The Journal, Sunday, 4/30

Hey Folks,

Yesterday, after I filed my Journal, I was out in the Hovel messing around. Bought a new shop vac and carried it out there.

After I set it where I wanted it, I thought I’d enjoy a cigar and a few games of Spider. So I sat down at my writing ‘puter, raised the lid and turned on the mouse.

And the first sentence of a short story popped into my head.

So I opened Word, hit Enter a couple times to move down the page, and started writing. I wrote a quick opening (around 250 words), then closed the computer. (grin) I love when that happens.

The fiction I wrote yesterday is included in today’s total.

***

Interesting morning around here. About 3:30 I was visiting Facebook when I heard what I thought was my little girl. It was a kind of distressed sound, but not her typical Siamese growl.

So I came unglued from my chair, grabbed my flashlight and dodged around my desk.

In the beam of the flashlight, I thought I saw something preceding her as she ran for the bedroom. Natch, I followed.

Bit had parked herself near a corner and was staring past a small trashcan in the bedroom.

I moved up past her, widened the beam on my light, and shined it straight down.

In the corner behind the trashcan was a bunny. It was hunkered in, naturally, and in that form it was about five inches long and maybe three inches across. And scared half to death.

It had that beautiful, tawny-brown fur, and its long but tiny ears were laid straight back. Making itself as small as possible.

I woke my wife to help me. She found another small trash can and I got a spatula to try to guide the little thing into it.

In the end, I just picked up the baby, nestled it close to my chest (babies like heartbeats) and spoke quietly to it. Then I carried it outside and released it near the fence. After a long moment, it moved through the fence and hopped away.

So it’s already been a good day.

Started taking pics at around 7 and did that until around 9. I enjoy macro photography especially. Posted some stuff on FB and ate breakfast.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:15, excitement around 3:30, then spent the next few hours easing into the day.

I wrote off and on most of the day in 15 and 20 minute bits, and once as long as an hour. Finished another short story.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See Dean’s “Story Twenty-Nine” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-nine/.

Fiction Words: 3551
Nonfiction Words: 440 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3991

Writing of “Saving Face” (short story)

Day 1…… 3551 words. Total words to date…… 3551 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 39038
Total fiction words for the year………… 247594
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17350
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 74690

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 322284

The Daily Journal blog streak………………………………… 522 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)…………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Wednesday, 4/26

Hey Folks,

Very short post today. Knowing me, I’ll be back with longer stuff tomorrow.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3. Dabbled in what people call “politics” for awhile, but that isn’t an intense enough word.

5:30, I set aside the impulse to chew wheels and spit nails and escaped to the story. Cycling, of course.

Wrote for about a half-hour, then got busy around the yard, then a walk with my wife, then Walmart, then the PO. Finally back at 9:30, updated FB and checked email.

Almost 3 when I got back to the story. Did a TON of cycling. This is an odd duck. I don’t like present tense writing. It sounds like stage direction to me. But this story felt like it lent itself to it, so I tried it. First reader has it now. We’ll see.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Wonderfully interesting comments on Dean’s “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Six” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-six/comments/. It’s almost another entire blog post.

Also see “Story Twenty-five” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-five/.

Fiction Words: 1133
Nonfiction Words: 170 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1303

Writing of How Hard the Ground (short story)

Day 1…… 1807 words. Total words to date…… 1807
Day 2…… 1133 words. Total words to date…… 2940 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 33587
Total fiction words for the year………… 242143
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14570
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 71910

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 314053

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 518 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (16 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

Setting Goals — 2016 Is Almost Here

Hey Folks,

If you’re a human being with dreams and aspirations, this is a great time to be thinking about what you want to attain or achieve in 2016.

If you’re a writer, that means thinking about goals.

At the minimum I recommend setting a daily writing goal, one that automatically resets at the beginning of each time period. If your goal is to write 1000 words per day and you meet or exceed it, great. At the beginning of the next day, it resets to zero and your goal is to write 1000 words. See how many days in a row you can meet or exceed your goal.

One caution here— Set realistic goals. By “realistic” I mean goals that you know you can reach, but that make you stretch a bit. If you find yourself meeting your goal continually, you might want to raise it a bit. If your set your goal too high so that you very seldom reach it, and if that starts to become disheartening for you, lower it a bit.

