Matt Lichtenwalner

Mobile mapper for TomTom - roaming the US and Canada constantly. Maybe a bit of art and/or writing here and there to spice things up.

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Thinking about doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I'm behind on the very tail end of Inktober and want to finish that first.

And really, this year, Thanksgiving is going to be the 'big' holiday since Trina, Ben, and the boys will be in town then and not for Christmas.

But with all of that said, I know I can 'win', and I kinda want that.

I first attempted NaNo in 2008, and it was a rough attempt. I mean, I started at least a week late (though memory says more) and with tremendous support from Jill "xtingu" Knappstill almost crossed the finish line.

So it's kinda stuck in my craw ever since.

I've only made half hearted attempts in subsequent years.

I think that, as I'm writing this, I'm 'talking myself into it'.

Well, I guess I better get my Inktober images finished. I've got a lot to get done in the next 24 hours.

It will almost be something fantasy or urban fantasy based, but what do you think I should write about?

10/31 '22 3 Comments
I'm predisposed to terseness, so 50,000 words in a month seems extremely difficult, but I had fun with my "planet" series which postulates a society and extrapolates from a few of its features. If you have a novel's worth of story in you, putting it in an invented setting like that can be a bonus.
Brian Rapp 10/31 '22
I dig it.

I think I want to go a little more 'traditionally novelesque', but don't have anything in mind. I'm considering doing it almost like a form of roleplaying, but if I'm going to do that, I need to come up with a strategy that will keep me from outlining - at least in depth outlining.

I loved that series. By contrast, I met the nanowrimo victory conditions once, but it was unreadable garbage. Finish things that resonate for you.
Thomas Boutell 10/31 '22

So I had a random idea in the wee hours this morning and thought I would jot it down. These are the notes I wrote down to remember the concept. I just thought you guys might enjoy seeing what pops into my brain before I imbibe enough coffee to kill a mortal man.

I'm not sure what I will do with it (if anything) - this probably falls under that heading of 'too many ideas, too little time'. That said, I could see doing this as:

  • Just a collection of sketches / drawings / digital paintings that I expound on in the blog posts I make about them.
  • An illustrated short story. (Note: this seems like a concept I should do. A lot.)
  • If all my other stuff suddenly, magically gets done, a book. When people talk about writing to market, this seems like exactly what they mean - the nexus of the author's interests and what seems to be 'currently hot' in the market. (My understanding is that Post Apoc is hugely popular right now. Kinda the 'zombies' of 2018.)

The genre of 'post apocalyptic fantasy' is probably already a thing (how could it not be?!) but I hadn't ever heard of it. That was a big part of why this concept came spewing out of me so fast - figuring out how to connect the dots was exciting.


  • Our hero is a half orc who lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. (See drawing above.)
  • Mother (human) taught him to avoid humans - explained that they would never leave him alone if they learned of his existence.
  • Hiroshima nukes opened a rift to the Fae Realms. Humans didn't know it. The fae took many years to reveal themselves and when they did, it didn't go well. War ensued.
  • World note: Tech doesn't work (think EMP) - something done by the Fae to counter the nukes. Thus, you know, post apoc.
  • Humans move into our hero's territory - why? (Zombies?)
  • Fae are returning to the world after having fled the war back to their realms of origin - why? Migration because something is happening in their world? (Holy Hell, has this been done to death, but also, it works.) Does this cause them to create zombies to 'clean house' before moving to our world?
8/3 '18 2 Comments
Or they opened a rift to Mordor at the exact moment the Ring was destroyed...
Brian Rapp 8/3 '18

Of course, it's also probable that my being super crazy UNproductive makes the contrast that much clearer.

That wasn't meant as a put down. At least not one aimed at all of you.

On the plus side, your posts about writing and productivity are very motivating. I need to be making more. I need to be completing more.

At the end of the day, I think that's the biggest problem for me. I finish so very few of my projects. I pick nits endlessly, lose my motivation somewhere along the way because I've grown bored with the project in question (and because I have ideas for three new projects), and then I drop it in favor of the project du jour.

It's a bad cycle, and I do it ALL the time.

The only reason that I'm still clinging to my book idea with bloody fingertips is because I've got so much invested in the character over so many years.

Frustration point: I know what the solution is. I've heard it countless times on countless podcasts about writing: Just make slow and steady progress to spit out that first version of the book. If that's one sentence a day, that's fine. It's progress, and it's measurable. And you need to know, in advance, that it's going to suck. Writing is REwriting and all that.

What's more, I've learned that I actually enjoy revising old writing. I never finished my one attempt at NaNoWriMo, but I find myself dropping into the book and editing a chapter here and there occasionally. For no real reason - it's not like I'm planning to ever let it see the light of day.

And Inktober? Yeah, I'm way behind there too.

I have no excuse. All of you have WAY more going on in your lives and you're making progress while I do the equivalent of clicking through cable channels.

Okay, that's enough self flagellation. It doesn't accomplish much. I have to get to work while there's still daylight, but tonight, I need to get some work done.

