Tag Archives: Keyboard

CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO: Don’t eat chips with your fingers.

If an open mind is an open door, a closed mind is a locked cell for the soul. An organism that isn’t growing is dead, and water that never moves stagnates. If you vote, worship, read, work, research, eat, or invest the same way you did five years ago, Jason would like to challenge you on it. If all your dreams have come true, and the country is in perfect shape, PLEASE keep doing things the same. OTHERWISE, it’s time to shake things up. (Read more at www.jasonrpeters.com.)

I’ve lost 15 lbs so far this year, which is to say: There’s a few things I’ve given up. I have not given up Doritos, though, and I won’t. I love them. I love the taste, I love the texture. I love the way the bag crinkles when it opens. I love every flavor I’ve ever tried; some more than others. While I’m an off-brand shopper, I’ve never found a sufficiently satisfying “off-brand” of Doritos. Like cars, computer parts, and musical instruments, my favorite chips are brand-name or bust.

There’s one thing I don’t love, though, and that’s how your fingers look and feel from the very first chip. Minuscule crumbs coat your finger in a fine powder that’s guaranteed to transfer to ANYTHING ELSE YOU TOUCH.

TV Remote? Yes.

Video game controller? Definitely.

Computer keyboard? Oh gods, yes.

My collection of autographed books? PUT THE CHIPS DOWN AND BACK AWAY SLOWLY. Read More →

The Novelist’s Burden

novelistFeedback from my alpha readers is compiling for FRAGILE GODS, and the results are more positive than I could possibly have hoped.

Most (all?) believe that this is, hands down, my best work. Not only that, but I have been told by some already in the middle of best-selling fantasy novels by established authors that they would rather be reading FRAGILE GODS.

I cannot speak for the veracity of this claim; obviously my friends and family are prone to view my work more charitably than total strangers. But they are not flatterers, and more to the point, although I’ve been sharing my writing for years, I have never before heard this particular compliment.

This encouragement has served to fuel the flame and drive me to work even harder on this developing story — which is precisely why this website was created. I can’t tell you how refreshed I am.

The problem is that when I’m asked to share another chapter, I desperately want to. As a neurotic writer, I crave the approval of my readers, and to know that for once they are truly enjoying a story of mine with something like the same zeal and abandon with which I digest my favorite writers is like a drug. I want more. To get more, I have to hand out more prose.

But writing is tedious, particularly novel writing. It isn’t even just a matter of prose at the keyboard; there’s outlining that has to be done. There’s research to be conducted. Worst of all, there’s revisions. And revisions, and revisions.

This means that any scene I finish isn’t finished yet. Those of you who read the first preview for scenes 1 & 2 and then experienced the revised version know how much more polished it is. That revision, by the way, represents four or five different intermediate versions — not just a single edit.

About every three days, I finish a scene I’m dying to share. I want to print it out and hand it out immediately. But I know I’ll be doing myself and you a disservice, because in a few weeks I’ll have added so much more to the scene that the previous version might as well be in black and white.

More than that, I’m dying to tell you what happens, or drop hints as to what happens ahead in the story. But I can’t. I have to keep it all in.

Most frustrating of all, the completed work, the whole story, still only exists in my head. Even if I were impatient enough to print you everything I’d written to date, even if you gobbled it up, loved it, and begged for more, neither of us would be satisfied, because the story still isn’t complete.

I tell you, it’s a hard-knock life.

Discourse on the idea of “talented” and semi-related ramblings

Talent?I object to being told I’m “talented”. Originally, this applied to musical composition. For several years, I sat at a keyboard with my headphones on, plunking out utter crap. I alternated this with playing real pieces, which I then dissected bit by bit to find out why they work. (Later on I learned this was called “music theory”.)

Eventually I produced some pieces worth playing, even arranging…even performing. My friends and family, even total strangers, hailed me as talented wunderkind.

What hogwash.

Spend three or four years torturing your ear and you’ll get similar results.

When you work hard at something, really hard, and people then call you “talented” or “gifted”, it’s not complimentary. In fact, it’s insulting. It glosses over the effort you’ve spent day after day, failing miserably, sometimes deliberately, just so you can learn one more thing for the next day. It implies that you woke up one morning, rolled out of bed, and began producing impressive work.

Thomas Sowell puts it into better words than I:

People who want to be complimentary sometimes tell me that I have a “gift” for writing. But it is hard for me to regard as a gift something that I worked at for more than a decade—unsuccessfully—before finally breaking into print. Nor was this a case of unrecognized talent. It was a case of quickly recognized incompetence.

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In the same article as the above quotation, Sowell describes his haphazard method of writing:

Write when you have something to say, don’t write when you don’t.

That’s kind of how blogging works for me, and yet on a just-under-once-per-day-average I produce content. Sowell’s method is sharply contrasted with writers who have a designated time of day and just write.

I suspect I’m in between, but I may lean towards Sowell’s personality. I just don’t want it to take years to finish books.

How to combine the two in an effective method? Simple…have more projects going at the same time. That way if something doesn’t strike me as an evident next chapter in one book, there are several others to which I may be motivated.

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My mother-in-law once told me that she wanted a dime for every time I said, “I have an idea for a book” and didn’t write it. Then she’s be wealthier than I could ever hope to be.

She has a point.

On that note, I’ve taken up my virtual pen and begun drafting two non-fiction ideas.

The first has been in my head for several years: The Philosophy of South Park, a detailed analysis of South Park’s sharp social commentary.

The second is quasi tongue-in-cheek: Get Your Way, a guide to simply getting your way in things like driving, office politics, family quarrels. Much of the methods I describe involve being an unrepentant jackass, which I hope will be taken for entertainment rather than advice. Still, the processes are true; if you follow them, you will get your way. Even if you’re not a very nice person for doing so.