Friday, December 30, 2011

Writing When on Vacation!

First of all...Hi! Its been a very long time since I've commented on this blog, which is kind of not what I was intending. But, here I am! And "Here" is subjective, as I'm in Washington DC!

- Pic by Carol Moravcik.

This picture is me at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; pictured are V2 and V1 rockets (left to right), along with maybe other background stuff. Thought one is, wow - the V1 and V2 are reallllllly different in size! But, secondly, these missiles were the sort of thing that my grandfather on my dad's side worked against during WW2. That's right - he was part of an anti-aircraft battery. As an aside, grandpa on my mom's side was a prison guard, if I recall.

The reason I bring this up is because sometimes, being on vacation can be a powerful impetus toward writing. Now, obviously you don't wanna spend all of your time writing (Unless, say, you're at a writing-retreat), but inspiration is a really great thing to have, sometimes.

I, for one, used this as an opportunity to both research (as I've written about space travel) and fantasize (as I write about intergalactic travel things). Reading about fuel cells helped me learn about ways we can power tomorrow, which helps me edit down the book I'm releasing soon! Admittedly, I'd done my research pretty well when I wrote it. ;) This was more of a "hey, lemme look back over my stuff."

So, anyway, if you ever end up on vacation (I hope you do!), then give it a try. Poetry, prose, and any other form of art you might be interested in - all of them can be enhanced by taking a journey. You've just taken a bit of a journey through my creative process. Now, take one through yours!

Physics Incarnate

Physics Incarnate is my next-to-release novel. Currently I'm in the fund-raising phase, and through Kickstarter I've reached $400 of my $600 goal, so far. Thanks to all who donated and have otherwise supported me - and if you haven't, well, hopefully you'll read this one-chapter preview and change your mind!

All my best!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writing With a Friend!

Howdy folks!

Today a friend of mine and I sat down (for the second time, actually) and wrote together. We're both working on NaNoWriMo, and we're both doing, well...Something! He's further behind than I am and that's all I'll say because he's the sort of guy that can bang out a bajillion words in one burst when it suits him. Not that I'm not, or at least not that I didn't used to be. I've actually been fairly steady with this NaNoWriMo project! How steady?

Obligatory Word Count: 28,085.

On topic, working with a friend can be a blessing or a curse. When you write with a friend, and you're each working on your own projects, you can bounce ideas off of each other. That's a huge blessing - if you're honest with each other you can shoot down bad ideas while building up the best of them. You can build concepts together - one person might suggest the first half of a solid plot arc, and the resolution might be suggested by the second.

The curse? You have to stay focused. "Writing with a friend" can quickly turn into "bullshitting with a friend." There's nothing wrong with having some laughs, but if all you do is talk about work/school/women/men/etc, you aren't writing. There needs to be some serious focus involved. There needs to be encouragement and good times, but there needs to be progress.

Most of all, you need to make sure your artistic styles mesh. I often like to write to the tune of music. So does my friend. With headphones, this can work - but if I really feel a need to keep the bass thumping, its going to be problematic. It'll be distracting. If I feel like breaking my writing up into small spurts of productivity, I have to show enough restraint to avoid distracting my friend if he's writing in one long, sustained effort.

The key of writing with a friend, therefore, is to know the friend you're writing with. That's the essence of it all - that, and, of course, to enjoy your writing!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stuck In The Middle With...Words!

Hello hello!

First things first, I'm doing well! Had some allergy problems over the week which slowed me down, but I'm back with a vengeance!

I've done some marketing for Physics Incarnate, for when that project is fully ready to release. As far as the NaNo goes...

NaNoWriMo Obligatory Word Count: 25,639 (And rising)

Right now I am literally half-way done with the book. I actually have to say that my "planned" series of events has lasted me well into this area, even if I didn't plan for it to go as it did. Yep, the book has a life of its own! Whaaat a shocker! Truthfully I'll hit at least 26,500 before I'm worried about "okay, what should happen next," although that's not saying much. As for my plan overall? A plan for what the end of the book'll be?

I think I have one!

But normally by now, in the process of writing a book, I hear would-be authors (and sometimes myself!) come upon a wall where we say "all of my strong front-loading ideas are gone, but its far too early for my climax. Now is when I have to stretch things out." And boy is that an art!

Repetition is an idea...But it gets old fast. If there is nothing new in the introduction of old information, it is simply a second telling to the reader - even if it is the first time the character has heard it! Describing the alien death ray is cool! Describing it six times is not. But, describing it a second time and with a new, perhaps subtle factoid thrown in is a way to expand upon it; "Oh yeah," says character one, "this is the death ray." "Cool," responds #2, "its just like this thing I saw!"

