Two for the D’oh

I had a really long post that was heartfelt introduction to me and my writing, explaining the origins and theories behind this blog, but just as I was about to finish it my computer locked up and I lost the whole thing. It’s almost midnight and I still want to get this blog up and running but I’m not sure my heart is in it, I really loved that post. I guess it’s your luck that you’ll get a shorter version of that soul purging post so Merry Freakin’ Christmas, now let’s see, where’s that “save as draft” button. I may be a monkey, but I’m a monkey who learns his lessons.

Coping with Sanity is a title I’ve had in my head for quite some time. In the early days of my formation as a writer I was desperate to be a tortured genius. I was living a happy life with a happy family in a happy town. It was disgustingly blah while at the same time I was reading through the school’s list of great writers, many of whom were tortured geniuses. The signifigance was not lost on me. During the following years in junior high and high school I held out hope that I would be stricken with some sort of mental illness that would fuel my creative fantasies. I researched mental illness with the fervor of a con man looking for a disease to pass off on a jury. Ultimately I realized I was an above average student with below average grades and a case of chemical depression. By that time though I was aware that I was ill-equipped to do anything else in life but write so I plugged ahead anyway.

I’ve also toyed with the idea of starting a blog for a while. I wrote humor columns for both of my college newspapers and during my brief stint as a newspaper reporter I wrote several personal essays. I’ve always been attracted to the personal nature of journal writing and thought a blog might be a neat way to scratch that particular literary itch. After serving as guest host for Sarah Weinman’s popular blog for a bit I thought that might be the kick in the pants I needed to get started. What it turned out to be was test driving a BMW to buy a Chevette. No, the only thing that got me into the blogsphere was my strong writer’s urge to do anything but start work on my second novel.

I started that book, “Lunchbox Hero” three years ago while I was working as an intern with Bantam Dell. During the years since, I’ve rewritten the book from scratch three seperate times and I supposse those could count as new books because there wasn’t anything in them from the previous books, but it was still the same story. I was learning how to write a novel in the sloppiest, most frustrating and inefficiant way possible. After about a year I started submitting drafts of the novel to editors and agents and received enough positive feedback to keep working at it but I always knew the story wasn’t right, I just didn’t have the skill to fix it at the time. In June I finally completed the last draft of that book and feel I’ve done everything with it I can. It’s as good as I can get it.

For the last six months I’ve been exploiting my connections in the industry and building a little word of mouth for the book. It got to the point though where I was in danger of being more known for promoting the book than for writing it. I needed to get to work on the second one before I forgot how and had to start from the beginning again. I’ve had ideas for the next book in the series bubbling into my head for about a year now and I’ve been keeping them in a journal on my computer, but there hasn’t been enough to really light my fire to start work on it. My first book was on the light side and I know the next time I want to tackle some broader themes and work toward a darker, more mature style.

A couple of months ago I had a few sparks in a row and thought it might be time to get to work. At the same time a couple of short story ideas I’ve had in my head for a while came together and when I found out the Mississippi Review was doing a pulp issue I decided to first write that story in a dark, pulpy style to get myself back on the writing horse. The story turned out quite nice and I was quite happy to see my writing had improved since my last story and the end of my first novel, I hadn’t lost anything.

With my head clear and a strong idea of where I was going with the next book I designated tonight as the night I’d start. I have this thing about starting books on Monday, it makes it easier for me to believe I’m starting fresh, kind of a small scale version of New Year’s resolutions. I got home from school, sat down at my computer and BOOM…I knew exactly how I wanted to start my blog.

It’s now 12:08 a.m. and I haven’t written a damn thing on the novel and I’m sure this won’t be the first time. I will however start tommorow, Tuesday be damned. I’ll use Courier 12 point font and one inch margins in Microsoft Word and I’ll write 10 pages a day until I hit 320 pages. That will be 80,000 words which I think is a good length for a second novel. My first novel barely clocked in at 67,000 words. It’s going to messy and sloppy and frustrating but I think I’m going to like it. I don’t have an outline, but I have a few key plot points loosely outlined, but I’m sure the final draft, which hopefully will come sooner than 2007, will differ drastically from the first draft.

This damn well better work.

I’ll chronicle the adventure here, stick around if you like. Ignore the drunk Brit in the corner playing with the weasel and the dark haired girl fooling around with her sex toys, they’re harmless…mostly. There was another girl here who was always on her computer but she went and got a real job. Sucker.