Saturday, September 24, 2011

On being a writer with a day job...

...and a family with one dog. I can summarize it with one word; hard.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and ask myself; why do I still write? The amount of times I can is small, the distractions are high, the possibility to learn and better my craft is in direct competition with the time I've to write. With the amount of work I do, I could finish two books a year. Some writer think this is a lot, and if you think that you must be lazy. One can easily produce one book writing thirty minutes a day. It's possible to write 500 words in thirty minutes, having 365 days a year that makes 182500 words. So easily possible even if you have two jobs. (or three, one can always write on the crapper.)

On average I write an hour daily. It's the things you have to do around the writing itself that consumes so many additional hours. Like reading, learning, maintaining blogs and websites, social media, etc, etc. Especially reading is essential for your writing, by reading you will notice techniques other writers use that you can also use; it's learning by example. The social media aspect is to show a face to the public so you don't stay an unknown writer that never sells a book. It's more work for the amount of sales it produce, but still it's essential because with nobody knowing you, you will probably not get any sales. This makes writing something for the long-term, it may take ages to get at the point you produce quality work that will easily sell a lot.

I'm at the start of my writing career, and hence don't produce yet enough to be able to maintain myself only with my writing. That is why I have a regular day job and the commute that comes with it. This job devours the available hours, about 12 hours working and commuting from Monday to Friday. It's not only the time that gets lost, the creative energy is also drained, and it has a lasting effect on the weekend. It's really troublesome. To counter this I try to move and train my body to become stronger and have a bigger supply of energy. Bad thing is, is that training cost time.

I want to spend time with my family and dog, some weekends I put writing aside so I can spend time with them. I feel less drained while I'm with my family (unless my kids are cranky), I dare say they revitalize me a little. It's fun, but fun that keeps me from writing, and slowing me producing books. A slow production of books is less money making potential. However I will not stop spending time with my wife and kids, because I already don't spend as much on them as I used to.

To make it in writing means you should be willing to make sacrifices. I now spend less time I used with my family, I have no time for my hobbies, and I've put my IT career on a hold. And I still didn't answer the initial question. Why do I still write if it's so hard? I write because I want to write. The days I'm not writing I'm thinking on writing. The longer I don't write the more the thoughts about writing will push in my brain till I become so distracted that I've to write. Writing is beautiful. So yeah I guess I'll keep writing as long life allows it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Don't Believe What They Say"

For your reading enjoyment I hereby post the first Chapter.


Don‘t believe what they say, that‘s what she told me. It‘s been going on in my mind for forever now. Each dawn I remember again, relive the moment as if it happened yesterday, and for all I know it may have. Don‘t believe what they say, I wished with my whole being that I listened. Now I‘m here.

It was a day like every other day for these last two years. Skippy ran up the stairs to sit at the doorpost to my study, staring at me with his big dark dog eyes. The all white, with a few brown spots, Jack Russel believed he could hypnotize me into submission to walk him, and may-hap he did. As with every other day, I sat behind my desk ignoring him for about fifteen minutes, to then finally give in and go downstairs with him trailing after me. I put my rubber boots on, and my leather jacket. She had bought the jacket for me but often wore it herself. My wife that is, or was, she‘s been dead for two years now.

Skippy sat near my feet, looking up at me, with his tongue hanging out. Seeing the leash in my hand he stood up wagging his tail. He licked my hand while I fastened the leash on his belt. Up and down he bounced at the front door. Outside we went. Each day at predawn we did the same thing, however never since again, not at dawn, morning, or evening. Never more we walked together past that old rundown deserted farmhouse.

No one else was awake this early, only me and my dog. I had no problem with waking up, I never went to sleep, and I had nothing better to do. Since her death I‘ve not been able to sleep. The hours I would spend sleeping I now spend in my study not studying, instead I prowled the internet, frequented forums, websites, blogs, read up and chatted up about the weird and strange. Not that I believed in all that supernatural crap. My wife did, and since she‘s gone I felt comfort in loosing myself in her past interests. It might have been better if I had taken these things more serious.

The sky was one big swat of darkness, only a dim white light gave away the moon trying to escape the shadows hold. The sun was still hiding behind the horizon, but soon to peek over it within the hour. It was the streetlights that cast the surroundings in light, so far as in making everything seem like a lighter shade of dark. I looked around; the pavement and street were a dark blurred gray, the parked cars were dark husks sticking out the asphalt, the houses dark behind the curtains, only mine had light shining, and I left that behind.

I heard the streetlights long overdue bulbs wheezing out their lives. For some reason my neighbors fancied the old things; engraved steel lanterns a century old. Who knows how old the bulbs were, by how much light they didn‘t give I would say ancient. The only other sound was that of the insects. Each new dawn they chirped the advent of new insect life, they started too early for the early birds to join them with their own morning greetings. By the time I should have returned from the dog-walk they would be singing along in their full glory.

