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

getting back on the horse

Hello again.  After finishing NaNoWriMo at the end of last month, I sort of went on writing hiatus.  I had big plans to continue in grand fashion and punch out a ton more words on my novel throughout this month.  That didn’t happen.  I have lots of great excuses, none of which really excuse the failure. I think I wrote 900 or so words one day this month.

So I sat down the other night to start writing again and realized that we’re once again coming up on the deadline to submit for the Writers of the Future contest.  I’ve been wanting to submit to this for a while now.  You’ll remember from a few months ago that my writing group was working on an anthology of short stories which we were going to epub.  That project fell through toward the end, but not before I had finished the draft of my story.  I told myself then that I was going to refine the story and submit it to WotF.  The contest accepts submissions each quarter.  Well, that quarter came and went, and we’re now less than 2 weeks from the end of the next.  So, once I realized this, I sat down and decided that I would get back on the stick and finish my story to submit it before the end of December.  I hadn’t read it since the project fell part months ago.  I actually quite like it.  I started reading and editing and pretty soon I had actually increased the word count.  I know.  I know.  That’s going the wrong way.  But, I couldn’t help it.  I had always planned on making the story a little longer.  Our anthology goal was to have stories around 15,000 words.  Mine came in a little short at about 10,800.  Once I started going back through it I found lots of places to beef up the dialogue, intensify the detail, etc.  So, I’m well over 11,000 words now, and I’m sure it’s not done growing.

The story had already gone through a round of critiques with the writing group, and so I have some good direction on where it should go as well as some ideas I have to chance things.  So, that gives me only 12 days to get it rewritten, revised, polished and submitted.  I can do it.

The good news is that this will be the first time I’ve ever actually submitted my work for a professional contest.  Even though I was an english major in college and wrote what seems like infinite amounts of words, I’ve always shied away from putting my work out there for others to see and critique.  If I plan on becoming a published author, this is obviously something I’m going to have to get over.  The bad news is that this is going to take the bulk of my writing time which means no new material for the Moonstones project for the next couple weeks.  We’ll have to see how things go because I would really like to get in some good time over the week between Christmas and New Year.

Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I’m always on the hunt for good writing blogs.  I recently discovered limebird writers (through NaNoWriMo) which has grown tremendously in a very short time.  There are several authors which post on the site.  Check it out.  It’s worth your time.

Anybody else follow good writing blogs you’d like to share?

getting the momentum rolling

Keep an eye out for some changes coming up soon.

The first round of critiques is done on the short story, and we’re all hard at work doing our first revisions based on the suggestions we received.  I got a lot of great feedback from the guys in my group which is going to make my story better.  Now I’m in the process of trying to work it all in.  In addition to going back to add some extra description or to fix some logical errors, I’ve got a couple of scenes which I need to completely rework.  One of them just needs to be rewritten to fix the flow.  The other is going to involve a fairly extensive change to the actual story line.

The whole theme of the story is sacrifice.  I thought I could write a story about it without actually having to do it, but it’s just not working.  Several of my reviewers picked up on it, and I think I’m going to have to kill one of my darlings.  I actually listened to a Writing Excuses podcast about that once, and I thought I wouldn’t have a problem with doing it (for those interested, you can listen to it here).  Evidently I do.  It’s harder than you think to kill off a character that you’ve created and invested time with.  I know them all, and even the bad guys are important to me.  So, to kill a good one is, well, tough.

As an aside, if you haven’t listened to the Writing Excuses podcast, you really should.  Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells and Mary Robinette Kowal (recent addition) are all well-established authors who give outstanding practical writing advice.  I’m guessing that if you’re a wannabe writer like me, you’ve heard of them.  But if not, give it a go.  You’ll be glad you did.  Most, if not all, of their past episodes are available to listen to on the website, and the last couple seasons are available for download directly from iTunes.

Getting back on track, I’m excited to give this a good solid revision.  I think I’ll probably add several thousand words to my story which will be welcome because it currently sits at just under 11,000 words.  I wanted to be closer to the 13,000 – 15,000 range.  The longest story of the group is in at about 18,000+ which is long, but the story was very good.

