About Mario

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mario Piumetti is a freelance writer of science fiction, horror, screenplays, and nonfiction. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California Lutheran University and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. An avid music lover, his work is heavily influenced by rock, punk, and metal. You can contact him at mario.piumetti.writer@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

UCLA Writer's Faire 2013

Yo yo yiggity yo!

Today was the annual writer's faire at UCLA, and like anyone with access to the Inter-Webs, I feel like relating what I learned with all y'all.  I mean, I'm at least hoping what notes I jotted down will help out those who didn't or couldn't go.  I attended four lectures.

Publishing Today: Promoting Your Work and Branding Yourself as a Writer (with Tom Fields-Meyer, Normal Kolpas, Maxine Lapiduss, Michelle Meyering, and Colette Sartor)

This was a great lecture for me to attend because while I recognize the importance of promotion, I'm always looking out for ways to be smarter about it.  One of the big things mentioned was that a writer ought to go human rather than viral, meaning that you want to connect with your readers and not shove your stuff down their throats.  Yes, mention your upcoming readings, let people know when you've got something new in print, but don't always toot your own horn.  This was probably why I set up a Facebook page for my writing work separate from my personal Facebook page; I kept getting the feeling that I was annoying most of my friends with my writing work and needed a separate space for that.

With or without an agent, it's important to learn how best to represent yourself.  Act professional, because the publishing world is small, and people will remember those times when you acted like a clump of shit that came out of the Wicked Witch of the West.

And are agents really necessary?  Yes and no.  If you want to self-publish all the way through, then godspeed.  however, an agent can help you expand to a wider audience.  They are the advocates and cheerleaders of writers, and by tackling the ugly business end of the job, they allow the relationship between the editor and the writer to remain a pleasant one.

The Art of Writing and Publishing Short Fiction (with Ron Darian, Jim Gavin, Lou Matthews, and Colette Sartor)

This lecture had a pretty clear-cut layout, divided into language, dialogue, scenes, and publishing.

Language is all about how you use vocabulary to mold a clear image for the reader.  As the writer, your job is to give the reader a feast of details (the sandy texture of the underside of a tire, the plum-sweet melody of a Led Zeppelin classic, etc.).

Dialogue is not just about characters communicating with each other.  You use diction and accent to distinguish individuals in the crowd.  Don't use it as a funnel through which information is explained.  Yes, I'm talking about you folks in the "As you know..." crowd.  And best of all, dialogue is the writer's revenge.  It's what we wish we had said at the party at the spur of the moment.

Scene is the sum of action plus dialogue.  Yes, you can have internal musings and descriptions and the history of your gnome king, but you have to be wise in the placement of that material so that it comes out in a way that doesn't move the story in a backwards direction.

And with publishing, submit, submit, sub-motherfucking-mit.  Read widely so you understand what's being printed, what certain magazines will pass and what other magazines will get wet over.  And be persistent.

Making it to "The End": Story Staying Power for Novelists (with Reyna Grande, Les Plesko, Mark Sarvas, and Ian Randall Wilson)

Working on that novel?  Making your grand debut?  Or is this your 250,000,000,000th publication?  Either way, a novel is a maelstrom or works and nouns and off-color descriptions.  You've got to keep the wind in your sails somehow, right?  And unfortunately, Ignacio, your coke dealer, is out of town visiting relatives.

Some tips in this lecture were pretty basic.  Give yourself a month or two in between drafts before you revise, and never revise before you reach the end of a draft.  Be loyal to your book.  Don't cheat on it with another story idea just because she's got big blue eyes and goes down on you after a few martinis.  And don't even talk about your novel before it's ready for the air.  Yes, you can say that you're working on a book, and maybe you can give  general premise about it, but writing the fucking thing.  Don't waste your time talking about it.  Furthermore, if you hold back, you'll probably leave people wanting to know more and seeking it out for themselves.

Writing with a Day Job (with Karl Iglesias, Billy Mernit, Roberta Wax, and Ian Randall Wilson)

Joss Whedon spoke at this lecture!  Or rather, someone quoted Joss Whedon.  Hey, I had to get your attention somehow.  The paraphrased advice from the Nerd God is this: "Sold a project?  Great!  Put your first paycheck directly in the bank.  Put the next one in the bank too."

