What’s Up Wednesday: Preparing For Moving Day

No. I’m not moving to a new house. We’ve put too much work into this one to abandon it and start over now.

What I am doing is moving into a new home office space.

I love my home office. It’s kind of become a combination home office/study/man cave. It’s very comfortable and if I were single, I would probably spend most of my time in there.

Perfection… almost.

There’s only one problem.

On the other side of a very thin door is our living room, bedroom, and the rest of the house. I always feel guilty locking myself away and working when life is going on on the other side of that door. Shannon swears she doesn’t mind, but I can’t help but be distracted knowing she’s out there alone.

I also worry about keeping her awake when I’m writing at night.

I don’t want her to have to walk on eggshells trying to be quiet so as not to disturb me while I’m concentrating either.

Even the window can be a bit of a distraction. Basically, I need a distraction-free workspace. Or I at least need to limit them to distractions that inspire me.

As some of you may know, due to a water leak, our renter in the basement apartment had to move. Instead of trying to find a new renter, we decided that we could afford to take over the whole house.

Before buying the house, we used to live in the basement apartment ourselves. This means I can move my office back into its original space… eventually.

Remember the water leak I mentioned? Well, here’s what my basement office used to look like.

And this is it now.

If you can’t see it, there’s a large crack right under the corner of the window. That’s where the water was getting in.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do before it’s a usable space again.

So for now, I’m going to move it into what was our old bedroom.

Don’t worry, I’m going to clean the carpet and the walls well. Probably a coat of paint eventually.

It’s going to be pretty basic. I’m not going to decorate it much since I hope to be able to get the other room in shape over the winter, but it’ll be a good space to work.

Once I’m able to move back into my permanent space, We’re planning on turning our old bedroom into a home gym and the downstairs living room into a combination library/home theater. Once the back patio gets a makeover, we should have a nice party area to have parties, movie nights, and game nights. Maybe even an occasional poker night with the guys.

It’ll be nice to have an actual guest room upstairs again. Then I’ll just have to work on talking my friends into coming for a visit.

Reading update. I finished Full Dark, No Stars and Carrie over the last week. Now I’m reading Firestarter. Yes, I’m on a Stephen King kick, but hey. It’s almost Halloween.

The Importance Of Getting Started

What’s up guys?

Today, I thought I would talk a little about the importance of getting started.

But first, a little about what’s been going on with me.

As you may know if you watched my last apology video, I had a minor wound on my right leg that became infected. I didn’t think much of it and made a doctor’s appointment. By the morning of my appointment, I was feeling dizzy. When I got up on the exam table, I started seeing bright flashes. Long story short, the infection had gotten into my blood and I was nearly septic. Luckily, we managed to control the infection with antibiotics or I would have been hospitalized.

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much writing done in the last couple of weeks, which is really starting to worry me. At the beginning of July, I’m going to New York for Thrillerfest and Pitchfest. Pitchfest is the main reason I’m going. Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series and the director of Pitchfest, described it to me as “speed dating with agents”. You get a few minutes to pitch your book, the agent lets you know if he’s interested, then you move on to the next one. I was really excited about going. I still am actually. But I’m also scared. I only have about two full months left and I don’t even have a completed first draft. If I have any hope of having something presentable by July, I’ve really got to start busting my ass.

And that leads me to today’s main topic. Getting started. See what I did there?

So anyway. Getting started. Now I’m not going to tell you how to get started. It’s something I haven’t even begun to master yet. I just know that getting started is the important thing.

Hopefully, since you’re watching this video, you’ve already started your path to becoming a writer. If not, DO IT! Even though I still have a huge problem with procrastination, I know that getting started is the hardest part. I will sit, staring at a page for hours, thinking of all the things I wold rather be doing. Which is funny, because writing really is my favorite thing in the world. Once I’ve finished for the day, especially if the writing was good, there’s no greater high. Sure, I’m usually exhausted and feel like I’ve just run a marathon with my brain, but the high of having created is better than any drug.

So then why, when I sit down to write, does it seem like everything in the world is more important? I have no idea. Suddenly I have a need to watch every episode of every show on Netflix. Or to clean my perpetually messy house.

The best I can come up with is that one, writing is exhausting. I never sleep better than after a long night of putting words on the page. Most people can relate to not wanting to go to the gym, even though most of us feel much better once our workout is done. Not wanting to write, no matter the benefits of having written, is exactly like not wanting to go to the gym.

Secondly, writing is daunting. It’s completely possible, and let’s face it, probable that after all the work you put in to writing a novel, nobody will want to read it. Imagine being a pregnant woman, only you’re pregnant for over a year or more. Also imagine that instead of your body doing the work fairly automatically, you have to create that baby cell by cell with your own hands. Then imagine finally giving birth to that baby, only to be told your baby is ugly. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that if an author has put his heart and soul into a manuscript and has done his absolute best to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be, it will find its market. That being said, it’s the fear that I’m wrong that paralyzes me and makes me feel like my time would be better spent binge watching something. At least then, I could maybe make some friends by talking about the things everyone else is talking about.

But something magical happens once you force yourself to get started. All those fears, all those doubts, all those worries about whether it’s any good fly right out the window and you lose yourself in the story. Even if you never show another soul what you’ve written, you’ve created something out of thin air. You’ve made magic.

Now then, I know you’re all waiting with bated breath for my advice on how to get started. I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. The only advice I can give is to quote the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf.

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“JUST DO IT!!!!”

Seriously, that’s the best I can do. Force yourself to type that first paragraph, that first sentence, that first word. Hell, that first letter if that’s what it takes. Even if it truly is garbage. Even if you know what you’re writing is never going to make it past the first round of edits, write it. Get your fingers moving and before you know it, you’ll be making that magic only you can make.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m reading a few things. My current bathroom book is “Shada” It was originally a lost episode of Doctor Who written by Douglas Adams for my favorite of the old doctors, Tom Baker, and adapted into a novel by Gareth Roberts.

On my Kindle I’m reading “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

And on my tablet I’m reading “Cycle Of The Werewolf” by Stephen King and “The Ask & The Answer” by Patrick Ness.

I don’t currently have a book on my phone, but that will probably change soon.

As always be sure to check out my website www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

It’s Time To Nut Up Or Shut Up

Friends, today I received some bad news. At the end of summer my current job, which I have worked faithfully for the past seven years, will no longer exist. I received this news just before it was time to go to bed and thus, rather than sleep, spent the day tossing and turning in bed as I progressed through each of the stages of grief. In the end, believe it or not, I found serenity.

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I wish

After much considering and a little gentle prodding from my wonderful girlfriend, I realized I had two options.

1. I could start looking for another job where I’d be miserable and earn a pittance while making someone else rich. Or…

2. I could stop talking about becoming a successful writer and actually work full time at making it happen.

The first option would be the smart route. I would have a steady paycheck which I could count on to be there and maybe even get something with some benefits. But would I really be happy? I think we all know the answer to that.

Admittedly, the second option will be downright terrifying, but as they say, fear is an excellent motivator. If failure is truly not an option, then I can’t let myself fail. Besides, all the best writers had something I don’t. They were hungry, both figuratively and sometimes literally. The fact of the matter is, I’ve gotten way too comfortable in my current job anyway and spend far too much writing time doing other things than writing. (Damn you Netflix.) It always seemed like there was more time. Well my friends, time has suddenly gotten exceedingly short.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting my writing to pay a living wage right off the bat. Fortunately I have other hobbies that I think with a little hard work could turn enough of a profit to pay my bills. I am an amateur blacksmith and also make copper jewelry which I sell here. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythicFlames I admit there isn’t much in it right now but keep checking back. I’ll also post to this Facebook page when I add new items. https://www.facebook.com/MythicFlames I plan to add items on a regular basis. I am also going to be setting up an eBay store to sell some of my items as well as swords and knives not made by me. I will post the details here when it’s up.

As always, please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and Twitter @JustinMKelly1. Also, check me out on Tumblr  http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly.

I also have some informational e-books in the works on topics from wilderness survival to romantic advice and everything else I’ve learned in my time here on earth. I’ll post a link as soon as they’re done.

So basically, it’s time to make my dreams happen. Or as Tallahassee put it…

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Oh Those Summer Nights

And I’m back again. I realize it’s been a couple weeks since my last confession post. All I can say is this, it’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been adjusting to summer which has finally arrived. With the arrival of summer, my girlfriend’s schedule has changed. Which means, in effect, so has mine. I’m trying to adjust my sleeping schedule to match hers so I’ve had a hard time keeping my eyes open at night, much less writing. Also with summer come tourists. Since most of my writing time is done while working at a motel, I’ve been somewhat plagued with interruptions from needy guests. I’m finally starting to settle into my summer rhythm and last night I was actually able to get some decent writing done. There, now that the excuses are done, on with the rest of the post.

Other than the issues I listed above, the writing has been going well. I have just about finished one short story and am well into a second. I know it’s not the two a week I had planned but it’s coming faster all the time. If only I could stop myself from getting distracted by the internet. Anyone know where I can get an old DOS word processor? I’m very happy with the story that’s almost done and I’m considering, after a bit of polish, submitting it to TOR. Am I shooting too high? Possibly. But why not aim for the stars?

The other story I’m not so sure about. I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere, but it’s certainly helping me exorcise some personal demons. We will see where it goes. At least I’m writing.

