The part where I cheat

So this one is coming down to the wire. To use a tired phrase. And it’s been strange. I’ve babbled here and there about the huge number of things that have caught me off guard whenever it comes time to add another installment to Matthew and Epp, and here are some more.

In a larger project like this, one tends to come up with key scenes and moments that you sort of store away and hope to spring on your audience when you (finally) get to a certain point in your book. These are your flagship scenes, the jewels you adore so much that it’s hard to say if you’ve constructed the jewels to fit the crown or if you’ve constructed the crown so you’ll have a place to showcase the jewels. About ninety percent of my little jewel scenes seem to want to work their way into this current section, but there’s a problem. There’s always a problem. Because those little jewel scenes are abstract, disjointed, separate elements in your head and when it comes time to decorate your story with them a lot of times it turns out that they don’t quite fit for some reason or another. Either your characters aren’t as into cheese as you thought they’d be or there’s no way you’re getting them all to take a blimp ride or none of them know kung-fu or whatever it is, you find that your little jewels have to be recut or resized or that they were just stupid flights of fancy to begin with and not actual scenes. Which can be trying. It’s sad to wave goodbye to something you thought you were building towards because you’ve finally come to acknowledge that it doesn’t fit.

Also in this section I’ve come into a problem I’ve often come across with Matthew and Epp stories which is that the characters, all of them, are a lot smarter than me. It’s tough to carry you, my readers, along and tell their, my characters, stories because a lot of time I’m struggling to keep up myself. And when you have a section like this where confusion reigns, it’s really quite tricky. I’ve stopped and restarted any number of scenes trying to figure out the best place to put the camera, so to speak, in order to let you follow along as everyone does their thing rather than try to force my characters to constantly stop and tell you what they’re planning or have to spell everything out with my clunky prose. It’s far better when we can just sit back and watch.

And now I’m going to break all of my personal rules and give you some advice for how to read one of my stories.

Pay attention in this next section, my faithful readers, and be careful whose word you’re trusting. Things get a bit tricky.

Or maybe I’m overreacting.

No idea what I’m talking about? Go read part one of the Matthew and Epp stories, “Second Choice,” which is located here. Then move along through Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part5 and Part 6. By which point you’ll be all set to read Part 7 which publishes on Thursday.

The most riveting post ever

I’m writing.  I’m hoping to finish a first draft up by tonight.  I stand zero chance of doing this, mainly because any writing time-lines I work out for myself always go horribly wrong almost instantly, but that’s still what I’m shooting for.  A first draft done by tonight.

So in that vein I have basically nothing to say on here.

Good stuff.

Just what’s in one of those “name” things, anyway?

For the first time in what has to be months I’ve named the current story a few days in advance of my deadline. It might change, as always, but I’m pretty settled on it. I’m not usually one for using foreign words and phrases in my writing, but this one seems to fit.

(This seems as good a time as any to point out that all “foreign” words used in my last story were, in actuality, nothing but complete and utter gibberish.)

Politica del Carciofo. What’s it mean? I’m not telling. Go look it up.

Matthew and Epp in less than four days.

My regular joe

I recently became a regular at my breakfast sandwich cart guy. I used to eat the breakfast sandwiches at Dunkin’ Donuts. Those breakfast sandwiches weren’t great, but seeing as how Dunkin’ Donuts sells a product which they label “coffee” but which I’m fairly certain is made by combining happiness and crack, I wasn’t complaining. Recently, though, Dunkin’ Donuts decided to make a push into lunch foods, they sell mini-pizzas and paninis and all sorts of stuff now, and to do so they brought in all new ovens in all their stores. I don’t see good things in store for this business venture as these new ovens now make their breakfast sandwiches taste like slabs of vulcanized rubber, slathered with ketchup, and placed between two dried out boards of cork.

It says a lot about how bad these sandwiches are that I now actually make two stops on my way to work, one for D+D coffee and another for a decent sandwich. Then again, it says a lot about how much I love Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that I’ll still sometimes say to hell with it and just order one of their sandwiches.

This is not my point. My point is that at the new guy I go to for my morning dose of salted meat and bread I recently became a regular. Which sucks. Before becomming a regular I was able to order what I wanted. Since becomming a regular the guy now spots me in line, smiles, and then calls my order back to the woman manning the grill, even though that might not be what I want on that particular day. But I’m stuck. I’m a regular. You can’t demote yourself back to a normal person once you become a regular. Oh no. He knows me. We have a rapport. If I correct him now on what I want for my order, I don’t just go back to the way things were, instead I backslide even further and move from “regular” down to “asshole.”

So I’m stuck. I have to order the same thing for at least another month before I can decide to “switch it up today” and order something else.

Whatever. Go start reading about Matthew and Epp.

World domination over strawberries and frogs

I’m currently reading The Physics of Superheroes, by James Kakalios. The book is quite fun, although the physics sometimes goes over my head. I should point out that this isn’t because of any flaw with James Kakalios’s writing, it’s just that the physics sometimes go over my head. In fact, Kakalios is quite gifted at explaining things with easy to follow examples.

