The Journal, Thursday, 11/2

Hey Folks,

Hmm… a meandering, personal-thought journey in today’s Journal….

I’ve still been thinking about challenges, but I think that’s almost over.

I thought about a challenge in which I would write at least one opening per day during the month of November.

If the opening took off, I’d write it. If not but if it piqued my interest, it would go into my Openings file. Either way, I’d still have to write a new opening every day.

But something didn’t feel quite right about that. Mostly it felt too contrived, probably because it was.

The main thing, I think, is that I don’t feel like I need to push or be pushed. I feel like when it’s time, I’ll write again. In short, I don’t want to force it.

That’s kind of an epiphany. So I’ll think about this challenge a little more.

No. I’m certain I won’t do the challenge, at least not as I first conceived of it.

Maybe I’ll make a few adjustments and then do it. Like if an opening takes off, I won’t write anymore openings until I’ve finished the story that took off. That might be all right.

But again, if I don’t want to force the issue, what’s the real purpose?

Maybe I’ll just forget the whole challenge silliness and trust that when I’m ready, the words will be there. (grin) We’ll see.

Okay, I called it “challenge silliness.” But back when I was first starting out, especially with writing novels, challenges were a very important part of that.

The various challenges I took-on drove me to the keyboard and kept me writing. Without them I probably never would have written a whole novel, much less 27 of them.

But today I don’t really need to be driven to the keyboard. Today when I get an idea that feels good, I just sit down and write. I break about once an hour, but otherwise I just write until I’m through the scene or chapter. Or too tired to keep going.

I stop with a jagged edge, then come back to it the next day, write my way out of the jagged edge and continue on. So maybe I’m beyond needing challenges. Is that possible? I do know that when the challenge is only about numbers, it no longer interests me because I’ve been there and done that.

And I have the kind of personality that rebels against being artificially psyched up or motivated.

Even back in high school when we were required to put our hands in the center of a circle, count one-two-three and yell “Team!” I was almost embarrassed. I just wanted to go play football already. I mean, does that sort of nonsense really help anyone?

It’s prevalent enough even in professional sports that I suppose it does, but it never did anything but annoy me. For me, it’s right up there with someone saying (with all good intentions) “I know you can do it.”

The truth is, the person “knows” no such thing. Again, artificial encouragement.
***

I was reading more of Stephen King’s take on writing in story introductions here and there.

SK writes into the dark, and he writes very fast, usually holding himself to four clean pages (around 2,000 words) per day When He’s Writing.

He also engages in cycling, going back over what he’s written each day, though I think I read somewhere that he’s more of a “taker-outer” than a “putter-inner.” (I’m definitely a putter-inner.)

Anyway, when SK isn’t writing, he’s mulling, observing, listening, reading and waiting. And when it’s time to write again, he writes.

A couple of days ago, I put up a quote of his here: ““Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”

The thing is, when he has something to write, he gets up and goes to work. When he doesn’t, he doesn’t.

It isn’t that he’s “taking time off” between books. It’s that he doesn’t have anything to write.

That’s kind of how I’m feeling recently. And more and more, I think that’s probably all right.

You’ll note, maybe, that I’ve removed the accounting for Pulp Novel 5 from the Journal. It’s officially stalled at something over 13,000 words. Should it revive at some point, I’ll put it back. I promise.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Wow. Via The Digital Reader, see “Interactive Ebooks? Almost…” at JA Konrath’s blog at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2017/11/interactive-ebooks-almost.html.

Also via The Digital Reader, see “8 Tips on Pricing Kindle Ebooks” at https://selfpublishingadvice.org/how-to-price-an-ebook/. Note: I offer this only as additional information. Her tips look pretty good to me but nothing really new.

See “Lifelike ‘Sophia’ Robot Granted Citizenship to Saudi Arabia” at https://www.livescience.com/60815-saudi-arabia-citizen-robot.html. Yeah. This is not a joke.

Today I refer you to The Passive Voice website for a lot of interesting things. Visit http://www.thepassivevoice.com/. Enjoy.

