Day 27: Got a lot done today

This is do or die time.  

We're getting closer to the time that I will need to take off.  I'm still working hard to finish this project as I prepare.  Not sure if I can do it, but tomorrow will require "the old college try." 

Honestly though, in keeping with my earlier philosophy of only striving for completion rather than perfection, I'm going to make getting the second story completed a priority tomorrow.  If I can do that, then I think I've accomplished my goal. 

Anyway, I went over the goal by almost three times.  Instead of 500 words, I almost got to 1 500.  

Starting Word Count: 24 764

Finishing Word Count: 26 225

Daily Word Count: 1 461


Day 26: A Break in My Promise to You, Faithful Reader

Tonight was fun.  I took two of my kids to go see "Solo: A Star Wars Story."  Most of our movie theaters are in the casinos here in Las Vegas.  It's funny, because I hate the stereotypes or misconceptions about our little (big) city like "You guys couldn't have schools there." Or "does everyone live in casino?" or some other inane comment or question.  Regardless, it's a weird experience taking my kids through Sunset Station (this time) to get to the cinema.

Anyway, I thought Solo was fun.  Since The Last Jedi was such a letdown and disappointment, I've let go of high expectations for these movies.  It was a solid film and had a fun story with some fun characters.  Nothing deep here.

Writing Update

So I haven't forgotten to update you.  Yesterday, was an intense day that involved some catch up as I prepare to take a few days off.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to complete my goal of writing 500 words of fiction each day until the end of the month.  My wife recently commented that I've gotten too intense about my work and it affects the time we have together.  I don't know if that's really true, but I have decided (in part because of her coaxing) to take the week off that I am going to be on vacation.  That means, I will not be writing 500 words per day of fiction after Monday.  

However, I am working on a story in the series that I have wanted to complete and I am going to commit to you right now that I will finish that story before the end of the day on Monday.  I believe I still have something like 7000 words to write, but I am going to try to do it.  That means 3500 words per day.  I have done more than that before.  

I'm sorry to do this to you (my faithful readers in Russia, Ireland and a few other select countries), but I need to be cool with my wife at this point in time.

Beginning Word Count: 23 917

Finishing Word Count: 24 764

Daily Total: 847

Day 24

Long day at work.  Much to sort out.  I started at the usual 9:00 and did not leave that office until after 7:30.  The only break came from a late Panda Express lunch.  What is wrong with a man or woman when they become obsessed with the things everyone else can leave alone until tomorrow?  

Something... something very sad.

Starting Word Total: 23 089

Finishing Word Total: 23 917

Final Daily Word Total: 828

Day 20: What just happened???

Well, I was able to endure a break from writing that had happened because of travel.  I was also able to push through a cold that started just over a week ago and came on like a banshee.  However, there is no cure for poor planning and a failure to adhere to a schedule.  Ugh!

I could have sworn I wrote and updated the blog on Thursday, but I suppose it didn't happen.  On Friday, there was so much to do with work and preparation for a church Father and Son overnight campout in the nearby mountains of southern Nevada.  Even though we're out in the desert, it is amazing that we can still find places that have enough vegetation and thankfully, cooler temperatures to make camping away from electrical, electronic and plumbing conveniences enjoyable.  That's right, we had no plumbing on this one.  That meant some of the attendees had to go out into the bush, find a tree, dig a hole and prop up against it, if they were needing to evacuate certain parts of the body.  As for me and my boy, we were sure to take care of that business before heading up there and then made the 30 minute drive home in the late morning to take care of the rest of the business.

So, returning on Saturday, I had a number of commitments to keep and a last minute invitation to Deadpool 2 (late night viewing).  Spoiler alert: Deadpool dies in this movie.  However, it being the Marvel Universe (at Fox), you know he's still going on.  After all, his character is a huge money maker for the studio.  So, Friday and Saturday were shot.  

