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

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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.

reread (cont’d)

Word Goal:             2500 Words

Words Written:      0 Words

The reread is going fairly well, if a bit slower than I would like.  I just read through some scenes last night that I really liked.  Not because they contained any great action but just for their simplicity and effectiveness at introducing a seemingly unimportant character who actually will become rather involved later.  Often when I’m reading I constantly think that I need to make things better.  Every once in a while I read a scene where it just already feels right.  That’s how this was.

I’ve got a ways to go still to be able to make my goal to have this read by tomorrow night so I can start writing this weekend, but I think it’s still very doable.  I don’t have any early appointments tomorrow, and so I think I’m going to be up late tonight reading.  Actually, I’m looking forward to it.

When you read a book in sections (scenes here and there), it’s very different from reading the book as a whole like you would a novel.  The story really comes a live.  And, it’s letting me see how my writing began to improve as I wrote.  The initial chapters were fun from a story standpoint, but not that well written.  I’m starting to get into the chapters where my writing was starting to become more solid.  Where I was in the groove.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest tonight and tomorrow because I’ve never really gone back and reread these chapters.

________________________

I don’t know if any of you noticed, but Brandon Sanderson recently held an Ebay auction for the ability to name a character (i.e., have it named after you) in his upcoming second installment to his Stormlight Archive series.   I previously wrote a post about the first book, The Way of Kings.  You can read it here. Can you imagine?  It actually went for quite a bit of money ($1,825.00), all of which was slated to help the BYU Life the Universe and Everything (LTU&E) symposium held yearly at BYU, Sanderson’s (and my) alma mater.

I think it’s really cool that he did that charity auction to help out the program.

More to come SOON!

endings and beginnings

 

At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s time to look back and look forward.  2010 was a great year for my family and I.  We had a lot of changes and surprises.  The other day during a drive my wife and I looked back and inventoried our year.  We were both pretty dang happy.  As I said before, we had a great year.

My biggest regret has to do with my writing.  I set a new years resolution exactly one year ago to finish my novel and submit it for publication.  Between you and me, I did really well for a while.  But, as I am wont to do, I got sidetracked with life and family.

Have you ever wondered what it is about us that keeps us from doing what we most want to do?  Why is it that the easiest things are sometimes the hardest?  I really can’t think of much that I want to do more than be a published author, and yet night after night I find other things to do with my time.

There’s really no excuse for it, though.  I had plenty of time for video games, reading, shopping, playing, sleeping and just general avoidance.  At the end of the day, I just lost my dedication.  I chose to spend my free time doing other things than writing.

I was listening to a podcast recently where the speaker said, in essence, “every time you choose to do something instead of writing, you’re making a value statement that the substitute is more valuable to you than being a writer.”  It seems ridiculous to hear that said because I don’t want anything more than I want to be a writer.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

But, the statement is true. 

So, I’m reassessing my priorities and revaluing my values.  I really DO want to become a writer.  Just tonight I read on word press: “if you want to write more, write more.”  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

That’s my goal for this year.  I am going to write.  I am going to finish my novel and get it submitted.  That’s not the end though.  I’m going to start on my second novel.  And then my third.  I want to write, and, dang it, I’m going to WRITE!!!  A LOT!

I’ve been toying with the idea of self-publishing something in the eBook market to sort of test the waters.  I don’t want to do that exclusively, certainly, but I’m considering the possibility of doing that also.  I’ve read a good many articles of late discussing the self-publishing eBook market.  I don’t think things are as dire in the print world as many suggest, but I don’t think we can ignore eBooks either.  They’re here to stay.

So, how will I facilitate this massive production goal, you ask?  I’m just going to do it.  Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy fix.  I’ve just got to sit down and write, each and every night.  I’m setting a goal of 2,000 words per night until my novel is done and it’s time to begin the editing/rewriting process.

I’m part of a couple online writing groups, and I haven’t been doing very well with my participation there, either.  I’m recommitting to that as well.  In one group I post weekly.  The other, twice a month.  In each I have to do several reviews.  It easily takes a good couple hours to do all my reviews.  But, I’ve received invaluable feedback on my draft that will make it much much better than it is.  It’s a tremendous resource that I’m looking forward to taking advantage of.

I’m also going to take advantage of some workshops and symposiums to do some networking and pick up some good tips.  I’m going to the LTU&E conference at BYU in February.  I went last year, and it was outstanding.  I’m going to try to make the Superstars of Writing seminar in a couple weeks in Salt Lake City as well.  That one is pretty expensive, though, so I’m not sure yet.  Either way, I’m going to do what I can to immerse myself back into the writing world so I can get this done.  The more I invest in it, the more invested in it I’ll be. 

2010 was a great year.  2011 is going to be OUTSTANDING!!!

fingers rusty

I bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past couple weeks.  It’s funny how writing is like any other thing in life.  When you do it every day it’s easy to sit down and do it every day.  But, if you get out of the groove and let several days or a week go by without writing, it’s like pulling teeth to get back into the habit again.

I’ve set a pretty lofty goal for this weekend: 20,000 words.  I’ve never written that much in 2 days, but we’ll see.  I got on tonight to at least refamiliarize myself with my most recent material.  I also wrote almost a thousand words.  I’m starting to worry that I’ve got a pacing issue.  I need to find a good proofreader with some editing experience to see whether I’m on the right track.

I also realized that I need to go back and insert a chapter dealing with my antagonist and his attempts to undermine the Emperor.  I’ve been meaning to all along, but I’ve gotten too far into the book without it, so I have to go back and add it.

It’s tricky to write various plot lines at the same time, but I can’t very well carry a single plot line throughout the novel and keep interest.  Man, the things you take for granted that good authors do.

But, as I once heard, the difference between writers and nonwriters is that writers write.  So, I’ll just keep plunking along!  Keep your fingers crossed.