The Daily Journal, Tuesday, April 9

In today’s Journal

▪ Today I’ll start
▪ Topic: The New World of Publishing
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest (a LOT of links)
▪ The numbers

Today I’ll start that new novel. I’ve had four days away from fiction writing, and frankly, I’m jonesing for it. Or as my wife put it, “Honey, you’re getting grouchy.” (grin)

I thought I’d start writing again yesterday, but I wasn’t ready. Instead I spent a lot of quiet time with Jim Glaser and thought about the recent visit with my old friend and did some other things to slowly move myself back into my normal routine.

This morning, I thought I’d take a brief look at grief and the grieving process.

It’s an old truism that different people grieve differently. “Friend,” to me, is the biggest word in the English language. I can think no more highly of anyone than to bestow upon him or her the title Friend. In fact, whether or not that friend is also a relative has no bearing.

When someone to whom I am a friend (my choice) passes, I spend the next day or two unable to shake the knowledge that even as I am doing something (writing, taking a shower, cooking, etc.) that person has performed that same action for the final time and will never do it again on this plane of existence. That’s just my process.

Fortunately for me, a day or two later the immediacy of that loss, that knowledge, and that situation passes. I still remember them fondly and think of them now and then, but those thoughts don’t intrude All Day and into every action like they do during that first couple of days.

And so the world keeps turning and I slip quietly back into my place in it. We simply do what we do. If I were a mechanic, I’d go fix a car engine. If I were a carpenter, I’d build something. If I were a lawyer, I’d devote my attention to my client.

I’m a writer, so I write.

Topic: The New World of Publishing

Awhile back, I mentioned almost in passing that I love the new world of publishing. Here’s why:

I’ve written for most of my life and have had two nonfiction works and two books of poetry traditionally published (back in the early ’90s). However, I’ve considered myself a professional writer for only about 5 years.

Five years ago on April 15 I wrote my first short story into the dark. Five years ago in mid-October (the 19th, I think) I started writing my first novel.

Under the old way of doing things (traditional publishing) today I would have written and published no fewer than 4 novels but no more than 8 (that’s if the publisher allowed two novels per year).

I probably would have published only a handful of short stories, and I probably would not have published any short story collections.

But get this: It’s a harsh truth that no matter who you are, it’s difficult to be “discovered” by readers if you have only a handful of publications out there.

It’s also difficult to improve your craft if you’re writing only a novel or two per year. You simply don’t have the ability to practice new techniques, like grounding the reader or adding depth or writing from all five (of the POV character’s) physical senses and his/her opinions of the setting.

Common wisdom says you can’t really get good at storytelling until you’ve written a million words of fiction.

But in the meantime, some readers will like what you’ve written no matter your skill level.

So you publish even that first story or novel so they can buy it. Then you forget it and move on to the next story or novel, and the next and the next.

In between stories, you’re learning new bits of the craft through reading, workshops, etc. And in the next work and the next, you’re applying what you learned and you’re practicing.

Go you! (Dan, for you that would be “Ya’ll geaux!”)

I am a perfect example of all of the above.

In the past five years — specifically because of the freedom this new world of publishing affords us all — I’ve written and published almost 200 short stories plus the attendant 30 or so collections plus 42 novels.

Today, I’ll start my 43rd novel. And all in less than five years.

In fact, at my current rate of production, this year alone I might write in the neighborhood of 24 novels. Which means I will have been entertained by my characters’ stories 24 times.

As a side benefit, I’ll have 24 more chances to be discovered by readers and 24 more streams of revenue from sales of those novels.

Can your production be as big as mine? The short answer is Sure.

Much depends on your situation. If you hold down a full-time job that isn’t writing, your time is more limited than mine is. If you have children still living at home, your time is more limited than mine is.

But Dean Wesley Smith devotes well over 40 hours per week to non-writing job related activities, and he’s much more prolific than I am.

The point is to develop a habit. Carve out the time to write from whatever else you have to do during the day (or weekend) and then allow nothing to interfere with that time (barring life rolls, of course).

And the bigger point is to keep the writing fun. If writing seems like drudgery or work to you, either change your attitude or find something fun to do to fill those hours. Life is far too short to unnecessarily spend any of it being miserable.

And the BIGGEST point is that it doesn’t matter whether your production is greater or less than mine. What matters is that your production tomorrow is greater than your production today. At least until you hit a comfortable plateau. Then all you have to do is run with it.

