Two Writing Extremes: George R.R. Martin vs. Stephen King

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It’s hard being a writer, isn’t?  Put yourself in the shoes of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, a man who’s had countless articles written about his progress on the sixth book of his famous series.  Reading those headlines alone is enough to make your head spin!  Imagine the enormous pressure that Mr. Martin must feel himself!!

Stephen King, on the other hand, poses as a pretty strong counterargument for Martin’s progress, as his Mr. Martin asked Mr. King with his own words, what gives?

Clearly these two extremely successful and popular authors have two very different approaches towards their writing.  Which raises some questions for the rest of us, who are looking for a way to make it in the writing business.  First, what can we as authors or potential authors make of this conundrum?  Second, how can we find that balance between life’s demands, easy distractions, and writer’s block?

I have to answer that first question with a question:  What do you stand to gain by imagining your situation is different?  In the YouTube video I’ve linked above, Mr. King says that he commits himself to writing six pages each day, while Mr. Martin is critical of every sentence he writes.  Do both methods work?  Absolutely.  Is either one of them the method for you?  Maybe or maybe not….

So, where does that leave us?

I work a full time corporate job with a long New Jersey commute.  Adding it all up, my typical day is about 12 hours.  I save time on the weekends for drinking alone or with friends, playing video games, watching my Yankees during the baseball season, and typically not writing.

But, and this is the inflection point for where I am in life today, I am single and live alone, which means I can dedicate an hour or so four nights a week to work as hard as I can on my writing.  Sunday night, Monday night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night are no holds barred, gloves off, street fights with my work.  I start each session with 10-30 minutes of meditating (with YouTube’s help), which does a great job clearing my head, especially from a stressful work day.  Then, I don’t care if I write 50 words or 500 words.  Both have happened.  The way I see it, as long as I’m getting words on the page and the story is moving, I can always clean it up later in my edits.  And the best part of it all is that I get two work nights and entire weekends to do whatever brings me joy.

And honestly, over the course of a year, it’s impossible to commit to such a stringent schedule – life happens.  But did you notice my use of language?  An hour or so.  50 words or 500 words are both okay.  I am lenient with myself.  I know I am committed enough to my work that, if I miss a night, it’s okay because I’ll definitely find a way to make up for it.  And those 50 word nights are usually followed by a couple of 500 word nights.  That’s the beauty of pushing a story along.

My therapist is a Buddhist who has taught me that, in eastern philosophy, death is waiting right behind us, counting down and waiting until it’s our time meet him.  Time is the most valuable commodity we have and it’s our duty to manage it as responsibly as we can.  We only get so much time.

So be honest with yourself.  What’s your situation?  How can you optimize it in a way that’s most efficient for you as a writer?  What are your inflection points?  Are you spending your time in ways that are both meaningful to you and lenient?  How about your work?

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Meditation Day: Won Buddhism

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I was browsing the Lion’s Roar website earlier this week and thought I’d share an excerpt that stood out to me from one of their articles.  I am always in search of peace, betterment, and contribution and there was a lot about the teaching of Won Buddhism in this article that made me feel closer to achieving those first two.  And deciding to share it here with you fulfills the third.  My highlights are in bold:

In Buddhism, interdependent origination is the law of causality. According to this fundamental concept, everything is part of a web of interconnection, depending on limitless causes and conditions undergoing a continual process of transformation. In other words, nothing exists as independent, permanent, or fixed. This is called emptiness or the empty nature of reality. All dharma teachings are based on and lead us to a realization of this interdependent and empty nature of reality. This realization—that all phenomena are woven together—enables us to live a life with infinite wisdom, joy, and compassion for all.

Sotaesan was the founder of Won Buddhism. His definition of the word “grace” (EunHye in Korean) describes the interdependence and interconnection of everything in the world. In order to understand this, Sotaesan asks us to consider life without our relationships with other people.

For example, let’s think about a glass of water. Before we can have a drink, we have to get water from a faucet and pour it into a cup. The faucet is connected to a pipe that is attached to multiple other pipes that are hooked into a water tank. Countless people have worked to perfect this water-delivery system. Beyond all this, there is the glass itself, which we use to hold the water. Different people had to design, manufacture, deliver, and sell this glass. Numerous causes and conditions come together just to allow us to drink a cup of water.