I’m about to attempt a daunting task. Years ago, I gave up cigarettes. I didn’t have too much trouble with it because I did allow myself an occasional pipe because, well, writers smoke pipes. Right? Unfortunately, it’s gone from an occasional thing, to a regular thing, to an every day thing, and finally to a several times a day thing. I think it’s time to finally give up the pipe. Although I might still hold it in my mouth while I’m writing. Anyone know if they still make those bubble pipes? Seriously though, I might look into an e-pipe or something although I’m still not sure if they’re any better for you. If anyone can give me any advice, I’d certainly appreciate it.  I’m hoping for a nice long writing career and I don’t want cancer throwing a wrench into those plans.

Now that I’ve got you all down and thinking about mortality, it’s time for an up note.

The great thing about summer is, I can finally get out of the house and enjoy my surroundings. I have big plans to jump on the motorcycle and head into the black hills just to explore. I also have my hiking pack to set off on the many trails around here and lose myself for a couple of days. I’m working on setting up a YouTube channel so I can show you all the wonderful places out here and I might just talk a bit about writing while I’m at it.

Well, I guess now you’re all updated on my life.

As always, check out my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1. I’m also on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly but so far all I’ve used it for is to mirror this blog. I’m hoping to change that soon. I just have to remember not to get so obsessed with social media I forget to write.

I promise I’ll be back next week with another update but just remember, writers lie for a living.

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Okay, Okay, I Confess

First, an apology for being a day late with my post this week. I intended to write a post night before last but things got a little crazy. The motel I work at usually provides a quiet, distraction free place where I can work on my craft with little interruption. Unless there’s an escaped fugitive staying in one of our rooms and the police are trying to get him out. Yes, that was my night. So needless to say, my mind wasn’t exactly on my work. Anyway, here it is now. I know you were all waiting with bated breath.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t written a thing so far this week.

I’ve thought about writing, I just haven’t actually done any.

I have a good excuse, I promise. Although I still feel guilty.

I was trying to teach myself how to outline.

I know for some of you, outlining is probably second nature, but I’ve never done it. I’ve always just sat down at the keyboard and started writing. This can be great fun. I get to enjoy watching the story unfold and watch the characters develop as I write the story just as you get to when you read it.

Unfortunately, not having a plan tends to result in a half finished story, of which I have written dozens, possibly even hundreds. Occasionally I’m able to finish a story, but more often than not, I write myself into a corner or just reach a point where I have no idea where to go next. Sometimes the story is just dragging because I’m wandering aimlessly trying to find the story like a miner stumbling around in the dark looking for that vein of gold.

I’m trying to find a balance when it comes to outlining. I want enough plot points to keep me going when I get stuck, but I don’t want it to be so tight that I have no room to play. I want my characters to have the freedom to wander off from time to time. Occasionally they may find the real story without me.

Seat of the pants writing can be a blast, but if I really want to make a career out of writing, I’ve got to have a roadmap so I can finish my stories.

Sorry for the short post this week. I promise next week’s will be longer, and hopefully on time. Please visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 Or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1

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Feeding The Habit

The only way to be a writer is to write. It seems obvious, but I never realized that there is more to this oft-repeated advice than it seems.

Yes, it’s true. If you never write anything, then you can never really be a writer. But there’s more to it. My biggest excuse for not writing as much as I should have over the last several (please don’t ask how many) years is that I had no good ideas. Or that I would get halfway through a story and run out of ideas. It’s very frustrating to suddenly not be able to do something you were once so good at. Especially if it’s the only thing you’ve ever felt you were really good at.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve finally started taking my writing career seriously. That means not just writing when the “muse” was with me. It means forcing myself to write when I’d rather be doing just about anything else. It means ignoring that new Facebook notification, not checking to see what’s new on Netflix, or giving in to any of the other millions of distractions the internet presents. It means devoting myself entirely to being a writer.

Most importantly, it means not giving up when I hit that wall but instead finding a way over, or around, or even, if need be, smashing right through it.

What I’ve found is that forcing myself to write even when I don’t feel like it, even when what I’m writing seems like complete crap, leads to new ideas. Sure, you may have to throw away some parts that took you forever to write but sometimes you have to clear away all the dirt to get to the gold.

I can’t say I don’t still have moments where I just don’t feel like writing. I can’t say I don’t still sometimes feel uninspired. Still, more and more, I look forward to my time at the keyboard. The ideas are flowing once again. I look forward to my fingers flying across the keys just so I can see where the story goes.

Writing really is like a muscle. If you want it to perform, you have to exercise it on a regular basis.

The voices are back. EXCELLENT

Time To Unplug

First things first. I actually have a good reason for my absence this time. As a result of my appendectomy last October, I developed a rather large hernia at the site of my main incision. As a result, I had to have it repaired and have been recuperating. I still have another month before I’m considered fully healed, however, I can finally think straight enough to catch you guys up with what’s been going on.