This is Where the Search for Perfection could Kill This Experiment

Like the heading says, if I were trying to make everything perfect, I suppose I would have given up.  On Friday, I did have about 10 minutes to kill and was able to crank out 173 words.  However, I have just rolled them into today's total since I couldn't update you.  The search for perfect execution of the process could have derailed my desire to finish the second story.  However, I won't let that happen.  You see, this isn't really about the process.  In some creative endeavors, including writing, sometimes it is good to just focus on the process and try to be flawless.  In this case, it makes way more sense to push toward completion, no matter how filled with flaws the final product will be (and believe me, this one has its flaws).

So, where does that leave me?  It leaves me spending about 20 minutes this morning, writing the story and then tonight with a combined total of this evening's time spent and all of the time before since Thursday, writing for about 90 minutes.  My hope was to write the equivalent of 4 days' work (500 words per day = 2000 words), but even then I ran out of time today.  So, I will settle for the following results.  I hope you will too.  If you read this blog through chronologically, this post might come as a disappointment to you.  It did to me somewhat.  

My dad once said though that it isn't about moving upward.  Sometimes it's about moving forward.

Starting Word Count: 19 587

Finishing Word Count: 21 327

Daily Word Count Total: 1 740

Day 15: Story B is moving along nicely

Story B?  I didn't even know there was a Story A!

Trust me when I tell you that I get how this can be kind of confusing.  

The month of May 2018 should have started with me writing one story and working to hit the 500 words per day goal, every single day.  Instead, I am sitting here telling you about going back to Story B after finishing Story A.  Wait, "going back?"  Yes, if you check out my blog around May 5th and 6th, I make reference to the fact I had left my MacBook Pro at home, which had my Story A story on it.  Therefore, to continue the work I was doing, I started working on the story from the outline for Story B.  

This is going to sound nuts, but because I kept my outlines concise and somewhat simple, I was able to start a second story.  I kind of knew the characters involved along with the settings I wanted them in.  Remember, I am writing the stories I wish I could read when I'm just looking for a darn good, rollicking adventure on Amazon Kindle.  

Writing Fiction seems to be a Messy Endeavor

No one is asking my opinion, but I'll give it anyway:  Writing fiction, whether it is good fiction or not-so-good fiction, is a messy and disorganized venture.  I am just discovering this fact after completing and publishing a full novel.  It is now that I am realizing how weird and "twisty" storytelling can be.  

I wonder if that is why so many people find it daunting.

Hear me out on this.  We live in a world that almost seems to worship perfection.  Sure, we all send the message to each other that we should love ourselves and our imperfections (and the imperfections in others), but really we all desire to have things perfect.  

How many times have you purchased that expensive little hardbound cover book (black, blue or red) and said to yourself: This time and in this book, I will write the Great American (or Russian or Japanese or African) Novel?  

Only you find yourself staring back at a blank page.  

It's because you want perfection.  

And you can't have it.  

Let it go.

Let go of this desire to write the perfect story and just write the story in your own limited way.  

When I wrote The Son of San Diablo, I had the same aspirations as anyone else: To write world-changing fiction.  Guess what?  The world is still the same.  

So, now to preserve my sanity, I am trying something else.  I'm writing fun fiction.  Sure, there are deeper themes than just fun and adventure, but I am not going to get so wrapped up in all of that to paralyze myself.  Why the heck can't I just have a little fun and hopefully entertain you the reader?

This might run counter to some of what I've said in the past and it's not meant to.  Instead, my point is that though your story should mean something and it is wise to write "to an end," don't let all of that paralyze you. 

Instead, embrace your own imperfections as a human being and allow some of that to come forward in your storytelling.  

And if your heart faints? 

Do what I'm doing... use a pen name.

Starting Daily Word Count: 18 319

Finishing Daily Word Count: 19 036

Daily Word Count Total: 717

Day 14: It is Finished!

