The Weight Of Hope

On Saturday, June 9th, I will be participating in CrossFit for Hope. In essence, CrossFit for Hope is a day for one workout and one cause–to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donations for me can be made by going here.

Now, as an author, I also wanted to give more than just my time, energy and sweat. I wanted to donate my words. Therefore, the poem below is about Hope, about its existence around us, and its power. Feel free to share it (#CrossFitForHope; #CrossFit).

Let it be a piece read on June 9th, prior to the workout. Let it be a piece that reminds you of the symbolic element of CrossFit.  Let it be a piece that helps you float on, in spite of the weight of this world.

The Weight of Hope

We are bound to this earth, tethered by its expectations,
its complications.

But Hope floats.

It lingers just above all the heaviness,
all that weight.
We need only to look up.
Yet we focus on the tangible,
the surface beneath us,
upon which we shuffle, plod, get by.

But Hope floats.

Like one’s thoughts materialized
around our heads, not halos, but a salvation,
if we just look up.

Because we are afforded chances to share our burden,
to receive assistance with our task.

And it is in these moments we feel the intangible—
that sensation of hope—its buoyancy.
And we are lifted by its strength.

Hope floats.

–Eric Devine

Sneak Peek

I love teasers, just a sneak peak about what’s to come. Fortunately the publishing industry does, too. And somehow I was fortunate enough—thanks Kate McKean—to have the privilege of working with an editor and publisher that felt my work is good enough to submit for some buzz.

Buzz Books 2012: Exclusive Pre-Publication Excerpts from Over 30 New Books from Publishers Lunch has included an excerpt from Tap Out. Really. My work has been listed alongside other YA authors such as Libbra Bray, David Levithan and Ned Vizzini, as well as all the other outstanding authors from various genres—including Neil Young—how awesome is that?

Along with the buzz comes pre-sales and a Book Expo America (BEA) hashtag for Tap Out #beaTap. Therefore, feel free to tweet after you’ve read and tag away. I look forward to the comments.

You can download a free copy to your Kindle or Kindle for PC. Or if you like other platforms for e-Book viewing, Publishers Marketplace has options for you. Whatever you choose, check out my excerpt, but do read the other authors’ as well. There’s so much fantastic reading ahead that it makes me long for a lazy summer by the pool and a cool fall and winter by the fireplace.

Now, go get your sneak peek on.

3, 2, 1…Write!

In CrossFit, a fair amount of our training is completed “under the gun” of a running clock. Workouts are performed at high intensity with the aim of completing the work under a certain time, or seeing how much work you can complete for a specified duration. I have used this methodology in my training for the past six years, and, unknowingly, have structured my writing schedule similarly.

I write in the morning, starting at five and continuing until I need to pull myself away from the computer to go to work, usually around seven. I do this every day of the week, and only on occasion write on the weekends. Therefore, in a year (260 days without weekends) I average 520 hours writing. That’s not a significant amount by most standards.

It was only recently that I began to understand how I can still produce a novel a year (90-100,000 words) in such a limited amount of time. That metaphorical gun to the head of the clock in my workouts applies to my writing.

I waste no time in the morning, usually eating my breakfast as I check email and wake up. The it’s immediately to the writing. I often start with longhand in my journal, clearing out the debris from the day before so I may concentrate. This doesn’t last more than 10-15 minutes. I immediately turn to the notes on the project I’m writing, make a mental list of what needs to be addressed, check my outline for the scene I’m creating and go.

At this point I usually have an hour and a half to crank. And I do. There’s little to no rest (coffee drinking and refills are allowed) and I try not to over think what I’m doing. Much like in training, the “paralysis of analysis” is crippling, and the running clock keeps me motivated to keep it simple and to avoid the unnecessary.

Therefore, when finished, I have crisp, active writing and have produced a fair volume of work.

Now, the paramount question: Is it any good? Yes and no.

Most often my first drafts are skeletal. The plot is hung, but the characters need fleshing out, the themes refined, the foreshadowing placed appropriately, and on and on. It is reasonable to say that my method is ridiculous since I have so much to do the second and third and fourth times around. I’d agree, if I had more time each day.

But I don’t. I can’t pause and reflect. I get those “first thoughts“–ala Natalie Goldberg–out. I try to get the entirety of the story complete within a season–ala Stephen King. Then I wait. Like with exercise, I recover. I mull over my weak spots–plotting or characterization–and I work on those in smaller stories, mere exercises for my “sucks” (those elements of craft I need to work on).

Then I attack the second draft with the same energy drive and determination as the first, now with different aims, but with the same running clock.

I repeat this process as many times as needed. It’s not pretty. It’s often a bit stressful at the start, but once I’m moving, like with any demanding workout, I’m fine. Because I know at the end I will be satisfied that I’ve written. Perfection comes in the revision. These sessions are about production. And under the clock, the 3,2,1…go! I’m on fire.

Watching My Back

Last week kicked me in the posterior. Hard. It began Sunday, when I woke up to no heat. Not a terrible situation with daytime temps in the 50-60s, but with the nights hitting 40 and below, the boiler needed to be fixed. That happened on Wednesday. My fireplace worked overtime.

Then my washing machine backed up, and instead of spending $2,000 on a new set (I need stackable), I fixed the machine, but in the process ended up ruining the laundry room floor. I had to pull the original and lay a new one.

I’m also dealing with a chronic wrist tendonitis and had a hand surgeon X-ray and review my issue during the week. He basically told me to wait six weeks and see if the numbness in the back of my hand goes away. Really, that was his advice. Fortunately, my chiropractor and some Graston treatment have already netted me some relief.

And then there’s my flash drive that died. I don’t believe there was anything important on it that I don’t have backed up, but I’ll never know, as whatever corrupted it wiped the entire drive. The tech guy just sighed and threw it away.

Amidst all this, there were two bright spots: my daughter won student of the month at her school on Friday, and on Saturday she successfully rode her bike without training wheels for the first time. It’s rare that I feel like I’m a success as a parent, but this week, especially with all the other nonsense, I think my wife and I should get gold stars.

Also, as I alluded to in my last post, I’m looking forward to ALA Anaheim. That’s right, Running Press is sending me to California for promotional events for Tap Out. Unreal. I get to rub elbows with people whose books I’ve read and admired. And most importantly, I get to spend time with the most significant conduits for YA books–librarians. I can’t express the degree to which I appreciate the role librarians serve in finding the right books for teens. I witness it every day at my own school and remember fondly the librarians’ guidance at my second home while growing up, the North Greenbush Public Library.

Therefore, I’m’ looking forward to a week with heat, clean clothes, a movable hand, accessible data–and who knows what great things my children will accomplish? I’m working on my WIP, and it’s going well. Soon it will be time to pass off the manuscript to Kate McKean. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I’m watching my back. I don’t need another week like this one to sneak up on me.