Author's Journals, Notes, etc.

About this section: As I write, it is presently September 11th, 2009. Since the publication of the following journal entries, a few of my views on things have shifted significantly, especially with regards to what is an effective method of producing chapters reliably. (You may notice both that this is a common theme in my posts, and that I still haven't figured it out.)

In addition, many of these were written in the frantic, early hours of the morning to the lovely melody of my own personal desperation, culled from a harried disposition... usually the result of being unable to hit my self-imposed deadlines, or feeling that I was under-delivering content-wise.

As I have since discovered though, I really just needed to relax a bit and be cool. (And maybe be just a little less self-conscious.) But as it is, I find these to be nice, if over-revealing, portraits of myself during various stages of the process which led me to where I am now, and I am grateful for that. Even if they are a little embarrassing to read.




A Bit About Me and the Process of Getting This Story Written
(Originally posted between January and February of '09)

Writing this novel has so far been a fascinating, frustrating, frightening, and, as I am only now seeing, absolutely liberating experience.

I originally started writing Fallout 101 in March of ’07, during my first year in college. At this time, it was called ‘Everyday Post Apocalyptic Story,’ and was inspired by a horrifying encounter with self realization that caused me to drop out of college. And while I won’t bore you with the details, the short of it is that I ended up sending my first chapter to Amazon in about November of ’07, asking them if they were interested in a serial novel on Kindle. A few weeks later, they got back to me with an affirmative reply.

If you have ever gotten a book published, or a piece of artwork commissioned, you know exactly how I felt reading that email. It was like the universe singing its song through me. (“Somebody actually thinks my writing is worth something!”) Over the course of the next year, I labored over my ‘book’, scrutinizing every word on every page… of all four chapters. I must have read those 10,000 words a hundred times over, watching as my sanity slowly slipped away, my emotions ricocheting between “This is good… People will want to read this!” and “Oh my God. This is a fat load of shit, and I am going to die under a bridge homeless and alone and too poor to be drunk when it happens.”

Inevitably, I scrapped the original story, which had involved a man and his son, who he carried through the ashen streets while trying to stay alive. (No, it wasn’t called “The Road”).Then I started over again. And again. Finally, the only thread of similarity between what was and what came to be manifested itself in the form of the world. I knew it was “post-apocalyptic,” I knew it was “2036-ish,” and I knew it was “sort of based on the technological singularity.” But the characters, the overall story arc, and the “objective” of the story would change completely.
I began work on the current version of Fallout 101 in September of ’08. In October, I got word from Amazon that they were ready to start publishing my writing. It had been a long time coming, but I was ready… I thought, anyways. Fortunately, it ended up taking them another couple of months to get everything going, which gave me enough time to finally get it together and (mostly) overcome my immense fear of creating something entertaining each week.

[And it is at this point that I am reminded of my goals for myself, set when I first began writing a few years ago. Such as “I am going to finish a book before I turn 20,” which became “Before I turn 21,” and which is now, “Duuude. If you ever finish this book, I am going to be soooo proud of you.”]

Finally, launch day came. I was quite thrilled: I could click over to Amazon.com, type in Fallout 101 in the search field and… there it was, mah’ beh-beh. Even more exciting was watching it jump from being ranked 80,000 in the store to rank 18 over the course of a single day. I thought I had finally made it. People were going to be reading my beloved story.

As it turns out though, I fucked the dog, and hard. I had heard of bad product launches ruining any potential that a product had, but now I was going to get to experience it—the chapters were in reverse order, and broken up by ancillary posts. Worse still, I had brilliantly named my most recent update “Interlude Pt. I,” rather than sticking with my “Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III” nomenclature that I had been using up to that point. Which meant that people were confused. One reader left the following comment on my website:

“I have been enjoying the story, but only in a rather weird and disconcerting way because I don't know whether I have been reading it in order or not. I like the character of Maria, and that is what keeps me going, and the world itself is intriguing. However, I have no idea what is really going on with the people in Genesys, and because everything there is so unfamiliar and confusing, I feel like I don't know if I've read it backwards or forwards. Maybe one thing I actually like about the book is that it is so unsettling that I can't figure out the chronology of what I am reading! But it is probably frustrating for others.”