The basic premise of the book is that if you allow for one “miracle exception,” comic book characters tend to be rather on the mark with their physics. No, being bitten by a radioactive spider won’t give you spider powers, but with that leap out of the way it turns out that Spiderman’s swinging and web strength make sense. On the other hand, there are plenty of slip ups in the comic book world and, sadly, Spidey’s super strength doesn’t quite jibe; scaling up an insect’s lifting and jumping power doesn’t work.

Thus far the coolest thing in the book is the discussion of Magneto. It isn’t that Magneto is inherently cooler than Superman or The Flash, but it turns out the comic book writers were being pretty accurate when they allowed Magneto to levitate other objects using his ability to create and control strong magnetic fields.

Cue the University of Nijmegen’s videos of levitating strawberries and frogs located here.

So cool.

In a world….

This is going to be good. I know I basically never say that, in fact it sometimes seems like I’m philosophically opposed to saying anything good about what I write, but this next one is shaping up inside my head to be pretty interesting.

The fact that I’m writing a book in installments for this project has provided any number of surprises. The first being when I decided to write a book in installments. Based on nothing. No previous ideas being used, no long lingering scenes in my head that I wanted to finally put onto paper, nothing. I can’t stress this enough: Matthew and Epp came out of nowhere. That first story sprang out of nothingness and every subsequent story has been almost, not quite, but almost as surprising. There has been a lot of world building, a lot of rules that I had to work out and then get across in not a lot of time, a lot of background to cover.

That’s all over with. Now comes my favorite part of the tale in which I get to unleash hell. If I don’t make you gasp, if I don’t make you swear softly to yourself, if I don’t have you by the end of this next installment, then clearly your passport to Matthew and Epp’s world will never be stamped. Which would be a shame. They have a very lovely aquarium there.

And if you haven’t started reading Matthew and Epp yet…well what are you waiting for? Go here and read now.

Clearly option three is my best bet…

I’ve started to wonder what writing is going to be like for me after this project is over when the deadlines are gone.  It’s going to be weird; I’ve gotten very used to my current method.  And, unfortunately for me, that method consists of waiting until the weekend before a deadline and squeezing thousands of words out in a ridiculous pressure and caffeine fueled sprint.  Even now I’m sitting here, and I know I could start in on Matthew and Epp, but I’m not.  Part of me wants to wait until the weekend.  I guess you could argue that if it’s not broke I shouldn’t fix it, but this seems a bit silly to me.  And, yes, time away from the keyboard is important as it allows the story to solidify.  But still…

I can distinctly remember in the weeks before I wrote, “Second Choice,”  that I was freaking out because I didn’t have an idea yet for my next story, and that it wasn’t until Thursday before the deadline weekend that things actually clicked and I had my idea.  So maybe waiting is the right choice.

Or maybe I should shut up and stop thinking about this so much.

On the eating of Reubens

It goes like this, the weekend before a story is due I spend most every waking moment at my computer either writing or trying to think of something to write.  The weekend after a deadline I try to go nowhere near my computer.  And, for the first few months of this project, I had a nice ping-pong effect going: one weekend on, one weekend off.  Things got a little screwy over the winter.  Didn’t take much.  One stomach virus and my schedule would go something like: one weekend on, one weekend home sick, then another weekend on, and just like that a month would go by without me seeing my friends or going out.  It’s a rather fragile system I blundered into.  It was nice to have a free weekend where I wasn’t sick or trying to catch up on stuff that had slipped during previous weekends.  I was going to go scout out a location this weekend, but I opted to not do that and to try to really take the weekend off.  I can’t tell if that was the right decision.  There’s a scene I’ve had in my head since…I think since I decided to make Matthew and Epp into a longer book-length story, and I think that scene is coming up and it’s set at a landmark here in Manhattan and I thought it would be a good idea to go see that landmark in person.  Only I didn’t.  It’s possible that when I get into things that the scene will want to play out differently and it would be bad to try to force it into this setting just because I want a scene to be set there.  So I decided to not go research this setting and to just start writing.  If I need to go pop in, it’s a quick subway ride away.  I can go see it next weekend and only lose a couple of hours of writing time.  I think that was the right choice.

So, as I said, I opted to take a complete weekend off.  I drank beer and ate a Reuben at Katz’s Deli at two in the morning (I could found a religion on that sandwich) and read in the park and just tried to use my first truly free weekend off (and not sick) in months as just that, a weekend off.

Hopefully I made the right choice.

Matthew and Epp are calling.

Next stop, Matthew and Epp

Oddly enough, after complaining for about a week straight I kind of wound up liking that last story. It was weird, to say the least, but it made me laugh. Curious to see how that one goes over.

And, now, it’s time for me to ask you to go tell some fellow readers that they should check out my stories. Pick your favorite, e-mail them the link, tell them you loved it. That’d be swell. I recently passed a milestone number of readers and I’ve got you guys to thank for that…I just want more is all.

We’ve got a Matthew and Epp story coming up next.

What’s that you say? You haven’t read any of the Matthew and Epp stories? What, exactly, are you waiting for. Huh? Huh?! Go get started here.

Need a refresher course? You could do worse than to look into the series of interviews from a few weeks ago starting here.

Have fun.