30 Days of Balance #18: Naming Conventions

Ever since I was little, naming things was one of my favourite things to do. Video games for the Nintendo or Sega systems that did not include naming your hero, or *gasp* had only THREE spaces for your handle, were judged accordingly. Names like EYE, ORB, MrT, and POO were only entertaining for so long. The longer the allowed spaces for a name, the happier I was. For example, I LOVED Nintendo’s unicycle racing game Uniracers principally because it allowed me 12 characters with which to concoct epic names. Friends who were less creatively inclined would get me to name their heroes, too. It was a big deal to me.

I think it stemmed from loving maps as per this post from earlier in the Days of Balance. When you create lots of fantastical worlds from maps, you have to name things – and you eventually get a grip on what you like in an original name and what you dislike. Practice makes perfect, as teachers like myself sometimes say.

Many of the names in Imbalance are drawn from names that came before. I named a friend’s Diablo hero ‘Csarvenvoroth’ once and we laughed at its length while still thinking it sounded cool. Later I would shorten this down to ‘Csarvent’ the capital of the Thynlands. The longer form is even tucked in there in Orenzo’s grandmother’s book, as ‘Csarventhyl’. Yet more names had their origins in the Warcraft III book I wrote in high school – including the capital of Banor, Axhold, from the name ‘Axhind’; Gilche’s crony ‘Kharagon’ in Grip of Dust; and even ‘Rafien’ came before, although adopted to a much different purpose than being an Orc. Greatly transformed, that one.

I take great pride in my names. I think an excellent name can draw a character out of the blue. For example, starting to write Grip of Dust over a year ago I had to construct the sceptre of Csarvent and his family. I composed the following names:

  • (Sceptre) Cedgar Tolman
  • Erie Tolman (Chentry)
  • Hoskar (Hoss) Tolman
  • Lia Tolman
  • Kryloak Tolman

Okay, cool, so we’ve got the sceptre and heart-of-the-sceptre, plus her maiden name. Sound like monarchs, sure. Then Cedgar’s brother Hoskar, called ‘Hoss’, I can totally picture this gruff fellow. Gotcha. Lia Tolman… probably a younger girl, and… Kryloak.

What a damn cool name. Kryloak. Kryloak Tolman. I could not let this beautiful name be a footnote in the family lineage of the Csaventi sceptre. There is a story to be told for this Kryloak. No space in Grip of Dust besides the anticipated use of the royal family. I am currently adopting her character to Book Three for a story arc requiring a young heroine and feel entirely justified in the process.

As a final note, I’ll say this. Keep your names handy. Use them. Reuse them. Recycle them if they spark excitement. Just never make them illustrate something about the person themselves – unless a nickname. I remember a discussion in Writer’s Craft class in university wherein a fellow student suggested a girl rename her hero from (something like) ‘Samantha McNeil’ to ‘Samantha Lions’ to help illustrate how she was a strong, courageous, lion-ly person. Puh-lease.

I named my next character ‘Jon Martyr.’

JM

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30 Days of Balance #15: Writing Women

I wanted to watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights while on a field trip in middle school. We were on a bus from Toronto to Montreal and had plenty of hours to fill. Those of us clever enough to have hauled out our VHS stash would get a chance to see their favourite movies played for a whole bus load of Vesuvian hormones. I was first in line, Mel Brooks clutched safely to my chest.

The teacher responsible for adjudicating over the choice was the school’s noted feminist (more rare in its overt form back in the mid-90s) Mrs. V. She was the homeroom teacher for about half my friends but not I, and had recently shaved her head for cancer research. She glared down at the clunky rectangle I offered her and asked, “What are the women’s roles?”

I was forced to eventually answer: a princess, a matron, and a witch.

