was invited to join a blog tour that was being conducted by many other authors, I was intrigued, largely by the premise: expound on one’s writing, and the process behind it. Read the rest of this entry →

Fiction is Never Finished

August 15, 2012 in General Topics

Van Gogh ChairChief among many classical philosophies is the idea that whatever object a person creates can be nothing more than something approaching what is desired. For example, a chair is not a chair — it’s the idea of a chair. The craftsman gets as far as possible, but is forever incapable of achieving the exact end-result he chases.

Fiction-writing, please report front-and-center.
Read the rest of this entry →

Outlining Strategy

June 21, 2012 in General Topics

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time mapping out the currently-unnamed sequel to The Tyrant Strategy: Revenant Man. It’s reminded me that outlines can be very vital, but aren’t without their own challenges. So, here’s some thoughts on the good and bad aspects of this always-underappreciated component of fiction writing.

I’ll also share some strategies that really helped. Read the rest of this entry →