Alive: Part II Progress

For any newer readers, you may not know that I have written three books, which I am still trying to get published. This blog was created as part of my effort to build an online platform and further hone writing skills through my blog posts. My most recent book is Alive, a werewolf story. I have always loved fantasy tales and it was exciting to craft my own. With Alive complete I began working on the second and final part of the series.

I completed a few thousand words of Part II but regret to say that I haven’t touched it in almost a month now. Work, where I have done most of my writing over the past year, has become much busier and my life outside of work has become much busier as well as I take on more responsibilities, such as looking for a new place. Along with some part-time work, the gym, guitar etc. it has been tough to find time or energy to write. However, I don’t want to keep embracing excuses. I’ll get back to writing by this end of the week, with my goal of 5oo words a day. Originally I wanted the book to be completed by September but now I will have to settle for completing it by end of the year.

Then the work of editing and continuing to seek publication for my other work will continue. I contacted ten agents about part I but have received no responses so it looks like I am back to square one in my journey to getting published. It can be disheartening, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse to quit either. I have now accepted it won’t come quickly. I used to think I’d be published by the time I was twenty-five but now I can accept it might not happen until I’m fourty. It’s a long climb, but I’m looking forward to it.

Darkness

These next few months are going to be busy as I take on more part-time work but I’m still committed to posting three times a day. If you haven’t already, check out my film and tv comics channel @moviegrapevine, or my writing channel @wmoviegrapevine.

This piece follows from my continued resolution to write more poetry pieces. It is my attempted distillation of all the negativity and worries that I’m trying to cut out of my life. This piece is also takes lines from my most recent post to @wmoviegrapevine.

The Darkness

I can sense happiness now,

Ebbing and flowing with the words and actions of those around you,

Being pulled along like a dog on a leash,

When your walkers vanish,

Or show their true colours,

I’ll be back to lead you down a different path,

I know you’ll let me in,

You always do when the outside world lets you down,

Let me whisper to you again,

Tell you how your hard work will never pay off,

How you’ll decay in a cubicle,

Never living your dreams,

Let me tell you how you’ll always be lonely,

Your friends are all leaving you,

Other cities call to them,

Or maybe you have more competition,

Girlfriends, wives, children,

The things you know you won’t have anytime soon,

Don’t you wonder why?

Can you really blame it all on them?

Their poor taste?

Or is it just that you lack something that appeals to them?

What is it exactly?

Don’t you want me to tell you?

Decay

Update: I was planning on seeing Wonder Woman on Tuesday, but something came up for the friend I was supposed to see it with. I was hoping to see it today instead, but it’s looking like my friend is busy again tonight. Therein lies the disadvantage of wishing to see a movie with someone, your schedule is at the mercy of theirs. When I do see Wonder Woman I will upload a review either the same night or the next day. Also fighting off a cold and not sure whether I still want to get out of the house. In the meantime, here’s a poetry piece inspired by one of the shorter pieces I posted to @wmoviegrapevine earlier today.

I used to say that I’m only 22,

Now I try to convince myself I’m only 25,

The years have crept up on me,

Time is a persistent stalker that doesn’t always give announce its presence,

He may be invisible when we look upon the face or the body,

But his decay is ever present,

The body that looks vibrant and youthful is cursed with pains that only diminish, but don’t dissipate,

Time carries its own passengers,

Responsibility being the chief among them,

What are you doing with your life?

I know what I want to do,

Share my words with others,

I already am,

Yet my words can’t feed me,

At least not yet,

Do I spend my free time working towards this goal?

I do,

Do I spend my free time working to escape the cubicle prison,

I used to,

One resume after another sent into the black void of the Internet,

One more friend who promises to pass it around,

All equalling to nothing,

Maybe laziness makes me grow weary of the hunt?

Or maybe it has simply burned me out?

Hopelessness accompanies each attempt,

There is hope that I will find my way someday,

Yet the question of my future hassles me everyday,

I am not worried about things sorting themselves out someday,

I wanted them sorted yesterday,

Last year,

I can look back on those moments,

Staring ahead with hope,

Only to have the hope harpooned by reality,

I give into vices,

My most valuable resource goes wasted,

A victim to desires that hold me back,

I am only human,

Yet I seem to be a weak one at times,

Seeking escapism or validation from people and things that do not value me,

My someday is coming,

But maybe I don’t want to wait for it anymore.

Chains

The alarm goes off,

I silence it,

Then I retreat back under the sheets,

I know I should leave,

But the chains springing from my mind hold me down,

The lack of motivation to wake up early to go to prison,

Shackled to a phone in my cell,

My escape routes,

My tunnels,

Chiseled by mouse clicks and word of mouth,

Have yet to yield fruit,

And I sometimes feel like they never will,

One year has passed,

And I worry it will soon be two.

