Writing–September Projects

Ivy

After the disaster that was August, I’m ready to switch gears and leave my disappointments in the dust, like I would totally do every day if I could afford the Chevelle on the car lot near my house.

Anyway.

My two main goals this month are to get back to revisions on the Ivy novella (and hopefully give the damn thing a name) and start writing the latest horror novella idea.

I feel like the month away from the Ivy novella has given me a nice respite and a new perspective on it. I think I have a better idea of what I need to do with it to get it the way I want it. I’m thinking that, if all goes well, I should still be able to get it up as an e-book before the end of the year, possibly before NaNo. However, I’m saying that tentatively. I saw what smugness did to me last month.

I think writing this new novella idea will be just the break I need from the trouble I’ve been having with the short stories. The idea has mellowed long enough that I think I’m ready to put it down on paper, so to speak, and I think the act of writing something new and something longer might help my creative issues when it comes to revising my short stories and getting them to work out the way I want them to.

I’m also back to kid-minding in the morning (and now the afternoon as well) a few days a week. I think my morning project will be this non-fiction thing that I’ve been scribbling about since January. I still don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ve filled a whole notebook about it. I’ve got a new notebook and I’m going to keep scribbling. Eventually, I’m going to get to the heart of this beast and know its name. Might as well do it in the mornings while I’m waiting for the kid to get ready for school during the moments I don’t have a kitten crawling up my leg.

I feel this will be sufficient to keep me busy without completely crushing my soul since none of it has to be finished before the end of the month.

Ego rebound month.

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Writing–What ARE You?

Cover of "The Blob - Criterion Collection...

I’ve been working on a non-fiction project since the first of the year (Sooper Sekrit Project #1). I wrote the bits and pieces of it in a notebook and nearly filled the thing up before I called it done enough to type up what I had.

So I typed up what I had.

And then I added more to the notebook, but I haven’t typed any of that up because what I’ve added isn’t done yet.

And then I jotted down some other ideas for it, but haven’t expanded on them yet.

And then I thought even more about the project.

And the only thing I can honestly say is that I have no idea what it’s going to be.

All of the bits and pieces and ideas and words and sentences and paragraphs and pages put together just add up to a mishmash of something with no real center or direction. I think it’s all good and useable and it all relates to each other, but it doesn’t exactly all go together, you know what I mean? It just doesn’t know what it wants to be.

I keep feeding it. It keeps growing. But it’s not assuming any kind of shape.

I think it might be the Blob.

I hope I can figure it out before I have to freeze it and drop it in Antarctica.

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.

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–Non-Fiction Attraction

I have a real love for non-fiction.

It started when I was a kid. I liked to read biographies. It didn’t matter who was the subject. Sports stars, actors, presidents, muscians, anybody, it didn’t matter; I liked to read about other people’s lives. I read about my obsessions. Sharks, dinosaurs, tornadoes, anything that scared and fascinated me.  I read about all things pop culture. To this day I love useless knowledge.

There came a point, some time in high school I think, that I realized that I read more non-fiction than fiction. I’m still that way. Check out my bookshelf and you’ll see. I’ve got books on dead bodies, morgues, fat girls, baby names, horror movies, writing, astrology, spells, tarot, body language, psychology, genomes, algebra, serial killers, and a few memoirs. I even kept all of the text books from my three stints in college so I could read them at my leisure.

I guess it’s just a draw I have. I like to learn things, all kinds of things. A lot of my books are acquired because of my obsessions and interests. I admit that I’m looking into getting some books on baseball, specifically pitching and stats, to feed my current addiction. But then I’m also looking at a book on Hell and a book on the positive effects of peer pressure because I came across both in the paper and they looked interesting.

One would think that as a fiction writer, I would be reading lots of fiction. And really, I should be. It’s an important part of my job. Don’t get me wrong; I like fiction. I don’t consider reading it an unpleasant part of this gig. But when I’m cruising through Amazon or prowling the shelves of my library, non-fiction has a tendency to catch my attention first. Odd since fiction is considered the flashier of the two.

I’ve thought about writing non-fiction, but I’ve never really gotten up the gumption to take the plunge and give it a shot. I’ve get ideas and I write them down and I try to develop them, but it doesn’t go much farther than that. As marginally qualified to write fiction as I feel I am, I feel totally unqualified to write non-fiction.

That’s not to say that I won’t, eventually, give it a go, of course.

I just need to read a little bit more first.

Stories By The Numbers

-Submitted: 2 (“Such a Pretty Face” and “Playing Chicken”)
-Ready: 5 (“Customer Service” joins “Husband and Wife”, “Elevator”, “Bigger Than a Squirrel”, and “Erin Go Bragh”)
-Accepted/Rejected: 0