MIKE BOCKOVEN

Finished. Now Start.

Jan
21

Clocking in at nearly 88,000 words, I finished the first draft of my (hopefully) next novel today. It was a long time coming.

I wrote a little while ago about a novel that didn’t get published. That might change (fingers crossed) but after it didn’t work out my will was strong to keep writing, but nothing worked. I deployed all the tricks that allowed me to write in the midst of the busy existence I’ve made for myself. I made appointments and kept it. I wrote at odd times, got up early, stayed up late, stole 20 minutes here and there in my car, in the evening, while other things were going on. Nothing worked. I was able to pump out 5,000 words on about seven ideas, only to lose the thread. I never doubted I’d figure something out (and some of those beginnings might turn in to something down the road) but I was pushing a rock up a hill and that rock was damn heavy.

I jog on a fairly regular basis and it’s the only parallel I’m comfortable making – sometimes I get foggy, unfocused, my legs feel like they’re made of wood. And I learned the only way through it is to keep going. It passes if you keep going. I kept going. And the rock was still damn heavy.

I talked to my writing group and it got a little less heavy. I confided in friends (THANKS STEPH!) and it got a little less heavy. I got to 25,000 words and suddenly it was a lot less heavy. The old tricks started to work. The notebooks started to fill up. I made a playlist that I’ve listened to so much I hear it in the wind. I started getting up in the middle of the night to write down ideas. I’ve written every day since December 3rd, Christmas and New Years included.

Thank Christ.

I was never worried I’d never have a good idea, but I just felt the weight of it this time. Maybe it’s because writing has become a higher stakes deal as of late. Maybe it’s because failure is now a friend of mine, he sucks and I don’t want him back. Maybe I had some demons to slay. Maybe I’m being super overthinking this bullshit and just had writer’s block, a phenomenon that has afflicted every writer, for all time, forever.

Whatever. It feels good to have another book done. Real good. Fantastically good.

Enough of this. Here’s the log line:

Moreland, Florida was one of hundreds of communities devastated by Hurricane Sadie, which destroyed the coast of Florida in 2017. While some communities came together to help each other, something very different and dark happened in Moreland. With food and water scarce, the people of this small town look to the church for help only to find barbed wire, hidden traps and the business end of guns. What followed, as told by the survivors, is an epic tale of survival pitting those who want to survive against those who want to rule from “Atop a Pile of Skulls”.

It needs some work, like the rest of the book. But it’s down and I’ve got a lot of editing in front of me. And after that, I’ve got my next book already sketched. I’m going to go say “hi” to some old friends.

More soon. Thanks for caring about my work.


-Mike

You Are Creative

Nov
29

I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but you are creative.

I don’t know you, obviously. Maybe you are a “to do” list type of person (my kind of people). Maybe you are an engineer. Maybe messiness is a sign of functionality and productivity in your world. I don’t know. I don’t care. Because you are creative.

A friend of mine wrote me about failing NaNoWriMo recently. They had written 30,000 words (nothing to be ashamed of!) and were worried it was a mess, it would need major editing and maybe she shouldn’t even finish it. I’m not always great council but I sent her the above photo from Ben Fold’s memoire “A Dream About Fireflies”, which is really good and you should check out, and told her three things:

1) Being hard on yourself feels good on a certain level but is one of the many enemies of creativity.

2) In writing, work needs to exist before it can be edited and crafted so “getting it down” is of the utmost importance.

3) NO TWO ARTISTS CREATE ART IN THE SAME WAY! Maybe you write 30,000 words a month or 30,000 words every three months or maybe you have bursts of creativity followed by fallow times and it’s all fine. It’s all fine. As long as you are thinking and creating and working, that’s the key.

This weekend I am spending time creating art in a group setting. It will be a lot of work and I’ve been sort of dreading the work until I went back and read that bit up top. “Beware the little things that can erode our creativity as we grow up”. A lot of people will eat themselves into a coma (which I did yesterday) and not spend their free time creating. That isn’t me. I’m trying to not erode creativity because I value it. Hopefully that’s you, too.

If that is you and you need to recharge, fine. But don’t stop creating. If you need some time for self care, fine. But don’t stop creating. If you failed NaNoWriMo and feel terrible about it, that’s OK. But don’t stop creating. If you haven’t created in a while, that’s not great. But don’t stop creating.

Because you are creative if you want to be and if you work at it. Many things might be my downfall but not working will not be one of them. Go create something soon. Because you are creative.

Mourning 88,000 Words

Nov
21

I just had a book rejected today.

Not a short story. A book. Eight-eight thousand words worth of book. My agent (who does a fantastic job and who I enjoy working with) tried and tried, but no takers. 

A whole book, going nowhere (I must add the optimistic “for now”). It’s not the first time.

Right after I finished FantsticLand and Pack, my two published novels, I submitted a manuscript to my agent that wasn’t a horror book. It was something different and fun, something I really liked (and still like), but his response was a simple, firm, “not this one”. It was a hard lesson but an important one. 

“I can’t sell this from you”. Got it. Moving on. 

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post about how I wrote a book in 45 days. That was this book that just got rejected. I got it down and improved it, got some gutting feedback from my beta readers, pushed it as far as I thought it could go and submitted it. 

A quick aside – rejection comes in many forms in publishing but I really do appreciate those who do it kindly. If I could share a rejection letter and have you trust me that it was authentic:

“I think Mike is an undeniably talented writer—again, his characters are very well fleshed out and realistic, which is no small feat!—however, I didn’t feel as strongly engaged by the overall voice of the piece as I’d wanted to be, which made it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the story.”

That’s some quality rejection, and I do appreciate it. I like the kindness inherent in the rejection But it’s still rejection.

In the past few years I’ve counseled probably 50 people who want to write books. I tell them the query process by which you secure an agent, is the worst because you get ignored and rejected and ignored and then ignored and rejected and ignored some more. Tenacity can’t just be your friend, I tell people. You have to be fucking. 

So, to stop now would be the height of hypocrisy, wouldn’t it? Or would continuing be the height of stupidity. Hard to tell sometimes.

It sucks that the novel I wrote won’t be my “third” book. Truth be told if the people who read it were tepid about it, how do you think readers would react. Didn’t a wise man once say “I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage”? I know that feeling and am glad to be spared from it.

But, truthfully, I mourn the work. I thought about this novel and obsessed over it and got out of bed in the middle of the night to write down ideas and felt really good about myself when I finished it. I had pieces in this novel that are as good as anything I’d ever written. I will mourn that. 

But I’m not going to stop. Even if I never publish another book I have proven to myself that I’m a writer. I’ve got 6 ideas for books in the early stages. I’ve got a book half done that takes us back to the effects of Hurricane Sadie. I like writing. It’s brought me in contact with amazing people and continues to do so. So I’m not stopping. Not now. Probably not for a while.

But this sucks. 

Tomorrow I will shake it off and keep writing but I’m sitting with it tonight. Thanks for sitting with me.