Archive for the ‘Writer’s Corner’ Category

It’s been nearly a year since my last post. Happily, I’ve been using that time wisely, in an effort to complete a last, definitive draft of my novel. And hopefully, finally, publish before year’s end. It’s been a bit of a rough journey, but I see signs of life, that the end, even if it isn’t close yet, is definitely there, and reasonably within reach. Remembering that old adage about paying the price for success, I discovered how I’d have to do it: In units of Time. To that effect, I quit and all activities that had adverse physical or mental benefits to me, or were of no use whatsoever, in terms of social value. Of course, I couldn’t turn down all invitations; one has to give a little to get a lot.

And of course, I still devote time to my loved ones, and they have given me moral support, especially during those dark times. I am extremely grateful for that.

On the other side of that success equation, I’ve been working hard to please my Muse. This year, I made the decision to hunker down and devote every free minute that I could scrape, to working on the novel, be it actual writing or research. I’ve also done, and have been doing, a lot of reading and learning on the fly. I have become quite a voracious reader and devourer of ideas, however big or small. I’ve learned a lot of things, from the ritual element of capoeira, to the otherworldly interactions of floor brokers in a commodities pit. Heck, I found the last two so interesting, I devoted entire chapters to them.

Reading has become a pleasure these days, especially after a prodigious bout of writing (admittedly few and far between). In my quest for good sci-fi fiction — or just good fiction, in general — I discovered William Gibson and Suzanne Collins. After a slow start, Stieg Larsen is now one my picks as well. So far this year, I’ve finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Hunger Games. I have the trilogies for both books — but other works need to be read, too. Other than all of the above, I have been tackling a heavyweight, Anthony Burgess’ The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy. Also on my reading list: Tesseract by Alex Garland, and a cyberpunk novel by French author Maurice Dantec, Cosmos, Incorporated.

I’m still a little petrified. This is my first novel, and while I’ve gotten some positive feedback from the few who have read some of it, I have yet to pass that acid test of general readership. After some hemming and hawing on the kind of approach I want — Avant-garde artiste? Or commercial author sellout? — I decided to settle somewhere in between. After finishing William Gibson’s  Neuromancer, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, I realized that I wanted to write good, respectable prose, or one that had strong, elegant symbolism; but I didn’t want my readers to be lost in the haze, the way some cyberpunks may leave the uninitiated. And of course, I wanted to have action in it. Not necessarily because of the inherent commercial value in it, but  because I always love action in fiction. No, really.

So speaking of which, it’s time to go back to the novel. Or the reading. Whatever it is, it’s The Shit for me right now. This Sunday, the 27th L.A. Marathon gets into gear. I ran in the ’98 Marathon, my first and only one. Back then, as in now, I trained hard for it, feeling dread and excitement at the same time. But crossing the finish line in the top third percentile of the racers made all that preparation and agony well worth it, several times over. This time around, I’m doing a marathon of a different sort. Wish us all luck — Bona Fortuna.

———- I just renewed my domain and server use with Go Daddy; I sometimes question the wisdom of shelling out $60 each year. I could be continuing my blog with any one of those free sites, WordPress.com being among them. The main reason I went through all that trouble was so that I could try to make a living off the ads, what few clicks I could get.

Two years and a measly $35 and change in revenue later, earning a living via blogging has turned out to be pretty much a lie and, well, obsolete. The past two years, I was lucky enough to find some kind of filler work to get by, so I never really got a chance to work on the blogging thing. Besides, I was making more than minimum wage, and definitely more than what I make blogging. The economics didn’t make sense, if one thought full-time blogging would pay for one’s bills. I’d have to rack my brains constantly to come up with stuff, and perhaps dumb down my content enough, to attract tons of readers. That is something I am not going to stoop down to.

Speaking of work, I finally became permanent, after temping on this job for nearly eight months. I have to say that, compared to the rest of what I’ve had to endure previous to this… it’s okay. I’m now at a company that does pension planning for people in the movie and TV industry, mostly the technical crew. It’s a short, 15-minute drive from home. I work as a processor, analyzing money and hours coming in, making sure there are no contractual or eligibility issues, and what not. It’s quiet, for the most part. Except for when the two or three individuals in my own department start bitching about how bossy the supervisor is, and how it’s a waste of time doing some stupid little task is; the same people have, apparently, enough time to waste by keeping their yappers open all day long.