 

The Gap

I used to post more poetry pieces on this site, before my focus turned to longer blog posts on my novels, film, tv and /or race. I figured that I would try to get back to posting poetry since the book I’m currently working on, Alive, was spawned from a series of poems I posted here.

The Gap

Potential can hold more power than reality,
There is always the question of what you could become,
Unfettered by the restraints the world will later try to force on you,
Limiting you to something “realistic”,
Something safe,

Maybe parents want to make sure they get their return on investment,

Maybe you have to care for someone else,

Maybe you are carrying the anchors known as children,

Taking risks no longer becomes admirable or brave,

It is foolish, selfish,

We trade in happiness for stability,

Rotting away day by day,

Resenting the world for where we are now,

Maybe we brought the trap on ourselves,

Maybe life just didn’t turn out the way you wanted and you’re trying to make the best of it,

Either way,

Your kids will become the object of your own resentment,

You will see the freedom they have,

You will resent it,

Then the cycle will begin anew.

 

Continuing The Pursuit of Writing

I am currently working on Part II of my third book, Alive. So far, I am only a few thousand words in, making sure to write at least 500 words a day. By September the complete Alive story should be completed. What I don’t know, is if I’ll have an agent by September.

I’ve sent out queries to ten agents, some of which have already rejected it (evidenced by the lack of response after their stated response deadline). If I manage to get interest from any of these agents I will finally be able to take my first actionable step towards a career as a writer, editing and polishing Alive into a finished product. Which would likely be followed by Alive: Part II, and then Elseworld. There is no guarantee that the books will sell well, but we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get to it.

Even if I do get an agent, it could be 18 months to 5 years before my book is published. In the meantime, I need to take other steps towards crafting a career as a writer. My current tech support role has helped to develop many skills, but I wouldn’t say writing is one of them. I have been thinking of where I want to be in ten years, a self-employed author and blogger, and I know that I need to take more action towards making that happen. Even if I can’t support myself completely with creative writing, I want to find a career that lets me embrace my interest completely and complements it. Journalism is one of the biggest contenders but it is a very tough field to get into, especially for the topics I wish to write about, entertainment and race. Aside from a career as a journalist I am also pursuing other jobs with magazines and newspapers, trying to streamline my job hunt and find work that I find stimulating and rewarding.

As Mark Manson points out, all work will require sacrifice, and all work will be unenjoyable sometimes. The question is what type of unenjoyable experiences are you willing to put up with for your career?

“If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands of times, then you’re done before you start.”

I have had my work rejected hundreds, if not thousands of times. I am still writing and still trying to get published. I am willing to receive constructive criticism, and fine tune and edit over and over again. The peers who have read Elseworld complimented me for the imagery, which is something that was lacking in previous drafts according to an agent. I applied the negative feedback I received and was able to create something better, ultimately enjoying the experience and remaining grateful for it.

I believe that the struggles of trying to be an author are something I can tolerate. I’m sure I will be tested more as time passes. If I do get an agent, their criticism will undoubtedly be more severe than anything else I’ve received. If I can satisfy the agents, then I will have to deal with the editors at the publishing house. I may be forced to debate about certain changes to the book; ones that they view as more marketable. Those are debates that I look forward to having.

Alive: Complete

Alive began with one poem I posted to the site. That poem then grew into a series of poems as I fleshed out the concept and began brainstorming for a novel.

After completing Alive: Part V I committed to writing a novel. The time period changed, and many details of the plot were altered, but the basic premise remained. I have always loved werewolf stories and I was excited about writing my own.

Like the poems, I originally began the book with my character as a captive. Although I brainstorm when I write, I usually only do a general one to generate basic plot elements e.g.

  1. Mason will be in prison
  2.  Mason will be transported to second prison
  3.  Mason will escape from the second prison

I find that I can fall victim to procrastination if I spend too much time thinking about where the story will go, instead of writing. I am not saying this is the correct process for writing. After all, it did lead to numerous rewrites of my first book, Elseworld. I learned from that process and made sure to take some more time flesh out my character’s general arc prior to typing the first word.

I began writing, using the poems as a springboard for the other ideas and concepts I wanted to explore in the book. The first fifty pages originally focused on Mason as a captive in prison, where he spent his days discovering and honing the abilities that his curse bestowed on him. These pages helped me to flesh out my own werewolf mythos and develop my character’s backstory, but I also realized that they would create a slow start for the reader. One of the few pieces of advice any literary agent gave me about Elseworld is that it opens slowly.

