Monday, January 23, 2012

The Seven Hundred (and Twenty One) Club

Man, this writing thing is tough.

So, I stayed up way, way, way too late last night. I would normally try and come up with some stupid bullshit excuses like "oh, hey, yeah, I was totally planning my whole year's writing schedule", or "I was doing intensive research on the railway lines and schedules for the middle part of South Carolina", or maybe even "there was a total alien invasion last night that was centered on my house last night, so I was up super-duper late fighting them off with my junior-sized Louisville Slugger, a can of lighter fluid, and my car keys, and successfully fought them all off, so, hey world, y'know, you're welcome," and I'd even like to think that I'm a confident and competent enough tale-teller that you guys would buy it.

The truth is, however, I was watching music videos on YouTube and playing the "just one more" game (I trust you are all aware of how that game works). When I finally crawled into bed at 6 AM, I thought that I would be fine. I had planned on waking up at ten to get started on my day, but this had now been pushed back to closer to noon or one, depending on how lazy I was feeling when I woke up. 

Truth be told, I was a little disappointed in myself; it's always a bad idea to set a goal, and then immediately fuck that goal over before you even have a chance to reach it. I, however, figured that, to hell with it, I'm the only person who's allowed to be mad at myself if I screw up, and I'm not going to be mad, so who cares? With that in my head, I spiraled down into sleep just after six.

....and promptly woke up, sans alarm, at 10:25. Not PM, y'all. AM. My brain - which, to be clear, I have spent the last 2 weeks realigning to be on more of a daytime schedule - woke me up, got me out of bed, slapped me twice across the face before throwing me up against the wall and whispering menacingly into my ear "you made a promise, you arrogant goddamn prick, and this is your punishment. Get yourself cleaned up and get into your office before I CRUSH YOUR SKULL AND MURDER YOU WITH MY DICK" (I'm paraphrasing here). So, after showering and making a pot of coffee, I went in, sat down, and started pecking away. After three hours, I had made some progress, but not as much as I would have liked. 

NOW, to be fair, I was working on a chapter that had gotten away from me about two months ago (roughly the time when I stopped writing it) so I had to basically think quickly enough to get past that part and move on, which I did manage to do, so, go me. Even so, I feel like what I did produce wasn't near where it should have been. Despite this fact, however, I'm going to go ahead and put the numbers in here at the bottom as a way of measuring (quantitatively, anyway) my output thus far on the Super Six project. 

Quick little FYI: as a means of clarification, I already have a lot of words written as a whole for this project, but we're resetting the actual counter at zero in an effort to keep this an honest record. With any luck, we'll see a big jump numbers-wise tomorrow. 

Oh, and before any of you waggish types out there start throwing me some shit about "quantity vs. quality", YES, I KNOW, I GET IT. It's better to write one page of pure genius than thirty pages of total fucking incoherent trash. I totally agree with that, and I'm sure most of you would as well. See, except, I'd be willing to bet all of you have at least one Dan Brown book on your shelves, and that guy writes nothing but total fucking incoherent trash (And I'm not knocking it; hell if *I* could make millions of dollars writing incoherent trash, I'd be deep into that like racists at a Newt Gingrich rally [too soon?]). And, to be honest, right now I need to generate content, which can eventually be called a completed first draft, and which can then sit unseen on my desktop for months in a delicate little process I like to call editing. So, yeah, quantity now, quality later, sex and drugs and rock 'n roll next week (Just kidding, I'm certainly not having sex anytime soon). 

So, without further ado, I would like to present, The Number, day one: 721.

(Let's hope that goes up tomorrow by, like, a lot. I'd hate to have to work on a beet farm to pay the bills because, dude, beets. Ew.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A year of madness.


Hello there, internet. I am Steven Lacey, and with any luck, you and I will be getting to know each other pretty well over the next 365 days or so (give or take). I am about to embark on what could be called a fairly ambitious project, which has the potential to either be a rousing success, or a spectacular, flaming out of the sky failure. 

First, some background:

I have been working for the last eight (almost nine, actually) years at a job that - while I loved the people I work with, and even liked the work I was doing - it had become clear to me that the company I work for gave exactly fuck all about those of us who they employed. I understand that it's all about the bottom line, but the way that things were being handled at the corporate level, and, subsequently, how it was affecting us at street level was just mind-boggling. By mind-boggling, I mean that we were all getting beaten down and forced to work in increasingly stressful conditions.

