Tag Archives: Improvements

The difference between Writing and Writering

MotivationNew Year’s Day, I mentioned I wanted to be “a writer”. My father-in-law corrected me:

“You are.”

That’s right; I am. I write regularly in pursuit of publication; I’m not merely journaling, blogging, or setting idle words to print in hope that “someday” I might come into my craft.

I write intently and deliberately and with passion.

So I corrected myself:

“I want ‘writer’ to be my day job.”

This is a goal I’ve had virtually all my life. But WHY?

The answer is because I enjoy writing. And if you do what you love, you never ‘work’ a day in your life…right?

Only here’s the problem. Sometimes writing feels like work. Sometimes instead of feeling excited about a project, I dread returning to it.

In other words, sometimes I don’t enjoy writing.

…so why do it?

If the purpose of becoming a writer is to something I enjoy, and I cease enjoying this particular activity, what’s the sense of doing it, at least in the short term?

It’s hard to say.

Which makes it hard to write.

But I’ve noticed something here at the turn of the new year. I try not to make “resolutions” but I do try to make general improvements…then again, I do this year round. But January 1 is usually a time where I say to myself, “Write more.” (Duh.)

But it isn’t the New Year that’s motivated me to begin writing again this year. It’s not the thought of prestige or financial security or even just doing something I like.

No.

It’s the books I got for Christmas. One of each kind:

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Short Story collection

And I’m thoroughly enjoying all three. And each line, page, or chapter I enjoy makes me want to offer that same enjoyment in turn to others. It makes me want to write, whether I’m ever published or “successful”. Just for the challenge of doing it, the same way I enjoy playing video games or eating. The activity itself becomes satisfying again.

I’m reminded that I used to read hours every day, every night before bed, every morning at breakfast, every single break at work. And reading is what greased the wheels to make me want to write.

The problem is this:

I can’t find that many ¬†good books.

My dry spell writing towards the final months of 2009 directly correlates to a dry spell reading. I had tried the latest recommended authors and books and found them lacking, and become further unwilling to take up any new volume with each that dissatisfied me.

And I’ve reread everything in my personal library half a dozen times or more already, including some of the ones I don’t even like that much.

So this I beg you, fellow reader:

If you know a good author, recommend him/her to me in a hurry. Buy a book for me and put it in my hands — I’ll pay you cash on the spot for it if I have faith in your judgment. Because I never knew it before, but good books are fuel for my fire. Without them, I go up in smoke.

Which 400 words would you delete?

deleteWriter’s Digest is holding their annual competition, and a friend forwarded me the info for it.

I always have mixed feelings about contests; they’re hailed as a great way for new talent to break into a market, but that’s only true if you win. And I cannot imagine that contests with cash prizes get fewer submissions than the magazines I submit to. Then there’s the entry fee to consider; submitting work for publication to a magazine only costs me postage. The WD contest charges $20 for the first entry and $15 for each additional entry. That’s quite a chunk of change just to have someone look at your story, and then (in all likelihood) discard it.

I haven’t yet decided to enter, but the contest rules create an interesting dilemma. The word limit for genre short stories (like science fiction) is 4,000. According to the rules, stories that are 4,001 words will be disqualified.

Perfect Justice in its most recent draft is over 4,400 words. And already I have feared that it didn’t provide quite enough character development, that the plot wasn’t intricate enough, etc. But leaving aside the question of possible improvements, which 400 words are non-essential to the story? Do I go find 400 adjectives and conjuctions I can cut? Or whole scentences? Or a whole scene?

What would you do?

Almost finished

golden-retriever…and so I’ve decided to go ahead and post the preview of Woman’s Best Friend, since I’m anxious to share. You can access it via the new link under “Short Stories” to the right.

If you like what you read so far, I’ve now added a form to request the full text of each new story. In the past I have just mass emailed them to everyone I think might be interested, but this is very unsatisfying.

For one thing, I feel like I’m spamming people. I hope that everyone on the send list is interested, but I don’t really know.

For another, it gives me no idea how many people actually read something. I usually get 2 to 3 replies several weeks later with suggestions for improvements (always welcomed), even if I sent the story to 40 people or more.

This way, you only get the stories you request, and each time you do, I get the encouragement of knowing you liked the first half. I think it’s win/win. (Unless the website collects dust for two years and no stories are ever requested…but then again…that should tell me something, too, right?)

Woman’s Best Friend is currently 4,306 words, well beyond my original goal at 3,000, and is about two scenes from being finished (95% or so).

Website Updates

windowslivewriterfeediconsandfeedreaders-103ffrss4I’m not sure if you can technically call them “updates” for a brand new website that is still under construction in some ways.

Nevertheless, I’ve added some content to the site in the last couple of days I thought worth mentioning.

First, I’ve fleshed out three sub-pages to my Completed Projects page, explaining my philosophy and approach to Short Stories, Nonfiction, and Novels and the roles each of these projects play in my writing career.

Next, I’ve included the full text of two nonfiction articles; previously self-published at Helium, I can no longer sell first publication rights for them so I lose nothing by posting them here. More will follow in the days to come.

Third, I’ve included the first half of two short stories: Perfect Justice and New Magic. If you haven’t read these before, have a look. Or even if you have read them, feel free to peruse them again, suggesting improvements as you go.

I’ve also added pictures to practically every page and post, and enabled avatars in comments. I’ll be adding my own avatar later this evening. I don’t know how they work yet for end users, since I enable mine in the administrative back end, but if you figure it out let me know. It’s possible I may need to add a “login” feature to the site, but hopefully not. (I want to keep it as simple as possible.)

I plan on adding links to the bottom of teaser content (partial stories and sample chapters) which direct readers, “Where’s the rest of this story?” One idea I had is to include an option to buy a single copy of a full story from me for $1-$2 (or $1 per chapter for novels), but I need to research the legality of doing this and then publishing first north american rights from an intellectual property standpoint. In any case, I will add a “request this story” option and close friends and family will of course be entitled to full versions of any story they wish.