Writing Poorly on Purpose

Writing Wrong on PurposeMost writers I know spend a lot of time worrying about the quality of their work. Will it resonate with readers? Does it get across the proper emotions? Is it as good as other writing I’ve read?

However, a possible new character in my current urban fantasy series has reminded me of a writing exercise that takes the complete opposite stance and allows writers to relax about their craft and breathe a little.

See, I’m toying with the idea of having a character who is both a prolific writer and a terrible one. They would be the author of many emails, or whatever passes for emails in my world of the undead, and yet be quite awful at composing said emails.

And if I put these emails in front of my characters, actually write them out onto the pages of my book, that means that I would get the opportunity to write poorly on purpose.

This, I can assure you, is a writing exercise that will turn your brain inside out. As I’ve mentioned, so much energy and worry gets put into whether or not you are writing well. But taking the opposite approach and trying to write poorly can provide a healthy change of pace, because you have to write poorly, but do it well.

Get it?

I mean you can’t just slap away at the keyboard and be done with it because the result would be a completely unbelievable string of writing. Oh no, you have to think about what you know concerning the art of writing and, more to the point, what this character doesn’t know about writing. You have to figure out where he or she is lacking because a complete lack of readability would just be dismissed as uninteresting or unbelievable. This writing has to be bad but think its good. It has to be read but not be loved. It has to get processed but still make you cringe.

You have to figure out where this character goes wrongs. Do they use clunky phrasing? Awful metaphors? Too too too many adverbs? Do they sound dumb? If so, in what way? Trouble getting to the point? Bad sense of humor? Inflated view of themselves? Over-reliance on one writing trick?

The exercise at once allows you to relax, after all the goal is to write poorly, while also requiring you to focus in on your strengths as a writer and what good writing means to you so that you can effectively subvert all of that and produce bad writing.

In the end, as a matter of fact, writing poorly can turn out to be one of the most challenging things a writer can do.

I told you it would turn your brain inside out.

The Trappings of Power and How to Write It

Power and IntriguePower. Its trappings ruin people, love of it corrupts them, attempts to seize it destroy them.

And yet I don’t seem capable of writing about it without sounding like a moron.

The undead characters in my current urban fantasy series have a ruling council of sorts. And it has come time for me to explore this idea more fully…which as me pretty flummoxed.

See, power has to come from somewhere. You have to have some way of holding sway over or influencing people: you can have a persuasive personality, you can have access to something that someone else needs, you can have the ability to threaten someone, you can be able to pay someone a sum large enough to make them do what you want, and so on.

The thing is, in my world of zombies and angels, there aren’t really any needs or wants. Testers don’t go hungry due to a resource being limited. People are their source of energy and there are plenty of people for all the testers to get by. Testers don’t get cold, they don’t get tired, they don’t have any use for jewelry or luxury. Yes, occasionally these things effect them, but it never becomes a problem that isn’t easily fixed. Hell, there are desk jobs on the top of Mount Everest in my world.

So the sorts of things that might be used to dictate power among my society of testers get a little muddy. No one is collecting taxes because there is no state. There are no roads to maintain, no lines of communication to keep up, no armies to raise. Well…at least not originally.

There is no need for law as nothing can be stolen and up until recently it was questionable if one tester could even injure another.

Without the need to dispense justice, without anything to fight over, without any way to actually enforce a ruling, it doesn’t seem like there would be much of a reason for a governing body to exist. Which, in fact, has been the case. So far in these books there have been hints about how, at the time the Council was formed, a brief display of power followed. But then it is strongly intimated that the Council’s power fizzled out, possibly due to actions taken by Epp, and since then it has been a lame duck.

Recently it has become important again, I actually credit Mary with that, but it is its formation that I am pondering today.

Would a society with no bodies and no needs have any need for a governing body?

The answer is yes…because I said it did back in book one.

Now I just have to piece together why.

In Which I Freak Out a Bit

Writing a Book is CrazyI’ve written a lot about writing on here. And I’ve written a lot about the dangers of holding too fast to one type of writing. Now, in general, I do think that a slow and steady stream of words is the best way to go. Writing every day, for a moderate amount of words, is vastly superior than trying to force out a huge amount of words when you possibly have time later.

