In the Writer’s Chair: I’m Better When I Move

When it comes to how I figure out story sequences or bits of dialogue, and sometimes the more complex plotting, I’m reminded of my favorite scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are in Boliva, hiding out from the U.S. authorities, and they take a job as the security detail protecting the payroll of a mining operation. But before they get hired, the boss wants them to prove they’re worth hiring. So the boss chucks a tin, and tells Redford’s Sundace KWhen it comes to how I figure out story sequences or bits of dialogue, and sometimes the more complex plotting, I’m reminded of my favorite scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are in Boliva, hiding out from the U.S. authorities, and they take a job as the security detail protecting the payroll of a mining operation. But before they get hired, the boss wants them to prove they’re worth hiring. So the boss chucks a tin, and tells Redford’s Sundace Kid to shoot it. Standing in place, he shoots, but misses by about a foot.

Looking distraught, Sundance does this quick pivot move and blasts the tin like four times in a row. The boss looks at him, amazed, and Sundance says, "I’m better when I move."

Well, that’s how I am when it comes to thinking things through. When I’m writing, and need to figure something out in my head before I can really get going, many times, although not always, I get stuck, just sitting there at the computer. My fingers hover over the keys, twitching, wanting to clack away, but I don’t know where to take them. In my mind’s eye I can’t see where to go.

So I physically get up from the desk. I walk around my apartment and I think out loud. I talk it out. And usually I grab my whiffleball bat and twirl it around, take a few swings, and just get my body going. There’s something about motion, about the physical act of swinging my arms and getting my blood flowing, that helps me think. And during this process sometimes I’ll get inspired, and head right back to the computer and clack away, and sometimes it lasts, sometimes not.

Other times I’ll flop down on the couch, thinking, and then I’ll walk around some more, into the kitchen, into the bedroom, even out on the balcony. And then I’ll head back in, take a few more swings, and slowly but surely the ideas start coming. My mind loosens. I can see where I need to go, and can think it through. There are usually a lot of starts and stops, thinking I’m on track only to realize I’ve thought myself into a corner, but ultimately, I find my way.

While writing for me takes place at the keyboard, the writing [i]process[/i] is much more all over the place. The ideas comes to me when they come to me. I need to be active, to get physical.

Like the Sundance Kid, I’m better when I move.

In the Writer’s Chair: Why Futzing Means Move On

I’ve been tinkering away on a new project lately–one I will chat about soon–and I realized that it’s been a while since I talked about the writing process itself. And what came to the forefront today was … futzing.

When I say futzing, I mean, tinkering with the same sentence 10 different ways, when the rest of the paragraph, or even the whole section, is otherwise done. When I say futzing, I mean playing around with where to break a paragraph, or adding or subtracting one or two words I’ve been tinkering away on a new project lately–one I will chat about soon–and I realized that it’s been a while since I talked about the writing process itself. And what came to the forefront today was … futzing.

When I say futzing, I mean, tinkering with the same sentence 10 different ways, when the rest of the paragraph, or even the whole section, is otherwise done. When I say futzing, I mean playing around with where to break a paragraph, or adding or subtracting one or two words in a string of dialogue.

Typically, I try not to move on from a section until I feel that it’s in good shape, but sometimes I can linger, I can overstay my welcome. So when I get to a point in the writing process–like I did today–when all I’m really doing is futzing, it’s time to move on.

So how do I know when I’ve spent the right amount of time? A-ha. Well, it’s different in every situation. It’s a feel thing. Either a section works, or it doesn’t. Writing is one of those truly subjective experiences, where 100 different people can have 100 different takes on the same piece of work.

And then there’s the question of why I’m futzing so much. Sometimes it’s because I don’t quite have a feel for it, and I’m not confident that I’ve hit all the right notes, and if I just hang around, inspiration will come. And sometimes that’s exactly what happens. Then again, sometimes I’m just tired, or otherwise distracted, and am off my game. So when I futz with the writing just to stay connected to it, and then I’m usually back on track the next time I sit down.

And yet other times I’m procrastinating. I know I don’t know what comes next, or there’s a difficult bit I need to work out that I just don’t want to tackle yet, so futzing is a way for me to be a chicken! It’s my way of hiding, from ducking my storytelling responsibilities. If I spend session after session futzing with one section, I don’t have move on to the next. Ah … good ol’ procrastination.

