Writing Advice from Southpark

So I caught this documentary on Southpark the other day. Called SIX DAYS TO AIR: THE MAKING OF SOUTHPARK, it shows how Matt Stone & Trey Parker cough out an entire episode in six days. As in, six days before it airs. As in, they have no idea what the hell they're gonna do on day one. As in, hey, did you know Bill Hader is part of their writing team?

ANYhoo...during the doc, Trey (who largely drives the writing bus), dropped a casual tidbit of advice whilst talking about how freakin soul-crushing it is to write. (Me: HOLEEE SHIT. TREY PARKER GETS IT!) Advice was simple: replace your "and"s with some "therefore"s and "but"s when a scene feels dull. Not necessarily in the writing itself, mind, but rather in your idea sequence.

To wit:

Joe Tremors sneezes all over his wife, and sprays her with snot, and crashes into the wall, knocking himself out cold.

Now, just and-therefore-but-erize it, and it becomes:

Joe Tremors sneezes all over his wife and sprays her with snot, therefore sending a fine necrovirus mist into her face. But his wife doesn't wipe it away; she opens her mouth wider. Joe snaps his head in a double take and stumbles, therefore crashing into the wall. He knocks himself out. But unconsciousness will not be a reprieve for him. Instead, the dark screen of his mind will present a miasma of images and other sensory horrors, therefore becoming a perma-freak-show theater. But only one movie will ever play here. And it is an endless reel of what he saw in the seconds before his eyes fluttered closed: his wife's outstretched arms, her unhinging jaw.The laugh spiraling out of the black gulf of her mouth as her claws reach for the top of his head.

See? A pretty decent idea generator and simple. Therefore, you should try it. I mean, that was some surreous drivel above, but see how ATB unlocked all kinds of little gateways? And they all keep branching off into cooler, darker paths. Therefore I should stop now, before I let you too far into the tangled wood of my brain. But...

And thanks to all who swung by during the Pay It Forward shenanigans, and to those awesome individuals who always comment on my posts, however infrequent they may be. I read them all :)


This week, the multiverse had enough of my whinging. On not one but four, count 'em, FOUR occasions this week, someone presented me with a reality check. Whether it was:

Exhibit A) My friend Swathi telling me to get over bitching about not having enough time to prepare a healthy meal ("Don't tell me you don't have time and money. It's your body. Feed it.")

Exhibit B) My friend Heather telling me to get over bitching, period. ("Dude, look. You're an amazing writer with an amazing hubs and two amazing boys. Shut it.")

Exhibit C) The comic Louis C.K. telling us all to be thankful for the crazy amazing shit we have and not bitch about stuff like a slow connection on your cell phone ("Give it a second! It's going to space!")

Or Exhibit D) POSSESSION Author Elana Johnson who wrote a post today that reminded me of the times I used to just write for pleasure.

Each one made me stop and think. And then thank. So I'm grateful today.What about you?

Had a reality check lately? Big cheesin grin about something that made you happy? Dish!

Louis C.K.: Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

What, you ain't know My Little Pony rolled like that??

Man, I get the greatest things from Clarktoon, aka Rooster, the Great Kevinsky, or, you know, the hubs. To wit -- fonky rappin animated ponies. Just click the below (after steeling yourself for some surrreous profanity) and see if your head don't be noddin like the orderly in Mystikal's old Bouncing Back vid...

...you ain't seen bouncin' back...*nods*

Greatest audiobook. Evah.

Why wasn't this out when MY kid was two??

"FUCK your stuffed bear - I ain't gettin you SHIT!"

*dies laughing*

I mean, when you absolutely, positively got to get e'ry motherfucking child to sleep, accept no substitutes and just get yours free from audible.

You're welcome, mamacitas and papasitos :) Now get some fuckin sleep!

Song about this writer's heart

Since I've been loving you...

...I'm about to lose my worried mind...

L is for...Lived In

My high school boyfriend - hi, Will! - became so in part because of our mutual addiction to Stephen King. In those days, you never saw me trolling the hallways of Suitland High without a copy of THE TOMMYKNOCKERS or the gigantic THE STAND hardcover (and, naturally, my Swatch watches, Skidz pants and Asics wrestling shoes).

Then there was our mutual love of the movies. Will taught me to watch for certain directors & actors, producers & screenwriters (that was key, y'all, learning to notice); he introduced me to John Carpenter's THE THING for chrissakes! Ren & Stimpy! Bill Plympton! Liquid Television! (Ah, Aeon Flux. Whither??)