This is exactly what every author trying to write a coherent novel wants to hear.

Interestingly, this is the only comment I have received that references the actual events of the storyline. Initially, I had thought that people would jump at the opportunity to talk to the author of the book they were reading, but the majority of the emails I’ve received have been in the vein of “Can you fix the chapter order?” etc.

And so I have been doing my best. I am not a webmaster; I am running this website on frenzied keyboard mashing and more than a little bit of prayer. But I must say that I have been delighted with everyone who has written to me; you have all been extremely patient with my online-ineptitude, and I would like to give you my heartiest thanks.

The funny thing is, I don’t actually know how many of you there are. As far as I know, I have thirty subscribers, ten of whom are actually reading the novel. But you know what? Even if that is the case, then Fallout 101 is still worth writing. And even if I only manage to capture the imagination of one of you, then you must be the one who I am writing this book for.

-Andrew Macauley (email: andrew.macauley@live.com)




Notes on the Writing Process
(Originally Posted on August 29, 2009)

It has been some time since I was last able to post, and while I have been unable to complete another chapter, I thought I'd share some insight into my writing-life.

Last year, in November, I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month literary event, in the hopes that I might find the resolve to finish my novel... or, at the very least, get a good start on it. (The object of NaNoWriMo, for those of you who don't know, is to write a 50,000 word + "novel" during the month of November.) As you can probably guess, I didn't get very far. Looking back on the experience though, I can't help but laugh at myself--at the time, I had money and a home, and was living essentially in the middle of nowhere, in Rimrock Arizona, without a car or any way to really get around. Essentially, I was living on an island; the ideal place for some solid novelry.

And while I won't go too deeply into why I was unable to get much done during that time (in short: worry, lack of confidence in my writing, and, most of all, the internet and its startling ability to turn morning into night and night into three weeks from now), I do want to point out something that dramatically altered my writing habits, thanks to one of the NaNoWriMo email advice segments put out by Philip Pullman, author of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy (beginning with The Golden Compass). In his email encouraging us aspiring authors, Pullman said that one of the most important things a new author could do (or any author, really) was to maintain a consistent writing schedule. And while my memory of the email is a little hazy, I have it in my mind that he specifically mentioned that one ought to write at least a thousand words a day. And, in fact, beginning around July first, I set out to accomplish this very thing with startling success.

So what happened? At that rate, I should be nearly done with my novel by now. Well, in a Karmic convergence of events, I became extremely ill about a week after starting this new routine. In fact, I experienced the worst illness of my entire (admittedly brief-ish) life, though I cannot say whether or not it was aggravated by a trip to the hospital. (I was given a spinal tap in the ER, as they thought I might have meningitis, and though it did not hurt at the time of the procedure, I could hardly move the following day due to the immense pain in my lower back.) In fact, my flu (or whatever it was--I didn't bother asking), was so bad that even a week later I had difficulty standing without succumbing to an extraordinary headache. One amusing event still stands out in my mind where it took me a non-hypberbolic thirty minutes to make my way from my bedroom to the kitchen and butter a single piece of bread. (Mostly, the length of time it took was due to the rhythmic crawl-lie down and cringe a bunch-crawl-lie down and cringe a bunch flow that my lack of mobility demanded.)

During my illness, as seems to happen with these sorts of things, I had quite a few epiphanies about life. Because, really, epiphanies are pretty inevitable when the only options you have are 1.) Stare at the ceiling and 2.) don't stare at the ceiling. (And of course, both options are wrapped in a cacaphony of soul crushing noise that seems as if it will never end--the banging of a pot, a lone note escaping bombastically from an otherwise quiet stereo, cars passing in the street). And while I don't intend to lay out my thoughts at that time, as they probably wouldn't make much sense anyways, I feel it is prudent to mention that these sorts of things seem to occur for a reason (for example, it could be viewed as a sign that I ought to take life a little slower). Now, whether I am right or wrong about the overarching relevance of this event as it pertains to my life on the whole (as it could be nothing more than simple causality--a universal cry beckoning me to wash my hands more frequently), the end situation is the same: I was knocked down, and now must get up again, to paraphrase that one Chumbawamba lyric. I only wish I could go through my stuff without it negatively affecting your reading experience. But maybe that is part of what I ought to learn here--sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you still have to let go of the idea that you will get things perfectly right the first time. (At the very least, I feel calm thinking about things in that way. Forgiveness is one of the more beneficent catalysts for change, and I must say I prefer it over metaphoric self flagellation.)

