Alice the Fifth, A novel by M.E. Mustizer.

I began this journey on March 9th of this year. A few days prior, I had finished up the writing the rough draft of my second novel, The Samurai and the Mountain. I was dead set on going on vacation to Cancun for a week to just set the book aside and let it fester in my head to dive headlong into the editing once I returned. That didn't happen. It turned out to be one hell of a snowstorm the day we were supposed to leave and we were holed up in a blizzard in a hotel in Syracuse, NY waiting for the runways to be cleared. At some point in those few days, an idea flickered on inside my head. An idea that stemmed from my original novel, The Seven Isaacs. It became a what if situation and the title showed itself to me. Alice the Fifth. I wouldn't say Alice is a sequel to the Seven Isaacs, but she definitely was influenced by it.

It all began there. In a hotel room, a few hours into a long, long wait for a flight time. I opened the iPad and the words began to flow. Alice only grew from there. Determined to not let the creativity slip away, as it so often can, I held my self to a schedule. To ritualistic writing. Pressfield's resistance is real and it is very hard to shake. The only cure for the resistance is routine. And that, I had established during the final months of Samurai. This routine came easy. Alice was fun and exciting. She was new and she was hot.

Right from the get go, I felt that I was onto something new and exciting for me. I knew I had found my voice with Alice. I was writing whatever the fuck I wanted. There's cursing. There's sex. There's nudity. Hell, there's even fucking emojis in the damn thing. And that's only the first three chapters. Writing in that way loosened the reins on my control and just let Alice become Alice. They always tell you to write what you know and I've never agreed with that. Yet with Alice, I wrote what I know in my own way and she opened creative doors that encouraged me to take leaps and just write. She let me be bold. She let me break some rules. She let me be whatever I wanted. It was a very refreshing experience.

Now, not to be mistaken, writing a novel is a task. It wasn't easy in the least bit. Each chapter provided new and confusing challenges for me that, again through routine and constant writing I was able to tackle head on and move past them. Yes, Alice became work, but it was work that I enjoyed. There were nights that I didn't even want to look at the bitch. There were days where all I wanted was to sleep in and forget the whole lot. Resistance. Dedication made Alice happen.

I am very proud of the now completed novel (rough draft), Alice the Fifth. It was an exciting experience for me, that yes, still needs a fuck load of work. I will deal with that work some other time. Alice was growth for me. She was a necessary step in a hopefully lucrative and long career in writing. I would love to be able to write for a living and quit my day job. Alice might not be the one to get me there, but she was my master's class in novel writing and the art of creativity.

I am looking forewarn to going back to the rewrite, copy edit and story editing. I blazed though the 625 pages. 125,000 words. I am curious to read what I wrote. To be honest, I don't have a fucking clue what happened at the beginning of the book. I do know that I connected all the dots and put everything together with a nice little bow and a shocking twist that even I didn't see until writing the last pages of the book. My planned ending was tossed out when the writing, The Universe brought me to the true ending of the book. It brought tears to my eyes. This book is a rollercoaster of emotions. I cried twice during the writing of it. I laughed a lot. And, I got excited for the exciting parts. I'm in love with Alice and now that she's finished, I am not quite sure what to do with myself now. That would explain why this post is one of the longest.

I suppose I should mention and thank my other half for the support while writing this book. She bought me the iPad that made this life so much easier for me. She's the one that nested beside me, kept me sane and slept just like this every night I would drink a little too much and write until the early morning hours. I probably couldn't have made it through this book without her clamoring to read my pages and forcing me to move forward on those days where I really didn't want to write. Thank you. I couldn't have done this without you.

Alice the Fifth. Rough Draft. 624 pages. 125,000 words. March 9th, 2017 – July 27th, 2017.


New High Score …and still counting

I know I've been teasing quite a bit lately about how close I am to the finish. A couple weeks back I mapped out the final seven chapters. Then I kept going and changed a few things here and there and then managed to get self down to five remaining chapters. The chapters kept growing and growing and growing. The chapters at the beginning of the book were averaging 3500 words. By the late middle/early end, we're averaging almost 6,000 words per chapter. I can't help it so much. It's really just where the story takes me. Sometimes it will provide me an early stopping point, other times, there's just too much to do.

