Mired

I occasion Discord, a chat-oriented social media platform that allows you to hang with people with whom you have some connection. I am part of three groups there, by far the most significant the Kansas Bunch — a very small community of writers anchored around some brilliant people in Lawrence, Kansas. They don’t actually know that we are the Kansas Bunch.

My membership in that group seems at times to be honorary; I celebrate the achievements of others while I struggle to restructure my novel once more. But I love those guys and I love hanging out with them.

But things got gnarly at work as they sometimes do (I am well-compensated for these times), and I posted a desperate message to my Kansas Pals saying “please give me an anchor at least once in a while.” Since I wrote that, I have not opened the Discord app on my laptop.

Actually I should say I’ve not successfully logged in. Maybe a month ago I tried to log in, failed, tried again on my phone, failed again, went through tech support, found where I had hidden my secret unlock-in-case-of-emergency keys, and then hesitated.

I still haven’t logged in.

When I do, there may or may not be answers to my plea from months ago. There may or may not be any messages at all. Probably there are friends of mine pushing forward as writers, working on great things. Things you may read someday. There’s no shortage of talent in the Kansas Bunch.

But I’m actually behind where I was when I last communicated with The Bunch. My project is less structured, more vapor than ever. I’ve been working the last few days to put some sort of parameters on the first book, with a tight focus on providing a great beginning, middle, and end, while accepting that this is just the first stone to hop to get across the river.

There’s a bunch of people on Discord who would love to help. But the last few weeks I’ve just been stuck. NaNoWriMo was awesome this year, but when it was over I just flopped and stopped writing entirely. I also stopped riding my bike. I just stopped pretty much everything except work.

None of this conforms to my idea of who I am. Well, that’s not true — I hold more than one idea of who I am in my head, and fat, lazy, slob is one of those images. I’m fitting that one pretty well.

So I guess I am who I imagine myself to be, just not the best version. I even know exactly what to do to break out of this quicksand. But part of the quicksand is sapping your will to escape.

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NaNoWriMo Debrief

I have, for the past 21 years, participated in an activity known as National Novel Writing Month. The concept is simple: over the thirty days of November, poop out 50,000 words that is in some way justifiable as a story.

Most years, I walk into the adventure with an idea in mind. That idea is almost universally a setting; I have a great place for a story, and all I need is an actual story. The towers of Miami rising up from the sea. A planet habitable only at the poles.

This time, I kicked off with a scene I shared here, and the setting is interesting, but the story jumped out, and the story is vast. And as I wrote, it just kept getting vaster. Structure emerged, as milestones marked by the good guys become dominoes to be knocked down later by the bad guys.

Good guys? The sweetest part of the story was that Tommy, a kid you’d probably like if you met him in a bar, decays. He is at some level aware of the compromises he is making, but he lets them happen anyway. This character arc is inspired by George Alec Effinger’s brilliant and unfinished series. (I’d like to think, at least, that it was unfinished.)

Fifty thousand in, I felt like this was just getting rolling. I had set the second milestone (there must be at least four) and the world is only just beginning to think of Tommy as a spiritual leader, and Tommy himself is still far from understanding that. The story is still in the foothills of the rise, and the fall that follows has to be painful.

And Gamma: What’s its game?

What is in my head is absolutely something I’d love to read. Seems I’m going to have to write it first.

But I have another project to finish first. Can’t just change direction every November for the new sexiness. It’s not a chore to have to go back to Munchies. It’s a goddam privilege.

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