Sunday, December 16, 2012

Introducing "Jesus Was a Time Traveler"



"What the hell, man? Stop spamming me with all of this promotion!"

Yeah, yeah, I get it, I get it: simmer down. This isn't the fiftieth post/tweet/facebook post about my novel. At least this one has a purpose.

After talking things through with the cover designer, I've decided it's best to keep things consistent on the front cover. I tried to do a nifty thing where the book was "found" by me, and actually written by the English scientist, Phineas Templeton, who stars in the novel. Hence why the book was originally titled Jesus Was a Time Traveller, with two "L"s.

The problem is, if I was going to go in that direction, everything on the outside should've been consistent with that reality. Hence it should've been "by Phineas Templeton & D.J. Gelner," and the back copy on the paper version should've been all Dr. Templeton.

Not to mention that folks do tend to judge a book by its cover. While I give folks credit for being able to pick up on the "found book" thing, random folks in bookstores may take one look and think, "He doesn't know how to spell 'traveler!' Why would I buy this book?"

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I've changed the title, to "Jesus Was a Time Traveler" with one "L" for the paperback version, and future versions of the e-book.

Those of you who have already bought the book...well...I guess you have a collector's edition, of sorts. Not just too many were sold with the old title, so be sure to keep those for posterity's sake!

As for the rest of you, the re-named book should be available shortly on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo, the iBooks version should be out shortly, and the paperback version will be out as soon as I clear up some formatting issues.

On a related note, big thanks to my cover artist, Derek Murphy, for his unceasing patience in working with me on this project. He's one of the best in the biz, folks; check out his work here.

Thanks everyone--hope to be able to announce the paperback version shortly!

-D.J.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Introducing "Jesus Was A Time Traveller"


I can’t believe I actually did it.

After months of writing, after numerous drafts, edits, and polishes, I can finally say that I am a novelist.

My first novel, Jesus Was a Time Traveller, went up on Amazon sometime Tuesday afternoon.

I don’t know how to describe the feelings that I’m experiencing right now: excitement, joy, cautious optimism, doubt, wonder.

But more than anything, I’m tired. Launching this book has been a huge undertaking over the past several weeks, filled with late nights of last-minute preparations and revisions, as well as a few technical snafus on Amazon's site, but it's finally out there.

And there’s still more to be done! I still have to get the paperback version up-and-running, as well the EPUB version for iBooks, Nook, and Sony Kobo! Will it ever end?!

[UPDATE: JWATT's now available for B&N's Nook and Kobo!]

But for a few moments tonight, I'll be able to sit back, relax, maybe pop some bubbly, and enjoy this perhaps largest of milestones on my journey thus far.

I’ve put together a FAQ below that should answer most of your questions, followed by the book blurb and a link to where you can currently buy the book.

Before I go any further, thank you all for all of the support you’ve offered through the years. If I’m going to make a go of it in this business, I need folks to read my stuff, and whether you drop in for the Power Rankings every week, or know me from the radio, or just have found this blog somehow and like what you read, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this book.

Anyway, here we go:

“OMG, LOL, WTF? You spelled ‘Traveler’ wrong, idiot!”

Actually, no. The main character of the book, Dr. Phineas Templeton, is British. Or at least “British-American,” so he often uses British spellings, including “traveller” with two “L”s. The same goes for many words that utilise (see what I did there?) "z"s in American English--he replaces many of those with "s"s. And he adds "u"s where necessary, i.e. "colour" and "honour." He's sophisticated like that.

So I have to own a Kindle to read this thing?

Not exactly. Many devices now have a free Kindle app, which should allow you to download and read the book. As I mentioned above, it will soon be released in EPUB format for Nook, iBooks, and Kobo, as well as a paperback version and an audiobook.

How much is this going to set me back?

The introductory price, up through Christmas Eve, is $5.99 in all ebook formats. After Christmas Eve, it's going up to $6.99. The Paperback and Audiobook will end up being quite a bit more; likely $14.99-16.99, depending on final page count, so if you have a Kindle, may as well buy it now and get the discount. Considering all of the work that went into it and the hours of entertainment you’ll receive from the book, I think it’s really a pretty good deal.

What can I do to help?

Besides buying the book? If you like it? Tell other folks about it. Leave reviews on Amazon. Make blog posts about it. In short, spread the word!

Is this going to become a series?

I don’t know how to answer that without spoiling the book; read it and find out.

I’m kind of religious—will I hate this book/go to hell for reading it?

Hardly. My beta readers included several religious folks, and they really enjoyed it. It should be clear that the book is a work of fiction, and filled with satire, so take it all in the spirit intended. I’m pretty even-handed in picking my targets, and my main goal is to entertain people. Just keep an open mind, think critically, and have a sense of humor about it and you'll be fine.

Okay, I’m intrigued. What’s it about?

I thought you’d never ask. Here’s the blurb:

[Though my name is on the cover, I can’t take all of the credit for this oddest of tales, as it was dropped quite literally on my doorstep by a strangely dressed fellow. Attached to the handwritten manuscript was the following note, which appears to be intended for you. –D.J.]

My name is Phineas Templeton, and though you should know my name, unless you’re a close family friend, you’re probably as blissfully unaware of my existence as everyone else in this world.

I was (and am, I suppose) one of history’s greatest minds, left to toil in obscurity for all eternity despite making perhaps the single greatest discovery of the twenty-first century:

Time travel.

It was a rather simple plan, really: build a time machine using my own fortune and that of my fantastically wealthy Benefactor, go back in time to visit Jesus Christ, a suitably important historical figure to have the privilege of interacting with an intellect such as my own, and return to 2032, finally allowed to relax, a hero basking in both the rays of a sun-kissed beach and the attention and adulation of an adoring public.

Little did I know that Jesus was actually a time-traveller himself, a cannabis addict named Trent Albertson from Boulder, Colorado. And he had the audacity to explain the nature of space-time to me! As if I would never figure out on my own that “what happened, happened,” and that “history,” as we know it, is actually the result of countless time-travellers who have already left their mark in our past.

Worse, when I boarded to my craft to try to return to my own time, I found that my Benefactor had set up quite the bedeviling little temporal scavenger hunt, with over a half-dozen time jumps that I would have to make before the computer would allow me to go home.

What followed is a fantastic, incredible tale. Join me as I meet my hero (Sir Isaac Newton) and some not-so-scrupulous characters. I gain companions and lose them along the way. The Mayan calendar's "end date" of 2012, the Gnostic Gospels, World War III and many more alternative theories of history will be explained and made clear. Did I mention I went on a BLOODY DINOSAUR HUNT, too?!

