June Writing Projects

Last month was fairly easy. All I had to do was revise Come to the Rocks and outline season 2 of Murderville. Which I did.

But that left me with time on my hands. Like two weeks worth of time on my hands. Which meant that I needed to find a way to occupy my time. So, I ended up revising “Take the 55 North” for the Simon & Schuster challenge on Prose and then revised and posted another, related story called “Items Left Behind”.

And then I proceeded to drive myself crazy trying to come up with something to enter into the Writer’s Digest Annual Contest. I ended up writing the first 15 pages of a new script called Stateline, which is a rewrite of a short story I did years ago and decided that was the winner. Okay, not winner, but the one that I felt had the best shot at earning my entry fee back.

And then I wrote a little short story that’s set in the Murderville universe that’s going to serve as the teaser for next season. But you’re going to have to wait (and pay) for that.

This month is all about writing Murderville season 2 and hopefully giving it a title.

And because that’s the only thing I have planned to do this month, you know what happens if I finish early.

It’ll look like May all over again.

The next episode of Murderville: The Last Joke, “Finding Chester R. Ewins”, goes live June 13th. Become a patron, catch up on the last five eps, and be all set to read the latest. Reminder that $2 patrons receive bonus content, so treat yourself!

April Writing Projects

Yellow flowersRemember last month when I said that I was forcing myself to revise two short stories that needed a lot of work and I didn’t like them and it was going to take me forever and everything was terrible?

Yeah, that was all nothing but an empty whine because I ended up getting them both done in about two weeks. I didn’t anticipate that, but it happened, and I’m happier for it.

And since I got them done so quickly, I just moved right on to the next big revision, The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys, which I’ll continue working on this month. I’ve got over half of it done already, but it’s the last third or so that really needs a lot of work and rewriting. I’m going to take my time with it. It’s the last story in the still-untitled ghost story collection that needs major revisions. Once it gets done, that whole thing should come together pretty quickly.

In side project news, if you follow me on Twitter (you probably shouldn’t because I’m terrible) or read the tweets that come up on the blog, then you know I’ve been referencing five outlines. First I talked about finishing them; now I’m talking about writing synopsis and fifteen pages. It’s possible you might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about.

(It’s also possible that you don’t give a shit, and that’s also valid.)

I’m going to try my hand at the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition again. Nine years after winning 10th place in the genre category and a few failures in other categories since then, I’ve decided to try my hand at the script category. I’ve only written a script once before for Script Frenzy (which they don’t do anymore), so I’m looking at this as a personal challenge that’s going to cost me a $25 entry fee.

So what’s the deal with the five outlines? I took five ideas that I had and outlined them. Now I’m writing the first fifteen pages and synopsis (the requirement for the entry) of each one to see which one I think is the strongest entry. Then I’ll take the one I think is strongest, polish it all up, and submit it. Is it a lot of extra work to do it this way? Yeah, probably, but it gives me some practice. Am I cheating by only doing the first fifteen pages? Yeah, probably, but I will finish whatever one I submit for sure. It just won’t be done by the deadline, which is in May. I only have one more outline that needs fifteen pages and a synopsis written, so I’ve got plenty of time to get this done. I find script writing to go very quickly for me.

Which means I’m probably doing it wrong.

February Writing Projects

roseLast month I finished the first drafts of “Short Hallway” and “What You Don’t See”, which were both a real slog for some reason. I also wrote, revised, polished, and submitted a short story called “Don’t Feed the Animals” to a contest. It was one of those rare stories that came out pretty much done in the first draft. It just needed some minor tweaks. Pretty handy since I needed to have it ready to go in only a few weeks.

I think I was going to try to write and enter two stories because at the time I had two ideas, but when it came time to focus, I only had “Don’t Feed the Animals” in my head. I can’t for the life of me remember what the other idea was. Oh well. It was either a moment of brilliance lost forever or it was an idea better forgotten. I’ll never know.

This month I’m going to go back to revising Voice. I’ve done the structural changes and I’ve made all of the notes. In theory, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge to fix, but I haven’t been able to bank on anything lately. It’s been a tough go mentally as of late for me (but that’s another post).

If I somehow get done with Voice, then I’ll move on to revising something else that’s going into the ghost anthology because there’s a lot of revising needed to be done for that.

I’m going to be doing so much revising this year.

So much.

Writing–Getting Personal

Earlier this month I took a step in a new writing direction. I submitted a personal essay for a contest.

