Sailors on the Sea

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Story Beginning

I recently wrote a short story. It didn't work out as well as I would have liked, but I have yet to edit it. Lacking anything else remotely worthwhile to write about I thought I would post the first few hundred words here to see how it goes over.

Of course, the only person likely to read it here has already read the entire story and rendered an opinion. haha

I call the story "The Fight". Here is the beginning.

The Fight
by Bevie James

Tiffany left the kitchen with Darryl in tow, pursuing her with dogged determination.

“Leave me alone!” she wailed.

Why did he have to get like this? Why was he so insecure?

“No. I’m not going to leave you alone until you answer my question. I think I have a right to know.”

She wheeled on him. Darryl was crossing an invisible line.

“Then you think wrong! What gives you the right to demand to know anything about my life? We’re not married.”

“Would it matter if we were?”

“Who cares? We’re not. So stop with the ‘I have a right to know’ bullshit. You have the right to ask. Nothing more.”

She turned away from him again, heading for the bedroom. But Darryl wasn’t going to let her off so easily. He hurried and blocked her escape. Both of his hands were up in a stopping gesture.

“Okay. Fine. Maybe I was out of line with the demanding thing. But we’ve been going out for a while now, and I thought we were getting close. I thought I mattered to you.”

“You do.” Maybe he was out of line?

Darryl relaxed his posture, but only a little.

“Okay. Good. Then let me ask again. Have you been sleeping with Gwen?”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I'm kind of out of story mode right now. Been writing a lot of poetry. My typical stuff. Bad. haha

I did post a couple of things on the Legion of On-Line Super Heroes blog. Feel free to check them out. No great shakes. Both draft pieces.

Fairyhedgehog said she notices that I am happiest when I am doing a lot of writing. Looking at it from my perspective I have to say I agree. Not that Fairy needs any affirmation from me. She's quite brilliant. And inciteful. Not that she incites people. Inspires would be the better word.

She also said she cannot make up her mind if it is writing that makes me happier, or my being happier that makes me write. The chicken and egg thing. It fits. I'm certainly chicken. And I'm kind of an egg. Rotten egg. Left too long, you know?

I still have story ideas floating around in my head. It's just that none of them want to come out yet. And I haven't the energy to grab one and see what can be made of it.

Did try something recently. Tossed most of it in The Archives. But I still like the first paragraph. I don't suppose it hurts anything to post it here.

Kimbra paced her cell. Three steps to the door. Three steps back to the wall. On her return trip her eyes would drift upward to the barred window over her head. The blackness which looked in was no darker than the feelings she bore in her heart. But time was moving. The cold grey of dawn couldn't be far off. Soon after it arrived she would be taken out to the courtyard. And executed.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Lonely Woman

Not many people care for my poetry. Even I only like it sometimes. That's because I don't follow any rules, which all good poetry does. The rules may be obscure to those of us not familiar with the many cadences and structures. There are many kinds of poetry.

But when I'm sad I tend to write what I call poetry. It's just a way to express feelings that tear at me from within. Sometimes I wonder what kind of scars there are on my insides. No wonder my stomach doesn't work properly.

Anyway, this came to mind just this morning. I don't have the energy to write a story so I wrote a poem. It isn't a good poem. Not well thought out at all, I think. But I wasn't into that. I just wanted to get it out. And keep it within my favorite theme: medieval.

So, here it is:

Lonely Woman
by Bevie James

You know, I could not have invented this story in a million years
And were I to have read it before living it would say, People don’t behave like that
And yet here I am. I lived it.
Or, should I say, it killed me.

Once there were four friends. They were good friends. Happy.
They liked to laugh and tease and make merry together. For that’s what friends do
The three men all strong and virile
The pretty little woman

Around them there was misery. War was ravaging the land.
And each declared to the others how were it not for them they would leave
Leave the tiny village
Leave the country entirely

And then they were betrayed, cruelly and played for fools
It was at this time the strongest of the four suddenly disappeared from sight
Gone from the village
Gone from the country

The three remaining friends huddled close together, drawing upon each for strength
They left their tiny village, ravaged by the war, and found a new place to dwell
A new village of their own
A new place to call home

But the one grew restless and bored, and began exploring the area for interests
And quickly his feelings toward the woman changed from love to disdain to hatred
And he accused her of things
Looked for reasons of fault

The woman began to collapse, for this restless one had been her champion knight
They had shared the things only lovers share, in broad daylight and in the night
She pleased him well
He pleased her too

The war pressed close and panic ensued, and things were done in a hurry
The woman, in charge, tried to keep the peace, but her efforts resulted in ruin
Her champion left
Abandoned her in need

The champion returned but the woman resigned, and gave her role to the wise one
But things were falling apart, and the champion continued to revile her unceasingly
Looking for fault
Making it up at need

To save the village the wise one turned command to the other, who really was not fit
He did his best, but the weight was heavy, and he tried to bear it alone
Not good for him
Not good for the village

The woman tried to help, but was left out more and more, and so she lost her mind
And things unraveled quickly. Hatred and mistrust growing like a disease
Nothing she did worked
Nothing she said was right

She was expelled from the village and cast to her own. By a lover who hated her now.
And weeping and mourning she made a new place, in the shadow of a friend’s home
Hoping for forgiveness
Hoping to be loved again

The village was overrun, and new leader installed as king. The woman’s time drew near
She cried out for answers and sought to talk, but silence met her ears
Not a word from any
Not a sign that any cared

In time the woman was attacked, by a friend of the village that was lost
She cried out and was recognized, and the attack was withdrawn at last
Acquaintances remembered
Safe but still alone

