Sailors on the Sea

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Writing Contest

Writtenwyrdd has an October contest in honor of Halloween. Write a horror story in 1,000-words or less. The details are here. And here is a picture of the grand prize. I wouldn't mind winning that. So, even though I am not a horror writer, I wrote a horror story and submitted it.

A Log Jam of Ideas

Just got a look at Spouse's tentative schedule for next week and it does not look like I will be getting ANY writing done in the first week of November. Spouse will be home during the day all five days during the week, and Son will be home Sunday and the following Saturday. This means no uninterrupted time for writing. I might be able to sneak in a little here and there, but not much.

Having nothing better to do with my time last evening I went through the files on this computer, listing all of the writing projects I could find, when I last worked on them, what their word counts were, and if they were finished projects. Don't know if the numbers are impressive, but I'm impressed. The past twelve months have been the most productive twelve months ever in my non-illustrious writing career.

Here are some of the 'cool' numbers, dating back to October of 2008.
  • Total Projects Worked On: 146
  • Total Projects Finished: 112
  • Types of Projects:
  • ..... 1 Editorial
  • ..... 1 In Remembrance
  • ..... 2 Plays
  • ..... 9 Hero Stories
  • ..... 15 Exercises
  • ..... 26 Novels
  • ..... 30 Short Stories
  • ..... 62 Poems
  • Finished Projects just in 2009: 107
NOTE: Monthly word counts are taken from the last date a project was worked on. Projects ending in April, May, and June, were not written solely during those months, but do fall within the 12-month span. The September and October projects, however, were begun in September and October, and the July and August projects were begun in July and August.
  • OCTOBER Words Written: 85,096
  • SEPTEMBER Words Written: 78, 527
  • AUGUST Words Written: 18,452
  • JULY Words Written: 2,886
  • JUNE Words Written: 235,673
  • MAY Words Written: 300,838
  • APRIL Words Written: 146,300
  • MARCH Words Written: 9,016
  • FEBRUARY Words Written: 2,920
  • JANUARY Words Written: 6,205
  • Average Words per Day: 2,721
  • Average Words per Month: 81,622
  • Total Words in One Year: 979,461
Since I'm only 21,000-words away from One Million, if I were to add all the words from my blogs, and from drafts which I didn't include, I easily wrote more than One Million Words in the past 12 months. I guess that makes the fact that I may not be writing much at all over the next eight days all the more significant.

Probably the most significant number of all is the one that isn't displayed on the list, and that is, How Much Money Did All of That Writing Generate? A big fat ZERO.

I don't earn anything from my writing, but I keep on doing it. Guess that's how it goes sometimes, isn't it? Well, I've always said it isn't about the money. I think those numbers kind of support that statement.

The past 12 months have been very good for my writing, although I have (literally) shed many tears over it. When I am writing I am happy. When I stop and look back at what I've accomplished I am filled with a feeling of loneliness I can't explain.

I don't know how much longer I have in this world, but I guess I have created a legacy of some sort. That's assuming this computer doesn't crash like the one before. I lost a LOT of work when that happened as my backups proved to be faulty. What I wish is that I could afford to at least print single copies of what I have, as well as back it up digitally, so that the legacy will survive me. The poems and exercises are what they are, but the stories could all possibly be beat into shape.

Twenty-six novels in one year. I suppose that doesn't mean a lot when one considers that only four are finished.

Probably the number which surprises me most is the Short Story number. Thirty listed, but the Hero Stories are technically short stories, too, so that makes 39. I never saw myself as a short story writer before, but all 39 were begun in the past 12 months, and 30 have been finished.

But there's a lot of work in this archive. Nothing of what I've written is fit for publication, And maybe that's what makes me feel so lonely about what I've written. I don't know. It just seems a shame to have 34 stories not being read except by perhaps one or two people.

Meanwhile, my mind is already preparing to add to the short story and novel lists, and there will be other exercises I attempt, and the poems just come when they will.

Oh, and I've also written 1,107 posts for Blogger in the past year, too - not counting those I deleted.

Friday, October 30, 2009


It's Friday. Barely. Come Sunday I join a team of writers over on a NaNo blog to give a go at writing 50,000-words during the month of November.

The blog is the brainchild of Writtenwyrdd, who frequently posts writing tips and helps.

Currently there are 19 writers and 21 projects. And in case you're wondering, I am the weak sister writer, by which I mean I'm not in the same league as the others. So I am quite honored to be included.

White Wolves of Dawn is my project. I began it in September but put it on hold in order to write Shadow People and The Sweet Girl. Now it's waiting for November.

Two weeks ago I believed I would have no problem meeting the 50,000-words. Now I'm not so sure. There is an ugly chance my computer time is about to be serious curtailed again.

