The Journal: Feedback and Thinking Out Loud

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* One astute reader noticed
* Feedback on my negativity
* I didn’t have as good a day
* Just thinking out loud
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“I think some aspects of writing can be taught. Obviously, you can’t teach vision or talent. But you can help with comfort.” Toni Morrison (via The Passive Voice)

One astute reader mentioned she noticed that although I finished the recast of Book 4 of the FOH series earlier this month, my novel total for 2021 still indicates 0.

That’s true, but it wasn’t an oversight. I finished the original novel in 2020 and counted it then. That version will never be published (except as it already was to my unfortunate first readers), so the recast simply takes the place of that one.

I thought about removing the novel from 2020’s tally and adding it to 2021’s but that felt a little disingenuous — moving it to 2021 would give me a head start on the 2021 novel count — so I decided against doing so.

Feedback on my negativity

Thanks to everyone who emailed me about this topic. Like everything else in the writer/reader world, whether I’m “too negative” apparently boils down to reader perception. Of the comments I received via email, they were evenly split between “not too negative” and “too negative.” Go figure. (grin) (Hmm. Maybe I don’t add [grin] often enough.)

Still, it was a fun question, and I got some great responses on both sides. One writer even assumed, wrongly, that she’d made me “mad” with her response. Uh, no. Your opinion is your opinion. I neither have nor want control over that.

At any rate, please know that my advice (negative or otherwise) is worth exactly what you want it to be worth and/or what you paid for it. In fact, even if you love my advice, it will do you no good at all unless and until you practice it and make it your own.

And if you dislike my advice, why in the world are you reading this? I’m on your side here. If you don’t like what I write, please, I urge you, spend your time doing something you enjoy or reading something you’re comfortable with. Clicking an unsubscribe link costs nothing but an instant of your time.

Anyway, I think my responses to two particular points bear sharing. As I told one respondent,

* I often post links to articles I don’t agree with personally in “Of Interest.” Sometimes I add a negative comment, but more often I don’t because I don’t want to interfere with what someone else’s opinion of the article might be. And even if I disagree with an article, the fact that I linked to it at all should tell you I’m leaving whether you agree with it up to you.

Note that even if I post a negative comment, there’s no law that says you have to agree with me. In every case, I urge you to follow your own heart and mind. However, to maybe rectify this situation, I hereby resolve to either post a link without adding any negative comments or to simply not post it at all. I will never link to an article that I believe will actually harm a writer’s practice on the creative or business side.

* I repeat myself often in talking about Heinlein’s Rules and writing into the dark. That’s intentional, believe it or not. I learned long ago as an instructor that sometimes if you say something in a slightly different way, you might get through to one more writer. So yup, I’ve been guilty of this one.

But I also talk a lot about HR and WITD because, as I wrote in yesterday’s post, I’m one of only two voices that I know of who actively teach following HR as they were originally written and WITD at all. But most of all, I talk about them because those concepts so radically changed my life that I want to pay them forward. Still, I get tired of my own voice, so I can easily understand some of you getting tired of it as well.

So instead of talking (I guess incessantly) about Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Into the Dark, I’m considering posting a few permanent links in every edition of the Journal. They would be a permanent fixture so anyone who wanders by can find them. You could click on them or not. Your choice.

Those links would be to the best writing-advice books I know. Some would be Dean Wesley Smith’s nonfiction books and some would be my own nonfiction books. Plus a new one I have in mind. I think I’m going to write a nonfiction book about my own experience with Heinlein’s Rules and writing into the dark. Then I can post the link here and shut up about it. (grin)

That might be a good idea. We’ll see.

Okay, I’m glad that’s over. Again, seriously, thanks to those of you who took the time to respond.

I didn’t have as good a day yesterday as I’d hoped but it was still better than being jabbed in the eye with a stick. I got tired and decided 3600 words on the day was enough. Back at it today. And the next time I post, you will see a whole new Journal.

Just thinking out loud, and at risk of sounding repetitive yet again, I visit Neil Gaiman’s and JA Konrath’s blog almost every day to see whether the former has posted anything new and to see whether the latter has returned to posting at all.

Occasionally I am reward with a great post on writing from Gaiman. (Ironically, he posted today but it’s very short and personal and has nothing to do with writing.)

Konrath, on the other hand, apparently dropped off the face of the earth after his post of July 19, 2019. I keep wondering whether he’s still churning out novels. I’ll check with Amazon sometime, but I’ll bet he is. I’m thinking he might be even more prolific now that he’s abandoned banging his head against the wall.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “The Art of Describing Characters” at

See “Colliding Worlds Kickstarter Campaign” at

See “Inmate Healthcare: Who Pays the Bills?” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1060 words

Writing of The Journey Home: Part 5 (novel)

Day 10… 3547 words. Total words to date…… 36277
Day 11… 3630 words. Total words to date…… 39907

Total fiction words for January……… 43125
Total fiction words for the year………… 43125
Total nonfiction words for December… 11670
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 11670
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 54795

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 54
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 214
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31