The Endless Wars: The Descent

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Winter's Block

I fascinate me. Should you know me well, this should come as no great surprise.

What I mean by that is for as well as I know myself, I still surprise myself, in ways both good and bad. Take my reaction to the winter season, for example. I know that I've struggled through every winter, specifically, in the ways that relate to 'not being a fragile emotional deadweight.' I go into every winter saying, 'eh, fuck it, I'm fine,' and then, by about January, I'm staring out the window, wanting to break out into a very sad Wilson-Phillips-esque song that is heavily imbued with longing. Well, except, that would require motivation.

And, see, this is the point at which I should be saying, 'AHA! I'll go write a book about it! YES!' Instead ... eh. I don't feel like it.

What sucks is that I'm deep into some good pages on the Endless Wars sequel, and I've been getting some good feedback from my editor on them, and now he's quietly knocking on my phone door saying, 'Uh, dude? About that book? I want to see what happens next.' THAT is exactly what every good novelist wants to hear, and yet ... eh, I don't feel like it.

I've also been trying different things in terms of my process, too, to try to jump-start the thing. Everything from changing up the time of day to refining my environment, and none of it is sticking.

Of course, I always like a jackass at these moments. I'm an adult. I should be able to just make myself sit for an hour and bang out a page or two. That's what should happen, and yet ... eh, I don't feel like it.

And, it's temporary, of course. I'm not really sweating it, but I kind of wish I was.

In the meantime, I'm reading like a madman. I've been devouring the Wheel of Time series, something I'd long avoided. I was finally convinced by a friend in the meatspace to just try it, and I'm loving it. It's like the anti-A Song of Ice & Fire series. Don't get me wrong, I love ASoI&F, but WoT is a refreshing low fantasy opposite. They have similar settings, but where everyone in ASoI&F is fucking and dying right and left, the WoT characters are ... well ... not. Additionally, where there's little else out there akin to ASoI&F, WoT iterates on every great sci-fi/fantasy trope, but does so rather skillfully.

I'm also hyped for the release of Dead Space 3 next week. The fiction of that universe is fantastic, and a great commentary on the ways that science, religion, corporate interests, and government all interact. If you've not played the Dead Space games, grab the first one and let me know what you think. There's also animated films, comics, novels, spin-off games, and all kinds of stuff that feeds into the fiction. It's a great universe that offers some pretty sharp critiques of how we, as a people, have evolved, and might continue to evolve.

For now, though, I'm hoping to narrow my focus a bit, reign my passions in, and make myself more productive in the writing space. I love doing it, but hate doing it part-time.

I also want to record another album ... and make my own text adventure ... and get back to more model building ... and spend more time sharpening my C# skills ... and sharpen my Windows Server skills ... and finally finish Buffy ... and have more time for playing sports with my son ... and back into watching basketball more ... and baseball, too, for that matter ... oh, and I need to play through all the Neverwinter Nights games and mods ... I also never finished Final Fantasy XIII-2 ... and I don't spend enough time with Guild Wars 2 ... I wouldn't mind revisiting Star Trek Online ... and I would really like to play through more of the stories in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Like I said ... narrowing my focus.



The Clean Room

Whenever I get ready for another big push on a book, I go back and re-read/edit the preceding chapter or two. It helps put me in the right mindset, and gives me some great momentum for that day's push.

In today's case, I actually went back to the 'zero' chapter of this piece, and started pushing all the way through. I'd put this book down for a bit while I tended to some time-sensitive professional commitments, but I also needed to think through a complete overhaul of a character's thread through the first few chapters. I wasn't really sure what to do with him at the outset of writing this novel, so I just kinda had him doing nothing, which I thought maybe would be an interesting change for him from the last Endless Wars novel.

Yeah, not so much.

However, I did finally realize what his role in this novel was.

So, in going back through the beginning, I had a chance to slip back into his head, and in that moment, realized that we were very much on the same page, to an eerie extent. So, I plunged in, cut his sections open, did some major surgery, and just rode that wave.

What was great about today's lunch time session was that I really got to remember why I love writing. In pushing through this character's arc, I was just letting the story guide me, I was just letting the words fall out of me, and before long, looking over some of what I'd just written, I realized that I was really expressing some frustrations and disappointments I had, and in doing so, realized that much of this book is a reexamination of where I am in life.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate my life, I don't regret anything. I'm where I need to be right now, but it's great when working on art really gets you thinking about what you were put on this planet to do, and reveals some potential futures.

The Clean Room
I am constantly distracted. My attention is constantly in demand. I make myself available nearly all the time.

It's funny, because, at heart, I am an intensely isolated person, and my lifestyle very much matched that. If you wanted to hang out, you needed to come to me. If you wanted to talk, you needed to call me.

Now, though, little of that has changed, except I'm a father, husband, sysadmin, friend, counselor, mentor, and many other things, all of which constantly lay siege to my time, and I can really see it in my writing.

Writing fiction while distracted is a fucking terrible thing to do. In editing some of my stuff today, I could see that I'd started and stopped and started and stopped many times in a small section, because I'd have thoughts repeating themselves. I'm glad I'm one of only three people to ever see that edit, because it's embarrassing, but it also highlights a change I need to make in my life.

One, I need to put a process back into place, and two, part of that process needs to involve some 'me' time, something for which I used to fight ferociously, and with the advent of being a family man and professional, I let slowly starve, wither, and die. That needs to change.

I need a mental clean room. I need to be able to go to a place, at least in my head, that tunes everything else out. I used to be good at that, but I'm just so fucking distracted all the time.

I'd still like to have a mobile solution to this, too. I'm constantly on the move, I travel quite a bit, and nearly every day is a crushing load of stuff. There's some paring down that can be done there, but not a lot, if I want to keep losing weight, maintain a happy marriage, connect with my child, and show some level of proficiency at my job.

Writing every day needs to be in there.

I've even given thought to writing first thing in the morning. I've heard Toni Morrison talk about doing this, and she's had success, so maybe there's something there for me. I dunno, though. Even being two years sober now, I'm still not a morning person.

We'll see. Thoughts from other writers or artists are welcome.

Other Projects
I put everything else on hold. I need to write this book, and I need to write it now. I've got some musical and game-related stuff in the pipeline that I'm really excited to work on, but this Endless Wars novel is very much front and center. I've got some downtime planned this winter, and I'd love to crank on this thing hard.

Yup. Just checking in.