She called to another village, to let them know what fell
And they said they understood and offered her a place by their well
A new home
A safe place

But her love for her friends was great, and she turned down the offer of help
She would remain in the shadow of her village, hoping they would forgive her again
And they would be together
They would be happy

But the one friend spied on the village, and the other reviled her friends
So the last friend the woman had, believed her of treason and left
Now truly alone
The end of hope

And so the woman sits quietly, knowing the war rages about
Knowing that sooner or later, the war will visit her house
And she will die
And it will end

Do you believe this story my friend? That friendships could so easily die?
Well it’s true, I’m sorry to say. That we really all think alike
Rash to conclusions
Never to forgive

And so I walk in sadness. Knowing my fate is now set
There is nothing to do that will change things, and alone is how it will be met
For I am that woman
And loneliness is my life

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Last year was my most prolific year ever with writing.

What a contrast to this year, when I hardly write at all.

Spyscribbler recently posted about what can be hard about writing. I missed the post when she first wrote it. Been very lazy about visiting other people lately. Actually, for some time. Been feeling sorry for myself. That can become as addicting as alcohol, cigarettes, drugs - or even sex.

Not as fun as sex. haha

I commented something to effect that what makes writing hard for me is realizing nobody but me is ever going to read it. As this reality presses down upon me I find myself wondering - what's the point? Okay. I wrote a detective story about a woman who is mistaken for a high-priced call girl at an all women's retreat. I like the story, but I haven't even bothered to edit the first draft. It sits in a file on my computer. Unread.

Same with my story about the guy who discovers reality is not what he thinks it is when multiple realities become threatened. Including his own.

I have a story about two women trying to make a homestead in the mountains, under the threat of a ghostly phantom.

Fire Red has been read by one other person. Apprentice has been ready by two or three, and then rejected by an online magazine.

White Wolves and Wizard Girl were never finished.

All of these stories have been written since September 1 of last year. In fact, with the exception of Fire Red, they were written last fall.

But none of them will ever be read by anyone but me. I don't write well enough for others to read. And you know what?

I never will.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Growing Old With My Stories

I have read how storytelling has gone through its stages. The result being, stories that were classics in the 1800s would have been rejected in the 1920s. And stories from the 1920s would not be accepted in the 1950s. And those would not make it in the 1980s, and the 1980s stories wouldn't make it now.

I suppose it's a bit like another form of entertainment: vaudeville. Hysterically funny. Until about 1930-40. Then it seemed to lose it's charm.

It got something of a rebirth in the form of television. Most of the early comic shows were basically vaudeville routines. Those lasted until the 60s, when situation comedies and variety shows took over.

Variety shows ended in the 1970s. So did the really good situation comedies.

Now it's phony reality shows and horrible things like dancing with the stars and idol. If I believed they weren't staged I might like them better. As it is, I don't watch any of them.

But for the person who truly liked the old shows - Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Carole Burnett - watching a new one would not be bad. It would be refreshing.

Same is true of the situation comedies such as Dick Van Dyke, Andy Griffith, and I Love Lucy.

My problem is I PREFER those shows to what's on today. Just as I tend to prefer the older written stories to what is being written today. A matter of taste, I suppose. A sign of age? I don't think so. I know several people near my age who adore the current stuff.

Guess I'm just a dinosaur in disguise.

And that's the way I write. Old.


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Silent Actor on a Deserted Stage

You know, sometimes I throw too much effort at a thing. It's fun. I enjoy it immensely. And I find myself devoting far too much time with it.

When the object of my - obsession - is a story, it's great. I churn out words like goose droppings. And they're probably about as useful. haha

But when it's something else my writing suffers. My creative forces are directed elsewhere, and no stories get written.

That's what's been happening for the last ten days or so. I got myself involved in one of those online gaming worlds and I'm having a blast play acting like I'm living in medieval Europe. Having never been to Europe I have no clue how realistic it is. But it's fun.

Still, after ten days I'm finding my thoughts drifting back to my writing. I can never abandon it long. Even when I'm frightfully discouraged. Writing is kind of who I am, I guess. I'm not nearly so good at it as I desire. Kind of like the would-be actor/actress watching plays from the wings and wishing s/he could be out there, too. And when the performance is over and everyone has left the theatre, s/he sneaks out on stage and performs a soliloquy to an empty house.

But I sense another writing surge on the horizon. Or around the corner. Or bubbling up from within. Wherever it comes from, it's near.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steps in a Process

Well, the first rewrite of my new story is complete. It was a slow go, and it took twice as long as writing it.

Yes, I know. Good editing takes even longer. I heard how some people spend three months writing a story as long as the one I wrote in a two weeks (40,000-words), and then spend the rest of the year editing it into something publishable.

Unfortunately for me, I lack the editing skills to achieve that kind of success. I work hard and read what I've written and make all kinds of changes. And when I'm finished I think I really have something. Then someone who really knows how to edit looks at it and shows me that I really found just a small percentage of the faults.

So that's where I am now. I wrote the story. It's a hero story starring my latest here: Fire Red, a young woman who possess the power of fire and electricity. The setting is a couple hundred years after the Great Wars, which destroyed much of the earth's environment and its population. In fact, it is because of the Great Wars that Fire Red has her power.

I've edited the story. Trying to find inconsistencies, poor sentence structure, and confusing points. I think I did all right. But I know someone else will look at it and wonder why I didn't proof read before giving it to them.

That's where I'm at now. Looking for someone to read it and tell me why it still needs work.

It never ends, does it?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

You Can't Rush Art

I'm probably wrong about this idea I have. After all, what do I know? But I just realized something.

