Saturday, May 29, 2010

BMSE Concluded

Here it is, 1:45 in the morning, and I just wrote the last line of my BMSE story. The final word count: 4,300. Right about where I expected it to be.

Now I'm done though. I'll have to figure out something else to start on tomorrow.

I've had this idea percolating in my brain for a little while. I mentioned it to Rish a while back and we discussed it a bit. I saw somewhere that a study said that one in a hundred kids have autism. That seemed like a lot to me. A lot more than it was when I was younger. When the movie Rainman came out, it seemed like autism was a rare and strange disorder, but these days it seems like everyone has at least one kid with that problem. Maybe that's not true. Maybe I was just uninformed back then.

However, if autism is increasing, and we have no idea the cause of it, what happens in a hundred years when it's one in ten kids that are autistic or worse, what if it's seven in ten? Or nine out of ten? What would the world be like? What steps would society have to take to ensure its survival. I'm sure it couldn't be pretty.

So I was thinking of writing a story about that potentiality. We'll see how it goes. I'll have to read up a little on autism, though. I'm not very educated about the condition at all.

Friday, May 28, 2010

BMSE Update

I've worked on it for three consecutive days, nearly a record for me, and I'm up to 2,633 words. It's been a good time. I hope, when I'm done, that somebody likes it. But even if they don't it will have been worth it.

I'm really making an effort at focused practice. I had a long conversation with one of my co-workers the other day about the whole idea. The thing that sticks out to my mind right now is how he was saying that 99% of people will not do what it takes to learn to be great at something, like writing, or basketball, or music, or whatever. So putting in daily writing time will make all the difference. We'll see how long I can keep it up.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


So, I've been a complete and utter slacker for the last week or two. Writing nothing. Saying that I need to read up on how to create good characters. It's an excuse that is keeping me from developing as a writer. While reading up will certainly help, I can't allow it to keep me from writing.

So I started in on my BMSE story yesterday. It took me a long time to come up with an idea that I thought was worth actually writing down. Maybe I still don't have one that merits such treatment, but I'm doing it anyway. Yesterday, I managed to put 759 words on the page. I got up early this morning too, and wrote a few hundred more. Hopefully it comes out well. I guess the slush readers will be the judge of that.

Anyway, I'm back onto my goal of writing every day. If I want to get better, and become a great writer, that's definitely step one. With a few years of writing every day, I'll definitely be much, much closer to my goal than I am today. Here we go, whee!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

D.W. Smith

I got onto Twitter a month or two ago. I swore not to for a long time, and Rish still swears he never will, but in the end I thought it would be worth it to promote the show and besides, we were probably the only podcast in existence that hadn't joined up to do just that.

I didn't know what to expect from Twitter. I soon learned that most people are telling you what they ate for breakfast or how many pounds their last bowel movement weighed. There's so much useless information being exchanged on that site, that it's hard to believe that the internet doesn't collapse under the sheer weight of the inanity.

I don't follow many people.

I found the real worthwhile use of Twitter, however. You can't do much in 140 characters, other than spout banality. That is, unless you have something to link to. You can link to a blog post or a podcast or something that runs more than a few worthless characters, and then the folks who follow you can go and read something worthwhile.

I follow several people who tend to lead me to links that I would be interested in. And that is how I discovered D.W. Smith's site. Somebody, and I have no idea who it was anymore, retweeted one of his links. I was intrigued by the headline of the post, so I clicked and read and was very impressed with what he had to say. I started following his Twitter feed. A week later he posted another similar post, and again I was blown away, energized, and excited by his words. I'd never heard of this writer before, but I was starting to become a fan.

What D.W. Smith has been doing for a while now, is writing a book about the myths that exist in the publishing industries and among writers, especially new writers. The myths that he is examining are all destructive myths that, when believed by beginning writers, can completely derail your possible career before it even gets out of the station. He calls the project "Killing The Sacred Cows Of Publishing."