I always walked the same route past the old farm to the path leading to the small local forest. I liked walking Skippy this early, because no one was around to happen on. No awkward forced greetings, and most of all no artificially well-meant questions about ones well-being. It‘s been two years and they still asked for her like she was still around with us, alive.

I breathed deep in, the air was fresh with humid dew. Skippy tugged at the line going left and right, and between my legs, eager to go and release his yellow stream to the nearest thing he could find. I might have made him wait a tad too long on me, his bladder must be about to burst. He has his favorite spot at a bush near the farmhouse fence. He‘ll have to hold it up till we arrive there. It‘s really his own fault, he should have done a better job in hypnotizing me.

I yanked the leash to make him walk a straight line, and gave it a tug now and then to keep him away from the neighbors gardens and the car tires. His nails clattered on the pavement while he kept up with every wide step I took on the stone tiles. I did my best to go as fast as I could. I wanted to exit my street before waking up any of my neighbors. I could care less about their sleep, I just disliked being seen. Missus Beaty‘s bedroom light went on, and she pushed her curtains aside. There she stood with her few left straw like hair falling down in front of her shoulders. I could see the patches of bald on her skull from where I was standing. She looked at me with her fallen eyes from down under her thick brows. She saw me alright, and from the way she quickly turned away, closed the curtains, and put the light out, I was sure I would receive a complaint in the coming morning. It wouldn‘t matter, it didn‘t in the past and it sure doesn‘t now.

I quickened my pace out the street. Skippy‘s playground, the forest, was a minute walk from the farmhouse going down a dirt path. A cobblestone path led from my street to the abandoned two century old farmstead. The front part of the brick two-story farmhouse looked immaculate if not for the broken upper windows and the sealed shut lower ones. The heavy oaken front door stood sturdy shut, barring entrance to all the curious and adventurous, and rightly so. The back mostly wooden one story part of the house was dangerously close to collapse. The roof had already sagged and collapsed in a few places. The farm had a granary, twice burned down in the last century, from which now only stood the five char-coaled black support beams sticking out the ground. My wife loved this farmstead, she loved everything old and cultural, and so did the town folks. They called it a monument of the utmost cultural importance, set to be restored one day. They‘ve said that forever, to me it‘s a sore sight that should be demolished.

The moon broke free from the dark clouds and shone its white bluish light on the farmhouse, basking it in some sort of glow. I faulted my years of sleep deprivation for this visage. I‘ve never seen a building before that emitted light like that.

Skippy must have forgotten his need to pee at the way he pulled hard at the line, ignoring his favorite spot by the bush at the fence. He is an habitual puller but I never saw him like this before, he pulled so hard he almost hugged the ground in his effort to get us forward. He must have gotten it in his thick head that he was the leader. It didn‘t matter to me if he led or I led as long we ended in the same place I intended to go. He only calmed down when we arrived at the dirt path going down to the forest.

The tree tops stretched to the sky, swaying on the breeze that traveled in between, while the leaves rustled their soothing whisper. I would stay here for eternity, return to nature as we humans once had lived before, but I couldn‘t. Instead on any other day I would satisfy my desires with a walk in the forest while Skippy did his thing, but not that day. I don‘t know why I didn‘t do so, but I now wished I had.

I squatted next to my dog and unleashed him. He galloped away like a showhorse. At the tree line he stopped and turned to face me. The moonlight reflected green in his eyes. It was not really a welcoming sight as it sure was the intention.

“Go then. Run. Do your thing,” I called after the dog.

Skippy jumped in without looking back. I heard the fallen branches crack under his paws and the brush of his body against the foliage, accompanied by his panting. Soon I heard nothing more. I sniffed the freshness of the air, smelled the sweet aroma of leaves and morning dew.

I felt compelled to turn around and look up. The full moon was much higher up the sky than I expected for the hour. It seemed almost to smile at me knowingly. The sleeplessness had finally set madness in, because a thing couldn‘t smile and the moon was a thing devoid of life. Still it urged me to be somewhere else.

They told me the moon was magical. They being the many people online hiding behind avatars on the forums I frequent on the web. One especially, known by the name AmandaTuga claimed to be a bruxa from Lisboa, Portugal. I guess a common witch, one of those Wicca adorers. She told me that when the Lua was full it was especially powerful, and a high for everything magical and its practitioners. She also added that often it would relay messages from afar. She advised me to ever be watchful for its pull, because it could end saving me. Like so common with these kind of people she excelled in omitting to tell me against what it could save me. A bruxa, a witch, whatever.

I thought at that time she was showing off to impress me, because not long after posting my profile picture, I got a private message from her inviting me to come stay over with her in Lisbon; to run naked under the full moon outside in the Portuguese nature. She wanted for us to give in to our carnal desires under the soothing light of the moon. Like I would travel across the Atlantic to get my freak on with a self-proclaimed witch.

