The Journal, Sunday, 8/9

The Day
Rolled out right at 2:30. Turned on the coffee water (I use Kava, which is instant but no acid), then went into the office.

I opened the writing computer first thing and wrote an opening sentence that was slapping me around as I was waking up. I won’t count those words unless I work on that potential story later today. Then email etc. then to this journal entry.

I might take a day off today. I want to think about my upcoming challenge. What it’s going to be. How often it will reset.

Wrote the Topic of the Night (below) and then took a walk along a broad wash near St. David. Wanted to see whether the recent rains had solidified the sandy bottom and it had. So that will be good for walks until the four wheelers tear the snot out of it again.

Yeah, I know not everyone likes to walk, but I don’t know why they can’t reuse the same tracks coming out that they used going in. When they tear up the entire bottom, it makes for very difficult walking or hiking.

Soon a side trip to Sierra Vista for some cat stuff and probably to look around for awhile. Then back here for whatever awaits.

No writing today. I’m just gonna blow off the rest of the day and start fresh tomorrow on something.

Topic of the Night: One of Heinlein’s Rules Revisited
Just as a quick reference, the rules are

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting.
  4. You must put your work on the market (publish it or submit it for publication) so readers (or editors/publishers) can buy it.
  5. You must leave it on the market (leave it published or resubmit rejected manuscripts) so readers can continue to buy it  (or so different editors/publishers have a chance to buy it).

Dean Wesley Smith has often said his biggest failure in following Heinlein’s Rules, especially in his early days, was Rule 4.

Most would-be writers have trouble with 1 or 2 or 3. They’re still inundated with all the myths they’ve been taught (writing is hard, it’s work, it’s drudgery, etc.) so it becomes much easier to talk about writing than to actually write. They’ve also never been taught to push down the fear of rejection surging within them.

So instead of finishing what they’re writing, they start a new piece, then another and another. If they don’t finish a work in progress, they can’t send it off and risk suffering rejection.

Or they do finish. But the same fear of rejection, coupled this time with the myth (and LIE) that they must rewrite, keeps them rewriting and editing and polishing. Because again, if they’re rewriting, they aren’t finished and they can’t send off their work and risk rejection.

I understand how would-be writers can fall victim to  those first three rules. Considering all the (ahem) *crap* we’re taught almost constantly about writing, it’s absolutely amazing that anything has been published EVER.

But I never quite understood how a writer could be tripped up by Rule 4.

Now Dean has said repeatedly that what tripped him up on Rule 4 was the same fear. If he didn’t submit his work, he wouldn’t risk rejection.

But he also said he enjoyed WRITING. He enjoyed the storytelling. He has been a writing-into-the-dark type ever since he found Heinlein’s Rules and another SF writer told him to “Dare to be bad.” And ever since the wisdom of those concepts sank in, writing has been much more important to him than publishing what he wrote. To some degree, even in today’s brave new world of publishing, he’s still that way.

And I finally understand it.

Yesterday, I finished The Battle of Tres Caballos. It was the eighth book in the Wes Crowley saga. But as I finished it, spell checked it and published it for pre-publication orders to Smashwords and Amazon, I realized I wasn’t worried so much about when it will come out. Or even whether it will come out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I WILL release it in both ebook and paper, but my priorities have shifted. I used to long for others to read and enjoy what I had written. Now I just want to write. I’ll release this one mostly because there is a small cadre of readers who enjoy the series and want to know what Wes is up to next.

But I have to be honest here. I’m not suffering under any delusions of grandeur. I’m not buying for a second that my novels or stories are “important” to anyone other than myself.

When I was a child, I read or heard somewhere that if you want to gauge your true importance, fill a pail about 3/4 full with water. Then stick your fist in the pail. Note the water level.

Then take your fist out of the pail and notice how little the water level changed. There you go.

That’s how much my stories would be missed if I stopped putting them out there.

The good thing is, that’s a completely freeing concept. When I write, it’s strictly so I can enjoy running through a story with the characters. Believe me, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Today’s Writing
No writing today.
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of XXXXX ()
Day 1…… XXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 7449
Total fiction words for the year……………… 449849