Check this out!  The first of my "secret" fiction project is finished!  I was writing to get to the end today and I didn't know if it was going to happen.  Between fighting off this cold (persistent symptoms that led to a two hour nap this evening) and helping to search for a receptionist candidate at one of my offices, I didn't know if this was going to get done.  However, I dug in my heels at about 10 pm tonight and committed to doing it.

It is finished!  This project is definitely what one would call a novelette or a novella.  Currently, the word count for it is around 16 500 words.  I took a diversion for a few days when I forgot my MacBook Pro for a few days earlier this month and started a separate story.  The plan is to resume where I left off with the other story tomorrow.  Regardless, I am happy with my work output.  By my estimate, in 14 days, I was able to produce a total of 10 000 words of fiction.  that's about 714 words per day.  While not impressive by every writer's standards, it is a consistent output of every day effort and of that, I am truly proud.

Starting Word Count: 17 596

Ending Word Count: 18 319

Daily Word Count: 723

Day 13 - Push through the Sickness

Ugh!  Most of today, I have felt like crap.  I slept off and on until about 2:30 today, but somehow I still found time at around 3:45 in the afternoon and also another few moments later in the evening to get in the obligatory 500 plus word count.  I'm so close to finishing this first novella (for it seems to fit that length) that I tried to push to get it done today.  Unfortunately, I will need to save the final part until tomorrow.  I think I can finish it tomorrow.  

Then, I will allow it to stay untouched for a week.  After that time, I will revisit it and go through as quickly as possible to retouch and edit things.  During that week, I will pick up where the other one left off.  My hope is that by the end of this next week, when I revisit the first manuscript, I will almost be done the second one.  

Regardless, I have enjoyed this measure of output this way much better than the old way of doing things.  In the past, I used to write: "Do one hour of writing" or "Do 30 minutes of writing" or whatever.  The problem was that time spent doesn't really measure output.  Neither does it really hold strictly to the notion that the entire time you are writing.  If instead, you say you will write two pages, five pages or a thousand words a day, there is no denying the output once it is done for that day.  

I will keep working this and see what happens by the end of the month.  Still sick, but I am hoping I am feeling better by tomorrow. 

Starting Word Count: 16 723

Ending Word Count: 17 596

Daily Word Count Total: 873


Day 11: Cool Discovery - I write more than 500 words every day!

Another day's work done. 

I am a bit amazed at how setting a goal as simple as writing 500 words per day minimum can actually be easy to accomplish.  Maybe "easy" isn't the operative word.  Perhaps "simple" makes more sense.  After all, simple and easy aren't the same thing.  Regardless, knowing that I only have to produce two pages of fiction each day does not sound so daunting.  I haven't missed the minimum goal of 500 words yet since starting this experiment.  

I can't quite explain it, but once I get into "the flow," as some people call it, I find that I can't stop writing.  I want to push well past the 500 word limit most days.  Tonight, I only did a little bit more.

If all of this seems trivial to you, I totally get it.  After all, 500 words per day does not sound like a lot, when the average novel ranges between 40 000 and 60 000 words.  But remember, I'm not interested in writing full-length novels on this project.  Instead, I'm going for half that length in an eBook format.  Regardless, 500 words per day after 30 days equals a minimum of 15 000 words, which almost constitutes an ebook of 20 000 words.  The great news is that I am exceeding those totals every day by a couple hundred to 500 extra words.  So, as I said in an earlier post (I think yesterday's), getting to two completed eBook manuscripts in one month would be stupendous.  

When you factor in the full-time job, the full-time family, the volunteer service work I'm trying to do for my family and just the normal humdrum of life events that serve as regular interruptions, two eBook manuscripts a month, each month would equal 24 books.  I don't have 24 stories or outlines at the moment, but I do have at least an half dozen to keep me busy for now.  

Starting Total Word Count: 15 419

Finishing Total Word Count: 16 162

Daily Word Count: 681

Day 10: My post of penance

For some reason, my ears just started ringing a few minutes before I started composing this post. I'm not sure what that means as I haven't had any earaches or sinus problems for weeks now.  Oh well, just push through it.