Judging from her own profile photo it was a tempting offer. I should have taken her up on her offer, but at that time I had no need for such. I thought the woman beautiful, and enticing, but the crazy part, her belief in witchcraft and her claim to be a witch, did seal the deal against me ever meeting up with her. Though whatever I thought about her at that time, she was right about the moon.

The moon, Lua as she called it, was indeed mesmerizing. Magical as they claimed it to be, I couldn‘t help stare at it and lose myself. I sought the message it had for me, but found none. At that time I was too closed-minded for that, I could try but the state my mind was in I would never find anything. The same close mindedness that put a shell around me against the sultry Portuguese witch.

The sensation of someone watching me and a peculiar smell drew my attention away from the moon. It was Skippy, he sat at my feet and looked at me with his big black round doggy eyes. Him not panting like he always does after a long run, he must have been here waiting on me for a while now.

When he noticed that I got out of my moon revelry, he started a high-pitched whine, something he had not done since my wife passed. I squatted next to him, and petted him to calm him down. He licked my hand, his tongue scrubbing like sandpaper on my skin. His eyes trembled in their sockets, and I could better smell the odd odor. I recognized it, and I wished to never have smelled it again, the sour smell of the dying.

I put the leash back on Skippy and proceeded to walk home. I barely started when I was stopped with a jolt by Skippy not budging. He sat there a marble statue and heavy as one. He whined through his nose when I yanked the rope for him to come. Shaken he stood up, and with lowered head and his tail between his legs, he followed me. We went up the path while the familiar repugnant odor still lingered with us. It didn‘t come from the dog, it was in the air, or from some critter dying somewhere around here, out of our sight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book cover Short Story

I want to showcase the book-cover for the short-story I will release today/tomorrow on amazon. The price will be set at $0.99

Opinions about the cover are welcome. I must say it's not the best book-cover I made, but it looks a fitting weird in its imperfection.

Update: "Don't Believe What They Say is now available on Amazon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The tragedy of 9-11

On 9-11-2001 a tragedy occurred which left close to 3000 dead and many more in its wake. A sad day for the family and friends left behind. A sad day for a city, a country, and the world. On that day, it was one of the few moments in my life that I cried.

I don't remember that day fully, only the event. I was at home thinking about writing, and actually I wrote a first sentence to a story that I never finished. For some reason I can't remember, I walked away from my writing and turned on the television.(I don't watch often) It was tuned in on CNN, it was my main source of news at that time, and besides discovery channel the only channels I watched.

The image of the plane smashing in the tower choked my breath away. I stood paralyzed analyzing what happened. I thought a horrendous accident had happened. CNN kept repeating this image, ingraining it in my mind, it also left a bad taste about their reporting. Any notion of it being an accident went away hearing about the hijackings, and it vanished completely with seeing a second plane hit the other tower.

It struck me the way it was being reported, like it was the media's intention to twist the dagger in the wound etched in the viewers heart. It was very sensationalized the way the did it, in a very working the emotions of the viewers kind-of-way. After a while I felt nauseated by the reporting. By then I couldn't understand why they did it this way.

Then the first tower collapsed in a very controlled demolition kind-of-way, and there was actually reporting of hearing explosives go off. I dismissed this, because it was obvious to me that it must have been the plane that crashed in the building that caused it to fall. The odd way the building crumbled to a pile of dust and debris could have been a chance freak occurrence. It's a fact that strange things that we can't explain do happen.

The second tower crumbled down in the exact same way as the first. It made me think and doubt. It's highly unlikely that two buildings would collapse in the same way on the same day, unless it was controlled. I didn't want to believe that, to believe that meant to believe that there was more to it than just Muslim extremist hijacking planes to crash them in the twin towers. In life there are chance occurrences. I concluded that there is a chance that the same thing can happen twice, but not three times. With this I set my mind at peace, and continued watching CNN, and be horrified by their journalists, or talking heads as they are so endearingly called.

My shock was great hearing that a third tower (WTC7) had collapsed in the same way. I couldn't keep myself in denial anymore. There was something odd about it. Using logic I can say that those towers didn't collapse the way they officially claim it to have happened. There is more to it than they want us to believe, and it saddens me that this will not be brought out to light.

My eyes opened to the reality of our world, our life, and society, that is awful. My illusion how things were crumbled on that day. Since then I've grown more aware of the manipulations to hide the truth by the media, the educational system, and the politicians themselves. Studying history, and from more than one source, I got a better grasp in what really happened during some world events. I now see the discrepancies with reality and what is being thought to our children in history classes. We are fed sugarcoated information, with some(many) incriminating details missing. We never get the full story unless we ourselves seek it out.