I also recommend setting a mid-term goal. What do you plan to accomplish before January 1, 2017? It’s only a year away. And what about long-term goals? What do you plan to have accomplished by January 1, 2021? January 1, 2026? Those are only five and ten years away.

A Quick Discussion of Goals vs. Dreams

Beware of confusing these two.

A goal is something that is within your control, at least for the most part.

For example, writing a certain number of publishable words of fiction per day is within your control unless some sort of emergency derails you one day. And if it does, that’s all right because the goal resets the next day.

Writing a certain amount every week also is within your control, again, more or less. You could write a short story every week and see how long you can keep that streak alive. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. (grin)

A dream, on the other hand, is in no way, shape or form within your control.

A dream might be to hit the bestseller lists with your first novel, or to make a million dollars on your first novel. That’s a wonderful dream, and I hope you achieve it, but if you do it won’t be because you decided it would happen. Too many factors are not within your control.

So by all means, dream and enjoy it.

But in the meantime, set realistic goals. Setting goals is your best shot at realizing dreams.

My Goals

Before I do this, one disclaimer — Your goals don’t have to mimic mine. We lead different lives and have different priorities, and that’s fine. If you surpass me by a bunch, I’ll applaud and cheer you on. If you attain your goal of writing only one hour per day, four short stories and one novel per year, I’ll applaud and cheer you on.

If you are a writer, what matters is that you write.

My goals are based on writing approximately 1000 publishable words of fiction per hour. That’s only 17 words per minute. Leaves a lot of time for staring off into space.

So here are my personal writing goals. I know I can achieve them because I’ve achieve them before. But they’re big enough to make me stretch. If you’d like yo watch my progress (or hold my feet to the fire), Sign Up for my Daily Journal.

Daily:

  • 3,200 new publishable words of fiction per day, plus whatever nonfiction (blog posts, articles) I write.
  • write at least 500 words of publishable words of fiction every day (Going for a streak here. Even if I miss my daily goal, the 500 words will keep the streak alive.)

Weekly:

  • At least one new short story every week. (This was recommended by Bradbury, and it’s a great deal of fun. My previous attempt resulted in a streak that lasted over 70 weeks and about 75 short stories.)
  • 22400 new publishable words of fiction per week (the daily goal x 7).

Monthly:

  • One new novel per month (in addition to the short stories and necessary nonfiction).

Annual:

  • Write at least 12 novels during the year. I would like some of these to be in series.
  • Write at least 52 short stories during the year. I hope, this year, to write at least one story in every major genre except mystery. Mystery just ain’t my bag.
  • Write at least one million publishable words of fiction. If I meet my daily goal for at least 313 days I will exceed this goal by 1600 words.

Side Goals:

  • Create an ebook cover for each of the publications above, plus for the five- and ten-story collections I compile from the short stories (so covers for 12 novels, 52 short stories, and 15 collections—79 covers).
  • Format and publish all works as ebooks
  • Layout and publish all major works (novels, collections) as print booksAlso I will have compiled those short stories into 5 ten-story collections and maybe 10 five-story collections. (Giving readers an option.)

I haven’t set my mid-term or long-term goals yet.

Fiction Lengths

For the sake of full disclosure, and because it seems appropriate to this post, here are my personal definitions of the various lengths of literary genres. This is a brave new world in which we no longer have to worry about hitting a certain page count (a certain folio) for traditional publishing’s price points:

6 to 99 words — Flash Fiction
100 to 2,000 — Short Short Story
2,000 to 6,999 — Short Story
7,000 to 9,999 — Long Short Story (or Novelette)
10,000 to 29,999 — Novella
30,000 to 39,999 — Short Novel
40,000 to 69,999 — Novel
70,000 — Long Novel

Okay, looks like that’s it for this time. See you on January 1 with a new post of interest to professional writers and aspirants.

‘Til then, happy writing!

Harvey

Remember, to sign up for my mad diary of a professional writer’s journey and learn by osmosis what to do and what not to do, click The Daily Journal.

To receive a free short story every week in your email, click Story of the Week.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out or just click paypal.me/harveystanbrough. If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.

