Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving From The Chemist

I'd like to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving. And if you don't live in the U.S.A., then I wish that you have plenty to be thankful for. I certainly do.

I've been working hard on my manuscript, which is one reason I haven't posted more often as of late. Thanksgiving weekend was a fairly productive time, all things considered. No new chapters -- just massive revisions -- so I have no word count to report like everyone else seems to do on Twitter. Seriously, seeing tweets about the 3,000 words someone just wrote that evening does not improve my spirits. I'm happy for them, of course, but it gets a bit depressing sometimes.

Fortunately, I still enjoy working on this story and that's all that counts.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Torturing Your Main Character

I almost didn’t respond to this week’s Warm Fuzzies assignment – to describe the worst thing or things you’ve ever done to your MC. As I’m still working on my very first book, and as my MC’s journey is still ongoing, I didn’t think I had much to talk about. But after thinking back over what my MC has been going through so far, I think I can describe his torture in one word.


Insecurity over whether anyone is ever going to accept him in his new job.

Insecurity about his age and whether he’s too young for the task that gets dropped into his lap.

Insecurity that someone will discover his dark secret.

Yep. That’s the theme all right. Although perhaps a better word would be fear. Fear of doing the wrong thing. Fear of failure. Fear of discovery.

Hmmm... Sounds familiar, somehow. Makes me wonder if the MC is really just me in wizard’s robes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Can You Really Call Yourself A Writer?

I just came across this post over at Write It Sideways and felt I had to share it with everyone here. I understand exactly what she saying. Hop on over and take a look.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Inspiration - Part II

Last week I posted a picture of an old church I use as inspiration for writing, but I have another source of inspiration I'd like to share. My garden.

I took these pictures this morning. As you can see, the arrival of fall has converted my brightly colored garden into a dreary mess. While most people (like my wife) would find this depressing, I have to admit that seeing my garden like this fills me with a certain joy. It's not that I'm into death and decay or anything. But this picture reminds me that it's fall - my favorite time of year - with long, mysterious nights, leaves blowing eerily across the yard, and the feeling that everything we took for granted over the summer is fading away. It reminds me of graveyards and old stone buildings and empty castles. It what I think living in and around Hogwarts must feel like.

As long as I'm working on my Hogwarts book, or any subsequent books (which will almost surely include castles and magic), October and November will always be my most inspirational (and productive) times of the year

I've spent enough time talking. Time to get back to my story. Novermber will be over soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Can You Guess My WIP?

This is week #2 in the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest.

Our assignment was to post a photo that we use for inspiration when writing our stories. Here's mine.

I like to wander around this building whenever I need an additional kick in the pants to keep working on my story. It's the only building like it in my area. Too bad I don't live in Britain. Sigh.

There's no point in asking if any of you can guess the type of story I'm writing, since you've probably already seen the blog's title, but I'm sure my next story will use the same photograph.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Insecure Writer

This post is my first entry for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Question: Why am I an insecure as a writer?

Answer: Why shouldn't I be?

After all, I'm a chemist. I've never written a book or short story before (except a one page story about a silly rabbit back in fifth grade). I didn't grow up wanting to be a writer. I've never taken a single course on writing and I've only recently learned that the term "fiction novel" is redundant. Up until a few years ago, I thought the ability to string together enough words to create a story was reserved only for certain god-like beings granted "THE GIFT".

Oh, and one other thing. I've always hated writing.


With the fire of a thousand suns kind of hate.

It's not as though I've had no experience with writing. I've written technical reports at work and submitted a few papers to scientific journals, but only when my boss or advisor made me do it. My big problem is that translating my thoughts into words on a sheet of paper (or computer screen) ranks as one of the most difficult things I can ever imagine doing. It's like swimming in molasses. It's like climbing a mountain while wearing lead weights. It's like passing a kidney stone.

I'm just guessing on the last one, but it sounds about right.

Writing just doesn't come naturally to me. I've often likened my writing process to that of trying to sculpt a statue from a metal block by repeatedly pounding it with a hammer. Eventually it kind of resembles what's in my head, but that's about it. And my revision process consists of repeating the process over and over again with successively smaller hammers. I don't create sentences -- I beat them into submission. My manuscripts resemble battlefields, not something anyone would want to read. Slow and painful.

And yet, two years ago, I decided to become a fiction writer.

This paradigm shift had nothing to do with any surgical procedures or dalliances with drugs. It occurred two and a half years ago when I began contemplating how a certain well-known author (hint: see blog title) might go about beginning another storyline, and I discovered just how much fun it was to create fiction. Developing new worlds and unusual characters and intricate plots is simply a hell of a lot of fun. I'm hooked. Forever. I think about my story every free moment. How should I introduce such and such a character? What is their motivation? What's the most horrible thing I can do to them and still keep readers interested?

So no matter how painful the process of getting all those thoughts down onto paper can be, I just can't stop.

So why am I insecure about writing?

Because no matter how great my plots might be or how well I've crafted my characters, I don't know if I will ever be able to conquer my seeming inability to convert thoughts into words -- at least well enough to be published.