The Journal, Tuesday, 7/14

The Day
Rolled out about 2. Checked emails and comments on Facebook (posted some things about the trip). I did walk today, but keep it short at just over 3 miles.

Had a trip to Sierra Vista for two new tires and an oil change for the pickup. Ugh. But it was necessary with a long trip coming up.

Stopped in at the mall and talked very briefly with the Marine recruiter, a young veteran of the goings-on in Iraq. He was wounded. He was also stout, staunch, and upright. He is a protector. Many of the protected do not deserve his fine defense. I hope he never wakes up to feel that everything he and his friends have given was in vain. I hope he never feels his nation abandoned him.

Topic of the Night: Fiction as Escape
Certainly fiction is an escape for the reader. Maybe it’s an escape for the writer too. Maybe it’s a way to write what ought to be instead of what is.

I suspect Tim McCanlies, the screenwriter who wrote lines for Uncle Hub in the film Secondhand Lions, was thrilled to write what ought to be:

That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and that love, true love, never dies. … Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. A man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.

Now the protagonist isn’t perfect. He isn’t all good. He or she is an ordinary human being who does extraordinary (and extraordinarily good) things.

And the antagonist isn’t all bad, unless he’s Hitler or Charles Manson or an insane religious freak who will behead women and children while the nation that holds itself up as the beacon of the world apologizes for him and strives not to “offend” him. But I digress.

You are fortunate, folks. If you are writers, you are fortunate. You get a chance to write what ought to be. You get a chance to escape the insanity for a little while, and write what ought to be.

Today’s Writing
I wrote a bit here and a bit there, before my walk, after my walk, and after the trip to SV. Bits and pieces here and there. Kind’a had the air taken out of me when I talked with my young brother in arms.

Fiction words: 1083

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869

Total fiction words for the month…………… 21603
Total fiction words for the year……………… 427286

The Journal, Monday, 7/13

The Day

Rolled out about 2. For some reason, still recovering from the camping trip. I might not walk tomorrow, or keep it short.

Today again I messed around the house a bit, went for a walk and got some pics. I also posted a video of the place where Dan and I went camping. It’s a calm video, between rainstorms, to show people why we go there.

Also posted a few pics from the trip. Then I ordered a couple of parts for the camper shell and bought some stuff for it. It’s coming along slowly. No rush.

Back to writing with Wes off and on today. Like I said, I’m still recovering. Weird.

Topic of the Night: Write the Next Whatever

The best advice I’ve ever received or given is to Write the Next Sentence. If you keep doing that, your characters will lead you eventually to the end of whatever you happen to be writing.

I was following that advice one day when I realized there WAS no next sentence. A short time later (thankfully) I realized the scene was over. I was trying to move the character into a dead area that was unnecessary and boring. What I needed to do was write the next SCENE. And that’s when I became a writer who writes scenes.

A scene is a character (or a few characters) dealing with one situation. To this day, I still can’t “write a novel,” but I can write a scene. I can write a bunch of scenes. I can write a novel.

If you’re the kind of writer who writes scenes, that’s good. If you aren’t, or if you need a refresher, here ’tis.

1. To begin a scene, put your fingers on the keyboard and write whatever comes.

2. To get through the scene, write the next sentence, then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence. Don’t think about where it’s all going or even about the second or third sentence: Just write the next sentence.

3. When you’re writing a scene, don’t worry about how it connects to other scenes. Just focus on that scene.

4. When the scene ends, write whatever comes for the next scene (or for another scene), then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence.

5. Your character(s) will lead you to where you need to be.

The whole trick is to Keep the story moving forward.

The Writing
I prepped a couple more stories for the weekly free short story release, and I wrote some on Wes today. Feeling great about the book. Not moving fast right now, but moving toward where it’s gonna move fast. It wouldn’t surprise me if this one wrapped at about 20 days. Woohoo!

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 1730

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20520
Total fiction words for the year……………… 426203

The Journal, Sunday, 7/12

The Day

Rolled out just before 3 a.m. Back to reality.