This is just a plain psychological truth. It’s very easy to say, “Ah, I have to write 500 words today, but I’ll do that on Saturday.” In your head you’ve mentally checked that box off; it’s done as you’ve allocated it to a forward date. But then Saturday rolls around and suddenly all of the words you’ve postponed are due and you have 5,000 words to get through. You fail, and the negating of all of that week’s work is crushing. Very few minds would come out of that experience thinking, “Well, I wrote X number of words on Saturday, and that is good.” Most would say, “I owed 5,000 words and I only wrote X. I have failed.” And frankly that sucks.

So, yeah, writing a bit every day is usually for the best. Plus, a lot of stories will come out like that. You won’t know exactly what to write every day. Not at all. But a few days, maybe a couple of weeks of floundering will occur, and then suddenly you understand what you’re trying to say. You can see the story there, you’ve been writing the wrong scenes or focusing on the wrong place, but you get it, and you get it because you pushed through for those days when you had no real idea what you were writing.

But you know what? Some stories DO NOT come out like that. They come out in pieces and chips and you only see shadows of what you need and instead of characters you hear theme songs and its a complete clusterfuck. Shit starts popping up at random intervals and you have zero idea how it fits together and it’s just…woah.

My current book is like that, and I’ve been trying to be a good little writer and get my words in every day. But I’m at a point where, frankly, I’m willing to say fuck that shit.

There’s a piece of advice that is always floating around along the lines of: “A writer writes…always.”

Or: “A writer writes every day.”

I hate that advice. I hate hearing it and I hate when people say it to me like it means something. And keep in mind that I just went over the undeniable value of keeping to a disciplined writing schedule.

But ugh.

You know who writes every day? Sociopaths.

I mean Jesus. Who the fuck writes stories every day? And why would you want to be one of those people? After awhile, I mean after a few decades of writing every day, doesn’t it start to look less like diligent writing and more like a pathological need to make up stories so that you can impose your will on some part of the world?

Plus what is “writing?”

I text lots of people every day. Is that writing? I journal most days and I always scribble some story idea down somewhere. Is that writing? I do that every day. Do I have to have an internal impulse to shut out the world on a daily basis and visit my fantasies or else it doesn’t count?

So fuck it.

I’m writing this book however this book needs to be written. I’m writing with music on really really loudly and in pen for some parts and I’ll write the beginning six times because who cares and this thing isn’t following any maps.

We’re going all the way to eleven.

I hate rules.

I hate guidelines.

Sometimes structure is a platform to build upon, but sometimes it’s just a cage.

Amen and hallelujah.

That is all.

You Can’t Choose Your Fans

Parkpop 2008 - The girl in the crowd by Haags Uitburo from FlickrI’ve been noticing that a lot of writers I talk to all seem to have the same hurdle: They have a hard time selling their work to others.

Now, on the one hand, this makes perfect sense to me. I have a difficult time summarizing my books or telling people in casual conversation what they’re about.

But that’s more about coming up with an elevator pitch, and that’s not what I’m getting at here.

No, I’m talking more about the mindset new authors have of deciding ahead of time who is going to like or hate their work.

At first I think one’s audience is a very specific thing. I’ve spoken on here a few times about how impossible I believe it is for the human mind to visualize or grasp large numbers, like a huge crowd. Instead I believe we substitute in a random group of people, and that’s a crowd in our mind. But even the most random people you can come up with aren’t very random. They’re probably people you know and people who have similar backgrounds. Meanwhile, an actual crowd of people will be totally freaking random with some of them thinking things you can’t possibly imagine because they’re so outside of yourself.

But we only have that starter crowd in our heads, and that comes to be identified as our audience, a very specific thing…at least early on. And so the brain, in all its stupidity, defines our audience using this horrible metric we made up. This can cause you to assume with near-absolute surety that Person A would never be a fan or that Person B couldn’t possibly like your book, all because they don’t fit into your definition of your audience.

And so we come to yet another reason for me to give out my absolute bottom-line piece of writing advice: Write more. Finish things. Get them out there.

Why?

Because the reactions people will have will surprise you.

There have been two instances of writing in my history that have utterly baffled me in their reception.

The first was the short story “You’re Allowed to Order Take Out.” The second was Kyo’s section from Probability Angels.

Both of these pieces of writing I finished, published online (I was working under extreme deadlines so I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and ponder them) and then sat back and said, “Well. That didn’t turn out at all how I wanted it. There’s really nothing there. Nobody is going to like this, especially Person X.”

What were the responses?

They were absolute shocks and went against everything I expected.