Last night's post was a bit of a self-pity post.  The original draft (which I published for about 24 hours) was way more self-indulgent.  The new version of that post hides some of the bitterness and cantankerous vibe that was coming out of my fingers into the keyboard last night. 

Anyway, onward and upward.  As I said at the end of last night's post, I live in the United States of America - A free country.  I get to publish books on the side.  While they aren't the source of a substantial income, they are still something and I they seem to be the thing I have been most excited about creating for a long time.

The Writing Experiment

So, I'm still working on my first story.  The great news is that I have rounded the corner of the first book's third act.  Along the way, I have taken a couple of liberties from my original outline (a chapter by chapter template) and so the book will be slightly longer than I had originally planned.  Regardless, that will turn out to be a good thing.  As I write this, I have a title for the first one. 

A quick review if this were one of the first blog posts you are reading about my "experiment."  I will lay it out below:

  • Find pre-made covers that range from between $14 and $30 to buy for ebook covers.  
  • Develop a cool central character to have adventures and stories with in a series.
  • Develop one outline that each story would follow loosely.  Some deviation is expected, but this will keep things rolling and on track.
  • Develop an outline for each of those ebook covers that is more specific to the image and planned title for the book.
  • Write at least 500 words of fiction every single day for a month.  Track this progress and then report it daily on the blog.
  • By the end of the month, see how things go.  One novella (for ebooks this doesn't matter) can be any length and is definitely possible.  Two novellas in one month would be awesome.  Three would be amazing!!!
  • Publish the books in a slightly staggered fashion (with the covers of the other books in the front of each book to inform a new reader of all of the great adventures they can read about this character).
  • Write punchy action, brief and concise dialogue and really hone in on writing something you would want to read.
  • Publish books under a pen name.  

And there you have it:  My 30 day writing experiment.

Daily Starting Total: 14 274

Daily Finishing Total: 15 419

Daily Word Count: 1 145

Day 9: The All for Nothing Syndrome

I'm not trying to be cute here, but honestly, am I the only person who has worked to completion on various projects only to see them go out into the world and then wonder if "it was all for nothing?"  I don't know and I don’t think so.  I don't mean it in the sense that there was no value to what I had tried to finish, but rather, just wondering if the sacrifices of time, comfort and connection with others in these solitary moments of cranking out a manuscript are or will be worth it.  

I have a small confession to make.  The Son of San Diablo: A Manifest Galaxy Novel is still "finding its audience."  Translation: I've sold a few copies, but I've given away a lot more.  Reviews of the book have been good and not every single one has been solicited.  Those are nice things to have. 

On the other hand, one of my kids (I think in a moment of pity, curiosity and/or kindness) took it up as an assignment to read and then do a book report in school shortly after it had been published.  What parent wouldn't be excited, proud and maybe a little nervous to have their own offspring read something they published and put it out in the world?  Well, I suppose I had nothing to worry about.  A couple months after she had turned in the report, she confessed to me that she had never finished the book.  I asked if she'd at least gotten to the part regarding the miscarriage and sad to say, she didn't know about it.  That's in the first 50 pages from what I remember.  

Honestly, that right there should be enough source material for a short story or something...

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, at the moment, if you are reading this, my analytics tell me that you might be one of the few persons in Norway or one of the three or four people in Germany who seem to like to check in once and a while.  There are the Canadians, but the ones who intrigue me the most and keep coming back to check in are people from Russia and that area of the world.  I'm guessing somewhere out there, at least one of you, in one of those countries (that is not the United States of America) has wanted to get published and see your name in print.  Maybe something I'm saying here is valuable to you.

To you, wherever you are, in whatever country you live, here is one simple truth:  Writing to the finish is hard. Promoting your own work seems to be harder.  

My Brain is like an Apartment Building...

...And I'm the landlord who must evict the tenants that come in the form of stories.  

