Rambling string of conscious blog done at high speed…
The singular most important action you can take as a writer, is to get your butt in the chair and write as often as possible. Good, Bad, Ugly, rambling, off topic, anything.
The habit of writing is an elusive lover, once found, you will cherish and safeguard. But like smoke, will escape in a careless moment, leaving the faint smell of missed opportunity and regret. I
If I had only written every day this week I’d be finished this chapter, story book.
Many people treat writing like a one night stand, fun, mysterious, dangerous…but not a commitment. Commitment, a foreign concept in today’s world sordid social media where many want to spread their hate as fast at the STD rate.
The dirty secret about commitment is it involves accountability. And is anyone accountable for anything today? We have excuses for everything. No one owns their mistakes, and if they do, they are considered weak.
All relationships go through struggles, the ups and downs not involving pleasure. Writing is no different for me.
Like a recovering alcoholic all writer’s need a support group. Find one.
This is not a downer, woe is me blog. If you’re looking for one of those, keep looking. This about me acknowledging to be a writer and have the good habits of writers, I need to follow the hacks that others use. I am not above them. I need to do, what I tell others to do. This is should not surprise anyone.
As a result, this will be a short blog, were I trick myself into writing more.
And now, a short diversion. The year is 1976. I’m in grade 11. At this point in my life I play a tremendous number of sports. A group of traveling athletes came to our high school in rural Alberta. A chance to see National football players was unheard of at that time. I was one of the fortunate ones chosen to compete in a little head to head action in a variety of sports.
All three of the men were currently playing in the NFL. The one I remember was the Center for the Minnesota Vikings. He was a big man. By Big I mean walls got out of his way and said sorry. (They were Canadian Walls). In the three on three basketball competition. We mistakenly thought we could leave him unguarded on the perimeter. Yea, that was a dumb idea. He was nothing but net from the outside. We also foolishly thought we stood a chance in any of the competitions… Ah the stupidity of youth. And in thinking we could win, I foolishly tried to draw a charging call on Mr.Big. It was a great idea.
Somehow I saw what the play was going to be. So I set up where Mr.Big was going to drive the lane. Arms crossed in front of me protecting the family jewels, ready to draw the charge. Mr.Big caught the ball spun and drove the lane to the basket. When he turned, imagine his shock to see me standing there. But it was too late he barrelled into skinny high school smart ass.
I will attempt to relate what I think happen in mirco pieces of time between him seeing me and his contact with me.
First, I believe he understood, well before I did, what was going to happen. Secondly, he tried to drop the ball and grab me to prevent what occurred. Lastly, he felt pain for me. Sorrow, regret. The last he thing he wanted to do, was hurt anyone.
What happened next was simple physics. Force = mass x acceleration. He hit me square in the chest with his shoulder and I launched off the ground like a Saturn V rocket heading to the moon. (Further evidence would show that the circumference of one of his thighs corresponded to my waist.)
Well, I would have reached the moon, but the polite wall didn’t believe in getting out of the way of idiots and therefore it prevented me being the first Canadian in space. In the nano second before I let the wall catch me, I heard the sound of silence. The entire gym inhaled and held their breath. Even the athletes. I could see all three of them, the fear in their eyes that they just a killed a Canadian High School student.
My mother often said, “You can’t hurt a Dear male by hitting them in the head.” Once again Mother was right.
To this day I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why I wasn’t hurt. But I know you can’t fly through the air and get stopped by cinder block wall and not be hurt. I know from first hand experience. But on that day, in that place, I was fine. I don’t offer an explanation.
What is the lesson I learned? It took me years to figure out what I learned.
I was wrong, is what I have come to understand. The outcome of the game was never in doubt. My drawing the charge wouldn’t have won the game. But to see the pain and hurt in those grown men’s eye’s as I flew threw the air with the greatest of ease, I don’t need to see again. Even if I was in the right.
