Wayne dug through the shopping bag and with a grin that widened his whole face, he pulled out a box of oatmeal cream pies. “You’re a goddess.”

Wayne snatched a cookie from the box, unwrapped the crinkly plastic and swallowed it down in three bites. Even with cookie crumbs dotting his facial hair, he looked like an aging rockstar, a heavy metal guitar hero. His long salt and pepper goatee came to a point mid-chest over a thick waffle-weave green Henley. His saltier hair hid under a hooligan hat worn backwards. 

“I don’t get it,” Jo said and shook her head.

“Come on,” he said. “What do you miss? That one indulgence that you can’t get here.”

Slow Word Count

That pesky day job keeps getting in the way of my editorial schedule.

I typically write in the morning. Get up early, knock out my word count and move forward with my day: go to work, clean the house, take a shower, the important things. I’ve recently changed positions in my company and have to work at six am, so my writing schedule has been put on a shelf as my deadline looms.

My schedule changes in over a week, but I’ve got to figure out how to get some word count done over the coming days. I can’t imagine getting up any earlier. After work, I’m generally very tired and in debilitating pain from a newly reconstructed ankle.

Maybe this week needs to be dedicated to editing what I already have or committed to outlining. I refuse to back burner my novel.

Learning from the season

“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.”  George Carlin

The Santa Claus story is maybe the most well known and pervasive in the world, other than maybe Jesus or Mohamed. As a writer, especially one seeking some modicum of commercial success, there are things we can learn from Santa.

Santa has multiple origin stories and we don’t care, we still love the jolly old fat man. With release of Klaus, Netflix just gave us another origin story. Was he the first toymaker to the the king, a lonely old widower, a work-obsessed suburbanite that happens to put on Santa’s coat? No one cares, we care only about his magic. By the way, Klaus is a great holiday film.

Santa’s magic has limits. Like any well-written fantasy or science fiction story, Santa’s world has rules and limits. His knowledge of children’s behavior is limited to filling out the naughty or nice list. He delivers gifts to the entire world in one night. Don’t forget the elves. His magic and his world isn’t all encompassing. He can’t correct a child’s bad behavior with his magic, just bribery.

All of those origin stories, follow the hero’s journey and three act structure. Jolly St. Nick had to leave his ordinary world to overcome many obstacles to reach transformation. Do you see it?

Those are a few of the story-telling lessons we can learn, but there are other things the myth can teach us: follow your passion, laugh often, recruit a team with similar values, focus on doing the right thing.

Modern Writer

“Modern Problems require modern solutions.” Dave Chappelle

My commute has recently doubled as I changed positions. I’ve always listened to podcasts and an occasional audio book, but I have a lot more time on my hands this past week. As I listen to podcasts or books, I gain insights into my own writing or my current project.

“Hey, Siri. Take a note.”

My wondrous iPhone takes terrible dictation, but at least it is a place to start. Using Google Docs on my phone, I can copy the notes directly into my document. 🙂 I’m finally feeling like a modern writer… although I do love my analog journal and fountain pen.

Goal Oriented

This year, I discovered that I’m very goal-oriented. I think it comes from so many years of failing at every goal.

During my college years, I’d set goals and treat them like wishes. I’d write them down and never put forth any effort which ultimately led to disappointment.

With age and work experience, I know how to better set realistic goals and break them down into smaller, achievable milestones.

With the coming new year, I do the cliched reflection and goal-setting all the other nerds are doing this time of year. My theme is 20 for 20. I’ll set twenty goals for the coming year.

Goal number one: finish and publish another novel.

Back to Basics

I’m transitioning between two positions within my “real job,” so sneaking in writing time has been a struggle. As I’ve spent the last few days reconnecting with the story line, typing hasn’t been a productive mode of composition. Had to return to the fountain pen and page. Seems to be working since I’m writing mostly out of order. Notes on chapter two followed by the beginning of chapter seventeen.

At least I’m feeling reconnected with the characters. So much of my writing is about the characters that they become real to me. That’s good, right?

Thanksgiving Day

Had to pull out my favorite fountain pen and Leuchttrum journal to take advantage of the drive to the in-laws yesterday. Knew I wouldn’t have time today to work on the novel and I want to stay on track.

Sometimes just a change of writing medium is all I need to get unstuck or figure out a difficult chapter. Such as writing a scene from the perspective of a moose 800 years ago. I hope it works.

Holiday Habit

A dear friend of mine reminded me of a one-act play I wrote in college. Like “White Hell,” it was also set at Thanksgiving.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my habit of setting stories during the holiday season. Here’s my rationale:

  1. Family and Personal Drama. Forced togetherness can amp up the tension, expose cracks in happy facades, and shine a light on childhood traumas.
  2. Reason no one is at work. I hate shows and movies where no one seems to need a job. How do you support yourself if you never go to work? Shouldn’t you be in school? Setting a novel at Thanksgiving or Christmas, gives me an easy excuse for why my characters have free time to find mischief.
  3. Shared Experience. Holidays have their own language and culture so the audience can collect with the characters quickly.