The Daily Journal, Sunday, May 19

In today’s Journal

* My friend Dan
* Weird how writers say
* Topic: My Own Stages of Becoming a Fiction Writer
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

My friend Dan Baldwin will be dropping by today mid-morning or a little later. We’ll enjoy a couple of cigars and, no doubt, a lot of talk about writing.

It’s always enjoyable visiting with Dan. I invariably learn something new or realize something I’d forgotten.

So I’ll devote the first couple of hours this morning (after the Journal stuff) to the WIP, then post this early.

As another friend and I were discussing recently, it’s weird how writers say they have trouble coming up with ideas.

In today’s “Of Interest” the first two posts are not specifically about writing, but they’re both so chock full of story ideas I would be remiss if I didn’t share them here.

Eight or ten story ideas occurred to me from the first article alone, and not all of the SF.

Michaele Lockhart’s post on PWW yesterday similarly wasn’t about writing (she said) but it too stirs thought and contains story ideas so I’ve listed it as the third item in “Of Interest.”

Finally, Dawn Turner’s “Oops! … Wait. Maybe Not?” over at led me directly to write the short topic below.

Topic: My Own Stages of Becoming a Fiction Writer

This topic isn’t specifically on Critical Voice, but it’s closely associated, so it might become part of the eventual book.

I experienced exactly what Dawn is talking about in her post. The “oops” moments I refer to below are not misspellings, wrong words (waist for waste) etc. They’re places where the the conscious, critical mind is telling you (wrongly) the story has gone in a “wrong” direction.

With 20/20 hindsight, I can now delineate my own experience with this phenomenon in three stages:

Stage 1: Back before I became an actual fiction writer, in my teens through my early 30s, I occasionally wrote a short story.

Each time I wrote, I encountered those “oops” moments, where something about what I’d written just didn’t seem right.

As I was writing, I stopped and “fixed” the offensive passage every time. And of course, I fixed even more during revisions and rewrites.

But each time I “fixed” something (either as I was writing or in revision) I experienced a sinking feeling in my gut.

I ignored it, continued to fix and revise and rewrite and polish. And I published nothing, even in the “little literary” magazines of the time that paid only in contributor copies.

(Interesting to note, maybe, that during this time, I DID become a successful poet, selling widely and being nominated for several major awards. Oddly, my poems just flowed out and I allowed them to do so.)

Stage 2: In my 30s through my 50s, still before I became an actual fiction writer, I still occasionally wrote a short story.

I continued to experience that “oops” feeling now and then, but for some reason I most often did not fix things as I wrote. Instead, I waited until I revised and rewrote.

I did begin to notice that I had fewer things to fix during revision and rewrite though I didn’t recognize why. But even then when I fixed things, I continued to experience that sinking feeling. I stubbornly plowed ahead with the fix anyway. After all, I wanted to make the story perfect.

Stage 3: Finally, in my early 60s I found Heinlein’s Rules and writing into the dark. I became aware of the duality of the mind and the roles of each part:

* The conscious mind is critical and wants to save me from the embarrassment of rejection.
* The subconscious mind is creative and doesn’t care either way; it just wants to have fun.

And finally, over a period of a year or so during which I was becoming a professional fiction writer, all of that sank in.

In an epiphany, I recognized that I was being a control freak. As a result, I learned to trust myself and my creative subconscious and let the characters tell their own story.

When the urge to “fix” something struck (as it still does, though rarely), I laughed at it and continued to let the story unfold as the characters wanted it to. And I no longer revise or rewrite (conscious, critical mind activities). Ever.

I do cycle back (creative subconscious) every thousand words or so as I go, but the only role the critical mind has in my writing now is to “decide” whether to apply a fix that’s recommended by my first readers.

* If it’s something that will distract a knowledgeable reader, I apply the recommended fix.
* It it’s something that probably won’t distract the reader, I don’t.

The point is, in my early days of exploring fiction writing (roughly 47 years) I didn’t recognize the “oops” voice for what it was. It was the critical mind, telling me what I’d written was flawed and interrupting the writing.

And the sinking feeling?

I finally recognized that too. It was my creative subconscious, telling me to “undo” what I’d fixed, that in fixing it I was destroying the original story and my original voice.

Today, I just have fun with my writing. I let my characters tell stories to entertain me. Then I publish them so they can enterain others or not.

Sure, the money matters. I’m still amazed and a little humbled when the royalies pour in and my bank account grows.

But my first true payment is how entertained I am by the characters who pour their stories out for me to enjoy.

If I go to my grave with any regrets, it will be that I didn’t find Heinlein’s Rules and writing off into the dark much earlier.

It will be that I didn’t come across someone like Dean Wesley Smith (or me, today) much earlier.

I hope as you read this you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s. If so, and if you can hear, you’re far and away ahead of the game. And if you’re in your 60s or later, well, as it was for me, better later than never.

Rolled out a little before 2. I read a lot more than usual while finding things for “Of Interest” and wrote the short topic above.

To the novel at 5:30. With breaks, I cycled some, then wrote some, and wound up with just over 2000 words on the day.

Dan came and went. Now on to the rest of the day.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Did Aliens Really Abduct Granger Taylor?” at Wow. Roughly a million story ideas, and not all SF.

See “On This Day…” at

See “Readin’ and Writin’: A Love Story” at

See “Why I Love Going Back in Time” at

Via CrimeReads, see “James Ellroy finally has happiness in his sights” at

Via Phillip McCollum, see “Stan Lee talking about ignoring the naysayers” at Remember this the next time someone tells you to write to market or write to what they think is the next big thing (or “westerns don’t sell” or or or).

Fiction Words: 2098
Nonfiction Words: 1220 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 3318

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 10… 1365 words. Total words to date…… 20874
Day 11… 3696 words. Total words to date…… 24570
Day 14… 1050 words. Total words to date…… 25620
Day 15… 1622 words. Total words to date…… 27242
Day 16… 1413 words. Total words to date…… 28655
Day 17… 2098 words. Total words to date…… 30753

Total fiction words for the month……… 30753
Total fiction words for the year………… 292223
Total nonfiction words for the month… 22720
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 134580
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 426803

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