Thursday, April 23, 2020

Finishing a story...


This is from a post I did on a friends writing blog back in 2016.

I hope it motivates you to ...

Finish

This post is about finishing. Finishing is harder, by far, than starting. Yeah, it seems like an obvious statement up front, but please don’t leave me yet! ;-)
Starting is hard, sure, and I don't minimize its place in any endeavor. To start writing, be it a poem, a short story or an epic novel series, takes guts and confidence. I think you’re lucky if you’re one of those writers that can just ignore your doubts and go for it, mindfully dismissing your fears. Yeah, that’s so not me.
If you’ve finished a project it’s easier, because you know you can do it. You know what’s ahead. You’re ready to begin a new adventure. You can look forward to stretching the boundaries of your imagination. It’s damn exciting to look at a blank sheet of paper, envision your dreams sketched upon it and KNOW that you’ve done this before.
In contrast, to finish a story takes stern will and dogged determination. It takes sacrifices of time, energy and soul.
I don’t like missing out on my nachos or leisure time. I look forward to patio time all day during the Texas spring, summer and fall. Winter evenings are best spent indoors, in front of the fireplace, with a nice big mug of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps. Hmm. But, I digress.
When you want to watch a movie or just chill out on the patio with a glass of Texas Red and some nachos, you’ll have to force yourself to write a chapter first. Moreover, by the time you’ve written that chapter, it will probably be too late for the treats.
Finishing means that you care more about this story and these characters than you do your personal life. You will spend endless hours exploring plot arc possibilities. You’ll consider when and how to introduce new characters. Is this the right place to bring in a sidekick? Maybe I should do some foreshadowing earlier, let the reader get a taste of what’s to come. Does this paragraph push the story forward or is it just sparkling fluff?
‘Finishing’ is everything that happens after the euphoria of the opening moments of your piece ebbs. After the moment when you realize this story is going to be very, very hard to get right. Sigh. ‘Honey, could you make me another hot chocolate?’
Finishing means a daily grind of rewrite, rewrite and more rewrite. Then your paranoid Muse pipes up, whispering questions in your ear, fueling self-doubt. “Am I rewriting too much? Should I leave this passage alone? Did I give the hero a good enough reason to go on this quest? Will the reader understand what I mean here or is it too esoteric? Will I ever finish this chapter?” Shut up, you soulless, nagging harpy!
‘Finishing’ means more than anything else, not giving up. It’s not looking for an excuse to stop here and ‘put it aside for awhile’. It’s grabbing a bagel and a cup of coffee and sitting your butt back in the chair, instead of hitting the ‘close’ key for the night.
If you have more than a couple of ‘to be continued’ stories on your hard drive, you know how difficult it can be to finish. I have a few myself, and I’m working overtime to get them off the bit-box and into a publisher. They do no one any good sitting there rotting away, bit by bit.
‘Finishing’ is what makes you a writer, an honest to God ‘author’.

Go finish that story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

People are amazing...

We've been staying in and shunning much social contact like most people with any common sense. Being an ex-submariner it's not a huge stretch for me to be isolated as the cartoon below shows. ;-)

We also got some very cool contact from a neighbor, someone who only moved next door a couple of months ago.

This young family contacted us via a neighborhood web site. They wanted to make sure that we were OK and did we need anything at the store.

We barely know them yet they were genuinely concerned about how we were getting along. It made me smile and I was almost in tears. (I'm a weeper, just to be truthful.) They have contacted us several time in the last weeks to see if we needed anything at the store and that we were doing OK.

Since that contact we've had several other neighbors check on us. It's incredibly heart-warming. We've also contacted a few neighbors to check up on them. Everyone around is doing well.

I hope you'll follow this example and check on those around you, especially the elderly. Even if they are OK it will be a huge moral boost to know you care about them.

On a writing note, I'm getting some great work on my WIP, book 5 of the 'Arlo and Jake' series. Now that I have nothing else to do I'm trying to put all my effort into completing the story ASAP.

Keep safe and wash your hands!


Friday, March 6, 2020

How do other writers do it!!??

Lately I've noticed that I spend more time promoting my writing than writing, and I hate that!!

But...

If I don't tweet, face book and do this blog, how do I get a readership? My books are at the bottom of the indie pile on Amazon and Barnes and Noble because of their self-defeating algorithms.

I get it. They are for-profit company and will make far more money promoting Stephen King's latest books than giving me 'shelf space' for mine.

So I'm tweeting and pimping my books an hour a day just to get a few book sells a week. I could be writing more books and getting them out there, but it seems counter intuitive to NOT promote as much as possible.

I know this is not a new problem and that all new writers have this dilemma. I've vacillated back and forth a dozen times: promote more, write less or just write and forget about the promotion.

Sigh.

So. I'm going to try the 'write more' for a while and try to just enjoy writing for the summer.

Thanks for listening. If you have ideas, let me know.



Friday, January 17, 2020

Rainy days and Mondays always make me Smile!

Yeah, yeah, I know, wrong lyrics! ;-)

But it's true for me. When it's dreary outside I feel fully justified in hitting the den and writing for hours rather than work on the house or do bills or whatever!

Turn on a little smooth jazz guitar, queue up some Chet Atkins albums or some 'Beats Antiques' music and wrestle with my Muse over scenes in a story.

I can write on the couch with the boob tube yakking in the background, but I can concentrate and enjoy the flow more when I'm sitting in my comfy chair, surrounded by my books and miniature Star Trek figures at my desk.

My current challenge, self induced, is to get a short story published in Analog, Asimov, Science Fiction/Fantasy or some other magazine. I write lots of them. They come to me at the weirdest times of day and night.

I have a folder called 'ShortStoriesThatReallyNeedToBePublishedSomeTimeSoon'. Some of the stories are done or close to done, but a lot are just crazy ideas or outlines. When I get frustrated with my WIP I pop over to the SS folder and attack one of the unfinished stories.

Time to get busy, have a great week!


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

My Tree

I can look at my tree for hours and never see the same branch or leaf or gnarled knot.
My eyes travel forever, up and down the ridged bark, tracing the deep folds and the open wounds of missing limbs.

I can get lost in the leaves, often wondering if I'll ever return.

Gently waving branches are calling for me to climb up and converse about the Universe.
Rough, sharp bark scrapes at my knees and knuckles as I ascend to join the silent communion.
My hands smell of old thoughts and wisdom.
The wisdom that there is no such thing as wisdom.

Precariously perched on my favorite limb, worn smooth from my visits, I gaze out to the field of cotton behind my house.

My tree welcomes my young body, calmly waiting for me to lean back and start another day of drifting dreams.

I get lost in the leaves, not caring if I ever return.