#Writing Motivation: Don’t Write!

Earlier today, an idea for a #shortstory came to me in a flash. Immediately I started making notes – even about foreshadowing and small details, which is not something I usually do. I’m dying to start slamming the keys, but I have to face the reality that I have too many stories in various stages of editing.

carrot

Carrot on a Stick by Ben Sutherland used under CC License

Some are completed first drafts and others are partially-written first drafts. Still more have had a few editing passes and have been presented to critique groups. But those critique notes still need to be compiled and addressed.

Therefore, although I’m itching to get started on Night Flights (a working title) I’m going to use it as the proverbial carrot on my writing stick. Better yet, it could be seen as a rap on the knuckles by Sister Atilla the Nun – “No dessert until you finish your carrots.” I need to finish all the stories I’ve started before I allow myself work on this one.

Besides which, Night Flights wouldn’t fit in thematically with any of my planned short story collections, or even my current release Ragged Souls . You can check out my recent Progress Report for details on those.

So in the end, I’ll continue to make notes as inspiration strikes, but this story will just have to wait.

How do you motivate yourself to write each day?

Assessing #NaNoWriMo

So it’s the beginning of May and the April 2014 #NaNoWriMo is over. I didn’t hit my #writing goal but I did get some things done. I finished chapter 13, completed chapters 14 & 15, and almost finished 16. My #fantasy novel is rolling along quite well.  I also got some things done in the short story department.

type15

Old Typewriter by Liji Jinaraj used under CC License

A new flash fiction called Everybody’s a Winner was completed, the first 7 pages of a #StarTrek fanfic were drafted, and a large chunk of a long dystopian short story called A Pound of Flesh was also edited. Not bad for a hectic month.

I almost forgot, 10 new #blog posts were also written in April, and the Tyrhennia Times newsletter was launched as well.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by not reaching my goal for my novel. But as I looked back on the list of what I did produce, I am feeling a bit better.

Tell me about your writing accomplishments in April.

Unlucky Chapter 13

I breezed through the first twelve chapters of my fantasy novel The First Light. Two of the chapters weren’t even planned; they just grew as the story took on a life of its own. Then chapter 13 came along.

In this chapter there was going to be a fight scene and we were going to learn something about one of the secondary characters. I’ve noticed that fight scenes (even from best-selling pros) don’t feel visual enough. In a bind I stumbled across Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall.

unlucky Photo by WoodleyWonderworks used under Creative Commons License

I gobbled that book right up and made up a few charts from the information that I gleaned. I wasn’t writing a huge battle scene, or an extended fight-to-the-death between hero and villain. It was just a small clumsy attack by non-professionals.

Thanks to Rayne Hall, I got through it, and it makes sense (to beta readers anyway). This situation was totally different from (gulp) writer’s block. I was still writing and editing short stories. I even wrote FIGHT SCENE GOES HERE and completed the rest of the chapter.

The working title for this chapter is “Assassins”; although, I’ve been toying with the idea of calling it, “Knives from the Darkness”, or something on that order.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a predicament like this one?

The First Dozen of The First Light

I thought that writing a novel was going to be an easy task compared to short stories. For the first twelve chapters I seem to be correct. I could almost say that the book was writing itself. The words just came out of me and then they took on a life of their own.

I started by giving each chapter a title, which is a simplistic version of light planning. New chapters and sub characters were created on a whim, as if the story and the characters were directing me rather than me directing them.

Tap Photo: Rennett Stowe Used under Creative Commons License

Chapter 1 got an award from the San Antonio Writers Guild, and it was smooth sailing for the next eleven chapters. Not only is the story building, but also subtexts, themes, Jungian Archetypes, psychology, and relationships, are becoming more complex and subtle.

Also, the most noticeable difference is the amount of editing. Chapter twelve doesn’t need half of the editing that chapter one needed. On top of staying busy with the novel, I’ve been pumping out short stories along the way. I guess writing can be no different from riding a horse or playing a guitar. The more you do it, the better you get.

Here’s a list of the titles of the first twelve chapters. Some are definitely written in stone, but others I just consider working titles.