But that doesn’t last either. Ultimately, when it’s time to move on, I do. So I’m done when … I’m done. And today I was futzing … for the third writing session in a row … so I figured, yep. That’s it.

Time for the next section. Until the next bit of futzing comes along.

Publishers Update: New Players Emerge

So here’s the latest on the publishing front with [i]Finders Keepers[/i].

Through two different connections I’ve made over the last few months, I now have two new publishers in play who have both requested to read [i]Finders Keepers[/i]. Naturally, I’m pretty excited about that, as the more publishers who are interested in my book, the better.

And once everybody is back from the Labor Day weekend, the publishing world–like most other industries–will be back in action, so I’m hoping So here’s the latest on the publishing front with [i]Finders Keepers[/i].

Through two different connections I’ve made over the last few months, I now have two new publishers in play who have both requested to read [i]Finders Keepers[/i]. Naturally, I’m pretty excited about that, as the more publishers who are interested in my book, the better.

And once everybody is back from the Labor Day weekend, the publishing world–like most other industries–will be back in action, so I’m hoping to get some killer feedback soon. Meaning … sign me already! It’s time for a book deal!

I know, I know, be patient, be patient.

Trying to break into any creative field is tough, as there’s so much competition and so many variables that I can’t control. And who likes to feel as if they’re not in control? LOL!!!!

Still, my book is written and my agent and I are pounding the pavement to get my book in front of as many publishing eyes as possible, so it’s only a matter of time at this point. It’s not a matter of if Finders Keepers gets a publishing deal, it’s a matter of when.

Naturally, I’d prefer when to be [i]NOW![/i] But I’m patient … I’m really and truly … p-p-p …. (deep breath, deep breath) patient.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Cape May Vaca … and No Near Drowning!

Liz and I are back from a few well-needed days off in Cape May, and it really did the trick. We lucked out with great weather, spending the bulk of the time on the beach. If you’ve never been Cape May is at the southern tip of New Jersey, just a breezy little beach town with lots of B&Bs.

We stayed at the Bedford Inn, just a block away from the beach, so that was quite nice. It was just a real relaxing few days, with our most difficult decision being what to have for dinner. And no vacaLiz and I are back from a few well-needed days off in Cape May, and it really did the trick. We lucked out with great weather, spending the bulk of the time on the beach. If you’ve never been Cape May is at the southern tip of New Jersey, just a breezy little beach town with lots of B&Bs.

We stayed at the Bedford Inn, just a block away from the beach, so that was quite nice. It was just a real relaxing few days, with our most difficult decision being what to have for dinner. And no vacation is complete without at least one night of lobster, which hit the spot. The service at that particular restaurant was pretty lousy, but the food … yum.

Our other big adventures included a long walk down the boardwalk and an intense game of miniature golf, so I think you can tell that this wasn’t exactly a high-impact trip, which was perfect for us. And unlike last year, we didn’t almost drown!

Sweet.

This weekend also helped recharge my writing batteries, as I’ve got loads of projects in the works and a bunch of surprises I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks. So now that I’m back, I’m really back.

Stay tuned …

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/09/15 21:19

Re:Day of the Dog

If we could ever be so lucky as to get a dog like Dusty, I’d sign up for that 10 times out of 10.If we could ever be so lucky as to get a dog like Dusty, I’d sign up for that 10 times out of 10.

Drunken Wiffleball

Liz and I will be heading down to Cape May within the next two hours, but I’m still a bit achy from last night. We went to a party in New Jersey for a friend of ours who turned 40. It was a big backyard type party, with a margarita machine and kegalator, and, much to my surprise and joy, they had a regulation issue whiffleball field–with the lines–in the backyard. I couldn’t believe it!

For an old whiffleball junkie like me, this was a little slice of heaven. I hadn’t played in years. AsLiz and I will be heading down to Cape May within the next two hours, but I’m still a bit achy from last night. We went to a party in New Jersey for a friend of ours who turned 40. It was a big backyard type party, with a margarita machine and kegalator, and, much to my surprise and joy, they had a regulation issue whiffleball field–with the lines–in the backyard. I couldn’t believe it!

For an old whiffleball junkie like me, this was a little slice of heaven. I hadn’t played in years. As a kid–and even up through my early 30s–I used to play a lot. I spent endless hours as a teenager in front of my house, playing one-on-one games with a few friends of mine. It was great.