After reading the posts that I talked about earlier, I decided that I needed to go through and read them all from beginning to end. The information in them was too valuable not to have. As I went through the posts, I realized, as myth after myth, was blown up in my face, that so many of these things had been holding me back for years. A lot of them are idiotic myths, yet I believed them all the same. Maybe I was raised on them, I don't know, but I'd never been more excited about writing in my life than I was after reading those posts.

The biggest, and stupidest, myth that I believed was that a writer doesn't need to practice. An author can sit down and write his first book ever and, if they have talent, it could be fantastic. The idea had to be good, not the writer, is what I thought I guess. It's so stupid. Of course it doesn't work that way. A writer must practice and practice and practice until they are good. It won't happen any other way. It's easier to believe that you can be great without work I guess.

As you've probably noticed if you've read any blog post I've written in the last few months, I've been trying to turn things around now, since I started reading what he had to say. The cool thing is that I feel that if I put in the work, eventually it will work out. I just wish I'd read this all fifteen years ago, the first time I started writing short stories in an attempt to be an author.

If you've never heard of D.W. Smith's "Killing The Sacred Cows Of Publishing," I suggest that you swing over to his website and read them all. They will change the way you look at a lot of things, and may save you from wasting a lot of your life doing things the wrong way. And be sure to read the comments on the posts as well, because there is a lot more great information down there from beginning writers as well as old pros.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Into A Brick Wall

You may have noticed that I haven't said much about writing recently. My daily updates came to a screeching halt. Maybe you didn't notice, but now that I've pointed it out, you realize that special part of your day where you read my updates has been missing. Like a wound that you don't remember sustaining, but suddenly starts stinging only once you've noticed it. Something like that, right?

Well, even if you haven't noticed, and you don't care, I'm still going to go ahead and talk about what's going on. Basically, I've run into a brick wall. I'm pretty sure that my problem is this: I didn't prepare sufficiently before starting. I was really excited about plunging ahead after finishing my "Tenth Album" story, so I did. Unfortunately, I've discovered, after writing 6,000 words, that I'm not sure where I'm going. A lot of those 6,000 words I'm sure are pure crap.

I know that all writers are different, and they prepare to write stories differently. I think, what has worked for me in the past, is to prepare a good outline--a really detailed one that basically outlines the scenes that will be in the story, and what order they should come in. I half-assed an outline before starting the story, and then accidentally deleted that half-assed outline after only writing for a few days. That really blew it.

What I really ran into later, was that my characters weren't well drawn out. They were all the same person, but with different names. I'm going to put in some serious work over the next week or so to get my characters ready to go. I've been reading "Character and Viewpoint" by Orson Scott Card to work on that process. Hopefully, that will help me.

I also plan to force Rish to talk with me about the story on Monday, to see if he can't help me along a little bit. If you think you might be able to help me out with some advice, be sure to leave it in the comments. Thanks.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not A Lot, But Something

I wasn't able to write much, mostly because it just wasn't coming to me like it has on other days. But I did get in something like 200 words yesterday. I'm now at 5,995. I also worked on the outline of the story, so I know where I'm going. I'm not one of those outlines-stifle-creativity type writers. I usually work best when I have the story all planned out beforehand, so I'm working on that too. So I don't paint myself into a corner.

So, that's today's update. I'm excited to head out and meet Rish tonight to see Iron Man 2. We'll surely talk about it on the show when we record on Monday.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Generation X Part II

I just complained the other day about feeling old because there is now a classic rock radio station targeted at my generation. I felt unfairly categorized as old. Today, however, I was looking in a mirror, and noticed something frightening. Front and center on my head was a single gray hair mixed in with the rest. I've had gray hairs infiltrating their way into my facial hair for years. But I shave, so I don't have to think about it. But Holy Crap! I've got gray hair. My scalp still tingles where I yanked it.

It's true. It's all true. I'm just plain old, and it's time to face it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Writing Report

Well, Mondays, I never expect to get any writing in at all. Unless I can find time to do it at my lunch break or something, it's not going to happen. I meet Rish on my way home from work Monday nights, and we podcast until the wee hours. That's exactly what I did this week.

