General

“Failure to Adapt” progress

As some of you probably know, there has been a wave of things to me to take care of.  I started strong on this project around April of this year, but after smashing out a very rough draft of the second half, I slowly lost my momentum.  What was accomplished, however, was that I had finally constructed a timeline of events.  That was very important because that’s what was preventing anything else from being written.  Not much happened after that, however.

I submitted the draft for editing, with one half being well polished and the other being a literal first draft, but the feedback was a lot more forgiving than I thought it was going to be.  A lot of the second half had come out as cathartic gibberish that had no real direction, so I have to tip my hat to a very patient person reading through.

I’m back to work on it again, and it’s going better than I would have imagined.  I had a very hard time bridging the two halves of the story together, but after fighting with it for five days, I was finally able to put enough in place to have a more complete second half.

The first half needed some minor shoe-horning because of some larger points that I try to make later in the book.  One of the issues with the second half was that I was saying a bunch of things and not substantiating them.  It forced me to dig a little deeper into the memory banks, and I actually spent a few afternoons hand-scrawling any and all ideas that popped into my head until I was finally able to create a cogent timeline of events.  Furthermore, I was able to identify what needs more detail, at least for the next few chapters.

I’m almost to the point where I’m back to editing.  There are two kinds of revisions that I do:  editing and writing new material.  I never go a day without re-reading a previously written or edited portion, but the story is finally coming together well enough that I can veer back into the main story.  I’m also getting to the point where I can zip through a few chapters that only need minor corrections or details included.  Editing is so much easier than writing new stuff.

So for the moment, I’m back at it.  I can’t speculate for how long, but I’m smashing into some new territory and enjoying it very much.

At the Mega Bangna mall, and I have already seen two different people with dogs in strollers.

Sometimes I just say to myself,

“Where the fuck do it live?”

Hooray

After a ton of background noise and getting knocked off of my hot streak half a dozen times, I have finally gone through and fully edited the first half of the sixth draft of Failure to Adapt.  I’ve had a lot of helpful suggestions along the way, so finally getting in and implementing the changes in just the right spots to strengthen the overall narrative has, for the moment, got my confidence in this thing at an all-time high.

Sasi has one more day of her fertility treatments, then we go in on the 5th for me to do my part.  After that, she goes back in another two days, and then we wait another twelve to see if she is pregnant.

Here’s to hoping!

So once we get through all the stuff on Monday, I can begin committing myself to longer stretches of writing.  If I am able to have blocks of sustained writing, I can definitely have this thing done by the end of November.  I don’t need life to go perfectly, but I do need things to chill out.  We’ve had to deal with a ton of shit from immigration, and while I’d rather not talk about any of it (just because I don’t want to get mad all over again), I will say that the worst of it is behind us.

That’s all for now.  I know I haven’t done much of anything else lately, but shit has been so crazy and I have found myself needing to just relax on the few days where nothing is going on.  Looking forward to a productive November, followed by an even better December than last year.

I’m gonna go play FF12 now.  If you beat the game, you can start again with your characters at level 90.  Now I’m gonna go in and get all the cool shit I didn’t have the patience to get the first time around.

Just in case any of you were wondering…

I DID IT

Holy crap, people.  I finally did it.  I finally got over the hump and finished the chapter that was giving me so much trouble.  I’m sure I’ll be making at least a few changes later on, but I managed to stitch up a continuity error and also do some very important foreshadowing for the main conflict.  Furthermore, I powered through and smashed out a new chapter.  This was another important chapter, as it sets the stage for later conflicts.  I was shown a few things to focus on in the main narrative, but they were weak without a decent buildup and consistency in information.  It is turning out that more and more of the original manuscript from eight years ago is getting scrapped or polished, but that’s because I never knew what I was going to say in the second half.  It’s remarkable how much tweaking the first half requires, because the second half will not need nearly as much work.

I don’t exactly know what was so different about today, but I am absolutely thrilled to be back in action after a week of beating my brains out trying to determine how to resolve these narrative snags.  This has been such a roller coaster ride so far, and in spite of the high hopes I have for the book, I am still very much grounded in the reality that I have to finish the damn thing first.

