New About Page

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I’ve had it on my list to re-vamp my “About” page for several weeks now.  I had a nagging suspicion that it needed an update to hint at how my more current prognostications fit in with my overall theme of growing up.  Tonight, I just got around to taking a look at it.

And I changed like one sentence.

Growing up is such a broad, all-encompassing theme.  Though this blog has primarily been a spot to reminisce about ways in which 18 and 19 year-old Brantley learned things the hardest ways possible, I feel like it has begun to break free of its original humorous, self-effacing cocoon.  This means that it is becoming something more beautiful and profound now, at least according to the metaphor.

With my goal being two posts/week (one current and one Throw Back Thursday chapter in the College drinking odyssey), I’m not exactly sure where blogging will take me.  I just hope that it’s somewhere just as enriching and enjoyable as the path I’ve traveled so far.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts and send a comment or like my way.  Double thanks to my 100+ followers!

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NaNoWriMo – Late to the Party

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The first time I heard about National Novel Writing Month was on November 1st.  I was devastated that I didn’t have more time to mill it over, be indecisive, indulge in doubting myself, and then give up before I even started.  Instead, I shouted the intellectual equivalent of YOLO (there isn’t one by the way) and decided to go for it.

I was immediately met with obstacles.  My girlfriend and I bought a house and have been making it sexier so that we can sell it for a profit in 5-10 years.  Leading the charge on making it sexier are her parents, who actually view such strenuous work as a hobby.  For months after we bought the house, they were coming to visit us every single weekend to make it livable.  They took the Summer off because we live in Florida, but they were back on that first weekend of November.  Between working my two jobs, I hid in the coffee shop, stifling the guilt of knowing that her parents were doing something nice for us and I was willfully not helping them at all.

I did what I do best, pre-write.  Only pre-write.  I was working on an idea that I’ve been stewing on for a couple of weeks.  As I tried to bring it to fruition, I realized that instead of that idea, I should be writing the idea that I’ve been playing with for several years.

On November 4th, I pulled up an old, poorly written couple of chapters from a book about Zombies and stuff.  I had to crunch the numbers to decide how quickly I should give up on NaNoWriMo.  I read somewhere that the challenge is to write 50,000 words in November.  That’s like just under 1,700/day.  My old poopy rough draft that was channeling my screenwriting education and not describing anyone or anything because that’s the casting department and set design people’s respective problems was like 22,000+ words.

At that point, my world was rocked.  If I could write 22,000+ words without even doing a good job, imagine what I could do if I actually got some momentum behind me (and by momentum, I mean a 30 day challenge type deal).  On Monday November 4th, I wrote my first word for NaNoWriMo.  Then, I wrapped my first sentence.  Then I fist pumped silently as the dog stared at me like I was a lunatic because I finished my first 5,000+ words pretty much in one sitting, and these weren’t screenwriter words, these were NOVELIST words.  I was still behind (I needed 6,800 words done by the end of that fourth day), but I was hopeful.

I spent November 5th (happy birthday sister) drinking wine and eating too much pizza over a respectable 1,900 words.  I was a little loosey goosey from the second glass of wine, but mostly just distracted by the emptiness of the wine box (don’t judge, it’s fairly legit wine).  I called it a night and went to bed really freaking early because wine makes me sleepy.

I worked 10 AM – 8:15 PM on November 6th.  I told myself, “I will eat the delicious dinner that my beautiful girlfriend has prepared for me and then sit down with my computer and crank out some words,” but instead we watched The Purge, which is a little bit better than Entertainment Weekly said.

Today is November 7th.  I had the day off from one job so I told the other job I wasn’t available to work.  I spend the day playing fetch with my dog as I crank out words number 6,900-something through 14,000-something.  I send my girlfriend a cropped screenshot that contains a gruesome paragraph and a word count of exactly 12,000.  She is either intrigued by the context-less paragraph, or just awesomely supportive (hopefully both!), because she wants to read more.  This is wonderful and I’m thinking I will let her, even though I haven’t re-read any of this crap yet.

On a side note, I don’t think I’ve let her read anything I’ve written since that one satirical short that I cranked out after a bad day at work.  It followed a hard-drinking Millennial cynic who works with stupid old people that are holding him back and he goes to the bar and hooks up with Jennifer Lawrence because irony and also it’s fiction so I can do whatever I want, okay?  (It wasn’t a great piece in case you were wondering.)

