MIKE BOCKOVEN

Miles To Go

Feb
28

Why the Shakespearean butt joke? Because it makes me laugh and because, when confronted with the sheer amount of work ahead of me, I need a chuckle at the moment.

I finished a novel recently. I had to fight kind of hard to get this one started, beginning and revamping and starting over five or six times before it caught. I’ve written about it before. Not a big deal, keep grinding.

Then I gave it to people to read and give me their thoughts and things are…not great.

I’m not much of an editor, obviously. It’s my least favorite part of the process until it becomes my favorite part when things get better and better and you get more and more excited. Even then, I miss big stuff pretty often. I know my voice, I know what I’m trying to say and the words on the screen tend to rearrange themselves to fit what I meant instead of what I wrote. I know the tricks – change the font, read it aloud – I just tend not to do them.

But this time I missed something bigger – the entire engine of the piece. What I had fought with at the beginning didn’t work, for a variety of reasons at were right in front of my face. You get it. It’s not a rewrite from page 1, but it’s not…not that either.

I mention this for several reasons.

  1. My beta readers are absolute life savers. Heroes. Throw them a parade and shower them with rose petals and the sexual favors of their choosing.
  2. To share my frustrations so if you’re feeling frustrated we can commiserate. Not everyone is Jeff Strand or Grady Hendrix who pump out great, fully formed books on the regular. Jeff Strand and Grady Hendrix are also heroes, BTW.
  3. To let everyone know not to expect my next book in the next few weeks or anything. It’s going to be some time.
  4. Hopefully, to kick myself in the butt (he he, butt) to get some damn editing done.

The book is going to get better. A lot better. A lot, lot better. I’m going to give myself a few days, write a short story and hit it hard next week with enthusiasm and gratitude. But, man. I thought I had it.

More soon.

-Mike

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.