Writing Log: May 15, 2020

A hand holding a pen and writing in blue ink in a journal.
Image Source: https://www.grandforksherald.com/lifestyle/2199089-share-your-story-logging-exercise-food-and-life-journals

So, I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want for these “logs” in terms of content. Ideally, I’d like them to appear about 1 every four weeks (about a month apart) to give you (and myself) a monthly look at what I’ve been able to accomplish in terms of the major areas in my life that I feel are important: Reading, Writing, and Video Games. However, as you can see, I’m missing a fourth category. I could do media such as TV/Movies, but I already discuss them at length with mini-reviews and rewatch posts. I guess the point is that, for the time-being, these will probably be every three weeks until I can find a strong “fourth” category that would make a good “log” topic in order to appear on Fridays. And now without further ado, on to the writing:

Creative: “Project Arizona”

This is the project that I’ve been working on so far this month. I’ve finished the rough draft of the story. I’m working on the first draft now. I’ve decided to try to work in “stages” with this story. Basically, I’m trying to build my story from ideas into execution into a “story” in stages (drafts). We’ll see how well it works. So far, I’ve liked the fact that the story seems to be coming together fairly well. I’m consistently writing it out in long hand in my “notebook.” I’ve been less successful in transferring what I’ve written into my notebook on to the computer where the “magic” happens. I think I’m trying to “dramatize” what I’m writing too soon, and that I’m trying to put in character moments when I should be focused (in this draft) of just establishing and interesting and believable plot that makes sense and doesn’t have any “huh?” moments for the reader.

Creative: The Independent

I’ve been working on editing this story. I’ve managed, with the help of the MTSU Writing Center to edit the story. Max, the husband of my mentor professor, is also a short-story writer and has worked at the Writing Center this semester. We’ve gone through about two-thirds of the story. One of the things that I’ve realized by doing this is that I’m rushing through the editing process. Like writing, good editing takes time, so I’m slowing down and trying to spend a month on editing, just as I would on writing. Another thing that I’ve learned is that I’m getting stronger at characterization, but at the expense of world-building. The plot is there, the characters are (getting) there, but the world is suffering because I’m putting a lot of my focus on what’s happening and the character–and that’s something that I’m going to want to address going forward.

Academic: Prospectus “Outline”

One of the things that I was supposed to produce this semester was the prospectus that I would “defend.” Basically, the prospectus is a tentative outline of what you propose to write your dissertation about. It used to be very informal, and as long as your director signed off on it, you could begin writing your dissertation. However, a couple of semester ago, they put in a new rule at my school that the dissertation committee had to sign off on it and that you had to “defend” it in public (like a dissertation). So, in essence, the prospectus has become a “mock” dissertation — same basic accouterments (full committee, defense of it, etc.) of a dissertation, but not nearly as long or detailed.

Well, Covid-19 put this on hold, so my director suggested working on the prospectus in the summer and defending it in early Fall. So, I slowed down on trying to get one written. However, over the past few weeks I was able to get an outline down that I really liked. My mentor this semester, Dr. Meyers, helped me integrate the idea of “empathy” into the outline as well, and this is what I’m currently working towards now. I have a written a (very) crappy introduction that I intend to redo.. I think I’m going to start working first on the video game section as the two major video game projects this week discussed ways in which they were bringing in filmic techniques to gaming, which is a central thesis as to why I’m discussing them in relation to Afrofuturism.

Writing Time: Waking Up to Write

As I mentioned above, I’ve found great success over the past three weeks with writing consistently. I tend to wake up early, but my body doesn’t actually want to get up (not a coffee drinker–so even though I’m awake, I’m not really awake, if that makes sense–so now, I’ve taken to grabbing the notebook and either drafting the next section of the story or jotting down dreams/story “seeds”/character ideas that I’ve thought of over night. This has helped me really me move along on “Project Arizona.” I’ve been less successful, as I’ve noted, actually getting what’s in the notebook translated to the computer. The ideas just seem to flow easier and better writing in the notebook than on the computer. However, I really need to do this daily. I caught an interview with Stephen King on NPR and he writes for four (4) hours daily. In essence, King has made writing his “part-time” job (20 hours a week in America is considered part-time while 40 hours is considered a full time job). And I have to say, as much as I might fault some of his works individually, he is still one of the most consistent and successful authors out there (mainly because he puts in the work). Outside of these blog posts, I struggle with putting in more than an hour (1) daily at the keyboard daily. So while I’m finding a fair amount of success writing daily in my notebook, I still need to work on finding “keyboard” time as well (as NO ONE is going to pay for handwritten copy, no matter how good it is).

