Oh look, another goddamn writer's blog...

I'm a bad blogger. No, no, it's true. Really, I am. I began this little foray, this meager attempt at carving out some small corner of the web for myself, with good intentions. I had ideas. Columns, articles, updates, links to stories, an entire CV of writings to share and thoughts to ramble. It went OK at first, then dribbled away in starts and fits, and then...silence. I made a promise to return and to do better, much like I am now, but I lacked the follow through. And in all honesty, I probably will again. But that's for then, not now. Although this blog certainly doesn't reflect it, I have been quite busy since the last post.

I had a few more articles published for Patch and some reviews in Graphic Novel Reporter. A start-up newspaper I was slated to write for lost an investor and went belly up after my first article appeared. So luckily, or at least as far as the bill collectors are concerned, my day job went full-time. It happened a bit sooner than I had anticipated, thankfully, after a pretty rough patch amongst my co-workers and office mates. Basically, life trumped blog.

At some point over the summer, late July/early August, I got it into my head to turn back to fiction. Back in high school and college, more than a decade ago now, I found my passion in creative writing, but barely looked at it as more than a hobby. I wrote a novel, which hit the world with...well...absolutely nothing. It sucked. Badly. I had deluded myself into thinking it'd make me the next Michael Connelly or Dennis Lehane, and shopped it around to some agents who roundly rejected it (rightfully so). Now, I look back on some of the segments (or rather, keenly remember with horrifying dread some of those segment, because the manuscript is long since gone. Shredded, burned, and scattered to the wind as should happen to all of my stark, woeful embarrassments) with dread, almost a panicky worry. What the fuck had I been thinking? Was I delirious? Possessed? Brain damaged?

Granted, brain damage may actually be accurate. It would explain a lot, actually... Anywho...

In the intervening years, I wrote a few short stories and even had one published in Revelation, a post-apocalyptic mag from indie publishers Fourth Horseman Press. Issue 1.4, June 2004. Still available for order, even. I started picking at the bones of an idea for a second novel, which worked out about as well as my blogging and eventually grew unwieldy and incomprehensibly stupid and mundane. Let me reiterate: it worked out about as well as my blogging. It may not have been worse than my first novel, but I'm pretty sure it was close.

After bashing my skull against the brick wall of another part-time, dead-end day job I went back to school and enrolled in a journalism program. I can't even begin to express how rewarding that was, and I was even met with some acclaim by my department when I was named Intern of the Year for my work at Press & Guide. I had a big-name local news writer tell me I was good, damn good. It was an incredible ego boost and a much need compliment to help justify my own writerly whims. I had a healthy stint as the photo editor and sometimes-writer for our college rag, The Michigan Journal, before going freelance. Still, those basic ideas of that lost and forgotten second novel tugged at me, always locked away in the back of my head.

Over the summer, enough was enough. It had grown too strong. Although I am an office-monkey by day, and it pays the bills, there's writer in my blood and I set to clacking away a short story. It was going to be a prelude to a novel, a small primer, a little treat to give readers prior to the actual novel's release. Or at least that was part of the vague, hazy idea. Mostly, it was just to get my juices flowing and try to get back into the groove of getting creative. So, I wrote. And wrote, and wrote. The ideas came unbidden, and usually required tremendous amounts of research on everything from the chemical reactions of memory formation to subway schematics and DARPA research.

My short story grew into a full fucking novel over the course of five months and I crammed in as much writing as I could, wherever I could find it. Early morning, before work, or during breaks, or on weekends when I had free time to juggle. Until finally, on January 22, 2012, I typed THE END. The final two of more than 86,000 words.

My book, Convergence, is finished. Kind of. OK, no it's not. Not really. Maybe not at all. The first draft is done, and it was a beast. Now I get to turn towards editing the bitch. Had it printed up, too, so I could attack with a furious red pen and scar it, old-school style, like they taught us in copy editing. Make those words bleed.

After all this time in front of the computer, there's something immensely rewarding about holding the physical manuscript in my hands and feeling the weight of it. Now comes the hard part. The critical part. The editing and carving and shaping and molding. Lots to do still, miles to go. I learned a lot from my previous efforts (failures), and I've grown a lot more confident in my writing over the years, became more comfortable with my voice and style. The point is, I've grown, I've learned and adapted, and that's really the most important part of being a writer, I think. It's a harsh gig and it can kill you if you let it. There's a lot of shit to wade through, like rejections and criticism, but it's all about persevering. Learn, grow, write. You can set the pen down for a little while, but if you're going to write you have to, you know, write. No shit.

So, on with the edits. 86,000+ words...there might actually be a goddamn book in there somewhere.

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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