I begun the year with the goal of writing one million words this year. I came within about 40,000-words in 2009. So what happened? I began the year writing - nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Not only that, I didn't feel like writing. I didn't want to write. And so I didn't.

I tried a few times, but the efforts were half-hearted. None amounted to anything. Soon, January had passed and it was February. The goal was pretty much shot. You see, to make one million words in a year I have to write about 2,800-words every day. And after 31 days I was already 85,000-words behind schedule.

So the goal was over. No realistic chance of making it. Because I'm not foolish enough to believe I would write EVERY day. Even last fall, when I wrote two novels in about six weeks I didn't write every day. Just most days. So my average daily output - when I wrote - would be nearly doubled. Over 4,000-words every day I wrote. It wasn't going to happen. Pressure off.

So what happens in February?

About mid-month I get the idea to start writing a new hero story. Ten days later I have a completed draft of 40,000-words. How was this possible when just a few days earlier I didn't want to write at all?

Well, the obvious answer is that we filed our state and federal taxes. Our income has continued to drop steadily for the past seven years which means we are still getting returns instead of having to pay in. The returns we got this year meant we could stay in the apartment another few months. One level of stress removed. Temporarily.

But I think there was something else going on. And it's what I alluded to at the top of this post.

Last November I tried to do the Nano thing. Didn't like it. Even though I never officially signed up. So I quit it. Immediately after quitting I finished my novel with days to spare.

I think a LOT of writers make the mistake of setting an artificial deadline for completing a writing task. Now when you have been paid to get something done by such-and-such a date, that's one thing. Or if a writing contest, or submission window has a cut-off date, that is also something. But when the deadline exists simply because you said it would, it's artificial. And creativity can't work in that kind of an environment.

I did not set out last year to write a million words. (Just as well, seeing as I didn't quite make it.) But I wrote prolifically. This year I set the goal. Couldn't write a thing.

Write a novel in a month? Seemed an easy enough challenge, seeing as I can produce a novel in 2-3 weeks. Couldn't do it.

Artists - even amateurs such as myself - don't work well under artificial deadlines. Some do. And if that describes you then by all means go for it! But if you find yourself setting deadline after deadline, and you can never achieve them, then perhaps it's time to say, "To hell with getting it done by July. It will be done when it's done. I'm just going to write what I feel like. And when." And who knows? You may find yourself writing every day.

Just a thought.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Hard Part is Upon Me

Well, the reveling is over and the editing has begun. (ye-ay)

I'm not a good editor. That's because I'm not a good critiquer. The things others see tend to be blatantly obvious.

But I generally miss them.

But I'm trying.

I know the theory that if I were to put the story away for a month or two, and then come back to it, I would probably see the obvious, too. There's a problem with that approach. At least, in my case.

You see, if I put anything away for that length of time my brain decides it doesn't matter anymore and I WON'T pick it up again and see the obvious. I won't pick it up at all. So I can only afford a day or two and then I have to get cracking on it.

So that's what I'm doing with my latest hero story. I'm cracking on it.

I think it's a good story. And fairyhedgehog, who's comment in my previous post reveals she has read it, too, also likes it.

It's not a perfect story. It needs work. There are things which even I see as obvious. And those are the things I am going to work on. What's the term? Low-hanging fruit.

I'm still early in the first chapter, but I'm making adjustments here and there. It's coming along. I read fast, write fast, and edit quickly. So perhaps in a week or so I will have a "polished" draft. Kind of brassy of me to say that. And, like all brass, to TRULY polish it will require some heavy elbow grease and hard work.

That will be the third write.

Maybe I'll just have it plated. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chalk Another One Up

Well, I have done it. I have completed my latest draft. It's a 42,000-word story about my latest super hero. Began it ten days ago. Or was it eleven?

I love it when things come together and a story just flows. That's what happened with Fire Red: Hot Times.

Now comes the hard part: Editing.

Wouldn't it be great if we could just write great pieces of art on our first try? Supposedly, there are writers who do that. I'm told Dick Frances never changed a word once he wrote it. He did all of his editing in his head beforehand. Not sure I believe it, but as I can't disprove it I'll accept it until I hear otherwise.

Unfortunately, I'm not like that. My first drafts read like, well, first drafts. And that means I have to rewrite them. Not fun.

In the meantime I intend to revel in the fact that I wrote another story. Huzzah, huzzah.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finding a Story

Been writing my new hero story, and it's been coming along nicely. Not perfectly. Nicely.

Most of my writing has been taking place in the early hours, between four and eight in the morning. But I have done some during the day, too.

The story hasn't gone completely as I originally planned. But then how could it? When I began writing I had little idea of the plot. However, by the end of the first paragraph I understood my character's inner conflict. Halfway through the first chapter I knew my antagonist. Well, I knew him from the first. What I didn't know was how he would work his way into the story.

It's a risky way to write - beginning without knowing when one is going. I've done it many times, and I must confess that most of the time it just plain does not work. I start writing without knowing where I'm going and that's exactly where I wind up. Not knowing where I'm at.

But sometimes it works. It worked this time. I'm glad.

Do you ever write like that? You have an interesting character, but you don't know what to do with her? So you just start writing and let her tell you her problems, and she and the characters she meets let you know what the story conflict is. Like I said, it doesn't always work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Works - All Small

Well, thanks to some very good help I should be submitting my Little Red Riding Hood spoof later this week. I don't know that it's what they want, but they say they take all genres as long as the stories are flash fiction - 500 to 1,000 words.

