Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"Made to order."

I wrote a "made to order" chapter for "Takeover" yesterday, and I think it turned out fine. By "made to order" I mean a chapter that was dictated by the needs of the plot. I have about three chapters I need to fill in storyline that way, backdating them.

Then I move forward with the plot. It's all plot now.

But I spent the first 15K words just following the characters, setting the scene. Probably 15K words too many, in the modern parlance. All of it came spilling out without prompting. But it wasn't necessarily plot driven, or dictated by the needs to have action.

I'm sort of perturbed by the Michael Bay-zation of storytelling. Everything has to start with a bang now, even if artificially induced. Sometimes that works, but it needs to feel natural.

This seems to be the advice that everyone is following, demanding. Yet...if you really look at the good books, the successful books, many of them don't really do that. Because a good book is an original book, not a formulaic one.

In a recent book, I felt I needed to do that start with a bang thing ("write me 100 kickass pages!" says the bigly time agent) and it turned out terrible. Months later, I replaced that first chapter--with another action chapter, only this one worked.

I also seemed to be trapped by my walking process. I can't seem to write anything until I've walk a couple of miles into the middle of nowhere, sit down on a stump or a rock, and just lose myself. Inconvenient. I mean, sometimes I can get going at home, at the table or outside on the patio, but mostly it's like my subconscious won't produce unless I'm walking.

I'm up to 20K words in "Takeover." The Murder will happen around 25K words. The solving of the murder and the ending of the first takeover will happen around 35 to 40K words, then the real bad guys come in and I haven't gotten that far with the plot except to know that it will probably be all action after that. Try to get to 65 to 70K first draft, add my usual 15% with description, research tidbits, character development, and making things clearer.

This is the first book where I've tried to be completely serious all the way through. I can't help a little humor here and there, which is weird that I feel that compunction because I never set out to be funny, which is probably good because when I try to be funny, I ain't.

But nothing silly like a bulletproof Bigfoot costume and a Queen Snake. (And these were my previous "serious" books.)

And I've had the realization that I'm kidding myself about writing something "literary." I just don't have that in me, I think. I'm better off sticking to pure entertainment. That is a worthy goal and not easy to accomplish.




Monday, July 17, 2017

"Keep it Real."

I think I need to back off a little from yesterday's post. All the "good" book talk. I'm setting myself up for failure, for writer's block, for disappointment.

I'm going with the plot, which means taking each plot development and writing a chapter, whether it is inspired or not. It just has to be done.

I've been sort of drifting for several days now, waiting for inspiration, and it doesn't seem to be happening. Or, rather, the inspiration is in other directions which are just more set up, more neutral, not advancing the story.

So it's time to switch to normal writing mode. I think it will be fine, and it will be done, which is the most important. I don't think it's possible to write an entire book inspired, nor that it would necessarily be better.

I told Linda about my two tracks, realistic and grounded all the way through, or going into heightened thriller plot oriented, and she definitely came down on the side of the latter. In truth, it was 80/20 where I was leaning, too.

But most of all, there are things that need to be written, and I just need to do it. Whether it's a "good" book in the end remains to be seen. But first it has to be written, and there is no realistic way I'm going to diverge from the plot that I've come up with. It feel very solid to me, this plot, no plot holes so far, which almost always seems to happen with me, and then I have to paper them over. I like the plot and the theme and the general thrust, and I'm still going to try to be realistic in approach. In fact, I've written a little note over my desk.

"Keep it Real."

I have about five chapters fleshed out in my head, another five chapters more loosely diagrammed, and then another ten chapters with general outline, and the last third of the book denoted. "Action: chickens come home to roost." Heh.

Just need to get on it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Takeover" is the "good" book. I need to keep it that way. Make sure that every piece works, that I don't compromise, that I don't get sidetracked. This estimation of a "good" book is strictly mine, and may bear no relation to how others will see it. It could very well be rejected and it wouldn't change my opinion of it. It could get few readers, bad reviews, and it won't change my opinion.

I've always wanted to write the "good" book, the book I can point to and say,  "Here. I've left this."

