Tag Archives: Excuse

The War At Home

Every day I chastise myself for not growing up.

Then berate myself for the chastisement.

I have a vision of “grown up” Jason. He eats healthier, exercises daily, writes daily, games less, reads more, watches no tv. Practices guitar. Manages his calories. Lives by schedule to guarantee time spent productively.

Part of me hates that vision. GrownUpJason is boring. He can’t discuss the latest MMOs because he never plays them. He won’t crack jokes from the latest season of The Office or South Park.

FunJason believes (for good or ill) that good writers not only write, but they live content-rich lives with myriad experiences. Read More →

How to be an Alpha Reader

When I submit unpublished work to friends, family, writing groups, ex-girlfriends, my landlady, the bartender and my mailman, I’m only interested in one thing:

Did you keep reading?

But of course you kept reading. You’re my mailman, for Zeus’s sake; you owe me that much.

Wrong. If you kept reading out of obligation, you’ve done us both a disservice: Wasting your time on a story you don’t like, and giving me a false impression.

Worse, some people assume they must read the whole ten-book series, and because they’re busy, they never read a word. (NOTE: New authors typically shouldn’t submit epic series, but that’s another issue.)

Neither is any help. Instead, I implore you:

Read the first sentence.

That’s all. Read More →

My Year 2000 Valentine’s Day Rant

The following comes from an email I wrote February 13th in the year 2000 to address the many faults and problems with what is, in my opinion, the sorriest excuse for a “holiday” we celebrate. Most of this is still accurate. Parts of it were very personal. Read More →

Playing to an empty auditorium

Busy?The single most energizing thing for me as a writer is having my work read. You can tell me it sucks or you can tell me it blew your mind; either way, I feel connected with you. Either way, I have motivation to sit down and fix the problems you presented (even if I’m cussing the day you were born), or try to deliver more of what you liked.

I don’t particularly mind not having my work read, except that it’s hard to stay focused and motivated for sustained periods. I am jealous of writers who blog about the latest fixes their editors discussed, whereas I’m finding my way mostly in the dark. But if I see a friend or coworker who hasn’t read my work, I don’t think, HEY! What a jerk, why haven’t you read my story yet?

I don’t get angry or frustrated about that; it really doesn’t affect me. Some people don’t read, some don’t read fantasy/sci fi, and some are just waiting for me to hit it big. That’s fine.

I do get frustrated when people ask for my work and then don’t read it, either for days, or weeks, or months at a time. I know intellectually it’s not personal. I’m told that it isn’t related to the quality of the writing.

But the most common excuse simply isn’t plausible: “I don’t have time.”

Unless you’re in a high pressure civil service field like firefighting or law enforcement, are getting married (or divorced) imminently, or have had some other life-altering change, I seriously doubt that you “don’t have time”.

I’m a bit of a workaholic myself…I’ll stay late and come in early. Even at home, I engage in any number of not-quite-play projects like learning guitar, making videos, designing websites, and of course writing. But I’ll be the first to admit I sat on my ass playing video games or watching tv a significant portion of the weekend.

I can recall just four times in my life I “didn’t have time”.

  1. In high school, there was a period I taught Sunday School, was in two choirs, held a part time job, was in band and in a play, attended chess club, and sundry other church and after-school activities. Even then, I still had time to read and write things between activities, even if I wasn’t home often.
  2. In Army Basic Training, we started with 15 minutes of free time (if we were well-behaved and lucky). Even then, you could stay up reading/writing after lights out, provided you used the red lens on your flashlight (the red glow would not wake people whereas the white would).
  3. Summers in college, there were a few conferences I worked round-the-clock, literally awakened by my pager, worked all day, and the last thing I did before bed was work-related, grabbing showers and meals whenever I could meanwhile. These usually lasted two or three days to a week.
  4. Certain parts of the shift rotation in law enforcement left very little time for doing much more than sleeping and going back to work. This happened every two weeks for three/four days each.

These were the times I was at my absolute busiest in my whole life, doing nothing but working, eating, and sleeping. Even then, I still had time to read scripture or fiction or letters, or any manuscripts a friend might hand me.

Even if I hand you fifty pages of text, it likely wouldn’t take you more than ten minutes to finish it all…less than a smoke break, or the time during commercials of a 30-minute sitcom, etc. Most of the portions I submit are significantly smaller.

Let’s be honest…it’s not that you ‘don’t have time’, which as you can see is one of the flimsiest excuses ever invented, it’s that you chose not to. What you do with your time is your own decision. But why offer to read my work if you aren’t going to? That just leaves me craving feedback that never materializes.

If you ask me to do something and I haven’t done it, it isn’t because I don’t have time. It’s because I goofed off instead.

Working hard

timeclockNo time for posts. Or writing.

Note: This doesn’t mean I have zero free time. (I hate when people use, “I don’t have time” as an excuse as if they are working from waking to sleeping.) It means the little free time I’ve got, I’m using to unwind with video games or television instead of additional work … such as writing.

Should be better by the weekend.

Off to bed now.

I’m the best writer ever. I’m the worst writer ever.

reality-chec_qjpreviewthThe feedback is starting to roll in for Woman’s Best Friend. Only for the first half so far; I’ve had a few requests for the whole story, but I haven’t been able to send them yet since that file is at home and I’m at work during the day.

Writers must simultaneously believe that their work is both the greatest story ever told (or else what’s the motivation to keep writing it?) and the most worthless drivel ever put to paper (or else how can we take rejection, which is inevitable?)

My ego is taking the customary post-new-story bruising, and it’s rough. But it’s necessary. It’s not just necessary that you give me feedback, it’s necessary that you be ruthless about it.

Because the people who read submissions are overworked, way behind, underpaid, and with each manuscript, all they’re looking for is an excuse to toss it out so they can move on to the next. Only a story which grips them flawlessly from beginning to end will be published.

I do want to remind you that I’m looking primarily for your experiences as you read. I’m looking for what you felt and thought, not how you think you would feel if X was changed/added/removed, because…let’s face it… we don’t really know. (And I’ve already received one grammatical ‘correction’ which would make the sentence incorrect. Needless to say, you can’t take all of everyone’s advice.)

But thanks for the feedback I’ve gotten so far, it’s already been a huge help.

Those who have requested the full text will receive it later tonight AFTER I’ve made the corrections already made evident in feedback to the first half, and done a quick polish/edit of the second half. I want it to be as quick a read as possible; it’s necessary that I edit it before I really begin to hate this story.