But last night we were playing 3-on-3 on this giant field, beers in hand. In my pitching return, I was just a little bit off the mark. Okay, I walked in 10 runs in the first inning! But I redeemed myself. I went on to nail two home runs off the house–including a grand slam–and walked three other times. So, all in all, I had a damn good night.

But I’m paying for it now. I’m in pain!

Well worth it, though. I’m ready to get back out there again.

Day of the Dog

Now here’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say: looks like I’ll be getting a dog.

It goes against all of my cat instincts, but while I’ve been a lifelong cat person, Liz has been a lifelong dog person, and she’s waited patiently these last 8 years, so it’s about that time. Liz knew from the get-go that I wasn’t open to having a dog until Alex had his full run. Unfortunately, Alex checked out a little earlier than I had hoped, but now that our apartment is sans cat, the decks are cNow here’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say: looks like I’ll be getting a dog.

It goes against all of my cat instincts, but while I’ve been a lifelong cat person, Liz has been a lifelong dog person, and she’s waited patiently these last 8 years, so it’s about that time. Liz knew from the get-go that I wasn’t open to having a dog until Alex had his full run. Unfortunately, Alex checked out a little earlier than I had hoped, but now that our apartment is sans cat, the decks are cleared for a dog.

So now Liz and I are doing some dog research, and it could be that we adopt one sometime over the next month. We’re not rushing into it, but even though I’m a cat person to the core, I’m an animal lover, and while I’ve never had a dog as a pet, I just know myself, and as soon as I see a cute dog, I’m going to want to adopt it and all of his friends, big ol’ softy that I am.

We’ve already filled out an application for one dog, and are have another one in our sights. I don’t know if we’ll wind up with either one, or an entirely other dog, but it looks like we’ll be adopting one sooner rather than later.

I’m still shaking my head at the idea of it.

Me with a dog. Who knew?

New and Improved -Finders Keepers Pitch Sheet 2008

Following up with my last blog, here is the latest, and greatest pitch sheet for [i]Finders Keepers[/i]:

[b]Genre:[/b]

Finders Keepers is a road trip/buddy-story, with sci-fi/fantasy elements woven into the narrative.

[b]Short Description:[/b]

On a backpacking trip through Europe, Jason Medley and Theo Barnes stumble through hash bars and hangovers; food poisoning and thunderstorms; religious zealots, stalkers, cute girls, lost loves, midnight trains, fever-pitch hallucinations?anFollowing up with my last blog, here is the latest, and greatest pitch sheet for [i]Finders Keepers[/i]:

[b]Genre:[/b]

Finders Keepers is a road trip/buddy-story, with sci-fi/fantasy elements woven into the narrative.

[b]Short Description:[/b]

On a backpacking trip through Europe, Jason Medley and Theo Barnes stumble through hash bars and hangovers; food poisoning and thunderstorms; religious zealots, stalkers, cute girls, lost loves, midnight trains, fever-pitch hallucinations?and the spectre of adult responsibility!

But when a jar containing the Universe’s DNA falls from the land of Eternity to the caverns of New Zealand, these new friends find their loyalties put to the test?unaware that a motley crew from another realm is chasing them across the globe, with the fate of the Milky Way hanging in the balance.

[b]6-Sentence Description[/b]:

Newlyweds and low-level galaxy designers Donald and Danielle accidentally knock a jar of the Universe’s DNA into the newly forming Earth, leaving their fate?and that of the Milky Way?in dire straights.

Fast forward to modern day Earth, where Wannabe-English teacher Jason Medley is stuck in that netherworld between college and a career, until he reluctantly quits his go-nowhere waiter job on Long Island, and backpacks across Europe. There he meets Theo Barnes, an adventurous New Zealander who has already stumbled upon the hallucination-inducing jar?that won’t open?unaware of what’s inside.

As the new friends stumble from city to city, trying to outrun their impending adult responsibilities, they encounter Lilly, a young, sultry painter with a haunted past and a habit for finding trouble. Meanwhile, Earth’s banished galaxy designer and her talking brown Labrador, the newlyweds with a famous friend, and a drag queen with a dream each have their own designs for Theo’s jar, initiating a chase around the globe–and putting loyalties to the test.

Traversing Europe, New Zealand and the backbone of Eternity, [i]Finders Keepers[/i] is a buddy story that not only tackles friendship, sex, commitment and desire, but also God, reincarnation?and what really happened to the dinosaurs!

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/08/20 08:26

Finders Keepers Like True Romance?

Now that [i]Finders Keepers [/i]has been getting a lot of publisher interest, it’s also been getting a lot of publisher (or should I say editor) response. At present at least three publishers are considering [i]Finders Keepers[/i], but I’ve also learned a few things from the publishers who have passed.

And what I’ve come to realize–or at least believe–is that, unintentionally, I’ve been mismanaging their expectations. At it’s heart, [i]Finders Keepers[/i] is a buddy story and a backpackinNow that [i]Finders Keepers [/i]has been getting a lot of publisher interest, it’s also been getting a lot of publisher (or should I say editor) response. At present at least three publishers are considering [i]Finders Keepers[/i], but I’ve also learned a few things from the publishers who have passed.

And what I’ve come to realize–or at least believe–is that, unintentionally, I’ve been mismanaging their expectations. At it’s heart, [i]Finders Keepers[/i] is a buddy story and a backpacking adventure, with some goofy sci-fi/fantasy elements woven into the narrative. But because the goofy stuff is so, well, goofy, it’s such a great hook, and people are genuinely interested.

But what’s been happening, I think, is that I’m promising one kind of book, but then delivering another. So when the editors get [i]Finders Keepers[/i] they think they’re about to read non-stop cosmic lunacy, when in fact, it’s mostly set in the real world, with regular people on a backpacking trip, with some cosmic lunacy mixed in. Through no fault of the editors, [i]Finders Keepers[/i] isn’t meeting their expectations. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of tone.

I think back to the early 90s when [i]True Romance[/i] came out. The studios marketed it as a romance date movie between Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, but when boyfriends and girlfriends sat down in the theater and there were guns blazing, salty Quentin Tarantino language and just loads of intense violence, the audience would get up and leave. The movie bombed (although made a nice comeback on DVD). Thing is, [i]True Romance[/i] is a great movie for the kind of movie it is. It just got marketed the wrong way. The audience expected to get one kind of movie, but watched another.

Same thing is going in with [i]Finders Keepers[/i]. At least that’s how I read it.

So what to do? A-ha. Always the key question. Well, I’ve gone back to the drawing board pitch-wise, and I’ve come up with a new, revised pitch that sets out to do two things: Sell the overall fun and goofiness of [i]Finders Keepers[/i], but also keep it a bit more grounded, so editors and publishers will have a better ideas of what they’re getting up front. This way, the editors will be better positioned to accept [i]Finders Keepers[/i] for the book it actually is, and enjoy it. And buy it.

And now that I’ve revised the pitch materials, and my agent has them to work with, we’ll see how it goes.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/08/20 08:25

My Slow Summer Daze

It’s been pretty quiet at the office the last week, and even quieter this week. Nobody is here. Where normally the phones are ringing off the hook and the emails are pinging through faster than I can keep up, it’s pretty darn slow. Which isn’t to say I have nothing to do, it’s just that the pace has ……. really …………. slowed …………………………….. down.

There’s this general daze, like when you sit down at a restaurant on a really slow day, and the service is ridiculoIt’s been pretty quiet at the office the last week, and even quieter this week. Nobody is here. Where normally the phones are ringing off the hook and the emails are pinging through faster than I can keep up, it’s pretty darn slow. Which isn’t to say I have nothing to do, it’s just that the pace has ……. really …………. slowed …………………………….. down.

There’s this general daze, like when you sit down at a restaurant on a really slow day, and the service is ridiculously bad, even though there are no other customers. Everybody–the waiters, the line cooks–just kinda moves in slow motion. Real lazy-like.

Same thing going on here.

Can’t say I’m a fan. I like to be energized, and I’m usually pretty good at keeping my pace up–or moderated–regardless of what’s going on around me. I stick to a schedule–a rhythm–and it keeps me flowing. But the last several days I’ve just been in this summer haze, drifting along. Drifting along.

I know it won’t last, because it never does, but beleive it or not, I’d rather have more activity around me. There’s slow and there’s real slow, and as much as I’m sure I’ll regret saying this come the fall when I’m totally slammed, I’m ready to pick up the pace.

But just a little.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/08/23 08:53

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