Not long after I was watching Dave Chappelle and co. get silly to the many hearty guffaws of my peers, but I did not forget her snort of disgust – nor the brief internal struggle writ across her face. As a teacher she had no real recourse but to let us watch the movie – it was PG and light-hearted and contained nothing objectionable from a censors point of view – but as someone fighting to educate us on gender roles, she knew the three labels above were rudimentary stereotypes.

Now, writing women, I try not to think of any of it. I don’t want outside influences affecting my choices with what they do, what role they play, or their place within my world. I want the only difference to be a care that I am not. See, as a man it can be dicey – to write a woman exactly as I would write a man is to drift over that which makes her female, but to write a woman as a man sees women can undo accuracy the same way I don’t believe I am at all like how a woman views a typical man. As such, it is a craft to write the opposite sex. One that succeeds or fails on its realism (forced ‘strong women’ are every bit as two-dimensional as a ’60s Disney damsel, for example).

This ‘realism’ stems from the root beliefs of the author. To build a unique and vibrant character of either gender requires the recognition that such people exist in either gender. Those unable to tap into such a base will no doubt create artificial copies. I have faith that I can ‘not think of any of it’ because I trust my inner self to naturally create women who might be strong or might be weak – but are always invested. It is my belief Avery Shim ta Salm, Asma Madrejingo, Minette Cullas-Kloss, Corporal Eunice and Emerlyse drive home this message.

Back in the day Mrs. V. was quite the character and she made me think. I aim for my daughter to read characters who do the very same.

JM

30 Days of Balance #13: A World Birthed From Documents

While much of Imbalance was born from ideas formed observing an initial map, the concepts behind the series were maintained by a series of documents designed to assist me in documenting the world. There are likely entire programs in existence now for just such documentation, designed with purpose to make a creator’s life easier, but I began the process so long ago I have simply continued to use what has worked for me rather than stopping to improve my systems. You know, similar to how George R. R. Martin still writes A Song of Ice and Fire on software from the 1980s.

1. The Almanac

The Almanac is the series bible. It contains every bit of information created for Purge of Ashes and beyond to ensure continuity across all pages, chapters, books, and formats. This spreadsheet has 16 tabs: Characters, Army, World, Peoples, Nations, Terms, Phrases, Unique Names, Religion, Chakka, Geo, Fauna, Basics, Weapons, Military and Medieval – with some of the headings shortened so they all fit on a single page without need of a scroll bar. A typical tab contains all the information on the subject cited – so, for example, ‘Geo’ breaks down terminology and details for various locations across the map, including a catch-all for ‘man-made’ structures and places. It keeps track of which areas feature what topography and the correlated types of trees and vegetation. A few other tabs are unique. The ‘Army’ tab features a grid of soldier names from the Loce Freelancers, third division, and is updated at particular intervals wherein the listings change. ‘Nations’ contains plenty of objective data about different parts of the world, some of which can be found in my ‘World’ section here online. Finally, the ‘Characters’ tab keeps track of every original name mentioned in the book, be they many-detailed principal characters like Orenzo Madleej or few-detailed throw-away characters like Masterchef D’al.

2. The Chapter Breakdowns

This spreadsheet lists all point of view characters on the left and shows the division of their page count across all 25 chapters of the novel on the right. In other words, it is a rolling counter of who is getting the most ‘headspace’ time per chapter and gives you a sense of who is most central to your story. Since it is divided by chapter, it also demonstrates how long it has been since we last heard this character’s point of view. The results are tallied in a column on the far right, illustrating the final division of mental labour. It also keeps track of when characters have anything similar to a flashback for quick navigation later. I break things down by the quarter page.

3. The Divisions

A succession of milestones both intimidating and inspiring, whenever I finish a point of view, I hop over to the Divisions page to chalk up another completed section. This document divides into the various points of view that comprise each chapter, listing whose POV we are getting and giving it an arbitrary title and brief description so it is immediately identifiable. Since the section is done, I can also fill in how many pages this perspective ate. Before I start writing a new novel I also use this document to record every prospective point of view I plan to write, and then add, take away, or reorder based on my current considerations for the novel’s direction. I lay the entirety of a book out in this fashion before beginning. This document also serves as a place to leave reminders of stuff to double check before finalization.

