The Journal: A Note From My Mother, and Naysayers

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Sorry… but
* Topic: A Note From My Mother
* Bonus Topic: Don’t Listen to the Naysayers (and Don’t Be One)
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“Importance is the worst thing you can put on any kind of creativity. As soon as you think it’s important, you’re dead.” Jerry Seinfeld

Topic: A Note From My Mother

if I had one with me as I appear before you again, would read, “Please excuse Harvey’s recent absence. But just so you know, he is untenable so it will probably happen again.”

Sorry to have been gone for a couple of days, but this will probably become the norm for 2020. I expect to post a new edition of the Journal on most days, but not all days. The first part of that might change, but the second part almost certainly won’t.

As I’ve mentioned before, writing fiction has to take priority again in my life.

I’ve also thought about renaming this blog Habits of a Hobby Writer. Because really, I am a hobby writer. I have been for most of my life, and moreso the past almost-six years.

What do I mean by hobby writer? After all, I follow Heinlein’s Rules, am constantly learning, and I write practically every day. I create covers and publish what I write so others can buy it and be entertained.

But labels really are only a matter of semantics. I’ve often said I write because writing is the most fun I can have. And that’s true. If writing weren’t fun, I’d find something else to do that I enjoy more. I’d travel, or I’d go fishing.

When one does something for the sheer enjoyment of it, that’s a hobby. If I didn’t find writing so much fun, traveling or fishing would be my hobby. Shrug. But I love to tell stories. More specifically, I love to be the first to discover the stories my character want to tell me.

So I’ve decided to call myself a hobby writer because I write for fun. I write to entertain myself. Then, since I wrote and enjoyed a story, I might as well publish it so others can enjoy it too.

Being a “professional” anything adds pressure. It means you have to show up and do a job of work. I don’t like “work.” That word evokes in me all the horrible connotations associated with the word “travail.” Ugh.

It evokes images of a guy in a luxurious tux, grasping a glass of wine and a bit of cheese in his right hand, his left forearm firmly set to his brow at a launch party as he decries what terrible drudgery writing is.

I don’t like drudgery or travail or work. Been there, done all of that, and didn’t even get the t-shirt.

I’m an old guy. I want to take it easy in my senior years. I want to have fun. No story on Earth is important. Stories are only a moment’s entertainment — nothing more — so why take writing them so seriously as to commit work or travail, much less drudgery?

The only work I want to do is help cut the learning curve for other writers by sharing what I’ve learned and made my own. If you knew the tiny subscriber base of this very Journal, that alone would tell you how unimportant even that is.

Still, as an old war chief in a John Wayne movie once said, I will “endeavor to persevere.”

Bonus Topic: Don’t Listen to the Naysayers (and Don’t Be One)

Note: This topic below appeared previously in slightly different form in the email in-boxes of my patrons.

“Oh, he’s indie published? Then I won’t bother!” said only brain-dead lemmings ever.

There. I said it. Aloud.

There are people in this world who live only to be protected. They want to be told what and when to eat, which medicines to buy for real and imagined ailments, what time to go to bed and get up, and… you guessed it, what to read.

And traditional publishers are only too happy to spoon-feed them. Because traditional publishers are scared. And stupid.

They’re scared because their very infrastrucure (brick and mortar stores, their distribution systems, their antiquated “agency model” of pricing and writer compensation) is crumbling beneath their very feet.

They thought indie publishing was a passing fad when it all started back around 2006. But today, almost 14 years later, indie publishing is burgeoning.

And they’re stupid because all they care about now is the bottom line. They suck-in writers with measly advances, for which the writers grant them ALL RIGHTS (complete with a non-compete clause) FOR THE LIFE OF THE COPYRIGHT.

The tradpubs make money IMMEDIATELY by doing nothing more than adding that IP to a line in their spreadsheet and then amortizing the value of that IP over the expected life of the author plus 70 years. Can you say “millions?” Yet authors make the trade every day. They give away potential millions of dollars for a piddling $10,000 or $20,000 advance. Millions. Do the math.

But I said they’re stupid, didn’t I? And trading a few thousand dollars for millions in company value seems pretty smart.

Well, it is. But that’s ALL the tradpubs do with the IP: Add it to the spreadsheet, where it adds phantom worth to their company. To their bottom line.