All the while, I editorialize using my acerbic wit and stinging tongue to lend a bit of colour to the action. Though I find portions of it to be gut-bustingly funny, there’s more than a little heart in this masterpiece, as well. You may laugh, you may cry, and by the end, you may be as heartbroken as I. For when I finally unraveled the final loose threads of a conspiracy that spans millions of years, even my superior intellect could hardly process the depth of deceit and depravity of some of those closest to me.

I have sent this manuscript back in time for one reason and one reason alone: so that the God’s honest truth about my story and my creation finally can be known. On the off chance this one time, the universe will allow something to slip through the usually iron-clad cracks of history, and into your hearts and minds. I purposely sent this book back to the time of the so-called “Indie Book Revolution” so that it could be published by whatever bozo the time courier could find, in full, warts and all.

And so now, it is up to you, dear reader, to decide: can you handle the laughter and tears, the joy and sorrow, and the ultimate action-adventure, sci-fi style romp through space and time that is Jesus Was a Time Traveller? If so, please do give it a look.

-Phineas Templeton

Is that it? What’s next?

I’ll continue writing the Power Rankings through the rest of the football season, and balancing that with finishing up the various other formats. I’ve also started my two books; the more stuff I have out there, the easier it’ll be for folks to find me. Can’t sit on my laurels, and no rest for the weary, I guess…

So there you go. Thanks again for all of your support, and I hope you’re intrigued enough to consider purchasing a copy. I think transparency is important, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that it’s my goal to sell 5,000 copies across all formats by the start of next football season (the beginning of September for those non-football fans out there).  That’s pretty much what I have to do to keep doing this, so I’m going to rely on you to read the book and tell your friends so that I can keep the laptop humming and continue to try to bring you high-quality, entertaining content.

Thanks again, everyone, and I sincerely hope you enjoy.

-D.J.

D.J. Gelner is a fiction and freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  He co-hosts Rams Mondays on the Joe Roderick Show on 1380 The Fan2 am in St. Louis during the football season, and writes a blog at entertainingacity.com. E-mail him at djgelbooks@gmail.com.  His debut novel, Jesus Was a Time Traveller, is now available on Kindle here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Road Trip Pros and Cons

For those loyal readers who followed me through the darkly funny days over at Blogmogger, you'll know that from time-to-time I enjoy posting bullet-pointed travelogues detailing my various excursions around this fine country.

I recently was on a four-day road trip from Seattle back to St. Louis. I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow, since it would largely consist of the following:

/listens to podcast

/makes up outlandish, profane scenario with brother

/laughs hysterically at own brilliance

Artist's renditioning of Lukas. Actually, Grant did it himself
on his iPad. Pretty cool. He can do your dog, too if you want.
It would get boring since most of the jokes were some variation on a chain of gas stations called the "Town Pump." I'll let you fill in the blanks.

Though the trip was grueling, it was also pretty satisfying. My dad, brother, my brother's dog, Lukas, and myself saw a lot over the course of four days, including a couple of our nation's greatest landmarks. But by the end, I was little more than a drooling zombie, hungry for my next fast food fix.

So I decided to break it down, pros and cons style, for those interested in the highs and lows of the open road.

Middle of Nowhere, Kansas
Pro: You realize just how big this country is. You Easterners probably think that Midwesterners are a bunch of slack-jawed hicks, pulling our plows over our shoulders on open acres of land before settling down with a nice Toby Keith album and smoking some crystal meth. True as that may be, you haven't seen "open" (or meth, for that matter) until you drive through a state like Wyoming, or Kansas. It's just mile-after-mile of brown wheat (or overgrown grass), with a town thrown in every hundred miles or so for those suffering from uromysitisis poisoning. There's a lot of land out in them thar' country, I tell ya' what!

Con: Boredom sets in quickly. After about the fifth field of wheat, you realize that all of that land is exactly the same. You get a bit of a thrill when trees start to reappear, but after mile six of forest, the doldrums set back in. Especially when driving alone, even with a podcast in ear, the time simply refuses to speed up, to the point where the folks on the podcast sound like Andre the Giant and that one guy from Rockapella. There's no getting around it--driving for hours at a time can definitely suck.

Pro: Can stop to see cool stuff. Since we were in the northwest, my dad routed us through Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks on our way home. Yellowstone is, in a word, awesome. Literally--it inspires feelings of awe. It was like visiting ten distinct climates over the course of a day, from plains to forest to desert to mountains to...whatever lots of geysers are. Buffalo graze around lazily, to the point where my brother called them "the deer of Yellowstone." Old Faithful is really something else, though I have my suspicions as to whether or not it's secretly hooked up to some kind of pump and hose system.

That's not even getting into Grand Tetons, which has some amazing views of mountains. We drove through the Tetons right as the sun was setting over the mountaintops, with a few patches of clouds to allow rays of sunlight to kiss the face and light the deep blues and purples of the rock face...

Con: Cars suck. Unfortunately, one of the cars' headlights went out, so we were booking it to make it to Jackson for the night before it got too dark. Though we didn't stop to get any pictures, we're all in agreement that pictures are a bit overrated. You take it with an iPhone, and then it sits on your camera roll forever, no depth of field or color, never to be looked at again. Or at least that's what we told ourselves--we went back the next day and snapped a couple of pictures in the daylight, and they're still pretty great.

Pro: Bonding time. It was nice to get away from it all, and spend some time with my dad and my brother. When you're in a car, you don't have much else to do besides talk, so you can really dig into some issues and have some cool conversations.

Con: No physical activity. You literally just sit there for twelve hours of the day, ass in seat, no way to move around. As of late, I've been going on long walks (~5.5 miles or so) a few times a week, and doing stuff like paddle boarding and sprint workouts more often. In the car? None of that, regardless of what Lloyd Christmas would have you believe. Combine that with plenty of fast food and it's a recipe for feeling like a regular Fatty McGee when you get back.

Con:
Grueling pace. I know, I know: "Two cons in a row? WTF, LOL!" Very witty, internet commenter. But when you're in the car, because of the other cons, you just want to make it back as quickly as possible. This leads to proclamations of "I could go another five, six hours" at dinner at seven o'clock. Of course, three hours later, you'll be gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, eyes twitching, slapping yourself, jabbering gibberish about whatever Adam Carolla is talking about on his podcast, and hoping to God that Grant and Dad call to say we're pulling over for the night. Good times...good times...

Pro: Good source of new material. You wouldn't believe how much stuff Grant and I came up with over the course of the trip. More personally, Yellowstone alone was a great source of potential new minor characters and idiosyncrasies. Not to mention all of the sensory experiences and dormant words your mind conjures up to try to explain what you're seeing. It really is something else.

Con: Arguments over seemingly trivial matters. There wasn't too much of this on this trip, but I know in the past, innocuous questions like "which fast food place should we stop at for dinner?" have triggered riots to rival those after Maryland wins/loses in the NCAA tourney.

