Monday, 31 December 2012

Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go!

Merry New Year, readers! I hope you’re all doing well and making healthy, attainable resolutions instead of just doing what I do every year and pledging to become a wildly popular billionaire dinosaur-riding secret agent/space pirate. No matter how hard you try at it, the technology is just never there yet, you know?

So, anyway, it’s 12:00:01 or something here in 2013, and I’m excited to get going on this novel and that’s cool and all, but starting a novel at midnight is kind of a NaNoWriMo thing, and the work that you do in that stretch is almost never to be trusted. Here’s what I’m going to do, though: I’m going to go to bed, and then, later—when we’ve all woken up and dealt with any imminent hangovers or life decisions that we’ll eventually decide not to tell anyone about—I’m going to go out and take a walk and find someplace to have some lunch and then I’ll open up a notebook and start working.

That doesn’t do you a whole lot of good, though, because you won’t be there to stare over my shoulder as I write (not that I would stand for that anyway). So, if you could all please come back later this evening, I’ll have worked up a post that you might find worthwhile reading…maybe something with some scans of my notes for the day and some expansion upon them or explanation of them, and also—very, very hopefully—there will also be a copy of the core idea that I’ll be building the whole novel on.

Sound good? I certainly hope so.

Take it easy and be safe tonight, folks!

 

-Sean

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Concerning the Current State of the Writer’s Head-Space.

With slightly less than twenty-four hours to go before we can all sit down and start writing this novel that I’ve been going on about for the past three months, I thought I might give a little bit of consideration to where I am right now and where it might take my thoughts on Tuesday as I set out to decide what I’m actually going to write here…

So, guys, I’m going to be honest: I’m thinking about space a lot lately. This isn’t really news for anyone who knows me. I think about space pretty much all of the time. But I’m currently reading (and it looks very much to be my Last Book of the Year) a copy of Packing For Mars, Mary Roach’s excellent non-fiction work about the science and history of living in space, and something about it has really been getting under my skin. I’ve also been slowly collecting a small stack of similarly themed pieces at work for the past while, and it could all make for very interesting research material should I work my way towards the idea of doing some near future science fiction.

Beyond that, well, detective stories have always been sort of popular with me. I get a lot of joy out of constructing and executing those, though mine often tend to get tangled up in some other genre or grand over-complication. Might be that I’ll finally try to do one that adheres fully to the Chandlerian tradition.

Fantasy is probably right out—or at least swords and horses fantasy. I wrote one of those for National Novel Writing Month back in November (my first attempt at a fantasy novel, actually) and it warped my brain in some funny ways for the duration. I found myself spending huge amounts of page space describing trees and wagons. I wrote a song. A song. I hate when there are songs in fantasy novels! And yet, despite my predilections towards a grittier, more streamlined type of fantasy novel, something very traditional spilled out of me. It was strange, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it.

That’s kind of what I mean by all of this, though. I keep treating this upcoming bit of experiment like it’s some sort of well-rehearsed demonstration, and I’ll just come out and hit all of my marks and read all of my lines, and then a novel will be born out of the aether and you’ll buy it and somehow that will make me a millionaire. But there’s no guarantee of that. Odds are good that I’ll be able to sit down at lunch on Tuesday and I’ll be able to just pull an idea for a whole novel out of my ass, but I can only say that because I’ve done it often enough in the past to trust that I’m capable of it on the fly. It’s not a certainty. There’s no telling whether or not I’ll come around on New Year’s Day and want to spend all of my time finishing a short story that I set aside two months ago, or playing video games, or walking the dog. I’ll chronicle it—because that’s what this site is for—but it could be several days before I come across an idea that really sings to me, and, even after, that the odds are pretty good that it could change forms a few times over the next week; swapping concepts and themes and genres.

