The Journal, Friday, 1/27

Hey Folks,

After yesterday’s sob session, a few very nice people sent me story ideas. 🙂 Thank you. I really appreciate it, but frankly I wouldn’t know what to do with any of them.

That doesn’t mean they weren’t good ideas, only that they didn’t grab me in particular. But again, thanks so much for taking the time to send them. That means a lot to me.

Regarding some of the comments on Deans’ stuff, maybe it’s just me, but if you spend a lot of time thinking about how to NOT make something special, isn’t that just another way of making it special? Yawn. Stretch. And maybe another way for the conscious mind to consume your writing time? Just sayin’.

Topic: An Homage to Jack Williamson

I’ve mentioned Jack before. I was fortunate enough to get to study fiction writing under him for one semester when he was a professor emeritus at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

For that semester, I wrote a story called “Proportional Space.” He gave me a C+, and I suspect he was being kind. Across the top left of the first page of the story, in red ink, he scrawled, “This is not science fiction — but it’s pretty good science fantasy.”

See, Jack was a stickler. Science fiction had to adhere to the known rules of physics. As for the story, many years later it evolved into the novel Terminus Loop.

Jack began writing science fiction before the term was born. He was 17 when his first story was published in a pulp magazine. I especially recommend The Humanoid (1947) and With Folded Hands (1949).

Jack turned out about 120,000 words — two novels — per year, many of them for the major SF publisher TOR. That isn’t a particularly spectacular word count, until you realize he did that for over 60 years straight.

I was in Jack’s modest home in Portales NM one day in 1995 for an end of semester party. He showed me and the other students into his study, where he wrote.

There was a computer on his desk alongside an old Royal typewriter. He never cared for the IBM Selectric. But what was truly remarkable were the walls.

There were no windows. Every wall was covered (save the door) from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, and each was only about a foot and a half apart. And they were squeezed full. Of his own books.

But there was only one copy of each book. In each language in which it had been published.

When he passed away on November 10, 2006 at age 94, he had published one novel that year and was almost finished with his second.

But what’s amazing about Jack, to me, was his mind. From that mind came terms like “prime directive,” “android,” “humanoid,” terraforming” and several others. Have you ever tried to make up a completely new new word? It isn’t easy.

A few years later, when I was editing and publishing a magazine called The Roswell Literary Review, Jack graciously sent me a copy of People Machines. It was a paperback book that contained “With Folded Hands” as well as several other of his stories.

Each story was accompanied by an essay explaining a technique of writing that was illustrated in that story. And you might wonder, did I run reprints of the essays in my little magazine? Oh yes. Oh my yes. You can get a copyof People Machines for as little as 19 cents on Amazon. Unbelievable. To me, it’s priceless.

Jack is also the first person I remember saying to me that energy never dies; it only changes form. He believed the same about the human spirit.

Dr. Jack Williamson, as you soar among the stars, safe and wondrous travels, my friend. May your energy ever continue.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3. Coffee, email, read a couple of online magazines (Popular Science and Popular Photography), political and world newsletters, then comments on Dean’s site.

4:15, extra coffee made and headed out to the Hovel. It’s my workspace, so I intend to spend time there something comes. I did nothing the first hour.

At 5 up to the house, then to create a cover and promo doc for “The Source” (short story derived from the Jonathan Kirski world). No new words there, but it will publish today and on the blog later. Back at the Hovel, I did nothing to speak of again.

Back to the house at 6 to publish “The Source,” email it to donors, etc.

Okay, 7 a.m., finally got the thing published, sent to donors and posted it to the website (it will go live on Feb 15) and back to the Hovel.

I did very little for the first few hours. I browsed a few old files and notes. (I checked in again on The Three Year Turn last night and even added a few hundred words to it. That one might take off again someday. But not now.)

Back to the house at 8, helped my grandson with an uncooperative CD game he was trying to play. Eventually I read the back of the CD case. It wasn’t compatible with Windows 10, so…. Back to the Hovel a little after 9. More browsing old stuff.

Around 10, I finally settled on something I want to write. My fingers flew. I borrowed an old idea (from myself), three sentences I really liked. I’m still kind of stuck in the SF genre, which is fine. We’ll see how it goes.

Up to the house around 11 for a break and more coffee, then back to the Hovel and writing at 11:20.

Off for another break around 12:20, but back to the Hovel with only a few minutes’ delay.

I lost track of writing and breaks. Really enjoying the story. Still, we’ll see. A good first day. See if I can jump on it early tomorrow. Off at 3 p.m.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

You can see comments on What is Special? at

Also see More Questions at

Fiction Words: 4219
Nonfiction Words: 950 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 5169

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219

Total fiction words for the month……… 78727
Total fiction words for the year………… 78727
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17780
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 17780

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 96507