An Opportunity to Talk Wheel of Time: This Is My Genre Tell Me Yours Book Tag

Many fortnights ago, my name was drawn in the Hunger Games. I fought bravely, tackling the Character Dating Tag with fervor. After threatening to eat poisonous berries, I was spared by President Sutherland, the white-bearded father of Jack Bauer. But now we have reached the Quarter Quell, and my name has been drawn once again. Wow, how convenient that the sequel features me having my name drawn a second time! I’ve been tasked with tackling the This is My Genre Tell Me Yours Book Tag, a tag which presents me the opportunity to dive into genre. The two kind benefactors of this year’s Quarter Quell are Lashaan and Trang of Bookidote, a blog I have enjoyed following since the beginning of my Wordpress experience.

Unless I want to get chopped in half by dystopian teenagers, I have to credit Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek as the creator of this tag. He’s a fantastic blogger who you ought to follow if you aren’t already. The war paint is on. Here we go!

thisismtgenrenrwlogo

1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE GENRE?

Sorry, I live in New Jersey. I don’t recognize that spelling of “favourite.’ Next question.

Kidding, kidding. I love the Brits and all those who spell like them. Truth be told, I don’t have a favorite genre. I enjoy a wide range of stories. But all is not lost! I thought I could use this opportunity to share some more about my influential relationship with the Wheel of Time series, so I’m choosing Fantasy!

2. WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR FROM THE GENRE?

10242009105514PM.jpgRobert Jordan! He’s the guy behind the Wheel of Time series. His story is a fascinating one. He published the first book of the Wheel of Time series in 1990. In 2005, he published Book 11. The same year, he was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, a rare blood disease. Tragically, in 2007, Jordan passed away. He left behind an incomplete, epic fantasy series beloved by millions of fans across the world. Brandon Sanderson eventually went on to complete books 12-14, finishing the series using extensive notes left by Jordan. There’s a whole lot more to his story, so I implore you to read up on who this man was and how he worked and wrote. He is a grand inspiration of mine who has had a substantial impact on my life.

3. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE GENRE THAT KEEPS PULLING YOU BACK?

The scope. Talk about immersion! Fantasy books have history and cultures and strife and grand stakes. When I read Fantasy, I feel like I’m diving into something that’s already been going on. I feel like I’m witnessing a story as opposed to reading one as it’s being written. When Robert Jordan was asked to sum up the Wheel of Time in a few words, he responded, “Cultures clash, worlds change, cope.” That’s grand, and that’s the kind of reason why Fantasy is a stellar genre. Scope!

4. WHAT’S THE BOOK THAT STARTED YOUR LOVE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE GENRE?

WoT01_TheEyeOfTheWorld.jpgThe Eye of the World, Book #1 of the Wheel of Time series. When this book was handed to me years ago, I hadn’t a clue what I was about to begin. I’m currently on Book 9 of the series and I’m still infatuated with it. Since starting the series, I’ve recommended it to many others and a handful have fallen for it as I have.

5. IF YOU HAD TO RECOMMEND AT LEAST ONE BOOK FROM YOUR FAVOURITE GENRE TO A NON-READER/SOMEONE LOOKING TO START READING THAT GENRE, WHAT BOOK WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?

I wouldn’t recommend a book, I’d recommend a movie. Eight movies, actually. I would implore anybody considering whether or not to dive into the Fantasy genre to watch the Potter films! The Harry Potter films feature a rich fantasy world translated to film properly. Magic, stakes, and lore is aplenty. If you’re into Potter, you could ease your way into other, more involved Fantasy worlds.

6. WHY DO YOU READ?

I read because I like stories. I’ve always been a huge movie fan, and in the last few years, I’ve watched some quality television. Books present stories through a different medium than do movies or shows. It generally takes me longer to read a book than to tackle a movie because I like to soak in every word, but the effort is often worth it. In the case of Wheel of Time, it’s unreal how invested I often become while reading.

