My Writing Life or I Go to Extremes

“Call me a joker, call me a fool
Right at this moment I’m totally cool
Clear as a crystal, sharp as a knife
I feel like I’m in the prime of my life
Sometimes it feels like I’m going too fast
I don’t know how long this feeling will last
Maybe it’s only tonight

Darling I don’t know why I got to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling I don’t know why I got to extremes

Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot
Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got
Maybe I’m headed over the hill
Maybe I’ve set myself up for the kill
Tell me how much do you think you can take
Until the heart in you is starting to break?
Sometimes it feels like it will”

I Go to Extremes – Billy Joel

I’m in the middle of Billy Joel kick right now, brought on by the return of the Billy Joel Channel on SiriusXM this week. I have a 40 minute drive to my day job, so I really rely on satellite radio because otherwise, I have to change the station two or three times to pick up an FM station that I can stand…ah, the joys of country living.

This song has played a couple of times already and I’m afraid it’s now stuck in my head.  But I was reflecting on it and it’s sort of a description of my writing life lately.

I recently completed my story for the Strange New Worlds Fan Fiction Contest and submitted  it last week. I tried to work at it consistently all of last week, but my work was anything but consistent. I wrote all weekend and was psyched that I had the first draft finished. I went to work on the draft Monday night and found myself so tired, I couldn’t stay awake at my computer. Tuesday, I hunkered down after work and worked all night on it. I repeated again on Wednesday and Thursday when I finally submitted it.

Great, I thought, now I can return to my novel. I had a big chunk of time Sunday afternoon, I’ll dive right in.

Except, I didn’t. I spent all Sunday afternoon and evening playing Civilization and not even looking at my novel. I was out of sorts, irritable for no reason and generally in a pissy mood.

Fast forward to today…back to work and a hellish trip to and from home through lake effect snow. And tonight, I dove right in, wrote a bunch more and now I’m writing this.

It seems to be the way this works for me recently. The Reluctant Captain grew out of the NaNaWriMo Challenge (write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, see for more information). It really was a heads down exercise in where I ignored the world around me and just wrote like a man possessed.

For this novel, there have been different factors at work. One is that my day job has demanded huge amounts of time from me. This, as well as the holidays, contributed to very slow progress. When I had time, I would write, but mostly, I didn’t. Work has leveled out (for now) and so I have more time and I’ve tried to use it effectively.

But then I have days like yesterday. It wasn’t exactly writer’s block. I knew where I was going with the story and I just had to start typing. But I didn’t. I felt like I couldn’t. I felt like the second verse – “Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot,Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got” That was me yesterday.

Today, when by all rights, I should be more tired (getting up at 5:00 AM, having two “delightful” drives through a lake effect snow storm and an equally delightful day at work), I get more accomplished in three hours than I did all of the weekend!

So my goal for the rest of the year is to try to moderate the yo-yo nature of my writing. As the old Aesop fable of the tortoise and the hare says “Slow and steady wins the race”. I have to remember on days like yesterday, I’m never as awful as I think I am and on days like today, I’m never as brilliant as I think I am.

Until next time, happy journeys!


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Ebbs and Flows

I thought I’d babble a bit tonight about ebbs and flows in writing.  This is really affects me in my writing because I tend to have limited windows available for writing. For example, much of December was consumed by work or holiday related activities.  I had very little time to work on anything.

This past week, time has opened up slightly. I have been writing after work and I had huge block of time this weekend while the rest of the family was away at a high school theatre festival.

I think like most writers, I have days where it’s a struggle to type one word after another. The words come exceedingly slowly and I just have to painfully trudge through the night, happy to make whatever feeble progress I can.  That happened on Monday night of last week as well as a part of Saturday afternoon.

And then there was Tuesday. It was one of those magical nights where my fingers couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with my mind.  Everything was magical and easy. As a writer, you live for those days because they are few and far between.

If writing was always as easy as it was on Tuesday night, everyone would do it. I think though, I have more respect for myself as writer when I struggle through those days that it’s almost painful to get the words out of your head and onto the page.  It’s like the brief period time I was a runner. Those days where just don’t want to be there and struggle through every step are probably the most valuable because you’re building a practice. You run because that’s what you’re supposed to do. It takes discipline (discipline that I am sadly, currently lacking).

The same thing goes for writing. You write when it’s time to write. It may only be a few sentences, it may be many pages, or likely, something in between. But you write when it’s time to write, regardless of the ebb or flow.

In other news, I finished my draft of the short story for the Stange New Worlds Fan Fiction Contest. I’m spending the next few nights doing final revisions before I submit my story (entitled “If My Grandmother Had Wheels, She’s Be a Wagon”).

Starting this upcoming weekend, it means I’ll be pulling my head back from outer space and back into the clouds with Malcolm, Joan, and Charles.

Until next time, Happy Journeys!



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We Interrupt This Novel Already in Progress…

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Although I hate resolutions, I am going to try to be much better about updating this blog and giving updates on my work.

So, what have I been doing since the infamous (and barely read) Call of Chturkey post?  Well, it was mostly work, get ready for Christmas, and work some more.  My day job as a programmer has had me working long hours, but I have a feeling that it’s going to curtail sharply now and I’ll have more time to write. Both my novel and blog posts…that’s the plan at any rate.

As you might guess from the tag line, I’ve TEMPORARILY suspended work on my novel.  Fear not – I am returning to the exploits of Malcolm and company shortly, but quite frankly, I saw a writing contest that I absolutely could not refuse to enter.

Simon & Schuster are sponsoring the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds fan fiction contest. Basically, you need to submit a short story about any character in the Star Trek Universe. The top ten stories will be printed in an ebook and physical book anthology.

When I saw this, I knew immediately that I couldn’t pass this up.  As I’ve said on multiple occasions, the character Scotty has long been an inspiration to me. Possibly it came from meeting James Doohan when I was a college freshman majoring in Engineering. Malcolm’s character is directly inspired by Scotty. It should come as no surprise to anyone that my story would focus on Scotty.

Without giving too much away, the story takes place immediately after the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan after Scotty has been promoted to Captain of Engineering and transferred to the Excelsior. Hopefully you’ll be able to read it in the final anthology (keeping my fingers crossed).

Have no fear; I will be back to continue the adventures of Malcolm and his crew. The contest ends within the next two weeks, so I will turn my focus back to Malcolm and the Daedalus.

Until my next post, I wish all of you a very healthy, prosperous, and happy new year!

May the winds be at your back!


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