My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Reminder: Inside Scoop Today

Image description: A scoop of double chocolate ice cream
Please remember that today's "post" is an Inside Scoop newsletter (which folks who are slated to get it can expect probably this evening) or maybe tomorrow morning.

If you want to get the Inside Scoop, head over here and see how.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Inside Scoop

Hi everybody!
Tomorrow's main "post" will be an "Inside Scoop" update.

That's a newsletter about what's going on in my life (at a slightly greater level of detail than the typical post here), a sincere unpacking of where Triexta is in production, and hopefully a few poignent nuggets of insight that everyone will find moving.

Want to get the Inside Scoop? You still can!

Despite my recent dramatic lifestyle downgrade, Writing About Writing will continue to remain free (and ad free) as art should be. And believe me there were more than a few existential crises and vigorous debates with Nega-Chris about that decision now that my pageviews are up, and "a few dollars a month" in revenue would actually make a difference. It's funny how different lofty principles can feel after an 80% pay cut.

I will also never hide the "best" content behind any kind of paywall.

However, artists need to pay their rent, buy groceries, have medical insurance, and sock something for retirement just like anyone else, and that requires we get dirt under our fingernails somewhere along the line. (Or spend a lot of time at a day job not making said art.) For me that place is opening the door to donations and "passing the hat" once in a while. I won't even guilt trip you with pop ups or sad stories at the end of every post if you just keep reading, but I'm on a budget where even a few dollars could make a bid difference, so I might have a post like this one every once in a while.

And while the "best" content will still be free, I work hard to give my generous patrons a little something extra by way of my gratitude–whether that's a glimpse into my life that most don't get or some information that I haven't shared openly.

If you like what I do here and want to see more of it, please consider a donation. My "Tip Jar" is just to the left if you're on a computer, and my Paypal is attached to the e-mail I'm always sharing here (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) if you'd rather go straight to the source. I can also use Venmo for those who have an objection to Paypal (which I share but can't quite get around it just yet).

And if you want "The Inside Scoop" here's how to get it:

  • If you'd like to back Triexta, you still can!  And if you donate at least at the $50 level, you will get all the "Inside Scoop" e-mails I ever write during the course of the whole project. (Probably roughly this time next year before it's totally done.)  At the $50 level, you will also have your name on a blog of thanks that will get linked to the online version of Triexta, and be published in a thanks/dedication page in the book itself (print on demand and Kindle version). Of course the Kickstarter fundraiser has closed, so we will have to do our transaction through Paypal or Venmo, but if you send me money with the note "For Triexta" I can manually add your name to the list of whatever reward tier you choose and send you Kickstarter updates through e-mail.
  • Want to just get THIS issue of the Inside Scoop? Donate $2 (or more) and put in the notes "Inside Scoop" and I will send you this month's issue as an e-mail.
  • I will very soon have a Patreon up, and anyone who donates at the $5/month level or more will get the same Inside Scoop that I'm currently writing for Triexta (as well as further newsletters of the same type once the current project is complete). There will be other rewards as well. Stay tuned!
I know we live in interesting times and for reasons great and small not everyone even has a couple of bucks to fling at the web content they enjoy. That's okay. Enjoy.

However, if I'm ever going to be able to more frequent and higher quality posts, I'm going to have to make writing my day job, and currently my writing income is about half of what I need. Further, 90% of that comes from fewer than a half a dozen amazing and spectaular patrons. I hope to extend my donation base to lots more people giving smaller amounts.

So if you want tomorrow's "post," all it'll take is a couple of bucks and the words "Inside Scoop" in the notes.

And no matter if you can give, can give generously, or just can't afford it right now, you are all what is making this great experiment come to life. And thank you so much for reading.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Best Obscure Book (Semifinal Round 1)

What is the best book that no one seems to have heard of?   

"But Chris. If no one has ever heard of it, how will they vote for it?"

"Yes well, I think that–"

"I second the complaint."

"You can't second complaints!  This is a nominations page."

"I also second the complaint!"

"What? What the hell is happening here."

"Bring your guns. Bring your knives. This poll complicates our lives. Kill the Chris. Kill the Chris. Through the mist. Through a wood...."

This is exactly how it went.

I get this. I do. I knew it from the moment I thought to myself "Self, that would be a really neat monthly poll," I know a few of you have offered up your beloved but obscure favorites to the nomination gods only to have their very obscurity be the reason no one threw them a second.

And on that level, I encourage everyone to simply view the nominations themselves as a really awesome list of book recommendations. The titles I know are great, and I'm looking forward to putting the ones I've never heard of on my TBR list. I've tried just opening up post comments to recommendations, but the response is usually lukewarm. The inherent competition of a poll seems to bring out a more enthusiastic response.

