The Journal, Thursday, 2/16

Hey Folks,

Welcome to a couple of recent new subscribers. I hope you enjoy following along on this journey and that you take some nuggets from it that will help in your own writing. I won’t mention you by name because this is a secret society of very strange people. (grin)

* * *

That brough up a memory. While I was still in the Marine Corps and serving in C Battery of Second Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion, I had a particulary good group of guys. At one point, I had cards printed up and laminated. They read, “I am a member of Gunnery Sergeant Stanbrough’s platoon. Please excuse my strange behavior.” (grin)

* * *

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of new chapters and started a third. I stopped at a “normal” stopping point, which means the end of a scene. I did not stop at a “good” stopping point, which means a place that would naturally launch me into the story again.

Like the middle of a scene or even the middle of a sentence. I’ll probably post a topic about that again here before too long.

Anyway, stopping where I did is why I’m glad I keep a running reverse outline. (Each time I finish a chapter, I make a few notes in a Notepad document concerning who was involved, sometimes what they were wearing, and what happened in that chapter.)

When I return to the novel anew, instead of having to read back over the whole thing to get back into the flow, most of the time I only have to read back over the reverse outline.

Which characters have I not mentioned for awhile? Which ongoing situations do I need to address again? Which new locations do I need to describe as characters arrive at the location toward which they were going the last time they appeared?

Those and other considerations provide my springboard back into the novel.

On my reverse outline I also keep other stuff, but maybe I’ll do another topic on that soon as well.

Another relatively late rising today and another relatively slow start. I’m almost glad, given how the last couple of slow starts have ended for me.

In Dean’s post today he talks about valid reasons to delay writing. That caused me to wonder about what drives me to my writing.

Topic: What’s Your Incentive?

I’ve long needed a specific incentive to do anything, to strive toward any goal, to achieve any level of success.

I love telling stories. But that doesn’t provide me with the appropriate incentive to spend hours in the chair writing.

I’d also love to make a good living with sales of my fiction, but because I’m a realist, that doesn’t provide even the slightest impetus. The fact is, these things take time, and frankly, I’m an old guy. I have better things to do — like write — than check sales figures several times a day.

I also love it when people say nice things about my writing.

Of my very first novel, my very first reviewer said it was “a great story” and “one of the most tightly plotted novels” he’d ever read.

Woohoo! Score! Especially given that I wrote that novel in 20 days, just writing off into the dark. No plotting, no planning. The “plot” was a Bradbury Plot, the one the characters left as they ran through the story.

But what others think or say about my writing doesn’t provide either incentive or even validation because it’s all up to them and their own tastes. So it’s outside my control.

Different people need different incentives to write. I get that.

And the same people are affected by different incentives at different times of their life.

I can’t honestly say what my primary incentive might have been had I stumbled across Heinlein’s Rules and the Writing Off Into the Dark technique when I was 20. I like to think it would have remained the same.

That primary incentive is mortality.

For me, it’s all a big, wonderful game. How many stories can I tell before I check out of this particularly odd little hotel? Specifically, how many novels?

Since I effectively started writing fiction in 2014, for me to spend the “40 years in the business” that Dean often touts, I’d have to live, actively, until I’m 102.

Yeah, okay. Ain’t gonna happen. Family history, health issues over which I have zero control, yada yada yada plus my own impatience to see what comes after this period of craziness precludes any chance of that.

I just want to turn out as many good stories as I can.

And my secondary incentive? There’s nothing better for me than to be the First Person who gets to be entertained by the stories my characters tell.

It provides a sense of wonder. And although that sense of wonder doesn’t drive me to the keyboard (mortality does that), it makes me look forward to what will happen when I put my fingers on the keyboard.

Which I’m going to do right now.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30 and blew off much of the morning doing inconsequential things.

To the Hovel around 8. I wrote the topic above, cross posted it to the big site for sometime in June, then opened the novel by about 9.

Well, I allowed myself to be distracted. My kitten kept teasing along the east fence (around 200 feet away). I don’t want her out because of large dogs in the vicinity.

So I trekked back to the house and tried to set up a way to work there, at my outside desk in the yard.

I won’t go into all the details, but it didn’t work out. And after I’d tried for well over an hour to set up a feasible option, she sashayed back into the house for a nap.

So I closed the door to the house and packed all my stuff back out to the Adobe Hovel.

That was around 10:30. As of 11:30, I’ve written almost a thousand words on the day. Sigh. Back to it.

12, gotta run the kid (my grandson) into where he hopes to be working soon. Back in a bit.

1, back to the novel. Sort of.

Well, helping my grandson with his paperwork and then taking him back to town. For writing, a woefully inadequate day. However, the novel is progressing, so I’ll take it.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Protecting Choice at I think I might be needing this one soon. I hope not, but I think so.

Fiction Words: 2648
Nonfiction Words: 1070 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3718

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178

Total fiction words for the month……… 39943
Total fiction words for the year………… 132553
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9150
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 28840

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 161393