Still recovering from the camping trip. For a full day and the better part of a night, Dan and I were alternating between the low of being exhausted and the high of repeated adrenaline rushes. That sort of thing wore me out when I was 30. I’m a little older than that now. (grin)

So I messed around the house a bit, went for a walk, got some pics (posted a few on Facebook and I’m posting one here, see below), then did some things to improve the camper shell I bought the other day. Now I’m gonna take the rest of the day to do nothing. Talk with you again tomorrow.

Here’s the pic:

DSC00014_600

Topic of the Night: Ending a Streak

This isn’t really a topic. Being a little selfish here.

Today I decided to end the streak I began back on April 15, 2014. On that day, I published the first short story in a self-challenge. Following the lead of Dean Wesley Smith, I challenged myself to write at least one new short story every week for a year. I exceeded that goal by quite a bit, but it’s still a bit sad to see a streak end.

Last week I published my 100th short story. It also was the 71st short story in a row that I wrote during the past 66 weeks.

I fully intended to write a new short story for this week too. In fact, I started one before I left on the camping trip.

Now I could have simply slapped an ending on it and called it finished, but that would not be in keeping with the spirit of the challenge. I started three other stories today as well. I wrote three more openings. Those openings might become something someday, but for now, they simply aren’t working.

Writing Off Into the Dark is a freeing, Zen-like technique. It isn’t something you can force. (If you force it you aren’t writing into the dark.)

Over on the Free Short Story of the Week blog I’ll continue to post a short story each week. For now, those will be stories I wrote before I began the challenge, stories that I haven’t shared since the challenge began.
If you enjoy magic realism or think you might, the first few will be from Gervasio Arrancado.

The Writing

I wrote more on the story that was going to be the short story of the week and then I wrote three new openings, none of which panned out. I wrote the words, but I can’t feel certain they’ll be published so I’m not going to count them. So no new publishable words of fiction for today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 18790
Total fiction words for the year……………… 424473

The Journal, Saturday, 7/11

The Day

Rolled out just before 4:30 (Arizona time) in New Mexico, north of Lordsburg. No checking email. No Internet. Just reality.

Great trip, but Dan and I experienced three days of excitement and adventure in about 8 hours.

Topic of the Night: Refilling the Well

I write from experience, as do most of us. Or at least near experience. I experience things, then put my characters in those situations, then extrapolate out from there. But to do that, I have to experience things. I have to refill the well occasionally. Yesterday, I topped off my well of experience.

PART I

We pulled into our camp about 45 feet away from a 500 foot drop into the Gila River, got out and began re-exploring and taking pics. I take photos for my book covers, but many also give me story ideas. Others are “art photos,” suitable for framing and display, and I might someday offer those for sale.

Then it started sprinkling, then raining. We got in the cab of the pickup.
It started raining harder, then hailing pea-sized hail. Soon that turned to dime-sized. That all lasted about an hour, then quit.

Cool. Back to exploring and taking photos, except this time there waterfalls all over the place. I think there were three or four to our south, two or three across the gorge to our west, and another one to the north. The widest (that I could tell) was probably 50 feet. The narrowest was a few feet. But all of them were grandiose. Remember, all of them were falling at least 500 feet.

Then an hour, maybe two later (I think… it might have been longer) Dan noticed a massive blue curtain to the west with a roiling off-white valance. I have never seen a wall of rain quite like that, and it looked like the precursor to a tornado, or maybe a batch of them.

Of course, being guys, we climbed a nearby rocky hill so we could see better. (grin)

When we’d seen all we wanted or needed to see, it was back to the pickup, and just in time.

The rain came. It was horizontal. I am not kidding. Then the hail came. It was dime-sized to quarter-sized, and much of it too was horizontal. The waterfalls I mentioned earlier were flowing hard, but after they plunged off the cliff, the wind caught them and tossed them up so they looked more like geysers. Again, I am not kidding.

The pickup (again, we were parked 45 feet from the edge of a 500 foot drop into the Gila) was jostling around hard from the wind. We seriously considered working our way down a “chimney” between two huge rocks to slip into a 1,000 year old pueblocito that had remained dry throughout.

