Breaking it Down

Classic Avoidance Behavior

It’s been over an hour since I woke up – my most productive writing time – and here I am, writing a post to you.

It isn’t because I like you, well, I do, but that isn’t why I’m here. It’s classic avoidance behavior, with a lesson along the way.

I drank my coffee and read this post from 365 Tao

Stretching-both literally and metaphorically – is a necessary part of life.


Physically, a good program of stretching emphasizes all parts of the body. You loosen the joints and tendons first, so that subsequent movements will not hurt. Then methodically stretch the body, beginning with the larger muscle groups such as the legs and back and proceed to finer and smaller parts like the fingers. Coordinate stretching with breathing; use long and gental stretches rather than bouncing one. When you stretch in one direction, always be sure to stretch in the opposite direction as well. If you follow this procedure, your flexibility will undoubtedly increase.


Metaphorical stretching leads to expansion and flexibility in personal growth. A young plant is tender and pliant. An older one is stiff, woody, and vulnerable to breaking. Softness is thus equated with life, hardness with death. The more flexible you are, the greater your mental and physical health.

Which sent me to the yoga mat to stretch for 15 minutes. Believe me, I need to do that each day, I really do!

Then I sat down and, instead of working on The Hired Gun manuscript, clicked over to Pinterest. Yes, that rabbit hole of ideas from which I am unlikely to escape without creating something.

I found this lovely bumblebee wreath…

And was quite startled to see a clear pattern.

Have you ever worked your way through the learn-to-draw books? They break down a complex picture into a series of steps that begin with the most basic of vague shapes. Slowly, as you follow the steps, the odd circles or round-edged rectangles resolve into a shape, details are added, and before long you have something like this…

I know, my sketching skills are quite rough. I’m nowhere near as accomplished as my eldest. For that matter, the youngest is on the edge of surpassing me. Another year or two and I’ll be outclassed on all sides.

But that’s not the point of this post.

Breaking it Down

I was excited because the body of the creature was quite obviously made up of a few key shapes. I quickly sketched them and then added the details. Given enough time (and a few more tools, like a pencil to soften and blur) I could improve.

But the pieces are there, obvious to me now where they were not before.

Back to this in a moment.

Writing is a Journey

One of the hardest parts of being a writer was hitting that Publish button. It was a moment, at the end of a long trek, when I said, “Enough, publish it already.”

Not because it couldn’t be improved or tweaked, it will always be able to be improved and tweaked, but because at some point, it is far healthier to publish it and move on.

It isn’t perfect, that first work that you do. It can’t be. It was written by you, me, whoever – and we are fallible creatures by nature. Even the perfectionists.

Each book, however, improves. With time, dedication, persistence, and learning along the way. Writing is a journey – a road full of bumps, delays, stops to gaze at the waterfall and bears hiding in trees.

Those fucking bears, man.

Ask the Question, Then Answer It

Karen Marie Moning, a fantasy author I have truly enjoyed reading, wrote that her Fever series (of which there are now more books I must check out) arrived fully formed into her mind.

I’m jealous as hell.

The reality is, I’ve been stopped by questions, and then I’ve allowed myself to panic over it.

I can’t write. I can’t even answer the damned question! What comes next? The fuck if I know!

When I wrote Gliese 581: The Departure, as I finished the book, I found myself writing those fateful words, “Nathaniel Zradce opened his eyes,” and I knew what I was doing – but only in a very basic sense. Yes, I knew I was writing a cliffhanger, and no, I had no idea what came next.

The muse, such as it is, is a flighty, manipulative and cunning bitch. She withheld my answers on Morning, the snippet I wrote over 20 years ago for nearly ten years – before releasing it. It would later find its place in Book 2 of my War’s End series.

She cockblocked me for nearly that long on the answers to who Liv was and why she was in her great-aunt’s basement and driving her aunt’s 1971 Nova to work – and I still haven’t forgiven her for placing that snippet in Book 4 of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series that I still haven’t finished Book 1 for. How insane is that?

But I digress.

The answers to the questions, they come faster as you continue to practice your craft. I have several questions currently rotating…

How is the tech guy distracted from doing his job and wiping the computer in question?

Is this going to be a sex scene?

A later off-shoot between these two characters?

Or is this just a one off and done?

And lurking about in the backety back of my mind are plot points for Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World. I write them down dutifully, the plots between Earth, Mars, and Gliese slowly building into a cohesive structure.

The answers come at weird times. These spinning gears in my brain, they spit out answers at random, unexpected moments. Usually while driving and oh, so inopportune. Don’t crash the car writing the note down, that would be highly counter-productive.

Answer the question. Write it down. Keep the notes together in one place.

Thank goodness I have Scrivener.

Stream of consciousness…complete.

Until next time.

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