And so, to tie things back into my original intent for this post, I am working hard to steer myself towards the ideal writing volume of one thousand words a day, though, in my case, this comes with the caveat of my having to release my occasionally rough chapters to your collective scrutiny, dear readers, a concept that would still give me the jitters if I hadn't learned to plug my ears and say "lalalalalalalalalala" really loud every time I feel myself beginning to think about that fact. (Trust me, it works really well.) In addition to that fact, I recently moved from Oregon to Arizona! Which makes the fourth time I've moved from one state to another since I began writing for you all back in January. On top of that, I am trying to start a business fixing computers, but it's a little difficult considering that my net worth in liquid assets falls somewhere around $7, and my personal space consists of a storage closet that is only slightly longer and wider than I am while lying down. (I know because it is where I sleep.)

That in mind, I have a good sense about the coming weeks, and I feel that once I land a little more firmly on my feet I will be able to make the most of this delightful Kindle blog format. And while I cannot guarantee when the next chapter will come (a lesson I've learned from being ill), I will say that I am aiming for two weeks from now. The reason I have picked such a distant date is twofold: 1.) even given the circumstances of my day to day existence, steeped in uncertainty as it is, I have little doubt I can make it happen and 2.) I am finding it to be a wild and stimulating challenge to integrate all of the disparate elements of the plot in an organic way, something I am sure to speak more on later sometime in the future, but I am sure that I will be able to get it all figured out by around that time.

Once again, I must thank you all for your support. I sincerely appreciate your patience, and I hope you are enjoying the book when I am able to get it to you!

Thank you!


More Notes on the Writing Process
(Originally titled, "Thoughts"; Posted on July 28, 2009)

Dear friends and readers,

No chapter this week. I am working on chapter XVI though, so I hope you'll like it when it's done!

Since I don't have any exciting update to the storyline though, I want to take a moment to talk a little about what I've been doing lately and just some general thoughts I've had floating about in my head regarding novelry.

I have read a lot about the novel writing process, so I know that everyone has a different experience with it. But there is one similarity for what seems like every beginning author; that is, once you've passed a certain point (usually something having to do with a high page count), you begin to get this feeling that the novel will, inevitably, be finished, and the whole thing doesn't seem so daunting anymore.

While somewhat warm and cozy, this feeling is also akin a literary bog of sorts. On the one hand, it's nice to have the initial insecurities of undertaking something so all-consuming out of the way, but on the other, you think that if you squint hard enough into the distance and kind of shade your eyes a bit, you can sort of make out where the whole affair is going, but you aren't exactly sure, and, well, you just want to get the novel done... for fuck's sake.

Fortunately, by this point you've given up on the idea that it will be "Novel of the Decade," and are willing to settle for "pretty enjoyable," which takes a lot of the pressure off. You've owned up to the fact that anyone who starts off on any kind of new venture makes mistakes, and are ready to get down to business with a more realistic approach to your craft. But a lot of the initial forward-ho! storywriting momentum is gone. Most of the major plot elements have been introduced, and the setting has been described thoroughly. There's a great finale out there on the horizon, you think again, squinting, but right now you're in that "the journey is more important than the destination" place that everybody hates to hear about, but is begrudgingly aware of the importance of. (And, you note to yourself, you are too because the finale would be meaningless without the stuff in the middle.)

What was once new and exciting has become a call to arms, demanding that you step up to the challenge of creating a story in a way you may not have tried yet. This is because each stage of the plot development (opening, developing, closing) requires its own approach. The way I've broken it down, for my own benefit, is this:

-Opening: Ought to instill a sense of what is new without confusing.
-Developing: Take what was new, give it context, apply it to content.
-Closing: ? (i.e. I'm not there yet. Will get back to you when I reach that point.)

Knowing what is applicable in each stage is important and requires vigilance and a keen eye for all the potential pitfalls waiting along the road. It's funny how a lone sentence or line of dialog can give a chapter or idea enough context to change it from 'distracting' to 'relevant, and therefore fun'.

With that in mind, I would like to point out something: the novel writing process is often extremely messy. For a first time author, it can approach Mr. Creosote levels of messiness. Now, take that and start releasing the chapters pretty much the moment they're written like I've been doing, and you can have a rather unsightly beast on your hands.

Which is not to say it's all bad. It'd be like if they let the audience watch the writing process forLost, as it happened, or if bands only ever released demos of their music and they had to do one song every week. Lots of ideas get thrown out long after they are implemented in the normal creative process, and with good reason, but it doesn't mean that some servicable material wouldn't surface; it's just so much more digestable to get the shiny, perfect, studio-edited products than the far more rough spur-of-the-moment jams thrashed out as they occur.

Which is what Fallout 101 is. It is a bit messy. Overly long-winded. Somewhat inscrutable, even. But, at the risk of tooting my own horn a little too hard here, it is also a unique experience because of that. Rather than get the finished version of a novel that you already know got great reviews, you are taking a leap of faith to read something that hardly anyone has heard of. And, assuming you are enjoying the experience, that is something rare and hopefully valuable in this time where everyone has already done everything worth doing.



Still More Notes on the Writing Process

(Originally posted between March and April, '09)

This post is for those of you who wonder about the process behind writing a chapter each week. Or, as in the case of the past few weeks, writing a chapter as I am able. (More on this later.)

Back in January, when I first gave this “weekly update” thing a real shot, I was living in the middle of nowhere, Rimrock Arizona, which meant that finding the time to write and be creative wasn’t difficult (though I did have to disconnect the internet to concentrate). At this time, I generally went about the chapter writing process by sitting down and typing out whatever came to me.

However, I found this approach problematic when I switched to a weekly schedule. In doing “impulse writing,” I often ended up with thousands of words of unusable content per chapter, which meant that I could spend as many as twelve hours at a stretch just editing. (As with the chapter “Interlude Part II: XIII,” which I had to cut down from 7,000 words to about 3,000. A significant amount of this time was spent merely scrolling up and down, rather than making any actual progress.)

Then, one night, bleary eyed and caffeine-high, I began writing chapter four. I was too tired to put any coherent sentences together, and instead wrote it in outline form, hitting the major points along the way, while making sure to keep things in order, before going to sleep. When I awoke, I found that most of the creative work was done, thanks to my outline, and that I could concentrate on the descriptions and character mannerisms.

For the next couple of chapters, I began with a mix of hand-written situations and action-outlines following the flow of events. But this was problematic as well; whenever I would encounter significant amounts of dialogue during the course of actually writing a chapter, I would have to try and think it through while also doing descriptions in between character’s lines. Since descriptions and dialogue come from separate modes of thinking (it seems to me), switching between them is difficult and causes both to feel forced.

My solution? Write the dialogue first, with no fluff, while making sure to capture each character’s “voice” as well as I could. I also left little notes like “eyes flash,” or something along those lines, to help me remember their intended mannerisms.

This new approach—of combining an “action script” with dialogue—again worked for a few chapters. I felt I had found the secret to good writing on a schedule, and even felt that some of it could be called ‘inspired.’

But then something dreadful happened. I started to care about word count. I have never attempted to artificially stretch any of the chapters for the sake of length, but for a while I felt that I had failed in some capacity if I wrote 4,800 words one week (see: chapter VI) and then 4,200 the next (Chapter VII).

Talk about ways to stifle creativity. I had managed to become my own cranky boss who quantifies worth only by amount and timeliness.

