Progress – May 21, 2018

Oh, shiny!

That describes this week. At least partially.

I started off pretty good. Then I read a blog and it’s accompanying comments that irritated me. It was a writer’s blog by someone I respect, and even though my name wasn’t mentioned I felt as if this writer was taking a shot right at me and some of the things I’ve been saying on my blog lately. I felt as if I was being told that I was completely wrong, I’d never make it as a professional writer, and I might as well give up and quit wasting my time.

I really wanted to fire back with venom, but I listened to the wise little voice inside me which said not to, that I shouldn’t take on this battle, especially since who knows what inspired that writer to start taking fire. Did I really want to play Whack-A-Mole? No, best not to pop up my head.

Let’s face it: I’m probably not even a blip on this writer’s radar. Why take it so personally?

But my irritation stayed with me all day. Later that evening, still unable to shake it, I sat down with one of my oracle card decks and asked why I needed to have that experience.

I got two cards. The first said to remember that Love was the best teacher. The second said to view the situation with Love and see what it was trying to teach. So I did just that. I asked myself why I had to get angry over the lesson being spoken in this blog. Why was it hard for me to accept? Did I view it as true but I couldn’t admit it to myself?

I got an interesting answer.

Imagine that you went to a doctor and he gave you a diagnosis and prescription. You went home and started your medicine. But after several days, you were feeling worse rather than better. What if you returned to that doctor and he refused to see you because, by God, he had given you a diagnosis and “that was that!”? Would you just go home or would you toss everything the old codger said and go find another doctor?

On the other hand, you wouldn’t go to a doctor who hemmed and hawed about your illness and took six months to even give you a diagnosis at all. No, again, you’d find someone else.

This writer was stuck in the first example (as the doctor) being irritated by the doctor in the second example (writers who take forever to write a book because it has to be perfect) without realizing that the patient was also a doctor.

Now, does that show you how warped my mind is?

This writer knows their technique and wants every other writer to do it exactly that way. There is no room for modification of that said process. Tinkering not allowed.

Okay, maybe I’m still being naive — you know, I’ve only been writing for nearly 40 of my nearly 50 years in this life persona; what do I know?

That’s what annoyed me so much because my process is similar, but not exactly like this writer uses. I can’t do that. I tried last year to follow that process the way the writer explains it and, yes, I pumped out a lot of short stories. Some are better than others. There are a few that I’m really not happy with. This writer says to never look back; there’s always the next story to get to. So, I haven’t looked back.

But that is the doctor refusing to take another look at a patient to see if the diagnosis need adjusting. I personally like to read through my story completely before I put it out there. I know that if it keeps me entertained, my reader will be too, especially since I know what’s going to happen. If I’m bored, my reader will be too. It’s my gauge. For me, it’s not a waste of time, but an emotional check.

But with these stories I did last year, I didn’t often do that final read through. Guess which stories I feel (and readers have told me) are better stories? So, I made a decision after I had a chance to review what I had done: I do not want to sacrifice quality for quantity.

That was the pinpoint that irritated me about the blog. That is what jabbed me in the backside.

I have gone from writing about 2,000-3,000 words per month to writing about 30,000 words per month. I’ve seen the quality of craft this writer puts out and I can’t say I’m impressed by it. I want my stories to be of a quality similar to those I like to read. I demand a lot from a writer. I tossed a lot of books against the wall before I realized that I could learn from those I don’t like too and it will make me grow as a writer. Now I stick with genres I like because life is to short to force myself through something even for a learning experience. Still, in the end, I don’t want to be less than I’m capable. This is very important to me.

When I looked at why the blog irritated through the eyes of it being a lesson for me to learn, I realized that my process might be slower, but it was my process and how I feel that I can give the reader a quality story. If that means that I remain at a 10 times production speed compared to where I was rather than getting to a 60 times production, I’ll take it.

But it’s also hard to keep all the aspects of craft in your head at once too. Yes, a lot you learn along the way and they become instinctive. But others do take some thought.

My goal remains as it has been for many years: To write GOOD stories and draw beautiful pictures.

I also write in longer lengths. I seem to feel really comfortable with the 20,000-28,000 and the 75,000-90,000 word ranges. I literally have to spend half the book just getting grips on the story and what it’s about. I need time to think, time to step away and let ideas bubble to the surface. According the blog, this was wrong. Somehow, I really doubt that the writer never gets an idea for a story in process on while away from the keyboard, but that is the way it sounded.

Not only that, but I do my own audiobooks, my own covers, my blogs, and nearly everything with my business. I am one person, doing it myself.

Does it matter so much how the process works for a writer as long as they are producing words and quality they are happy with?

Anyway, I had to remind myself to focus on my process and not let the fuddy-duddies of the world get me down. It put strength into what I do and my goals.

I worry about the self-confidence of the other writers that voiced their comments and got told to go home with the diagnosis they had been given. But, if they were really not strong enough to either, 1) try a new way of writing, or 2) give it the finger and continue with their own process, then they will probably get discouraged and quit anyway. It’s easy to give up something you have no love for.

Later in the week, I worked on designing the covers for Walk the Path and Dragons of Wellsdeep. I like the mock-ups I’ve done and am working on the final products.

I also finished my short story, Let’s Make a Deal. As of my writing this, I still need to get it to my reader, but hope to get that done shortly.

I started going through Dragons of Wellsdeep from the beginning since I’m getting a further handle on the story. It’s time for me to start shaping things up.

I also did a little work on Elliot’s story. I had started this story a long time ago in a scriptwriting program. I now went in and made it prose so I can hook it to the later scenes I’ve written.

And I started reviewing my reader’s comments on 1-800-IceBaby.

So where does the “Oh, shiny!” part come in?

I bought an Instant Pot on Saturday. Yeah, after that, I was pretty much figuring out how to use it and making things, as well as planning to make things. I’m so excited.

Meanwhile, my lawn needs mowed and the back yard needs some raking done. I really ought to hire this work out, but I do like mowing my lawn with my push mower. But it needs the blade sharpened badly. It’s so dull that it’s not even pretending to cut the grass any longer. The person I thought I had to sharpen the blades doesn’t have the equipment for my style of blades (gee, I should have guessed that would happen — I know my luck).

I was glad to have my son down again for the weekend. We’ll be seeing each other next weekend too as it’s our annual family trip to Anime Oasis. I suspect that my Instant Pot will come in handy then.  I’ll also need to make sure to get my words in early during the week.

Let’s see how my numbers look for the week.

Fiction words written last week: 2,232 words – okay, this could have been better.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  4,255 words

Score a big #6 for my weekly word count streak.

Writing month to date total:  18,123 words

Writing year to date total: 136,618 words

Drawing/painting last week: None outside of the covers that I was working on.

Audio: I spent 6 hours editing audio. I hate doing punch ins and I was merging several this week. But at least the end is in sight for the audio version for Quest for the Three Books. Then I get to make a booth change and I hope that helps really speed up my process. It’s always the process.

Trust the process. Whatever yours might be.