THE MODERN DAY IS BORING

THIS MODERN AGE of ours is a pestilence. It’s boring and uninspiring. I say this not because I know where I live but because I know I don’t want to live there. We live in the constant threat of terrorist strikes and nuclear obliteration. We live in an age where we have to (HAVE to) work for a living. Gone are the days of the blacksmith, wandering bard, or professional student. You absolutely MUST get an education or fall into the rut of retail and fastfood (the service industry as a whole likely employs more people than specialized trades) if you hope to have a home, food, and family. Elsewise, you’re just some vagabond and nothing more. Nobody brags about working at Kroger or being a postal agent. People brag about being a ‘world traveler’, an agent in the FBI (or other government agency), or a CEO of a major conglomerate. Because these jobs allow agency. Whereas your average job just ensures a paycheck. And how many of you are just happy with a paycheck?

There’s always something more we endeavor to be that the Modern Age refuses to allow or admit to.

Maybe that’s why so maybe fantasies and science fiction stories are set anywhere and anytime other than the Modern Age.  Think about the games you play or the books you read. How many of them are set in the here and now? And if they are, think about how much agency is put into the telling of that story. Sure, Hunt For Red October, the Outsider, and video games like the PS4 Spider-Man are all set in the Modern Age, but how fantastical are they with their elements to keep you intrigued? 

Let’s face it, stories are only good if they’re looking back to the past or forward to the future. Not everybody like Tom Clancy or Stephen King can make the real world seem interesting (or Laurel K. Hamilton for that matter), but everybody loves a good yarn like the Lord of the Rings or a video game series like Mass Effect. Escapism is the magical word we’re all familiar with because the day to day minutia of our everyday lives is just so plain and repetitive. Hell, as I write this, I’m getting ready to go to work at the gas station that employs me for another long and exciting night of sitting there and taking the moronic attitudes of our clientele (Really? It’s our ‘pumps’ that aren’t functioning right? Are you SURE it isn’t because you don’t know how to read?). 

And yet I long to finish the final drafts of my novel, find an agent, and escape this rut. To dive deep into my own imagination and escape to worlds that are fantastic and exhilarating. Not blase and unimportant. Not a place where all I do is work, pay the bills, and wonder how I’m going to repay my student loans (hint: never ever and no way). Sure, I love my family (my wife, my son, my parents, my in-laws). But nothing is more exciting than the worlds I see in my mind. Nothing is more exciting than diving into the latest Assassin’s Creed game (to see the past and the strange stories we might find there) or the newest Mass Effect (that has gone out of its way to leave the Milky Way behind and find new adventures in Andromeda). These are exciting stories (I’m still finishing up the Dark Tower series and looking forward to delving into the Outsider!) that draw us out of the everyday and plop us straight down into the middle of something that matters.

Yet, the bland and boring everyday that is filled with the redundant is something none of us are really thrilled about. And even more depressing is dealing with terrorist threats, school shootings, sexual assault perpetrators elevated to the highest levels of government, and the constant, looming dirge of war with foreign nations that we shouldn’t have to worry about be at war with. It makes you wonder what is it all about? What’s the point? What’s the end game? Everything I do today, I’ll be doing tomorrow. And every threat with have to contend with this year, will be the same threat next.

It never ends. But stories that are not in the here and the now gives us some sort of hope that maybe, just maybe we can find a better path and a better future. At least until we open our eyes and have to deal with the same dismal slog as we did yesterday. Then we start wondering again, when is that alien invasion coming?

Clearly they have more insight than we do.

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It’s All Coming Together

I don’t get on here as often as I’d like. Though, I guess the truth of the matter is, I don’t always have a lot to say. Sure, I could rant and rave over political opinions and considerations (Our country is being destroyed by Agent Orange!). But, really, do I have the time and effort? Probably. But that’s for later. This is something else entirely.

I’ve finished the first draft of my novel that I’m trying to get published. Maybe around Spring of 2019 I’ll start the work on searching for an agent. Right now, I’m trying to get it into readable shape. Somehow, I’ve managed to work on the first and second drafts simultaneously (the rough draft was just the story I told myself. Now I’m working on prettying it up so that it’s worth looking at!)

I’m pretty pleased with the story itself. I have a few people reading the rough draft so that they can give me notes on the story and give me thoughts on improvements I might not have considered. And I’m fleshing out story conceits, character developments, and plot points to make it a stronger story.

Once I know if this is going to sell or not, I’ll drop a line here and say ‘Check it out!’ I hope to be able to find an agent and get a contract to write a series. If not, I guess there’s always Kindle. But, that seems to be mostly a fool’s gamble where ANYTHING under the sun can be published but not necessarily sold. So, I’d rather not.

So stayed tuned and I’ll have more to say hopefully sometime soon! Thanks for reading and wish me luck!