The War against the Martian Imperium is not going well for Luna. The Empress asks Lady Hedy to take Jonathan Smythe, heir to House Smythe to negotiate an alliance with the Jovian Consortium. Luna must have the support to survive the conflict. With the Icarus fully repaired it falls to Captain Dyson Kiton to transport them to Titan and aid in the negotiations. But how can she do that with the Mars Fleet enforcing a blockade on Luna?
Lady Dana is forced to accept the role as Head of House Gray. Will it be in time to save Luna from the Martian ground force? Can she unite the elite mercenary force to help defend the Empire? What will she have to sacrifice to save Luna?
With Hedy gone, Erwin must enter his true strength as an Intercedist and aid Anthony in the rebuilding of the mysterious Vault. Princess Samantha jeopardizes her future as heir of the Sure Travelers by aiding Anthony in appropriating artifacts long thought lost. She is not the only one who will pay a price to restore the Vault.
The turmoil of the war only aids Sion Kiorkian plans. Can anyone stop him and his Martian allies.
Dictate all the words and use speech recognition will include training myself to include the correct punctuation. (Or at least what I can remember to put in.) This will include finishing Book 1 using speech recognition. I’ve had the software and the mic for some time, it’s time to get a return on investment.
To take away some power procrastination, my rule will be:
Dictate when you can, type when you can’t.
It’ll be an interesting experiment to see if I am good dictator.
How much is left in book one?
I’m at 94K words right now and my estimate is another 30K to go. It’s the easy 30k of the book. everything is crashing towards final conflicts and resolutions. From past experience I know my key focus should be not rushing through it all.
As you can see, I will have a list of items to work on. The goals for the words on the page are different than the supporting goals to the writing. The list so far: Dictation, Not Rushing.
How will you prepare for dictation?
I have a clear idea about this. (Yea, I can’t believe it either) One page point form or paragraphs on each chapter. I’ve also decided these will be dictated and printed. (Sorry, I still need the comfort of paper) Unless I can get a monitor setup to work for me.
Secondly, I’ll try and start the process this coming weekend to work out any kinks on the technology side.
Isn’t speech recognition cheating?
Yes, No – not sure. The goal for word count, today, is to dictate, speech recognition. Punctuation pass. This may not be practical – we’ll see.
How does this fit into long term goals?
This is pretty straight forward to answer. If the dictation proves workable, then I will be able to get more done able to get more writing done in a month.
How will you listen to music and dictate?
Ear buds or head phones with the music track. This will isolate the sound from the mic.
I got back from the writing retreat setup by Randy McCharles earlier this week. Randy’s a great friend to writers of all levels. Check him out. He has new series coming out soon. More news as events warrant.
Ok – the people at the retreat made me feel ashamed of my commitment level.
They were a bunch of BIC’s (Bums In Chairs) It was humbling. Their schedule looked something like this:
Writing by 630 AM
Short Break 10:15
Lunch Noon (45 Min)
Short Break 230 ish
Dinner 6:00 PM (an Hour)
And most nights another 2 hours of writing then a sit around chat.
With the guilt hanging over my head after the first day I tried to buckle down and get crunching out the writing.
Here’s what got accomplished:
30K editing pass – and then sent to an editor for revision, plus alpha readers. Yes I crapped my pants.
10K New words
Major problems resolved- two
Incorporate all changes from Editor on the Prologue. (2500 words)
This is for what I refer to as the “CheeseSpaceOpera” Today’s working title “Icarus: Book One of the System War”.
Some of you might be still coughing about me sending something to an editor, please check her site out: http://moreedits.ca/. If she can work with me, she can work with anyone.
So in an effort for full transparency – Yes – I am on the road to having something published; either self-published or otherwise. (Insert Laugh Track Here)
The biggest single new technique I learned and put into practise – Editing pass while you listen to the story. I did this through MS Word’s “Read Aloud” function. It’s astounding the sheer volume of prepositions I don’t put in when I write.
What are you going to put into practice for your writing?
I didn’t grow up with barista‘s or Pho or smart phones.
Wish I did.