I sometimes want to go to their work zones and shake the fuck out of them; I’m not the only one, either. Or, better yet, kick them out in the street, where they can figure out just how lucky they are to even have a fucking job. Here I am, feeling grateful for this opportunity to save and do good, working hard to create a good impression and just do a good job. Then my zen gets disrupted by some bad vibes from these idiots.

The sad part is, they’re not the only ones in the company — or any company, for that matter — who bitch and complain. Quite a few, especially if they’ve been on the job for a long time, seem to focus on the negative. It must be a tendency, human nature, for one to forget what blessings there are, however few or great, and to keep score of each indignity at work.

But, as my brother always reminds me, “It’s still only work.”

Having had to eat a lot of dirt before getting to this point, I am still feeling unbelievably lucky. I intend to stay that way. I feel like I have all that I need right now, to get me on that path, to reach my goals. I’m earning my daily bread, and finally being productive. If some sorry-ass whiners that are fairly harmless (and I’m keeping it that way) are all I have to worry about, then I should feel so lucky. Compared to my previous life (which I’ve long since buried, albeit temporarily), which was full of long working hours, grueling loads of paperwork, lesson plan after lesson plan, problem students, and equally problematic parents and administrators, uncertainty in the summers — this is heaven. I don’t have to take work home, I can enjoy myself, or spend quality time with my loved ones, and then some.

Most important of all, I have enough time to write and reflect. I have a cushion that pays the bills, while I toil on my novel. My million-dollar-or-more insurance policy, lottery ticket-winner, retirement fund, all rolled into one. Ah, yes… I can still dream, while I work on my project; days, I go to day job; then it’s back to the novel, or some other project, and the cycle repeats itself. Then maybe this whole blogging thing might make sense for what it’s best for, namely exposure, publicity. Above all else, an outlet for creativity, for writing, rants, and various other matters of the left and the right hemispheres of the brain.

My target deadline for finishing the Second Draft: June 30, 2011.

Copyright Anabasius 2011

This is my fifth post for the New Year. While that’s a good thing – it helps me sharpen my writing skills, and it has become quite fun lately – it’s also a distraction of sorts. It’s a digression from what I should really be doing.

I have been trying to finish my very first novel, whose working title is The Tower. I wrote down its first few lines on a few sheets of scratch paper, in a cafe somewhere near Santa Monica, on a rainy Presidents’ Day morning back in 2005, nearly five years ago. I already had the basic premise in my head: A dystopian future, a man with a mission, and a plot. The details – everything from the scenario, characters and what not – have all undergone such a great metamorphosis that they are hardly what I pictured in the first place. That is not such a bad thing. Through the years, I have been learning and constantly re-learning what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t. I’ve learned a lot about character development, creating awesome scenes with subtle, imaginative, and non-cliched descriptions. Perhaps the hardest-learned skill I’ve found is how to develop mind-bending plot twists that create elements of surprise and thoughtful insights.

Does that mean I’ve achieved mastery of writing? The jury’s still out, as to how captivating my work will be. As of this writing, I have already begun a second draft. The first draft isn’t quite done yet… but I’m so impatient! Lately, my writing has stagnated a bit; I have felt the energy level dropping. Intuitively, I feel the trail getting cold, because the leads are poor. When you make so many revisions, changes, or additions, and try to incorporate them midstream, it can be chaotic. I am currently at about page 320 in the first draft, and Chapter 32 – and as far as my characters are concerned, lost in the forest, literally! So it’s probably high time I get started on the second draft.  If I’m to re-energize myself in my writing, then everything has to make sense… at least to me, as the writer.

So back to the novel I go! This novel (and my writing, in general) means a great deal to me. It is the one thing that I can do, which can bring me for- tune and success, which does not require a specialized bachelor’s degree, nor licensing, nor grades of any sort. All I need are my brains, my hands, a good, sturdy computer, even a raw gift for words, and plenty of imagination and time, to be able to finish this work.  It will be a great novel. I’m working on it to be truly one.

Copyright Anabasius 2010