What a pity. And for once it kind of matters, too.

Take a visit to the blog. I'm not sure how that will go, but Writtenwyrdd put links to all the writers so you can check on them and see some real writing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Manta Ray is a Cool Fish

Well, I'm sleeped up again and back to what I would consider normal for me.

I've sent Apprentice off to my two Readers. The one ahead in the earlier time zone has already sent back a critique. Why is it that others can see the obvious and I can't? The other reader is in a later time zone and may not even be awake yet.

Which brings me to a bit of a dilemma. With only two readers there is a point at which they will have read the story too many times to critique it as they would like. Reading the same story five or six times with input on the revisions eventually brings one too close to see the problems. Just as I could not see the glaring things raised by Reader in the East.

So where does one go to find readers? It seems tacky to be begging for reading favors when I've got nothing to give in return. And this isn't a great place to ask because, according to StatCounter, I have had six visits in six days. I don't exactly draw the people in. As a writer that is truly depressing.

I suppose my subject matter is just too dull for others. But I have no famous names to drop. I don't know any agents or editors or even authors. I've never been published. I'm not that witty and I'm certainly not well educated. Searching for anything online is a struggle for me so I rarely have cool sites to link to.

I like to write about what I'm feeling, but generally only when I'm not feeling good. Tolkien wrote about that in The Hobbit. I hope I don't get in trouble for quoting from the book, but this is what he wrote.

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. (The Hobbit: A Short Rest)

I find that to be exactly true. There have been few (if any) people I have personally known who's lives were all sunshine and happiness. The few who have tried to make me believe they do live such a life have struck me as phony - even shallow. Misery is a part of life, and while it is certainly desired to maintain good spirits in the face adversity, some of the finest people I know are suffering the worst. Meanwhile, the shallow people don't seem to be suffering at all.

Either life is completely cruel and unfair, or there is something about suffering which makes a person a real person, as opposed to a shallow shell of a human being.

All the same, if I could I would take away the pain and misery from the people I love. I suppose that would be the wrong thing to do, which is why I do not have that power.

Oh, well, to me. Right?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When a Star Lands in Your Pocket

Good news. For myself anyway.

I have completed the Apprentice rewrite. Huzzahs and felicitations galore!

As hoped, this rewrite went along fairly painlessly. The critiques I received from two separate Readers were most helpful and gave me clear direction on what I needed to do. Now I just need to put the story back in their hands to learn if I achieved what I was supposed to.

My software project is moving along nicely, too. I've done some beta testing and discovered pieces which worked just ducky by themselves aren't ready to collaborate with each other as a piece of a whole yet. Been dealing with that. Nearly ready for another test.

Been a bit depressed of late, though. That comes from lack of sleep. Been kept awake a night or two and it's taken its toll on my emotions. So I'll try to get in lots of sleep and soon be back to my usual cheery [right] self.

And my Hero Story is posting, too, over on the Legion Blog. It's no great shakes, but the Hero Stories aren't meant to be. Basically, they're all first drafts.

But it's celebratory mood. Well, not really. But it could be. Something else is done. Which leaves more time for the things which are still on the cooker.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Performing a Story

Well, Son's back in school, Spouse is back to work, and I am back to being busy with writing projects.

The Apprentice rewrite has begun. Barring anything unpleasant I should finish it this week.

I have a new story. The first chapter is completed.

The software I am creating for my soon-to-exist-new-blog is ready for beta testing.

White Wolves of Dawn is waiting eagerly in the gates for Sunday, when the NaNoBlog kicks off. (No link at this time because my understanding is that it is going to be recreated.)

Have written some more poetry.

The words are flowing. But then that's never really been a problem for me. My problem has never been about the quantity of water flowing through the dam, it's more about the quality of that water. Every time I think I'm finally making real progress and becoming worthy to be called an honest-to-goodness writer (authors are published) I discover that I don't know Jack Sh-t (not that I think I want to know somebody by that name) and have further to go than I did the last time I realized I had far to go.

Spoke a little with Son about this last evening on the way home from his saxophone practice. He's very good. This is especially so when one considers he only began playing it last June. But he's not ready to be selling any CDs yet. And last night his instructor was less tolerant of minor mistakes. Mistakes that I, as a listener, wasn't always able to pick up on. Why? There's a recital coming up in about six weeks and Son is slated to play The Pink Panther. For a little more than two months Son has been working on this piece, and he's taken it from simply playing notes to performing.

It's difficult to explain, but anyone who enjoys music knows what I'm talking about. To perform a song requires more than just playing the right notes. There's a feeling which is required. A life poured into the music. This is difficult, and it isn't easy to teach, although I believe it can be taught. Encouraged may be a better way of putting it.