I wish I could take credit for such a great metaphor, but that was my brother, Ken’s doing.   You should check out his website sometime at  Recently, I encouraged him to take some of his more cinematic ideas that aren't getting traction in La La Land and translate them into novels.  Even if the novels are published independently (in the old days, it was derisively called self-publishing) on Amazon, he could feel good about getting the stories out there and the prospect of getting paid once in a while, when someone bought a book.  Thus the metaphor above was born.

I'm no different from you or anyone else.  I write with the goal of publication.  More importantly, I write so that someone, anyone out there, will read my work.  The dirty little secret is that you are going to struggle to get people to read what you write.  More difficult will be most of your friends and even harder will be your family.  I don't know where that struggle comes from, but rarely should you ever expect a member of your family to read your work.  I'm making my way through Lawrence Block's classic Telling Lies for Fun and Profit and he laments this problem as well somewhere in the middle of the book.  It just happens.  

I can count on one hand the family members who have struggled through the slog that I suppose is The Son of San Diablo:  My brother Ken (Thanks, Bro) and my wife, Cara (Love you, babe).  I have about the same number of friends who finished it as well.  Other than that, I get: "Oh yeah, I started on the book and it was pretty good, but I got distracted." Translation: It didn't hold my interest enough to keep going.  

Perhaps the problem isn't family or friends.  

Perhaps the problem is me.  Or maybe it's the book itself.

Maybe I'm the problem.  In corporations, they call this "owning the problem" which they view as a good thing.  In psychiatry, they also refer to it as "owning the problem," but they say it is a very negative thing.  

Maybe I won't bother to publish this particular post.  After all, doesn't it sound like I'm bitter over not getting any recognition for work?  Perhaps.  Or I could just chalk it up as an honest assessment of where things are for me at this point in time and dust myself off and keep going. 

And that is a good reason to use a pen name next time.  I don't have to get guilted into sending copies of my books to friends and family. I also won't make anyone feel bad for not finishing their creative work, whatever it might be.  

Oh well, it's all good.  I live in America and I publish books I wrote on the side and I'm glad to be alive.

Daily Starting Total: 13 756

Daily Finishing Total: 14 274

Daily Word Count: 518


Day 7: My wife's graduation and birthday

I am truly grateful to be married to an understanding wife.  

It is her birthday today and also her graduation from Arizona State University.  She earned a BA in History.  Yes, it has taken her a number of years, but she never gave up.  Sometimes it seemed harder and more formidable than I think either of us anticipated, but she continued onward.

Today was the graduation ceremony at Chase Field.  It was huge and highly populated.  Add to that the fact that today was her birthday.  Thankfully, she is a rather low maintenance person in this area.  She was fine to have a nice meal, get some cards, some affection from the kids and the promise of being able to spend money on the things she wanted to buy in anticipation of a big trip we will be taking later this month.

In the meantime, I have been working to get my 500 plus words done today.  It was not an easy go and interestingly, I had to split the project up into two big chunks.  The first was in the early afternoon when I had about 20 minutes at my disposal. I was able to get just over 300 words written.  Then I dove in tonight at 11:15 to complete the remaining part of the daily output.  I got a little carried away and continued with more writing.  I couldn't stop except to update you and keep this consistent.  

Anyway, it's done for the day.  Below is my report:

Daily Starting Total: 12 568

Daily Finishing Total: 13 227

Daily Word Total: 659

Day 6: Just barely in before deadline

Whew!  It was a day where I kept thinking I would have the time to get it done.  I made a mistake of not bringing my laptop with me when I had to go order and then wait to pick up PF Chang's.  I had a good solid 45 minutes (they were really backed up) where I could have gotten it done. 

Regardless, it is done tonight.  I am tired and I hit about 150 words more tonight than the basic goal, so mission accomplished.

Daily Starting Total: 11894

Daily Finishing Total: 12568

Daily Final Total: 674