10/16 '17 4 Comments
I dare you to draw a bunch of fat naked middle aged ladies frolicking on a beach.

Starting with lots of circles.

Heh. I could do that. In fact, I just might. I think that I just decided (just prior to opening my browser and reading your response) that I'm going to do a bunch of 1/2 hour or 15 minute limited images. That should help me catch up since I'm so far behind.

This comment has been deleted.

It sounds it. It also sounds like it IS productive. Or at least more productive. If you finish one project that would have otherwise languished in a drawer somewhere (digitally or physically) then it's more productive.

Perhaps I should start a list that I can prioritize...

So a long time ago I was talking to a friend about doing the art for a webcomic that a he wanted to develop. When we first started out, I did some concept work while he worked on world building. All of this makes sense to a certain degree.

The problem was that this went on for a very long time. Many months, in fact, passed without our having written / illustrated a single comic panel.

We discussed it, and he wanted to keep going as we were. I wanted to get cracking on a product that people could enjoy.

We agreed to a compromise: I said "Why don't we try a 'minimum viable product'? Write up a five page comic, I'll illustrate it, and we'll put it online. That way we can see if anyone other than us gives a shit."

When it took many months more for those five pages worth of text to come my way, I bowed out.

Now that I'm working on my little project, I'm writing a lot in a lexicon of sorts. Worldbuilding. Not nearly on the level that he did, but I find myself wondering if I'm distracting myself a bit too much with unnecessary things. I find myself doing searches on late 70's and early 80's fashion. Digging up news clippings from 1979 Detroit. At best, these would be 'stage dressing'. None of it will be strictly speaking necessary for the book.

So I guess my question is this: Do you have some rule that you keep yourselves to in order to keep from spending too much time on extraneous elements of your storytelling? To keep yourselves from doing too much homework and not enough actual writing?


5/23 '17 7 Comments
I love this image. Really really.

I'm working on a friend / fellow squatter / love interest for Patch in the book. She's the one who is smart enough to keep their little band of homeless kids from getting scooped up. She's not exactly a leader per se, but she's alpha enough to draw Patch's eye.

Ouch. Sorry. Didn't mean for that awful pun to sneak out.
nope. I go deep on worldbuilding. I just try not to let that stop me from releasing things if someone is depending on me. Really cool stuff can always be backformed.
Rabbit 5/23 '17
Interesting. I hope this post doesn't come across as my not understanding the value of worldbuilding (I absolutely do) I just fear allowing it to become the limiting factor in moving forward.

Has that ever been an issue for you? Feeling like it slowed you down? (Even if you felt it remained necessary.)
It's the part I like best, so not really- it may be why I'm not good at doing stuff on my own, but the other time I'm doing it is for a LARP, which has built in hard deadlines. Which help.
Rabbit 5/23 '17
Yeah. That might be the best takeaway for me - to set hard deadlines for myself.

(Thanks for the info!)
Yeah. That might be the best takeaway for me - to set hard deadlines for myself.

(Thanks for the info!)

I write and draw every day.

The new plan is a simple one - which is arguably the biggest reason that I like it so much. Call it positive affirmation, call it a daily chant, or call it whatever you like, but that opening sentance is something I will write down every day.

Then I will do it.

My intent is to try to do 1/2 hour each in the morning and in the evening for a total of one hour writing and one hour drawing every day. If it's a crazy day, and I have no time, I'll allow just 1/2 hour each. Then the next day I will get back to the full hour each.

It might seem like a lot, but it's really not when you realize how much free time I should have each day. That, of course, assuming that I'm not screwing around and wasting my time.

Set my timer and go. I like that.

The best part? Sure, there will be some garbage, but there will also be some good stuff, and it will pile up. I'll have a collection of work in a very short span of time. It's the best way I can think of to make that happen.

All my illustration and writing projects can happen - I just need to eat that elephant one bite at a time.

So, what's on the list now? What are my current projects that I want to focus on?


  • The Greek Gods - A new project with an old friend. He's designing a card game and I'm doing most (all?) of the illustration work. I'm really looking forward to this, but it's not a small order. 14 gods by the end of November. Good thing I'm planning on spending an hour on art every day.
  • Relics - Yes, I'm still plugging away on this - slowly but surely. I drift off at times, and at other times I've had paying clients that took priority, but it' long past time I finished the third faction so we can send out a beta version for public release. This is the third year that I've been hoping I could complete the work in time for an X-Mas beta release.
  • Sketchwork - I doubt I will have much time to focus on anything but the above items before the new year, but if I do, I would like to put together a free digital 'sketchbook' to give away. This might include anything and everything from random doodles to WIPs for client work.