It's the same with writing. Storytelling can be quite hard. It can also be quite easy. Just putting words down on paper or into a computer. But if you really want to give a story to an audience, let it perform, you have to put feeling and life into it. It isn't easy. Not to learn and not to teach. People who don't write don't understand it. But it is work.

It's the difference between a first draft and a polished story.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Better Mouse Trap

Got a new tool for confining my writing to a certain size. Unfortunately, it isn't by words. It's by characters. But it works well enough.

It's easy enough to make.

Open up a new Word document.
View Toolbars-Control Toolbox
Choose a Text Box and put it on your Word document
Right click on the Text Box and choose Properties
Set EnterKeyBehavior to TRUE
Set MultiLine to TRUE
Sex MaxLength to however many characters you want

I set mine to 3,000 characters, which results in 500-600 words, averaging about half-way.

What happens is that I am typing along, and when I reach 3,000 characters I can't enter any more. This works fine for times when you need to restrict your word count. The rule of thumb seems to be: Take the maximum characters and divide that by 5. The result will be what you can expect as a maximum word count. Not 100%, but pretty good.

While I find this works well for Hero Stories, Evil Editor assignments, and things like that, I isn't nearly so good for book writing.

But it's cool. I've been using it for a couple of days now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Love Writing

Son was sick all week and that means I had no real free time to work on my rewrite of Apprentice. I had hoped to be finished with it by now. Instead, I was only able to put in an hour this morning before Spouse got up.

I don't know if other writers suffer from this, but the people in this place have no qualms about interrupting me when I'm writing. And I don't mean just trying to get my attention because something important needs dealing with. I'm talking about just walking up and talking, frequently about things that just do not matter and do not even require my attention. (Of course, if it does need my attention I won't hear of it until it's far too late for my input to matter. Then, when things go bad, it's all my fault for not acting soon enough.)

My sense is that they do. Why else do so many writers find it hard to generate word counts? People who don't write don't understand that writing does not turn on and off with a switch. It's kind of like making love. If you're not in the mood you can do it, but it's not going to come off very well. And interruptions don't help at all.

So, when interruptions are expected, one doesn't even try. That goes for making love and for writing.

But I did put in an hour. Hopefully Son will be well next week and returned to school during the day. Then I can finish my editing just in time to begin the NaNoWriMo thing.

We'll see.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something New Again

I have been honored with a request to participate in a NaNoWriMo blog. Here's the link.

Although I am not officially signed up I will be writing, so Writtenwyrdd has been gracious enough to include me.

Of course now that I'm committed to writing 50,000-words I have little doubt the Muses are going to become annoyed with me an bail out until it becomes clear I won't make the goal.

The risks we take just to belong.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What a Regret

My grandmother wrote stories. When she got older, past seventy, some of her work was published in books, newspapers, and senior citizen magazines. Mostly it was poetry, but some of it was short stories.

She mostly wrote about life in the early 20th century, which was when she was born and lived her formative years. Some fascinating stuff reading about wood stoves, crocheted mittens, winter excursions, dolls, and life in general growing up in country Iowa and Minnesota. Many of her so-called fictional stories were actually incidents from her own life, glamorized a little, but not by much from what I've been told by her contemporaries - now all gone. My mother is now the eldest living member of her family.

Some of grandma's poetry was about how she felt about things. Nature seemed to be a favorite topic. So did nostalgia. I can relate to that. Nostalgic thoughts are haunting to those who understand how different life could be had certain decisions been made differently. To have imagination is to have regret, for it is imagination which allows us to understand we mucked up at times.

I think some people claim they have no regrets because their regrets do not immobilize them. The fact they can go on with their lives without moaning all day makes them think they do not regret any of their choices or actions. Personally, I think that's bullsh*t. Anyone who does not regret the pain they have caused others is a complete horse's a*s, in my book. And if you believe you have lived more than a few years on this planet without causing someone else unnecessary pain then you are an idiot. Or a horse's a*s.

I think one of my grandma's regrets was that she never fully developed any of her talents. She was gifted in many areas: garment making, gardening, painting, sculpture, and writing. I don't recall ever hearing her sing, or try to play an instrument.

But her talents remained raw all of her life. Most of what she did were things for her to enjoy and the world to miss. I believe that is why she was so happy about the writing she did which was published. She got to share it with the world.

Artists are like that. And writers are artists of a sort.

We don't paint with pigment and we don't sculpt with clay or metal. We do not grow plants and we do not sew cloth.

Writers paint with words. We sculpt with words. We grow words and sew them together. We are artists of varying degree. Some have become masters at the craft. Some of us are fledglings, working solely with raw talent.

