The Revenge of the Liquid Eyeliner 3.27.19-4.2.19
Writing a book is like applying liquid eyeliner.
The first sweep, if made with confidence, can turn out beautifully. You know what you want. You know how to achieve it. There’s grace and poise in that motion. You have a clear destination.
Or, more likely, you know what you want, how to achieve it, and you royally f*ck it up.
I’m not just talking a little smear out of place. I’m saying that instead of getting that bold, perfect statement, you’ve got a black blotch angled all kinds of crooked with a bit in your eyelashes that—when you blinked—somehow got in your eyebrow.
But just breathe, right? It’s okay. You wipe the mess away, edit it down to a perfectly tapered line. Okay. Back on track. It’s time for eye number two.
Did I lose you yet? This analogy works. I swear.
Eye two is like a grand finish. Keep calm. It’s going to be okay. You’ve put a lot of thought into this. You know how you want it to end. Just one careful twist of your wrist and you’ll have a fashionable, gorgeous look. It’s all going to work out in the—
They’re crooked. Not only crooked, you look like a murderous clown who’s been standing in the rain, staring up at a window all night. You fix it. You wipe and clean and edit that eyeliner back down to size. Or maybe you try to dink up the first eyelid, too. At least they can match. Right?
It usually works out in the end. Going without eyeliner is always an option, of course, but wouldn’t you just feel better if you managed to accomplish what you set out to do?
The point: keep calm. Liquid eyeliner, like writing, can sense your fear.
Speaking of fear, I am deep in the editing world.
I actually enjoy editing. I get to roll around in my words like a pig in mud (I think I’ve made that comparison before, maybe on Twitter, and it just doesn’t look as good in print as it sounding in my head). I get to tug at words, find the perfect way of expressing something, and add/cut chapters toward the perfect cause.
But then there are days. Oh my goodness, are there ever days. Sometimes I question my own ideas. Sometimes I’m pretty sure than anyone who would ever want to read my books just got a little lost on their way to the checkout counter and stumbled across my brain baby. Like those little packs of candy at the checkout. You don’t need it. You don’t really even want it. But it’s there, and you’re looking for something to do so that you aren’t pulled into an awkward conversation with someone, so you buy that morsel and…I think I’ve wandered a bit too far.
The point is, if I question myself whilst editing, that’s the end of the editing. I’ve got to put my laptop away before I start ripping words and chapters out like a toddler with a vengeance pact against a fistful of grass. I have to walk away. Because I know that this book isn’t garbage. I know some people genuinely enjoy my work. And yet, knowing that and believing that are sometimes a conflict of interest for my internal demons.
Tonight was just such a night. So, the laptop went away and the ice cream came out. As did the Nintendo Switch. Because I just started playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild and HOLY HELLS, IT’S AMAZING.
This is so yesterday, but YOU GUYS: BREATH OF THE WILD.
I love open world games. If I can’t go forage for sustenance in some random woods while hiding from monsters, I really don’t get the point. I want to look at that distant mountain, that castle or ruin, and I want to know that I can go waste my time in it. Better still, I want to know that if I pick an unknown shrub and ingest it, I want to have the clear and present danger of actually dying. Let’s have some natural consequences.
I’ve never played a Zelda game that encompasses this quite as well as Breath of the Wild. I can climb anything. I can swim anywhere. And if I’m not careful, I indeed will plunge/swim to my death. I wandered on a grassy plateau and caught a wild horse, tamed him, and named him Keth Sehl. I frolicked about the mountainsides. I found Kakariko village (sp? I’m feeling lazy) and cooked up some questionable stew. The puzzles are original, the game spontaneous, and the characters are fresh. I FRICKEN LOVE THIS GAME.
Better still, I’ve barely even started it and I’ve put way more time into it than I should have. Honestly, I could play this game all day and all night. If I have to sleep, I guess maybe I’ll just pass out. And if I have to edit…well, let’s have some willpower, Williams. You’re gonna get in trouble.
BUT IT’S JUST SO MUCH MORE FUN TO DINK AROUND IN THE HILLS OF ZELDA.
Yesterday, I hurt myself with whiskey.
Honestly, even thinking the word whiskey makes me nauseous. I’ve not felt this badly since I was in college. WHY I haven’t learned anything in the past six years, I couldn’t tell you. But it probably has something to do with, *blurp*, whiskey.
So instead of being a ninja-warrior-powerhouse of editing magic today, I was a couch sloth. And a toilet troll. But y’all don’t need all of the details of my misery.
I didn’t even watch the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery. And that’s when you know it’s bad. I saw a spoiler for it and wept.
So, I dinked up. Couldn’t even ride in to town to collect my scattered belongings (car, keys, toilet paper…yes, toilet paper). Instead, I hid in the dark cave of my soul and slept my day away on the couch of despair.
When I could again ingest food (for my body wasn’t about to trust anything I willingly put into it again) I did at last manage to crawl my way to my computer. I got some work done, though not nearly as much as I had planned, and I then wandered aimlessly through my home, half-heartedly tidying up before slinking off to bed.
