Punching a Wall

OK, it’s almost never a good idea to punch a wall.

There. I’ve said it. Having once been an adolescent male, though, I will admit to having done so a few times. Seriously stupid; especially when dealing with old-fashioned plaster and lathe or brick. All you are asking for is pain and a serious injury.

So why am I talking about this.

Alright, today we’re going to have a “writer’s journey” discussion. As you all may be aware, I have started in on another trilogy, and the premise is solid. Enjoyable. Somewhat novel. I am deeply into the first book in the planned trilogy, I’m hanging out at Chapter Twenty-Seven.

And there I’ve been sitting for about a week. Usually I don’t stop writing until a book is done, then and only then do I take time off.

Well, that’s not been the case this time around. This book has been challenging to write for a couple of reasons.

First, I am building a universe from scratch. But that’s not such a thing, I’ve done this before.

Second, my outline is insufficient. Yeah, it’s a guide, but I simply can’t follow it as usual.

Finally, I think I’m having trouble maintaining tension in the narrative toward the close of Book One. This is not a good place to be when you are supposed to be experiencing an acceleration both as the author and the reader. Instead, I feel dead in the water.

So therefore the “punching walls” theme of this week’s post. My writing at the moment feels nearly as painful and pointless.

I know it’s an illusion. I know it’s BS. But still.

Not so long ago a friend and mentor gave me the sound advice to simply skip over a point in the narrative that you think is holding you up on project completion. He’s probably right, and here pretty soon I may do just that.

But I look at the work as it stands and I think “I can win this. Don’t be a weenie.”

Boy, is it a good thing that I don’t have a real deadline for all of this, or I’d be in a pickle. Now, don’t get me wrong. There kind of is a deadline; I want to launch my Patreon page in November, and this book is the lead-off to the exclusive material that’ll be featured there.

But know this! It hasn’t come without a struggle. I want to produce stuff that doesn’t SUCK. Work that’s readable. Coherent.

Alright, I’ve mapped out the whole trilogy, and I’ve known from the get-go that Book One was going to give me the worst fight. I really hate to be right.

I know that I haven’t adequately explained. I kind of can’t, because the premise is close-hold.

The problem is one of antagonists. In the first book, the enemy is circumstance. In the second book, the enemy is nature of a sort. The third book? Human conflict. The second and third books, I have the antagonists nailed. But in the first book- well, using circumstance as the enemy per se is novel to me. Difficult, challenging. It works, I think, but it involves a bit of thought and care.

So that’s why I’m punching-walls frustrated. Because this has not been easy.

You know what, though?

Tough, I tell my inner wall-puncher. Tough. Deal with it, man-up and grow as an author.

Learn from adversity.

Produce something worthwhile.

That’s one of the few bullet-points of my original plan that has survived contact with the enemy per se.

Make fun, readable stuff.

Way easier said than done. I’ll leave that for you all to judge come November.

The Interview

Another excerpt from the novel I’m working on for my Patreon fans-only website.

***

The Interview (Sometime in 2090)

“I am sorry for the inconvenience, Mr. Johnstone, but XXXX requires a physical interview for authorization.”

Joe’s neck and shoulder ached. He could feel his back stiffen as he sat in the flexor chair, every breath was a chore. He spoke.

“I understand, machine. You need me in this room for a good look over with the Mark One eyeball.”

The expensive intelligence cocked her head. She laughed.

“We haven’t heard that phrase in a while, Mr. Johnstone.”

“It’s been a while since I used it.”

The intelligence smiled. Joe noted that she was very well made, he could barely see through her and there was no trace of a flicker. Nice work, he thought. 

She spoke. “Please do call me Angelique. I prefer that, as well as the pronoun “she.”” 

Joe closed his eyes for a second. He opened them. “Anything you like, Angelique.”

“I see here that you were born on the 5th of July, 1982. Is this correct?”

Joe rubbed his nose. If she were a real woman, he would have picked up on some sort of scent. Something. As it was, the room smelled of rubbing alcohol with a slight tang of ozone. He answered and felt slightly ridiculous to be speaking to what was really a projection and a wall.

“You know it is.”

“We do have to observe the formalities, Mr. Johnstone. Or do you prefer Joseph or Joe?”

“I prefer Joe.”

“May I call you that?”

“Sure. Why not.”

“Just so that I can confirm a few data points, may I ask you a series of questions?”

“That’s why I’m here, right?”

“I do need your permission, Joe.”

“Shoot.”

The machine blinked. Then she smiled. 

“Oh, you mean “go ahead.””

“Yeah.”

“Alright. Shall we begin?”

“Yes.” Joe’s back hurt. He shifted. Angelique noticed. 

“Shall I ask your granddaughter to bring in your analgesics? We’ll be here for a while.”

“It should be alright.” He didn’t fully trust the drugs, even though he had been medicated for many decades. The machine nodded.

“My first question. When were you married?”

“After I made E-5. 2007.”

“I have your wife’s name and statistics. I am sorry for your loss.”

Joe closed his eyes. No, you’re not, he thought. But why be rude? “Thank you.”

“What color were her eyes?”

Joe’s eyes snapped open. “What?”

“What color were her eyes?”

“Blue. How is this relevant?”

“Everything is relevant.”

“I guess?”

Angelique nodded. “Just so you know, you are covered by our non-disclosure agreement. It went into effect the moment you crossed the threshold into this room. I have the same legal rights and privileges as your counselor at Veteran’s Affairs.”

Joe furrowed his face. “How much do you know about me?”

“Very little. Just official statistics and data. But if we agree to go through with this procedure, I will know everything.”

“Everything.”

“Yes, quite.”

Angelique morphed into Doctor French, his counselor at the VA. She had retired decades ago. He cried out.

“Did I startle you?” Doctor French’s face twisted in just that wry way…

“Please change back, Angelique.”

The machine complied. She spoke.

“When did you first watch a launch of a XXXX ship?”

“I dunno.”

“Our predecessor agency was known as SpaceX.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right. Sometime in the tens.”

“What did you feel as you watched the ship ascend?”

Joe remembered seeing the red car in space. He answered.

“It was, I dunno, inspiring.”

“Had you written your first book by then?”

“Yeah. 2012. When I retired from the Army.”

“Why did you shoot that man in the back?”

Joe shot forward. His body screamed at him. He answered, his voice flat.

Fuck you.

***

All of this, readers, will be available to you when I launch November timeframe. I’ll probably do like John Birmingham’s site with two tiers, two bucks and four bucks. Two for the basic serial, and four for the extra cool-guy stuff. Analysis, etc.

Who knows, maybe I launch a five bucks tier where your name gets put in the series. But I don’t know yet. It’s all still up in the air, except for the writing.

Right now I’m at Chapter 25 of the first novel, so I definitely hope to have the rough draft of the trilogy done by launch date- and you, my readers, can help me shape the final. Can interact, can read along.

It’s going to be fun, and I’m really looking forward to it!

J