But master or novice, we all share one thing in common: We have a need to share our art.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

After a Slow Start

NoNoWriMo begins in twelve days. I won't be part of it because I don't (officially) have a 50,000-word novel to write. I have begun another story. And it's a safe bet it will make 50,000-words. But I've begun it already and it's a safe bet I will either finish it before the end of November, or I will abandon it in favor of another story.

Out of curiosity I just did a search through the computer to see what all I have written since the first of September. I have two active stories (both novels) and 13 finished works, which include two novels. Total word count over the past 50 days: 150,036-words.

Maybe I should sign up for McKoala's Smackdown Challenge. Nah.

My average daily output has been around 3,000-words. That seems low to me, until I consider days like the past four, when I don't think I have 3,000-words to show for the lot.

When I'm writing - on a roll, as I like to put it - I can easily pump out five or ten thousand words in a day. I've done more, but that's usually on days when I put in more than eight hours. Generally, I only put in a few hours every day. That's the up side of being unemployed.

I understand that my writing isn't the greatest, and I don't edit everything I write. Shadow People has only been through one edit pass and The Sweet Girl hasn't gone beyond the first draft. Those two books make up 129,000-words. My poems I seldom edit after I finish. I do that while I write. But those are nearly always less than 200-words.

My Evil Editor exercises (of which I have one in the past 50 days) do get a kind of edit. Mainly I'm looking for spelling errors and making sure I haven't exceeded the word limit.

Few of my short stories get edited much. The exception to this rule is Apprentice, which merits the effort. Apprentice, by the way, does NOT count toward my recent activity totals, so the four days I spent thus far on that can be deducted from the fifty.

With the exception of Apprentice, I'm not really in an editing mode right now. Right now I'm pumping out ideas and stories and not worrying too much about their quality. Editing will come later. Fall is when I seem to write the most. The ending of summer, green grass, and (supposedly) warm temperatures pushes me to nostalgia, which awakens my creative energies. Winter I edit. It's a dry time. Cold and stark. That's when I can rip apart what I've written and replace it with something supposedly better. Come spring new ideas spring to mind, but they're difficult to pin down and write. Summer is complete hard to write, but the story root systems are growing by leaps and bounds as my imagination works overtime without being encumbered by actual writing. Then comes fall again. Harvest time. Like the busy beaver I work like crazy to get as much done before the winter freeze puts a stop to all creative flow.

[long pause while I tallied something]

I've written 89 new projects this year. By new this year I mean I started all 89 after January 1, 2009. Four novels and two short stories are NOT finished. Everything else has at least a first draft completed.

I have 12-exercises; 2 finished novels; 4 unfinished novels; 53 poems; 16 finished short stories; and 2 unfinished short stories.

Total word count for the year: 195, 674.

That's pretty bad when you consider 150,000 was done in the past seven weeks, and I wrote the 200,000-word version of Swords of Fire in a month.

If I could write every month the way I write in September I would easily write over one million words in a year.

But who would read them?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's There is There

Do you want to know what's stupid? I am sitting her before the computer with tears running down my face because The Song began playing and I have been replaying it over and over again. What song? The song of Bolar's death. I cried for hours when I wrote the scenes, and they weren't even well written. And now I pulled up the file and did a search for "He is dead." It found the passage in one hit. I read it an cried again.

How silly. Bolar is just a character from the Swords of Fire backstory. He wasn't written well, but his passing brings tears. Strange. To satisfy you curiosity I will include portions of the Death Chapter. Don't expect to tear up. It can never mean to you what it means to me. One person's laughter is another's tears.

But this is what I wrote. I've made a couple of adjustments. The "She" is Tavaar. Probably the woman in the series I love most.

She was standing before her wardrobe, trying to decide what to wear, when there was a knock at her door. It opened and she turned to see Hetahna.

“Good morning, Hetahna. What is it?”

“You have a visitor, my lady.”

A warning chill passed through Tavaar’s heart.


“No, my lady. It is Master Dahrin.”

The warning became fear. Dahrin was Bolar’s great-grandson. He had never come here before.

“I will be right there.”

She stripped off her gown and got into a tunic and britches. Then she raced from her room. Dahrin was standing and waiting. He was dressed in a healer’s robe. His face anguished. His hands wringing.

“Good morning, Tavaar,” he said.

“Good morning, Dahrin. Is something wrong? Why are you here?”

“It is Grandfather Bolar.”

Weakness was attacking her.

“Is he ill?”

“No. He is dead.”

If the world had ended right then she would not have noticed. She ran for the front door.

“Hetahna, watch the children!”

