Wrench in the Machine

I’m in the process of writing my sixth novel right now. I’d like to think that with every one of them, I try new things and I learn something every time. This time around, I gave myself a dose of what being a “professional writer” must feel like. Notice I put that in quotes, that’s not to say it wasn’t professional, but more that there’s no single model of what being a professional writer looks like.

After wrapping up my first round of edits on The Red Door, I sent it off to my beta readers which has become my usual practice. I figured I’d have a couple of months before I got anything back. This makes for an equally exciting and terrifying time. Picture it if you will, you spend how long —  Four? Six? — months working on a project you care deeply about and then you hand it off to others, eager to hear what they think about it. It makes me anxious and antsy and other words that start with A. Agitated? I wanted to hear their thoughts now. I didn’t want to wait two months twiddling my thumbs.

I needed something to do. So I gave myself a new project. Enter my next novel, Altered Egos.

Now, I had a pretty good idea Altered Egos would be next on the plate anyway, but I’ve only ever worked on one novel at a time. Purely to distract myself and to keep myself working, I dove right on in with an outline and started writing it in the hiatus. I got about 30k words in before I got all the feedback for The Red Door.

Now, my original plan was to work on both at once. That’s the responsible writer thing to do. But seeing as I’m not working with a publisher (yet, hopefully) I soon realized that the time spent not editing The Red Door meant time longer before I had a finished project. So I switched gears and diverted all focus back to The Red Door to crank it out for querying.

That’s been finished for about a month now and I’m back into working solely on Altered Egos. The problem, my friends? It is a struggle. It’s not just a motivation thing. I’ve long learned that you can’t write only when you’re motivated. Writing is a job. Flexing muscles. You know the metaphor. The works. This is something deeper. As much as I try and remind myself what excited me about the project in the first place, I can’t help daydreaming about The Red Door. It’s out there in the ether. I think the Schrodinger’s cat-nature is what’s killing me. It’s hard to care for a new baby when my other one is out there in the wilds, alone.

So I hit my daily word counts as planned, but I’m working on ways to trick myself back into this new project. It distracted me once, it can do so again. I  just need to fall in love with it all over again. Easy, right?

In the mean time, I’ve added a link to Fate Stitcher over on my Comics page where you can download the entire graphic novel. Free. That’s essentially seven issues of my first baby. All free. I hope you like it.

Let me know what you think and if you have any advice about switching gears and staying invested, I’m all ears!

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The Battle for Bedtime

Why does bedtime always have to be such a fight? I’m sure parents across the interwebs have asked themselves this same question and are agreeing with me right now. That, or they’re shaking their heads at me expecting anything else.

It’s never “Oh, go to sleep, sweetheart …” It’s “Get. Back. In. Your. Bed!”. Teeth gritted. Muscles clenching. The works. I mean, I can’t even tell you the last time I didn’t go to sleep without a headache. It’s kind of hard to remember all of this in the comforting light of day. In the middle of my twilit anger, it feels so much more important. Maybe it’s because I have two in the same room who keep each other up. I don’t know. Is it really all that bad? See?! That’s how they get you. It’s parental amnesia!

So my kids are two now and we’ve transitioned them into toddler beds. At least I think they’re transitioned? If that means taking an hour and a half to fall asleep because they don’t want to be held or rocked and then waking up throughout the night crying for us just so they can run back to bed and have me sleep on the floor next to them as they fall back asleep … then yeah, they’re transitioned. It’s a double-edged sword because while I’m excited to get my bed back, I never seem to end up using it for long. Sunday morning, I got my best sleep of the night on the floor of their room with a couple pillows and a blanket. Who knows? Maybe, I’m the one who’s transitioned.

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, so I’ve been going through and updating everything. Hopefully, it’s looking a little more streamlined. The biggest surprise for me is that I’ve updated my Comics section with details about Fate Stitcher. FS is a graphic novel I wrote and Kickstarted years ago. But while we hit our expected goal of getting it drawn, I never had enough funds to get it colored liked I’d wanted. Because of that – and yours truly doing the actual lettering – I’d always thought of it as the project that could have been. But looking at it again to refresh myself of what to say for the site is showing me that it’s a lot better than I remembered. I was being too hard on myself.