I could make this a reality-based book all the way through. It would probably get to 30 or 40K words and could be embellished, I suppose, to 60K words. Maybe lots of philosophizing and politicizing and interior dialoguing and I  could get it to 80K words. That's a real option. I've been debating with myself. To do that book I'd need to do more research.

I'd need to drop the plot, basically. The murder. Drop the second murderous group. End the book with the capture of the leaders and the death of Jules.

If I was a literary author and could bring some depth and pathos to that, it might be the way to go. How ambitious am I in that direction?

I have my doubts that I could really nail that book. I do think, however, that I could nail a thriller. 

So keeping to real events would just be my interpretation of what really happened. That might be critically more palatable, but it wouldn't be a thriller, per se. And I'm not sure that I can pull it off. I also don't think it would be as fun and satisfying personally.

Like I said, this has to please me.

So, by the time I write some fill-in chapters, I'm going to be at 20K words.

Then the murder. Then the plot happens. From that point, it will be more plot oriented, like a thriller.

That doesn't mean I have to drop the reality "feel" of it, it just means I move away from what really happened.

I came into this book with only two plot ideas. That there would be a murder, and that a more extreme and violent group would come in and the original group and hostages have to work together to beat them.

The first 20K words have paralleled real events. With the murder, I go into new territory.

In every book, there is that part where the story drives me and there is the part where I drive the story. I always prefer the former, but always bow to the necessity of the latter. The crafted parts of the books aren't worse, they just aren't quite as personally satisfying. Sometimes, actually, they are better because the inspired parts often are more predictable, the parts I have to think about I can try to veer away from predictability.

I liken inspiration to a well. Sometimes the well is overflowing and it spills out on the page. Sometimes I have to dip into it. Sometimes I have to dip the bucket to the bottom of the well. But the water, the inspiration, is the same no matter how I access it.

But...at the same time...the overflow water always seems to have a big more fizz to it. It always tastes just a little better.

I've gotten as far as 3/4th the way through a story with the story directing me. But I've never made it all the way through a book before inspiration peters out and I have to direct the story. I think I have the luxury with this book to make sure I get all the way through being driven by the story. Even if it takes twice as long as normal. I don't want to mess with the "good" book.

I've tried to let the characters direct the story so far, but I've reached the logical conclusion of that unless I intend to leave out the plot. If I bring in the plot, then I have to have the characters directed by the plot.

I'm waiting for inspiration, really. Waiting for my subconscious to tell me what comes next.

The funny thing is, this is exactly the opposite of what I thought would happen. This was the book that I was going to fully plot out, every little detail, with character sketches and tons of research.

So I did some research, as much as I could force myself to do, and then I started writing the character sketches and those seemed to take on a life of their own and were telling the story better than a fictional narrative, and I kept that approach.

I've used up most of the research in the first 20K words, which is fine because this is where the fiction takes over. So far, everything I've written has paralleled real events. If I decide to keep it real, I'll need to do a lot more research. I'll need to figure out how to explain the thinking and motives of the characters. If I go with the plot, then I need to make it satisfying in an action way, without so much literary interior dialogue.

I'm going to keep waiting for the characters to pop up and tell me it's their turn. I have the plot pretty much formed. I've written the book in my head, so to speak. Which is always alarming and reassuring at the same time. Alarming because I'd much rather keep discovering (but of course I do) and reassuring because there is always the danger that I can't come up with an ending. Heh.

Anyway, I'm incredibly excited by this book, and I'm hoping to keep the head of steam all the way through.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

"Big Liar, Little Man."

Woke up with the title in my head and went ahead and wrote the story.

"Big Liar, Little Man." https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073YH5HJ1/

This is the second little fable I've written, after "Burp the Burrow Wight."

I went ahead and concocted a cover to it and published it, just like that. I don't know, I may have a bunch of these cute little stories in my head. They're palate cleansers, you know? Done and done. Like poetry is to me, a way to exercise my creative side without any real consequences.

I was told by a friend to stick to writing, but I can't afford to hire artists for a .99 story (my cut, .35).

I've noticed, though, that the short story covers I see online are nowhere near the quality of the covers for books. Obviously, everyone is in the same boat. So my covers actually don't compare all the badly to the covers for other shorts stories, at least I don't think so.

