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
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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)

The Problem With Online Apps . . .

Paper Tablet with Pen with lots of crumpled pieces of paper around.
Image Source: http://www.mktx.com/why-is-writing-content-so-hard/

So, this is going to be a super short blog post, and the length of the blog post is related to the topic. I’m keeping it short because I’m working on the edits to my short-story, HawkeMoon. Or, in this case, “re-edits” as I’ve lost the edits that I worked on earlier last week and I’m having to redo them.

Not Going to Rant, but . . .

I’m not going to turn this into a rant post, but to say that I was disappointed with Google Docs late last week would be an understatement. I normally would do my edits on Pages on my Mac, but as the OS is fairly old now–at least 1 OS update (probably 2 and soon to be 3 later this year), Pages doesn’t do the greatest job of picking up the edits on Word docs. I thought I was going to have to use the school computers (they have Word on them), but then I discovered that hey, Google Docs on my Chromebook also handles Track Changes pretty well–let’s do it on the computer that I always have on me.

Downloading Didn’t Save My Changes

So, as I was working on this–in truth, I did about 15%, but of that small percentage, there was section that I added in specifically to address the editor’s concerns. It was only about a paragraph in total, but it took me about 45 mins – 1 hour to get right. And then I lost it! ARRGH! I had to an update, so I knew I needed to restart the chromebook, so I downloaded the copy to the chromebook and felt fairly safe that if it didn’t restore correctly, then I’d be able to get the changes from the online version. Well, not sure what happened, but the changes in the downloaded copy were gone as were the changes to the online copy. In essence, about an hour to an hour and a half of work down the drain. I put it aside last week and haven’t touched it again until today. Now I’ve reached the section where I need to revise again, and I’m working on this blog post instead. I know what I want to say, but I can’t remember the exact phrasing that I used and its hard to work on it, knowing that I had what I wanted, lost it, and now have to try to replicate it.

ARGH! The trials of being a writer.

Oh, well, if necessary, I’ll skip it and come back to it, but I just had to take a moment to get it off my chest. Writing is fun most of the time, but just like anything else, there are times when it isn’t. And this is definitely one of those times. Oh, well, nothing to do except press on. Here’s to getting the edits done ASAP (this week). Wish me (better) luck!

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)

HawkeMoon Updates: Edits

Hawk on a branch with a nearly full moon behind him with a blue sky background.

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicecahill/31622378722/

This blog entry will be a shorter one as it is a holiday on Monday in the US (which means a 3 day weekend for me). Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some writing done over the weekend–along with a movie over the holiday (I also have yardwork to do that I’ve put off for a couple of weeks, so it won’t be all fun and games).

HawkeMoon

However, I wanted to just let you know that the editor for StoryHack sent me the file for the edits to my story HawkeMoon. He turned on the “Track Changes” function and I need to go through and look at the edits that he made. According to the notation at the head of the file, there are approximately 217 changes to be looked at/gone through, so hopefully, I can get this done in a reasonable amount of time.

Love or Hate the Process?

Many writers, especially after they reach a certain level of success in writing, hate the process of “editing” their work. Not going to go on a tangent, but you see it all the time: writers whose earlier works are wonderful, but their later works are far less effective because they want their original draft to be their only draft.

For me, I (for the most part) like the editing process, especially when the editor is truly trying to shape the piece of writing so that it can be the best that it can and so that it will shine. I’m hopeful that no matter what level of success I finally achieve with my writing, that I will be a part of the editing process and not resistant to it.

The only time I’m truly resistant to external editing or I hate the process is when the suggestions are going to change the spirit of my story. I make no secret of my disdain for the current love of “bad things happening to good people” sub-genre in fiction thanks to Game of Thrones (one of these days I need to actually explain what that whole sub-genre is, but not today). However, if an editor tries to change my work into a nihilistic story or into a story that resembles GoT (or whatever is fashionable at the time), that’s where I have problems with the process. For me, editing is about making the story better, not turning it into something its not because that’s the current “style” at the moment.

So, I personally don’t hate the editing process, but I do like a lot more when I can see that the changes are there to help the story be the best that it can be even if it isn’t “fashionable.” I’ll keep you updated on the progress of HawkeMoon and I hope you have a great weekend!

