In today’s Journal
* Quote of the Day
* Topic: We All Have Days “Like That”
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Quote of the Day
“I just go again, keep writing, and it all smooths out.” Dean Wesley Smith
“My philosophy is it’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am, and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.” Anthony Hopkins, via The Passive Voice
Topic: We All Have Days “Like That”
You know, those days when Monday hits on another day of the week.
Maybe it’s something fairly major, like someone you love is involved in an emergency or passes away. Or maybe something happens in your business and you have to spend a whole day addressing or correcting it.
Or maybe it’s just one of those days when you stub your toe immediately upon getting out of bed, which causes you to curse and sit down hard on the bed. Which causes your spouse to jerk awake and slap the switch on the lamp above the bed, and suddenly a b’jillion watts of pure, white light slams your pupils shut.
Then you finally make it into the kitchen where you realize you forgot to prep the coffee maker the evening before. Sigh. So now you have to do that in your half-awake state.
Yeah well, life happens, that’s all. And it happens to all of us.
As I like to think I show by example, the best thing you can do if you’re a writer is deal with the situation for the time it requires, then return to your WIP, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write.
A couple of days ago, at about 8:30 a.m. an ambulance came for a dear friend who lives across our little road. She’s been struggling for a year or so with advanced breast cancer, and she had suffered either a stroke or a seizure.
When my wife came to the Hovel to let me know there was an ambulance over there, I’d written only a little over 1300 words. I muttered “Oh damn,” then got up and walked with her to the rail fence around the neighbor’s front yard. We didn’t want to be in the way, but we wanted our neighbor’s husband to know we were available.
We stayed until shortly after the ambulance pulled away with our friend inside. Then my wife got into her car and went to work, and I went back to the Hovel to write the Journal for that day.
Afterward, I didn’t return to the novel-in-progress. It seemed so trivial by comparison. So instead, I allowed myself the time, went to the house and did some things around there.
The next morning (yesterday), our friend was still on my mind (obviously), but I went to the Hovel and started my day as usual. Before I stopped, I had dealt with a number of other silly issues and written 3800 words.
Why? Isn’t the story still trivial compared to what had happened?
Of course. But I’m a professional fiction writer. Telling trivial stories is what I do.
And they really are trivial. Everything I (or you) write is nothing more than a few minutes’ or hours’ entertainment for some reader somewhere.
My (or your) story will be a stroke of genius to some readers, a “good read” to many, and “ugh, this sucks” to an unfortunate few who obviously wouldn’t know good literature if it crawled up their leg and bit them on the bum. (grin)
What the reader thinks of it (or will think of it or might think of it) is none of our business. Our only business is to write it in the first place, then publish it so readers can get that few minutes’ or hours’ of entertainment. Or dismay that they’ve wasted five bucks. Whatever.
The point is, if you’re a writer, you write. Not because what you’re writing is important (it’s not), but because writing is what you do.
So when a situation arises, give it the attention it requires, and then get back to doing what you do.
This is the mark of a professional. If a plumber or carpenter encountered a life roll, he would take the time necessary to deal with it, then go back to responding to plumbing emergencies or building things. Because that’s what he does.
And here’s a news flash — it’s perfectly all right to call what you do “work” or a “job” if calling it that helps you keep coming back.
Every now and then I have to remind myself that my job is to write fiction. Every now and then, like yesterday morning, that reminder is what gets me back to the chair.
The other side of this is to know other situations will arise in the future. And that’s fine. Plan right now to give them their due, then get back to your job, to doing what you do. While you’re in the throes of dealing with a situation, remember that your job — arranging words and sentences in a particular order to entertain yourself and others — is waiting calmly on the other side.
As I’ve said often enough, it’s all a matter of priorities. If you’re a writer of any kind, writing should be somewhere on your priority list.
And if you are or aspire to be a professional writer, it should be your first priority anytime you aren’t dealing with one of those temporary situations.
The illness or death of a loved one, a business gone sideways, stubbed toes — all of that will pass. But what you do will still be what you do until you don’t do it anymore.
When I occasionallly talk about some of the fears that stop some of us from writing, I talk also about turning those fears around. For example, instead of being afraid of what people will think of your work (so you never finish it or publish it), be afraid of how you’ll feel if you don’t finish.
That works for life situations that arise too.
Instead of being consumed by sadness and grief over a loss, be happy you had that person in your life for a while.
Instead of being angry that your day went sideways with business concerns, be glad you have a business that might go sideways now and then.
Instead of allowing a stubbed toe to cost you writing time, be glad you’re able to hobble to your computer, put your unstubbed fingers on the keyboard, and do what you do.
We all have Mondays occasionally. Days we dread. Days when we have to trudge through whatever crops up. I have those too, every now and then.
But I have personally decided that until a Monday unexpectedly happens, all of my days are late Friday afternoon, say around 4:59 p.m. You know. Any problems are in the past, and I’m filled with happy anticipation for what tomorrow will bring.
And of course I know what it will bring. I’ll write.
Note: No toes were stubbed or other digits harmed during the lead-up or writing of this topic.
Today is Saturday, so I rolled out early to get my day’s writing done before the world wakes up. Then I stumbled into this topic, another albeit very minor Monday. So I’ll adjust and write off and on through the day.
Well, I’d no sooner started writing than the water pump froze up. So I went to fix that. Turned out the contacts were stuck open. Easy fix.
Back to the Hovel where I realized I hadn’t started a reverse outline for the current novel. At 14 chapters and running, that isn’t good. (grin) So I started building a reverse outline while reading over the story from the beginning and allowing myself to touch it (cycling). Glad I did. I’m catching a few things, which will keep my first readers from having to catch them.
The way the day is going, I might not get a lot of new writing done today, but we’ll see.
In fact, I’ll estimate today’s fiction numbers so I can go ahead and post this.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Publishers, Citing Diversity Concerns, Drop Romance Conference” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/publishers-citing-diversity-concerns-drop-romance-conference/.
See “Where Does RWA Go From Here?” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/where-does-rwa-go-from-here/. What a bunch of silliness. I added a comment, which will probably become a topic for another day.
See “Everything Old…” at https://killzoneblog.com/2020/01/everything-old.html.
See “A Few Thoughts on Dialogue” at https://prowriterswriting.com/a-few-thoughts-on-dialogue/.
See “And There Are Just Days…” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/and-there-are-just-days/.
Fiction words today…………………… 2000
Nonfiction words today…………… 1430 (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…… 3248 words. Total words to date…… 12927
Day 6…… 3180 words. Total words to date…… 16107
Day 7…… 1363 words. Total words to date…… 17470
Day 8…… 3799 words. Total words to date…… 21269
Day 9…… 2000 words. Total words to date…… 23269
Writing of “” (short story)
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the month……… 26417
Total fiction words for the year………… 26417
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11520
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 11520
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 37937
Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 45
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 198
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31