I don’t know. I guess maybe I’ve got the jitters about this whole thing. I’m tremendously excited about it, definitely, but there’s also the apprehension there that lurks by the trail-head of every new undertaking. And maybe you don’t want to know about that. Maybe you want me to swagger into this all confident and just completely wow you with how easy I make it all look (though if you had ever seen me swagger you would reconsider that), but that’s not really what this is all about, is it?

I want you, Dear Readers, to know that this is kind of hard and scary for me. Not because I want you to pity me or comfort me, but because I want you to know about the process and what all of this is like for a writer. This is part of that. Fear and apprehension and neurotic twitching. Starting a new novel is, in a lot of ways, like starting any new job.

For all of that, though, I’m good to go. I’m ready for this. I’m ready to see where it goes. And because of that excitement…well, I guess I’ll see you all here tomorrow.

 

-Sean

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The One Thing I Know For Sure…

I was off to a wedding this past week; my good friend Coley and her new husband Markus. Some of my favorite people in the world. And a while ago I promised Coley that—whatever this book we’re coming up on next month ends up being about—she’s got an appearance coming to her. It’s part of my wedding gift, and her presence is the one thing I know for sure that we’re going to see in the future.

So, congratulations again, guys. You’re the best.

 

-Sean

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Supply Run

Hey, folks. Welcome back! With NaNoWriMo over and done with, I’m very much looking forward to taking the month to decompress and get myself back in the Hey, Internet! mindset. This month, we’ll have periodic ramp-up content and a video version of my statement of intent from a couple of months ago as I try to drum up a little bit more interest in the site.

Today, though, I’ve been out to the shops and I thought I’d share some of the supplies that I picked up for the coming months:

Supply Run

Look at that pile of writerly paraphernalia. Makes me feel good just looking at it. It’s all pretty straight forward stuff, especially if you remember some of what I wrote a couple of months ago in my Creative Process article—a couple of pen refills, a new thumb drive, note cards, a set of slim and nicely portable moleskins, and (and here we enter the realm of things that make me feel ninety years old when I buy them) a 2013 day-planner.

So, really, this is mostly stuff that I’ll be using during the development stage. I’ll run most of my notes in the moleskins, which I went with because I like the quality of the paper and the construction and I’m hard on a notebook so that counts for a lot. The cards I’ll use during plotting as I get ready to really start writing, and the day-planner is for, I don’t know, planning my day I guess? It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ll figure something out. The pen refills are hopefully self-evident, and the thumb drive is there to accommodate my obsessive need to back up files.

All pretty clean and tidy, and now I’m set on notecards for the next two or three years probably.

-Sean

*  *  *

Okay. That’s it for today, folks. I wanted to get something out and up to show that I’m still in this thing, so I apologize if this post seems a little anemic. If any of you have questions or comments, please feel free to throw them up here. Also, if you have anyone who you think might be interested in this project…please do not hesitate to share the link. It’s much appreciated.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Quick Question:

Hey, all. Got a little house-keeping for today.

I've noticed that the top-bar buttons are displaying quite differently for me depending on which machine I'm using. The objective, of course, is to have them all run in one straight go of text...So I thought I would ask how they are displaying for you readers. If you could, please, leave the following information in the comments, it would be much appreciated:

  • How the buttons display for you.
  • What resolution you're running.
  • Whether or not you have a problem with the way things display.
Thank you all for your assistance.

-Sean

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hey, Sean! How Far Can We Trust You?



This is kind of a hard question for me right now. Not because I’m a natural or excessive liar. No. But I started wondering as I wrote my Creative Process post a couple of weeks ago—and noticed that I was having to use a lot of phrases like, “I like,” and “I do”—whether or not I can really present this project from a half-way subjective point of view.

Everything about the writing process is, ultimately, so personal. And, with this site, it was always my intention to demonstrate how to write a novel efficiently and professionally, but I think that we’ve already seen that there’s no one way to do that, haven’t we?

So, I guess that, in the end, all I can do is show you what I would do.