But everything around the pueblocito was wet and slick, and very near the pueblocito, should you miss your grip on a juniper tree, was that same 500 foot drop with nothing to grab but slick rock and air. We stayed in the pickup.  (grin)

With more storm fronts rolling in, we decided to head for Lordsburg. It was apparent we wouldn’t be able to use our cots and sleeping bags, etc. Dan couldn’t make use of his tarp to protect from the rain because the wind was, well, western wind.

PART II

Several miles down the road there’s a large wash. The road ducks into it for about a quarter-mile, then out again. Only the wash was under fast-moving water.

So we “decided” (as if there was a choice) to make camp near a rancher’s windmill and catch pen until the wash was not moving.

I slept sitting up in the cab (because I can) and Dan slept under the camper shell in the bed of the pickup. It rained and dropped lightning off and on pretty much all night. However, when I wandered down to the wash in the predawn light, it was damp but not flowing.

About an hour later we drove down a hill, across the wash, up onto relatively firm ground and out. There were other minor adventures, including inching past a motorhome that some moron had parked ON THE ROAD (this is a dirt road, one and a half lanes max) because apparently he didn’t want to drive any farther in the mud.

But we were tired and hungry and wet and far from home (just like in the Marine Corps) so we didn’t honk or shoot at him or anything when we went by. (The owner and whomever else was apparently asleep in the back.)

Into Lordsburg at last, we dropped in to a restaurant for breakfast, then out to Shakespeare where a very kind gentleman named Rod allowed us in to take pictures even though they usually only allow people in during official tours. (We told him we’re both writers and that our characters know Shakespeare better than we do. Truedat. One of Dan’s characters named the place.)

Then Dan dropped south of I-10 to St. David and dropped me off. And here I am. Dan should be home about now, as I write this.

I’m not gonna write today. I’m gonna indulge my other side and enjoy the pics and videos. Tomorrow I’ll write the story of the week and then get back to Book 8 of the West Crowley saga.

BY THE WAY if you’re one of those who limit yourself to writing “only novels,” I urge you to read the topic of the day on Dean’s site AT THIS LINK. It isn’t today’s post.

The Writing
No writing today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of “(as yet untitled)” (story of the week)
Day 1…… 2238 words. Total words to date…… 2238

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 18790
Total fiction words for the year……………… 424473

The Journal, Friday, 7/10

The Day

Rolled out at 2:30. Checked email and, from that, a few journal entries. Congrats to my friend Bonnie for a good start on a personal writing challenge. Also had an email from my buddy Dan, to let me know he’s on his way down. We’re headed for the Lower Gila Box on a camping trip this morning around 6.

And just then I realized I hadn’t written the story of the week yet. (grin) So as soon as I finish this basic post, I’ll get on that. I don’t like to limit a story, so I probably won’t finish it today. I’ll write the opening and see where it goes.

I’m posting this mostly so I can pass along the topic of the nnight. I’ll catch up on numbers etc. when I get back.

Topic of the Night: Just Start

Yesterday and the day before, “Just Start” was the first point of the topic of the night.

It would be EASY to allow my conscious mind to rationalize this opportunity away. My writing ‘puter is turned off (I usually just put my computers into sleep mode so they’re ready to go). My writing ‘puter also is packed in its handy dandy travel bag.

So the conscious mind says to write, I’d have to get it out, turn it on, plug it in, etc. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until we get to our campsite? Then, after things calm down, the day’s hiking is finished, THEN maybe I can write.

See? That’s the conscious mind trying to stop me from writing. It has all sorts of tricks. (Today it didn’t work. grin)

And another conscious-mind ploy is already under way because I’m still writing this nonfiction blog post instead of writing my story of the week. (grin) Not Writing Fiction comes in many guises. You have to guard against it, or at least be aware of it, at all times.

