Halfway through 2018!

Earlier this year I posted my goals for the year, here they are again:
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work

Soon after posting this list it changed, such is the way I suppose. I realized quick that the short story was really flawed and wasn’t working. I could make it work but seeing as I’m not a huge fan of short stories, I felt fake putting so much into writing something I don’t enjoy. I do like writing them but reading them is often a chore. I probably just haven’t found the right collection or writer. So that story is safely tucked away until I decide it’s time to revisit. There is an idea worth revisiting there, character is the problem.
I finished the third draft of my first novel on June 10th 2018. I believe I can complete the thing by the end of the year and be querying agents before 2019. I’m not backtracking with it again by rewriting from the jump like I have before. The foundation is set, time to go into the smaller details.
As far as the blog is concerned, I’ve been more active than I think I have in a long time. Not sure I’m consistent, more like haphazardly posting things. It might be an accidental pattern. The problem is when I get sucked into a draft, I don’t think about the blog.
The rest of the above bullet-points are all under one umbrella, I just didn’t want to have one bullet-point because it’s far from one item. The things I have listed above don’t even begin to cover it. Her and I have decided to wait until the spring because getting married in the winter sounds like a fucking drag (that’s an understatement). The first stage of the paperwork should be finalized somewhere around September and by then we should have more of a timetable/plan for the rest of the things that feed into us finally being together for real. In a nutshell, I’m getting married next year!
Oh and the job, um… hopefully next year for that as well. I’m waiting on that as well.

This is the halfway point of the year and I think I’m doing okay with it all. There’s always room for improvement. I’ve written somewhere around 80,000 words so far this year. At the end of May, I did try to go without a “zero day”, as in words written. I didn’t quite make it a full month so new goal is to start with July 1st and try to go the rest of the year without a zero day. It does seem to inspire me, trouble is when there isn’t a focus on a project I get distracted. Not that I’m feeling guilty. The focus remains on the novel and I think I did need a break.
Let’s break down my new goals:
**No more Zero Days!
**Finish novel by year’s end and…
**Begin querying agents
**Blog more consistently
**Revisit, revise and release A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES

That last one is a bonus. I think it’s possible but I’m not sure exactly how much work that needs, seeing as I have yet to examine it as a whole. That’s slated for next month, after I do another pass of the novel before sending it off to be read by some people.
I am experimenting with scheduling things and so far so good. It’s just a little strange working on secondary projects. Especially since I feel so close with the big one and I have big plans for it. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of that sooner rather than later.

A Faded Crosswalk

There seems to be more ghosts than demons, less like a hand gripping at every scrap of flesh and more like helpful, guiding hands. I’m not alone and I’m not together. Somehow it’s okay that I have outlived more than I wish to count. Even with the idea that an early grave was in someway bought and paid for.
Hope you kept the receipt.

I remember the car, I’m sure you do too and that actually goes for all of you. Strange to consider the importance of the thing most take for granted, more than anything else. It’s a weapon of mass destruction and a safe haven, a thrill and a fear. The wearer of many skins and roles. But do you remember the car we sat in? And all the things we said, all the plans and theories and discussions. It’s like seasons, years even, of my life are encased there. An entire year as one night. Ever ready to be replayed in fractured, minute blips. Memories like raindrops in a storm.

Back then we were invincible; living and breathing and fatally flawed. The easiest handholds are the ones that seem to crumble under our weight. I was a faded crosswalk. Painted lines well worn from feet and tires, and just about anything else that wanted to roll on through. You were a friend when I wasn’t sure I knew the meaning of the word. Here in the after, I’ve repainted the lines. They look a little different but I’m sure you’d recognize me. After all, you’re here. Isn’t that strange and beautiful and fucked and a whole dictionary of things? You’re gone and yet you’re here. I can shake the demons off but I can’t throw salt over my shoulder at the ghosts. My ghosts. I protect you, the way you seemingly protect me.

Every day there’s a memory to time travel through. We are time travelers. I am the paint, the pavement, the faded lines and the ones redone and touched up.
All of it, all at once.
All of you, all together.

