Guess Who’s Starting a Book?

 

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Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash

That’s right, I’m honestly, truly, starting a book. Can you believe it? I sure can, because it’s been the only thing I’ve thought about for the past freakin’ year.

It took me a whole lot of time to just get to this planning stage of writing the book, mostly because the way I talked to myself and others about it was so…negative. I was so afraid to start this book because I didn’t talk myself up enough, didn’t show enough of what I was capable of to those around me, and eventually, started seeing myself as someone who couldn’t actually do it. 

But no more! I’m a whole new woman, now! I had to work through a lot of thoughts that said I wasn’t good enough, and I still have those self-doubts, but they’re now a small voice in the background instead of an obstacle in my way. 

As some of y’all may have seen, I have been very inspired by magical girls/Sailor Moon lately, so the book I’ll be writing is very much that sort of direction! However, it’ll be a bit more modernized, and it’s going to be deeply queer. I loved the queer aspects of the original Sailor Moon, but I’m going to be adding so many more central queer characters, because listen, it can always be more queer. I’m all about putting the kind of content in the world that I want to see (and that I hope others want to see), so why not write that story full of magical queer people? I think it’s time.

I’ve been doing a world-building questionnaire to help me flesh out the magical concepts in this world, starting character sheets so I can fully understand each character in the story, and will eventually do some sort of loose outline that will help me stay on track for events in the story. I go back and forth between thinking I just need to jump into the novel and go, and knowing that I might need all of these planning materials to stay on track, because the longer I go without actually starting, there’s a less chance of me, y’know, actually starting the damn book. Ultimately, the planning materials are good for me, and have been getting me more excited for starting the book, while helping me explore more concepts to put in it than I originally thought of.

So, yes! Expect me to be getting more neurotic and more over-the-top artsy-fartsy as I dive into the grueling, but rewarding process of starting and finishing a novel! I will still try to work on some shorter pieces while working on the novel, as well as regularly updating y’all on here. 

If you’d like to be a little more involved in the novel planning/writing process, I encourage you to check out my Patreon page! There is where I will be posting all of the character sheets, the world-building doc to explain how magic will work, and a slightly more detailed summary of the plot of this book. As I begin the writing process, I will also be sharing excerpts of the book, so this would be the best place to see it unfold as it’s being written. Your support would mean the world to me, and to thank you for this, you’ll get to see so much of the behind-the-scenes work that will go into writing this book! Neat!

I am super pumped to start this journey. I am elated that I’ve finally found the drive to finally start this novel that has been playing out in my head over and over, because it’s a story that I cannot wait to get out into the world. Be ready for more posts about the strenuous and emotional process of writing, Instagram posts of me at various coffee shops to get writing done, and a whole lot more ecstatic talk of magical things! This is essentially my brand, though. So…nothing new, there!

 

New Piece on Medium: “Pennies”

So this piece that I put up on Medium today is only slightly spooky. Just a bit. Not like, overwhelmingly so.

My older brother once told me about this penny superstition, where he would find pennies in unsuspecting places during times where he was worried or off-balance. Both him and my sister-in-law had found them in several situations, and each time they would tell me about them, I would find it just as bizarre as they did.

Then, I found a penny of my own in a similar situation. The bizarre part? I was at least 99% sure that I had never placed a penny there.

If you’d like to check out this piece, click here to go to the story on my Medium page! I had a lot of fun writing this, and it was very cathartic, both to create and to share with you all. Hope you enjoy it!

Good Ol’ Writer’s Block

I’ve been in a bit of a writing rut, recently. Which is really, incredibly unfortunate, as writing is what I want to do for the rest of my life. However, the light is at the end of the tunnel! I can see a future where I’m not in a rut! Can you believe?

I have some big ideas and I’m the process of planning said big ideas. It’s been a little challenging to motivate myself to put these ideas into the world, due to a a large amount of self-doubt with a hint of depression, but the more I talk about doing it, the more I feel like the motivation is there to actually get it done. So maybe I’ll just keep spamming Twitter with how excited I am about this novel that I want to write, and eventually, it’ll just come into existence. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, in the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep my mind active with prompts and whatnot. I use a book called 642 Things to Write About when I need some sort of direction for warm-up writings, and one of the prompts asked what writer’s block feels like. All writers are far too familiar with the feeling, and with the deep rut that I’ve been in (which I’m almost out of, I promise), I figured I’d know exactly which direction to go in, with this.

So here you go. Here’s a little thing I wrote, and hopefully after putting this into the world, my writer’s block will be gone. (If only it were that simple.) Enjoy!


Writer’s block is like getting ecstatic about the cookies you have in the oven, only for them to come out burned and bitter. It feels like getting to the top of a roller coaster only for it to stop, and have to take the stairs all the way back down. It feels like watching words and stories fly through your head and around your body, but not being able to grab hold of them and put them onto a blank word document.

