My short story “Larry Harrison’s Night Shift” is free August 3rd through August 7th at Amazon. The action follows the night auditor at the hotel as he works to overcome difficult guests, unhappy staff, and his own mis-steps to get through another typical night at a job he loves. It’s a quick read, and it’s a lot of fun. Free this week only. Tell your friends!
I’ve been so busy with my new challenge (and sciatica) that I forgot to mention that the three Jack Trexlor novels are currently on sale for 99 cents. I will be taking them out of the KDP Select program in a few weeks, so this is likely the last time they will be available at this price, so get them now and tell your friends!
I woke up in late morning, then spent most of the day lounging with my wife. In the afternoon we went to visit her mother, then up to visit my parents. I felt a little guilty for not working, but then it was a Sunday after all.
In the evening I finally turned my attention back to writing. I wrote weblog posts for WIP day 1 and the ongoing sale of the Trexlor books.
Later at night I went back to work on Taxi Adventure. I will be very happy when this project is done. In its current form, a jumble of drafts influenced by different writing groups I was listening to before I learned better, it is very hard to figure out what is intentional and what is leftover. Again I worked toward removing the parts that don’t work, leaving only gaps to fill in with new words. It will take much more time, but I made progress. Sometime after midnight I identified two blanks I could fill in, and for an hour or so I wrote 750 words into those spaces. Every little bit helps.
I was tempted to write “slow start” or “rough start”, but it occurs to me that it always takes a while to get going. I’m not sure a Saturday was the best day to start a challenge like this, but it’s always easy to find reasons not to do something, so I’m starting anyway.
I didn’t have any outside plans for the day, so after burning off a few hours with television, reading books to my daughter, and taking a nap, I finally dove into my work.
Unfortunately, that isn’t as productive as it sounds. My former process involved lots of reconsidering and rewriting things, steps which usually took more time than the writing had in the first place. Though I’d like to spend my the bulk of my time and energy writing new works, my works in process are in a variety of conditions, with few or none ready to dive in and start writing. (Actually, I could, of course, but that just makes another draft, and I want to get each project down to one.) That’s one of the reasons I’m adopting Heinlein’s rules. I also don’t want to just start with a new project. I want to finish things that have been cooking for a long time.
So, my first step was to apply the new workflow to my ten or so active projects. That took a few hours, but was rather straightforward. And it felt good.
The next step was to assess these projects and begin to get them into a state where the work is writing. This will take some time, but not too much time. For instance, Paper Cuts has two stalled efforts, so far, and my plan is now to abort the earlier versions and rewrite it almost from scratch. Threshold of Vengeance also has a stalled effort that is being aborted for a fresh start. My new vision for these projects is clean and neat and should be fun to write, with each taking only a week to ten days. On the other side are projects like Taxi Adventure and Spring Rains, each of which has quite a bit of text in earlier drafts. Taxi Adventure is a particularly tangled collection of partial drafts. Most of my projects migrated quite easily to the new writing model, as they are long on development and short on actual text. By the time I’d finished migrating the files to my new approach, I’d figured out what I want to do next.
Although I can’t wait to get started on my secret series, I also want to hit it with some momentum, traction, and more skill. So I’m not attacking those projects just yet. Instead, I first want to finish the project that is currently closest to completion, which is Taxi Adventure. I think I can get that done this coming week, with a target release date of August 10th. Following that, I’d like to build momentum and skill with three projects with that should be quick and fun to finish: Threshold of Vengeance, Paper Cuts, and Spring Rains. My goal is to have a new release every two weeks, but those should go quickly enough that I can build up some time to complete at least two of the books of my secret series before unveiling the first one, because if that takes off like I think it will, I will need more pronto.
So, around one in the morning, I finally turned my full attention to Taxi Adventure. I had hoped to find an hole in the manuscript and just start writing into it, but I couldn’t quite do that. There aren’t big holes in the story; there are lots of places where only some core content has been written, but there are many, many places where the text is still a mix of different drafts that need to be patched together somehow. And before I can toss out pieces that aren’t part of the final version of the story, I have to figure out what that really is. I worked on that for a couple hours, but it will take several more to get clean. By the time I had enough around 3:30, I only had about 250 new words.
So, although this weblog post is three times longer than the count of my fiction output, I’m moving forward, on course for big things.
