The Journal: Change Is in the Wind

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Yesterday over at Pro Writers Writing
* Topic: Change Is in the Wind
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“After the New Yorker piece I decided that I would never give another interview to anyone on any subject and that I would keep away from all places where I would be likely to be interviewed. If you say nothing it is difficult for someone to get it wrong.” Ernest Hemingway, emphasis added

Yesterday over at Pro Writers Writing I shared a post on “The POV Character’s Opinion.” In today’s “Of Interest” I’ve linked to several posts from the Kill Zone blog on related topics. Even if you have a handle on POV, I strongly recommed you read them. You might pick up a few things you hadn’t thought about.

I received six comments on that post. I appreciate that. When a reader comments on a post, it helps web-crawling spiders find the website and helps it gain in popularity in search engines. In short, leaving comments helps other writers find the website. That’s why I ask so often that you leave comments on the Journal. However, the need for that is ebbing.

Topic: Change Is in the Wind

Yesterday I experienced an epiphany: I talk entirely too much, especially about writing. And somehow, to some folks, that makes me suspect.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Wise advice.

I heard that quote long ago, but I didn’t listen. Somehow, my having shared openly that I had to learn the craft (and sometimes, who I learned it from) managed to degrade, in the opinions of some, the knowledge that I later passed along. I don’t really understand that, but there it is.

Even Dean Wesley Smith himself once told me, blatantly, “Never share your process [WITD] with anyone. All readers and most would-be writers want to think writing is ‘work,’ that it’s labor-intensive and all that. If you try to tell them otherwise, chances are they’ll only pounce on you.” More wisdom.

Obviously, I didn’t listen to that either. I plowed ahead, sharing what I’d learned after making it my own through trial and error.

And I shared some of my sources too, reasoning that readers of this blog might glean something useful from those sources that I either missed or did not find particularly useful. God knows there’s little enough truly valid information out there about writing. Most of the writing information out there is invalid and repeated verbatim (and ad nauseam) in millions of places per day.

Finally, another writer recently wrote to me in an email, “Frankly, I think you teach [New York Times and USA Today bestseller Dean Wesley Smith’s] techniques better than he does.”

Well, I appreciate that, really. Who wouldn’t? But I only explain those techniques “better” because I’m not actually explaining Dean’s techniques. I’m explaining my own techniques, which I first learned from Dean or others. There’s a difference.

Just as Dean explains in his own way his own techniques, which he also first learned from others. (He often talks about his own mentors.)

Just as you will explain your own techniques, which you first learned from others.

The point is, all of us stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. Likewise, all of us who would be teachers or mentors have a responsibility to make what we’ve learned our own before we even attempt to share it.

But finally bearing in mind Hemingway’s and Dean’s quotes above, I think I’ll start cutting back on what I share out here in public. I’ll still share tidbits from my life, and I’ll still share my numbers (both for myself and so others can see what is possible). And I’ll still share links in “Of Interest” in case you might pick up a juicy tidbit here or there.

I’ll also still share my thoughts on writing with my patrons, of course, including my mentoring students and my first readers. Those folks have skin in the game.

But let me state definitively, I will never share anything that I haven’t personally practiced and advanced. I will only share what I know (from long practice) works for me and what I hope might work for you if you will only try it.

So that’s the What It Is on that. (grin)

Today I rolled out early again, but I spent an inordinate amount of time deciding about the stuff above, then actually writing it, then stomping out a few forest fires. (grin) My boots are getting really thin-soled.

The upshot is, this probably will not be a fiction-writing day for me.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Mastering the Basics: Point of View and Dialogue” at

See “POV 101: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head and Stay There” at

See “POV 102 – How to Avoid Head-Hopping” at

See “POV 103 – Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View” at

See “Writing into the Shadows” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… XXXX
Nonfiction words today…………… 850 (Journal)

Writing of The Three-Year Turn (novel)

Day 1…… 3570 words. Total words to date…… 3570
Day 2…… 4026 words. Total words to date…… 7596
Day 3…… 4251 words. Total words to date…… 11847
Day 4…… 2117 words. Total words to date…… 13964
Day 5…… 3139 words. Total words to date…… 17103
Day 6…… 3191 words. Total words to date…… 20294
Day 7…… 3220 words. Total words to date…… 23514
Day 8…… 4866 words. Total words to date…… 28380

Total fiction words for the month……… 37969
Total fiction words for the year………… 103513
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10720
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 41980
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 145493

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 5
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 47
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 201
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Journal: Change Is in the Wind”

  1. Thanks, Harvey. I bookmarked all the POV articles to revisit from time to time as reminders. When you get my age (69 in six days), you forget what you had for breakfast sometimes.

  2. I don’t think you talk too much. I visit to hear (read) the insightful words you have to say.

    “It’s none of their business…” Exactly. You may be born to do so, but every writer must still hone their craft.
    If writers don’t at least imply there was some effort involved (not that there isn’t) they’re often perceived as dreaming doodlers. It is for the skeptics that I practice sweating on demand 😉

    Any time I feel anxious by something I’ve previously written I remind myself how far I’ve come to realize it.

    Because it looks so good on you, I’ve started keeping weekly word counts. Because it doesn’t always add up to my own expectations, I’m wondering if you (okay, I) count long emails?

    • Thanks, Diedre. Nope. In fact, I wrote a few hundred words in an email this morning to a mentoring student and didn’t count that. Not even sure how much I wrote in that.

      When I feel anxious over something I’ve written I just remember I’m the worst possible judge of my own work, whether I think it’s good or bad. 🙂

      I count my fiction words and nonfiction words separately (for the month and year to date) and my nonfiction the same way. In my nonfiction totals I count the Journal (from the first line down through the Of Interest section only). If I write a nonfiction book or if I write a separate post for another blog I count that, but most often just the Journal.

      There’s effort in Learning to write, but once you learn writing into the dark, the actual writing is fun. Unless you count as effort the tapping of your fingers on the keyboard. (grin)

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