I’ve got the cover up for now, but once I clean out my gDrive, you should be able to download the whole thing soon. While I work on getting this place populated with more of my Stories, here’s a nice juicy one to get started on.

Welcome Back, Dan

Hey, Internet, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

I’ve been meaning to get back into this for a LONG time, but I’ve been pretty distracted. Between working on my novel writing as much as humanly possible and basically sacrificing most of my hobby time to my new family, it left me with little to talk about.

Or so I thought.

I was putting too much pressure on myself to come up with a gimmick. I kept thinking what was going to be my hook and I spent a long time thinking about blogging plans. I’ll save you the length soul searching. Ultimately, I decided I’m going literal with this one. This site is called Dan Melnick Stories and well, it’s going to be about my stories. Stuff I write, stuff that happens to me and stuff I feel like talking about. So whether that’s going to be about the shenanigans of my twins or magical jazz man or how much I’m digging Nightwing again, the through-line is going to be me.

So expect posts about everything, I guess.

I’m also going to be revamping the site in the days ahead. Or better, UPDATING it. It’s wildly out of date of what I want to reflect about myself and my writing. So expect that to change.

Today is short a sweet and is going to serve as my declaration I guess. But don’t worry, if I get my way, you’re going to be hearing from me a heck of a lot more …

Carving the Ice

The alpha reader responses have come trickling in and I’ve been lapping them up like a thirst-starved desert dweller. Although, I supposed I should really be calling them beta readers as the book had already gone through a couple of drafts before they got their eyes on it. Technically, the only alpha reader was yours truly.

Semantics. Gotta love ’em.

Or don’t.

The responses have been overwhelmingly good which has definitely calmed my blood pressure some. Sending this out was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. No. That’s probably a lie. I have twin babies at home. I’m sure they’re up there too, those adorable monsters.

They’ve all liked the story a great deal, but the readers have pointed out some important but glass-shattering issues that have to be dealt with before I can take Fairfax Cleaners to the next level. It’s always intimidating seeing how much work needs to be done on a project I’d previously assumed to be “almost finished,” but while yes, I’m collecting opinions, it’s important to remember that the readers aren’t wrong. I don’t need to go back and fix every little thing they had issue with, but a few of the more common and glaring examples tend to stand out.

I’m of the mind that it doesn’t matter my intention while writing the work. If I ever have to explain myself for clarity about why something is the way it is, it means I’ve failed as a writer. I’m not going to write to thousands of individuals and answer all of their questions about how I dropped the ball in making something clear. This is a humbling experience. Critique by nature is uncomfortable. No one likes to be judged. But it’s not me, personally, on the pedestal, it’s the story. And even then, no one is saying they don’t like that story. But when someone points out that I had a character say “you can’t go to the police because they bad guys own the police” and then the police NEVER play a role in the story whatsoever … that my friends is a problem.

It’s always interesting to me too what people pick up on. One of my male readers, a close personal friend, found two side characters to be redundant and brought nothing to the story. But when I asked one of my female readers about them, she said, please don’t cut them. They’re definitely needed because they help explain/progress the relationships between many of the other characters. If you ever wanted proof that male and female readers can want different things, there you have it. One was only looking at it from an action perspective, the other was focused on the character growth. Both were right in their way as the scene in question does need work, but I already know how to better integrate it into the overall story that doesn’t involve cutting anyone out. The problem was in my failure to make it abundantly clear in the first place.

This process is also helping me carve the iceberg. You’ve probably heard that backstory and worldbuilding are like an iceberg where only 10% of it ends up in the story, but the author needs to know the other 90% to make the characters believable. While I’ve certainly tried to input what was needed, I probably only ended up putting 7% in and some things that were crystal clear in my mind came out opaque to others.

All that said, I’m invigorated like a shot of adrenaline to keep going forward. My writer sleeves are already rolled up and I’m prepping the surgical gloves to go in elbows deep. I’m waiting to hear back from two more readers – one of which I know is taking incredibly detailed notes – and then its open heart surgery on this beast.

Blue Moon

Over the holidays I got to spend some time with some friends and to “remeet” their daughter who’s now 11 months old and interactive. Anyway, as most 11 month olds are, she got a bit uppity and I overheard the parents scold her with the whole first name-middle name thing. I’d never known her middle name until that point. It was Kristin.