4. The Timeline

A spreadsheet created to ensure flashbacks had accurate ages, the timeline is a blocky document that would be the first to go were I to afford fancy timeline software, which I’m sure exists. Covering the last 100 spans, it uses coloured boxes to denote character ages, with a top bar listing important events of any particular span. As such, I can keep age continuity for any moments new or old, and hopefully prevent the plethora of challenges that come with hopping about in the narrative as much as I do. I also track the two different understandings of the calendar that occur in the world as explained here. Only 58 characters merited a spot on this document, their histories and relevance too important to be left floating. I would greatly enjoy a better document, but the timeline will have to do for now as there is writing and promotion to do.

All of these documents add up to a system that keeps Imbalance on track and in check, ensuring consistency is maintained across the many pages of Purge of Ashes and beyond.

JM

30 Days of Balance #12: The Cracks of the Day vs. Money

On the Fantasy Faction group of Facebook the question recently went out: what do you find most difficult about writing? The answers ranged from not being able to express oneself properly, to not finding the time, to writing certain types of characters, to loneliness. I thought about it for a moment and answered thusly:

Dealing with the contrast between my proven track record of producing day in day out for weeks without hitting a snag and the current financial limitations that prevent this from becoming a day by day reality. Aka the one thing that takes precedence over the work: supporting a family simultaneously.

Writing in the cracks of the day sucks. But if authors have any form of life responsibilities they need to make money. Unless your books are selling like proverbial hot cakes, this eliminates the possibility of writing full time all day every day – and yet this type of time and attention press is exactly what young authors need to see whether they can actually do it. Dabblers write here and there. Authors can fill a day with no reservations. The problem then becomes overcoming that feeling.

For five straight weeks in 2013 I drove my wife to work by 8:20am, got to the local library by 8:30am, read a few chapters in the car (I think I was finishing up Wheel of Time upon Sanderson’s third release), and then at 9:00am found my own space inside. I would write until sometime near lunch, eat a bagged lunch while watching a Futurama episode, then write until 4:15pm. I would pick my wife up at 4:30pm and drive home. Every day except weekends.

Now, plenty of authors can brag this sort of devotion. Devotion by itself does not make for excellent writing. What these weeks did do was prove that I could be productive and happy while writing 40 hours a week while giving Imbalance the unprecedented rate of focus it demands. Achieving this was important. I also got about a quarter of the book done.

I was a full-time teacher. I was paid over those summer holidays. I was paid as if working full time and yet I could write the day away.

It’s a hard habit to kick.

Now the pressures of the day are many, I have no teaching contract that extends over the summer, and my daughter requires attention above and beyond all manner of previous duty. Whenever I work on Grip of Dust I get hit with this malaise of frustration that such boundless time and focus may never again be available to me – that such a blissful writing set-up may never again provide such design alacrity. It casts doubt that I can once again compile such a mass of details during the cracks of the day with so many distractions abound. I know other authors feel my pain – even ones halfway famous. The distance between designated writing time and forced writing time is enough to sink a war galley.

Yet up paddles.

JM

30 Days of Balance #11: Progress to Publication II – Six-Year Challenge

At the end of “Progress to Publication I” I was done with television production but held a great movie script in my hands sure to see no light of day. It became increasingly ignored on the backburner as only the dearest friends would read a movie script. There were no visuals. With only a few words to describe the action, could they ever see what I saw when put together?

I started on a comic with an illustrator while I waited for things to figure themselves out, and when they didn’t took another look at things. The comic was done, but in the end it had taken a long time without any hope of profit looming. Looking at the situation, I realized the proper answer was to work in a medium that was, by definition, a solo act. A way of producing the content I loved without relying on the approval of others or technology I did not know how to use.The answer was writing the movie script back into a novel – one using the script as a skeleton and my further five years of experience reading and writing as the motivation to finish.

