The Daily Journal, Wednesday, February 20

In today’s Journal

My apology for the very long Journal today. But it’s all good stuff.

▪ Update on the challenge
▪ Topic: Writers Need Adventure — Don’t They?
▪ Two folks chimed in
▪ Daily diary (yeah, it’s back)
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

With novel 3 of the challenge in the bank, I’ll probably begin novel 4 today. No idea at the moment what it will be. Maybe back to one of my series, maybe a standalone. I guess we’ll see.

It won’t be another Blackwell Ops book, though, unless another truly unique character pops into my head and that happens to be his or her story.

And this time, no days in the bank. So starting from scratch, 15 days to write a novel. The last day of this part of the challenge (to stay on track) will be March 6.

But just a reminder: In a challenge like this, what matters is the overall average. I’m not writing one novel every 15 days; I’m writing 10 novels in 150 straight days. (grin)

Topic: Writers Need Adventure — Don’t They?

The initial image many of us conjure of Ernest Hemingway is that of a writer writing. That’s the first image I see too.

But the image I most often conjure is of a man’s man. Living, by which I mean adventuring, continually seeking adversity and attacking it where it lives.

Of course, that’s larger than life, but so was he. Wasn’t he? To feel truly alive, we all need an antagonist. Don’t we? I do.

My favorite quote from Hemingway is “[M]an is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

I can relate. And because I know myself better than I know anyone else, I’ll use myself as an example.

Without going into the grisly details, my own childhood was marked with insecurity brought on by severe repression. As just one example, the night of my senior prom, I was at my job, washing dishes and bussing tables at a local truck stop.

Of course, my classmates came in with their dates after the prom. Of course they did. And all I earned or learned from that job was humility. My paychecks went into the family kitty.

To my lasting disadvantage, I learned during those early years to be overly empathetic. I learned nothing about being a man. When I left home, I didn’t know so much as how to change a flat tire.

Instead, in order to survive, I learned through negative reinforcement to be what psychologists call a “people pleaser.”

My early life also taught me to expect nothing, that there was and would be no gratuitous anything. I learned to earn every accolade and every reward I would ever receive. When I graduated high school at 17, I had three scholarships for college. I didn’t accept them. In my view, I hadn’t earned them.

(Hence my disdain for the current trend of awarding “participation” trophies and the notion that there are no losers or winners, only participants.)

But I did graduate, thereby earning the right to shake myself free from the repression. In that pursuit, I chose the most difficult, most self-testing route I could then imagine: Marine Corps basic training.

Graduating from the MC Recruit Depot was the first and biggest accomplishment of my life. It taught me I didn’t need anything or anyone else to grow into who I was. And it imbued me with a heightened sense of urgency and a thirst for adventure.

During my 21 years in the USMC (which I jokingly refer to as a “21-year civilian-appreciation course”) I never stood so much as an hour of mess duty (working in the mess hall, where food was prepared and served). Instead, I always volunteered for guard duty.

Standing or roving a guard post alone overnight might not be a greater challenge, but it definitely provided higher levels of adrenaline and ample opportunity for exercising the imagination, good and bad.

Subsequently, both in and out of the Marine Corps, I always sought and took on assignments that would provide me with some excitement, that feeling of heightened adrenaline. I was a cop for awhile. I labored in the oilfields of New Mexico. I was a landscaper, a truck driver, and on and on.

Over the years, I started and stopped smoking cigarettes several times, always in search of an antagonist, something to strive against.

While I was smoking, the self-destructive act of smoking itself was the antagonist. When I stopped smoking, the cravings were the antagonist. When the cravings dropped away, I started smoking again.

While on recruiter duty in Utah, I once faced down four young toughs who had “pretend raped” a 14 year old girl in our apartment complex. They actually called the police to report that I had threatened them.

It was true. I had. I told them blatantly I’d be watching them, no matter where they were, no matter what time of day or night it was. And if one of them stepped out of line, I would visit harm on him in numerous ways.

When the deputy sheriff showed up to talk with me about it, I told him the whole story, then admitted it. He laughed and said to be sure when I “visited harm” on them I didn’t do so with any sort of weapon that wasn’t part of my body. Then he shook my hand. For me, that was another reward.

One of my more memorable experiences happened during a camping trip. My friend and I spent a weekend perched on the edge of a 500-foot drop to the Gila River.

One afternoon and early evening of that trip, we survived a severe rain/hail/wind and lightning storm that jostled, rocked and lifted the truck my friend and I were sitting in — again, about 40 feet from that 500-foot drop. More than once, we thought we were going over. And each time we laughed. Because seriously, what a way to go!