To remedy my slow opening, I cut some parts completely, and re-inserted some as flashbacks. As a result, the word count is a relatively short 75,000 words. I know that a second part will follow, and I was tempted to try to cram both parts into one book. However, I know the word count would then take the book closer to the 150,000 range, which will make it a very tough sell as a first time author. I am hoping a word count that is short of the 80,000-100,000 range doesn’t hinder me too much. I could add more to the story simply to pad it out, then I could end up with parts that are clunky and add nothing to the story. As I edited Alive, I came across paragraphs or sentences that I cut, sacrificing length for fluidity.

If an agent advises that they want something fleshed out, I am more than willing to take criticism and adjust the work. However, this assumes I will get an agent. Numerous edits and resubmissions of Elseworld got me nowhere, which is why I am now committed to championing Alive, with the hope that I can get it published and then use that success to also retry with Elseworld.

I have been advised to get professional editing for my work and after my continuous rejections with Elseworld, I am eager to get impartial feedback. I have been caught in the trap of thinking of the feedback family or friends give as being truly impartial. My only issue now is that professional editing will cost thousands of dollars and I can’t afford to do it now. However, I don’t want to get impatient and send my work to one agent after another, quickly getting rejected by all of them and being back to square one.

For the moment, I wish to try and try with a few agents; less than ten.  If one is interested, I will work with them to make Alive better. One of my favourite YouTubers said he doesn’t have dreams, because the word “dream” implies the task isn’t possible. A “goal” is tangible, actionable. If not, I wait until I can get professional editing. There is still a lot of uncertainty ahead but I want to keep trying to pursue my biggest goal. As one of my former teachers said, “There is no rush in this game.”

 

 

 

Alive-Third Book Completed

I am happy to announce that I completed a rough draft of Alive on thursday. I will be returning to the story to add, cut, delete, edit etc and have a polished version ready by July at the latest. Once I have an edited version, I will then look into editing services that can give me impartial advice on the book. Then I will pursue an agent. However, I wish to take a break from it for a week so I can return to it with fresh eyes.

Alive follows Mason, a young black man in a medieval society who is bitten by a werewolf. After surviving an attempt on his life, Mason meets Ayda, the woman who bit him. Ayda offers him a sanctuary in a society that rejects their kind, but informs him that she plans to use their power to eliminate the people who discriminate against them. Torn between his conscience and a desire for vengeance, Mason must confront a society that wants him dead and a woman who wants to use him to wage war.

I am especially proud of this book since it began with one poem that I posted to this blog. I built on that on poem with others and was able to craft a full novel from it. It has demonstrated the value of blogging and the creative benefits that it can bring.  I am also debating doing a second part, since the ending to this first book is open ended.

Once Alive is completed, I want to begin working on a novel for Hazard.

Alive

The idea for my second novel started with a poem from December 2015. I am currently 70,000 words into my werewolf tale. Alive revolves around a recently bitten human who becomes part of a black supremacist plot led by Ayda, the woman who bit him. The book is not an endorsement of black supremacy, it is only a tale using that vehicle to ask questions about identity and belonging.

The protagonist, Mason, is a man who has always felt like an outsider among his own people or others. Although he harbours resentment for the lighter-skinned people who hamper his rights, he is hesitant to take part in violence against them. His choice is taken from him when the other werewolves on his island, initiate a war with the island’s army. The first book focuses on their conflict with the island, while also exploring Mason’s conflict with the new black community that becomes his home. The second book will focus on the power struggle within the community and Mason’s attempt to prevent Ayda’s planned genocide.

As the story progresses, I now realize that this tale will need at least two parts. I am hoping to have part one wrapped up by March. The book begins with an origin story, but I will either be deleting those sections, changing them to flashbacks, or saving them for part II.

 

Resolution

New Year, New Me,

Or so I always say,

I have numerous resolutions for the year,

But New Year’s Eve reminded me of one of them,

Surrounded by friends,

Forgetting all of my troubles until I came across a single woman,

Then my mind shifted to other thoughts,

Thoughts shared by other friends,

Who held the woman’s interest better,

Happiness slowly evaporated,

Bitterness and self-doubt came in to take its place,

While everyone else kept enjoying themselves,

I spent too much time reflecting on my friend’s good fortune,

And reflecting on all my past failures,

I came across as miserable,

Pathetic even,

Which only hindered my appeal even further,

I find myself caught in this cycle too often,

Letting any perceived rejection drown out all the things I have to celebrate,

With a new year,

I want to work on being the master of my own happiness.