Archive for the ‘Joe’ Category

Keepin’ Busy

Posted: September 5, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

Hey gang, sorry for taking last week off – school and whatnot. I did, however, come up with an interesting little example for how things have been going. One I aim to share right here, right now.

Drawing class. I’ve drawn forever. Hell, I draw a webcomic that I just started up again. However, I knew that in taking an entry-level drawing class, we’d be doing the basics first. What I wasn’t expecting was how entry-level we were talking. Or how goddamn frustrating it would be. What are we drawing?

Paper.

Let that sink in for a little bit. We’ve been drawing paper, sheets of paper, laid out on a flat surface. Let me tell you, drawing that paper has been the hardest thing I’ve done in forever.

“But Joe, how hard is it drawing paper of all things? You draw dudes and what the hell else, right?” you ask. Well yes, I do, but paper is all about perspective. It’s about making sure that everything looks like it’s where it’s supposed to be, that it’s all the same size (all the sheets are the same size) and that they’re on the same surface. In other words, making it look like it’s paper on something instead of just drawing rectangles.

It gets frustrating, because it’s never what you expect it to be. You expect all the sides to be parallel? Huehuehuehue, little did you know that they’re not. That’s what your brain expects them to be, that’s what you know it really is, but you have to learn to trust your eye. It’s never perfectly parallel unless you’re standing right over it, straddling it, and staring right at the damn things. It’s less about learning how to draw paper as it is learning to trust your eye, to see how things fit together, how it all interacts with each other. It’s baffling, head-pounding stuff, but I’ll be damned if it hasn’t been an enlightening experience.

Crows’ Harvest is currently going through the “take explosion, make fit together” stage in that I’m writing out an outline, doing a synopsis, and taking out plots and subplots that don’t have anything to do with the story or simply weren’t going anywhere. At first I felt like it was a waste of time until I realized that it’s actually forcing me to see how it all connects. What the main points of the book are, what the major events need to be, what things need to be followed up on. Does it mean starting from scratch? Back to the drawing board? Sort of. But it’s necessary. It’s basic. But it’s a learning experience.

And that’s what it’s all about.

xoxo.

j

The Future is Bulletproof

Posted: August 22, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

The Aftermath is Secondary…the aftermath is secondary.

So tomorrow I begin my last first day of class. I didn’t really think about it until just now, at 11pm Sunday night, but it’s true! It’s actually true. It’s really a thing that’s really happening. Wow.

Before this, it was just, “Okay, gotta be up and ready for work tomorrow and then off to my first day of class.” No big deal. That’s been life for the past four years, what’s the big deal? Then someone reminded me that it’s my last semester and that…well, that’s where things got a little “Holy shit.

But let’s be honest here, I’m really excited about it. Not because it’s my last semester in college and after that I have to find a real job and oh my god oh my god oh muh gourd, but because with the exception of my Advanced Fiction class (emphasis on crime fiction – EEE!) it’s all art classes. All of them. Every last one.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on here before, but my first wish and hope and dream for college was to go to art school. Come out on top of my game and be a serious business cartoonist/comic artist/it’s all the same to me. However, pursuit of a Real Job prevailed and instead of going to college to better myself rather than “Better Myself”, I went into psychology. Do I regret the stuff I’ve learned? No, not at all. It’s fascinating and it’s made me a better writer. But is there a part of me in there that’s still the kid in high school who wanted to go out and draw comic books? Yeah.

And it’s no one’s fault but mine, really. I was given the option to change majors, but I was so obsessed with getting out of college On Time that I felt like it was too late. Maybe part of me felt like it was. I tried to justify it too – “Oh, a lot of the best artists out there never went to art school.” “Oh shit, I’m good enough as it is, right?” Blah blah blah. But instead of doing what I wanted to do, needed to do maybe, I just did what I felt like I had to do.

So where does this fall into the Hellfire Club? We’re all writers here, but before I became a writer, I made comic books. This involved writing stories. Lots of them. I eventually started writing because it was faster than writing and drawing the comics, because that shit takes up time, yo. So call this going back to my roots. Call it me trying to really feel like me again instead of feeling like I have to go do something that’ll make me super wealthy and get me a cushy office somewhere. (Yeah, because writing TOTALLY gets you that lifestyle.)

