MIKE BOCKOVEN

I Wrote A Novel In 45 Days

Sep
08

I’ve always had reservations about NaNoWriMo.

There’s nothing wrong with it and I like the concept of getting your work down so you can fix it, but it was just never for me. Slow and steady, that’s how I would write. Until I didn’t.

I’ve written a few times about writer’s block, which is not exactly what happened to me. In my case, it wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas or that when I sat down to write those ideas wouldn’t come. It was that I got to a point where everything seemed more important and when I did write it was hard to grab a flow that carried me to the next day. As a result, I didn’t write a book last year, the first time in three years that didn’t happen.

Getting back into it was starting to bear fruit and I was plugging away at a sequel to one of my earlier books when I got an idea for another project. It wasn’t my strongest idea or my best idea ever but it seemed like something that could definitely play into my strengths as a writer, as it were. I also came up with a nice hook that got my brain really working.

I’m not sure when I decided to really tear into it, but I started a 1,500 word a day diet. Every day, no matter what else was going on, I was going to knock out 1,500 words a day on this thing. And I did it. On Thursday I finished the first draft of a new novel. I don’t want to go into what it is quite yet other than the elevator pitch, which is “The Shining in a Comedy Club,” but I do want to share some random thoughts I had while I wrote this book.

-My joke is I wanted to “finish the book before I convinced myself it was a bad idea” but I think there’s something to that. Giving the book a read now that I’m done I saw a few places where I could have gotten hung up for weeks had I not just plowed through and moved on.

-Parts of the book aren’t anywhere near as good as they need to be, but there’s excitement in going back and trying to fix them. Tearing through the book like I did I am still fresh on where those are what what I need to fix.

-As always, the wonderful Steph Romanski helped guide the story as it went. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but having a friend read the book as it’s being written is invaluable to my process and also keeps me going. To be clear, this isn’t an “edit” but rather a “the story is compelling, keep going” sort of thing and without it I wouldn’t have a book on my computer waiting to be edited.

-Finding time for 1,500 words is a bit of a challenge but I only fell behind twice – once because of circumstances and another time at the end where I ran out of gas a bit. When you have a goal in mind and you know how long it takes every day to get to that goal, that helps a little bit.

-Being a discovery writer REALLY helped because I wanted to know where the story would end up. Not knowing the end kept me interested.

-Some days suck, but not as many as I thought. In those rare days when the days really sucked I dove into other sections of the book that I knew were coming in order to meet the word count for the day and stitched them into the narrative later.

-Trying to plow through a book quickly left little time for research but I was able to do enough to where substantial changes weren’t going to have to happen. I think. I hope. I’m pretty sure.

-I can’t wait to get it edited and submitted but that wasn’t what gave me a kick in the ass to get the book done. At the end of the day, I think it was the story.

I let you know how it’s going and, worst case scenario, it might end up on this site at some point. Or in bookstores. Hard to tell, but the first draft is done and that’s worth a small celebration.

 

-Mike

Chills and Maybe Even Hope

Aug
03

 

Once, a very long time ago when I was a child, I came home and found my father watching a horror movie.

I couldn’t watch, being too young, and remember being resentful about it so I asked “why do you watch those?” His answer was “it’s exciting and I get to still alive at the end”.

It took me years to parse out what that meant. I’ve been thinking of it a lot, particularly with the release of my second novel, “Pack” which is about werewolves. Either in very direct or very polite, indirect ways I get asked the question a lot, “why do you write about this stuff?” I just got asked that question in a recent interview the other day.

I could write a LOT of words in answer to that question but I recently came across a gentleman who did it very well for me. His name is Rev. Peter Laws and he’s a pastor and life long horror fan and has written a book I very much recommend called “The Frightners” which, coincidentally, I may have blurbed and is coming out September 4th via my publisher, Skyhorse.

In the final pages of the book, Laws (who’s YouTube channel is a lot of fun if you’re a horror fan), Laws lays it on front street. In the book, he’s taken a tour of the Capuchin Crypt in Rome and has just encountered a piece of art made of bone dubbed “Sister Death” which Laws uses as a stand in for our own mortality. From the book:

“We could ignore her. That’s an option many people take. But we’re not the type to turn away. Instead, we’ve come up with a genius plan. We’ve invented ways to play with her. We take a deep breath and we dive right in. We turn down the lights and tell tales of monsters, ghouls, death and gore. It helps us organise our fears, our hopes, or curiosities, and what we’re left with is fun and adventure. And sometimes Sister Death even drops strange little hints. That maybe hers won’t be the last face we’ll see after all. Which gives us chills…but maybe even hope. 

I love that.

For me, that’s largely the answer as well though I’d throw in a little bit of “genre fiction often has really interesting ideas that go unrecognized” or “people under extreme pressure act in extreme ways” but you get the idea.

In other words, horror and thriller stories are exciting and at the end you still get to be alive. Who wouldn’t want that?

Panic! But In A Good Way!

Jul
20

I’ve written 10,000 words or so in the past 4 days.

That’s a pretty solid run for me and yeah, I’m bragging a little bit. I’m also writing out of fear and I want to talk a little bit about that.

When I wrote my first novel, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing and inspiration kind of happened in the moment. All well and good. With my second novel I was in a groove but I had to stop on occasion to deal with lulls. That happens, too.

Then I hit a period where I wasn’t writing anything. I was still thinking about writing and still wanting to, but time and, to be frank, motivation got in the way. There was always something else to prioritize and I went about six months without writing. Not good, so I reworked some habits and made writing part of the routine.

Then, a couple days ago (in a Barnes & Noble store, none the less), inspiration struck.

When we got home I spent an hour when I should have been hanging out with my wife feverishly taking notes. I’ve pulled over to the side of the road once to make a note on this story. I’ve gotten up early the past few days and taken every spare moment I could to write and I’m doing this out of fear.

I’m afraid the inspiration is going to go away.

I don’t want to make this sound spiritual at all. “Inspiration” in this case is nothing more than “I had an idea” and “I want to get it written” and, if I wanted to, I could work hard on one of the many ideas I’ve already had. What I think is happening is I’m riding a wave of productivity spurred on by really wanting to get something done and see how this story I’m writing will play out.

I’m sort of panicking because I don’t know how much longer my brain is going to allow me to go crazy like this and I’m curious if other writers have bursts of productivity like this. From what I’ve seen, everyone is different and some folks definitely report something like this happening.

I’m hopping that when I come out of this I can take some sort of wider lesson about how writing while also being a busy person works. Until then I’m going to post this, have a cup of coffee and get back to work.