Monday, September 26, 2011

Hi. My name is Jeff and I'm a Tweaker.

Though I know no one is following this blog :( (I'm not here for the audience) - I have to post that I made the most remarkable burst of progress on my book this weekend.

The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. Right?

Until recently, I've been wallowing around in details and research and dialogue on my book - Ghosts in the Machine. Granted, I have several thousand gratifying words to show for it, and a few pretty good outtake candidates in my humble opinion - BUT NO FIRST DRAFT and NO COHERENT END-TO-END OUTLINE! Something had to give.

About 6 weeks ago, I realized that I was making revisions to my intro for the oblivion-teenth time. I have been chasing my story for nearly 2 years and constructively had little to show for it. I realized that I had a problem.

I was a tweaker. Writing and rewriting each chapter, sentence, and outline until I either was sick of it or began to doubt where it was going. I needed help.

I broke down and stepped outside my overconfident-new-writer's bubble and began looking to outside resources - surfing writer's and publisher's websites, ordering books, and reading blogs. I've spent the past several weeks discovering a whole new world of writing exercises and techniques - and found many very helpful hints and suggestions. [See a couple of recommendations below]

Tweaker syndrome is apparently one of the most prevalent ailments of us young and struggling writers. It's something some of us are born with and can't really escape. Until it's controlled it will relentlessly destroy any hope of progress - and eventually sanity. Being a tweaker is not like catching a cold, or getting a spot of nasty food poisoning. You can't take something for it or wait it out. Tweaking is an addiction. I know now that I will always be a tweaker and that I must work hard every day to make sure I don't relapse.

The one tip I found most rewarding is to "let yourself write badly." It came from the Alan Watt book - The 90-Day Novel. This concept amazed me, and at first it felt totally foreign to me. I mean, c'mon! I lived in a world where a sentence might be rewritten 6 times before I moved on to the next paragraph! But as I read the words, somehow I knew it was true. It seemed so dangerous and willy-nilly (to use a technical term) - but I was excited at the prospect of just dumping words onto paper, letting character and story and plot evolve as it spilled out.

The result, when applied to several exercises I found in my desperate research was an outpouring of thoughts and directions and nuances that I knew I would have never considered had I not stepped away from my ego and and just let fly. I wrote almost consistently each night, sometimes following the advice of one book or another, sometimes just rolling with it on my own path. The results amazed me! I was actually making progress!

As of this past weekend, I have a coherent outline with a synopsis of each of the 31 preliminary chapters - and the story makes sense... and it's good... and it's what I intended! I never thought the day would come when I would be happy with what I had on paper, but it has. Will I use any of my previous work? Honestly, there probably won't be much copy & paste, but that doesn't mean the last two years were wasted. The inspiration and tone and characters I created in those tweaked chapters and paragraphs over the past 2 years will definitely fuel and feed things from here.

I know I'll have to be disciplined and continue to let it "flow" - but I have also realized that once my first draft is completed... I can use my natural talent for tweaking to hopefully polish it into something I'm proud of.

I can't wait to get started.

Hello. My name's Jeff and I'm a tweaker. I've been clean for 38 days.

[ I'd strongly recommend The Art of War for the Writer by Scott Bell - a daily tip sort of motivator. AND The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt - which provides some extremely good character study methods, stream of consciousness exercises and tips on how to get outside yourself]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 2011

Today is not just another day. Today is a day that we should remember who we are and in what world we live.

Our remembrance of the tragedy of September 11th is not some dredging up of the victim-hood or hatred or revenge that unavoidably overcame many of us - in America and across the world - during the days that followed this calendar date ten years ago. Commemoration of that event and tribute to those who perished on that original September 11th is a requirement if we are to survive as a race. As Americans, it is as much an obligation as the commemoration of the selfless sacrifices our military servicemen and women have made over the decades to ensure our freedom and the freedom of others.

Coming together to share our experiences and the personal memories of the lost should not be meant to stir animosity or prejudice or the fervor of "war." It should revive the bond that we share as Americans, and as people; keep alive the memories of those who died, their lives and loved ones, and remind us all of the fact that no nation on this earth without both unity and tolerance can survive for long. As much as we would like to live in a world where these traits rule universally - we do not, and likely never will.

As Americans we can not believe that we are the only ones who deserve a world of peace, and we can not expect something of others that we do not demand from ourselves.

No matter our nationality, certain events in history, some tragic, some triumphant should be memorialized, kept close, kept alive in our memories in order to remind us that we are all human beings with fault and emotion and vulnerability - and differences. They should serve as historical markers that we must learn from if we are to live at all. They should be used to illustrate the capabilities of some in our world to cause pain and death out of intolerance and the ability of others to overcome loss and tragedy through unity.

Today is not just another day. Today is a day that should remind us all that we are all citizens of Earth and that we must learn to coexist. It should be an example for all populations of how not to treat your fellow man, how not to deal with your differences, how not to be a citizen of our planet.

Countless lessons from countless days have been forgotten to history - we should all hope that this one is not.