So here it is. Me with my slicked back hair and my box full of supplies.

Art is the weapon against life as a symptom.

Time to hit the gas.

xoxo.

j

Stop Worrying, Be Awesome

Posted: August 15, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

You want to know the best thing about being alive? You’re never too old to drop everything, re-evaluate, and then go balls-out to go and do what you want to do with your life.

That’s the message I’ve been given from the past several days. Get up, get out, get your boot lodged firmly in Life’s ass. It’s amazing.

The other day, while sitting around playing Shadows of the Damned, the new trip by Suda51, a couple of friends and I decided that we really wanted to make video games. Not just, “Oh, I really want to make video games,” but “Dude. Seriously. I really want to make video games. Right now. Right now, while I’m standing here in pants of questionable cleanliness. Do I smell urine? I think that might be urine.” Next thing you know, we’re buying office equipment, programming books, and plotting out our first project. It’s pretty wild.

The one thing I worry about most with being me is that I have too many goddamn projects or things I want to do. I still very much want to get a rock band together. (My last few have failed to get out of “jam” stage.) I’m working like a madman on the book. (I’m creeping up on the 60k mark full creeper fashion, balaclava and everything.) And now I may have just started a game studio with some buddies from high school. All of them are equally enticing to me – obviously I know writing best and enjoy it the most – and I wonder how people like da Vinci managed to juggle being awesome at everything he did. I guess that’s really what I want: to be awesome at what I do. Be awesome at it and love every minute of it.

I feel like I’m growing a lot as a writer in the past few days, due in no small part to the fact that I’m actually revising a novel for the first time. It’s a big and scary experience, but it’s an educational one. An exciting one. One that deserves to be pushed through, to come out on the other side of. But I’m also trying out a lot of other new things. Writing those steampunk stories. Writing video games, stories that need to be interacted with. It’s all new, it’s all different, but it’s all amazing.

Anyhoo, I know this is more of a stream of consciousness post than I’ve done in a while, but I feel like that’s kind of how it’s been the past few days. One thing at a time, big dreams, and a whole lot more balls than is probably healthy.

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

Beginnings and Endings

Posted: August 9, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

Welp. Finally happened – the first draft of CROWS’ HARVEST is done.

At least, I think it’s done. My head’s about to the bursting point with all the writing advice and articles and everything I’ve been reading lately that I don’t even know when a first draft is considered done. But, I’ve written out the story, written out major scenes and all this good jazz, filled up a good chunk of my hard drive with it, and have ended up with a book. Neil Gaiman said something once to the effect of the first draft looks like you just took a bunch of shit and blew it up.

Thing is, I’ve learned a lot of stuff writing CH and I’m hoping to take away a lot more of it once things get further and further into my writing life. (I’m afraid to say career.)

See, thing is, the reason I’m like, “Well, I think it’s done,” instead of “FUCK YEAH IT’S DONE,” is that the CROWS’ HARVEST experience has been unlike most anything else I’ve ever done. (By the way, the title in all caps thing I’m doing? I don’t know, I’ve seen a lot of other authors do it, and I figure that it’s an unwritten rule. Sorry if it’s annoying.) There was a scene I wrote in which Remy is giving a very Holmesian speech to one of the other characters and explaining just how he’d managed to complete the task that was laid out for him. He explained everything surprisingly well and I realized that at this point, I could see what needed to be done, what had been done, and all the crap that I could cut out of it and hopefully expand on. The first draft only clocks in at about 50k, which I had every intention of beating, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m worried about it. Really. You want to talk about doubt and concern, look no further than this dude right here.

There’s been a lot of things I’ve had people tell me I’m not supposed to do as a writer. I’m not supposed to rewrite a scene. I’m not supposed to question the fuck-ups or plot holes because everything can be fixed in the second draft. I’m supposed to reach a certain word limit or the publishers will kick me square in the testicles, no matter how many published books from their own company that I’ve shown them that were smaller. I’m not supposed to spend more than a few days away from the novel or else the flying monkeys will come and steal my scrotum.