Imagine having all of these ideas, all of this drive, and all of this desire to see entire movies in your head become a piece of readable text, only to sit in front of your computer wondering why your fingers just won’t move. Wondering why your brain decided that, this very moment that you hyped yourself up to finally get shit done, is the moment it decided to quiet itself. You wonder how you can turn up the volume on the inspiration to drown out the thoughts that want to tell you how much you suck as a writer, but now matter how loud you empower your inspiration to be, sometimes, all you hear is “you have nothing interesting to say.”

Writer’s block is knowing you have interesting stories to tell, but feeling like no one is going to think the same. Writer’s block tells you “it’s over for you; this is it. You’re not going anywhere else with whatever it is you’re trying to write, so you better just stop.” It can be one of the most self-destructive forces out there.

But it isn’t always that way.

Sometimes, it just feels like you’re empty. Sometimes it feels like you’ve squeezed out all of your best work already, and there’s nothing else left. Can it possibly get better than the 2,000 word streak, where you were so deep into the story in your head, you looked back up at the clock and realize time left you behind? That feeling of elation can be so nice, but sometimes it’s so short-lived, when you feel like that zone will never be back in reach. You can write whatever words come to mind, and hope to stumble your way back into that zone, or you can step away from the computer and hope to find that zone elsewhere. It’s never exactly where you want it to be, and that can be frustrating when all you want to do is see words fly across the monitor.

What can I say about writer’s block other than “it sucks?” Not much, I guess. It just does. It’s crippling to get so excited to create, to inspire, and to tell a story that’s begging to get out there, only to feel like what you’re about to put onto the word document is purely vomit. It’s sucks to feel those walls appear all around you just as you’re ready to tell the tale, feeling like those words within you that were once incredibly inspiring now have no place other than within those walls. But we persevere, and we find ways to chip away at those walls. They can’t keep us in for long; our stories demand to be told.

Oh, Hey! I’m Published!

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You know that book I was going to be featured in? Well, it’s officially available for purchase!

You can order it directly from the publisher here, or if Amazon is more your style, you can order it from them here.

I worked quite hard on this piece, and though it’s hard to believe that I got published in this book full of super talented writers, I also know that my hard work paid off, and I’m thrilled to see that I’m talented enough to be among them.

As a reminder, the piece within the book focuses on some feelings around my mother’s passing, and how things will be different, moving on. I could say more, but that would be a spoiler!

I’m so thrilled that the book is finally available for y’all! PLEASE feel free to let me know what you think about the piece!

My Writing Is Getting Published!

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So you know how I was talking about the fact that I’m going to have some writing published in a book, soon? Well, that book is now available for pre-order! The book itself is a collection of excerpts from Arizona-based writers, in both fiction and non-fiction genres. I’m not only excited to see my excerpt in a solid, tangible book, but I’m also very excited to be featured along so many other talented writers!

The excerpt I wrote for the book discusses some feelings I had around my mother’s passing. A parent passing away is such an interesting (and yes, painful) time for introspection, and pondering about how life will be much different due to the fact that they’re gone. I had some complex feelings surrounding her death, and it was not only cathartic for me to get these words out into the world, but was cathartic to turn these feelings into a strong piece of art. I really did put my heart in it. I wouldn’t have submitted it if I didn’t stand strongly behind it.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering this book, here is the link that you can use to get a copy of your own! It will be out on October (date here), and I can’t wait for you to read it!

Some Well (Or Ill) Timed Imposter Syndrome

I’m not the only writer who compares himself to others. I’m not the only creator who feels like his creations are worse than they actually are. In the world of artistry and pulling ideas out of your head to turn them into a creative piece, looking at your finished product (and at times, your work-in-progress) and thinking “this is a pile of garbage” is just a part of the process. It doesn’t have to be, but it usually is.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been slinging out a bunch of hot, smelly garbage when it comes to writing. I can smell it even before it hits the blank document, and I immediately discourage myself from the idea that anyone else would even want to look at it. It’s been hard, because every time I finish the grueling creative process with my writing, I get such a damn rush that I can’t get from anything else. So feeling like everything I’ve been doing lately is subpar, plus seeing the success of so many other writers, makes me feel like I don’t have what it takes to let my creativity shine. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m quite ecstatic to see others succeed, especially when they’re other queer writers. However, I start to feel like I need what they have in order to succeed, and I talk myself down into thinking that I’ll never have it. Nevermind the fact that what they have and what I have can exist at the same time and be equally as successful; my brain thinks I just won’t make the cut.

