I’ve Fallen Ahead, and a Bittersweet Realization

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* I’ve Fallen Ahead
* A Bittersweet Realization
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” John C. Maxwell

“Dreaming is fine. But you have to put feet in your prayers.” Sylvia Ann Wilson Stanbrough, my paternal grandmother (1898 – 1966)

I’ve Fallen Ahead

and I’m only now beginning to understand what happened. So the following is in the interest of full disclosure.

I started the Harvey Stanbrough Writing in Public (SWIP) substack in order to post “live” each day whatever I wrote that day.

Of course, I only wanted to post whole chapters, but I don’t always (or ever) stop writing exactly at the end of a chapter. Maybe I actually wrote three and a quarter or three and a half chapters that day. You can see how the excess could build up.

Then, in the Journal — to keep myself from getting confused and so all things would be equal — I started posting fiction numbers that reflected only what I posted to the SWIP substack. So less than I actually wrote.

As a result, the fiction numbers you’ve been reading for the past few days have actually been from TWO days before, not one day before.

And here we are.

Today I’m trying to play catch-up (or “catch-down” since I fell ahead and not behind?) with my numbers. The only way I can do that is to post the day’s writing plus all the extra that I didn’t report each day as I went.

So today the fiction numbers (under Numbers below) will actually reflect Day 6 (4523 words) plus all the “extra” words I wrote along the way (4173) for a total of 8696 words. So my average for the six days of writing is actually 4838 words per day. Or (on average) about 695 more words per day than I was reporting.

And at least the Journal will all be caught-up (or caught-down). Unfortunately, I can’t do the same thing on the SWIP substack without overwhelming the readers. I would have to post six or seven chapters to catch up, and I’m just not gonna do that.

Chapters 17 – 19 (which I actually wrote day before yesterday) went live yesterday (Nov 14). Chapters 20 – 22 (which I wrote yesterday) will go live today (Nov 15). And whatever I write today will go live tomorrow on Nov 16.

So chances are good the novel will wrap the day BEFORE I post the final installment to the SWIP.

Weird, eh? Just thinking about it makes my mind warp. It also makes me kind’a glad the whole SWIP experiment is almost at an end. At least for awhile.

A Bittersweet Realization

I experienced a bittersweet realization two days ago as I was writing along in the current novel (at the time, a little over 23000 words in): Unless a miracle happens, this will be the final Wes Crowley novel.

For all I knew, the short story “Adobe Walls” was the end of my budding friendship with Wes.

A few months later, I thought it was over after I wrote the first three Wes Crowley novels.

Then I wrote three prequels, and then six sequels. That brought the saga to twelve novels and a satisfactory close. Then, again, I thought he was through.

The the Gap series cropped up, but now, finally, that’s drawing to a close. I do suspect Wes, finally retired from law enforcement, might climb aboard his brother-in-law Miguel’s primary fishing boat and find more adventures at sea, but I won’t be going with him.

This novel will wrap the Gap series, which fills the 16-year gap between Book 2 (Comanche Fire) and Book 3 (Wes Crowley, Texas Ranger) of the original 12-volume saga.

Two very minor spoilers —

  1. In this novel, Wes returns to Amarillo after a nearly year-long stint as a deputy US marshal for Governor Lew Wallace of The New Mexico Territory. He resigns his position and rejoins Company D of the Texas Rangers at Amarillo.
  2. During his welcome-home party, one of the corporals hints that Wes himself will be promoted to the rank of corporal soon. (All of this is WITD, not planned.) Wes also learns there are four new Rangers in the company. One is very quiet and another is very loud. (Again, all WITD.)

Then I remembered, in Book 3 of the original saga, Wes is a corporal, and one of the Rangers under him is very quiet and one is very loud.

At that point I could see what was coming. Not the ending of the book, but part of the book. And very soon, the end of the series.

So I went to Book 3, found the names of the loud and quiet Rangers, and changed the names in the current novel to match.

And the story continues. But by the time this one wraps, both the corporals who “raised” Wes in the Rangers will be promoted to sergeant (they’re both sergeants in Book 3) and Wes and Mac will be promoted to corporal.

Weird how things like that work out, but it can only happen if you write into the dark.

