Live Again

143 days.

According to my counter, that’s how long it’s been since my last blog post. When I said I was throwing in the white towel for NaNo, I never intended for it to mean I was quitting altogether. Unfortunately, over those 143 days, I’ve come close several times.

Due to circumstances I don’t want to get into (nor bore you with the details), I started taking Prozac last October. While I found it helped (somewhat) with my issues, it has the side effect of completely repressing my creativity. It wasn’t just that I didn’t feel inspired. My entire process for writing and creating music ground to a halt. Typically I have a story or song constantly in motion in the back of my mind, sorting out details, dialog, plots, etc. It makes it easy for me to write rather quickly because I’ve devoted a lot of time to writing it in my mind first.

When I threw in the towel, it was with the realization my creative juices we’re currently dried up. I hoped by alleviating the pressure of finishing NaNo, I would be able to get back into the swing of things. That never happened.

At the same time I started medicating, my shift at work changed. Previously, I used my lunch hour to write. It’s where the vast majority of my writing took place. My set up at home isn’t very conducive to writing. If any of you have a cat who likes to jump on you while you’re on the computer, I think you’ll understand. I have four cats (don’t judge me).

Between my brain no longer cooperating and losing my environment for writing, I found myself, for the first time in as long as I can remember, unable to output creatively. Even writing songs became a chore and nothing came out remotely like I wanted them. I started to question all the time and energy o had out into these endeavors and contemplated a life where I wasn’t a writer who liked to dabble on the guitar from time to time.

A few months ago, I decided to change the meds I was on. I contemplated getting off them entirely (in addition to the creativity issues, I also had some physical side effects I’d rather not get into here *ahem*), but ultimately decided I’d try something else. The new drug (jealous, Huey Lewis and/or The News?) worked wonders. Within a week or so, I’d written my first new song in months. And it didn’t totally suck!

On Leap Day, I worked on AfterLife (Only Human on the Block V) for the first time in months and months. It was Nick’s birthday, after all. The day after Leap Day, I realized the logical hole I’d written myself in and knew I had to redo that chapter. But the important thing is, my brain was back to figuring that stuff out!

I still haven’t worked out all the details on how I’m going to manage my writing time, but I’m optimistic I’ll figure it out soon. In the meantime, my brain has been working in full effect. I even figured out a death scene for a character I knew was going to die, but I hadn’t quite worked out how. In addition, I’ve been able to work on a few new songs and I’m determined to have a little album completed by August (just for me. Nowhere near being a professional musician).

For those of you who have been waiting for news, I appreciate your patience. 2015 was the first year since I started publishing that I failed to release a book. Now we’re four months into 2016 and I’m just starting to get my mojo back. Still, I’m confident I’ll have The Shadow Without (Unseen Things III) out this year. And if I don’t finish AfterLife, I should have it almost completed.

Hopefully in time to start and conquer NaNo in November.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

The White Towel

After much deliberation, soul searching, throwing my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and many salty tears, I have officially given up on both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo this year. I could go on about all the things going on in my life but we all have things we’re dealing with. The world won’t stop for us every November, so we have to find a way to squeeze all of this in without missing a beat. I’ve done a horrible job of that.

I still intend to work on this NaNo book, The Waking Dream, though it may have to wait until I (finally) finish The Shadow Without and AfterLife.

Best of luck to those still in the race. I’ll see you at the starting line next year.

S.L. Madden

Did I Miss The Gun?

Four days into NaNo and I’m still at the starting gate. I got in my first 1,000 words and since then…nothing.

It’s not that I’m uninspired by the story I chose. On the contrary, I’m excited to rip into something a little different from what I’ve done the last several years (although I must admit this book has some similarities to Ascension, the first book I published. I was almost tempted to set it in that same world at one point). No, I believe my lack of forward momentum can be attributed to one (or all) of the things below:

Times They Are A’changin‘: my schedule at work recently underwent a drastic change due to someone leaving. While I’m filling in (and if I end up eventually getting that job), I know longer have a lunch period. Which is, unfortunately, when I was able to get the vast majority of my writing done. It was a dedicated hour per day where I could don my earbuds and (hopefully) tune out the world. Losing that means I’ll have to write at home, which has plenty of….

Distract–ooh, shiny!: how do you cat lovers out there write at home? I know the sound of my computer chair is like a summoning bell for all things furry at my place. And even when they eventually tire of my lap, I still have a budding music studio begging for attention, plus the Internet, games….

Here/Not Here: okay this excuse may all be in my head…or maybe it’s not. That’s the point. I recently started taking Prozac to help with my anxiety. While I can’t be sure it’s helping (or hurting, for that matter), I have found I’ve been extremely fatigued lately. But then again, I started using a (defective) cpap machine at the same time and switched my schedule around. 

So I’m not sure what exactly is to blame for my tiredness. I am worried the Prozac is taking my creative edge off. Normally, I spend my free time running through plot points, character interactions, action pieces, etc. I listen to music and play the scenes out in my mind, letting the emotions take me where they will. That way, when I sit down to write, I will have felt out the scene already.

