Author Archives: Joe Bucemi

Can’t Get Motivated!

So I’m sitting here trying to come up with something to post about and….nuthin.’ I keep leaving Word and start doing something else, coming back hoping that an idea would hit me. Nope.

Florida has been a great place for the whole family. It’s been great for everything but my writing. Terrific weather and plenty to do. But it hasn’t been great for my writing. Look up there on top. I can’t even come up with a cartoon idea. Yeah…I’ve hit the block. Just can’t seem to get into it. I was going hot and heavy there for a while but I now I can’t seem to get myself motivated to write. I find myself blaming it on being busy, but I seem to find time to do other things. Just not writing.

Part of it, I think, is not having my group around me, anymore. I seem to need that for some reason. That’s not good, of course. A writer needs to be able to motivate himself, not depend on others to do it for him. I’m even starting to wonder if this might have been a “passing phase” and that I’m ready to move on. Or could it be that I just need to step away from my present book and work on something else for a while?

So what do some of you do when you hit that block? Ride it out? Force it? The bad part is that it’s worse than simply having writers block. That’s when you want to write but just can’t. This, I’m afraid is a lack of interest. I just don’t want to. How can I call myself a writer if I don’t feel like writing? I’m hoping it’ll go away. Maybe I do need to start writing something new to get those creative juices flowing again.

Hopefully, it’s only temporary. But if it’s not, hey…I actually finished a novel

Happy Turkey Day!

 

thanksgiving turkeyEat ’til you drop and then go take a nap. That’s my plan, anyway.

Here Lies An Old Friend

dead short story

There he is, lying in his little coffin. Not much of a turnout, either. You would think that he would have had more friends considering how long he’s been around. Hard to believe he’s gone. He had such an important influence on literature. Some of the most famous writers were known for their short stories.

But is he really dead, as some people seem to think? Could he just be in a coma and will soon come out of it to find himself in a dark lonely grave? Ewww…what a gruesome thought. I think I read a short story about that once.

I like short stories. I enjoy reading them and writing them. But, considering how poorly the sales are on anthologies, I must be in the minority. I can’t help finding it interesting that in these days of short attention spans people don’t read short stories. They can’t even take the time to spell out words when they text. And everyone is running around always busy, always in a hurry. You’d think we’d be a society of short story readers.

Really, though, he’s not dead. Just not as healthy as he once was. There are still magazines that publish short stories. Thing is, though, if you’re trying to make money as a writer then short stories are not going to pay the mortgage. Maybe, if you have a couple of them published they might pay the electric bill. If you don’t have a really big house. Or a pool. And you don’t run the air-conditioning much. And make sure you turn the lights out when you leave a room.

I like writing them, though. In some ways, more than writing novels. I like getting to the point, quickly. Not having to write filler or fluff to lengthen the word count. And it’s a challenge to write characters that the reader can identify with and care about in such a short time. I think I’m really a short story writer at heart and not a novelist.

I’ve taken that love of short story writing and adapted it to penning my next novel. In last week’s blog I wrote about jumping ahead in your book and not writing it in sequence. I was only talking about small scenes but now I’ve gone and finished an entire chapter that happens later in the book. And I wrote it in a different folder just so I could separate the writing from the rest of the novel. It’s purely psychological. I treated it a though I was writing a short story using my characters but not worrying about what needed to happen in the following chapters. I like it. This might help me move along a bit quicker. Like I said, it’s purely psychological. But, hey, whatever works to keep things moving!

So, maybe that’s not him up there, in the cartoon. Just somebody with the same name. Hopefully he’s alive and well and sitting quietly, somewhere, planning his come-back.