The Journal, Friday, 12/11

Hi Folks,

Still under the weather a bit today but definitely on the mend. It feels good knowing by this time tomorrow I ought’a be back to my normal level of unhealthinessicity. (grin)

The Day

Rolled out a little before 3 this morning. Sometime overnight my subconscious set up an alarm reminding me to get the “boxed set” of the Wes Crowley novels out for that one guy who might want it for Christmas. (grin)

So in the midst of my first mugga coffee, I started copying/pasting and formatting. Then spell checking, reparagraphing here and there, revising my use of ellipses and em dashes, etc. Basically I brought the entire series up to my current skill level as a writer. Amazing how much stuff I’ve learned since I wrote the first word of that series back on October 19, 2014.

And no, I don’t usually go back over old stuff. I did so this time only because I was putting the whole thing in one book. And I didn’t change words (except a few errors I found). Only paragraphing really, for readability and pacing. Over 800 pages, just under 415,000 words. Cool.

Wes Crowley Saga 180Created a promo document and a new cover for the overall series (that’s it over there on the left) and then resized all nine novel covers and inserted them in the book as well, one at the beginning of each novel. Isn’t Coralín pretty?

So that’s all I did from about 3:30 right up through 10:30. That was almost an hour ago. Then I published the thing to D2D, Smashwords and Amazon. Then I came here to write this, and now I’m gonna break for a bit, maybe visit Dean’s site (new Heinlein’s Rules stuff over there) before getting to the writing computer.

Sometime in the next few days I’ll do some research to see whether I can find a place that produces the boxed-set boxes. If so, and if they aren’t terribly expensive, and if I don’t have to order a b’jillion of them at one time, I hope to sell this creature through StoneThread Publishing in paper as a boxed set too. Failing that, I might have it put in one Lahahaha HONG volume.

Oops. On break since I wrote the above, and forgot to put the new cover on the publisher’s site and create a new page for that one. So off to do that now, THEN to the writing ‘puter. Here’s the book page if you wanna look at it.

Okay, got the updates done, then had to go find my little girl cat. Now that everything and everyone is where it/they’re supposed to be, maybe I can play for awhile.

Today’s Writing

I just want you guys to know, turning out a lot of words doesn’t mean I sit here and write all day. What it takes is getting to the writing computer, and then writing.

Case in point, at 10:30 this morning I made my first attempt to get to the writing computer. I finally got there shortly before 2 p.m. Hey, stuff happens. And when it happens around here, it seems to always come off the blades of a fan. (grin)

Had three frantic sessions crammed in between other stuff. That’s all right. Had a blast while I was writing. And it’s a funny story, depending on which way your sense of humor is warped.

Now I’m gonna post this (almost 5 p.m.) and put down some numbers.

Fiction Words: 2913
Nonfiction Words: 602

Writing of “Makilak Crismazizzle” (short story)

Day 1…… 2913 words. Total words to date…… 2913 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 29511
Total fiction words for the year………… 633502

Total nonfiction words for the month… 7805
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 49907 (since September 1)

The Journal, Thursday, 12/10

Hi Folks,

Okay, I had a bit of a rough night last night, but the lag isn’t too bad. So my goal for today is to write two separate short stories. If I can do that, I should shoot straight past my daily publishable-words writing goal.

This is my way of jumpstarting myself back into writing after finishing the novel. Helps me avoid the post-writeum depression.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t celebrate finishing a novel. For one thing, that would be like a mechanic celebrating putting an engine back together after an overhaul. Plus it means I’m leaving behind some people and situations I enjoyed, so what’s to celebrate?

On the other hand, I do celebrate a great scene coming together or a great ending and resolution falling into place, as it did yesterday. That’s like the same mechanic feeling satisfied that during the overhaul he increased the horsepower by 20 percent. (grin)

The Day

Rolled out just after 3 this morning, mostly awake, so I must have gotten more sleep than I thought.

Little girl cat (my youngest daughter) helped with that. She stayed in bed last night until about 2:30 when she came strolling in and jumped up on the couch beside me. She groomed for a moment, then curled up in the crook of my elbow and went back to sleep. Good girl. She was my alarm. Then she hit Snooze. Plus she was reunited with Dad. Made me smile. And we call them simple creatures.

So just after 3 I made my first mugful, let her go play, and completed my commute to my office (about 20 feet from the couch, 70 if you add-in the diversion for coffee).

Then I started writing this. Now I’m gonna turn to the writing ‘puter and write something over there. Back in a bit. Oh, it’s almost exactly 4:30.