In the summer of 2005, my friend Kristin was killed in a traffic accident. It was just before my junior year of college and I was back in Pennsylvania to be part of the community theater’s production of Damn Yankees. We all went to different colleges, but we’d get back together for the summers and usually end up at the community theater. One evening, Kristin was running late to practice, didn’t see the blinking lights at a railroad crossing and never made it.

That was the first time someone close to me had ever died. I’d lost my grandfather before then, but it didn’t feel like this. I still remember the night it happened. She never showed up to practice. I’d just gotten home around 10pm when the assistant director called me. I guess he called me first because he didn’t think he could make the rounds and call other people. My dad was sitting on the couch when my phone rang. I took the call and had to go to the other room. The next hour was horrible, calling my closest friends to tell them the tragic news. My best friend’s mother told me to “shut up” in disbelief.

No one wanted to be alone, so by midnight, we all reunited at Liz’s house to just sort of sit together. We didn’t tell stories or talk about anything, really. It was too early for that. We just sat in a darkened room being alone together.

Going back to college in the fall was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. What happened to Kristin united all of us in a way like nothing else. It also didn’t help matters that there was a girl involved (of course) and what would have been a summer fling ended up getting ramped up to enormous heights. That fling chose the other guy in the end which was nice icing on the shit cake, so by the time I got back to Chicago, I was utterly heartbroken, depressed and had never felt more alone in my entire life. To this day, I carry around a betting ticket from the last time Kristin and I went to the track together. She was a cool girl. She taught me how to bet on horses.

I bring all of this up to help illustrate that my memories of Kristen have always been bittersweet. She was a lovely person and I’ve been thinking about all the sadness that came from her death since then. Hearing that little girl’s middle name brought it all back.

Flash forward to yesterday.

My friend at work was telling me about the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest and all of the great bands that’ll be there this year. We got to reminiscing about all the concerts we’d ever been too and it got me thinking about the Bethlehem Musikfest I used to go to every year with my dad. It was a two hour trip each way, but we’d go ever year to see the Red Elvises.

Ever wonder what a bunch of Russian guys singing rockabilly sounds like? Then wonder no more, my friends. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Red Elvises are fucking great. Seriously.

Anyway, I was telling my friend all about the glories of I Wanna See You Belly Dance and their awesome rendition of Blue Moon when I remembered the last time I’d ever seen the band.

It must have been the summer of 2004. Maybe even 2003. I’d recently graduated high school – I know that much, and I graduated in ’03 – and that same group of friends rented a cabin in the Poconos for a long weekend. It just so happened to coincide with the weekend the Elvises would be appearing at Musikfest. So I ditched everybody for an evening and drove an hour and a half each way through parts unknown to find Bethlehem. I offered an open invitation to anyone with me to come along, but I guess they didn’t share the same love of rockabilly that I did. They all said no. All except Kristin.

I’d completely forgotten about all of this. The fest that year was great and the band was amazing. Right before they went on stage, I saw some of the Elvises walking around behind the scenes and I had a mini geek-out session when I spied Oleg, the base player. I was seriously star struck.

Before I knew it, Kristin was calling him over and I now have a picture with the coolest bass player there ever was. Don’t believe me? The guy uses a converted balalaika as a bass.

Anyway, all of that came rushing back yesterday and I couldn’t help but laugh. I’ve been carrying around all of these heavy memories of Kristin all these years and here I’ve had this golden one all along. That was still a hard summer and I’ll never forget her, but here I am all these years later and Kristin still finds a way of making me smile.

Wherever you are, Kristin, I hope you’re good. Also, betting on a horse just because it has superhero bridling has proven to be a bad decision time and again. Just an FYI …

 

Parallels

It happened again.

I could tell by the mattress springs. I didn’t even have to open my eyes. Then came the smells. Wool and dust. A hint of cinnamon apple from a long extinguished candle. I knew it all immediately and couldn’t stave off the panic. I squeezed my eyes tight, praying sleep would take me once more.

The mattress groaned as she shifted next to me in her sleep. Please, don’t let her wake up. Her name was Sarah. The first time I switched, I had to look at a piece of mail for clues. Thank you, Discover Card. I know her, but her voice still sounds strange to me. I had expected it to trigger some kind of lingering familiarity, but dreams don’t carry sound.