  • Patch Book - writing is the easy one. I really only want to focus on the book. Maybe it's because it's NaNoWriMo, and I have that sense of missing out, but I really want to get this damn thing done. Much like Relics, this one has been gnawing at me for a while, and it's past time.
  • Another Blog?! - I was thinking about where I would want to post chapters for ARCs. I could post here, but I get so damn worried about eating up my 'daily post' on random things, and this place seems, well, personal. The very nature of the single post per day seems like it makes it more intimate. So probably not here. LJ? Maybe. Hell, GRRM posts there (still, I believe). But probably no. Same issue as here. I have a LOT of old posts there that are pretty personal to me. So I'm thinking that I might clear out any / all posts over at and post there. It's not like there's a lot there,  and it would make a good spot to just post 'book updates'. My 'professional writing' update location. But it means another location online that I'm updating. I already feel too scattershot online. That's the whole reason I set up as a menu for where to find me online. I need to narrow my focus a bit online, but that seems like a project for another day.

Journal Update

I went and visited the King yesterday. I had the option to route my travels through Memphis, so I did. I'd never visited Graceland, so it seemed like an ideal opportunity.

It was interesting. Not the $40-$80 price for tickets interesting to me, but interesting. Not upset that I did it (how would I know what I thought of it otherwise) but I probably wouldn't go back unless it was with a group of friends, and that would likely be more for the company than for the tour.

They give you an iPad to use through the tour which has a complete guided tour narrated by John Stamos. Why John Stamos? I have no idea. Still, it was neat, and I like that it allowed us to choose our own pace. I took a crap ton of photos, so if any of you would like to see some, let me know below.

I had to make my way back to Decatur last night to pick something up though, which made my trip to Memphis a 6 hours of driving detour. Bah. Worth it.

I did, of course, enjoy a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich after the tour.

Now I'm working my way to Kansas City for my next project. It's not a YUGE project, so I'm not sure how long I will be there, but a few days at least. It's a small enough region (for the project portion) that I should be able to stay at one hotel for the duration. That's such a good thing for me. I love my job, but these smaller projects tend to mean bouncing around every night. It's a bit annoying to pack up everything every day. Even two nights / hotel seems so much more worthwhile. Ahhh, the life of a nomad.

The election. I'm over it. Yes, I understand how important it is. I have a low threshold though for repetition, and both sides (and their supporters) are saying so much of the same damn thing over and over again that I'm really just ready to scream and start breaking shit.

Also, it breaks my faith in humanity that anyone could think that Trump would be even an acceptable president - let alone a good one. I mean that sincerely. I don't see any plus to him. The only thing I've heard said about him (that I believe) is that he won't be 'business as usual'. Probably true. 1. Not being equal to is not the same as 'greater than'. 2. I will never have kids, but if I did, I would never want them or my beloved nephews to ever act like he does regularly. Why would I want someone like that representing out country? I honestly don't know as much as I should about Hilary, but what little I do makes her an infinitely better choice than him. Infinitely. Even if she was going to be 'business as usual' (which I have no reason to believe she will be).

Already over my 1/2 hour. More later.



I was terrified. I felt like I was clinging to the edge with bloody fingernails. It was that moment in the movie where you see the killer moving in and the next victim is oblivious to what's coming.


I wanted to be physical. I wanted to smash, to break, to rend and tear. To smash whatever I could get my hands on.

All the while knowing it wouldn't help, but it's what I understand.


This is a different kind of fight. It's a kind I've never taken part in before. I don't know the first thing about it, if I'm honest.

Looks like it's time to learn.

11/8 '16 1 Comment
I like this mantra. :-) Looking forward to seeing the output!

To show what I mean about that Randomizer being useful in other scenarios (it's not just for role-playing kids!) I was thinking that I would do up another example to randomly create writing prompts for those of us who get stuck *cough*allthefrickintime*cough*.

So I invite you to give me your favorite writing prompts below and I'll build them into this mod. :)

Should be able to do it by tonight/tomorrow morning.

9/17 '16 1 Comment
The second sheet in this spreadsheet is a sample randomizer for a handful of writing prompts. I'll grow the options/possibilities over time, but it's something to show what I'm trying to do.

This morning it's been rainy here, so I'm off the road. Decided it was a good time/opportunity to do some work on a little project that I've had brewing in my back brain for several years.

It all started when I fell in love with a program created by rpg game master Bruce Gulke called Tablesmith ( ). If you're a gamer who is using a Windows system, I highly recommend it. It's basically begware and well worth the money he asks for it if you can swing a few bucks.

That said, it's Windows only. I asked him a couple years ago about any interest he might have in creating a mobile app, and that conversation didn't really go anywhere.

If I had the time / inclination to do it properly, I would learn enough code to create the app myself, but I've never been a programmer - not really on any 'true' level.

I can figure out Google Spreadsheets though, and I just knew that there had to be a way to do what I'm looking for in there.

I'm here to say that I've figured it out!

Okay, maybe it's better to say that I've figured out a lumpy, hacked together with duct tape means of effecting something similar with a bit more effort on the part of the user. (Tablesmith is still a far superior product.)

I really think this will be useful to not just gamers, but also writers once I build out some parallel versions (this is for fantasy npcs, but could easily be tweaked to work for modern characters filling the background/environment of any genre). The concept could also be used to build out any kind of 'random' description you want - rooms, environments, scene backdrops, groups (organizations, religions, governmental crews...) the list of possibilities are absolutely endless.

