Writing In Public: Year 1, Month 2, Day 4

Friday

I like to do special things with my daughter on Fridays and, hey, it was Friday again, so off we went to the Mesa Public Library, riding the new light rail extension to the end. I had never been in the Mesa Public Library before, and it was kind of nice. Elizabeth found a zombie book, How To Speak Zombie, that she likes much better than mine. Well, I like mine better, but I’m pretty sure she sees basing her opinion on the concept that How To Speak Zombie is a funny, talking zombie book, and Zombies Versus Comicon was just something that kept her daddy from playing with her that time or two.

Nonetheless, I was able to attend to some of my business in the morning, at the afternoon nap time, and again in the evening. Actually, by evening I was on a roll, and I wound up going until three in the morning, and I didn’t want to stop then, but we had an early morning planned.

Writing

Threshold of Vengeance, and its series, is all my brain has been wanting to think about, so that was the topic of the day. Once again, I got lots of detail for the outline done. There’s no guarantee that it will hold, and it almost certainly won’t, but my brain likes to have something to write toward. The restrictions are oddly freeing. By three in the morning, I knew how the story developed and ended, and I was surprised at how a new character came in and twisted the story up more interesting. I’m also surprised at how supporting characters are coming out of nowhere to be in the book. It’s a blast when that happens.

However, all was not quite rosy. I wanted to get into the writing, but either I have to start at the beginning, or I have to at least know the beginning so I know where the players are coming from. But although every part of the story was popping into my brain, I could find no good idea how the story might begin. In fact, though I prefer a good idea, I would have settled for practical, or at least functional, but … nothing.

Another problem that surfaced was the concept of the series. Without having an idea about what the series might look like, I couldn’t know what was right for this book. I don’t have to know every detail of the series to go on, but I don’t want to write a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work in the context of the larger series. And unfortunately, that wasn’t showing itself to me, either.

In the end, though I uncovered a great deal of the story, I logged zero new fiction words. That stinks, especially when you consider the topic of the night.

On Pulp Speed

Dean Wesley Smith had an excellent post on his blog today about Pulp Speed. In it, he talks about how quickly words add up when you write a certain number of them every day, and how many pulp writers wrote books at that speed for years or decades. For instance, writing a mere 2,750 words a day adds up to a million words a year, enough for 20 books of 50,000 words, or … you can do the math.

Lots of people will have an automatic rejection of this, thinking that the quality must be no good, or whatever. For anyone who wants to argue, I refer you to Dean’s well-reasoned and -researched blog post. For my part, I don’t care what anyone thinks about it. I just want to do it.

For me, the whole concept is fantastically liberating. I have so many ideas in my head that I would love to see as books on my shelf. Some people say you should write the kind of books you’d like to read, and I do that. By the time I get done with them, my books are exactly the kind of stories I’d like to read, starring characters I’d like to read about. To have a large collection of such stories would be awesome. And I have no shortage of ideas. Sometimes I worry about running out of good ideas, and within minutes I have solid new ideas for new stories and series. Really. It’s awesome. I want those books in the world, and even if in the end I’m the only one who likes them, it will still be worth it. As I have said about my Jack Trexlor books, I fully understand that many or most people will not like them, and that doesn’t bother me at all, because I love them.

Dean lays out a scale of Pulp Speed, going from Pulp Speed One at one million words a year to Pulp Speed Six at two million words a year. The awesome thing is, that’s only an average of 5,500 words a day, which represents about 5–5.5 hours of actual writing. That is so possible.

Count me in.

Except, not today, evidently, because I could not come up with one workable idea about how to start. My pulp engine is broken. Actually, it isn’t. For me, the story never flows until the development has reached a certain critical mass, and then it just goes. I just need to do the development for each next story while I’m writing the current one, so I can continue with no down time.

Five and a half hours. I can do that and still have time for my daughter.

Awesome.