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.

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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.

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As always, stay classy.

And remember.

Events occur in real time.

Events always occur in real time.

~J.J. Azar

Explosion of Soul with a Title

Happy Friday, lovely ladies and classy gents! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I personally broke my pants, so my holiday was a success (I go hard). If you didn’t catch the post on my Facebook page, know that I am incredibly thankful for you. Whether you’re a follower, a frequent reader, or somebody just stopping by, I am grateful for your support. Y’all are the best!

I wrote something up that I suppose could be considered poetry. I don’t know, really. I typically deal in prose. Whatever it may be, here it is. If you have any thoughts about the piece, please share them! I do the macarena every time I get a comment.

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Quill in hand.

Paper on desk.

Empty room.

All quiet save for a ticking clock.

I turn the nib of the quill to my chest.

I eye the thing, the sword, knowing where it must go.

I plunge the thing into my sternum.

The incision is but an avenue. Now for the surgical slice.

I drag the nib from left to write, tearing at tendons, opening my chest enough

That I may reach inside and retrieve my heart.

I seize the throbbing organ and hold it over the page on the desk before me.

I squeeze

That its tales and fancies may gush onto the page.

I squeeze

Until the blank sheet is stained red with blood and soaked wet with tears indicative of joys and sorrows.

Now quill is in hand, nib is on paper.

With an emboldened hand I trace words into the human substance drenching the page before me

And spilling out over my desk.

There is no trick, here.

There is only explosion of soul, here.

An explosion of soul with a title.

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Today, millions will be assaulting the malls and department stores in droves like walkers from the Walking Dead. I’ll leave you with some food for thought: Isn’t it interesting how Black Friday comes directly after the day when we celebrate what we have?

~J.J. Azar

October Writing Progress Update

Happy Friday, folks! As you know, I’m writing a novel. I intend to finish its first draft by January 1st, 2017. Here in Jersey, the leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping, reminding me that the month of October is coming to a close. The pressure is on! So how have I fared this month? Let’s talk about it.

College keeps me busy. More busy than I would like. But when the moon and the stars align, I have time to write. The best moments spring up when I seize the flow crucial to the creative process and channel it until I exhaust it. When I do that, I’m like…

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When I look at the blinking cursor and have no clue what direction I’m heading in, I’m more like…

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I am currently a little more than halfway through Act II, 220 pages into the story. I understand that word count is the standard unit in the writing world, but page number is a measure that helps me to gauge my own progress. It’s also something that those who aren’t privy to writing vernacular can grasp. So I’m sticking with it.

This month, I haven’t written a single brisk chapter. In fact, with the plot thickening, the chapters I’ve been writing have been among the longest and richest I’ve penned thus far.

But the best thing I’ve written this month, by far, is a chapter I’ve titled, ‘A Leg of Lamb.’

Pulled straight from a status I posted on my Facebook author’s page (which you should totally ‘Like’):

“Sneak peek: 3 youngsters walk into an inn so rowdy it may as well be a tavern. Liquor, gambling, and shouting is aplenty. The boys only want a decent meal after being on the ocean for weeks, but things don’t go as to plan. Because there is no plan.”

Sounds wild, right? It is.

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Okay, certainly not as wild as Gatsby, but the chapter does have the workings of what I can work up to be a chaotic vibe.

Like any author, I cherish my characters. But after reading this chapter again, I think I’ve found one who most readers will fall in love with immediately (I can’t say “fans” because I don’t have any fans yet. I have to earn those. Although I think my mom is a fan of mine. Probably).

I’ve also introduced a character in a fashion I found to be particularly nifty.

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“Hold on just a moment.”

At the sound of that voice, a voice harsh as whiskey’s burn, a voice cold as winter’s frost, a voice powerful as hammer’s charge, every man and woman pulled their attention from the circle of six and put it to the man standing behind Joshua. Joshua moved with the crowd, turning with apprehension and curiosity to witness the man looming over him.

The speaker was tall. Excessively so. Joshua’s head climbed and climbed before it met a pair of copper eyes that rejected the purple light trying to penetrate them. Eyes stained red. The man’s nose was long and strong, his mouth set in a frown that managed to look more angry than sad. Beady stubble peppered his face. He was dressed in a fine black tweed coat and matching black pants befitting of Sunday morning church service. And he had a gun. A gun in his hand, pointed at Rocco. The gun was small, nothing so bulky as those toted by the toughs, but if the copper-eyed man had aim fierce as his voice, Joshua was certain the arm’s size was inconsequential.

Copyright 2016 J.J. Azar

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Nothing at this stage is final, of course, but there’s something commanding there. And I like it.

