The Ending Starts

The last week I’ve really slowed down a bit on the writing–and yet, in a way, I haven’t.  I didn’t do a lot of writing last night, for which I blame my energy levels being down, and Inherent the Wind and Forbidden Planet being on back-to-back, I was sort of pulled away from the novel.  The funny thing, however, is that when I worked up what I wrote Sunday morning and added it to what I wrote Sunday Night, it’s came out to about twelve hundred words for the day.  I’ve written more, but I’ll take twelve hundred a day.

I realized last night I’m fighting the of the novel.  It’s one of those, “I don’t want to go moments,” and I’m working through it.  The strange thing is when you’re tired you feel like everything you’re writing is drab, and I was getting that feeling last night.  What I had to do to break out of that feeling was go back and read what I’d laid down in the morning, when I’d set down close to nine hundred words in about an hour and a half.  It’s the same ebb and flow, and I knew it was the same thing, the same words, the same characters.  And I felt more alive writing them twelve hours earlier than I had at night.

It’s funny how our minds work against us this way.  I should go back and reread some of my older posts about getting to this point in a story, because I know I’ve been here before.  I had a lot of problems writing the end of Suggestive Amusements because of what I had to do at the end of that story, and I just didn’t want to go there.  It was hard, so hard to get that ending in place.  Also Echoes.  I cried pretty much through the last two pages of writing, because of what the characters meant to me, and the feeling behind the character.

Like a certain Doctor I don’t like to say goodbye.  But I know I won’t be saying goodbye, really, to my kids, because there are more stories to tell.  I just have to finish this novel, then edit a four hundred thousand word story in three parts, get three covers–four when I sell the “Big Book”–and get that done before I move on to B for Beginnings, the second–and I promise, shorter–novel.  It’s a lot of work, and it’s on top of all the other things I have happening right now–

Like getting ready to come out at work next week.

This is the last Monday for the “Old Me” at work, and with the clothing in place–with a few bobbles here and there–I’m ready to go.  It’s just getting to that point where I can blow this final week off and move one.  The term “waiting for the other shoe to drop” has a different meaning for me right now, and I know I’m gonna be geared up come next Monday.  And thinking about finishing this novel isn’t helping.

"Send Annie and Kerry off to their homes alone and figure out how long it's gonna take me to do my make up in the morning.  This is so not fair!"

“Send Annie and Kerry off to their homes alone and figure out how long it’s gonna take me to do my makeup in the morning. This is so not fair!”

I will promise myself right now that I will finish the Invitation scene tonight.  Once that’s finished, that’s really the penultimate “school event” and then it’s a goodbye to all the students and . . . then Annie and Kerry start the trip home.  With a few stops along the way, but–

This is it.  It’s the beginning of the summertime blues.

Early Morning Afternoons

The end of the week approaches and already my mind is in a flurry over what I could do come Saturday.  I don’t have any long trips planed, not with another threat of snow on Sunday, but if it’s better on Sunday I may go on another road trip to somewhere close.  I find I feel a lot better when I get out into the real world and don’t stay closed up inside the apartment all the time.

One needs this to at least feel a little human.

I’m also thinking about what I want to write this weekend.  I have an idea for a post to write Saturday morning, because it’ll take to long to write it during this stretches I have between when I wake up and walk off to work.  That means the best time to do this one is over coffee and whatever I’m munching on at Panera.  I’m also working on an idea for another article, but that’s something that probably won’t start up this weekend.  Maybe next.  I’m never really sure how that works; I just go with the flow.

Okay, maybe they're not going out that far . . .

Okay, maybe they’re not going exploring out this far . . .

Most of my writing time will be on the novel.  I’m in the final stretch now.  It’s Friday afternoon, classes are over, and since there isn’t a lot of study–it is only the first week, and it’s not like they have homework yet–my kids are off on a little side trip of exploration.  Really, it’s Kerry’s trip, and Annie’s following and observing.  See, there was something that was said to Kerry way back–well, it was a couple of weeks ago for him, but it’s more like almost three months for me, and he’d almost forgotten about that comment until overhearing a couple of teachers.  Then he woke up, went, “Hey!”, and now it’s Side Trip Afternoon instead of resting with all the other kids who have pretty much burned themselves out by now.

A night in the hospital will do that to you, ’cause you get all rested up.

I’ll finish this scene tonight, then it’s on to something I call The Midnight Madness, and then there’ll be some Saturday activities that will flow into something that happens just after midnight on Sunday morning.

And that will be that.  Episode One of Book One is over and done.

Right now I’m sitting at exactly 112,500 words, and one hundred and thirty thousand words does seem to be right about where I’ll end.  That means I’ll wrap it up first part of February, about three and a half months after I started writing for NaNoWriMo.  Then on to something different, something . . . maybe smutty, since I found out some erotica stories I sold back in 2011 are mine again, and that would be a good time to see about getting a cover, reformatting the suckers, and putting them out there under a different name.  Then watch that cash roll in, Yes Sir.