27th October 2017

I had so many ideas of how to do it like I’m sure most people do. On the 26th I thought of doing it in this sort of little park nearby it. Park might be a strong word. It was a little spot with trees and a little fence and playscape, complete with a solitary streetlight. I could see us being there, coming home after a little light grocery shopping. I brought the ring with me but we came back a different way and there was no way for me to carry the bags and wrestle the little ring free. We always end up with more than we intended. See book store trips from September 2016. I was a little disappointed but it was that night I decided when I’d do it.
We had made plans to finally go up the mountain where the giant cross resides and I figured that was perfect. Because the ring looks better in the daylight and there’d be a memorable locale. Pretty much anywhere in Skopje, you can see the cross on the mountaintop.
Friday morning, we made our way up. Bus ride to the park where the cable cars reside, we rode the swinging things up. My first thought was damnit there are so many people.
We had lunch looking down at the countryside and I was reminded of the woods near my childhood home and all those times I’d sit and wish I had someone by my side. I looked at her and again for the millionth time I remembered how I never thought I’d be this lucky. Throughout my life I’ve gone through waves, for every great person that has enriched my life there’s a legion of others that make me embarrassed to be a person.
Most people I wouldn’t drive ten minutes down the road for.
On the mountain, I noticed an area that wasn’t so densely populated with strangers and I steered her that way. Because sure, I wouldn’t mind being that guy at the airport on his knee but she would. We found a place to sit and in my jacket pocket I’m fighting the little plastic bag the ring was in. I was quietly freaking out because plastic is loud and she’s going to hear and also WHAT IF I DROP IT CUZ THESE DAMN SWEATY PALMS?
IT’S SIMPLE. DO NOT DROP IT.
At the same time I’m thinking about this rock I used to sit on that was in the woods near where I grew up, it overlooked the street and in a way it felt like I was there again, but with her.
Then a new pang of fear: what if she doesn’t love the ring?
The only thing that saved me here was she was occupied by her phone. Finally, I got the ring out of the little plastic baggie. Godamn I should have thought this through.
Spoiler: She loved (and loves) the ring.
She was surprised and she didn’t notice my scrambling or the plastic bag trouble.

I love her. She’s worth traveling across the world for. Again and again. Until we don’t have to leave anymore.

When we finally rode our own cable car down, we waited so long because we wanted our own, our perfect day on the mountain became super perfect when we met this delightful gang of trouble.

But then the bus driver was late, just proof that there’s always a Richard around.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to my love. And to everyone else reading this too. Wait for the love you want, the love you deserve.

What I learned from my writing in 2017

The biggest thing about 2017 was how I sort of stumbled into a more business mindset when it comes to writing. It can be both serious business and a fleeting art like most things it’s about balance. Constraints can fuel creativity and level it up. For example, writing the first draft of my upcoming novel was not what I would call a fun experience. I mean it was and it wasn’t. I drank way too much coffee, thinking that it would spark something more and so in turn I didn’t sleep very well. Looking back it’s crazy because I was hurting myself for… art? That’s insane. You could argue about musicians and heroin or whatever other drug and that’s fine if you think the drugs did it. A person shouldn’t sacrifice themselves so someone else can enjoy something they made. Fuck that. Art should enhance all life, not a select group.
Wow, this got away from me.
What was I saying? Oh, constraints… I always thought outline was a dirty word because Stephen King says so. That’s what works for him. Advice is just advice, the confusing bit is how everyone presents it as fact. You know, like how I just did with the bit about constraints? Everyone is wrong and everyone is also right. I’ve found that outlining is super important to my process. Early on, the problem I had was HOW THE FUCK DO YOU OUTLINE. No one ever says how really. Some go into index cards and sticky notes but I haven’t done it that way. The way I outlined the first Piece of ACOT was fairly simple, I didn’t really understand what acts were and the whole “it’s the beginning middle and end” answer doesn’t fucking explain anything. What is different between the three? Is the end the last bit like the last frame of a movie? Is the end the bit before the end? Is the beginning this or that? And so what the hell does the middle look like? I listed out the events of that short story. And every time the protagonist (Vike) made a choice, I decided that was an “act turn” or “act break”.
So when he decided to try to save the stranger’s life at the Rift is the end of the first act. It might not be clear in the story but that’s what he was doing. When he decided to listen to what the Moth had to say and really believe he could help was the end of the 2nd act. It’s essentially him realizing he fucked up by “saving the stranger” and the end is when he decides what he really believes which results in… well just read it.
The first outline had all those things as bullet points and like the surrounding story points, so just a list of things. Not all of the Pieces were written in a structured manner, the second Piece was mostly just “more action and more cool things”. I’ve since learned more about structure and I apply a little of it but mostly I like having a dash of structure like having a very strong midpoint of the story that works really hard. I’m still really unsure about endings. That is what I worry about most because when I was first thinking about ending ACOT, I couldn’t think of any endings I really really liked. That series owes a lot to the Matrix and the ending of that is really disappointing. What I tried with ACOT was to have something real to hang onto at the very end. It’s all fairly ambiguous but there was something I really intended to say at the end because that story was about Vike and Amnee and how someone can come into your life and be a surrogate for someone else.
When it came to revisit the novel after two years away from it, I was afraid of editing it, of rebuilding it because I knew I wanted to change so much. It was written in first person and I wanted that to change and I wanted to be more intentional in genre and tone. I couldn’t describe the book until a few months ago when I would talk about the first draft it was: “Well it’s about this and there’s this and oh there’s this and this too!” I was figuring it out as I went. I only just realized what the book really is about this month as I restructure and rework the outline. This will be the third draft but this is the sixth or maybe seventh outline I’ve done for this. I’ve torn it apart multiple times.
I’ve only edited short stories before this, so the novel is a huge learning process and I’ve committed myself to taking it slower and trying things. ACOT may be novel-sized, it’s roughly sixty thousand words but it wasn’t written as a novel. It was written as four long short stories, the 3rd and 4th Pieces were originally one and the final two Pieces were written as one as well. Outlining those made it easy to know what I was writing any given day and I’ve applied that to the novel and to these other short pieces I’ve written.
In 2017, I tracked not only the things I wrote and finished but while I rewrote the novel from May through September, I kept track of the daily word count. I have gotten into the habit of tracking things and taking more notes, it all feeds into the business angle which has been very interesting and rewarding. I didn’t think I had it in me.
I’ve also been experimenting more with deadlines. It’s ongoing, I’m not sure how to make all of it work because I want to be realistic but also challenge myself but at the same time there’s so much to do. Again it’s fear because I am afraid to set hard deadlines and then not meet them and I’ll be really hard on myself and that would crash the writing.
2017 was a big year for my development as a writer and I’m looking forward to growing and evolving more this year.