Finally, I am in a manageable place. I have two and a half chapters remaining until this book's rough draft is complete. It's a wild ride. I'm not going to lie. Theres a lot of tiny plot points that all come back at the end. Mysteries that you didn't even know needed to be solved will be solved and stuff you had forgotten about in the first couple of chapters becomes entirely relevant and important by the end. Don't say I never warned you.

Tonight. I have officially written more words and more pages than any other work that I have worked on in my life. …and yes, there's still those two and a half chapters to go. I am hoping they go relatively smoothly. There's a lot of action to create for the climax and I just hope the word count agrees with that. I would hate to come all this way and have a four page climax. I think we can all agree, we like our climaxes long and satisfying.

The great thing about being mobile with my workstation, which I realized today, that I have been working on a similarly mobile device for so many years. I would say it dates all the way back to 2002, back before tablets and smartphones and my own little cheap IBM workpad. It wasn't a thinkpad. That was something different. This was a sore excuse for a computer that I somehow managed to write screenplay after screenplay on use because it was portable. Just as I do now. Only now, fifteen years later, it's an ipad with a Logitech keyboard. I am also realizing that I may have to order a few back up keyboards as this one is taking quite a beating from my fast moving fingertips. Aaaanyway, here is a pic of me writing and working on a novel while waiting for the school bus to drop off the little one from summer rec.

Nothing’s going to get me down. 

The past few weeks, I have felt off.  High strung.  Dizzy.  Off center.  I noticed a fluttering in my chest that made me nervous.  It kept happening at various times throughout the day.  I did the right thing and went to get it checked out.  After an excruciating eleven hour visit of testing, I have no more answers now than I did then.  I get told that I didn’t have a heart attack, which I knew.  I did have high blood pressure that day, which for the past couple years, the visits to the doctor hit me with the same words.  I did prepare for this visit and brought along my writing gear and planned to spend the day writing.  Little did I realize that I was going to have monitors and shit on my fingers all day that made typing impossible.  That was rather irritating.   

A couple of days rest and some words were still written.  Not nearly as much as I would prefer, but words nonetheless.

I know that these updates on word counts, etc are probably boring as shit to you, but it doesn’t really matter.  It’s part of my process.  It helps me unwind and keeps the words coming over and over.   

Always writing. 

The end is near.  Alice is almost a full fledged ROUGH DRAFT.  I can tell already that there are massive parts that will need to be rearranged, shifted, moved, and deleted.  But, that’s all part of the process.  I’ll hopefully finish her up by the end of the month and the set her aside for a while to let those pages simmer.  Then, the rewrites begin.  

Tick Tock.  The end is near.

I’ve been busy.  That’s for certain.  I’ve got this bug in my ear and she is just prodding me and forcing me to write and write and write.  Alice is coming along spectacularly.  It’s the first piece of true creativity I’ve had inside me in a very long time.  Alice is inspiring.  It is a work unlike anything I’ve ever done before, yet still a culmination of everything I’ve ever done before.  It’s where I need to be.  The words just keep coming and coming.  This is my first true “Rough draft”.  I’m going to have so much work on this one after the fact, more than any of the other works I’ve ever done.  Everything has always come together smoothly and quickly.  This one… is a wonderfully precise and tightly wound mess.  

Tonight I hit a nice landmark with this book.  500 pages complete.  101,000 words.  

I still have some work to go, but we’re getting there.  Slowly.  

My writing routine is becoming a bit more solid.  I’ve been refusing to let summer take it’s toll on me and forcing those words to come out before everything escapes me.  I’m so close now.  So close.  I am so excited to see where this ragged bunch of fiends is going to end up.  I know where I’m going, but man, this journey is a trip.  

Oh yeah. I made some new cover art tonight.

1500 words before breakfast.