Meanwhile, I have begun a new hero story. Only don't look for it on the Legion Blog. I haven't completely abandoned it, but this new story doesn't really fit that mold.

The story I'm working on should be less silly. I intend to focus more on character than abilities. Who is this hero? Why is she a hero? What is it costing her to be a hero?

There is nothing wrong with a basic story about heroes and villains, but sometimes it's good to know more about a character. Helps the reader identify.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Task Completed

So the week's just over half over (I still don't count weekend days as part of "the week") and I have completed the next rewrite of my Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale spoof.

I always worry about my rewrites. Did I make my story better? Or worse? Did I add life in? Or did I take the guts out of it? I never know.

That's the problem with not having confidence in an area. One can actually do well and not ever realize it. Just as one can do poorly and not realize it, too. We've all seen that. And since some of what I've written and thought was good has been returned to me shredded, and soaked in red ink, I guess I have fallen into the second category more than once, I'm ashamed to admit.

My problem is I do not know how to measure quality. I only know what I like. And sometimes what I like is not considered quality by others. And sometimes what's considered quality by others I don't like at all.

I get this with music and film all the time. The top rated television shows? The ones people record while they're at work so they don't miss an episode? I never watch them. Ever. B-O-O-O-O-R-R-R-R-I-I-I-I-N-G.

And/or annoying.

There are plenty of comedians I don't laugh at. And plenty I laugh at that others don't.

The same is true with books. A lot of what others rave about I find dull. Even with the fantasy genre, which is my favorite reading. But just because it's fantasy doesn't mean I'll like it. And just because it's not doesn't mean I won't. I like what I like, whether it was done well or not. Those awful monster movies from the 1940s and 50s? I love em. Yeah, they're hokey. The writing sucks. The special effects suck. The acting is embarrassing. But I like em. Well, a lot of em. Not all.

And so I never know what's good. My assumption now about my own work has changed. Since I seem to be so out of step with the majority on everything, the likelihood is that my own work sucks. But this only bothers me because it means I will probably never be paid for it, and not many people besides myself will ever derive enjoyment from it.

And that's a shame. There are few things more pitiful than a story that isn't shared.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A DIfficult Week Ahead

Been unable to edit due to family being around almost constantly. If writing is difficult to do under those circumstances, editing is nigh impossible.

Writing is a free time, when the body does all it can to keep up with the mind. It can't, so the mind gets to take frequent rests.

Editing is the exact opposite. The body can relax because the mind is struggling to figure out just why that sentence sucks, and why that paragraph is nothing more than infodump, so how can it be rewritten to be interesting? Do these other scenes actually contribute to the story, or take the reader away from it? Not easy. Not easy. Not easy.

And yet I get the impression there are people who actually prefer editing to original writing.

I knew a guy who wrote computer software who was like that. He hated writing new programs from scratch. However, he just loved doing maintenance work on existing programs.

For myself, I'm a creator. I like ruminating about stories in my head, and I love telling them. But I struggle with the actual language when editing. I miss so much of what is so obvious to others.

Well, if I'm given the time I will be working on editing this coming week. Hopefully, I will see the things which need to be seen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rewriting Again

So I've rewritten my fairy tale. Not going to post it. Got a critique for it and I've got a bit of work yet to do. And when I finish the next rewrite I intend to submit it for publication.

Not quite thirty years ago I had a writing instructor tell me she believed me to be a natural novel writer. So here I am: writing flash fiction.

Guess I'm starting over again. The who fairy tale parody thing is something from my teenage and early twenties years. Back then I loved to make fun of common stories, movies and television shows. It had always been in my mind to submit things to Mad Magazine. Back in my youth that was one of the premier comic books. It cost 50-cents (compared to 3-for-a-quarter), but it was well worth the money. I kind of got in tune with their writing staff, for it was not uncommon to see things I was working on show up in the magazine a couple of months later.

So I have returned to editing my own work. Something I had not expected to do much of this year. But in order to get my fairy tale spoof up to speed I'm going to have to work at it.

Who'd of thought?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Fairy Tales: Little Red Riding Hood - Removed by Author

I'm sorry. I felt like being whimsical, and Writtenwyrdd suggested I might try rewriting an old fairy tale or two. But here it is: My retake on Little Red Riding Hood. Done in a whimsical style. Be warned: This is the unedited version. (I'm not editing much of anything lately.)

Well, if you didn't read it before you won't be reading it now. I've removed the actual story from this post in order to rewrite it.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How it Began - Kind Of

Been in an awful writing rut of late. This hasn't happened in a good many years. I don't much care for it.

Writing small pieces helps. I think. At least I feel like I've written something. There may not have been any point to it, but at least I've put words into the computer.

I wrote my first story when I was in grade school. That was such a long time ago. I have no recollection of my earliest stories, other than that I wrote them. Most tended to revolve around dogs, cats - and ghosts.

It was a ghost-mystery story which brought me my first acclaim. I was in fourth grade. That would have made me nine-years-old. We were given an assignment to write a ghost story for Halloween. It had to be at least two pages long - hand written. There was no limit to its length. That was a mistake my teacher would not make with me again. You see, while everyone else wrote two - or almost two - pages of story, I wrote ten or twenty pages. I forget now if each chapter was one page or two.

The story was about a family of six taking a vacation at a castle overlooking a small lake. There were several ghost sitings, disappearances, and missing treasure. My hero and heroine (brother and sister) ultimately solved the mystery by proving the castle caretaker responsible for the ghostly hoax. He was a smuggler. (If this sounds strangely like Scooby Doo you must remember that I was only nine - and Scooby Doo wouldn't be on television for several more years.)

