Only As Far As The Headlights Shine

A number of writers who are at approximately the same stage of their development as I am have made an occasional comment (mostly in tones of bewilderment or disorientation) about how their intended story ends up taking an entirely different turn from what they originally plotted. Having experienced this more than once myself, I claim with a laugh that my characters took over the story and did whatever they wanted, relegating me to merely sit back and chronicle their actions.

I’ll confess I felt my own level of bewildered and disoriented when this first started happening to me, but I realized—and especially decided—early on that many of these unexpected ideas were more entertaining and more adrenaline-charged than what I first came up with…although, I wasn’t exactly happy with my inability to explain this condition better than simply accusing my characters of a coup d’état.

Just recently, I happened across this piece of writing insight from E.L. Doctorow. Since a couple of his books have found a home on my shelf, I decided to pay attention:

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
– E. L. Doctorow

I immediately recalled an incident where I was driving through a rural area outside of Ponca City, Oklahoma, in the absolute darkness of a missing moon sky and an unfamiliar absence of man-made lights. I had no idea where I was going. The rental car’s high beams helped some, but I was guessing at which of the dusty side roads to turn onto because I couldn’t see beyond the turn itself. I picked one at random, and kept driving until I could see a cluster of lights in the distance. Once I made it to that small town (which I probably could not find on a map again even if it would win me money), I discovered an eatery that served me the best meal I ate during my entire stay in Oklahoma. It didn’t take long for me to realize: had I been driving during the day, I would have seen the road leading back to my motel, meaning I would not have had to navigate by random guessing, which also meant I would never have discovered that excellent meal.

For too long, the only way I knew how to write a story was by plotting ahead of time exactly where it was leading and where it would end up. Except, E.L. Doctorow’s advice, and my adventure in Oklahoma, helped me to realize that impromptu / unexpected scenarios can show us story arcs and character developments we might never think of on our own…and, more times than not, those impromptu / unexpected ideas are pretty damn good.

So, with that realization and acceptance, I now know that my characters aren’t hijacking my car, but are riding with me; they tell me things all the time, but they, just like it is with me, are able to see only as far as the headlights shine. Yeah, we make a lot of random guesses, but it makes for a much fuller experience that way.

Posted in Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


For a short while now, I’ve been working on projects that don’t have anything to do with writing.

That doesn’t sound like me.

Some of these projects are time-consuming, bordering R&D-esque levels, meaning they’re eating up weeks of my time instead of mere hours.

And, yet…I’m still fairly happy with my life at the moment.

Minus the frustration and confusion that comes from some of these projects not cooperating.

But, what I’ve been learning from those instances has almost always been leading me to successes later on.

And, it’s probably my knowing there will be some kind of success at some near-future point that’s offering me this happiness.

It’s the same kind of feeling I experience when I write.

As long as the projects-derived happiness is indistinguishable from what I get from writing, I’m going to keep working these projects of mine for a while longer. The writing will always be there for me.

Posted in Life in General, Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Up With Me

It seems that Earth was not destroyed this past Wednesday, meaning that my Annihilation Sale is technically over. But, as it just so happens, I don’t feel like doing the extra work of changing the prices back to where they were, so the sale will continue on for the foreseeable future.


NaNoWriMo 2015 starts in less than a month, and, although I have no idea what kind of story I want to write, I keep thinking back to the state of cluelessness I was in this time, last year, and how well my first-ever NaNoWriMo effort turned out. Considering that, I’m psyched to get under way this year.


I’m currently going through what I feel to be a radical change of heart concerning what I’m doing. Don’t misinterpret…I’m not changing my mind about writing, just how I approach it. Without revealing too many details and/or getting too much in the emotional aspects, I’ve been falling into a debilitating rut lately, and I came to realize (took me long enough) that a change of attitude and/or perspective and/or scenery and/or motivation might give me a sufficient jolt to launch me out of that rut. Too early to say right now, but I’m feeling differently. And, since writers often write based on feelings…


For those whose success depends on conjuring great ideas…read this. The classic part about this article (for me) was when I reached #2: They Make Slow Decisions. This got me thinking. There have been many times in my life where I’ve fought to remain still and calm; most of those times, my efforts were rewarded to varying degrees. So…why not exercise the same when it comes to my creative efforts? Should be an interesting exercise.

Posted in Life in General, NaNoWriMo, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Annihilation Sale!

Good news, and bad news.

First, the bad news. A Christian organization claims that Earth will be annihilated on Wednesday, October 6, 2015.

Yikes! That’s tomorrow!

Now, the good news. Because of our impending doom, I am offering a sale on ALL of my digital novellas and short stories.

Annihilation Sale! All Steve Husk digital novellas and short stories are only 99 cents!

That’s right! All my digital novellas and short stories are only 99 cents! But, hurry, ‘cuz the sale won’t last long!

Actually…sounds like Earth won’t last too long, either. Bummer. That means I won’t get a chance to change the prices back to normal.

Posted in Life in General, Reading | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

LINK – The Amazing Benefits of Creative Time

Those of us in the arts already know this…

The Amazing Benefits of Creative Time

…but I’ve not heard of Google’s 20% Rule until today. Mournfully, there are probably very few companies who would subscribe to anything close to this rule. Fortunately for me, because I dwell within the artistic realm, the vast majority of my life is ‘creative time,’ so my version of the 20% Rule tends to operate more along the lines of 80%. That might explain why I’m experiencing a number of unexpected ‘benefits’ in my life right now.

Posted in Life in General, Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

PROGRESS REPORT – The Story That An Alien Told Me To Write

Since scribbling down the last word on November 29, 2014, the marble notebook that contains my first-ever NaNoWriMo exploits has been sitting on my shelf, screaming for me to bring its story to life. I came close to doing just that a few times over the months, but last week I finally got talked into pulling it off the shelf and starting the transcription process.

An alien told me to do it.

Kind of.

The same alien species that causes so much heartburn in the NaNoWriMo story is also present in my work in progress, “All the Time in the World.” What I realized—excuse me, what the alien explained to me—is that, by transcribing the NaNoWriMo story, I could use the experience as a world building / character sketch exercise that has the potential for benefitting both stories.

Sounded like an excellent opportunity to me…regardless of who came up with the idea.

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

LINK – State Of The Indie Nation

This is for all my fellow indie writers out there.

The Creative Penn recently interviewed Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, and captured some interesting thoughts on what Mark thinks about the current state of the indie writing and publishing business.

State Of The Indie Nation

It is my hope that every fellow writer who reads this will get something useful out of it. I know I did.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment