A Look Ahead

Happy 2019, everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting this. The holidays tend to interfere mightily with my writing plans. And then I decided to clean my apartment.

On the book front, I started reading In Search of Lost Time last year (the original Moncrieff translation, without any additional editors, since it was cheap, it’s a classic translation, and if I like it, I can buy a more updated version, based on the corrected text, that’s annotated, provided the editor finishes editing all the volumes and doesn’t die before finishing the last book, like Proust and Moncrieff both did).

Professionally, I continue to work on my novel and also found some other writing projects to keep me busy, provided I actually sit down and work on them. It’s too easy to forego writing and start doing some other activity, only to find myself googling random-ass stuff on my phone, or reading someone else’s drama on reddit, instead of working. I also need to kick-start my voice acting career. I even purchases a shiny new domain name and website last year:

https://www.salvatorespeaks.com

Socially, I need to hang out with my friends more and keep in contact with them better through long-form writing (or phone calling) for the ones who live far away. I would also like to take more vacations, even if it’s only a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Still, I’m excited by what the coming months will bring. Here’s to a great new year!

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The Agony and the Ecstasy of Writing

Back in middle school, I wrote a short story for my sixth grade English class. In high school, one of the books I read my freshman year made me think about expanding that short story into a novel. I wrote an outline, but then did nothing with it till after college, where I revisited it and began writing the novel itself. Then 9/11 happened. I finished the rough draft and started revising it. The revisions didn’t go well. So I put it aside and went to Japan.

A year-and-a-half into my Japanese journey, I decided to start reading a book my mom had given me. The book was On Writing. The part that stuck with me was when Stephen King wrote that most of his novels weren’t outlined before he wrote them. This reminded me of Mark Twain doing the same thing. Since I already had the novel in my head, maybe I needed to rewrite the whole thing (by hand) so as to avoid the pitfall of being locked into certain plot points happening at certain times.

I started my draft in Japan, an hour each day after work, completed it soon after I returned to the states, and then set about revising it. Then I moved to Seattle. I sandwiched writing in-between apartment and job hunting. The first few years found me jumping from job to job, then to unemployment and food stamps, then to a job where I had to fight for more hours. I still wrote, but not as often. And then I had to move again.

Now, finally, I’m feeling some stability with my job and my living arrangements, I’m in a great relationship, and the novel seems more and more like an albatross around my neck, while it becomes easier and easier to waste time clicking apps on my phone than it is to go on my computer, or pick up a pen, or bring out my typewriter, and revise my work currently in progress, or begin something new. Granted, the lack of sunlight sucks away at my happiness this time of year. But I think the big problem might be the lack of music.

When I was writing my novel at home (though not in Japan), I’d put on some Mahler, since what I was writing was as cataclysmic and angsty as that composer’s oeuvre. Plus, I always write better when I feel strong emotion, either negative or positive. Though I have an iPod (and access to Youtube), I don’t much like headphones, and hate earbuds even more, especially when the music has such a dynamic range that more time will be spent fiddling with the volume control than doing any typing. But now that my partner/girlfriend and I are taking care of a cockatiel for a family member, we’ve had music on for his enjoyment. Mostly it’s pop music (he’s a big fan of Michael Bublé, Ariana Grande, and Britney Spears), but last night we put on classical music, and that’s what’s playing as I write this.

The other major problem might be that I’m not the same person who started writing this tale, and so now the story must change to reflect the altered person that I am, a person who shares many similarities with the kid who based his first novel on a short story he wrote for his sixth grade English class, but whose knowledge of and outlook on the world has expanded considerably, and must revise accordingly.

Plus, there’s that damn narrator issue.

Schedule of Events

Looking at this blog recently, I noticed that I haven’t posted anything in 2015 (I’ve been more active on my other blog).  This was bound to happen, as work on my novel, plus procrastination strategies I have perfected over the years (i.e. becoming obsessed over this-or-that historically remastered recording of this-or-that piece of music), leaves me little time to post on anything that isn’t confined to the strictures of a review (see my recent reviews on Murmurs from the Balcony and Goodreads as proof).  Plus, since I want to be paid for my poetry, short stories, novels, plays, etc., the only things I post on here are the occasional poem or short story, which I will often revise after posting, and since I’ve been working on the novel…

Therefore, I’ve decided to list my current schedule (in no particular order), from which you will see leaves little time to nourish my first foray from obscurity into notoriety (i.e. this blog, back when I started in on Blogger in May 2009).  There is, however, a project coming up that involves this blog, but I don’t want to say too much; after all, past lists of promised blog posts have left many broken promises.

1. MY NOVEL

The biggest of my projects, which reminds me of an onion: peel one layer away, and you are confronted with many more.  At least it hasn’t made me cry yet, which would complete the metaphor.  Frustrated, yes, but not to tears.  Checking in with my awesome first reader, I’m not lacking for ways to revise the novel; I’m lacking in how to accomplish these revisions.  The main culprit?  The narrator.  Sure, some characters could use more fleshing out, but it’s the goddamn narrator who’s causing me to want to throw things at the screen.  The good news is, if I figure out that problem (and yes, I have ideas), the novel shouldn’t need any other major revisions.  Minor ones, yes, but once the major ones are dealt with, I can start shopping the novel around to publishers.

2. MOVIES, BOOKS, AND VIDEO GAMES

I’m trying to see fewer movies, read more books, and play more video games in my free time.  I’m doing pretty well with one, very well with two, and dismally with three.  Since one is necessary for two, and three is so that I’m not working all the time, I consider it successful.  Plus, with the weather getting nice, I’ll be ditching all of these for photography and walks around Greenlake soon, anyway.

3. MY JOBS

Any writing or reading I do has to work around my jobs.  Reading is easy, since I can read on the bus ride to work, but writing has to be done when I’m at home, and not being tempted by the sun to ditch everything and get some Vitamin D.

4. GOODREADS AND OTHER REVIEWS

Every time I finish a book, I write a quick review of it on Goodreads.  Since I want to balance thoroughness with speed, some reviews end up taking more time than my novel does.

5. STUDYING JAPANESE

More properly, reviewing what I already know so that I may start studying new material and progress from the height of my knowledge in Japan to something that approaches fluency.  I also want to brush up on my French.  And learn some Korean.  And American Sign Language.

6. BUYING FOOD

It takes time, as I have to write out a list, then walk to the store and come back.  And, if I have to work later that day, I must remember to buy food that I can prepare quickly and transport easily.

7. OTHER LONG-TERM PROJECTS

These include writing diary entries, printing out photos I’ve taken over the last seven years, scanning objects into my computer, and burning items to disc.

8. FUN ACTIVITIES

I can’t work all the time, so occasionally I plan fun activities around my work schedule.  Last year it was tango (doing) and ballet (watching).  This year, I’m trying to attend more symphony concerts without paying too much for tickets.

And then, of course, there are emails to write, Facebook comments to leave, online articles to read, YouTube videos to watch, and people to call.  And meditation!  And exercise!