All in all, the stories which have been submitted are all great.  I am fortunate to be grouped with the writers I am because they all bring a great aspect to the group.  The anthology is going to be outstanding.  I can’t wait until we get closer to release.

I’m still trying to decide what to name the story.  I don’t have any front-runners right now.  I’m also trying to decide whether I’m going to publish it under my real name or whether I’m going to use a pseudo.  I wonder if it would be too presumptuous to use something like: “Supreme Commander,” or “Greatest Author Ever.”  I’ll have to mull that over a little more.  🙂

Check back for more updates.  I’m hoping to have some more for you soon.  I’m also hoping to have some more blog posts up on a more consistent basis.

short story update

You’ll notice the progress bar shows that the first draft of operation sacrifice is now 100% complete.  Sorry I didn’t do a better job of updating that as I went.  And let me tell you.  Writing a short story is MUCH harder than you think.  It’s tough to build a believable setting with relatable characters and a good plot arc all just in a few pages.

Part of the problem is that there was nothing to update for a very long time.  We had several weeks to work on this project, and I am a terrible procrastinator at times.  I knew what my story would be about (or so I thought – see below), and so I took WAY too many nights off.

Well, our self-imposed deadline to post the first draft for critiques was 8/1/11 (aka tomorrow).

By Friday night when I went to bed, I had 1,500 words written of my 10,000+ word short story.  And, to make matters worse, my wife’s brother came to visit from Germany (military), and since we haven’t seen him in several years, we packed up and went over to stay with all the fam.  Not exactly the perfect atmosphere for distraction free writing.

This is the good part.  THIS is why I love writing.

Being at the fam’s actually worked out better than I thought because my wife and kids were occupied with family stuff the entire day, allowing me to hole up in a bedroom upstairs with my trusty netbook and type incessantly.

I started writing the story I had contrived in my head.  Only, certain things that I thought would happen, didn’t happen.  In fact, one path took a 90 degree turn on me, and before I knew it, the story was SO much better.  A twist was there that even I wasn’t expecting.  Believe me, I’m as surprised as you!  That’s what I love.  The story grows and develops on its own.  I’m just the cultivator.  I plant the seed, have a pretty good idea what the plant will look like, but you just never know.

The draft will be posted to my writing group tomorrow for the first round of critiques.  Then it’ll be back to the drawing board for revisions and rewrite.  I already have a small section in mind that I want to include.  Some sections need a little more detail.  Currently, I’m at just over 10,800 words.  I wanted to be closer to 12-13,000.  So, I may have to add a bit.  I don’t know yet whether there will be a second round of edits or not.  I assume so, but we’ll have to play that by ear.

Either way, I’ll let you know more when I know more.

In the meantime, I’ll be busy critiquing several other short stories and then fixing mine when it comes back.  So, I don’t think I’ll have time to get back to my novel yet, but hopefully soon.

The best thing about this project is that it finally got me writing again, and I remembered just how much I love it.

Thanks for reading.

new project!

One of the online writing groups I’m a member of has decided to put together a short story anthology and e-publish it.  The short stories will all be fantasy based and follow a freedom/sacrifice theme.

I’m excited about the project but a little nervous.  I’ve never really written short stories before.  In my epic fantasy I’m already having a hard time figuring out what to cut because the story is on track to be far too long.  With the short story I only have 15,000 words.  But, it’ll give us all a chance to experiment a bit with the e-pub marketplace and gain a little experience and exposure along the way.

I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to write under my real name or use a pseudonym for this first foray into the publishing world.  We’ll see.  Any thoughts?

In any event, I’ve been percolating on an idea for a while and started writing today.  It took a drastically different direction from what I thought I was going to do, but I quite like it.  Keep an eye on the progress bar on the home page.  Those numbers should increase rapidly.  And, hopefully, now that I’m getting back into the swing of things, once this project is complete I’ll just refocus my writing momentum back to Moonstones.

In the meantime, the working title of the short story is “Operation Sacrifice.”  I have NO idea what I’ll call it when it’s done.

More to come soon!

JSE