Consider, the current story itself told me it would be the last one, and that it finally will close the gap between Books 2 and 3 of the original saga.

So there are 12 novels in the original saga, and this will be the 10th and final novel in the Gap series: 22 novels in all to tell the whole of Wes Crowley’s story.

To writerly stuff — The total word count of the 21 novels before this one is just short of a million (966,155) words of published fiction. It seems fitting to me that when this novel is finished, the total will exceed a million words. I’m a little annoyed it didn’t wait awhile and come along as my 100th novel. But I have to write ’em as they come.

Lessons for other writers? Only one that I can think of.

From the very first word of the very first novel (both overall and of what became the Wes Crowley saga) I have trusted my characters. I just wrote whatever story they were living as they lived it, as it unfolded around them.

Many writers write differently than I do. They plot, plan, revise, rewrite and insist you must do so too. They turn fiction writing into labor. Some of them even refer to it as drudgery. And that’s all fine if you want to feel mired in something all the time.

Hey, different strokes. But then, most of them quit writing altogether because the writing is work instead of fun.

Writing into the dark isn’t like that. Writing into the dark is sheer pleasure and exhiliration from the first word through the end of the novel.

However, if you can’t believe in yourself enough to even try writing into the dark, that’s on you. How you choose to write — whether you turn fiction writing into labor so you feel you’re answering some “special calling” or let go and allow it to be the most fun you’ve ever had — doesn’t harm or affect what I do in any way.

But I still hope for your benefit that you will try WITD, and that you will do so sooner rather than later. It remains the only way to record the authentic story, what actually happened in the “fictional” world as you raced through it with your characters.

After I finish the current novel, I might take a few days off to change out the covers, put all the books in chronological order, and release them all as one massive saga. Or I might not. I might just go on to the next novel, whatever it will be and in whatever universe it will occur.

At any rate, whenever I rebrand and collate the series, I plan to put the whole Wes Crowley saga on sale: one (much lower) price for subscribers to the Journal, and also a something-lower-than-retail price for everyone else for a limited time.

It’s no secret that I believe my characters actually exist, albeit maybe in a parallel world or another dimension. In fact, there’s a ver good chance my long-time friend Wes Crowley is reading this right along with you.

So if I may leave a personal note….

Thanks, Wes, for allowing me to saddle-up and ride along with you during a lot of your life. Doing so was nothing short of a high honor for me, my friend.

And thank you for teaching me that “Upright is not a matter of degree.” You’re right. In every momenI, a person either is or isn’t.

I truly hope you’re enjoying your retirement in Agua Perlado, mi amigo especial. I will miss you and Charley for a very long time. You’re one to ride the river with.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Astrophysicist explains the truth behind time travel In this case, “truth” is relative to knowledge. I expect I’ll talk about this in the Journal soon. Something for SF writers to think about.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1400

Writing of Rose Padilla (WCG10SF5)

Day 1…… 4086 words. To date…… 4086
Day 2…… 3609 words. To date…… 7695
Day 3…… 3971 words. To date…… 11666
Day 4…… 4129 words. To date…… 15795
Day 5…… 4542 words. To date…… 20337
Day 6…… 8696 words. To date…… 29033

Fiction for November…………………… 46451
Fiction for 2023…………………………. 365185
Fiction since August 1………………… 32883
Nonfiction for November……………… 13290
Nonfiction for the year……………… 241880
Annual consumable words………… 602858

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 7
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 78
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 235
Short story collections…………………… 31

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Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

2 thoughts on “I’ve Fallen Ahead, and a Bittersweet Realization”

  1. Hey Harvey, I have a question relating to your characters. Specifically, why do you believe they actually exist? I find it an interesting perspective and one I share in a sense so I’m wondering what made you come to that conclusion? Or was it always something you considered to be true?

    • 1. Because they do.
      2. Why not?

      No conclusion, just a state of being. They Are. (God allegedly told Moses, “I Am.”)

      So I believe they exist for the same reasons I believe my wife or my neighbor or a hummingbird or my beloved little cat actually exists. Or dirt or trees or sky or …. After all, those also are only compilations of sensory input processed by the brain.

      Much more in today’s Journal, and thanks for the question. I’d never actually thought about this before.

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