Well, that’s all I have time for today–hopefully, I will find that 4th category so that I can give you a proper update in about a month or so. Next week should be the return of the Reading Log, so until next moth, Happy Writing!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft (Idea phase)
    Next: First Draft (Plot phase)

Blogging My Way to a Novel

A book cover showing a writer using a pen in a notebook/journal.  The book's title is How Blogging can help you Write Your Novel.
Image Search: https://www.eadeverell.com/blogging-can-help-write-novel/

One of the things that I noticed when I was looking over the stats for my blog posts is the amount of words that I’ve been averaging. I’m actually down overall in terms of words from the past couple of years because I’m not publishing posts as regularly even though the actual word count for the posts has gone way up.

However, when I looked at the word count for the year, I was astounded. Taking the overall yearly word count just for the blog into account, I’ve written enough words to have written a novel every year since 2016!

Yup, you read that right–just doing what I’ve been doing for the blog would have been enough for a novel for the past four years!

60,000 Words (2016)

So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which happens in November has a goal of 50,000 words. In theory, while there is no set amount of words for a novel, 60,000 words has generally become the accepted length in practice–although some would argue that NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 word length could also be considered novel length.

Looking at the blog’s stats–I reached 60,000 words (and change) in 2016. I was fairly committed to blogging–but I didn’t do it every day. If you were to use the calendar function on an old 2016 post, you would see that there were long gaps in posting, although I did post routinely at 5-6 days out of the month (yes, I think there may be some 3-4 days in their, but I generally average 5-6, maybe more). As you can see, while not consistent, I at least wrote something on monthly basis, even if it wasn’t a lot (or daily).

Had I done the exact same with my creative writing as I did with my blog posts, I would have had enough for a (depending on the font choice) 200 – 225 page manuscript and would have completed my first novel.

117,000 Words (2018)

My high water mark (so far) for the blog came in 2018, where somewhere around April/May, I hit my stride and blogged pretty much consistently for rest of the year. I blogged much like I’m trying to get back to now and what works best for me: Mondays-Fridays, 5 days a week. I actually usually do one or two blog posts on the weekend (maybe 3, but usually not more than 3) and then fill out the rest of the week with blog posts either written on that day (or at most, a day earlier).

I managed 117,000 words (and change) that year. Enough for 2 full novels or 1 door-stopper epic fantasy novel. This is the stat that really floored me and set me thinking about my writing, my writing process, and that helped to inspire this post. Just think of all that could have been accomplished had I taken the time to do with my creative writing that I managed with my blog.

Lessons Learned

I’ve learned two lessons from looking at my stats for the blog over the previous years of blogging:

  1. I need to be more consistent in my writing process if I want success. Even if I can’t find the “time,” I need to always be moving forward and to make sure I find time to write at least 5-6 days monthly. If I can also find a way to write daily (Monday-Friday) along with my blog, great–and that will put me in better stead–but at the bare minimum, I must be more consistent about writing.
  2. I should try to use the format of my blog to help me draft my longer works. This format works well for me–Introduction, 2-3 headings, and a paragraph or two for each heading. This is how I’m hoping to help myself become a better and more productive writer without “breaking my process.” That’s the key and I’m hoping that because I like this format–it will work for me.