She raced from the house, not waiting to see if Dahrin followed. All she passed was a blur. Her only thought was to get to Bolar’s house. If she could just get there it wouldn’t be true. She slapped away the tears which filled her eyes. The house was before her. The door was opening. She rushed past Jebew, who had let her in. She headed for Bolar’s room. Their room. It was the room they shared. Bewda stood before it, and as Tavaar ran up she caught her in her arms. Tavaar struggled to get past, but for an old woman Bewda was strong, or was it Tavaar just weak?

“I have to see him! Bewda, let me past! I have to see him.”

“It is too late, Tavaar. He is gone,” Bewda soothed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anticipating Fun

Saturday is Music Day on The Great Sea. Don't always listen to music on Saturday. At least, I don't always post about music on Saturday.

I've got a band. Don't think I've ever mentioned that. Five members. Three guys and two gals. Got an excellent guitarist, a drummer, a keyboardist, a flute player and me. I play bass.

The band really only has one problem: I'm the only member who's not fictitious. Well, I guess I should confess the band has another problem: The bass player sucks. Oh, and so does the lead singer. Yep. You guessed it. The bass player sings lead, too.

However, before I dis the bass player too much I got to say the bass player has the greatest enthusiasm.

Since I discovered as a child music was something people could do the the rest of their lives I have dreamed of being part of a band and entertaining on stage. I began by singing Beatles songs in the 1960s. LOTS of others followed. Dozens of artists and hundreds of songs. Some I've listened to today are:

Delaney and Bonnie: Never Ending Song of Love

Mouth and MacNeal: How Do You Do

T Rex: Bang a Gong

Raspberries: Go All the Way

Alice Cooper: Under My Wheels

Actually, I have TWO bands. Both are subjects of stories I have wanted to write for a long time. The one (oops - almost gave away the name) I've been thinking about writing for several years. The other is a recent creation. If ever I actually write the stories I'll let you know the names. In the meantime, I'm replaying Alice Cooper. I like that song.

The telephone is ringing ...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Things to Talk About It

Great news! I've not only completed my rewrite of Apprentice, but I've already received a very helpful critique on the new work. There's more to be done, but I truly believe the story is becoming more solid and strong. And I'm not just making the story better. I'm learning why the story is better. That may be the most important thing of all, for it helps me with all subsequent writing. By knowing why a story does, or does not, work properly, I can avoid pitfalls and reduce rewrite time in the future.

For the first time in a long time I don't feel so far away from the goal. Probably am not, as the crow flies. But, like a winding river through a tilted valley, the journey may be quite long.

On another note, I now have four episodes in a new Heroines of the Night super hero story. There's an excellent chance I will have it ready for posting next week on Legion of Super On-Line Heroes.

And, I have attempted some drawings of faces. Not turning out at all like I want, but at least anyone should be able to recognize they're faces.

NOTE: Tried another cat drawing. My cat was laying in front of me as I was sketching and I tried to draw his profile. You can almost tell it's a cat. Nose sticks out too far.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And a New Project Begins

Well, rah rah, blow the bubbles and pass out the gum. I have finished the Apprentice rewrite.

It began slowly, then went too fast, then bogged down, then restarted and went smoothly.

So now I'm working on Heroines of the Night. They're a super hero organization consisting (at the moment) of five female heroes. Caped Blade is their leader and Lasered Lash is second in command. Masked Wizard and Primitive Brute are lieutenants, and Safe Whiffle is the newbie. I'm expecting to finish this up in October and be posting it on the Legion of On-Line Super Heroes blog soon after.

Their first go will be attempting to apprehend Mr. Manners, a polite (but dangerous) master jewel thief. I'm thinking it might go six episodes. I've already written two.

I would like to be able to include cartoon drawings of the characters, but realistically I'm not likely to develop the kind of talent I require in the next few days, so that is going to have to wait. When I finally do get my drawing up to something of a satisfying level I am likely to redraw my heroines and possibly even rename them.

I won't be participating in NaNoWriMo, however, I will be writing. I know several online who will be writing, though. Good luck to you all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just a Quick Update

The Apprentice rewrite is under way and progressing nicely. I think.

I ran into a couple of questions about the ending, but fairyhedgehog, who said I could say is one of my critiquers for Apprentice, explained it well. In essence, I have to do a better job of showing what the questions are in Kiahva's mind and heart, and why the ending I've chosen best answers those questions.

Typically, I write quest novels, in which something has to be done, or retrieved, in order for success to happen. In these books character development and change is still important, but the focus is on the quest itself.

With Apprentice, it is the character transformation itself which is important. Furthermore, Apprentice is a short story as opposed to a full novel. It's a little bit different writing than I'm used to. But then that's how Apprentice came to be. I was experimenting with an entirely new side of creativity.

