Knocking off the Rust

The two or three people who pay attention to this space have probably noticed that I haven’t been active lately. No blog posts for months, no new releases, only a handful of grumpy tweets. What’s going on with my Author Platform?

Long story short, I’ve been working on a massive personal project this past year, something that had nothing to do with writing. I was going to blog about it, but I’ve decided not to, for privacy reasons, and because the Internet is already full of oversharers.

With this project complete, a lot of problems have been solved in my life. So…[cue dramatic voice]…I’M BACK!

After a long stretch where I did very little writing, I’ve returned to the daily grind of pounding away at the keyboard and poring over hard-copy rough drafts. It feels great, and I don’t believe my ability has deteriorated much. I was afraid I’d be hopelessly lost for several weeks, that the basic elements of writing would seem as esoteric as quantum mechanics. But I feel like I’ve got a good handle on things already, and that I’ll only get sharper as the days go by.

My brain’s Analogy Creation Tool is one aspect that needs to be kick-started, however. Right now it’s functioning as slow as…see, I can’t come up with a good analogy. I assume this will improve as I immerse myself in my writing. Once I see how all the pieces connect within my fictional worlds, I should be able to come up with snappy analogies that enliven my prose.

Next up in the queue is the untitled second book of the Johnny Wagner, Godlike PI trilogy. In preparation for writing this, I reread “Double Lives” so I’d know how to properly portray Johnny, Dak, and all the other indelible characters residing in Z City. It’s basically been a year since I worked on “Double Lives,” so I returned to it with trepidation. Was it really garbage? Would the present day me scold the past me for writing such hackwork?

Nope. For the most part, I’m satisfied with the writing. It’s fast-paced, with just the right balance of dialogue and narrative. Info-dumping is kept to a minimum, and when it is done, it’s usually delivered as dialogue or combined with various other elements so that it appears organic to the story. Many parts of the novel made me go, “That…is…awesome! How in the hell did I come up with that?”

Before you go, “This guy loves to toot his own horn,” I will say that “Double Lives” has its flaws. The plotting can get wacky. I sometimes got confused, and I’m the author; I’m supposed to keep track of everything. For future novels, I’ll strip away the convoluted silliness and make sure readers can keep track of the story. As Da Vinci put it, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Being away from the writing scene did give me Writing Withdrawal, but it also allowed me to see the self-publishing world more clearly, since I was looking in from the outside, so to speak. There are endless “experts” browbeating self-published authors, demanding they do X, Y, and Z if they want to be a Real Author instead of a Pathetic Hobbyist. Much of their advice has been repeated in a million blog posts, ebooks, and podcasts over the past decade. Even mega-successful authors, the ones who are supposed to have some deeper insight, sometimes aren’t the best guides.

I’m going to stop flailing around looking for a “hack,” and reading how-to posts that are nothing but clickbait fluff. As I see it, there are very few hacks, unless you do something patently unethical. (See: book stuffers) The oft-repeated phrase “just keep writing” hasn’t been disproved, however. Write quickly, write well, and market as much as you can, even if it feels sleazy.

The naysayers may be scoffing, “Show me, don’t tell me.” Well, I intend to. Currently, my Author Platform is clearly not one any sensible person would want to emulate – but then, I haven’t been at full strength until very recently.

Round One of my writing career was a bust. Let’s see what happens in Round Two.

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