Jigsaw Writing

I just wrote this:

 “He spied the train coming out of the tunnel seconds before his right engine would have hid it from him. It wiggled out on the winding tracks like a huge dark worm leaving the safety of its cool hole in the ground for the warmth and brightness of the sun. He banked hard into a tight right turn and watched as the tail left the tunnel portal and the train hurried along as though its speed could somehow keep it from being seen. The black locomotive threw out a long thick ribbon of smoke as the engineer pushed it to its limits but it was too late. George circled the A-20 back around and turned towards the train, lowering the bomber’s gun filled nose. As he got closer George could see an anti-aircraft weapon mounted on a flatcar and orange golf ball like tracers began to rise up from it but slowly drifted back down and out of sight. The crew was possibly new and firing too far out of range from excitement and fear. Or maybe, thought George, they are old hands, purposely firing from a long distance to frighten the pilot of the diving airplane and keep him from attacking. George continued his dive and the orange golf balls came nearer.

The gunsight showed that the target was now in range of his battery of fifty-caliber machine guns. George placed the flatcar mounted anti-aircraft gun squarely in the sight’s center and pressed the button on the control yoke. The entire airplane shuddered and smoke from the guns wafted back from the plane’s nose and drifted passed the windshield. Yellow tracers showed George’s aim to be true and dust and smoke and pieces of both the flatcar and the AA gun flew into the air and dropped behind the fast moving train. A body was thrown from the gun and bounced alongside until finally disappearing into the dense brush that grew on either side of the tracks. The gun was still and silent as George roared over it. He glanced back at the still speeding locomotive and freight cars and could see that they would soon be entering another tunnel. George was determined that they would not make it. He kicked the left rudder hard and gripped the yoke tightly in both hands as he wheeled the twin engine attack bomber into a hard left turn and dove once again, this time placing the A-20’s reflector gun-sight reticle onto the black and heavily smoking locomotive. He pressed the firing button and the ground around the locomotive erupted into a cloud of dirt and dust and then the bullets found their target. Bright flashes appeared as metal struck metal and white vapor poured from the loco’s puncture wounds. Then, bright and sun-like against the dark green jungle, an explosion that ripped apart iron and steel and the blazing wreck flew from the tracks. The wooden freight cars dutifully followed it, crashing and splintering. George saw, as if in a dream, two of them flying through the air along with dirt, dust, palm trees and human bodies.”

 I think it’s pretty good. I’m happy with it. It’s a scene from my second novel. The thing is, though, it’s not happening until a long ways into the book.

I write like that, sometimes. Scenes keep coming into my head and I rush to get them down before I forget them. But it may be a scene, like this, that happens far into the book while I am still on the third chapter. I have another that involves my main female character, an Army nurse, in a heated argument with one of her Japanese captors. It also occurs much farther into the novel than I am, but it’s ready to go when I get there.

I had a lot of these disjointed scenes when I wrote my first novel, ‘Jenny.’ I keep it all in a folder I’ve labeled, “Vignettes.” When I’d get to the part of the story where those scenes are needed, I go in and copy and paste them. Sometimes they need a little work, of course. Often, things change while you’re writing the book, but the gist of it is there. Just lift it out and stick it in the right place. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I think I’ll call it, “Jigsaw Writing.”

It works for me for a couple of reasons. First, as I’ve mentioned, I need to get these scenes down while they are still fresh in my mind. But also because it keeps things from getting too boring. Sometimes there are scenes that are not particularly exciting to write, but they are important to the story none the less. It helps to leave them for a bit and jump into a more exciting part of the story. Once you’ve gotten that out of your system it’s easier to go back and write that less exciting part of your book. Or maybe you’re stuck. Jump ahead and write a scene that might happen ten more chapters into the story. The great thing is, you’ll still be making progress on the book.

There aren’t any rules on how you should write a novel. Who says you have to be linear? Try Jigsaw Writing.

P.S.

I’m starting to get lazy about the cartoons! I’ll make sure I think of one for next week. I promise.