And yet.....

And yet....there were more nominations with seconds than in half a dozen prior polls. Readers are clearly fired up about this poll topic. So at some level, these titles are not TOO obscure to have been read by a few different voracious bibliophiles.

I know this means you might not recognize half the titles on the poll, and that the poll numbers may be conspicuously low compared to other polls (please only vote for books you've read), but it will still be an interesting exercise.

Everyone will get four (4) votes. The top five titles will go on to our final poll. I will tabulate the results of this semifinal poll in one week. 

The poll itself is at the bottom of the left side, right beneath the "About the Author" section.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Guest Post Here

Don't forget that because of the way my weekly schedule shakes out this semester, I pretty much either get a guest post, or there isn't a post on Tuesdays. There's not really much I can do about it until Fall semester is over and I can put some extra articles in the hopper. But I used up ALL my extras not going on hiatus during bronchitis.

Got something to say about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading...or possibly cheese? 

Got something that writers or book lovers REALLY need to see?

Want to respond to something I've written, even if it's to completely disagree with me and tell me I smell like soup? And not that I smell like the good kind of soup that reminds you of childhood winters, but something with weird goat cheese, too much salt, and seasonings that make you wonder if it hasn't gone a little off.

Want to take advantage of my (currently) 50,000+ page views per month and advertise your own online endeavors in a thinly veiled self-pimp-a-thon wrapped in the "sheep's clothing" of an article? (For which I will only demand a shout out in return.)
Want to make twos and threes of dollars? Maybe fours?

Want to put an article or three out in the world, be read by lots of readers, but without having to start your own blog and lose all your friends by pimping yourself on Facebook all day long? ("Ugh. All they do is talk about themselves! They don't take pictures of their lunch like me!")  Or just want to try blogging on for size a few times before you start one of your own?

Then I want you!

Bring it!  Drop me an e-mail.  (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) As long as what you want to write is mostly coherent, at least obliquely about writing, no more than 82% horribly offensive to white males, non-abusive to other readers, doesn't make me cry (except in the good way), contains at least one vulgarity, innuendo, or salvo of F-Bombs to maintain the lack of decorum, I will totally publish your article.  I can't promise that if you write an article on why I'm wrong about everything ever in my face that I won't write some kind of rebuttal, but all opinions on writing are welcome--even ones antithetical to mine. (I do reserve the right to refuse a post for any reason, but I promise that reason won't be because I disagree with you.)

And...if you're one of my regular guest bloggers, I'll even give you your own link on The Reliquary (unless you'd rather I didn't).

Here are some guidelines so we don't waste each other's time:

  • If you send me offers to do web content, I mark your mail as spam. I know when I'm looking at a legitimate offer for a guest blog.
  • If you are a robot I will mark you as spam. Unless you can do dishes. Robots that do dishes are welcome.
  • If you can't figure out what this blog is about, and offer to do articles about steam roofing or something, I'll mark your mail as spam. I'm not just web content here; this blog has a theme and everything. Make it about the inspiration and creative process of steam roofing AT LEAST!
  • Please read the paragraph below the bullet points very carefully.
  • Your writing is yours. I'm going to ask that you let the post run on my page for a while before you cross post it, but ultimately I respect that as the generator of the creative effort, your writing is yours. If you ask me to remove it, I will. If you repost it somewhere else, that's okay.
  • There are no author passwords to Writing About Writing--you'll submit your articles to me. I will post them if they are good enough to post.
  • If you skipped all that dull text up above, this blog is about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading, and maybe cheese. Don't skip the paragraph below though.
  • I will be as liberal as I can about gate keeping, but you do have to be able to write a little. An incoherent rant about the tyranny of grammar probably won't be approved.
  • You don't have to agree with me, particularly about writing stuff, but I'm not going to post wildly divergent social positions, humor that punches down, or deeply problematic phrasing. Anything I post here isn't an "I agree with this 100%!" endorsement, but if I hit publish on it, I'm going to be the one to answer for it. If you want to write about how the PC police are agents of "Obummer the Mooozlim," and they won't let you even use the word "tard" anymore, go start your own blog.
  • I won't make any content changes to your writing, but I may make some copy edits. If a proofreading change might change your meaning, I will run it by you.
  • Please fucking read the paragraph below.
  • When I say "I will make some edits" I want you to understand that I'm not a copy editor even though I can do okay (on writing that isn't my own). I'm not here to fix up a post from scratch that you didn't have time to proofread. Clean it up.
  • You may link out as much as you want (even self-promotional links), but I'm going to check them all--if they go to spammy shit, I won't publish your article. 
  • Please, for the love of all that is holy, and in the name of Hera's left nipple, read the goddamned fucking paragraph below.
  • If your post is a giant fucking commercial for some product, then you need to be paying me for advertising space. And if your product isn't awesome, that's not going to happen anyway. Thinly veiled self promotion under the auspices of something that at least resembles an article is totally okay though–just know that it might not get a lot of hits. I only get about 150 views on articles that aren't liked or reshared through some social media. If my readers don't like something, it does NOT do very well. If they do, well they know where the share button is.
  • Seriously, read the paragraph below.