The entire point of this very simple lecture is that you need to figure out how to satisfy your need to eat, write, and have something called a personal life.  Time management is important.  You need to make time to write.  Pretty much the advice you'd expect in such a setting.  Not a bad lecture, but I'd recommend watching the condensed and highly humorous version in Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" Speech.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Self-Publishing Debate

So it's no secret that I've been thinking a lot about self-publishing No Tomorrow.  Now, with the first draft done, I've been wondering what the next step is.  I've said that I want to publish through Lulu, but I'm still a lot in the dark about it, so I asked around if anyone had any experience in the matter.

My friends Ashley and Wendy chimed in.  Ashley sent me a link about tradition publishing, and Wendy perhaps shopping around for an agent through Twitter or the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society.  My knee-jerk reaction to why I want to self-publish has been, "I have no agent, no publisher, and I'm tired of waiting."

So I've been thinking about it, thinking about it a lot, and here are the pros and cons I've got.  The pros are in favor of self-publishing.  The cons are in favor of traditional publishers.

Pro: A Faster Turnout Time

Self-publishing can happen pretty quickly.  In fact, I could self-publish No Tomorrow faster than it takes me to write this blog post.  Granted, it would look like a pile of shit because the book is in a rough and craptacular state, but my point is that I can run it through Lulu and have it out on Amazon in pretty short order.  I actually had it planned out that getting things ready to publish through Lulu shouldn't take more than a year, and given that I think having a book with my name on it would be great for my credentials, the faster the better, right?

Con: Slow Is Smooth, and Smooth Is Fast

Army Rangers have a saying: "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast."  The meaning here is that charging into a situation ups the odds of something going wrong, and when those mistakes happen, you have to slow down and fix them before moving forward.  People make mistakes, no matter how careful they try to be.  Working through a traditional publisher, you've got a lot of eyes on your book, each pair taking the time to go through it to make sure that what comes out at the end is something that readers will enjoy.  That's more important than punching things out at warp speed.

Pro: Self-Publishing Yields a Higher Paycheck

The exact numbers vary, but I've heard that the royalty rates for authors is somewhere in the range of 8-10%.  Lulu, on the other hand, grants an author an 80% cut of the sales, and it's free to publish a book.  Getting $12 per book rather than a buck-fifty?  Do I really have to explain the appeal of that?

Con: A Self-Publisher Has Limited Resources

The same reason you get a bigger share of the profits is also perhaps your single greatest liability.  Self-publishers get more money per book because they're doing more of the work, and not just the text.  You have to edit it to the Nth degree.  You have to come up with the cover art.  You have to do all the promotion and publicity for it.  And you've got to do it out of your own pocket.  Because while publishing through Lulu is free, additional services come with costs.  These services range from cover designers to publicists to even people working with Hollywood.  I drew up a list of all the services Lulu has to offer, and you're looking at around $125,000 for the whole thing.  Even cutting down a lot of the services that I know I don't need, I'm still looking at a bottom line of $30,000.  I don't have that kind of cash lying around.  A traditional publisher, on the other hand, wouldn't ask you to pay for all that because they have a lot of services in-house.  The author, I think, wouldn't be expected to pay the cover artist or the editor since they're getting a portion of the sales.  So granted, you're not getting as big a paycheck, but the weight and the burden of producing the book is spread out.

Pro: Self-Publishing Gives You a Higher Feeling of Independence

For me, there's a great feeling of pride in looking at a book and saying to myself, "I did this.  It was all me, baby.  My accomplishment."  That notion of being a self-made writer doesn't get any clearer than that.

Con: People Will Likely Just Hear, "Me, Me, Me"

As much as I love reaching out through social media, I do know that there's a line between promotion and making it all about myself.  Anyone who knows me knows that I hate the idea of crossing that line.  I'd go nuts if I had to promote the novel entirely on my own.  Forget about other people getting sick of me.  I would get sick of me.

The Verdict?

