Saturday, June 25, 2011

Writing While on "The Bowl" (It's NOT what you think, folks)

So, I've been really quiet lately. Both on Twitter and this blog.
There's a reason for this silence that I'll delve into in a little bit. But, yes, I realize that I've been mostly quiet. And with most extended silences there's good news that's happened in the interim and there's bad news.

The good news first:

1. I currently clock in at 204.5 lbs. That sounds like I'm heavy (and I am) but this is really good news for me as I'd previously struggled with maintaining my stunning reverse hourglass figure at 216 lbs. I've changed how I eat and have started a new routine that helps me with a great many tasks in life. What's interesting is this: I didn't drastically change what I eat. I've simply re-evaluated what tastes good to me and what I want to eat. For instance (and remember, kids, I am NOT a dietitian), I realized that, in the morning, I would stop at Dunkin' Donuts or McDonald's for some sort of sandwich with my morning coffee. What never occurred to me is that, while I really enjoyed the sausage, bacon, whatever-fatty-thing-came-on-the-sandwich's salty goodness, I wasn't happy with how I felt afterward. I wasn't energized or ready for the day or, hell, ready for anything. I felt warm, full, greasy and above all, sleepy.

What I instead do now is grab coffee at the office (we actually get some decent coffee in from a local roaster) and have a bowl of watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries. I still enjoy my coffee in the morning but now I don't stuff myself full of things that just don't make me feel good later. With the fruit, I feel mobile and able to walk around my office without that sleepy feeling I used to get, when eating bacon-egg-sausage-spam-ham-and-spam.

My lunches are (mostly) healthier, with the occasional 2 slice of pizza run but I try to eat something lighter and healthier. It helps that I've got a SaladWorks nearby and I'm one of the few that enjoy some of the better salads at Wendy's. (No, not the 3000 calorie uber-salads, either). Just something sensible.

2. I've also changed up my daily routine for the summer and this has helped me greatly in nearly every aspect of my life.

Each morning, I wake up at 5:45 AM and drive my new putt putt to a nearby park and walk for an hour and change each morning. I do not run (I used to and my knees aren't what they once were) yet. I occasionally jog if the spirit moves me.

But for about an hour and 20 minutes each morning, I walk around a gravel trail and wave to deer and chipmunks I pass by.

And I think.

I've gotten a lot of thinking done while walking around "The Bowl", as the hiking trail I follow each morning is called. And it's helped me out all day long. First, I go over what needs to get done around the house or what chores I have to take care of that day: call the dentist, fax some paperwork, take out the garbage, etc. Then I quickly go over what I need to accomplish that day at work: help get answers from customer A about a report, ensure that employees A, B or C are working on project X. You know, the boring part of the day that makes up 8+ hours of it.

But then, once I've gotten my head clear of all that, I let my brain fall into neutral for a second, my pace evens out a bit and then I let my thoughts turn to the writing projects I've got on my plate.

I work out plot twists (who really dunnit?), character development (does Bobby go to high school or only say he's going to high school?), ideas, parts of towns/settings, whatever. The point is, I let my writer's mind wind its way from where I want it to go (the worst thing a writer can do) to where it wants to go (usually, the best place to figure out anything).

I'll give you an example: I've been plotting out 3 novels in a series lately. Not all together. One at a time. And after plotting the first one out, I moved onto the second story. And came up with a rather banal, run-of-the-mill novel plot. Yay. (The writers out there know what I'm talking about, we've all done it.) It was paltry and easy and didn't challenge anyone: me, the writer or you, the reader.

So, instead, I took a central image from this plot--the one part of the whole book idea I liked--and just played it over and over in my head while I paced around this track of dirt for forty five minutes. I let my mind drift and things ... morphed. This central image changed.

Where at first the dead body had been a man, it was then a female child. Where it was a female child, it was then a woman. Then, it was a matter of who was she and who had killed her. Why did they kill her?

And here's the thing: when I was done, my brain had worked it out completely: the first novel I'd plotted out came from a very personal experience for one of the main characters. Basically, the plot of the first novel revolves around something very personal that had happened to one of the two main characters (their really good friends). If I then made this central image from the second novel something that affects the other main character on a personal level, the whole series would work and I'd solidify these two characters in readers minds.

The thing is: I didn't come up with that idea. I didn't think of it.

Walking around The Bowl and letting my mind clear itself of all the driftwood that piles up on its shores (my daily tasks, etc.), had let my mind work out why I wasn't happy with that novel's plot. Call it Divine Intervention, call it Primordial Thinking, call it what you will. I let my mind work something out and the result was far, far better than the one I had forced.

The bad news now:

1. I'm fiddling with THE COMPLEX on the side but for the most part, I've put that project away. The "great, God A'mighty steam shovel", as Stephen King has said, is parked for now. I still want to complete it. Especially after reading this review at Amazon from a fan. I rather enjoy my horror novels and would like to put another one out by year's end. But for now, I'm working on a project that may not be as epic of scope, but it's meaningful to me. One I hope you can soon read and enjoy as much as I am.

2. Work. I don't want to get into it here because of the nature of the Interwebs and the ever-watchful eye of Big Brother.

This is the reason I've not been too chatty both here on this blog and on Twitter. When I get frustrated beyond a point or when I feel that a line has been crossed, I get mouthy. I mouth off to those I probably shouldn't. It's a personal trait of mine that I try to control (most of the time I don't do such a good job of that). So, I shut up. Completely. I feel that if I open my mouth to say something, I'll say the wrong thing entirely and it will eventually come back around and bite me in the ass. Basically, it's the nature of working in corporate America in 2011 and having a blog or Twitter account. You have to watch what you say. If any blogger were to say anything derogatory about work, their employer would have every right in the world to let them go.

... and lastly, more good news:

1. Got A Fire Pit

For Father's Day, I received a fire pit for my backyard. Why is this good news?

I get to burn stuff!

Mostly marshmallows and wine labels but I plan to spend an awful lot of time sitting around that baby, plotting and writing, so look for photos of a pair of my Chuck Taylors (I've got four) melting by the fire!

I'll be sending out more regular updates about the new mystery series I've been plotting and the progress on THE COMPLEX, so keep an eye out for those, too!

Enjoy your summer, everyone!

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