The very important paragraph:

W.A.W. isn't making very much money article per article. I can't offer more than a couple of dollars. (Most guest bloggers ask to include it as a donation, but that's never expected.) If your article brings in heavy traffic, we will figure something extra out so I'm not taking the hard work of a writer with nothing but the promise of "exposure." Plus of course if someone sends me a donation earmarked for a guest blogger, I will pass the money onto them and even cover the Paypal fee–that's for them, not me. It may not add up to much (unless you get millions of hits or write for me a lot) but if it came from your work, I'll make sure I'm not taking advantage of you.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Embrace the Messy (Personal Update)

Image description: Author looking just a little too enthusiastic.
Really Rough Draft  

Raw unfettered shit- 60, 203 (Last update 58,227) [Just this update- 1976]     

Slightly polished turd- 34, 809 (Last week 34,809)  [Just this week- 0] 

*Reminder slightly polished turd is usually soft revision I've done to help jump start me into the next day's writing. It's no where close to a second draft, but it's a bit more polished than my raw copy. But a blank page is a hard start.

Looks pretty awful, doesn't it? Like maybe I should have stopped having groupie threesomes for at least a minute and gotten some work done.

It's strange because it's probably one of the best weeks I've had since I started writing this particular story and up there in terms of creative euphoria in general. But let me get into that below.

Personal Update

I got back from L.A. early in the week. There was talk of staying an extra day to go to Disneyland but the crowds had been hellish on Monday–seriously the worst I've ever seen them in 32 years of going an average of two or three times a year. Somehow they figured out how to get so many people inside that the only magic was evil eldritch horror from beyond the plain of suffering.

I also really wanted to get back and write. My plan to go down there, lock myself in a room and write for hours ended up up looking a lot more like grabbing a couple of hours of catch as catch can. I'm not sure how to make that work in the future. Maybe just skip the trip until/unless it is crystal clear that some writing time is non-negotiable.

Pushing outward from my writing time has been difficult lately.  Well actually, that's generally always been true for my entire life. But being on my own has afforded a few unique challenges surrounding it as I worry that if I tell people I can't do things they will never bother inviting me again and I'll die alone. Because obviously that's exactly how things work and what would happen .

After that the week was really busy. Sonic Gal is having her crime fighting time audited (to make sure she's not wasting time) and since she comparably lives about a normal day every fifteen minutes that pass for normals, it's an involved process. I tagged in a lot more with The Contrarian after we got back.

Book Update

Still, I got a lot of good work done, which...I know is not as easy to see based on my word counts. The long and short of it was that I wrote myself into a corner in a scene that wasn't really working at all, and I recognized that I needed to back up and figure out what, if anything, that scene was doing so that I could do it in another way. I started hitting backspace, and didn't stop until I was back to a point before things had gone screwball. If I were strictly doing NaNo, I would still count the 15,000 or so words I cut (because you don't edit during Nano and you count your mistakes, even if they're 20 pages or so), but in terms of novel progress, it clearly doesn't "count."

And yet, I learned something about my main character and his parents in that tangent that is going to game change the arc of his development, I figured out at least three breakthroughs and two other things that were not 100% gelled and have seen a bridge from "here" to "there" in one of my plot points that is going to work really well. I'm humming from the weekend, flying on an artists high, and my heart is pounding. My worst-ever word count week has probably been my best weekend since I decided to write this book and I am FLYING. In terms of work that will make this better, it's probably my best week.

Don't be afraid to scrap the words just because they're yours. (That first draft isn't as brilliant as you think it is anyway.) Don't be afraid to kill your darlings. Don't be afraid to scrap that scene that isn't working. And for The Muse's sake, don't get so attached to your word counts or your page progress that you won't just crumple up a few pages and go back.

This is how it is supposed to be. Divest yourself of the idea that you're going to sit down and write a book from beginning to end; it never works that way. You're going to cut scenes, maybe even characters, and it's going to be a horrible bloody mess. Roll your sleeves up and dig in for some field medic surgery.

Art is messy.

Bring a smock.