Soon after, I realized I had to re-evaluate myself, my life, and my book, if I was going to be able to continue writing. “Be kind to yourself,” I would say. But of course, I started with: “You suck, your book sucks, and you have made terrible life choices.” Then, so I could feel better, I’d add, “Well, it’s all uphill from here!”

About this time, I started writing “Chapter VIII: Adjustment”. The interesting thing about this is that I had originally planned it quite differently: no mystery, no big changes; just lots and lots of meaningless violence.

But that wasn’t where the creativity was. That came from spontaneity; from me waking up one morning and feeling inspired to write what became the opening of chapter VIII, against whatever logical reasons I had for doing things that way; from me finding out what happened to my characters about the same time my readers did. Which is sort of what life is like—good things that we don’t plan are almost always more interesting than the things we do, even if they are more chaotic and, oftentimes, frightening.

Recently, I have begun to understand the value of unhinged creativity: without it, our deepest passions become little more than added tasks, tacked on at the end of the “things to do” lists of our lives. So while on the surface I wish I could update consistently each week with a knock-your-socks-off chapter, I also understand that the ability to do so is earned through a very specific process, tied into personal growth and the desire to let life be what life is without fighting to maintain some rigid standard that doesn’t make sense in the present moment.

In the end, the best that I and others in my position can hope for is that future present moments are the result of just the right amount of spontaneity and structure, freeing creativity into the scheduled system that modern society so adamantly demands.

Or, you know, whatever.



Sort of a Note on the Writing Process


Last night, as I sat massaging the sides of my head and staring at what I figured was about one third of what would constitute my next update, the most curious thing happened: my computer crashed. And it wasn't one of those soft crashes where you start it back up again and everything is sunshine and roses, except that maybe you've lost some of your work or something. This was a critical hardware failure: i.e. My baby is dead.

Now, you might think that upon restarting my computer and getting a screen full of exclamation marks and garbled nonsense, I would have been a little upset. (And, considering that my computer has nearly been the cornerstone of my day to day existence for about three years, this would make sense.) But as I sat there, staring into the unwavering black abyss of a computer monitor no longer able to convey life, I felt something else entirely: I felt free. It was as if I had gotten my wings.

As I type this, I am using my mom's laptop, a crappy Dell (like mine) that's internal cooling system is broken, meaning I have to keep this fat, teal fan balanced on my leg below it to make sure it doesn't overheat. But I love using a community laptop; it means I can't get bored or distracted and putter around Facebook for three hours, or watch Netflix or read meaningless forums just because I don't have the fortitude to keep writing my novel. It keeps me on point and ensures that I have a purpose to be on the computer.

This may sound like a (shallow) meditation on our willing, or oftentimes unknowing, enslavement to our devices, but it is not. It is more a picture of vice in general. I am like an alcoholic who just dropped his only bottle of whiskey to the ground where it shattered. My laptop full-on breaking is one of the best things that has happened to me since my month long illness in July.

Now, I am on a technological oasis where I can no longer haunt myself with the specters of people I once knew; can no longer turn my fear of life into a placid hunt for the next gentle spark of entertainment on youtube or Hulu; or keep a weary eye darting tentatively down to the corner of my screen, checking to see if the Gmail notifier has caught any savory messages on its fishing line bobbing endlessly in the ethers. I am free. Finally, Goddess--that which gave me life--I am free.

Or maybe I am not. If I were truly free, I would have been master over my computer in the first place, using it to my greater benefit all the time rather than just some of the time. (Kind of like how I enjoy an alcoholic beverage on occasion, but it in no way is a part of my life--funny how this stuff works, isn't it? Then again, alcoholism is easy to recognize, but how many people will readily admit to internet addiction and recognize the weak, homogenizing effect it has on their lives?)