Chapter 1………… Signs and Portents

Chapter 2………… Contemporary Antiquity

Chapter 3………… A Short Walk, A Long History

Chapter 4………… The Creeping Shadow

Chapter 5………… Secret Delving

Chapter 6………… A Rogue is Born

Chapter 7………… The Stolen Kiss

Chapter 8………… To Pursue a Mouse

Chapter 9………… Parleys, Provisions, and Preparations

Chapter 10……… The Caravan

Chapter 11……… An Identity Revealed

Chapter 12……… The New Apprentice

So the work keeps rolling along. In the meantime, what do you think of these chapter titles?

The Dog Days of Writing

Writing can be an exhilarating experience on some days, and a depressing malaise on others. I had one of those saddening moments the other day. I had to face the hard truth that about half of my meager sales could be attributed to either family or friends.

I appreciate their support, but when I realize that I’m not really reaching an audience, it’s time to stop writing, turn on the TV, and reach for the potato chips.  While I was noshing on the chips and channel surfing I remembered an important bit of wisdom that I received back in mid-December at a writer’s guild award dinner.

I had a pretty good night that evening. My short story “Stasis” had received an award, and I also got another award in the First Chapter category for my novel “The First Light”.

Everything is done in secret, the writers and the judges don’t know each other. One of the judges wrote a note to me in the margins of my draft. It’s the type of thing that a fledgling writer doesn’t hear from a complete stranger. Here’s the note.

“You are extremely talented and show a sophistication that I rarely see in contests of this nature. You must finish this work and get it sent to agents. I have a feeling you will do quite well as a published author.”

I later showed it to another member of the guild who spoke the aforementioned words of wisdom to me. She said, “Whenever you’re having a bad day, take that out and read it.” Her wisdom didn’t sink in at that moment; I was flying too high. I do not have a clue as to the identity of the judge, but I’ve decided to lean on him or her this day.

Who or what do you lean on when you’re having a “Dog Day”?

Eerie Predictions

I wrote the first draft of the short story “Stasis” back in September 2013. Since that time, news reports about certain trends and comments from government officials have been sending chills down my spine.

On 2/4/2014 the White House’s response to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) report concerning the impact of ObamaCare on full time employment gave rise to new chills.

The CBO reported that ObamaCare will cost 2.3 million jobs.  The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to the report by stating, “…Americans would no longer be trapped in a job…and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

One report summed up the White House’s other responses, such as: employers are not laying off workers. Rather, Americans are choosing to leave the workforce and ObamaCare is empowering them to make that choice.

See the spin? The more government intrudes and takes over your life, the more freedom you gain. Notice the feel-good phrases like “pursuing your dreams” and “empowering,” contrasting with negative phrases, like equating a job with “being trapped”.

Don’t worry about the government taking over a third of the economy, and allowing them to make all of your personal health decisions, because now you’re empowered to pursue your dreams.

What does all this have to do with “Stasis”? The story depicts a society where citizens are denied the freedom to choose even their clothing and food, because the government has decided what was best for them and made all other choices illegal. Yet, the people believe they are free. A small speech from the character of Mr. Fetor (a low-level-petty-bureaucrat who ruthlessly commands his neighborhood) demonstrates that sentiment. It surfaces during an exchange with Kurt Williams, the Libertarian hero of the story.

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Kurt looked around the room. “And all of you put up with this? You’re nothing but a bunch of pathetic little drones.”

No one would meet his eyes, except Fetor.

“No, you’re the one who’s pathetic,” Fetor snarled through clenched teeth. “You relish human suffering. We’re free, I tell you! Free from toil and labor, free from want, free from sudden death, free from economic oppression. Free from all of the ills of history. The Government knows what’s best for us.” He folded his hands as if praying and intoned, “From cradle to grave we are saved.”

“Don’t forget about free from being free.”

Fetor pointed at Kurt.  “Stop poisoning everyone with your subversive ideas.”

Kurt and Fetor’s eyes locked on each other.

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Don’t be fooled! Although we’re still far from the society depicted in “Stasis”, we’re well on the way. Later in the story…

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Kurt’s voice lost its raspy tone as a rush of adrenaline revitalized him. “How did it ever get this bad?” he asked Cheryl.

“Gradually. Like your eyes adjusting to darkness.”

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The sentiment currently being pushed by Big Government as empowerment and liberty represents another candle being snuffed out. How’s your eyesight? Are your eyes adjusting to the darkness?