I need to go back. This wasn’t mine. The face in the mirror would be me, but the woman and the children were his. How could they not know? They had to suspect something from my stumbling. I was never a good improviser. My eyelids were growing rosy from the morning sun. My hands balled into fists as I ground my face against the pillow.

This wasn’t like that movie. This wasn’t a dream. I knew that much. This was real. A kind of real, maybe, but not my real. I missed Tiff and Cooper and Julie. The times between were growing longer. What if I couldn’t get back?

It didn’t make any sense as I was in the same situation, but the thought of him in bed with Trish punched a hole in my gut. He had to have figured out what was going on too. It wasn’t like I could talk to him. He was stranded like me.

I heard another groan, Sarah, and felt smooth arms slide underneath my own, hugging my chest. “Morning,” she mumbled.

I was shaking. I felt tears in the corners of my eyes, but I still didn’t open them. I didn’t dare. Once I did, I was awake and then … and then I’d be stuck here. Again. Maybe for the last time.

“Morning,” I whispered back, hoping she didn’t hear the fear in my voice.

It was a voice she’d heard a million times. She had to know there were days her husband loved her and other days he didn’t. Trish would know. I never asked her. She wouldn’t believe me. But she’d have to know something was off.

It always started with the dream. Snapshots of another life. A beach. A blue house. A street with birch trees.

Sarah’s hand rubbed my chest and I knew she wouldn’t be going back to sleep. Neither would I. Frustrated, I squeezed her hand in greeting and got up to go to the bathroom. The face in the mirror was me. Sighing, I rubbed my eyes and checked the medicine cabinet.

Inside the pill bottle was the note I’d written last time. “You work at Slott and Stegman’s on Harris Ave. You don’t like ties. The car keys are in the bowl by the sink. Sarah. Maddie and Gracie.”

Did he have a note too, helping him through the motions? Was he as scared as I was? I folded the well-creased slip of paper and hid it amongst the painkillers once more.

“Hurry up,” Sarah said through the door. “I need to go too. Can you start pancakes?”

It must be Saturday. They always had pancakes on Saturday. I couldn’t fight the flare of panic. That meant more time at home.

“Sure,” I said, staring at the pill bottle. The panic brought something else too. I couldn’t believe I’d never thought of it before.

Rummaging through the basket of reading material by the toilet, I found one of those subscription postcards that had fallen out of a magazine and a pencil. Sarah was waiting for me when I opened the door. She was pretty but she was no Trish.

I kissed her on the cheek and brushed by her before she could answer. Luckily she was preoccupied. I heard noises downstairs. Maddie and Gracie were probably up. The shower started. I let out the first sigh of relief I’d felt all morning and began scribbling on the postcard.

“Tom, my name is Brett, but you probably know that. Am I doing this or are you? Do you know why this is happening? How do we go back?”

I hesitated. What if he didn’t want this to end? No, I decided. Judging by how his family looked at him, Tom would be as scared as I was. He’d have to be.

Without giving it a second thought, I tucked the postcard under the pillow and went downstairs to make pancakes. The mix was in the Lazy Susan on the left.

Elusivity

My New Years’ resolution was to blog more consistently.

OK. It wasn’t. But I still want to post more consistently anyway.

Life at the Melnick household has been a bit rough lately. The Missus is super sick. I mean when stuff gets in your chest and ears kind of sick. The babies have also picked up little baby versions of this illness in the form of stuffy noses, sniffles and even more spitting up. Yep. That’s just what babies needed: MORE spitting up. It’s lead to a lot of sleepless nights and me running around trying to make sure everyone else gets as much sleep as they can.

As I type this, I can feel the telltale tickle in the back of my throat. The number at the deli counter just rolled over one digit closer to the matching one on my ticket.

I hope everyone had some happy holidays. In between traveling and illnesses, I’ve been daydreaming about getting back to Fairfax Cleaners and brainstorming for novel #5. I’ve decided that my alpha readers have had over a month now to read the draft and while that’s not a lot of time in this busy time of our lives, it’s been long enough that I can hassle them for an update to at least let me know WHEN they’re finished. I don’t mind waiting around and working on other things as long as I’ve got something out there dangling. But if I’m not fishing, I’m not being productive.

