In today’s Journal
* A good day
* Topic: Why I Write the Journal
* The Numbers
Yesterday was a good day for me and my fiction. I wrote a short story of 4140 words for the Cave Creek Shared World, spell-checked it and sent it off, then took a short lunch break and added another 2480 words to the novel for a total on the day of 6620 words.
Topic: Why I Write the Journal
Note: This is a very long post. I won’t apologize for that, and I hope you’ll read it to the end.
Slim pickings for items for “Of Interest” lately. And frankly, bluntly, a lot of what’s out there in PBS. The P stands for “Pure.”
I had looked forward to including links to Dean’s posts in his “Writing a Novel in Half a Month” series. But thus far with only two exceptions, those posts have been bland accounts of nothing to do with writing.
In fact, I think he reported actual progress on the novel on only one day. And I had the utter audacity to feel disappointed.
Yet my “Numbers” section below, in which you can follow my own writing progress day by day, is a concept I originally copied from Dean’s blog. Actually, this entire Journal, in all its iterations over the past few years, in one way or another was inspired by my experience with learning from Dean.
I’m an extremely lucky writer. It’s absolutely no exaggeration to say if I hadn’t slipped into orbit around Dean one day in early 2014, I would not exist today as the prolific fiction writer that I am.
Oh, I’d still write a short story or poem or essay or article occasionally. And I’d probably still be fine-tuning the outline I’d been working on for a novel for three or four years before I stumbled onto Dean’s site. But I wouldn’t be the writer I am today. Not even close.
I’d met and chatted with Dean and Kris back in the ’90s at one writer’s conference or another where they were presenting The Kris & Dean Show and I was presenting sessions on writing poetry.
When I rediscovered him through his blog in early 2014, he was halfway through his “Writing in Public” challenge and was writing a LOT in his blog about writing and publishing fiction.
In addition to hungrily absorbing his normal daily posts and the hundreds of gems included in those, I also watched as he wrote the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and Killing the Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing series(https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?s=Killing+the+Sacred+Cows), the Think Like a Publisher (https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?s=Think+Like+a+Publisher) series, and every or almost every nonfiction ebook he wrote. (You can buy all of those for a pittance at your favorite e-tailer.)
As I said, I’m a lucky guy.
If not for Dean, I probably never would have discovered the little afterthought Robert A. Heinlein tacked on at the end of a truly forgettable article on writing in the also forgettable 1948 Of Worlds Beyond. It was a minor afterthought that Heinlein dubbed his “Business Habits for Writers,” an appelation we know today as “Heinlein’s Rules.”
Without a doubt I would never have thought as a writer that I should “Dare to be bad,” the challenge shared by Dean and Nina Kiriki Hoffman when they were both brand new baby writers and Dean was both working as a bartender and running a used book shop. Of course, Dean later developed “Dare to be bad” into “Writing Into the Dark.”
In his posts I read with nothing short of awe that to actually enjoy being a writer was not a sin(!), that writing fiction didn’t have to be consigned to melodramatic “drudgery”(!), and that being a “real writer” has nothing to do with any sort of elevated, nonsensical “calling” or eating bree on crackers and sipping wine at launch parties.
To be a real fiction writer was (and still is) to look forward anxiously to writing fiction every day or even more often than every day (Keep Coming Back), and that to truly enjoy beeing a writer all I had to do was face and overcome my own inane, unreasoning fears.
I’m lucky I was willing to take a deep breath and plunge-in, in the time-honored tradition of “Oh yeah? Hold my beer and watch this.” But so many simply won’t. Shrug. I guess maybe that’s just the way I’m bent. As I said, i’m lucky.
I’m lucky I so readily recognized that all I had to do was let go of all the PBS I’d heard over the years from people who don’t even write fiction yet who are somehow expert on handing out advice about how to write fiction (!). And I’m lucky I realilzed that all I really had to do was trust myself and my characters.
That it is the characters, not I, who are living the stories and therefore know them exponentially better than I ever could. Wow! Are you kidding me? What an eye-opener! And what a trip it’s been thus far.
The job of the critical, conscious mind is to protect us. When we inadvertently start to lean our hand onto the hot burner of a stove, it is the critical, conscious mind screaming “Don’t do that!” that causes us to jerk our hand back.
The creative subconscious, in the same situation, would whisper “Go ahead! Might be fun!” It’s that tiny, niggling little voice deep inside that makes us wonder what it would be like to really put our hand on a hot burner.
Likewise, the critical, conscious mind feeds our unreasoning fears about writing: Oh, writing is fine, but if we finish something we might let someone else read it and they might not like it and the world as we know it will crash and burn and come to a horrible end.
And again, the creative subconsious says, “Aw, go ahead! Hey, you might actually enjoy it!”
That roughly 4-year streak of Dean writing truly intensive blog posts (I see this as Phase 1) lasted for about five years before he started drifting more toward putting up classes and lectures for money (Phase 2) and finally concentrating most of his efforts on earning more money through venues like Kickstarter.
All of which, I hasten to add, is fine. I’ve watched and listened to almost every online lecture and workshop he offers. I’d probably make a boatload of money if I wanted to take the time to offer video lectures instead of audio lectures (though I admit I don’t quite understand the psychology behind that).
And I’d love to have the desire to put together Kickstarter campaigns and all that. So more power to him. But doing any of that would take time away from my characters and from writing their stories. So….
Still, I truly wish others could experience what I experienced as I learned from a a real fiction writer who isn’t afraid to tell the truth about writing.
Then again, I guess you could experience it if you want to.
There’s a small search icon (a magnifying glass) on the right side of the menu bar on Dean’s site. If you click on that and then put “February 2014” in the search block to the left, you will find “Writing in Public: Month 6 and Half Year Summary.” And if you start reading there and keep going, you will learn, as Dean is fond of saying “so much more.”
I did a little extra research. I suggest you go to his “Day 0… It’s Still July for Me” post at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/day-0-its-still-july-for-me/. There, I even gave you the link. Will you click through?
Some of you will. Sadly, I suspect most of you won’t. And that’s fine. It’s all up to you. I’ve got mine. I’m just saying this is where you can get yours.
I strongly recommend you start reading there and don’t stop until things start to flag some three or four years later. Or just don’t stop at all.
That’s what I’m going to do.
Yes, I’m already a prolific fictionist. Yes, that is thanks to all that I’ve already read and learned from Dean.
But I’m going to go back and start re-reading his posts, I figure at least two or three or five a day. At that rate it should take me only two or three years to re-earn my masters.
Of course, I’m a far different person and writer now than I was back then. So honestly, there’s no telling how much I might’ve missed the first time through or how much I might understand better.
And I guess that’s why I write the Journal.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Because They Are Hard” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/because-they-are-hard/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1460 words
Writing of “Rider Jones and the Portal” (short story)
Day 1…… 4140 words. Total words to date…… 4140 (done)
Writing of The Journey Home: Part 7 (novel)
Day 1…… 6065 words. Total words to date…… 6065
Day 2…… 3887 words. Total words to date…… 9952
Day 3…… 3170 words. Total words to date…… 13122
Day 4…… 3862 words. Total words to date…… 16984
Day 5…… 3905 words. Total words to date…… 20889
Day 6…… 2845 words. Total words to date…… 23734
Day 7…… 2480 words. Total words to date…… 26214
Total fiction words for February……… 92156
Total fiction words for the year………… 189633
Total nonfiction words for February… 18990
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 44320
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 233953
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 57
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 215
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31