More Other Stuff

I’m taking a step back for a few minutes from my current work in progress to think about other stuff going on in my life…

Beta Reader Group
Now that my long writing slumber has been excommunicated, I am once again ready to have some of my manuscripts critiqued. I’m a fairly humble guy, so I’m attempting to come up with an equivalently humble way to ask people to join this group. I might want to figure that out soon, because it’s getting to the point where the pile of waiting manuscripts is going to grow too tall to see past. The good news with that condition is that I’m finally finishing my stories.

Steve’s Sonic 12-Pack
Anybody who spends time in an online music discussion group is eventually challenged to name their favorite songs or albums from their favorite bands. I enjoy sharing music that inspires and moves me (I took great pride in having turned a top-shelf science fiction novelist on to Symphony X!), so I’d like to use my blog to do more of that. At some point within the next month or so, I will start posting a series of my twelve favorite songs from bands that I like. For anyone who has ever done this sort of thing, you will understand and believe me when I say it was a major challenge to narrow down some of my lists to only twelve songs. With that said, don’t be surprised if it takes longer than ‘a month or so’ to finalize some of these lists.

For Whom the School Bell Tolls
I’ve been playing with the idea of going back to school for a while now. There is always something in my life that is cutting the line and pushing my scholastic plans further back in the calendar, so I self-study whenever I have a few extra ticks of time to work with. I’m not necessarily determined to get a full college degree, but I would very much like to take a few classes of my choosing, in a subject that intrigues me, taught by someone who can answer all my disjointed questions. The next step: figure out what subjects I would like to study. Yeah, it’s tough to have so many interests, but I somehow manage.

New Wheels
I currently drive a minivan that I treat like a cross between an SUV, a rally car, and a cargo hauler. It serves me well, but a conversation at work about what type of vehicle we really want sent my mind backwards in time to a point where I was still too young to drive. During winter break and/or days where school was closed due to snow, my brothers and I, along with a handful of neighborhood friends, would follow the railroad tracks, then walk past a junk yard with its obligatory barking dog, past a few shops and empty lots, and finally to the mall to see whatever car show they were hosting that week. My favorite was the conversion van shows. For those who existed during the 70s, you know exactly how incredible some of those vans from that era really were. I might not have fully appreciated at that time the significance of custom fit water beds in the back, so I focused my imagination on the sound systems inside and the paint schemes outside. Unfortunately, Life distracted me from my fantasy with financial responsibilities (up to and including the cost of auto insurance for central Maryland teenage boys) and other vehicular requirements, and I never really made my way back to the desires of owning and customizing a conversion van of my very own. I’m not saying I’m going to head in that direction anytime soon, but I laughed when I leafed through one of my notebooks the other day and saw a first draft drawing of the side mural I would like to have airbrushed on my new van.

OK, the few minutes are over. Back to work on my work in progress.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Post-Game Show

Now that I have mentally and emotionally disconnected myself from this year’s NaNoWriMo exploits, I am looking back with a fresh (and somewhat recovered) mind and soul to decide how I want to proceed with the resulting story.

Or the pieces of the resulting story. Simply put, this tale was not written in sequential order. I wrote the scenes that meant something to me…the scenes I felt. If I attempted to write the unfamiliar and the unenthused scenes first, I’d still be working on them. The problem with this approach, as I’ve already hinted, is that I am now left with fragments that must be tied together at some point. I suspect, by that time, I’ll know what I want those blank scenes to accomplish.

I’m not sure I can claim I have a traditional main character. Instead, I have written a cast of characters that take (almost) equal turns in the POV spotlight, a method I recently discovered is a lot more fun to wield than I first believed. My originally intended main character still holds huge importance to the reason for and the course of the story. Her husband has so far been the most fun to work with. And, as this blog entry goes to press, the story contains six antagonists (although I think I’m forgetting two of them).

The current game plan is to work on other stories for a while, then, perhaps in February or March, I will pick this back up and fill in all the blanks. The transcription process alone should be grueling because my handwriting really isn’t as good as I’d like to believe it is.

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Crawling Back Into My Own Mind

The sub-title of my blog, “Crawling into the Writing Mind of Steve Husk,” was inspired by a quote made by a former co-worker.

Back when my short story “Exhaust” first came out, the Senior VP of the company I was working for asked one of the business managers if he had read my latest literary offering; the manager showed a laughing grin and said: “No…I can’t crawl into Steve’s mind.”

I recognized the statement for what it was: a polite way of saying he had no intention of reading it.

Here’s the tripped part: if I felt any level of disappointment or rejection after hearing that, I didn’t notice; I suspect they were overrun and otherwise unnoticed by my celebratory realization that his words weren’t too dissimilar from comments I’ve heard positively attributed to me several times before. I’ve actually had people tell me they checked out my works because they were intrigued by the challenge of crawling inside my mind to see what was going on in there. That sort of comment makes me smile.

Along those lines…I don’t know how many people will catch the difference between “writing what’s on my mind” and “writing what’s inside my mind.”

In my recent past, I feel as if I’ve been doing too much of the former. Reacting to what I see and what I experience with words that reflect. Most of those efforts delved no farther or deeper than where I already was. Not many of those efforts meant much to me once that brief wave subsided.