____

I’m late to the party on this tag, so passing it along when most have already tackled it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. Thus, I’d like to tag any who would like to volunteer as tribute.

Have you heard of the Wheel of Time series? Have you read any of it? Isn’t it fantastic? Let’s talk!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Advertisements

I Am Writing

The following is what I expect my WordPress experience to be every time I post something.

*walks on stage to a silent crowd*

“So…ah…”
mag7coburnmcqueen.gif

END

To my surprise, my expectations have been wildly exceeded. Thanks for that.

Since day one, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep from putting out any “throw away” posts. I understand the utility of such posts, but I’ve elected to keep things real so that when you lovely ladies and classy gents click on a post of mine, you can always expect something substantial (The Jesting Parables have not quite met my standard of substance, but they are remnants of me attempting to find my footing blog-wise. You won’t catch me posting another).

With that, I figure it’s perfectly fair to say I’m holding off on sharing another planned post in the interest of working on my novel. Given that this is my blog, everything is fair by definition, but you know how I feel about technicality (see last week’s hummus analogy in my post about Violence) [<—probably the last time I will ever use those words in that order].

My point is I’m writing. I’m writing hard. I wrote 5 hours on a plane yesterday. If I could have, I would have written 5 hours on a train too, and 5 hours more in Spain, and 5 more in the rain, and 5 more still in a crane (the construction device, not the bird. That would be weird). I’m enjoying myself immensely. It’s challenging, but it’s a joy. With the holidays here, I figure y’all are busy regardless. I’ll spare you a cerebral post and leave it at that: I am writing.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

(‘featured image’ Magnificent Seven art by Renato Casaro)

Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#1)

Boy, do I love referring to myself in the third person! (Honestly, it’s a struggle titling these blasted posts. This is the best I could come up with).

Anyways, you asked, I answered! In celebration of reaching 100 Followers(!), I gathered a bunch of your questions and answered them in video form. Thank God I didn’t answer them via text. The transcribed wiseassery would come across as far too pretentious without a goofy face attached to the words.

I did my best to keep the video as short as I could (5 quick minutes), well aware that you and I typically hop onto WordPress to read, not to watch videos. I had a blast making this though! If you have any thoughts about the video (or would like to compliment the fine candles behind me), drop a thought in the comments! I hope you enjoy. (No, really. I dressed up in a suit and everything. I went all out on this. LOVE IT, I TELL YOU!)

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Violence and Gore in Writing: Is There a Limit?

Happy Friday, lovely ladies and classy gents! Before I dive into this week’s topic, I’d like to let you know that I’m holding a Question/Answer in light of the blog hitting 100 followers (woo!). WordPress has been wonky following the recent update, so I wanted to make sure you knew. If you’d like to leave me a question, I invite you to do so here!

Now, onto what you clicked for: violence.

In an almost paradoxical fashion, violence is a fascinating subject. Humanity has learned the horrifying consequences of violence en masse time and time again, yet we have yet to shy away from it. Inflicting harm upon another human being is understood to be immoral, yet we enjoy reading, hearing, and watching stories full of violence. Isn’t that interesting? We sure give violence a whole lot of limelight for something we hate. One would think violence would be treated more like how Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino was treated at the 2011 Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump (The star of Jersey Shore was booed because he was intolerably unfunny).

But we don’t treat violence like we treat the Situation. Rather, we treat violence closer to how we treat Rihanna in that nobody actually likes her, but she is impossible to avoid so you nod along to her songs anyway.

There are two key reasons why violence is pertinent in our stories:

  1. it’s a knowable, human plot device which can be used to propel the story forward
  2. it’s fun.

No, really. It is. When Quentin Tarantino was asked to account for the violence in his films while promoting Kill Bill, he responded, and I quote,

Because it’s so much fun, JAN! Get it!