And the easiest way to beat it is to Just Start. Which is where I’m going right now. (grin)

The Writing
Started the story of the week, to be finished on the road. (grin) Aren’t challenges and streaks fun? This one is due to post Monday morning at 9 a.m.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 2238

Writing of “(as yet untitled)” (story of the week)
Day 1…… 2238 words. Total words to date…… 2238

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 18790
Total fiction words for the year……………… 424473

The Journal, Thursday, 7/9

The Day

Rolled out at 2:30. Checked email and went looking on CraigsList for a shell for my pickup. I don’t really use it as a truck anymore to haul things that don’t need protection from the weather, so….

Will spend the morning in Tucson for doctor and other things, including picking up that shell.

Another good walk this morning, though only a little over 4 miles. The 7.4 yesterday wore me out. (grin)

Took my camera with a different lens. Got some pretty good pics, but nothing to post today. What does this have to do with writing? I use the camera mostly for book cover pics and secondarily for art pics. Sometimes the pic gives me a story idea.

So I visited Dean’s site again, and again he wrote a great topic. I urge you to check it out. Just because you hit your goal for the day doesn’t mean you have to stop writing. You can move on to the next project or next goal.

Well, as it turns out, reporting the day today will be easy. Thanks to the proficiency of the medical profession, it was pretty much a total loss.

I showed up in Tucson at Pima Heart at 9:30 for a 10:15 appointment. I was to have an echo done on my heart, have my pacemaker checked, and then visit with the doctor to receive the results of the echo.

I was in the back at 10:10. My echo took a little longer than usual but went fairly smoothly, and the pacemaker check went like butter. I was out of those two by 10:30 with assurances that “We’ll call you in a few minutes for the doctor.”

JUST UNDER THREE HOURS later I was called back and put in a room. About ten minutes after that, the doctor came in, told me everything was fine, and dismissed me.

I am not pleased.

From there we went to a late lunch at Jimmy John’s. (A high note.)

And from there we went to buy a used camper shell for my pickup. The price was fantastic, the guy helped me put it on the truck, and finally, finally, I got back here just in time to write this note and watch NYPD Blue.

So no new topic today, and no writing. I’m reposting yesterday’s topic in case anyone missed it.

Tomorrow morning EARLY I go camping. Probably will be gone through Sunday. I won’t post during that time but will catch everyone up on Monday’s post.

So thanks for your patience.

Topic of the Night: A Repeated Few Notes On Goals

1. Just Start — Yes, I understand you have Xxxxx going on tomorrow (or next week or whatever) but no, that is not a legitimate reason to put off setting a goal or starting a challenge. Why? Because there will ALWAYS be one Xxxxx or another starting or stopping or going on. There will always be birthdays and vacations and movies you’ve been waiting forever to see and so on and so on. If you want to start a challenge, just start.

2. Missing Isn’t the End of the World — If you miss your goal, what happens? Nothing. The same thing that happens when you achieve your goal for the day. Nothing. So don’t sweat it. If you vow to write 3,000 words of publisable fiction per day and you write only 1200 one day, nobody’s gonna come beat you up. Your house won’t suddenly be foreclosed. The bank won’t suddenly come get your car. Nothing happens. So challenge yourself already. Set goals.

3. Adjust Your Goals as Necessary — If you challenge yourself (or set a goal) to write 3,000 words per day and you just can’t make it and feel that you need to back that off to 2,500 or 2,000 or whatever, that’s perfectly all right. Again, it’s YOUR goal. It affects nobody but You. If you only write 1000 words per day (that’s about an hour) five days per week that would still be 20,000 words per month. That’s a 60,000 word novel in three months, and that’s taking every weekend off and only working one hour a day.

4. Set Other Goals Too (em) I have to shed some fat. Beginning today, my goal is to walk at least 4 miles per day. Every day. (It’s just walking.) And yes, I’m going to keep a journal to motivate myself. Last year I lost from 205 down to 174 pounds.

Okay, this is a biggie. IF ANYONE OUT THERE would like to post your numbers on a website (similar to the way I do here), let me know and I’ll set you up with an account on another website. Right now several other people have accounts but only a few are using the site. I’d be happy to let you in if you want in. It’s a good way to get support from other professional writers and hold yourself accountable.

