A lot has gone on since I started this blog. But it’s not difficult to believe that I’ve reached 100 entries. Or that it took me so long to do it. I won’t lie, this blog has been an effort to maintain, and I haven’t posted as regularly as I would like. All I can do is try and improve my posting frequency. For now, here are things I’m psyched about as I create my 100th blog entry.
My novel, tentatively titled “To Die One Death”, is slooooowwwwly coming together. I’ve nearly finished the first draft twice. The reason is because I decided to chop out a bunch of stuff from a sequel and make it part of the first book. I also added a second point of view, that of Captain Katherine Espinosa. She’s a real firecracker: a righteous, zombie-slaying, straight-talking, butt kicker. I think the novel is much better with her point of view to balance out the tone of the other main character, Corporal Stephen Harlowe. I might post more about these two in a later entry. They have a history, one that’s had its ups and downs, and I think that would have been diluted if only told from Harlowe’s perspective. The novel will need a lot of editing, so I have no idea when it will be finished, whether I’ll self-publish it, or any other specific details. What I do know is that it’s been a real learning experience.
I’ve learned that I need a very detailed outline to write a novel, since most days I get only about an hour of writing time. Some days, I don’t get to write at all. When I’m lucky, I can get a few hours in one sitting, maybe as many as 3000 words. By far, I got the most writing done when I took some time off from work, my Week of Pretend. I need more of this dedicated time, and I need to figure out a way to make it happen. Whether 30 minutes or three hours of writing time, a detailed outline really helps me keep on track. I pause less frequently to worry about the details of my scenes and what all my characters are feeling, saying, and doing. When I’m on a roll, sometimes I have to stop suddenly to go back to work, or because my cat won’t shut up until I give him a snack. Interruptions are the enemy of my productivity, even if they’re short. Having a detailed outline helps me recover more quickly from interruptions and create the mental scenes that unfold.
In addition to detailed outlining, I plan to use the snowflake method to do most of my next project’s heavy lifting up front. I hadn’t even heard of this method, being a relative newbie to this whole fiction writing thing, but its value is found in the preparatory phases of writing. By the time I’m finished with the recommendations, I will be a few months older. But the first draft will be done much more quickly. I already have some characters and a really basic plot started. It began when my son asked me to tell him a story while we were riding in the car. I soon realized that it would take many car rides to complete, and we continued to discuss it at home. It will likely be a young adult novel, even if I have to struggle a bit to keep it accessible. If I play my cards right, I might be able to get him to help me with it and trick him into think he’s not learning stuff. That’s the cornerstone of parenting right there.
I also learned that I set up some unrealistic goals for myself this year. None of them are on track to be completed by 2017. I have written a couple of new short stories. I have semi-regularly kept my blog up to date. I have almost completed my novel’s first draft. I have made some headway on story submissions. My story, The Queen, was accepted for publication, but I’m still waiting to find out when that will happen. My next story about Os, the character in The Hzeen from Nonlocal Science Fiction, is in progress and about half completed. Originally I planned to finish one or two additional tales about that character by October, when rights to The Hzeen will return to me. I honestly think those will have to wait a bit longer. Also I attempted Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish the first draft of the novel through encouragement and shared writing passion with a group of other would-be novelists. It was almost as much of a time sink at its November cousin, and I won’t be participating in that again. The novel has to take top priority over writing groups, the blog, and short stories. It will hopefully be easier to market than a short story collection, something I also learned during the writing of the novel.
Where does that leave me at present? I guess I’m still in limbo concerning many projects. That puts me in good company with a lot of writers, and I’m not going to stress out about it. I’ll save that for the editing, submission process, self-publishing, financing, marketing, etc. Writers don’t get to just write stuff anymore, especially if they self-publish their works. I’m going to enjoy as much of it as possible, including my sporadic blog entries and occasional short stories.
Lastly, I’ve learned that interaction with the readers of my blog really motivates me to continue writing it. Likewise, hearing from people who have read my stories online or in Nonlocal Science Fiction has been a dream come true in itself. I can’t thank enough all the people who’ve encouraged me to keep working, keep writing, and keep dreaming.
Thanks for joining me for 100 blog entries! I always enjoy hearing from you and responding to your comments, so keep them coming.