Up until this point, I have managed to hack out a fairly predictable method of writing: craft a backstory in ink in my notebook; outline in notebook; let it all gestate for a bit; sit down at computer and write what comes to me. Now though, it seems I will have need to simply write entire chapters, start to finish, by hand. (Due to the fact that I need to make as much out of my time on the computer as possible). And I must say that I am excited. I feel like I am turning a delightful new page in my personal manual of creativity, one that has the secret to happy creation; free from that stressful feeling of obligation, of needing to perform; free from the tendency to turn creative diffidence into blase websurfing and bland life choices; giving me the freedom to leave the house and find a quiet spot beneath the leaves of a great, shady benefactor where I can be as I am, simply.

For a while now, my hope for this book has been that I would be compelled into creative action by a love of life, rather than a fear of ineffectuality, and find inspiration in the same. I guess I'll let you all know when I get there.


Thank you all for reading. I hope you are getting as much out of this experience as I am.

Namaste,

Andrew



Notes to Readers. Journals. Embarrassing Stuff to Read if You're Super-Bored at the Airport and the WiFi is down, or Maybe You're in a Taxi or Something and The Traffic Just Won't Friggin' Move, For God's Sake, And the Light is Green and Everything, and You're All GO DUDE GO!!!, And He Just Sits There Like He's Sayin' "Nuh-uh, Man," And You're All, "Whatever! Fine! I'll Just Read Some Old, Banal Shit, See What I Care If I'm Late to My Meeting You Stupid Asshole!"



Journal (Published 9/21/09)
(Originally Titled "I take great comfort in how little I know")

In life, I have often experienced that exciting moment where I say, "Finally, I understand [the secret to happiness; the secret to success; the meaning of existence; etc.]..." whereupon life just laughs and laughs and, in the way that life does, says, "Oh, really?"

Sometimes, this "Oh, really?" is a gentle nudge--like when you are certain that "slovenly" is pronounced "SLOW-ven-ly" instead of "SLUH-ven-ly", but no matter how absolutely positiveyou are of that, it is still just pronounced "SLUH-ven-ly". (And so, you realize, it is okay to be wrong about things; and that it is, in fact, liberating--because if you can celebrate failure with the same enthusiasm that you celebrate success, both values cease to exist and you are simply left with the essence of being, which is, in my experience, joy.)

Other times, this "Oh, really?" can feel like dynamite breaking down the foundation of your belief structure, leaving you staring at a big, ashen pile of what you thought was you. Interestingly, this is a good thing, if you let it be. It is a chance to build something newer and better than what was there before... if only so that life can come along and tromp it all down again.

And, if you're like me, the more you allow life to stomp on your perceptions of existence, the sooner you'll quit trying so hard to build something, and you'll begin to ask, "Why am I doing all of this in the first place?" And you will wonder if maybe life has a point that you are just too blind to see.

Then, "Of course!" life will reply. "Thank you for finally asking!" Because even an impressive monument like the Empire State Building is still just a bigger, taller box than all the other boxes we shuffle in and out of all day long. (And to all of you who just thought, "there are bigger buildings than that," I can say, quite certainly, that you are missing the point.)

[And while this is all a metaphor for consciousness, I still wonder how much satisfaction we could ever truly derive from our "Modern Achievements" when taken in comparison to the force that created this universe. Hell, even in comparison to our own planet! If you want to see an organism that is waaaay better at making cool, useful things than we are, just look at nature--when nature wants to wave its dick around a bit it doesn't go buy an F350 or make some ominous, shiny building... it takes a teeny little seed, buries it, showers it with water, and poof! A towering redwood! The closest thing we've come up with is those encapsulated sponge dinosaurs that grow "up to a whole three inches in length!" in water and then make you say, "Well that sure is useful."

More amusingly however is how Mankind likes to think that it is more important than nature because we are "dominant" over it... But we are like a child with a lovingly crafted porcelain doll, asserting its power over the doll by smashing it repeatedly into the floor instead of appreciating its beauty. Which, as the doll's maker might suggest, would be missing the point. (Then, if the doll maker were highly progressive, she might go on, "But hey, it's your choice what you do with it. I just made the damn thing, what do I know?")]

Which brings us to where I'm at (in a roundabout sort of way). That is--once more staring at the rubbled mess of the last time I tried to "Figure life out". But at least then I only made a hutch and hung out in the shade for a bit while coming up with chapters for my book, so it isn't a huge mess.