If you would like to check it out the link is: 

This is a 'public' copy, so you can feel free to edit to your heart's content. The results auto generate any time there is a change to the sheet.

That's probably my next project for the sheet - to find a way to get the sheet to create a new entry without having to edit anything. I'm currently just changing an empty cell and then doing an undo/redo until I get a satisfactory response from the sheet. A push button in a cell would be perfect.

One of my primary purposes is to help myself get past those times when I'm feeling 'artist block' by creating a place I can auto generate an interesting sounding character to draw. A way to make it 'mindless' so I can just start working and let the ideas start flowing later.

Anyway - as always, I welcome thoughts/opinions/suggestions below or using the comments function on cells within the sheet itself.

Some feedback I'm especially interested in:

  • Is this something you think you would use?
  • Would you be more likely to use it if I made it more pretty/refined?
  • Is there something you feel is missing from this version (the fantasy RPG character version)?
  • Would you use a different version - i.e. Not for rpg work, but for generating some other random data for writing or...?
9/11 '16 4 Comments
I'm not smart enough for this.
You're a different kind of smart.
Thank you. Smart is relative.
Truth (well - the second two comments anyway - I don't agree with the first on any level).

Is there something I can help clarify? This is an admittedly TERRIBLE user interface, so it could be that's all the issue is.

Writerly Folks:

I was wondering if I could get some thoughts on the following items. I listen to a lot of podcasts about writing/publishing, but those are (in a sense) only one source. So I thought I would turn to youse guyz since I know there are more than a couple writers here.


  • Is traditional publishing still a thing that is worth pursuing?
  • If so, how worthy of pursuit is it? Meaning: How much would you give up / fight for that over self publishing / digital publishing?
  • If so, why? Is there some singular element that just puts it way out in front of self/digital publishing?

Tools / Resources

  • Is there a resource you use all the time (podcasts, writing software, website(s)) that you use and couldn't live without?
  • What do you most commonly use to do your writing? Pen and paper? Word? Scrivener?


  • Do you have a routine for writing? What is it?
  • Do you have a production schedule? If so, why?


Just wanted to point out that I wanted to do this post mostly as a discussion starter. I'm curious about the way you fine folks think about writing as work. As such, I'll comment below with my own answers. That way you can reply without being affected by my answers. You can also read them first if you prefer.

7/5 '16 7 Comments
*My response to the 'is traditional worth it' is VERY weighted by the podcasts that I've been listening to. They all recommend (effectively) two paths:
**"Artist Authors" - if you're looking for a creative outlet from writing and a means to see your book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, then traditional is still kinda the only real way to go. Yes, it's technically possible through self publishing, but it's exponentially more difficult than if you go through a publisher.
**"The Authorpreneur" - if your focus is to write as a means of producing income they all recommend self publishing through Amazon and the like. This is because of factors of scale and the ability to do it now and start work on the next book, effectively creating a collection of 'products' as opposed to spending time/effort/money attracting publishers.

Yes, I recognize that my source of information is the vendors of gold panning tools and equipment rather than the prospectors. That's why I wanted to have this discussion, and why my questions are worded the way that they are. :)

*****Tools and Resources
*I currently keep things pretty simple. If it's 'just a quick note' I use Google Keep ( If it's anything remotely larger (sometimes even rough drafts of emails or blog posts) I use Google Docs ( If my focus is to get it online and get an immediate response, I use OPW, LJ, or (sadly) FB.
*I absolutely geek out on tools. This is a real problem for me when it comes to being productive. This is why I've mostly stuck with Google Docs. I have it everywhere, I know it works, and I don't have to learn a new UI. Sometimes forcing myself to stick to Docs is painful, but it's been the right answer until now. I keep hearing about Scrivener on the podcasts I listen to. My saving grace has been that it costs money, so I've been able to keep myself from getting it because "I already have a solution that's free and works." So, of course, I'm dying to hear from any of you that might already use Scrivener. ;)
(((ETA: It occurs to me that I really only mentioned Tools and not so much with the Resources, so here's one for you: The Writing Excuses Podcast. It's a 15 minute / episode show, the cast is a fantastic group of varied writers, and they actually get me thinking about the craft of writing - every episode.)))

*This is where I fail. Hard. I have NO real process, and NO real schedule whatsoever. I often start a schedule (see also: NaNoWriMo, Writing Chain, etc) but often fall off that particular wagon.
*This is why I have not been productive in any REAL way when it comes to writing. Working on it, but I would love to hear what you fine folks do to keep to your process/schedule.

Okay, that's about it from me for tonight. I'm going to go try to be productive on that writing project of mine...
Matt Lichtenwalner 7/5 '16edited
As a side note re: scheduling - I just set up a Google Calendar to plan out my writing and give myself a schedule. I would like to have my first book complete by year's end and a (really) rough for a second cranked out during NaNoWriMo this year.

Ambitious? Yup. Still...

This comment has been deleted.

That is completely understandable - sounds yummy!
I read Chuck Wending's blog, Terrible Minds. It's funny as hell. He seems to have said everything he wants to say about publishing, but I'm sure the relevant posts are archived.