A few things stick out in my mind about that story. First, I left a loose end, which I didn't realize until after the story was "published". Amazingly, I was the only one who saw it. Second, my sister, Gayanne, who was an avid reader and considered herself a better storyteller than me, was quite jealous of the attention I got throughout the school as a result of that story. And third, I was hauled around to every classroom in school throughout the day so I could read my story to each class. (This was my "publication".)

For years I devoted myself to ghostly tales. Not all were hoaxes. Living in what I (and nearly everyone else) believed to be a haunted house gave me what I considered to be a certain level of credibility. After all, I knew first hand some of the manifestations which happened in a haunted house.

By the time I was through with junior high I had added another dimension to my writing: sarcasm. Parents (mainly my mother) and teachers and certain older siblings filled me with enough anger and disgust at how foolish people in charge can be. But in those days I was completely powerless to say just how foolish. Until I discovered I could disguise it in stories. The more clever knew exactly what I was doing, but they also tended to let me get away with it.

In high school I discovered true fantasy. It was like coming home.

Probably my most popular stories were those which involved the people I knew in real life. I wouldn't even bother to change names. They were all comedies along the vein of the Airplane movies. I would take one dominant trait or behavior from each person in real life and make them be like that ALL the time. Or, even more amusing sometimes, make them the exact opposite. Most found it both amusing and flattering. Some were offended. My response to them was always the same: If you don't like how I portrayed you then don't be like that.

I did several plays. My favorite is lost. The Monsters. I wrote that after my mother gave me five packs of bubble gum cards. The cards were monster cards. On the back was a piece to a puzzle. Being a bit of a puzzle addict I found myself going to the drug store and buying every pack of cards they had until I could complete the puzzle. It was a collage of monsters. One in particular was a very sexy looking vampire. This inspired me to write my play. It was a comedy. It's gone now. Probably thrown away. I've tried several times to rewrite it, but lightning seldom strikes twice you know.

It's been years since I've seriously tried writing a play. I wish I was more involved with theatre, but there is no theatre near here. The closest is forty miles away, and that's just too far to justify the expense of getting there and back.

Meanwhile, I write small pieces of a story which currently has no plot. It's just a bunch of events. I know what I want the conflict to be, but I have to think it through properly so that all of the motivations and plans make sense within the world I have created. Sometimes that can be quite difficult to do.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Lot of Nothing Has Been Written

Wishing I could write again, but feeling my creative wheels spinning against the muddy ground of de-inspiration, I decided to update my yearly word counts. What this is is an Excel workbook with a worksheet listing every writing project I've undertaken in any fashion or form this year. This includes novels (attempts at), poetry, short stories, writing exercises for other blogs, plays, and my own blogs.

I was surprised at the quantity of things I've tried to write thus far in 2010. Forty projects started. Most fall into the poetry-blog categories, so I guess that's kind of cheating. The word count for all of this is 20,000-words for the Month of January. What a far cry from the 60,000-word novel started and finished months of past September, October and November. And only about a tenth of the way toward my one-time goal of a million words for 2010. I don't think so anymore. I would really have to go on a writing spree to catch up. I'm a complete epic novel behind. [smiles]

Part of my problem is that my mind moves on to something else before I can settle down and begin writing what I've been thinking about. My creative thoughts are like a butterfly which cannot make up its mind where the best pollen is. No story thought seems to stick around long. I've been trying to corral a certain one, but it's proving elusive.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nothing I Want to Write

Got no work in progress. Not really. I'm working on background data from a story, but I'm not actually writing the story. Not even thinking heavily about a story. Just working on the background data.

I feel drained. It's coming up on two years since I was last kicked out of the work force. I've spent most of that time writing. Not getting paid for it, mind you. But writing just the same.

It's hard to be a writer when one no longer believes one can write. It's like, why bother? Right?

But it's even harder being a writer when one has no inspiration to write.

Right now I have no story I want to tell. But I want to tell a story. Does that make sense? Not really, I suppose. Despite all I have written in the past eighteen months I am less confident in my writing now than I have ever been in my life. It is why bother time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Sister-in-Law

I saw a knight in battle. I told my sister-in-law. The silly woman. All she could think to ask was whether it was a good night.

And when she dropped the expensive plate she blamed it on a bad air.

She knows nothing of sailing. For when I told her my uncle had left on an ocean voyage she said she hoped he found a good aisle. She also warned that he should follow some boy.

She must have misunderstood about who was doing the sailing, for as I explained about things she shook her head and said I was crewed.

And she wasn’t keen on me telling her I thought she was a butte.

But she did give me a compliment when I told her I was thinking of playing some rugby. She said I would be bowled over.

When she told me I should be bridled I replied I was not ready for marriage.

She asked if I was going to help count the senses. I told her there were only five.

She doesn’t like chickens. She keeps saying that they’re foul.

But she’s very religious. When I asked her what was for supper she replied a friar.

She doesn’t know much about animals. When I pointed out some antelope she told me they were news to her.

So although we don’t always get along, I very much intend to be at her house tonight. You see, she said there is going to be a whored of people there.

Happy Rabbit Hole Day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Hidden Story

So, I've begun work on the extensive background required (in my mind) for that story I mentioned the other day. You know, the one which is kind of obsolete now because of the internet? Well, I decided to give it a go anyway. But the background work on this one is incredibly detailed. It could be a week before I actually write on the story itself. And then I will only get in a chapter - or maybe two - before having to return to the background work.

You see, the background work on this story is not history. It's taking place simultaneously with the main story. I guess you could call it a sub plot. There is a lot going on, and the danger is in devoting too much time with minor things and ignoring the Main Plot and growth of the Main Character, which is pretty much what the story is about: the Main Character.

