Invitedism

The risk I run when writing is, when I open up and connect to the Universe, happy / cheerful / positive thoughts aren’t the only ones that accept my invitation to enter.

That would be like walking into a smoky room and thinking, “I’ll just breathe in the non-smoky air.” Duh.

With that premise being set up, I periodically come up with cynical / depressing / mournful thoughts and lyrics I normally wouldn’t acknowledge. As it turns out, when I made the choice to treat writing as the way I wanted to live, I inherently gained the understanding that good storytelling should include (or, at least, invite) as many emotions that invite themselves, whether we are comfortable with them or not.

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This Just In…

This just in…I am over 3K words behind my projected pace for Camp NaNoWriMo.

This also just in…I’m perfectly OK with that stat.

I knew before Camp started this particular story would require heavy research and world building efforts. What I also realized (but ignored) is how much I would be tempted to perform that research and world building work instead of cranking out word-countable content. I might ultimately fall short of my word count goal because of this inability to stop building things (I don’t want you to get the impression I’m actually trying to stop myself), but overall I’m quite happy with the fact that this story is turning out much more interesting than I expected.

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This just in…I’m putting soccer / football away for a while, and am concentrating on writing and at least one personal project which will remain nameless at this time.

dcunited
D.C. United’s season is still rolling, with them currently in second place in the MLS East. I’ve not watched very many of their matches on TV this season, and I’ve still not gotten my act together enough to see them live.

I stayed up way too late on a work night to see the United States men’s national team lose in the CONCACAF Gold Cup finals to Mexico, 1-0. I feel I did a good job at not taking out my unhappiness on co-workers and clients at work the next day.

united_states_womens_football
I was at work when the United States women’s team defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the Women’s World Cup finals, but I did watch (most of) the replay later in the week. Of course, the segment of the broadcast playing when I stepped out of the house to run an errand was when they scored their two goals. Fortunately, YouTube helped me out.

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This just in…Netflix is evil. Yeah, I’ve caught up on some shows and movies I’ve always wanted to see, and I’ve discovered a few new ways to be entertained, but all these tempting selections are standing in the way of quality writing time. I believe I’m currently winning the time battle, thought, because I have not clicked in the Netflix icon in over two weeks.

In related news…my writing production time has gone up.

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This just in…I am almost out of rum.

Most people would not consider this an issue, but I keep buying the same brands all the time (Captain Morgan and Sailor Jerry currently reign as my top two). Now, as it just so happens, my next scheduled shopping trip is tomorrow, so I should leave a reminder to myself to give some other brand a shot.

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This just in…I have a short story that is adrenaline-rushingly close to being finished. Stay tuned!

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Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019 – It’s World Building’s Fault

6,587 words as of this morning. That’s all so far. Not my worst start ever, but not nearly where I thought I should be.

And it’s all World Building’s fault.

Actually, it’s mine.

But, let’s say it’s on World Building, anyway.

This story features one inter-galactic multi-species confederation (who are up to no good, whether they believe it or not), one species just starting their interstellar journey (who have no concept of what problems they will cause), and one species that has no intention of leaving their planet (but end up doing so anyway for very, very bad reasons). Since I use these species in other stories, much of their world building has already been carved out. However, over these past six days, the more Camp NaNoWriMo content I cranked out, the more opportunities for me to add unique and unusual flavors to these species kept showing up in my imagination. I refer to this occurrence as coming up with ideas and details I didn’t know my species needed.

I’m not doing the actual full-blown research right now, though. If I were, my current word count would probably be 6,586 words less than it is now. Instead, I’m developing just enough of the details to move my story along, then make a mark on the page so I know what to work on when it’s time for the rewrite phase. Right now, my Camp NaNoWriMo notebook is glowing yellow.

And that’s World Building’s fault, too.

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Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019 – I’m In!

I hinted in my most recent post that I want to participate in this summer’s Camp NaNoWriMo. So, allow me to make it official: I’m in!

Last July, I used the Camp to write new passages on two novel works in progress. This time, I will be starting a new novel from scratch. The concept is something I’ve been fiddling with for a few years but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it and/or about it. That level of indecisiveness was conquered about a month ago, and I’ve been itching to work on this story since then.

This July, my goal is to write 80,000 words in 31 days. That’s probably too lofty of a goal, considering what July is looking like already for me, but I’m going to write like a madman to make it happen.

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Too Many Good Ideas

Leafing through critique notes from one of my stories written a few years ago, I found a curious comment from a fellow aspiring writer:

“Your curse is that you have too many good ideas.”

Suffice it to say, I disagreed with that claim without a second’s thought, but I still thanked him for his critiquing efforts for the benefit of my story.

Fast forward to the early part of 2019. I have a short story and a novel that are on the verge of being completed. I also have over a dozen other stories, in varying degrees of completedness and/or disarray, waiting for more attention from me. I learned to put more effort and commitment and passion into my writing exploits, so all was proceeding well. Then, out of nowhere, I came up with a sports story idea I’ve not attempted before. I’ve never considered myself particularly strong at writing sports sequences, so I saw this story as a challenge I very much wanted to take.

