Warning – this post is all about writing. Thoughts ideas, samples, tutorials, flash pieces, short stories, and even my novel. If you came here looking for photos, here are a few:
These are the only ones in the entire post. The rest is all about writing.
This year started off with relatively low expectations and an honest look at myself for what I am: narrowly and usually only temporarily motivated to accomplish stuff. Mind you, in the aggregate, I seem to accomplish a fair amount. But . . . nothing with specific goals. It’s all spur of the moment stuff that captures my interest.
Occasionally, I can produce something substantial . . such as my 2014 NaNoWriMo effort. That link leads to a password protected post containing the entire minimally edited novel (I’ll provide a link to a more polished version later on). At the time, I also wrote about what I learned, what I did, and how it differed from what I could have done with the novel. (HERE)
In early February, I tried my hand at more fantasy writing. I penned a sequel to my mildly successful elven story. (HERE)
I was, and still am, fairly happy with both the original and the sequel. If I were to write a fantasy novel, those characters, and that world are strong contenders for it.
Just a few days later, I got the idea that although ancient, I should apply more of my efforts to writing and doing something about getting published. Indirectly, of course. HERE, I reviewed my thought process for applying to Viable Paradise. I also explored the differences between my two major hobbies: writing and photography. Only one can ever be truly and uniquely mine. Don’t believe me? Pick any of my photos and do a search for similar photos . . . thousands will assail your vision. Now, do a search for any of my stories. Mine and only mine will show up.
A week after the decision, I wrote about the process of polishing the submission manuscript for the application to Viable Paradise. HERE, I touch on editing and the frustration I often encounter when deciding between correct grammar and how I want to arrange and punctuate my words. I also included the cover letter I sent in with the application.
Two days after that I wrote a Valentine Letter to writing. Soppy, really, but it has to do with writing, so it gets included here.
Shortly after that, I began with the first of many posts examining this writing thing and my relationship to it. My questions about “learning” about writing are always the same . . . what does that mean? Learning what? The mechanics? Learning how to tell a story? Learning how to be commercially successful?
Writing is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. I say that because everything else I’ve ever done has been strictly a personal thing. Take bowling, racquetball, archery, shooting, table tennis, golfing . . . I worked to a certain level of proficiency and that’s it. How good I was or wanted to get was no one’s business but mine. I was never going to “compete” in anything more than my own limited sphere of influence.
Writing is different because, unlike sports, there is no score I can look at and decide “I’m happy with that”. I was happy with my 182 average, “A” ranking, marksmanship, handicap, and so on. Those were all measures independent of anyone. I essentially tested myself and stopped when I was happy with the score. Well, heck, I’ve always been happy with my writing, but I do I score it? What measure can I use to grade myself?
For that matter, why grade myself if I’m happy with my writing? Because I hate fooling myself. For example, I can tell myself I am a handsome man, and I might even get an occasional compliment, but one look in the mirror and I can set aside all illusions. Where is the mirror for writing? Well, it’s readers. I have, depending on the time of year and what I write, anywhere from three to six regular readers. They are regular readers because they like what I write.
No offense to them — heck, I happen to agree with their assessment — but they are a small sample. I have something like 900 followers . . . and six readers. That’s 0.00007% of my audience liking what I write.
So, I embarked on examining what kind of writer I am. In part, it was in anticipation of someone at the workshop asking me to assess myself as a writer (they never asked).
I started with a two-parts examination of “voice”, something I hear about often . . . writers need a voice, despite the fact they are writing things down and not speaking. I pulled information from a number of sources and tried to aggregate it in one place as I examined my writing relative to what I learned.
Continuing my examination of this writing thing, I examined the advice given in a Guardian article about the Rules of Writing Fiction. They interviewed a number of successful writers. I read what they said and evaluated whether my writing followed said rules. The two blog posts about the ten rules for writing fiction are HERE and HERE.
In March, I entered a contest. Mind you, I am fully aware I never win squat. But, this was a writing contest. HERE is the blog post where I describe the contest and the process for choosing what to enter. I wanted to enter THIS piece, but I went with THIS one. Did not win; did not place; did not get an honorable mention. My spirit soared . . . no, wait . . . I ain’t even got a spirit.
Anyway, I returned to the examination of this writing thing . . . with THIS post about Romance. Yes, I’m a sucker for a good romance. Mind you, there ain’t many of them out there, but some. By the way, for them who might want to revisit them, this is the post with the short piece about Bafio and Iofna. The post also links to a number of flash pieces with romance as the central theme.
One other thing I should mention. All the posts linked in this review have one thing in common. I got me some great comments and discussions about writing. For that, I once again thank the readers who did comment.
In May 2015, I chanced across a couple of articles that took the wind out of my sails . . . you know, if I had sails, and if they had been full of wind. I’m not sure gas counts, still, sails and no wind. The result was THIS post that had me question the usefulness of instructions, workshops, and any kind of teaching. It also reinforced what I knew already . . . few writers make it, and of those who make it, few earn a decent living at it.
