Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Five Years On

Five years ago, after I decided to take on the ludicrous passion of writing, I wrote down some goals. The penultimate one was to be traditionally published within five years. For the first three years I wrote my ass off -- two novels, several rewrites, brutal critiques, humbling rejections -- but oddly I never changed my goal. I figured it was part of the process. I was talented. Other talented people told me so. It was going to happen.

But as often goes, life/career happens. The Army gave me the honor of an incredible job, responsible for the safety and livelihood of hundreds of Soldiers and their Families. Such was the job that I threw myself into it 100 percent, definately more. Between that, raising two smart-ass kids, and making it happen in a dual-career family, something had to give. Writing.

Over time I've painfully watched the success of good friends. I say painful because I'm an extremely competitive person, honed by years of competitive athletics and a profession which tends to eat the weak. I wouldn't call it jealousy.  I do not lie when I say that I am overwhelmingly happy at my friends' success, but deep down I've been quietly stewing. For months now I've been experiencing a perpetual annoyance at my own lack of effort.

My feelings right now towards my writing are probably well summed up by Cake's 1996 classic, The Distance:

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
Engines pumping and thumping in time.
The green light flashes, the flags go up.
Churning and burning they yearn for the cup.
They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
Reckless and wild they pour through the turns.
Their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
As they speed through the finish the flags go down.
The fans get up and they get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can.
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup.
But he's driving and striving and hugging the turns,
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

So time to get back after it. I'm going to have to channel my inner YA fanboy and get back to writing in the appropriate tone. Two years of operations orders and executive summaries have somewhat killed my flow.

When it comes to lack of progress, I have no one to blame but myself.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Quick Shameless Plug

I was about to title this 'shamelessly plugging a friend...' Yeah. Good author friend and author Steve McHugh probably wouldn't appreciate that, and neither would my wife. I'm sure our critique group partners will have a good laugh.

In any case, this week he released his new novel, Crimes Aainst Magic. I was able to read and critique some of the early versions of this novel, and it was as fabulous as the title. Seriously, Steve managed to come up with one of the best titles EVER.

It's on my Kindle and I plan to review it soon. I also plan to revive this blog over the next few weeks. Works been busy and this forum became a victim of my professional success. Now that things are starting to slow down a little, it's time to get back to writing.

In the meantime, go check out Crimes Against Magic. It's seriously worth your time. Did I mention the awesome title?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Changing Perspectives

So I'm querying again.

Shot that sucker right out there. So for now we'll sit back and see what we see. I hadn't realized it's been since October 2009 that I last sent out a query. Since then the novel has gone through three major revisions.

Last night, just for kicks, I took a look at the original draft from September 2009 and cringed. It's horrendous. Completely infantile. I can't believe I was arrogant enough to actually send that out into agent-land. It's hilarious when you think about it.

When you start your writing career in a vacuum, everything feels right. Your family tells you how great your stuff is. The words flow and before you know it, you think you the next great American novelist. It's funny to look back at those original words. They're awkward, overly-complicated and the writing style was so over-grammatically correct it was stiff as a board.

But what was there was passion. Probably more than I have now. There was a lot of feeling in that story, and it reflected in the plot. The basic concept was great. How do I know? More than a few professionals have told me so.

Haha, but therein lies the rub. I had to learn how to write my great story. And that took time. Make no mistake; I'm still learning to write. There's a reason the average time to publish is around eight years and a hundred queries sent. Make no mistake about it, this shit is hard.

So as I stared at the draft email containing my query, my finger paused over the 'send' button. I was fearless the first time I queried. Back then I treated the endeavor like I do with any request: the worst they can do is say no. In 2009 it took me two seconds to hit that button.

But two and a half years later, the stakes are higher. I've got a boatload more experience and learning, not to mention the scars earned from the monthly exchanges in Kelley Armstrong's Online Writing Group. In 2009 I wasn't afraid of failure because I had truly nothing to lose.

Enter 2011 and a different perspective. I am afraid of failure. Strike that. I'm not afraid of failure; I'm afraid of lack of growth. I'm afraid I'm no better than I was in the final months of my tour in Iraq in '09.

But I am better than 2009. There's no question there. Remember, I looked at that old manuscript and laughed. I have grown. This round of queries is a test to see how much. The goal is still to get picked up and published by 2015. So this time I did hit that 'send' button, it just took twenty seconds longer than the last.

Hey, the worst they can do is tell me no.