Lots of things I’m supposed to do and not supposed to do. It’s kinda weird, really.

And all the while, I can’t help but remember this article a friend sent to me in what was supposed to be a motivational sense. This one, to be specific. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

It made me want to put the computer through the wall. It upset me because a good friend sent it to me with great intentions. What she wanted me to see at the end was “Write like a motherfucker,” which has become my mantra of sorts lately, but I can’t stand the article. It upset me because I have never ever seen such condescending drivel being written to someone and trying to pass it off as advice. Here’s the part that I remember the most:

“The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you shouldbe successful at 26, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there. It laments that you’ll never be as good as David Foster Wallace—a genius, a master of the craft—while at the same time describing how little you write. You loathe yourself, and yet you’re consumed by the grandiose ideas you have about your own importance. You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done. We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor.”

Alright, yeah. The lady expects to be good and doesn’t write frequently. I get that. But trying to go off and say that just because someone’s young and wants to be good at what they do is arrogant? That – that’s just not something I care to mess with.

I’m 22 years old. I don’t know many authors who’ve published something that young. But you know what? It happens. It’s happened. It sickens me to think that if I go to try and hand my best work in to a publisher that they might sneer and tell me that because I’m a young guy, it’s gonna be trash and thus they won’t accept it. Is that extrapolation? A little bit. But I’m venting here – it’s my squawkbox after all. So here’s how it is:

If wanting to put out the very best work I can makes me arrogant, I’m arrogant.

If having the drive to accomplish something instead of putting it off, I’m arrogant.

If thinking that you don’t have to hit some magical age where you’re finally good enough to be a writer makes me arrogant, I’m the Brat fucking Prince.

I’ll finish my work. I’ll finish what I started. If what I’m doing is just me trashing the first draft and rewriting it and not the fabled “second draft” I hear about, then I’ll take that.

But by God, I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started.

And if some condescending advice column writer wants to talk to me about it and throw out “doll”, “sweetheart”, “sugar”, and “baby” at me like I’m a little mewling four year old all for the sake of telling me that I can’t do it because I’m 22, she can expect a boot to the face.

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

August or Back to Camp, Back in Black

Posted: August 1, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

So, last month didn’t go as planned. While the Hellfire Club had every intention of participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, things just didn’t pan out for any of us. Yours truly got caught up in the three accelerated summer courses he was taking, Pierce is always busy, Chris was looking for a job and moving out, and Dan…well, who knows what Dan was up to. But we know he was in Amsterdam for a while, so let’s just draw our own conclusions.

 

But we’re not quitters. At least, I’m not. If I’m not working on a hundred projects at once, I’m not happy. Or at least, I’m not my normal self. So, with my insanity in hand, I’m setting out to try again with Camp NaNoWriMo as their second month begins. Here are my goals for this month.

 

•Dirty Noir novella, working title ¡Venganza! (named after the MCR album). It’s supposed to be a maximum of 30,000 words, and if I go by Blake Snyder‘s beat sheet system, I’ll end up with an estimated 27,500 words (110 pages). More details on this later. Also, I intend to release it for free anyway.

 

•Crows’ Harvest: The other 22,500 words of the activity will be geared towards finishing my first draft of Crows’ Harvest. Is it breaking the rules of Camp NaNoWriMo? Yeah, a little bit. But as far as I’m concerned, NaNoWriMo is about giving someone motivation to write, to finish what they started. I intend to do just that.

 

I have a lot of writing I want to do this month, the month I’m staying with my parents. (Vacation!) What better time to get this shit started, worked on, and finished? Wish me luck gang. I intend to write like a motherfucker for the next thirty days.

 

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

The End of Time

Posted: July 25, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

You know what’s a blast? Moving. And taking final exams, of course. Can’t rule that out. Good golly Miss Molly do I enjoy that.

[looks for bath towel to wipe off sarcasm]

We’re in the home stretch of the summer semester and in the eleventh hour of my living in my current apartment. What with everything being boxed up and stashed away, I can only hope to remember which box I packed my pants in.

