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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

Month

January 2017

So, I was going over my saucy speakeasy tale…..

……and discovered that it was quite decent. Even the sexy scenes, which I had never written about before, leapt off the page in vibrant, delicious feelings.

To be perfectly frank, I couldn’t believe that I’d actually written a scene – several scenes – that were so sensuous and sexual. I felt removed from the text, as if someone else had written the words, even though I remembered putting them to paper.

And I liked this story. I liked the characters and their own personal conflicts and how the two leads banter with each other. I liked how the leading characters were getting to know each other, to establish boundaries that are respected. I liked how they teased each other and how they find joy in each other’s presence.

There are so many things about this story that I liked, that I can’t name them all. I had put it on the side burner a couple of months ago, because something felt off and the story ground to an unexpected halt. Where it went wrong, I can’t put my finger on, but I’ll work it out by re-writing the previous few pages before moving forward.

That’s my habit – to re-write the previous few pages on a work in progress. It’s my way of getting back into the story and the minds of the characters, to re-familiarize myself with that world of magic and feeling.

I’m not quite ready to get back to my saucy speakeasy, but it will be waiting for when I am.

prohibition

 

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So, I’ve been working on my Novel in Progress……

…….and have gone through about seventy pages of the original notes given to me by my editor. I’ve got about twenty pages left on these edits (going through Chapter 8). Then I’ll be tackling the new notes, which picks up with Chapter 9 and goes through Chapter 15.

I think I’m making some headway here, and the notes have been challenging me to re-think certain scenes. I’ve been changing the tone from passive to active as best I can and adding detail where needed to give characters more depth.

There’s a lot of work still to be done.  But I’m okay with that. I’m re-discovering this world I wrote and I’m sinking back into it. I like it. I’m sorry I stayed away from it, after having what might be termed as creative shut-down. It hasn’t been as difficult to work on as I thought it would be, and I suppose my resistance to it made things worse.

I intend to finish this novel this year. No more putting it off, no more avoiding it. Time to knuckle down and focus on it.

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So, I neglected to write a blog post yesterday……

…….breaking my resolution (of sorts) to post one a day. I won’t bore you with the details on why it didn’t happen yesterday, but to make it up to you, for today, I’ll post two.

This exercise of writing a post per day has been a challenge (which is partly why I chose to do it), but it’s also been fun. And because I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing something – anything – every day, I’ve been able to go back to my novel and continue editing, revising and re-writing it.

The observation that writing (like any other creative outlet or sport or subject) can only be improved by practicing every day is not lost on me. I’m exercising that muscle, which has been dormant for several months now. Because the topics I chose to write about were random and, for the most part, not planned, I was able to shape my thoughts, provide links where needed and get out what I wanted to say (and, hopefully, with an ironic twist of humor).

A few years ago, a book called The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron came out. One of the exercises she recommended doing was to write three pages, every morning. It didn’t matter what you put down – the exercise itself was about using your stream of consciousness and writing down whatever pops into your mind.

I suppose my blog resolution is sort of like that. And I’m one day away from really making this a habit. I may scramble, wrack my brain for ideas and get it in under the wire, but this has been an experience that has lifted my creative block and I’m going to continue doing it.

Some posts will be long, some will require research, some will be about questions of an ethical and philosophical turn.

It’s gonna get interesting.

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So, this would be the third post…..

……that I’ve been working on under the wire. Depending on how tomorrow works out, there may be another under-the-wire post.
It would appear I didn’t quite plan this out well. Still, I’m putting in the time and committing to getting it out there, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.

The upside is that I think this exercise of writing a blog post every day had been beneficial to my other writing. I’ve edited a total of six chapters on my novel, which is great. I’ve got two more to go on the original notes, then I need to go back with the new notes and revise again to get it smoother, more active.

I’m feeling more energized about writing than I have been in a long while.

There’s hope.

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So, here I am again…….

……..about twenty minutes away from midnight, this time. I just got home from an event, but I’d been working on a couple of posts about history all day. It’s working out that it’s going to be more than just one post, which is fine, because there’s a lot to ruminate over. I’m thinking there’ll be two posts, at least, but who knows?

It could be more. I am quite loquacious, when the occasion calls for it.

Ah, it’s moved up to fifteen minutes before midnight.

What thoughts do I have, this late?

Random ones.

I went to bed early last night, around 9 or 9:30. I woke up at one in the morning, didn’t get back to sleep until four. I had the weirdest dream about being in a play with a celebrity and having a phone conversation with him about statements two people claimed I made (one named Sarah, the other’s name escapes me at the moment).

I kept having to move around to a different spot, because there was so much external noise from the streets and businesses around me. (It is fortunate that, even in my dream, I had a cell phone.) I put him right, that what was said to him  by those two people was not from me. He accepted my words with gracious humility and apologized.