The Writing
No writing today but I AM taking my writing ‘puter with me on the camping trip. If I can’t hammer out 3000 words a day while I’m out there then… well, I just don’t know.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 16552
Total fiction words for the year……………… 422235

The Journal, Wednesday, 7/8

The Day

Rolled out at a little after 1. Checked email and took care of some other housekeeping type matters.

Had another good walk this morning. I set out to do 6, but with various side trips to line up pics, I ended up with just under seven and a half miles. Great walk. And so far I can still move. (grin)

Went out about 4:15, was at the two mile mark (per the road signs) by sunrise. Got some pretty good pics. I switched back to my 105mm prime lens. All former Marines who take photos should use a 105mm. (Inside joke.) Anyway, after breakfast and a shower, I got a load of laundry started, then posted some pics to Facebook. You can see them here.

Then over here to write on this for a little while. I’ll write the topic of the night now, then go write my own stuff for awhile, then do whatever else and report it all here.

There is a GREAT BLOG TOPIC over at Dean’s site. It’s all about attitude. Go read it. I command you. (grin)

Okay, I did nothing the rest of the day but write, except that I allowed myself to be distracted by Facebook comments on the pics I posted there. Usually I’m pretty good about turning away from this (business) computer but not today for some reason.

And then I had what I thought was going to turn into an emergency with a long-time Marine Corps friend, but it wasn’t. At this point, only three of us remain from the earliest days of our unit at Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma. That’s just unreal to me. And when I emailed one of those guys today, the email bounced with “no such mailbox.”

Freaked. Me. Out.

But I called and he’s still around. Thank goodness. I’m gonna go see him in August and then probably swing up to Lake Havasu City and visit with the other one.

Topic of the Night: A Few More Notes on Goals

1. Just Start — Yes, I understand you have Xxxxx going on tomorrow (or next week or whatever) but no, that is not a legitimate reason to put off setting a goal or starting a challenge. Why? Because there will ALWAYS be one Xxxxx or another starting or stopping or going on. There will always be birthdays and vacations and movies you’ve been waiting forever to see and so on and so on. If you want to start a challenge, just start.

2. Missing Isn’t the End of the World — If you miss your goal, what happens? Nothing. The same thing that happens when you achieve your goal for the day. Nothing. So don’t sweat it. If you vow to write 3,000 words of publisable fiction per day and you write only 1200 one day, nobody’s gonna come beat you up. Your house won’t suddenly be foreclosed. The bank won’t suddenly come get your car. Nothing happens. So challenge yourself already. Set goals.

3. Adjust Your Goals as Necessary — If you challenge yourself (or set a goal) to write 3,000 words per day and you just can’t make it and feel that you need to back that off to 2,500 or 2,000 or whatever, that’s perfectly all right. Again, it’s YOUR goal. It affects nobody but You. If you only write 1000 words per day (that’s about an hour) five days per week that would still be 20,000 words per month. That’s a 60,000 word novel in three months, and that’s taking every weekend off and only working one hour a day.

4. Set Other Goals Too — I have to shed some fat. Beginning today, my goal is to walk at least 4 miles per day. Every day. (It’s just walking.) And yes, I’m going to keep a journal to motivate myself. Last year I lost from 205 down to 174 pounds.

Okay, this is a biggie. IF ANYONE OUT THERE would like to post your numbers on a website (similar to the way I do here), let me know and I’ll set you up with an account on another website. Right now several other people have accounts but only a few are using the site. I’d be happy to let you in if you want in. It’s a good way to get support from other professional writers and hold yourself accountable.

The Writing
Finally got back on the horse today. Not as much writing as I’d liked, but the story is flowing again.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 2178

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056

Total fiction words for the month…………… 16552
Total fiction words for the year……………… 422235

The Journal, Tuesday, 7/7

The Day

Rolled out at 2. Checked email, then did some things with an old friend’s website. Cleaned it up a bit.

Had another good walk this morning. Just under 4.5 miles out along a rural road out here. I used to walk in town but I don’t care for getting bit by all the “good” dogs out there who “wouldn’t harm a fly, really.” Right.

Checked Dean’s blog. More on that in the topic of the night below.

