When Writing IS Your Business

I’m at a point in my career where I get a chance to write, but it’s not my primary job.  I’d love it to be; get up in the morning, spend a few hours writing, have some time to do marketing and just fun interactive stuff with writers and readers, and then a few more hours of writing.  But that’s just not the case right now.  My primary job is in Medical Information Technology, and I truly love it.  But one day…

Thing is, Boo and I are going to India in August.  Since we’re on the US West Coast, we’ve got multiple looooong flights (14 hours SEA to DXB, 4 hours DXB to BOM, 8 hours BOM to LHR, and 10 hours LHR to SEA) that would be perfect for getting quite a bit of writing done.  Especially since I think August is a Camp NaNo month?  Or maybe that’s July…  Anyway, when you get paid to write, you cherish any time that you can spend on your craft.  So it’s hard to read that the iPad/laptop ban may be extended to more countries.  That means I might be able to travel with my laptop TO India, I wouldn’t be allowed to travel with it back to the United States.

We shall see what the fallout comes.  But here’s hoping it’s not an all-out ban, because that would suck even worse than sitting next to a screaming toddler that just filled their diaper for a fourteen-hour flight.

Proper preparation and all that stuff

Oh man… So when I wrote ‘Migration: Beginnings’, all I had was the whiteboard (which I told you about in the first Vlog that I produced), and my notes that I typed up and kept in a Microsoft Word document. And that’s all I really needed. Why? Because it was so fresh in my head, that I never doubted a thing.

And then I finished the book, read quite a lot, and have written other stuff since then that’s not related to Migration. So when I went to write out something about Rhys, the lead character from Migration, I suddenly had to know what college he went to – where he got his undergrad work, and where he got his PhD. (Turns out that it was Boston College for the undergrad, and University of California, Berkeley for his PhD – if you were curious). I used to know these items in great detail, even though they weren’t a part of the book. It was still something that was in my head.

That’s why you should always start a book with not only an outline, but a character biography. Just a single page that tells you everything you need to know about the person. And I’ve started doing them now, in anticipation of continuing the sequel to Migration: Beginnings. Like for instance, Jason is the middle child of three, was voted his high school’s class clown, and went to the University of Washingon. Whereas Captain Clarice Franks is bisexual, was born in Germany but on a US Military base, and has wanted to fly ever since her father took her up in his private plane when she was barely out of diapers.

Proper preparation, y’all!

Ficlet from Migration ‘verse: An Italian Afternoon

I belong to a few writing communities, one of which is called “Get Your Words Out,” that is hosted on Livejournal.  I’ve pledged to write at least 150,000 words this year, which includes finishing the second book in the Migration series, as well as a short novella that is set before the series begins, just to get people acquainted with Rhys and Jason.

One of the prompts in the community is a picture prompt of two women who are sitting on a windowsill (you can see the picture here), and honestly it didn’t speak to me at all.  I’m usually very good with writing for random prompts.  However, I was stumped.

And then as I sat down this morning, the scene painted itself clearly to me.  Though the image is of two women, the story of Rhys and Jason from Migration: Beginnings and how they are vacationing in Europe, and happen upon the two women sitting in the window.

I call the story, “An Italian Afternoon”, and you can read it here:

Read more

Looking For Inspiration

There’s something to be said about writing, in that it’s not something you can just automatically sit down and do.  Okay, so there are some people that can do it, but not everyone.  If it’s your sole job, and sole source of income, then yes – maybe you can absolutely do that.  But for the rest of us, it’s quite a different process.  I’ve been thinking since my last post about what gets me to write – what inspires me.  And a lot of the times besides reading, it’s movies that really get my imagination going.

Being named Walter, a favorite movie growing up was Danny Kay’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘ from 1947.  It was something I could watch as a kid, and enjoy a laugh.  Danny Kay always captured the viewer’s imagination, so this role endeared him to many, myself included.

I was quite wary when I heard they were going to remake the movie, because typically remakes are soulless, corporate cookie-cutter patterns for maximizing profit.  Many in the entertainment community have strayed away from the thought of entertainment and stayed in the realm of maximizing profit.  That’s why there may be good movies here and there, but not behind every curtain.  A movie is supposed to capture your imagination.  Inspire you.  Make you look at the world differently.  But today, many movies are the exact opposite; just a 120-minute diversion from the mundanity of life.

That’s what made Ben Stiller’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ so very, very different.  You saw Stiller’s portrayal of Mitty as someone like yourself (or at least I did), sitting in a sterile environment, wanting something, but never taking a chance.  I won’t give away the movie (though it’s been out nearly four years; if you haven’t seen it, you should!), but I want to say the setting of Life Magazine was perfect.  Walter Mitty worked at Life, but he wasn’t experiencing life – until he finally took the chance.

For me, the quote that originally came from Thurber’s short story and then adapted for the movie is the epitome of what it is to be alive – what it is to not just live life but to experience it.

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

Beautiful.  Just beautiful!  Not to mention inspiring!