"I'm not eating at Arby's, FUCK ARBY'S!"

"What? (genuinely hurt) How can you say that? After all of the delicious roast beef sandwiches they've provided over the course of your lifetime? I thought you really enjoyed it."

...

"I was faking."

"EVERY time?"


"Every time."

Devastating.

Pro: Learn about car maintenance. There we were in Pinedale, Wyoming, pulling into a Napa Auto Parts store where a nice young lady helped us fix our burned-out headlight. Three men, testosterone coursing through our veins like Melky Cabrera, only to be utterly put in our place with regard to auto maintenance by a very knowledgeable woman. On the bright side, I now know how to replace headlights on Toyota-family cars, so that's something!

Pro: Ultimately glad you did it. It was a long four days, simultaneously action-packed and lazy, both exciting and dull. But it's more than the fact that I can now say I've been to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It's more than the pictures, more than the souvenirs and empty fast food containers collected along the way.

It's the experience of accruing all of that, the memory of times, both fun and boring, that I can now think back upon and enjoy in a way that can only be described as reminiscing. It's the cognitive imprint of all of those conversations, everything seen and experienced, and good times with loved ones that I'll take forward in life from this point on.

Until I get crushing Alzheimer's and forget all of it. That'll suck. Lousy scientists--get working on that already, whydoncyha?


D.J. Gelner is a fiction and freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djgelbooks@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Much Is Enough?

The end of July is nearly upon us (man, that went by quickly), and as I'm want to do at the end of every month, I thought it was a good time to check my progress.

It's actually kind of hard to believe that I sent my manuscript out to my editing team on the fourth; it's only been three weeks! Also somewhat amazingly, in that time, I've written 27,500 or so words on my second novel, and 2,500 words on a shorter work in that same amount of time. Combined with all of the business-plan drafting and assorted business odds and ends of trying to indie publish a novel this month, and I think it's an "okay" pace. Not great, just "okay."

"What? You're crazy! That's, like, SO much writing!" Actually, it really isn't. I've been getting better about writing on the weekends and whatnot, but my output over the last few weeks has been just under 1,500 words per day. That's decent, but not quite the pace I think I should be at.

Stephen King writes at least 2,000 words per day, every day of the year, according to his excellent book, On Writing. I'd be surprised if he didn't end up writing more. All of the greats treat writing like a job, and while I'm devoting full-time hours to this pursuit, I always feel like I could be pushing myself more, doing more, learning more, wringing just a little bit MORE out of every hour of the day.

It's an odd feeling that leads me to today's topic: just how much is enough?

I mean, I write (and that means actually sit in the chair and write) an average of 4-6 hours per day, every day of the week, plus maybe an hour or two each day on the weekends. That's a good amount, to be sure, but it doesn't count the time I spend thinking about wording, and plot, and story, and jokes when I'm doing anything else, which is pretty much the balance of my waking hours. I apologize, but if you've talked to me at all over the past few months, there's a good chance that, during our conversation, I lapsed into fleshing out a character in my mind, or coloring a specific scene, or plotting out the next couple of books.

Fortunately, I have an insanely compartmentalized and arcane pretty good memory, so a lot of this stuff just sits in my head, as my mind ruminates on it throughout the day. The stuff that doesn't fit there goes in my notebook or phone for easy access later.

I've been waking up earlier (I'm on about 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night now), and getting a better start each day. I've been eating much better (thanks, Paleo!) and working out much more efficiently. I have more energy, and my mind is clearer than it's been in a while.

Don't get me wrong; I still have plenty of fun and get away from it for a while. I've tried to golf once a week or so over the past few months; that's one time where I actively have to focus on something else, so it gives my mind a bit of a break. I go for long walks, but those are usually a way to brainstorm new ideas. I try to have a night or two every week where I can just relax a bit and unwind.

But still, even these small allowances have left that voice nagging in the back of my head: am I doing everything I can to make it? Is this as much as I can possibly give to this pursuit? Am I putting in as much work as I possibly can?

I already do a lot, but how much is enough? What level of work will tip the scales from "failure" to "success?" Am I doing that much yet? I doubt it, but I also doubt that I'll ever reach a point where I think "okay, now I'm doing enough." I always feel like I could do more.

Until anyone says otherwise, the best I can do is continue to push the boundaries and ramp things up. Keep writing and writing and writing and hopefully one (or, actually, a number) of these projects will succeed. Keep tapping away, letter after letter, word after word, and eventually I'll have created something.

I guess the question is whether that something will be worth reading? Or would I be better off hiring a couple of chimps to bang away at my computer all-day, every day? (Why two chimps? Obviously so that they could work in shifts--I'm not a monster).

This blog is meant to keep me accountable and on-task, so I apologize if this seems like the delusional rantings of a half (quarter? Fifth?)-sane individual. But if nothing else, it should give you some insight into my creative process, and hopefully can inspire some of you to action in creative endeavors.


And hey, if not, I think I can get a pretty good deal on a couple of chimps to do it for you.

D.J. Gelner is a fiction and freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

An Update


I took a look at the ol’ blog this weekend, and noticed that the last update was on my birthday. Though it may be relatively easy to post only once a year (and on my birthday, at that), that’s not what this blog is about. No, this is about chronicling my journey toward (and hopefully “in” for many years) the world of writing.

First thing’s first: unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be coming back to insideSTL on a full-time basis to cover the Rams. Though the gig was fun, and I learned a lot about the industry, made many new friends along the way, and taught myself a more disciplined way of writing, Tim’s going in a different direction with the site. All I can say is “thanks” to Tim for the opportunity, and I’ll still drop by on occasion in the STLRams section to offer up my thoughts. And hey, I’ll still write about all things sports over at Hank’s Sports Blog, semi-regularly.

On the bright side, the shift gives me a lot more time to do what I really want to be doing: write more fiction! I’m happy to say that my first novel now has a name: Debt of Souls. I’ve written the blurb and everything, but I don’t know if I should post it here now, or wait until the book is ready to go. Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

At the moment, the manuscript is in the hands of my crack team of editors, who have already offered some great feedback, and are putting some real thought into this thing. Some of the discussions I’ve been having with folks on the team have been heartening, others…well, let’s just focus on the positives for now, okay?

I finished up my big edit of the manuscript and got it out to the team on July 4. Last year, I probably would have made some overly sappy, “Your Own Personal Independence Day”-type post to commemorate the occasion.

Though you were deprived of such a self-indulgent screed, you may be wondering what exactly I have been doing since Debt of Souls has been out of my hands. Have I taken another vacation? Am I sitting around, playing videogames, waiting for the editors to do their jobs?

Hell no!

I’m proud to say that I’m already 10,000 words into my next novel, which, for now, I’ll call Project Flux Capacitor, not because it’s any kind of Back to the Future-inspired fan fic, but rather because it does involve time-travel and I have a really solid title for it that I don’t want anyone else to re-purpose.

