My copy editor emailed me on Friday: I’m wondering why you chose to tell most of the story in past tense — I know it’s a flashback, but you could easily tell it in present tense while still maintaining it as a flashback. I favor present tense as it’s more “alive” and keeps the reader in the action. Have you thought about this? No, I hadn’t. I had thought about writing it in the present tense but not as a flashback in the present tense. When I read her response I knew her suggestion would make the story stronger. Fifty Shades of Grey was written in the present tense. Hot and in the moment. Say what you want about Fifty Shades but I learned many things about writing from the trilogy. Good for the author for the overall character arcs of both Anna and Christian, good for her for writing erotica that is actually erotic AND remains part of the plot/story, and good for her selling so many copies and making outrageous amounts of money for herself and her publisher. There’s more positive things I could say, and perhaps at another time. I emailed my copy editor back: Brilliant idea, but to be honest, right now, keeping the story as a flashback but writing it in the present sounds like your speaking Chinese. I had to be honest. This sounded like a really good idea and yet my brain could not wrap itself around how to do this. You see, I come from a screenwriting background. That is all present tense. I kinda thought it was either present tense or past tense. I made a request:
She responded back: If you can wait until Monday, I can give you what I’ve done so far on paper– about 20 or 30 pages, and I did start to make corrections to tense but then stopped. It will also give you an idea of how it would sound, etc. I responded back: Fantastic. I told a friend that I am going to be chaining the story from past tense to present tense. She said, “That sounds like a lot of work.” I’ll be honest, this thought occurred to me but it took up residency for only a brief AirBNB moment. I was amazed how quickly I shifted to: this will make the story better, do it now before it’s online. And, with all the work you put into the writing so far, what’s another 2 or 3 days? So…I’m sitting on the couch as I write this. My laptop truly being a laptop. It’s Saturday morning at 6:20 am. The wife, kids, and dog are all sleeping. The fish may be sleeping too but its eyes are open and its moving around so I can’t really tell. I’ve got two days before I receive the pages back from my copy editor so I can “understand” how to do the present tense thing as a flashback. This is good timing. Here’s how my next three days look: Today (Saturday): laundry, day job (I’m turning around a couple of rooms for an event – the upside is I’ll have fun with my assistant who is a good friend, connect with other fun people, and the free lunch will be great), and later tonight I’ve got a friends Birthday Party. Sunday: This is going to be my first big Book Promo Day. My neighborhood is having a block part. I will be wearing a tux and passing out postcard sized flyers with a picture of the Space Spiders on Prom Day book cover (see image inserted below in this blog). On the top of the card, it will read, “Shop Local. Eat Local. Read Local.” Witty, eh? On the card I’ll introduce the book and myself as a neighbor. I’ll invite everyone to visit this blog and my Space Spiders on Prom Day Facebook page. You’re invited too. https://www.facebook.com/SpaceSpidersonPromDay I’ll write about the block party and share some stories with you.
Update: the first 100 pages of Space Spiders on Prom Day is NOT on Amazon. I took them down. I decided to release the book as one big book (400 pages as I type this) instead of four parts @ 100 pages each.
So…Space Spiders is not yet up on Amazon. I’m working on it. Actually, to be accurate, my copyeditor is working on it. She just emailed me and asked me for an electronic copy of the first half of the book (200+ pages) in addition to the hard copy I have already given her. Don’t know why she wants both but I try not ask her too many questions when she’s doing her thing. Always be nice to the copyeditor.
Here’s your Trading Your Addictions for Creativity tip for the week (and how it relates to writing)
I have recently watched the first 7 episodes of BLACK SAILS which is a pirates show on STARZ. Good times. I look forward to watching the last three episodes of Season II.
I am sitting about three feet from my beautiful flat screen TV. I won’t mention its size. This way you’ll probably envision it a little bigger then it actually is.
I am sitting a foot away from the remote to the TV.
A foot away from pirates, gold, sword fights, and scurvy. Oh, so close.
But I’m writing. I started writing about an hour ago. I created a half-sheet flyer for this neighborhood block party we’re having this Sunday. The flyer has an image of the front cover of Space Spiders on Prom Day with some words. I think they are witty. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
(Note: I attempted to copy and past the flyer into this blog. The words are below but the image didn’t make it. So, I’ll just write COVER IMAGE where it is suppose to appear.
This block party flyer is below. Note: the words are “centered” on the actual flyer. It reads:
Shop Local. Eat Local.
