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Tom Flanders World

Writing is a salad of tears, fears and beers

Fortunately I hate salad. Doesn’t make sense? Of course it doesn’t.

salad of tearsI sit here at the keyboard dealing with a huge ego and debilitated self-esteem. By definition those two should be mutually exclusive but in practice they are separate entities. What it boils down to is that I feel I should be a great writer, but don’t believe that I am. As every teacher I ever had would say, “I’m not living up to my potential.”

The worst thing is that it’s no longer mass-production educators looking at standardized tests defining my potential, it’s me. You always think you outgrow these sorts of things but you don’t. For your entire childhood the phrase is hammered into your head. It gets pretty stuck down in there.

So now I’m the one setting the target of potential and I pretty much suck at it. The worst thing is that I know that I have unrealistic expectations but can’t seem to lower the bar. On the other hand I have this fear that if I lower the bar too much I’ll become a veg.

It’s weird because at work, when I have such, I’m an expert at cutting big problems down to achievable chunks. However when it comes to real life, and especially my writing projects, I can never get past the enormity of a project.

As I work on my new novel I try to concentrate on the scene, but I find myself using the current scene to set up the next scene that I haven’t started yet. That’s not fair to the current scene at all. Dare I say, I’m not letting it live up to its potential.

So what’s my point? Actually I just realized that I’m having this bitch session to shield my new characters from all this negativity. I guess I’m afraid of hammering negative attitudes into their impressionable little personalities. I don’t want them to suffer as I do.

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A case of distracted writing

It’s not the external but the internal noise that leads to distracted writing.

the key to distracted writingIt’s not writer’s block, because I’m still writing. The problem is that I’ve taken on all these projects and I jump from one to the other. I’m having trouble working on the new novel and instead work on the blogs and social network posts and trivial real life things like looking for a job.

It’s easy to prioritize the small stuff because it’s doable. This blog post I’m writing now will be done within the hour. The ability to finish something is attractive. It satisfies my creative need and allows me to move on.

The novel on the other hand is not finishable. Yes someday it will be done, but that someday is a long way away. Months of work are ahead of me. I’m not complaining about the effort because I love getting lost in the creation of a story and its world. The problem is how do I put aside the little projects that satisfy my need for closure.

I come back again to my Puritan work ethic. Writing is what I do for fun, so it’s seen as something to do when work is done. In the back of my head work is more important than play. I don’t seem to fully believe that just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean it isn’t work.

I’ve started a dialog with my inner critics on this subject, but haven’t found the right one yet. It turns out that I have several inner critics, not just one. Each one has a different set of roles and concerns. I used to just try to ignore these critics but I’m learning to listen to them and work out compromises that are mutually beneficial.

The problem is that distracted writing is caused by several distinct critics. The perfectionist, the guilt-tripper, the gratification-seeker, the approval-seeker and other yet-defined voices are at play here. Satisfying all of them may be difficult.

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Random Thoughts – mid May

When promises become scarce you’ll need jumper cables and Vaseline.

Follow the lark, for she knows where she goes. Avoid the badger, he’ll rip your face off.

How did I not know that Dan Blocker’s son is on TV?

Too many good people are dying. Cut it out!

Trying to sleep while the mourning doves are in heat.

Got my first subpoena this week. I feel so grown up.

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Poor Emily

I feel so bad for what I’m doing to poor Emily.

poor emily torture chanmberPoison, assault, neglect, bad decisions; these are just some of the laundry list of horrors I’ve already inflicted on poor Emily, the main character of my latest novel.

Stephen King at least once described his writing as creating lovable characters the dumping piles of shit on them. That seems to be the direction I’m taking with my book, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this path.

The general idea is that she soldiers on through the trials of life enduring to become a better person. When I first envisioned this I expected her life to be difficult, but I did not intend her to almost die every other chapter, or endure horrendous pain in the others.

I feel like a total creep. Each horror builds to another. Like I’m stuffing a voodoo doll into a meat grinder, soaking it in pepper spray then sewing it back together and sending it on its way with its arms where its legs should be. This poor little girl needs help.

The problem is that the appearance of a knight in shining armor would ruin the whole point of the story. Poor Emily must rescue herself from her tormentor. Unfortunately I am her tormentor and I wield pretty unlimited power over her. Currently I don’t have much hope for her.

 

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Tom’s Novels

The state of Tom’s Novels address.

Novel 1: Broke Down on the Road to Glory

Self-published. I love this book, but it’s the kind of love I can’t recommend to others. Like a really bad movie that you still love despite all its flaws.

Novel 2: Unrealistic Expectations

Abandoned. Written for Novel in a Month. Countless rewrites but never found a story I wanted to tell. I expect I’ll use some parts of this in a later project. It has some great scenes, just no reason for those scenes to exist.

Novel 3: Untitled

Also abandoned. Many false starts but you can tell from the fact that it never earned a title that I never got a grasp on what I was trying to do. I think I was trying too hard to make a story for other people and not myself.

Novel 4: Remnants of Emily (Current Project)

I’ve had this idea for a while. Emily is the humanization and fictionalization of the life of a dog we once had. Her name was Emily and she was the ultimate crotchety old lady dog. The fictional Emily has a tough life, starting from the opening scene of her birth which is full of violence, drugs and an army of tiny nurse nuns. I think it’s a comedy.

Non-fiction: Assorted, on-going

I’m writing lots of blog posts lately on a variety of topics. Mostly trying to show off for potential employers. Now that I’m working on the Emily novel I don’t think I’ll as much time/energy for the blogs.

External Factors

Most of my energy is going towards the job hunt and learning new skills to improve my employability. I feel like I’m going to get a job soon and when I do I will switch all my job hunting energy into my writing. (If the new job isn’t too tiring.)

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