The Daily Journal, Sunday, May 12

In today’s Journal

  • Happy belated Mother’s Day
  • Quotes of the Day
  • Topic: Verified — Yep, I’m a Hack
  • Daily diary
  • Of Interest
  • The numbers

To any moms out there, a heartfelt happy belated Mother’s Day.

I know, it’s still Mother’s Day, but most of it will be over by the time many of you read this. I should have mentioned it in yesterday’s journal.

Quotes of the Day

“[T}he shift I felt when I finished my first novel. Once I knew I could do it, I knew that I could learn to be a better writer.” Shaunta Grimes*

Also, Shaunta (and a lot of others) say “Practice and learn. Repeat every day.”

In a related note, from Ray Bradbury, “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

*Unfortunately, Shaunta Grimes does not have a website that I could find. She posts on Medium, for which of course you must pay a fee to participate. However, I did find one guest post I thought might be useful to some. (See “Of Interest.”)

Topic: Verified — Yep, I’m a Hack

And really, I don’t mind that term. Again, it comes from people who don’t know me, so what do I care what they think?

But for some reason I mind very much when other professional writers refer derogatorily to me or others as a “pantser.” Ugh. A plague on their exclusive Amazon accounts.

In today’s “Of Interest” you’ll see a link to the Killzone blog and a post by James Scott Bell. The condescension was palpable. Frankly, as Mr. Bell is also an indie writer and publisher, I was a little surprised.

I maintained my own version of decorum, but I had to comment. After all, a thrown gauntlet is a thrown gauntlet.

I added his post to today’s “Of Interest” just in case you want to read it, not because I found anything of value in it. (I didn’t, though usually his posts are dripping gems.)

Anyway, here’s my response to his post:

“As a dedicated practitioner of writing off into the unknown — and thereby being only the first of hundreds of readers who are entertained when my characters tell their own story — let me be the first ‘pantser’ to say I agree that Structure is important.

“However, I learn and absorb Structure (from you et al and from reading fiction extensively) with my conscious, critical mind. Just as I learned sentence structure (and the use of fragments) and the appropriate use of punctuation or to always dot the lower-case I or to always cross a T when writing.

“I don’t [consciously] ‘think’ about structure as I write anymore than I ‘think’ about whether to dot an I or cross a T or whether the end of a sentence needs a period or a question mark.

“Once I take it on board (i.e., learn it) a given technique (including structure) becomes automatic and seeps through my fingers and into the story as I write.

“I simply prefer not to force my authorial will on my characters’ story as they live their lives, anymore than I would attempt to force my will on my neighbors as they live their lives.

“Of course, every writer is different.

“I personally can’t bring myself to outline a novel before I write it because if I already knew every plot twist, character trait, etc. I would be bored to tears as I wrote. It would be like trying to watch and enjoy a film when I already knew the ending or trying to watch and enjoy a baseball game after someone had already told me the score.

“My characters entertain me as they race through the story. I am the fortunate Recorder they’ve invited to drop into the story with them. I attempt to keep up as I record what they say and do, enter and extract themselves from various situations, solve crimes, battle aliens, solve murders or ride wild on a good horse in a noble endeavor.

“I’m thrilled that I don’t know what’s coming next.

“And revision? Yes. I run a spell checker and I have a first reader who checks for any typos or inconsistencies. I generally spend all of a half-hour applying those fixes (if I agree with them) before allowing my toddling little novel out the door.

“But beyond that, I personally prefer not to polish my original voice off the story with endless revisions and rewrites. I prefer instead to write a story cleanly the first time through, publish it and move on to the next story.

“Nothing about my personal writing process should seem threatening-to or evoke derogatory or condescending terms (‘pantser’) from those who have a different process (outlining, revising, rewriting, polishing, etc.). Are these folks ‘plodders’? Maybe. I just don’t care.

“After all, my process has no bearing on others’ processes (or theirs on mine), and neither does my success as a novelist have any bearing on others’ success or lack thereof.”

Now, to continue the thought just a bit…

YES, Oh Mighty Outliners-Revisers-Rewriters-Polishers (whom you will note I have not referred to derogatorily as “plodders”), we NON-control freaks who choose to do things differently from the way we were taught by non-writers during our formative years are fully aware that you believe we are wrong and that we will all go to hell as a result.

However, even if that is our fate, certainly YOU won’t suffer so much as a sunburn as we plunge into the fiery pit, eh? So how about you back off a little, do your own thing and stop obsessing over how we do ours?

Okay, I’ll shut up now. (grin)

Rolled out right at 3 despite staying up a bit late to watch two Eagles concerts in their entirety. Talk about some great writing. Some of their song lyrics are just flat stunning.

To the Hovel where I did all the usual things. To the house for a break at 5, then back to the Hovel to finish writing the stuff above.

To the novel at 6:40 off and on. Some cycling, and a little over 1500 new words. Abbreviated day today.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “How to Be a Better Artist (There Is Only One Way)” at

See “Avoid the R. U. E. Pitfall” at

See “How Tiny Goals Changed My Life And Made Me a Real Writer” at

See Jeff Goins’ website at Browse. You might find something of use to you.

See “Using the Argument Against Transformation to Strengthen Your Story” at

Fiction Words: 1749
Nonfiction Words: 1130 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 2879

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 1…… 1538 words. Total words to date…… 1538
Day 2…… 2456 words. Total words to date…… 3994
Day 3…… 1876 words. Total words to date…… 5870
Day 4…… 1038 words. Total words to date…… 6908
Day 5…… 5807 words. Total words to date…… 12715
Day 6…… 1957 words. Total words to date…… 14672
Day 7…… 1867 words. Total words to date…… 16539
Day 8…… 1748 words. Total words to date…… 18288

Total fiction words for the month……… 18288
Total fiction words for the year………… 279758
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13130
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 124990
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 404748

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31