So the rewrite is moving along nicely. I had thought I might finish it this week. Not sure about that anymore. For one thing, I've only got today and tomorrow this week to work on it. After that Son and Spouse are going to be around and I can forget about getting any real work done. But barring the unexpected it will be finished next week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cats and Faces and Horses and Airplanes

Catlin: From The Shadow People, by Bevie James

I would very much like to draw. For some, drawing has become easy. For people like me it's quite intimidating.

A couple of years ago I attended a workshop the company I was working for put on for its employees. The focus of the workshop eludes my memory, but I do recall an exercise we did. (I've posted about this before on A Voice in the Wind.) We were given a blank sheet of paper and told to partition it into four equal rectangles. In the top left corner we were told to use our dominant hand and draw a house. Next, using the opposite hand, and in the upper right corner, draw a picture of a horse. Step 3 was in the lower left corner. Again, using your dominant hand - but with your eyes closed - draw a picture of an airplane. Finally, in the lower right hand corner, using the other hand - again, eyes closed - draw a picture of a cat.

The moderator then told us what he observed.

Few people were inclined to show others their house picture, but kind of willing to show their horse drawing. Even more showed their airplane, and nearly everyone wanted to share their cat picture. Then he told us about a study which was done some place. (Some group got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this study, I'm sure.)

Questioners went to day care centers and asked four- and five-year-old children, "How many of you can draw a cat?" One hundred percent of the children said they could. I believe the children even were eagerly willing to provide proof. Next, the questioners went to several colleges and universities and asked the same question of young adults. Very, very few said they could draw a cat.

The point was, of course, that we are taught, and we quickly learn, what we can't do. People look at our early efforts and feel the obligation to point out to us that we aren't any good at whatever it is we're trying to do. For most of us it doesn't take to many of these admonitions before we realize we can't do that.

So what was different with the adults who still believed they could draw a cat? Were their first efforts just that good, and so they weren't given the negative critiques? I doubt it. Were they praised for their effort and progress instead of discouraged? Possibly. In some cases I believe so. Or were they just to stubborn/stupid to listen to the comments and proceeded along their merry way, trying and trying and trying, and improving, improving, improving? I think there was some of this, too.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't get the praises for early efforts in drawing. What is more, I was too stupid to be stupid, and not quite stubborn enough to ignore the comments I got. So I put my drawing aside and did other things.

Now, I am well past the early years of my life and I don't draw a heck of a lot better now than I did then. Why not? I haven't been practicing. What a shame. Well, I'm going to try practicing now. I have illustrations I want drawn for my stories, and I can't afford to commission other artists to do the work.

I'm going to begin by trying to draw Catlin, a character from Shadow People, a novel I finished in mid-September. That's Catlin up at the top. But before you go praising me for an early effort I have to confess that is NOT a free hand drawing up there. What I did was search Google Images for a picture of my impression of a beautiful woman. I found one. Downloaded it. Printed it. Put a blank sheet of paper on top of it. Paper-clipped the two sheets together. Walked to the sliding doors. Put the papers against the glass, blank side toward me. Traced the image.

So, before you discourage me on my ability to trace, let me remind you that that isn't very nice. [smiles]

I DO intend to draw Catlin free hand. And in the near future, I hope. But I wanted to get a "feel" for drawing the face. I'm going to work at it - between my writing assignments. Because you know what?

I CAN draw a cat!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Light Work

I'm officially taking today off from writing. Unofficially, I have already written something. Not a blog entry. These don't count unless I've written a story.

I'm a bit of at a loss for the day. I don't want to start work on Apprentice until tomorrow, when I can work on it without interruption. And I don't want to start anything which might take more than a few minutes to write for fear I will become so enamored of it I don't go back to Apprentice after all.

So it's a day of writing exercises and creative thought.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How Sweet it Is

Okay, I have finished The Sweet Girl. Just over 64,000-words. I like it. It needs a major rewrite, but I like it anyway. However, I am going to set it aside for now and work on other things. Apprentice needs a major rewrite and so I'm going to be focusing my attention there for a while.

It's funny about writing a book. Like any project which lasts more than a few days there are high points and low points. The Sweet Girl took me a little less than a month to write. About three weeks. I suppose in the minds of some that discredits the quality. How could I possibly have written anything worth reading of that length in such a short amount of time? My only answer to that is that I had the time. For the most part, I have 24/7 to devote to my writing. The only forced breaks are when I take Son to school, bring Son home from School, and take Son to saxophone practice at Northwestern College. Other than that, I'm pretty much here.