I strongly believe that if you write for a goal that is overly specific, you might as well be writing Mad Libs. I think if you write something that feels really true, an idea you can't let go of, your work will have more of an impact.

I think there are a lot of carts before horses in the writing and publishing podcast game.
*" idea you can't let go of..."
Jesus, do I hope your right. The whole Patch thing started back in early high school. I'd call that not able to let go.

*"I think there are a lot of carts before horses..."
So very true! Still, I feel like the earlier I think about the cart(s) the better off I'll be when the horses get moving. I should probably still be more focused on the horses though.
Just another quick response to say that I've read a half dozen of Chuck's posts about publishing.

I like them. I like his thoughts on the subject. He's a shades of grey guy and so am I. The best option in almost any scenario is never absolute white or absolute black, but some balance of the two.

And you're right - he's funny as hell.

You'll get that awful pun in just a second...

I'm working on (yet another) new illustration project. Or rather, I'm picking up work on an idea I had a while back.

I've been looking at Patreon for a while. I would LOVE to do something that allowed me to make some decent money on illustration stuff.

Here are the problems with that concept:

  • I'm not that good. That's not an attempt at some kind of false humility. It's not an attempt to seek praise. It's fact. If you're feeling like jumping to my defense, please don't. Trust that this is an area where I am likely better versed than you. You'll note that I don't tell musicians whether they're good or not. I tell them whether I enjoy what they did. I'm certainly not qualified to say whether or not they're good at what they do. Same concept applies here.
  • I'm driven to distraction. I don't know if things would be different if there would be a bajillion dollars on the line. So far, no one has offered me that much. In fact, I've pretty much only ever made $4 per drawing with exceptionally rare exceptions to that rule. Anyway - it's hard for me to stay motivated for anything more than 'quick hit' projects. One or two single character illustrations for a small gaming manual? No problem. The dozens and dozens of drawings for my own card game? Well, how long have I been working on them and they're not done yet?
  • I like simple illustration work. This is significantly tied to that last item, but it also deserves its own point. I don't have any great desire to do uber in depth, full colored, fully rendered illustrations with complete backgrounds. The amount of hours required versus the reward (up to this point, we're talking purely personal here - see aforemented low paying gigs) has just not been in my favor.

With all of this in mind, I had a recommendation from someone on Google Plus: Paper Minis.

For those who might not be familiar: Paper minis are kinda what they sound like. You've likely seen the small lead miniatures that some gamers painstakingly paint and use to lay out their table top gaming sessions (think Dungeons and Dragons). Well, you can now buy plastic covers which allow you to take a small drawing (printout) and use that as your character, or in the case of the game master - the NPCs / monsters.

You put the paper minis into a stand - something like this.

Anyway, I thought I might give it a shot. It seems like the kind of thing that works on Patreon: give even a small amount and you get access to all the paper minis that I create (they will come out in sheets (PDFs) that you can print at home). Give a little more, and you'll be entered into monthly(?) drawings to get a free custom drawing. Give a lot? You'll get a custom drawing from me each month.

Dunno. There are probably bugs to be worked out, but I need to start to find them.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I really am ridiculously verbose sometimes.

This guy Bruce Gulke created a program called Tablesmith a long time ago. It allows you to create your own tables (think 'recipe') and randomly generate results from that table.

I love the program and paid for the 'registration key'. Something I very rarely do in this world of exceedingly functional freeware. I think it has uses far outside gaming for folks like writers and concept artists.

I created one to give me some quick descriptions to use for a starting set of characters to be used as the initial set of minis to describe the project to potential Patrons.

Below is a quick screen grab of some of my initial results.

5/9 '16 2 Comments
1) Then keep doing it until you are good. Copy the greats (privately), try different techniques, try the opposite of your usual style, try different tools, draw for an hour every day until you like what you see.
2) Distraction and reward are different things. How many stories are there out there of illustrators who were given 50% of a sizable paycheck up front, who blew deadlines or handed in shitty work at the last minute? If you want to write for compensation, that's a separate topic, and I'm the wrong person to answer that question. If you have trouble with distraction, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP AND GET IT.
ADD is a harsh mistress.

3) you like simple illustration work. Your style is your style and there is nothing wrong with that. Charles Schulz built an empire based on pen and ink drawings of a round headed kid and a floppy eared dog. Just keep drawing.

I asked Ed, my former advisor, once, about how to write the kind of play people want to see and theaters want to produce. He said that kowtowing to trends and chasing what it seems like people want is not going to result in an honest product. If you create what's true, honest and real for you, it's going to resonate with people who are waiting for it.
So, I wrote Wreck of the Alberta.
First and foremost: thank you for the well thought out response! I'll take each of these one at a time:

"1) Then keep doing it until you are good... draw for an hour every day until you like what you see."

You're right, of course. I should point out here that I don't say "I don't like what I do." I actually do (most of the time). When I said that I'm not that good, I should have completed the thought by adding " comparison to those who sell a lot of illustrations." Much of the problem is in marketing. Some of it is not. I was accounting for the parts that are not.