Sigh. 1982 Kurt Russell. Does it get any better?
But amid these similarities was a difference. When a new addition to Will's Stephen King Library arrived, for instance, I had to read it without cracking the spine or bending pages.

And that, y'all, ain't how a sista reads.

I believe books are meant to be lived in. I believe in cracking spines and cracking 'em hard, forcing the ribs of the book wide open. Dissecting plots with sharp dog-ears, marking a passage's can't-stop-what-I'm-doing intensity with coffee rings, creasing covers until they wrinkle like bed sheets. Books should be devoured. Consumed. Digested into the well-worn pulp of satisfaction for the next reader, like breaking in the ass of a pair of jeans before passing them on.

Speaking of which, I hope like hell Carpenter broke in the original enough that this new prequel won't suck.  It has Scott Pilgrim's Ramona and LOST's Mr. Eko. A good sign??

Anyway, what about you? Handle your books with kid gloves or the bloody prints of a reader in the trenches?

F is for...Friends

Uh-huh. Toldja I wouldn't be able to stick to no stinkin' one-post-per-day format for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. But since we're all friends here and y'all know a sista and her...proclivities, I figure it's all cool. So...

F is for...friends. Truly, I yam a cave-dwellin fool. Yet my peeps always forgive my social reticence. Go above and beyond for me, even when I've been MIA for a while. Like last week, when my laptop's operating system went the way of the samurai whilst I was visiting up nawth. While her hubs spent HOURS (of the wee kind) fixing it, my Lizard made cups of vanilla coffee appear and my troubles totally disappear. Dudes. We write in a vacuum. But friends totally change the bag out and let in some air while we do it. Thanks.

G is for...gauche. As in don't worry about being so. Went to my first conference last week, and I was an awkward, no-confidence-having schmoe. Didn't matter. Everyone I met was cool. (It's also for gauche,from the French for "left". Cuz I love me some left-handed-path shit. Sigh.)

H is for...hoi polloi. Sorta ties into the above. I know it's difficult to watch others succeed whilst you & me toil away, but don't fret about being one o the great unwashed for now. You'll rise when you're 'posed to. Meanwhile, wallow in your insignificance (or if you're from Georgia, waller). It's freedom and, hey, makes you appreciate those business-class seats once you score em.

I is for...THE IMAGO SEQUENCE. Laird Barron writes like a hellion, y'all. Stories might invade your sleep with nightmares, but you'll have already burrowed so deep into his mesmerizing prose that you won't mind. Much.

J is for...Jermajesty. I love me some Jackson Five, and I got nothing against Jermaine, but naming your kid Jermajesty? (Zoë is bad enough - can I tell you how many people rhyme it with Joe or tell me their dog is named Zoë? Legion.) Anyway. Titles matter, y'all, so choose yours deftly.

K is for...Knights of Cydonia. No explanation necessary. You're welcome.

Z's Goin Down...

...to Alphabet Street...she's gonna crown the first post that she meets...she's gonna blog so sexy...they'll want her from her A to her Z....

Mmm-hmmm...you bet your ASS that was a bastardization of Prince's funky 1988 lyrics)

So. Never the joinah-innah, I still couldn't resist joining Arlee Bird's nifty little A to Z blogging challenge, even if it is a joinin of the unofficial variety (like five days late and a Linky list short). But even tho I totally missed the whole sign up thing (yes, in fact I do habitate subterraneously within environs of the igneous variety), I'ma give it a try anyway. Like ta hear it, here it go.

- - - - - - - - 

A is for....Alphabet Street. Cuz Z's totally schmooshin the first five posts into one. As in this one. (For the uninitiated, the A-Z Challenge mandates a post a day for the month of April, barring Sundays, with each post beginning with a letter of the alphabet). Tomorrow, I'll mold myself into the accepted one-post-per-day format. Uh-huh. No, really. Okay, maybe?

B is for...biracial. Even if I do sport a funky kind of...ocher...hue during winter, having the skin version of split screen makes for some really innerestin' world viewin. And really great big freakin hair. Not to mention a sorta built-in intolerance for, ah, intolerance. Which might be why it's my mission to add just a bit more flava to horror. Mmm. Tasty.