And in that respect, you can trust me implicitly. As we go forward, please know that what you get from me will be the clearest, most honest, and most complete set of information about what I’m writing and how I’m writing it; the very best recounting of these events that I can provide. In the end, I may omit certain major plot elements—because, really, who like spoilers—but I will never lie to you. On that, you can consider yourself to have my word.

Assuming that you want to trust my word, anyway.

-Sean

*  *  *

That’s it for these Hey, Sean! articles, folks. I hope that you’ve come away from them feeling like you know what I’m about a little better. Next month is National Novel Writing Month, so I’ll be a lot busier than usual and we might not see weekly posts again until December. I’m hoping, though, that I’ll have the time to post some short fiction and talk about it a little.

Until then, if you’d like to contact me, please feel free to leave a comment here, or use one of the links available on the Get In Touch tab.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Hey, Sean! Say Something Kind of Pretentious, Wouldn't You?



Let’s go back to an August a few years ago. Second day of my Junior year in college. It’s an evening Creative Writing workshop, a Tuesday & Thursday job, and we’re talking about what the professor will or will not accept in our fiction. And somewhere in the middle of this, this woman says:

“You know…The way I look at it, Literary Fiction is an art—like sculpture or oils—and Genre Fiction is just a…a craft. Like needlepoint.”

See, I’m not what some people would call a “Literary Writer,” and if you don’t really know what any of this means, let me back up and quantify it a little…

In academic and critical circles, there is a distinction made—sometimes rather forcefully—between “Literary” and “Genre” fiction. Literary Fiction is often distinctly realistic and high-brow, and while they often demonstrate a high level of technical polish I’ve often found most Literary work to be more in the business of exercise and metaphor than telling a story. And Genre Fiction? It’s everything else. It’s thrillers and dramas, westerns and horror stories, sci-fi and fantasy, inspirational fiction and erotica. It’s visible, readable, populist fiction, and if anything I’ve ever seen at all of the bookstores I’ve ever worked in or visited means anything…It makes up an easy ninety percent of all adult fiction sales.

As a system of classification it is efficient, if not tremendously simplistic, but it all falls down for me when it is used as an unimpeachable dividing line of quality—and it often is, sad as that is. And it is from that place of judgment that our girl from all those years ago spoke. I’ll leave you to supply the dismissive titter that she followed it up with, and the way that she popped her monocle back into place and went prowling for a platter of cucumber sandwiches.

And while I don’t begrudge the system in concept—I’m really very happy down here with my sewing circle, after all—I’d much rather that we did away with the labels and started looking at things in terms of whether or not it’s good writing. Because there’s more than enough of it on both sides of the fence to make everybody happy.

Seriously.


-Sean

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Hey, Sean! What's Up With the Creative Process?

Well, here we are again. For those of you just joining, these weekly entries in the months leading up to January the 1st are a way for us to get a little bit better acquainted and prepare for the longer, more intense exercise to come. October, specifically, is focused on these Hey, Sean! articles, which have been written to provide some insight into who I am as a writer, and my general views on the medium and process. This week, I’ll be focusing on process and procedure, and you can probably view this post as a rough outline of what’s to come in the New Year.


*  *  *

The creative process is kind of a personal thing. Not private. No. In my experience, most of us writers can talk about what we do and how we do it all day long…But it is personal, because each of us does things a little differently, and—at the end of the day—I do believe that some of us look sidelong at the others and feel pride or pity that their processes lack the secret ingredient that makes it so very easy for us, and they are, therefore, a little weird.

And I apologize if this makes me and my fellow writers sound a little bit like superstitious, capering bridge trolls, but I think that such a creature lives inside of everyone—to some extent or another—who works for a living and has the opportunity to observe another person doing what we think of as Our Job.

