Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Life Is A Highway": An Introduction


With this post, I'm introducing a new feature which will hopefully (and properly) motivate me to get of my fat backside and start writing again: sharing my second novel.

Much like the short stories I posted last year, this will be done on a weekly basis. My plan is simple right, simple he says : 1) keep people up to date on the novel's progress; 2) solicit advice, opinions and whatever else happens to strike the fancy of the people who read my blog; and 3) talk until I'm blue in the face about it, in the hopes that I can get this thing done by the summer.

So as to get the ball rolling, I'll start out by delivering some back story on the novel.

Back in 2006, I was at my creative zenith. I had finished writing my first novel by early March and was well into the process of writing multiple types of short stories. By the end of the summer, I had about five stories, of varying degrees of length, written out and completed.

While waiting for the tortuously long process of using an agent to sell my novel (who I ultimately decided to drop in late 2007), I decided to start work on my second novel. The topic was simple enough: write about the dark side of relationships.

However, as everyone out there is undoubtedly aware of, no matter what avenue of the arts you're pursuing (writing books, music, stories, blogs, etc.) it's hard to get a start on things when originality is a necessity.

Since being 100% original was out of the question, I decided on the next best thing: 50% original. I gathered up all my stories and gave them the once over. Since the theme of bad relationships was the one constant in all of them, I decided to make a novel featuring them. To make it interesting, I decided to give the novel a Twilight Zone (or Night Gallery) twist. I wrote about a half dozen two to three page short stories that interconnected with the longer ones. And for fun, I wrote them in the second point of view ex: You are walking towards the elevator and for extra ha-ha's, I inserted the reader directly into both the connecting stories and the main stories.

The other problem that I had was what to title the book. That was solved on a Saturday morning trip running a few errands, when the song Life Is A Highway was playing on the radio at one point during my trip.

Viola, a novel was born.

In essence, here are the main components to my novel, which I will elaborate more fully on in the coming weeks/months:

1) The running theme is the dark side of relationships.
2) The connecting short stories are all titled "Exit", followed by the appropriate number.
3) The reader is inserted directly (hopefully) into the stories as the main character throughout the novel.
4) The connecting stories, which have a Twilight Zone/Night Gallery feel to them, are mostly written in the second person.

I'm hoping to have a total of six medium-to-long short stories and about ten to twelve connecting stories.

In the coming weeks, I will be elaborating on the various stories I've written for the novel, as well the overall theme and progress that I'm making on it as well.

Hopefully, you'll learn a little more about what makes me tick as a writer and as a person.

In any event, get ready for a fascinating trip down the highway of my life. It's sure to leave you scratching your head when all is said and done.


  1. Do you ever worry that you'll talk yourself too much through the novel? I have found that if I talk out a story or even "think" out a story too completely the urge to write it is gone.

    It is interesting to see how a novelist works, though.

  2. Sometimes.

    The most recent example I can think of was back in '07, when I started one particular short story.

    I mentally explored so many different points with it, that I wound up writing myself into a corner after 35 pages. I messed myself up so bad that I wound up exploring chat rooms, just so I would have something to take my mind off my writing.

    The rest they say, is history.

    In any event, giving periodic updates I think, will be the exact kick in the pants that I need to get myself motivated again.

    If there is one thing I don't like to do in my life, is to disappoint people. I can't stand it when I let someone down due to my inaction. I rather give it my best shot than to not give it at all.

  3. this is sounding interesting. I wish I had this type of creativity and skill. I will be checking in from time to time to see how things are going.

  4. Thanks.

    I appreciate the fact that you're interested enough to follow me on my journey of writing.

    And don't down yourself. Anyone that can run a blog, a website and a journal/novel is exceptionally creative and skillful in my book.

  5. Sounds kind of like an itinerary, which I find great to help keep things on track. Good luck!

  6. Thanks.

    Gotta have something that helps keep me focused and I think this will help me do just that.

  7. I have come to your blog from Mr. Travis Ervin's Blog.

    I have read some of your posts and would like to revisit.

    If you like reading short stories from an Indian writer, then a visit to my blogs would be an interesting one for you.

    Naval Langa
    Another Interesting Blog

  8. Thanks for the compliment and for the tips.

    I may give those a look see in the coming days.

  9. Good luck Georgie!

    I'll be reading them.

  10. Thanks Kyle.

    If anything, people will get interesting look on how a writer writes.