I won’t hold my breath.  But I will work on editing.  I will work on getting something out there.

It’s about that time.

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.


Q1 and Done

It’s the end of the month as we know it, and I feel fine, save for the soreness in my legs.  Too much time on my feet, too much time laying on a bed that hurting my calves for some reason.  Or maybe it’s me:  maybe my weight is pressing down on my lower extremities and causing problems.

Last year this time I was lamenting over writers, people who usually make things up for a living, being unable to make up the names of towns and people.  I read this post over last night, and was struck by the fact that most of the people who I’d written about don’t seen to write these days.  When I joined a few writing groups on Facebook back in 2011, it seemed as if there were  hundreds of people posting about what they were going to write, what they were writing–and then, how they couldn’t finish what they started.

Today, those same groups seem to be inhabited by a few dozen hard core members, and a few dozen more people who flit in and out when they decided to pick up their book and get back into The Great and Not So Loving Game.

Writing wears you out.  I managed to edit two chapters of Replacements last night, maybe twenty-seven hundred words total, and when I was finished I wanted to write something new, but couldn’t.  I was starting to nod at the computer, and trying to crank out anything that would have made sense wouldn’t have made sense at all.

In his March 30 blog post, Neil Gaiman offered a few simple words for writers:  “Write.  Finish Things.  Keep Writing.”  Sure, you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, Mr. Last Cybermen!”, but at one time he was just like everyone else, working hard to get into the biz.  He’s now in the biz, and he still works hard, only now he does it full time, whereas most of us need another job to play the bills.

My biggest problem was always finishing things.  I’d jump into a story with both feet, burn through ten, twenty thousand words, and then–nada.  I’d get disappointed, depressed, defeated:  the story before me had to be crap, so why bother?  It’s not like anyone’s going to read it . . .

I’d say that’s a mindset that it not just unique to me; I’m almost certain there are others out there who end up feeling the same way.  I even get that feeling still, only it starts kicking in about forty-five thousand words into a novel, and it screws with me until I’m about ten to fifteen thousand words from the finish line.

And then I find the strength to make my way to “The End”.

I’ve told people I know that one of the reasons I keep a blog, one of the reasons I write every day whether or not I have anything interesting to say, is that it keeps me thinking, it keeps the mind going, it keeps me writing.  Without it I might not ever bother pulling out a manuscript and doing anything with it, and just become another of those left by the Writing Wayside.  That’s not completely true, but I do feel as if my blog keeps me anchored and focused on my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

Back on December 1 I detailed what I’d written up to that point over the course of a year and change.  At that point, with everything from the end of 2011, and all over 2012, I’d calculated I’d written approximately 568,000 words.  What I should say is that I wrote and finished that much, because I don’t consider the story worthwhile if I haven’t finished it.  During 2012 I started a story for someone, got about five thousand words into it, and then put it away, because what I was writing wasn’t me; the story didn’t feel right.  And to have went on would have meant doing something that I wasn’t going to enjoy, or take from the work any pride.

Since I wrote that last post I’ve written another novel, and blogged every day.  Suggestive Amusements ended up running just over seventy-one thousand words, while the blog has averaged about five hundred fifty words a day for 121 day, or right at sixty-six thousand, five hundred fifty words.  Add all that up, and at the end of Q1 (the First Quarter of the year, as we call it in the business world), I’ve another 137,550 finished words added to my total.

Plug in the numbers from before 1 December, 2012, and we have a new total:  705,550 words.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!

Yes, there is marketing and editing and getting a great book cover, but the above is the real heart of the issue:  writing and finishing.  You wanna walk that walk, you gotta do diligence.

You gotta write; you gotta finish; you gotta write some more.

Which reminds me–

I got some writing to do.


Rolling Up the Next Idea

It’s near the end for the Crazy Train.  Today is the last day that people will enough the days and nights of literary abandon, and either hold up their arms in confident victory, or curse the fact that, once again, they didn’t make their goal for one reason or another.

Either way, you did what you wanted for this ride.  The real truth is, what are you going to do next?

I have some interesting feelings concerning NaNo.  It’s always good to have goals when you’re writing, because if you say, “Oh, I’ll finish this when I finish this,” then you may just find yourself hanging out on your computer–or however you write–putting down a word here, and a word there, and thinking, “Oh, yeah:  this is good” . . . and five years later you’ve got twenty thousand words in the bank.  You’re finished.  Maybe not in the time frame you’d imagined, but you’re done.

Take it from the voice of procrastinating reason:  if you write one novella every few years, reaching your goal of becoming a published writer might not only take a bit of time, but you might want to consider how slowly those payments are going to reach you.

