The Daily Journal, Thursday, May 2

In today’s Journal

▪ Yesterday, I stayed…
▪ Topic Part 1: On What Beginning Writers Believe
▪ Topic Part 2: Business, Schmizzness
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

Yesterday, I stayed on the computer long after I planned to leave. As a result, I didn’t give much thought to what fiction I’ll write next, so I definitely won’t start anything new today.

I keep getting a feeling my next WIP will be something completely different.

I’ll read Joe Lansdale’s article again sometime today. I like people who are up front and plain spoken, and the guy gives me ideas.

Long post today. Gird yourselves.

Topic Part 1: On What Beginning Writers Believe

I got into a brief discussion recently with a person who wanted to talk about beginning writers.

The gist was basically a list of probably valid complaints:

▪ Beginning writers populate the “writer boards” and exchange the same tired advice that doesn’t work.
▪ They think they’re going to write a novel, hit the bestseller lists, and never have to work another day in their lives.
▪ They don’t look at writing as a business.
▪ And on and on.

My initial response was So what? How does what they think or do affect me?

But let me take the complaints one at a time.

If these folks populate the “writer boards” (whatever those are), what do I care? I don’t attend. In fact, I also don’t attend other places where beginning writers are likely to gather, like critique groups, writing groups and writer conferences. By and large, those are places for the exhanging of myths. If you still need those, that’s fine. I don’t.

So wherever beginning writers gather, chances are, I won’t be there unless I’ve been invited — and paid, well — to speak to the group.

Not because I’m a snob or whatever, but because I’m too busy writing. Writers write.

Well, and because I’m looking forward, not back.

After all, there was a time when I too played groupie to writer’s groups etc. You know, before I got tired of hearing the same old clichéd stuff that doesn’t work. Back before I was an actual writer, when all I had was talking about writing.

But, the second complaint goes, these beginning writers believe they’re going to write a novel, hit the bestseller lists, etc. (Here, I kind of sense an implied exclamation point accompanied by near-hyperventilation.)

My response is pretty much the same: <shrug> Okay. But again, so what?

The thing is, those folks are living the dream. Maybe you and I think it’s a stupid dream, but it’s THEIR dream. And frankly, it’s one I suspect we’ve all lived before.

I know I did, way back in the day.

So what right do I have to tear it down for them? They won’t listen or understand until they’re ready. And again, what they think or believe and do or don’t do has absolutely no effect on me or my writing anyway, so why should I care?

The real point is, you’re either immune to their silliness or you aren’t. If you are, move on. Spend your time writing and looking forward.

If you aren’t, well, then you’re still one of them. But that’s all right too. You’ll grow when you’re ready.

Life thus far has gone by way too quickly, so I’m a bottom-line kind of guy. And my bottom line with regard to beginning writers is this:

1. If they come to me for advice, I’ll do my absolute best to help them.

2. If they come to me WITH advice, I don’t bother arguing. I most often smile, nod, and say something like, “Hey, when you’re right, you’re right.” Then they feel good, I feel snide and witty, and we’re both happy.

Then I go on about my business, preferably with other people who have stopped depending on fairy dust, left the past behind, and want to improve their craft as much as I want to improve mine.

But I said I “go on about my business,” didn’t I?

Trust me, that’s only a figure of speech.

Topic Part 2: Business, Schmizzness

Did I spell that right, do you think?

The final gritch about beginning writers was that they don’t look at writing as a business.

Again, in the first place, So what? What do I care? (Trust me, I really don’t.)

Now then, starting right here I could easily be flip and pretend that I look at writing as a business. I really do understant that’s what I’m “supposed” to do.

I could even pretend that writing-as-business is something I adhere to every single stinkin’ day.

But the thing is, I DON’T look at it that way, and it ISN’T something I adhere to. At all. <shrug>I’m just not bent that way.

Beginning writers don’t treat writing as a business?

Neither do I. Not really.

I mean, I guard my copyright and my IP zealously, and I still force myself to follow Heinlein’s Rule 4 (put your work on the market), albeit grudgingly.

Oh, and my wife takes some depreciation of office equipment and expenses for research trips and such as that off our taxes. But really, that’s about it.

And if I had to do even that much on my own, I promise, it wouldn’t get done. Form 1040EZ is my buddy. If it weren’t for my wife, Form 1040EZ and I would hang out and have beers once a year. Probably on the afternoon of April 15.

I hasten to add, I’m truly happy, even thrilled, for those of you who are able to look at writing as a business and still enjoy it. Seriously. If you are able to look at writing as a business, more power to you.