Finally see Dean’s “False Start on Challenge” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/false-start-on-challenge/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 780 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 780

Writing of ()

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 1105
Total fiction words for the year………… 450547
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1380
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 169443
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 619990

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 704 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Thursday, 9/28

Hey Folks,

Well, I can recommend about 2/3 of James Scott Bell’s book on “dazzling dialogue.” I picked up a couple of things from it. If you buy it, I strongly recommend you don’t read the section on punctuation.

Sorry to have to say, but the guy has no idea what he’s talking about in that regard. None. Much of what he writes in the last segment of that book (from the bit on punctuation to the end) is actually harmful.

The section rekindled within me the desire to update Punctuation for Writers and publish a new edition. I’ll be doing that soon.

I can’t and don’t recommend his book on “Voice.” It might work (by which I mean, make sense) for some, but not for me in any way. It left me a little disappointed, frankly.

I hope the marketing book will be more helpful.
***

Rolled out around 3, spent some time reading and some time on the Internet. Then I worked on my website a bit. I moved “Short Fiction” under “Books” in the menu and created a dedicated page for bundles I’m currently in.

I still want to add descriptions to that page, but otherwise I’m pleased with the result. It’s a step toward a writer’s website rather than an instructor’s website. (grin)

Finally got the page updated and finalized a little before 9.

I started writing a little after 10 and finished the last two chapters right at noon. This one’s finished.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Pulphouse Kickstarter is Live” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/pulphouse-kickstarter-is-live/.

Just incredible. See “It’s Official: Russia And The US Will Work Together on The First-Ever Moon Station” at http://www.sciencealert.com/russia-and-the-us-are-going-to-space-together-again.

And for any horror writers out there, “This Newly Discovered Giant Rat Species” at http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-discovered-a-new-species-of-giant-rat-and-it-s-so-cool.

Fiction Words: 1559
Nonfiction Words: 300 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1859

Writing of Loose Ends (novel)

Day 1 – 15……………………… Total words to date…… 34735
Day 16… 1146 words. Total words to date…… 35881
Day 17… 1102 words. Total words to date…… 36983
Day 18… 3723 words. Total words to date…… 40706
Day 19… 1650 words. Total words to date…… 42356
Day 20… 1422 words. Total words to date…… 43778
Day 21… 2108 words. Total words to date…… 45886
Day 22… 1554 words. Total words to date…… 47445 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 54526
Total fiction words for the year………… 434146
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15243
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 151643
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 585789

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 669 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Monday, 9/18

Hey Folks,

Rolled out considerably early this morning, yet two hours later I’m still reading and toying with this thing. I even wrote a topic based on the article on Comic Sans typeface referenced in “Of Interest.”

Then I remembered that a longer, more well-thought-out version will hit the big blog on October 3, so I’ll wait.

Well, my eyes are a little fuzzy this morning for some reason. I’ve tried polarized (brown) shades, my regular grey-tinted glasses, and a cheap pair of flip-up blue blockers I bought on eBay.

The last few days my eyes haven’t been bad, but for some reason today they’re giving me fits. So we’ll see what I can get done.

After email and FB, just doing things around the house until about 9. I went for a walk, just a bit over a mile. By the time I got back and settled in, my eyes were okay again.

So finally to the novel around 10. I took a wrong turn yesterday, so I spent a few hours cycling through (off and on) and moving bits to the CUTS section at the end of the document.

Usually I add words when I cycle. Today I’m taking words out. Well, it’ll be what it’ll be. I’m just enjoying the process, and as I keep telling myself, every novel writes differently.

So I added only around 500 new words by about 1. Hey, there are days like that. Anyway, I think all the adjustments are done. I’m starting a new scene soon, so things should pick up.

Uh, no such luck. Not today. I had a timeline problem and a bunch of stuff moved up one full day.