Well, that’s all I have for today–nothing earth-shattering. Just a realization that I have the capabilities within me to make my dreams come true–if I can just find the consistency (and willpower) to get it done. And of course, not let it interfere with my dissertation for school.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft
    Next: First Draft

HawkeMoon Reviews Are In

Storyhack Issue 4 Cover
HawkeMoon by Sidney Blaylock, Jr.
Has a scarecrow with hood and young red-haired lady in blue tunic with crescent blades.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WJXVR9D/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

I was cruising the internet yesterday, trying to see if I could find reviews on my latest published story, HawkeMoon which appeared in Storyhack #4 last year. There are couple of major sites that do short fiction reviews, but to the best of my knowledge (Tangent Online and Locus Magazine), but I guess neither reviewed Storyhack because I didn’t see the magazine listed for either site). However, the issue was reviewed by a couple of places. One, a fellow WordPress blogger and the 2nd was a market that I think I’ve submitted to once before. Both had interesting things to say, so I’ll link to their reviews.

Planetary Defense Command

The first review comes from Planetary Defense Command whose tagline reads: “Defending the planet from bad science fiction.” I’ve not read this blog before, but they do give a short review of Storyhack #4. While I’m not going to post their entire review (which you can read by clicking on the “short review” link in the previous sentence), I am going to repost their review of my story for commentary purposes.

They say: Hawkemoon by Sidney Blaylock.  A strange form of undead, an assassinated king, and animal magic sounds like too much to cram into one story, but it fits together nicely.”

This is a hopeful review for me. I read novels, but I write (at the moment) short-stories. I’m always trying to get a lot accomplished in the 5,000 or so words allotted to me by the short-story format. I do have a lot of elements going on in my stories–because I think of them as mini-novels (or maybe better, proto-novels). I just can’t be as grand in scope with the myriad of plots and subplots as I would like because I don’t have the space to go into that level of detail. I have just enough time to one major plot with a character arc and then I’m pretty much out of space. How can I expand my stories out more so that they can breathe and not feel like I’m putting too much in and making them too busy?

Now, the final statement of the review isn’t a criticism. As long as I can balance all the elements, like I did for this reader, then it will work fine. However, as you can tell from this blog entry, I tend to be quite detailed and meticulous and I often want to imitate the complexities that I read in my favorite authors (Brandon Sanderson, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Moon, and Robert Jordan) in short form where as all of these writers are primarily long form writers.

My goal is to work on my stories to get them to where the reviewer would like to see them turned into novels as he/she does for the last two stories reviewed. That’s ultimately where I’m going anyway, so if the reviewer notes that that story could be the entry chapter in a novel (or expanded out into a novel), then I’ll know that I’m on the right track with getting my stories where I want them to be.

Broadswords and Blasters

The 2nd review is from an online market that I think I’ve submitted a story to in the past called Broadswords and Blasters. No, they didn’t take whatever story I sent them, but I don’t think it was HawkeMoon that was submitted (but I’d have to check my submissions via Duotrope to be sure). They had a much longer review (with criticism) of the issue as a whole, but I’ll just repost my review (again, for commentary purposes).

HawkeMoon by Sidney Blaylock, Jr. A king has been assassinated, so the captain of the royal guard goes in search of the one master assassin who was responsible… only it turns out she wasn’t the one behind it. This story is memorable for its characters, but even more so for the ultimate villain of the piece, The Scarecrow King.” I wished the setting had been a bit more developed than it was, as it felt very much a cardboard backdrop against which the characters acted, as opposed to a fully developed world. I know, that’s a lot to ask for in a short story, but I still think the overall setting was too roughly sketched, and thus seemed fairly generic for my taste. This story is the cover story for the issue, and I can absolutely see why.”

Okay, so there’s a lot to dig into here. First off, the characters. It is gratifying to here that the reviewer responded to the characters. While I did focus on them, they weren’t completely my focus like with a couple of my stories. Yet, hearing that the characters were the most memorable parts of the story really heartens me and helps me think that when I focus on characterization (& not just the cool visuals/plots happening), I can create a story that is interesting and intriguing to the reader. Now the criticism–the reviewer did not like my world–he/she thought it was too “sketchy” and underdeveloped. It is a fair criticism. I did have a more detailed world in mind, but it didn’t get from my mind on to the page. The world was supposed to be a mix of traditional fantasy lands, kings, knights, guards, but with the beginning of the new (German) renaissance–burghers, merchants, mayors, etc., just beginning to come into play, with an Old Town (more like a medieval village) and a New Town (more like the early modern Germanic towns in which the “Kris Kringle” legend sprang up (without the guns/gunpowder of the period). However, I couldn’t figure out how to work that into the story without a great big exposition info dump. The best I could come up with was having New Town be where the castle and townspeople were located and Old Town being more like a rundown fishing village.