Tuesday...well, I have no excuse for Tuesday. I just didn't write. I went to bed early, needing to recover from the wee hours thing Monday night. And I just plain forgot that I hadn't written yet. That's not good. I will probably work on my story some tonight, but it all depends on how the podcast editing goes. If I get the podcast done quickly, then I'll have plenty of time for writing. If it drags, then I might not write again. But I will do my best.

I did spend a little time earlier working on an outline for a story that Rish and I are going to write together. He wants to do another thing like we did with "The Spirit Of Christmas." This one, however, will definitely not be a comedy. I'm sure, with Rish involved, it'll have its comedic moments though.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Music For Generation X

Generation X is the generation that came after the baby boomers. They didn't know what to call us, so they labeled us with X, that mysterious letter that could mean anything. Wikipedia says that generation X runs from those born in 1961 to as late as 1981. I was born in the later half of the whole generation X thing, and by the time I was finishing up college, my generation had earned a reputation. We'd gone from being considered slackers to being the young, forward-thinking tech-savvy internet generation represented by the people who started Google, Amazon, E-Bay and many other internet based companies.

For years I've been living with that sort of an image in my mind, so imagine my surprise when I turned the radio to a station that I've listened to for years, and found that its format had changed to, "Music for generation X." Up until recently, they'd been an alternative radio station. That format apparently wasn't getting them enough ratings, so they bailed. Now they play music from the late eighties through the early part of the 2000s. Stuff like MC Hammer, Matchbox Twenty, Black Crows, Faith No More, Goo Goo Dolls, and Tone Loc.

But music for generation X? We're the young, forward-thinking tech-savvy internet generation. Not the old people that need a classic rock station made just for them. Am I old enough now that the oldies station is targeted at me? Am I my dad, listening to the fifties songs with wistful enjoyment? No! I'm not old, dammit! Not yet! I haven't even hit 40 yet. Give me a chance to be young while I still can, please!

The worst thing is I really like listening to the stuff they play. It really takes me back.

Friday and Sunday

Hey, I wanted to start off thanking everyone who has given me encouraging comments on these posts about writing. It really helps me on days like I had last week, when everything is going poorly. I was able to put my head down and push forward all the same. So thanks for being there for me.

Friday worked out a lot better than the days before had. I was able to pound away at the keyboard for more time than normal. I even managed to make some words while pounding, how about that? You know what they say about a million monkeys on a million typewriters and all that.

So, after Friday, I'd reached 5,266 words.

This weekend I had written off writing (hmm, that's an awkward sentence isn't it?). I figured that I would spend all my free time getting this monstrously long story that we are doing on the podcast this week finished up. I had a long ways to go, so I didn't expect to have time to write. But on Sunday afternoon, I got to the end of the file I was working with. I didn't realize that I didn't have the whole episode with me, only part of it. The rest of it was on a thumb drive that I'd left at work. Well, work is a long drive away, so I wasn't about to run out and grab it. Instead, I just had to say I was done for the day.

Now I had an evening that I'd set aside for podcast editing that was totally free. I decided I ought to use that to get in some more writing. So, my nose went back to the grindstone on my story, "Prime." I managed to write until I'd reached 5,766 words.

This story is going to be a long one. I think I could safely call it a book. It's probably going to be as long as many Juvenile or YA novels when it's done. It may not be as good as many Juvenile or YA novels, but it'll be as long. I decided I would go forward with this longy because for a long time I've been wanting to read a story that I'd written to my kids. They know I like to write, but they don't get to read what I write, because it's usually too adult for them. This time, the main character is a kid in middle school, so there won't be a lot of stuff going on that they can't read. So, when I'm done with it. I'll spend a few nights reading it to the little tykes. Hopefully they enjoy it. Then I'll send it to Lizanne Herd, and she'll tear it apart, and tell me what I need to do to improve as a writer. I think it'll be more fun to read it to the kids, no offense, Liz.