Now for the meat of my post.

Lately, I’ve had a real problem with writer’s block. I haven’t been completely blocked, I can start a story as well as I ever could. The problem is, once I get about fifteen minutes into the story, I just hit a wall. I can’t think of what to do next. So instead, I sit there staring at the screen.

Tonight, I decided to really analyze what happens. It seems, I can work for about fifteen minutes straight before I get distracted. That’s right, I apparently have developed an attention span only slightly better than your average goldfish. I begin thinking about food, or Facebook, or the fact that I haven’t posted to Twitter in a while, or made a post here for that matter. In short, social media and the like have ruined me as far as attention span goes.

Or maybe it’s just that my subject matter isn’t interesting enough to keep my attention.

No, I’m blaming Facebook. After all, the reason I started making up stories in the first place is to keep away boredom. In this digital age, there’s no time for the mind to be bored.

I’ve decided that there’s only one remedy. I have to quit social media all together… Yeah right. Like that’s ever going to happen. Seriously though, I have to severely limit my access to it. I’ve been working out a schedule to devote more time to writing. I’ve also decided to severely limit my internet time. I’m thinking maybe a half hour when I wake up so I can see what happened while I was sleeping, then maybe another half hour when I get to work. Finally, the last hour of my work shift (that isn’t spent doing actual work) I can spend on blogging, updating my professional Facebook page (ahem https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60), and posting to Twitter (ahem again @JustinMKelly1), or perhaps even updating my website (http://justinmkelly.com/) which, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t touched in years.

Wish me luck. If all goes well, I hope to start finishing a couple shorts a week in addition to making progress on my novel. Some of the shorts will be submitted to magazines while others will be put into small e-books and made available for purchase on Amazon.

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What Is Wrong With Me?

I just don’t understand it.

I love writing. Feeling the words flow out of me to create a story that didn’t exist before is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to true magic.

So why then do I go to such extremes to keep myself from writing? Just now, I wrote a paragraph before getting distracted by the fact that I needed to add an appointment to my calendar. When I finished with that, did I go back to writing? Of course I didn’t. I logged on to Facebook. Then I realized I hadn’t updated my blog in a while so here I am. It wasn’t until I was here, trying to think of a topic, that I even realized what i was doing.

So I ask again, is there something fundamentally wrong in my brain? Am I afraid of the magic? Am I afraid of succeeding? If there is something wrong with me, it much be a common ailment among writers because I see many of my writer friends doing the exact same thing.

Leave a message if you have any thoughts. Also, I’m going to try using twitter more often so follow me at justinmkelly1.

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I’ve Finally Unplugged (Well, Sort Of)

Today I took a major step in my quest to become a more productive writer. I closed Facebook. I don’t mean I closed my account. I just closed the page which has been the default page of my browser for years. Now don’t laugh. I know it may not be a big deal to many of you, but for me it’s the equivalent of a crackhead putting away his pipe.

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down at my desk to write but when I woke up my compuer there it was staring at me.

“I’ll just take a quick peek before I get to work.” I would think to myself. Hours later I would realize my writing time was up and I hadn’t written a word except perhaps to comment on someone’s cat picture.

Now am I going cold turkey? Of course not. I’ll probably still spend way too much of my free time scrolling through everyone’s posts. It’s just that now I will have to make a conscious decision to do so. Hopefully I have the will power to resist until the day’s work is done.

I’ve also decided to leave my laptop at home. I began bringing it to work to increase productivity. Unfortunately it’s been more of a distraction. I spend way too much time just surfing the internet. All I really need is my tablet and my keyboard and I can do all the writing I want. Hopefully it will also be easier on my back.

If this doesn’t work I might just have to take Hemingway’s advice and scale back to just a notebook and pencil.

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Technology Tangle

As I sit here, I realize I am surrounded by technology. I have my iPhone, my tablet, my laptop of course, and my iPod. All of them are performing various jobs to make my life as a writer easier but I have to wonder; Are they really?

When I was a kid and I began making up stories it was because I was bored. It was my way of entertaining myself. I don’t do this nearly as often as I should as someone who hopes to tell stories for a living someday. Why? Because with all this technology at my fingertips at all times, who has time to be bored anymore?

I am no Luddite. Far from it. I love technology and am constantly amazed at how far we’ve come as a people just in my lifetime. Any time I hear someone that we don’t have flying cars I am quick to remind them that what we do have is much more amazing. We have instant access to the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips at all times. In this day and age, there is no excuse to not know something you want to know.

Still, I have to wonder if this constant flow of information has stunted us creatively. Maybe it’s time to unplug for a while.

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