From the Ashes

Wow…I quit this blog and the hits start piling up!

Now you all are making me want to start it up again.  So this post is to tell you that I’ll give it another go.  Perhaps I was too hasty in leaving; perhaps I didn’t give the blog time to develop.

I’m writing everyday now.  Things are going great.  And after a day or so, I’ll be back to tell you about it!

J.B.

In the 68%

I wrote previously that nearly 68% of all blogs go unread, and I realized today that I am among that number.  It’s disheartening, to have so much to say and such a chance at interaction and idea sharing, only to find that most people would rather waste away in front of sites like YouTube or Guzer.  Our culture has turned from art (was it ever really concerned with art in the first place?) to entertainment; from enriching our minds and lives to spoon-feeding us full of the latest tele-garbage.

And here I am, a student of writing, literature, and the Web, sure in my belief that all we needed was a boost, someone to come along and make us think.  I pride myself on my ability to think for myself and make decisions independent of the masses in our sheep-like society.  I thought I could move people, make them think.  At the very least, make them question the norm, shrug off the PC bullshit they’re surrounded with day in and day out, and help them consider a different point of view.

Perhaps I have failed in that.  I mean, who am I to blame blog-readers for my failure?  I’m fully prepared to shoulder the blame for this dead blog.

So I’m throwing in the towel, calling it quits, closing up shop.  My hits have been dead for three or four days now, and true, I haven’t been posting, but even before that, when I WAS posting every day, my hits were meager at best.

As Eric Cartman might say:  “Screw you guys, I’m goin’ home!”

J.B.

One foot in front of the other

I know I haven’t posted for a couple days, but I’ve been busy writing.  I finished my prologue, then wiped it out and rewrote it, fleshing out the thin parts and polishing off the dull ones.  I like to have a solid prologue before I get into the actual business of writing the first chapter.  I figure if you’ve got a wobbly base, the whole book could tumble down around your ears at the slightest sneeze.

Anyway, just wanted to update everybody and let you all know that I’m alive and kicking, and that I haven’t forgotten about this blog.  I’ve just been writing and spending time with the wife.  Got to keep the woman happy, unless I want nothing but Ramen Noodles to eat for the next ten years or so.

Nah…she wouldn’t do that to me.  I don’t think she would, anyway.

I gotta go.  Till tomorrow.  :)

J.B.

Which Story?

I started this blog with a clear goal in mind:  I wanted to talk about writing, and I wanted to document my experiences and trials and tribulations during the writing process.  I thought that by talking about them I could exorcise the demons that plague me when I write, and I also thought that the exorcising of those demons may prove helpful to someone like me; an aspiring author who is trying to overcome the hindrances that come with writing a novel.

Then I told you about the novel I wanted to write.  It was to be based on the story of how my wife and I met (which, I must say, was quite extraordinary then, in 2000, but not as much so as we approach 2008; though I’ve not seen many works of fiction written about it), which I think would make an interesting read.  This story, however, is not the only one I want to write.

I’ve been tinkering with another novel for the past eight months or so.  The novel is to be a fantasy story, and it’s also to be the first of three or four novels in the series.  I actually have about two hundred pages of the first book written already, but I set it aside when I realized I didn’t know where I wanted to go with it.  I came to a certain point in the writing and just…stopped.

Things are different now, though.  I have a pretty clear idea of how I want to finish the fantasy story, but I’m also wrapped up in this other story, which, while not as tempting to write, still has taken my attention.  I’m a man divided, pulled between two stories, both of which I feel need written.

This got me thinking about the common idea that a writer must write every day.  I agree with that, but I also do not think it’s uncommon for a writer to put one story aside to take up another, and then, upon the second story’s completion, return to the first.  If it is uncommon, well, I’ll just have to be the Blackfish here (personal joke, though if any of you have read George R.R. Martin’s, A Song of Ice and Fire series, you’ll get it).

So my point is that I’m setting this first story – the story of Jon and Katie – aside, to take up the reins of a longer work.  I have a lot of guilt about this decision; every time I stop a story I count it as a failure.  I’m trying to see things in a different light, though.  I’m trying to be optimistic, for optimism is the aspiring writer’s best friend; without it, desperation, hopelessness, and doubt would surely take over, quashing any and all attempts to write a story of even modest length.

My focus is shifted, my Word document runs open beside this window, and I’m ready to proceed.

Until tomorrow,

J.B.

In the Beginning…

The million dollar question for any writer is this: Where Do I Start? Writing a novel is a rewarding task; it shows intelligence, dedication, perseverance, and determination. Yet it doesn’t matter if you’re Stephen King, William Shakespeare, or Joe Writer…everybody starts at the beginning.

Naturally, that’s the hardest part of writing a novel.

I like to start with an idea. I have no process for finding a suitable idea, no Venn diagram or brainstorming formulas. Normally I just sit back and think about the story I want to write, and then choose an idea that sort of sums it up. For instance, take a look at the opening paragraphs of my novel, which is as yet untitled:

There are moments in a person’s life that change them forever. Sometimes these moments are realized when they happen, other times (usually more often than not) they are not understood until years later, when the lenses of hindsight and wisdom are applied to one’s memories.

 

Sometimes these moments are short; they come and go as quickly as the flash of a falling star in the night sky, or the scent of perfume on a passing stranger. They are epiphanies, to be sure, but they are so brief as to hardly be recognized, and soon forgotten. Yet change one’s life they do, despite (and perhaps because of) their brevity.

 

Other times these moments are long. The realization of them lingers like the taste of a fine wine, or a lover’s soft kiss. The change affected by these longer moments is monumental. Your life isn’t simply changed, it’s overhauled. It’s stripped down to nothing and rebuilt in the blink of an eye and the passing of a year.

 

These longer, lingering moments are life.

 

And you’re changed forever.

 

In all honesty, it’s not very specific. The above paragraphs could be applied to any number of stories. Yet it’s a nice introduction to the story I have to tell, and it works in context with the text that follows it. It’s raw, unedited, and full of nasty grammatical issues, but I chose to show it to you this way because I think it has a wild beauty to it. It’s bare, simple, uncomplicated prose.

 

It’s also my beginning.

 

And it makes you think. Do you agree with what I’m proposing, that there are moments in a person’s life that change them forever? If you do, do you agree that they’re sometimes realized, usually not, and that we only understand them through hindsight and wisdom?

 

All good questions, I think, and they’re engaging enough to keep you reading. Don’t you want to know which character is reliving such a life-changing event, and why? I do, and I know what’s coming. It’s simple, clean, and engaging.

 

Now that I’ve come dangerously close to throwing my shoulder out of socket from patting myself on the back, I would suggest that you find a similar way to begin your stories. That is, if you don’t already have your own method. I’m not saying mine is right, or that it’s best, or that it’s the only way…I’m just saying it works for me. Even if I go back and completely retool it once I’ve finished the book, the above text still served a purpose: it got me started. It got the cogs turning, the wheels spinning, the ball rolling (pick your metaphor here), and allowed me to continue on with my story.

 

In that sense, maybe my way will work for you, if in no other way than to get you past the first-line blues. Give it a shot…what’s the worst that can happen? You try it, hate it, and stay stuck at that awful first line?

 

Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

 

J.B.

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