Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Writing Journey Part IV: Plot Bunnies

This is a plot bunny.
Plot bunnies are little mythical creatures who come wandering in and drop ideas into the brains of writers. Kind of like the Muse, only furrier and less sentient. Basically, if the Muse had a bastard lovechild with a dust bunny, the end result would be a plot bunny.

They come along at the most random times. While I'm driving, walking around, shopping...
...even just looking up at the sky.
I can't even tell you how many have come hopping into my brain while I'm snorkeling.
Wherever I am, the plot bunny will find me.
And this is a good thing, of course. There's a reason I keep a notebook and/or my iPhone (thank you, notepad app!) with me at all times.

BUT. There are times when plot bunnies are not welcome. Specifically, while I'm working on another story.

What usually happens -- to me, anyway -- is this. The story will be coming along nicely...
...which means I'm reasonably immune to the nibble of the plot bunny.
So they wait. Just outside my peripheral vision, they wait. They wait until that vulnerable moment...
When the story stalls. When I need a new idea like I need a damned hole in my head. That, my friend, is when they make their attack.
Some can be quite...demanding:
Now, I've tried telling them I have deadlines to meet. I'd love to play with their new little ideas, but...yeah, can't always do that when I want to. Because in my mind, a deadline should act as a repellent for such creatures.
But...well, let's put it this way. I was raised around Morgan horses. Morgans are what would happen if you ever crossed a horse with a termite. They like to eat barns and fences, and there are these wonderful companies that make such products as ChewStop, which, as its name would suggest, discourages horses from chewing.

And for the most part, it works.

Except with Morgans.

Spray ChewStop or anything like it on a fence, and a Morgan will do one thing and one thing only:
So since deadlines won't do the job, I find other ways to keep plot bunnies at bay.

Sedation works quite nicely.
Of course, like anything, this can backfire. The only thing harder to ignore than a plot bunny is a plot bunny who's drugged out of his gourd.
Today, the sedation didn't work.

The plot bunny chewed through its restraints, and is currently gnawing on my skull, even though I'm trying to work on something else. This happens a lot...but OMG, I do not have time for it. (Yes, I have time to spend an evening making a webcomic. Don't judge me.)

My friend Melissa had a suggestion tonight, and quite frankly, I think she's right.

If this plot bunny doesn't get its teeth out of my head and let me finish the book I'm working on right now, there are simply no other options.

It must be done.
(screencap from Monty Python & The Search for the Holy Grail)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I Love My Job.

When I'm not screwing off on Photoshop and making ridiculous stick-figure cartoons, I actually do have a job. As many of my frequent visitors are aware, I write for a living. I spend my days sipping gin and waxing poetic, and when the muse strikes me, I sit at a computer and effortlessly spew grand thoughts and momentous epiphanies onto the page. Then I send the books to JK Rowling, Stephen King, or whichever other big name author I think of at the time, and they get me in with their publishers so I can score mad advances and spots on NYT Bestseller list.

Yeah. Right.

No, it's actually a job. It's definitely work. Some days, the body is willing but the brain is weak.
Hey, I'm human (so they say). I have my limits. So, I have to just take a day off to recharge. And on those days, if I'm not out snorkeling or causing general mayhem around Okinawa, I spend some time drawing comics for this blog. Hey, guess what I'm doing today?

Ironically, I'm cartooning about my job today. You know why? Because I freaking love my job. Even on days like today where I just can't get the words on paper in the correct order, I wouldn't trade this for the world.

And it's not just because I get to spend all day, every day writing stories. Or the fact that I get to spend a lot of time dreaming up crazy new places and ways for people to DO THE DEED.

Crazy new places and ways...
(images courtesy

Though that is a perk. I mean, seriously, it's entertaining as all hell. And I love love love writing like I can't even tell you.

But today, I'm highlighting all the reasons I love the fact that I work at home. Now, if you're a fan of The Oatmeal, he touched on a lot of the pros and cons here. If you haven't read that page, do so at once. It's fucking hilarious. Seriously. Go now. Here's the link again in case you missed it.

