The Journal: A Rare Treat

In today’s Journal

* The numbers for yesterday
* A Rare Treat
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

The numbers for yesterday are below. I missed my short story for this week and stopped short on the novel, and that’s fine. I’m not worried about it. To see why, please read on. (grin)

A Rare Treat

But not rare enough. We no longer have to wonder when our first rattlesnake of the season will visit.

I was sitting in the Hovel about three feet from the door (that’s significant), writing on the novel again when I decided I wanted a cigar. So I got up and walked to my left (that’s also significant) and I heard an odd noise behind me. Kind of a rattling, but not the quick buzz of a snake.

Now understand, this is with two fans (my exhaust fans) blowing in the background to expel cigar smoke from the Hovel. So instead of getting a cigar out of the humidor, I turned around, took a step or two back toward the door, and looked closely to see what in the world was making that weird noise.

And there, at the base of my door, was a little rattler, about an inch and a half in diameter and maybe 3 to 3 1/2 feet long. His head was about a foot off the floor, his tail was shaking behind him, and I swear I heard a hissing sound. All of which I took to mean he was annoyed.

I have the door pulled to and latched with a rope over a flat strip of metal that sticks out of the earth wall and is bent to one side. (A couple of you have seen that and can visualize it.)

But the wind had grabbed the door, slipped the rope a little, and pulled the door open by about—you guessed it—an inch and a half. And suddenly I had more excitement in my life than I’m accustomed to. (grin)

I have a broom. If I could have unlatched the door, I could have shove him out (rude, I know) and he’d have been on his way. But I had no way of getting close enough to the door to unlatch the rope and shove the little bugger out. All this with me in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flop sandals.

So he kept rattling and I retreated to the back of the Hovel (about 15 feet) and let him have it.

After I called my wife, she was good enough to bring me my 9mm pistol and brave her way through bushes to pass it through the easternmost window (the snake was at the west end of the building), but by then, the little guy had calmed down, curled up and looked for all the world like he was asleep.

Well, it wouldn’t be sporting of me to interrupt a guy’s nap with a bullet (never mind the havoc shooting in the enclosed space would wreak on my hearing), so I hefted myself up into the window, moved the screen, and lowered myself outside. Then I beat it through the bushes and went up to the house to wait for my landlord and friend, whom we occasionally and fondly call The Snake Guy.

He showed up about 5 minutes later, and he and I went back to the Hovel. He held his snake pole at the ready while I jerked the door open.

The snake was gone.

Naturally, we figured he was under one of the MANY low, dark surfaces in the room, so we both went belly down with flashlights and started looking. Yeah, you visualized it right, and it’s okay to laugh. A 68 year old guy and a 53 year old guy both belly down on a dirty concrete floor peering into 2″ spaces with flashlights.

But nope. He was gone.

And Richard grinned: “After you went out the window, the snake probably figured since you were leaving, he might as well leave too.” And we laughed and laughed. Uh, no.

Over the next half-hour, we poked around in the open bay next door and the hay barn next to that, but we figured he was heading south when he took my slightly open door as an invitation, and slithered in.

Whatever. He’s slithered out again, and I hope he’s happy somewhere in the bosque to the south. Fair winds and following sands. Just stay out of my Hovel.

Today or maybe the next day, maybe I’ll play catch up and get back on the good side of my short stories. My main thrust today, though, will be writing the novel and keeping the door closed more tightly. (grin)

I actually already blew the short story challenge a few weeks ago when I wrote a story a day or two after the deadline. So no real difference there. Note that I’m still on track to write at least 78 new stories over an 18 month period, so I’m on track to meet the annual+ goal even though I slipped off the weekly goal twice already.

But frankly, my stubborness is slipping. Can I still meet my annual+ NOVEL goal (18 novels in 18 months) even though I slipped off the monthly goal? Well, yeah, I can. Is it likely? I honestly don’t know.

I’ve written a novel in two weeks before, so it’s possible that I can catch up. But whereas a short story by definition can always be written in a day or two, with novels, much depends on new situations that arise in the novel, new directions the characters take, etc. So we’ll see.

Just thinking out loud (and letting you deep into my process), I’m still bugged by the way the aliens choose to kill their victims once they invade. (Note: This is my conscious, critical mind trying to horn in. In my creative subconscious, I know it’s right although at the moment and on the surface it doesn’t make sense.)

These aliens have been a peaceful people without ‘ray guns’ and other destructive technologies for centuries. I can’t change that, because that’s what it is. They’re invading solely for the survival of their species. As far as I know, this has never been done before (my critical mind says, “Because it doesn’t make sense.”)

But nothing in WITD “make sense.” “Making sense” is a function of the critical mind. It’s why our conscious mind warns us against leaning our palm on the burner of a hot stove while we’re trying to look casual.

So writing the novel is a struggle right now. I suspect when I come out the other side, I will have developed new skills and will feel a massive sense of accomplishment. Not that feeling a sense of accomplishment is a bad thing, but I have to guard against thinking there’s nothing more to learn. That way lies the atrophy of a writing career.

So as I wrote way up above, the fiction numbers below are from yesterday. I’ll post today’s number tomorrow. I hope they’re significant.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Cruising and Camping” at

See “The Rise of Australian True Crime Podcasts” at A list of ten podcasts you might want to visit.

Via The Book Designer, see “Interview with Mike Shatzkin on how coronavirus will change the publishing industry” at For anyone still interested in traditional publishing.

See “How Will Our Fiction Change Post Pandemic?” at Caution: If I ended up having to ‘think’ this much about what’s going into a FICTIONAL story, I would stop writing. Period.

See “Licensing… Oh, My…” at

See “Who Was The Real Skyjacker D. B. Cooper?” at

The Numbers

Fiction words yesterday…………………… 2573
Nonfiction words today…………… 1280 (Journal)

Writing of For the Good of the Galaxy (novel)

Day 1…… 2645 words. Total words to date…… 2645
Day 2…… 2573 words. Total words to date…… 5218

Total fiction words for the month……… 5218
Total fiction words for the year………… 213200
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5100
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 86250
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 299450

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 12
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 48
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 208
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Journal: A Rare Treat”

  1. Harvey,

    Maybe the snake wants to write “Biting Into The Dark.” 😉 I wouldn’t want to find out.


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