Tag Archives: Brain

It was EXACTLY what I wanted to know.

Several days ago, I got the first full-text reviewed/edited copy of Woman’s Best Friend back from a Hatrack reviewer.

It was beautiful.

To fully understand my satisfaction with having my own work ripped to shreds, you must first consider the palpable frustration of a rejection letter.

The whole aggravation of a rejected work isn’t that it simply wasn’t purchased; we’ve all had dates declined, interviews we didn’t get hired, a request denied. But in most of these circumstances, it is possible to determine why. In social circumstances, you can even ask:

Why didn’t you want to go on a date with me?

The immature lady will simply not return this call. The mature gal will admit, “Because you’re creepy, clingy, needy, you have no job, and you smell funny.” This may be painful, but it gives the guy (if he is mature) the opportunity to become less creepy and needy, get a job, and bathe more before asking the next girl.

When I get a rejection letter, my brain screams at the editor:


Based on the number of podcasts and books-on-writing I’ve devoured, I wonder:

Was my cover letter too short? Too long? Too dry? Too arrogant? Too humble? Did I misspell the editor’s name? Did the story remind them of a worse one they read in gradeschool? A better one? Did they just buy a story like this? Did they discover a misprint? Not like the title? Were they annoyed at the shade of white I printed on? Was there a smudge on the manuscript? Did they Google me and disagree with my politics? Religion? Choice of video games?

Did I give too little description? Too much? Did they not care about the characters? Did they find an element cliche? Did they finish the first page? The second? Was the ending trite? Was there a problem with the plot? The grammar? The style? Did I use too many echoes? Was my characterization thin? Or too heavy-handed? Were my hooks too trendy? Were my paragraphs too long? Too short? Was my dialog too vague? Too precise? Too true to life to be interesting? Not true enough?

…and on and on.

The frustration is not just that the work didn’t sell; even successful writers sometimes have that happen. The frustration is that to fix it, I don’t even know where to start.

Enter the anonymous critic, willing to read the whole story and pull no punches with his opinions.

I wish I could reproduce the full text including his comments for you here, but then I would have used my First North American publication rights to the story.

Suffice to say that the first total stranger to read Woman’s Best Friend found a whole host of echoes I never noticed in myriad readings. Nor did anyone else. He found whole paragraphs which could be cut, their whole meaning still evident in the sentence preceding them.

I am now working on a 5th draft of Woman’s Best Friend, which will be much tighter and more streamlined. Then if that one isn’t good enough, a 6th, and so forth.

That’s how you become perfect.

How ready is ready?

I’m really satisfied with the new opening of Perfect Justice.

If I were any more satisfied, I’d need a cigarette.

I think… I think tonight I’m going to format it for submission and send it out.

It is difficult for me to convey to you the cyclical process of excited submission; it’s really quite exquisite. It goes something like this.

1. Project is conceived.
2. Work is produced.
3. Work is painstakingly revamped.
4. Repeat 3 indefinitely.
5. Work is so good in writer’s eyes, writer thinks, How could anyone NOT love this?
6. Work is submitted for publication.
7. Writer remembers how crappy his earlier works were, even when he thought they were amazing.

I mean, I really think Perfect Justice is ready for publication. It was the first manuscript to earn a “send us more” note, and as much improvement as it’s seen since then, I can’t help but think that it’s going to published — if not by the first magazine, then by the second. Or the third.

So my brain goes into performance mode. This is IT, my brain tells me, what we’ve been waiting for!

I’ve thought this before. I think it with EVERY SUBMISSION I MAKE.

If I didn’t think the work was worth publishing, I wouldn’t send it out.

But no matter how good a work is, I can’t help remembering older works I thought were just phenomenal that now I can’t even stand.

It’s emotionally exhausting.

Monday Morning Madness (posted in final draft by evening)

The Honorable Thing is be a Quitter

case-of-the-mondaysNo intensive essays today. Work was a whirlwind this morning, though it tapered off some towards the afternoon.