What I wrote in 2017

I decided to try to be more productive and so I began 2017 with writing down what I wanted to accomplish for the year. Except I did it in smaller chunks, I went quarterly because to plan a whole year out in advance seemed crazy. (Plot twist- I have 2018 all planned out, as far as writing goes and as far as what I can plan on right now)
I wanted to keep track because I wanted to know what I was doing all year. I didn’t realize that the simple act of trying to organize myself would really change my entire mindset on writing.
The first thing I wanted to do was finish A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES, which I had originally envisioned as an ongoing thing when it first evolved from a possible idea of separate stories in one world to a focused narrative I had thought of it as a prose answer to TV sensibilities. But along the way it changed again, I realized I had to put those characters and that world away. I couldn’t leave it hanging open for years, I had this vision of it never being finished so I decided to end it and work on something else.
At the start of 2017, that something else was a little novella called THROUGH THE BLUR and I had the idea of going traditional with it and shopping it around with publishers but something happened that changed my life and most importantly my writing life. A little podcast called The Bestseller Experiment, which I found when Joe Hill retweeted his appearance on it. I distinctly remember listening to that episode and laughing at the intro where these two guys tell you what they are trying to do: write, publish and market a novel in under a year. Yeah sure, ‘cause that’s possible, I said to myself. (spoiler- they actually did it!)
Over the course of the first half of the year, as I worked on A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES and my short story A VAST EULOGY, I realized something and that was I was afraid. And not just of one thing but a few things. First, I was afraid to have THROUGH THE BLUR be my first professionally published work and put my foot down as a sci-fi author. I love sci-fi but I was afraid of putting that out front because I’m not sure I’m smart enough. The other thing I was afraid of was working on the novel I had started in December 2014 and subsequently finished the first draft in May 2015. I put it aside because I knew it’d need a ton of work and I was scared of that. Because at the time, I hadn’t seen any real advice or anything about actually editing and I was so afraid of looking at that manuscript and diagnosing it.
I don’t remember the episode exactly, but there was a shift in my thinking while I listened along to the two Marks on their Bestseller Experiment writing journey. It really crawled into my head and I began to think, oh this is all wrong. The right way to fully launch my writing career is with this novel, it’s not sci-fi, it’s something else and I really love that and could see a career based in and around that sort of genre mixing. So when I finished A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES, I pulled out this novel in April 2017. It’s been quite an adventure since then.
I grew so much in 2017. I finished ACOT and A Vast Eulogy, both of which are available now for you to read FOR FREE!
If you missed the little pop-up, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive A Vast Eulogy by clicking here.
Also, I wrote two other short stories both of which are unfinished. One is fanfic and will be up for free sometime in 2018, the other is one I hope to sell. I wrote the latter longhand and really loved that experience. Both of those are under five thousand words each. I wrote another short story, perhaps it’s more novella-size, it’s more novella in structure. I’m not sure what’s to come of that just yet. It’s safe and sound in a notebook, marinating.
All in all, I had a really productive writing year and I hope to write even more in 2018. I’m planning to give NaNoWriMo this year, instead of missing it like I have the past few years because I forget to plan for it.
There’s a second part to this post which revolves more around what I learned in 2017 as it pertains to writing. I hope you’ll join me for that one in a few days. Thank you for reading! And if you signed up for my mailing list, THANK YOU.