 

Jenny, The Movie

When you’re writing fiction do you ever imagine who would play your characters in the movie version? What if I got a big movie deal? Oh Hell…I know it’s not gonna happen, but what if? What if Steven Spielberg wants to make a big epic film version of my novel, ‘Jenny?’

The casting department takes care of that, of course. But maybe they’ll ask for my input. As I’m thinking about it, right now, I’m suddenly realizing that I’m not up on my present day actors and actresses. I would have picked Brad Pitt as the hero. Perfect. But wait. The character is in his twenties. What’s Pitt now? Fifty!? Geez, I’m getting old.

And Jenny. I want Jennifer Connelly. When I saw her for the first time in the movie, ‘The Rocketeer,’ I thought, “Daaaaammmnn!” A dark haired beauty. But that was in 1991. I just checked and Jennifer Connelly will be forty- five in December. In my novel, Jenny is in her mid-twenties. Won’t work.

Okay, the casting people will have to work it out. I just hope that they don’t pick Lindsay Lohan to play Jenny. We can’t have the star of the film in a drug or alcohol induced stupor most of the time. We need to wrap this picture up, people!

Actually, imagining real people in the role of your characters isn’t so crazy. It helps you visualize the scenes and maybe even hear their voices. When I read I do it. In my head, I often see what’s going on in a book as I would see it in a film. So doing it when you write isn’t so much of a stretch.

It would be interesting to have a large group of people of various age groups read a novel and then ask all of them who they imagined as the characters. One would say Elizabeth Taylor while another will tell you Jennifer Lawrence. Hmmm…Jennifer Lawrence. Another Jennifer. Jenny, maybe?

Yeah, I’ll have to tell Spielberg that I want Jennifer Lawrence. Now we need somebody for my hero, George Price. Any suggestions? Let me know, I need to be ready when Spielberg calls.

 

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up!

pilot

“Growing up is so overrated. Just be an author.” –British writer Neil Gaiman.

Yeah. When I read that I realized that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy writing. It’s like playing make believe when you were a kid. My friends and I used to run around with our plastic helmets and guns and be World War Two soldiers. Or shoot each other down with our toy planes while screaming loud airplane engine sounds and spitting as we made machine gun noises.

I remember that after we all went to see the movie, ‘The Lost World,’ we were soon hunting dinosaurs.

I don’t have any toy guns, anymore. Or toy airplanes. And I guess I’d look just a little ridiculous running around the house with a plastic helmet sitting on my head. Although, it probably wouldn’t surprise my wife. But I don’t have to run around the house doing it. I have a laptop and Microsoft Word. Those are my toys!

When I sit down and write I can be anything and anybody I want to be. I can put myself anywhere in the world and stick myself into any situation that I can think of. And I have. England in the late 1800’s when Jack the Ripper was terrorizing London. I’ve been a Sioux warrior at Custer’s Last Stand. I’ve been in dogfights over the trenches of World War One France. I’ve been an American soldier in North Africa in 1943 and I’ve been a 1920’s barnstorming aviator.

I can make-believe all I want and not look ridiculous. I can be a hero or a villain. Hell, I can even see what it feels like being a woman. Don’t worry. I’m not changing my name to Josephine or Caitlyn any time soon. But when I write, I can do it and not have to painfully remove any body parts.

I can also move my characters around as though they were toy people. Admittedly, they don’t like it sometimes and will argue with me. Sometimes they win.

And just like when I used to play with my toy soldiers, I get to decide who lives and who dies. Again, arguments. I’ve lost these, too, on occasion. At least my toys didn’t talk back to me.

But still, it’s fun. We used to create our own little worlds with plastic. Now I do it with words. So, yeah. He’s right. If you don’t want to grow up and you want to keep playing make-believe, then write!

Some old habits are hard to break, though. When I write those World War One dogfight scenes, I often find myself needing to wipe the spit from the machine gun sounds off of my laptop screen.

 

You Have To Write It

 

WITCHESNo, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You have to sit and write it and there’s no magic in the world that’s going to change that.