C is for...conference. Um...so, ack. Attending my FIRST EVAH WRITER'S CONFERENCE IN, LIKE, EVAH. Yeah, a little noivous, but definitely looking forward to the Unicorn Writers Conference this Saturday at St. Clements Castle in Portland, CT. Haz 3 one-on-one MS review seshes booked and a whole crapload of stuff to learn, see, schmooze 'n do. Zoinks!!

D is for...dangit! This is getting long.

E is for...Elysian Fields. Cuz writing is hard, y'all. Fraught. Wraught. Tangled. Gnawing. Fizzy. And ultimately just a wee bit of craftwerk in ye olde grand scheme - but it sho feels like everything to me. Just hope it lands me on the Tobias Alcott and not so much the Byron Tiller side of things...

Win Some Books, Y'All

Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling debut author of the pretty kick-ass ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (read the first chapter, y'all, and be hooked), is hosting a cool contest where you can score five much-talked-about books - hers included. From her blog:

"As you know, I'm a fan of all these books. But here's my super-short reasoning for why you want each one:

  • THE ETERNAL ONES by Kiersten Miller is a fast-paced, adventurious love story that involves reincarnation, secret societies, and fire.
  • THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff is a hauntingly beautiful book that scares the pants off me.
  • NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer is not about werewolves--it's about true wolves that can shapeshift into people written by a brilliant scholar who incorporate history into the tale.
  • MATCHED (edit: also a NYT bestseller) by Allie Condie shows us that love can break through any barrier, and the most important thing is to not go gently...
  • ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is the book that I wrote and I would really like it if you liked it. Also I think you're pretty and want to be friends with you."
Rules are pretty basic - just visit her site to get the deets and then tell someone about it, like I just did :) Pretty fantastic way to support authors & books and get some page-turners to settle in with. God, I love that settling in :) Good luck!

Snap to, Will Henry!!

You know you want it. Buy it. Now.
The 19th century. We're talking the Gilded Age, New York. Science!! Freezing tenement slums, brightly-lit antechambers, fisticuffs. Drays and hansoms. Puff sleeves for the ladies, frock coats for the men. And that literature. Ohhhh, the literature. Lush. Words so thick they cloister the space like cigar smoke, leather and male pomposity in a Fifth Avenue smoking room.

Now. Add to that Rick Yancey's 12-year-old monstrumologist's assistant, Will Henry. Arcane sciences. Stilted passions. A rising dread, cloying shadows. A khorkhoi. The Victorian sensibility and its delicious, shivery blend of horror. Ohhhh...

In it arises the most gleefully ghoulish depravity. A shambling monster with a lisp. DUDES. IT LISPS. As it tears out your eyes. As its fangs rend the tender flesh of your heart with an exquisite pop. This glorious juxtaposition of the Victorian with the macabre drives, absolutely drives, Rick Yancey's THE CURSE OF THE WENDIGO.

Finished it yesterday. And I put it down with a sigh, mentally licking my fingers as I polished it off. Gorgeous. Universally-themed. With breathtaking writing. A marvelously complicated, aging monstrumologist. "Snap to, Will Henry!" And that achingly lovely, desperately doubting Will Henry himself. If you haven't read the Printz Award-winning THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST, go get it, read it. Now. I'm waiting. Done? Good. Now get THE CURSE OF THE WENDIGO (a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize).

Me? I'm anxiously awaiting Yancey's upcoming THE ISLE OF BLOOD, the next in the series. Awaiting it like a valet awaits your dripping gloves as you peel them off, stamping the dirty snow from your boots. Awaiting it like the butler waits for you to accept a freshly-ironed newspaper and repair to the drawing room. Awaiting it like you wait, frozen in place, head cocked, for that strange sound from the hall to identify itself.

"Jennings?" you murmur, but the butler has disappeared. Your valet has already removed your valise and has vanished up the servant's stair. Behind you, the tufted shadows distort the narrow hall and the house rears up, long and black, around you.

There it is again. That sound. A scratching? No--what is that damnable noise? And where has everyone gone? Taking up the lamp, you peer into the clouded gloom of the stairwell. You square your shoulders, try to ignore the palsied dancing of your nerves, and descend, step by groaning step, into the blackness. "Jennings?" you call again. This time, something answers. With befouled breath, reeking of the grave, into the coarse whiskers of your mutton chops. There is something on the stair. Behind you.