Still, this criticism is both valid and constructive and I can use it. I knew that the world I had in the story seemed generic, but chose to ignore that fact. Now what I plan to do is identify places where I think the story is weak and see if there is a solution that addresses the weakness in some small way to at least alleviate, if not fix, the problem area in the story.

Sure, as writers we’d like to have perfect feedback, but now I’m learning that world building, while not really a weakness, may be a bit sketchy for me as I focus on characters and characterization. It’s something that I know I need to be aware of going forward to make sure my stories are the best they can be and so I can get reviewers to want to say that they’d love to see my stories as novels (or as the beginning chapters) to a novel.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Revising Section 3 (of 3)
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2

Recapturing the FUN of Writing

A picture of a bridge in London over the Thames river with Big Ben in the distance at night time with cars going over the bridge. A caption is at the top of the image.  The caption says: "I'm doing it MY WAY."
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkmU9tp8dN8

So, I was able to publish one piece last year, HawkeMoon, and it was published in the magazine StoryHack. You can find the link to it in the signature field down below. I was only able to finish one other short story last year, Starlight, Starbright, and it is out to a publisher (and has been out for well over 3 months to that one publisher–this is looking more and more like a 5-6 month “monstrosity” of submission period).

Essentially then, my output consisted of 1 publication and 1 finished story/submission. Not great. Add that to my abysmal blogging record (especially the latter half of the year) and you can see that my writing output really took a nosedive. Why might that be you ask? Well, obviously school had a huge impact, along with work during the first 6 months of the year. Add to that, I was sicker in 2019 than I was in 2018 with various illnesses and you can easily see where a lot of my writing time went.

Or can you?

How One Set of Writing Guidelines Ruined My Love For Writing

Yes, it’s true. Reading just one set of (what I now know) dismissive guidelines really affected my writing last year and helped to produce a writing slump that I’ve not had in years. Yes, all the reasons above contributed, but when I think back to 2019, one set of writing guidelines that I read sticks out as the single most destructive thing that I’ve read that made me change the way I write (in a negative way).

The guidelines, from a market that will remain nameless, stated in unequivocal terms that this editor is seeing a distressing trend of writers of short fiction using scene headings for short stories in the same way novel writers use chapter headings and that he (yes, it was a he) found it a bad practice in general, and something that he would not publish in his magazine specifically.

But, I Like Scene Headings

No story that I’ve written (and that has been published) doesn’t have some sort of scene headings. I like them, but more importantly, it is the way that I tell my stories. It makes sense to me and helps me to organize my narrative in such a way that it helps me build the story structure that editors and readers want. To me, a “title” implies an image or theme, and then the actual draft/text/writing is just how I chose to articulate that image/theme. Without it, I tend to get lost or just meander and not actually tell a story. The title, scene headings, etc., are a “mental promise” that my prose/text fulfills.

That’s one of the reason why I’m having such issues finishing my “space truckers” story (Project Independence) for the Jan 31st, 2020 deadline. There are no “scene headings” in the story–because while I didn’t write it for this market–I did read the guidelines about the time I started the new draft and had the admonitions of this particular editor ringing in my mind.

Writing MY Way (& No One Else’s)

This is why I’m so resistant to following the crowd and other people’s ideas–when I do so, they tend to lead me down the primrose path to ruin. When I follow what I want to do, it doesn’t always work out, but at least I know that the work is something that is fun for me and represents the best that I was capable of at that particular time.

Project Independence isn’t fun–it’s a chore to slog through. I’m hopeful that I’ll finish it on time, I already feel that I’m going to have to go back in and revise it again (with scene headings) and more “connective tissue” to get it like I really want it. Had I ignored the editor’s snooty, holier-than-thou attitude about scene headings and written it the way I wanted to, then I would have enjoyed writing the story more and would have less revisions to do even once I finish it.

