In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: My Head Is Full
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Quotes of the Day
“Writers write. Professional writers publish their works.” Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“There’s a lot of value to learning how to do a clean one-draft novel. It allows the writer to make the story the important thing, not the words. It also frees the writer up to write, not contemplate every tiny detail.” Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Topic: My Head Is Full
Ever get the feeling your head is full?
Mine is. That’s one reason I write all this silliness day after day. It also makes me wonder why J.A. Konrath, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and others don’t post every day, or at least a lot more often than they do (or ever, in King’s case).
I can only assume their heads are full too, but with fiction. And that they don’t post more often because they’re busy writing the next book. For their sake, I hope that’s the case.
Still, how does anyone not want to share with others what they learn? I don’t mean plagiarizing someone else’s knowledge (sharing class notes, etc.). I mean learning something, practicing it until you’ve made it your own and then sharing it.
Do they see sharing what they know as a waste of their time? Or are they afraid of being told they’re wrong? Is that why they don’t share their knowledge?
I kind of understand both halves of that. My posts, no matter how provocative, seldom draw anything more than the sound of crickets. And I’m told often (and loudly) that I’m wrong, especially by Stage 1 and Stage 2 writers.
Mostly by those in Stage 2 who are convinced they’ve learned everything already, or by those in both stages who are still clinging to all the safety nets that are scattered throughout the myths of writing.
“You can’t turn out quality stories if you don’t outline.”
“You can’t turn out quality stories if you write fast.”
“You can’t turn out quality stories if you don’t run them through a critique group.”
“You can’t turn out quality stories if you don’t revise.”
“You can’t turn out quality stories if you don’t rewrite at least ___ number of times.”
All of that is for each story and novel. And all it is pure, unadulterated bull cookies. I got tired just writing that checklist. And I get scared just thinking about it.
That’s right. Fear is why I don’t do any of those things, much less all of them.
Because I learned early-on to turn the fear around.
Instead of being afraid of writing without an outline, I’m afraid of the time I’ll lose when I could have been writing the story instead.
Instead of being afraid of writing fast, I’m scared to death of spending too long with a set of characters or a storyline and becoming bored before I can finish it.
Instead of being afraid of what might happen if I miss a typo, I’m afraid of lingering too long in revision and diluting my original voice. (That’s why I “revise” while cycling in creative voice and finish with one clean draft.)
Instead of being afraid I might miss something that a critique group will “catch” (read “write their way”), I’m frightened of allowing other critical minds into my story. Nothing good in literature has ever come from the conscious, critical mind. Besides, I don’t want to write by committee.
Instead of being afraid of my story NOT sounding as good as someone else’s, I avoid rewriting because I don’t WANT it to sound like anyone else’s.
And more than anything, I’m afraid of how much time doing all of that will cost me when I could have been practicing (writing) and thereby learning to be a better storyteller.
What’s common to the myths is the phrase “quality stories.” And the common error of every writer who’s steeped in the myths is that they know what quality is.
Writers really are the worst judges of their own work, but that cuts both ways. When they think a work is bad, they’re wrong. A lot of readers will think it’s great. Well, if they ever get to read it.
(What really amazes me is that most often, the writers who spend months or years writing a single novel are also those most likely to stick it into a virtual drawer and never publish it because they think it isn’t good enough. So they literally waste those months or years. Some of them even brag about it.
I usually finish a novel in less than 30 days, and I’m flat horrified at the thought of not publishing it afterward. Why do all that work and then not let it out into the light of day? Why not let readers decide what they like or don’t like? I am not the General Manager of the Universe. I’m not even the head of the What Other People Like department.)
And when writers think a work is finally good, after they’ve outlined, revised, run it through critique groups and rewritten to “improve” it, they’re wrong too. A lot of readers will see it as the same old bland non-unique stuff they’ve read before.
The bottom line is, You Don’t Know what a reader will like or not like. Period. Your job is to write; judging what you’ve written is the readers’ job.
I’ll share a personal secret with you: My own authorial voice (my way of telling a story) sounds as boring to me as yours sounds to you. That’s something else most writers have in common.
But I was fortunate in my early days to realize that my voice sounds boring to me because it’s in my head 24/7/365. To others, my voice sounds unique.
And folks, unique is what sells.
Anyway, my head is full. I might have to nudge a few things aside to give the stories the room they need.
Today is Saturday. We’ll probably continue the transition of offices today, along with other things. That’s why I came out here a little early (2:30) to write.
And instead, I wrote all of this stuff. Silliness, all of it. Things that generally don’t matter except to me, and I already know them. So I have to wonder, what’s the point?
Anyway, now I’m going to post this, then turn to the WIP in a moment to get something done that’s actually worthwhile. You know. Like Konrath and Gaiman and King, et al.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Six Decades” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/six-decades/. Talk about feeling old. I’m three years younger than Dean almost to the day, yet when Jonah Peach comes out later this month I will have published professionally in only two decades. Sigh.
See “6 Predictions for the Future of Artificial Intelligence in 2020” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/6-predictions-for-the-future-of-artificial-intelligence-in-2020/.
See “Start of 2020 Ushers Thousands of Once-Copyrighted Works Into the Public Domain” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/start-of-2020-ushers-thousands-of-once-copyrighted-works-into-the-public-domain-2/.
See “Public Domain Day 2024” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/start-of-2020-ushers-thousands-of-once-copyrighted-works-into-the-public-domain/. This is exciting. Think of all the shared worlds you can write in now that you couldn’t write in before.
Fiction words (see specific numbers below)
Nonfiction words today…………… 1180 (Journal)
Writing of The Cazadores Lounge and Lonely Place (novel)
Day 1…… 3044 words. Total words to date…… 3044
Day 2…… 3189 words. Total words to date…… 6233
Day 3…… 2145 words. Total words to date…… 8378
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the month……… 5334
Total fiction words for the year………… 5334
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4610
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 4610
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 9944
Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 45
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31