Then I had to go round up loose horses. None of the equines resembled mine, but the location the dream horses had escaped from was the same spot where I keep my real horses. And later, I went to a local tavern, located in the middle of a national forest. The word ‘tavern’ was in the establishment’s name and a friend owned and worked there.

There were some other random bits (running into an old college class mate, an auditorium and popcorn, of all things) before I finally woke up at 7:30. That’s a lot of dreaming in three and a half hours.

(Five minutes before midnight.)

I’m not sure what any of that means – I had a friend named Sarah once, but we lost touch many years ago. Not even sure about the meaning of the phone call – I don’t know the celebrity in question, nor would he have any reason to call me.

(Three minutes.)

The horses are probably the simplest part of my dream to interpret.

They’re hard to wrangle and they want their treats. Also, they love to be dramatic about their breakfast.

See you anon.

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So, one of the reasons I write……

…..is to explore ideas and situations by ‘staging’ it within the context of fiction and then working my way out. Sometimes when I’m out with friends, I start to observe the people around me. As any writer does, I start to wonder about who they are and what brought them to that same moment as my friends and I. Occasionally, I’ll see behaviors that I don’t quite understand – if I’m able, I ask friends what their take on it is.

Most of the time, however, I write. Writing it out as a fictional story helps me analyze actions and behaviors. This also works for when I experience something that directly affects me and I want to sort it out for my own peace of mind.

A lot of the time, though, it’s just wishful thinking that I’m writing and plotting about. Sort of like an on-going daydream that’s on paper. I would say that you have more control over what goes on the written page, but that wouldn’t be true.

Any writer worth their salt will tell you that characters generally stage a rebellion and do things their way. All you have to do is stay out of the way and record their shenanigans.

Which is fun, in its own right.

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So, I’m working on my current novel……

…….and it always surprises me to find that I’m having a lot of fun with it. I don’t know why I build it up in my head that it’s going to be hard to alter, edit, revise things, because when I actually sit down to do it, things start to work out. The story begins to flow a little easier, I can see what can be removed or embellished. In short, I can make it better by working on it, by going through each editorial note with care and applying it as best I can.

I suppose it’s performance anxiety of a kind.

In any case, I’ve got sixty plus pages edited from the original notes and two hundred and fifty plus more to go. Then I have to go back and look at the new notes. It’ll be a slow process, but now that I’ve figured out that it’s not the big bad bogeyman, I’ll be okay.

In the meantime, I’ll work on something else (Greek comedy, anyone?) and then get back to the edits, taking five or six pages at a time.

A simple goal, but one easily managed.

A view of my local cemetery.
A view of my local cemetery.

So, I’ve been having a difficult time with today’s post…..

…….and I’ve got nine minutes to get this one done. I’ve already started three and put them aside, primarily because I want to give them more thought and make sure I source the content properly.

Yeah, it’s that kind of day.

So, I’m going to dash this one off quickly and I apologize for the lateness of it. I had fairly full day – running errands with a friend, tap dance, trivia and horses took up most of it. Then the contrary blog posts and here I am, nearing midnight and this is the one that’s going to go through.

I finished a painting I’d started two weeks ago – I would have finished it the same day I’d started it, from the initial sketch to the final touches, but I needed a specific color that I neglected to buy and then life and play rehearsals happened and there the time went.

Four minutes left.

I hope all of you had a lovely day.

Best wishes to all of you.

So, I’m listening to the rain…..

…….as it descends upon the earth in a torrent. There’s a mini-lake in my backyard now, typical of what happens when there’s too much water in the ground and nowhere for the excess to go. It’s definitely one of those days where staying inside is the best idea. Since I don’t have a lot going on that requires my presence away from the house, I think I’ll stay in, snuggle with the cat, read a book and work on some writing.

I’ve got a number of projects on the fire – a novel, a novella, a stage play, among other things – and I haven’t been as attentive to them as I should have been. Now that I’ve got a little breathing room, I think it’s time to turn my focus on the written word.

I’d written a two act stage play a few years ago – a comedy involving the gods and goddesses of ancient mythologies. It’s a little heavy on the Ancient Greeks, but that’s only because I’m more familiar with those archetypes. I’m revising the entire play now, incorporating characters based on other mythologies, so as to have a better representation.

After all, a hotel that caters to the ancient gods and goddesses of myth should be all-inclusive, right?

Right.

Although he doesn’t make an appearance, Poseidon (Roman name, Neptune) is referred to at various points throughout the play. Since water is his primary domain (although he is known to be a shaker of the earth), today seems a good day to dive back into that play and see what turns up.

Title and cast list of Hotel Mt. Olympus.
Title and cast list of Hotel Mt. Olympus.

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