It’s already been an incredibly fun book to write, and I hope that my enthusiasm transfers over to the page….err…”screen”…whatever…

The outline is finished, so I’m just filling in the blanks, and hopefully it’ll be ready to go by sometime this fall.

Aside from that, I’m working on the outline of my third novel, which is in the early stages, and I’ve been kicking around an idea for an e-commerce startup, which may or may not happen depending on the folks I’ve been talking to, and some of the technical/cost limitations.

Though I’m “busy” on any given day, it’s still incredibly liberating to be able to take an afternoon to play a round of golf and make up the “work” I miss over the weekend. I put “work” in quotes because after finishing a novel, it really doesn’t seem much like work anymore. It’s something that I enjoy doing that (hopefully) will provide a living. There’s a sense of confidence in my mind, a voice that says, “okay buddy, you’ve done this before, just keep typing and you’ll finish it eventually,” which is empowering as hell.

That’s not to say that I don’t experience the days of doubt; the harsh critic inside my head calls me some terrible things, including some insults where I’m not even sure what they’re supposed to mean.

But I do actually enjoy sitting down and getting to work on any given day now, which is what I set out to accomplish over a year ago when this little experiment started.

And hopefully, I can keep that feeling going for a very long time.

D.J. Gelner is a fiction and freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Day, Another Night, Another Year

Today is my 29th Birthday.

First of all, thanks for all of the birthday texts, emails, and facebook posts--I absolutely appreciate all of the well-wishes!

I've thought a lot about what it all means today--and not in the "Boy am I excited to use my DQ 'Buy One Get One Free Blizzard Coupon'" sense.

(Speaking of which, thanks a lot, Dairy Queen. As if the shame I feel after downing one french silk pie blizzard isn't enough! What kind of a birthday present is that? "Well, we'll give you a free one, but only if we can sell you one anyway, and we know you're such a miserable fat idiot that you can't possibly resist!" God I hate them. Bastards. Starbucks is much better, by the way--free drink, no muss, no fuss. Good stuff.)

As I've said for nearly a decade now, any birthday over twenty-one just isn't worth a big celebration. It's just another check mark on a calendar, another signpost that signals one more day gone by that I'll never get to live again. You ask me what I'll be tearing up tonight, and I respond "manuscript pages."

But even that would be a lie, since I finished the hard-copy edit of the manuscript today. I still have to type all of the changes into the word document, but it's another step closer to achieving my goal, and publishing the first of what is hopefully many books to come.

And yet, as I sit at my desk and reflect a bit, it really is pretty crazy where my life is now compared with even a year ago. One year ago today, I was in Baltimore attending my friends' (Steph and Evan's) wedding, on my way back from Australia, and wondering what exactly I would do with my life. I had so many possibilities, so many different areas to pursue that it was all a bit overwhelming--I didn't know where to start. Sure, I had maybe thirty pages written on two different novels, as well as a couple of spec chapters of a non-fiction book, but my head was abuzz with plenty of business ideas that I wanted to get off the ground, places to go, and people to see.

To end up here, one short year later, is absolutely amazing. My work ethic when it comes to writing has improved immeasurably by covering the Rams for insideSTL. I've met countless new people and friends that have made my life that much richer and more focused on what truly matters.

I may not have "made it" yet, nor am I likely ever to reach the dizzying heights of success enjoyed by a Steven King or John Grisham. But that won't keep me from trying to be as successful as they are, from striving to tell stories in a similarly entertaining manner, and continuing to writing columns that are hopefully both informative and entertaining.

All I can say to my readers here, over at insideSTL, and even on facebook and twitter (who would've thought I'd be typing those words one year ago?) is thanks for your support, and I'll do my best to finish up a thoughtful, entertaining novel that is the first step in what I hope to be an exciting new career.

And, hey, if it's not, then all I can do is work harder and do better the next time.

Thanks again everyone!

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Milestone

141,148.

It's tough to imagine over a hundred thousand anythings collected in one spot. "The Big House" at Michigan can hold 107,501 drunken, angry (at least in recent years) Michigan football fans. And, of course, a year famously consists of 525,600 minutes (I hate that song with a passion--you're welcome for the hell that I've caused you by planting it in your sub-conscience for the rest of the day).

But I never conceived that I could create 100,000 things, let alone words arranged in a somewhat haphazard-but-intended-to-appear-to-be-intelligent manner.

Apparently, neither could Microsoft Word, which just threw up its hands and croaked out "Really?" in that Steven Hawking computer voice when I reached the 100,000 word mark, and stopped keeping track.

But after four full months of work on my first novel, after 141,148 words written in chunks 1,000 to 7,500 at a time, I was able to write the two words that matter most, words numbered 141,147 and 141,148 for those keeping track at home:

"The End"

I finished up the rough draft Tuesday afternoon, and proudly posted my "achievement" on facebook and twitter.

I then did the next logical thing, what I always did in law school after finishing up a paper or outline:

I went to Kinko's and printed the damned thing out and had it bound.

Want an insider tip? Invest in Fedex-Kinko's stock today; I'm sure it'll shoot up after the bill I dropped there yesterday. The folks at Kinko's must've thought I was nuts, in large part because I told their copier/printer to kindly print the document double-sided, and THE DAMNED THING PRINT IT SINGLE-SIDED INSTEAD!

Oh, those crafty bastards; try to drive up my binding prices, will you? Well, if that's the case, it absolutely worked: three bound volumes of single-sided pages later, and I'm sure that they're laughing all the way to the bank. The things I do in the name of "editing on paper"...

They say (and I have no way of knowing who "they" are) that 80% of all people want to write a book of some sort during their lifetime. Of those people, only 1% will actually do so, and of that 1%, only 1% will send it off to publishers, or self-publish it on Amazon, I-Books, or...whatever Barnes and Noble calls their ebook store. "Nook" something? I don't know.

So, to be clear, finishing up the first draft of a novel is quite an "achievement."

And still, I have to put "achievement" in quotes because I haven't "achieved" anything yet. The book isn't actually finished yet; I still have a long and painful editing process ahead of me.

No one else has read the thing yet, even a draft. A book's singular purpose in this universe is to be read by others, and by that definition, I don't even have a proper "book" as of yet. All I have is a collection of words that may or may not even come together into a coherent whole, and that have to be pushed, pulled, cajoled, and massaged into their proper places over the next month or so.

And trust me, there is plenty of work to do. I've already restructured the novel a couple of times in my head, so there's going to be some decent surgery. Not to mention the typos and errata that have to be remedied and eliminated, respectively, before publication.

But to get those words out in a fairly understandable order is an accomplishment, one that I will certainly celebrate to some degree.

