The Journal, Saturday, October 12

In today’s Journal

* Today is mostly
* In other ridiculously stupid news
* Topic: I Am Constantly Amazed (Amused?)
* To give you at least something worthwhile
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Today is mostly an unbelievably ridicule-ous day. I hope you find the following as jaw dropping and have-to-laugh-to-keep-from-crying funny as I did.

First, my apology for recommending the Glimmer Train link in “Of Interest” yesterday. Had I read it first (I didn’t) instead of simply trusting my source, I wouldn’t have posted it.

There is more to the world than doom and gloom, and even if one is devoted to doom and gloom, there are other ways to present it than in a harsh, one-sided political light.

For example, Mr. Johnston might have lamented the self-imposed death of his magazine or even praised some of its contributors. Instead he chose an approach so melodramatic it would make Snidely Whiplash roll his eyes before muttering “I’m outta here.”

I personally suspect, if Glimmer Train had a soul of its own, it currently resides in magazine heaven somewhere and is relieved it’s finally been set free.

In other ridiculously stupid news, Reedsy recently republished a post titled “250+ Other Words For ‘Said’ To Supercharge Your Writing.” Don’t look. Instead, consider how many long-term professional writers have advised to use only “said” to carry your dialogue. This Reedsy article should have been titled “250+ Other Words For ‘Said’ To Jerk Readers From Your Story.”

In keeping with the combination butt-chewing, “my-eyes, my-eyes!” theme of this post, what follows is the topic I promised you yesterday, though I did tone it down (a lot) and make it less negative:

Topic: I Am Constantly Amazed (Amused?)

at the smug duality of some writers, namely those who see “writer” as some sort of elevated “calling.” I can spot them within the first few minutes of listening to them talk.

For those writers, let me just toss this out to address that duality:

1. Despite the self-doubt instilled in you by your English and writing teachers, you really can write a story on your own. You only have to believe in yourself and your storytelling ability.

2. Despite that you see yourself as a capital-W “Writer” (cue angelic chorus), what you think of your story doesn’t matter. If you believe in yourself enough to publish what you’ve written, your opinion will have no bearing on what a reader will think of your story.

Readers don’t read critically. Readers read for pleasure. Sometimes they’re jerked out of a story by typos or some other nonsense that has nothing to do with Story, but readers read for escape. Readers just want a good story.

As I’ve shared here before, I once forced myself to publish what was, in my opinion, the worst short story I’d ever written (“Old Suits”). A month or so later, a reader with whom I had never had any contact emailed me out of the blue with endless praise about that story. Since then, I’ve never looked back.

If I may, I recommend you don’t confuse job descriptions.

In this wonderful new world of indie publishing, your only task is to write to the best of your ability and skill level at the time and then publish what you’ve written, regardless of your personal opinion of it.

That’s it. That’s the limit of your personal responsiblity. If you do that, good. If you don’t, that’s fine too. No skin off my teeth.

But regardless, judging what you’ve written is the reader’s job. I only recommend you respect your readers enough to let them decide what they like or don’t like.

And I do practice what I preach. I see writing as a solitary endeavor. I’m confident in myself and my ability to tell a good story all by myself. And I’m humble enough not to pre-judge my work for other readers. They have a right to make up their own mind.

For serious fiction writers, Heinlein’s Rules 1-4 constitute the most important advice ever uttered or written:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must not rewrite.
4. You must publish what you write.

This should be nothing short of common sense, and before “publish or perish” reared its ugly head among academes back in the ’60s and college professors started teaching nonsense to make a name for themselves, it was.

Just follow Heinlein’s Rules. If you fail in 1 or 2, you will never be a fiction writer. Period.

If you fail in 1, 2, or 4, you will never be a professional fiction writer. Again, period.

And if you fail in 3, nobody will ever see your truly unique, original voice because you’re trying to make it something it isn’t: someone else’s vision.

I am a successful professional fiction writer for only these four reasons:

1. I follow Heinlein’s Rules. Occasionally I fall off one or more of them. Then I climb right back on and keep going.

2. I understand that I don’t know everything about fiction technique, and I’m hungry to know more. Therefore I continually strive to learn from those more advanced than I am. But that’s the key: I seek out those more advanced. I see no value whatsoever in the blind leading the blind. If you do, again that’s fine. But…

3. I’m also confident in my ability as a storyteller because I learn from those more advanced than I.

4. I pay forward what I do know, and paying it forward returns to me severalfold.

All of that being said, all writers are different. If you choose to remain frightened that you don’t have what it takes and invite others into your work, that’s fine. If you choose not to publish what you’ve written, that’s even better. Less competition for me.

Next time, or soon, I’ll talk here about those who feel a need to take slaps at “prolific” writers and what stimulates prolific writers to write at all.

To give you at least something worthwhile today, there are a couple of valid items in the “Of Interest” section, but I added a final bit of ridiculous nonsense at the end just to round out the theme of this post. Sorry.

Today I’ll help my wife switch over from her old computer to a new one. That and baseball will consume my day.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Agency Clauses” at if you’re even considering using a literary agent. If you aren’t, you can skip this one.

See the guest post, “I wrote 100,000 words…” at Much as I appreciate Ben Wolf’s post, I will note that one can easily write 100,000 clean, publishable words in a month without having done any preparation in advance other than sitting down and putting one’s fingers on a keyboard.

For something truly ridiculous, see “The Final Cuts” at Then go buy Kris Rusch’s book, The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers.

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 0
Nonfiction words today…………… 1150

Total fiction words for the month……… 1338
Total fiction words for the year………… 381569
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7090
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 269780
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 651349

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 2
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 195
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31