“You’re Allowed to Order Take Out” was called a “perfect short story” and I’ve been told that I connected emotionally with my readers in that story in ways that I had never done before.

And Kyo’s section from Probability Angels was deemed: “One of the best written bits of historical fiction” that Person X had ever read.

I should add that both of those pieces have become personal favorites of mine.

See, the more words you get out there the more varied an audience you’ll come to see. And the more varied an audience you come to see, the better chance you have of remembering that life, people, and your own writing can surprise you sometimes.

You shouldn’t decide ahead of time who will like and not like your work.

You should let your readers decide that.

You should just shut up and write.

Researching Fiction, Or The World’s Biggest Con Game

Three Card Monte by oschene from FlickrI have been doing quite a bit of research while writing this current book. I’ve read books about everything from sewing to Ancient Rome. Most recently I finished off a brief history of Romania.

You would think that I would be getting more confident in my ability to portray these concepts in my fiction. However, an odd trend has started popping out at me where, when I get a little bit of a handle on a subject, I actually lose all my confidence in being able to write it. It’s almost like I’m better off going in with zero knowledge and winging it, rather than taking a peek at something and then trying to write it.

I get rattled that my knowledge isn’t complete enough. A little research only serves to show me how much more I need to learn. This is because I forget one very important fact: fiction is complete and utter bullshit.

No one who has ever written a work of fiction has had complete knowledge of their story. That is literally impossible. They may have first-hand knowledge of one or more of the subjects, but that just isn’t the same.

Tom Clancy has been heralded for his research, mainly for The Hunt For Red October, during which he spoke with naval experts the world over. The book used so many terms and had such intimate knowledge of submarine that it seemed real.

But it was complete and utter bullshit.

See, Tom Clancy may have been able to learn all the names of the doodads on a submarine, but he couldn’t possibly have known how the water in the shower smelled or the food in the mess tasted. Only actually being on board could bring that sort of knowledge.

So you’re saying, fine, what if a submariner had written The Hunt For Red October? Well, there was also a lot in there about helicopter piloting and Russian subs and Arctic water and I don’t even know. Plus, there were parts from the point of view of a number of different ranks and crew positions. And you can’t possibly know what every point of view is like. So even if a book was only about the inside of one submarine having zero contact with the outside world, it still would be impossible to know everything.

I realize this is a fairly absurd length to take this point to, but it’s currently what I’m wrestling with. And this mental exercise helps me to remember that writing something smartly often trumps tons of research. If I can see, really see the story through one of my character’s eyes, then that will fill in a lot of gaps. I may need to look up when something was invented now and again, and brush up on who was wearing what, and what buildings were made of, but really, confidence in my scene tends to override any goofs I may make due to lack of knowledge.

Now I’m not saying you do zero research and then try to pass a scene off in a place and time that you know nothing about.

But sometimes I hit a plateau of research and I start to freak out because I don’t know enough and I might be using the wrong word to refer to Romanian nobility in the 1600’s (they were known as voievods or boyars depending on the region).

But then I remember this one simple tip and it helps me to relax again and move on with my work.

Because in the end, I don’t have to actually know what I’m doing. I just have to know enough to convince you that I know what I’m doing.

Haircuts and Taste

Mr. Joseph's by 12th St David from FlickrI went to get my haircut today. This is not a process I have ever enjoyed on any level. I have a weird, misshapen, alien head and if the hair on top of it is cut incorrectly I look like Shrek. I used to go to a Korean lady downtown who I stumbled onto years ago for my haircuts. I literally walked into the closest place to my old apartment and hoped for the best. She barely spoke English but the first time I went to her I emerged very un-Shrek-like, and so for years I continued going back.

This year I finally decided that trekking downtown for haircuts was silly, sort of, and built up the courage to go to a barber where I live now. Which was confusing. I haven’t had the “How do you want it cut?” conversation in ages. Plus, the last time I had it, it was with the aforementioned Korean lady who spoke no English, so I don’t even know if that counts. That was mostly expressed through mime. Add in that most of my haircuts were dictated to me while growing up and I really never know what to answer when someone asks me how to cut my hair.

The guys in front of me in line had a number system down. They’d get “3 on the top and then 2 on the sides” or something. Which means that those are the number extensions to use on the electric razor.

No. Just no.

The only thing I’m sure of is that attempting to treat me like a person with a normal head results in me looking like a fetus.

