All the stuff that ain't stories:

From the cluttered desk of my mind

January 25, 2020.

Let’s see how this works instead of occasional updates at the beginning of stories. I’m not actually lazy…or maybe just a little bit. I’m waiting (and hoping) for 2020’s work season to start. I love what I do, writing included, but this is one of the most stressful times of the year for me.

Normally I enjoy a little stress, it’s the hot sauce on the scrambled eggs of my everyday routine. But this isn’t the quick thrill of hot sauce, it’s a constant grinding existential oppression of working in an industry that relies on the goodwill of the industry and the government. If you haven’t been paying attention, both are in short supply here in the states.

Having a backstabbing co-worker that’s trying to give my job to his “special friend” doesn’t help at all. Why is it that the first time those Southern boys get away from their families, the first thing they seem to do is find someone to cheat with?

I blame the Baptists/pentecostals. A few fun and instructional scrapes in your youth goes a long way toward a healthier middle age. It’s no surprise that many antivaxxers are largely from our same southern region.

So, yeah. In addition to writing, I’ve got job angst. On top of that, in this part of the world, you can kiss the sun goodbye in November. It’ll be March or April before we get a decent look at blue skies here.

“Oooh, is he at one of the poles, in the endless night part of the year?”

No. That would be cool and there would be stars and Northern Lights to look at. Here, the sky is a unrelieved gray ceiling. It kind of feels like living under water sometimes. Again, without the cool parts.

Bitching aside, and if anyone actually reads this, and that someone is one of my Australian readers, I hope you and your family are doing okay, or at least safe (Reading Sparrow & Tulip in the middle of a brush fire is not recommended). If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know. You can get in contact here through comments, or you can email me directly at jaandebruer(at)gmail(dot)com. I have limited means but I’m happy to share what I’ve got.

That’s all for now, I’ve got a dog to amuse, a bathroom remodel to finish, and the next chapter to write. Thanks for reading, be sure to use the thumbs up button, like and subscribe, and argue pointlessly in the comments below.

What? This isn’t youtube? Where’s my agent?

January 27, 2020.

I’ve really got to figure out the ins and outs of running a website. Posting new material probably shouldn’t be this complicated. Anyway, I responded to a question about writing and motivation…you know, I can hear you giggling from here. Pay attention.

If you’re interested in starting a story of your own, here’s a few things I’ve encountered:

Being an author ain’t easy. The first thing to know is that you have a limited amount of willpower available. Seriously, your brain runs out of willpower energy after some time. Don’t be afraid to take a break and walk around the block. Find your own schedule when your willpower is at its strongest (early AM for me for example) and be ready to get to work on that schedule.

At first, it’ll be a hard habit to form. But it gets easier as you go, just like exercising your will power. It’ll be hard at first, like everything else. You’re forming a new habit and it’ll get easier in time.

Keep a notebook or similar nearby. Take notes on story ideas that pop into your head whenever. You’ll forget about great ideas otherwise. Trust me on this.

Develop your world as far as you can. Why are things one way and not another? Your readers might not need to know why there’s always Salisbury Steak served on Tuesday, but if you know the background of that decision, it makes living with it (and working around it) much more natural feeling (which equates to easier).

Research writing! There are a lot of good and not-so-good books out there that focus on writing. Read what you want, decide which rules you want to follow and which rules you want to break. Pay attention to things like outlining vs. freebooting, and methods like The Snowflake. I would recommend having a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style on hand. While you can tell your story in any way that you like, there are technical rules that most people need to follow. I’d also recommend On Writing by Stephen King. If nothing else, you’ll learn about the time his babysitter sat on his face. Seriously.

Get used to research, your work will have a more authentic feel to it. You don’t need to data-dump in your story (please don’t) but it’s like developing your world. The more you know about the pocket universe you’re creating, the better.

As you press on with your story, be prepared to learn more about yourself than you might be comfortable with. Know that however good it looks now, there are always more edits and rewrites. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn, even between the beginning and ending of a single work. Don’t rewrite endlessly however, that way lies madness. Just be prepared for the fact that everything you write will be better than the last thing you wrote.

The mental/spiritual side of writing is hard. You will probably suck at first but it’s not important. Everyone sucks at first, keep going. You will be self-conscious in new and exciting ways. Letting others read your work is like sending a defenseless child out into the world. Prepare your word baby as best you can so that it can thrive.

Beware, metaphors ahead: Don’t be alarmed when your main character starts talking back to you. It means you’re doing the right thing. Listen to what they’re telling you because they’ve got a better sense of your story than you might have. They’re in the middle of it after all.

Quick personal story for the last point. When I was writing my first novel, I had to characters named Steel Eye and Petra that were supposed to begin a sub-plot affair. I could not force them into it somehow. Their beginning dialogue always went off into the weeds and I kept putting it off and putting it off. Finally, one night at about three AM, I woke up realizing that Steel Eye was gay, Petra was more of a sister and anyway, she preferred someone else.

Do NOT call your significant other, three states away, at three in the morning to relate any breakthroughs you’ve had dealing with imaginary people. It’s things like this that eventually make people single in middle age.

Writin’ ain’t easy, so cover that blank page with words like it owes you money.