I aim to finish Act II by the end of November. November should bear a lighter load in terms of schoolwork, if my professors are honest, so I am confident I can hit my aim. Wish me luck. Likewise, I wish luck to all of you fine people who are pursuing writing, particularly those who are hopping aboard the “NaNoWriMo” writing challenge I’ve been hearing a lot about here in the WordPress community.

Thanks for reading! And as always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

J.J. Azar: Who I Am and What I Write

 

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Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents! Welcome to my blog!

My name is J.J. Azar, and I’m writing a book. If you’d like to learn more about me and what I’m working on, look no further. You’re in the right place. Please take this mug of warm milk, sit back, and enjoy.

When I emerged into the world a fat child, my dear dad and loving mother named me “Johnathan Johnny Azar.” Why Johnathan? Probably because they wanted to overcompensate for my potential dim-wittedness by attaching a sophisticated name to my cheeky face. Why Johnny? Because that’s my father’s name, and that’s how we take our middle names in Middle Eastern culture (Shortly after my birth, my parents purchased a home with a three-car garage expressly so they could keep our camel sheltered from the cold). Why Azar? Because that’s my dad’s dad’s dad’s last name, and I presume that it was my dad’s dad’s dad’s dad’s last name too.

But nobody, not even my parents, know me as “JOHNATHAN…JOHNNY…AZAR.” Most just call me Johnathan. Some of my friends call me John even after I make it clear that “I prefer Johnathan” (Honestly, I might as well stop trying and throw myself into the Fires of Mordor!)

A handful of acquaintances prefer to call me “Azar!” The guy who fills my gas down the street from my house calls me “Boss” (and he cleans my windshield for free, too!)

Some call me “Juck,” a name whose origin has been heatedly debated amongst aunts and cousins who have strong feelings and apparently superhuman memories regarding who actually spawned the title during the antiquity of my youth. I used the moniker when I commandeered a review blog and slayed zombies on the Xbox, but it has since evolved into a sort of semi-rare delicacy, much like caviar and chivalry. Only an elite few call me that today, and God bless them!

How, then, did “J.J. Azar” come about? What fanciful, resonant origin story can I attribute to that slick-sounding name? Here’s what happened:

I was sitting at the dessert table shoveling cake into my mouth when my uncle Elvis, who was sitting beside me, paid me a glance. His eyes caught mine. At that moment, I knew I’d been caught devouring Tiramisu like a fiend. I had to act fast. I thanked God I wasn’t eating a banana, then said, “I’m writing a book.”

“Really?” he asked with a shrug of the mouth. “Are you going to have a penname?”

“Nope,” I resolutely responded. I hadn’t even entertained assuming a penname. Why would I?

“Like J.J. Azar,” he suggested, not quite as a question, not quite as a statement. He kind of just said it.

And there it was. Without even putting me to sleep Inception-style, my uncle Elvis planted a seed in my mind that grew into a tall, strong, handsome, slightly-pale tree. And here I am! So what am I doing here? Better yet, what are you doing here?

Well folks, just like that 5-year-old kid you babysit, just like your nostalgic grandma Fran, just like your uncle Rico and your parole officer Dave, I want to become a published author. I want to become a published author so I can share my writing with you lovely ladies and classy gents!

As I type this, I am halfway through completing the first draft of a western-adventure novel. I intend to type “The End” on the piece’s first draft by January 1st, 2017, kind of like a reverse New Years’ Resolution! And the clock is ticking!

“What do you write?” you ask.

Well, I write swashbuckling with words.

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I am a firm believer in the power of words. I have learned that words have the potential to cut sharper than swords when woven in particular ways. As I see it, that’s what writing is all about: evoking a reaction through the presentation of language. And so, when people ask me what I write, the best answer I could possibly provide is, “Swashbuckling with words.” Whether the swashbuckling within the novel manifests through high-stakes negotiation between enemies, sharp banter between friends, internal conflict, a hard day’s journey, or literal sword-fighting, the vessel through which each and every breath of a written story is conveyed is languageWords.

For a synopsis of my novel-in-progress and some more about me, be sure to check out the About Me page above!

As I brave the Road of Authorship, stumbling over every rock on the way, I invite you to walk alongside me so you can point and laugh and cheer as I fall on my ass and get back up again.

By subscribing via WordPress or email, you can keep up with my posts, which will include updates on my writing progress, original stories, excerpts from my work(s)-in-progress, musings about writing, and other things. (like me on Facebook, too!)

I hope you decide to stick around, as there is plenty more to come. Expect a post once a week on Friday or Saturday. And please feel free to leave a comment! Even a simply hello will suffice!

As always, keep it real. People-like people are often the best kind.

~J.J. Azar