Tarantino’s right. Violence is fun. Don’t we all enjoy executing Mortal Kombat fatalities on our friends? (The intestines come out the nose, you say?) Don’t we all enjoy Tarantino’s Tupac-fueled western shootouts? I know we enjoy UFC, and it’s not only for the leprechaun who would surely pull out my sternum with his bare hands if I made such a comment to his face (please don’t hurt me, ye Lucky Charms mascot, ye). e475e88202155040418450dd9d53a8cb83b0a142.gif

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Violence in reality is a whole different ball game. I’ve seen fistfights up close. I’ve been in a couple. And you know what? It’s nothing like the movies. Do you guys recall Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes movies? Neither do I. But I do recall Holmes’ freeze-timey-hyper-perception trick where he observes his opponent and devises an intricate way to immobilize him by exploiting his weak spots. Yeah, real life isn’t like that. Fighting is comprised of a nearly incomprehensible flurry of balled fists and blurred limbs. All of the choreography you’ve seen in Star Wars goes right out the window. There’s nothing cute or coordinated about violence. There’s no rhyme to it. There’s no glamour, no flashiness. Even in the UFC, where professional fighters spar with each other, the result isn’t a dance-like fight like we see in Kung Fu movies. And we know this.

Be it through the news, documentary footage, personal experience, or WORLD STARRRR!!!!!, we’ve all seen the ugliness of real-world violence, yet we still feature it extensively through fictional means. I find that to be interesting. Not surprising (violence is practical and exciting, as I said), but interesting.

Throw in gore on top of violence and we have an intrigue smoothie (How’s that for a visual?). Indeed, if violence is the piñata, gore is the candy. This leads me to the question posed in this post’s title:

Is there a limit to violence and gore in writing?

The technical answer is no. A writer can technically write novels chock full of graphic butchery and extensive violence. I have yet to read a novel that is so blatantly gratuitous from start to finish, though I’m sure many of you more wizened readers can recall picking up such a book. It should go without saying that writers have a right to write whatever they would like. Everyone has that right, and it should remain so.

But I don’t care to discuss technicality. Sure, technically I can eat a book if I divide it into small parcels and pair it with hummus and a touch of olive oil, but that would be a pointless display of jackassery more than anything. I’m interested in pondering what sort of responsibility a writer has when putting pen to paper. Should violence be written graphically as to portray its heinousness Hacksaw Ridge-style, or should violence be written “cleanly” as to only communicate the bare action? Should graphic violence be written sparingly, only “when essential?” Or perhaps violence should be written 100% freely, with no restrictions or second thoughts paid to it. Let’s discuss.

In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus finds himself at odds with Polyphemus, a cyclops. The hero and his crew devise a plan to escape the monster’s clutches. What follows is a pure thrill.

Heating the end of the pole until it was glowing red, we ran it toward the Cyclops like a battering ram, aiming it for his eye and driving it deep. The thing sizzled like hot metal dropped in water while I twisted it like an auger.

Polyphemus came awake with a roar, tore the spike from his eye and began groping for us in his blindness. His screams of frustration and rage brought the neighboring Cyclopes to the mouth of the cave.

– Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Book Nine

Graphic, right? The cyclops had his eye gouged by a large stick! By telling this particular part of his story in such a graphic manner, Homer succeeds in thrilling the reader in spite of (or perhaps because of) the nasty details. The imagery was not the point–Odysseus’ escape was the point (no pun intended)–yet the imagery served the passage well.

Euripides’ Medea approaches violence differently. Though Euripides describes the murder of King Creon and his daughter in graphic detail earlier in the play, he handles Medea’s murder of her own young children with more restraint. Here is how that particular act of violence is portrayed. Note, I’ve heavily trimmed the passage in the interest of giving you the essential pieces (breaks indicated by ellipsis).

MEDEA
I’ve made up my mind, my friends. I’ll do it—kill my children now, without delay,
and flee this land…

…[Exit MEDEA into the house]

….CHILD [from inside the house]
Help me . . .

CHORUS
Did you hear that?
Did you hear the children cry?
That wretched, evil woman!…

CHILD [from within]
What do I do? How can I escape
my mother’s hands?