Filling a story with too much going on is dangerous. Not physically to the author, but spiritually, to the story. Readers can easily become confused, or bored. Both are death cries to a story. What good is a story is nobody wants to read it?

At the same time, stories without other things going on had better be very short. Otherwise Readers can become bored as well, as longer stories cannot be singly focused. Well, generally should not be. I'm not going to be absolute about this because as soon as I am somebody will point out some great work by some great author which violates this very principal. But generally longer stories have several things going on. The trick is knowing how much time and effort to devote to each of these things. And ultimately, ALL of these sub plots/stories are required to actively contribute to the Main Plot/Story.

Most of my minor plots/stories are set for this current work. The one, however, is so incredibly detailed it is impossible to have it all set out. In a way I suppose it is foolish of me to devote so much time to a portion of the story which will only occasionally raise its head to be seen. Kind of like the creature in Loch Ness. But like Nessie, this piece of background is fundamental to all that remains visible most of the time. To put it another way, no story about the Loch Ness Monster is complete without some idea of what Nessie is doing below the surface most of the time. In real life we haven't a clue. In fact, not everyone is even convinced Nessie exists. But I have the luxury of being able to fill in those pieces - even if the reader will never read them.

It's like the old Tickle Bee game. The bee was in a plastic rectangle. It had a magnet in it. The idea was to guide the bee through the maze using another magnet attached to a wand beneath the game board. You couldn't see the wand, but you knew of its presence every time it interacted with the bee. The bee couldn't move without it.

Sometimes, what we don't put in a story is more important than what we do. It's important, as the creator, to know these things.

I think so.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It Seemed So Clear at the Time

I have been trying to encourage the Muses to come by for an extended visit. I don't think they like apartment living either. But what I have been doing for the past few days is working in Excel. I like Excel. If it were easy to write my stories there I probably would. But what I have been doing is listing story titles in Column A, and then below in Column B I list the characters I currently know to be in that story. In Column C I indicate the character's gender and (sometimes) purpose in the story. Column D is used for notes about the story, including spoilers. Most of these works were started but never finished.

One of these unfinished stories has been in my head for a very long time. I found the beginnings of an effort to actually write it, but the effort didn't get very far. Only about a chapter. But there were many one sentence notes about what I was expecting to happen.

I remember working this story out well while I was at my last job. The job was fairly mindless for most of the day, freeing my mind to do more important things like work out story details for whatever writing project I currently fancied. Unfortunately, that was like two or three years ago, and now most of those thoughts have long since flown away and/or dissipated in the winds of time. But I had managed to write some notes about what I was thinking.

Unfortunately, the notes I made, while useful at the time (while the ideas were fresh in my head), don't help me much now. Here is a sampling of what I wrote - fully expecting myself to instantly recall the entire scene at some undefined later date.
  • Jim's first meeting with Devlin Sands
  • Jim meets Isaiah John Mark
  • Jim has supper at Overs' Pizza Parlor (I know this was a good scene because of who Overs is. Unfortunately, I can't remember it at all.)
  • Jim meets Massie Ford
  • The incident at Overs' Pizza Parlor (I vaguely have an idea of what this is talking about)
I don't remember any of those scenes now. And that after spending hours dreaming them up. A couple that I do have more clear recollections of include the following:
  • In Massie's Apartment
  • Mr. Christopher reacts
  • Rock bottom
  • The championship is decided
  • Who is Blibben Overs
It's the kind of story I know I would enjoy (after all, I thought it up), but in all honesty I think it's a story who's time has passed. The internet has pretty much made the basic concept obsolete. But maybe not.

I'm finding myself tempted to work on this story. It's kind of a risk as I have already worked on it once and set it aside. The likelihood that would happen again if I took it up is fairly high. (It's always easier to do something a second time.)

But it's good to know the Muses are paying attention to what I'm doing. I've also been tempted to go back to Animal Kingdom. That story is about fifteen years older than this later one, and I have set that one aside two or three times.

The oven has been preheated and the stories are ready to bake. Maybe.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bevie Meets Modern Day Technology

Thanks to a very generous friend I now own a laptop computer. Not sure if she wants her generosity broadcast or not so I'll leave that piece of information be.

I've never owned a laptop. Haven't even used one since like 1990. Then it was a Compaq. Didn't much like that one. Small keyboard. Small view screen. And if you didn't sit directly in front of it you couldn't see what it was displaying.

This one is much different. Much better. But still awkward to a confirmed desktop user.

I prefer my larger keyboard at its slant, as opposed to the flatter laptop keyboard. But setting the laptop at an angle makes most of this adjustment.

The screen is only slightly smaller than my giant monitor, so that's not a problem. And as my giant monitor is going dark, the laptop screen is actually a significant improvement. Much better resolution. Much brighter colors.

The desktop has nearly ten times the hard drive space, but that's really a non-issue, I think. I have one of those dongle thingies that allows me to transfer large volumes of files between computers easily. Just unplug it from one computer and plug it into the other and that's it.

The laptop also came with a new game I had not played before. Son found it. It's cool - and kind of addicting. But most games are. Basically, the idea is to prevent this colored balls/circles from reaching the end of a track. To do this one has a shooter positioned in the screen's center. It contains randomly colored balls/circles. The idea is to shoot the balls to the line working its way to the center. Get three in a row of the same color and they disappear. I was so impressed when I completed a level the first time. Then I saw the scores. It took me something like a minute and a half to do it. The previous owner's score was there, too. Nineteen seconds. So much for feeling proud.

