something new

So, I am excited.  Really excited.  Not just the sort of excited you get when you find a dollar bill on the curb or when you remember you’ve got an ice cold pop in the fridge.  I’m talking about a deep, butterfly inducing, grin-inspiring excitement (not that I haven’t smiled about finding a cold pop in the fridge).   No, this is for real.

I have been brainstorming for some time about how I could have some good, consistent content on this blog as I’m working on my stories. And today, purely by accident, I came up with an idea.  Well, truth be told, I didn’t.  It wasn’t even close to my idea.  It was someone in my online writing group.  You can check out his writing blog here.  Anyway, he mentioned something about a site that does flash fiction challenges every Friday.

For those of you who don’t know, flash fiction is a term which typically refers to a very short story, typically in the 100-1000 word range.  Each week this guy puts up a flash fiction writing challenge.  For example, two weeks ago he challenged everyone to write a 500 word story with no ending.  Everyone posts their own stories on their blogs and then links to them in the comments of his website (where the challenge originated).  Then, the following week the challenge was to look through the comments, read a few of the stories posted by other people, and then continue with that story (started by someone else) and add a 500 word middle.  This week, the challenge is to take the thousand word story (now written by two different people) and finish it in 500 words or so.  Fun, right?  Each week the challenge is different.

“Self,” I said, “this is perfect.”

I’ve already skimmed several stories and found one that I think I’m going to work on.  I need to have my ending posted by this Friday.

This was exactly what I was looking for.  I’m hoping it will give me a good jump start to getting some content written.  The little flash challenges will be a great way to start writing about various things.  It will also serve a couple purposes.  First, it will force me to post content on this blog, something I’ve been woefully inadequate about of late.  Second, it will allow me to start rubbing shoulders with other writers.  I’ll get to see their different blogs and writing styles.  They’ll get to see mine.  Maybe I’ll even make a friend or two.

But, either way, I’ll be writing.  And that’s what it’s all about.

Also, I set a goal tonight to enter a submission in the current L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.  It’s a quarterly contest in which the winners are selected, paid, and their stories are published in a quarterly anthology.  I entered once before, *cough.  The rules are that if you are selected you can’t enter again.  Let’s just say I can still enter.  🙂

Anyway, this goal is a bit ambitious for me because the submission period ends on 9/30 (10 days from now).  That means I’ve got to get writing, and writing fast.  The stories can’t be longer than 17,000 words or so.  Time is too short to get a story polished enough to stand any legitimate chance of selection.  But, I’m going to submit anyway because it’s time I started writing.  I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.  As I said in my previous post, I’m tired of wanting to be a writer but not writing.  Change is coming…

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decisions and committments

I had an epiphany, if you will.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with a friend of mine lately about money and business. He has a regular job but has also created a successful business on the side which is doing quite well for him. I’ve asked him many times to give me ideas on how I could do the same. I would love to have a little something on the side that I could build up, make some money with, and hopefully with time reach the level where I could shift completely into it.

Over lunch a couple weeks ago he made a comment that didn’t sink in until later that night. He said that no matter what I choose, it has to be something I’m passionate about, or I won’t ever be dedicated to putting in the time required to make it work. I thought about that as I considered various business opportunities, one very seriously. And then, one evening as I was looking at it, it hit me. I have something that I’m passionate about–WRITING. It’s something I know I can be successful at, but it’s going to take time and dedication. As I sit here, I can’t think of a single other thing I would rather do more than writing full time for a career. I absolutely love it.

So, I committed right then and there to get back on the horse and start making it work. I’ve been talking about this for years. Frankly, it’s disgusting that I’ve spent that long complaining about wanting to be a writer and yet not doing anything about it.

I have gotten involved again with my online writing group. It’s a great resource that I have been foolish enough to ignore for almost a year now. I also decided that it’s time to start submitting stuff for publication. I wrote a short story a year or so ago, and I’ve been kicking around the idea of sending it to some magazines to see if I get any nibbles for publication. Or perhaps even epublishing it myself onto Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In the end, I have decided for this first one to send it to some magazines. While I am anxious to give the ePub world a try, I’m just not ready. One of the things I’m missing is cover art. Nobody is going to buy a book with just words for the cover. I need to find a way to get some good art created so my book will look like, well, a book.

In the meantime, I am going to be continuing to work on my novel as well as some short stories. I would like to shortly have several short stories submitted to various magazines. That’s not going to make much by way of income, but the experience of it will be invaluable. Even if they get rejected, if I can at least get lucky enough to get some comments as to how I can improve, I’ll consider it a victory. With time, hopefully I can get several of them published and then start generating a little bit of name recognition within the publishing world. All the while, I’ll be finishing up the first draft of my novel and then begin the revisions process on that.

I just watched an interesting video from a class taught by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (one of my favorites). You can check out his website at www.brandonsanderson.com. Anyway, he walked the class through his revision process which includes somewhere around 8 revisions. WOW!

Well, this has gotten a bit long winded, but I hadn’t really posted since I was in NaNoWriMo last November. I just looked and realized I never even posted that I had won. It was tough because of how slow a start I got, but I made it. And I’m super happy I did.

More to come soon…

JSE

NaNoWriMo day #28

What a crazy week it’s been.  I have written 30,000 words in the last 6 days.   Below is a screenshot of my NaNo word tracker.  The tracking graph has just skyrocketed over the last week.  I’ve never written so much material in such a short time in my whole life.