And it’s all made possible by this wonderful new world of publishing.

I’ve been torturing a mentoring client with detailing her day (for herself) in half-hour increments to see whether and how much wasted time she has. I do the same exercise a couple of times per year, and I’m due. I also recommend it, so I’ll kill two birds with one stone and do that in today’s diary as an example for you.

Any “big blocks” of time can be detailed in a batch, such as: I rolled out at 2:30 this morning, came to the Hovel to enjoy a cigar and coffee while I wrote all the stuff above, searched the internet for items of interest, etc. I also added the topic above to my main blog. (grin) At this point, I’m good over there on the other blog up through mid-July. So that’s a little heat off me.

To the house for a brief break for the first time at 4:30, then back to the Hovel to do some of the above, and back to the house at 6:15 to change clothes, grab breakfast and get ready to write. As you’ll note, I don’t take a break every hour while writing nonfiction and doing other necessary things. I only break every hour (or thereabouts) while writing fiction.

So to the house at 6:15, then back to the Hovel at 7. Now I’m beyond the routine, so from here it gets more detailed.

Beginning at 7, I played 15 minutes of Spider solitaire (yeah, it gets a lot of us) and spent 15 more minutes on the internet, answering email, etc.

Ten more minutes of browsing cigars from a special email (nothing I was interested in, as it turned out) and I turned to Blackwell Ops 6 at 7:40. I’d finish the title, but I don’t know who the POV character will be yet. (grin)

At 8, after I’d written 158 words on my new novel (Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task), up to the house again to spend a little time with my girl before she heads off to work.

At 8:25 back to the Hovel. Email for a few minutes, and back to the WIP at 8:30.

At 10:10 I answered a couple of emails, then took another break at 10:20. (I [and my first chapter] went a little long, but the WIP is now a little over 1700 words.) By the way, I’m no whiz kid. The book probably will slow down a bit now that I reached the end of the first chapter. Spot-research and all that.

At 10:30 I’m back in the Hovel. A couple of emails, a few more items added to “Of Interest,” and back to the WIP at 10:50.

Nope. Put my fingers on the keyboard and the phone rang. It was my buddy, who’s planning to visit in a couple of weeks. (He’s one of the few who can’t interrupt me because as a Friend he’s more important to me than anything he might interrupt.) So we talked, solved roughly half the world’s problems, and I went back to the WIP at 11:15.

Another 800 words and another break at 12:20. A few forkfuls of cole slaw up at the house for lunch and back to the Hovel and the novel at 12:35. Wrote about 200 more words and had to go into research mode at 12:50.

Well, my POV character’s going to Aden, Yemen, I guess. So I’m researching Yemeni names, places, landscape, etc. The UPS guy showed up at 1:20. To the house to receive a package and store the contents. Back to the Hovel at 1:45 and back to research.

Probably no more writing today. In fact, I’ll go ahead and call it. I’ll do more research with the last hour or so of my day before I have to go do things at the house.

But I think this gives you a good overview of how to keep tabs on your day in 15- to 30-minute increments. (grin)

Note: If you try this exercise, it’s best to do it for at least two days: one interior weekday (Tues, Wed, Thur) and one weekend day. If you don’t already have a regularly scheduled writing time each day, this can help you find time for that.

As for the novel, I’m not worried in the slightest. It’s running, and actually faster than I expected at the beginning.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “On Publishing Luck and Royalties” at (I’m trying to get MailChimp to do their job, but no luck so far.)

See “A University Masters Degree in Publishing” at

See “First Page Critique: Shadows And Suggestion” at

See “Promotion Items at the Freebie Table” at

See “Dog Number Twelve: The Brothers Most Grim” at

See “My Great Galapagos Adventure – Part 5” at

See “MIPTV: ‘Jack Reacher’ Author Lee Child to Develop True-Crime Series” at

See “WWII’s Most Decorated Spy Was An American Heiress with A Wooden Leg” at

See “For Sale: The Entire Town of Story, Indiana” at Seriously, how cool would it be for a writer to own a town named Story? In one building, Dan and I could open a “story (or novel) while you wait” shop for tourists. (grin)

Fiction Words: 2774
Nonfiction Words: 1860 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 4634

Writing of Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task (novel)

Day 1…… 2774 words. Total words to date…… 2774

Total fiction words for the month……… 10960
Total fiction words for the year………… 230613
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10960
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 88030
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 318643

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