Ahhhhhh.....oh my god. 19th-century horror. YA. With a twist. I love you, Rick Yancey.

Dos Equis: The Man. The Barrel Chest. The Action Figure.

Uh...anyone else see these recently?

Yep. That's All State's "Mayhem," Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" and Old Spice's, well, former "Old Spice Guy" (Isaiah's retired his towel, sigh).

Anyway. They're action figures. What the cheese?!??

Hurm. I s'pose I can see the logic for Equis, anyway. I mean, who doesn't like a guy for whom the contents of his tacos refuse to fall out? Who's the life of parties he's never even attended? 

And who cares if that worldly, bearded, tanned Spanish rogue is actually a 72-year-old Jewish guy from the Bronx? Named Jonathan Goldsmith?

And Mayhem is a fitting character for actor Dean Winters, who died for 2.5 minutes in 2009 from a bacterial infection, spent most of the year recuperating and lost two toes and half a thumb from some heinous gangrene along the way. He gives new meaning to the word deadpan.

If Mayhem and Interesting Man aren't enough to send you rushing to order these, consider Old Spice's action figure. Which is anatomically correct. 

Stay thirsty, y'all.

Ooh. I haz award :)

So, here I am vanishing steadily from the blogosophere in my fit o Dem Bad Ol December Doldrums
Oh, you didn't know I was really Marceline?

when into the foul blackness of my personal morass comes a happy bit of LSP-grade smilies.

VB Tremper, you globe-trotting writer you, thanks for thinking of me with a capital T. Or, rather a capital A, for award. Cuz, fo realz, Vicki gave me this:

Thanks, dude! *tips hat* So, per the award rules, I'ma list seven things about me and pass this sucker on to seven bloggers :) Like ta hear it? Hear it go:

  1. Every morning when I awake, there's a random-ass song stuck in my head. I mean lodged in there. And did I say it was random-ass? Yeah. Waking up knowing all the words to Michigan J. Frog's Hello My Baby isn't as cool as you'd think it be. As it by rights should be. (...send me a kiss by wire, baby my heart's on fire...if you refuse me honey you'll lose me then you'll be left alone so baybee telephone and tell me I'm your Oown...) *ribbit* 
  2.  I can't complain about having teenagers. Getting to point and laugh at them Hanging out and listening to them go through their drama (ohgodtheDRAMMMMA) while watching Discovery Channel stuff about wormholes and dark matter and scarfing tacos can be pretty schweet.
  3. I spend way too much time singing to Wampa.
Who wouldn't?

4. Sometimes I think rural Georgia's gonna kill me.

5. I really dig Fringe. One of these days I'm gonna hug John Noble.

6. Just like VB Tremper, I daydream about studying linguistics one day. Theoretical linguistics. Just freakin' cuz.

7. I can't bowl for shit.

Right. Thus illuminated about my...vagaries, we can move on to the seven stylin bloggers! I hereby bequeath the Stylish Blogger Award to:

And on an unrelated note...

Why does my cat like feta cheese?????

The 1 person who can stop your procrastination. And it's not you. Not really.)

So I actually woke myself up an hour early - at six - to get some writing in. No, you don't understand. Six for me is like four a.m. to others. This is huge. Because for a long while, I had been trapped by procrastination. Felt like I had an inability to self-regulate. But I did it, and this is how:
This is my time on procrastination. Any questions?
I found something that actually works for me. Or rather, someone. My future self. According to French researcher Christine Tappolet, consideration for your future self is really effective at combating procrastination:

"Procrastination involves the voluntary infliction of a burden (perhaps even pain) on our future self... harming [our] future self. ...Putting things off for the future self [to do] despite the burden (e.g., dirty dishes left in the sink to do later) clearly indicates a lack of concern for the future self." 

Yep. Control of your time really is in your hands.
Uh-huh. So passing the buck to your future self is a really shitty thing to do. I mean, you wouldn't trash your living room and then leave it for your kid to clean up. Cuz it's not cool. And you know it's not cool cuz you have a hot little number called empathy. And turning that empathy toward Future You, putting yourself in your future shoes, stops procrastination cold:

Trouble empathizing with that future you? Tappolet says you can learn to create empathy for Future You by paying attention to how you treat, and empathize with, other people and apply it to you:

"Remind[ing] ourselves that our future self is every bit as deserving as another human being of care."