This all changed when I just recently received this email:

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Okay well, I’m exaggerating. Not ALL of it changed, but it did take me a little bit out of the immense imposter syndrome I’ve been feeling for a bit. Like I don’t know if I actually deserve the success I get because I don’t believe I’m at the level of other successful writers.

I keep going through these motions of being a writer where I feel like the talent just isn’t there, like people are just saying I’m a good writer because it’s better than saying I’m a bad one. Even receiving this email (which, don’t get me wrong, I am THRILLED about it), I feel like I’m still just some run-of-the-mill gay writer on the Internet.

This publishing house wanted a short, 1250-word excerpt for their collection. I could have just combed through my old projects and sent one of those out, but what did I do, instead? I busted my ass to write a whole new piece from scratch. I didn’t have to, as I didn’t have that long of a time to write and edit a whole new piece to send to this publication, but I did it, and that work paid off. Yet, I still feel like it didn’t actually happen. Like maybe it’s going to slip away, somehow. How, exactly? I don’t know, but I keep feeling it.

Regardless, I’m trying to stay on the lighter side of it. This is my second publication I’ve gotten in to! That’s huge! I wouldn’t have been given this if there wasn’t talent in what I do. I worked hard for it, and I know I deserve it, and as long as I keep reminding myself of that, I know I can move forward and continue to put that energy into something bigger and better, so I’m going to do what I can to ignore the imposter syndrome, and keep writing the way I know I can. This may sound all kinds of cliché, but gurl, I just learned that I’m getting published. I can get a little sappy and cliché if I want to!

And believe me, I’m just getting started. I have bigger ideas that I will for sure be putting some good energy into, so once this imposter syndrome stops being so damn loud (which may never happen, but I’m feeling optimistic while writing this), the world will see just how mighty my pen can be! (Not a euphemism, ya nasties.)

A Geek in the Community

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Photo by Geeky Shots on Unsplash

I chose a username about 4 years ago, with the intention of making my presence based on me being just one voice in a community of diverse individuals. “AGeekintheCommunity” was supposed to be a way for me to assert that my voice was only one voice among the community (at that point, it was for LGBT+ topics), but it had a double meaning in the sense that I felt like I was a geek that traversed through many different communities. I wanted to try to portray that my voice is distinct, but not the only voice who has an opinion on the topic.

Though I consider myself a “geek,” which in my realm, means being incredibly passionate about a certain something (usually TV shows, movies, books, etc.), it was starting to feel strange trying to brand myself completely off of that. At first, it was easy to embrace that I would be a geek in any community I moved through (which, well, is still a little true), but it hasn’t been until lately that it feels like it shrunk me. It reduced me to being “just another face in the crowd,” as people say.

I know I’m just another geek in the community, but I don’t want to feel that.

Due to a lot of discouraging experiences, I’ve felt like nothing special for most of my life, and I don’t want those insecurities to start bleeding into how I present myself online, or the quality of work I put into my creative projects. I’ve known that I have a lot of talent to offer, but I have rarely felt that I do, and I know I need to break out of that cycle if I want to believe in my talents. Can a simple username change across all of my platforms be enough to make me feel the uniqueness that will inspire good work? I don’t know, but it can’t hurt to try.

Originally, the name change across all my social media was due to the trend of writers/authors using their real names as usernames, as well as the domain names for their websites as a means of making it easy for people to find their work. I was scared to do it at first, because it would mean going from a catchy username to just, you know, my name. I had been thinking about it months before changing, but always talked myself out of it, or listened more to the people discouraging me from doing it. The thought started nagging at me even harder lately, and I figured that it was just time for me to do it. It’s “Now or Never,” you know, like the Blair St. Clair song (she’s a drag queen, in case you didn’t know). I’m pulling myself together, and all that jazz.

I still love AGeekintheCommunity, but he’s not who I need. He got me started, but it’s my turn to lead myself into something amazing.

It was originally supposed to just be a thing I did for a more solid web presence, but I found something deeper in the username change. Maybe the hinderance that AGeekintheCommunity gave me was so subconscious, it wasn’t until I went through with the whole process that I see where it could have been holding me back. “JeffBrutlag” might be less catchy, but it’s me. It’s the identity I’ve lived with, and am learning to love. There is complexity, experience, and talent behind that identity that I know will do amazing work. I can put in the effort to make my identity pop; AGeekintheCommunity will always just be “a geek in the community,” no matter how good he is.

So look out for me on the world wide web, friends! Jeff Brutlag is ready to kick some metaphorical teeth in. He’s still a big geek, though, so don’t be too intimidated.

(The only place you may still see the username “AGeekintheCommunity” is Facebook, because apparently “Jeff” isn’t a word that’s “allowed on Facebook.” Their platform can go down in history as the first hater of my name change. That’s like, kind of cool, I guess?)