The biggest adjustment is the mousepad thingy. I don't particularly like it. It's very much like a trackball, and I hated using those. I worked at a company in which the two main members in my department insisted trackballs were better and so everyone had to use them. Oh, I was so happy when they fell out of favor and I was allowed to use a mouse again.

My biggest problems with the pad is its placement and its sensitivity. Its placement is just below the keypad, which means I can't rest my wrists. Yes, I know. I'm not supposed to rest my wrists. But the fact is, I do. Also, because of the placement, my thumbs keep tapping the pad. And working in Excel this is a problem, for every time I tap the pad it changes the cell I'm working in.

These are nuisances and corrected simply through personal adjustment. They are well worth the generosity of my friend, and I am very much thankful for the laptop.

Hmm. I had meant to write about a certain story I have. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Epic Tale of Epic Proportions

Wrote some notes about Swords of Fire last night. Revisited the Great Sea's beginnings. The original creation story was never finished. Which is just as well, since quite a bit of it has changed now. Writing - and thinking - has shown me more and more and I have revised the origin concept.

It still began in the Void - which was nothingness. In my mind I see it as blackness. Not sure why nothing equates to total blackness instead of total whiteness, but it does in my mind. I guess because it's a kind of light, and ALL light is white, while NO light is darkness.

But the Void was not all there was. The Void was simply a place where there was nothing. The Void itself was contained in something else, which I have yet to name.

The ring of earth, coated with a heavy layer of ice, is still present, as is the Fire, except that now there are two instances of Fire which merge into one.

Changing the foundation of a creation has wide sweeping effect. Every story which follows will be affected. Perhaps it's just as well Swords of Fire is not published yet. Once it's published it's written in stone. Kind of.

Do you ever do this? Revisit the beginning and modify it to suit knowledge you have now but lacked then? Story knowledge, I mean. Who, and what, things are.

Do you have a story that you just keep working on? Always and forever? Or do you always leave behind what's written and move on to new things? I can do that with most things, but not with Swords of Fire. Swords of Fire is my life.

Right now Swords of Fire consists of six books: two of which are actually written and a third which has been begun.

There is a background story for what was once a minor character which is now large enough to encompass three or four first novels.

There's so much to say. And so little time and skill.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ideas are Vapors in My Mind

Fairyhedgehog posted about avid reading on her blog. The post is HERE. I commented on the post, bragging about my ability to come up with thousands of story ideas - without actually having written them.

Now I find myself wondering how much of an exaggeration - or minimization - that was. How many story ideas do I come up with in a day anyway? Not how many do I write. Writing a story can take ten, twenty or even a hundred times as long as reading it.

But last year I managed to write a lot. Including poems (which in my case are very short stories) I wrote 111 projects, finishing 97. That's about a story idea every four days. But how many ideas do I actually come up with? And coming up with ideas - does it prove anything? What?

I think I may begin a journal of story ideas I come up with this year. Since it looks like I'm not going to be able to write nearly as much as I desire I will be regulated to imagination only. It's a fun place to be, but it's hard to revisit ideas and enjoy them the same as before.

And should I include story ideas I have that I haven't started? How do I go about tracking this I wonder? I have no misgivings whatsoever about predicting at least 500 story ideas over the course of a year. I might even be able to double that. Talk about bold, huh? But coming up with an idea is easy. Writing it is HARD. Time consuming. It's hard for the work to keep up with the ideas. And when better ideas show up work often stops.

How about you? Do you come up with a lot of ideas - but fail to actually write them? How many do you get? How many do you actually try to write?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Confess: I Don't Feel Like Writing Anymore

I have been attempting to write - but I have been accomplishing nothing. January becomes two weeks old tomorrow and I think I have yet to write more than a few hundred words toward any story.

The inspiration, enthusiasm, motivation have all departed for places unknown. The clouds of story ideas which once filled my head have dissipated with the blow of seeing my writing time on the chopping block. I - have given up again.

Been trying to apply for the job which will kill my writing - and possibly me. It hasn't been easy. The first guy I talked to was great. He explained a lot of things and then got some basic information, which he passed on to the hiring people. These people are idiots. Or I am. Or both.

The girl (and I deliberately say 'girl' instead of 'woman' or even 'young woman') was confusing to listen to. She started a profile for me, which would be used as an application for employment. And rather than simply tell me the website to go to, she had to email it to me. Well, okay. I had it officially written down.

I go to said website and find that since the girl has already begun a profile for me, I must sign in using my username and password. Guess what the girl never told me? That's right. I didn't know my username and password. So I had to email the girl back and ask for the information.

Oh. She also said she would be sending me the email in like five minutes. It was at least four hours.

So she sends me the required information and I begin to fill out the job application online.

They want to know what high school I went to. Give me a break. I haven't attended high school since the 1970s. Who gives a rat's a*s what high school I went to?

The next section was employment history, and it is here I am stuck. Why? Because of my own personal irritation with certain questions. They not only want to know where I have worked (a legitimate request), but they want to know how much money I made while working there. What the h*ll use can that possibly be to them? And unlike the paper applications, in which I just leave those fields blank (and explain - should it be asked for - that it's none of their business), the online form will not allow me to continue without filling this information in.

So I sent another email to the girl (who had sent me an email stating I was to let her know when I had completed the form) asking just why this information was needed, and informing her that I consider it an invasion of privacy.

