Getting the work part done.

With any project it comes to a point where the work part happens.

After the first draft, there’s the part you let it sit, or at least I do. It’s usually a few months, but can be longer.

The reason for letting it sit is so when you don’t constantly revise, restructure or rewrite all of the time. Doing that, at least in my opinion, causes more problems than it solves.

The first draft is where you find out your story, or if you’re an outliner, you put what you’ve outlined into the story.

Being as I’m a mostly pantser, which means I will have a beat sheet and know where those beats will be places, but as far as the story itself, I don’t really know where it will go.

This may cause some people reading this to freak out, those are the outliners.

For the pantsers, here’s some truth: I have no idea what will happen at the end of the book, or if I do, it’s usually discovered as I’m writing. This works for me as I write in various genres.

Thriller as it pertains to all of its classifications: Political, Military, Spy…and yes sometimes horror is thrown into this category for the sake of selling books. Take a look at Silence of the Lambs, at it’s core, that’s a horror story.

I enjoy things that frighten me. I grew up in the 80’s with the threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviets. It’s something that has stuck with me growing up. Knowing that fear and chasing it has lead me to write thrillers in the respective classifications I mentioned above.

I grew up next to an air base. The sound of planes taking off and landing is a fond memory of my childhood. There were also the times the base opened to the public, showing off the latest aircraft.

The first time I saw an F-117 Nighthawk was at one of these events. The sleekness of that aircraft combined with it’s dark color and insectlike bumps and ridges, still gets me excited.

Aircraft is a thing that I’ve always been enthralled with and watching them take off from the base as well as building models at home are great childhood memories.

But I’ve gotten off track.

The work part is what comes after the first draft. It’s the editing, rewriting, revising. They used to be things I hated, but the process feels different than it has in a while. I’m actually enjoying this 100k rewrite I’m working on.

But I am getting the work part done and that’s important. Without the work, the project wont be able to stand up, and at the end, when it’s done, it needs to be.

Have a pleasant rest of your week. Stay safe and I’ll see you Friday, where I’ll talk about my love of aircraft a little more.

Finding my genre identity

When I started writing regularly this past year(and by regularly I mean unless I was sick or working, I wrote), I decided that I had to put the effort in if I was going to see any results.

This meant that I had to decide what I was going to write. This meant if I finished a story the day before, I’d start something new.

This schedule has helped my writing improve and has shown me where my weaknesses lie.

The one thing that I fought with over this period was my identity as a writer. Yes I have a collection of short stories that are in the horror genre on Amazon, but I’m also aware that I enjoy writing in various genres.

This became more clear to me yesterday when I started rewrites on the novel I wrote during lock down in April 2020. I wrote around 3200 words a day during that month and during the first few days of May, I completed the 100k first draft.

Fast forward to last month. I gave my wife the draft. She read everything that followed that draft and I came to me with worry on her face.

“I think this needs to be rewritten.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Everything you’ve written since has been better and I think you need to rewrite it. You’re a better writer now.”

I hadn’t thought I’d improved that much since I finished that novel. But according to my wife, I had.

It took me until yesterday to get started on those rewrites for a few reasons. Fear that I’d screw it up and a greater fear of my identity as a writer. I’ve clung onto the belief that I was a horror writer, because I like horror a lot more than most other things. It doesn’t matter the form, I love it.

But I thought about my struggles with long form fiction. One that has persisted through the past year.

I have written over a dozen short stories since the novel I speak of. But as for novels, nothing.

I think the point is to write. It doesn’t matter the genre and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about your writing as long as you enjoy it.

So, with that viewpoint, I started the rewrite process, with an eye towards improving and/or removing sections in the novel which didn’t work.

It’s a process that I threw away for writing an outline. I write better when I’m partially winging it. It’s the rewrites that get me down.

On that note, I will leave you to your own writing, whatever you may be reading and the reminder that your identity as a writer is not beholden to one genre. Write in all of them.

Wrapping your head around the new thing.

I’ve started a new project in a genre I haven’t written in for a while. It’s taking some getting used to. The scope of the story is bigger than anything I’ve written in a few years.

It’s taking some time for my head to get into that brain space. I know what needs to be written, at least I have a good idea of it. There are many things in this story and I’m truly working to get those things written well.

This came about after I wrote a story for an anthology that is due the end of February.

I enjoyed the hell out of writing that submission. I thought I should go deeper into a new world along the lines of that submission.

I’ve submitted more stories this year than any prior year as well as publishing the collection in October. I will get my first payment for that collection this week, which though small, makes me feel as if what I’m doing makes a difference in our house.

I will keep writing, regardless of the money. I want to get paid, as we all do, but I enjoy the hell out of the work.

Ignoring that voice…

I submitted a story two weeks ago which had a quick turnaround and I haven’t heard a response on it

My brain immediately goes, “it’s cause you’re shit.”

This little bastard of a voice comes and goes, but this week it has been at the forefront of my thoughts and screwing with me daily.

I find it’s hard to get past it and it almost sent me into a spiral of doubt, depression, and anxiety when I can’t afford to deal with any of those things.

There was a bright light in this tale though. Yesterday I finished a story for a submission due in February. It was in a genre I hadn’t worked in a for a while and I found myself enjoying the hell out of it and wondering what would happen with the characters after I’d finished the story.

This bright spot got me through the day and I finished with my head above board.

My mind hadn’t screwed with me this much in quite a while. I started to fall into the old feelings about writing. I had a nightmare because of the stress I was putting myself under.

That I didn’t hear a word made me go back, make sure I’d sent it to the correct email(I had), and wonder why.

I had to push these thoughts away; my mind will kill me if I let it.

Pushing off from these emotions, I felt refreshed. The new story pushed the reasons why I hadn’t heard back away. Isn’t that what new stories are supposed to do?

There are so many emotions in writing and I let self-doubt creep in when that bastard isn’t allowed.

I have stories to tell and I will wait for them for them to be read. I will continue writing because I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I love the work and I am intrigued by the characters that fall out of my head, but days where my head screws with me are not fun.

I’m glad I was able to dig my way out, much how I did yesterday with our recent snowfall.

Anyway, have a good weekend.

Tired, worn, but still writing.

I’ve been editing and writing my ass off the last couple of weeks.

This morning I got 1500 words on a novel and immediately afterward edited a short story for an anthology due on the 31st.

I have a short story out for a submission which I hope will get a yes.

This weekend I’ll be working my first event since October 24th.

I’m glad to be able work and that have to of doing it during Covid scares me but while my wife’s salary pays the bills, bartending keeps me sane. And my sanity has been frayed as of late.

Writing a novel, submitting short stories for anthologies and helping me wife have been my mainstays since my last event. While I’m looking forward to do an event I’ll be masked and gloves for it.

This year has been unlike any other but I’ve been very productive. I’ve written and submitted more than I planned on and while my short story collection is at the bottom of Amazon’s rankings, I did publish as I promised myself I would.

You have to keep yourself accountable and I’ve done a lot of that this year.

Keep writing my friends.

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