Writing–So About This Non-Fiction Business

Non-Fiction Section

My new sooper sekrit project is non-fiction. I’ve read a lot of non-fiction but unless you count blog posts, I haven’t written much of it.

Non-fiction is kind of intimidating to someone who spends most of their time making shit up. Sure I have to have my facts that I do use straight, but that’s just in the background to make the lies more real. Non-fiction leaves no bullshit room. It’s all gotta be accurate.

There’s also the worry of being boring. There’s no witty characters to hide behind. It’s all on me, baby. I’m somewhat entertaining on Twitter and in blog posts, but the idea of maintaining that for an entire book-length work seems scary.

It IS scary.

I’m terrified of being boring, mostly because I know how boring I can be. There are whole stretches of my life that are broad strokes of blah beige. I don’t want any book I write, fiction or non-fiction, to be boring. It’s just easier, to me anyway, not to be boring writing fiction.

To combat my fears and insecurities, I’m tackling this project bit by bit, no pressure. I’ve got an outline and now I’m writing out the basics. No pressure. No worries about the need to be correct or entertaining. It’s all about getting it down on paper and seeing what I’ve got.

Hopefully, it’s something real.

And not boring.

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Writing–2013 Reading Goals

Fiction Stacks

I need to come up with some tangible reading goals for 2013.  So let’s do a quick review of what my 2012 goals were and what I actually did.

My goal was to read 12 books, 6 fiction (at least one from a genre I didn’t normally read), 6 non-fiction (at least one memoir and only one could be a re-read). In reality, I read 20 books, 6 fictions, 6 non-fiction, and at least one of the fiction books was from a different genre. I kind of blew the rest of the goals.

So here’s my idea for 2013:

-Read 24 books. That’s just four more than I did read and it averages out to two a month. That should be more than doable for me.

-At least 10 need to be non-fiction. I failed to read my required number of non-fiction books last year (strange since I usually prefer non-fiction to fiction). I need to do a better job of balancing my intake. It’s not quite half, but it’s close enough.

-Only ONE non-fiction re-read counts towards my total. I re-read non-fiction a lot so I have to watch it. I need to look for new stuff.

-At least one of my non-fiction reads needs to be a memoir. This was one of the goals I failed last year.

-Only one of my fiction re-reads counts towards my goal. I don’t usually re-read fiction, but I’ve been hankering to read a couple of Stephen King books again.

-I will continue exploring other fiction genres. That means I need to limit the number of horror books I read. I say no more than eight.

-Read more of books by people I know. I need to be more active in supporting the authors that I interact with on Twitter. Reading more of their books would be a good idea.

I think these goals will be a great way to keep me productively reading this year.

Let’s hope I do better at meeting (exceeding?) them than last year.

Writing–Reading Goals/50 Rejections Results

Fiction S-Z (a sequel)

I set myself two goals for the years. I wanted to get fifty short story rejections and I wanted to read twelve books. The results were mixed, but honestly, it was an overall fail for both goals.

First the fifty rejections. That was kind of a lofty goal, in retrospect. I tend to submit in bursts and I really didn’t have enough completed short stories to make this possible. Even the short stories I wrote during the year weren’t really enough to make up that deficit. Even though I scaled back the goal to twenty in November, it still wasn’t enough. As of right now, I garnered seventeen rejections for 2012. An improvement over last year’s total for sure, but far short of my goal. I think next year I’ll be a little more realistic and shoot for a more obtainable number.

The reading goals I set for myself were pretty specific (if you remember; I didn’t…I had to look them up). Not only did I have to read twelve books, six of them had to be fiction and six of them had to be non-fiction. Of the fiction books, at least one had to be in a genre I don’t read. Of the six non-fiction books, one had to be a memoir and only one could be a re-read.

The good news out of this is that I ended up reading a total of twenty books and I did read a couple of genres I normally don’t read. The bad news is that I failed in the non-fiction goals.

14 1/2 of the books were fiction (Margaritaville had both short stories and essays so I counted it as half). 5 1/2 books were non-fiction, falling half a book short of my six book goal. Two of those books were re-reads. And I didn’t manage to read a full on memoir.

So while I read more fiction than I usually do and read more overall than I have in a while, I totally bombed the non-fiction portion of the goals. I think next year’s goals are going to reflect that and my need to achieve balance.

Overall, I’m pretty disappointed with my lack of achievement. I’ve got some work to do next year.

Writing–Reading Goals Update

Bookshelf

I said sometime close to the beginning of the year (the exact date of the post eludes me) that one of my goals for the year was to read. I needed to change the way I thought about reading and to do that I set the goal for myself to read twelve books this year, at least one a month. Six had to be non-fiction, six had to be fiction, and only one could be a re-read.

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve been living up to the challenge I set for myself. Not quite four months into the year I’ve read seven books, four fiction, three non-fiction, one re-read. I admit that the book I’m reading now, a non-fiction book, is also a re-read, but I think I can make up for that seeing as I’m over half-way to my goal and I still have a little over eight months left in the year.

I’m glad to say that the challenge is doing exactly what I’d hoped it would do. Because I have this goal hanging over my head, I’m making time in my day to read, even just a little bit, because I don’t want to fail. I’m conditioning myself to read every day as part of my job. I’m getting it out of my head that I don’t have time to do it and instead, I’m making time to do it.

As it should be.

Writing–Happy Endings

I don’t write happy endings.

Okay, I do, but I don’t.

It’s something I’ve noticed as I accumulate short stories and novel first drafts and it’s not just because I write a lot of horror. That’s not to say that I don’t write satisfactory endings in the sense that the plot is tied up and the questions are all answered because I do that. Sometimes I even do it in an a happy way. You have to offer up a satisfying conclusion if you want to write a story worth reading.

The happy endings I’m talking about are the stories that end with the girl getting the guy or the guy getting the girl. I’ve written a few stories and some novels in which that is a possibility. The set-up is there. But I don’t do anything with it. I might play a little with flirting or a smidge of sexual tension, but in the end, the characters ride off into the sunset…alone.

It seems to be an expectation for most stories involving a man and a woman that they’ll end up together. It’s an expectation I don’t live up to and I don’t live up to it on purpose.

I don’t think it’s always necessary. Just because two characters share the same story doesn’t mean they have to hook up by the end of it. Maybe they’d really like to. Maybe they do hook up at some point after the story ends. But for the time period that’s written about concerning these characters, it doesn’t happen. It happens if it’s necessary for the story and so many stories I write don’t find it necessary. And that’s okay! It’s better to serve the story rather than shoehorn something in to satisfy a reader expectation that clashes with everything else about the story.

I think that frustrates people. The last paragraph coupling happens so often that they’re disappointed when it doesn’t happen and they somehow interpret that as an unhappy ending, no matter how upbeat the story ending was. And though I have quite a few upbeat endings (I may be over estimating a little), I still manage to disappoint people.

This doesn’t bother me as much as it should. I’m satisfying people whether they want to admit it or not. Not every ending has to be happy.

Those last two sentences are filled with a lot more innuendo than I intended, but when talking about satisfying happy endings, you run into that risk.