I don't watch CNN anymore or any other mass media outlets. It's become obvious they don't report but instead sensationalize, and pick and chose what they will tell their viewers. It is their own opinions of facts they want to impress on us. A good example is in how well they did to get people in a frenzy for a war in Afghanistan and Iraq. How there was no critical note towards the official 9-11 investigation report. How every other view that goes against their notion of the truth, is categorically ridiculed, or put aside. A more current event is the reporting against Libya, and the ever lasting trying to goad people in a war against Iran. What is the goal of the media in instigating us with half truths and often lies?

With the years after 9-11, I've become more critical about everything that happens around us. I've been thinking more and deeper. My perception is now enhanced. With this comes the trouble to cope with it all. The realization of how it all is in reality, and the acceptance of this, is a big burden that can propel you into a depression. It's the fear that you face, fear of the truth of things. It's accepting that what is, and stop being led by fear that will keep you sane and able to face the truths of our world. And it's liberating once you cast the fear away and finally see.

What has this post of mine to do with writing? With making a novel? Nothing much to writing in general, but 9-11 changed me into who I am, and with it my writing and desire to write. Having my eyes opened I got the urge, dedication, and will to write and continue writing. Had it never happened I would still live a fearful life and never dared to write.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Editing, my way! #2

Yesterday after posting my first "Edit, my way!" post I went on kindleboards and read a post about editing that made me remember a thing I wanted to try out for a long time now.

I downloaded readplease, installed it. It looks like an early windows program. And with early I don't mean Windows Xp, but more like windows 3.0. I'm tempted to say it looks like a DOS program, but it got a GUI. Don't mind me, the nerd in me came out. Can't help it happening, it's the curse working in IT for such a long time.

The main thing is, it works. You paste the text and some computer voice reads it. It does help with editing, especially with the placement of comma's. Hearing someone read it, you get a better feel if it's placed right. Not being a spelling and grammar genius I need all the help I can get editing my work, and hearing your own story read to you helps a lot with this.

It's a great tool for your editing. The only downsize of readplease is the robot person voice. It sounds creepy and soulless, but beats finding someone who wants to read your text aloud. (Could not get my wife to do that yet)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Editing, my way!

Well yes! Editing the thing I suck at most. And why? Because I dislike it. And the why I dislike editing is; I tend to make many spelling & grammatical errors, and because of this I've do do a lot of corrections. The drawback of having to correct so much and not having the money to pay someone to do the brunt of correcting, is that it slows me down in finishing my books.

I love the creative process of coming up with a story and writing it down. I write a story down fast, but my editing always lags behind. When you do something with passion you will always do it better and the time will fly by like it was done yesterday. Without the passion things will drag and seem to last an eternity.

I'm trailing off. I didn't want to rant about my dislike of editing but I wanted to write about how I edit. This is what I do. I quickly go over the text, sentence by sentence, correcting the simple spelling errors. When I finish doing that I'll go over the text again, and correct the sentence structure. I also do this on the sentence level. I'll repeat doing this till I'm satisfied with the text. I'm no spelling God, when I'm satisfied there probably are many errors still left in.

It takes me as long to edit a novel as it takes me to write one. I'm slow like that. I can't do much about it. Well I could become better and more diligent in my spelling & grammar, that might do the trick, but that takes time and experience. I can live with the slowness for now, but I discovered something else that's wrong with my editing. By doing my correcting per sentence the flow of the whole get distorted at times and my text will read clumsily because of it. (More than it should)

Driving home (I do a lot of thinking driving) I thought about my editing woes, and I came up with that maybe I should correct my work taking into account the whole paragraph. That way I can make sure the whole reads okay, and that not each sentence stands on its own unrelated to those surrounding it. I'll try this new way out and hope that it will improve the readability of my writing.

In fact I'll start with this blog-post.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I wrote a short story.

Well yes, I wrote a short story. I did it while not planning to do so, but I still did it. I wrote a short story.

While walking the dog Friday, I got an idea for a story. I tend not to start a new story if I'm writing another one, so I put the idea behind me. My current work in progress is waiting in line to be written while I'm editing a finished novel. I wanted to start with correcting my work, but my motivation was far away on a vacation it neglected to tell me about. I just couldn't push myself in doing anything.

Siting in my chair being my lazy self, it hit me. I took my writing block, blue pen, and I went downstairs to sit at my dining table. I wrote for like five to six hours only stopping to drink or stretch my back. I finished the story at almost five thousand words. It's the most work I've done in months. I'm now editing the story, hoping to finish in time to self-publish it this Sunday.

It surprised me what I could accomplish if I set my mind to it. I thought I was spent for that day and I still managed to write a short story. This experience showed me the greatness of inspiration. I now understood how it is possible that some writers can write a novel in a matter of a week or two.