Here's the cover:

Friday, July 14, 2017

For "Takeover," I am purposely letting the characters dictate the plot. Usually what happens about now is that I have an idea of where the book is going and write accordingly. I'm trying hard not to do that. I'm trying to make each chapter a surprise. If it doesn't click with me strongly, I'm not writing it.

In a way, it's waiting for "inspiration" which everyone tells you not to do, but I think I can afford to take a chance since I'm really on a roll, you know.

I spent the whole day yesterday waiting for inspiration. By the time I went for my twilight walk, I'd given up, figured that nothing was going to come that day.

I was halfway through my walk when a character popped his head up and said, "My turn."

So that will have to happen each time. I'm not going to write anything that doesn't feel strong.

The feeling I'm attempting is authentic, real. No fictional glow, but something that feels like it could have happened, that these are real people narrating the story. I'm about 14,000 words in, so the question is, can I keep this going all the way and will it turn into a plot of some kind? I've got some foreshadowing going, so I'm hoping.

No compromises on this one. (Compromises with myself, by the way. Most of what other people mention is valid, but more often than not I get it in my head that even though I really like something, others won't, and that changes what I do. Not this time. If I like it, I'm doing it.)

There's the, "I don't understand that reference," or "That transition is confusing," or...all kinds of things that are clear to me and I think should be clear to the reader but aren't. So I've always thought the point was to be clear, but in doing so, I always feel like I've lost a little edge, a little bit of a challenge, this time, screw that. I'm putting it in if I think it's valid.

It's maybe a bit more "literary" this time. Terrible word, that I normally shy away from. Nothing will keep me from reading a book more than labeling it "literary." But I'm not doing anything that smacks of "pot-boiler" fiction. Nothing fantastical (not that there is anything wrong with that) and nothing melodramatic.

As I've said before, all my books turn into Duncan McGeary books in the end; they all end up with similar style, even when I try to do something new. My guess is, trying to be literary is all fine and good, but maybe all that will happen is that I make my book just a little harder to read for most, but something a few people will appreciate. Heh.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dialogue is naked.

"Takeover" feels real to me. The book's got a really solid feeling to it, like it's meant to be. I get this sense in the pit of my stomach sometimes. Yesterday on my walk, I got this feeling that something strong is going to come out of it. Not sure what, just that it's there, that it's merely a matter of telling the story.

I don't want to be talked out of this delusion just yet.

I'm writing it the way I want, without any editorial input from my brain. I suspect some of it probably doesn't work, but I really like it. So I'm thinking I'll probably write this exactly the way I want, without any compromise whatsoever, because I think it's good.

My feeling is, if I try for literary, I won't get there but I'll write a better book from the attempt.

I'm getting to the part of my book with more dialogue and that feels a little weaker to me, because I think writing convincing dialogue comes from real world experience and in that I'm limited.

I can imagine people's interior thoughts easier, somehow. Embellish them enough to make them sound convincing.

Dialogue just sits there stark, without any clothing, and if it isn't strong, it shows.

But I won't get better at it until I try. I'm looking for naturalness, but also surprising turns.

Because people aren't predictable, and that shows in their words. So much is revealed by so little.
Read the first 17 pages of "Takeover" at writer's group.

Somewhat to my surprise, the "epistolary" element of the book is passing muster. No one seems bothered by it. It's clear I'll need to clear up some things, maybe label the entries better, change the order, but overall the idea seems to be working.

Gary thought I should kill one of my babies. (A section Linda had singled out as really liking.)

Came up with some really satisfying plots elements yesterday on my walk. Since I'd pretty much run out of ideas the day before, that was very reassuring. I just have to trust that my subconscious will keep coming up with stuff.

Writing this way is extraordinarily easy for me. It's more or less a fresh start every day. The story advances by addition, but not by straightforward timeline, which is fine with me. Jumping around like that is very refreshing.

I have chosen one character to carry the narration. I'm trying to make sure he's at least every third entry.

My biggest problem is that the more extreme characters are the most interesting. Much more fun to get in their heads, and by doing so, I can't help but make them sympathetic. But I really don't believe their views, even though it may seem like I do. I don't really get into the political specifics, so far, more just their general since of aggrievedness, their pissed offness.