And that's what turned me around and got me up instead of me slapping the ol' snooze button. My unwillingness to be a bastard to my future self. My unwillingness to burden her with the guilt and unmanageable workload that I could have lessened by taking care of shit NOW.

Yeah, my future self isn't this creepy. Unless she's pissed at me for slacking off.
And that's another thing. If the idea of willfully harming your future self is disturbing to you, let it be disturbing. Turns out science finds repulsion a really effective procrastinator-killer. And that forgiving yourself for procrastination leads to less procrastination, too. Sigh. Doncha love science? Yeah. Me, too. It's so...futuristic.

Kick-Ass Insight from Haruki Murakami

In the spirit of writing/running analogies, I thought I'd share this post. It's from writer, globetrotter and blogger David Charles, who reviews author/runner Haruki Murakami's WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING - and in the process uncovers some fascinating insights. Here, with David's permission, I reprint the post for your illumination - and suggest you check out his blog.


A review of: 'What I talk about when I talk about running' by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is a writer (and runner). That, according to the final pages of this book, is how he would like to be remembered on his tombstone. And, according to the vague thesis of this book, writing and long-distance running are not dissimilar. In fact, Murakami says that everything he knows about writing, he learnt from running.

So what was that?

Writing and Running

Murakami identifies the three most important character traits for a novelist to possess:
  1. Talent.
  2. Focus. Murakami works for 3 or 4 hours in the morning. During this time he is totally focussed on his work-in-progress. He doesn't think about anything else at all.
  3. Endurance. A novelist needs the energy to focus every day for 6 months, a year or 2 years at a time.
For Murakami, talent is innate. The other two traits, however, you can train, in the same way that you train your muscles for a marathon. Focus and endurance are trained by sitting down at your desk everyday and working hard. They are just like muscles, obedient work-horses who take pain with fortitude as long as you prepare them gradually and don't give them a chance to relax and think the work is done. Murakami has a goal not to give his muscles more than 1 day's rest at a time.

A fourth characteristic is needed in the training: Patience. You've got to keep up this training regime and have faith that you will improve - and you will - but it will be gradual and you may not notice anything for a long time.

The good news is that building focus and endurance can make up for a lack of talent - and can sometimes unearth it.

Murakami likens writing a novel to hard physical labour. Writing itself is a mental activity - but finishing a novel is more like manual labour. Murakami also suggests that writers have to deal with all the toxic elements of humanity, which is extremely tiring. To be able to do this for more than a few years you will need to have great physical strength.

With this in mind, the reason to combine running with writing is obvious:
The main goal of exercising is to maintain and improve my physical condition in order to keep on writing novels.


The story that Murakami tells of the start of his career as a novelist seems too good to be true. He describes the moment he decided that he could write a novel - he just had the idea. He was 28 at the time. Six months later he had finished his book. Then he sent it off to a competition, which is duly won and suddenly he was a published novelist. So he wrote a second one soon after the first and they were both short-listed for a prestigious literary prize.

The bare facts hide the hard work: Murakami worked late into the night - sometimes til dawn - to fit his writing around his work. Even today, he admits that writing a novel is still hard, hard work - like digging a deep hole. The only thing that has changed it that he has become more efficient.

Murakami also says that those two early novels were very different to the sort of books he felt he wanted to write. These early novels were simplistic and drawn from the life he witnessed as the owner of a jazz bar in Japan. This is not a sustainable way of writing, Murakami says: at some point you'll run out of crazy stories to tell. He didn't feel capable of writing a complex, intelligent novel whilst also working full time. So he quit and started writing longer, more sustainable novels.

His early novels were successful and enabled him to move forward as a writer, but now his life is totally focused around writing. He talks quite movingly about the decisions that he and his wife made, that they would wake with the Sun and go to bed not long after its setting. This meant losing out on a lot of social life, but these are the sacrifices that must be made, just as you have to sacrifice time in your schedule for marathon training. So now he gets up early, works for 3 or 4 hours and then spends the afternoon doing less taxing chores. Murakami also naps a lot. He takes a 30 minutes nap after lunch and has got so good at napping that he does not feel sluggish afterwards.