Of course, this morning, I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I'm so used to just going into my routine and writing most of the afternoon that after a restless night of sleep, I found myself itching to get back at the keyboard this morning. Before I machine gunned this post out, I got 1,000 words of my next novel down, a novel that I already think is infinitely better than the first draft that currently sits next to me, and which is causing me to reevaluate the quality that I imagined sits in those 370 or so 1.5-spaced pages, currently unread and unloved. Nothing like a little fresh self-doubt to get the gears going in the morning!

One of my friends on facebook (Hey Brandon!) asked me how it felt to finish up the draft. Like the incorrigible smart-ass that I am, I said something about how it felt like I had a lot of editing to do in the coming weeks. But now that I'm a night removed from it, I can honestly say that it feels good. It feels like I'm driving back from a long trip somewhere, and I keep seeing those mileage signs on the side of the highway counting down the miles as I approach my destination. I started at some big number, like 239 miles or something like that, and thought "there's no way I'll ever get there. It seems so far away!"

But after day-after-day of steady progress, putting in the time at the computer, plotting the story and watching my characters grow and develop their own personalities before my very eyes, I'm getting a lot closer. Let's say I just passed the sign that says "20 miles." I can almost hear, smell, and taste the ultimate goal.

And it feels pretty damned good.

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Stretch Run

I know, I know, the blog's been silent for a while. [Checks date of last post]. Two months! Damn it! Sorry to disappoint everyone. Rest assured, I've still been hard at work on the novel, interspersed between a good amount of renovation and NFL Draft work.

For those interested, I'm sitting right at 136,000 words (give or take a few) right now. I know; not exactly a pamphlet for a first novel, but it really is like three novels folded into one. That's all I can say for right now, but it'll make more sense once I release it.

Though the NFL Draft is coming up, and I'll be covering it over at InsideSTL, I'm right at the point where I think I can finish this book up with a couple more days of solid work (the first draft, at least).

It really is a test for me, especially after a month where my pace obviously wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. I could blame it on any number of factors, but the reality is that I don't have anyone to blame except myself. Well, myself and Mass Effect 3 (which deserves its own post about its atrocious ending). It would also probably be safe/wise to throw Red Dead Redemption in there, too.

More than anything else, I want to finish this book up so that I can move on to the next book, and the one after that, and the one after that...and so on and so forth, etc., and what have you.

I've read numerous places that the difference between Michael Jordan and everyone else (aside from his compulsive gambling problem, freakish athletic talent, and insane to the point of being an ass competitiveness) was his ability to not only play at a high level, but also leave something in the tank for big situations at the end of the game.

I don't want to compare myself favorably to Michael Jordan, though I have been known to play a few hands of blackjack and can still give a softball a pretty good ride, but this is the time where I absolutely have to reach down for that little bit of extra effort to finish the first draft of this novel in the next couple of days. Otherwise, I risk rolling it over into May, and with all of the work that needs to be done on it before I can put it up on Amazon, before I know it, it'll be the end of summer.

No, that stops here. The line must be drawn heeeya; no furth-ah! Without all of the weird Borg-revenge stuff, of course. 

I'm going to finish the first draft of my novel by tomorrow afternoon. Check back then for the crazed rantings of a sleep-deprived lunatic.

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

100,000 The Hard Way (and Ramblings on the Past Couple of Weeks)

I realize it's been a while since I last weighed in on my progress, but the past week-and-a-half have been filled with all manner of unexpected twists and turns. I apologize in advance if this post isn't perfect prose, but hey, you can't complain about the price, right?

Most importantly, my apartment flooded a couple of weeks ago after a careless individual (or individuals) didn't notice the water level rising in my bathroom after using the facilities. Most of my time the past week-and-a-half has been spent trying to get in touch with various employees of the insurance company, as well as the drying/reconstruction company that is doing the extensive work required to get my place back to "normal."

It's been a constant pain in my ass and a huge inconvenience to myself and my neighbors below me. Thank God for insurance, or else I would be even more pissed off than I already am (if that's possible).

If I was in the "old blog" frame of mind, I'm sure I could find a lesson somewhere in all of this, but for now, I'm just waiting for my home office to dry out and for the workers to replace the carpeting. That alone would be a minor miracle, but will probably take another week or two.

Also, as I neared the end of "Part II" of my novel, I came down with a wicked case of writer's block with regard to the story for "Part III." I had developed a couple of ideas that I didn't really like, and languished for days putting off finishing the Part II "epilogue," if you will, because I didn't have anything ready to go. I'll go into "writer's block" more in-depth in a future post, but for now, know that it's a pretty helpless feeling, like being stuck in an unfamiliar town without a map or GPS.

It was a trying time for me, depressed about the flood, worried about Part III, and just feeling all-around shitty.

So, I did what I used to do in such situations; I started watching documentary series on Netflix and reading some non-fiction about topics that interested me.

I was already working my way through David McCulloch's excellent book 1776, about the first year of the Revolutionary War, when I noticed that the History Channel did a whole series about the Revolutionary War that happened to be on Netflix. For a couple of days, I tore through both the book and the series, for some reason obsessed with that time period, and the way that Washington and his underdog band of misfit officers and soldiers were able to overcome loss after loss to finally, decisively strike the British at a few incredibly important points in the war: the Seige of Boston. Crossing the Delaware to strike the German mercenaries at Trenton. Fighting a guerilla war in the Carolina back country.  And most importantly, securing a major victory after a long siege at Yorktown.

As I watched, I wondered why I was "wasting my time" on something so fascinating but ultimately "useless;" after all, if I wasn't writing, that was another "wasted" day that would come back to haunt me later, right? I kept kicking myself, so forhexed with the "act of writing" and churning out pages (since, let's be honest, that's how words get on the page...err...screen) that I lost sight of the larger forest.

Of course, after completing the doc series and the book, it finally hit me; since I was interested in that time period, and had some flexibility to play around with, why not just run with it as Part III of the book? Within an hour, I crafted a (I think) pretty good third act for this saga, which already has spurred thoughts of what "Part IV" will be like in the next book (What? You thought I was stopping after the first one?).

Working in a creative field, it's not always clear where to get inspiration. In fact, it's far closer to "never clear."I guess because the first two parts of the book came to me fairly easily, I just assumed that the third part would, as well.

The pressure of the external factor of the flood got me more than a bit down for a few days, so I decompressed a bit, and, to be perfectly blunt, felt more than a little weak about doing so.

But by decompressing, I was able to come up with a pretty kick-ass idea that is entertaining, well thought-out and plotted, and should be fun to write.

In the face of unpleasantness, and feeling a lot of pressure, sometimes it's most important to get back into a frame of mind of just feeling good, so that those feelings can rattle around in your head, ferment a bit, and age into something potentially great. Though I was kicking myself for "slacking" for a few days, those days were crucial to getting me back to a place where I want to write a story that I'm excited about, around all of the distractions and problems.

