Sadir’s the Shining

The morning on the 24th of December (Christmas Eve in Sweden) my girlfriend surprised me with the best gift ever. She had booked and paid for me to go on a six day “writing trip” all by myself – seriously: how lucky am I? So after spending Christmas Eve with my family, I left on the 25th to travel to a hotel where I would spend the coming six days.

The room was tiny but great.
A bed, desk and a TV.
That was all I needed to be as productive as possible.

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I bought some “food” that I could have in the room, so I didn’t have to go out and eat, and that was maybe ambitious (or crazy) but the truth is: that was a big mistake.
I got a lot of writing done in the first two days, but by the third day, I didn’t feel that great. To only eat cold stuff and not any real (or warm) food, fucked me up. I felt dizzy and my favorite friend saw a chance to come and visit, the one and only: Mr. Migraine. So after two days, I forced myself to leave the room and get some air and real food. That helped a lot, but did not solve things for the remaining days.

The problem was that I had no fridge in the room, and there weren’t any restaurants close to the hotel. I had to continue with what I was doing, even though I didn’t feel very good from it. The priority was writing and nothing else.

Between the writing sessions, I only had two choices of entertainment, and that was watching TV or reading books or comics.
I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t watch TV. I haven’t done that in like seven years. Everything I want to watch I stream or “borrow” from the interweb. Watching TV sucked, but the good thing was that I tired from it fast, making me go up and continue writing (did not allow myself to use Netflix).

I think it was on the fourth day, that Stanley Kubrick’s the Shining was on the TV. It felt really weird watching it as I was feeling kind of dizzy and tired from all the writing and I could only laugh at the bizarre coincidence. For those that have seen the movie (more the movie than the book) you know what I’m talking about.

During my stay at the hotel I managed to produce right over 31 000 words, which feels amazing.

I will give myself two weeks two finish up my first draft, and after that Phase Two will begin. I’ll share the details of that in another post.

Final thought: the trip was definitely a success and I would happily do it again, but for next time I need to sort out the food logistics and have a better sleeping structure.

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Music & Writing: Part 2

I want to start things off with thanking Michael R. Fletcher for his guest-post last week! It was an honor having one of my favorite authors appear on my little blog and I hope I get to do similar things with other authors in the future.

So, for you that missed it (https://thereisnomuse.com/2015/11/25/michael-r-fletcher-guest-post/), Michael talked about music and writing in his post, and I will continue on the same subject today. A funny side note is that Iron Maiden will be mentioned by me as well.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: I almost exclusively listen to what is considered “epic” music. I have a playlist called EPIC/EMOTIONAL  on Spotify, with just about 1100 songs (https://open.spotify.com/user/sadirsamir/playlist/1mjGNelark9CF7thITvNXU). You might think that this is weird, and I don’t blame you if you do. I often find myself thinking “what would people say if they knew what was playing in my headphones right now” while commuting on the train every day.

I have found that my imagination is deeply connected to this sort of music, and while I listen to it, my mind shuts everything else out. It’s like a portal that takes me straight to Al Alem (the world in my novel), and images begin to flash before my eyes. I have one track, that I can’t reveal unfortunately, that is the main theme for one of my characters. When I listened to it, everything fell into place. It was hearing that song, that I knew what destiny awaited this particular character.

I have mentioned this earlier, but one thing that I really love, is getting those goose bumps when experiencing something really awesome. The trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a perfect example of this. Every time I watch the footage on my screen, the same result happens: excitement, happiness, and so on. The music in the trailer plays a HUGE part in achieving this feeling.

Very rarely, I can get affected by lyrics in a song. I remember a few years back (when I was on the train), listening to Iron Maiden, when the song “The Wicker Man” came on. During the duration of that track, a character was born in my head. This character plays a big part in my novel I’m writing today.

When I’m writing a specific scene, I try and find a song that fits that scene specifically. This can take some time to find, but when I do, it’s amazing. I make that track go on repeat until I finish the scene. A recent example of this is the song “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts” from the season 3 soundtrack for Game of Thrones.

If anyone is curious, I mostly listen to rock, metal or electric music when  I find my brain too tired from thinking.         

Michael R. Fletcher Guest Post!

Michael R. Fletcher is the excellent author (and crazy mind) behind the book ‘Beyond Redemption’, and today I am delighted in having him do a guest post on my blog!  I read Beyond Redemption when it came out earlier this year, and it immediately  became one of my favorite novels in the dark fantasy genre.

I am currently planning a blog post on music and writing, so we thought it would be fun if we did a two-part thing out of it. Michael will kick us off with his thoughts today, and I’ll do my post tomorrow.

Enjoy!

