Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Fine October For Writing - It's Done!

On Friday I wrote two words that haven't come from my fingers in a long, long time.


My current WIP is not longer IP, progress. It's finished! My second novel! Yay!

Working title? "The Hammer and the Keys."

I won't know the exact word count until I digitize it (which will hopefully happen tomorrow). Using the dead-recoking 250 words per page rule, I estimate that at 326 pages the book stands around 81,000. Definitely within the accepted novel range. It might even be a tad longer, given the generous use of block quotes.

Was I excited to finish it? Of course! It's been 4 years since I completed a novel without stopping due to writer's block/lethargy or life circumstances getting in the way. I learned a lot about myself and being productive. I was very happy to reach THE END, but it was something I was prepared for because I knew I was going to finish the book. It was kinda like the mastermind watching a plan with all of its loose ends and different threads coming together.

My plan is to now gather a group of beta readers and gauge their reaction to the story. The only corrections that I'll make are spelling errors and other things. I recall a few carriage skips (words coming out as "c ame" instead of "came") which might not get picked up by the word processor. Nothing to alter the story, only technical stuff.

For a visual representation of how I felt during the last two months, I give you Snoopy.

Day 1, Page 1

Half way through, resisting the urge to talk about it.


I'm going to give the brain a break from such long-term projects for awhile. The draft will sit in its shoebox until I have largely forgotten the details. When the noggin is fresh, I'll sit down and begin to seriously edit it myself. 

Meantime, I've gotten the hankering to take up short stories again. I haven't written one in a year, and those were all for college classes. I have never put for a lot of effort into trying to market short pieces, because frankly, I thought that market was all dried up. Over the last few hours I've been pecking around the interwebs and found out that I was wrong (not surprised one bit).

The market hasn't dried up, it's simply changed venue. Guys like Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, and Kurt Vonnegut all made a name for themselves with books and short stories. Back in ye olden times before digital media, they'd type up a manuscript of 15-30 pages or so and send it to a magazine. These magazines would often specialize in a particular genre. You can find them in thrift stores with a big 25¢ stamp on the front. Serialized novels also came about through this form, like King's "Shawshank Redemption." 

Now, magazines can't afford to publish so exclusively. Most of the old players went out of business years ago. Lots of short stories are online, via Amazon or a magazine website. 

So why am I even thinking about this? Books are where it's at, right?


If I had to do it all over again there's one thing I would change about my journey through the craft of word-binding thus far, I would start with short stories and not novels.

I started writing The Eclipse Chronicles when I was 15 with no real grasp of how to write or even taking a class. All I knew was that I had a story to get out and I was going to do it! It took my six years to get "Lunar Dawn" to where it is now because I didn't learn to write before I started writing. 

Shouldn't have done that!

Instead of starting with a burden of 80-100k words, I should have started with just 5k. Could have saved myself a lot of time and effort learning characterization, background development, description, showing vs telling, and dialogue. But thankfully, I started out young, so I'm not too late to get in the game.

Short stories are still a valid medium for writers to indulge in. I watched a film on YouTube the other day called "Story of a Writer." It was about Ray Bradbury, made in 1963, at the apex of his career. One scene shows him typing a story called "Dial Double Zero." The film follows him through the process of writing, revising, and getting the thing critiqued. That part stuck with me.

Later, I saw a video by Ann Rice who said all writers should keep their chapter fragments, scenes, ideas, and other "junk" because it could be used in different ways like a short story.

I felt pretty silly after hearing that. I have lots of ideas that I've been mulling over for years, but never put to paper. Maybe that's what I've been missing the whole time. Just because I'm letting my brain rest after finishing "Hammer and Keys" doesn't mean I have to (or should) be on a vacation.

So, within the next week or so, I hope to produce a short story and try to get it published however I can through traditional means. By traditional, I mean send it out, have it read, critiqued, probably rejected, and then published by an editor.

It won't be a long story, probably 15,000 max, though I doubt I'll come close to it.

I should confess that I'm addicted to the sound of my typewriter, so that serves as an added incentive to get back to work. Bradbury had a whole filing cabinet of stuff he'd written over the years.

I want one. Only one way to get it.
Me, ready to begin the next project!

Power to the pen and those with a well-worn ink ribbon!

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