Luckily I’ve still been finding time to work on my projects – mostly flash fiction stuff I hope to submit to Shotgun Honey or to Chuck Wendig’s newest contest – but what I’m most disappointed in is my lack of damn near anything for my Camp NaNoWriMo project. This makes two in a row where I’ve set out with a quest in mind and failed. It’s sort of embarrassing, really. I remember hammering out a novel every year through NaNoWriMo, so I have to ask myself, “What changed?” Is it the time commitment? Am I running out of steam? Does it have to do with my eating more vegetables than bacon? What’s the dealio, yo?

…Okay, I’m never saying that again. I feel dirty now. Where’s that bath towel?

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and the answer I’ve come up with isn’t one I’m too proud of. Time. It’s the number one complaint from would-be novelists or writers in general and I hate to think that that’s what’s keeping me down. After all, writers make time to write. I sure as hell did during those first few NaNos. Is it burn-out? No. I’m still working on Crows’ Harvest, after all. (Which is coming along nicely, by the way.) I’ve got a bunch of flash fiction coming down the pipe too, so I guess the real question is, what about my time is going to the crapper? Is it all the messaging I do with people during work or in avoiding homework? Probably.

The other day I turned off the wifi and was amazed at just how freaking “quiet” it got at the apartment. What with my rarely ever seeing my roomie, it’s not like I get a whole lot of talking to people done anyway. If I try to talk with other members of the Club, bam! Chat windows start popping up like toast from a fully-automatic toast dispensing gatling gun.

So I guess what I’m trying to ask is, what suggestions do you have for getting work done? Focusing on big projects that you enjoy but otherwise don’t find much time for? Is it turning off the intertubes and cranking up the stereo? Is it going to a coffee shop? Nine rounds of bareknuckle boxing until you’re so sore you can’t get up out of your chair? Suggestions please.

(And not Write or Die, please. That stresses me out like woah.)

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

Bang Bang (My Novel Shot Me Down)

Posted: July 18, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

So my second-session summer classes are in full swing now, and damn if it doesn’t take up a lot of time. It makes me want to punch all those dudes who remember college as idyllic and pastoral right in the naughty bits. No, seriously. It really takes it out of a guy. (The classwork, not the punching – unless you’re doing it right, of course.) As a result of that, work on CROWS’ HARVEST has been slipping to the wayside a little, which is always frustrating.

Not to mention that I am completely, totally, smash-my-head-against-the-wall-and-hope-words-come-out stuck as to where I’m supposed to go next. I mean damn.

It reminds me of something Neil Gaiman wrote once about how he writes a book: “One word at a time.” That’s kind of been my mantra over this past little speed bump. Thing is, I’ve never ever written a book that’s been over 50k words. Ever. Not once. With a 50k novel, especially if you do it in a month, you sort of know what to expect. Week two (words 13, 333 and 23, 333, if you’re interested) is when the shit hits the fan. Characters go limp, insecurity sets in, you wonder if anyone would mind if you hide in your crawlspace for the rest of your life – at least until you run out of Dr. Pepper and those crazy Cheeseburger-flavored Doritos, anyway. (Have you tried those things? They’re fucking weird.)

Well, from everyone I’ve read and talked to, hiding in the crawlspace is not an acceptable means of advancing your writerly career. Writerness. Writership. You know what, whatever. I’m just making up words here. The point is, what I’ve learned is that over the course of writing a book, this happens a lot. Like, a lot a lot. The trick is to just keep pushing through it. (That sounded dirty.) That’s what separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, the fluffy space alien creatures from Alpha Centauri to the still-sort-of-scaly space alien creatures from Alpha Centauri. So what’d I do?

I wrote out a synopsis of the book so far. Starred the things that I thought needed further review, and all of a sudden, a wealth of ideas exploded from there.

So now I’m making progress. I’ll keep you posted. Also, in case you didn’t notice, Chris posted yesterday, so check out what his latest project is. We’ll see if we can’t get Dan and Pierce to update here soon also.

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j