As much as we love to write, you have to admit that there are times when you wish you could just snap your finger and there it is. Life keeps happening no matter what and sometimes as much as you want to sit and bleed that ink there just seems to be no time. And maybe…just maybe…you have time and are simply making excuses. Either way, it isn’t going to get done unless you park your butt in that chair and start banging away at those keys.

I’m writing this to myself, by the way. If you feel that it pertains to you, too, then by all mean continue to read. I realize that this is a universal problem. Okay, maybe not the whole universe, but certainly here on this planet wherever there happens to be a writer.

I sit down and look at the book I’m working on. It says at the bottom of the screen that there are about 9800 words to it, so far. How can that be, I ask myself. I’ve been working on it for months. It should be done by now! Why isn’t it done?

Because you haven’t been working on it, I answer.

Ah, well yes. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why I find it so hard, sometimes, to sit and do something that I actually like to do.

Maybe, because it’s work. When I was flying I never hesitated to head out to the airfield and jump into my little airplane. But that was pure exhilaration. Nothing but enjoyment. Writing is different. I enjoy it, but yet it’s not always enjoyable. I suppose only another writer could understand that. It makes you work. At least it does if you are doing something worthwhile that you really care about. And that’s the thing. It’s hardest if you really care about it. And I’ve cared about all that stuff I’ve written. Wouldn’t be bothering if I didn’t. And because I care, I want to get those words out so perfectly that it hurts.

So there’s that anticipation of pain. That might be why we find it so hard to plop ourselves into that seat and start. We know the pain is coming at some point. That’s why you sometimes take a deep breath before you begin and say, “Okay, here goes.” It’s like waiting for that needle at the doctor’s office.

And yet it’s so rewarding once you’re rolling and move on passed the pain. But to begin rolling you have to sit down and start. No excuses. Just start. Again, this is to me but its fine if you are listening.

So forget magic. And praying won’t work either. You can pray, before you go to bed, that when you wake up there will be a 100,000 word manuscript in your laptop all ready to go. But when you get up in the morning to check, the same 5,000 words that were there yesterday will still be there.

Because like it or not. You have to sit and write it.

Writer’s Angst

 

BECOME A WRITERWhen I read about the tormented lives of some of the world’s great writers, I can’t help thinking that I may be too normal to make it as an author. Oh sure, I have my strange little quirks. Just ask my wife. Okay…no, on second thought don’t do that.

But Hemingway, Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell…oh hell, I could go on and on. Hemingway, as you know, was an alcoholic and probably a manic depressive. He wound up blowing his head off with both barrels of a shotgun. Orwell was a genius, of course. Just read ‘1984’ if you don’t believe me. But he’s another depressed author whose writing is filled with sadness and misery.

Tennessee Williams was a brilliant playwright but there again, torment and angst. A lot of it having to do with repressed homosexuality. He finally had a complete mental breakdown and died a few years later.

This would be too long a post if I was going to name them all. Suffice it say that the lives of the great writers was very often filled with depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and suicide. And sometimes total and complete insanity.

And yet here I sit in my, not yet completed, writing room. I’m not an alcoholic, although I did have a beer with my dinner. Mmmm…Fat Tire. But no, one beer doesn’t do it. And I’m not depressed. I was a little unhappy yesterday because I broke the windshield on my car. Yeah, like a dumbass I was loading some wood into the SUV and…oops! That doesn’t count, though, does it? I don’t take drugs. Hell, I don’t even smoke legal cigarettes. And I have  absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Should I even be bothering to write? I mean, can I turn out meaningful pros when I live such a dull and uninteresting life? Angst, I need angst!

But then again, J.K. Rawlings doesn’t seem crazy. And she’s certainly successful. I just read that her net worth is one billion dollars. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s not a starving artist and doesn’t seem to be filled with angst. Just money. Lots of money.