Traditional and self-publishing each have something going for them, and I don't think that anyone cold stand and say it's one or the other.  Self-publishing would be the way to go for smaller projects, while a traditional publisher has the muscle to realize a larger piece of work.  No Tomorrow is going to be a sizable book.  The first draft alone ran just under 300 pages.  Plus, I've got that other zombie project that I've mentioned, the collaborative effort, and that will be, in a sense, a self-publishing project.  So maybe it would be better to aim for a more traditional route with No Tomorrow in the end.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Your Story Sucks

Okay, so maybe your story doesn't suck.  Maybe it's a fuckin' rock star.  Maybe your story makes Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, and Octavia Butler all look like a gang of illiterates.  Whoop-dee-god-damn-doo.

But what if you're story isn't great?  What if your story doesn't just suck but bites and blows as well?  Good news is you're in good company, because everyone has those moments, no matter their level of success.  I'm pretty sure J.K. Rowling has days where she starts a story and says, "This is bloody rubbish!"

I had one of those days today.  I started a story for the September Roar Shack Reading that I'm going to, and shit, do I have the damn thing.  It's pretty much what I imagine my love-child with Ann Coulter would be, an aimless, soulless, bloodsucking beast of which there is no defeating.

Yikes.  That's fucked up.

Let me remind you guys the surest way of knowing whether or not a story's got even a hint of a future.  If you're working on the first draft and you get to the point where you start hating it - I don't just mean the story; I mean, it's making you hate even the act of writing - that's when you know it's a bad story.

And I know, I know.  You're probably saying that I'm starting to edit myself.  No, no.  That's different.  Working on this short story, I never once looked back on it.  I just faced forward and plowed on, and I still hated working on it.  I didn't enjoy making my mistakes with it.

Working on No Tomorrow, on the other hand, I knew that I was making mistakes, but that was okay because I was still having fun with it.  See the difference?  You could have the trashiest, shittiest, most failure-prone career as a writer (in which case, it would be called a hobby for sure), but there has to be fun involved.

Fuck it.  I'll read an excerpt of my novel at the reading, and let this story wither, die, and crawl back into the hell dimension from whence it came.  I'll let it crawl back to Nevada.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

No Tomorrow: Day 40

The first rule of a first draft, the only rule, is that you have to get to the end, but there's a loophole to that.  Nowhere does it say your first draft has to be complete.  As I've said before, while writing No Tomorrow I've new directions to take the novel.  I didn't find my villain until yesterday, there are characters I'm going to cut out, etc.  Two characters I can use as examples are a homeless man named Fletcher and a teenager named Walter.

Fletcher left the town of Romeo and I haven't seen him for about fifty pages.  Last time I wrote about him, he had an idea to make himself a garden in an abandoned house.  Eventually, I was going to have him come back to town when he realizes that being on his own isn't the best idea.  I have two choices here: get rid of him, or don't have him leave town in the first place.  The characters seem to get along without him, so I might cut him out of the story altogether.  On the other hand, the image of Fletcher is so clear in my mind - he was based on a real homeless man I saw in Studio City - that I want to try to keep him in the tale, even if only as a minor character.

Walter is a character that I do want to keep.  He and his father aren't the richest people in Romeo, but they're not exactly the poorest either.  They're sort of that one family in town that everyone knows has problems, but no one talk about what they are.  What I had in mind was that Walter and his father use the zombie plague as an opportunity to assert themselves.  Father and son take on the world, or at least the world within their own little town.  I also had it in mind that Walter would be involved in a doomed romantic relationship with another character.  The nature of this relationship was exposed last night, and I realized that it was so insignificant and that so little time had been dedicated to it that I could remove it altogether and you'd probably hardly notice.

And then there's the villain, a guy named Julio.  Julio is the leader of a gang that has taken over the hospital of a nearby town.  We hear about him earlier in the story, but like Walter's relationship, it wasn't until last night that he was introduced in person.  I think he's got a lot of potential as a character, but at this point, he's still quite underdeveloped; a sprout, really.

So where am I going with this?  I think the first draft is going to end today.  The ending itself won't be fully formed, probably just an outline, but it'll be enough for me to stay focused when I start revisions and reworking the plot.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

No Tomorrow: Day 39

Only a few hundred words so far today, but the night is young and I still got many hours ahead.  Every day, I get a little more done, which means I'm just that much closer to the end.  That's something I keep reminding myself.