So, of course, I did.

Now, at this point in time, I have two short stories and a novel that are on the verge of being completed, and still have those other dozen or so stories waiting for my attention.

That’s when I saw what that critiquer was hinting at. Too many good ideas lead to starting too many new stories.

Which, in my case, leads to having my fascination too occupied to finish much of anything. How can I share my stories if I don’t finish them and make them available?

So, because of that, I intentionally skipped last November’s NaNoWriMo and this past April’s Camp NaNoWriMo to concentrate on closing out some of my works in progress.

And I succeeded. I only fully completed one, but I still count that as a success.

However…

While I was working on finishing out one of the stories, I came up with an idea for an entirely new story.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody who knows me.

Yet, instead of getting on my own case about stepping outside of my own game plan, I saw where this new story could fit within my overall plan.

In a very prominent place, to be exact.

So, I’m going to treat this new story idea as a prominent piece in my game plan deserves. I’m going to start the first draft at the beginning of July.

Oh, wow! I just remembered! Camp NaNoWriMo session starts in July! Maybe, I’ll make this new story my Camp NaNoWriMo entry!

It’s as if I planned this all along.

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What I’ve Been Up To

Here is what I’ve been up to:

My manuscript submission exploits are a bit slow at this time, mainly because I only have one brand new story completed. I’ve got two other stories close to completion, which I’m sure will make the submission process more fun for me.

Speaking of manuscript submissions…I still hate writing cover letters.

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I purchased a laptop last year to be used for scholastic pursuits. Obviously, my current workhorse desktop (the one I use for writing) fails the ‘portable’ test. However…said desktop is also starting to lose the battle with age. Yeah, I’ve had it for a long time.

With that in mind, I am looking to switch all my writing exploits to the laptop. With a bit of research, I will hook it up to a multi-monitor set-up in my studio and retain those current advantages. The only problem I’m having so far is I’m still struggling with typing on the laptop. Yeah, it could be said I struggle with typing, period. Apparently, that semester of personal typing I took in high school didn’t do much for me. Mostly, though, my somewhat large hands and big fingers were not meant for small keyboards.

So, what’s the best way to improve my skills on the laptop?

Do more typing on the laptop! Duh. And, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Between accidentally hitting the ‘caps lock’ button instead of the ‘A’ button, having to learn how to reposition my hands to execute keyboard shortcuts due to the narrower keyboard, and correcting unnecessary typos because they put the ‘delete’ button in a stupid place, the experience has been annoying. But, I am getting better.

There is one other option. A wireless keyboard. I actually saw someone using that very same setup at a bistro one afternoon. I would prefer fewer components to lug around while I’m on the road, but at least I will no longer look like someone who is seeing a keyboard for the first time.

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I’ve been taking advantage of the diverse perspectives and experiences of the WordPress community by carving out time on select days to check posts that aren’t on my normal Reader page but that I find through normal keyword searches. Then, just when I think I’ve experienced something new, I search topics that are completely out of the norm for me.

This practice actually makes sense for a writer.

Which is why I’m probably having a blast with it.

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Critiquing the Critiquers

This topic comes up on writing sites from time to time: the art of critiquing and the adventures of receiving critiques.

Depending on what stage my story is at, and depending on who I pass it off to, I will ask for my critiquers to approach my manuscript from specific perspectives (may contain one or more of the following): “How did I do with sentence structure?” “Can you point out typos and misspellings?” “Does the story make sense?” “Did I leave any loose ends that leave you unfulfilled or otherwise scratching your head?” “How does the story flow?” That sort of thing. Then, when it is my turn to critique something of theirs, I return the favor and the courtesy by approaching the task in whatever way that matches their preferences or concerns. If they want me to focus on character development, that is what I do. If they ask only that I find every last grammatical error I can find, that is what I do. Etc.

There is one form of critique that I have never asked for (and never will), yet I still get it at least once per manuscript: the critiquer tells me how they would have written a certain passage by actually rewriting it!

To express my dismay and confusion as eloquently as possible…ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I’ve never even had an editor do that to me, and they’re the gateways to a contract! Whatever happened to telling me that the passage in question is too convoluted or too rambling or too off the point?…then explaining why you feel that way without doing the actual revision for me? A few years ago, before I had any publishing credits to my name, I sent a 20 page manuscript to a fellow aspiring writer; the edited version she sent back was almost double in size because of how many passages she rewrote for me. Suffice it to say, I ditched that file and sought out a different critiquer.

When I critique, I might come across a passage that screams for a rewrite, and an obvious way of doing exactly that might cross my mind, but I fully understand and accept that what I have before me is their story, not mine, so I only point them in a direction with a humble “Consider having your character do / feel / express…”, and let the writer him/herself handle the heavy lifting…because, how else are they going to learn and improve if somebody else writes it for them?

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