Whoa.  I never stopped to think about how much effort went into my water.  And water is something I use all the time.  I abandoned drinking sodas almost completely (my limit is 5 per year and I generally don’t even get that high) and, in the rarer occasion I have an iced tea, I water it down significantly to reduce how much sugar I am ingesting, while also maintaining the sweet taste.  That means I am drinking water constantly: at every meal, when I am thirsty, when it’s time to take a pill, and to filter through my Brita.  And I never stopped to consider how much I could take such a simple thing for granted by such an extreme.

Now imagine for a moment what it feels like when you expand this concept out to far more complicated technology.  I’m writing you from my desk, which has a computer, a typewriter, a mouse, and an internet connection.  All of these things have their own individual webs of human connection that we don’t often think about.  What if those people are having their own personal struggles and need a voice that’s heard?  Are they happy at work?  Do they have a good boss?  How’s their dating life?  What if I know one of the people that assembled one of these tools that I use everyday?  And, what if it’s someone who isn’t my friend?

The point is that the next time you’re feeling hurt or flustered, take a minute to think about the people who brought you the luxuries of your own life.  They’ve all been your behind-the-scenes cheerleaders who have sustained and carried you to where you are.  They were supporting you when you didn’t even know it.  They wanted you to succeed and find happiness, even if it was just for one moment.

And, if that isn’t enough, then have a glass of water with me.

First Book Is Finished!

Hello readers!

I am still so new to blogging and am learning how to do it, but since I am serious about becoming an author and contributing to the creative community every way I can, I made a commitment to be a little more active these days.  The biggest news I have is that, on Tuesday, March 19th, I finished writing my first book!  (Shhhhh don’t tell my boss).  I love word counts because they make me feel like I’m making progress, so here’s a screenshot of the final, unedited damage:

TCM word count unedited

I am really excited about this because this is a years long projected that started in my late teens and didn’t really start gaining momentum until sometime after I was finally finished with graduate school, getting my chemistry degree.  I had 40,000 words at the time and a story that moved way too fast.  So, I put all of those words aside and started this book from scratch a second time, with an entirely slower beginning.  That became 40,000 words much more quickly and I added those to what already existed, with some light editing.  When I reached 100,000 words in December 2015, I knew this was going to finally happen.

In the end, all of my writing is an effort to make this world a little bit better.  I hope all of you learn from what I have to say and, most importantly, talk to me about it.  I’m here for you always.

150,000 Words!

Hello glorious fans,

I think I’ve decided I write a only a teensy bit faster than my good friend George R. R. Martin because I finally crossed the 150,000 word mark this morning!  Here’s a screenshot as proof: 12-18-17 150000 words

I’m only celebrating this because this kind of word count is not easy to come by and I think it expresses my commitment to the work and to my current and future fans.  I do all of this work for you.  Please be there for me when I am finished because you all deserve just as much credit for waiting for this project as I do for trying to accomplish this at the whims of an 8-5 job, plus two hours commuting (at least).

Best,

Chris

Long Time No See!

Hello Dearest Followers,

It’s almost embarrassing I haven’t written anything for you guys in such a long time, but I’m back and with a vengeance!  My book is progressing slowly, but well.  I reached the 125,000 word landmark over the Christmas break and I’m still less than half done!  The complexity of writing epic fantasies are so frustrating at times.  I hope all of you are there with me at the end because I’m promising today that you won’t be disappointed by the result!

Anyway, I’d hate for my first post in a thousand years to be political, but since people are clearly pissed off about this election with the Trump protests going on across the country, it inspired a lot introspection in me about the American political system.  If you’re open to hear what I have to think about all of this, please follow the link to this image for a two minute read: Election 2016.

Kindest regards,

C. R. Lukische

Strumming the Strings of a Wish

Steve sat on the edge of his bed and fingered a new chord on his acoustic guitar.  A drop of sweat rolled down his forehead.  He’d been practicing for a few hours now and was just starting to tire.  His fingers were hurt and cracking through his calluses.  But, he was eager to show his best friend Tom what he’d been learning the last few months.

Tom met Steve freshman year of college.  They found each other through their campus’s commuter events during orientation.  Tom made the first joke – something perverted – and Steve referenced it to some of their other mutual friends many times throughout their orientation.  Tom was a loyal friend.  Steve considered him sort of kingly the way he constantly read the news and gave accurate advice. 