Last night I mapped out, in detail the final chapters of the book.  I am right there.  I can guess I have roughly twelve to fourteen solid writing sessions left until this book is finished.  I’m wrapping up quite a few of these storylines very soon.  One character has already had her breakthrough moment in her character arc.  I just need summer not to take over my life and get in the way of finishing this book.  So, this morning, I woke up and found time to pound out 1500 words before 7am.  The book has infected my mind and I am letting the pus out as quickly as I can.  I really just want this book to be done.  But, I still have to take my time and not rush the ending.  So many pieces have to fall in just right.  There’s so many threads in this book that I never originally intended, but they are beautiful and it’s going to be a great run.  

Now, I am tired.  I’ll probably fall back asleep now.  

Also.  Here’s my lady with a chicken.

What a long, strange, trip it’s been.

This has been a weird week.  Summer time and writing usually don’t work well together, but I am trying my best.  Luckily for me, after having about four or five days in a row without writing, I was able to pick up my story today where I left off with great fanfare and wonderful ideas.  I am eighty six thousand words into Alice the Fiftha no still have quite a ways to go.  86,000 words has translated into roughly 425 pages.  I’m truly glad that after my real life has taken over me and kept me away from her that Alice so graciously has let me back in.  Man, what a wild chapter.  I spilled out roughly 4,000 world today alone, which as a novel writer is a feat in and of itself.  It feels fucking fantastic and I’m looking forward to see where ALice and Abigail take me next.  

Aside from that, I do feel particularly inclined to share a rather embarrassing and stressful, personal anecdote that ties up the last weekend.  Again, I don’t normally blog about my personal life, but this incident is too precious not to comment on, write about and document for posterity.

On Saturday night, Jilian and I were left at home with no children.  My boys were at their mothers’ and her daughter was at her dad’s.  We had a night alone.  Both of us had worked later into the night and felt like blowing off some steam after work.  We settled ourselves in and decided to go down the street to the local corner bar and have a few drinks.  That night in and of itself was rather uneventful.   We had a few drinks and headed home.  

When we got home, the dryer was buzzing.  It was announcing to us that it’s contents were drye and that wee needed to circulate said laundry.  Jil went to the dryer and popped the door open and this fell out:
We both looked at each other in confusion and horror.  That’s a drug baggie.  Nothing comes in those tiny ziploc bag as aside from drugs.   We were panicked and lost.  We sorted through all the clothes in the dryer, since we knew that none of our clothes had little baggies in them with little tiny mushroom caps in them.   That meant one thing.  My boys, one of them, at age twelve or age fifteen, had shrooms in their pocket when we did their laundry. 

It’s 1am.  We went through the house and flipped mattresses like prison guards searching Andy Dufresne’s cell in Shawshank.   Which kid had fucking shrooms in the house and where the fuck were the rest of them?

After about an hour, we gave up and went back to bed.  I barely slept.  When I did sleep, I awoke ten minutes later concerned and stressed.  One of my perfect angels was doing drugs.   My heart was broken.  My trust and faith corrupted.  My life was suddenly upside down for the first time.   None of this made any sense whatsoever.   My kids wouldn’t do something like that.  Yet, here was the evidence, fresh out of a spring scented fresh load of laundry that consisted of 83% one child’s clothes and 17% the other’s.  We did the math.
I got out of bed around 5am.  My sleep wasn’t getting better and I couldn’t tolerate it anymore.  I got up and started sending the photo to friends to get second opinions.  Not a single person said that these were something other than mushrooms.  So, that meant, later today, when I [icked my kids up around 7 PM that I would have to sit down with my kids and figure out who the drugs belonged to.  

Not my idea of a good day.

I needed to occupy myself.  Which we did. We took a wonderful day trip to the water and went a small little boat tour.   

That worked for a few hours, but not nearly as long as it needed to.  As we drove home to pick up the kids, I felt that my heart was going to fall out of my chest.  I was more than certain that the entire contents of my stomach was going to spill directly onto the passenger seat of Jil’s car.  And, I wasn’t entirely unsure that my hands weren’t going to fall off from shaking so much.

