The Journal: Preaching to the Choir (I Hope)

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Preaching to the Choir (I Hope)
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called “mad” and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called “writers” and they do pretty much the same thing.” Ray Bradbury

“I have some goals, but I’m going to mostly keep those to myself. Some of them are very high reaching, and I’ve learned that voicing them just gets criticism… especially writing goals.” Tony DeCastro

“Most readers still read paper. It’s only 30% or so who read e-only. And e-only readers buy paper for “keepers”—the books they always want to have. Paper is easier than it’s ever been, and it’s always been essential. You’re leaving out most readers by being e-only.” Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in a response to one of my less-astute comments

Topic: Preaching to the Choir (I Hope)

How unfortunate is that second Quote of the Day above?

How unfortunate is it that some writers, for whom “can’t” is the driving force in their life, seemingly love to put down those who strive for greatness?

“Can’t” is about as negative as it gets, and fortunately, “won’t” is its identical twin. If you believe you can’t, you won’t. Period. (I say “fortunately” because can’t and won’t combined thin out the competition.)

But I flat don’t understand that way of thinking. “Can’t” is a fear-based, critical-mind response to a challenge. But you can turn that fear around:

Instead of fearing what might happen if you strive to reach a goal,
fear what you will certainly miss if you don’t.

I talk a lot here about “failing to success,” a term coined by Dean Wesley Smith. The idea is, if you strive for a lofty (to you) goal and fall short, you still will have accomplished something you wouldn’t have accomplished if you didn’t reach for the goal at all.

Professional writer Diane Darcy quoted Norman Vincent Peale in a comment: “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Now that’s a great attitude.

And I applaud writer Maggie King (presumably not this Maggie King, though I don’t know for sure), who wrote in another comment, “I’m finally moving forward and actually even published on Amazon in this brand new year. I’m now writing book #2 and it’s scary as hell but I’m going for it.” Maggie didn’t state her goals, but again, what a great attitude!

I have to admit I’m a little spoiled. I’m fortunate in that I found Dean Wesley Smith, learned quickly to trust him, and attached myself to him as my mentor.

And I’m even more fortunate in that my beautiful mom drove that lesson about “can’t” into my brain as I was growing up. That lesson literally enabled the rest of my life.

I survived my childhood because of that lesson. I became a Marine and later a cop because of that lesson. And I became a successful professional fiction writer because of that lesson.

From the time I was about 4 years old, any time I uttered that horrible word “can’t,” anger flooded through Mom.

Don’t get me wrong. She never struck me, and she very seldom uttered even a quiet curse word (when she did, it was under her breath). Her facial expression was always calm, and even her sweet voice remained unchanged over the years.

But whenever I complained that I “can’t” do something, she would extend one index finger (sharply) toward my face and say, “‘Can’t’ never did a damn thing, Harvey. You should remember that.”

I did. And look at me now.

If you feel you can’t do something, you’re right. You’re already defeated, and if that’s how you want to live your life, that’s fine. Completely up to you.

But if you spread the venom and express to someone else that they can’t do something, shame on you, especially in an endeavor so insignificant as writing.

Face it: We aren’t pulling victims out of a burning building; we aren’t running toward gunfire, putting our life on the line. We’re sitting alone in a room making stuff up. And frankly, if you think that’s “hard” or even “work,” you need to check in with yourself. Maybe operate the working end of a shovel for a few 8-hour days.

You’re an entertainer, plain and simple. And you can become a professional entertainer, with millions of people paying good money to read what you wrote and thereby escape their lives for awhile.

But success in writing has nothing to do with luck. It has to do with getting “can’t” out of your vocabulary, setting goals, and then striving to reach them.

And that, my friends, is something you CAN do.

Had a mediocre writing day yesterday (see Day 4 below). Today, despite a late start, I’ll hit or exceed my daily word-count goal just to prove to myself I still can. (In my world, this is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of thing. grin) If you’re checking up on me, today will be Day 5 in the numbers below the next time I post.

Oh, and re the third quote in Quotes of the Day above, StoneThread Publishing will be publishing to paper as well as ebooks during 2020. On the other side of that quote, be sure to read The Digital Reader’s post in “Of Interest” below.

I also learned you can get great benefits (chief among which are waived setup fees with IngramSpark) by signing up with ALLi or with IBPA. I urge you to check them out, then pick your poison. (I personally recommend IBPA.)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “2020” at

See “January Workshops Starting” at A great lineup this month.

See “Are You Ready For The Next eBook Boom?” at

See “What To Include On Your Book’s Copyright Page” at

See “Self-Publishing Predictions for 2020 and the 2020s” at

See “A test post…” at A great post that contains a lot of gems. Also, Lynn has decided to put up a new blog post every day. I recommend visiting it to see what she’s doing. I wish there was a way to subscribe, but I didn’t find one.

See “Perseverance” at

The Numbers

Fiction words (see specific numbers below)
Nonfiction words today…………… 1010 (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…… 1301 words. Total words to date…… 9679
Day 5…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 6635
Total fiction words for the year………… 6635
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5620
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 5620
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 12255

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

6 thoughts on “The Journal: Preaching to the Choir (I Hope)”

  1. Thanks again Harvey, for thought provoking posts and great links of interest. I hadn’t thought of tallying my total 2019 words! It will take a bit since I haven’t been good about putting them in a spreadsheet (but I do have them written down).
    I’ll see if I can round them up next week. But good reason to get 2020 started off in the spreadsheet!

  2. Hi Harvey! You made me chuckle ~ I wish I was that Maggie King ’cause she seems to be doing pretty well with her writing career. 😅 Maggie King is my real name but I’m using a pen name (Mattie Fern Worrix) for all my stuff. 🤓 Thank you for the encouragement! I’ve signed up for Dean’s Great Publishing Challenge and hope to have 12 novellas published by the end of the year. And yes, I’m scared spitless!

    • That’s great, Maggie! Do you have a website yet? I’m proud of you for your attitude. And in a way, I envy you. Every now and then I wish I was just starting out again. 🙂

  3. Thank you, Harvey! 🥰 I purchased the domain name but need to get my website up and running. I’m definitely outside of my comfort zone publishing books and creating my website but I’m also lucky to have in-house technical support (my hubby loves computer stuff). 🙃

    • That’ll work. And then later on you can come up with a publisher name and open another website, right? So much to do, so little time. 🙂 As you might imagine, WMG Publishing is a great site for ideas on layout.

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