So I’m adjusting another chapter, and then maybe writing another scene. Or not. Overall it’s probably not going to be a very productive day. On the other hand, it’s already been a pretty productive week. (grin)

Well, I hoped to hit at least 2000 words today, but it’s not going to happen. Still a pretty good day.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Especially if you design your own covers, see “Hate Comic Sans?” at https://blog.prototypr.io/you-hate-comic-sans-you-dont-know-anything-about-typography-5133fbd4c8c4. There are a few gems in this that you need to know.

See “What the “Book People” Won’t Tell You” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/09/17/book-people-wont-tell-print-dead/.

See “David Sarnoff Library … Images” at http://digital.hagley.org/.

Via Science Alert, see “BREAKING: Light Has Been Stored as Sound…” at http://www.sciencealert.com/breaking-light-was-just-stored-as-sound-for-the-first-time-ever/.

Fiction Words: 1747
Nonfiction Words: 400 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2147

Writing of Doctor Ramsey (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 1781 words. Total words to date…… 1781
Day 2…… 2678 words. Total words to date…… 4459
Day 3…… 1142 words. Total words to date…… 5601
Day 4…… 2460 words. Total words to date…… 8061
Day 5…… 1302 words. Total words to date…… 9363
Day 6…… 3182 words. Total words to date…… 12545
Day 7…… 3775 words. Total words to date…… 16320
Day 8…… 3147 words. Total words to date…… 19467
Day 9…… 2780 words. Total words to date…… 22247
Day 10… 3614 words. Total words to date…… 25861
Day 11… 1514 words. Total words to date…… 27375
Day 12… 3452 words. Total words to date…… 30827
Day 13… 1747 words. Total words to date…… 32574

Total fiction words for the month……… 39655
Total fiction words for the year………… 419275
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9670
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 146070
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 565345

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 659 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 8
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 26
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Saturday, 9/16

Hey Folks,

Even after a relatively late night, I rolled out at 3:30 this morning. Not sure how much I’ll get done in writing today since it’s Saturday.

TOPIC: On Challenges, Part 2

Note: This follows on yesterday’s topic. If you haven’t read it, you can find it at http://hestanbrough.com/the-journal-friday-915/.

At the beginning of the calendar year, I challenged myself to write 15 novels during the year.

Later, after an intended novel fell short and ended as a novella, I adjusted the goal to 16 novels or novellas. That should have clued me I was in trouble.

It didn’t. I plunged merrily ahead but conveniently forgot the whole purpose of a challenge: productivity.

In my desire to write a certain number of novels, I allowed myself to be overwhelmed. In short, I lost sight of the little picture: the word count.

Grandpa always said you can’t build a house, but you can drive a nail. (Or you can’t write a novel, but you can write a scene.)

If you drive enough nails, you’ll look up one day through the clearing smoke and see that you have a new house.

Now just for fun, let’s slip a bit afield.

Productivity isn’t finishing a certain number of novels or novellas or even short stories.

In its initial, base form, productivity is putting words on the page. Like it or not, it all boils back down to the basic act: word count is what produces short stories, novellas and novels. You can’t escape that fact.

I find it particularly telling (and humorous, actually) that so many writers wrinkle up their nose and eschew word count as if it were gross and even distasteful. Pedestrian, even. Like sex.

Well, it might be. But it’s still a necessary (if ugly, depending on your POV) act in which the writer must allow his conscious and subconscious mind to engage if he is to birth a new novel.

It occurs to me that the metaphor extends when you realize word count generally isn’t talked about in polite circles.

Get it?

And it’s something all writers engage in whether or not they want to admit it.

After all, if such things really were only for us peasants, Great Britain’s royal line would be really short. In fact, it would have ended abruptly on the other side of a pair of crossed arms and a head shaking side to side eons ago. (Somebody stop me!)

Okay. Okay (deep breaths). Enough on the metaphor.

Now I don’t push productivity for its own sake. I push productivity as a matter of business.

The more works a writer has “out there” the greater the chance readers will stumble on something he’s written, like it, and buy more.

This is common sense, even given that what was once common for most seems to have become a luxury for many. But I digress.