As far as a timeframe goes, while I can’t as of now speculate whether or not I will reach my goal of wrapping it up by year’s end, I will say that this is my “job,” as it were, especially on the days where I don’t have any papers to edit.

In order to mark this occasion, I’m going to temporarily post all three newly-edited chapters from Part II of Failure to Adapt.

After that, I’m going to play Siege of Dragonspear until I can’t keep my eyes open.

Writer’s Blah-k

I just spent the past few days editing a dissertation for a student who more than likely plagiarized from Chinese journals and then piece by piece used Google Translate to create a paper that, over the span of 150 pages, does little to prove that wage incentives result in increased productivity.  Each time I am given an opportunity to re-enter Academia out here, I always get it in my head that this is finally going to be my opportunity to step in and be the hero.  I’m going to rescue them from years of bad policy and bad teachers, and in doing so elevate my wife to a salary and status I feel she deserves.  After all, she is one of the few to get her degrees not through academic dishonesty, but through being an actual ESL who has been around the world and understands what is going on.  By me doing a stellar job, they will see what a power couple we are and they will want to make her the undisputed department head, the youngest in the school’s history, and bit by bit we will put a little integrity back into the education system.

It’s OK to dream, right?

But aside from re-introducing a little bit of purpose back into my life, I think I was finally able to smash through the wall I had hit with the book I continue to try and write.  After receiving a long set of notes from an editor, I was both encouraged and daunted by the things she had to say.  When she posited that my message was significant, maybe even important, I couldn’t help but feel proud and terrified all at the same time.  To think that my words would actually have the effect that I’ve wanted them to have for years was a thought that was almost too much for me to take.  High off the initial elation of praise, I zoomed through the edits of the first section with little to no effort, only to unceremoniously grind to a halt two weeks later.  I don’t even think it was because I ran out of things to say. I think it was because the reality of actually finishing something dawned on me and it sufficiently scared me.  In spite of the fact that I have wanted to be a writer for, oh I don’t know, my entire friggin life, in recent days I often find myself wondering if I can actually be one.

Barring the recent phenomenon of a rather polarized society, I don’t find myself wondering if I am good enough.  Yes, I do doubt my talents and abilities from time to time, but honestly I doubt more the ability of those around me to comprehend what I am trying to say.  I am one of those people who everyone has categorized, but so few have ever accurately done so.  From assumptions of being “Goth” for wearing black clothing (which I did to hide how much I sweat), to presumptions of a liberal political stance due to the fact that I am so loose on hot-button issues, I feel like publishing a book is going to permanently categorize me as a guy who either has some kind of agenda or forces me into the shadow of somebody who has done something similar.  While I don’t believe either result can potentially ruin my life or stifle a career, I do worry that whatever label is put on me is going to force me into a role, something I feel like I’ve always had to endure.

Still, personal dilemmas aside, I won’t know until I do it, so I might as well finish the damn thing and see what happens.  Hell, the bulk of the work is behind me.  I’m talking about 90% or more at this stage.  Why swim back to the other familiar pier when the unknown pier is so much closer?  Sure, it’s unknown, but when has that ever stopped me before?

Regardless, I feel a bit of strength and energy returning, so I have to use these bursts of inspiration to cover as much ground as possible.  I’m not sure how sporadic work is going to be (or if this was a one-shot deal), so there’s no point in spending my days watching television and waiting for another opportunity to fall in my lap.  While there is still time and while I still have some of this inheritance in the bank, I have to keep chasing this dream in spite of how unlikely it all seems in my mind.

So, having successfully completed my morning ritual of vitamins, hydration, and caffeination, and also having smashed out an early afternoon writing exercise, I think I’m going to head downstairs for some hot yoga and cardio.  A midday flush will be the perfect chance to let the brain fire up again and allow me to begin thinking about what I would like to say before getting back to work later today.  This will be the day I continue moving forward.  Nevermind how long the momentum lasts, what’s important is that I keep finding ways to get ahead of writer’s block and continue striving for a goal I deserve to have and realize.

I Forgot! (Also, update)

It was entirely my intention of showing a new-new chapter from the book.  I thought I had posted it, but I did not.

So here’s what’s going to happen instead.  I’m just going to get through Part I, and then select one new-new chapter and one highly edited chapter for the handful of you who have seen any chapters from this portion of the book.