Not being a big fan of stress - at least, not the kind associated with a job like that - I recently decided to, as the kids say, take my toys and go home. I put in my two weeks, worked it, and am now living off of my savings for the foreseeable future. 

To what end, you might ask? Well, I am glad that you did. I am a writer. Although I have dabbled in a variety of different types of writing (online and print journalism, poetry, lyrics, etc), my main goal and focus has been on fiction and prose. About 6 or 7 years ago, I wrote a series of short stories and published a book titled Everything In Its Right Place: Tales from San Corazon, which is supposed to be the first book in a trilogy of interconnected short stories which are all telling a larger narrative. When asked what happened to books two and three, I have said that I would get around to writing them, eventually, even though, aside from a few stabs here and there, I haven't exactly been keeping up my end of the bargain with that. For those of you who have been waiting for me to do that, my apologies. It is my intention to rectify that this year.

I have a lot of friends, many of whom have come to me for advice over the years on how the life they want is going how they want it, and lamenting the fact that they aren't getting any younger. Whenever they do, my favorite story to tell is that of Raymond Chandler, long one of my favorite writers and what I think is a pretty amazing story. In a nutshell, Chandler had tried writing as a young man, been unhappy with the results, and then ended up getting a job in the oil industry, starting as a bookkeeper and over the course of ten years rising to a vice-president position with his company. After a series of misfortunes and bad decisions (read: alcoholism, missing work, and womanzing) he was fired from that job and thus, at the age of 44, decided to start writing again. It was from that point that he honed his skills and became known as a truly amazing writer, widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of hard-boiled detective fiction. After writing a series of short stories, he published his first novel - the incomparable masterpiece "The Big Sleep" - at the age of 50, which put him on the map and kept him writing for the next 20 years until his death. I would argue that he has remained relevant even far beyond that. So I would use this story as a testament to the idea of believing in yourself, of the idea that it's never, NEVER too late to make the changes that you want to your life and to find the thing that makes you happy and to just do it. (Thanks, Nike!)

My point in recounting this story is that I have been giving this same talk, handing out this same advice, for years now, and yet, I have been slogging away at the aforementioned job and, while never truly miserable, it was not what I wanted to do. Not even close to it.

Luckily, however, I had a wake-up call, and one day came to the realization that it was time to follow my own advice. Over the last few years, I have had any number of writing projects in varying forms of completion, including books two and three of my trilogy, a pair of books for another series that I have been working on to different degrees for the last year or so, another novel idea I've been kicking around, some short stories, etc, etc, etc. My point being, I have all of this creative energy that I have been squandering while spending time in Life's Waiting Room until I could find the time to work on these projects.

Well, the waiting is over. The time has come. This is my declaration of writer-pendence (FYI, if those kinds of puns bother you, stop reading now; it's only going to get worse from here on out). 

Over the next year, I am going to attempt to do the following, totally insane thing: Write six books. That includes a re-edit and re-release of the first book in my trilogy (1), plus the two follow ups, (2, 3), the two books that I started ober the last year (4, 5), plus a separate, joint effort with some friends of mine (6). With any luck, I'll accomplish at least part of this goal and manage to publish a few of these things during this time. I will be doing my best to document my attempt here, on this blog. I will probably also be writing my observations about weird shit happening in our world here as well, so hopefully that will be interesting and engaging as well. Regardless, I will be trying my damnedest to keep a running tally of things like word count, productivity, and other minutiae so that in a year's time, I have an idea of exactly what I will have accomplished during this time. 

I know that this won't be easy; I know that there will be plenty of anger, heartache, tears and hopelessness during this time. I am, however, hoping that there will be triumph, success, and accomplishment as well. I suppose all we can do over this next year is see what transpires. With any luck, a year from now, things will have changed for the better.

On the other hand, we might all die when the Mayans come back and go on the warpath in 11 months, in which case, at least I can die knowing that I spent the last year of my life actively working toward my dreams, rather than sitting in the fucking waiting room. That's good enough for me.

My plan begins tomorrow morning. I'll check in here tomorrow night and give you an update.