"2) ...If you have trouble with distraction, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP AND GET IT. ADD is a harsh mistress."

Again, I agree. I DID go and talk to a psychologist many years back now. He gave me a referral to a psychiatrist after re-testing me for ADD. While he said I don't have an extreme case or anything, I'm *cough,cough* years old, and I know the 'coping techniques' and they haven't worked thus far. I, of course, proceeded to fail to stay focused long enough to set an appointment with the psychiatrist. Which would be funny, if it wasn't also frustrating and sad.

"3) ...I asked Ed, my former advisor, once, about how to write the kind of play people want to see and theaters want to produce. He said that kowtowing to trends and chasing what it seems like people want is not going to result in an honest product... ...I wrote Wreck of the Alberta."

In my 'perfect world' scenario, I do some writing and some illustrating - for the variety of things. The two seem to activate different parts of my brain meats. Writing is very focused - logical (even when it's pure fantasy I'm writing) and illustration is almost entirely... I don't know... mindless? Kinda a zen thing? I'm not at all shocked by the current popularity of adult coloring books purely because of how I feel when I'm drawing.

Anyway - on the thoughts of your former adviser: This is going to seem like extreme hubris coming from me (vs. your adviser, who, you know, gets paid to advise...) but I don't agree. Or rather - I think it's a kind of scale.

On one end of the scale, you have what I'll call Pure Art. That's without compromise exactly what one wants to write/draw/paint/whatev. On the other end of the scale, you have Pure Sellout. I think of the guy who likely wrote the most recent 8 Steven Seagal films, for example. (Yes, perhaps it's a matter of love for him. I wouldn't bank on it.)

Why does it matter? Well, I've been listening to MANY hours of audio book and podcasts that focus on self publishing. The topic of Writing to Market comes up often, and is hotly debated. You have proponents on both ends of the spectrum. As with most things in life, I find myself thinking that there's a balance to be struck somewhere in the middle(ish) for me personally.

tl;dr version: Don't let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good.

(Said the guy who's making Jack and shit from his creative endeavors.)

Well crap. Looks like I didn't quite make last night's post before midnight.

Note: I will edit this post Wednesday evening in order to add that night's work to this.

Note II:have added an excerpt below Tuesday's stuff. Waaaaay down below.

* * * * *

Tuesday's book work. Went a bit over my limit and hit almost 1400 words. Used WriteOrDie. Going to have to turn off the sounds in the future. Those seagull sounds will drive me mental if I listen to them for more than a half hour stint.

This is just a rough, and it's a little scene from the book. I've started to write the scenes up in somewhat random order. Kinda a "whatever I'm in the mood to write" thing. Eventually I'm going to have to come up with a story arc, but for right now, this is something to keep me writing daily.

In the book, Patch is going to meet an outlaw biker. He's the Sargeant at Arms for his club, and he's going to be a big influence on the young werewolf. Of course, he's going to die terribly. This scene is intended to be their first meeting.

As a side note: When I'm writing about "Danny", I'm thinking of an old biker buddy "Denny" that I haven't seen in a long time. Denny, however, was not an outlaw (quite the opposite in fact) but a young me kinda saw him like Danny seems to think Patch sees him.

The Diner

Coffee isn't too bad. Especially for this pit. I can't help but think about Frank as I stare into the murky depths of the cup. Looking up, I see all the chrome and mirrors that is typical of a place like this - and strip clubs. Why is that? What else do diners and strip clubs have in common?

Frank screwed the pooch. Again. Every time I think he's got his shit straightened out, he manages to find a way to prove me wrong. This time he might just manage to pull the club down with him. I can't let that happen. I'm not really sure what exactly I should do about it, but I can't let the club go down. If there's one requirement of my job, that's it.

There's a mirror above the window where the cooks hand the meals out to the waitresses. It gives me a view of all the booths behind me. There's a layer of nicotine on it, but it's clear enough to see all the kids in the booths. It's about the only reason I don't mind having my back to the door. I crush out the end of my smoke, take a sip, and see who's here tonight.

There are only a few folks other than me here. It's late, but not quite bar rush yet. There's a couple in the back corner sitting together on the same side of the booth. So cute it makes me want to chuck. There's an old man sitting a bit further down the counter than me. There's that kid with the eye patch sitting by himself in a booth huddled over a cup of joe. Pretty sure I've seen him here before. That eye patch sticks out. Anyway - he's sitting in the booth adjacent to some nerdy kid.

Lastly, there's the nerdy kid. He's getting harassed by some punk rockers - they hover over him like vultures. It's like something out of a bad movie. They poke and jeer. It's so cliche that even I'm tempted to do something about it, but no one does. That is until Eye Patch does.

First I see him look up. That slight motion was enough to draw my attention to that part of the mirror. The look in his good eye? Death. It catches me off guard, honestly. He can't be more than... 16? I half expect him to stand up and pull a blade.

The punkers don't notice it until he slaps his table. He doesn't make a racket - doesn't spill his coffee - he makes just barely enough noise to draw their attention. The old man down the counter from me doesn't turn around. The couple is completely clueless of course.