I've got at least 8,000 words left with this first draft.  It's been a long time since I've gotten that far on a novel, maybe a three years or soUndead and Inhuman didn't make it this far.

I already know some of the changes that need to be made with the next draft, but I'm not going to go back and edit just yet.  No, the important thing right now is to finish this first draft, flawed as it is.  Then you sit back for a while, take a breath, and then you start to edit.  I do know that I finally found my villain, and it isn't the zombies.  It's a character that came out of nowhere really.

There was another character that I had from the beginning.  I thought he would be the bad guy and someone else would be the hero.  Now my villain's the hero and my hero's a relatively minor character.

It's funny how your writing can make up its own decisions after a certain point.  You think you're in charge because you're putting the words down, but then you take a quick look behind you and realize that your subconscious is the real boss.  You don't know where most of that stuff came from.  You had a gap in front of you and your brain said, "This is what's going to happen next.  Deal with it."

Anyways, 8,000 words to go, though I might give myself an extra 10,000 words just in case, but I don't think the first draft is going to run any longer than that.

Friday, August 16, 2013

No Tomorrow: Day 38

I know, I know.  I should have done nearly a dozen other No Tomorrow updates and I've been as vigilant with this as Lindsay Lohan is with rehab, and all I can say is that I'm sorry for letting things pile up.  Well, I've told you guys all about it, so it's not like any of this is really news, right?

Work on No Tomorrow has slowed down a bit since the last update.  It might have something to do with all the other projects I got going on right now.  I've been putting in at least a thousand words a day, and at that rate, I should hit 100,000 words in about twelve days.  Of course, I'm still not sure if the story will really stop at that point.  I might still have to go over the limit.

Maybe it's because of all the other projects that I feel like I've been robbed of energy.  I told Ashley yesterday that I wasn't feeling any amazing words pouring out of my head.  She said I should at least write shitty ones instead.  At the moment, I'm just not quite sure in which direction I ought to take the story, but I know that it's high time I get things onto the home stretched towards the ending.

I know that there are going to be changes when the time comes to write the second draft.  Characters needs to be changed or dropped.  The flow of the plot is different from how I thought it would be, and so I'll have to go back and massage the manuscript.  Oh, and I also need to figure out chapter breaks; the story right now is one long chapter.

Right now, I'm just trying to get to "the end."

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Talking to my friend Ashley the other day, she told me how she felt that maybe she was taking on too many projects at one time.  I totally understand that feeling.  I think every writer does, particularly at the start of the career when you want to take on just about any project that comes around so you can quickly build up your credentials  Unfortunately, that's also an easy way to get overwhelmed because writers are afforded the same twenty-four hours as everyone else.

In theory, taking on a bunch of projects is manageable, provided you keep some pointers in mind.  I'm going to use myself as a lab rat for this because I love to be experimented on.  Also, because I know what's on my plate and not yours.  I think that these basics can be applied to any writer at any point in time because they're simple enough to adapt as your workload changes over time.

Match Deadlines with Density

As of this writing, this is what I've got on my plate:

  • 13,000 words for my novel No Tomorrow due at the end of August.
  • Two 500-word reviews for Carpe Nocturne due by mid-November.
  • A 2,000 to 3,000-word story for the Roar Shack reading due September 8th.
  • A research essay for Spry Literary Journal due as soon as possible.
  • The next installment of my Andre Ursler series for Arts Collide due as soon as possible.
  • Get Kill-ifornia ready for launch as soon as possible.

The first thing you've got to do is get a comprehensive picture of the work you've got ahead and what sort of time frame you've got to work with.  Don't leave any project overlooked, no matter how small.  The last thing you want is a micro-fiction deadline to sneak up on you.

Perform Literary Triage

Once you've assessed your workload, it's time to cut it up into manageable pieces.  I tend to prioritize things based on deadlines.  My novel, for example, requires that I get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time.  That means I have to make some progress on it every day; at least a couple of thousand words.  Because the stuff I have to do for Carpe Nocturne is a small amount stretched out over the next three months, I can afford to delay for a little while so I can get my story done for Roar Shack.  Furthermore, my essay for Spry is in Revision-Land getting feedback from other writer friends, and that means I'm on a short break from it.  The Arts Collide piece runs about a thousand words, and I'm nearly done with the first draft, and for now Kill-ifornia is in a brainstorming phase.