  11. Mr. Gramlich said that talking about a story too much ruined his urge to write the story.

    I used to write short stories and enter them in writing competitions, and I read once that you should't discuss the plot of a story you're working on with anyone because then you will feel like you've already written it.

    I used to "write" the whole plot of a story in my head while walking the dog and then I felt like it was too much work to sit down and write it again on paper.

    George, I will be interested in seeing how you interweave all those short stories. Good luck.


  12. Interesting. I never knew that about you (then again, I never asked you about your personal life).

    I find that working out a plot line in your mind sometimes helps free up whatever point you happen to be stuck on.

    In the case of this particular novel, even though the stories seem to be unrelated, they'll still have that running theme of darkness in them.

    I do have a few things done so far with this novel, so it's definitely not being started from scratch (well, almost not).

  13. I've been writing since I was a kid and magazines were still printing short fiction.
    I'm a pretty good cartoonist too.

    I find it best to keep personal details off of Topix. I've only mentioned my job twice in almost 2 years and both times a got ripped on different threads by jerks who found the information. I once mentioned my mom had passed and a jerk even made a crack about that item. People who have it in for you will read your stuff even if they don't participate on the thread, but I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

    I ruminate on plots for a long time but I have to avoid actually "writing" anything in my head before setting it to paper.

    As of this date I have never been published...but I try. Cool frog, by the way.


  14. Hmmm....

    As you well know, most of my life has been posted in some shape, way or form on Topix.

    However, being at least 1 1/2 years removed from the last serious damage done to me with my personal info, has afforded me the luxury of being able to sniff out trolls pretty easily.

    There are only a few people left from that time frame who still post on Topix, and for the most part, are either friends who have been there from day one, or are enemies who have been there from day one.

    I have a pretty good photographic memory, so whenever someone says something personal about me, I can tell right away whether its someone from my distant past, or someone from my present. It all depends on what the person says.

    But I digress.

    The short to medium fiction has now moved to literary journals and e-zines. There are a slew of them out there that you can submit your stuff to.

    Glimmer Train has quite a few contests running throughout the year that you should check out.

  15. Glimmer Train sends updates through my e-mail, also there's American Fiction and I sometimes send stuff to Writer's Journal. There's another writing mag, Writer's Digest I think, that has an annual short-short story competition that I like to enter. 1500 words or less.

    I haven't written for a couple of years though because both my parents got sick and died along with a grandmother who had lived with them for many years. It's been a sad couple of years. Depressing even. I just recently scribbled my first rough draft in nearly 2 years.

    As for Topix, what pisses me is when someone takes stuff I've written and goes to a thread I'm not even on to bash me with the info. I find it because people post links or I just happen to drop by the thread. This one guy was writing whole trash posts about my being a pilot and I didn't even know about them because I hadn't been on the thread before. Very cowardly. Your "buddy" seems to have gone quiet.


  16. Boulevard and New Letters are a couple of others that have yearly contests, too.

    I forgot to ask: what genre do you write in?

    Only reason I ask, is so that I can point you into other possible directions for getting published.

    As for my "buddy", I'm not too worried. I got my eye out for them, as well as everyone else's eyes.

  17. will be very interesting to see how it all works out in the Second Person. I've had the thought of attempting something in that form in the back of mind for a few months - maybe a short story, nothing ambitious. I'm not really a short story person...not sure what I am really just finding my feet really.

    It sounds an ambitious project but certainly very interesting; I'll watch out for next installment.

  18. Hi George,

    I write mostly plain fiction and some creative non-fiction. Just regular stuff. Not romance, not horror or sci-fi. I'd like to try to do some mystery writing.

    You describe your writing as looking at the dark side of relationships, so do you consider it romance? Or fiction? What's your genre preference?


  19. Jane: It does, but I'm up to the challenge.

    I have, on occasion, gotten bored while writing and have searched for ways to challenge myself. For a period of time, I would start off my short stories with a false ending, then write up to that ending and beyond.

    With this particular novel, I wanted to find a way to interconnect the stories, and as usual, I wanted to try it a little differently. Hence, writing the stories in the 2nd person. I have five written already which I'll elaborate on in the coming weeks.

    Truth: I consider it straight fiction, with a leaning towards the real world more than anything else. No real genre to speak of. I don't think it can be called romance, because that would imply that my stuff contains a happy ending in it somewhere.

    I have considered it be a bit on the pulpy side, but I'm trying to find a good balance between too much sex and violence and too little sex and violence.


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

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