I’m still doing research on the next book and I think I’ve got the plot basically figured out. I’m about ready for the outlining phase. This one’s been a lot quicker than usual since I’m adapting a screenplay awhile ago I wrote into a novel. I’ve basically changed the entire story with the exception of the core concept, but I’ve had this character’s voice in my head for years. Writing in first person – fingers crossed – should alleviate some of those professional pressures that have started to creep in without a pitch-worthy product.

So far, I’ve only been scratching that writing itch through mental exercises. I would love to sit down and fire off a short story or two, but that’s just not my style. I outline too much. Coming up with a plot is the hardest part for me for any book, so you’d think that something smaller would be easier, but it’s the opposite. Usually, I can propose a scenario to myself and ask “what happens next?” OK. “What happens after that?” And follow that story down the natural rabbit hole. But with short fiction, I end up doing so much brainstorming, I’m developing material for a full length novel and I’ve forgotten what it was about the short story that grabbed me in the first place.

I’m hoping to kick that habit. I had a pretty vivid dream the other night that’s still haunting me. I thought it would make a great idea for a romantic comedy at the time so I wrote it down in case I ever wanted to tackle a screenplay pretty far outside my genre as an exercise. Then I massaged it into drama shape for kicks. And now, I’ve basically rebuilt it into a science fiction piece. I like the central concept, but it’s that illusive plot thing that’s tripping me up. I supposed I’ll keep working on it in the hopes that I see an end in sight.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Alpha

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Two four month old babies, too much work and not enough sleep will do that to ya …

Anyway, I’ve finished my latest novel, Fairfax Cleaners, and I’m pretty damned psyched about it. Yes, I know I’m biased, but I think it’s my best work yet. To this extent, I went ahead and made a Facebook post asking for alpha readers.

The responses were overwhelming. I expected my brothers and a couple of close friends of course, but some of the people who “signed” up for the job, I haven’t spoken to since college! The prospect that so many people are reading my work is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I sincerely doubt, that all of them are going to give me pats on the back with “it’s so awesome” comments. But that’s kind of the point.

Throughout my time writing these past couple of years, the input of my brothers has been invaluable. Even my mom reading most of my stuff has kept me going, but come one, she’s my mom. She has to say that stuff. If I really want to make this one work and I firmly believe that this is the book that’ll sell, well then I definitely needed some outside opinions.

I’ve always been interested in being part of a writing group. I was in a group as part of a class in college and really enjoyed the feedback and critiquing process. Once in a while, that itch comes back and I look into it, but it seems that if I want to be in something, I need to start that something. Short of a posting a blind ad on Craigslist, I don’t know how to 1. Make this happen and 2. Hope its not answered by whackjobs.

I’m actually going to send a follow up email to everyone today just to see how its going and to ask a couple introductory questions. Out of the 13(?!) people who responded, I doubt they’re all reading it now anyway, but any feedback is appreciated. Actually, the only feedback I’ve received (aside from my mom, of course) was a critique that my protagonist was carrying the wrong gun around. Well, what can I say, the guy was right. See? That’s why I’m doing this.

It’s so weird having people interested in my work. That’s also a point I’m working to get over. To be a commercial author, people kind of have to be, right? I tried to put the book in the hands of a broad spectrum of people, but I know I’m the connecting piece here, so I’m hoping for some diverse viewpoints. That said, there are definitely some in there who I never expected and those are the ones I’m most interested in hearing from again.

It’s hard to concentrate on anything else while this is going on, but I’ve started some initial brainstorming and research for my next project. A great thing about living in a college town and working at a university is the free access to resources. Although, I have reading lists at both the public library and the big one here on campus that include such titles as: Without Conscience and Psychopath Whisperer, so who knows how long that access is going to last!

Oiling the Machine

I’m probably preaching to the already well-educated choir here, but having children is exhausting! Rewarding, sure. But my god am I tired. All. The. Time!

We’ve settled into a good enough routine where I get some sleep to function. As to the to actual level of functionality(?) functionability(?) see I have no idea … well I’ll leave that up to you. I can get to work now with clothes fit for a human being of my profession. I’ve also been able to shave my “dad beard” on occasion. The gym has been long gone. Running’s been pretty much out too even though it kills me. We’ve been having some gorgeous fall mornings lately. When I let the dog out, I can hear the autumnal whisper egging me to come join its crisp embrace.

