The Journal, Wednesday, July 4

Hey Folks,

Happy Independence Day, folks.

And happy Mmmphth birthday to my bride, Mona. Now you know the real reason behind all the parades and fireworks. (grin)

As to her age, well, we’ve been married for 33 years, so according to my considered calculations, she was six when we were married. Close enough. (grin)

There was nothing of interest to report yesterday. I did do a little writing but it was an opening that didn’t work. So I kicked it to the curb and am not counting the words.

I won’t do anything today but celebrate, and the celebration might well carry on through tomorrow.

Which is fine with me because I’m still working out how to handle working on copyedits while also writing my own stuff. It’s more difficult than it looks, at least for me.

So I should be back on Friday at the latest. Here’s a topic for you that seems always timely:

Topic: Guarantees in Writing and Publishing

There aren’t any.

Well, if you follow Heinlein’s Rules religiously, there’s a guarantee that someone, somewhere will buy your work eventually,whether it’s an acquisitions editor, a publisher, or other reader.

But otherwise, no. No guarantees.

This topic is sponsored by all the beginning writers who ask the same beginning-writer questions.

I understand why they ask. Back in the day, I asked the same questions myself. But the answers have never changed.

At times like this I always think of the writer who wanted me to critique her work for her, then took me to task because I didn’t rave about how wonderful it was.

I was under the apparently mistaken assumption she wanted to improve. After all, otherwise why would she ask me to spend my time, time when I could have been writing, going over her work?

When the dust settled, she said it’s standard practice for critiquers to “find something nice to say” about the subject work.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s standard practice in mutual admiration clubs, not in critique groups among serious writers who are constantly striving to improve their craft and assume all other writer are striving for the same thing.

Here’s a list of questions you should never ask, because you already know the answer. So from that vantage point, my answers below are blunt and honest.

1. Is my work any good?

A. Did you enjoy writing it? If so, yes, it is, for your current skill level. If not, no, it probably isn’t.

2. Is my work worth publishing?

A. Was it worth writing? If so, then it’s worth publishing.

3. But seriously, is it really good?

A. Sigh. Even if I think so, that doesn’t mean another reader will think so. It will be just the right cup of tea for some people; for others, not so much. And that’s perfectly all right. (For example, I personally think James Patterson’s work sucks canal water from all 50 states.)

4. Will it sell?

The short answer: Provided you publish it (or it is published), yes, it will probably sell to at least one person, even if that person is your Aunt Marge from Topeka.

If it has an attractive cover and a good teaser and you’ve labeled it with the right genre, it might sell to those whose taste runs to the kind of story you’ve told and who like your cover and are attracted to the teaser.

It will definitely NOT sell to those who don’t like the kind of story you told and/or those who are not attracted by the cover or the teaser.

The long answer: Shrug. I have no idea. But don’t confuse goals and dreams.

A goal is something you can control, like how many short stories or novels you can produce in a month or a year or five years or ten. How many stories you can tell. That’s a goal.

And we all dream of being a bestseller, but that’s completely out of our hands. In fact, the number of copies actually sold (even that one to Aunt Marge) is out of our hands.

You can write a great story, create or pay for a great cover, and write great teaser blurbs. Your critique group can rave over it, your Uncle Mort can say it’s wonderful, and your copyeditor or first reader can help you make it the best it can be.

But you can’t control how many readers actually buy (and recommend) your work.

5. Should I keep writing? (My go-to answer for this one used to be No. I mean, if you have to ask….)

A. Do you enjoy writing? If so, yes. Follow Heinlein’s Rules: keep writing and publishing. Keep learning and keep applying what you’ve learned to the next story. You’ll be fine.

If you don’t enjoy writing, no. Life is not “too short” for most of us, but it’s too short to do something you don’t enjoy.

There y’go. I can’t say it any better than that.

You’re subscribed to this Journal, so you’re obviously invested in your work. So I do believe you should keep writing.

See you soon. ​

Of Interest

See “Making A Living With Short Fiction 2018” at (Wow. Again I feel a little like a slacker. grin)

If you enjoy writing short fiction, I encourage you to check the For Writers tab on Doug Smith’s website at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 890 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 890

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 2946
Total fiction words for the year………… 237162
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2710
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 81886
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 318798

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 5
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 31
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 6
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………………… 193