2017 in review – I love TV and Sense8 and the Wachowski’s

Over the last few years, I’ve really noticed a shift in my habits and hobbies, I guess you’d call it. Growing up I loved movies and I’d say I still do but there’s a different kind of relationship now. And I’ve begun to understand that my relationship with film/cinema isn’t the same as a lot of the more hardcore movie people. I have no connection, no romantic feelings about going to a theater. The memories that stand out the most aren’t pleasant and the movies I love the most are ones I never saw in theaters. But I have vivid memories of TV shows, and over the past decade I’ve really formed lasting emotional connections to TV shows, in a way that film has never ever come close to. It’s probably been more than ten years at this point but decade just feels good.
Late 2005, I have this foggy memory (as most of them from then are) of staying up all night, bloodshot eyes and no desire to face the inside of my eyelids and so channel surfing seemed fine at the time. It was just before sunrise and I got lost in this scene upon a rooftop, it was raining and they were dirty and bloody. I wrote it off and almost changed the channel because it seemed like a soap opera but in that moment I understood that drama was important. It was a rerun of an early episode of Angel and I don’t think I’ve been the same since then. They aired the reruns in order, two by two and I watched the entirety of Angel twice over before seeking out Buffy.
Just for the record, Wesley’s journey from season 3 of Buffy all the way into the end of Angel is the finest character arc. It’s the benchmark.
I could write here about staying up late and learning how to “function” on five hours of sleep when I discovered Lost in 2007. Or the late night I found Hannibal on TV, I caught the end of the pilot and how I hated myself for writing that one off as well.
Wait, I just found the pattern. Revelations happen late at night for me and I’ve spent the last ten years or so working in those hours.

Since Fringe ended, TV for me hasn’t been the same. My heart remains broken over the cancellations of things like Terminator and Caprica and Hannibal and it just seems there isn’t as much to get really invested in. I have to make it an effort to not rewatch Lost every year. I think I’m close to ten times that I’ve watched it all. I stopped counting. The show I rewatch every year now is Mr. Robot. I have a full fledged review of the latest season forthcoming so I won’t waste time here about that one (spoiler – season 3 is hot fucking fire). Actually, I do watch The Expanse over as well, it’s almost time again for that!
As for 2017 specifically, I’d like to talk about two shows that actually are both Netflix originals. First being the life changing and utterly beautiful SENSE8.
I would follow the Wachowski’s anywhere. I’d fucking storm the gates of hell with them.

>>Shit is about to get real so if you want, now is the time to turn back, X out the page in your browser.<<

Still with me? Cool.
Sense8 is perfect and by perfect I mean it’s a flawed masterpiece made by perfectly flawed humans for every other perfectly flawed person to ever walk the Earth. The first season I loved but I understand it’s not for everyone, I get it. They were figuring it out, we all were. Season 2 is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
UNLIKE ANYTHING I’VE EVER SEEN.
I can say and I’m going to say that it’s because of the Wachowski’s that I write stories, I mean not solely but whatever. And I can also say that it’s because of the Wachowski’s that I’m happier in the skin I reside in. It’s because of them I want to write stories for all people, stories about people that don’t look like me.
Every single episode of season 2 of Sense8 has everything you could ever want. Somehow they managed to craft those episodes in a way that allows a huge emotional victory and often a devastating twist or loss. I was cheering and crying and all sorts of things every single episode. My favorite is Lito, his journey has been fantastic to watch, all the highs and lows are incredible. The show is a gift. I’ve gotten so much from it. Season 2 is everything I could ever ask for. It’s feel good TV with a healthy dose of intrigue and sci-fi.
And it’s almost similar to Firefly in how terrible Netflix has treated it. They waited forever to make a decision on renewing it after the first season. And next to no time to cancel it after season 2 aired. It’s almost like they WANTED to kill it on the first day of Pride Month.
But they can’t take the show from me. It’s part of who I am.
And I am not alone.