SECOND CHILD
I don’t know, dear brother.
It’s over for us . .

CHORUS [shouting in response]
Should I go in the house?
I’m sure I must prevent this murder.

CHILD
Yes—for the love of gods, stop this! And hurry!

SECOND CHILD
The sword has almost got us—like a snare!

…CHORUS [to JASON]
Open the doors and you will see them,
your slaughtered children.

…[JASON shakes the doors of the house, which remain closed. MEDEA appears in a winged chariot, rising above the house. The bodies of the two CHILDREN are visible in the chariot]

-Euripides, Medea, selections from lines 1456-1625

This psychotic lady butchers her two children, puts them in a chariot, and flies the chariot past her husband to show him what she did to his children. That’s a sick case of extreme violence. Interestingly, the act is far more heinous than the eye-gouging carried out by Odysseus, and yet Euripides does not provide the reader with even a hint of gruesome detail regarding what transpired inside. We presume the children were slain by knife, but Euripides does not describe the killing or the state of the corpses as bloody or otherwise maimed. Does this lack of detail minimize the implication of violence in this context?Absolutely not. The violent action spoke for itself, whether it was detailed or not.

The same tactic is flawlessly executed in Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner. Hosseini describes the violation of Hassan in the most minimal of details, yet the reader feels no lack of sympathy or horror.

Evidently, there are clear instances where writers have included violence within their stories and simultaneously succeeded in communicating the consequences of such violence while avoiding graphic detail. In other words, graphic detail is not essential to communicate the weight of violence. However, as is displayed through the passage from Homer’s Odyssey, graphic detail can work wonders to supplement action and paint a vivid picture. Thus, in my view, there is no single correct way to go about violence so much as there is an incorrect way.

My standard for violence in writing is this: So long as consequences are conveyed in wake of the violence, any and all violence is fair game. This doesn’t mean I need to see the perpetrator locked up for his or her transgressions, but violence needs to instigate some kind of effect. Somebody has to mourn. Somebody has to be worse off, whether it be the victim, the perpetrator, or a bystander. Violence should not just be.

Whether or not you write violence in a detailed manner is irrelevant. So long as you give me a consequence, I’m sold.

Robert Jordan expertly meets this standard in Lord of Chaos. At the climax of the story, Jordan describes a series of cataclysmic, violent acts with extreme, graphic detail. Once the carnage ceases, however, he focuses on the tremendous emotional impact the event has on all characters present. The repercussions carry over to the next book, even. Jordan did not treat violence lightly. Neither should you or I.

My final thoughts are as follows: Fellow writers, describe all of the blood and guts you want, but don’t treat the details as fireworks intended to please the eye. Instead, treat them as casualties to rattle the mind. Your work will be better for it. After all, channeling reality often makes for better fiction.

(This post was inspired by Dave Astor’s “Novels are Read. Violence, It Grew” and A.Z. Anthony’s “Fight Scenes: How and Why?”)

How do you feel about this topic? Whether you’re a reader or a writer: is there a line? How should violence be handled by writers?

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

100 Followers! + Q/A Announcement!

HELLO, lovely ladies and classy gents! I woke up this morning to find a fat 100 plastered on the side of the blog. This can only mean one thing: 100 people accidentally subscribed to me. To those who tripped and fell onto their keyboards with enough ferocity to complete such a complex action, thank you!

In seriousness, I am deeply grateful for your follow, and it’s not for the number’s sake. Sure, it’s nice seeing my follower count climb (and make no mistake, 100 is a good-looking, classy number), but from the start, this endeavor of mine has been about supplementing my writing journey with interaction. I’m in this thing for the WordPress bell at the top-right of the interface. Since joining WordPress, I’ve found a whole bunch of impressive blogs full of substantial content. I’ve conversed with bloggers with diverse backgrounds, from diverse places, and with diverse interests. I’ve even exchanged some thoughts with readers who don’t blog. That’s cool too! I look forward to carrying on the dialogue. To all who have liked, commented, or otherwise exchanged a word with me, THANK YOU for making my blogging experience all the more satisfying.

