Tag Archive for spring break

The Discovery of Process

There’s a dearth of hotties in bikinis, but I’m still rather enjoying Spring Break this year.

Most school breaks, I try to spend them as though I’m a full-time writer: I’ll put in plenty of keyboard time, then spend a few hours taking care of housework or whatever else I’ve been putting off. Usually it works out well, and I get some solid progress done on a project.

This time around has been a bit different. Part of it is I allowed a few other things to derail my time. For starters, the rugrats are a little older and a little more active. Also, when I go full time I also would like to hit karate more often, but I didn’t take into account the travel time and the other stops and errands I add to those extra trips. Finally I decided to finish prepping both the motorcycle and the grill for the season.

Long story short: if I’m going to write full time, my time management is going to have to get much better. It’s already lacking during the regular work weeks, but this is just irritating. Fortunately I can still regroup with the remaining days.

That’s not to say I haven’t gotten any work done (that whooshing sound you just heard was my editor at Evileye breathing a huge sigh of relief). I squeezed in some work here and there, even while on errands or grabbing a quick bite (I love my Moleskine), and I solved a few plot and character issues. I also have the luxury of staying up later and being able to work at night while it’s quiet in the house.

Sitting down on the front porch, tapping out this post on my iPod touch with a cigar in hand, I’ve come to a few of conclusions about my writing.

1) I really do love doing this. I’m as excited about new ideas, characters, and stories as I ever was. Creating is just plain fun, and though the business side can be aggravating sometimes, it’s not as aggravating as the network switch at work that decided to fail in the middle of Spring Break and leave the district bookkeeper and a few teachers playing catch-up unable to get their work done (and thus ruining my Wednesday afternoon).

2) I’ve reaffirmed I’m a night owl. I spent a couple of nights up past one or two in the morning and slept ’til eight or nine, and I got more work done and have felt more energized and positive. Doing those late nights and getting up at 6:30am for the day job just doesn’t cut it after a few days, and it does little to help my day job or the writing gig. I really, really need to find a way to take this full time.

3) I’m not as slow a writer as I think I am. The ideas for the second Pack novella have been percolating in my head for some time now, but it wasn’t until recently that everything started to gel. I may not be happy with my keyboard time, but what happens is eventually something goes click, and all the little pieces fall into line and form the big picture. Better still, in the case of this series, they even link right in to the overall continuity, fueling the future and bringing clarity to the past. When I do chain myself to the keyboard, it’s that much easier to pound away and turn in a solid first draft.

That’s an important key. Part of the problem with my trunk novels is I just charged ahead without a clear picture of where things were headed. I may have had solid ideas, but the execution just wasn’t there. The little details that are so important to the stories fell flat.

Maybe it’s time I stop calling these delays procrastination and understand that maybe this is just my process. Everyone has a method that works for them, be it a specific way or place they have to write or a given method for getting the words onto a page, so maybe it’s just taken me this long to grasp my method. Some of my best work has been done by sitting on things and then making a mad rush before a deadline, and to be honest, I didn’t feel all that rushed at the time I punched the keys.

Sure, I needed to hurry to make deadline, but the words were already there. It’s easier when the key-punching feels more like transcribing notes than creation, and the work is probably better for that.

Does that make sense or did some wiseass spike this cigar at the factory? I’ve never fully bought into things like writers block and waiting on one’s muse. Maybe they’re just an easy way for writers to say they just haven’t sorted their shit out yet. I can’t say I haven’t thrown those terms around, but they always felt like the literary devices they are. They’re our job bleeding into our lives.

Heavy stuff. Now if you’ll excuse me, this cigar’s almost done. I have more percolating to do.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Spring Break: Not a Total Loss

Despite a somewhat disappointing Spring Break due to sick kids, a sick wife, and crummy weather, I managed to salvage my time off with some solid productivity.

There was last Sunday’s interview for starters, and shortly after I printed the script to the graphic novel script I’ve been working on and took the pencil to it (never was fond of the red pen). I slimmed it down by several pages, rewrote two scenes and added another, and I think the book will be stronger for it.

I have a novella contract to fulfill, and I finally figured out the right way to handle the plot and came up with a better villain. I finished the outline not long ago and fired it off to the publisher for review. Once it’s approved I’ll be able to start banging away at the prose.

I may not have been able to light up the grill, but I can’t complain about lighting up the keyboard. Sure, I’ve had more productive days, but with everything else that was happening this week, I did pretty good.

I also dropped by Borders today and browsed their art books. I found Andy Schmidt’s The Insider’s Guide To Creating Comics And Graphic Novels and remembered his interview with Indie Pulp, so I took it home. I think it’s a bit too late to learn to draw, but I’ve always wanted to get a better handle on the artists’ side of things while I write scripts, particularly layout and perspective. I already have Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, but hopefully Schmidt’s book will offer a broader take, offering some editorial insight in addition to tips for writers and artists. I learned quite a bit while working with Moonstone and Joe Bucco on Werewolves: Call of the Wild, but I’m still not as comfortable with comics as I am with prose.

Yet.

Tomorrow it’s back to the grind. Yippee. Nothing like a day job to get in the way of writing productivity!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Setbacks

No, I haven’t forgotten about the Muy Mal relaunch. Have I neglected it? Hrm. Kind of hard to argue with that one.

I’ve been working on a novella instead. One that needs to be done pretty quick, or a publisher may start losing patience with me. I was getting up a good head of steam on it, too, and had a self-imposed deadline for today. Well, yesterday, anyway; it’s after midnight as I type this.

Then I did something stupid.

I wiped out the whole freakin’ thing. That’s right, all gone, back to a blank page. A few weeks’ worth of work right into the crapper.

It occurred to me that the story would work a lot better if I took two characters and changed their genders and motivations, which in turn altered some of the events of the story. It didn’t help that I feared the story got off to a weak start as written, so I saw no sense in keeping that, either.

So boom, back to square one.

While this does set things back a bit, I think it will be better for this story in the long run. I’d rather get it right than deliver crap to the publisher. I’d rather you buy the book and think “Wow, that was great!” than say “Christ, what a rip-off!”

And if I could be downright mercenary, I’d rather put my effort into something that pays than a fun Internet experiment (i.e., Muy Mal). I still want to finish Troy Romano’s story in Down Vendetta Road, but it has to take a back seat to this baby for a number of reasons. I hope you’ll understand.

Now the question is do I stay up and hack on the revised novella some more, or should I go to bed and get some rest for the day job? Argh. I’m predicting some late nights come Spring Break next week.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.