In the meantime, they know NOTHING about licensing. They don’t even think about it. They grin and bray like jackasses all the way back to their New York penthouse apartments while allowing all of that mind-numbingly valuable IP to languish on their spreadsheet. (Except for their bestselling authors, yes.)

Meanwhile, the authors can’t cash-in on the value of their IP either. BECAUSE THEY SIGNED AWAY ALL RIGHTS.

Now for the truly incredible part. Difficult as it is to imagine, MANY AUTHORS ACTUALLY SIDE WITH TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING in their fear-invoked the-sky-is-falling warning. And even more incredibly, not only traditionally published authors. EVEN MANY INDIE-PUBLISHED AUTHORS propagate the same tired, world-weary piles of bovine excrement.

I’m not kidding. Recently I read a comment from an indie author on another website who inadvertently (I hope) ran down other indie authors.

As a staunch believer in myself in particular and in indie publishing in general, I was — to say the absolute least — annoyed.

Listen to me.

If you (or I) opened a restaurant with our own money and skill, nobody would even consider calling it a “vanity” restaurant. Same with a carpet store or starting a band or anything else.

Only in writing does following your passion and believing in yourself invite ridicule. BUT THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE THE READING PUBLIC ATTENDED THE SAME SCHOOLS YOU AND I ATTENDED. They’ve been indoctrinated with the same BS myths about writing and publishing that we were all taught — BY NON-WRITERS — in our formative years.

How insane is that? Seriously? Would you take legal advice from your plumber? Or for that matter, plumbing advice from your attorney? Then why would you, now an adult, take fiction writing advice from those who have never written fiction?

Admittedly, there are millions of indie books published annually. But the cream really does rise to the top. My own career as a fiction writer is a perfect example.

All we as writers can do is

1) study and learn the craft from those who’ve been there,
2) write to the best of our ability with our current skill level,
3) publish what we write, and
4) move on to write the next story.

Writing the next story goes to discoverability. Eventually, those who say, “Oh, he’s indie published? Well, then I won’t bother!” begin to notice that same indie author has 10 novels out, or 30, and 40 or 60 short stories and the attendant collections.

And word of mouth begins to spread, not to mention reviews. Then the prevalent opinion among readers becomes, “The guy must be a good storyteller. Maybe I should try one of his books.”

As John M. Williams (a friend and writer) has said, “Good storytelling is good storytelling.” And folks, once a reader tries and likes your work, they don’t check to see who published it.

As an added bonus, most of the “indie” writers who come in to get rich or get known are gone after a few years and a few books. And that leaves more room for those of us who keep learning and keep telling stories.

Hang in there, my friends. It can only get better. And for goodness’ sake, PLEASE watch what you say about other indie authors. When you run-down one, you run down us all.

Please share this with any writers you know.

Today I awoke late after catching up on some much-needed sleep. I took care of a lot of admin stuff this morning, including updating plugins on a few websites and writing a couple of blog posts for my weekly blog. I finally turned to my WIP at 9:40. As you’ll see below, I didn’t write a lot.

I’ve researched, revised and updated the archived numbers below too, not only to reflect the past few days’ writing but to reflect number of publications written this year. I was pleasantly surprised to find I’d written not 8, but 10 novels. And there’s a good chance I’ll finish the WIP before the end of the month, bringing the total to 11.

This feels particularly good to me when I consider that from July through November (5 months!) I wrote a total of only 46,000 words of fiction (9200 words per month or 306 words per day). Ugh.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “We Need Diverse Agents” (especially PG’s take) at

See “51 Book Review Resources” at You might also click his Home link and browse other blog posts.

A must-read: “Look Back at Self-Publishing in 2019” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 1592
Nonfiction words today…………… 1640 (Journal)

Writing of Ice Scream Novel (placeholder title)
Brought forward…… 4416 words

Day 1…… 1047 words. Total words to date…… 5463
Day 2…… 2254 words. Total words to date…… 7717
Day 3…… 1196 words. Total words to date…… 8913
Day 4…… 2972 words. Total words to date…… 11885
Day 5…… 1592 words. Total words to date…… 13477

Total fiction words for the month……… 10913
Total fiction words for the year………… 408478
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 309320
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 717798

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31