Do You Have Angst?: November 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

How Daniel Craig made me feel better about my writing

When I am on the downhill ride of a novel, that part where the ideas tumble out so fast I almost can’t type enough words per minute to keep up, in the back of my head, I remember thinking, “I’m going to keep this momentum going.” At this point of the creative journey, I wake up in the morning and write, I’ll hide at a coffee shop after work and write more, then go home to eat dinner with my family before writing even more after everyone goes to bed. It’s like a sickness. It’s glorious.

When I’m done writing a novel, I’m spent. So much so that I just want to walk away and never look at it again. I love what I've accomplished, but I already ran that marathon and I’m ready for a well-deserved break. Of course, it’s not that easy. The next steps are beta team critiques, editing, cover design, more editing, and lots of marketing. That makes me want to walk away even more.

Months later, when I’ve gotten back in the habit of showing up to work on time, finally fixed that leaky sink, and actually returned to the gym more than 2 days in a row, I start kicking myself, hard. What happened to that momentum? Where did my amazing writing habits go? How is it that life took back over with such a firm grip? Yes, I needed to lose those 10 pounds, and paint the house, and remind my friends I’m alive, and go to that school function, oh yeah, and don’t forget leveling up to 100 and taking the hot office manager to lunch…

The reasons are valid at first, but procrastination eventually takes over. (Taking the hot office manager to lunch is not procrastination, that’s important, but the other stuff is questionable!) I may kick myself, but I still find excuses not to write. The guilt starts seeping in. One of my beta team members will offhandedly comment that I must be getting close to done with the next book by now. Or, a cautious reader will politely ask how the next book is coming. Or, I get the dreaded amazing review that excitedly teases future books. That kind of encouragement is just about everything I could ask for, but I worry that the next novel won’t be as good. So, I beat myself to write words that only trickle out. And then, today, I finally realized...Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig is an amazing James Bond. I haven’t seen Spectre yet, but I’ve enjoyed all of the Bond movies he’s been in. I mean, Skyfall, right? In spite of the accolades and excitement surrounding their release, when he’s finished a Bond movie, he’s done. I mean, really done. You can google plenty of interviews where he states he’s not making another one. He’ll blast the Bond character (most recently as a misogynist) and state he’s never coming back. But, never say never again (see what I did there?). The man gets exhausted. He puts everything he can into doing an amazing job and the last thing he wants to do is dive back in again. He doesn’t even want to think about it...and that explains a lot. Pierce Brosnan summed it up well in an interview with Hitfix, “By the time you finish making a Bond movie, you don't want to hear the name, see the name or have anything to do with it because you just want to go to ground.”

I hope Craig comes back for another Bond film, they are a lot of fun. He has all of my respect whether he chooses to or not, but I get why he wouldn't. I’ve read interviews with Joss Whedon where he discusses how exhausting it is to do a movie like Avengers. At the end of Age of Ultron, he was just as done as Craig is with Bond. I think before deciding to tackle another big project like that, you have to rest, maybe even heal. You need time to remember what you love about that world and the characters in it. You have to remember why it was fun. Now, I get my problem.

No, writing one of my novels is not on the same scale as creating a tentpole blockbuster...yet ;) I, unfortunately, don’t have the same budget. Unfortunately. I also don’t walk away from my life to focus exclusively on my writing, I can’t. But I do pour everything I have into them, to the point of exhaustion. There are nights I have literally written myself to tears. And now that some people enjoy reading them, it’s that much more important to me that the story is the best I can make it. So, when I’m done, I’m exhausted, and want to walk away.

What I need to remember is... that’s okay. Sure, every writer will tell you that to become good you need to write every day. I’ve told plenty of people that myself; it’s solid advice. But, I think it’s just as important to love writing, to love your characters, and to believe in your story. I have a hard time doing that when I’m exhausted, but over time I remember again why I write, why I’m telling this story and what I love about the characters I write about.