Will I ever submit to that editor again? I’m not sure–he’s already rejected every story that I’ve sent him (5-6), so that may mean that our tastes in speculative fiction aren’t compatible. However, I do know this: any story that I send to this editor in the future will be written with scene headings.

I’ll just create a “clean” copy without them expressly for his market. I’ve learned my lesson (I hope). From now on, I’m writing not only what I want, but the way I want to as well.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 3 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Project Arizona (Fantasy Short Story–Weird West))
    Finished: Story Outline
    Next: Character Sketch
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • Ship of Shadows: Screenplay
    Finished: Script Outline (Rough Draft)
    Next: Script Outline (1st Draft)

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo Calendar--Calendar with checkboxes and word count.
Image Source: https://writerswrite.co.za/perennial-nanowrimo-calendar/

So, I’ve discussed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on the blog before, so I won’t belabor the point too much. For those who might not have heard about it, it is a way of tracking your progress through the month (in terms of Word Count) for a novel. I believe that the Word Count is 50,000 words produced in the month of November in order to count towards getting recognition that you’ve completed NaNoWriMo for that year.

While admirable, I’ll likely never “complete” NaNoWriMo because, as I’ve pointed it out in previous blogs on the subject–November is the exact wrong month for me to try to accomplish such a lofty goal (at least while I’m in school). I have far too many school-related activities to do to even begin to work on a 50,000 word draft. Just this week, in addition to prepping a class, I need to grade 38 Annotated Bibliographies and Daily Writings, I need to research and write my own Final Project Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for the class I’m taking to turn in by Nov. 3, and I need to take care of the several school-related things (like applying for an Honor Society by deadline) that I’ve slacked on doing while prepping for Friday’s exam.

So I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, right?

NaNoWriMo 2019–Well, Sort Of . . .

While I don’t have time to really invest in writing the full draft of a novel, I do have time to sit down and jot down a handwritten “rough draft” of a novel. As this is, for me, “Year of the Shadow” where I write long projects based on my short story, “Ship of Shadows,” I have a strong idea for a novel featuring many of the characters from the short story. I began writing out the skeletal form of the story, but stopped at Chapter 5. I was just jotting down 2-3 sentences per paragraph, but I wanted something more substantial. What I didn’t realize is that what I was doing was developing a “plot outline” where I was emphasizing the events, but I was also creating character “hooks” that I could use to start discussing the characters.

In beginning of November, I plan to write out this plot outline again, this time going all the way to the finish of the novel. Then I plan to do the same for the Screenplay and the Graphic Novel. As a matter of fact, I think that’s why I’ve stalled on the Graphic Novel. I really want to get Tana’s “backstory” in the graphic novel, but I didn’t structure it that way and now I think I need to go back to issue #2 and rewrite it, so that it is a flashback scene, so that when she actually tries to save a fellow crewperson, we see the motivations behind the actions rather than me trying to tell it through “captions” above the panel.

Summertime and the Writing is Easy

The perfect time for NaNoWriMo, for me, would be the summer. In the summer, I have much more “free” time and I can use that for writing (even if it is in shorter bursts than I’d like). Even though NaNoWriMo doesn’t work so much for me in November, I can use it to get a “Rough Draft” of the novel together (and the same for a screenplay and the graphic novel).

Even though in January, I plan to “switch” to a different project for my “Year of . . .,” that only means that I plan to start thinking about a new story that I’ve published and how I might be able to expand them out and touch on the backstory of characters and figuring out the sequel for the story. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t actually be working on a 1st draft for the longer pieces. My mind is good at doing “2 things” really well. As I mentioned in the gaming post, I can really do well in manipulating two different modes/registers at the same time. Any more than that, then my mind says too much, don’t want to do it.

This is what I want to avoid–getting too many projects going at any one time (& not finishing any of them). It would be awesome if I can get to next November and have what NaNoWriMo promises: a finished 1st Draft of a novel (and other projects). Once there’s a 1st draft, then 1) I’m invested and am much more likely to see the project to the end and 2) it is far easier to critique a product rather than an idea. Write now, all my longer projects have been just “ideas,” and you can’t critique ideas because you can always change it to make better–to match your vision.