Before I get to my Q/A announcement, I’d like to highlight what I consider to be my Top 5 favorite posts thus far in case you missed them. In no particular order and paired with complementary descriptions, here they are:

5 Books and the Lessons They Taught Me About Writing (like a refreshing Coca-Cola)

For Writers: 5 Reasons Why Consuming While Creating is Dangerous (like a bowl of nails without milk *shoutout to Spongebob*)

Mom, Thanks for Teaching Me How to Read (like hot chocolate)

November Writing Progress Update (like hot tea because tea is made with hot water)

A Brief Excerpt From My Novel-in-the-Works (like iced tea. Something refreshing)

SO!

Q/A. Question and answer. I’m having one. I know, I know, EVERYONE does Q/As. But I’m gonna make sure I put on a good one. Rumor has it that I may answer your questions in video form, but rumor is fleeting, so who really knows?…

Here’s the part where I pass the microphone to you. *passes microphone* Ask me some questions! Everything is fair game. About me, about the blog, about poultry…I’M OPEN TO ANYTHING! The less conventional the better! Of course, you can be vanilla if you’d like. That’s cool too. Whether it’s silly or not, if there’s anything you’d like to know, I’d be happy to tackle your questions. Drop them in the comments below and I will compile them to be answered in a post in the near future. I’m looking forward to seeing what whimsical questions you well-dressed people will cook up.

Ladies and gents, thank you once again. You truly are a classy bunch. Don’t ever forget it.

~J.J. Azar

A Brief Excerpt From My Novel-in-the-Works

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents! Though the competition was close, I can confidently declare a winner following this week’s earlier poll. Based upon the results as of today, Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “To Wrestle With a Starved Bull,” has emerged the victor. Thanks to all who voted! However you cast your vote, I hope you enjoy this brief look at what I’ve been working on. Do keep in mind that the novel is in its first draft, so plenty is subject to change. Regardless, I am proud of what I’ve done with this particular passage. If you have a thought about it, you are welcome to leave a comment. This marks the first time I have shared anything longer than a paragraph or two on the blog, and I am entirely comfortable doing so thanks to the positive interaction I’ve had with you ladies and gents over these last few months.

The only context I will provide for the excerpt is as follows: Clarence is 23. Kairi is about the same age, and she is a member of the Gish tribe.

Without further ado, here it is.

___

Clarence saw nothing but lone rocks and tumbling weeds for leagues ahead. Perhaps now, a time free of distraction, was the proper time for he and Kairi to have a rest and talk the situation over. Arjuna had held her pace at a gallop for far too long besides. Intent on slowing the horse, Clarence prodded her with his bootheels, but the creature practically froze in her steps. “Woah!” Unprepared, Clarence was flung forward by the invisible hand of momentum. His legs reached to arc over his head. In the disorienting moment, a sinking sensation commanded his muscles to action. He reached for the leather sword belt around his waist and jerked it enough that it unraveled and fell away from him. Then, as his legs ascended in their damning arc, he reached for Arjuna’s neck and tugged tightly as he could. Gravity pulled him back down to the earth and his groin slammed against the horse’s back. Clarence spilled off of her side with a breathless grunt and toppled into the dirt with a thud.

Clarence pressed his palms against the pit of his belly where excruciating, hollow pain wrenched and twisted like a hot knife. He groaned despite knowing full well that Kairi was watching. Clarence hardly paid a care to the sounds of her scrambling off of the horse. He just lay in the dirt, face twisted in agony and burning scarlet as he rode the wave of pain that only a man could know. The bulging vein throbbing at his temple seemed ready to rupture on top of it all. Blast the horse! In the fiercest grunt he could muster, Clarence rasped, “Arjuna!” The exclamation attached to the name was more implied than anything. His attempt to scold the beast was pitiful.