Now, people who are familiar with me (poor bastards!) might realize I don’t discourage easily . . . I wrote THIS flash piece in part to get myself back on the proverbial horse.
Then I wrote a post in which I answered a 50 Words Flash Fiction Challenge. I can’t deny the strong appeal I have for short fiction. It’s quick, and it has immediate gratification.
By July, I knew I was going to Viable Paradise. I announced it HERE as I reviewed my open projects . . . and added a new one.
And then, because one can never have too many open projects, I added another one HERE. Honest, I’m never short on ideas . . . I am, however, often distracted by new ideas that keep me from developing the old ideas. That’s probably something I need to work on.
As part of being accepted to Viable Paradise, I started interacting with the other attendees. One of the discussions we had covered “fan fiction.” For them who don’t know what that is, it’s where a writer uses an existing world and characters and adapts them to a new story. My first foray in fanfic is HERE. The one I wrote in response to a suggestion from the VP19 group is HERE. It’s a comedy piece. I’m told I write humor well.
During my earlier examination of the “rules for writing fiction”, I came across something I had never heard of . . .
- For a good melodrama study the famous “Lester Dent master plot formula” which you can find online. It was written to show how to write a short story for the pulps, but can be adapted successfully for most stories of any length or genre.
Well, I finally took up the challenge and wrote a short story using Dent’s formula. The post, HERE, introduces Michelle Maul, a tough female private eye, in a 6,000 words story that follows Dent’s formula.
August 2015 saw me admit that I do not read Stephen King . . . but, I did take on an article about 22 lessons from Stephen King on becoming a great writer. I covered each individual lesson in THIS post and scored 66.666% . . . finally, a numerical gauge of my abilities. I would be giddy if it weren’t for the low score. Sure, in today’s education system I would get a gold star and a pat in the head, but in the time period I grew up in, that is a failing grade.
Resolute, I decided the only answer was to write ten short stories, all in the month of September. Sure, that is a very doable goal; I write fast. Unfortunately, other shi . . . er . . . I mean, life had other plans for me. Still, I did write five stories — HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
The first four links are the introductions to the stories . . . the actual stories are accessible behind a password. That’s so I can keep my FNASR (gesundheit). The fifth story gave me a lot of trouble and I decided it was not worth trying to submit it anywhere, hence it’s not password protected. And, guess what? A number of people thought it was the best of the five. Go figure.
October found me at the workshop . . . our assignment was to write something based on some random prompts we got. I had fun with it, wrote it in a few hours, and promptly posted it on my blog (HERE). I wrote the piece as a joke . . . without realizing that we were meant to submit the piece. By posting it on the blog, I gave away my FNASR!
But, realistically, where the heck would I even submit that story? It was a fun piece and I was proud of it. Still am.
I’m also proud of my Halloween Story. And, I tell you what; I did notice an improvement in stuff I wrote after the workshop. Minor things, but stuff that I was now aware of made my writing a bit tighter and better. Perhaps not so that the reader would notice, but I noticed.
And, that brings us to November and my NaNoWriMo effort. Be aware . . . that post is long, but it does have the opening chapter of my novel (at the bottom of the post). The rest of the chapters are in password-protected posts. I had written a few other flash pieces in November (HERE) for yet another contest (and did not place).
Anyway, NaNoWriMo-3 (2015) . . . I joked about it, but I did hit the 50K goal for the month, especially if one includes the two flash entries I submitted for consideration in another contest of sorts (included in the update link. . . and what did I say about contests?). Sure, I said I came up one word short at 49,999 . . . I would have thought the joke was obvious, but some people took it seriously. But, I have not finished the story . . . I will, but other stuff took precedence in December; I put it on hold to fulfill my oath to send stuff out.
December saw a huge push editing last year’s NaNoWriMo so that I could submit it. Here is the cleaned-up version I sent out: Hybrid – For Blog. Yes, an unimaginative title, but if anyone buys it, they would likely change the title anyway.
That’s also what I am using for my agent search (sent out eleven query letters, so far, with another four in the works).
And yes, I edited and revised the September stories and send them out into the world to represent my writing.
That sounds like a lot of progress but realize this: optimistically, I might not hear anything back before six to eight weeks. Pessimistically, I might not hear anything back for six to eight months. And that’s the crux . . . I need to write new stuff to send out, and when I get my rejection form letters, I need to send the stuff out again to different markets. Same for the novel. While I wait on it, I might clean up the first NaNoWriMo, and send it out. And write new stuff and send that out. Submit, submit, submit . . . that’s the secret to getting published.
And that, my dear readers, is all the Disperser Tracks writing-related content. And yes, I aim to increase my writing output for 2016.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.