On Beyond Finish

It took a little doing, but the goal was met.  2,524 words written in two scenes, and The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, got the push it needed to jump over the Camp NaNo finish line.

Yah, me.

Now what?

There is always a point in creating a story where a certain amount of exhaustion sets in, and you start to wonder how you’re going to push through that curtain.  Sometimes you just gird your loins and keep working.  Sometimes you take a break so you can catch your breath, then come back feeling refreshed.

There are also those points in time when you wonder if what you do is making a difference, and if you should continue with your endeavor.

I’ve spoken of these things before, of highs and the lows, of the perseverance and the doubts.  Last Friday I pushed myself to write a six hundred word review, a five hundred and fifty word blog post, and finished the night by putting almost eleven hundred words into my story.  When I woke up the next day I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?  There’s no pay; there’s little recognition; there’s a lot of work.  Why?”  These days it gets asked a lot, because there are an inordinate numbers of stress factors in my life, and this is but one more.

I don’t do this for fun.  I know there are writers who say, “Oh, I’m only in this because it’s fun!”  Yeah, okay.  I have fun doing this to, but I also put some crazy work into getting things the way I want, which ends up front-ending a lot of work on even a simple project.  Can’t help it:  I get nuts like that.

I’m not into fan fiction, either.  Oh, I’ve done it; my current project sorta came out of a fan fiction background, one might say.  I know there are people who spend years working on fan fic:  I saw something on Facebook the other day where someone said they’ve written a half-million words of fan fiction.  Fantastic.  I can’t do that; it’s a little too much like literary masturbation to me.

I write because I do enjoy writing.  I do enjoy making stories and writing the occasional review or article, because I would like to do this all the time.  I also like the bit of recognition I get, which is always good, unless we’re writing something that we’re rather people never see–or we’re penning a novel outside our comfort zone and are curious to see if critics are going to love it if they don’t know who wrote it.

In my own way I’ve gotten a bit of exposure that was nice, and not the sort you encounter hiking on Everest when a storm blows up and leaves you freezing to death and gasping for air.  Sure, Amazon has its own Death Zone for us self-publishers, but that’s a completely different thing.  The exposure I’ve received has been for a couple of articles I’ve written, and since I never intended to publish them, the pat on the back felt great.

My fiction, however:  that stays with me, and when I’m finished I publish it for sale.  My intention is to tell stories and to sell, and to eventually do this all the time.  This is why I get crazy and upset and up and down a lot, because my expectations are great, and the realities are not so much.

But I keep at it, because one day things will turn around.  This I believe.  When I’m not all that upset with my story.


Into Thin Wordage

When you’re not working on a story, what are you doing if you’re a writer?  Well, there’s always Facebook games, and watching DVDs of old shows–or DRVs of current shows if you into that new fangled technology–or maybe some reading, or . . . you get the point.  Anything but writing, yeah?

Sometimes you want to write, even if you’re not working on a story.  Some people do research for stories and get notes, some people write fan fiction, which might seem a bit like spinning your wheels since you’re working with someone else’s work, except now it looks like Amazon’s going to find a way for you to publish that stuff now.  Or some of us might write articles on other subjects for people to read–you know, like blogging about writing and your life and the world, that sort of stuff.

When I’ve had nothing to do I’ve written articles and reviews, because why not?  I like to write, I like to give my opinion on things, and maybe I’ll even bring some information to another who’s never heard about whatever it is I’m penning about.  I’ve had that happen with games I’ve reviewed, and even gotten a thank you or two from the companies that printed smaller, independent games.  It’s when you get something of that nature that you feel good about what you’re doing, and something inside makes you feel happy.

Of course there’s also the flip side of that equation . . .

It’s enviable that if I mention I’m writing an article, I’ll have this conversation with a couple of friends:

“I’m writing an article.”
“Are you getting paid?”
“Why are you writing it then?  What the hell is wrong with you?”