And really, writers are kind of a superstitious bunch. Anyone who engages in a profession that is so heavily procedural and obsessive has to be a little superstitious eventually, because obsessive, procedural behavior done regularly invariably takes on the tone of ritual. I’ve known writers who can’t start new work while travelling, because they can only get ideas that they trust while looking out of the kitchen window that they were looking out of when they came up with the first novel or story that they sold. I’ve known others who have to have a specific person read their first draft, and nobody else will ever do. Or writers who have to walk a certain route through their neighborhoods before they can even sit in front of their laptops. Or who have to wear a lucky hat while they write the first line. I, personally, have to make all of my notes with the same pen, and—even though I’ll tell you that I do it because I hate shopping for pens, which is true—I will buy countless ink refills for even the most ragged of pens before I will shop for a new one or buy a pack. There have been times when my work grinds to a halt for days because I lost a pen and have to go through a silly searching/mourning period before I will go and buy a replacement.

These are habits and little beliefs—some of which we don’t even know that we engage in or hold—that come about as the result of long years of working and refining our creative processes. Each time that we go through the process, we invest more and more of ourselves into it and it becomes more and more a part of us. Through repetition, we become intimate with our own idiosyncratic tics until they become second nature. They become indistinguishable from us, and we clutch to them no matter how silly they are because they work for us. The personal creative process is a major part of who each writer is, and each of them is silly in such a way that none are silly at all.

So, other than my pen infatuation, how do I work? What’s my process like? What I’d like to do now is run a sort of itemized list from the beginning of things to the end. If—when I’m done—you have questions about any particular point, please ask them. Keep in mind, though, that I’ll be going into each of these in greater detail next year:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Hey, Sean! What Do You Write About?


That’s a question that can be answered in a lot of different ways, so I guess I can at least try for a few of them…

In the tightest, most concise, pigeonhole-iest context; I write science fiction stories.

Specifically, we’re talking about science fiction stories about Irish Gypsies who live in space and hate the government. That doesn’t account for any of my detective fiction, though, or any of my fantasy stories, or any of my other non-Irish-Gypsy related work…All of which make up for slightly less than fifty percent of the whole. And then there are some stories that take place in the same setting as the Irish Space Gypsy stories, but do not involve Irish Space Gypsies or Irish Space Gypsy related activities. It’s complicated.

See? A definite way to answer, but not a great one. Let’s try again.

Conventional wisdom—which often arrives to you as a writer by way of high-school English teachers and overzealous family members and other people who want to contribute to your writing without putting any real thought or effort into the exercise—says, often invariably, this:

Write what you know.

And that’s great. It’s perfectly all right. And it makes sense, because, presumably, everyone knows something and as long as they know about it they can write about it. Sure. Why not?

Lovely.

But here’s the thing, and maybe I’m a bit thick, or maybe I’m just being willfully obstinate for the sake of having something to write about, but whatever: That sort of thinking can, eventually, be unbearably restrictive. I mean, really, what do most people know? In the most serious sense of being so intimately acquainted with a thing that they can reliably and consistently portray it through the medium of text? For the majority of folks, this means that the modern novel can’t extend too far beyond the wheelhouse of being in school, doing a job, and dealing with family dysfunction.

God knows that if I so restricted myself I couldn’t do a whole lot more, and I’m trying to do this ridiculous job professionally.

Hell, if all writers so restricted themselves then we would probably end up with nothing more than a bunch of writers writing novels about writers writing novels. Just endless, recursive, meta-textual messes…And then the publishing industry would definitely be in Capital-R-Capital-T Real Trouble.

And so, with all due respect to “Write what you know,” I don’t like it a whole lot in the long run. It—right out of the gate—dismisses most of the creativity from the creative process. If we just follow what we know, we’re asking no more imagination of ourselves than what we need to form the words into sentences.

So that’s no answer, either, but it does bring me to a similar saw that I much prefer:

Write what you love.