I’ve thought about writing personal essays before, because if there’s one thing I love, it’s talking about myself. I wasn’t exactly sure HOW to write a personal essay, but I’ve never let lack of knowledge stop me from trying anything.

I read several how-to articles on writing personal essays. Lack of knowledge doesn’t stop me from doing things, which includes educating myself so I don’t end up looking like a fool. While I learned, I jotted down ideas in a notebook. In November, I decided to try my hand at it. During a marathon day waiting in the hospital while my dad had surgery, I ended up writing two essays in my notebook (along with meeting my word count for Nano that day, reading two magazines, and killing my phone; it was a REALLY long day). Once Nano was over, I typed them both up and picked the one that I thought would be the best to enter into the contest.

I don’t expect to win. I think the essay I submitted is a passable first legitimate attempt and I think it’s good enough to encourage me to keep doing it.

In fact, it’s given me an idea.

There’s a definite theme to the two essays that I wrote and the ideas I’ve been putting in my notebook. It’s developed into a new project for me. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, whether I put it this project up here for free or self-publish it. I may try submitting more of the essays I end up writing if I can find places in that market.

At any rate, it’s a project I’m going to continue to work on and develop. It uses different writing muscles for me. It’s like blogging, in a way, but there’s far more emotional content to it. There’s definitely more refinement than my typical blog post and more of a narrative need, like fiction-writing. It’s a challenge, particular the emotional part. Sure, I like talking about myself, but I like to keep it superficial. Digging out those emotions and putting them out there for other people to see is a little daunting, but it’s something I have to do if I want the essays to be good.

And I want the essays to be good.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly stop writing fiction. I think it’s good for me to explore and experiment. It builds up the writing muscles and helps me get better.

And in the end, getting better is what I really want to do.

Writing–November Projects

I know what you’re thinking. It’s November. Why don’t you just call this post Nanowrimo 2011? Because while Nano will be a huge part of my existence for this month, I do have a few little things that I’d like to be doing on the side.

There are two contests I want to enter (should I scrape up the entry fees). One is a short-short contest and I’ve already got a story finished and ready to revise that I’d like to submit. The other is a memoir/personal essay contest. I’ve never done anything like it before, but I’ve got a few ideas that I think will work and I’d like to give it a shot. I’ve been thinking about doing memoir stuff for a while now and I think this might be a good leaping off point.

Even if I’m not able to enter the contests, I’ll still have some valuable material at the ready for when another opportunity presents itself.

Of course, this is all dependent on how well Nano goes. I’ve done 2,000 words a day with a goal of 60,000 words total for the past couple of years. Let’s hope the trend continues.

And at the end of the day, I have a few words to spare.

Writing–Writing for First Place

My first foray into the writing world was submitting my work to a local contest. The contest was cancelled due to a lack of interest and I got my story and entry fee back, but that was a pretty big step for me. It was the first time I let someone outside of a very specific group read something I’d written and judge me on it.

That contest didn’t pan out, but it gave me the courage to submit my work to others. My first real success as a writer was winning 10th place in the genre category in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Imagine my surprise to open up my copy of the magazine and see my name listed among the top ten as I hadn’t been notified yet.

My story didn’t get published, but I saw my name in print. Someone thought my story was good enough to beat out at least 90 other people (the top 100 was listed on the site). It was an incredible ego boost and it encouraged me to move beyond contests and start submitting to publications.

Submitting to contests was a good first step for me. It let me ease into things. Not placing in a contest wasn’t the same as getting rejected in my head. Submitting a story and getting it rejected was more personal. My hide wasn’t thick enough to handle that yet. But losing a contest was different. I’d not won lots of things. That was easier to deal with.

Those first few contests and that first win really helped set the tone for me when it came to dealing with rejection. Let’s face it, submitting to a publication is a lot like entering a contest. You hope to win and get the prize, but lots of times you get that letter that lets you know that you’ve lost.

I’ve found so many ways now to deal with rejection that, while I get bummed and frustrated sometimes, I’ve never been devestated and rarely thought about giving up.

And I still have an appreciation for contests. Now that I’ve got that regular income from the day job, I can afford the fees once again. I once again entered the Writer’s Digest Story Competition. I’m hoping for a repeat of last time, if not a straight out win.

But if I lose, no big deal. I’ll just move on to the next contest and try this one again next year.

That’s what winners do.

Story By The Numbers

Submitted: 2 (“Another Deadly Weapon” is my contest entry; “Such a Pretty Face” is still out)
Ready: 9 (“Soul Sister” joins the growing list)
Accepted/Rejected: 0