Today’s Writing

Well, by 10 a.m. I had the first short story finished. Three sessions and two breaks. During the breaks I read Dean’s stuff (he has the first two chapters of Heinlein’s Rules up) and spent about 10 minutes on Facebook with a favorite niece. I also signed up for one of his Classic online workshops.

The Classic workshops are the ones that used to take 6 weeks and he would assign and grade homework, etc. Then he’d leave the lessons up for a couple weeks, then close them off again. He calls these Classic because he stopped carrying them live but he still offers them (sans feedback on homework, which never was personal anyway) for half the price.

It’s a good value at $150 vs. $300. When I get through the current course, I’ll let you know what I thought of it. Oh, also, once you pay for the course, you can go back to it whenever you want. So like I said, it’s a good value.

About 10:30 I decided to work on the drudge stuff for two stories (the one I wrote today and the one I adapted a couple days ago). Okay, so for each of those I created a promo document (title, description, keywords), formatted it (once for Smashwords, once for D2D and Amazon), created a cover and published it to Smashwords, D2D, Amazon and my website on the Free Story of the Week. I’m up to February 15 now with stories of the week. 🙂 Oh, then I updated my Short Story page on my website. Finished all that by 1, then took 20 minutes or so to walk out in the yard. Then back here to record what I’ve been doing, then a shower.

Now it’s almost 2 p.m. I was turning to write another story, but I’m still tired from the coughing bouts last night. So instead of playing with another story right now, I’m gonna clean up a few things, publish this, and then do some reading. I’ll start writing again tomorrow.

Oh, I did figure out how to add my nonfiction writing into my totals. So you’ll see a daily and monthly total beginning today, and an annual total beginning next year, same as with the fiction. Nonfiction includes this blog (the parts that are unique each day) and the Pro-Writers blog. I don’t include emails and all that nonsense. And of course it will be approximate, but probably not off by more than a couple hundred words per year or so.

Fiction Words: 2556 (I’ll take it)
Nonfiction Words: 766

Writing of “Dr. Zimmer in the Amazon” (short story)

Day 1…… 2556 words. Total words to date…… 2556 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 26598
Total fiction words for the year………… 630589

Total nonfiction words for the month… 7203
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 49305 (since September 1)

Write What You Know — Seriously?

Howdy Folks,

How many times has some pundit told you to “write what you know”?

Uh, no. That is bad advice. Maybe the baddest advice ever, and I mean that in the old sense of “baddest,” before we started dumbing down the language. I mean “worst.”

It’s bad advice because the connotation is that you should write ONLY what you know.

So what? You’re supposed to write what you DON’T know?

Yes. Of course. You should also write what you know, but not ONLY what you know.

If everyone wrote only what they know, there would be very little science fiction, zero science fantasy (or other fantasy, for that matter), very little mystery, very little suspense, and so on. You can only “know” what actually exists and what you’ve actually experienced.

But think about it. Can you write a police procedural if you’ve never been a cop? Of course. Can you write a spy/thriller if you’ve never worked for the CIA? Yep. Can you write a romance novel if you’ve never been involved with a “shuddering, heaving breast” or a guy with flowing hair, broad shoulders, a thick chest with just the right amount of hair on it and trim, athletic hips? Yep.

If you couldn’t, novels wouldn’t exist.

All you need is Interest. If you’re Interested in writing Science Fiction, create a character, give him a problem, and drop him into a setting. Okay, then what happens first? Shrug. I don’t know. He’s your character. All I know is he has to solve the problem. (This might not be “the” problem of the story. Just a problem to get the character/situation started.)

If you’re interested in writing Mystery, create a character, give him a problem, and drop him into a setting. In this case, it’s a good idea if the problem is that the character just stumbled across a body. (grin)

If you’re interested in writing Romance, create a character (or two), give him a problem, and drop him into a setting.

Beginning to notice a trend here?

All you need to begin a story (of any length) is a character with a problem in a setting. That’s it. By and large, the setting determines the genre. Most characters and most problems can be cherry picked from one setting and dropped into another. And you’ll write an entirely different story in an entirely different genre.

If you don’t believe me, try it.

And what do I mean by “setting”? For purposes of this topic, the setting is where the character suddenly realizes he has a problem, and where he works through the problem. The smaller and more focused the setting, the better. (More on that next time.)

For now, create a character, give him a problem, and drop him into a setting. Then write an opening.