So I don't need to rehash all the awesomeness of that.

One of the best things about working at home? The commute. You see, this used to be my commute:
Yes, that was my actual commute. 80 fucking miles. Each way. Every damned day. And I had to be at work at 7 am. Do the math.

Then I moved to Virginia, and shaved over 50 miles off my commute, instead condemning myself to grinding through forty-five minutes of some of the planet's most godawful drivers en route to my cubicle:
This morning? My commute took 1 minute, 47 seconds, counting the time it took for me to stop by the fridge for a glass of juice and step around my cat:
So now I'm at work. I work alone. My cat sits on my desk, I have people to talk to via instant message, and sometimes my husband is around, but for the most part, I work solo.

Which means: No overheard conversations from the next cubicle.

If there was one thing that drove me crazy while working in a cubicle environment, it was the conversations my co-workers would have.
True story - One of my co-workers started EIGHT CONVERSATIONS in one day with that line. And I was chained to a desk that was well within earshot, with neither headphones nor earplugs to spare me the Chronicle of the Colonoscapades. EIGHT TIMES.

But no more! I have complete control over my work environment now. No intestinal tales here, no sirree. And it probably benefits the rest of the world, too. I mean, my own conversations these days would be NSFW in any other work environment.
Yes, my friends have as much ADD as I do.

There's also the matter of unwanted conversations. Nothing quite like trying to work, and having someone pester the crap out of you about politics, workplace gossip, moldy lettuce, sports, or other things you couldn't give two shits about. When working at home, relief is but a click away:
Not only do I not have to put up with other people's obnoxious conversations or subject them to my own, there's also the matter of music. I have yet to work in any kind of communal office environment that didn't, at some point, have some teeth gnashing and general spark-striking over the volume or content of music. For whatever reason, headphones have always been forbidden wherever I've worked, so the music battle never ends.
Working at home? There's no arguing over the volume, radio station, or how many times a particular song is replayed. I get to listen to WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT, and no one else can hear or complain about it.
Yes, those are the most-played songs in my iPod. Don't judge me.

Then there's the perk of not having people watching my every move. So what if a link is NSFW? It's not like anyone knows or cares what I'm looking at on my computer.

Well, aside from Rex.
But Rex doesn't really count. He can't exactly do anything unless he thinks there's a reason to tip off the CIA about my recent searches relating to the climate of northern India, how much gunpowder it takes to create a decent-sized explosion, or aqua regia (all of which I've googled recently).

In an office environment, though, someone is ALWAYS WATCHING:
And it's fucking maddening, amirite?

So I have no one looking over my shoulder. I'm in my pajamas, listening to whatever music I want, blocking out the universe if I feel like it, and generally able to fuck off if the mood strikes me. No time cards. No peer pressure to be a team player. No boss demanding I actually, like, do something.

Which means...I could pretty much not do anything if I felt like it. Yet, I work more hours now than I ever have in my life, and productivity isn't a problem at all. But how? HOW? How does one remain productive without being surrounded by slave drivers and given all the "motivation" that is rich in a corporate environment?

Well, besides the fact that I love what I do and wouldn't trade it for a date with Jared Leto, there is the part where I need to write. My characters want their stories told, and they don't let me sleep until I write those stories. Quite frankly, if you ever X-rayed my skull, chances are, this is what you'd see:
Yes, I'm insane.

And yes, this is the best job in the world.

(More cartoons to come soon; still have a couple of deadlines to meet this summer, and then I'll have some more time to draw stick irreverent stick figures)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quick Update

Real life once again has me swamped with deadlines and evildoings, so I'm behind on getting my comics together. Rest assured, though: more stick-figure mayhem is on the horizon. I need to finish the book I'm currently working on, which I expect to be done this week. Then, assuming I'm not irreparably maimed at this weekend's paintball tournament, there will be a comic next week.

On what topic? What crazy tale from my slightly off-kilter world?

Only one way to find out. Stick around...