What’s more, I had my original version of the book as a template for my first five chapters.

Now, I’ve mentioned my history of not quitting, but this was going to be the biggest challenge yet. Writing a full novelization was going to take a very long time and I was no longer a teen – I had bills and a job and responsibilities. I needed a way to gauge if I was capable of putting in the time to properly execute a full book. I also wanted to use the fact that being young had no bearing on being an author. In television and comics, being young and in the clique was essential to progression, but writing was deemed an older person’s game. It was and is a medium where your product speaks for you in full.

I settled on a 6-year plan to finish the book when I was 33. I figured that at 33 I would still be fairly young, I would be just as happy to have a written novel, and I would have a cut-off age to ensure the project never went into development hell forever. Over the next bunch of years I wrote, and I felt the cap of 6 years was very helpful in keeping me on track. I wrote when I could – sometimes in huge blocks of 8-hour days in a library, other times never for multiple months – but I always felt calm knowing it did not have to be done immediately. I had lots of time. There was no reason to ever feel like a failure if it ground to a halt once in a while. At some point I was going to haul out the gas tank and get moving again.

I finished my first draft of Purge of Ashes when I was 32 – and after numerous edits over the intervening years, found publication at 33, right near the end of my timeline. I will turn 34 eight days before the release date and what an amazing past six years it has been.

And don’t worry – with ‘publication’ replacing the ‘6-year plan’ as my principal motivator, you can rest easy Grip of Dust will not take nearly so long. At the time of this post it is 68,000 words deep.

JM

30 Days of Balance #9: Never Quiting + Warcraft III

People often ask authors how they finish a book, the drudgery of day to day life serving as a constant reminder to them that they have no extra time for anything. Maybe they have started a book and not finished it. Maybe they just quit, or maybe they did not like the product. Maybe they spelled Yale with a 6. Regardless, they want to know. It is a challenge, isn’t it? How do people find the time and the words? What made you think your story was important? (That’s your cynical friend who creates nothing but critiques everything.)

I don’t know about most of it, but the one aspect of writing I feel like I have an exceptional grasp on is never quitting. It’s the element I am certain separates me from these inquiring minds at parties. It’s the single factor I could fall back on when hit with doubt. If you build a history of never quitting on projects – never getting bored and losing what made the idea great to you in the first place – then you will always continue, and thus can count on the fact something will be produced. When you know something will come, then there is no course but to put in the effort to impress. Otherwise there’s no surer path to a premature end. Alas, I have a secret:

I draw strength from Warcraft III.

Probably not what anyone was expecting – yet true. Warcraft III. Yes, a cartoony video game of my youth that I loved to bits, but also something more. It was the title of my first real story.

See, back in Grade 9 and 10 Warcraft III, as producers Blizzard would have it, did not exist. Warcraft II existed and love it to bits. So much so that I set out to write a sequel. Every day after school I would come home and head upstairs to write two pages single-spaced before dinner. I did this for most of Grade 9 and then through the summer and into Grade 10. When I finished, I wrote another one, and when I finished that one I wrote a third one. The combined result was an 111,000 word text document on an old Mac of which I was resolutely proud.

Now, here’s the thing. It may have been woven together with some creativity, but I borrowed half my characters from the video game. I used their map. I used their world. I made spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors galore. I wrote sentences that a grown reader would be incapable of digesting. The end product was rubbish in the real world, and in retrospect, even as far back as university, it was not a story worthy of attention.

Except mine. It inspired me because I finished it.

All 111,000 words. Now, years later, I can barely tell you any details of all this work (I remember a demon arriving mid-air in the middle of a four-nation boat battle, and Deathwing providing a final surprise attack before the final curtain – that’s it), but I can tell you the word count because the knowledge that I finished what I set out to do a year ago – which was like five years adult time – was all that mattered.

