The Journal: Humans Are Weird

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* In the Great News Department
* Got Writing Chops?
* Topic: Humans Are Weird
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Habits can get me to the keyboard, but they can also keep me away from it. When the habit becomes an ‘I can’t,’ then it’s time to re-evaluate the habit.” Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“It is only when the latecomers [would-be writers] make the decision to be punctual [write] that they change. It must be a conscious decision; if they merely make a woolly attempt to ‘try’ to be on time [write], they won’t.” Psychotherapist Philippa Perry (Additions in brackets mine. For the original post, see

In the Great News department from Dean Wesley Smith,

“I have decided, on the request of a couple of writers who want to jump in soon, to leave the Shared World Class and the Licensing Transition class open for more sign-ups for the rest of the month. So final last call on those. Right now the Licensing Transition (which goes for another six months) already has 63 videos in it. The Shared World (which will also go for another six months) has 26 videos so far.”

Got Writing Chops?

If you write short stories, and if you like no-entry-fee contests, and if you can write “fast” (you can, even if you don’t know it yet), B&N has joined with Reedsy to offer a short story contest. But the deadline is January 17 at 11:59 p.m. Tomorrow night. (grin)

See “#24: Genre-Blending” at

Stories should be 1000 to 3000 words. The winner gets $50 plus a $50 B&N gift card. The Terms of Use looked okay to me, but you can see them HERE.

Topic: Humans Are Weird

In my admittedly faulty memory, I remember a film from long ago (maybe Easy Rider). A guy was on a motorcycle at a red light when another guy pulled up alongside him in a car.

The guy in the car looked longingly at the bike and said something like, “I wish I could do what you do.”

And the guy on the bike said, “So why don’t you?”

Then the light changed and they both drove off to their very different lives.

And my only thought was Exactly.

Barring an emergency, a necessary chore, or a commitment, humans ALWAYS do what we really want to do, even while telling ourselves we want to do something else. All most of us have to do to change our lives is realize we can.

Maybe the guy in the car doesn’t really want to leave his wife and kids and take to a life of adventure on a bike. And that’s fine. But the point is, if he really wants to, he can.

Emergencies can’t be helped. They’re out of our control. They almost always come from external sources and they’re always a surprise.

I say “almost” because a month or two ago I was doing something stupid with a very sharp knife. It slipped and I slashed a gash across the first knuckle of the index finger of my left hand. I cut a nerve.

The finger is still curled, but I type as well as I ever did, so no real harm done. Anyway, that day I really would have liked to go back to my WIP, but I had to tend to the emergency first. Computers don’t work well when saturated with blood. Not to mention the keys get really sticky.

Necessary chores can be ignored, but not from a practical standpoint. For example, when my wife’s working all day and I need an occasional break from the keyboard anyway, there’s no good reason for me to ignore the growing pile of laundry. It isn’t like I have to spend hours beating it on a rock down at the local stream.

Likewise I’ve done most of the cooking (supper), but that’s after my writing day is over anyway. On days when I need a break from it, I slap a pizza in the oven or open a can of soup or throw a couple of chicken breasts into a crockpot and call it done.

But I don’t remember the time (barring an emergency) when I uttered, “I’d rather be writing but _____.” Because that’s just silly.

As I’ve written here more than once, all things in life come down to priorities. If you want to write fiction, write fiction. Secondary priorities are things you sometimes have to do.

If you find you “don’t have time” to do what you say you really want to do, check in with yourself. Chances are, you have a lot more time than you realize.

One would-be writer actually said to me, “I’d love to do what you do but I volunteer at the library five days a week.” To my discredit, I only smiled and nodded.

That’s generally my reaction anytime I encounter anyone who’s riding a Yabbit. A yabbit is a half-rabbit, half-horse with an abdomen that’s distended because it’s filled with excuses.

Me: “So you really wish you could write?”

Yabbit rider: “Yabbit I volunteer five days a week down at the library.”

Um, can you change how much you volunteer?

Or “Yabbit I have too many commitments.”

So, just a thought, stop making so many commitments.

Or “Yabbit I don’t have a place to write.”

Shrug. So find a place to write.

Or “Yabbit [fill in the blank].”

So fix it.

The point is, it really is all up to you. And frankly, nobody cares. Shrug. In fact, it isn’t even that nobody cares; it’s that nobody but you really even notices.

I’ve observed that most often when people don’t do what they say they want to do, they either really don’t want to do it, or they’re scared to death of what might happen if they do it, or they’re wrapped around a wheel they created in their own mind.

If I cared, I would have told Library Girl, “Hey, nothing wrong with that. If you want to volunteer at the library, volunteer at the library. If you want to write, write. It’s your choice.”

That’s me being “blunt.” Or me being “Harvey,” depending on whom you ask.

But most often, I don’t do that. It’s a waste of my time, and I’m selfish with my time. Because frankly, I’d rather be writing. (See what I did there?)

So usually I just smile and nod.

Today is a little different. Mona has to go into work today. She’s winding down, training her replacement, even as she’s winding up here in her new position as publisher and business manager.

I wrote a good first session, then skipped over to StoneThread Publishing to add my latest novel (Jonah Peach). Then a long break up to the house to eat breakfast and spend some time with Mona before she has to head off for the day.

Had to feed the horses (I almost forgot) at 7 so I got back to the Hovel early. With this found free time, I listened to new videos in the Licensing Transtion and Shared Worlds classes.

Finally back to the novel at 10:00. Well, that was my intention. Sigh.

Ugh. This is one of those “days like that” I talked about recently. My computer froze up, so I had to restart. While it was doing that, I went up to the house for snacks that will pass for lunch.

Then I made a couple of abortive attempts at writing openings for the short story I need to write for this week. Neither one took off. So I’ll do that tomorrow. (Remember, what I write doesn’t matter; THAT I write matters.)

Finally back to the novel at 11:20.

Talk with you again soon.

A pretty good day at something over 2800 words again.

Of Interest

See “Business Musings: The Year Ahead” at

See “Lots of New Videos” at

See “Gut Check” at

See “Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen On Writing Together” at There’s always talk about whether or not to kill off major characters. Among other things, here’s another take. (For me, if the character is killed off, the character is killed off. I don’t “decide” the story. I just write the story.)

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 2883
Nonfiction words today…………… 1370 (Journal)

Writing of The Cazadores Lounge and Lonely Place (novel)

Day 11… 3663 words. Total words to date…… 28768
Day 12… 2186 words. Total words to date…… 30954
Day 13… 2899 words. Total words to date…… 33853
Day 14… 2883 words. Total words to date…… 36736

Writing of “” (short story)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 39884
Total fiction words for the year………… 39884
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16460
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 16460
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 56344

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 45
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 198
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31