Your Battle Plan

What this assessment tells me is that my workload is low-intensity in spite of how many items I've got on my to-do list.  With the delay in Carpe Nocture and the Spry essay, that brings the list down to four items.  I work on the novel daily, brainstorm for Kill-ifornia for about an hour, and then alternate day to day between Roar Shack and Arts Collide.  When I finish the draft for Arts Collide, I can take a break from it and return to the Spry essay.  By next month, I should have Arts Collide, Roar Shack, and Spry done and submitted.  And voila!  Half of my to-do list is done!

Find Time Whenever You Can

Even with this plan of mine, I'm always looking for free time that I can use to my advantage.  For example, my work today for Kill-ifornia took only about five minutes as the other writers and I work out a time to have a video conference for our brainstorming session.  Last night, I told myself to expect to dedicate an hour to it, but now I got an hour that I can spend on either No Tomorrow or the Roar Shack story.

Tackle that Motherfucker!

Not that my plan is set up, I need to commit to it.  Don't worry about the long-term plan, because then you'll fixate on your entire plate rather than the smaller portions you carved out.  For today, I'm just going to focus on the book, the Roar Shack story, and Kill-ifornia.  My Andrew Ursler story will be there tomorrow.  Carpe Nocturne will be there next month.  Right now, I've got only three things to worry about, and one of them has already been taken care of.  Commit!  Commit!  Com-motherfucking-mit!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Community Among Writers

Every time I hang out with my old college roommate Matt, he always makes a point of reminding people what a dick I used to be.  I know he means it as a joke and not to be hurtful, but it always gets me thinking.

Yes, I was a dick in college.  I was such a fucking asshole that even some of my professors talked behind my back about it.  It continued a little into grad school where I was so unpleasant that I was nearly expelled.  The only reason I can really give for that is that I started college in a community college setting before transferring to a university.  My friends from high school - many of which I don't even try to remember anymore - they all left town and went on with their own lives, while my ability to make new friends atrophied tremendously.

In the second half of grad school, I came out of my shell and started making friends again, and it's only gotten better.  Still, it's hard for me not to look at the past behind me, and when I do, I wonder, What's the single best piece of advice I could give my younger self?

I just want to say one word to you.  Just one word.  Are you listening?  Community.

See, I went to Antioch University, Los Angeles where they make a big deal out of community.  Younger Me - Asshole Me - thought, To hell with that.  I see these people two weeks every six months, and we're supposed to be friends?  No, my strategy used to be to go through the MFA program and then move on, because I already figured that no one would want to keep in touch with me anyways.

You know what I say, Asshole Me?  You...*slap*...are...*slap*...a...*slap*...fucking...*slap*...idiot.

A friend of mine, Seth, did a short interview for Antioch.  Writing is a solitary act, but a writing career, if you hope to have one, is a group effort.  Open opportunities.  A place to go for feedback.  Reading events.  Articles you may have overlooked.  Even just an ear to hear you out when you feel like bitching about how hard the work is.  And then to turn around and offer that back is just as rewarding.  You can't get that stuff working on your own.

And the great thing is you don't even have to go through an MFA program to establish that network.  Sure, it's a huge help, but even if you join, say, a writer's group through a networking site like Meetup.com, you're taking a step in the right direction.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The (Metaphorical) Hangover

If this weekend was a big ol' party, then today was the hangover.

No, no, no.  I don't mean that I'm pissed off at anything that happened.  I'd love to go back and relive it all.  But I guess I wasn't ready for the sudden influx of positive vibes coming my way.  I woke up this morning and thought, Whoa!  Did all that stuff really even happen?

They did.

So now I'm looking at all the stuff on my plate: No Tomorrow, the next Andrew Ursler story for Arts Collide, my research essay for Spry, getting started at Carpe Nocturne, getting the ball rolling with Kill-ifornia, and writing something for next month's Roar Shack reading because I don't have anything else fresh and ready for the mic.

