Singing The February 2015 Blues

Snow is falling outside. The end of February usually brings an urge to break out of winter’s prison and find some warmer weather. It’s been a particularly long winter for many in our country.

I haven’t blogged much this year, not because I haven’t been writing but rather because I’m trying to be more strategic with things like that. Trying being the key word. I want posts to be more meaningful and helpful rather than simply being random poetic ramblings. I’ll save those for some of my stories. But I wanted to share some happenings in my writing world.

Here’s what my To-Do List looks like. 

First important item is finishing going through the first three books of The Books of Marvella series in order to make sure I’ve answered every question (at least in my mind) by the end of book four. I’m also going back through book four before giving it to my editor next week.

This series has been quite an interesting experience. After lackluster sales of Marvelous and Wonder, the publisher cancelled books three and four. There was no way I couldn’t finish the series since it’s one big story. Book three, Awe, had already been written and edited. So I was left trying to fill the hole of two incoming checks that suddenly vanished, not to mention trying to find the willpower to write a fourth and final book that maybe five people out there would want.

Finding the willpower to write has never been a problem for me. Paying bills . . . well, that’s another story.

As I finished Glory, the fourth and final book of The Books of Marvella, I realized how much I loved this story and how important it happens to be. Several times I wept openly as I neared the end to the tale. It doesn’t matter how many people will be moved by the conclusion. But a few will be, I know that.

Now I have to figure out how to fund the publication of Awe and Glory. The thought of doing another Kickstarter comes to mind, but I tried that last year and got a big, fat yawn from the world. That particular idea was different, and I knew that going in. This is a lot more straightforward. But I don’t know. I just know that the books need to be done right. My plan is to have them designed by the same designer, edited by the same editor, and printed by the same printer.

And all of these thoughts and work and time come with whispers. You’re not getting a single penny for all this. If it was just me living in a van down by the river, I’d be fine. But there are four ladies at home depending on me. So sometimes the demons of doubt go Why are you wasting so much time on this? Why, oh why, Travvy-Boy?

Thankfully I have other projects in the works.

I’m revising/rewriting a business memoir by a successful entrepreneur who came my way through a contact in the publishing industry. The longer time goes by, the more doors open for collaborations. People realize that I’m a good writer, I’m a fast writer, and I’m easy to work with. So in this case, I’m taking a book that’s already been written a couple of times and making it better. It’s such an interesting process, cutting and replacing and reshuffling and adding and rewording. It uses different parts of the brain that aren’t used in writing fiction. Working with a business leader who has had lots of good fortune in that world is inspiring.

I feel like every single person I work with is someone I can learn from.

I have two editing jobs I’m working on as well. One is for a manual of sorts for the recovery world, a project where I’m simply helping streamline the book and make it more reader-friendly. The other is a very dense textbook that I’m working on with my father (who is the biblical scholar and nonfiction guy).

My father tells me I take for granted all my talents and knowledge. Twenty-years of being in publishing have helped me learn how books are done, how they should flow and read. I’m not a true editor at the core, but I do have the ability to work on something and make it more consistent and easy to follow and hopefully improve the writing itself. 

A couple of potential writing projects are floating out there, and as always I’m trying to be patient waiting on them. My impatience always comes from how slow the process takes to get a green light, then how fast publishers usually want the product. Everything in my life is about pacing. About the daily word count and pages.

So I haven’t even mentioned The Hinterlands project. I’ve already blogged about that, but in a nutshell, I decided to go ahead and get this story that’s been in my heart and soul out there for any to read. It’s more of an experiment in writing fiction because I’m posting it as I go. I’m already learning a lot about that. Most of the time when you write a novel, you change and delete and rearrange and all that as you go. But in this case, the unedited content goes up. Like demos that a songwriter is creating.

The chapter bits are being blogged as well as done in audio form. My goal is to finish The Howling Wind this year. This is a labor of love and something fun I’m doing. We’ll see where it goes. Check it out here: The Hinterlands

I have more projects on my To Do list. But this is how I operate and honestly how I survive. Working hard on the paying projects I’m fortunate to have and continuing to believe in the passion projects I’m forging ahead with.

My head and my heart are still overflowing with stories to tell. I wish I could be a better writer, but then again that’s number five on the things I want to become better at. Well, I should make it number five, but writing slips to number one quite often.

A thousand-word writing update. Geez. I type fast.

I never know the tone of how these sound. Sometimes I write these things and people send comments like “I’m praying for you!” or “I’m sorry it’ll get better” and I think Did I really sound so down and out? I never claim the writing life is an easy way to make a living. But I try to keep things in perspective. My cousin’s husband who is younger than me is struggling with ALS. My wife’s cousin’s four-year-old son is battling leukemia. So should I be thankful? Yes. Every second of every day.

That doesn’t mean the battle isn’t tough, however. So I keep fighting with words and emotions and stories. It still beats building a brick driveway. Believe me . . . I know.

Let’s all pray that spring comes fast. I can't wait to welcome the warmer days to come.

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