Rolling in defeat, Clarence tossed from side to back to allow his air-deprived face to siphon what it could from the pink sky. He almost found calm in the view until Kairi’s face interrupted it. Couldn’t she let him suffer alone for a moment? But she was a woman, so she was bound to hover over him and bathe him in nurturing and light touches and assurances until she deemed his color healthy and fed him chicken soup to boot.

“Clarence Cash, you clodhopper! How do you manage to hurt yourself at every step like you are still a toddling child? Pick yourself up from the ground! Look, you are crying! I should have brought a boy from camp to guide the horse!”

The girl was right about the crying. There were tears tracing jagged trails down Clarence’s cheeks. But they were not tears of pain. Well, not all of them. Most were tears of delight. Kairi, the blue-eyed girl who had a presence like a crashing ocean wave, had taken that “chicken soup to boot,” stuffed it in the boot, and sent the shoe bobbing down a river. Why should he be surprised? A man could have better luck predicting the tides, the winds, and the clouds a particular day a year into the future than predicting what a woman might do in a minute.

“I’m not crying,” Clarence laughed as he brushed away tears with a dusty finger. He didn’t feel the slightest bit insulted by Kairi’s scolding. The rosy sky outlined her honey-blonde hair with a glow that dulled much of the edge which had sharpened her words. Surrounded by an easy aura projected by the sky, the girl seemed just that: a girl. And a pretty one, too.

Kairi gathered the space between her dark brows into a tight knot. She needn’t say a word for Clarence to know she demanded an explanation for his rude laughter. A flash of perception flickered in Kairi’s glass eyes and Clarence suddenly knew that he needn’t give an answer. She already knew he was laughing at her. “Clarence Cash, you are worse than a toddling child! You are an infant who needs his mother. Why are you laughing at my face?”

Clarence couldn’t help the laughter rolling from his belly. Perhaps the euphoric relief of recuperating from a knock to the testicles had roused something inside of him, though the thing roused couldn’t have been his brain. After all, any wise man would sooner wrestle with a starved bull than laugh in the face of an angry woman. But Kairi could not actually be angry. Could she?

Clarence sat himself up and wiped away a final tear. Dirt was smudged across his face, painting him filthier than he already was. He was long due for a bath. Long due. As for why he was laughing…“Don’t worry about it,” he assured Kairi through a boyish grin.

The Gish girl, perched at a squat, eyed him with her lips pressed in defiance. Clarence eyed her in turn, wearing his grin as a mask. The girl didn’t budge. She just stared with her vast eyes, stared as if the cool blue of her irises was an elemental force. But Clarence did not intend to sit there until he was buried under the avalanche. Or swallowed by the hurricane. Whichever happened to emerge from those formidable eyes, Clarence had no desire to be in its path. Not now, not ever. A starved bull before an angry woman any day.

Copyright 2016 J.J. Azar

___

From there, things escalate, but as is implied by the nature of an excerpt, that’s all I have for you today 😉

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

You Choose: Which Story Excerpt Should I Share?

Ahoy, lovely ladies and classy gents! I hope all is well. If you’ve read my November Writing Update, you know that I’m working on my novel at full-capacity. Because I’m in story-writing mode, I figure there is no better time to share with you a piece of what I’m working on. On Friday, I will extend to you a short (2-3 page) excerpt from my novel-in-the-works so you could get a taste of what I’ve been up to! Here’s the catch! 

You (yes, you!) get to decide which excerpt I will feature. There is a poll below where you can vote for either snippet. Before you make your choice, you may want to take a gander at the info below, as it may help you to identify the excerpt you might be more interested in reading.

Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “To Wrestle With a Starved Bull”

Clarence receives a knock to the family jewels due to his horse’s abrupt stop. Much to his dismay, Clarence can do nothing but writhe in pain in front of his new companion, Kairi. An exchange ensues.

