Dear Reader


Dear Reader

Without you I am nothing. Truly I am.

But let me explain.

My basic approach to writing is quick and dirty – purging or a cognitive dump, if you will. you might call it spewing. I get it all out, and worry about the details afterward.

The end result is often a barebones outline, that I have to then flesh out. Very tight, and almost impossible to pry open and elaborate on. But the basic structure, language, and often dialogue, are there and will remain pretty much unchanged.

This is the reverse of many writers. Other folks overwrite that initial draft, so their editing process is about subtraction of words and extraneous details, and carving away fluff to get to the essence of their story.

In my world, my story already exists, I just need to be able to share it with you.

And this is where you, Dear Reader, come in.

I need to make sure you can see what I see, and feel what I feel as I’m writing this. And if it’s too obscure or vague, I gotta flesh it out.

Because good writing, after all, is about telepathy. You join me in whatever place I’ve created and hang with the folks I’ve invented.

Essentially, you’re walking through my mind.

And, if I can bring you there, by giving enough detail and description without pushing you away, I’ve done my job. Because, ultimately, it’s about you.

I need to be able to stand in your shoes and give you what you want, with a few twists along the way. Sure, I pretty much know where I’m going; but when I step inside your shoes I see it all in a different light, and you help me make things as they should be. Heck, you might even surprise me with a change in plot or character. You give me a little nudge here, and a pull there, and maybe a little snip or two, and – voila, we have a story.

And a story is more than just words on a page. It’s a place you drop into, and hang out. You live and breathe inside a story.

Without you, my story would still exist, perhaps only in my own head; but it’d be there in some form or other. But you bring the magic to my story, where it is shared and communicated and understood and resounds in your own mind.

You begin to see what I see, and feel what I feel. We walk through the door together.

And that, my friends, is true magic.




Ditching the muse and how to write LOTS

How to write:

Step one – turn off your internet, cell phone, TV, and all social media. Shut door if possible.

Step two – write.

Simple advice, but true.

Reduce distractions for yourself and just start. Sure, your first few (or thousand) words might be utter crap. But keep going. Who knows where it’ll take you. I just finished two different projects with a combined total of nearly 200 K in less than six months.

Yeah, I’m kinda crazy. But I freaking loved it.

You know those wacko exercise enthusiasts who ‘need’ their daily jog?

Here’s a secret – writers are kinda like that too.

Your brain is a muscle, and requires regular training. That old adage of write every day, preferably in the same place, and aim for a target word count (Stephen King suggested 2000 words daily) will strengthen and build your writing muscles.

Routine, routine, routine.

Sheer fucking repetition.

Same bat time, same bat place, and same laptop. That’s it.

Pretty soon you’re gonna find yourself itching to sit at your desk or laptop at a certain time, and if you miss it, you’ll feel it. Your brain is just following its schedule – at a set time, you write. Pure and simple.

Some folks talk about waiting for a muse to strike.

I guess that’s fine for some folks, but for me, that’s a cop out. I don’t even wait for the bus.

As a visual artist myself (yep, I’m pretty artsy), I know there is no such thing as a muse.

I can hear you gasping.

But it’s true. Your ideas, your inspiration, your motivation – where the hell do they come from?

From you.

Deep down inside, it’s your climbing into your own head and walking around. It might not be pretty, and there’s probably more than a few cobwebs, but it’s all you. No fucking muse. I get it, some days I’m too sick or tired to do more than basic line edits; so it’s easy to blame some external factor like a magic story-granting fairy.

But you’re selling yourself short.

If you approach writing like marathon training, and focus on just freaking doing it – don’t worry about good ol’ SPAG or whatever – just get it on the page, you’ll find you’re chops get better and better. Sheer practice effect.

So what about all those artists in history that painted the (usually) women who inspired them?

To understand any artist, you gotta think about extreme OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m not talking excessive handwashing, I’m talking about the overwhelming desire to do something (i.e. create) and getting so lost in a project that the finished version (or a stop along the way) seems miraculous to an outsider, but to the artist themselves, it’s just one step along a path of discovery.

They are so caught up in what they’re doing, they don’t even see the countless steps and problems they’ve overcome.

An artist painting a portrait would do a series of sketches, and probably a couple versions of the portrait before they were satisfied. Note the repetition. Series. Multiple versions.

No fucking muse. Just sheer hard work.

And writing is just like that, don’t kid yourself otherwise.

At over 500 words to this post, I’m off to work on a short story, pushing well past 2K today. But I’d like to know, what are your thoughts on writing schedules, and inspiration or a muse?






Life on the edges — Marginalized characters



The old adage in English literature is that marginalized characters are the most truthful; from their decentralized perspective, they see things that ‘mainstream’ characters do not, and due to their frequently limited power and status, they have nothing to lose by telling the truth.

They see things that others don’t. And they tell us about it.

In Gone with the Wind, Mammy saw things as right and wrong, and could have her opinion heard loud and clear by grumbling in a raised voice in an adjoining room, but nobody would actually pay attention to her directly. But her voice was heard, and often obeyed.

Anna Karenina’s Levin was a country squire who abhorred the forced socialization of town life and its frivolous demands on his time and money. He remained the most accurate and honest character throughout the novel, and often took on Tolstoy’s social and political opinions. His decentralized position gave him insight into society that the central characters lacked.

In terms of real life, the folks along the fringes speak an element of truth – and are free to question the social structure they are a peripheral part of. Hippies, militias, anybody handing out on the edge of things, whether they are there by choice or chance.

They have the freedom to question the things that others are invested in, and due to the distance with which they hold themselves, they see the situation very differently than someone in the middle of things.

I adore marginal characters – even my main characters tend to be pretty marginalized folks with major issues of some kind or other. But my peripheral characters tend to be the voice of truth in my novels, they tell it like it is, bless their souls.

What I can’t stand are stereotypical peripheral characters. You know, the flaming queen, full of lisp, stereotype and no heart. Or the hooker or the janitor or the whatever.

Writers tend to forget these characters are real people – somewhere. The issues these folks face are real, so don’t make them clownish buffoons or saints. All characters, like all people, are a mix of good and bad, light and dark.

I just like my characters to have an edge to them, and often they’re already on the periphery of society, teetering away from the mainstream toward something else. In short, they work toward freedom as they escape from the trappings of mainstream life (the fact they are often bound by something else is what makes them truly interesting).


To quote: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

And that, my friends, is liberating indeed.

What do you look for in a character? Who captures your heart and mind? (‘cuz that’s what a great character does — you remember them long after the story’s over.)