And this week, I've kicked ass, turning in 12,000 words in three days. That's "a bit low" for me now, but considering the circumstances, I'm pretty happy with the results. I have a story that works and is interesting and fun for me to write, and that makes me think about it in my time away from the computer. As a writer, that's pretty much all you can ask for.

Not only that, but I can feel my writing improving by the day; I'm certain that this third story is going to be better than the first two, which is perfectly fine, since I can always go back and make the first two that much better during editing.

For now, though, I'm happy to announce that I've surmounted the 100,000 word mark. I have no idea how long this book will ultimately end up being, though smart money is on somewhere between 140,000-150,000 words. Somewhat poetically, Word doesn't even keep a running count at the bottom after you pass 100,000; you have to run a manual check anytime you want to see how many you have.

In some ways, that's good; it will allow me to get back to writing "the story" instead of dutifully counting the words at the bottom like a robot...or a really, really smart...chimp...of some sort.

After a couple more weeks? The editing starts.

And THAT, my friends, is when the real fun begins...

Words: 100,054
Pages: 350 3/4

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Success...for now!

Just a quick update on my progress: I started the day at a little over 79,000 words, 7,000 to go to reach my goal of 86,000, which also would be 25,000 over the past week.

The final tally? 86,626 words, 300 pages, and perhaps most importantly, the completion of the second of three parts to the book.

It's obviously exciting for many reasons, but I'm just glad that I can not only continue to chip away at milestones, but also do so more and more quickly than I used to be able to, and (I think) at a higher level of quality.

7,500 words in one day--a Friday no less, which tends to be my toughest day to motivate myself. Again, no parade is on the agenda yet, but I'm glad that in a week that finds me at half of my original, unbelievably audacious goal, I was able to put in a day that really pushed my limits on what I thought was possible.

Now I have the weekend to recover. If anyone needs me, I'll be relaxing with some fine wine and maybe a beer or two.  See you next week!

Days working: 30
Words: 86,626
Pages: 300

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Missing the Mark

I'm sure a number of you are wondering how my 50,000 word challenge is going this week, so I'll let you in on a secret:

Not so well.

And yet, extremely well.

I knew I was in deep trouble when I only mustered a little over 5,000 words on Monday. I was completely sunk when I could only manage another 5,000 on Tuesday.

There was no way I was getting to 50,000 words by the end of the week. At first, I felt...not so great. I mean, how do you usually feel when you fall short of a goal? Kind of weak and helpless, really; like I had somehow let myself down.

But instead of wallowing in my self-pity like I may have done a lifetime ago, I went right back to the keyboard and kept pounding out words each day.

The result? 18,000 words (or so) so far this week, by far my most productive week to date.

I'm not going to throw a parade for myself; it's a long ways off from 50,000 words.

What I am going to do, though, is try to go the extra 7,000 words tomorrow to get to 25,000 for the week.

It would still be one hell of an accomplishment. If I can get to a level where 25,000 words per week is the norm, that's one 100,000 word novel a month, give or take a few days. Granted, this is before editing, proofreading, formatting, and all of the other fun stuff that comes with (most likely) e-pubbing a book, but it would still be a hell of a pace to increase the catalog of my works.

And even though I may have fallen short of my goal, I've learned that, as I've mentioned before, steady, incremental progress can be a writer's best friend. Though 50,000 words is probably a bit much for me (for now), it's another goal to work toward, and hopefully one that I can make a real run at by the end of the year.

For now, though, 25,000 a week would be just fine. 7,000 words in a day is a lot, but it's a more discrete, and thus more doable goal than something seemingly monolithic and insurmountable (again, for now), like 50,000 words in a week.

Feel free to wish me luck in the comments!

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And Now, It Gets Serious (or "I'm an Idiot")

For the past few weeks, I've been making what I consider to be "pretty good" progress on my novel.

I just passed the 60,000 word mark today. I seem to have more and more mental stamina as the days and weeks tick by. I'm able to sit down and just run with the story as it plays in my mind, basically transcribing the movie in my head into the computer.

I have a big announcement to make, but let me preface it with some background. I've always been a writer who thrives on deadlines. Even in law school, I wrote 30 pages of a research paper in the day-and-a-half before it was due, mostly because I was "slightly more than undisciplined" in my work habits 3L spring, but in large part because deep down, in the back of my mind, I knew I could do it. I've written about my procrastination habits in the past, and part of being a successful procrastinator is knowing the "zero point," where you absolutely have to buckle down and work your ass off to complete whatever the project is.

So, I'm going to work the usual schedule on my novel this week, and try to work up to 5,000 words a day by Friday. Hopefully that would put me at 70,000 words going into the weekend, when I plan on outlining the third part of my book.

Then, next week, I plan on writing the remaining 50,000 words to finish it up.

"But D.J., you're crazy! You just got really worked up over finishing 50,000 words in a month. What makes you think that you can finish 50,000 in a week!?"

I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone else with this; ultimately I want to create an enjoyable book for readers more than anything else, and I'm sure that my rough draft simply won't make sense. I've already altered a number of things in my head that I need to fix, but haven't gone back and edited it yet simply out of my desire to get the first draft utterly complete.

No, this is more to prove that I can do it to myself. I haven't given myself a good challenge in a while, and I think that this is a way to really do so in a 50/50, "can I do it or can't I?" sort of way.

And more than that; I need to know what my absolute upper limit is in terms of productivity. Not so that I can procrastinate more in the future (though it would certainly be nice for that, as well...), but so that I can plan out what projects that I can realistically take on in a given period of time, and how much raw product I can produce when absolutely pushed.

Will it be good, or even passable work? Will I be exhausted at the end, and need a few days to recover? Do I even have it in me? I have no idea.

But that's part of the challenge--I want to see whether or not I can do it, and test my limits.

Maybe I'll do it, or maybe I'll fall short. The important thing is that I'm going to push myself, and see exactly what that upper limit is right now.

Besides, without anything cooking for Valentine's Day, what better time to try?

Days (of work): 23
Words: 60,542
Pages: 208 2/3

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writers vs. Authors (or "Wise Words From a Wise Man")

[Note: Long-time readers may have noticed that I took down the ads on the blog. I did this because a lot of them have been of the "Want to write a book? Start here!" variety, most of which are probably scams that seek to part aspiring writers from what little money they have already. I'd like to get them back up at some point, if I can figure out how to keep these from popping up. If anyone knows Adsense and can help, I'd much appreciate it. Thanks! -D.J.]

Since the end of the football season, I've endeavored to take this full-time fiction-writing seriously. Part of that is following a number of writerly blogs out there to get advice on the profession and business of this whole thing.