Of course, some would argue that she’s not a genius in comparison with let’s say, Jack Kerouac. He’s another tormented soul who finally died due to excessive drinking. And some internal bleeding due to a bar fight he’d been in a few days before didn’t help.

But maybe there is some internal strife going on that causes my need to write. Maybe I am tormented and I don’t want to admit it. You know, that’s probably it. It would explain a lot. Like I told you, my wife certainly thinks I’m crazy. So do my kids. And I’ll bet a lot of other people I know think so too. It’s just that, unlike my wife and kids they’re too nice to tell me.

I’m going to get back to my writing, now. I may have a shot at fame, yet!

Writing And The End Of The World

 

end of the world

Well, I’m sitting here wondering whether or not I should complete the novel I’m working on. Not because it isn’t good. I’m very happy with it, so far. It’s just that…well, the world is supposed to end on Sunday evening. Or Monday morning, depending on where you live. So, you can see that there isn’t much point. I mean, not unless I can finish it and get it published within the next couple of days. The way I write, though, that isn’t going to happen.

It has something to do with the blood moon that will occur that night. Or that morning. This is supposed to be the one, everybody. I had just stopped worrying about the asteroid that was supposed to hit and destroy most of North America on the 28th of this month. NASA decided that wasn’t going to happen. Whew! What a relief. Now I read about this moon thing. For Pete’s sake!

Seems that I’ve heard this before, though. Remember Y2K? People were stocking up on water and buying guns so they’d be ready for the collapse of human civilization. What happened there? And I was sweating out that Mayan calendar issue, let me tell ya’! The Mayans were pretty smart. If they tell you that time is going to end on a certain day you know they are going to be right. Well, okay, they were wrong.

And there have been plenty of other predictions of our demise by various people and groups. Nostradamus has been a favorite amongst the doomsday types. He has predicted our end several times according to those who study his “quatrains.” There’s something about this kind of thing that people just love. I think it’s the same reason that they get on a roller coaster even though it frightens them to death. They enjoy being scared. It makes life a bit more exciting, I guess.

So I don’t know. Considering the accuracy of all of the past predictions maybe I should just keep writing. At least it will take my mind off of the end of the world. And besides, I read another article right after reading the ‘Blood Moon’ story. It seems that a monkey named Naruto, way over on a wildlife reserve in Indonesia, managed to take a selfie of himself with someone’s camera. The picture of Naruto wearing a big grin went viral. Now PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants to sue the wildlife photographer who released the photo to the public. Naruto, they say, is the sole owner of the picture and releasing the photo was a copyright infringement. Yes, they are actually saying that, “Naruto has the right to own and benefit from the copyright to the same extent as any other author.” They are taking this to court.

So I’m not worried anymore. I think that maybe the world should end.

Waiting ‘Til The Last Minute…

WHO THE HELLcaptainThis week’s post was supposed to be the wrapping up of my Captain Cliché cartoon. Instead it is humbly turning into the evils of waiting ’til the last minute.

I’ve been pretty busy, but I’ve managed to get my posts out on time by doing them days in advance. Sometimes a week ahead.. Uh…not so, this week.

I kept saying “tomorrow” until it was finally today! Well…last night, of course. I get out the Wacom drawing tablet that I use and….IT WASN’T WORKING! Noooo! Not now!

So, I’m Googling my butt off to find the problem. It took a while but I got it going. But it’s getting late so I better get to work. I start to draw, but I can’t get the cartoons to resize, now. I found this out when I started posting them. They’re all different sizes and I can’t get them right. I decided to post a couple to show you what was going wrong.

Now, if I’d done this a few days ago I would have had time to fix it. But noooooooo…I waited ’til last night! It was finally at around eleven thirty or so that I gave up. I considered doing a reblog but thought, “No! be a man, dammit! Show the world that you effed up!”

So, I learned a lesson. They say that if you can’t serve as a good example, then at least be a fair warning.