So, to sum up, my goal for this NaNoWriMo is to, instead of using it as month for novel (and other longer writing projects), it is a time to “plan” out those projects and set those plans down on paper and to use the next 12 months, until next November to get those 50,000 words written.

So this is MY 2019 NaNoWriMo Challenge: 1) Rough Draft of Novel “Ship of Shadows,” 2) Rough Draft of Graphic Novel “Ship of Shadows,” and 3) Rough Draft of Screenplay of “Ship of Shadows.” If, at the end of the month, I’m able to get these done, then I’ll report back on the progress. If you never hear anything else about this until next year, then you’ll know that I didn’t get it done.

Hey, at least I’m honest! 😉

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Game Day: The Confluence of Gaming and Writing

Man typing outside at a table with his laptop, coffee, plant, water, and writing journal
Image Source: https://medium.com/read-watch-write-repeat/pursue-your-writing-projects-on-the-weekend-6fcee00848dc

Fall is here and I’m back. I’m in the midst of a flurry of last minute reading for my test on Friday. I don’t really feel all that confident about it, but it is what it is. I wish that I had perfect recall–at least on names. I really want to mention theorists and scholars as a lot of the test depends on “name dropping,” but, except for the biggest names in the field, most names are gone the moment I close/put down the book. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m back after a nearly two week drought. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to write, but between grading and reading, I just don’t seem to find an hour in the day anymore to write. However, I get discourage when my favorite YouTubers don’t post on time, or go long periods without putting up new videos, and here I am, doing the same. So, not to be hypocritical, I thought I’d take a quick “study break” and dash out a blog post before reading some more and then going to bed.

Saturday is “Game Day”

So, Americans will get this pun as, I feel, will a lot of Europeans. In both countries, Saturday is a prime “sports day.” For Americans, at this time of year, it is “college football,” which is American football played among various university teams in which there are long-standing rivalries. In Europe, a lot of “football” matches (soccer) takes place, again with long-standing rivalries.

However, for me, Saturdays are my primary “gaming” days. Friday evenings are usually too draining, so I don’t usually start my gaming until Saturdays. While I use to bounce from game to game, what I’ve been doing these past couple of years is really investing in one game every week and really digging into it and making myself a “master” at the game (Assassin’s Creed Origins, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, and Gravel are all games in which I earned the maximum achievement for–the Platinum Trophy–in terms of achievement.

My “backlog” of games to be finished, however, continues to grow, so much so that I’ve come to despair of ever finishing them all before the next “generation” of consoles (i.e., the PS5) arrives Holiday 2020. Recently, however, I found myself switching between two games (God of War and Rise of the Tomb Raider, 20th Anniversary Edition) on a biweekly basis–one week I play GoW and the next week I play RotTR. One game is a Physical game and the other is a Digital Game. When I finish either of these two games, my plan is to simply pick another in the respective genre and start playing. In this manner, I hope to bring my “backlog” down to a reasonable size.

Saturday Morning = Needs to be “Writing Game Day”

My goal is to get to where I can do the same on Saturdays for my writing. Usually Saturday mornings are when I’m just starting to recover from the week, and while I don’t feel fully creative (that’s actually Saturday evenings when I’m usually watching a movie), I do feel much more more creative.

While I can “write” during that time (draft), what I’d like to be able to do is to work on Rough Drafts during that time. I feel that I can probably write (draft) on the current story that I’m working on during the week by creating scenic “milestones” to get to for that week. However, like my gaming, I’d like to have a second project in the wings that I could write out (longhand with a pen/pencil) every weekend and then when I finish the “weekday” draft, I’d move the weekend draft to that spot, start writing (drafting) it, and then move in new Rough Draft during the weekend spot.

I wanted to start that this previous weekend, but was enamored with “cleaning,” that I, of course, procrastinated until it was too late. I’m going to try it again this upcoming weekend and I hope by putting it up on the blog, I will be able to hold myself accountable for actually getting it done. I’m pretty sure two projects in writing, just like gaming, is probably going to be my limit, but, just like gaming, my goal is to shrink my “backlog” of games and writing projects down and get them finished, so any strategy that I find that I can use to do that successfully is one that I plan to implement (& hopefully use it to thrive as a writer).