Music was highly limited, tightly controlled by the labels and the cost of producing music. I’m listening to a cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love done simply on an acoustic guitar and solo voice. Achingly painful and beautiful. A sweet melancholy to go with my medium roast pour over.
It’s a mid-February and mid cold for my town. I am at one of the cafe’s that makes me happy and oddly makes me feel that I have accomplished something by getting out of the house on a holiday at 730 AM.
But back to the Barista’s, briefly.
At this location the smiles are kind and warm. There is no dress code, except there is a dress code that the staff unconsciously adhere to – the code of cool – because that’s who they are. Similar but different.
The job application probably states kind but efficient.
It wouldn’t use the word “cool”. Cool is from an age past. When life and self expression was limited. When conformity was mandatory and if you rebelled you all wore the same rebel uniform. The word rebellion doesn’t exist here. They have moved on. Grown beyond simple confrontation, ignoring the war against the rules and just be who they are as they find out.
Don’t mis-understand, they still struggle with the being human part. “Does he like me?” “Should I go out with them?” Their struggle is with finding out about life with fewer constraints and more dangers. In the midst of their struggle, they work and are kind to aging want-to-be writers.
The Barista calls out, “Medium Roast pour-over“. I get up and look to the counter where a kind smile meets me, genuine, not a produced effect. They could have left to get back to work, the barista waited until I acknowledged the call, because it was the kind thing to do, the human thing to do.
Sent the first scene/chapter off of “The Einstein Fallacy” for critiquing. Should have all the results back around April 20th, 2017. I may post a before and after.
I wish I had a drinking problem. Even though I trust these people, and they are excellent writers, fear still invades me at the thought of having anyone read my work. Why?
I suppose it’s because if they don’tlike the writing, they don’tlike me. The subconscious me wants them to validate my writing so they will validate me. My mother always said I was a fragile child, and it appears that I am. Aren’t we all fragile children? Somewhere hidden inside we fear being known and at the same time want to be known. That inner self. To be identified with, to know we aren’t alone. The exposure of true self is guarded.
But lets return to the skill of editing. I don’t have it. It is so much easier for me to write drivel on a page then it is to go and edit the writing. Having said that, I can learn to edit. Here is my current process in a nutshell:
Tea and a Timer. Normally Peppermint and the Pomodoro “Tomato Timer” https://tomato-timer.com/ I work 25 minutes get up and take a break for 5 and then back at it. I try to do a min of an hour.
I start with Passive Verbs, spelling, and adverbs, and remove them – as Stephen King said:
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one in your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.” Stephen King
3. Once this is done I print a hard copy, double sided, 1″ Margins, double spaced, and read it out loud to myself and make notes in the text with a red pen. I go all the way through. This time it took me three days over the weekend. If I see that I need to move where plot points are, I detail them on a separate sheet as well, with the page numbers listed.
4. Back on the computer, I read through a couple of more times and then send it off to an alpha reader that is unknown to my writing groups. If they reply with the “I want to know more” or “Well what happens next”. I submit.
5. Once I get the feedback. I make sure that I understand their notes, asking for clarification or examples when needed. Then I put these items away for 10 days to two 2 weeks. The urge to leap in and make the changes suggested to me is too strong. I have to take a step back, wait and then in cold sober calculation consider what needs to be changed.
The goal is to have all the chapters done in time for When Words Collide this summer and pitch it to a Publisher. Or as I refer to it, outa da fryin pan and into the fire…
The biggest mistake I make in writing is the simplest. Avoiding writing. Sounds way to simple. But it is the biggest issue for my attempts at becoming an author. I talk a lot about writing, I read a lot about writing but I don’t do a lot of writing. I have grandiose ideas and plans. Wonderful characters in great situations, at least I tell myself that, and sometimes others. In many ways, this struggle is the reverse of the trouble I had when I quit smoking.
I had tried quitting many times before I found the way that worked for me. This is important. It’s important for you to know that I have tried many ways to write and to quit smoking. For me to quit smoking it boiled down to, “I won’t have one right now” or “I don’t need one right now”. I just had to beat the habit one cigarette at a time. One craving at a time. Sounds simple, right? But if you have ever tried to quit smoking or anything else, you know it’s not simple or easy. I won’t attempt to describe the struggles. That is for another day.