Plus…I don’t know, most males my age seem to have given up on the notion of hair. Just getting it buzzed is fine. I’m not even sure that would work for me. I have to pay extra at my barber because my hair is too thick and they have to use scissors.

It’s complicated.

Shut up.

So I was sitting there while the scissors went snip and I started thinking about taste and subjectivity.

I mean, you take something as basic as hair cuts and they’re capable of making me feel lost. I mean, have you ever looked around at all the different hair cuts out there?

Good, bad, freaky, in need of, fake, shaved.

By the time you’ve reached the age of 30 you probably have a haircut that you generally stick to. People, unless they completely need a change, just keep on getting that same old haircut, as long as their hair allows them, for years at a time.

So those people you see walking around out there are all wearing something close to the haircut they want, and the solutions they’ve come up with are infinite.

How am I supposed to approach this situation as a book writer? How on earth do you take into account the broad arrangement of tastes that people have in this world?

I just don’t think you can. I really don’t think the human brain actually fits that many different tastes into its data bank. I think you convince yourself that you have an entire world contained in your head, but you don’t. You have your taste, which you know well, and then you have some sense of other people’s taste, and then you have “all that other stuff” which you think people don’t, you know, really like, but it still exists for some reason.

People will listen to someone list their favorite books, and then assume that they don’t really like those books if they conflict too much with their stored sense of the world.

It’s a profoundly difficult concept to grasp, but one person’s “crap” is another person’s “absolute favorite book.” And both of those people are right. The second person isn’t joking that it’s their favorite book, they really mean it. It honestly produced in them a sought after effect of stimulation in some mental or emotional form.

But try to tell someone that a book they hate is actually beloved by someone and the reaction is priceless.

It always makes me amazed to hear discussions about “what’s hot” and “what people really want” and “what will go mainstream.”

Take a good look at most of those predictions and you’ll see that they’re really just drawing obvious conclusions from hindsight.

Taste is nuts.

You can look at this situation and despair at ever managing to fit your work into an audience that is so amorphous.

But I like to take heart from this.

Anything can fly. Anything can be great. Anything can catch on fire.

So, please, just write your heart out.

And stop laughing at my head…

FGCU and Writing an Underdog Story

Attila by filin ilia from FlickrI love it when the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament hits every March. Mainly because I love filling out brackets.  Generally speaking, I am quite awful at filling them out. I know nothing at all about college basketball and I tend to base my picks on a mixture of whether or not I like the mascot and how funny I think a team’s name is. But I make my choices, lock them in, and then get to watch my choices live and die as the games progress.

Last Friday night a school I had never heard of, Florida Gulf Coast University, beat a school I once applied to, Georgetown, in the first round of the tournament. FGCU was a number 15 seed, Georgetown was a number 2 seed. This was supposed to be a rout, a massacre, Georgetown was supposed to walk through the game, win, and  move on.

But FGCU won, and it was awesome. While watching the game on Friday night I found myself caught up in the story being played out. The underdog against the sure thing. The unknown versus the dominant. The tiny versus the giant. It’s a common story theme, and Friday night’s game played out as the best of stories (unless you’re a Georgetown fan) with this out-of-nowhere school shocking everyone and beating a  team that was a landslide favorite.

I always marvel, when something like that happens in real life, how difficult it is to pull that off in fiction, how hard it is to create a character, or group of characters, that really seem unable to win and then have them go on to victory.

It’s made doubly hard in fiction because the reader knows, in the back of their head, that the people you’ve been following for the whole book are probably going to win. Whatever the struggle, whatever the tale, unless you’re reading some dystopian nightmare story, odds are that the downtrodden good guys will triumph. Maybe they won’t win fully, and maybe not with every single piece of their story coming together, but somehow they will win; certainly they will overcome the obstacles in their way.

The reader already knows what’s going to happen. Watching FGCU play Georgetown, I knew in the back of my head that the outcome probably wouldn’t be interesting. That Georgetown would probably come back. And that made the surprise so much larger and the story so much better. Real life isn’t scripted, so I wasn’t primed to expect anything.

But how do you accomplish this in fiction?

How do you create real worry about the outcome?

As far as I can tell there are two main point to focus on: a well structured story to fit the conflict into, and mastery of craft during the actual conflict.