But pumping out words has never been a real problem for me. And I don't think I'm horrible at it. I'm not as good as some I've read, and not at all worth comparing to the true literary masters. After all, I've never been able to get any of my work published, so the quality of my writing has to remain suspect.

But I tell good stories. Sometimes.

I think The Sweet Girl qualifies. It's my first serious effort at writing detective fiction. Detective fiction is not something I personally have been into much, so perhaps I failed to wholly capture the detective feeling. I wrote it like a fantasy. In fact, I set it in a fantasy place. The idea is that there is one Prime Reality and many created realities around it. These created realities are used for holidays, and transportation between realities is regulated and controlled, similar to our traveling from country to country. Of course, I have to confess I have not traveled to another country in years. And the only other country I have visited is Canada. And back when I visited it one could cross the border without any trouble at all. The Canadian border guards simply asked why I was going there and told me to have a good time. Getting back into the United States wasn't so easy. Nor as friendly. But no special papers or things were required. I understand that has changed.

I like writing stories and I like it that I wrote something different than I normally write. What I really like is that I'm finally making it a practice to finish things I start. My Archives are filled with half-begun stories and concepts. But just this year, what I have I finished?

Swords of Fire: Traitor (epic fantasy)
Apprentice (short story)
Quest (short story)
Sassy and Otio (2 short stories)
Mist Over Monticello (a Legion Blog story told in five parts)
Ekundayo (short story)
Shadow People (novel)
The Sweet Girl (novel)

Of course, Swords of Fire probably shouldn't count. I've "finished" that more times than I can remember over the past thirty-five years, so it hardly counts as a current project. But even removing Swords from the list I have accomplished a lot this year.

This has probably been my greatest year ever for inspiration. And Ekundayo, Shadow People, and The Sweet Girl have all been begun and finished within the past eight weeks.

When the year began I was convinced something great and wonderful was going to happen, and that it would happen just before, or around, the end of summer. I was convinced it had to do with finances. But maybe it was this. A breakout of writing like I've never experienced before in my life.

I owe a lot of thanks to those who have encouraged me. This is particularly true for fairyhedgehog, who has continued to visit my blog and encourage me despite my manic moods. Thanks, Fairy.

Anyway, I've got another story. Some day I may actually get paid for all this creativity.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Busy Schedule Continues

Well, I've learned I need to start (or continue) an actual novel to participate in NaNoWriMo, so I will definitely NOT be signing up. I do have a couple of unfinished novels, but I'm not likely to work on any of those in the near future. Maybe White Wolves.

In the meantime, The Sweet Girl is nearly finished. I'm just past the climax and decided I needed a break to write the ease down to the end. Have to leave soon to pick up Son and I don't want to rush myself. If I don't finish this today I will tomorrow. Final word count should be around 60,000-words. Then I will put the story aside for a few weeks. It needs a major rewrite. Or two.

Beginning next week I am planning on rewriting Apprentice, taking in the suggestions I got from my last critique. When I finish with that, in a week or two, I'm guessing, I may return to writing Hero stories. I've got a couple which have been sitting on hold since the end of July and early August. Won't publish anything from them until they're finished, though. My goal (if I go through with the plan) is to write no less than four complete Hero stories: Panthera, Feathered Guy Anthropist, Hidden Embers, and Heroines of the Night. The last should be especially fun, so I hope I go through with it.

Then I should return to White Wolves. All of that should cover me through the end of the year. Maybe. Maybe not.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


NaNoWriMo is soon upon us. Thousands of people around the world are signing up to officially participate.

As I understand it, the idea is to write 50,000-words from November 1st through the 30th. Not sure if this is for one single story, or if a series of short stories would qualify.

To be honest, I'm not clear on what the appeal is. Writing 50,000-words in thirty days is hardly a problem for me - when I'm writing. I've done nearly three times that since the first of September. But then I will also go through a similar time when I don't get five or ten thousand words.

The word count doesn't really matter to me. I once puked out nearly 30,000-words in a single day. I had awakened in the middle of the night and had nothing better to do so I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Dawn came and I said, "To hell with college. I'm an a roll." And so I just stayed home and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I wrote fairly steady for about fifteen or sixteen hours straight. When I was finished, I had a ton of words. But put together as I had put them they were basically crap. I still have that manuscript, but it's in The Archives as a momento of something that didn't work. I rewrote the thing (it was a Swords of Fire effort) several times since. Very little of what I wrote that night-into-day remains.