If I could finish a quasi-readable story that overtly stole half of its ideas when I was a pubescent teenager with plenty of understandable diversions, what excuse could I have as an aspiring author seven years ago? What, was the fantasy world I constructed from the favourite elements of my reading list not good enough for Azeroth? Were my Imbalance characters of less dimension than computer game NPCs and their cousins from the era of ‘I-can’t-use-commas-properly’? Finishing something of notable size through beginning, journey, and climax was no longer a hurdle. Starting such a project again was a decision made with the confidence that one day I would finish again, and unwavering knowledge that you can is the greatest of motivators.

JM

30 Days of Balance #8: Two Levels: Shakespeare vs. The Simpsons

I have a theory that to be truly great a work of art has to hit on at least two levels – that it has to be able to excel with two separate demographics simultaneously. You cannot just draw from one source for too long or the well runs dry. I came to this conclusion while studying Shakespeare during an American Literacy course over a decade ago.

The premise is so: in the 14th and 15th centuries Shakespeare gained great notoriety for the plays performed in London, most notably at the Globe theater. The design of the Globe separated the audience into two distinct parts: the first were the wealthy, sitting in gilded chairs in front of fancy curtains. They filled most of what we would call the balcony and surrounding walls. The second part was the main floor in front of the stage, which more closely resembled a mosh pit than the orderly chair matrix we would find today. This design created a duality with regards to patronage. On any given performance, the gentry would be bumping shoulders with the commoners on their way to and fro, in line for the bathroom, etc. Back then even being within eyesight of a poor person was likely enough for a lady to faint, so you can imagine that such polar groups all shoved in together was quite a feat.

It only worked because of Shakespeare’s art. Most Shakespeare plays were brilliant in the witty repartee of the time, being inventive in their language and ushering in new terminology. They appealed to the educated in their complexity and vanity both. Most Shakespeare plays also featured baudy sexual humour, racy zingers and violent duels and deaths. They appealed to the masses who wanted a little break from the proprietary decrees of the time period. The content of the plays could be performed once and appeal to two entirely unique groups within the city. When the plays came across to America this sensation was made clear tenfold. The Americans treated them more like traveling circus shows than high art. That aspect was lost in translation (from English to English) but the Yanks loved a good dust up as much as the next state. Magic.

I realized this was mirrored in the brilliance of the modern day Shakespeare: The Simpsons (and dear reader please be mindful of the fact we were barely into the double digits with regards to which Simpsons era I was considering). Here we had a show that was clearly the most creative and hilarious thing on TV being made for an audience that mostly appreciated it when Homer fell down or was SMRT. All around the world The Simpsons became a commercial beast with smart alec Bart and dumb Homer as the lynch pins to the physical comedy, and every other aspect of the writing as the genius riding high on another plane. Harvard comedy writers knowing what would keep them on the air and keep them sane at the same time. Magic.

You might not be surprised to learn I really enjoyed MacHomer.

In fantasy I believe a good book tells a great story, but a great book tells multiple great stories to multiple types of audience. When people read Imbalance I want them to find the aspect of the work that best connects to what they seek in an escape. It could be the slower moments of introspection and manifest emotion. It could be the moments thick with desperate battle and unbridled violence. It could be the rings of history encompassing the present. It could be the depth of tragedy. It could be love. It could be the weaving of all five together.

If so, it could grow to be a novel that can hit on two levels.

JM

30 Days of Balance #6: Value of a Good Ear + Friends

Writing can be very solitary. It can be especially solitary if you’re writing epic fantasy or science fiction wherein the vast majority of plots and terminology are challenging to explain to the general populace. It can be tripley-especially solitary if you’re brand new and none of the people in your life have an inch of respect for your work yet. My work on Imbalance is the same now as it was in the years it took to write and edit, yet thanks to my publishing deal the difference in respect afforded the book is night and day. Once someone in the outside world validates the work it leaps from “yeah, yeah” to “legitimate” overnight. I imagine self-published authors just have to keep pushing forward with this sort of anonymity – at least until a critical mass has read and lauded the release.