The only thing from my life before that I’ve been able to dredge up without feeling like I’m shoving a round block into a square-shaped hole, and perhaps the most important thing from life BB (before babies), is that I’ve gotten back to writing. I was about 3/4 of the way through my latest novel before the little dragons were born and I was worried that my enthusiasm for the project would die out during my month away. I’m happy to report that not only have I started writing again, but I’ve been making some serious headway into the project, picking up pretty easily from where I left off.

What really helped during the break was that I never really stopped thinking about the book. I literally made myself think about the book at least once a day to keep my thoughts fresh and to remember where and how I left things. It kind of helped that the chapter I left on was one I had the least amount of notes for. My time away served as a hella long brainstorming session.

But it worked! Getting back into the saddle took some effort and personal forgiveness, so I didn’t chastise myself for only making 500 words every now and again, but things are back to being in full swing.

If anything, the added bonus is that I took care of that refresh/re-calibrate time I typically use after every book. Once I finish a novel, I force myself to shelve it for 4-6 weeks and let the dust settle. I come back with a fresh set of eyes and a list three pages long of all the stuff I feel the need to fix. Even though I hadn’t finished my book, that’s basically what I did while I was off learning how to be a parent.

I can’t wait to finish now so I can start tearing it apart. My middle is sluggish and dull. I see that so clearly now. I want to rework how I introduce the main protagonist too. And there’s a named side character I use in the beginning who never gets comeuppance. I demand comeuppance!

So once I finish – I’m down to the final confrontation – I can go back and restructure some stuff. I’m pretty surprised by the length. I’m already hitting 117k and it’ll most likely be closer to 130k by the time I’m done. Granted, this is the rough draft and I just told you about how there will be restructuring involved, but its shaping up a little bit larger than I originally imagined. Hopefully, that’ll work in my favor to create a tight story once I trim all the fat like a T-bone. I’m hoping to have something ready for alpha readers in a month.

How cool would it be if I had human babies and a literary one at the same time?

There and Back Again … Again

It’s been a while!

I’ve been out of work on paternity leave for the past month. My wife and I received a pair of beautiful babies on August 7th. One born 6 lbs 3 oz., the other 5 lbs 12 oz.. Since then, they’ve both put on some weight, but they’re still pretty tiny and I know I’m a little biased here, but I think they’re pretty friggin adorable. Ask me again at 3 am when they’ve been screaming all night and I may change my mind.

Anyway, I knew it wouldn’t be a vacation, but I prepared my “dad bag” full of all sorts of personal entertainment just in case: books, 3DS, netbook, journal, music, etc. I figured I’d have at least some time to do something fun. I mean it’s an entire month! A friend of mine did nothing but play Final Fantasy XIV when he had his second kid. I was pretty excited to do the same.

I did none of those things.

I spent most of the month on the couch holding a baby and waiting for the next shoe to drop in terms of diapers or feedings or just plain crankiness. We’ve had our fair share of scares. One of them has a bad case of acid reflux that landed us in the hospital overnight for observation. So it’s been a hectic month. It’s become somewhat easier now that the little dragons are big enough to fit in baby carriers. Seriously, whoever invented the moby wrap – or patented it for mass production or whatever – is a godsend! Getting my hands back after losing them for weeks has been the greatest victory in the world. Now I can hold a baby and make a sandwich at the same time!

My wife and I tried handling it in shifts to allow the other one some sleeping time, but it soon became apparent that such a tactic was impossible. When babies outnumber adults, the adult loses. So we adopted the team mentality. We sleep together. We take care of babies together. It’s made things a hell of a lot easier but as you can imagine, the system isn’t perfect. It pretty much breaks down now that I’m back to work. Without outside help both at night and during the day, neither of us would be able to function anymore.

Things are as routine as they can get right now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough work, but we’re managing. If anything, I think we’re kind of good at it. If we had one kid, we’d be handling this like a pair of stone cold bosses. Seriously, what’s the big deal with your one kid, people? Suck it up.

There are plenty of things I want to talk about, but I’ll save them for future posts. The next one being about coming back to work on a 3/4 finished novel and what that’s taking after having an entire month away from the keyboard. I’d get into it now, but honestly, I’m just too tired.

I hear that clears up in 4-5 years …