What I Learned in My September Challenge (On Writing & Editing)

There is always enough time to write-It was about middle of the summer when I started feeling that I was spread a little too thin. From house duties and raising my two children, to my volunteer days at the Farm, and everything else, I just didn’t feel like I was spending enough time on my craft. Dedicating my time to writing everyday this September has taught me that you can always make enough time to write.

The words are always there-There was only a couple days in the whole month where I really struggled to sit down and write my words. What I discovered was that no matter how I felt starting out, usually around the 500 word mark, my brain would be clicking and the stream would be flowing. A couple of those struggling days I wrote about struggling, and it was interesting because that created some of the best material.

This is an important lesson for me to learn too, because I am quickly approaching the stage where I need to worry less about getting new idea on the pages, and start to focus on finishing things. Knowing that the reserve of new words is just sitting there waiting to be tapped, lets me know it is okay to go ahead and pretty up some of my work for ya’ll to see.

Enjoying Marginal Gains Over Beginner’s High-I know when I seriously started writing I really liked the frenzied creative fit that I would go into. ODing on Coffee, with the music pumping, feeling the surge of ideas and adrenaline as I smashed my keyboard, that is what I liked. Being forced to treat is more like a job, and put the work in each day, challenged me to face the reality of what writing is, which is work.

In those earlier stages you are just so mystified and eager that you’re just impressed you got something down on the page. But after writing for a month, and only noticing the slightest improvement in my writing, that taught me I have to learn to appreciate the small progress forward. Its like working out. If you are seriously overweight and unhealthful you might be able to drop ten pounds in a week of training, but as your training goes on it will be more difficult to reach your goals. The big payoff disappears and you could be left struggling for motivation.

To me this is what separate the “Greats” from the rest of us losers. I really struggle with it too. When I can act crazy and just puke this stuff out on the page I am all right. But when I am faced with the day in day out prospect of marginal progress, it just zaps the passion right out of me. This month long challenge made me really aware of this, and take notice that writing is a game of inches, and like all things your determination, not your skill, will determine your success.

The Benefits of Working Ahead-So when I wasn’t writing on the new book, I focused on writing new blogs. This has allowed me to get a little ahead of my blog, and create a backlog which I will be going through in the future. Going back and editing blogs which I wrote days previously is great practice as an editor.

Having the supply of blogs and being able to make posts has led to a slight uptick in views. This taught me that if I want more people to check out my blog I need to work for those views. Having blogs done in advance allows me to focus on reading other people’s work and making meaningful contact with those writers too. It becomes less about getting my new post up and more about contacting other bloggers.

Working ahead means on the days motivation may escape you, that you do not regress. It also means that there is always material to work with and edit. Working ahead also helps you mature your work, because everything has some time to chill. This is especially important for heathen like myself, who are prone to the flame war.

Take a Break-So this meets up with the last point, we need breaks. Writing for thirty days has improved my abilities, making my writing clearer, making me a better reader, establishing my work ethic, etc., but after thirty days straight, you start feeling a little punch drunk.

I would say it sort of dampens the passion, but that seems to not really capture my experience, because in so many ways I am more fanatic and in love with the whole thing, more than when I started, because my appreciation for Writing/Reading is so much deeper. It’s more like an addict type problem, where of course you love and completely need the thing, but same time moment it takes hold, there is this new bubble of experience, which is sort of bored by the whole thing. It’s contradictory.

Why are we scared of this crazed pursuit of goals? Because we see that it creates both Michael Jordans and Howard Hughes. This tells us it is better to stay in the middle of the pack, because we can’t be Mike and we don’t want to end up Howard. Just like sports and business there is competition out there in the writing world. Its not even necessarily monetary, though that is a major issue, but it is fundamentally a competition for attention. Reading is seen as a form of entertainment. The amount of entertainment time is proportional to the amount of time it takes you to survive, therefore entertainment time is a fixed sum, relative to each person. In other words your story has to be great to get attention. To know what’s great we have to check and compare ourselves to the greats, and then you realize true level of the competition is in the craft itself. And you probably don’t got it, so…

But yes, final point, take breaks. Take long, winding breaks. Play more X-Box, read more stuff, enjoy time with friends and family. Hell, have a BBQ! Don’t end up some psycho trying to be great, because you might just do it.