A good story can cause the reader to let go of the notion that what they’re reading is a construct. They can sink in and forget that someone else is in charge and treat the story as an account of actual events. Even if you’re writing about a space war 10,000 years from now or a love story 2,000 years ago, if the characters are engaging and the story is tightly told, then the reader will submit and the veil will be lowered and you can sneak surprises in that much easier.

And good technique? Forget about it. Good technique can make anything happen. I’ve read plenty of books which have contained one or two masterful scenes that have had me on board with what was going on entirely. Even if everything else is lousy, when a good scene comes along it reaches out and grabs a hold of you.

Knowing how to pace your beats? Knowing how to describe a room so that the reader can see, feel, hear, and smell it? Knowing how to get the reader’s adrenaline flowing with a villain being an asshole or a hero stumbling in a pain? Knowing how not to linger too long so that we start to disengage from the scene? You can craft real emotion with words if you take the time to write your scene correctly.

So how is real drama created?

It’s easy, just have an overall engaging tale written with flawless craftsmanship from scene to scene.

Oh.

Well no wonder it’s so freaking hard!

Reality Makes for Unrealistic Fiction

Guinness by tricky (rick harrison) from flickrThis past weekend was Saint Patrick’s’ Day. This is a day that isn’t really celebrated in Ireland, I’m told, but here in America it has become synonymous with wearing green and drinking Guinness and corned beef and drinking. It’s like a celebration of Irish stereotypes, which is fun because I like Guinness and corned beef. Man I really like corned beef.

Anyway, in New York it is an absolutely massive drinking day for those who partake. I actually was out at nine in the morning for a breakfast and beer buffet. Which was…interesting. I like going to bars and I like drinking, but it has occurred to me that maybe I like going to bars and the drinking is a secondary action that I also enjoy which follows from the first.

When I’m out, the drinking itself isn’t usually the absolute focus of all my mental prowess. On Saint Patrick’s Day, though, the streets are overrun with people for whom drinking is the primary goal. It’s like amateur hour all day long. I guess there are places that are more reigned in, though on Saint Patrick’s Day I’m not sure what that even means, but the places I wound up at were full of twenty year olds. Hell, there were definitely some seventeen-year-olds mixed in. So basically from nine o’clock on I was surrounded by kids who wanted to cram as much booze as possible into their pie holes as quickly as possible.

Usually when I go out, by the end of the night there are a few people at the bar who are obnoxious as shit; sometimes I’m one of them. You nod and you ignore it because it’s a small number of people in a large crowd and it goes with the territory and, again, sometimes the guy being ignored is you.

This weekend every bar was full of people like that by noon.

And, as always, some part of me was trying to figure out how I would go about capturing what I was seeing with words.

Basically I came up with nothing. Zero. No clue how to write anything I had seen.

By the next day I was forced to ponder the question: How often do scenes from reality exist that are simply unwritable?

I mean at one point someone threw up on the bar. Right on the bar. They disappeared, the vomit was cleaned up, and then the offender reappeared to get his credit card back like nobody would notice him.

At one bar the bathroom was filled with a bunch of teenage guys smoking cigarettes. They didn’t want to step outside to smoke because it was cold so they sat there smoking in the bathroom. They were too cool for the rules. They were shit-faced. They felt like they owned the bar, and the bathroom, and constantly tried to throw their weight around in ways that only teenagers can. For them it was a huge deal to be in a bar. They didn’t belong there, so every fucking thing they did was reeking of extraneous bad-assery.

I just wanted to use the bathroom.

At one point, one of the guys leaving the bathroom looked me up and down and then called me “four eyes.”

I actually got called “four eyes.”

I still don’t know what to make of that.

That’s the stupidest insult ever. I’m fucking floored that kids even still know it, and of course to toss that at someone at a bar is like…I mean Jesus I thought I was going to get challenged to a dance-off next or something. Apparently I had teleported to the set of Grease.

How do you write that? I couldn’t possibly work that into a work of fiction. The underage drinking? Okay. The attitude of all the underage drinkers? Sure. Some dude calling a guy wearing glasses “four eyes?”

There’s no way to pull that off unless the glasses wearer has three friends around, and they all take the rest of the scene to wonder what the hell was up with the guy who used the insult from the 1940’s. There is no way to use this very real scene without it becoming a major focal point of the characters nearby. It’s just too impossible an event.

But this was my Saturday! It happened! I was there. It should be writable!

And yet…no.

Reality isn’t stranger than fiction, it’s just really bad at writing it.