I’m taking a day off my own writing today. I have a routine appointment with my doctor in a little over an hour, so just kind of killing time until then. After that, probably lunch (since I’ll already be in town anyway) and then back here.

Okay, the trip to Benson is over. Back here I didn’t do a lot. Just kind’a rested for awhile.

And no, none of that has anything to do with the doc appointment. All of that was fine. As I wrote in a poem one time, “It’s time to reconnect some frazzled ends, / unbend a few warped planes, demagnetize / a short in my long circuit.” (grin)

Wes threw me a curve a couple days ago, something huge and completely unexpected. I’m gonna give it a day and a night to ferment. Note: I’m NOT going to think about it and wonder what happens and all that. That isn’t my job. I’m just giving my subconscious to decide what it wants to do, where it wants to go with this new plot twist.

(Yes, there is a plot. Per Ray Bradbury, plot is not something you carefully plan out. Plot is the tracks the characters leave as they run through the story.)

So back at it tomorrow.

Topic of the Night: The Value of Personal Challenges

Dean Wesley Smith started on July 1 with a new personal challenge: he would write a short story every day during the month of July. At the end of the month, he’ll compile all of those stories and the accompanying blog posts in a book titled The Stories of July. I’m pulling for him.

Folks, here’s a guy who has 40 years as a professional writer and well over 100 novels traditionally published. Yet he still sees value in setting goals and challenging himself specifically.

He has said in his blog for the past three days that if he hadn’t challenged himself to write those stories, he wouldn’t have written them. Even though he was exhausted toward the end of his day, he forced himself to write the story on each of those three days because he had challenged himself and he didn’t want to fail in the challenge.

In that way, he gave power to the challenge, and in that way, he increased his body of work by three more stories.

If at the end of July he’s written only 30 stories or only 28 or something, certainly he will have failed to success. But for my money, I think the earlier in a challenge you fail, the harder it would be to continue the challenge the next day.

Add to that the power of streaks. The more consecutive days he goes with a new story written each day, the harder it will be for him to allow that streak to end. At that point it becomes “Well, I’ve written a short story on each of 12 consecutive days, how can I just let the sreak die today?”

And that’s the power of streaks.

The Writing
Nada today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 14374
Total fiction words for the year……………… 420057

The Journal, Monday, 7/6

The Day
Rolled out at 2:30.

Had a good walk this morning up an arroyo. Four wheeler ATVs hadn’t torn it up too badly, but neither was the sandy bottom quite as packed as I hoped it would be from the rain. Back on roads for awhile I guess.

Been just doing little or nothing most of the morning.

Topic of the Night: Quick, Somebody Stop Me

I hate misunderstandings. I despise them. I screwed up the challenge thing I was trying to do, so I’m withdrawing it, period.

I allowed myself to be turned sideways on the challenge I issued, so I’m pretty much calling it off. I didn’t have any outright takers anyway, so not like it’s a big deal.

One respondent whom I respect as a writer didn’t want to post stories to a website because she’d rather publish them to Amazon and Smashwords.

I don’t blame her. That’s what I do with mine, but I do that PLUS posting them online. I leave the “free” one up on the site for a couple of weeks, and then I take it down. But it’s also up (for sale) at Amazon and Smashwords, and it’s there forever. (If you want to read some of my fiction free, visit HarveyStanbrough.com and click the Free Story of the Week tab.)

That’s what I would have recommended to anyone who took me up on the challenge. Once a week you write a new short story. You post it to the site, but you also create a cover for it and publish it to Amazon and Smashwords. And then you take it down from the site a week later. Simple.

But this whole idea is just silly, really, from my point of view. To make it happen, I have to set up a new website (I don’t mind) and tweak it. I have to teach any participants how to use it. I have to keep a list on hand of user accounts and passwords and take time to help users with various and sundry glitches. And really, I don’t have time.

So I’m withdrawing the offer. Dumb idea in the first place.

But hey, if you’re a writer, unless you routinely write 3,000 to 5,000 words per day without needing to resort to any kind of motivational “tricks” like challenging yourself,  I strongly recommend you challenge yourself.