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Writing a Novel: DSRV Outrider

Drafts 0-1 with advice for each one on writing novels.
Image Source: https://writingcooperative.com/the-drafts-your-novel-needs-and-why-you-probably-wont-use-a-single-word-of-your-first-draft-c9c84fe0e841

So, one of my colleagues has written a novel and wants help to get it published. Now, I’ve written and published quite a few short stories (I just got a new email from the editor of Storyhack updating me on the progress of HawkMoon), but as long time blog readers know, writing a novel is one of my lifelong goals (one of the items on my “bucket list,” so to speak). Not having actually worked on a novel, I’m giving advice on basic storytelling, but I’m not able to give specifics on novel writing, having never actually completed one.

Those Who Can Do, Do; Those Who Can’t Teach (Not true!)

You don’t know how much this cliche’/idiom burns me up. I hate this sentiment because it ignores the fact that sometimes those who can do, can’t/don’t actually do well). So, knowing full well that movie writers have external pressures (studio notes, etc.), it still rankles that the writer of X-Men: Last Stand got to write Dark Phoenix, and based on the reviews, the latter movie made many of the same mistakes as the former movie (I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll reserve my judgement). So, this sentiment that people who can’t do things become teachers is so very false–sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here that’s probably better suited for another blog post. My point being is that even people who are allowed to do things (like write screenplays in a closed guild system) aren’t always the greatest at doing things.

I feel that I in order to teach writing a novel, I need to follow the advice in the blog post from a couple of weeks ago: To Begin, Begin. I’ve always wanted to write a novel and a major impetus for coming to grad school was to use the dissertation to get comfortable writing longer 100+ page documents, so I figure this is as good a time as any to try to start (“in the background”) writing a novel.

DSRV Outrider–Writing a Novel to help a Novel Writer

In keeping with my “Year of the Shadows,” the novel will be based on my “Ship of Shadows” short story. I’ve already have a “pre-production” idea of the action and character’s growth. The next task I think will be to actually sit down and write a rough draft of the story that I see so far in my head and continue working on this process until I have the full draft story in mind.

The problem with novels is that I (usually) have a beginning and a (sometimes) an ending, but I rarely have all the parts in the middle figured out and I hate writing “with gaps.” I like to know all the pieces/elements of the story before I start writing (its more fun for me that way), but with a novel, I rarely have all the pieces. I’ve been doing research, however, this time around, that I hope will help alleviate some, if not all, of the “gaps” that occur when I try to write a novel.

My collegue is very good with characters, but is (admittedly) less familiar with storytelling conventions. I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. I know quite a bit about storytelling and the elements that make a good story, but I am still learning how to create compelling characters–ones that others want to read and not just ones that I like and ones that feel real and alive and not simply vehicles for the plot to hang on.

I won’t bore you with details, but I will just say that I hope that I can use the research and the rough drafting for my novel to aid my grad school colleague, who is further along in the process, to give solid and helpful advice so that she can get her novel published, while at the same time, learning new techniques that will help me become a novelist as well.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Reworking My Writing

Chart of the Writing Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Evaluating, Publishing.
Image Source: https://www.dailyinfographic.com/the-writing-process-infographic

If you take a gander at the “What I’m working On” section at the bottom of this post (and all of the following posts after this one, you’ll see a slight change. Previously, I had been doing a poor job of trying to list the many different projects that I was working on to give you an idea of where I was in my (many, perhaps too many) writing projects. However, due to the sporadic nature of me getting to work on my writing, I’ve found it difficult to keep up with the upkeep on keeping my writing projects current.

Brandon Sanderson Effect

I really liked the way Brandon Sanderson does his “updated projects.” Now, Brandon is one of my current favorite writers. I really like how he provides a “status bar” for his projects that “gamify” his progress on his projects. I’m not nearly that savvy in terms of graphics, so I don’t know how to gamify my writing in the same way. I tried to do it in the same way as Brandon’s site (just without the graphics), but its just not working. So I’m going to change the way I’m listing them at the bottom.