But even Ms. Writing Business herself, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, emphasizes in her post today in “Of Interest” that keeping the writing fun is the key to all things writing.

So there you go.

For me, personally, writing really is fun. That isn’t just something I say. I really do write to entertain myself.

Even as I’m writing, I’ll flinch away from the screen at the horror of what just came through my fingertips.

Or I’ll laugh out loud, or I’ll find myself approaching tears.

A lot of times — often right in the middle of a scene — I’ll suddenly push back from my desk and say something like, “Wow, where the [‘heck’] did THAT come from?”

Most often when I’m through writing for the day, I’m a very happy version of exhausted.

And even as I’m walking away from the Hovel and that magical little writing ‘puter, Hal, I’m wishing my life away, hoping the afternoon and the night will pass quickly so I can get back to the story.

Please understand, I’m not exaggerating here, and I’m not cheerleading. I literally can’t think of anything that’s more fun than being immersed in whatever story I’m telling at the moment.

So why in the world would I want to risk screwing that up by slathering it with something as stodgy and impersonal and boring (to me) as This Must Be Business!? (Gawd, I almost put myself to sleep just writing that clause.)

Actually, if I DID look at writing as a business, I probably wouldn’t make as much money at it. And I KNOW I wouldn’t have as much fun. I mean, just having to put my work on the market is a major drain on my fun-o-meter.

And I only do that much “business” because Mr. Heinlein said I have to, and I decided awhile back to adhere stubbornly to his rules. But then, that’s why I am where I am today as a writer.

Yet if I were forced to look at writing as a business, I probably wouldn’t write at all.

Don’t get me wrong. Making money every month on my stories is wonderful. It’s a great little ego-boost.

Knowing that other people all over the world are entertained enough by my stories to give me money is even more wonderful.

But far and away the best sensation, to me, is recording whatever story my characters feel like telling me at the time. And that’s all right here, between me, Hal and the characters.

So there it is. No pretense, no foo-foo, no tongue-in-cheek BS. Just the plain truth.

I write fiction because writing fiction is fun.

For me, there is nothing better.

Rolled out at 2 a.m. when my kitten ripped my left forearm on her way out of what must have been a horrendous nightmare. I picked her up, comforted her until her breathing and her little heartrate calmed, then went to find a small bandage.

Because I have a pacer-tech appointment this morning, I’m going to post this early. Then my intention is to take the rest of the day to do nothing.

So I’ll talk with you again tomorrow. Thanks for being here.

Of Interest

See “The Covers of This Book” at This, at least, is one problem I do not have. (grin) Most of the time.

See “Business Musings: Good Goals” at

See “Writing Bundle One Week Left” at I highly recommend this f you haven’t gotten it yet.

See Prasenjeet Kumar’s question and Dean’s response (last two comments) at

See “Crime Fiction Research Links” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1440 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1440

Writing of (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 0
Total fiction words for the year………… 261470
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2680
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 114540
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 376010

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

4 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Thursday, May 2”

  1. The topic on beginning writers made me think & wonder. Think about what I believe and want and do as a beginning writer– and wonder why someone who obviously didn’t think of themselves as a beginner would care.

    But the thinking was more interesting than the wondering. First of all I consider myself a beginner because I have exactly one novel published. As such I wouldn’t presume to give advice except as I’ve found helpful (not how you should do it).

    Regarding striking it rich, I think it’s natural to wonder what it would be like to be a super star. But for me, I want to move readers like I’ve been moved by great works. I remember crying and laughing (both out loud) on the same page in Recollections of Joan of Arc. The same page.

    When I first read The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings, I would have gone to Middle Earth in a heartbeat. That’s my dream as a writer, to create worlds and characters who move readers. Will I be a super star? Not likely. Can I move readers? Yep. And the more I write, the better I’ll get at it.

    • Karen, oddly I’ve never thought of you as a beginning writer. Maybe because you’ve been hungry to learn ever since I’ve known you.

      As for your work moving people, it already does. I can personally vouch for that. I still remember the premise and parts of The Widow’s Circle, and that’s been years ago. (By comparison, I don’t remember what happened in the last Lee Child book I read, about a month ago.)

  2. I guess I define beginner in terms of production. And I’ve still got a lot to learn and try! I’ve only written one or two short stories. I’d like to try that too in addition to novels.

    • I still have a lot to learn too. There’s always more to learn. But once you settle into a routine with your writing — once you know THAT you will show up and WHEN you will show up — you’ll get all of that accomplished and a lot more.

Comments are closed.