The Daily Journal, Friday, April 19

In today’s Journal

▪ Grand Master Jack Williamson
▪ There’s a great writing-book bundle
▪ Topic: Always Learning
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

In a comment on his post from yesterday, DWS reminded me of Jack Williamson, whom I was fortunate to study under and get to know during my final year in college at Eastern NM University in Portales NM back in the early ’90s.

Jack had compiled a collection of short stories titled People Machines, and he gave me a copy. But it wasn’t only a collection of stories.

Accompanying each short story was an essay concerning a particular writing technique illustrated by the story.

Jack also gave me permission to pass along those essays in the now long-defunct Roswell Literary Review.

I looked up People Machines on Amazon this morning, just out of curiosity. I was stunned to find that you can still buy a copy for only a few dollars. I strongly, strongly recommend you do so. Those essays are invaluable.

If you’d like to take a look, visit You can actually get a “collectible” edition from only $6 or a “new” paperback from only $9.

Seriously, if you like to learn, don’t pass this up.

I haven’t talked much about Joanna Penn for quite awhile. I recommend you visit her website at

Joanna has a blog as well as a podcast, which also features transcripts for those of us who would rather read than listen. At the top of her website, she features links to specific topics, like “Write a Novel” and “Publishing” and “Marketing” etc. Check it out.

To get you started, I’ve included a few posts from her blog in today’s “Of Interest.”

Some Random Thoughts on Writing and Terms

Recently when I was talking with my friend Michaele about writing into the dark, she mentioned that she preferred to call it “writing into the unknown.”

Her preference is excellent, and a good illustration that the connotations of words are often more important than the denotations.

Her comment led me to notice that had the D in WITD stood for “darkness” instead of “dark,” WITD would be a more apt description. In fact, WIT Unknown and WIT Darkness are synonymous.

Maybe that’s because “unknown” and “darkness” are both nouns and both conjure up an emptiness. A nothingness in which something awaits. What awaits, of course, is the rest of the story.

The word “dark,” on the other hand, is an adjective, a descriptor of something else that, in WITD, is curiously missing.

So from here on out, I probably will refer to WITU (though the acronym is a bit awkward, at least in my mind. There it evokes the sight and sound of a Brooklyn wiseguy staring at another, a look of incredulity on his face, as he says, “What is it (whaddizit) wit(ch)u?” (grin)


In today’s post over on PWW, Robert brought up some interesting thoughts on “becoming” and “being.” So I hereby blame the following on him. (grin)

As I commented on his post, the notion of “being” and “becoming” intrigues me. What we believe of ourselves in terms (or titles) matters. Robert nailed the concept hard with “I Am” in his short poem in the post.

I Am is the most powerful force in the universe (IMHO). For example, I Am is much stronger than “I can” or “I might” or anything similar. It’s massively more powerful even than “I did” because there is no end to I Am.

In fact, I Am actually illustrates the lack of a beginning or an end. It is a mobius strip of being. Think about it. Even God used it. (“I am that I am.”)

It’s also peculiar how different terms mean different things to different people. For me, I Am isn’t limited only to meaning “I exist” or anything else that I “do.”

I Am denotes more.

It denotes a constant learning, an active existence. It denotes a continual observation and absorption of everything around us, from how people behave in public vs. private to the particular manner in which a bee approaches a dandelion flower or the way a deer pricks his ears when a stick snaps in the forest.

It denotes an appreciation and respect for all other creatures, whether carbon- or silicon-based.

I Am enables me to judge for myself without remorse the creatures around me.

For example, I Am stymied by people who say writing is drudgery. I can’t fathom why they would continue doing something they feel is “drudgery.” Or in the alternative, why they would pretend (see pretense, pretension) to trudge to work day after day and labor over something they actually enjoy.

For me, “writer” is an off-shoot of I am. It also is a way of being, an apt descriptor of one who is fortunate enough (in my opinion) to have been born with a profound, abiding affinity-for and ability-with the language.

There is a difference between who we are and what we do. The chief difference is that we can’t stop being who We Are (I Am, plural), but we can always stop doing what we do.

The writer who truly sees writing as drudgery is not a writer. He is a laborer with a pen, and writing is only one more thing he does.

Because I Am a writer: a poet, an essayist, and (my collective term) a fictionist. (Merriam-Webster defines “fictionist” as “a writer of fiction” but they’re hardly proud of it. They hedge their bet with “especially : novelist” and point out that fictionist is in “the bottom 20%” of words. Talk about pretentious.)

But I digress.

I love everything about the language and (almost) every word in it. (Out of our entire language, one word springs to mind that has no good use, one that is so worthless, filthy and harmful that I will never utter, write or share it.)

I enjoy diagramming sentences almost as much as I enjoy turning a phrase well or writing poems or essays or fictions of whatever length.

Likewise, I’ve seemingly always understood that I can learn as much from great writers in any genre as I can from those who are great writers in my own genre(s).

After all, we all use the same words, only in different sequences to form different thoughts or different expressions of those thoughts.

I suppose that’s why I never considered, even for an instant, that Heinlein’s Rules might apply only to writers of speculative fiction. To me, the very idea is eyebrow-arching, “huh?”-inducing, head-scratchingly ridiculous.

Nor do I ascribe to any silly negative notions like “kill all adverbs.” Though I suppose if you spread a blanket over them and “kill” them all you will save yourself the necessity to engage in original thought and determine whether or not to use one in a particular, appropriate place.

Embrace I Am and the power it will give you. Fill yourself with it, then move forward and do what you love, what you have an abiding affinity and driving desire to do.

And don’t look back.

Rolled out early in the middle of a cat fight on my bed. Oh well. I probably needed to get up anyway.

To the novel at 4 a.m. Yeah, for about 500 words. Then to the house for an extended break, then to town to return some merchandise and buy more, then to the grocery, then home and finally back to the Hovel to write all of the above.

So finally back to the novel at 11:50. I wrote for about five minutes, then remembered I had a load of laundry to put in the dryer.

So back to the novel at 12:15. (Don’t I live a terribly drudgery-filled life?)

Well, I finally diverted all my attention to the novel and had a relatively good day.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Ask Kris Anything Starts Sunday” at

See “Writing A Novel: How To Hook Your Reader” at

See “Writing Tips: 8 Ways To Take Your Book From Good To Great” at

See “Why Writing Yourself Into a Corner Can Improve Your Writing” at

For a little fun, see “Email Settings” at

Fiction Words: 3233
Nonfiction Words: 1360 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 4593

Writing of Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task (novel)

Day 1…… 2774 words. Total words to date…… 2774
Day 2…… 1776 words. Total words to date…… 4550
Day 3…… 4190 words. Total words to date…… 8740
Day 4…… 2662 words. Total words to date…… 11402
Day 5…… 2087 words. Total words to date…… 13489
Day 6…… 2220 words. Total words to date…… 15709
Day 7…… 1202 words. Total words to date…… 16911
Day 8…… 2546 words. Total words to date…… 19457
Day 9…… 3233 words. Total words to date…… 22690

Total fiction words for the month……… 32728
Total fiction words for the year………… 250529
Total nonfiction words for the month… 23900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 100970
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 351499

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 42
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31