For me, that love is coming back, and it’s about damn time. I’ve written roughly 30% of Angst 4, and have plenty of outline for the rest. More importantly, I’ve started making notes at night, I’m getting giggles throughout the day about what I’m going to write in the evening, I’m getting excited again. I love that. And, the good news is that my excuses are almost gone. The house is just about taped back together, my daughter’s marching band season is over, and the gym can go fuck itself! (I still need to make those lunch plans, though). It’s time, and this is the good part, because I can’t wait to share my next story!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Angst Team Profile: Cristi

There is a lot to be said about best friends. They are there when no one else is. They are the ones who ask what’s wrong because they sense it, not because you complain. They are the ones you party with, but can also have a serious conversation with. You can talk about farting, and bad sex, and insecurities, and doctor visits, and family issues, and money, and everything that you won’t talk about at work. You can argue and get over it. You can be socially awkward to the point of passing out from embarrassment, you can make dumb mistakes, and they don’t judge, they just help you through it. I have one of those friends, and her name is Cristi.

I met Cristi at our day job. The minute she started, I was like, whoa - she’s gorgeous! I wanted to introduce myself, but we were in different departments. She worked call center and I was a systems administrator fixing servers. A junior tech had called me in for help with her computer. I wasn’t supposed to, but in spite of the potential that I would be yelled at, I jumped at the chance. When he told me the problem, I immediately dismissed him to find the notes I had already sent on fixing the issue. I could have walked him through the problem, but I wanted that window to introduce myself. It was a total dick move, and an excellent decision.

You see, Cristi has a personality that is genuine. I could immediately tell that she wasn’t fake, she was amazing. Our relationship took off from that first support call. I invited her to my softball team where we both excelled at playing bad and getting drunk together. Not long after we mostly enjoyed a float trip together and the adventures continued from there. I totally helped her land her boyfriend, Brandon! (Okay, that’s really an exaggeration as I was a pain in the ass.) Needless to say we hit it off and in many ways it feels like we are just getting started!

Cristi is amazing on so many levels. Like her boyfriend, Brandon, she loves animals. Her passion goes beyond the sappy love of a cute animal pic (though, there is some of that too) she has also donated her time to support animal shelters, as well as fostering pets in need. I can also say that she loves people too, especially when they don’t talk to her. (I highly recommend not talking to her in the morning. Shhh.)

She’s not just a pretty face. (Okay, she’s strikingly pretty, but that’s stating the obvious!) I really respect how hard she works. That may sound silly, but she’s the type of person that is always early to work and often staying late. She taught herself that, which makes it even more impressive! Cristi put herself through college and I watched her quickly work her way up from call center agent to being an insurance underwriter in an incredibly complicated field. There are a lot of brains, hard work, and common sense behind her fun loving attitude. It’s why I respect her opinion so much and appreciate her input on my life, and my writing.

Cristi is not a nerd. Just the opposite, she has very little interest in fantasy or science fiction or superheroes or, well, you get the idea. In spite of this, not only has she read my first book multiple times, she has critiqued and contributed to Buried in Angst and Drowning in Angst. Even beyond that, Cristi volunteers her time to be my spokesmodel at conventions. Let me emphasize that she volunteers to help promote my book by rocking the chainmail bikini. I couldn’t possibly afford the modeling she does, and nor does she ever ask for recompense. It always blows people away that she’s beautiful, approachable, but is also involved. I’ve sold a lot of books because of her efforts. But more important, we’ve connected with a lot of people. And, we have fun. We get drunk at cons like professionals. We not only enjoy the adventure, we try to be a part of it!

We are an interesting pair that make a lot of heads turn, and it cracks us up. We go out to a nice dinner and the 20 year age difference brings us great looks of surprise. She’s a head taller, I’m short and pudgy, so she’s obviously not my daughter. We have great chemistry, like close friends do. I don’t know how many times we’ve been asked if we are something else. It makes me feel bad for those asking, for what they are missing in their lives. You see, we are something else, Cristi and I are a great team!

I tease her that I’m her “backup”. If her parents, or besties, or boyfriend, can’t be there for whatever reason, I can often fill in the blank. At the same time, she supports me without question. Cristi is amazing! I couldn’t ask for a better friend, or a better teammate. She has been a force in making my books what they are, and an influence in making my life better, and I’m eternally grateful!