It looks like I can get through all of the revisions of Part I by the end of the week.  It will at least be a much more polished version with a much clearer purpose and mission statement.  I have to thank, thank, thank the individual who had such great feedback.  I truly wonder how she even saw what I was trying to do because of how tangential I am.  Regardless, if this book ends up anywhere at all, it will be largely due to a connection I made over at reedsy.com .

That’s not an advertisement, either.  That’s a shout-out.  I no longer have a tangled mess because of this person, and now I think I have an actual good story on my hands.

Also…

I’ve decided what to do with all of the stories I wanted to include.  I’m going to put them in a companion piece to Failure to Adapt.  A few of you might remember that Patterns of Misconduct was the original title of the manuscript, but after finishing The second half of the manuscript, I felt like the new title was more apropos.  Therefore, I am free to slide the old name over to the new project.

A lot of Patterns of Misconduct has already been written, as many of the short stories are lifted directly from the original manuscript and the ensuing drafts.  However, there are some other neat stories I can throw in to add a little bit of color to a dreary story and provide a supporting cast of characters that you don’t get to see in the main story.  Also, I’d like to include a few “director’s cut” chapters, something where a chapter was changed significantly and you can see the first draft.

For added dramatic effect, I want Patterns of Misconduct to line up with the timeline of events that take place in Failure to Adapt.  I want there to be an overlap, so you can contextualize the stories and when they are taking place.  A reader may even be so intrepid as to read them in tandem.  If I can somehow split the story in half the way I have done in my mind, then the end product should come out pretty cool.

But that’s just my idea for it.  There are far too many stories that, while interesting, have no place in the direction that I am going to try and take with the new draft.

I’ll try my best to put something up several times a week.  There’s plenty to do.

Iron Paul’s Secret

People ask me all the time,

“Iron Paul, what IS your secret?”

Ginger.

I boil it, I juice it, and I cook with it.

Well, Sasi does. I’m nowhere near as skilled as she is.

Ginger.  You should all be using it.

Don’t buy ginger tea in any of its forms.  Buy the root.  The whole root.

Ginger, darlings.

ALSO:

Roselle, lemongrass, ginseng, ling zhi, wheatgrass shots, vitamin c / zinc tablets, spirulina, and tons of water.  Like, frickin tons.

And juicing.  Buy a good juicer.

Also again… last one this time:

Find somebody who loves you.

Writing Update

After a rather tense month of waiting, I have received the feedback from the editor I hired to help me with Failure to Adapt.  The notes were largely positive, although it confirmed some of my fears about my style and narrative voice.  What remains now is to comb back through the entire story piece by piece and carve out some more focus.

Truth be told, there was no predominant message in the book.  There was not any real direction.  I brushed on many different things that may have warranted more description, but a narrow, focused story branched out into too many different ideas by the end of the book.  This professional helped me to see that and has helped me figure out how to narrow my focus a little more and describe fewer things with greater detail.

So I have been back to work in earnest, pulling everything apart, responding to the editor’s questions and observations in little writing exercises I am giving myself in order to get ready for the big rewrite.  The task ahead is large, but certainly do-able.  You just have to address it one piece at a time, then when you get a section done, lay it in with the rest of the edits and see how well it all works together.

Right now, it’s all a bunch of small tasks.  I have managed to patch up the first five chapters, now I am giving everything a final reading to see how the new stuff goes with what has already been written.  I needed to go back and establish a few things early in the book, things that would pop up again and again later on.

But…

I could sit here and type all kinds of vague bullcrap that really only has meaning to me and a handful of people who have read it, or I could just get back to work.

Updates coming soon to the Failure to Adapt portion.  Previews of some new chapters are on the way.

There’s a lot to do and plenty of time remaining in this day, so I’m going to click back over to my writing while I wait for Yayoi to deliver my salmon and kimchi.

Thanks, as always for reading (all two of you), and a huge thanks to the Sassy Woman, who hss supported me without question or protest as I chase this dream.

❤ iron paul

I can see for vials

I really love how shots of wheatgrass come in these neat little potion vials. I keep coming back to the mall because I am trying to start a collection. I’m going to get a belt to carry them around and fill them with various teas and juices and pretend like I am a level 10 cleric.