The moderate characters by contrast are, well, moderate, and they tend to get drowned out.

Just like real life.

I'm hoping by the end of the book I've made it clear that taking-over places is a bad idea.

Linda thinks the real theme of the book is the inability to see consequences, that taking extreme action leads to extremes...ending in violence. I hadn't intended this as the theme, but by trying to access the character motivations, this seems to be what's coming up. Not the "reasons" for their actions, but that they respond to their anger in inappropriate ways.

I've avoided the specifics politics, like I said, which is unexpected. But I can see a way to keep doing this, making it more about personality than politics.

I've decided not to even go into the POV of the law enforcement. So the two people who work at the monument and stay behind have to carry the "moderate" load.

That's going to take some doing, I think. That will be a challenge. This book was always going to be a minefield, so I really want to defuse that ass much as possible, and that means making the two sides roughly equal.

If the reader gets far enough into the book, he'll find that it evens out as the original takover-ers join the moderates to fight to true extremists. But whether people will hang in there long enough, I don't know.

This book could fall victim to the extreme polarization these days. It's probably a stupid thing to write.

I'm also writing a few "babies," that is, parts that are artistically satisfying but maybe aren't completely needed. (Just about anything can be atmosphere and mood, but not everything materially advances the story.)

For instance, I decided to have one of the characters be a "cowboy" poet and as a result, I have a couple of poems I wrote included, and really, it's all character mood and shading.

Anyway, the book really has me in its grip, and I'm writing it the way it wants to be written, and if that doesn't work for other people, so be it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Writing an epistolary novel.

Without meaning to, it looks like I'm writing an epistolary novel called "Takeover."

Epistolary: a literary work in the form of letters or documents.

I'm 10,000 words in.

I started out writing "witness" statements for color. They came out so well I kept doing them and at some point I realized I was telling the story that way.

I feel like I have a knack for this format, capturing the voices of the characters. They come out pretty convincing, I think.

It's an interesting technique. On one hand, it's slightly distancing in that it is one step removed from the story. It is a kind of "dear reader" effect in that you are aware that it is after the fact. On the other hand, you can get all the way into the POV of a bunch of characters, which I think cancels out the distancing factor.

It's not the first time I've done it. I was halfway through "Led to the Slaughter" when the Donner Party reached the mountains. I needed to show the suffering, the cold, and the hunger, and I landed on diary entries to show the daily struggle. It worked really well. I also used this technique in "The Darkness You Fear" because the POV character is Virginia Reed, but she wasn't with the Lost Meek Wagon Train, so I had another character's journal telling the story.

Interestingly, I realized that I was currently reading an epistolary novel without having been aware of it: "D.O.D.O." by Neal Stephenson.

I'm kind of winging it so far, quickly using up the research I've done. So far the action is paralleling the Malhuer occupation and the Bundy Ranch standoff. Pretty soon I'll be moving into new territory; a murder and an escalation of action, the 'Juniper Rebellion.'

As long as these characters keep telling the story in an interesting way, I'm going to keep going with this technique. I'm not sure how publishers are going to feel about it, but the books seems to want to be written this way.

Monday, July 10, 2017

In Cahoots.

The moonlight in cahoots,
to keep me riding
the dusty trail
on the banks of the canal,
a calf astray in the weeds.

Blackbirds dive bomb me,
pretending to be wounded,
leading me astray,
in cahoots, I reckon
with the lost calf.

Be safe, I murmur.
The water rushes through
the narrows, in cahoots,
spraying the soft green
amidst the brown.

In cahoots,
the bounding rabbits,
the scurrying lizards,
to keep me wandering,
no hurry to find the calf.

Dark and quiet,
until the calf bellows,
lost in the reeds,
needing its mother,
In cahoots to end my sojourn.

I rope the calf,
it quiets and follows,
the blackbirds ignore me,
the darkening trail,
in cahoots to lead me home.





I'll be honest here.

It takes amazing few sales to get in the Top 100 lists on Amazon. Amazingly few. I'm amazed the whole thing isn't manipulated even more.

If you got 50 friends to buy within a few days, you'd probably be in the Top 10 on some lists. Of course, you wouldn't stay there for long, but on the theory that people checking for something to read would check the front page, it might do some good.