I found this passage particularly revealing about Murakami's philosophy of writing:
As I write I think about all sorts of things. I don't necessarily write down what I'm thinking; it's just that as I write I think about things. As I write I arrange my thoughts. And rewriting and revising takes my thinking down even deeper paths. No matter how much I write though, I never reach a conclusion. And no matter how much I rewrite, I never reach the destination. Even after decades of writing, the same still holds true. All I do is present a few hypotheses or paraphrase the issue. Or find an analogy between the structure of the problem and something else.
Murakami shares one discovery that set him free in his writing: he realised that if only one in ten people who read the book absolutely loved it - then that was enough. This freed him to simply write the way he felt like and to stick to it.


Murakami talks a lot in the book about the meditative aspect of running, as well as its physical benefits. He mentions one marathon runners' mantra in particular: 'Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.' He enjoys running for its lack of competition - the competition is with the clock and yourself, not the other runners.

He also talks about his philosophical attitude to age and its physical deterioration. He knows his times will never improve again, but he will carry on showing up until he can't any longer. He is very proud of his record of successfully finishing the marathons he enters.

Encouragingly, he also says that he was never able to keep a diary for long - but kept up a runners journal. Incidentally, Murakami mentions that running is a great activity to do while memorising a speech: the rhythms get into the words and into your memory.

He tells us what motivates him to run when he can't face it: 'You don't have to sit on a packed train with commuters or sit through boring meetings - don't you realise how lucky you are?' Compared to this image, running doesn't seem so bad and he hits the streets with the air in his lungs.

Murakami has also run one ultra-marathon (62 miles). He says this event is:
An action that deviates from the ordinary, but doesn't violate basic values - you'd expect it to afford you a special sort of self-awareness. It should add a few new elements to your inventory in understanding who you are. And as a result your life, its colours and shape should be transformed. (Sounds like writing to me! -- ZCS)
This was the case for him, after his 62 mile ultra-marathon he lost the appetite for running everyday. It wasn't necessarily that he had run too much in one go - he lost interest in running everyday no matter what. He'd moved into a new zone, the amount of adrenalin he secreted during marathons went down - so he moved onto triathlons. Murakami would like to do an Ironman, but is scared that the training for it would interfere with his writing job. This is the same reason why he didn't do more ultra-marathons. Remember, the reason for running is writing, not the other way around.

Murakami now does a marathon in winter and a triathlon in summer. This is how the rhythm of his year works. He is always in training. (Bold & emphasis mine. ZCS)

And Me?

I believe a lot of what Murakami is saying and found his simple attitude encouraging. When I cycled to Bordeaux (547 miles) I felt strong and powerful, almost omnipotent. I was certainly transformed and was forced to shake up my ideas of what was possible. I felt I could do anything, anything at all. Surely, (although I don't know yet) it will feel the same to write a novel - to finish a novel, that is. This is my marathon. When I finish, it will be done and my conception of what I am capable of will be transformed again and I will kick on to the next and the next and the next.  

That's a big 10-4! What a great post. Thanks, David, for letting me reprint it!

Did you quit on that MS?

Came across an interesting piece on quitting this morning. Resonated cuz I've quit on an MS or two. Current MS is treading water in the wide Revision Sea. Momentum temporarily exited stage left. Which feels like quitting lite. BUT...

Turns out quitting might occur, as this guy posited, much the same way it does when jogging. At first, you're gung-ho out of the gate. Still doing okay, if a little pink-cheeked, mid-run. But as you near the home stretch, your legs and lungs are BURNING in the kiln of pain.

At this point, you start visualizing being done with it. And once you do that, turns out, you're toast. You stop short of your finish line. And that's because, as this guy said:

"When my mind started visualizing the end of the run, it shifted from managing the pain I was feeling to preparing for it to end."

And that's when his resistance fell apart. Huh. So that's why this revision has slowed. Starting to see the finish line. And in preparing for the relief at the end, I feel acutely the pain, fear and doubt of the work still left to be done. I'm no longer managing those stressors now; I'm focusing on them.

So. Time to shift my attention. Time to refocus on managing those stressors with good pacing, positive thoughts. Strength. The hope and non-existent wind-resistance of those starting days. Joy, even. So that, at this last stretch, I don't quit. So that instead...

I break that fucking finish line ribbon like a freakin' champ.

So what about you? Feel like quitting? If so, did this help? Provide some 11th-hour stamina like a protein pack slapped into a marathoner's hand at the 24-mile mark? Shit, yeah! So, go! Go! GO!

Ooh. So that's where it went.

 So. It's February 7th, do you know where your New Year's resolutions are?