Having worked on Imbalance much of my adult life, I came to appreciate three friends of mine in particular who cared enough to listen to my premise and storylines. I’m a talker. These fellows were, principally, listeners. As such, they were well-suited to take it all in, and they already knew me to be a staunch supporter of my own latest projects. The details of the backstory – either told over a few hours of beer, or after badminton, or via questions about my old movie script – bred interest in actually reading Purge of Ashes while most people remained in the dark. These three were my primary beta readers.

I’m writing this post to emphasize the importance of such people – those willing to put faith in you when you have no meter to gauge your faith in yourself. I knew I was proud of the book, that it was very carefully woven, and that it maintained the action-pacing of a feature film. I also knew I read it through rose-tinted glasses and a pervading bravado. To discuss it with others in similar detail as to if we were discussing The Wheel of Time or Malazan Book of the Fallen was integral to realizing it was ready. That I could have a whole conversation with one of these three without mentioning entire story lines – or any character arc in particular – instilled a recognition that there was enough content to merit the page count. Now, friends are friends and not true beta readers – this I know. I think their contributions are just as important but in a different way. Such friends make it worth your while even if every stranger is unimpressed with the book.

They can also confirm that such a scenario is never going to happen.

JM

30 Days of Balance #4: Progress to Publication I – Original Draft + Movie Script

Imbalance was sat on for a very long time. Numerous times. Creativity for me has always been a sine wave and with each high to productivity comes the balancing low. It is not what it used to be, but with each progression towards the finished book, it is far more a product of what it was than not. All the roots came from a map, but at some point words came into play. There is always a first draft. This post is about the first incarnation of Imbalance and Purge of Ashes, between 2003-2007 when it existed first as a student’s fancy and then as a movie script.

The Original Imbalance Book One: Like most good stories, the characters and scenarios for Imbalance were conceived while steering a dragon boat on Little Lake in Peterborough, Ontario. The shorelines were dotted with houses and the air smelled of the Quaker Oats factory upriver. Being out on the water is quite different from sitting on shore and merely observing. Brushed along by the wind, yet bobbing gently atop the water, it is not so hard to forget oneself and one’s simple chore of turning a 22-passenger boat once every few minutes.

When I got home I collected a series of characters first, having pictured my aforementioned map as the homeland and decided what location suited me best for a beginning. Then I began to write…

I check the word count of my original Imbalance from back in 2003 and I see it totals 44,000 words. It is weird and foreign to me. Everything is out of order. People’s names are slightly different. There are five entire chapters dedicated to what I summed up in about three pages of the upcoming release. Plus I had a point of view from the Scalion Legion, which was… different. I also organized the book in an interesting manner. Four sections of five chapters each, plus prologue and epilogue. Each one was named after a location – the same as the upcoming release but adding ‘Hazenma’ between ‘Katolys’ and ‘The Longest Road’ disparities. Additionally, each chapter had a title, and each title was drawn directly from a war metaphor. For example: Chapters 1-5, from ‘Katolys’, where titled: ‘A Flicker’, ‘Embers’, ‘Heat’, ‘Inferno’, ‘Ashes.’ The chapters for Hazenma reflected the process of a blacksmith forging a sword, and so on. The prologue was called ‘Premonitions’ and featured Ronun Thel’s first memory. The epilogue was called ‘Apparitions’ and was likely a Matthew Good Band reference / cool rhyme.