But really, how many people are LOOKING for something to read rather than trying to beat off suggestions with a stick?

I've resorted to asking friends to buy my books a few times, but not every time. It worked very well for my first book, Led to the Slaughter; not quite as well for Tuskers, and then pretty much since then, not all that well.

I published Faerie Punk with no fanfare at all. Just announced it once, and that was it. By far my worst selling book, dang it. It's good book, too. Wouldn't it be so much more fun to just put a book out there and expect people to buy it?

I'm going to make a big push for Snaked. I think Cohesion is an interesting publisher, with exciting books in their roster, and they've got some marketing clout and credibility, so it might all be worth going after.

So be prepared!

Meanwhile, "FREE MARS!" is currently in the Top 100 lists, and a few more sales would keep it there for awhile, so I'm asking again. A bit of an ego trip, I admit. No real money in it.  Costs all of 99 cents.

Love you whether you buy it or not, dear blog readers.

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073R2WMBY/

Sunday, July 9, 2017

So if about 10 of you guys who regularly read this blog--you know, where I talk about what I'm writing--would actually buy FREE MARS!--it would move up the ranks pretty fast where people who don't read my blog might find it?

Not sure. "FREE MARS!" is only .99 and a half hour read. Give it a try, folks. Help me feel like this blog means something.

Here's the link. You know, click it, and spend 1/4th a cup of coffee?

Dunc

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073R2WMBY/

Write like you don't care.

I can't tell you the number of people I've run into that have the tools to write a book and never get around to it. They have much too high expectations of their first efforts.

But at the same time, it's these high expectations that get some people to actually write a book. The financial rewards are usually so unrealistic it isn't worth talking about. That reality will hit you fast enough and if that's the only reason you're writing, then you might as well quit now.

It's the response by your family and friends that you have to overcome. Either they'll blow smoke, tell you what you want to hear, or they'll be honest.

It's enough to crush ambition. But...at least what happened to me is that the urge to write returned, again and again, after each crushing. And I slowly got a little better. But at first, most writers aren't going to be at the level they hoped for.

So they write something and they think it's pretty good and they expose it and find out maybe it isn't that good, so they try again, and it falls short again but there is a bit of improvement, and then you do it again, and you've got the beginner mistakes out of the way but you find even bigger problems, and...well...it never ends.

It's a constant negotiation with reality.

I'm always trying to write the "good" book. That sounds modest, but it isn't. It's the Holy Grail. It's something that very few writers ever actually manage. It's my own definition, I guess. A "good" book that is so good that people talk about it, pass it along to others, reread and savored.

Every time I start a new book there is a chance it will happen.

But I can't put that expectation on myself or nothing will get done. I do best when I just wing it, write whatever comes to me, enjoy the process, not care whether anyone else is going to like it.

It's a bit of a Catch-22, I suppose. I might be better served trying to figure out what might be commercially viable, then do a lot of planning to achieve that goal.

But...that book will never get written. Has never gotten written. A few times I've tried, and the result wasn't that good, frankly. It fell flat. Right idea, right approach, flat result.

Bad idea, bad approach, lively result.

Anyway, if I had any advice to beginning writers it would be to write like you don't care. Do it for your own amusement.

Of course, the old pros would probably look down at this approach. But for me, it's very liberating. And it doesn't keep me from trying to get better. I just give myself breathing room, and the chance to have fun, and to keep the sense of exploration alive.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Writing short pieces of "Takeover," what I'm calling "witness testimonies." If nothing else, it gives me a sense of each character. I ended up liking these snippets so much, I almost wonder if I could write an entire book that way.

I like the kind of complexity they weave, the sort of disjointedness and contrary observations that real-life events have.

I do think there needs to be a connecting thread, though. A main narrator. But meanwhile, I'm just writing things as they occur to me, with the idea that I can thread them all together later.

I'm just writing stuff that I'm inspired by so far. Using up a lot of the research I did fast, but I'm going to be moving into new territory soon, so that's probably all right.

I'm just hoping it will all hang together at the end.