Real physics is just weird sometimes. Like, totally.

Great thinking about Sci-Fi

Matthew Wright

One of my pet irks as a reader of science fiction is the way some authors play fast and loose with science. Sometimes it works. But usually, for me at least, the suspension of disbelief in SF is carried by the science as well as by story and characters. Goes with this particular genre.But that doesn’t preclude imagination. Physics sometimes gets very weird. Especially where our friend Albert Einstein is involved.

Albert Einstein lecturing in 1921 - after he'd published both the Special and General Theories of Relativity. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Albert Einstein lecturing in 1921 – after he’d published both the Special and General Theories of Relativity. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of his principles was that nothing can travel faster than light. The end. And that’s been proven over and over and over. Of course, this spoils interstellar SF plots, so finding plausible ways around this annoying limit has been a focus for SF authors ever since Einstein came up with it. But very few have explored the…

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Conversation With the Muse (On Writing & Editing)

I was coming down the stairs, checked to see if the Muse was there. I thought, “Today Muse, how about we write whatever you want to write.
“Perfect,” the Muse said, “the setting is on a veranda–”
“What’s a veranda,” I interrupted.
“Look it up.”
“You know “veranda” sounds too Victorian, like that book I am reading. I don’t necessarily want to write something like that–”
“You told me we could do what I wanted to today.”
“Fine, we are on the veranda. What next?”
“There are three people there. One is the Misses of the house. The other are her two best friends. One is her Fiancé Henry, the other is her best friend, Abigail. She had been told that day by her nanny Matilda, that her two friends had been discovered in a pantry last visit, engaged in some heavy petting.”
“Listen, this sounds sort of interesting, but I really don’t want to get too deep into something like that. It’s not really my style. I want to stay a little more modern I guess, I think people find that sort of thing tedious–”
“Well,you are enjoying Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell fine enough, aren’t you?”
“Yes, of course, a Masterpiece,” I said. “But that is what makes it unique you know? I also like the subject matter itself, and I like the style too as a matter of fact, I am just saying that I don’t think it is what I am going for.”

The Muse ignores me now. I go about my home making for another hour so. I decide to bribe the Muse with a treat. I make it an extra large cup of coffee. This is special, a night time batch. The cup is filled to the brim and I have to slurp it down with an ice cube in my mouth, so I can make my way downstairs.

I sit downstairs at my computer, clicking for interesting stuff. I can feel the Muse sitting there behind my eyes, looking at its nonexistent watch, as if it has somewhere to be. Like it doesn’t have all day for this, if I want to get going I better get started, it thinks. I tell it it’s only 5:30, we got until 7:30-8, no need to rush. It takes that as a challenge and sits backs and sips the coffee.
Ego takes over for a while here. Checks the stats on the Blog. Ego notes we are hitting record high views here, 12 in one day. “We could be a big deal,” it thinks.
“Fine,” I said,” How about we write this? Our coversation?”
“That’s gross Sir,” the Muse said. “Schizophrenic actually.”
“That’s a little harsh. Besides it can’t be schizophrenic if you’re real?”
“Tedious,” the Muse said.
“Well that is what I am going to do,” I said. “I got nothing left in the tank anyway. And I think this might be more interesting.”
“I’d rather stay on the veranda.”
“Fine, I meant no disrespect. Please let’s begin then. ‘A veranda, covered in holly…’”

To Prologue or Not To Prologue

Great point, “A decent example of a prologue is in the first book of the Game of Thrones series. The prologue told the readers that there’s magic in the world. Without that, the reader wouldn’t have known there’s any magic at all until at least halfway through the book. It gave the hardcore fantasy readers something to hold on to.”

Tattoo You (A Men’s Night Out)

Awesome blog from guy to “Fellow Men of My Neighborhood”.




