Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Yesterday R. Michael made a post, Blogging Lessons and Woes, about how it’s important as an author to write outside of your comfort zone. In his case, he was very referring to blogging. After a year of having his blog, he was shocked at how much he appreciated it. I’ve run this blog for almost six years now, and I can easily admit that it gets difficult figuring out what to blog about. (Doing the Blogging University challenge this month has helped, but more on that in another post.) I’ve come to accept that blogging is always going to be a challenge, but I’ve also learned there are far much more uncomfortable subjects to write about.

I’m a nature lover. As a kid I dreamed of growing up to be a veterinarian. I follow The Cornell Lab’s awesome newsletter, getting info on fun topics like how to build proper bird houses and where to place them in your yard. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw, nested in the comments, someone detail how they get rid of House Sparrows which are apparently considered pests in certain areas. Not only did they detail the method, but they also gave an estimate of how many birds they had disposed of over the past two years.

crowTrapsI was horrified but, being a writer, I wanted to know more. I live in the U.S. South, so I understand how overpopulation can become an issue. That’s why we have deer hunting season after all, and even though deer are my favorite animals, I understand how they can take over a place if left unchecked. I soon stumbled upon control methods for crows, using a disturbing but ingenious cage. I found out that they’re difficult to deal with because they’re just so darn intelligent.

One amusing comment from this video stuck with me, and I just had to share it:

I don’t have time to scroll through all 2768 comments at the moment but I have lived, treeplanting, in the woods with ravens on Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada and this simple test is nothing compared to the ravens stealing my lunch. Pardon me, my third lunch in three days.   Opening my click locks, then opening the zipper then pulling out the tupperware and getting the duct tape off of it to open it and then eating my sandwich. THEN flying by me on the side of a mountain to caw at me!!! Did I mention the cedar sticks and large boulders I put on the knapsack within which this prize was hidden? This was the third lunch they stole from me and after that I LEARNED to just leave them a freebie on the ground and they’d leave me my lunch.  I still shake my fist every time I see a crow. They are brilliant.

It’s amazing to me that we spend so much energy trying to capture and dispose of nuisance animals when sometimes we might be better off learning to live with them.

So yes, the story was very difficult to write and I’m pretty sure I was frowning the entire time I wrote it. However I think my disgust only made the story better. It took longer to write since I was putting so much energy into it. I challenged myself in a way I hadn’t done before, and I think the writing benefits from it. Of course, you’ll have to read it for yourself and let me know!

“Tiny Necks” is set to be released in Not Your Average Monster Volume 2  by Bloodshot Books on February 29th, but should be up for pre-order earlier than that.

Creepy NaNo Research

Camp NaNo is off to a great start, even if I am a thousand words behind right now. This month I’m working on writing four short stories, all weird horror pieces. I wrote back in March about some story ideas that I had, but looking back on them, I haven’t used a single one. That said, all of these had a loose to detailed outline to go along with them. I’ll give their tentative titles below and a bit of research I had to do for each of them.

  • Just Too Sweet – Not much research had to be done here, cause I already had a good understanding of beer, Twitter, and apartment complexes. 😉
  • The Odd House – Now this one needed quite a bit of research. I needed to know the name of a particular Interstate, I-16, that runs from Macon, GA down to Savannah, GA. I’ve had to drive this a couple of times, and running over 80 miles long with hardly any exits or rest stops, it definitely feels long, especially if you already have a lot of asphalt behind you. I’ve never had to drive this stretch of road late at night by myself, but I would give anyone who did plenty of respect. With the endless trees on either side of the two-lane road, I imagine your mind could get to you.
    I-16_Map

    I-16

    Another fun aspect of this story was finding some fun inspiration. This one especially caught my eye and the mood of my story. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any ownership info on it though.

    Mothman_Wallpaper_yvt2

    Really, it just wants hugs.

  • The Thirteenth Crow – This one hasn’t been written quite yet. I’ll be starting on it tomorrow morning, and it was certainly one of the more difficult stories to research. Not that it was difficult to find information on this, but it was difficult for me personally as a bird-lover.

    Yep, that's a crow trap.

    Yep, that’s a crow trap.

  • The Masked King’s Dance – I’ll admit, this was completely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s The Trap, which I heard about from the HP Podcraft podcast (which is freaking awesome if you haven’t heard). Admittedly it isn’t a very good story, but the premise just really got my creative juices flowing. So many of Lovecraft’s stories do though. 🙂

 

So there are my plans so far! I’ve got some catching up to do still, but I doubt I’m the only one. With a total monthly goal of 20k words, I think it’s completely do-able.