Right now, I'm thinking of taking one character and making him every second or third entry, and making each entry of his at least a couple thousand words. (Most of the others are between 300 to 1000 words.) Use his narration as the connective tissue but try to maintain the tone.
 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

FREE MARS! is live.

My new short story is Live.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073R2WMBY/

If you've ever wondered about my writing and wanted something short but complete and only .99 (or free on Kindle Unlimited), here it is.

It was so much fun to write!

Got the "Tuskers IV" publisher-edits yesterday. They asked for a few small revisions and for me to look over the copy-edits.

I almost always accept edits. I'm not sure if this is because I'm a wuss or because I've been lucky so far and the suggestions haven't been out of bounds. In fact, most of them are pretty good. And as far as word changes and grammar, I find the changes are almost always for the better.

Anyway, I quickly wrote what they wanted and sent it back, so it looks like "Tuskers IV" might be ready to go. I think it came out really well, especially since it's a fourth book. It may actually be the best of the lot.

I'm very responsive to direction, I'll give myself that. I try to do what they ask. It doesn't ever seem to be a problem, despite the stories you hear about obtrusive and wrong-headed editors.

At least so far.

So I've done editing over the last three months of "Deadfall Ridge," "Snaked," and now "Tuskers IV."

I'm looking forward to writing new stuff. I still have at least one book out there that I'll probably have to do under an editor's supervision, and a possibility of another.

After that, I'm on my own unless something happens.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


"FREE MARS!" is ready as it is, but I've decided to take a couple steps back and give it a chance to breathe.

I have a theory: patient never finishes. Impulse gets it done. Or as my Dad always put it, "Do something...even if it's wrong."

Still...

Anyway, I love the story as is. There are a few changes I want to make at the end. I sort of have the villain blurting out his nefarious plans. Instead, I can break the scene into two parts, where Sceeter figures out what he's doing and challenges him and only then does the villain blurt out his nefarious plans.  

Other than that, I'm ready to go. So sometime in the next week or so, probably.

Here's the kicker. I think there's a novel here, so I'm going to go ahead and expand it. There is a tradition of short stories and novellas being expanded into novels, so I don't think I'm breaking any rules here. The short story is complete in itself, but can also be expanded.

The whole thing has really grabbed me, and plot elements are spilling out of my subconscious, so apparently that's what I'm going to be writing for the next couple of months.

I never know until I'm finished on one project what is going to grab me. But when something excites me, I go with it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Final version. I rather like the stark simplicity of it. It's just a whim of a story, I don't want to make too much of it. (Though I rather like it.)

"FREE MARS! The Kids are Revolting.

"Spunky red-haired, freckled Sceeter has had enough. In the depths of the tunnels she scrawls "FREE MARS!" and before she knows it, the rebellion has begun, with her as its leader!"

The story is inspired by the utterly bonzo, but strangely wonderful conspiracy theory of child slave colonies on Mars.

If ever there was a call for a Heinleinesque young adult/adult science fiction adventure, this was it.

"Sceeter Lives!"

I'm going to go ahead and put it up for .99.









So I'm no artist, but I can't afford designers for a 99 cent story, so I did my best. It isn't horrible, but it ain't great. Heh.

Thing is, if I went with this I literally could have written a 9000 word story in one day and then uploaded it the very next day. Wow.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Not every story need be a novel.

I don't know why it took so long to realize it. I suppose, because I don't read shorter fiction, that I didn't think I'd want to write it.

Here's the thing. I'm not sure that what I write, whether it be novels, novellas, or short stories, are what I would actually read cold. That is, if I ran across the idea without knowing it was me, you know, I'm not sure it would pull my trigger.

I'm not sure what that says about my ambitions. Really kind of bizarre. But there it is. I'm not sure if it means my ideas aren't good enough or that I have different appetites or that I don't know my own mind.

Because I love my stories, and when I'm writing them it's like reading a very intense book.

Yesterday I wrote for 11 hours straight, finished a complete 9000 word story, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Nor do I think the story suffered from the speed, in fact it may have benefited from the creative energy, the excitement, and the goal of finishing.

It's exhausting, mind-draining, and everything but everything else gets put off--even eating. Linda drifted in and out of my attention. (Well, actually, I came to her every 1000 words or so excited to read them outloud to her. She is a gem, folks. A writer's dream wife.) But mostly I was in a fog.

