Keeping Sharp: A Writing Wonk

I generally avoid writing posts anymore. It’s like the idiot I used to know who loved to blather on and on about “good writing” but did damned little. Not that he was a bad writer. He just spent more time talking about writing than, yanno, doing it. (And then he wondered why blogging took up so much time. Um… Because you kept doing it?)

Anyway, without recapping all that makes up the Life of Winter, I’ll just say that sometimes writing gets pushed off to its little corner, which means some days it gets ignored. Not good.

On the other hand, if you’re just writing for the sake of writing, it’s not hard to get a good 500 words out. Sometimes, it just means scribbling scenes, snatches of dialog, and character sketches. Just a month ago, I wrote a scene where an unknown drunk drops trou and gives the bar his interpretation of “The Rifleman’s Creed.” (Hey, if they can do it on Family Guy…)

But to make sure I do some writing, and I don’t mean this blog, I’ve been working on a book you will never read. Years ago, Li’l Sis and I had characters based on older, idealized versions of ourselves who were musicians. Oh, hell. They were friggin’ rock gods, ‘cuz that’s what we wanted to be. We created elaborate lives for these characters, even wrote letters in character. Great creative stuff. Trouble was neither of us could find anything to do with them.

I did eventually. Some of the characters I created ended up in a short story called “Whittle You Into Kindlin’.” Then I listened to Scar Tissue, the autobiography of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Keidis . And all during this, I thought, “What if Himself wrote his autobiography?” (Himself was a nickname Li’l Sis came up with for my character, one I adopted while I was still wondering what to do with him.) When I finished the book, I thought, “Why not?”

It’s not a priority. In fact, when I finish this, I’ve got a story about a suicide bomber who discovers death doesn’t stop the police from interrogating him. I want to get the latest draft done so I can sub it early next year.

But writing this bio serves a dual purpose. Get a scene in the latest WIP done, I get to go play in that particular sandbox. So it’s a reward. An indulgence. Secondly, it exercises fiction muscles I don’t normally get to exercise. This character grew up in the 1950’s and early 60’s, will eventually go to England, then Vietnam, and West Germany. Playing in a high school band and prowling the streets of Saigon are not the same as Nick Kepler tailing a cheating spouse.

Of course, now I’m jealous. I barely know three chords on the guitar. This guy learned to play by the age of 12 and, like Kepler, gets laid more often when he’s single than I ever did. Sometimes, I’m tempted to insert myself into the story (“Wait? I thought that’s what you were doing!”) and throttle the guy.

It’s had an unexpected benefit. When I go back to a WIP, it’s a lot easier to make myself write when Idowannaworkonit!!!

But it’s not a priority. And it’s not anything you’ll ever see. As long as it helps me write, it’s all good.

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2 thoughts on “Keeping Sharp: A Writing Wonk

  1. LOL. I can’t take credit for “himself” – it was our mutual friend who once said, “All Jim talks about is himself, music, and himself in music.”

    But you hit on the most important thing: the writing needs to be fun regardless of what you plan to do with it!

    • Last night, after I wrote this post, along with a new scene in the WIP, I had something scary happen to Himself that, this morning, I realized would make great backstory for half a dozen other characters. So some of this stuff will get recycled for public consumption.

      Wow. I’ve created a character whose sole purpose is to be my personal writing lab rat. Dance for me, rodent! Dance! Dance! And eat all that saccharine! Mwahahahaha!

      OK, I really need to get back to work.

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