When Steve brushed the sweat away, he began to play.  Tom sat in Steve’s La-Z-Boy leather recliner across from him and watched him play the next song.  Steve taught himself how to play a few songs the past eight months.  Tom noticed how he played most of those songs very well; the timing between notes was great and he maintained a great rhythm.  He was making a few minor errors, but nothing that wouldn’t happen to the best guitarists.  Tom gave Steve a mini-applause when he finished.

“You taught yourself all those songs?” he asked.

“Yeah, with some help from youtube.  What did you think?”

“Not bad, man.  What inspired you to do all this?”

Steve rolled his eyes, then looked Tom in his pupils.  “You know why.”

“You wrote and published a book of emotional poems for your ex and now this?”

“Well, this isn’t just for her.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to play this baby,” Steve said patting his guitar’s neck, “but now I feel like I need to prove to someone, anyone that I’ve done some personal development over time.”

“And let me guess – you feel like learning the guitar accelerates that process?”

“Exactly,” Steve agreed.  This wasn’t anything new for Tom.  He’d been hearing it for over a year now; I want my girlfriend back.  In spite of the improbabilty of the task at hand, Steve was at least dating other girls.  Well, trying to.  Most of them lost attraction for him because of how quiet Steve is naturally.  Tom felt that, even though his motives behind why he was doing some of these things was wrong, at least he was making strides to improve himself.  “But what did you think of my playing?” Steve asked.

“Very good man,” Tom said.  “You’re very focused.  I can tell the way you keep your eyes on what you’re doing.  The fingers on your left hand are a little slow getting to the right notes, but they do get there in time.  And you definitely taught yourself an awesome playlist in terms of lyrics, beat, and popularity.”  Tom leaned back and raised the legs of the recliner.  “What’s your plan once you officially know what you’re doing?”

“I want to start a band, dude,” he said.  “You’d be the drummer of course because of how talented you are.  Then I want to start touring around Jersey – from Nutley to Cherry Hill to Cape May.  I don’t want to establish any invitations at bars or anything, but I want to play in the open, under the bright sun.  I want people to hear us, to notice us.  And when they ask who we are and why we’re playing, we can make up our own stories.  And I can tell them that I’m rocking to show my ex-girlfriend that I’m a different man.  I want this whole state to know what I’m doing – with the help of my loyal friends.

Think about it.  We’d get to travel to every city, try new amazing restaurants, explore museums and go for long walks in the parks or on the beaches.  There’d be girls everywhere for all of us.  Girls in bikinis and short skirts with low cut tops.  Well – okay I guess I wouldn’t tell them what I’m doing.  But just imagine the fun we’d have!”

Tom laughed.  “You’ve got quite the imagination.  You want to start a New Jersey street band with the purpose of getting Amy back?  Girls don’t mope about at home, you know.  Odds are that we’d play in her town and she’d be off somewhere else… with her new boyfriend.”

“But that’s why we’d play during the day on Saturdays and Sundays.  And I would spread word of what I’m doing.  I’m in it for my ex, you could be in it for fun or to meet a band to join.  Who cares!”

“But that’s not what we’re really doing.  We’d really just be helping you.”

“Well, I can’t have a band where I play every instrument.”

Tom rolled his eyes.  He knew Steve was trying to conceal his egocentrism, but he wanted to see his best friend happy again.  “Okay, so then let’s say we’re playing a song and you see her in the crowd.  What would you do?  Stop?  Address her?  Or play a song that she’d recognize from your relationship?”

“The last one.”

“Which song?”

“Oh, I know exactly which song,” Steve grinned.  “Exactly which.”

The Eyes of the Awakened

The stars of the black night stare down below
Sneering at a quietly broken man
Watching him slouch in defeat to the world
His shattered sword lay in pieces on the ground
As he rests with hollow eyes to the sky
Tranced breathing his only sounds, mouth agape 

His furtive eyes scan every single star
To whom does his misery owe its thanks?
The trees, stars, and stones all watch him in pairs
Even they can find partners in lifelessness
He treads alone, then, now, and forever
Ignoring all tales of the lies of love 

An unknown wind blows through his open sill
A rejuvenating scent murders the ache,
Fertilizing his lungs with faith and friendship
New beliefs scatter and connect his mind
An aged puzzle remade for his triumph
The world has robbed him, it’s time for revenge 

Spitting out the mournful pain that drowned him
He jumps up, retributive repercussions in mind
In place of his sword, he retrieves a pen
Paints his reality in truthful words
The emotion, beauty, and pain he shares
Now a landmark for the starlight, not a corpse