I suppose I have already established myself in their eyes as a regular pain-in-the-a*s and may not get the job after all. That will go over really well with Spouse. But d*mn it! It's bad enough to have to beg for a job in the first place. But to have to give up private information just because is too much. They cannot want this information for any good reason. I mean, come on! Do you know what the job is? Restocking shelves in grocery stores. Even the first guy I spoke with acknowledged it isn't rocket science. Reminds me of a Donovan song: Goldwatch Blues.

Here's a YouTube link. It's a funny song. Lyrics after the link.


I went up for my interview on the fourth day of July.
First old man he questioned me until I nearly cried,
Made me fill in forms until I shook with fear
About the colour of my toilet roll and if my cousin's queer.


Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper to say you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty
years. CHORUS.

He asked me how many jobs I'd had before.
He nearly had a heart attack when I answered, four.
Four jobs in twenty years, oh, this can never be
We only take on men who work until they die. CHORUS.

He took me outside to where the gravestones stand in line.
This is where we bury them in quick-stone and in lime
And if you come to work for us on this you must agree,
That if you're going to die please do it during tea. CHORUS.

This story that you heard you may think rather queer
But it is the truth you'll be surprised to hear.
I did not want no job upon the board,
I just wanted to take a broom and sweep the bloody floor.

Transcribed by Stephen Sander

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Pen is Mightier Than the Computer - Sometimes

Been doing some writing with pen and paper. That's how I wrote Tavaar's backstory. I filled six writing journals during my lunch breaks when I last worked. There is a tactile satisfaction in using pen and paper to write a story as opposed to a keyboard. Of course the computer allows for multiple copies without the extra effort. And no matter how much one writes a computer always uses the same amount of physical space to keep it.

I'm trying to modify my writing style. Trying to keep myself aware of the five senses and include things like sound, taste, smell, sight and touch when describing a scene. Don't know if this will actually improve my writing or not, but it's always fun to try something new.

I will continue to write fantasy. It's my place to write. But I'm still focusing on writing new projects and not investing much time in editing. Editing (in my mind) presupposes a belief that a work could one day be published. I don't think I have any such beliefs anymore. So I will write new things and enjoy them alone.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Broadsword Swings

Life is a two-edged sword, and so are most of the things one encounters while living it.

Everything has a price. Even winning. To achieve it one must often sacrifice other things.

For half of 2008 and all of 2009 I had the luxury of writing whenever I wanted. Well, not quite whenever. If Spouse and/or Son was around I could pretty much forget about accomplishing anything writing wise. But often Son was in school and Spouse was at work. This left me alone at the house, and eventually the apartment. The result of this wonderful free time was my most prolific time ever in writing. I wrote over 100 different things, from simple exercises to complete novels. And if I were to include blog posts the total would rise to two or even three hundred.

It was fun.

That time may now be coming to a sad end.

You see, for all the enjoyment I took in the past eighteen months, there was a price that had to be paid. That price was the absence of money. And the absence of money has meant the loss of health coverage, family trips, better food, repairs and replacements on equipment, and even the loss of our house.

At my age, with my skill set and health, it is not easy to find replacement work. And to be perfectly honest, I have not exhausted myself overmuch seeking out employment with places I know would kill my spirit. I was feeling alive again such as I had not felt since - a very long time ago.

But play time seems to be coming to an end. And with it joy time. There is every reason to believe I will get the latest job I applied for. And while this job will provide something around $200 per week wages (about $160 spendable), there is also a price to pay in having it. In my case, the price to pay is the reduction in time to write.

I have tried many times (and still attempt it) to write when Spouse and/or Son are around, but the simple truth is neither of them respect my writing time and feel free - even obligated - to interrupt me while I am writing. For those of you who write you know the time required to 'get in the flow'. A one or two minute interruption can result in a lost of fifteen or twenty minutes in writing. And if one is being interrupted every ten to fifteen minutes that can mean no writing at all. And so it has been for me.

If I get this job, and right now it appears I will, I will lose three of my five writing days. And the two which will remain will be separated by days.

So I will earn upwards to $1000 each month. Around $700 spendable. If we simply used the money to keep up with the rent and not buy insurance or better food I could probably replace the computer within a year. But to what end? If I'm not writing anything, who really gives a damn. Right?

Most of my stories have happy endings. Not all, but most. Why can't my life have one? It's turning out just like I feared. I'll never write anything that matters. And so there will be no point or purpose to me.

Life sucks. And then you die.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What I'm Doing

Well, I have begun writing something. It's not going as fast as I want, but then I'm letting myself get distracted a lot.

We'll see how it goes.

That's the problem with writing on inspiration. Without it, or with it distracted toward something else, writing doesn't take place.

Depending on how next week goes I may be writing more and more as time goes on.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Progress Yet

Not achieving any progress toward my writing goal. I've managed a single poem and a little more, but nothing of significance. I doubt I've written even so much as 5,000-words yet. Not to worry. Yet. I write on inspiration and feeling more than dedication and resolve. When inspiration strikes I can easily put together five and ten thousand word days.

What I have been doing thus far is wasting my time with computer games. They're an excellent time waster. One can play for hours and accomplish literally nothing. Sometimes that's exactly what one needs to get one going. It's like recharging.

I've got a lot to write and I'm hoping the Muses will complete their holiday soon. Then I shall write up a storm.

Until then - I waste time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Turning Up the Heat

Stories. Sometimes they come easily. Sometimes they don't.

Right now my thoughts are swimming with story ideas. I want to write, but no single idea wants to jump up and be taken. Kind of like watching popcorn kernels in a popper. Sooner or later you know one is going to explode. The tension mounts as you wait.

That's what it will be like. One story idea will POP! And then they all will. My task is to try and keep up with them all. Good luck to me.


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