Hydra Headed Problems in Writing

Helsingør, Herkules kæmper mod hydraen by ЯAFIK ♋ BERLIN from FlickrHercules was a demi-god…I think. We’re going off of memory here because that’s more fun.

Anyway, Hercules was a demi-god with some rage issues. One day, for reasons I can’t remember, he killed his wife and kids.

This was bad.

He wanted to atone for this bad thing that he had done, or the gods demanded that he atone for it, and so he set off on his labors. The Labors of Hercules. They’re sort of famous in mythology.

He had to kill the lion of Numedia (we’re guessing at names too…but I know he had to kill a lion). He had to capture Cerberus. And he had to clean some stables.

Yes he had to clean some stables. They were the gigantic stables of some horse-crazy land with horse crap caked on three feet deep. Hercules had to divert an entire river just to clean the stables. Big stuff.

He also had to kill the Hydra. Who on earth made up this list of chores is beyond me. One day he’s cleaning stables and the next he’s killing a mythical creature. I guess it was sort of like a decathlon, testing as many different skills and pushing as many buttons as possible.

So anyway, the Hydra. The Hydra was a nine headed monster. That doesn’t sound too bad. I mean Hercules was able to clean that stable by diverting a river so we can assume that monsters are sort in his wheelhouse.

The only problem was that every time you managed to lop off one of the Hydra’s heads, two more would sprout up in its place.

This is a problem. In fact, this is such a common type of problem that it is now known as a hydra headed problem: knock one down and it only serves to introduce two more problems.

This is where I’m at with book three. It feels like I’ve been here for awhile. Every time I figure out a kink in this book it opens up two more ideas that I have to toy with and examine and decide where, or if, they belong.

I began with a fairly basic idea for the plot. The plot is no longer basic. I have story-lines that range from Bartleby’s life as a human to a serial killer causing unrest in the world of the testers to a coup in the Council to Gregor’s rise as leader of the zombies.

It’s possible that I can tie all of these together, most likely weeding a few out, and create a single cohesive book. But right now? Right now it just seems like every step forward I take results in two more paths I have to sniff out and examine. And it’s getting really annoying. I have no idea if this is progress. It feels more like a hamster wheel.

In order to defeat the Hydra, Hercules found a giant log and heated the end and after he sliced off one of the Hydra’s heads he cauterized the wound, cooking it shut by applying the glowing red end of the log to the open cut. No more Hydra heads.

It’s possible that I’m allowing myself too much exploration. It’s possible that it’s time to start cauterizing story lines, that once I figure out one bit I need to start ignoring the inevitable questions that crop up about what else that bit might be hiding.

Or it’s possible that you can beat a hydra by wearing it out, that eventually the stupid thing just runs out of heads.

With the holidays coming up and a massive disrupt to my work schedule bound to happen I’ll probably take that opportunity to step back and more properly assess what the hell I have on my hands right now.

Until then, I’m just glad I’m not cleaning stables.

Writing in Pieces

Puzzle by ellajphillips from FlickrI have never written a book in any other manner than by starting at the beginning and plowing through until I’ve reached the end. Then I stand back and rewrite, occasionally swapping scenes around for better impact and flow, but the overall structure has always been present at the onset.

For my current book I seem to be a very different writer. I sit down for my writing time in the morning and just write. The scenes have been good, very good, and I’m quite happy with them. The problem is I have no idea why I’m writing them. They are, absolutely and utterly, all over the place.

I can’t tell if this is good or not.

This book is different for me, for a lot of reasons, so there’s something to be said for the fact that maybe the writing process should be different.

Likewise, even though I have sat down with an initial structure for all my other books, that structure has morphed and warped drastically during the writing process. It’s just that once a book solidifies in my head, all previous possibilities of how that book might have gone disappear. I look at early notes for my books sometimes and I have no idea what they mean, they refer to things that no longer exist any more, or even have the possibility of existing because the book has been set in print in a different way.

So maybe the notion that I used to start with a set structure is flawed.

But…seriously? This feels crazy different, if not terrifying. Am I just rambling with no point? Or am I a more relaxed writer?

Am I crafting a never ending series of puzzle pieces that will never fit together? Or am I excavating a story, brushing off dirt layer by layer and finding an outcropping and there, but nothing tying it all together yet?

I’m obviously hoping for the latter but I honestly do not recognize the writer who sits down at this keyboard in the morning anymore.

Strange times indeed.