Okay, now you have something.

And that's all I'll say about stretching, for now. Cuz now is sleepy-time!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Short, but Daily Update

Hey everyone.

Today was productive!

Obligatory Word Count: 888X I know for certain its above 8,800; and I'm fairly sure the exact number is above 8,880. It might be 8,860. I could be wrong.

I'm sleepy. Good night.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finding Inspiration for your Writing

One of the toughest challenges people face is that they want to write...But have no idea what to put on a sheet of paper. I don't mean the more traditional "I know what I want to say, but don't know how to say it" situation that befalls me regularly. I mean the literal "I don't know what to write" situation of someone that wishes to be creative and cannot find something to apply that creativity to.

First and foremost, the question must be asked if writing is, in fact, the form of expression best suited to a person's feelings! Maybe they would be better off painting, or building something out of Lego, or taking pictures, or even just adding some art into a physical activity such as sports!

If writing is indeed what the person wants to do, though, the standard answer is "write what you know." Knowing something is fine, but having a passion enough to write about that something? If you feel like you know it down, pat, and rote, well, you'd better be writing for an audience because you're not going to dazzle yourself with new ideas. Most likely you'll either rehash old ones, or just get bored and give up.

No...Inspiration - at least in my current circumstances - comes from seeing something that already exists and going "what can I do with these ideas that hasn't been done before."

Inspiration for NaNoWriMo Novels

This year, I'm writing a space opera. Okay, so perhaps not a space opera - but certainly not a space by-all-laws-of-physics, and definitely not just a story about space ships blowing one another up constantly. Oh...I'm sure there's gonna be some of that all! But I'm going to be much more involved in the intricacies (or lack thereof) of diplomacy and balance-of-power affairs.

Where does this come from? For most of my life, I've played Master of Orion games. I was introduced to MOOII, which is an all-time great. It amounted to little more than "civilization in space and with awesome player-controlled combat to boot!" I've never actually played MOO1, which is...Probably going to change some day, but not now. And when MOO3 was announced, holy crap, it seemed so awesome...And was! Until those of us who played it realized that the game we'd been promised and the game we got were as alien to one another as Antarans and Gnolams. That is to say, one was always super awesome and advanced, and the other was so -blah- that it was removed from the game, more or less. Basically, it doesn't even work.

Right now, MOOII is my space-empire-game god-of-choice. Un-paid-for-plug? I picked it up at Good Old Gamers' for dirt cheap with full DOSBOX compatibility solutions, meaning it plays flawlessly and is fully patched. I've read interviews by the GoG people and, no joke, they're legit. Check it out and give it a try.

I have always been fascinated by MOO's capacity for customization, as well as ship class systems, and that's reflected in previous writings of mine in the first place. I'm trying to get some of that to shine through in my work, while at the same time trying to make the work itself pretty awesome. When you have a source of inspiration, even one that's second-hand, (Battlestar Galactica helped feed me into MOOII again, for example) it can make writing a lot easier on you because you'll know what your work "might look a little like," although it by no means has to.

So far, so good! I hope!

Obligatory Word Count: 5,632. That's about where I wanted to be, perhaps a bit higher even! I have some time this week to burtn out a lot of writing and while its the easy, early-onset writing, well...Its going great.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Articles and Update!

Hello, folks!

So! Today was a stupidly productive day! I wanted to start off strong on the NaNoWriMo affair. I began by doing some basic math on it; 50,000 words, 30 days. 50,000/30 = 1666.6666----, errr, 1,667. That's the per-day count of words needed to accomplish the task. If some days you write more, other days you can write less; if some you write less, others you must write more.

I reached that goal in my first burst!

Since this is more than a NaNoWriMo blog (though that'll dominate the next month!), I'm gonna ramble for a bit. After all, this is my blog! Anyway, I checked, a website I sometimes write at, and found there were no (turns out I was wrong; someone DID beat me to the punch) articles on NaNoWriMo from this year; not even one announcing that it had begun! Naturally, I went to work. I wrote myself an article. I wasn't sure if it would be accepted by the editorial staff there due to the past volume of work...

...And I found myself shocked as hell to see this message!

Oh yeah. I was thrilled. Sure enough, my post was on the front page there. I saved a screencap of that, too, for posterity! And for showing off!