The opening will be around 300 to 500 words, probably. Be sure to include the character’s sense of the setting (sight, smell, taste, feel, sound) and have him either solve the problem or get well underway in solving it.

If the opening takes off (most of the time it will take off), just write the next sentence. Then write the next sentence. Then write the next sentence until the character leads you to the end of your new short story, novella, or novel.

If the opening sags out and dies, so what? Toss it. Then if you like the idea, write it again from scratch. And if you don’t like the idea, create a character, give him a problem, drop him into a setting and write another opening. (grin)

Seriously. Character + problem + setting = story opening. Try it. You won’t be disappointed. Add resolution and stir well. Bake for one hour per thousand words, spell check it, slap a cover on it and publish it.

‘Til next time, happy writing.

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks! If you can’t make a monetary donation, please at least consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. Again, thank you.

The Journal, Thursday, 9/17: Critical Mind. Ugh.

When asked what advice he would give new writers, Ray Bradbury said, “Write at least a thousand words a day for ten years. Write at least a short story every week of your life, or its equivalent in essay form, play form or the novel. … Habit is everything. Learning one’s craft is locked into habit.” So there you go.

Got a good night’s sleep last night despite the idiot dog across the way doing his bark-at-nothing thing at regular intervals. Rolled out right at 3 to begin the day.

Slipping a bit in my ongoing retraining, so I’m retooling again. I always check email first thing while I’m waking up, read news stories, etc. But recently I’ve been responding to lengthy emails from a person who asks a lot of questions.

Now I’m not blaming the person for asking, so don’t get me wrong. I could always just say something like “Sorry, I don’t have time for this.” But I’m trying to help, trying to share my own knowledge and experience, so I don’t mind. And if you know me at all, you know I usually go overboard with my answers to be sure I answer the question thoroughly. So totally my fault.

This morning I received an email like that with nine numbered questions. To save a little time scrolling up and down I opened a Notepad document, listed 1-9 down the side, then wrote my responses.

It still ate an hour and a half out of my day. Granted it was almost a thousand words (I checked only for purposes of this post), and that many words of nonfiction from the conscious mind in an hour and a half is pretty much blazing speed, at least for me. But I allowed my response to eat about 1500 words worth of my fiction-writing time. And I’ll lose more time too. Time that I can’t afford to lose.

The problem is that once I’m working in my conscious, critical mind, it takes awhile to get back into the free-flowing subconscious creative mind.

So I’m tweaking my retraining schedule again. Beginning tomorrow morning, I’ll still check email, read news items etc. to wake up as always. I’ll even respond to some email, but long stuff or stuff that I feel requires a long response will have to wait until the end of my day.

Oh, beginning tomorrow also, this post will go out later in the evening. I’ll try 6 for awhile. If that doesn’t give me enough leeway, I’ll raise it to 7.

Now about the conscious mind. One of the primary functions of the conscious mind is to protect you. If you’re about to lean your hand on the hot burner of a stove, the conscious mind is what causes you to feel the heat and jerk your hand away. The conscious mind is what causes you to sense the edge of a cliff is near and back off. (The subconcious mind would say, “Go ahead! Might be a trip!”)

For a writer, the conscious mind invokes every writing myth you ever heard in an attempt to stop you from writing. (If you don’t finish what you’re writing, you can’t submit it or publish it and you won’t be “hurt” by rejection or criticism. This is why we don’t mind outlining or plotting or thinking about writing or just rewriting and “polishing” ad nauseam.)

And the critical conscious mind is wily in that regard. Notice, I recently (only a few days ago) had retrained myself to take no more than a half-hour of waking-up time before turning to the writing computer. Enter this correspondent, and suddenly I’m taking an hour and a half to two hours. Nicely played, conscious mind. (grin) But I’m putting a stop to it.

So how do you beat the conscious, critical mind? You take a personal oath to adhere to Heinlein’s Rules. Then when you realize you’ve fallen off, you wag your finger at your conscious mind, set it back in the corner where it’s supposed to be, and get back on Heinlein’s Rules.

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must not rewrite.
  4. You must publish what you write so people can buy it.
  5. You must keep it published so more people can buy it.

I’ve been falling down on Rule 2 lately. Why? Because my conscious mind keeps wanting to know where the story is going in advance. So I have to clear that away, start another story, write an opening and see where it goes.