So for writing, I need to write today. I don’t need need to finish 70,000 words. I just need to write today, where ever I am, however, I feel. Even if I write 250 words a day that gives me 91,250 words in a year. More that what is needed for a novel, novella. Unless of course if you are a “Sanderson”, where 300,000 is the norm.
The silliest part is that I can be quite productive if I just sit down and write. I can crank out a lot of words in a short period of time. Crappy words, but words none the less. Its not that I am not trying.(double negative) I have started participating in two writing groups that will help my word count. One that meets and writes weekly and one that meets monthly. But those discussions are for another day. Yes I know, I have promised two more blog posts, one on my journey to quit smoking and one on my writing groups. Don’t complain it will give you something to look forward to.
Still 1700 words behind where I should be to complete on time. I am hopefully about tomorrow, as any writer should be. Today’s excerpt is an explanation of why Jorunn and Othin (our heroes) killed all the raiders. Again this raw, unrevised, what I just finished writing.
“Now that we are going I can explain what happened from my point of view. First the ambush wasn’t a chance meeting. Someone put a tracking spell on something we were carrying. My guess is that it was on the grill. The trigger for it was when you started to set up, Karl. When it was touched the spell sent out the location. The attack ddidn’t happen immediately, because the raiders were waiting at the normal spot you stop for lunch. We went past it. We went by it pretty fast. Which meant the Raiders had to play catch up. Did you notice how almost all the raiders were in the direction of your normal camp[? They knew we were coming. They also knew enough that Noak and Neilsen would react with trained and experienced skill and put a wind wall up. But Othin and I were unknown talents. This is why they went after Othin first. A channeller without a forge is just another person. Othin being larger and known to have great skill with an axe and mace was the target they wanted. If they had tried for Noak or Neilsen, they would have felt it and protected themselves in time. Killing you, Karl, gave them no advantage. They wanted you to see the wizards die. To show you no hope. Why this is I don’t know. But I am certain that they would have killed Noak, Neilsen, Othin and I. I know this because all the arrows, all of them were poisoned. You could see it by the black tips. To poison that many arrows to kill channelers and forges costs a small fortune. There are only a few poisons that can do this, the ingredients are hard to find and dangerous to assemble. Only few persons in the world know how to make them.
Life happens, we all know this truth. As a new writer, losing momentum has proven to be my biggest challenge, so far. Not “writing”, not “taking criticism”, not “finding time to write”, not “ideas”, not “writer’s block”.
All of these I thought would be bigger problems. For me the biggest secret to writing, is writing every day. I can’t take pauses of days, I lose the time too easily.
For me I think the easiest way to write every day is to have options, like this blog, or flash fiction. Something that gets me writing. Finding time for writing has required me to rethink my daily schedule. Change what I do and who I am. None of this is new to any of you who write, but I think that all writers have some sort of “Achilles Heel” that is our own personnel weakness. For me that is not writing every day.
Writing is a solitary work, but doesn’t have to be done in solitary confinement. Eventually stories want to be read by someone other than the author. Yes there times when we have to be immersed in the world we are writing about, but not always. To keep momentum I am tring these three suggestions:
1) Post It Note, White Board, Fridge Note – “DCD Writing tonight at 7:00 Starbucks”. Don’t do this all the time, as it will then become easier to ignore, twice a month, no more!
2) Once a month, near the end of the month, get someone to read what you are writing, just a snippet, a couple of pages. It doesn’t matter what they say, or it does, the point is you have to have material ready for that person to read what you are writing. The key here is only a couple of pages.
3) Here’s the hardest one, once a month, near the beginning of the month, your Facebook status is your current word count and [drum roll] what your goal is.
Lastly, something that should be second nature to anyone as a writer, encourage other writers to write, ask them how they are doing. Nothing lifts your own burden, then helping someone else with their’s.