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Blog#6 – The Dreamers of the Day

November 11, 2021

A line in the recent Dune film adaptation fills my head this morning, said by Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho.

“Dreams make good stories, but everything important happens in the day, because that’s when we’re awake, and that’s when we make things happen.”

It lines up nicely from a much older quote I heard in the Uncharted video game series that is from T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia:

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.”

Why am I bringing this up? Well, As many of you know who read this, I was accepted into the New York Pitch Convention late last week (I had mentioned this in Blog#5). It is a big deal for me, and it marks a real milestone in transition for me. For many years, I considered becoming an author a dream, and for many years I let that dream sit in its comfy chair at night, and I didn’t dare expose it to the brutal outside world for fear that it would take it and swallow it up, and that I would be left with nothing. The event is the biggest transitory moment in my shift to date. It doesn’t just force the dream out of that comfy chair, it thrusts it within full view of a brutal, glaring sun that will expose all its flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It is also the only way to move forward. Dreams can stay dreams, all nice and cozied up in your mind, but if you want to make them a reality, you have to see the bad in them as well as the good. You have to make your dream REAL, and not just a fantasy. That’s where a good story is born: when an idea meets reality, and dukes it out. This is what makes me dangerous: because I’m signing up to examine the flaws of deepest hopes, and have resolved to come out of the other side as only the sum of myself, not letting one aspect overwhelm or discourage me.

I hope you all like reading these blogs. If you haven’t guessed, quite a bit of them are done for me too. I need to remind myself of these constructs within myself, lest I do get overwhelmed by the task in front of me. The Pitching is only 22 days away, and I have SO MUCH TO DO to be as ready as I can be for it, that last night, I got well and truly overwhelmed.

For posterity’s sake, here’s a broad list of what I NEED to accomplish before December 1st:

  • Afflicted, the Sanderson ‘final draft’ – cutting 10% of the book, final checks, and getting the last remnants of passive voice out of the manuscript.
  • Exercises for the faculty of the conference so that they can see your project critically broken down into commercial selling points.
  • Learn how Publishers want to receive a pitch, and then write an effective one.

A list with only three things? Easy right? WRONG. Let’s deconstruct all of this:

  1. Afflicted, the Sanderson ‘final draft’ – cutting 10% of the book, final checks, and getting the last remnants of passive voice out of the manuscript.
  • This means reviewing every single chapter of the book. All 75. All 237,000 words.
  • This means finding a way to cut 23,700 of those words (if possible). This leads into my ‘areas of attention’ below, and in my attempt to ‘tighten’ some chapters, I have merged 1 chapter with another and cut out a bunch of words, and am currently doing the same thing to another. It is hard, mentally taxing work.
  • This means reading an entire novel, that I’ve read over and over and over and over and over again, one more time, and being thoroughly brutal with it. Any emotional ties to good dialogue or scenes? If they don’t fit, are too passive, or could go somewhere else: CHOP.
  • This means looking back on my last edit critically, and my notes made at the time. I knew there were certain sections that I was unhappy with, that I resolved to fix if “a real opportunity arises”. Well fuck boys, a real opportunity has arisen, and now I’m scrambling. Lucky for me, I know the ‘areas of attention’ as I call them, only involve about 5 chapters out of 75, but it does mean doing another edited re-write, making sure it’s actually good writing, with continuity of story intact. It is draining.
  • This means identifying true passive passages, which I know still exist even though I edited most of them out, and figuring out ways to make these passages into active conversational dialogue, or active inner voice thought at an appropriate moment. It means paying attention. Mentally draining.

2. Exercises for the faculty of the conference so that they can see your project critically broken down into commercial selling points.

  • I get these are necessary, and I also get that pretty much every other writer going to this conference applied and got accepted months before me, so they’ve had time to do this stuff. I think if I didn’t feel like I needed to do Point 1, I would be fine with this. I tried to do the main exercise they sent over last night – admittedly, after about 10 hours writing, at 10pm, and was kicked in the ass and felt really stupid. I know the ‘feeling stupid’ part is my own issue – for context, I often feel like other writers are much smarter with words and grammar than me, and it makes me feel stupid – but it really wasn’t what I needed, especially in the middle of two chapter re-dos. Sigh. I’ve resolved to come back to this later next week, when I should be well on my way through Afflicted’s review, and feeling much more prepared than I am now.

3. Learn how Publishers want to receive a pitch, and then write an effective one.

  • I say ‘learn how publishers want to receive a pitch’ because, well, this is the writing industry, not the TV industry. I’ve written a TV pitch before, and felt like it was highly effective. The faculty have provided good materials to use as guidelines, but I still have to both learn how to pitch a novel, then actually write out that pitch, fine tune it and practice it. Somehow, I have to fit this into a 5 day block (and its prolly going to be over Thanksgiving, boo.)

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed just writing all this out. I know I’ll feel better the more I progress through the Afflicted draft, but right now I feel like I’m an idiot for not starting this sooner, but then remember that I didn’t even think I was going to be accepted into this Conference in the first place. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So, back to the quotes. I laid this all out for my Mom, and my Wife, highlighting to them both the amount of work that needs to get done. I also said that it’s OK, that all I can do is just get up every day and do the work, and that results will come from that. Making a dream into a reality always requires a lot of work and dedication, and all of that happens when we’re awake, because we need to make a conscious choice to do that work, to make that effort: to commit to the reality of the dream. I’m overwhelmed now, but I’ll keep working, and the more I work, the easier things will be to manage, and the rosier the outlook will become. The more I work, the more confident I will feel when surrounded by industry professionals whose job is to weed out the bad and tell you your story sucks. The more I invest, the higher the likelihood (even if its .1%) that I’ll convince someone to invest in me.

For people reading this: if there’s something that you want in life, that seems infinitely out of reach to you; something that you dream of doing, or wanting etc. I know you don’t want to hear this, but the first step is acknowledging that at first you’re going to suck at it, but with consistent work and dedication, you’ll suck less, and if you want it badly enough, you will find a way to bring that dream across the void into reality’s harsh glare. For what its worth, I believe in you. If I can have a chance of making this writing succeed, just think of what you can do. Saying that, a degree of confidence is also needed in this endeavor, which can be tough to both find and maintain.  Confidence plays such a huge part in life, and especially in my own and what’s to come, and I admit it is struggle every day to remain confident in myself, especially when it is your job to be your own biggest critic. A novel review is to point out what you’ve done wrong, and I believe that I would be doing myself a disservice if I wasn’t brutally honest with my work. Which sucks, at the same time, because you’re essentially calling yourself shit. It is important to celebrate the good part of the book too, VERY important…it balances things out somewhat. I’ve learnt there’s a difference between being ‘unhappy’ with a chapter’, and just realizing it needs a quick edit, or seeing that it is just fine the way it is.


Alright folks that the end of the main post. Despite the workload, I am beyond thrilled for New York. It is an incredible opportunity, and another step on my quest to dream in the day. If you have any questions for me, or just want to say hi, drop by reddit, twitter or instagram on the links below. Today I am taking a half day off of my crazy  workload to go to the outlet mall with my wife and pick up a couple things for NY. When we get back in the afternoon though, it is full speed ahead once more.

EDIT – I have added an updated version to the sample chapter on the website
Afflicted Part 1 Sample Chapter – it is below the old version, if you feel like reading them side by side and letting me know which one you prefer, I’d be grateful. the second one is following some professional change advice, the first one is just me vibing.

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