Sidney

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




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts — Currently Drafting on Section 1 (of 3)
    Deadline = Mythic Mag. July 31, 2019
  • Future Work-in-Progress: I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production — Currently Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Deadline = Mythic Mag. December 31, 2019
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows 
    (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel) Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Deadline = September 30, 2019

The Big Squeeze

Bearded man with a Foot on his Face
Image Source: https://www.nojitter.com/big-squeeze

One of the most frustrating things about graduate school (well, there are many which I’ll probably do individual posts about for the next month or so) is the fact that it is my writing time that gets squeezed in the process of “becoming more educated.” I’m not very appreciative of the fact that, as writer, my time for writing every week gets slowly wittled away as I have to complete more and more assignments which touch on, ironically, writing and the theories and applications of the writing process. My Master’s Degree is in both Rhetoric and Writing and my Bachelor’s Degree was in English: American Language and Literature (with a Concentration in Writing), which just means that I took extra Writing courses on top of the required literature courses. Writing is instrumental to pretty much everything that I am and/or do as an individual and citizen.

We Want You To Write–Just Not What You Want To Write

One of my greatest sources of frustration with the educational process in general, and the way Rhetoric and Writing is treated in particular, is the fact that we privilege the teaching of writing as something that is both special and magical in terms of allowing students to find their own voices/means of expression, but also a craft and requires work through revisions, and yet, the program I’m in does not actively privilege my creative writing endeavors. Only a handful of people in my “community” know that I “Dragonhawk” was accepted for publication and not a ONE of them is a professor. Not to appear boastful or braggadocios, but this is a success that pretty much all my professors of writing should be happy about. I’m able, at a high level, to use the techniques that we teach our students (inspiration, brainstorming, drafting, revision, consideration of audience, and perseverance to see it through to publication) to create and shepherd a work to fruition.

No Conferences = No Credentials

No, I’m not talking about the conferences professors hold with their students. I’m talking about conferences that academics attend to present papers and the like. That’s really the only true measure of graduate student’s success. How many conferences did you attend? How many papers have you presented at a conferences. I both understand and am appalled at the process at the same time. Conferences, let’s be honest, are built for the extroverts who love being with other people. Sure, if you’re an introvert, you can (sorta’) get by just attending panels for the ideas and information. But, to use an old analogy–there’s as much noise (socializing) that occurs at a conference as there is signal (information/ideas). Conferences, while stimulating and fun, are not the end all and be all of an academic’s existence–which is what they are at the moment that I write this.

Value ALL Academic Expression

The main reason why this blog has been spotty this semester and that I’ve had very little time to concentrate on anything writing related, is because I’ve been fully committed to writing, reading, and working for class and for both of my jobs. I’m not really happy as the results for all my hard-work have not materialized the manner that I would have expected after giving so much of myself–and foregoing so much of my creative output in order to do all of this work. I think that if I felt that I could talk to (and get praise from) my professors for the creative work that I have done (and am doing), this would go a LONG way to assuaging the dissatisfaction I feel in that others are being treated better because they are playing the “academic” game, whereas others, who are not, seemed to be “looked down on” (and I’m not okay with this. I’m using the exact same techniques in my own writing life that are good practices (using brainstorming methods to come up with ideas, engaging with the material, drafting–including multiple drafts, getting feedback on my writing, incorporating feedback through revisions, and persevering through multiple rejections until I find a market who is willing to accept the story). The fact that I’m made to feel that my writing endeavors are not worthy in lieu of someone else who simply attends a conference is very distressing to me as a writer.

Hopefully, after this (very) disspiriting semester is over, I can get back to writing (and enjoying the things that I write) more frequently. Right now, I can say that irregularity of the blog is simply a symptom of a larger set of issues and hopefully, regularity will return when I can address the larger problem of being made to feel that my worth as a creative writer is less than someone who just enjoys playing the “academic game.”

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)

Reading Fast and Slow & Writing Fast and Slow

https://litreactor.com/columns/fast-draft-hell-7-lessons-i-learned-almost-writing-a-novel-in-14-days

In some instances, I’m a very fast reader and in other instances, I’m a very slow reader. This also pertains to my writing in many ways to my writing. I’m trying to be more consistent in all areas, but I’ve noticed these two traits for a while.

Reading Fast and Slow

I read fiction much, much faster than I read non-fiction. I read quite a bit of non-fiction, but I don’t read it nearly as fast as I fiction. I think it has to do with the “mental stomp” that I use when I read non-fiction. The term “mental stomp” is from one of my favorite books as a kid, So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Nita, the protagonist of the books, uses this “mental stomp” to impress facts upon her mind when she wants to learn something. For me, non-fiction books mean learning, and it is very hard for me to retain information if I just skim the book (which is what a lot of grad students do in order to get through a ton of reading quickly). I can’t do that and its hurting me as I prepare for my upcoming Preliminary Exams. I have to read through the material or else I don’t really retain the information. However, as long as I’m engaged with the book, I can “zoom” through a novel. I routinely read Epic Fantasy (which is sometimes called “Doorstopper Novels” because they are generally so large and heavy that their weight is enough to stop a door from closing). I can routinely read a thousand page novel in under two weeks–and that’s pacing myself. However, I find that my bookshelf is piling up with unread books because of all the reading I have to do for class which leaves little time for reading other works.