One thing that I've learned by going through a number of these blogs? Dean Wesley Smith is a pretty smart guy.

I say that without a hint of wise-assery (and I say THAT without a hint of wise-assery...and THAT without--you get the picture).

"Who the Hell is Dean Wesley Smith?" He's a very prolific fiction-writer, who, along with his wife, Kris, is good enough to make a pretty good living at the craft. He also has an excellent blog that is dedicated, at least in significant part, to dispelling a lot of popular myths about being a fiction-writer.

One of his central ideas is that there's a fairly wide chasm between what he calls "authors" and "writers."  Authors work meticulously on one book, then tweak it with edits or rip its still-beating heart out with rewrites, and then spend most of their time promoting "their book." Every book they write is "special" (at least in their minds), and needs a lot of time and attention to do well.

Writers, on the other hand, write. They write work after work, story after story, and when they're done writing, they write some more. Each story is exactly that; a story. Some are good and some are bad.

As you write more, it just so happens that the "good" ones start coming a lot closer together, and the bad ones become fewer and farther between. Instead of promoting, especially in the new world of indie publishing, it's far better to write to not only improve your craft, but also to get more stuff out there. Writers are notoriously bad judges of their own products, so why not just get it out there and let the market decide?

When I first read his blog, I was struck by how much sense he made. It explained why writers like Stephen King come out with books so frequently, while so many other "authors" are left tooling around on their keyboards for 500 words a day or so at Starbucks, wondering why no one has recognized their genius as of yet.

But more than that, it hits at a central idea that I even used to harp about on this blog back in the day; the idea of not letting fear control your life. Too many "authors" are paralyzed by fear; fear that their book isn't any good, or that, even if it is, then the next one surely won't be.

Dean is all about getting over that fear of rejection, sending your stuff out, and meanwhile, "What the hell--why not write another story?"

It's so refreshing compared to a lot of the walking-on-eggshells, corporate-minded, "afraid-to-be-fired" attitude that's so damned pervasive nowadays, and so utterly simple in its elegance.

Write. Send it out. Write some more.

Another reason why I buy into it so readily is that I had to do the same thing during the football season. Every day was a new article, six days a week. There was no "I'm afraid people won't like it so I won't put it up today!"--I'm sure Tim would have really enjoyed it if I did that. It simply wasn't an option.

That doesn't mean that I didn't have those thoughts and doubts; I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't worried about the reception that some of my columns would get, but that didn't change that I had to get a column done daily, and drown out that voice with a good amount of bourbon courage sometimes to just write something and put it up.

I'll get back to that schedule eventually, I'm sure, but right now, I'm having too much fun writing this book. It's really starting to take shape now, and I'm excited by the progress.

But whereas before I may have just finished it up, then agonized over proofreading it line-by-line before sending it out to agents, and beginning the long process of going the traditional route, now I'll make my edits, have a few friends read it over, and put it up on Amazon (and iBooks, and Smashwords, and every other means of consumption I can think of). Though I want it to do well, and be a good read, it's not "my precious baby;" there will be (I hope) plenty of other books to write, plenty of other stories for me to commit to...uh...pixels and magnetic tape.  I already have two more projects that I'm "writing" mentally as I work on my book, and countless other ideas down in my notebook. 

Write. Send it out. Write some more.

So simple.

So wise.

Thanks Dean!

Days (spent working): 21
Words: 53,084
Pages: 183

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

50,000 (or "Progress as Promised")

I passed the 50,000 word mark today.

It's a big accomplishment for a guy who once thought that 25 pages a week was worthy of throwing a party.

I'm right at around 50,500 words now. For a little perspective, the objective of National Novel Writer's Month in November is to finish a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I spilled out 50,000 words of ingot (or "raw material") in 26 calendar days.

Of course, this is far from "finished product"-type stuff; I still need to make some sizable changes to the early stuff, especially, but I'm happy that I could physically sit down and write so many words in such a short amount of time.

50,000 words also marks the unofficial "halfway point" of my novel, since I've targeted around 100,000 words for the book.  Of course, that figure is subject to change; I'm a little worried that part II is going to run a bit long, so that may send it closer to 120,000.

But the big deal (to me, at least) is that I've proven myself that I can sit down and crank out the raw material. If I've already thrown out 50,000 words, what's to stop me from doing it again...and again...and again? In my own mind, at least, it's refreshing to know that this project has gone from "something that I've always wanted to do" to "attainable, in-progress goal."

I know a lot of folks don't have the time to accomplish everything that they want to in their spare time. I also realize that "half a novel" is far from a completed work; far be it from me to throw a parade over 50,000 words that I've written, which may or may not be incoherent gobbelty-gook when I go back through and edit.

But by making progress, even slow, steady progress, you have to realize that you'll start to make it closer to a goal that you once thought unfathomable.

Keep on trucking along. Keep piling up those milestones, and compounding them again. Take a few steps every day toward a goal you have in mind.

This has consistently been my mantra through the entire process, and now I'm beginning to see some very tangible results from my steady work. If anything, I'm even more heartened because I've picked up the pace somewhat; I hope to continue that trend as I get further along in the process.

But for now, 50,000 sounds pretty good to me. So forgive me if I take my customary weekend to relax, recharge, and make obnoxiously inappropriate (but hopefully funny) comments about Tom Brady and the Manning Family this Sunday during my Super Bowl party.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Days (of work): 20
Word Count: 50,476
Page Count: 174 1/5

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Fog Descends

At the end of another productive day of writing, I wanted to talk about something that has plagued me for a while early in my writing career, and that's the idea of the "brain fog."

The brain fog is that feeling at the end of a day of writing when you think "I can't possibly write another word."  It feels a bit like my brain has turned to mush; I have trouble focusing on the task at hand, and thinking up any kind of coherent or witty happenings or dialogue.

During the football season, I became quite well-acquainted with the brain fog on Tuesday nights, usually around the 3,500 word mark of my Power Rankings columns. Of course, the rankings didn't care that I was feeling a bit foggy; they needed to be done.  After all, I couldn't in good conscious file a "NFL Power Rankings, 32-10" column.

No, you learn to soldier on and steer through the fog, sometimes not having any kind of a clue where you're headed.  Ideas come a bit more slowly initially, as you struggle to stay on some kind of path.

This is normally the point in the blog where I make some kind of comment like, "but then sometimes a funny thing happens, and you discover that the fog led you to (insert life-altering realization)."

Not today, folks.

The fog just plain sucks. I hate that it reduces the quality of my work, and I know that I'll just have to go back and "punch up" that section written under the influence of fog at a later date, which frustrates me even more, leaving me foggier, and...well...you get the idea.

Unfortunately, the fog is directly at odds with yesterday's post about picking up the pace an maximizing my potential while writing; I could fight through the fog, but sometimes I think "what's the point?"