Besides, as you might expect by now, I am somewhat used to having odd things happen that throw me off balance--like, quite literally, a recent incident with a certain family member who felt that a meeting between my head and his fist was long overdue--but it definitely takes longer to come up with a new chapter when I am trying to come up with a new home where I can indulge in a lowered likelihood of being slugged by crazy people.

And while I don't know when the next chapter will be ready, I can say that I am very much looking forward to posting it for all of you, and I hope you enjoy it when it comes.

peace, love, and light

Andrew Macauley



Author's Journal
(Original title: 'Not a chapter; but a journal.' Posted May of '09)


About seven days ago, a more viable living situation presented itself in the Portland, Oregon area. And so, with little to-do, I gathered up my things and enlisted two of my friends in an interstate travel operation. (Incidentally, that's what I imagine the governnment would call moving from one place to another.)

My plan to prepare for the twelve hour trip was to spend Friday with my family, use the evening and into the early hours of the morning to write the next chapter of Fallout 101, and then sleep until it was nearly time to go. Of course, what instead happened was that I spent far more time at my parents' house than expected, got home and couldn't keep my eyes open, decided I'd write the chapter en route to Portland, and then fell asleep.

The following day, I woke up at about 7 a.m., groggily unaware of the 24 mind numbing hours to follow. Packing all my things and 'getting it all together' took about eight hours longer than I expected it to, of course. (I am consistently amazed by my ability to believe I have so many fewer things than I actually do.) Then, since my friends and I left Salt Lake in the evening, my new plan became: drive until I get tired. Let someone else take over. Take a nap. Write.

Surprisingly (or, unsurprisingly, depending on the way you look at these sorts of things), no one else felt like driving during the course of the trip. So as I spent nine of the next twelve or so hours hunched over the wheel and trying not to fall asleep, I found I had an abundance of time to reflect on my life.

One of the things that came to me was this... For the past couple months, my life has been some analogue of the following: wake up; plan to write my book; have life seem to get in the way of me writing; eventually finish writing later and in far too much of a hurry to fully enjoy the process.

This made me wonder if I was doing it wrong... To which I replied, mouth mumbling into my hand upon which it rested, "Yes... you are definitely doing it wrong." Then I hit a pothole, smacked my face on the steering wheel, and promptly decided I was ready for a change. (i.e. "man... that pothole was like life... man... hitting me in the head and saying 'Yo, dudebro, feel through the cloud of your thoughts and find the acute clarity within. Precise understanding of your deepest desires will lead you to find their fulfillment.)

(Then I realized that both an eternity of existence and a single moment where you don't want anything are exactly the same thing... But that concept has questionable application to life.)

What this brought me to understand was, again, just how grateful I am to have such a fun book to write and such wonderful readers to read it, but that I want to make the process easier on myself by doing things like getting a week ahead with the chapters (which is a lot harder than it might sound). Still, even if I can't manage to get it all quite together some weeks, I keep trying my best because I know that it is always worth it; it is always worth having dreams and always worth knowing that what we do with our lives is meaningful. And really, that seems to be a big part of happiness--understanding that everything is worth it, not just in the end, but in every moment... even the ones where everything seems to be going wrong.

... actually, especially those moments.


-Andrew


p.s. dear grammar bros/sisters/nerds: I realize I said "so many fewer" at a point during this journal. I feel that this particular transgression cannot go unnoted, as it is quite a travesty. Worse though is my inability to produce a more viable phrasing for that sentence. I believe it may be because of the late hour of this writing, but the only alternative I came up with was: "Such a large degree of fewer-ness in terms of the amount of things I have." Which isn't exactly proper.






A Particular Post That Garnered Negative Feedback
(Or, the Fallout 101 "Going on Hiatus" Debacle)
(Also, the 'etc.' part of this post's title)

PRESENT READERS PLEASE NOTE: The following post has since been rendered IRRELEVANT; it is merely there for your amusement/whatever.

