End of the year thing

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I won’t tell you this year sucked, we know it did.

I did a few things this year that I never expected to do.

I submitted a lot more, published a short story collection, and pushed myself to write things that make me uncomfortable. I also read a whole lot.

But I didn’t quit.

I know there have been a lot of writers who just could not get words on the page this year. I understand that. The year had the opposite effect on me. I wrote more stories than I’ve written in any prior year.

In the next year I plan on writing and submitting more than I have this year, which will be a hell of an accomplishment.

I wasn’t able to work a lot of events as a bartender this year. It put a strain on our finances but good planning by me in the early months of the year sustained us through the year.

I look forward to doing events next year, but I’m so tired of people not being cautious or saying things like, “If it were up to us, you wouldn’t be wearing a mask” or “We’re all friends here, you don’t need to wear that mask.” As if being friends makes the virus go, “oh wait they’re friends, I won’t infect them.” The virus doesn’t care about your family or friendships.

This year I also started to use my whiteboard more. I list when a story is due, how many words it needs to be and who the publisher is.

This has helped me write a lot more and keep my focus on publishing. I haven’t had a story picked up yet, but I’ve come close.

I’ve made a list of submissions until May for short stories as well as for novels I want to publish or submit to agents. I have four novels or novellas I’ll be submitting, self-publishing, or writing in the next 12 months. There will be others that come along, but I know what I need to have done by certain dates and that keeps my head in writing.

I know I have a bit of privilege as my wife works from home and pays our bills with her salary, which allows me to write as much as I do, but if I’m not writing I feel like I’m letting her down.

I will continue to grind, to push myself in directions of horror and other genres that I’m uncomfortable with. I have to push myself because it’s the only way to improve.

Hope you all have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you tomorrow.

The argument of what genre one should write.

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For the last year I’ve had this argument with myself.

It goes something like this:

“You need to only write _____ genre. You can’t define yourself or finding a following if you write in every genre.”

This damn argument has been driving me crazy.

I write stories in a various genres and yes, they all have some element, though small to the reader, of horror.

I see my favorite horror writers who’ve written in comics, but I wonder if they write stories in other genres and file them only for themselves? Which is something I’ve considered doing.

But I like the stories I’ve written in genres outside of horror. They interest me and if they do that for me I’m sure they would for readers.

Do publish them under a pseudonym? That’s been something my wife and I have discussed. It’s where I’ve been leaning for books outside of horror.

I’ve written fantasy stories that I’ve enjoyed, yes they’re more of the Grimdark variety, but I enjoyed them. I have one due the end of January for an anthology.

I guess writing horror is where I gravitated to because it’s where I’ve always found the most enjoyment. I have an enjoyment of darker things, it’s just who I am.

The argument is getting to a point where I’m putting it in its place.

I write all types of things because I like to read horror, political thrillers, and spy novels.

Those are what I write. The book I wrote from April to May, political/military thriller. The stories I’ve been writing over the last couple of months, horror of various degrees.

I have spy novel I started in September but put it away because of this argument. I hate this argument. It always distracts me from the fact that I’m writing. It doesn’t matter the genre, I’m still writing.

My goal for 2021 is to put this argument to bed and just write. If it ends up as horror great, military/political/spy thriller, fantastic.

But trying to fit myself into one box or another is a worthless effort.

Writing is writing regardless of the genre.

What the hell is this?

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I get a bit weird when I’m starting a new project, my wife attributes this to imposter syndrome.

It’s also that when I’m starting a new project, I feel that I’m abandoning genres that I feel more comfortable writing.

The fact is that I’ve been writing horror for the last year. Following a set of rules when I write and I’ve tossed them and trying something new. Maybe that scares the hell out of me, but I want to write what I enjoy.

The new story has horror elements but is definitely Grimdark fantasy.

I happened upon this story when I wrote a short one that I’m submitting next month. I mentioned that on Monday’s post.

This whole thing started because of that story. But I have no path for it. I have no idea where it’s going and after writing with a beat sheet or outline for the last year, it scares the hell out of me to write another way.

The longer form stories I’ve written this year have been good, better than I’ve written in a while and maybe that’s why doing this scares me.

Let’s get to the meat of this issue.

The stories I’ve written this year have had a formula.

Take a story archetype(clowns, aliens, ghosts), add an element(serving a higher power, seeking truth, helping another), then throw in a thing(graveyard, hospital, guitar) and use those to create a story.

I have done none of those with this project.

I’m sure that’s the problem and I need to think about it more, or I need to pull something from my bags. I have bags where these archetypes, elements, and things are kept. It’s a thing I learned from Writing in the Dark by Tim Waggoner.

I abandoned it for this project and I’m sure that’s why I’m struggling.

I guess I answered my own question.

Sometimes working through by writing it down helps.

Tired, worn, but still writing.

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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.

Under Control

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There’s this part of my day that begins before I start writing but after I’ve eaten breakfast.

I’ve usually started making coffee or my wife has and I’m thinking about the day ahead. I may have taken my son to school(he has two periods where he’s in school)or may not have.

This period is my contemplation.

I’m considering where the story is going. Thinking about the beats to get to the end and all that I still have to write, at least right now. Some days, towards the end of a project this moments are near fleeting and I’m just rocked to get into the story.

But lately, as I work my way through the current project of which is a novel right now, but I’ll be writing a short story the next few days for an anthology to be submitted before the end of the month.

I did that a few weeks ago and it was tough to work on two projects at once. There’s a shift in my brain when I’m writing two stories at once. It’s somewhat exhausting, but as the world is what it is, I have to write in the hope to make money.

If I don’t make the money, at least I have the stories. Every story is an opportunity to get better at the craft and that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?

So, during this morning period and the thinking about what I have to do, I’ll space off, my wife will leave the room and I’ll focus on what I need to do.

Then as I set up my laptop, login, get the music ready, I check on my family. I make sure everyone is good before I start. This has become a habit as my kids are home most of the time and my wife and are sharing a work space. Well, we’re in the same room anyway.

As I’m writing, I try to become aware of where it’s going. What is the story doing? What is happening to the characters?

By the time I’m done it’s 11:30 or noon and I’m starting helping my kids with their studies.

This is how I control things. These moments in the morning and during the afternoon where I’m hopefully present enough to help with things, which as I haven’t been working events, has become my every day.

I write, help my kids, clean the house, and make dinner. It’s been this way for the last couple of months and at first I wanted to punk out on it, but kept going. Now I look forward to it.

When I’m making dinner or cleaning those are mine for thinking through what I’d written that morning.

I never looked at it that way, but now that it’s an everyday thing, I enjoy those moments of contemplation..

See you on Monday.