I don’t know about you, but by the time I’ve written 5-6000 words in a sitting, I am exhausted.  I feel like my creative juices have dried up, and I have nothing left.  I only wrote 3300 or so today, but I am tired.  I’ve had a lot of late nights and early mornings this past week.  I have a TON I have to do at work tomorrow.  Plus, I have a meeting tomorrow evening that is going to take me away from writing for a few hours which means I’m going to have to get some of it done during the day.  The only way I’m going to make that happen is if I get an extra early start on my work in the morning so that by early afternoon I can be done to start writing.

I’m not going to lie to you, following through with this challenge this past week has been one of the biggest trials of my self-control and level of commitment ever.  I have wanted to quit SO many times.  Who would know if I fudged the numbers a little, right, as long as I write all the words (even if it’s after 11/30).  But, I just couldn’t let myself.

My family has sacrificed by not having me every night this week.  They are waiting for me to put up Christmas decorations.  My kids are having a hard time understanding why I have to write for several hours EVERY night after being gone all day at work.  But, I made myself a promise, and I’m too close to quit now.

I only have just under 6000 words to go, and 2 days to write it.  I’m gonna make it!!!

The biggest bummer is that i’m not even close to being done.  I thought for sure at the beginning of this month that I would tie up my novel by the time NaNo was over.  Not even close.  By the time I finish I’ll probably have another 25-40,000 words to go, easily.  That’s going to put my finished first draft manuscript at approximately 160,000-175,000 words.  That’s too long for an intro novel, so my rewrite is going to have to include some serious cutting.  I would like to get it down to the 135,000-150,000 range, but we’ll see how that goes.  In two days, my total novel word count will be at 145,000.

NaNoWriMo Day #25

Wow.  Another 5,208 words written today.  I can’t believe how quickly it is coming along now.  In the last three days I’ve written over 17,000 words.  That’s crazy for me to think about.  I hit 31,846 words today.  I should be at 41,666, which puts me just 10,000 words behind schedule.  Because I’ve hit it hard, I only have to write about 3,600 words per day for the next 5 days to make it.  That’s much more manageable than the 4500 or so I had to write when I first got going again.

Even better than seeing I’m closing in on my goal of winning NaNo again this year is seeing my novel progress.  I’ve never generated so much new material in such a short amount of time.  I can’t believe how far my story has come in the past three days.  I’m getting excited because the end is in sight.

Today I had an interesting experience.  All of a sudden I found myself in a situation where I had written myself into a corner.  I had two different story arcs which converged and I realized all of a sudden that the two could not work together.  I tried to think of how I could go back and change either one, but neither could be changed.  I sat staring at my computer for almost an hour trying to figure out how I was going to reconcile these two conflicting fact patterns.  A solution finally presented itself, and I’m very happy with it.  I had to try to be honest and not let it simply be magically fixed.  It required a solution that was real and could fit into the story.  Overall, though, I’m happy with it.  I do think that when I go back through and do my rewrite that I’m going to have to do some tweaks in this regard to make the solution seem less arbitrary, but it’s easily doable.

Anyway, this entry is going to be short tonight.  I’ve got some tired fingers after typing so many words the last few days.  I wanted to throw in a screenshot of my current NaNo progress, but for some reason it’s not letting me upload tonight.  I’ll put one on tomorrow.

More good stuff to come tomorrow!  Thank you to everyone who has been reading and following along.  Your “likes” are encouraging.

I can’t wait for you all to read this someday.

JSE

NaNoWriMo Day #25

I almost gave up today, I’m not going to lie to you.  We didn’t have any plans today, so I thought I would get an early start (and by early I mean starting around 6 or 7  instead of 10:00 like I normally do).  Every word seemed to drag out.  I would type and type and type and then lose heart when I saw I had only typed 300 or so words.  Not that 300 is a bad little chunk, but when you have a daily writing goal of 5,000 to catch up, it’s just not even enough to put a dent in it.

The first couple hours seemed to just trudge by.  I took several breaks.  Watched a little tv with my family.  I felt like I had to fight for each and every word.  Finally I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And then the material started flowing.  I didn’t even realize it, but part of the problem was that I was just writing a difficult scene that I wasn’t sure how to play out.  I finally hit the 5,000 mark, and then didn’t want to stop, writing another 1,085 words before finally quitting with 6,085 words on the day.  That’s two days in a row in excess of 6,000 words.  That’s without a doubt a record for me.

I crossed the 50% threshold tonight, ending up at 53% of the NaNoWriMo goal for the month.  As of right now I have a total of 26,638 words written.  The target goal for today is at 40,000 words.  So, I’m just over 13,000 behind.  With 23,000 and some change and only 6 days left to go, that leaves me at just under 4,000 words a day I need to be writing.  3,894 to be exact.  I”m hopeful I can make another good dent in it tomorrow since it’s my last weekend day before  the end of the month (NaNo ends on Friday of this coming week).  Thankfully I have a pretty relaxing week as far as evening commitments go, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance.  I WILL win this!

NaNoWriMo Day #11

Writing Goal: 1667 Words

Words Written: 0 words

 

I thought I’d take a second to just give a quick update.  I’ve been SO sick the last several days that I haven’t written anything.  I was really excited for this weekend to roll around so that I would have time to write and build up the buffer.  Instead, I’m going on my 4th day in a row of no writing.  Luckily, I was ahead enough that I’m now only a few thousand words behind schedule, but I still need to pick it up.

Hopefully I’ll be feeling better in the next day or two that I can get rolling again.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a quick update.

JSE