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MUSIC AND WRITING

Many authors listen to music while writing. Some choose music based on mood—effectively matching the song to whatever scene they’re working on at the time—while others simply choose something in their favorite genre. Some listen to classical or instrumental music to avoid the distraction of lyrics; thinking up words while listening to other words can be difficult.

None of this is true in my case. Or at least not completely.

I write in a cocoon. The blinds are drawn and the office door closed. I do everything in my power to turn off the outside world. That world, however, tends to regard my plans and efforts as a challenge. The neighborhood children run amok, screaming at the top of their lungs. The trash collectors dawdle down the street at a deafening crawl. For some reason the guy across the street has one of those vans that beeps when it’s in reverse, and it takes him fifteen minutes to back into his driveway every single day. Sometimes twice. And somehow, in suburbia, there is always someone cutting their lawn. Do you people not have jobs!

I am at war with reality. And if you’ve read Beyond Redemption, this will make some sense.

I freely confess I have been an unrepentant metalhead since I turned twelve. Damn that was a long time ago. Like many fans of metal my tastes have grown ever heavier. Where I listened to Iron Maiden in high-school, Metallica in university, and Pantera afterwards, I now mostly listen to death metal. These days I tend to reach for Sylosis, Hypocrisy, and Cattle Decapitation rather than turning to something a little mellower. When I found myself getting annoyed at the outside world for intruding on my fantasy, it’s no surprise I turned to music to help. But like many authors I find hearing words distracting while I’m writing.

Incoherent rage to the rescue.

Death metal is perfect writing music for exactly the same reason so many people don’t like it: Most of the time you have no fucking idea what they’re saying.

I’m going to back up a moment to help paint the picture. Between the years of 1997 and 2012 I worked as an audio-engineer. I did Front-of-House live sound for over ten thousand bands and recorded a fair number of albums for assorted Toronto acts no one has ever heard of. When I left the music biz I sold off the vast majority of my gear, but what remains has found it’s way into several home entertainment systems. There isn’t a stereo in the house that doesn’t have a sub-woofer. The system in my office is comprised of all the ‘ugly’ gear, that stuff my wife doesn’t want in the rest of the house. Luckily for me, the ugly gear also happens to be the best sounding. Off to my left is an old NAD amplifier from the mid-eighties. At either corner of my six-foot long desk are my old Tannoy studio monitors. Under the desk—taking up room I really would kinda like for my legs—is a Yorkville studio sub-woofer meant to fill a much bigger space with crushing bass. When I crank this system up things shake. Downstairs, in the kitchen, plates and glassware rattle when I turn it up.

So there I am, writing Beyond Redemption, surrounded by a decently powerful sound-system, trying to insulate myself from reality. It first clicked when I turned on Hypocricy’s album, Virus. I spun up the volume knob until the outside world disappeared. I sat there, cocooned in rage (Let the Knife do the Talking) and writing a very dark and violent scene. The outside world ceased t exist. Reality no longer impinged on my fantasy. From that day on I wrote wrapped in metal. Most of the music I write to has lyrics so screamed and or distorted as to be incomprehensible if you aren’t paying close attention. For me, it’s perfect.

And then I finished writing and began the editing process. It turns out I must edit in silence.

So, while I’m writing my books the neighbors can yell at me, and while I’m editing I’ll yell at them. Seems a fair trade.

How does it work for you? Do you listen to music while you write, or must you have silence?

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About Michael R. Fletcher

Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond Redemption, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by HARPER Voyager in 2015.

His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.

The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The All Consuming, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

About Beyond Redemption:

BR

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:

Who will rule there?

Update Time!

Hey crazy people!

The blog have been way to quiet these last couple of weeks, so I thought I would give an update on what’s going on.

Me and my girlfriend have finally moved to our new apartment, which has drained a lot of energy, but more importantly, taken a lot of time, that would otherwise have been spent on my own writing and updating the blog.

I have a tendency to beat myself up over having excuses like this, but I just have to take it this time. This move has been the number one priority, and that is fine! That is “life” getting in the way, which will always happen from time to time.

This does not mean I haven’t been writing. I have produced around 10 000 words in the midst of the moving chaos, but that is a lot less then I would have wished for. Anyhow, nothing to do about that, but to go forward!

So where do I stand right now with the novel?

At about 65 000 words, which is just about halfway according to my outline. I’m a producer/project manager by day, so it didn’t surprise me at all when I realized I’m a hardcore planner. The goal right now, is to have a first draft (around 120 000 words) done before this year ends.

So what is happening at Starbreeze and the world of game development?

Very exciting things, I tell you!

