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For descriptions of each episode, check out my Show Notes at the top of the page. This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real people or events is purely coincidental.

WARNING: Some of the language may be offensive, but no worse than you would expect in an R rated movie.

Special thanks to NASA for the image of the galaxy.

Podcast of the novel BETWEEN EARTH AND ARCTURUS

Become a writer

  Read. Read a lot. Read some more because you love what others wrote and how they wrote it. Then, one day while reading a trashy novel, you think “I’ll bet I could write something like this.” So you try it.
  Right from the beginning you can see that you’ve got talent—more than talent—you’re friggin’ brilliant and will probably get the Nobel Prize for literature. You start telling people that you are writing a book and show them a couple of handwritten pages as evidence.
  Make a routine at the expense of your social life. You get home from work at five and put something in the oven while you write for an hour. Then you eat. Then watch Star Trek and Xena: the Warrior Princess while knocking back shots of whiskey. Go to sleep. Wake up and go to work. Start over. Repeat this every day.
  After a year of writing for an hour a day, get out everything you’ve written and read it. Feel a sick sinking sensation when you realize that it’s all crap. You don’t know how to write. It’s not close to the quality of novels you love to read. It’s not even close to the quality of novels you hate.
  It’s not a novel. It’s a rough outline of a novel, or would be if the plot made sense…and if the characters were believable…and if the setting was actually described…and if you knew how to spell…and if there was some sort of punctuation. Other than that, it’s encouraging.
  After all, you love doing it, and you must continue because…well, just because. You are a writer, therefore you write. If only you were good at it.
  You go to the library and get books on writing. You buy books on writing. You subscribe to Writer’s Digest Magazine. You start noticing your how bad your spelling is and correcting it. You begin checking words in a dictionary when you’re not sure how to spell them. You discover that some words don't mean what you thought they meant.
  Each pearl of wisdom that you find about writing tells you how to improve something in your masterpiece, and prompts you to rewrite a section. The next pearl of wisdom prompts you to rewrite it again…and again. You also learn not to use worn out cliches, such as pearl of wisdom.
  You rewrite everything in no particular order, resulting in versions that correct one problem, and versions that correct a different problem. You add to the story with each rewrite and make changes that turn it into a completely different story. You are on fire with the mystical muse of writing. Any regrets about giving up your social life are forgotten.
  Learn to write using a computer. It makes rewriting easier. Play Fleetwood Mac albums while you type. Learn the hard way about the importance of saving your file. Buy a printer. Buy printer paper and ink cartridges from time to time. Wonder if they can be a tax write off.
  You continuously read about how to write, and then rewrite a scene here, a scene there, each time adding more description, more dialog, more plot. Become so obsessed with the story that you think about it when you’re supposed to be working. Your coworkers wonder if something’s wrong with you.
  You do this for a couple of years and have a stack of manuscript eight inches thick; a science fiction drama, too long for one book. Evaluate all the threads of the plot and decide it can be a trilogy. Unfortunately none of the three parts are complete and have plot holes the size of canyons. It should take five or six months to complete the first book.
  Work on it for two more years, doing about half a chapter per day. Figure out how to get from point A to point B. Screw that—find a new point B. That works, but today’s point B is tomorrow’s point A. Rethink the plot.
  You try a few things to see what works for you. A short paper for each character that gives a description, background and perhaps a bit of backstory seems to help the process. Become preoccupied with notes for each character. Write a brief backstory for your fictional world…say twenty pages. Discover that making notes about your writing is fun. Go overboard with it. Fill several binders with notes instead of writing your story.
  The burning desire to get the story going returns and the process is much easier after making all the notes.
  The plot has a spaceship traveling from Epsilon Eridani to Tau Ceti. These are real stars. Sci-fi fans will know this. The trip will take two months. How fast does the spaceship need to go? You need to figure it out. Spend a day trying to calculate how far it is between those damn stars based on the locations listed in an astronomy book. You should be able to, but you can’t. It’s embarrassing. You need to be better at math. You go back to school.
  Now you realize that school is doable while you’re working, so you may as well get that degree you always wanted.
  You write in the evenings and spend a couple of nights a week in school. Life is good. The book is coming along, but has taken on a life of its own. You find you must write with microscopic detail about how every character fits into the story . No aspect of plot is left unexplored. This  labyrinth of story expands into a whole and complete world, and you, with your god’s eye view, can see everything happening with every character.
  You’ve got over seventy characters now, and they are all main characters. You have lost perspective.
  Decide to step away from writing for couple of months, just to get some objectivity.
  In the meantime you change jobs; change religions; get married; buy a house; change jobs again; and get a dog.
  Ten years later, you start writing again, and you learn all over again.