Eventually, and finally, I was able to get the boys back home.   Once the little one was situated and the others gone outside, I confronted my oldest with that little baggie in my hand.  As much as I hated to believe it, there was no explanation.  I held up the baggie and asked him about it.  His eyes went black.  They filled with tears and I felt horrible, but I needed answers.  Who brought drugs into my house?!!  

He denied it.  He had no idea what they were.  I couldn’t tell if he was truthful or lying.  I wanted to believe him, but no.  It couldn’t be.  These mushrooms couldn’t belong to my youngest.  Are twelve year olds doing mushrooms now?   I know that he’s had issues, but shrooms?

The youngest was across the street at the neighbor’s.  He had to be called back.  Which, he was.

“Now, son, can you tell me what the fuck this little baggie is?  We know what this looks like.  It fell out of the laundry.  We just need to know who the fuck it belongs to and why the fuck it’s in my house and where the fuck did you get it from?”

That’s what I wanted to say.  That’s not exactly what came out, but close enough.  

“Oh, those are silver dollar seeds.  Mimi gave them to me to plant,” he says.  

Silver Dollar Seeds.

The other son googles it and shows us, “Oh yeah, they are, look”

Mother fuck.

Messages were instantly sent to my mother.  “Please don’t send my kids home with bags of seeds that come in little drug baggies.  It’s really inconvenient, Mom.  I just scared the fuck out of my fifteen year old.”

My youngest laughed his ass off while the older child cried.  

And that, that’s being a dad.  

The First Weekend of Summer

Wow.  This was a long one.  It’s hard to write when real life catches up to you so quickly and so often.  I normally don’t touch on my personal life here very often and for good cause.  It’s my personal life and I was raised to keep my personal life private.  It is tough in the age of social media to do such things, but as you grow older there is less and less call for the social media in the daily routine, but it is fantastic for big announcements.   

Friday began and I knew something was off.  My youngest son, who has had some issues with depression and sees a therapist semi-regularly for those issues came home in a funk and I knew that something was wrong.  He said he hadn’t eaten.  His mother said that he didn’t want to come to my house.  I knew that I needed to have a sit down conversation with him.  We tend to do that every couple months when one of these issues comes up.  

I sat down and had a talk with him about everything but it made me realize that I really needed to sit down with both boys and have a long conversation about everything that we’ve all been through in the ten years since their mother and I split up.  And that is what I did.  I flipped back a few months on here to the posts where I talked about things I wanted to teach my children.  Life lessons etc.  I eventually read through most of those after going through a history of my life, relationships and ups and downs as well a s the mistakes I’ve made and the things I did wrong in my life and overall, I really just wanted them to know, as they enter into high school and the teen years that I want them to know that I am here to talk to them.  

It was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life and I hope I was able to impart some wisdom onto my boys before they really need it the most.

This weekend also marked my two year anniversary with my significant other.  We marked it with a special occasion.  We had dinner at a fancy restaurant on the water, followed by a walk by Lake Ontario and yeah, I gave her an engagement ring.  The one I found a few months ago and had been holding onto for the right time.  We both discussed marriage off and on over the last two years.  Who doesn’t when you’ve been together that long?  And, we both know that we want to get married, but we also know that now is not the time and neither of us are ready for it yet.  We decided a long time ago that we’re going to get married four or five years from now when we know that we can live together as a unit, as a family and not only survive, but thrive.   I’ve made relationship mistakes before and I vow not to make them again.  (Note the symbolism of the Archangel Michael defeating the demon tattoo?  …hint:  It’s pretty blatant and not really a symbol at all).   So time is the answer and we are going to give it time.  Time to flourish and blossom in ways I’ve never known before.  I’m tired of my life being screwed up and hopefully, together, we can fix that.  

She said yes.

In the midst of all that I have tried really hard to continue writing in a difficult chapter.  It’s not so easy!  But, I managed to make it through.   400 pages.  Close to 81,000 words.   I’m ready to get into the nitty gritty now.