I know where mine are: Treading water back there in apple-cheeked and optimistic January. Evidently I'm not alone; Self says only 1 in 10 resolutioners keep theirs -- 75% relapse in the first 2 months. Stressing? Don't: I've got some good info to get you back on track at the end of this post. Trust me, it's some eye-opening, paradigm-shifting shit.

So what were your goals, writing-wise? How are you doing with them? Mine were to treat procrastination to some blunt-force trauma. To stop being such a well-troll and pop out occasionally to see what's happening top-side. And to define what kind of writer I want to be.

Before I fail on all fronts, I'm hoisting the giant .50-caliber Illudium Q-36 Resolution Rocket Launcher and firing some motivation to get you unstuck. First, a blogfest. Shortly I'll post deets and dates, but general thrust will be quick n derrty: give me 3 adjectives describing the kind of writer you want to be & 3 steps you'll take to become that writer this year. (Make 'em specific, y'all, cuz e'erybody knows only specific resolutions tend to stick.)

Second is that eye-opening, paradigm-shifting tip. And it's simple as hell. Just

From Pilar Gerasimo
"The problem with willpower is that it's one hard-driving taskmaster cemented to a static idea of success. But willingness is full of open-minded inquiries, like: How might I go about getting started on this project? What would happen if I tried this? What would be most helpful now? Where the will never says die; willingness is continually reborn and gets smarter and stronger each time around."

So instead saying I WILL FINISH THIS REVISION THIS MONTH, I'm simply saying i am willing to try and how can i best accomplish thisThat shit just sounds friendlier. Approachable. Doable, even.

Tip#2If you wanna control yourself, you first have to control your environment.
Tip#3: knowing the diff between intentions, goals & actions is what creates authentic inspiration.

So what are you willing to look at to meet writing goals? How can you control your environment to achieve the best results--and get fired up again now that February has eaten away that motivation?

Interesting stuff, y'all. I'm thinking. Thinking 'bout it. And that's some damn fine ammo.

Dear God, she's waxing philosophical again. Somebody get this girl a vodka tonic.

First off, let me say that, yanno, *raises eyebrows* Koontz is pretty damn commercial, isn't he? Even so, that man can still sling the words sometimes. Bending it like Beckham, I mean. Sliding in those little turns of phrases and plot-locking POV shifts that make you nod and go, yeah, man. Okay. Nice.

And this is coming from someone who's not a big reader of He-Who-Shall-Always-Sneak-A-Golden-Retriever-Into-Every-Single-One-Of-His-Books.

The reason I'm not a huge Koontz reader of late is because sometimes his books feel a little too This-Is-How-An-American-Male-Horror-Author-Does-It-Circa-1989. (Just my opinion folks, no hurling rocks here, I still fucks wit a Koontz novel e'ery now and again, sheesh.) 

But also because sometimes it feels like his hunger is gone. Ditto my favorite author, King. (Okay, UNDER THE DOME felt at least a little peckish). I mean, I liked CELL and LISEY'S STORY and DUMA KEY, etc. (and still love the eye-closing sweetness of that familiar King voice) but the latter part of the King canon feels a little too much like the hunger is gone for him, too. The hunger that made me feel the weight of Roland's big ol guns or smell the furious oil of a certain Plymouth Fury. The hunger that made me, in turn, devour his pages. Now, the taste lingers, but the hunger is gone.

And I wonder about that. Worry actually. About the thing that happens when you've written your way through the angst of your 20s and the bills of your 30s and the swiftly-shifting political parties of your 40s and into the golf memberships of your 50s--if you've been financially successful in your writing career, I mean. Or that thing that happens if you haven't been successful and all that unpublished angst has burned a bright gold hole into the back of your head through which the sighs of your new yoga breaths gently drain it all away--?

What happens when you get to that point in your career? What I mean is, when you finally see the thing that's waiting on the other side of your ambition. What is that? And if you see it, can you unsee it? Unsee it and catch a little pang that might grow back into the hunger that devours your readers and makes them, in turn, devour your books again? 

What is that thing?


Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just finished reading Koontz's WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS and I wasn't ravenous but I dug it. Nice pace. Nice tension. Nice eldritch little sub-tones. Nice widening gyre. Enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I let it make me start thinking about golden holes in the backs of people's heads.

*narrows eyes*

Well played, Mr. Koontz. Well played.