Choice #2, pulled from a chapter titled, “For Cash, For Coin”

Kal, who was featured last week in a Character Tag, is caught in the middle of a lab accident. He is severely wounded. The description of his injury is graphic in nature, so this excerpt isn’t ideal for those who are squeamish.

Here’s the poll! 

(for WordPress users, you can vote without having to follow a link if you view this post outside of Reader).

If you voted, thanks for voting! If you didn’t…why didn’t you? It’s free. I’ll see you on Friday!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

November Writing Progress Update

In my October Writing Progress Update, I wrote,

November should bear a lighter load in terms of schoolwork, if my professors are honest…

Well, they weren’t honest.

bauer.0.gif

So…writing.

I did some of that, if not as much of it as I had hoped. Last month, I also said,

I aim to finish Act II by the end of November.

That wasn’t a hard-set deadline, mind you, but rather a checkpoint. Regardless of what one might consider it, I didn’t hit the mark. I’m certainly closer to conquering Act II, an incredibly exciting segment of story, but I’m just not there yet. There hasn’t been enough time in the day. Events have occurred “In Real Time,” as Jack Bauer would say, and I am unable to stay up for 24 hours at a time. I truly wish I could, but I can’t. No amount of coffee can make that happen.

However, I’m not here to express woes applicable to every writer. I’m here to tell you about what I did get done.

I tested my writing chops when I attacked a chapter I’ve titled ‘On Cliff’s Edge.’ The chapter is told through the lens of the main character, who unexpectedly wakes up to the sound of his companion’s screams. Much to his horror, he is unable to see anything but flashes of color. Something is wrong with his vision. I tend to describe things with extensive, vivid detail, so attempting to write a cohesive scene without his sense of sight functioning properly was a true challenge. But, alas, I succeeded in writing the chapter. There’s a chaos and an urgency to it that comes together quite cohesively. It’s going to need some polishing (as will every chapter, given that this is a first draft!) but I am pleased with it nonetheless.

While the intensity is high in that portion of the story, I slowed things down a bit in a chapter I’ve wordily titled ‘Four Oranges, Three Boys , Two Axes, One Mistake.’ I’ve never taken issue with characters sitting down and simply talking over a meal, and that is exactly the scenario I’ve placed three of my characters in. I’ve always found such scenes, when handled properly, to be fascinating and insightful. So I sat down three lads for breakfast and allowed them space to interact. The bond between them is developing, and it’s cool to witness it happening.

Scenarios stemming from those two main events are what have occupied my writing this month.

As you may know, the hard deadline I have set for myself to finish the first draft of this novel is January 1st, 2017. Here we are, less than a month away from that fateful day. I am behind schedule. Still, I am committed, determined, and prepared to see it through. Last week, my uncle Elvis gave me a breakdown of how many days I would actually have to get this thing done. On the spot, just like that, he took into account my Finals schedule and my pending trip to California for Christmas and the New Year and synthesized how many days I realistically have to finish this thing. And it’s not 29.

Ladies and gents, when I started this blog in October, I made it very clear that I was working to the deadline of January 1st. I simply will not miss it. Remember, I didn’t start working on this book a couple of months ago, I began working on this book far earlier than I started this blog. I cannot be floating around in limbo for months and months, pushing deadlines back another month, another month, another month…

This is my deadline for Draft #1. It is incredibly important that I meet it.

I feel compelled to add that I am sincerely grateful for you lovely ladies and classy gents in the WordPress community. There has been a ton of interaction this month between myself and other bloggers, both on my site and on others, and I am enjoying taking part in it. I put my finger on the pulse of the WordPress community when I first created this blog, but now I feel that I am a part of it. I’m still learning, no doubt, but I do feel a part of something bigger.

Thanks are owed to friends and family as well. They have caught me off guard at the most unlikely of times, asking me how the writing is going and telling me that they read and enjoy the blog. Now more than ever, I am going to take that positivity and channel it into Draft #1.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some writing to do.

giphy (2).gif

As always, stay classy.

And remember.

Events occur in real time.

Events always occur in real time.

~J.J. Azar