I have to stop “thinking” and Just Write the Next Sentence. Now I’m putting all this here so you can see that if you have to battle this stuff, you aren’t alone. I battle it too.

Okay, so I wrote that response to my correspondent, and that siphoned me into using my conscious, critical mind. Since I was drowning in the CCM anyway, I came here to write this. And now four hours of the day are gone.

Now I’m gonna take a bit of time to adjust my head. Maybe I’ll read a little more Bradbury or something (it motivates me), and then it’s to the writing computer. I’ll see you again this afternoon when it’s time to post this.

By the way, I’m officially calling time of death on my 30-short-stories-by-September-30 challenge.

Did some reading and a few other things, and now, a full six hours after I got out of bed, I’m finally starting my fiction writing. That is completely unsatisfactory. Sometimes there are valid reasons not to write. Today is not of of those days.

My Current Goals and Challenge
My goals remain to write 3,000 words of publishable fiction per day and at least one short story per week. I probably will announce a new challenge soon. I do still want to stay in my retraining though, and writing short stories is the best way to do that right now. Stay tuned.

Topic of the Post: Nothing beyond what I wrote above.

Today’s Writing
Well, nothing like I wanted. Frankly, the fact that I started this post with that particular Bradbury quote is the only thing that made me write fiction today. I couldn’t break free of all the crap in my head. I’ll have it back tomorrow, I guess. I did write that foreword that was requested (1285 words) plus that long email earlier (1000) plus this (over 1200), so over 3000 words of non fiction. But very little fiction. Like I said, I’ll be back on it tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1458

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (not sure what this is gonna be)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Writing of “Curious Shapes” (short story)
Day 1…… 1022 words. Total words to date….. 1022 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Writing of “Nick Mansione” (short story)
Day 1…… 1458 words. Total words to date….. 1458 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Total fiction words for the month………… 28300 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 493341

The Journal, Wednesday, 9/16: Challenges

Well, rolled out a little before 2 this morning. I was wide awake when I got up, but I’ve been tired most of the day.

My hobby is photography. I started it mostly so I could take my own cover shots for my books. I have a decent DSLR (Sony SLT A65) and some limited knowledge how to take good pics. Like writing, it takes practice more than anything else.

But I have very limited technical knowledge re the mechanical inner workings. Recently the image sensor in my camera got some dust on it, and of course those show up in the pics.

I don’t like to doctor pictures after I take them, so I had to find a way to clean the camera without damaging it.

Finally this morning I took a couple hours to find the right manual online. Downloaded it, read the instructions, cleaned the image sensor (first automatically, then tested it, then manually) and the next shot I took was clean. Score!

No walk today again. Just being and writing and overcoming the sense that I want to go to sleep for awhile.

Anyway, after cleaning the camera and writing this and the topic below, I moved over to the writing computer to spend some more time with Norval Babineaux.

Topic of the Post: Challenges
Yesterday I got flippant and said my short stories don’t want me to meet my goal. That was my way of saying the stories are in command. Which is another way of saying my subconscious is in command.

Now that’s great for word count goals, but not necessarily so much for the goal of writing a complete short story (or two) every day or the current challenge of completing 30 short stories by the end of this month.
But although goals and challenges are wonderful motivators, the key to writing both well and prolifically is to have fun. That was kind of my point yesterday. Sorry for the flippancy and any confusion.

Anyway, back to challenges. Do any of you have any ongoing challenges? Have you set any recurring writing goals? If so, have you broadcast it to others whom you know will support your efforts?

I hope it’s all of the above. If not, I urge you to give it a shot. For one thing, it’s a great deal of fun. For another, I won’t be quite so alone in my insanity. (grin)

If you need an additional motivation, Ray Bradbury himself advised those who would be writers to write at least a thousand words a day, every day. Of course, a lot of times you’ll go over that amount. There’s always a story or a chapter or a scene to finish.

Anyway, as I wrote in a response to a comment yesterday, my current challenge is more tongue in cheek at this point than realistic for me. That doesn’t mean some of you couldn’t do it. Beginning today and in the next 15 days I would have to write 24 short stories. So that’s one short story every day plus an extra short story on nine days. Possible? Yes. Probable or even plausible (for me)? Nuh uh.

Still, I’ll leave it in place until I come up with something better. Which is probably going to be in the next few days.(grin)

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Well, not as much as I’d liked. I’m just worn to a frazzle tired so I’m stopping a bit early. I have time for about another 1500 words, but I don’t have the brain for it.