They look over at him and I hear their tone shift immediately. He doesn't move an inch. He doesn't blink. They notice. He's said nothing, but his threat couldn't be more clear if he had written it in neon letters. I wonder if that's on purpose. Is he giving them the ability to back out without losing face? No one else is aware of what's happening. Hell, I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't already been looking over at them.

Whether he's doing it on purpose, or not, they take him up on the offer of an escape route. They get in one last jibe at their victim and move further down to another booth - towards the romantic duo, who quickly come up for air and start looking nervous despite the tough guys clearly having lost interest in being tough any more tonight.

My gaze shifts back to Eye Patch. He's looking me directly in the eyes by way of the mirror. He knows I saw the whole thing. Pretty sure I see the world's slightest nod to me in acknowledgement. The set of balls on this kid!

The nerdy kid doesn't take long to request a box for what's left of his meal and then makes his way to cash out and head off into the night. He figures he dodged a bullet. He has no idea that you don't have to worry too much when the bigger monster is on your side.

I light another smoke, take another sip of my coffee, and look in the mirror again. Eye Patch is staring into his cup again with his hands cupped around the brim as if he's trying to store up all the heat he can for the night to come. I can't tell if he's homeless, or if his look is some kind of rebellious thing. Based on the way he is glued to his cup of coffee, I would say it's the former.

I clear my throat while looking in the mirror and he looks up as if I'd said his name. Not eager, but attentive. I gesture with my head that he should have a seat next to me. He cocks an eyebrow, but gets up and moves to the counter.

"That was... interesting." I say, once he's settled in, still looking at him in the mirror rather than turn to face him.

He makes some kind guttural noise but just keeps staring into his coffee. I see. He's going to keep up the tough guy thing, even if his hands are already giving him away. He's looking into his cup, but his hands are fidgeting a bit. He's nervous. I know what I look like. It's a look that goes with riding outlaw. Hell, our prospects are scary to most 'normal' folks. By the time they get their colors? We look like the devil himself. It's been so long since I got my colors, I can hardly remember the day. Still, he did get up and come over.

"You scared of me kid?" I ask. I keep my tone more or less level, but I do put a little bite to it.

He shifts in his chair, but tries like hell to keep his cool. "Should I be?"

"Nah. Not unless you do something I don't like." I nod the waitress over.

"Yeah Danny? You ready for more joe?" she throws the kid a sideways look and has a hard time keeping the sneer from her face. So she knows him. Some kind of history there. I nod to her and she steps over to the coffee machine to grab the pot.

"Hitting the head. I'll be right back." the kid tells me - as if to say "I'm not leaving because I'm scared, just gotta piss, you know?"

I notice he throws a glance towards the punks while he gets up. They're too absorbed in their own conversation to notice.

As she refills my cup, I look up at the waitress. "What's with Eye Patch, Jess?"

She huffs. "Not sure. He comes in sometimes, only ever buys a cup of coffee. Always uses spare change to pay for it. Never tips." The sneer in her tone is palpable.

"Homeless?" I ask.

The look on her face says that she doesn't know, but hadn't really considered it. "Not sure. He seems... too healthy for that."

I nod as he comes around the corner.

He sits back down and resumes his staring contest with the cup.

"Think I'm going to grab a bite Jess." I say before she gets too far away.

She takes my order then gives me a look and glances sideways at the kid. She's asking if she should ask him. I nod.

"Anything for you hon?" Jess should be an actress. If I hadn't heard all her prior derision, I would never have known she disliked the kid.

"Nah. Thanks." he says flatly. There's even a little pain there. He's hungry, I would bet anything on it.

"Get something kid. My treat." I say.

He turns his head and eyes me suspiciously with his one good eye. He takes a few seconds to consider something.

When it looks like Jess is about to walk away, I say simply "Consider it your reward for standing up for the nerd."

"Two over light, home fries, and whole wheat." he says without hesitation, then he resumes staring into his mug. Christ - is he reading the future in that thing? He still seems nervous, though I couldn't say why I think that.

We sit for a bit, just drinking our coffees until the food comes. Calling the food 'good' might be a stretch. It's greasy, and it's hot.

That's good enough.

(ETA: Here's Wednesday's excerpt. I don't want to add the whole thing because, frankly, I don't like tonight's work. I'm tired, my brain is in a fog, and I just have a feeling it's not... good. So far I've been fairly happy, but I still don't have the story arc figured out. I described it to Karen  tonight by saying: "It's like I have boxes and boxes of Christmas Tree ornaments and no tree to hang them on." Seems about right.)

* * * * *

From the scene:

The Aftermath

I cross the street and head down the alley. About half way down the alley’s length, I see the dumpster for the chinese place with the dick for an owner. I push the dumpster under the fire escape. The wheels beneath the big metal thing scream, but it moves, and before long, I shimmy up the side of the dumpster, stretch, and I’m able to reach the bottom rung of the fire escape.

A few minutes more, and I’m on the roof looking across at our building.

There’s no movement at all. Still as a tomb. Which, I guess, it is.

