Monday, September 10, 2012

Working an Atrophied Muscle

I recently read that writing is a muscle like any other.  You have to exercise it like any other.

Two months ago, I might have looked at that person like they were crazy.  Writing is a skill that you develop over time.  If you've followed any of my blog so far, you know that my skill set has improved drastically from college until now.  It's not a muscle that atrophies if unused.  It's a skill like riding a bike.  You never forget how to ride a bike.

Have you ever tried riding a bike after not doing so for a few years?

Go buy yourself a helmet, you're going to need it.

I wrote the Brink of Distinction series during a deployment from 2007 - 2009.  Since then, I've worked on a lot of outlines and developed story ideas, but haven't written more than a few paragraphs for any actual novel in the past three years.  I had tons of great story ideas, but that was a large part of the problem.  Every time I thought it was time to start a book, I couldn't focus on JUST ONE IDEA!  My flights of fancy meant that I was thinking about Fantasy while writing Science Fiction.  It just didn't flow.

That all changed early this year, when I finally settled on a single book idea.  Having seen a large upturn of cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Soldiers who had redeployed from either Iraq or Afghanistan, I realized that the story "Rage" needed to be told.  Despite the futuristic turns, the issues are very realistic.  Anyone who's ever worked with a charity realizes that any publicity is good publicity, even when it comes in the form of futuristic PTSD.

When I started writing, I realized that writing, to my dismay, really was a muscle.  I'm not a brain surgeon (if I was, I sure as hell wouldn't be worried about sales on my latest novel), but there is certainly a part of the brain associated with writing ability.  And my poor part of the brain had shrunk.  The good ideas still existed, but the writing felt awkward and heavy.  Well, heavy handed... it's supposed to be a 1960's slang "heavy" topic.

Forcing myself to write the chapters, however, quickly also made me realize that like any muscle in the body, you have muscle memory.  If I don't run for a few months, running sucks.  But do it a few times, and your body starts to remember the motions on how it's supposed to go.  Writing was the same way.  Write for a couple weeks, and suddenly my mind remembered how to build sentence structure and formulate dialogue.

Now, I am proud to announce that "Rage" is only 12 chapters away from being completed.  That may seem like a lot, especially in a 49-chapter book, but considering I'm writing two chapters a day, it means I'll be done by next weekend.  Then the book goes to the editor and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I hope you all take the time to read "Rage" when it officially comes out.  There's a lot of heart and soul in the book.  The whole novel can best be summed up by the story's tagline: "It's hard to civilization when you're no longer civilized."

Look for "Rage" to be released either late October or early November 2012.

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