It might be like going from breathing fire to building igloos but I don’t care. The other show that made a big impact in 2017 was The Punisher. Before this one dropped, I had about zero faith in the Marvel TV landscape. The Defenders was okay. It was about three hours too long and like I don’t like the guy playing Luke at all. I was ready to be super bummed about my boy Frank being dealt the short stick but NOPE. It exceeded even my wildest dreams.
The acting is on a level I didn’t expect and I didn’t ever expect to be in tune with it as much as I was. While watching I was locked in and actually “fell for” story twists I don’t think I would have otherwise. Because typically I’m pretty cynical about those type of things.
I think I first fell in love with the Punisher years ago because he was an adult that was allowed to unleash his rage and as a kid I had a lot of trouble with anger and Frank Castle sort of took some of it from me. As an adult, I find it all ridiculous and I’m so glad that they took the character and story as seriously as they did. Jon Bernthal is incredible. So much so that I kinda feel bad for hating Shane on The Walking Dead.

Other highlights of my TV watching life in 2017:
*The entire season one of Mindhunter. Watching this with Aleks was especially entertaining because we don’t really get a chance to watch more serious things and being able to see her really dive into something that challenged and satisfied her intellectually was a complete joy.
*Season 2 of The Leftovers is brilliant. Skip season 1 and just watch season 2. Seriously, do it. If you really dig it then maybe go back or just press onward. I have heard plenty of people just watched season 2 and 3 and had limited difficulties. Season 3 is on my to do list but the timing has to be right.
*I can’t remember if I started it in 2016 or 2017 but I know I finished it in 2017; Person of Interest is great fun. I’d say it’s worth watching just for Amy Acker but I could say that about anything with her. She’s incredible (they better give her something real to do on The Gifted, not just worried mom)
*If you’re not watching Speechless you’re missing out on so much happiness.
*Lastly, I’m so fucking stoked that Sterling K Brown is getting so much recognition these days. I’ve been hoping for good things for him for years and it’s happening. In the biggest way.

This has been long but I’m not apologizing, every post won’t be this long. I just really love TV.
Thank you for reading, if you’re reading this.

This is the 2018 I am making…

It’s officially one week into the new year, and yeah I’m still reflecting on the past year but I wanted to stop for a minute and share some of what 2018 looks like for me. If you’ve been following along at all, you know that I have a novel in the works and whether you know it or not I had planned to release it in May 2018. Well that isn’t going to work anymore.
Over last summer I hammered away at a 2nd draft that while writing it, I was I immensely proud of, and I am still proud of it but also… it sucks. Except it doesn’t. I see writers saying that a lot but it’s not true. Because I can see how it can be better, I can see how I can make it better. It doesn’t suck, it just needs work. A lot more work than I thought it would need when I was writing it so I’ve pulled the throttle back on my plans. You see, my original plan was for this book to be off with an editor now and I’d be knee deep in writing the sequel. That doesn’t work because if I had started work on the sequel based off of the 2nd draft of the first book then I’d not only have to change one book but two.
Perhaps the biggest factor is money. In order to present this thing properly and professionally I need much more money than I can afford at the moment and in the foreseeable future. The priority here is getting my fiancée into the country, which costs a small fortune— more than I plan to spend of the initial release of the book (to put it into perspective) but it’s looking to be more like a blessing. This being my first novel I’m still learning and rewriting this thing is a learning process because it’s not at all the same as editing a short story. If the May release window was still possible then I think I may have rushed everything together just to meet that date. I don’t have to release it then. What I have to do is be smarter about money and work on putting out the best novel I can.
I do think I can still release it in 2018 and that’s where the big goals of the year come in. My plans for January are pretty busy. Lightspeed Magazine opens for submissions next month and so I have about a month to get this short story done (if you would be interesting in beta reading, let me know) the idea is to sell a short story or two to help fund the book launch. That makes more sense to me than begging for money and I don’t really have time to run a Patreon community or something similar.
Speaking of time, if there’s one thing that sort of fits a New Year’s Resolution, it’s time management. I suck at it so much and need to get better, I think this busy year will probably help me quite a bit.
To put it all in nice list, here are my 2018 goals(in no particular order):
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work
I was going to put a lot of those things as one bullet point but I wanted to illustrate how big it all is. To put it into terms that are easily understandable, it’s like having three full time jobs.
Similarly to how I felt like a “real” writer last year while I was collecting rejection letters, all of this makes me feel like a true adult. Rather than a pretend one. It’s all exciting and terrifying and overwhelming and so many things, as soon as I focus on one I’m feeling another and then another and it’s like a finger spinning a globe, scraping across all of the countries in a flash.
Here’s to a BIG year!

As always, thank you for reading.