But back to NaNoWriMo...I feel like its going really strongly. When I look at my word count, yeah, there's a slight fear I might run out of steam and creativity. However, considering how far I got today, I'm not concerned. The trick to this year's entry is that, while I don't have a name for it that I like, yet, I do have a plan. Or, rather, a plan for the beginning. I know how it will start. I don't know how it will end, except that it will end awesomely.

I was also really pleased to see that NaNoWriMo can take your current word count and project it on a graph, give you the total you've done, the number of days left, an "at this rate you'll finish by," and even a "words per day to finish on time." Its a nifty little thing, to see data on what you're doing as you're doing it! It might help control one's pace, making sure one doesn't burn out. Say, by writing too much in one day; something that I know I'm nowhere near the lead of the pack on, but not doing too badly with, either!

And that brings us too today's...

Obligatory Word Count: 2,437
- Its not a full second day's work, unfortunately, but it's about a day and a half! That means I'm a half day ahead, hence my "November 20th" finish date if I continue at this pace. Yay, math!

Monday, October 31, 2011

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Entry!

Hellooooo everybody!

Say, have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month?

- Image Courtesy of National Novel Writing Month Website

Well, as the hastily located and posted image hints at, I will (again) be participating - or competing, as I call it - in this event! To sum NaNoWriMo up...Well, its November, and in November participants are to write a novel of no less than 50,000 words. It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be. And that's where the fun begins!

You see, yes, you could (according to what I read last year when I tried and failed...More on that later!) just write "word" fifty thousand times. It would count, because at its core their "word verification" is just a word counter! But...That's not the point. That's a chore. That's a real shame. Its not like you win anything more than some pride.

No...The point is to get over problems like "writer's block" by going "I have a deadline I must reach." With a month to write (though many outline in advance), I consider it more of a competition with myself. I never have problems sketching out ideas and where I want to go. My problems lie more in the "writing the parts of the book I don't consider exciting but know are vital." Well, that and keeping track of a flash drive as I write in alternation of two computers. Therefore, what I need is a kick in the rear!

NaNoWriMo is that!

So, yes, this year I am participating. And, I will use this blog when I have a chance to update it! I have other friends that are doing it to; if they want, I'll offer updates on their progress, as well! That'd be fun!

Well, with about 45 minutes to go, I'm gonna go grab myself a glass of water and some nice, good...Sleep. I have work in the morning. I intend to kick some serious rear end on this one as I write---Oops, no title yet. Haven't started. Barely even know what I'm gonna write...G'night!

Obligatory Word Count: 0.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Writing a Trilogy, Part One

Howdy folks, and welcome to another Ramble about Writing! I promise this - it'll be a ramble, and it'll be about writing! And, as per the title, it'll be about writing a trilogy. Lets go!

What Are Some Fantasy Novel Trilogies?

When I first started writing, well, I was young. I was heavily influenced by the earliest Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, as well as the "Last Herald-Mage" novels by Mercedes Lackey. While my style and subject of sci-fi writing was much different than theirs, my ambitions were similar.

In 2005 I released my first novel. I proudly declared that it was a "Volume One." I had a clear plan of where Volumes Two and Three would go, and I even had plans for short stories! Oh, wait, no...I actually wrote those! I had notes on what would be coming, notes on what I'd already written, and grand schemes for how I would set about collecting new ideas to include without tainting the old.

I left the story off on a cliffhanger, put the first book out, and started on the second. As we speak, or at least on the same day that I'm putting this article out, I'm working on the third!

What Are Some Problems with Writing a Trilogy?

Now, you have to factor in some extenuating circumstances when you inevitably ask, "Wait, its 2011 and you don't have the third book out, yet?" A death in the family'll do that, although I shudder to ever use that as a rationalization for my delays. Oh, its not that I didn't hurt; rather, its that the hurt was just part of the problem.

My weakness, or one of them, is organization. My desk, which I'm ultra-proud to have by-the-by, is covered with, among other things; scattered post-it notes, legos, a microphone, plenty of Coca-Cola cans, a loose-object holder (mostly empty) and a lamp. Over half a decade ago, in 2005, I didn't have half of this level of organization.

I had a text file with novel-notes - I can't open it because I don't have a copy of the appropriate program.

I had a notebook - I lost it, got another; lost that, got a third.

I had crystal-clear ideas on what I wanted to do - With time and with other things in my life, it got fuzzy.

I needed to come up with some plot-hole fixes - The above three problems crippled this endeavor.

The bottom line here is that, maybe - just maybe - I wasn't ready. Oh, its not that my skills at actually writing weren't up to par. They've improved, certainly, since then! But they were never the issue. The real problem was that I wasn't as prepared to write as I thought. And, so, that's my number one thing to suggest if you're planning to write a Trilogy - be really fucking precise.