And that, that, is where I want to be. That is what I want to do. That is the thing that I love, because it leads me to all of the other things that I love and that I love to write about, and at least from there—if you’re still interested and aren’t asleep—I can throw together a short list of things that I love to write and write about:

  • People
  • The Future
  • Politics
  • Rocketships
  • The Way Things End
  • Family Dysfunction
  • Work
  • Crime
  • Ham Fisted Swearing
  • Gunfights
  • The Irish
  • The Past
  • Detectives
  • Revenge
  • Love
  • Sarcasm
  • Long, Long Conversations
  • Defenestration

I could go on. Probably for a long time. Hopefully, though, you’ll be able to take something away from this that will help you understand me and my writing a little bit better until you see a piece of short fiction from me sometime next month.

And if not, you can always come away from it knowing that I write pulpy, character driven Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Detective Fiction. That’s probably a little easier.

Whichever makes you happier.

I’ll be back next week with a little more writer-babble.


-Sean

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Getting Ready

Things have been a little busier than expected since I made my last post, but I've been preparing some ramp-up content to carry us through the next few months. Starting next week, you can expect at least one short-essay style piece posted every weekend.

I'll probably start with a little bit more about me and the kinds of things that I usually write, and then move into some descriptions of what I'm doing to get ready for the noveling endeavor. Somewhere in there (probably in November, because my NaNoWriMo duties usually slow down my blogging a little bit) I'd also like to put a short story up so that you all can get a feel for my writing, and maybe talk about it a little.

So, yeah, stuff's happening. And I am trying to think of you early adopters of this project (the counted page views have been very reassuring so far), so please stay tuned!

-Sean

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hey, Internet! Here's What's Up:

What’s it like to write a novel?

Honestly? It’s a little like going crazy in reverse…A glut of unrelated, disjointed, wholly unreal ideas that you can barely keep straight slowly coheres into a single, concrete alternate reality which consumes you and drives you further and further into your own head. And it is only through the obsessive and comprehensive act of writing it all down—all of it, every last scrap—that you purge the delusional otherworld from your system and get yourself straight again.

At least until the next novel comes along.

It’s crazy, cyclical, hilarious greatness, and for most of us who do it we wouldn’t have it any other way. But it is also a solitary process and, in addition to being a little lonely sometimes, it can be hard to understand for readers. Even when they’re the kinds of fans who are the most interested in the creative process.

Hey, Internet! Let’s Write a Novel or Whatever is a bit of an effort to remedy both of those problems: Readers will get a complete and in-depth look at one writer’s creative process, and I get to write and publish a new novel in a completely social way. It’s great. Perfect. Completely win-win, assuming anyone reads this.

And I hope that you will read, and I hope that you’ll comment and contribute along the way. Because this is going to be different, and it could be big, too. Certainly bigger than anything I’ve done before as a writer. Starting on January the 1st, 2013, this site is going to be updated daily. I’ll be sharing every last detail of the creative process; from the formation of the idea at the center of the book, to the writing, the editing, and the eventual publication of the final text as an e-book and print-on-demand hardcopy through Amazon’s CreateSpace service.

Along the way, we’ll have a dialogue. You’ll be asked to contribute ideas and feedback, invited to ask questions and enter all sorts of contests for all sorts of fabulous (I think so, anyway) prizes. Maybe you’ll learn something, too. Maybe we’ll all learn something. Or maybe you think that’s lame. I don’t know, we haven’t gotten acquainted yet. Don’t really know one-another’s likes and dislikes. Let’s work on that one, okay? Let’s just, yeah, put a pin in ‘learning things’ for now…

Cool?

Cool.

I’m sure we’re gonna get along fine.

That’ll do for now, I think. Please feel free to peruse the rest of the site, and—if you’d like—go ahead and bookmark, favorite, +1, like, or follow to your social-media saturated heart’s content. This is going to be fun. And, hey, how many times do you get an invitation to watch a guy go crazy?

In reverse, no less.


-Sean

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Trial Post

This project is still a while away from getting going. Any posts that currently exist are for formatting and test purposes and may be removed later. Please do stick around, though, because when things get started it's gonna be a lot of fun.