Monday, April 7, 2014

The Secrets of Genre and Process: Can Someone Just, You Know, Give Them To Me?

So, I've been tagged in one of these "pay it forward-" or is it "tag - you're it" blog meme thingies.  I only said yes because it was Marie at MY CYBER HOUSE RULES who invited me.  She's one of my best internet friendishes whom I've only met in the world of TRON and The Lawnmower Man.  She's a liver of life (one who lives life to the fullest - not the squishy organ), a singular force for positivity and adventure.  Go now, and read her blog and look at her insightful photographs.  Go on - I'll wait.

...wait wait wait...

See?  She's fun, non?  Anyway, my task was to answer a few simple questions, so let's get to it.


Simple.  Nothing.  I've reached a bit of a crossroads with this blog.  I write a lot of little back-stories for the 700 HOBO names John Hodgman gave us in his brilliant and hilarious almanac of fake facts, "The Areas of My Expertise."  Please go buy it.  I also sometimes write ABOUT MYSELF.  I'm pretty sure the average blog reader is not interested in weird hobo fiction, and the average hobo fiction enthusiast doesn't want to hear about my MANY STINTS ON THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE.  So, one thing on which I'm working is deciding where to go next, blog-wise - if I continue at all.

What I *SHOULD* be working on is my novel.  I've done several National Novel Writing Months, and several of the Camp NaNoWriMo sessions, and last year, I produced something that might actually be workable.  I should be working on that, but apart from editorial stuff, I have no clue about next steps, and at the moment, I am falling victim to a self-destructive "If I don't try, I can't fail" mindset.  I'll get there, though.  In the meantime, here's a glimpse of two of the three main characters, although this scene is not in the book:  HERE - CLICK HERE!!.


I'd like to tell you all the ways in which my work differs from and is superior to everything else in my genre, but to be perfectly honest... WHAT GENRE?  I started with BIZARRO TALES of my formative years, moved through almost two years of the UNEMPLOYMENT thing (also liberally-sprinkled with utter bullshit), before moving into the WORLD OF THE HOBO.

So, yeah.  I don't really have a genre.  And that's okay, for now.  


Because I have to?  I like putting words together, preferably in new and distinctive ways.  In everyday life, I often have immense difficulty in keeping my mouth shut.  And so it is when there's a keyboard in front of me.  I have to write. 

If we're talking about why I write the hobo stuff, the main reason is... because I've started.  I can't write about some of the 700 hoboes; I have to write about all of them.  It's a mild form of OCD, I'm sure.


Process?  What's a process?  Okay, I'll try to be serious for a second.  Process is very personal.  My day job is relatively menial, and I get to listen to my 11,000-song iPod most of the day.  I get a LOT of my inspiration from music.  That, and dreams, and the works of those whose work I adore:  Douglas Adams, Mark Leyner, Christopher Moore, Steve Martin, Loren Bouchard, and whoever writes the TV show "Archer."  

When I have an idea for a blog post, I wait until way too late at night, and crank out mostly harmless silliness for a rum-soaked hour or two, show it to [Maris], proofread, touch up, and post.

When I embark on a novel project (which I have yet to attempt outside of the compressed schedule of a NaNoWriMo event), I turn on the music and set my laptop on our old computer desk's monitor pedestal, and stand and type.  I get my characters talking (dialogue has evolved into one of my strengths), and let them tell me their stories.  It's all very organic.  Research is done on the fly, and I read each day's work to [M] for feedback.  Okay, sometimes, if it's going really well, I don't read her the "dailies;" I just keep writing.  

I tell stories, and my writing is in many ways simply a transcription of my conversations - real, imagined, and various combinations thereof - and as such, I feel that once it's been typed, it's been typed.  The words are out, and they should be changed as little as possible.  This is a recipe for complete and utter failure as a writer, and I'm working on it, but there it is.  It's not much of a process, but it has been pretty good to me, so far.

There.  Questions answered.  Now, for the fun part.  I get to tag a couple of my blogging friends.  I couldn't get three to commit, but here are two people whose work is worth a look - I promise:

1.)  There is seriously a little bit of everything at L.M. Leffew's CHAOTICALLY YOURS.  Her writing is crisp and smart and just go check out her blog, please.  Read more than one post.  She's cool.

2.)  Speaking of cool, check out Vinny C's blog AS VINNY C's IT.  He's from the southern reaches of the Caribbean, but don't be jealous.  His life is just like ours.  His perspective, however, is fresh and funny - plus, stick figure 'toons!  Go.  Click.  Enjoy!

3)  I was supposed to tag three people for this, but I only got two to play along.  So... go to their blogs twice, or something.

Thanks for hanging in there until the end of this little exercise.  I'll be back as soon as I think of something.  Tah!


  1. I am definitely not an average blog reader, because I absolutely LOVE your hobo stories. Have I told you that before? They are fun, so please keep cranking them out!

    1. Aww... Thank you so much, Katy. I think you've said some very nice things about the hobo stories, as a matter of fact. Don't worry - I don't feel like stopping anytime soon. I might give them their own blog, though. We'll see...

  2. "The words are out, and they should be changed as little as possible. This is a recipe for complete and utter failure as a writer, and I'm working on it, but there it is. "

    I understand that. I try to do my blog prompt/exercise responses in that fashion. If nothing else, it helps me to get over the fear of shitty first drafts and it behooves me to write as well as I can (in the moment) the first time around.

    And that latter is one reason I'm going back to drafting in longhand. On a computer, I feel rushed. As if the blinking cursor is challenging me to get my words out as fast as I can.

    Writing longhand, I can muse, take my time, scribble in the margins, draw arrows where I need to switch around content, and generally get a decent seeming draft before I "commit" it to the screen.

    1. Ooh - I should try that! I have such bad handwriting, however, that I'm afraid I won't be able to read it to transcribe it to the screen. "Oh, squiggly lines, what is it that you're trying to say to me? Is that 'car?' Or maybe 'fortitude?'"

      Thanks for playing along. Looking forward to reading your take on this.