There’s no moral to this story, no glimmer of sunshine. Sometimes, we just need a solid reminder of why it’s fun to drink tea. Not whiskey.
Actually, I’m pretty sure I may never drink whiskey again.
That’s just not true.
Have you guys discovered the awesome that are Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s books?
Well, if you haven’t, do I ever have a recommendation for you. The Pendergast novels are easily my favorite modern detective novels. They’re scary with just a touch of magic. They’re adventurous without losing validity, they’re believable without being bland. I absolutely love the eccentric protagonist (Special Agent Pendergast, of course), as he is a Sherlock Holmes style detective with a southern flare. And I love his counterpart, Lietenant D’Agosta, who plays the Watson to his Holmes. But they’re both unique characters, not at all derivative of Conan Doyle’s masterpiece, and I can’t recommend them enough. I think the first in the series is called Relic. You’re welcome.
Their latest in the Pendergast series just came out, Verses for the Dead, and I’m really enjoying it so far. The books are bloody, but they’re…well, fun. Serial killers, mythical beasts, crazy crocodiles…imaginative and badass. Check them out.
So long as I’m on a detective kick, I’ll also throw the Dresden Files out there. I’m sure a lot of you have read them (because if you read my blog, you probably like the same genres I do and/or I’ve already made you read all of the things). But if you haven’t, here’s your nudge. I absolutely love Harry Dresden, a wizard detective in Chicago, and I can’t get enough of his interaction with the beasties of the world. I’m really looking forward to the next book—though I have no if/when it’s coming out.
If y’all have any good recommendations for detective novels, please drop some names in the comments below. I’m on a Sherlocky kick (I did a background search on someone at work the other day, and I quietly was listening to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock soundtrack…so, yeah, it’s bad) and would love some fresh reads!
I haven’t even started writing Olympus.
I know, I know. I’ve done a lot of talking on this blog about how the writing is going, about editing and reviewing and beta readers. I think I even threw a couple of hints in here about what is to come. But the truth is, I haven’t even started writing.
It’s going to disappoint a lot of you. At least, I hope you’re not indifferent. But hey. If you want something done right, you’ve got to take your time. And I’m just not ready to start writing Olympus yet. It’s there, it’s a good idea and a fresh take on Mars, but if the words don’t come to me, I can’t put them on paper.
Please don’t feel too upset or, for lack of a better word, betrayed. Writing is hard, and sometimes it gets the better of us. Olympus will have to come out next year. That gives us all one more year to re-read Firebird/maybe hate me.
I’m not even sure how I’m going to write Olympus. I mean, it takes place in a theoretical future on an impossible Mars. It will require so much work, so much creativity, so many hours at the computer…I mean, I have a life. I can’t just skip going to the movies/game night/having dinner with friends every night and go home to write instead. I can’t be expected to design my cover and draw my characters and create a new world when I could be skiing or hiking or ice fishing.
Also, happy April 1st.
To be clear, writing a page a day for this blog is a lot of work.
But I’m starting to enjoy it. It feels less like a chore and more like an opportunity. I write when I get home from work and it’s a great way to lube up the ole creativity gears. And loosen my fingers, which I honestly think might just snap off one of these days. I mean, how much coordinated twitching can they really be expected to do before it’s just too much?
Also, if I made anyone a shade too angry/nervous/upset, Olympus really is almost finished.
I heard someone refer to herself as a “Holiday Whore” the other day, and I laughed until I peed a little bit. Because that’s totally me. I freaking love holidays. Be that Christmas or Thanksgiving, Easter or Halloween. I dress up for them. I wear goofy costumes and huge glasses that have a Santa hat on the corner (if you’ve been to very many of my Christmas-time signings, you’ve probably seen them).
So, of course I enjoy a good prank or two on April Fool’s Day.
Did you guys do anything fun? I honestly sort of skipped it this year, as nothing seemed quite creative enough. But I couldn’t resist at least one little attempt at horrifying humor.
So, happy April my Nerdmigos. I hope it’s filled with sunshine and Easter Eggs. I hope that you pranked some poor fools and I hope that spring eventually comes to Minnesota, because frankly if it snows one more time, I’m going to consider human sacrifice.
Oh, and by the way. I printed my first draft of Olympus tonight. I held my book baby in my hands and sniffed its fresh pages. Yes. They smelled like love.
And murder and betrayal and sacrifice. Get ready. It’s almost showtime.
Oh, thank you!! I look forward to checking it out. Sounds like it’s right up my alley :)
Oh, speaking of all these Sherlock-like detective novels… I’m halfway through The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall and it’s brilliant! Heavily inspired by Sherlock… if Sherlock Holmes were a female wizard name Saharazad Haas with a bad reputation and cursing problem. Sooooooooo good. It’s got science fiction elements as well, with quite an interesting universe. It’s not out yet though :( I signed up for the “First to Read” program through Penguin Random House to get free access to electronic copies of books before they are published (if only I had learned of this program sooner in life!). I HIGHLY recommend it. If I still love it by the time I get to the end I’m going to have to buy a paperback copy when it eventually comes out.