A Peak Behind the Curtain

This evening, I leave for vacation. Nine glorious days away from the retail landscape. Only my second time (that I can remember) that I get to see the ocean and the majority of that time will be at the beach, soaking up all of it that I can. Now, I'm not saying all this to brag, but part of the reason I was so looking forward to this escape was I would get to focus on my writing, away from all the distractions I usually have. Only now I'm having trouble forcing any words out in my fiction. When I wrote The Grinder, it was the first burst of writing energy I've had in quite some time . . . only to have it sapped away by a buggy ass program (which I still recommend if you just need to force the words out, just be careful).

However, since then, it's more of a chore than not to even think about throwing down some prose. I can write these rambling blog posts easily enough, but when it comes to anything in the dark world that I've placed myself in, I'm at a loss. I think I've literally written two words since that blog post. If I do spend anytime writing, as I've established in the past, it's to keep up with the website: which is my choice, no doubt.

Since I work retail, I do not get the luxury of a typical 9 to 5 job. Instead, it's usually 7 am to 5 pm, without breaks, and one day closing, in which I normally go in at 2 pm and work till 4 am. Now some of that is necessity, cleaning up problems I just can't get to during normal business hours, but other parts of that are just my way of getting the little niggling projects done that would be too much of a nuisance when customers come up and interrupt the project with thirty minutes of questions. I have been on top of counters, trying to fix televisions, before when a customer chose me as the one to talk to. After an hour of helping her (no complaints), she ended up coming back the next day and returning everything to go with the original thing I suggested to her. There were two other people working that day, but I guess I looked like I had nothing to do. So sometimes a good 14 hour shift is called for. I also do not work Monday through Friday. While I could take off half of the Saturdays a month, I tend to work those and instead take off during the middle of the week. All of this is to say, my writing time is limited. That may be no different than hundreds of thousands of other writers, especially considering I have a toddler, with a baby due in the coming months . . . let's just say this isn't getting easier.

But when it's on, man I love this job. There's nothing like being up to the elbow in edits, completely restructuring the story so that it flows that much better, the scenes jump off the page . . . I've never been one to worry too much about the individual word choice. Instead, my concerns are all about the scenes, the conversations - what makes sense in the world the story has created. So when two characters are having a conversation where one is supposed to know all about another, I tend to cut out all the expository writing and the hemming and hawing about whether or not they're going to slit their throat. I go in for the kill. Make it short, snappy, show the character knowing who and what he's dealing with. This will also catch the other character off guard, since they think they are so sneaky. (Yes, I'm referring to a specific scene, but I will leave it to that author to discuss it).

As all this pertains to what I'm doing now, I'm nearing the end of the Magician (once I get some words on the page). Until that is completed, I'm not touching any of my other stories, as much as I'd like to. I had this problem with the Magician before and I shelved it. I cannot do that now. Not with over 50,000 words in the bag on it and I'm so close to finishing it. At this moment, it's more about figuring out how I want to finish it rather than how to get there. To be frank, I have no idea how I actually got to this point with the story and I know it will need several revisions just to get it into a readable shape, but, maybe, I'll be able to carve out a day in this vacation to just write - nothing more.

I hope to keep up with my posts while out of town, but I'm not sure what the internet situation will be (I'm sure it will be fine). Regardless, I'll be in touch.

Art by Clio Galvez

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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.