So, about the creative process:

  • When I sit down and write, it feels really good (so much better than pre-writing).
  • I’m ahead of schedule on my 1,700 words/day quota.
  • I’m beginning to accept that I won’t be able to write every day.  I’ve been on a roll lately, so I’d rather write for 2-4 hours at a time when I can than for 30 unsatisfying minutes on a busy day.
  • I’m finally starting to adjust to the fact that I haven’t wanted to write books since 10th grade and am making efforts to describe the characters and their surroundings (AKA getting out of screenwriter mode).
  • I had an epiphany that my dog doesn’t partake in Daylight Savings, which is why he has been waking up earlier and going to bed earlier this week.
  • I’m on my 28th page and my 14,178th word.  Some of it’s good, some mediocre, some awful.  As I said above, I haven’t looked yet.
  • I read that first time authors can typically get away with 60,000-90,000 words on their first novel.  This is a bit distressing, because I’m George R.R. Martin-ing out over here hitting the above mentioned page count/word count on 2.25 chapters that just introduce the world and half of my too many characters (sorry – it’s the end of the world and I need my red shirts).
  • On the plus side, my inciting incident is in the first paragraph.
  • I have no idea whether or not I’m formatting this thing in a useful way.  I just opened up Pages and dove in.  It’s all single spaced so far.

This is a journey that we are all taking, so I look forward to searching through posts tagged NaNoWriMo and reading about fellow travelers.

Here is the screenshot that I sent my girlfriend:

NaNoWriMo sample

I can’t emphasize enough that I haven’t reread any of this, so think don’t grammar of my poorly.

Here is my proudest couple of pair of paragraphs (pair o’ graphs?)  so far:

Danny had never believed in a higher power.  How could some divine, supernatural being be in charge of everything when the world was such a messy place?  He had never prayed, he had barely ever asked friends or family for favors.  Since he was a child he had known that he was on his own and that anyone who tried to tell him otherwise was a well-meaning liar. 

He didn’t know who he was talking to when he voiced his desperation.  “Help,” he whispered into the darkness.  Then, he lit the flare.

For context, think zombies and stuff.  Next time, I will try and post more coherent samples before I finish my fourth beer.

Top Five Creepy Things My Son Said To Me – Halloween Special

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Wow! This is actually a lot cooler than the typical mom tendency to tell embarrassing stories about her kid. It will probably be equally effective at scaring off his future girlfriends though!

iamthemilk

Ah Kids, they say the darndest things! Like that entire year of my son’s life between ages two and three when he kept staring at the little space between the closet and the wall in his room and referring to it as Harrison. Harrison was his friend, who is right there, mama!

*Raising his finger and pointing to the SAME darndest spot every single darndest time*

Harrison

With his finger pointing up to that dark corner he would cheerfully encourage me to say hi to his friend, while I was screaming and running away on the inside. And it didn’t matter that I knew full well that my son had a super vivid imagination or that an older boy my son looked up to by the name of Harrison used to attend his daycare and that creepy Harrison appeared very shortly after he graduated or even the fact that Harrison had…

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How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation

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I really needed a relatable read like this.  In the past weeks, I’ve broken my weed whacker, the toilet in the guest bathroom, the stick for the pool net, the pool vacuum, and just about every other tool or device that I use to work in or out of my house.  I’ve tried convincing my girlfriend that this is a sign that I shouldn’t have to do yard work anymore, but it just isn’t working.

Check out Oliver Grey’s success at finding a positive in a completely random incident of something breaking for no reason at all whatsoever.  Also, grab a six-pack of the most obscure microbrew you can find and snuggle up with the rest of his blog.  It will make for a great Friday night, I promise.

How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation.

The Apocalypse is so Overdone.

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A writer’s reaction to an article stating that agents are looking for the next trend in YA books – (read:  ‘Post-post-apocalyptic fare’)

Zombies, Vampires, and Katniss Everdeen, Oh My!.

Regardless of which genre is ripe for explosion in the minds of adolescents, I would be willing to bet that the film-adaptation-ready franchise will be the mainstay.  In their comic book movie fueled success with adapted work, Hollywood’s conservative business instincts have been thrust into the open air.  Everything is now an adaptation or a sequel.  Marvel is even making what will be a very expensive movie featuring a character that is an anthropomorphized raccoon (which feels a lot like scraping bottom to me).  Books and comic books will soon become film-fetuses (if the Hollywood suits have their ways at least)

In college, my favorite screenwriting teacher told us that zombie movies are always a metaphor for some deeper concern in society.  They originated during the Cold War, where we faced the fall out of living with nuclear weapons and their aftermath and they recently enjoyed a resurgence with post-9/11 fears of chemical warfare.

As our country has been forced to take a good hard look at some of the measures we took to fight terrorism in the last decade, post-apocalyptic stories have taken hold of the public conscience as a way of exploring whether or not we have put ourselves on the path to ruin.

In a post-post-apocalyptic trends in fiction, I wonder what fascination we will brood on next.

P.S.  BeautifulChaos has his head on straight and you should follow his awesome blog.