I’m part of a group of guys that goes out monthly in my neighborhood to, well, drink I suppose, mostly. But they’re very fun, and we manage to sneak some other activities in there as well. Anyway, it was my turn to host, which really means decide where we’re going to drink, and I decided to put a spin on it. “Memorable” was my theme for the evening because usually I can’t remember anything afterwards.

Here’s the text of the invite for our little men’s night out. Are you “A” or are you “B?” I will update with the tallies as they arrive. Right now we have two “As” that will attend, a couple “As” that “would attend if they weren’t traveling, on the road, whatever. (I’m happy to reschedule.) Silver Balls, btw, is by no means a compliment.


Fellow Men of My Neighborhood,

Here are Two Plans…

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Rewriting (On Writing & Editing)

I think I have mentioned this before, but I hate the rewrite. It’s the result of my own laziness. I realize this now. I also have mentioned how the rewrite begins to feel like so much work, and that disagrees with my natural inclinations. I think a lot of people suffer from this laziness, where once is exciting, but two times a bore! I am going to actively start rejecting this failed thinking.

I realize I am holding on to bad material out of laziness. The concepts and characters are good, but the actual writing is often bad. Sometimes I am hitting the right point in the story line, but it ends up being more telling, then showing. It has taken me a long time to realize the importance of the rewriting, and I think again here I have to thank the pump pad, as I call it. It is teaching me that the fun of writing is generating new material, and that that material may not even reach final draft, but it fills you in your world more. But that is not necessarily stuff that will please the reader.

Every rewrite should get better as the contours of your work become clear. Character details and plot points will start to solidify. You get to keep the little juicy nuggets that you cultivated in the previous drafts, but you also get a second run at the sections, which are lackluster.

Like everything, it seems to come down to commitment and maturity. You have to be honest with yourself and see what’s not working in your draft. You have to allow your own sense as a reader to guide you in what’s good and bad in your own writing. I think I have been waiting for this great editor to enter my life, who can make sense of all my craziness, but I am realizing now that I am the one I have been waiting for! I can tell when my own writing goes off the road. I need to develop the maturity and work ethic to take the time and do it right.

Raining and Trekking, so Rhyming!

Awesome picture and adventures!


It was about one year ago, I did my first trekking during the monsoons. Many people either conveniently avoid trekking in the rain or not even think about it at all! But once you do that, it is altogether a new experience. There were three friends including me for this trek. We decided to go to Paithalmala (Vailthalmala), the highest geographic peak in Kannur which is 65km away from Kannur town.  Nearest town where you can get a direct bus to this places are Kannur and Payyannur or Thaliparamba in between these two. Nearest railway station is Kannur or Payyannur. Get a bus to Pottemplavu if not to  Kudiyanmala. Pottemplavu village is where the Paithalmala hill station is located at.

Paithalmala Map Paithalmala Map

In this map route from Thaliparamba is shown.

So we started off from Kannur. After bus hoping we reached Pottemplavu bus stop. The KSRTC bus ride to this place…

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Day 16 (On Writing & Editing)


Authors Note: I am deep into my September challenge, with only six days to go. The challenge was to write one thousand words a day, for the whole month. So far it has been a raging success! Here’s his Day 16.

I woke up to the sound of running water and my wife screaming out my name. Water has been popping up a lot lately. It’s a big part of the September novel, so are dreams. That’s what it felt like when my wife woke me up this morning, a dream. The hot handle of the shower had somehow come off, a torrent of water coming out of the wall, like the rock Moses split. She tried to stop it with a towel, which only accomplished dumping the water into the basement.

It took all our clean linens to sop the water up. They were freshly washed and folded, still holding the delicious smell of clean laundry. The water filled the basement room’s floor half an inch. We had been trying to dry out this room, and seal up the concrete wall for a month.

There’s a lot of moments as an adult that make me feel like I am on the deck of the Starship Enterprise, or something. Hyper real moments, where my Fate hangs in the balance. Sometimes it is little moments like trying to cross the street with both children and an arm full of groceries. Or when you are trying to lay down new floors so the house can be lived in. Or when the central air unit goes out, and you realize you are facing 100plus and humidity, with a houseful of nordic folk, and there is no money for a new system. Or watching you wife give birth to your children. Or when your handle pops off for no reason and dumps gallons of water in the basement.

