On the Writer's Path

 I'm slowly chipping away at The Magician. I've covered this in the past, but as a rule its my only real project other than the things I'm posting on this site. I do find it interesting, having had our first Writer's Group in years, that I thought to bring a years old novel that I've barely touched to be worked on rather than the short stories I've been supplying on Whimsy Wednesday. I think part of it is that I'm much more comfortable with the prose I'm posting here than that piece, which was completed for the now defunct Vicious Novel Writing Month. 

ViNoWriMo was a novel writing competition hosted by a small press, which has now shut down. I participated for two years, but was only able to complete the novel for the first year. In case you are not familiar with National Novel Writing Month, it takes places during November. You are given 30 days to write your masterpiece and must hit at least 50,000 words to "win." While it's a great tool for giving people a deadline for writing their novels, it could be a project you've been throwing around in your brain case for the past twenty years. Not to take anything away from the achievement, as well all know, once words hit the page, you have no idea how it's actually going to turn out., but you could at least have a leg up on someone else you may be "competing" with.

ViNoWriMo, on the other hand, took place in January. At the end of the 30 days, you turned in your novel for it to be read by the publishing house and, after a month, they would choose a winner. The winner would get their novel published by Key Pub (I hope I'm remember the right publisher), after you got it cleaned up, because no novel is great after a 30 day mad dash to get it completed. The twist however was that the publisher chose what the topic was.

So on New Year's Eve, we'd all be huddled around our computers, waiting for the president of the company to tell us what the topic was. This was done by a hugely scientific practice of crumpling up user suggestions into little balls and dropping them in front of his cat. Whichever his cat attacked first was the topic for that year. The first year I participated (2010) was Crystal. The resulting novel (which I obviously did not win with) was The Emotion Exchange. Now I'm not ashamed to admit that I have very little recollection of this novel. I can paint it in broad swaths (as you can see on its page), but the minute details were lost as part of the insanity that resulted me finishing the novel in 16 days.

This is the excerpt I took to my Writer's Group. One thing I found quite interesting about their response to it was that I had some awkward phrasing, my fight scenes were great, but they had little sense of place. While these might be shockers at some point, I recently had the Authoress go over the first 75 pages of The Faithful, to which she noted the exact same problems - including that I was far too metaphorical. For example, when I was trying to say someone was an exceedingly thin junkie, I instead said they were wraiths (occasionally wraith-like), but in going back through the manuscript, I found that I had the problem of calling drunks shambling dead, which in a fantasy left readers feeling like they were literal zombies.

As I said, I'm focused on The Magician for the time being. As soon as that is completed, however, I'm going to toss it to the side, letting it simmer in its own juices, and then start work on The Emotion Exchange. I'm not expecting it to be good and there's a ton of room to expand. As evidenced by my work with The Faithful, I have a problem with ripping stories apart and stretching them to their absolute breaking point before coming up with a workable story. But it's a completed story and I'll have something to play with.

Photo Study  by Ling Yun

Photo Study by Ling Yun


Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.