  • Challenge yourself to write XXXX publishable words per day.
  • Challenge yourself to write a new short story (or essay or chapter or whatever) every week.
  • Challenge yourself, create a streak, and then keep the streak going. You don’t have to believe me, but I’m telling you, it’s magic if you want to become a prolific professional writer.

If you want to show off your work on a website (in addition to publishing it to Amazon and Smashwords) and if you already have a website, you’re all set. I you’d like to do that but you don’t have a website, maybe I can help you with that. Let me know.

So forget the original challenge, and forget the ridiculous “revised” challenge.

I get so fired up about what’s working for me that sometimes I forget: what works for me isn’t necessarily what will work for everyone else or what everyone else will want to try.

Okay, now I’m gonna write for awhile, finally. (grin)

The Writing

I dawdled. When I try to do something to help someone but I don’t explain it so they can understand it I feel compelled to make it all better. My “challenge” fiasco apparently helped no one and let me rope myself into explaining it. And that’s what I did, off and on, most of the afternoon. So I allowed my writing time to slip away.

Mea culpa.

The good thing about daily goals is they reset every day. Tomorrow, I have to write 3000 publishable words of fiction. I don’t have to make up for what I messed up today. Woohoo!

Today’s Writing

Fiction words: 1585

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878

Total fiction words for the month…………… 14374
Total fiction words for the year……………… 420057

The Journal, Sunday, 7/5

The Day

Rolled out at 2:30 but after being awake and dozing off an on for two full hours. So I’m starting the day with sand in my eyes. Ugh. Happens.

Worked on my Audio Lectures website over at http://HEStanbrough.org to make it responsive as well. I think that’s all for websites until someone takes me up on the weekly challenge. Only took an hour. Kind of a fun diversion.

Over on Dean’s website yesterday (July 4) was a bit on holidays. Interesting. It’s my take as well. (A “holiday” is just another day, or the way I put it, sun comes up, sun goes down.) And then on July 5 there’s a much more interesting piece on the importance of challenges and streaks. I’ll talk more about that in the topic of the night, below.

Then I’ll go to Wes Book 8 and write for awhile. Unsure what the rest of the day will hold, although I’ll probably watch a few NYPD Blue episodes, and I’ll probably watch at least some of the ladies World Cup soccer championship between the USA and Japan. If you enjoy watching soccer at all, this ladies team is really something to see, the way they constantly pressure the opponent. Extremely good team.

Topic of the Night: Challenges and Streaks as Goals

Everybody here already knows a dream is something that’s wonderful to hope for but that is outside of your control. That is, it depends on other people, circumstances, and so on.

But a goal is something that is entirely within your control. It is something that you CAN attain.

You also know I’m a big believer in setting recurring goals, goals that re-set at regular intervals, like daily or weekly or monthly. Although a month is a long way to see at one time.

It’s a lot better for me to say I’m going to write one short story per week instead of saying I’m going to write four or five short stories per month, or fifty-two short stories per year. If I took the longer view, I’d get down to the last few days of the month and find myself having to write four or five stories. Or I’d get down to October and realized I need fifty-two short stories before December 31. Ugh.

So I set short-term goals and let the longer terms take care of themselves.

I set a goal to write 3,000 words per day, plus one short story per week, plus (loosely) one novel per month. But if I hit my daily goal, the other two won’t be a problem.

Challenging yourself is nothing more than setting a recurring goal. In fact, I think you can’t challenge yourself without setting a goal.

And a streak is both an incentive and a goal. Like my short story a week challenge. I set it for a year. The year was over on April 6, 2015. But I’m still going because Streaks Have Power. Once you get a streak going, it’s very hard to just stop. And it all goes into your personal literary canon, so what’s the down side?

The Writing
Not a bad day writing today. For numbers, almost a repeat of yesterday. What was weird today is that it all happened in two very quick sessions. (grin) I guess my conscious mind is so tired that it just stepped aside while the subconscious was playing. I figure I keyed about 1200 words per hour today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 3186

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293

Total fiction words for the month…………… 12789
Total fiction words for the year……………… 418472