The Journal, Monday, December 18

Hey Folks,

Mostly I’m posting today to pass along some stuff in “Of Interest” below. But as long as I’m here, I’ll give you an update on my personal writing stuff as well.

My December’s slipping by with not a word of fiction so far. How weird is that? In a way, knowing I could start writing today and have a new novel finished by the end of the year is a liability. In a way.

But that probably won’t happen, and it’s all right.

I’m allowing everything else in my life to take precedence right now. But that’s by design, though I didn’t realize it until recently.

The last two or three novels I attempted (November forward) all had one thing in common: They. Bored. Me.

After I wrote the opening, and far beyond that in two cases, they still bored me. So I got ticked at myself and didn’t write them.

I’m not talking about the rough spot that occurs at the 1/2 to 2/3 point of a novel, where the new wears off and the writing mind (the 2 year old with a short attention span) wants to abandon that idea and move on to the next one. To get over that, all you have to do is write the next sentence, then the next and the next. Soon you’re back in the flow.

The last novel I finished, Loose Ends, stretched me so much so that I asked my first reader to look for places where the story was “too” anything: too much description, too hokey, etc.

Loose Ends was twisty and turny and a little warped, so I didn’t really trust it. But it held my interest, and I looked forward to getting back to it everytime I left it for the day. (Happily, the first reader said it wasn’t “too” anything.)

The thing is, everything I wrote before that affected me that way too. It grabbed me and refused to let go. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past month thinking about those stories:

● In an SF/Horror novel, I had a Jewish kid mine the bones of his ancestors in Siberia for calcium to construct colonies on the moon.

● I rode wild on a strong horse in a good cause with Texas Rangers. I had a Colt in one hand and a Winchester 30-30 saddle carbine in the other as we rode through the Texas panhandle and all the way into the central Pacific coast of Mexico.

● I helped modern police detectives solve murder mysteries in southern California and Louisiana, then did more of the same with a pulp-fiction private eye on the left coast, and I even tagged along with mobsters in Brooklyn.

And every one of those (and several more) was fun to write. Every one of them was exciting to return to each day, like I was hanging out with really great friends. And that’s the key.

Writing has to be fun or I won’t do it.

No story idea has struck me as being fun in the past month or so, and writing for writing’s sake is no longer enough.

Take my last few novel starts for example. They bored me almost from the first word. But because of my self-inflicted goal of writing at least one novel per month, I pressed ahead on them anyway.

Of course, that was a mistake. Bad Harvey. I won’t do that anymore.

I want to write something that grabs me with the first word and drags me through the story whether or not I want to go.

But don’t get me wrong. I won’t be sitting around waiting for “inspiration” to strike. I don’t believe in it.

Literally everything is a potential idea, and I know how to look for them. I’ll be looking and listening, anxiously. And when a really good one comes along, trust me, you’ll be the second to know.

In the meantime, I’m not going to stress over it. I’ve done too much of that already. As a friend pointed out awhile back, I’m a prolific writer when I’m writing, but that’s only true because the stories take me away. So I just have to pick the right stories.

Have I said thanks for hanging in there lately? Well, just in case, thanks for hanging in there. I do appreciate you.

Back soon. Now to the good stuff.

Of Interest

For those of you who love magic realism, the University of Texas at Austin has now digitalized an archive of Gabriel García Márquez’s work. You can browse it at

See The Passive Guy’s take on “How Indie Presses Are Elevating the Publishing World” at The guy just knows what he’s talking about. If it’s too long to hold your interest, scroll down to where Passive Guy takes over. Great stuff.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 800 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 800

Writing of “”

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3260
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 178813
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 632575

Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182