I’ve said before that a story will end when it ends, that it’s difficult to say, “Oh, thirty thousand will do this,” when you’re putting it together in your head.  Maybe once you’re putting chapters together (as I do), you’ll get an probable idea of how long a story will run, but getting the exact number isn’t possible until you’ve seen you word counts for chapters, and you can start doing some Nate Silver-style number crunching.

This is what I did with my NaNo Novel:  once I saw the average count for my first ten or so chapters, I was able to see where the total was heading.  I started out saying that the story would probably run sixty thousand words; by the time I was a couple of chapters into Part Two, I revised that to sixty-five thousand.  I ended up at sixty-nine thousand, which means I’m happy, because it’s not an all-too difficult chore to get the count up over seventy thousand, and make the story a bit more presentable to a publishing company, should I decide to send it out instead of self-publish the work.

The issue I have with NaNo is that is sets your novel up as something that you must do with a certain word count by this date, or . . . well, the “or” is rather nebulous, but it leave one with the feeling that you’ve lost something.  People who write all the time know this isn’t the real way of the world, but you still see people come onto a forum and announce in a somewhat dejectedly post that they’ve failed, that they aren’t going to make their word count.

Well, whoopty do.  If you’re looking at this as a contest, and that you had to reach that fifty thousand word count otherwise you couldn’t treat yourself to ice cream today, then yeah:  it’s gonna bum you out.  If you look at it as, “Okay, I’m at forty-five thousand, but I’m going to need another thirty to finish this off, I’ll jack that out in the next couple of weeks–“, then you’re on the right path.

I’ve done NaNo two years in a row because I want that challenge of getting a novel out in thirty days.  I’ve “won” both times, but NaNo isn’t the end.  I edited my last NaNo Novel and sent it out, and I’ll get around to editing this one and doing something to get it to “my fans,” however crazy that sounds.

November isn’t a beginning and ending, all conclusive.  If you’re writing, then you’re jumping on the Crazy Train to pound out a story, get that first draft, and then either kick back for a few days before you pull back into the station–or jump off somewhere so you can hoof it to a nice diner for lunch with some friends, and miss all the hair pulling and frantic moaning that comes from trying to sprint your ass to that fifty thousand word finish line.

It’s not about the finish; it’s about moving forward all the time.  It’s about thinking of your next project, be it a story to edit, or a getting a submission ready, or writing something new.  It’s always about what’s next–

Not what’s going on.

That will take care of itself.

All Dressed Up and Nothing to Write

NaNo 2012 is over.  Not in the sense that, “It’s over when I say it’s over!”, but in the sense that about ten PM last night, I typed “The End” at the bottom of the last chapter of my novel, and that was that.  Everything that’s been said is said, and it’s time to move on.

The novel is finished, there’s no more writing to do . . . and I’m feeling a little lost at the moment.

When I started the chapter last night, I was feeling a touch weepy.  It wasn’t that I had written some heartfelt prose about my characters that left me an emotional shell–no, nothing like that at all.  It was more the realization that I’d come to the end of the story, and I had maybe a couple of thousand words to write, and there was nothing more after that.

After finishing the chapter, and the novel, I felt pretty good.  It’s always a good feeling when you finish writing seventy thousand words into the computer, and there’s a bit of a rush that hits you like a soft breeze on a warm spring days.  It’s a good feeling, and you close your eyes and take in the wonder that is life–

But come the next day–which, if you’re reading this, is now–you start thinking about what’s coming next.  You have editing ahead of you.  You start having thoughts about if you’re going to send your story to a publisher for consideration, or if you’re going to try and self publishing–with each having their own particular issues one needs to hurdle.

But the biggest one comes–well, it comes about now . . .

What’s next, Sunshine?

I have an idea for a story brewing; hell, I have a few ideas brewing.  There are a couple of things that are pulling me towards writing–but there are also a few things that I want to finish up before moving on to something new.  I mean, it’s great to have a slush pile, but as we know in Northwest Indiana come winter, you gotta clear that slush, or you’re gonna track it into the house.  And right now I have maybe three projects I should get out and get published, but to do that I have to set aside time from writing new material . . .

It’s one or the other, kids.  You gotta do the work, you know?

Doesn’t mean I can’t do other things like prep work while I’m editing a story, or getting it ready for publication.  But I have realized that I need to keep at this game, because as much as I feel like I may be spinning my wheels, I also feel that I’m gaining ground.  This isn’t something I’m doing for a hobby, it’s something that I’m working towards as a career.  Doing it as a hobby is fine, but why not do it for a living?  There are worse jobs, right?  Yep, there are, because I’ve worked them.

It’s never a question of what you’re doing, it’s what’s next?  What do you want to do?  What are you going to work on?  Keep it going, baby, ’cause someone just might be waiting for that story you got bouncing about in the back of your brain–

Only they don’t know it.