And having fun.
We had our 3-week, 6,500-mile vacation experience at the beginning of this month. We did some fun things, including the St. Louis Arch, the Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls, and a tour of the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River, including Boldt Castle, and I’m very happy that so many family members finally got to meet my daughter Elizabeth. But that 3-day drive back from North Carolina was a killer, and I think I’m still recovering.
By now, everyone probably knows that the work “recreation” has its roots in “recreate”, as in, to create something again, so recreation was originally thought of as a form of self-renewal. Or so they say, anyway. I didn’t expect that out of our vacation. For my writing, I had plans for before I left, plans for while I was gone, and plans for when I got back. I could see no need for recreating myself, because everything was going fine.
But then over the vacation I was reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, and suddenly I was spending those long driving hours thinking about how his process and advice could be the comprehensive, simple solution to problems and complications that have nagged me for a long time.
Based on his advice, I’ve been considering making three significant changes. I truly think they will take me to the next level in my writing career.
First, and perhaps most terrifying, Dean’s post on rewriting caused me to reconsider my process. He affirms things that I’ve known and/or suspected about rewriting and editors for a long time: basically that editing a story makes it different, but not better, and sucks the originality out of a story.
Dean goes beyond merely warning against rewriting, though. He advocates abiding by rules that science fiction author Robert Heinlein laid out for the business of writing. If you haven’t seen them before, they go like this:
1) You must write.
2) You must finish what you write.
3) You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.
4) You must mail your work to someone who can buy it. [In today’s world, this means to indie publish it.]
5) You must keep the work in the mail until someone buys it. [In today’s world, this means to keep it in print.]
I won’t go into the details here, but I spent all of July considering these rules, and they seem perfect for me.
Dean ends his post with this:
If you are rewriting and not selling, try to stop rewriting for a year and just mail or publish your work. You might be stunned at what happens.
That’s the first challenge I’m going to accept.
Next, in a post he wrote about keeping writing going (for 2014, but the advice is still good), one of his ideas (#4) was to “Get one new book up indie published every two weeks.” By that, he meant a new, full-length work of fiction. That idea intrigued me.
Looking at my own raw counts and projections, I’ve realized before that was possible, not including the time suck that is editing. I’ve even done it twice before, first with /Winter Kills/ and recently with /Zombies Versus Comicon/. Following Heinlein’s advice to remove the editing makes the task even easier.
But a goal of doing that every two weeks for the next year? That will be a challenge, but, wow, what an exciting thought. I may have to fudge the definitions a bit with the secret project I have coming up shortly, but I’m going to do it.
And finally, every day for the last two years, Dean has been doing what he calls Writing In Public. Every night, he writes a blog post describing what he did for his writing business that day, including word counts for the various types fo writing he’s done. He has said that the experience has helped him stay true to his goals, and that sounds good for me, too.
So that’s it, me, recreated, Three new goals:
- Follow Heinlein’s rules.
- New book every two weeks.
- Write in public.
This is going to be fun.
Beginning August 1st…
My short story “Why They Have That Rule Anyway” is free today through Saturday at Amazon. The story is a fast-paced introduction to the Empire Hotel, its quirky staff, and its ever-unpredictable guests. If you’ve ever been frustrated that a hotel would not give you a key to “your” room, here’s why, based on a true story. Get it while it’s free, and tell your friends.
This morning, we’re packing and leaving on a 3-week vacation. We’re taking a grand tour of the United States, and though we’re keeping our itinerary a little flexible, our current plan is to go from Arizona to Illinois to Michigan to New York to Washington, DC, to North Carolina to Louisiana and back home to Arizona. The trip is so long that we’ll actually have to get the oil changed on the road at least twice. Whew!
Being on the road used to mean being disconnected, but not any more. Our phones and mi-fi device should keep us connected the whole way. That will be nice for checking maps, making reservations, and keeping my daughter occupied, but it also means we can post trip updates and I can keep my writing business going.
Even though it’s a vacation, I’m still going to find time to keep writing every day. I have several life-changing projects in the works, and I can’t wait to share them when we get back.
Now, though, we’re off for my daughter to meet some new cousins and to see the Mississippi, the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Coast, our country’s capital, and two of our three biggest cities, among lots and lots of other things. It’s going to be a great trip.
We’ll be in touch.