Noting word count, whether it’s done publicly (as here) or in private (all the better people only do it in private) is what drives the writer to produce more literary children.

And when our word-count drive begins to weaken, there’s no better way to enhance it than to give ourselves a challenge.

Try it. You’ll like it. And you don’t have to tell anybody.

***

Well, I didn’t get a lot done today. I got a lot done but not a lot of writing. Calling it early to watch a ball game.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Here you go, SF folks. How could the government use the new “Micropods” at http://www.sciencealert.com/vaccines-made-of-these-tiny-micropods-could-an-end-to-booster-shots/.

Even if you don’t write erotic fiction, see “Smashwords Implements New Classifications for Erotic Fiction” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/09/smashwords-erotica.html. Lot of good info there on BISAC codes, etc.

Fiction Words: 1514
Nonfiction Words: 620 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2134

Writing of Doctor Ramsey (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 1781 words. Total words to date…… 1781
Day 2…… 2678 words. Total words to date…… 4459
Day 3…… 1142 words. Total words to date…… 5601
Day 4…… 2460 words. Total words to date…… 8061
Day 5…… 1302 words. Total words to date…… 9363
Day 6…… 3182 words. Total words to date…… 12545
Day 7…… 3775 words. Total words to date…… 16320
Day 8…… 3147 words. Total words to date…… 19467
Day 9…… 2780 words. Total words to date…… 22247
Day 10… 3614 words. Total words to date…… 25861
Day 11… 1514 words. Total words to date…… 27375

Total fiction words for the month……… 34456
Total fiction words for the year………… 414076
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8820
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 145220
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 559296

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 657 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 8
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 26
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Monday, 9/11

Hey Folks,

Well, have you guys heard me whine enough?

The thing is, I’m either a writer or I’m not. For awhile now, I haven’t been. Not really. So I’ll see about cutting down on the whining, and instead go back to tending to business.

I am somewhat heartened, because in the original essay in which Robert Heinlein laid out his Business Habits for Writers, he mentioned that he himself had violated his own rules on occasion.

***

Today in “Of Interest” you’ll see that Dean’s going to offer his services as a first reader again in two challenges, short story and novel. Something to consider.

Even if you don’t want to take advantage of his generous offer (if you finish the challenges or opt out after paying, you still get two online workshops), it still might be a fun challenge for some of you to do on your own.

***

I’m going to read back on my novel start to see where I took a wrong turn and get back to writing.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See Dean’s “New Story and Novel Challenge For You” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/new-story-and-novel-challenge-for-you/.

See “Humans Have 27 Distinct Emotional States” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/09/humans-have-27-distinct-emotional-states/. The Passive Guy’s take is excellent in my opinion.

Do yourself a favor and visit Science Alert at http://www.sciencealert.com/. Several stories today that might be of interest to writers. Read Skeptically. For example….

If you want a laugh and an example of Orwellian Doublespeak, see “The World Is Facing a Global Sand Crisis…” at http://www.sciencealert.com/our-world-is-facing-a-global-sand-crisis-because-we-re-mining-way-too-much-of-it/. (One of the major ways nations are using mined sand is to repair beaches. So picking it up, then relocating it, and putting it down.)

“RIP Jerry Pournelle, the first author to write a novel on a computer” at https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2017/9/9/16279582/jerry-pournelle-science-fiction-author-writing-computers-obituary/.

Fiction Words: 3182
Nonfiction Words: 300 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3482

Writing of Doctor Ramsey (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 1781 words. Total words to date…… 1781
Day 2…… 2678 words. Total words to date…… 4459
Day 3…… 1142 words. Total words to date…… 5601
Day 4…… 2460 words. Total words to date…… 8061
Day 5…… 1302 words. Total words to date…… 9363
Day 6…… 3182 words. Total words to date…… 12545

Total fiction words for the month……… 19626
Total fiction words for the year………… 399246
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6050
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 142450
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 541696

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 653 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 8 Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 26
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182