Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Busy Year

2011 has been an eventful year, so much so that keeping up with this blog has been impossible.

One of the things that has kept me very busy has been writing. I have completed several short stories, edited 3 novels, and written two other novels. All in all a very profitable writing year. In particular, November was an incredible month. As a writer of speculative fiction, my manuscripts always exceed a hundred thousand words. I decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month. Rather than stick the established goal of fifty thousand words, I decided to take the concept of writing a novel in a month and apply it to the epic fantasy genre. After much world building early in the year and writing the first volume of the series over the previous 4 months, I found I was ready. I have yet to read the result, but the rough draft topped out at just over a hundred and fifty thousand words. I have a policy of letting freshly finished manuscripts sit for at least a month or two before I look at them so I have no idea of the quality at this point.

A highlight of finishing that manuscript was that somewhere toward the end, I completed a million total words written. Well, I probably passed it a while I ago if I truly consider every bit of fiction I’ve ever written, but I’m just counting the items I’ve written with the intent to sell/publish. It was quite fun because the first thing I did after completing that manuscript was to go back to my first story, written in the early 90’s, and restore it to a format that is readable. I wrote with pen and paper back then and had a family member type it up. That was before I even owned a computer, something hard for those who know me now to imagine. It is good to be able to look back on something I wrote twenty years ago and still like it. It had some failures, but it was not a total loss. It is still fun to read.

My aims for writing have changed dramatically this year. At the beginning of the year I was continuing to try to seek a traditional agent/publisher to get my stories out there. But as I have looked at the type of stories I write and the market and what agents are looking for and how long it takes to submit to publishers, not to mention the many established writers who are turning from that old standard, I have decided that self-publishing, the modern way, is a much better fit. I won’t claim I am good enough to be the next Isaac Asimov or Terry Brooks, but from the feed back I’ve gotten, I’m no Ed Wood either. That first story was good enough to land me a screenwriting agent (and I can still see why) and I’ve only gotten better since then. Rather than continue to wait on someone to take a chance on me, I am going to take a chance on myself.

I have three novels and a short story collection ready for final proofing and publication so that is what will happen in the coming year. First the short story collection, which I think has its final title - Edge of Hyperspace. I’m working on what stories to include (I’m actually in the middle of writing one specifically for the collection) and editing them (for what seems like the tenth time in some cases) and sorting them into a cohesive unit. Once the editing is finished (with e-publishing is it ever really finished?), then it is time to format it, upload it, and make it live. It should prove to be an interesting adventure for 2012.

The business continues, but so too should the blogging. For 2012, I would like to return to writing something every month at a minimum.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Writer’s Dream

A real writer has dreams. I’m not talking about dreams of commercial success, fame, wealth, etc, though we have those too. No, the real dreams are to tell stories. A true writer is a reader and the stories we dream of creating are stories to match or rival those we grew up with.

Dreams are why we write. We have thoughts and imaginations and storylines flowing through our heads. We put them together in new ways and spin new stories, ever striving to create something that can live up to our dreams. Even if we actually do achieve something that others see as living up to what we are striving for, we have elevated our dreams higher that the works that inspired them.

Our dreams are on a pedestal and they are hard to match. What we need is a dose of realism when we look back at our writing. How many writers out there think they are not good enough. How many gems lie hidden in drawers or boxes, forgotten because the writer doesn’t think they stack up.

I was recently reminded of this when I stumbled upon a place where writers were encouraged to post their work. It was the hard work of obvious amateurs, but it was still their hard work, their attempt to reach the dream. But at the same time, I have seen writers ten times as talented who balk at letting people read their work. Sometimes that is because they have no support for their dreams. Sometimes it is just insecurity. Whatever the reason, all writers, of whatever level, should find other writers who will give them an honest opinion. The bad need to be told that they have a long way to got, but the great need to be told they are great.

I think back to the stories that I read when I was young. They are better in my memory than they really are in some cases. They are the dream I aspire to. I am a horrible judge of my own work. I find it flawed and often wonder if it is worth trying to see it published. Then I am encouraged by those who read it. It is encouraging when my fellow writers give the same comments my early readers do. But still I doubt. My own stories don’t compare to the dream I aspire to. It drives me on to always aspire to writing better.