Well, the point is that I'm probably going to have to go through and punch up even the stuff that I think is "the best" in the book so far, so why not just keep going, why not get that extra 1,000 pages? It's still a problem that I'm wrestling with upstairs, but I thought I'd get it out there so that you all don't think that writing a book is all bread and roses.

I think more than anything else, overcoming the fog has to do with being able to push it back, be it through better mental endurance, or better break time management, or some other technique that I'm not yet privy to.

I will say this; I have been able to slowly, steadily, push back the onset of the fog somewhat, by maybe a thousand words or so a day.  That certainly helps; 5,000 extra words a week actually helps a lot.  But I do recognize the necessity of pushing it back much, much further, especially if I ever want to be able to get to my goal of easily turning in 5,000 words per day, and then even more beyond that.  And how will I get there?  Writing more, practicing more, working even harder; those are really the only ways that I know to get better at something.  The brain gets better when challenged and worked, just like muscle.  I just have to keep pushing it and condition it to go the extra 500 words, then 1,000 words, and then beyond, until I'm comfortably at the level that I want to be at.

Until then? I'm just going to shut up, keep my head down, and write.

Days: 17
Words: 43,467
Pages: 149 1/2

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Upping the Pace

Going into my fourth week of fiction-writing, I was at a pretty good (but not great) place.  I had 36,500 words done going into this weekend; not terrible for three weeks of full-time writing, but not great.

I guess that's what gnawed at me a bit going into this weekend; when I first started my foray into fiction-writing last spring, I would struggle to work for a little over an hour, then get frustrated and quit for the day.  My target in those days? 25 pages a week. 

At the time it seemed incredibly daunting; a truly Herculean task. How could I possibly write five whole pages (!) in a day? It was so much!
Needless to say, I was completely naive about both what the work required and what I was capable of.  I had dutifully saved up enough cash to try to "make a go of it" as a full-time writer, but I was too worried about "non-writing writing things," if that term makes sense; building a platform, working on ways to build e-businesses to support my writing efforts, and probably a good dose of plain old procrastination thrown in there for good measure.

As I've detailed before, my season covering the Rams completely changed the level of discipline I have as a writer, as my weekly Power Rankings frequently tipped the scales at 5,000 words, all written over the course of a day.  If you count the other five columns I was writing a week, which usually were around 1,000-1,500 words each, I was good for 10,000-12,000 words a week or so, which at the time seemed like an enormous amount.

When I started working on this novel, I wanted to write at least that much, so I figured I'd start out with a goal of 3,000 words a day and go from there.  I haven't been quite THAT productive as of yet; I still average around 12,500 words a week, but I've steadily grown more productive as the days have ticked off. My efficiency has improved greatly, and I'm generally able to get more done in a day than I ever thought possible going into this project.

We all have "barriers" that we think we can't possibly break through, but it's my experience that these are often self-imposed. I thought that 25 pages a week was an "insane pace" at one time; over the past three weeks, I've averaged 40 pages per week, easily, and I'm still nowhere near full capacity.

I guess that's what bothers me the most; though I'm moving along at a pretty good clip, I still know that I can push myself more, write more, go further. I can easily get to an average of 4,000 words a day or more if I really push myself, which will get me to editing that much quicker, which will result in releasing the book that much sooner, which means that I can then move on to the next project that much earlier, and...well...you get the idea.

Eventually, I hope to work up to actually being able to write for 8 hours per day, by which I mean not counting breaks, etc. It seems like a pretty crazy goal at the moment; right now, I'd guess I'm right at about four hours or so.

But every time I get mad at myself for not being as disciplined as a Stephen King or...uh..."Dean Koontz," I remember back on those early days where I was averaging an hour of "real writing" per day, and I see how far I've come from there.  If I can develop this much in that short of an amount of time, I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

For now, it's all about improvement.  And with continued hard work, practice, and perseverance, I have to think I'll get there eventually.

Days: 16
Words: 40,035
Pages: 138 1/2

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Again!"

I'm going to keep it pretty short today, since most of the day was filled with outlining.  The good news? I now have my second story plot outline.  The bad news? It took a lot longer than I thought it would.  Didn't even start writing until maybe 7:30 or so tonight, and only got through about an hour-and-a-half after I deleted the last whole chapter because it totally sucked.

But hey, who am I to complain?  That's one less paragraph that has to be completely re-worked at the end of this project...hopefully...

"But D.J., I thought you said that you wouldn't revise the book until you were done, DURRR!"

Yeah, that's right, with the only exception being that this is one of the "intermission" parts, which is going to set the precedent for all of the other intermission parts, which are kind of an important part of this book, for reasons that I can't really go into right now.  I guess I could, but I'd have to kill you...or at least nag, complain, and whine like a little bitch until you promised (and crossed your heart...with both hands in the air so that you couldn't cross your fingers) not to tell anyone.

Hence, the small amount of actual writing "work" that I got through today, which is totally fine; writing a novel can take you in a number of different directions.

The whole re-writing concept reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Miracle, where the peerless Kurt Russell (who got absolutely robbed for an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of hard-ass head coach Herb Brooks...and his portrayal of the fun-loving, vagabond Captain Ron, but that's a different post for a different day...) made the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team skate sprints after a discouraging tie to an inferior Norwegian squad.  After each sprint, the coach simply yelled out, "Again!" before blowing his whistle and having the players run another sprint.  At one point, the arena owner wanted to wipe the ice and lock up, and Herb kindly told him that the rink owner could leave the keys and he would lock up (Note: I thought it would've been kind of cool if the whole thing would've been an elaborate plot by Herb to get the keys to the facility so that he could use the team to clean out the place, and take all of the...what? Bubble hockey machines? Pairs of rental skates? At any rate, it would've been pretty badass, that's all I know!). 

At some point, the players start booting, and they're only saved by Team Captain Mike Eruzione, who finally gets that Herb wants them to play for "the United States of America" instead of their college team, or the Northeast or Minnesota, for that matter.

Though I don't have a plucky, inspiring captain like Eruzione on my ass to make me write, I do realize that no matter how much it hurts on a given day, no matter how much time I spent outlining or brainstorming, I still have to get something out on the page, even if it involves destroying something I had written before and starting over with a clean slate.  Hell, though the reworked paragraph is (I think) better, that doesn't mean that it won't need to be reworked again...and again...and again...and...well, you get the picture.

It all goes back to how badly you want something.  Sure, I could quit now, having written 116 pages of a novel and call it a day.  But I would be cheating myself--right now, I have the time and resources to make this happen.  Anything less than my "best effort" and "top-notch product" is, quite simply, unacceptable.

Rest assured, I'll be right back on that line tomorrow, no matter how many times that whistle blows.

Days: 14
Words: 33,925
Pages: 116 1/2

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.