The Journal, Monday, December 3

Hey Folks,

Another good quote: “I am what I am. To look for reasons is beside the point.” — Joan Didion

And another one from Chandler:

“I have a sense of exile from thought, a nostalgia of the quiet room and balanced mind. I am a writer, and there comes a time when that which I write has to belong to me, has to be written alone and in silence, with no one looking over my shoulder, no one telling me a better way to write it. It doesn’t have to be great writing, it doesn’t even have to be terribly good. It just has to be mine.” ― Raymond Chandler

Amen. Mine. Not mine and some editor’s. Not mine and some publishing company’s. Not mine and some critique group’s. Mine. Mine and then my readers’.

Most, if not all, of the writers who contribute to the Kill Zone blog are traditionally published. Some of them even still refer to traditional publishing as “The Forbidden City.” Both dramatic and telling, that.

Still, I continue to refer you to items from the Kill Zone blog in “Of Interest” from time to time because some of their advice is valuable. When I do, and when you read what they have to offer, keep a salt shaker nearby.

Take what you find valuable and leave the rest. It’s up to you to make that determination.

Topic: Heinlein’s Rules, Revisited

In the “Of Interest” item on Heinlein’s Rules that I mentioned yesterday, the author of the article mentioned “Heinlein was primarily thinking about short stories here, so the act of finishing was an easier task. With a novel, there’s always a moment when you think it stinks.”

In my original comment, I let that pass.

But in his replies to other comments, he more fervently made the same assertion, that “Heinlein was talking about short stories.”

That assertion is dangerous to those who aspire to be professional writers. Professionals who entertain readers with stories.

I have the original essay (and book) in which Heinlein laid out his Business Habits for Writers.

He included them, almost as a seeming afterthought, in an essay in 1947 in a book called Of Worlds Beyond: The Science of Science Fiction Writing. There are still copies available.

What have become known as Heinlein’s Rules are deceptively simple yet, in Heinlein’s own words, “they are amazingly hard to follow—which is why there are so few professional writers and so many aspirants.”

I couldn’t ignore the author’s continued erroneous, harmful assertion, especially because it doesn’t even make sense. The myths run deep, and the sooner you learn to ignore them and shove them aside, the more you’ll enjoy writing.

Without assuming I know Heinlein’s intent myself (and who would do that?), nowhere in the essay or in the rules themselves did he write or even hint that they are only for short stories. They don’t refer to length, but only to the process of writing fiction.

Let me say that againL Heinlein’s Rules don’t apply to any particular length of story,
and they don’t apply to any particular genre.
They apply, broadly, to those who endeavor to write fiction.

Now, before anyone jumps on me about that, in the essay, Heinlein does refer specifically to the writing of speculative fiction (that was the topic of the book, after all), but once you’ve read the “rules,” even that assertion falls to the wayside.

A couple of years ago, when I told another writer about Heinlein’s Rules, she immediately protested (without reading them) that they would never work for her because she wasn’t a writer of speculative fiction. That’s just silly. And worse, it’s self-defeating.

If I could amend the rules (but who am I to amend something written by such a successful writer?) I would simply add “No matter what fiction you write” to the beginning of each rule. If you want to be a professional fiction writer,

Rule 1. No matter what you write, you must write.

Rule 2. No matter what you write, you must finish what you write.

Rule 3. No matter what you write, you must not rewrite except to editorial demand.

Rule 4. No matter what you write, you must put it on the market.

Rule 5. No matter what you write, you must keep it on the market until it sells.

Again, in Heinlein’s own words regarding his Business Habits for Writers, “they are amazingly hard to follow—which is why there are so few professional writers and so many aspirants.”

To download your own free copy of Heinlein’s Business Habits for Writers, click here. To see more of the original essay (in Heinlein’s own words) click

I rolled out late at 5. I scanned the Internet and wrote much of what appears above, then went up to the house around 6.

Back to the Hovel and the novel at 9. But honestly, I piddled away most of the day with some Christmas prep, a few chores, and very little writing. Sounds like I need to crawl back up on Rule 1. Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.

Talk with you again then.

Of Interest

See “Using Lands and Grooves to Solve Murders” at For once, not a lot of new information here.

See “First Page Critique: The Arthani Prince” at

Via The Passive Voice, see “Six Myths (and a Few Facts) About Traditional Publishing” at BookBaby also offers “The Hybrid Author Game Plan,” which you can get at

Also see “Draft2Digital, Baker & Taylor, and OverDrive” at

See “What I’m Working On” at

See “Free Fiction Monday: The Moorhead House” at For the few of you who are new to this Journal, Kris Rusch is one of the better fictionists and short story writers out there. Studying her work is always a smart thing to do.

Fiction Words: 1056
Nonfiction Words: 870 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1926

Writing of Dread (novel, tentative title)

Day 10… 2798 words. Total words to date…… 30745
Day 11… 1738 words. Total words to date…… 32483
Day 12… 1054 words. Total words to date…… 33537
Day 13… 1411 words. Total words to date…… 34948
Day 14… 1056 words. Total words to date…… 36004

Total fiction words for the month……… 2467
Total fiction words for the year………… 461150
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1670
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 173356
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 634256

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 35
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

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