So that's *counts* six things on my plate.  There are twenty-four hours in a day, or thirty-four if you talk to my dad about his younger years, but with sleeping, eating, tutoring, and bitching about reality TV, that really leaves me about ten hours that I can dedicate to writing, or a little over an hour and a half per project, and that I can't do.  For example, I can't get 3,500 words down for No Tomorrow in an hour and a half.  I'm lucky if I can get even a thousand words down in an hour.

Fortunately, a lot of these projects are fairly light and don't need to be worked on every single day, which translates to: if I can balance my crap, why can't you?

Why This Last Weekend Rocked

As a writer, this weekend has been just fucking awesome.

I keep a calendar book, and looking back on the last few days, all I can see is a tangled net of ink, so much of it that it spilled over the margins and I had trouble telling what was for Saturday and what was for Sunday.

I'm not just talking about my novel either.

My friend Allie pointed me to two literary journals, and I've already told you about one of them: the research essay for Spry Literary Journal.  The first draft is done and going through revisions.  Allie also pointed me to Carpe Nocturne, a magazine that caters to dark culture.  This came as a surprise to a lot of people I've mentioned it to because I'm not a goth.  I don't have the steampunk fashion or the skull makeup.

But still, Carpe Nocturne is expanding their horror section that reviews movies, books, and other things in that genre; a genre that I love.  So I got in touch with one of their staff, and they got back to me with submission guidelines, their deadline list, and other paperwork that I have to go over.

The crown jewel of my weekend was attending the Roar Shack Reading Series in Echo Park last night directed by author David Rocklin who's quite simply an awesome dude, a talented writer, and every time I go to these readings, I feel like I'm at a meeting of the Avengers.  David offered to write a blurb for No Tomorrow once it was ready.  The writing challenge I posted yesterday on Twitter about Lindsay Lohan telling you you've got a problem was selected as the prompt for the Live Write.  I volunteered along with a writer named Eric Howard, and we both got such a great response from the audience that we were both invited to come back next month to read.  And we got t-shirts too.  Awesome t-shirts.  Sexy t-shirts.  T-shirts that even Ryan Gosling can't get a hold of (because he wasn't there).

To top it off, I had dinner with a bunch of writer friends at this Thai restaurant where I ate...*dramatic pause* shrimp bacon, shrimp wrapped in bacon.  Oh, yes, folks.  Such things exist!

It was like staring at the sun.  This weekend was, in a word, fantastic.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stuffed Plate

I was looking at my projects list and thought, "Wow.  I triple dog dare anyone to accuse me of being lazy."  There's such a ton of writing work lined up that it's kind of crazy.

First, I've got my novel No Tomorrow, which I'm happy to say is coming along nice and smoothly.  Every time I think about how tough the work is and how many words I have yet to go, I just sit back and think about how much of a pleasure it's been working on it so far.  I am sincerely having the time of my life with it.

Second, I've still got the Andrew Ursler series that I'm writing for Arts Collide.  I've kind of been kicking myself in the ass over that because I keep putting off starting the next installment, but it is coming. I promise.  Yesterday, I actually went through the list of installments I got coming up and the summaries for each one.  Originally, I had twenty-nine parts to it, but I've trimmed it down and canceled some parts that didn't really advance the series as a whole, ultimately bringing it down to eighteen.

Third, I got the green light to write an essay for Spry Literary Journal.  It's a short 1,500-word piece on what I've learned about doing research for a long project like a novel.  My friend Allie Batts is a reader for Spry and said that the editors had openings for essays and editorials, so I emailed them a proposal earlier this week and they got back to me that they were very interested.  Publication isn't 100% guaranteed, of course, because, as editors, they have the final say, but the enthusiasm on both sides of the table is strong.  I want to write this, and they want to at least give it a read.  I'm happy with that.

Last but not least, I'm starting a new online series.  It's venturing into zombie territory again, but it's something quite different from No Tomorrow simply because I'll be working with a few other writers.  I've very excited for that because I've wanted to do a collaboration for, gosh, about two years now.

So that's what's going on right now.  That's the giant roast beast that I'm sinking my teeth into, and hopefully I won't get indigestion from it.

No Tomorrow: Day 31

I know, I know.  I've been dropping the ball on this whole "daily" update thing, but only because I've been hitting the pages like a madman.