Oh, I haven't taken this advice in full, quite yet. I'm hoping to, I really am. But will I? Well, lets just say that I plan to re-read my own books to really get in touch with the old material. But if you want to be a better writer (at least, in the execution segment of the art) than me?

Some Pointers On Writing a Trilogy

First of all, organize your notes. I'm talking "If you have a file cabinet, use it" organization. Folders seem nice, but unless they're large binders (and even then), all it takes is one mis-placing and you're in trouble. When I got my second notebook I thought "gee, its nice and awesome and I love it. I'll never leave it out of my sight." Then, after using it so often it was an automatic in the back of my mind, I lost track of it. Folders? Yeah, I've done that with them, too. To boil it down: Dedicate not just a folder or book to your writing, but an entire area!

Next, well, really make sure you have the length of a Trilogy and that you have it broken up properly - and I mean really, really properly. Oh, I do! But my first book was 120,000 words. My second one hovered at 100,000. The third will be shorter, in large part because my prose has been refined over the years but also because of one simple problem - The immediate circumstances almost always look larger than further-off ones. I planned on three separate books worth of events, but when I look back on the story it seems the first contained a lot of less-effectively-described situations (a consequence of being younger and less proficient at the art of writing), while the second is much better written but with comparatively less things happening. The third is (I should hope) going to be even more pleasantly written, but I'm finding that my challenge is more in wrapping up plot threads neatly than in describing situations.

Finally, I suppose the best advice I have is to really know what you're getting into. Writing is not easy. In writing this article I realized I've spent about 15-20 minutes more than I thought I would. My hands hurt from typing (cheap shot jokes go here!). Coming up with witty/poignant/enlightening/dramatic dialogue requires practice, and describing characters consistently or introducing scenes with a sense of realism can be a nightmare. If you notice all of your places devolve into a single motif, you might need to actually go to a different real place. Working on an idea that you're really excited about is fun, but once that initial excitement dies you're going to need something to sustain your writing.

That's what preparation is for.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

About Ramble About Writing!

Hi everyone!

This is mostly just a place-holder post. Its also a place to introduce myself, and to maybe talk a bit. For those who don't know me, I'm Jesse Pohlman. Some "vital" facts? I'm about to cross the bridge to twenty-seven years old. I'm from Freeport, New York. My mother passed away six years ago. I've been dating my girlfriend, who I now live with, for nearly two years. I love skiing, fencing, roleplaying (including, yes, World of Warcraft), swimming, and frisbee. My favorite bands include Silversun Pickups, Nirvana, Placebo, and Garbage. I currently work as a one-to-one Teacher Assistant for the Freeport School district, as well as a senior lifeguard for the Freeport Recreation Center. I also, currently, have someone chainsawing a bush apart, right outside of my apartment.

As I am foolish enough to presume by the fact you've gotten this far, I'm also a writer. I don't mean this in a "oh, Jesse writes once in a while" sense. I mean, "Oh, Jesse wants to make a career out of this" one. To that end, you might ask "What have you written?"

What has Jesse Pohlman written?

To begin with, I'm a self-published novelist. I actually put out my first book, an action-packed, science-fiction novel, in 2005. Its called Pillars of the Kingdom, Volume One: The Forming. Its sequel, The Search for the Four, came out in 2009. Its next installment is in progress, clocking in at over 9,000 words; not much.

I also recently completed a novel called "Physics Incarnate." Its currently under consideration by a publisher, and if that one doesn't accept it, then, well...I'll find another.

My novels aren't exactly what I'm famous for, however. Most notably, I write "The Weekly Freeporter," a blog about my hometown. Its how I got into blogging in the first place. Its over a year old and is nearing 100 posts! That's kind of an accomplishment!

Jesse Pohlman - Too Little Time

By now, you've probably gotten the sense that I do a lot of writing. Perhaps even too much. For example; I manage a small website called Liberty Free Media, a journalism/philosophy/etc website. Its got a number of people who have submitted work to it, and I hope it continues to grow.

Finally (or is it...?), I've run a chat room/forum based roleplaying community called Hellestar since I was little. While many folks have come and gone, some people I've played with have been in my life for more than half of it. If I began roughly around the age of 12, well...You do the math. Roleplaying is probably where I started my writing obsession. Its probably swallowed months, if not years of my time.

I say that like its a bad thing!

The bottom line is that I'm a creative person. The bottom line is that this space is going to be used to discuss what that creativity means, and how it is progressing. I hope you'll join me in listening in!