Fiction Words: 2509

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (not sure what this is gonna be)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Writing of “Curious Shapes” (short story)
Day 1…… 1022 words. Total words to date….. 1022 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 6 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 25252
Total fiction words for the month………… 26842 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 491883

The Journal, Tuesday, 9/15: Have Fun

Up right at 2 this morning at my little girl’s insistence. It’s all good. She’s a good baby.

I’m being lazy this morning. It took me over an hour to email a response to a lady who runs a nonprofit. Stuff about how to do things on her WordPress website. Yep, I still haven’t learned. Well, they either take the advice or they don’t. It isn’t like I’m getting royalties. Yawn.

I saw a video (posted it on my Facebook this morning) in which a guy hung out on a street corner. To passersby, he offered, absolutely free, either a large bar of Hershey’s chocolate or a silver ingot worth $150. In every case, they could take either one. In every case, they chose the chocolate. Oh yes, yes. I know those people. Sigh.

I also heard a classic this morning from a respondent (and I am paraphrasing the dialogue here): “Y’know, I offered this incredibly helpful product of mine absolutely free to 1,000 people and not one of them took me up on it. Guess I need to offer it to a lot larger group.”

Yeah, okay. That’ll work. Seriously? Shrug. Everybody needs a hobby.

No walk today at all. Just being and writing.

Okay, listen closely. Here, come closer. I gotta whisper so my subconscious doesn’t hear me. Ready?

My short stories do not want me to meet my goal and accomplish my challenge this month. I swear they’re against me.

Here I am needing to write two per day, and the stories are coming out longer and longer. I won’t be able to write two a day when each story is 4000 words or thereabouts, despite what I said a few days ago when I was feeling very cavalier about the whole thing.

Ugh. So I’m just gonna do what I always do at a time like this: remember to have fun. Writing isn’t work. It’s fun. If it was work, I’d find something else to do. I know I would, ’cause I’ve seen me do it. So I’m gonna have fun and enjoy the characters and what they say and do. The goal and the challenge are secondary. The characters and the fun come first.

I hope that’s how you look at your writing too. Remind yourself to have fun. Run and play with your friends.

Anyway, I posted the story I finished yesterday as next Monday’s story of the week. It’s the first SF I’ve written in awhile, and I even like it.

This morning I wrote for awhile on a new one, then got a shower and ate a little breakfast, then came back to writing. Then I played with my kitten for awhile (she’s sleeping in the window now) and came back to writing again.

As I’m writing this, I’m also eating lunch, and then I’ll go back to writing.

Currently in my challenge, I’ve written 6 stories out of 30. Today is the 15th. That leaves me 16 days (including today) to write 24 short stories. That means I have to write one short story every day, and on 8 days I have to write two. Yeah, well… we’ll see. (grin)

Well, I guess the number’s gonna stay at 6 for another day. If so, beginning tomorrow I have to write one new story every day plus two stories on nine days. Hmmm.

Topic of the Post: No topic today beyond what I wrote above about having fun.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Well, the trend continues. And this one might actually be the beginning of a novella or novel. I honestly don’t know. I only know it feels like the end is nowhere in sight, so this one might be around for awhile even as I write other short stories past it. At least I’m havin’ fun. (grin)

Fiction Words: 3405

Writing of “The Singeing of Norval Babineaux” (short story or something)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 6 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 22743
Total fiction words for the month………… 24333 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 489374

The Journal, Sunday, 9/13: Writing When You Can

Up right at 3 this morning. The writing and tending to the kitten took their toll so I slept longer than usual, but she seems to be doing much better this morning. She spent a lot of time yesterday and last night resting and healing.

It’s odd how much she can put up with and how stoic she is about it. Humans could learn a great deal from little wonders like my girl. I’ve learned tons from her, not that all of it stuck.

I’ll get a little slower start to writing this morning, but I’m probably not gonna walk today so that adds a couple hours back in.

Stinkin’ coyotes are screaming this morning. Whoever first named those things “song dogs” must have been tone deaf. Or drunk. Or just a moron. Or maybe he was one of those guys who rubbed his palms together a lot while drooling through a smile and watching children being ripped apart by wild dogs. Ugh.