Writing Fast and Slow

I tend to be exactly the opposite when writing. I’m a fairly fast writer when I’m writing essays for school, but I tend to be much, much slower, when I’m writing creatively (fiction). I’m not sure why, although I suspect it has something to do with the way my brain processes images. I can “see” the picture of the image in my mind and I’m looking for words to replicate the image that I see. In essays, however, once I have a structure (i.e., thesis and method of explaining that thesis), I “golden.” My mind just fills in the words and sources to explain my ideas. Much like a camera, however, my mind wants to use words to completely capture the scene in my mind for fiction, which often leads me to be far more detailed, in some stories, than I really need to be in most cases. However, even at my fastest, while I’m a touch typist, I still don’t type as fast as I think, so a lot of my issues with writing are the method of input. I don’t really dictate well, and long-hand is great for notes, or jotting down rough drafts where I’m just “sketching out” the action, so the keyboard still remains the best way of writing for me. Even at my best speed, I can only manage about 35-40 words per minute, probably less when you factor in mis-keying and correcting errors, so I probably average about 30 words a minute (which is on the low side for touch typists who can hit anywhere from 50-100 words per minute with training–I think my fingers are too long to be as nimble as they should, but that’s just a supposition on my part).

Anyway, this blog entry was more just establish the fact that sometimes I read really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why) and sometimes I write really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why). I hope it was at least a little bit interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

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




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Starlight, Starbright (Sci-Fi Short-Story — 2nd Draft — “Opening Incident” (2/5 sections)
  • 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)

Characters Lead the Way, Redux

Image Source: https://lonewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Shadow_on_the_Sand

While cleaning up this weekend, I happened to stumble across the original “Rough Draft” that I’d printed out for my story Dragonhawk. This story (to the time of writing this blog entry) remains my one-and-only story that was accepted on the first try. It is truly a “rough draft” in that it is only three (3) paragraphs long (and is probably shorter in total length than this blog entry will be by the time I’m finished writing it). What struck me, however, was the first word on the “rough draft” was Kelfryn, the name of the protagonist.

Inspiration from a Book Cover

So, the book cover above, is from a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books called The Lone Wolf series by Joe Deaver and Gary Chalk. While the D&D books were pretty popular at the time, the ones by Deaver and Chalk really spoke to me. While not part of the Warhammer universe, the illustrations still have that “Old World” feel that marks the Warhammer brand (and what is probably what drew me to that universe). While definatley dark (the character could and often would die and the “adventure” would be over–much like a “game over” screen in video games), I always found the artwork both on the covers of the book and in the interiors to be arresting and fascinating. The above cover of a warrior riding a giant “warbird” was particularly interesting and stuck with me into adulthood.

Kelfryn and Scryfe

As I began writing, I had several incarnations of this image pop up, most notably an idea for a novel entitled Sparrowhawk as I imagined the protagonist would be a young Norse warrior who was mentally bonded to the bird (much like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders were bonded with their dragons in her series of books (which I, of course, loved and devoured as a child). I was also much taken with the idea of a bird hunting other birds–which is what the Sparrowhawk is named for doing. However, the novel did not progress and that idea fell by the wayside. After I had a few publications under my belt, I decided to revisit the idea, but this time I went back to the original image that had captivated me: the warrior riding a giant warbird. Then it came to me: why not have both the warrior and the bird still be mentally bonded, but why not have them hunt dragons?

The Art of the Character Sketch

From there, I tried to come up with a reason for them to hunt dragons and I likened them to fishermen. They had to hunt dragons to survive. Finally, I reasoned that even with the warbirds, dragons would be too ferocious, so they would only hunt things that the dragons left behind (scales, teeth, talons, etc.) when they went out hunting for food. Then came my stroke of brillance: I used Scrivener’sCharacter Sketch” template to completely write out each of the two main characters: Kelfryn (who became a young “wannbe” warrior) and Scryfe (his devoted warbird companion). I filled out all of the sections of the Character Sketch with a solid paragraph for each of the major categories (I found those sketches earlier this year–that’s how I know). After doing the character sketches, I simply started the story and everything seemed to fall into place–I didn’t have Writer’s Block at any point, nor did I have any major diversions to the story that I dreamed up–both character and plot seemed to just seemed to merge together, so that’s what I’m working towards now–getting back into the Character Sketch mentality.

Sidney




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