I have since challenged myself to get back to the latter. Expanding on my evolving beliefs and experiences with words marinating in passion and conviction. Even months after penning those thoughts, their flavor is just as mouth-watering to my soul.

To make this happen on a more habitual basis, I’ve been studying certain topics that demand self-evaluation.

Honest self-evaluation.

Not many people are up for that kind of a challenge.

An essay I stumbled across dealing with the fear of failure tasked me to pick up a pen and write about how that type of fear relates to me. I discovered a few tidbits about my personality and my tendencies that I never really paid attention to before…which is probably true because, whenever I saw a dark corridor in my mind bearing a “Fear of Failure” sign, I quick-stepped the other way. This time, I’m glad I crawled those few extra yards inside my own mind. Now, with my hands filled with acknowledgement and wisdom, I can stand back up and share something previously unknown or unconsidered with those who wish to take the challenge of crawling in here with me.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Checkered Flag

I am psyched to announce I have crossed the NaNoWriMo 2017 finish line! The checkered flag waves for me!

51,089 words to be exact!

NaNo-2017-Winner-Badge

Tonight, I celebrate.

Loud music while lounging around with a glass of rum sounds good.

Tomorrow, I’m taking the day off.

Yeah, right. I know myself too well.

Friday, I’m going to reintroduce myself to a few of my incomplete stories that have patiently waited in the pits for November to end, and give all those editors and readers who haven’t seen my name in print for a while something to think about.

I’m actually serious about this one.

Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time to rock!

Oh…and, of course, congratulations to everyone else who successfully completed the NaNoWriMo experience. Let’s see some of your creations in print in the next few years.

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Unattended and Abandoned

When I come up with what I believe to be a good story idea, I like to type out or write down a few general thoughts and/or first-draft character interactions and/or a brief story outline as fast as I can. That way, those thoughts are, as I like to call it, ‘immoralized,’ and waiting for me to continue expanding them and bringing them to life whenever I feel the time is right (or, more accurately, whenever my personal schedule actually behaves).

As I found out, however, the clock I’m using to keep track of when that ‘right time’ arrives keeps getting unplugged.

it didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted to write about for this year’s NaNoWriMo event, so I hit my primary hard drive for that story’s original notes.

I found nearly three dozen other unattended story folders instead.

I decided to revisit some of those old notes.

I realized…some of those story ideas weren’t unattended, they were abandoned. On purpose.

Regardless, I decided some of these unfinished projects should have a much larger share of my attention once NaNoWriMo concludes on the 30th. After all, I need to make room for other story ideas I might come up with.

I’m going to attempt to do a better job at not leaving so many incomplete story ideas unattended.

Leaving some of my ideas abandoned will probably keep happening, though.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 – An Update Because I Feel Like It

Here are a few NaNoWriMo updates I’d like to share for no other reason than I feel like it.

  • With only one week to go in this year’s NaNoWriMo, I am pleased to say I have wiped out most of my deficit since the last time I checked in, and am now only 33 words behind pace. As an added bonus, I have calculated a new ‘words per day’ pace that will allow me to finish an entire day ahead of schedule (I have family business to conduct on the 30th).
  • My main character is still a bit unplugged, but I spent an entire day writing out scenes and material about how she operates and how she influences people (without her even knowing it), and I feel as if she will soon become a more fascinating player in my story.
  • My MC’s husband is more of a focal point to the story than I expected, and I’m still debating whether I like that or not. Looking back at my earlier notes, though, I realized he was set up to be like this, so I might just let him do his thing. As of right now, he is the second most fascinating character in my story.
  • So, who is the most fascinating character in my story? Actually, it’s a multiple-person tie for first. This particular group of characters fascinates me, and I’m actually very pleased with how I’ve portrayed them to work so well together. I might have to give them their own novel.

By the way…I see that several regulars are checking in on my NaNoWriMo updates. I know time and attention are stretched commodities these days, so I wanted to express my gratitude for offering some of yours towards my writing exploits.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Court is in Session

Court is in session. Steve, you are being charged with being over a thousand words behind the pace that will take you to the 50,000 word mark by the end of November. How do you plead?

Hungry. I wish I had taken that second cheeseburger for lunch when I had the chance.

I’m referring to your anemic word count of only 31,885.

That word count doesn’t include today’s efforts.

Do you intend to make up the deficit before November 30?

Absolutely. I was even farther behind last year with less than seven days to go, and I still hit my mark.

So, why are you behind this year?

I spent some of my time and efforts drawing maps and choreographing fight scenes…and I even spent time trying to name my main character’s husband and her two sons.

In other words, you were performing deeds that have nothing to do with actual writing.

But, I’m using actual words in my maps and choreography work.

In your opinion, do these acts further the story you’re writing?

Of course.

Have any representatives from the NaNoWriMo Policy Enforcement Bureau been to your house to correct your methods?

A few political spinsters knocked on my door a few days before the state elections.

That doesn’t count.

Does that mean I’m OK to create the story in any way I want, as long as I make it to 50K words by the end of the month?

Why are you even asking that question? When was the last time you followed anyone’s writing rules?

Junior high English class. I think.

Then, the Court of Steve finds you in compliance of succeeding in any way you see fit. Now, get out of here and go finish up today’s challenge.

Cool, but I’m getting me a cheeseburger first.

Court is dismissed.

 

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