May the Fourth Be With You

Star Wars: A man in black and a young woman are fighting on an airplane. An electronic dictionary and toaster are ejected from the airplane and land somewhere in the Arizona desert. They end up in a thrift shop where they are found by a random teenager who notices that the toaster is engraved with the name a Mormon hobo… who just so happens to live right outside town! The teen returns the appliances to hobo who, that day, is wearing a tattered Rolling Stones T-shirt. He gives the teen his dad’s slingshot. NOBODY uses slingshots any more.

Empire Strikes Back: That guy in black on the airplane was actually the DAD of the random teen! And had been TRAINED to use a slingshot… by the hobo!

Return of the Jedi: The young girl on the plane was actually the SISTER of the random Arizona teen and the DAUGHTER of the guy in black she was fighting with on the plane! She had no idea!

The Prequels: We learned that ALL Mormons wear tattered Rolling Stones T-shirts. Tattered Rolling Stones T-shirts are THE uniform of the Mormon people. Also, everybody has slingshots. Some use multiple slingshots. Oh, and the guy in black from the plane actually built the electronic dictionary before he was slingshot-trained by the hobo.

The Sequels: A Nutra-bullet lands in the Sahara. It is found by the daughter of the boss of the guy in black who was in the airplane in the first movie.

The Early Bird Gets Confused

Strangest thing.

I woke up this morning around 6, got up by 6:30 and was out on the patio writing my journals before my alarm was even set to go off at 7. After that, I made breakfast, straightened the apartment, whipped up some butter coffee and started working on my book. By 11 o’clock, I’d reached my word count for the day, just in time to be available for the Whole Foods delivery I’d ordered the day before. Groceries were wiped and put away by the time my Night Owl wife woke up so, by noon, I’d pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to do for the day (except for this post).

After that, I didn’t know what to do. I sunbathed on the patio, tried to read for pleasure, took a nap but it all felt… off. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t doing all the above in lieu of writing, but because I had written.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

Book In a Month

I’m gonna book in a month.

Book in a Month

In the middle of April, as life felt like it was both spiraling out of control and grinding to a halt, I noticed the orange and yellow spine a particular book on the shelf in my office. Nestled among numerous writing books – bought and read in lieu of actual writing – and more books about Japan and Japanese than I’ll ever have time to read, sat a book I must’ve bought back when I was living in Seattle called Book in a Month. The first time I read it back in the 2010sies, it helped me outline a few things but I was already so overwhelmed with material for my book about Japan that it didn’t help me much at the time.

However, when I picked it up this time, it sparked something. “Hey,” I thought to myself, “I’ve got ALL of next month off! AND I’ve got a massive, unwieldy and unreadable first draft that I’ve been avoiding diving back into for nearly a decade!”

Let's Get ReadyrrrrrrllllLet’s get ready to self-flagellaaaaaate!

I reread the intro to BIAM and found myself thinking about revisions and daily word counts. It was like prepping for my first NaNoWriMo all over again! I figured I’d start on May 1st so, in the last week of April, I organized the office, set up my desk, gathered all the related boxes and files, installed Word Keeper on my phone, and had my wife shave my head. Like you do.

May 1st arrived. I opened my massive Scrivener file and found myself immediately overwhelmed, hitting all the usual stumbling blocks that always tripped me up in the past:

The story starts at the wrong time.
I’ve got way too much backstory.
So much of the book is pointless but what parts?
Oooh, something shiny!

As day 1 dwindled to a close with little work to show for it, I started to panic. I needed to change my approach. I needed a distraction-free writing space and a new perspective. Using a break, I did a little research and ended up downloading Q10, a full-screen program that I set up with green text to make my screen look like an old computer terminal.

All Work

I also decided to reduce my daily goals A LOT, much closer to the kind suggested in No Plot, No Problem.

Today, after several SUPER productive hours of doing anything but writing, I decided I would just write a synopsis of my story, chronologically, from start to finish. No revising or adjusting, just flat out writing the bare bones of what I want my story to be.

I slipped on my precious noise-cancelling headphones, cranked up some Smooth Sounds of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and got to work.

An hour or two later, I met my writing goal.

And, I actually kind of enjoyed it.