It’s one thing to write, and it’s another to get some kind of compensation for your work.  I’ve adopted a personal creed that if I feel like writing and sharing something, I don’t mind if I don’t get paid, if—  If I can get some kind of feedback on what I wrote.  Because as much as writers enjoy getting paid, they also like to have people talk about their work.

I don’t like to hear bad things about my work, but I’ll take it.  Because if people are making comments–even if they are somewhat inane and/or bad–it means they probably read your work.  I want people to read my stuff, and to form an opinion  or, if nothing else, to tell me they either liked it or it sucked hard roots.

When you get nothing back, when there is only the soft, quite hiss of a breeze where their should be comments, you wonder if you wrote something for the right audience.  You wonder if you were completely off the mark, or if people just looked at the title and went, “This is gonna suck, forget it.”

It makes you wonder if you wasted your time.

I know the argument, though:  it doesn’t matter if you’re not getting paid, it’s exposure.  But you know what some writers say about exposure, don’t you?  That’s what mountain climbers die from if they stay in the elements far past the time they should have gotten into their tent and zipped up in their sleeping bags.  And if your work is out there, lingering in the Internet Death Zone, with no one reading it, then exposure means jack shit, dude.

You’ll die.

What is the answer to all this?  Maybe it’s time to build my own mountain top . . .


Dawning Through the Night

Believe it or not, last night was the first time in over a month for me to actually get out of the house and go hang somewhere other than home.  Yes, I stay at home and hang in front of the computer all the time–well, not literally hang, because I’m not a bat, or even Hank McCoy.  But I’m always here, working on something, playing a game when I’m bored, or looking for Ugg boots and getting pissed because, one, they are so expensive, and two, they make nothing in my size.

It was dark and windy.  The south winds were blowing all day, keeping it warm enough to let people walk about in long sleeve shirts and leave the windows open in homes and cars.  The moon is almost at the new phase, so it was plenty dark driving along the back roads.

But I didn’t think of scenes, or of characters, or what I should do next.  There wasn’t any need.

I’ve busted past both my goals for my NaNo novel, Kolor Ijo.  Thursday saw me brush past twenty-five thousand words, so I am half-way to the goal of “winning”.  Yesterday, before blowing out of the house to go visit someone, I just squeezed over the thirty thousand mark, which gets me half-way to what I think will be the word count for the finished story.

Except I’m not certain if sixty thousand is the end.  I know I might need another thousand words to finish this current chapter, which is the thirteenth chapter of the novel.  I’ve laid out twenty-six chapters, so now I’m edging up the count, and may be looking at a total of about sixty-two and change.

And the next chapter is going to be a bit wordy as well.

I’m not complaining.  If I get over sixty-five thousand words, or even get up to seventy, then the better chance the novel has of seeing publication, since most houses won’t consider anything below sixty thousand to be worth their while.  So onward today.  I need to finish up an in-story interview, then . . . fight!  Yeah, it’s that time in the story to have a throwdown with the supernatural.  How does it turn out?  Well, I do have Part Three to write, so it’s not that bad–

Or is it?

Why didn’t I think about things as I drove through the night, as I have done so many times in the past?  It’s likely because I don’t need that at the moment.  I know where this story is going, and I know where many of my other stories are headed, so I don’t need to go all head cannon there.

It’s as I told a friend last night:  at this point I know I can write, and I can polish, and I can produce a good story.  What I need is to sell . . .

Notice, that’s not the same as “exposure”.  I have exposure for the most part.  What I need is for that exposure to turn into dollars.  I need to get publishing in to the forefront, and as The Good Doctor said, keep sending out those manuscripts, and not let them get cozy on my hard drive.  Exposure is no longer needed; it’s time to kick out the jams and get that name known to the right people.

I will “win” NaNo, but the novel won’t be finished in November.  I may complete the first draft, but it’s not finished.  There are other stories to write after that, and thing to edit.

I didn’t need to speak in the voice of my characters last night–

Because I know I need to speak for myself so I can start the next phase of my life.