~Timothy Scott Purvis

TIM’S METHOD OF WRITING

SO you want to write? Looking for that great American novel? Forget that nonsense. That ship sailed back in the 1800’s. Now, you just want to write a great novel. And I have a thought on how to accomplish that. I’m currently in the midst of writing a novel that I hope to find an agent for sometime in the fall of this year. I was thinking about how I should go about writing my novel (which I’ve been working on for a year now fyi). And it occurred to me that finding a writer’s group is impossible. An objective opinion outside of grammar police is almost a mythical creature. Therefore I thought, ‘why not come up with your own method, Tim?’ Therefore, I did. Here is my new approach to writing be it a novel, short story, or merely every day fantasy. And I think it has some merit. Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts. But here it is. Tim’s Method of Writing:

Step One: Tell yourself a story. Don’t worry about sharing it with anyone. In fact, my rough draft is being written entirely by hand in an old line blank paged book. It’s almost four hundred pages worth of paper and I’m 221 pages in with it. I’m telling MYSELF the story. And not worrying about what anyone thinks about it just yet. I just need to get the story out and banished to the page. Later on, I’ll ask what people think. Right now, it’s about what I think. That’s the most important step. Get it down on paper don’t even BOTHER rereading what you’ve written yet because it’ll just distract you and delay you.  WRITE IT FIRST!

Step Two: The Second Draft. It is, for me, nothing but notes on what I’m rereading. That’s right, I’m rereading my novel and using a separate notebook to jot down ideas on what could work differently. How the characters interact and how they are developed. I’m looking at story and plot point oversights and inconsistencies in the narrative. I’m not concerned about grammar. I’m concerned about how the STORY works. Grammar later, story now. I look to balance what I’ve overlooked and to flesh out what isn’t developed enough. The Second Draft is made up solely of my notes. And nothing more. STOP looking at the grammatical! Focus on how the story is told! Are there plotholes? Do the characters act differently over the span of the story? Are enemies weak? Are supporting characters irrelevant? This is the note taking phase and only reading the book or story. Get it done!

Step Three: Draft Three. Draft three is based on your draft two notes. You rewrite passages, flesh out characters, and get into the nitty gritty of what makes your story good to read. Still grammar is irrelevant. It isn’t important. Forget about it!  Rewrite your story here! Develop it further based on the insights you’ve eurekaed! Get the beats down! Narrow the scope! Cut out the inconsequential! Formulate your final thesis! Are your characters intriguing? Are the plot points enthralling? Does it make sense story wise? This is the flesh to your skeleton. This is the preparatory stage to your Magnum Opus. You’ve seen what’s wrong, now you’re fleshing it out! Getting into the details. Establishing motivation and correcting oversights.

Step Four: Draft Four is now here. Draft Four is another reading venture! You’re rereading what you wrote and have your notebook ready again!  Don’t correct the work. NO. Write down what isn’t working and what you think needs further developed. It is in this step you’ll seek an outside opinion. Find a writer’s group (if it even exists. Online is a waste of time. They’re only out for themselves and the drama they can cause). No find, something in town. If not, then petition family, friends, acquaintances, spouses, children, pay an editor, coworkers, hobos, or whatever it takes to get an unbiased opinion on how the story plays out. STOP FUCKING WORRYING ABOUT GRAMMAR! IT ISN’T RELEVANT YET! Get your story where it needs to be. You’ll find too many people worried about grammar. And if that’s all they want to focus on, find somebody else! Just get the story right! And where your final vision resides! Take feedback on what they think of the characters, situations, plot points, scenarios, and descriptions. That’s what’s important here.

Step Five: Your final draft. Here is where everything comes together. Here is where your story is the strongest. Here is where you seek your agent, your publicist, your buyer. Here is where you’re ready to unveil your work of art to the world. Here is where you read through it again and here (AND ONLY HERE) do you concentrate on grammar. Grammar is the makeup. That rouge you splash on to make it gorgeous. If everything else is working, then this is just your selling point. This makes it easier to read and to digest. It’s the paint job to your sculpture. The base is finished. And now you’re painting and glossing and saying ‘Hey, check this out. What do you think?’ It’s been fine tuned and ready to be unleashed. If it stands the story test (that test that makes sense and is intriguing to your potential audience and your agent and editor and publicist) then you know you made it. You know your story is ready for consumption. And they’ll tell you (those agents and editors) they’ll tell you what they think. And if you’re self publishing, then you’ll know for yourself that it’s the best that it can be. For better or for worst.

At the end of the day, it’s about you. It’s about the story you wanted to tell and if people wanted to have it shared with them. If the people didn’t like it, what did you think? Are you happy with it? If you are, good job. The masses don’t have to savor every once of your awesomeness. You want to make it big, sure. But YOU HAVE to be satisfied with it. You’re your number one critic. And if it doesn’t do it for you, then it isn’t a great story. Thousands of stories get tossed away everyday. But only ONE story is yours. Do YOU love it? If not, start again. If so, then to hell with want anyone else thinks. Of course, selling to the masses isn’t easy (despite what all the mound of junk might make you think). But in the end if you’re true to yourself, you can’t go wrong. Even if you don’t sell. Plenty of artists only became popular after they were dead and gone. Sickening thought, but also…strangely satisfying. Don’t look to be a famous millionaire…look to be the best author you can.

If you can be happy with what you’ve done, others will follow. It’s the nature of the beast. I’m going to keep up keeping on because when I’m happy with my own story, I know others will be too. I hope this has helped. In any endeavor you want to be able to thrive. But the most important part is being able to be proud of yourself. It’s also the hardest. Because PEOPLE are hard to please. So only please yourself and to hell with the obnoxious masses. You’re your own person.