I've been tackling No Tomorrow like there's, well, no tomorrow.  Five thousand words one day.  Six thousand the next.  Yesterday, I hit a slight slump and got in only about three thousand words.  It's funny to say that it's only three thousand words.  I know that a lot of friends, published friends, have sometimes joked that they're jealous of how many words I get through.

It's got its drawbacks though.  Even though I say I've got a definitive stopping time, I still end up working for hours and hours through the night, often going to sleep at around four or five in the morning.  But that's only because I still haven't received my tutoring hours, so I want to milk the free time I've got left for all it's worth.

I guess you could say it's paid off though since I've written about a quarter of the novel in the last week.  Or maybe about twenty percent, depending on whether or not I'm going to extend the size of the novel and by how much.

But anyways, this has been my office for the last few days: working alone in  room with the lights out because the electricity burns cash.

Monday, August 5, 2013

No Tomorrow: Day 27

Hey, folks.

Been busy working on the book, clicking the wordy words like a crazy mofo.  Little by little, I'm getting there.  I've written nearly four thousand words so far today, so I've met today's quota.  Now, I want to add more to it, maybe a thousand words at a time.  Still, I'm twenty thousand words behind.

Not that I want to break my brain over the book, but this is the way I see it: if I get the through my daily quota, every little bit afterwards is a little more power to me.  Those bonus words?  All I can do is hope that they add and help me catch up.  It's like working overtime and hoping your boss takes notice in the long run.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

No Tomorrow: Day 25

Today is Hump Day.  Yes, Hump Day and not on a Wednesday.

In Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein refers to something called The Hump, a psychological obstacle.  climbing your way up the hump means that you're struggling to accomplish something, and when you pass it, it's all downhill.  You're as good as on Easy Street.

I don't think I've crossed the hump, but definitely a hump.  I foresee many humps in the future as I work to make a writing career for myself, times of great challenges and obstacles when the wisest thing to do seems to be to simply give up.  That certainly would be the easiest thing, but it's not the wisest.

I knew I crossed this hump today while working on No Tomorrow.  Being a Saturday, my word quota was five thousand words.  I had just about a third of that done.  I still had a lot to do.  I began to mentally brace myself for yet another late night.  But in spite of it all, I didn't feel angry with the work I was doing.

You've probably felt this way before: you're working on a project (it doesn't have to be writing), and it's giving you such a hard time that you decide it's not worth it, so you quite.  Maybe this has happened a few times.  It has with me.

I'm about as far into No Tomorrow as I was with Undead and Inhuman when I tried writing that earlier in the summer, but there's a difference between the two.  Undead and Inhuman had so many logistical problems underneath it.  How do you send thousands of people to the Moon?  How do you train an army to fight on the Moon?  How do you do this in a believable fashion?  These questions were important to the story world, but they were draining my attention from telling the story itself.  I stopped being a storyteller and started being a researcher of a hypothetical scenario.

That wasn't fun at all.  Writing should be fun, shouldn't it?

Damn right it should!  Yes, it's a lot of hard work with many hours dedicated to it, but that's just the nature of it all.  Today, and every day since I started writing No Tomorrow, my only problem has been to get the words out onto the page.  Sometimes, I can't type fast enough.  Sometimes, the words are stuck in traffic somewhere between my brain and my fingertips.  But in both cases, I wasn't researching, I was storytelling.  It didn't matter if the story was solid gold or solid crap.  I knew I could revise it later.  I was having fun, and I wasn't researching.

Stephen King is a big advocate of the idea that a writer should have fun while doing it.  What does he mean by having fun?  Well, I don't think he means that when you sit down every day, the words are just going to come pouring out like someone had pulled back the floodgates.  Some days are harder than others, a little or a lottle more sluggish, and there's really nothing to be done about that any more than people have their good days and bad days in whatever line of work they're in.

What struck me about No Tomorrow is that there hasn't been a day yet where I feel pissed off at the idea of working on it.  Ask yourself that with your own work.  Is it pissing you off, or it just occasionally frustrating?  If it's merely frustrating, don't worry about that.  That's normal.  If, on the other hand, it's pissing you off (and pissing you off on a regular basis), then, friend, you have a bad project on your hands and you need to stop.