In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Reimagining the Hovel
* The Writing
* Note From a Bradbury Challenge Participant
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was 12.” Ray Bradbury
“In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.” Ray Bradbury
Reimagining the Hovel
With my wife’s help, I rearranged my office in the Hovel a couple of days ago. It’s how we spent our Cinco de Mayo.
The adobe room that contains my office is only 8 feet wide but it’s 20 feet long. It has two south-facing windows, each around 4 feet wide and about that tall. The front (west) part of the room, where the concrete floor is mostly still rough instead of smoothly finished, is part nursery for plants that don’t like being outside, and part storage.
The nursery is mostly along the south wall beneath one of the wide windows. The storage area is primarily along the north wall on two shelving units. That’s in the westernmost 10 feet of the room.
In the eastern half of that room, my newly rearranged office is now located. My main desk used to face the south wall, and my writing desk used to face the north wall. Both abutted the east wall in the back of the building.
I turned my desk, which is five feet wide, to face west and divide the room in two. Everything to the west from my desk (on the other side of a 22″ monitor) is nursery and storage. Everything from my desk back to the east is now an almost-square office space.
The Hovel is now also strictly for writing fiction. My business computer is located in the house. I enjoy my mornig coffee and write and post the Journal from here. Later, if I have nothing pressing to do at the house or away somewhere, I make the 150-foot commute out to the Hovel.
When I open the door, enter, and latch the door behind me, my creative subconscious knows it’s time to play and have fun. That trigger to write is the result of having a separate space and machine dedicated to writing fiction.
Barring anymore mind-jarring life rolls like the death of my little girl, I expect to finish my second novel of the year by late next week or thereabouts. I’m not in a rush to finish, but I am in a hurry to get back to normalcy, and for me that means writing most days for a few hours per day.
I also anticipate beginning my next novel the same day or the day after I finish the current one. I think it will probably a Stern Talbot, PI crime/mystery, probably based on the recently published short story “The Strange Case of Marlene Stratford.”
I read it when it came out on Friday. It was obvious to me that for some stupid reason I forced a premature ending on it. I’m not sure why I did that, and I’m not so worried about “fixing it” as I am about wanting to see where the story actually goes when left to its own devices.
Anyway, for the first time in what seems like a very long time, I’m excited about writing and looking forward to it again.
Note From a Bradbury Challenge Participant
The following is most of an email I received from a Bradbury Challenge participant, Chynna Pace. Her thoughts were too good to keep to myself. If I ever decide to step back from the Journal, I hope someone like Chynna will consider filling that space. I reparagraphed her note a bit. Otherwise these are her original thoughts:
“I have been enjoying [the challenge] extremely! It’s truly been a game changer for me. Not only has it been incredibly fun (each story feels like a roller coaster—I have no idea what’s going to happen, but it’s a blast all the way through), I also feel like I am growing as a writer faster than I ever have. It’s amazing to me how it’s only been a few weeks, but my current stories, compared to the very first story I wrote for week one, are showing so much growth.
“Not that I perceive the recent ones as ‘good’, or my first story as ‘bad’—I’m trying not to think about good or bad at all, just focusing on how much fun I’m having (grin)—but I can clearly see the growth because I know how much I struggled in the past to write short fiction.
“I guess it’s brought up a certain amount of confidence, because now that I’ve done it a few times, I don’t doubt anymore that I can do it at all. My faith in myself, as far as short fiction goes, used to be horrible. I would literally tell myself: ‘I’m going to try writing a short story…but I know it won’t work out because I’m terrible at writing short stories.’ It’s crazy how bad critical voice can get.
“Like I said, I haven’t been paying any mind to whether or not the story is good or bad, because I know my opinion doesn’t matter, which has been so freeing, and instead I’ve just been focusing on having fun with the story at the moment, then moving onto the next one. I’ve also noticed that this lightness and carefree excitement has carried over into my novels too, which is awesome.
“Another cool thing I’ve noticed: I’ve always heard Dean say that he won’t even remember stories he’s written, and sometimes he’ll stumble on a few he’d completely forgotten about, because when you write into the dark, no single story is important, and once one story is complete, you’re immediately excited about starting the next one. I never could fathom being in such a blaze of writing, that you could write stories and not even remember them.
“But now it’s happening to me (grin). The other day, I was trying to remember the story I’d written for a certain week, and it wouldn’t come to me. I had to really sit there and think about it. I thought that was cool, going from constantly heaping so much unnecessary importance on stories, to writing so much that I genuinely cannot remember what I wrote!
“I have been fearful (critical voice again) that I was growing stale as a writer. These past few weeks have absolutely upended that fear. I feel like I am learning and growing more than I ever have. All thanks to this challenge.”
Folks, this is what can happen when you hold yourself accountable for your writing and are determined to just have fun with it. Remember, THAT you write is important, but WHAT you write, the individual story, doesn’t matter at all.
One way to focus your attention on THAT you write vs. WHAT you write is to set a daily word count goal and make that your focus. Whether you meet, exceed, or miss the goal, it resets to zero every day. But simply striving to reach it will move both the amount and quality of your writing forward faster than you could have imagined. The amount because you’re writing. The quality because your putting new words on the page, practicing.
Talk with you again soon.
See “One Way To Go” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/one-way-to-go/. An extremely important post.
See “Cutting the DULL from Your Scenes” at https://killzoneblog.com/2023/05/cutting-the-dull-from-your-scenes.html. Read this if you want, but there’s no reason. Why? Because if you trust your creative voice and write what the characters give you, there won’t be any “dull” to cut.
The Journal…………………………………… 860
Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal 2 (WCG9SF4)
Day 11… 0323 words. Total words to date…… 19819
Day 12… 2445 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 13… 3184 words. Total words to date…… 25448
Total fiction words for May……… xxxx
Total fiction words for 2023………… 83464
Total nonfiction words for May… 6690
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 88380
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 171844
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 72
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 221
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.