The Mythic Magazine Effect

Mythic Magazine, a market that I’ve submitted to frequently in the past two years (but haven’t yet had a sale to them yet). However, they have a submissions period of twice a year. So, what I’ve decided to do is to list the projects that I’m working on for that market and how close I’m to finishing it (especially in terms of deadline). I really only have enough time to work on two projects at a time (a shorter one and a longer one). The longer one will be listed as well, but it will be the one that I’ve been working on for a while. That one I’ll update quarterly, while the other two will be updated monthly (my preferred working time-frame).

I’ll also keep readers of the blog up-to-date on projects that have been accepted and where they are in the production process. I currently have one project, HawkeMoon, that I can sort of update everyone on so far.

Anyway, its getting late, so I’ll wrap it up now. Check out the new listing down below. I hope you like it!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

I’ll Let You in on a Little Secret . . . About the Blog

A table set with several dishes of food on a blue and white tablecloth.
Image Source: https://researchinsiders.blog/2017/07/06/moving-beyond-binge-vs-snack-writing/

So, just like the title implies, I’m going to let you in on a little secret in regards to this blog. You know how last week I was able to release 5 blog entries without fail and all of them released at about 8:00 am EST? Yeah well, I did them all on that Sat./Sun. before the week. That’s right, all 5 entries last week were written mostly on those two days (actually, the vast majority of them were written in a single day). I found the process to be actually be kind of enjoyable, especially when I finished the 4th one and I knew that I was going to finish the 5th one in fairly short order.

Binge Writing

Okay, so I’m not really a “binge watcher,” (per se). Unless there’s are run of really good episodes all right in a row, I don’t generally binge watch a show that is on streaming. Rather I “consume” 2-5 (sometimes more, sometimes less) episodes at a time and then I stop for a period of time (which depends on how much time I have that week, how much I’m invested in the show, and how much I like the current storyline). The more I like a particular storyline, the more episodes I watch and vice versa. I am literally 4-5 episodes away from finishing Farscape for the first time (I’ve mentioned previously that this is my 3rd time attempting to complete the series–more on that when I give my review of the series). However, the last episodes in the back half of the 4th Season are really dragging for me–I think I know why, but I want to finish before I give my thoughts.

All this to say that I have a fairly strong will (especially when I can create a “routine” and stick to that routine without a whole lot of variation to knock me off my routine). I found that I really like writing all of the blog entries on 1-2 days and then schedule them to “pop-up” on WordPress every day. When I did it this way, I was able to get my all my posts done and then used the week to do creative writing on The Independent and the edits for HawkeMoon. I was much more productive with just a little tweak to my “system.”

So What Happened?

This week, well I’ve missed two days so far. In my defense, one was a holiday, but had I done the same system, I could have had a shorter post ready for it that simply wished everyone a happy holiday.

No, this week that system didn’t happen because I was a bit sick this past weekend–an all too common refrain for this year. While I was able to get up and do things, whatever I had lead to a general sense of lethargy (in addition to a slight runny nose), so I basically was in bed for quite a bit of the holiday weekend.

The posts that you’re getting this week are ones that I being created on the day they are released–and as you can see, I’m much more erratic when I write this way.

This is the same with my creative writing. When I can carve out a substantial amount of time (regularly), then I’m able to make significant progress on my stories. However, when I only have a small amount of time–even if it is regular–it is much harder for me to get into the “ficitive dream state” and much harder for me to create writing in which I’m personally satisfied. The blog from which I used an image (https://researchinsiders.blog/2017/07/06/moving-beyond-binge-vs-snack-writing/) mentions an idea that I’ve used before: “The Flow.” If I don’t have enough time to write, then I don’t enter this flow (the ficitive dream I mentioned above) and the writing is very unsatisfying.

So, for me, it is better for both the blog and my own projects, to have a regular, discrete amount of time (45 mins to hour and a half) for me to truly create something that I’m proud of as a writer. If I don’t have that time, then it is much harder for me to write and to write consistently. So now that I’ve defined the problem, my task is to work on the solution: finding ways to binge-write consistently.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

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