It’s cold as shit tonight. I’ve got a sweatjacket and a flannel coat on top of that, and it’s not enough. The air is damn, and it feels greasy. Every hair on my body feels like it’s standing straight up.

I catch myself pacing back and forth across the roof and wonder how long I’ve been doing so. Five minutes? Three hours?

What the fuck happened?!

I’ve got to get my head screwed back on. Got to calm down and figure this out. I take several long, deep breaths. I think of my friends again, and I gag. There’s nothing to throw up, of course, so it passes fairly quickly.

More pacing and more deep breaths. My friends are dead and I need to figure out why and what happened. I need to… do something.

I go through the mental images I have of the room. My friends all dead. The Diablos. What were they doing there? And who the hell was that other guy? He was wearing doctor’s scrubs. In our abandoned warehouse. Up on the fourth floor. The bikers being there was weird, but a doctor? That make no sense.

I’ve got to go back. I don’t want to, but I can’t think of any other way to find out what happened. It has to have been at least a couple of hours, and no sign of the cops. I have no way of knowing if anyone heard anything, but I’m guessing not. Four floors up in an abandoned building which isn’t attached to its neighbors. And of course, no one in this neighborhood wants to hear anything.

I descend the fire escape and every footstep sounds like it’s making enough noise to wake the dead. I try keep quite, and the harder I try, the louder everything seems to my ears. I damn near break my own neck climbing down onto the dumpster. Everything is cold and wet.

The steps have never felt harder to climb. I only got here about six months ago, but in that time, I’ve brought home several things, including a small reclining chair and carried it up the same steps, but tonight it feels like my entire body is made of lead. I do not want to go back into that room.

I do anyway.

3/9 '16 9 Comments
"Looking up, I see all the chrome and mirrors that is typical of a place like this - and strip clubs. Why is that? What else do diners and strip clubs have in common?"

Bwah-ha-ha ... I love it.

Also, I like that Patch doesn't tip, because a) it gives him room to grow as a person and in his relationship w/this waitress or all diner waitresses, b) it makes me dislike him a little, which makes him more interesting.

I realize that he's probably not tipping because he's starving, but the waitress's assessment of his health belies that a little, which is again, interesting.
Shit. I somehow deleted my response to this. Let's try again.

I liked the strip club thing myself. Came up with it on the fly no less.

Don't want to spoil anything for you, but Patch isn't tipping because he's homeless and has no money. He IS a werewolf (though he doesn't know it) so he stays a bit more healthy looking (yay for miraculous super power regeneration).

But here's the real deal: I REALLY want to focus on showing Patch's change in personality over time. So many books/characters don't really change. Sure, the hero gets more powerful, but they seem to be pretty self actualized in the first book/story/whatever. There are just tweaks over time as the author gets better at telling that character's story.

Me? I'm a very different dude than when I was a teen. I want Patch to change too. Of course there's the whole thing with the word itself - change.

Here, we find the teen-aged Patch a sort of shy (staring into his cup), nervous (and probably even scared of the biker who is being nice to him), and defending others against bullies as he sees the world in black and white. By the time he's a grown man? He'll be bold enough to unnerve people with his stare, he will fear nothing, and he will become a bully himself, and not have the capability to see black or white, but only shades of grey.

He won't go from one end of that spectrum to the other in this one book, but I want to give him a starting point that makes the transformation a bit more clear.
Heh. Just had a thought: even the tipping thing will change over time. Eventually, Patch will have more money than he knows what to do with, so the kind folks who bring him his caffeine? They will likely be VERY happy to see him walk in the door.
Going back and reviewing my comments above, it sounds almost like I'm defending Patch. I'm not. What I AM doing is saying (in a rather overly verbose way) that you're exactly right.
This is more in response to your post than to this comment ... some nights you will be on FIYAH, some nights it will be a slog. Keep going. I read this great interview about writing process ...

This guy, Scott Hawkins, he wrote The Library at Mount Char, which I just read and which may be one of my favorite books. Really. The book is just unique and compelling and violent and mythological (you'd LOVE it) and basically dude just kept throwing his writing spaghetti at the wall until the book came together, then he edited the hell out of it and now here it is, here in the world, and it is SO good.

All of which is to say: 1. meandering and rewriting - perfectly reasonable. 2. Read The Library at Mount Char (you can get it as an audio book, I don't know how much it costs, but you will love Erwin ... and Michael ... and the lions. A lot.
Awesome! - thanks for the recommendation - I definitely will.

I don't mind the idea of rewrites, and I expect some slogging. I just wish my brain would hurry up and piece together the story arc. I can pick apart the details and just WRITE once that's the case, but what I do NOT want to do is write a bunch of scenes that get left on the editing room floor.

Cleaned up/changed around? Sure. Completely dropped? Not so much.
I'm really digging these.
I think you're a really good writer.

And now I'm craving eggs/toast/etc.
Thanks hon. Workin on it. Next time I'm in town, I'm thinking Coffee Station?
Also, sorry to hear about the no-phone til Friday. WTF? Almost texted you today to ask if you were foaming at the mouth yet. ;)