2 weeks ago we released a comic book inspired trailer, and to my delight, I was trusted to be the creative voice for this particular cinematic. I got to write the script, and also direct the whole thing. It was super fun, and I hope to be able to work more with the different cinematics we produce. Check it out here, and let me know what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXkX1QHl_KE

AND

Once a year at Starbreeze (during the month of Payday’s first release date), we launch this event called “Crimefest”. Breaking it down, it means we release eleven free updates for Payday 2, under the course of eleven days. For anyone in the gaming industry reading this: you know how crazy this is 😉

We kicked off this event September 28th by launching a website called “Road to Crimefest”. Go ahead and check it out: http://www.overkillsoftware.com/games/roadtocrimefest/  

Road to Crimefest is a way to get the whole Payday 2 community together. By beating different challenges the community unlocks free content for everyone! As far as I know, this is a unique thing for a game studio to do, and it’s a very cool thing to be a part of. The real event, however, kicks off on the 15th of October and runs until the 24th. That is when the community learns what things they have unlocked.

That period usually means a lot of overtime, which means my writing will take a bit of a beating, but as I said at the start of this post: that is “life”, and it’s okay. I just need to remind myself of that, because I do forget 😉

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And finally, this is the latest addition to the family in our home. Everyone say welcome to Owl-Master!

The Surprises Of Writing

I just finished a scene, where one of my characters created a demon/monster sidekick.
One that does not talk and they are completely alone in the desert.

This was not in my outline.

Having an outline, (for me) basically means I have the whole book written down in chapters, with a brief explanation of what is supposed to happen. This is a separate document, and in my case, it’s around 15 000 words.

When I began to write, I just wrote without thinking anything ahead. That did not work for me. I got lost.

Since I began outlining, the writing got much easier and felt more focused. I know where I’m going with each scene, and what will follow. Sometimes I make changes, of course, as nothing is written in stone. I realize I need an additional scene here, or I need to remove that scene there, and so on.

The demon/monster sidekick? I did not see that one coming at all. Of course, the character in question has always had the tools to do such a thing, but he had never done it before (not in his backstory and not so far in the novel), and he was never supposed to either.

But in his defense: it was an accident.

Trying to write dialogue or any kind of interaction with a thing that does not speak, is not easy, I noticed. I have to rely on head movement and body language as only means to display emotions. That’s all I have to work with. I don’t want the demon/monster to speak, cause, come on, that would be weird. 

Now I have to return my character and his pet-demon. Do they have other plans I don’t know about? Only one way to find out.

The Legendary Midway Slump

So I have heard and read that many authors hit a mid-way slump when working on their novels.

Feelings of doubt start to hit, and questions like: “Is this shit?” and “Will people enjoy this?” begin to pop up.

I have to be honest and say that I did not think that would happen to me. I have been hitting my 1000 word goal like a machine for the last two months. But two weeks ago I became sick with the flu, and since, my writing has suffered.

With each passing day of not writing, I began to blame myself a little by little. Especially when my personal motto is: ass in chair & no excuses.

BUT

This period of self-pity end tonight, I tell you!

I will bloody write at least 1000 words before bedtime, and I don’t care how shitty the words come out (thank the heavens for editing).

So, I guess I have to tell myself that it’s okay to feel this way. No one ever said writing a novel was something easy, and I have to come to terms with the fact that this little bump will only be one of many.

Keep Going

A Random Happening

Today I ran into an old friend that I haven’t seen in many years.

This someone, apparently lives in the same neighborhood as I do (and has been for a while), but not once before have our paths crossed.

Anyhow.

After the usual “What do you do these days” and so on, I mentioned I’m writing a novel. She asked what kind, and I said:
“I guess fantasy would be the best description.”

“Of course it is,” She said instantly–like it was the most apparent thing in the world–“What else would it be?”

Now the thing is: calling that person a friend is an exaggeration. We know each other, sure, but friends? Not really.
It does however, make me really happy that someone I really don’t know that well, still knows that much about me.
That based solely on who I am as a person, she could reply the way she did.

She is absolutely correct in her statement. For most of my friends that know me well, the answer is obvious. I’m a high-level geek. I love things that are creative and stretch far beyond the confines of our own reality. It’s not about escapism for me, and it never has been. It’s about experiencing feelings that hit the “geek” vein; the same one that makes me get goosebumps when watching a cool trailer, or forces me to call a friend and share my joy after reading an awesome book.

Why do I label myself as a geek? Easy.

Penn & Paper role playing games? Check.
Warhammer? Check.
Magic the Gathering? Check.
Pokemon? Check.
Comics? Check.
Video games? Check.

And so on, and so forth.

This little anecdote doesn’t really have a point, besides the fact that I felt really proud after this encounter. Proud that something that makes me who I am, is so very obvious, even for a person that doesn’t really know me that well.

Belzebub - ImgurPS. Sometimes I make these pictures, and if I’m forced to draw them, you are forced to look at them!