Also, a bit of insight into why I wrote this: Ahem... My nerves and self-esteem were shot, and I thought I couldn't write any more, and so I just wanted to be done with it. I get the feeling that by the time I finish writing Fallout 101, I will be super prepared for having a child, what with that whole 'maternal-destructiveness' bullet long since lodged firmly in my own chest.


Originally posted in June of '09:


Dear Readers,

There will be some changes in the site content and the way that I update in the coming weeks. (i.e. things will actually start to happen again.) But this is definitely a bad news/good news sort of thing.

First, the 'bad' news: I am "officially" putting updates for Fallout 101, as a novel, on hiatus. There will be no more chapters for at least a month, and likely more, depending on how well the new content works. The reason for this is twofold: 1.) I need time to reorient myself around the story and plan out future chapters/characters/technologies. (The writing process is very organic, and the story has changed immensely since I first started writing it.) This time spent will significantly increase the quality of the chapters, and significantly decrease the amount of idealistic, air-headed promises I make.

And, 2.) I am finally able to admit to myself that I need some time off from the stress of writing a novel. Yes, it is fun, and engaging. But it is also much more difficult than I have allowed myself to realize, especially once there are as many factors to keep in mind with the story as there are now; certainly, it is a good complexity, and I am exicted to answer the many questions I have posed, but it has also become impossible to simply sit down and crack out a good chapter. And of course, I feel I have been doing an immense disservice to both you, dear reader, and myself in limping along with a clearly broken weekly update system that I came up with while I was living in total seclusion for nine months with nothing but time on my hands. (Think miles of dirt roads, solar energy, no phone system, no internet... Actually, just think "Thoreau" and "Walden" and you're pretty much there; I wasn't hoeing any beans though.)

And so, with that said, here is the big, new thing that is happening with the site: I am shifting my focus towards writing completely original short stories, unrelated to the Fallout 101 universe. Mystery, fantasy, sci fi, everyday stories, natural magic, humor, horror, and harlequin romance. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) You are guaranteed to get something quite different from my other writing each time I update, and you won't have to try and remember what you read last time because they will be mostly self contained, unless I do a series of shorter updates leading to a full story (probably no more than three updates this way), à la some serial storytelling of the early 1900's.

The reason for this is that I have been itching to write something new and am immensely excited about branching out, at least for a little while. In addition, as these stories will be inherently more focused and contained than an entire novel is, they will be more interesting to read if there happens to be a break of two weeks or so between them.

And that is what this is really all about. I feel that for a serial novel to be successful, it needs to be consistent. In the past, I have gone about this all the wrong way, placing overwhelming expectations on myself and often putting out chapters that I didn't feel were finished merely in the name of being 'on time.' And yet, I can make a scheduled system work by having a cache of four or so chapters to update with before I announce that normal updates are resuming.

So, if you are a Kindle subscriber (and, honestly, I'm pretty sure that nearly everybody who reads this site is), you may be wondering whether this is still worth your dollar each month. Let me break it down for you: If you like reading my author's journals and my general thoughts on things, then it will probably be worth staying subscribed. (I am also working on being a more interesting person, so maybe that helps.) If you like the idea of thematically diverse short stories (likely with a philosophical bent), and don't mind the idea that they will be spaced about two weeks apart from each other, then stay subscribed. If you feel that reading Fallout 101 has been sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion and you enjoy the associated bathos, then... ah... I'm not really sure what to say about that. Might as well just stay subscribed in case I go insane or something cool like that and decide to write about it.

At any rate, I am still thinking of new ways to make this site worth your dollar each month (and not because I want your money; actually, I tried to do this all for free and still would if Amazon would let me), but I hope you have been finding something to enjoy as we go along, hitting probably every bump in the road. And hey, maybe the ride is more fun this way.


(Okay, probably not.)


(But I'm still trying my best.)


-Andrew (andrew.macauley@live.com)

p.s. Before getting into all of this, I will do my best to post chapter XIV, as it is still about half done.
p.p..s. if anyone lives in portland and wants to take me grocery shopping, let me know because I am about to run out of food, haha. That's what I get for not having a car, I guess.

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