Fear in Succeeding

I’m over a dozen chapters into “my book” now, and the characters and their issues are becoming important to me. They are an investment in time and effort and as they move forward, I am feeling responsible for doing right by them. Right now, I’m hovering at an important chapter and I’m afraid to start it. What if I start the first sentence with the wrong word, and then that leads to the wrong first paragraph, and then by the end of the first page, my book has gone somewhere other than where it should have gone? Because I started with the wrong word, maybe because I had a coffee instead of a tea, or because I watched Youtube videos last night until one in the morning, instead of getting a bit more sleep.

How do writers ensure they write their best thing, rather than their second-best or seventh-best thing? How do they know when to write and when not to write?

I started writing this story as a challenge to just get words out in some sort of volume within some time frame. This meant I succeeded as long as I hit a word count by a certain date. The story didn’t need to be great – it needed to be readable enough and of a certain length. This freed me up to not care about writing my best stuff at all times… but it was a trap! Once I was several chapters in, I wanted the story to be good, and to continue being as good as I could make it, no matter how many words, over what period of time.

I now have all the time in the world to procrastinate on chapter 15 if I want, because the word-count challenge is over. I succeeded at that. Chapter 15 can remain unwritten for a year, if I want to leave it that long. Or I can start it right now, and force it out by the end of the day. I can write it and then throw it away and then start again, a dozen times. There is no measure of success except the ones I choose. Even joining the word count challenge was just a choice.

I’m afraid of ruining my characters’ stories now. I don’t know how to measure that.

The only insight I can offer into my own question is that a book can’t write itself. I have to start typing, and then something will come out, and whatever that is will be a product of what I’ve put into myself lately: Youtube videos, muffins, coffee, exercise, anxiety, hope. The book is not separate from me at all, but an extension. The characters as well. My job as a writer is to make them their own, as best I can, but really they are still just projections of what I’m thinking and feeling and learning as I write. What else could they be? This means I can try controlling where it will all go, but those plans of mine may only take me so far – at some point, my day-to-day life will take the wheel, and the characters’ lives will be steered in new directions.

For example, Chapter 13 only happened because of something that was going on in my life during that particular week. But chapter 13 became a major insight into one of the secondary characters – the mother of the protagonist. Something not entirely under my control, happening in my own life, has clarified something very important about my book’s main character, right about when the book maybe needed that to happen. This changes everything going forward, hopefully for the better. What would have happened to my character’s backstory, and therefore future, had something altogether different happened to me that week?

I’m talking about something anyone who has written a book likely already understands. There’s nothing new here: write what you know. That’s what they say. I never really understood what this meant, but maybe this is what it meant: don’t pretend to be somebody else, when you’re writing. It doesn’t mean you have to know how to cast magic spells, in order to write about wizards; that’s not what write what you know means. I think it just means, let your own life into your writing. Then your writing can have real life.

Notice I’ve not spent this morning writing chapter 15 – I’m writing about not writing chapter 15 quite yet. I’m excited and nervous. I want these characters to overcome and to grow beyond what they started out being. What do they need me to experience next, for these things to happen for them? If they are extensions of me, then maybe the answer is simpler than I think. What do I need to do right now? My legs want to go for a walk. So I guess that’s what I’ll do. Chapter 15 will happen when it happens. When else could it possibly happen?

A/B, Animals, faith, Opinion



You sent us dogs so that on mornings when we might decide to hide out by sleeping in, we instead must walk the dog – the one who might otherwise need to take a poo on the kitchen floor.

They get us out our own front door – and that is what best friends are for.

Amen, and thanks again for all the dogs,


A/B, Decision, faith, Information, Opinion

Ode to the Bots Who Follow My Blog

And the Alts and Such Too: I Should Not Forget You…

These days, it is impossibly hard to know what is real, and what is not-so real.

I know real people are real, and feelings are real… and thoughts are real (at least to other thoughts).

But are the Bots?

Who has created the creations that convince me I’m being followed here? Should I write to the created, the creator? Or neither, or both?

How many real people on the real Internet of Things have at some point wondered if I, too, am not who they think that I say that I am?

I could give you my street address, and my health card information, and tell you where I grew up and who my childhood best friend’s name was, or is.

I could tell you my phone number.

I could send you a photo.

But what would any of that do, but appeal my improvable reality, to you?

My name is not BB Butterwell – it’s Mike. I might erase that later, because on here, I like being BB. I miss my own grandmothers and so I guess she’s the grandmother I would have been, had I been one to be. So I will be BB. At least here. Don’t tell anyone.

That doesn’t mean I’m an Alt though, with a capital A – or a Bot, with the B. Not in the way those things are often used on the Internet anyhow – to make people wonder about their situation, and who’s watching, and why. To question their metrics. My alt is a vanilla pseudonym. I don’t mind saying it. You just have to read my posts and eventually you’ll find the cross-linkiness. There is no additional subterfuge beyond that.

But of course you can’t know that, can you? “Mike” is a pretty suspiciously common name, isn’t it? Blame my parents. Also, I’m named after a frickin archangel. I will not complain, because, if nothing else, I do not wish to be rude to archangels. I will share and shorten his name, sure thing.

I’ll tell you my plan for this blog: I’m going to eventually remove all the clues as to who BB is, and let the Reader assume she’s BB, and not me. I’ll try writing more as though I’m older. Some small number of exceptional folk who found this blog first will know I’m actually Mike, and that will be the joke.

I’m not really a comedian. Maybe that’s funny, I don’t know.

I’ve had two beers. This might be why I’m writing like this. I have been cutting back, so apparently I’m now quite efficient at getting a buzz on.

I did not say BB was a Teetotaller.

This post went off on its own rails.

I hope you’re staying safe.

You’re a good person.

How do I know?

I just do.

A/B, Decision, Letters, Wonder

Writing One or More Moiras

The other night, I dreamt that I should “write a moira”.

When I awoke enough to realize this, I had the choice of either drifting back to sleep (and almost certainly forgetting this dreamt suggestion), or else getting myself out of bed long enough to Google whether a “moira” was some kind of thing one could write – perhaps it was an acronym for something that could be written. Technical jargon, is what I imaged it might be. I chose to get up and Google it.

“Writing a Moira” of course returns results either about or otherwise from writers named Moira. There were no immediate recommendations on how to write one – just confirmation that quite a few of them were already out there writing, or being written about, or both.

Today, on a hunch, I looked to see if “moira” might also be a writeable noun, and it turns out that it kind of is.

So I am now left to wonder whether I have been told to write to someone named Moira (and if so, which one of the myriad of Moiras?), or just write a moira – a destiny (and if so, whose, and to what end?)

This dream fragment is compellingly open-ended one for interpretation, and so I must now consider carefully how to now best proceed with this assignment.

Since Life often seems to be an A/B decision, I should first decide whether I am asked to write a destiny (a “moira”, the singular of moirai, or Fates), or else write (that is, write to) someone named Moira.

The dream did not say to write several Moiras (or moirai) – it told to to write a moira… but then presumably left it up to me (and/or you) to decide which kind of [M|m]oira it meant, and then, which one to write (or write to).

And so then, what would you do?

A) Write to a real person named Moira
B) Write into existence a moira about a fictional person