While I scrapped most of this version when I began to write Purge of Ashes in earnest in 2008, I did borrow some of my favourite bits – and certainly many of the scenes flow similar. The very first scene I ever wrote was Kaern playing with fire in the fire pit beside his farmhouse, which lasted a long time before eventually being turned to memories in the release. The Chapter 1 scene with Bale overlooking the Katolyian wharf was not too different then than it is now. Nor our introduction to Aronan. Where these fledgling scenes were most useful, however, was the year prior when I attended a Television Writing & Producing program where I was asked to pen a movie script.

The Movie Script: Since everyone was there to try their hand at learning how to produce television shows, or in my case create adult animated cartoons, no one was too interested in drawing up a whole movie script for this one particular class. It was the odd combination of ‘movie scripts’ and ‘late night’ and slipped aside the objective of most students – myself included. After imploring the class for at least a few scripts before the winter holidays, I decided that while I had no new ideas for full-length movies, I did have one lingering property…

I took what I had written for Imbalance, chopped the ‘Hazenma’ part right down to almost nothing, and then actually finished the story by filling in the finale in the form of a movie script. I found the time over the holidays because… well that’s the glory of being a student, isn’t it? My teacher praised it some, but then he was desperate to encourage more scripts out of the other students, so I took it with a grain of salt. What mattered most was that I really liked some of the choices I made in the final moments of the script. This script also forced me to keep the dialogue short and to the point, which I believe later helped me with some of my favourite lines in the upcoming release. It also kept the pace of the novel fast and action-oriented, a pacing I am proud of amid my many details.

Now, nothing was ever going to happen with this movie script. Let us clarify that. I had not the comprehension to pursue it, and at the time there was a notable lack of interest in fantasy movies from nobodies. There was a notable lack of interest in fantasy movies from anyone. Anyone not named Tolkien or Rowling, anyway.

So that was where I sat in the new year. Cool script, but who cares? It would take at least a year to realize that the collaboration required to make it in TV was beyond my scope and that writing was a medium I could plumb until kingdom come… but that’s a story for Progress to Publication II.

JM

30 Days of Balance #3: Biting My Nails vs. Writing

Some days my biggest adversary is not getting words into the story, obeying timelines or the organization of the almanac, but the wanton destruction I deliver to my own fingernails. See, finger tips are used to type, and unsightly fingernails can often tarnish said tips. A furious amount of carving disguised as cleaning will ruin these functioning appendages to the point of creating ten hyper-sensitive, throbbing extremities – digits no longer capable of pressing keys without exacting an unfair amount of pain. Equally as nasty, the distraction of having a hand up at my mouth keeps me from typing, lending my mind to long gaps in focus where my subconscious is instead hell bent on straightening some calcium deposit.

It does not bode well for an author. A quick Google search reveals few to no hits correlating the two premises and I find this odd. When I had this problem writing essays in university I used to minimize and load up a hockey video game. It took twenty minutes to play and required both hands firmly on the keyboard. The result was twenty minutes without touching my nails. Biting one’s nails is a strange thing to do – but once you start, it is the sensitivity of the area that drives you back without thinking. Fade that sensation and you are set free.

Alas, this tactic is insufficient. I no longer have twenty minutes to so freely spare.

My solution? I may be one of the only authors to wear a pair of gloves while writing. I am all style in a pair of black gloves so tight they almost cut off my wrist circulation – the kind as ideal for snowballs as they are unsatisfactory at keeping wetness at bay. While this is simply happenstance, it serves the tips of my fingers well because I can still type through the material. Despite their overt benefits, I don’t always choose to wear the gloves, usually resulting in stinging regret. Stubbornness? Discomfort? Assumed control over my vice. Whatever the reason, they are a necessity. They may look a little silly, but if I know I’m in for the long haul I make them my first priority. No one requires their authors to look good during.

As of the writing of this post, the mitts are sitting in a clump beside. I assumed I would have no fingernail problems, but my right index and pinky are sore. I don’t really remember causing the damage. Blog posts are one thing – their style is you and quick to fire off. Imbalance is quite another.

If you’re a writer and have the same problem, I’d love to hear from you.