I suppose it comes down to how different authors and writers are motivated to write. Many of the blogs I have visited show word count progress. I've used them myself, posting my editing progress on this blog. I have an Excel spreadsheet tracking my chapters for The Sweet Girl right now. I'm at 47,000-words and coming up fast on the climax and ending. I expect to be finished within the week. But my interest in word count stems more from having been told Swords of Fire is too long for a first book, so I'm kind of trying to limit myself. These artificial guidelines have nothing to do with creativity and, in fact (in my opinion), actually gets in the way of creative thought. But that's just me. I've known writers for whom such parameters are exactly what they need.

All that being said and done I am considering NaNoWriMo because my best friend is going to be part of it, as well as a lot of people I've met online. For me it's more about the 'herd sense', of belonging to a group of people with whom I wish to belong. But I probably won't actually 'sign up'. That will work against my creativity. It's not the way I write. And I don't need any recognition for writing the words. I've already given myself recognition for writing even more. For me, it isn't about recognition and it isn't about proving I can do it. It's just about belonging.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So Tell Me More

So I had Apprentice reviewed again recently, and I got a lot of helpful suggestions which I am going to try and implement as soon as I can finish The Sweet Girl. (That is very close, by the way. Two chapters to go.) One of the things I was called on about was my dialogue. Too much of it.

This is not the first time I have heard this complaint about my writing. Generally, my characters receive and disburse information via dialogue and not action. I guess I see action as the point where information is used, not transmitted. When information needs to be moved from here to there I tend to use dialogue.

But this isn't apparently what people want to read. People want to read about people doing things, not talking about them. But what about when people aren't doing anything? I'm at a place in The Sweet Girl where everyone is sitting around a table engaged in a meeting. Not exactly a place for a lot of action.

My problem is I see characters interacting through dialogue more than action. Maybe that's because most of the time I'm interacting with people via the internet now. That's dialogue. But even face-to-face, I'm either talking with people or I'm not interacting with them.

So I have to admit I don't understand why dialogue doesn't work. But I've been told more than once it isn't working. I'm accused of telling and not showing. I guess my weaknesses as a writer are paramount, because I honestly do not understand.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shadow Sweet White Apprentice

So, this is my eighth post since moving out of my home. It wasn't that long ago (although to me it seems like an eternity) I was posting every day. It's just hard for me to communicate much with the outside world now, even after seven weeks. Guess I expected too much out of life.

Anyway, I'm not sure my not posting is all that big of a deal anyway. It's not like I have that much to say which is of real interest. But on the chance someone might be, I'll provide a status of where I am at with various projects.

I've put my White Wolves story on indefinite hold. Not because I don't want to finish it, but because I have a couple of other projects which are taking precedence right now.

I'm going to be doing a major rewrite of Apprentice. Yes, I know. I said it was finished and even submitted it for publication. It got a reading but was rejected. I got another critique (won't say by who because I'm not sure she would be happy to be identified, even though I do not believe she visits this blog) and talked it over with fairyhedgehog (who said she doesn't mind being identified as my original reader) and we agree the story could profit greatly from the new ideas. It could become a bit larger, as most of the suggestions were for more detail in surroundings and in Kiahva's head (what she's thinking, not grey matter). But at the same time there's a lot to be cut, so it's hard to say.

But Apprentice is also on hold. It's waiting behind my current work in progress: currently under the working title Real Problems. That title isn't going to last. I don't much care for it at all, but then I'm not sure about my original go. Real Problems is the fourth (or fifth) go at giving this thing a title. In fact, now that I'm letting the title ruminate in my head I've come up with one I like much better. It ties in with an important story element. In fact, it's the driving force. The newest (and greatest) working title will be The Sweet Girl. You'd have to know the story to know why it works but, unfortunately, I'm not going to reveal that just yet. I want to finish it first.

Right now I'm in Chapter Eleven and sitting at about 37,000-words. My original plan was fifteen chapters and about 45,000-words. I may or may not reach the chapter goal. I will definitely surprass the word target. It's going to go very close to 60,000-words. Then it going to require a major edit job. But that will have to wait because once I finish the draft Sweet Girl is going to go on a warmer burner while Apprentice takes center stage.

Recently, I finished another short story: Shadow People. I think that went about 60,000-words. Yeah, I know. How can I call 60,000-words 'short'. It's easy. Typically, when I write a story it goes well past 100,000-words. But those are epic fantasy stories. Shadow People is hardly epic. Same with Sweet Girl and even White Wolves.

Anyway, the Muses have been feeling sorry for me because of the house thing and have been entertaining me with a host of creative ideas. What a pity they can't actually make me write well enough to be published. But I'm not sure I would be happy with that right now. I still like the way I write now. My stories are giving me enjoyment, if nobody else. But that's kind of the story of my life.

Don't know when I'll post again so take care.


A Tentative Schedule

Monday - Progress Report
Where am I with regard to the Current Book

Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real

Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing

Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions

Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing

Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write

Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think