I did get to watch a little of the LSU @ Mississippi State game before I sacked out. Man, it’s like those LSU guys are from another planet. Geaux Tigers! I was also pleased to see this morning that Arizona and Oklahoma both won their games. And I guess Arizona put over 40 points on the scoreboard for two weeks in a row now.

Didn’t drop by Dean’s site yesterday so I did that as part of my waking up ritual this morning. Great post. I recommend it. All about the value of having the right writing group.  If you just go to his site instead of clicking on this link, you’ll have to scroll down when you get there.

I wrote the topic below, and now, as a thin line of pre-predawn blue draws across the eastern horizon, I’m turning to my writing ‘puter. Back later with zults and results.

I wrote for awhile on “Desecration,” a new story. Then I went outside for a little while, then came back in and created a new cover for the story. Then I remembered I needed to upload the four new covers I did earlier to my Short Fiction page on my website. There are now 107 covers on that page, including the cover for the story I’m writing today. (grin)

Finished “Desecration” and published it to D2D. That distributor provides an incredible experience. From the time I click Add New Book to the time I click Publish, it takes about 3 minutes.

Compare that to Amazon where the site seems to load FOREVER. And the process, when it’s uninterrupted, takes around 20 minutes. Ugh. Smashwords falls somewhere between those two, but I’m not using Smashwords anymore. It isn’t worth the effort. More on that in the topic tomorrow.

Topic of the Post: Revising Goals and Challenges
Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you. And that’s fine, as long as you aren’t dealing with, you know, an actual bear.

We set goals and challenges for a specific purpose. My purpose most often is to spur myself to greater heights with my writing. When the goal or challenge begins to falter in that purpose, it’s time to draw back and take another look at it.

Can you do that? Of course. There are three overall truisms about goals and challenges:

  • If you achieve your goal, nothing happens except maybe you feel good for a little while.
  • If you DON’T achieve your goal, also nothing happens. Except maybe you say “Darn it” and try again when the goal resets.
  • But if you change your goal for whatever reason, something DOES happen. You are invigorated. You have given new life to your endeavor, and you have given yourself the little push you need to continue.

A few days ago, I wrote that I’m not fooling myself into believing I can actually meet my goal of writing 30 short stories during the month of September. For the record, that’s 25 more short stories of at least 2,000 words each over the next 18 days (starting today). The problem is that “story” is not a set value.

If a “story” was exactly 2,000 words, I would know I have to write 50,000 words in the next 18 days. Is that doable? Absolutely. That’s less than my former daily goal of 3000 words per day.

But a story isn’t exactly 2,000 words. For example, the five I’ve written for the challenge thus far were 2485, 3213, 4329, 3174 and 2191 words. So I’m just sayin’, there’s not a real good chance I’m going to meet this goal and accomplish this challenge.

Still, I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel yet. To meet the goal and accomplish the challenge I have to write one story every day for the rest of the month PLUS seven stories. So for one week, I have to write two stories per day.

I finished my story for today AND created the cover and published it before noon. So I could easily write another story today, though I might not ’cause I might wimp out and watch football. (grin) Life happens, right? At least once a week.

But CAN I write two stories per day? Yep. As long as I think of them as “stories” instead of thinking of the number of words in them. It’s almost impossible to write 10,000 words in a day. It isn’t nearly as difficult to write two stories, both of which happen to be around 5,000 words long. (grin)

Now I do have a backup plan just in case I don’t reach my goal, and if I have to invoke it, I’ll even pay an appropriate penalty. But I’ll tell you about that if I don’t get 30 stories out on or before September 30.

Man, this is a lot of writing, isn’t it? But will it hurt me in any way, shape or form?

Uhhh NO.

At the end of this period of insanity I will have a LOT more short stories in my personal canon and (MUCH more imporantly) I will have jumpstarted my writing habit again.

You just can’t put a price on that.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
A pretty good day. I wrote “Desecration” and got a good start on “The Day They Came” which feels like it’s going to be science fiction. I should be able to finish it tomorrow and then write another one to go with it.

Fingers crossed. I need some two-story days. (grin)

Fiction Words: 3628

Writing of “Desecration” (short story)
Day 1…… 2191 words. Total words to date….. 2191 words (done)

Writing of “The Day They Came” (short story)
Day 1…… 1437 words. Total words to date….. 1437 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 5 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 16827
Total fiction words for the month………… 18417 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 483458