October 25, 2019
I'm in between things. My third draft of the most recent novel is complete. I've started (400 words) the next novel. I've started some changes to my website, but haven't completed them. I'm also going to change my email system from Mailchimp to SendFox.
In a sense, I'm always in between things because I always have a lot of writing projects going on. I don't have 17 books I want to write and then I'll be done. It doesn't work that way.
I'm accustomed to being in between things. It's absolutely necessary for my peace of mind. I'm finding tranquility in the chaos of creation.
That chaos used to be a serious problem for me because of anxiety attacks.
In kindergarten and through first grade, I would cry when it rained. (I cried about a lot of things in kindergarten, but rain was a big one for me.) I finally got over that, but would panic whenever I was late.
If I got a late start to school, I would sweat and cry. I would make my mother late for work, begging for a ride, so that I wouldn't be quite as late.
I practiced being calm to control these feelings. I didn't understand that the triggers would set off negative feedback loops, and the subconscious response to that would take over my emotions and body.
One time, I'd gone to the airport to pick up a rental car for a wedding. I was on a deadline, but I thought I had it all figured out. My father drove me there, and as we walked through the airport terminal, I didn't see any signs for the rental cars. When it hit me that the rental car agencies were a few miles away from the airport, and that I was going to be late, I went into a panic — rapid breathing, sweating, on the verge of tears. My father was baffled, and tried to explain that it was just a few minutes away, and I wouldn't be so very late, but I was in the tail spin.
I'm lucky in that those attacks were not on the level of an anxiety disorder, and I'm not fishing for sympathy in telling this. I'm just sharing that I'm surprised with my own level of calm in dealing with multiple, complicated projects in my spare time. My day job keeps me busy, too, publishing content across ten different websites using four different technologies, plus duties as assigned.
Part of my calm is that I've learned to enjoy all these projects — the writing, the story design and planning, and the website publishing for my day job. I don't mind doing any of it, so none of it triggers me.
Back to that recently completed third draft of a novel
The story is a crime-thriller set in 1979. In it, a cop's daughter dies in a bizarre boating accident. Everyone blames the young man she was with, except the cop's younger daughter, who wants to find out what really happened. She learns that the people she loves the most can be trusted the least.
I'm looking for feedback on the story, so if you'd be willing to read an 86,000 word crime thriller, and tell me what you think, let me know.
Here is what I'll need from you if want to help:
#1 Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? If not, why not?
#2 Did you get oriented fairly quickly at the beginning as to whose story it is, and where and when it’s taking place? If not, why not?
#3 Could you relate to the main character?
#4 Did the setting interest you and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
#5 Was there a point at which you felt the story lagged or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Where, exactly?
#6 Were there any parts that confused you? Or even frustrated or annoyed you? Which parts, and why?
#7 Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, or other details?
#8 Were the characters believable? Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likable?
#9 Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters? Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? Are any of the names of characters too similar?
#10 Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?
#11 Did you feel there was too much description or exposition? Not enough? Maybe too much dialogue in parts?
#12 Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?
#13 Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
#14 Did you notice any obvious, repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors? Examples?
#15 Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?
To top it off, I'd like to ask for this feedback within three weeks (once I send you the manuscript). Given the holidays, that'll put it before Thanksgiving.
I'll send you a PDF or an ebook. If you don't know what you'd do with an ebook, I'll send you the PDF. (No paperbacks this time.)
Can't commit? That's cool. Reading the book is a huge ask, anyway. That much book takes me around two weeks of reading.
Interested? Hit me up directly at email@example.com
Do you email at work?
In other news
If you've ever wondered how I go about writing, it's like this: I spend a few minutes in the morning journaling, writing down dreams and thoughts I woke up with. Then I go to work and if a random head about a story pops in my head, I write it down in a tiny journal I carry around. In the evening, I nap or meditate, and then sit my butt at a desk for two hours, working on a story.
That's the ideal.
What is typical involves distractions with dinner preparations, taking out the trash, fixing something around the house, running errands, and life stuff.
But I'm not complaining.
I study Stoicism, and today's message was a reminder that we only have two things to do in this life: be kind to others, and pursue an occupation that you love. Everything else is just distraction, and should be avoided if possible.
I get to write novels. If no one reads them, so be it.
I got to go sailing a couple of weeks ago. (Thus the picture at the top of this post.) It's fun. I recommend it if you have the means. My friend Brian makes it a priority in his life, and I went along for the ride.
I'm hoping he upgrades to a party yacht at some point before we're too old to enjoy such things, but the sailing was fun.
What I've read lately
Recently, I read and recommend the following books:
- The Street Lawyer by John Grisham. I hadn't read Grisham in a long time, and was curious about this. It really sucked me in and I enjoyed the ending a lot. A couple of plot points were random stuff, but it starts as a crime story, then shifts into courtroom drama.
- The Feral Detective by Jonathon Lethem. I forget who wrote it but I won't forget the story. It's told from the POV of the detective's client, who has a really interesting emotional journey. That's what sucked me in.
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. I'd always been curious about hardboiled stuff. Some of the lines had me laughing out loud.
- Double Indemnity by Cain. This was a re-read that happened by accident. I picked up the book, which I read a few months before, and started reading and found I couldn't put it down again. It's that good.
Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for your time.