Reading Your Own Work

In today’s Journal

* Two Reminders
* Reading Your Own Work
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Two Reminders

One, Bradbury Challenge information—for those who are in the Bradbury Challenge to write at least one short story every week, story information is required before the Journal goes live tomorrow morning (Monday).

Two, tune-in at my YouTube channel this afternoon at 1 p.m. Arizona time to see whether it works this time. You know, if you want to.

Reading Your Own Work

I very seldom read my own work. For one thing, knowing I committed typos drives me nuts. For another, there’s always a little part of me that wants to tweak something. And I never want to move backward. I want almost desperately to keep moving forward. But mostly I don’t read my own work because I don’t have time. Too many new stories to tell, new characters to meet, new worlds to explore. That we only get one body and one lifetime sucks.

Then again, I very seldom remember what a story’s even about once I get it out of my head and off my desk and publish it. In the case of short stories and novels that are not part of a series, I can’t even tell you what the story’s generally about. So when I do read something I wrote longer than say a month ago, it’s practically brand new to me.

But the enthusiastic response from readers to Friday’s free story, “An Untapped Field of Endeavor,” piqued my curiosity, so I read it yesterday.

Sure enough, I didn’t remember what it was about. I only mention it today because there were a couple of references in it that I thought were kind’a cool. In one, I promoted another writer. In another, I promoted one of my own characters from other stories.

The more important was Steven Wedel, a real fiction writer from Oklahoma. Steve is a real person and a great writer. And as one of the characters in my short story said, I borrowed a line (with his permission) from him years ago. It was in one of his short stories:

“I wouldn’t give the guy the time of day if my middle finger was a watch.”

Witty and succinct, that line. Needs no further explanation. I strongly recommend you look up Steven Wedel and read some of his work. If I remember right, I even used some of his opening lines in Writing Great Beginnings and in Writing Better Fiction.

By the way, Writing Great Beginnings and seven more craft or publishing books are now absolutely free in PDF at StoneThread Publishing. Click the link, then scroll down to find the free books. Click on any cover and the PDF edition of the book will automatically download to your computer.

The other reference in “An Untapped Field of Endeavor” that surprised me was a mention (again, by a character) of Charlie Task. That reference also told me approximately when I wrote the short story. It was long before the Blackwell Ops series when I first wrote and published Confessions of a Professional Psychopath back in 2015 or so. (grin) Great memories.

That’s the novel that begins with probably the best opening line I’ve ever written:

Of the three wingback chairs in my library, only one is upholstered in human skin. There’s a reason for that.

Of Interest

Don’t Let The Old Man In This is one of the more important articles you’ll ever read.

Strength Training and Kindle Vella News

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 580

Writing of TJ Blackwell: The Origin Story

Day 1…… 6139 words. To date…… 6139
Day 2…… 1781 words. To date…… 7920
Day 3…… 2692 words. To date…… 10612
Day 4…… 3383 words. To date…… 13995
Day 5…… 2575 words. To date…… 16570

Fiction for March…………………….…. 49336
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 213928
Fiction since October 1………………… 516984
Nonfiction for March…………………… 23600
Nonfiction for 2024……………………… 122790
2024 consumable words……………… 336718

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 5
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 87
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 239
Short story collections………………… 31

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.

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8 thoughts on “Reading Your Own Work”

  1. I read my work sometimes, though like you Harvey I’m finding that as I go along I’m forgetting what past stories are about. I can recall general details most times but specific things not so much. I read my shorter work more often than the longer pieces since, as you mentioned, there is little time.
    More stories are always on the horizon and I’d rather spend my time delving into them and watching them unfold before my eyes than read ones from the past. Life is short enough, even for a ‘young fella’ (as my dad calls me sometimes) like myself, so I’d rather not waste it.

  2. I fondly remember writing my very first (short) story, of roughly 6000 words. I was in Southern California at the time, riding around and seeing the sights while staying at an old oasis motel. For some reason, I got the urge to write about something that happened, so off I went to Walton’s place for one of those 100-page composition books with the black and white cover. (I still have that composition book.) It took me three days at eight hours a day. I knew squat about writing (still to this day), but I managed, somehow. Up it went when I discovered a place to upload books. It’s not in business any more, but I recall it was quite popular at the time.

    As to the rest of them, I can barely recall characters, never mind stories. I finally had to break down and start a bible for the three series I write in. Best thing I ever did was that bible. Well, one of the best, anyway. The other was writing into the dark, courtesy of that other guy. I have no memory of when I started reading his web site, but it was probably back in ’13 or ’14. As to how I found his site, that’s gone, too.

    So then, getting back on point. I’ll occasionally move a print book or a few to look for something else. I’ll look at the cover, ask myself what the hell was that about, and put it back.

    • Hey, thanks for an excellent comment.

      Yep, that’s pretty much me all over. And I too create a bible for any series. Too difficult to remember specifics from novel to novel if I don’t. I usually keep a reverse outline for each book too for the same reason, and if it becomes a series, I take an hour or so to combine parts of all the reverse outlines into a bible for the series.

      My friend, if you know and practice writing into the dark and pick up a new craft topic here and there, you don’t need to know anything else (as you know). Sounds like you might be a great candidate to take over from me when the Journal finally goes kerplunk into the deep blue. 🙂

      • Thanks for the compliment, but if I recall, you’re the youngster here.

        I’m just having fun with my characters. There are days when I laugh my ass off at the antics I put them through. Sometimes, I write slow. Sometimes, I write fast. Most of the time, I can’t keep up. And then there’s having three products on the go in three different series.

        It’s all good.

        • Yeah, I’m only 71 going on 27. (That is not a typo. I still have no idea where 1978 went.)

          Ooh, you’ve got me there. I can’t begin to write more than one fiction at a time. I can do the Journal or other nonfiction while writing a novel, but when I get a good story or novel or series I’m a dog on a bone until it’s over and something new comes up. I can go back and forth between series, but not at the same time.

          As for having fun with the characters, that’s the whole point as far as I can see. Especially when I get a really special character like ol’ Wes or Miss Soleada. And as for not being able to keep up, that’s why we cycle, verdad? Give the characters another chance for us to catch up and get it right. 🙂

          • Yeah, that cycling thing is something else I picked up across the way. In fact, I was just doing some of it a bit earlier.

            I will admit that there are times when I have to write the new work to a point where I figure it is “started”. I leave notes to remind me what I had in mind, so that helps. If I don’t write it down, it’s gone forever.

            I fail to count the number of times I’ve woken up at night with a really brilliant idea and told myself that it was so good I’d remember it in the morning. Ha. That’s never happened, thus the bedside notebook.

          • Yup, I’m with you there too. I tend to finish a chapter right at the end of the day, but I hate a blank page. So I try to make it a point to write the opening few sentences of the next chapter before I quit for the day. I’ll write a little post about one more reason to cycle in the Journal tomorrow.

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