Lately, I’ve felt… Nothing. I can think of plots and specific beats I need to hit, flesh out characters’ backgrounds, but I don’t feel any of it. Now, this could certainly be attributed to the fact this is a new story with new characters, but I’ve been working on this book in my head for a few years now. And a few weeks ago, I was raring to go on it. Ideas were pouring in and I was excited. Right now…not so much. Maybe the pill is an easy thing to blame, but whatever the reason, my heart isn’t in it right now.

All Signs Point To: of course, the most obvious answer is that I’m just being a lazy ass. I love writing but when under the gun, it changes from a helpful creative outlet to work. And right now, I’m already working my ass off. I’ve been pulling ten and eleven hour days plus working a few hours on my day off. Makes the notion of staring at a computer screen for a few more hours at home not so appealing.

So there’s my list of excuses for why I’m lagging on day four. I suppose I could’ve taken this time to write more on my chapter, but it’s hard to type a novel out on your phone. Just because I’m dropping excuses however, don’t think I’ve given up. I’m determined to cross the finish line this year.

At least I’ve been keeping up on this blog.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

The First 1000 Words

Day two of NaNo and I’m already well behind the recommended word allotment. By more than two thousand words! I’m not sweating it however. After all, I’ve already cleared one major hurdle just by starting the damn thing. And opening scenes have never been all that much fun for me.

Sure, I’ve had this scene in my head for years now, down to the minutia of how I wanted each phrase worded. But when flesh hit keyboard, what came out was something that resembles what had been in my head but was, in fact, wholly different. It’s like making up a song you hum all the time and can hear the instrumentation in your mind, yet when you record it, the end result isn’t quite the same.

One thing I find once I start writing is that for all the nuance and detail I think I have in each sentence, there are plenty of things I haven’t thought of yet. Maybe the narrative has been fleshed out, but I haven’t given dialogue much thought (in my case, it’s usually the other way around). Or somebody in the scene responds to something in a way in which I didn’t anticipate, yet fits organically. Now the other characters have to play off of that reaction. Whole chapters (hell, whole characters and plot threads) have been created this way.

So while I don’t have a whole lot written so far, I’ve pushed my mental boulder to the edge and gravity is taking over. New scenarios, character relations and key plot points are coming to life. I’m not sure what the end result will be but whatever it is, it’s being shaped by those first thousand words.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Into The Fray Once More

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween. I divided my time between working and contemplating work to come. Not only is tonight a celebration of all things spooky, it also marks the night before NaNoWriMo begins. 

For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month), is a yearly marathon of the writery kind. From November 1st (which, by my clock, it now is) through the 30th, the goal is to produce at least 50,000 words in a brand new, fresh out the brain, novel. It doesn’t have to be pretty or complete, but it does have to meet the goal.

At the same time, NaBloPoMo is happening. That stands for National Blog Posting Month, just in case you thought I laughed so hard while eating alphabet soup, these letters came out of my nose. The goal there is to post every day on my blog in the month of November. I generally take a stab at both, because I prefer to fail at multiple things simultaneously.

Since I’ve passed into tomorrow (or today… However you choose to look at it), I suppose this counts as post number one. So far, so good. Now I just hope my new novel goes as smoothly. I’d tell you all about it and some of the challenges I’ll face this year trying to meet the goal, but I have to save something to blog about for the next 29 days.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

No Apologies

I debated what to post today. It’s an internal monologue I’ve struggled with for the past several…months? I honestly have no idea when my last post was.

The truth of the matter is, I haven’t had a lot to report recently. The old adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” could apply here. It’s not that I have particularly bad news. I haven’t given up writing. My health is generally good. I still have a full head of hair. I just haven’t made much progress these past few months.

I could give you a list of excu–err, reasons why that’s the case. But honestly I feel like that’s all this blog has turned into: a published account of my failures to hit my deadlines and the subsequent apologies.

So instead of apologizing (which being sorry is built into my DNA), I’m instead going to list the positives:

I have made progress on The Shadow Without. I’m still not quite where I want to be but after a few years of spinning my wheels on this book, I’m finally getting some forward momentum. I’m determined to have the rough draft finished by the end of October, leaving me free to work on my NaNo book.

Which leads me to my second positive: NaNo! I have my potential projects narrowed down to three choices that have been begging for release. I’m still not sure which one will get the final honors but I’m determined it will not be a book that belongs to an existing series. As anxious as I am to wrap up Only Human on the Block and Unseen Things, I desperately want to work on something new. NaNo is the perfect forum for that, a month where I can throw myself into the unknown.

So that’s it. Not a lot of positives not progres, but it’s something. As I approach the final quarter of the year, I’m coming to realize 2015 will be less a time of production and more a period to set myself up for success in 2016.

Thanks for your patience (and for reading!),

S.L. Madden