All due respect to the Captain, but they got trained professionals at their bidding. You and I, we got the yellow pages and mountains of debt. And I don’t know what it is about some of these positions like electricians and car repair folk, but it always seems overpriced, and mystical, and it is hard to get the job done right.

Same time if you’re blessed with handy friends or family, you will discover the issue just required a little time and know how, and then you are even more disconcerted when the next problem arises, because now you know that most problems can be fixed, by real adults, but you still don’t quite have it. So you’re back on the bridge and all hell is breaking loose and you got to figure it out.

As a writer these mundane things are doubly troublesome. First because our positions are so strange you can’t help but compare it to this new necessary skill which you so need. One plumber told us 85 an hour. The absurdity I raged. My college educated, debt ridden Wife makes something like 25 dollars an hour and she takes care of dying people!

Can you imagine that? This person whose Grandmother may be under the care of my wife, pays less for her care, then I will have to pay him to reassemble my shower knob? How is this possible? There I sit broken, crazy artist, banging away each day trying to assemble some great work of Fiction, so that I can go peddle it to whoever will humor me, for .99$ a pop, and this guy screwing on a handle works at 85 an hour. The absurdity! Even more absurd reality when your facing the hard reality of broken plumbing.

All this to say it polluted the writing well this evening. It seemed the height of absurdity to go spout off a thousand words, when my own connection to life giving water is so fragile.

How can one write when one is starving? How could you writer with tanks rolling down your streets? How could you write with leaky residential plumbing? It wasn’t a leak though. Let’s be serious. It was a full on gusher, but all it required was for me to race down stairs, climb over some inconveniently placed junk, and then I turned off the water to the house. I cleaned up, contacted my Elders and debated the moves with my disheveled and wet, Britney.

Communication was difficult, considering the circumstances. Real life scenarios require extra courage. Ultimately, number one was set into work, and I was left make Executive decisions on the Water issue. The Elder’s words came in sporadically at first. Mother Elder called surreptitiously canceling her prescheduled visit. As to be expected, crisis created hot spots for parallel conflagration. Thankfully I have been training in parental Judo as of late, so progress and understanding was achieved with Mother Elder. She emphasized appeal to Father Elder.

Father Elder in this case was Mother Elder Husband #2. He is a true Master Craftsman. Fate had relieved me of all danger. Father Elder was out and about in my neck of the woods, and believed he could be of assistance. He was.

He identified how to fix the problem in under five minutes, offered to retrieve the one small necessary washer, promised his return later in the day to fix. Showed up later, five minutes more, problem solved. Father Elder is the man.

I want to be the man like that. There are tons of skills out there successful people need to have. From what I have seen each work attracts a different personality. The physical worker would consider sitting in a chair for four hours reading and writing a strange torture, and most writers would probably melt if they were forced to roof a house.

I’m definitely melting along with the rest of my Craftsmen, but I really admire and want to be handy. I also enjoy the physicality of man work. My problem is I just don’t have enough technical knowledge to be effective. I have a couple good avenues to explore these interests, but I am also so busy with being a Dad and sometime writer that its sort of impossible. So I ride the waves of Fate.

We try to save extra money for these types of things, and we could have bit the bullet and probably paid someone over a hundred dollars to come do what Father elder did in ten minutes. And if Fates had been different that could have very well been the case. I was a boy scout for a little while growing up. I think thats where I first thought about ideas like preparedness. I believe that Artists need to be concerned with survival first just like everybody else. I currently because of my circumstances am able to pursue writing as a hobby. But I also have to recognize that I need to have security for my family at large.

I have really been thinking about this all in connection to my writing. If it something I want to approach seriously I need to turn it into something that can make me money. I have been writing for sometime and have some material I could bring to a finish state. I am coming to realize self publishing my stuff is my answer. The success of that endeavor depends on my own ability to master my craft.