Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: October 2021

This Fucking Blog

Just read some old posts – pretty weird and cool. That was me before COVID. Let’s be real – that’s not me after.

I’m still struggling with aftermath of what happened in the first outbreak here in NYC, and my participation in the tragedy of the whole thing.

This will be the defining moment of your career,” is how I remember an ER doc with a specialty in infectious disease describe it to me.

Anyway, I wonder if I just hit a wall with this blog, or is there still some life left?

I mean, I’m immersed in writing fiction – but less so for this. And yet, I think the personal rewards are pretty significant.

It is what got me writing fiction.

Let’s see if I can resurrect this fucking thing.

Or let it Rest In Peace.

Novel (Part 1)

Today I completed the first draft of my first novel.

I started it on June 1, so it took me four and a half months to reach my goal of 90,000 words while working full-time in the ER.

I only wrote on days off but did so religiously, always meeting my goal of at least 1000 words, usually more. So what it worked out to is 1000 words a day for 90 days.

Is it any good? It’s good to me, so there’s that. I have no control over whether it’s any good to the person reading it; therefore, I don’t waste time thinking about it.

This is probably a good point to make note of some useful decisions I made when I started.

I didn’t second guess anything. Never once thought, Is this any good? Am I qualified to do this? Can I do this?

Never crossed my mind. Thinking like this would only fuck everything up and kill the fun.

I also wrote no outline and had no plot. Just three characters I didn’t know much about with a vague idea of how it would end. BTW, this isn’t all that unusual. Apparently, there are essentially two kinds of novelists — Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters plot and Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. Both are valid ways to work. You might be surprised by which camp your favorite author falls into.

For me, part of the fun of writing this way is that it allows me to discover the story and the characters as I go along. Since I have no idea what I’m going to write about the next day, I can sit back and let the characters tell me who they are and what they’re going to do next. It’s a very entertaining way to write.

Anyway, red-letter day here. Even if it never gets published, I wrote a fucking novel. To completion. And I had fun doing it — not many people can say that. Now I’m going to pack it up for six weeks or so and let the thing marinate in its juices.

Then I’ll get it out, read it fresh, and start editing.

Meanwhile, I’ve got other shit to write.

What if This is as Good as it Gets?

Jack Nicholson asks this question to a filled waiting room after being thrown out of his therapist’s office in the pretty-goddamn-great 1997 film of the same name.

The short answer is yes, this is as good as it gets.

Isn’t that enough?

I just watched this film for the second time — 24 years after the first. It was better than I remembered it; a great, darkly funny script by James L. Brooks that would be completely un-filmable today.

But there’s a great through-line that remains surprisingly relevant.

To wit: Although some people can be insufferable assholes, it doesn’t make them all bad. Maybe they just never learned how to be fully human.

This idea is perhaps best illustrated by the film’s most memorable line, spoken by the supremely clueless asshole Jack plays to the saintly Helen Hunt: You make me want to be a better man.

Sometimes, people just don’t know how to be a functional human. Maybe we should all take a deep breath, relax, and throw them a life raft.

When All Seems Lost

Go back to basics. Try not to get lost in a feedback loop of negative thinking.

  1. What gives you joy? Do that. The joy part is your brain trying to show you where to go.
  2. Get out of your head – focus on helping others.
  3. Cut out all extraneous bullshit. Keep your purpose (and life) simple.
  4. Go easy on yourself.
  5. Allow for time to daydream.
  6. Exercise, meditate, and get enough sleep.
  7. Rinse and repeat.

What I’m Doing Now

On work days I get up and go to the ER for twelve and a half hours, then go home exhausted, my brain and body an over cooked mess.

On my days off, I write my novel. It’s so much fun it’s hard to put in words, and I’m a writer, so if I can’t put something in words, it must be either very mysterious or very abstract.

It’s both.

I’m closing in on my goal of 90,000 words, and the characters are so alive to me I sometimes dream of them.

Soon, the story will end, and I’ll start another one. I hope someone will read them and be moved, but I’m not holding my breath. Hope isn’t a good strategy.

And it doesn’t really matter, or at least that’s what I told myself when I started. See, writing and attempting to publish short stories quickly disavowed me of the idea that my writing meant anything to anyone other than me.

But, it turns out that this was a test, and how I answered the question would determine whether I was really a writer or not.

It turns out that I am, indeed, a writer. Because I’ve learned that other people’s acceptance isn’t why I do it.

I do it for me, because I can create worlds in my head and then live in them for a while.

It’s impossible to describe how fulfilling that is.