One of your Mar Vista neighbors has written a book.
Follow John’s writing and publishing
misadventures and successes on Facebook.
(FACEBOOK ICON) Space Spiders on Prom Day
John Hruby & Family (and Mesha the dog & Dippy the fish)
Barry Avenue residents
Ideally, the neighbors will join me on Facebook as I continue the adventure of creating.
So…that is what I’ve been doing for the last hour instead of watching pirates bang around. I’ve really enjoyed creating this flyer and I anticipate having a good time passing them out on Sunday.
I KNOW (because I’ve done this before) that if I watched TV instead of doing my creativity I would have this nagging feeling that I was NOT doing what I want and need to be doing to support me with my REAL goal.
My real goal is NOT to binge watch On-Demand Cable or Netflix. I’ve done it enough to know it’s NOT enough.
My life. My creativity. My writing is more fun.
The pirates will wait. The gold is on the beach. I hope Boney will get with his new crew. I hate to keep him waiting but I know if I choose other things because MY writing and creating, I just keep myself waiting.
And I know it’s much more fun to create.
I just “published” Space Spiders on Prom Day – Part 1 on Amazon Kindle. What a trip.
By the time you read this, I imagine blokes in England could be checking it out. Amazing.
Friends and strangers have recently been asking me a question. Note: not true strangers because I have had some conversation with them, so, in essence they are not completely strange to me. However, I do have some friends who are strange.
I’ve been asked how did you create time to write?
I have a wife, two kids (six and ten), and a full-time job. Depending how the writing thing goes will determine how long I have the full-time job. But let me be clear. I like my full-time job. When the time comes I will be “running to” something not “running from” something. Oh, what a joy it will be to write four or five hours a day.
So, my friends say, “When do you find time to write?”
The short answer is in the evening and early in the morning. But that is not the real question they are asking. What they mean or what they want to ask is, “How do you MAKE yourself write?”
The short answer is, I don’t. I don’t MAKE myself write. I LET myself write.
Now, for the long answer.
Do you eat ice cream? (And, if you don’t, substitute eating ice cream with watching TV or playing video games, or something else.) Let’s just say you eat ice cream (even once in awhile). I do.
I don’t make myself eat ice cream. I remember how much I like it and I let myself do it. I plan ahead and buy ice cream when I am Trader Joes. Or, if I really want it, I go out and buy it.
Do you get that? I remember I like it SO much that I will go out of my way to do what I need to do so I can do what I want to do.
I wash a bowl and spoon if I need to so I can enjoy it. I would never stand in the kitchen and say, oh darn, no clean bowls, well, I guess I won’t have any ice cream now.
That’s how I write. I first remember how much I enjoy it.
I set myself up for success by making sure I have the “ice cream” already in the freezer. What do I mean by that?
When I’m really tired at night I will plug in the laptop and open up whatever story I’m writing to the place I am at. I will also pull out a sweatshirt and my slippers (if it’s winter and it’s cold) so when I wake up in the morning I can get warm and be writing in less then 30 seconds. Yes, I make it easy for myself to start.
I teach a workshop called Trading Your Addictions for Creativity.
Writers and artists take it. It helps them to do what they REALLY love to do. Sure, they love to watch TV, Facebook, play Candy Crush, read celebrity magazines, surf the web, etc. etc. but they REALLY love to CREATE and do their ART.
What I have found is that most people have forgotten that they love to write (or insert your choice of creativity – it could be gardening, painting, cooking, dancing, etc.)
I remember what I REALLY love to do.
That, I have found is really the first step to being a writer. This is really the first step to being a Creator. I really have a good time writing. Yes, I watch some TV and I certainly love watching movies but, in all honesty, I have realized that CREATING is usually more fun than consuming.
And, if I’m not creating (writing) then no amount of consuming will fill me up.
Believe it or not, I run to my computer to write.
The second key a writer can take away from the ice cream example above is the idea of setting myself up for success and making “starting” easy.
Starting writing has to be as easy as typing something into Google, popping open your Facebook page, or picking up your remote control and turning on your TV.
Here’s something to think about if you’d like to think about this. Reading another persons book or watching a movie someone else made is SECOND HAND creativity. I do this. And, I love it. BUT, the energy of creativity is SO much more when I write and create myself.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it out.
One last thing, if you don’t enjoy creating (writing, painting, etc.) then you’re doing it wrong. Stop judging yourself or your work. Judging is a great way not to have fun. Judging is a great way to stop productivity. More on that later.