My mind has been similarly chaotic today. This morning, an Anthony Robbins quote echoed repeatedly through my brain:

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

Well, I’ve always sat on my ass playing video games; every day.

And I’ve always hated myself for not writing; every day.

When I hear that Robbins quote, it translates into my brain like this: “You should quit WoW. You should quit WoW. You should quit WoW.”

Why don’t I quit World of Warcraft?

There are several reasons; not merely excuses, reasons.

1. I’ve quit WoW before and come back. Some call this addiction; I choose to call it “loyalty”. No, in all seriousness, it was something I enjoyed and I missed it, just as since my back was injured, I have missed playing frisbee and tennis. I fully intend to return to those also.

catgun2. It’s not like I can write 24/7 of my free time. I enjoy writing, but it’s also exhausting. There are few moments more satisfying than when I’ve written for an hour or so, I like what I’ve written, and so I turn to a video game to relax for the rest of my evening.

3. Most other forms of recreation bore me. I won’t watch tv with commercials, and I barely watch tv without commercials. When I do, I plow through season after season of a show to evaluate it critically and then shelve it. “must-see” isn’t in my vocabulary. Similarly, although I like reading, there aren’t enough good books out there to keep me entertained if I weren’t playing video games; when I’ve gone without online gaming, I find myself trying 2 or 3 new books, being disgusted and disappointed, and then rereading old ones again.

4. One player video games are almost as boring to me as television. Co-op and party games offer a little more, but only when you have other people to play with. And they, too, stale after a time. Usually two weeks.

world-of-warcraft-addictionWhen I stop MMO gaming, I truly miss it.

But this weekend, I only played WoW for an hour and I still didn’t do any writing. (I was playing Spore.)

Of course the advantage to single player games is (even with a sandbox game like Spore or Simcity) there’s only so much you can do. And then, like a favorite movie or episode, after awhile you want to go revisit it.

I don’t know what the answer is. My buddy tells me “sh** or get off the pot” when he wants me to make a decision already. Part of what draws me to WoW is the social community, and I usually game with people I know in real life. Some of those have faded away from the WoW community, so that’s less of a factor, but right when that happens, I make new friends who also play. Rinse, repeat.

Will I get more writing done if I quit WoW? Probably. Will I be happier? Unlikely. Will quitting have any permanent impact on my writing career? I have no idea.

So this is what gets people talking?

starcraftI wrote a thoughtful mini-essay on the competition facing any new novelist; no comments.

Mention that I’m hooked on a video game, and everyone starts talking.

Very well; I DID install Starcraft over the weekend.¬†What a blast from the past. The graphics are horrible! And compared to the improvements made by Warcraft 3, AOE, EE, and others, the interface is pretty bad too. I was horrified to discover you can’t give units queued commands, particularly queued¬†build commands. I was equally horrified to discover that units won’t move out of the way if you want to build where they’re standing; the worker unit just reports “can’t build there” and gives up.

I’m extremely rusty. At the height of my SC skill, I could beat 7 computers allied against me, and did so with all three races. This weekend, I played vs. 7 computers on Free-For-All, and couldn’t beat my last remaining opponent.

If you want to take a shot at me in SC, now’s a good time. I’m about as bad as I’ve ever been. Same for Warcraft 3.

I’m a slave to my hobby, please wipe out my bank account.

keyboard-and-mouseThis is what I tell people usually when I visit a D&D hobby store. RPG books are insanely overpriced, and yet for RPGers, nothing else scratches that itch exactly.

This weekend, I used the phrase in a different context.

I bought a new keyboard and mouse:

Total cost: $170.

I know what you’re thinking. $170 for a keyboard and mouse? Are you out of your @)*&!@#$*@#$!@# mind?

Possibly. But I spent probably 90% of my time on my computer, where my keyboard and mouse become my virtual voice, hands and feet, legs and arms. Whether I’m gaming, writing, or just surfing, it should be as quick, ergonomic, and efficient as possible. That it’s hi-tech gadgetry doesn’t hurt much either.keyboard

Do you say it’s a waste of money? Fah. I contend that anything one enjoys is not a waste.