I did a lot of these marathon sessions my first year back in writing, and I loved it, but I also realized that everything else kind of went on autopilot. I also didn't think it was physically healthy. So I arrived at the idea of writing a steady 1500 to 2000 words every day, and I think that was the right approach.

Then again, I love "FREE MARS!" which I wrote in 11 hours yesterday. So I guess every routine can be broken if the urge is strong enough.

The idea that I don't have to do 60K words just because I get an idea is sort of exciting. I mean, it means I can write more things more quickly. Just have fun with them.

I often get these ideas, but then I have to consider whether they are strong enough or interesting enough to carry me for a few months, and most often the answer it no. But some would be just fine for a day or a week or a fortnight or a month, and that is a very freeing idea.

I think I thought that a short story had a specific format, which was a bit of mystery to me. But now I realize a story is just how many words and pages it takes to tell it. Period.

Yes, there is probably a correct formal way to write a short story, and yes, I'm probably doing it all wrong just like when I write poetry, or...probably...novels. But what I enjoy is telling stories, and the stories should be told in the length and style they want to be.

Not commercial relevant, probably. But I'm more and more returning to the pure notion of writing for my own reasons.

I will say this, and it may be egotistical, but I think if I truly set out to do nothing but Big Five mainstream novels, that it would probably take some time, and I'd have any number of set-backs, but that in the end, I'd probably achieve it.

But I'm realizing more and more that I don't want to do that. I don't want to take that journey, because it would keep me from writing what I want when I want. Probably because of my age and relative financial security, I don't want to pay the price because it reins me in.

I'll repeat that: The goal is to write WHAT I want WHEN I want.

And that probably means I'm on my own unless what I write happens accidentally to coincide with the marketplace.

The joy I take in writing must mean something.

I know the old pro writers would roll their eyes at this, and well they should. But it don't matter to me.

Child Slave Colonies on Mars. I've got to write it!

I have a million things to do, so what happens? I get caught up on the idea of child slave colonies on Mars, (Alex Jone's of Info Wars utterly bonzo conspiracy theory.)

It such a strange and strangely wonderful idea (not child slavery but the thought that anyone would believe it) that I wanted to write a Heinleinesque young adult/adult science fiction adventure.

"FREE MARS!"

"Spunky red-haired, freckled Sceeter has had enough. In the depths of the tunnels she scrawls "FREE MARS!" and before she knows it, the rebellion has begun, with her as its leader!"

The story grabbed me at 9:00 in the morning, and as often happens, I wrote a thousand words in jest, then another thousand words a little more seriously, and then...well, I was off.

I pretty much buried myself in the story, played hooky and wrote all day long. Barely got up to eat. Just kept writing and writing, and 9000 words and 11 hours later, I was finished. When I went for my walk, my eyes couldn't focus on anything farther than a few feet away. (That can't be good, heh).

As usual with a new story, I absolutely love it.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I have finished, I hope, the final rewrite of "Snaked." Though, actually, I'd be willing to do another round. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing improvements (and nothing less satisfying than actually doing them.)

It is much more cohesive, streamlined and action-packed "Snaked" than the original version. 

Cohesion wanted a timestamp for every chapter, a countdown, and so I had to fully analyze what was happening in the story. I found some discrepancies I needed to fix that I might not have found otherwise. I also had to figure out the countdown according to the timestamp, which required some math on my part.

Math makes my head hurt.

As an experiment, I did a version of the story where I reordered the chapters to strictly follow the timeline.

Basically, the editors told me to quit fucking with the book, that it was nearly finished, so I'm just going to send them the new chapter order and let them decide if they want to do anything with it.

All in all, a very satisfying experience. I wish more editors and publishers would do this. I feel like Cohesion is really behind the book, and it fits right in with their sea creature books, which are doing very well.

"Primordial," by https://www.amazon.com/Primordial-David-Wood-ebook/dp/B06WW7DMFB/
"Fathomless," by https://www.amazon.com/Fathomless-Greig-Beck-ebook/dp/B01N7IELYU/

and now "Snaked" by Duncan McGeary.