Now, I didn’t convey all of that to fill you in on my life, but to explain my version of what makes up a guy like me and others like me. And writers like me.

During my (so far) 66 years on this planet, all of this — all of it and a great deal more — has been nothing more than a way to seek adventure. A way to seek just enough adversity to feel truly alive. (And the key word is “feel.”)

And then write about it.

Today, I can’t do much more than write, so I engage in personal challenges. But I almost feel as if I[m cheating. How much adrenaline is involved in sitting alone in a dark room making stuff up?

So occasionally I engage in a little self-sabotage. I wrote a bit about that in a topic earlier.

I desire adversity. I crave the adrenaline rush. Something — anything — beyond the simple, annoying act of existence. Simply breathing, in and out, in and out. And I think it makes me a better writer.

How about you?

Two folks chimed in yesterday to say they actually enjoy the day-to-day diary stuff, so I guess I’ll put it back in. Frankly, the daily diary is the least time-consuming part of writing the Journal every day. (grin)

I’ll try to omit the truly mundane stuff.

Rolled out at 3. Slow getting started this morning. I’m not worried about writing the next novel etc. but it was a curious start.

I read Dean’s post (as I do every morning) and thought the guy is SO busy, a novel starring a fictional version of him as the POV character might be interesting.

Then my brain shifted to Ernest Hemingway for some reason, and from there to writers in general. The result is the topic above.

To the house at 6:30 for my second break, then back to scour my mind (and files) for the next novel.

Back at 7:15, saw something interesting and took a pic with my phone. (I am not familiar with that level of tech.) Spent the next half-hour trying to figure out how to email it to myself and my wife, then gave it up. Shrug.

I decided I enjoy the Blackwell Ops stories too much to leave them for now. I’ve written in several series in a few genres, but only the Wes Crowley 10-novel saga gripped me the way this one does.

Each book “stars” a different protagonist/POV character, man or woman, with different abilities and expertise, so suited for different kinds of assignments.

I keep a Blackwell Ops folder. In it, one file is a list of names of possible Blackwell Ops operatives. In my “search” for what to write next, I had to look no further than that list.

And when my gaze alit on Melanie James Sloan, I knew she would be the POV character in the next book.

At the moment, I have no idea where her expertise lies or what her abilities are. I do know (somehow) she’s a brunette and is “statuesque,” a kind way of saying she’s considerably taller than other women. And I know she’s a fitness nut. She runs half-marathons and so on.

Beyond that, I don’t have a clue. I took another break to get my wife to show me how to send pics with my phone, and then to the novel. I can hardly wait to learn more about Miss Melanie and why in the world her middle name is James. (grin)

As it turned out, I returned to the Hovel at 8:30, then embarked on an in-depth, 2-hour search for a prolific female indie writer I know. I want to ask her to join the regular-contributor cadre at PWW. Anyway, I searched every friend I have on Facebook and the members of several groups. Nada.

So finally to write the opening for the new novel at 10:30. Here’s hoping it takes off and drags me along for the ride.

A good-enough first day for the new novel. And it feels like it’s going to pull me all the way through the book. (grin)

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Kickstarter Update” at

See “Ways to Beef Up Conflict & Mystery” at

See “The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression (2nd Edition)” at

See “Hemingway On Hemingway & Hollywood” at

See “Remembering Papa” at

For a great deal more, type “Did Hemingway smoke?” into a search engine.

Fiction Words: 2363
Nonfiction Words: 1770 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4133

Writing of Blackwell Ops 4: Melanie Stone (novel)

Day 1…… 2363 words. Total words to date…… 2363

Total fiction words for the month……… 52573
Total fiction words for the year………… 135976
Total nonfiction words for the month… 18970
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 44380
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 180356

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date………………………… 3
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date……… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 40
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Wednesday, February 20”

  1. Please don’t apologize for long posts! I (for one) am here to read what you have to say.

    Whoa, what a life you’ve led! Seems like a fictional version of you would be a good POV character as well, Harvey.

    I found it fascinating that Hemingway’s mom dressed him up like a girl until he was six.

    • Thanks, Gai. I like to give folks a fair warning that they might want to grab their favorite beverage before they sit down to read the Journal.

      Oh, trust me, I’ve appeared in several of my novels and short stories. (grin) Especially as the nutcase Charles Claymore Task. At this early point, he’s known mostly for Confessions of a Professional Psychopath. (grin)

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