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 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 16: So much more to do

I am not feeling well.  Still, I managed to crank out the minimum 500 words.  Once I got there, I had a couple more sentences that were needed to make everything fit.  

Examining this idea of imperfection further from yesterday's post.  I suppose what I have been trying to say is that it really comes down to being willing to put your work out there and let it be imperfect.  Don't let desire for perfection paralyze you.  

That's no excuse for turning in shoddy work or not trying your best, but it is an acknowledgement that at some point, you have to just move forward.

Starting Word Count: 19 036

Finishing Word Count: 19 587

Daily Word Count Total: 551

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 12: Nooooooooooooo!!!

Oh man, it's a good thing I'm not fully OCD.  Don't get me wrong, everyone in society today thinks they are a bit Obsessive Compulsive and I don't see myself as exempt.  The good news is that I can let certain things slide, like not hitting "Save & Publish" on the post I wrote yesterday after pushing just over 600 words out while feeling like total crap. 

I mean, I had come down with cold-like symptoms within about two hours last night around 7:00 or so and by 9:00, I could barely stand upright.  Nevertheless, at around 10:00 pm, I pulled my MacBook Pro onto my lap and wrote just over 500 words on this secret project I've been churning out every day.  The good news is that I hit "save" on that, so it's not work that was forgotten.  The bad news is that over here on the blog, you might be thinking this is a contrived blog post because I allowed one day to pass.  Think what you want.  I'm good.  However, I did write a blog post that would have highlighted (without drawing direct attention to it), my stoic nature of just pushing forward and making sure I get things done.

Oh well.  Regardless of the conclusion you draw, here is my report for yesterday's writing:

Starting Total Word Count: 16 162

Finishing Total Word Count: 16 723

Daily Word Count: 561

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 4: Another Day completed

My alarm went off at about 6:45.  I'd every intention to rise and dive into the work.  Instead, I slumbered another 45 minutes.  Regardless, I completed the 500 word goal.  In fact, I believe I exceeded it by possibly two hundred words.  As I'm writing this, I only know that I had written more than 500 words today.  My hope is to return to the book tonight and get 500 more.

Daily Starting Total: 10,557

Daily Finishing Total: 11,392

Daily Total: 835

When in Doubt...

... remember the wisdom of Socrates:

 I know that I know nothing. 

Free Fiction

It's been a great Labor Day Weekend.  

One of my daughters decided to stay home with me while the wife and other two kids headed to a nearby state to see family and celebrate a religious rite of passage.  The daughter that stayed with me is a bit of an activity addict, just like the other kids and her old man.  So, it was First Friday in downtown LV on Friday night.  Food, crafts, music, weirdness.  It was fun.

The next day was low key.  Some Crazy Pita and a movie.  We went and saw Baby Driver.  Yes, I know it's an R-rated film, but it really is some of the best writing and filmmaking to come out of Hollywood this year.  Having already seen it once, I had wanted her to be exposed to this kind of storytelling.

The story is powerful, the characters are compelling and the dialogue is fantastic.  If you haven't seen it yet, because you didn't like the title or it didn't appeal to you, do yourself a favor and get a ticket and go.  Edgar Wright shows why he's an underrated genius in this masterpiece.

Yesterday was pretty chill, but today with the other kids home, we decided to head up to Mary Jane Falls in the heart of Mount Charleston.  No joke, there are small waterfalls that are trickling down from the mountain (after a rather intense 2 mile hike) that you can stand under and cool off before heading back down the trail.  

Free Stuff!

Anyway, the other big thing to mention is that I decided to do a 'soft' promotion for The Son of San Diablo: A Manifest Galaxy Novel.  It's not the first free promotion I have done.  However, it is the first for this particular book.  At the time of this writing, a few dozen Amazon readers have 'purchased' the free book and have downloaded it to their Kindles or Kindle apps.  

I will admit that I struggle with the concept of 'Free' with Amazon.  Personally, I think that allowing people to sell their works as low as $0.99 or to allow for the reader to read it through the Kindle Unlimited program makes the most sense.  The problem with giving away everything for free is that free becomes the expectation and the rule.  It tells the reader 'Hey, I don't value all of the work I've done on this and really, neither should you.'  Maybe I'm just overthinking it, but it does seem silly that the way I'm supposed to get new readers in Amazon's eyes is to give things away for free.

Regardless, I am hard at work on a three part series that continues the 'Manifest Galaxy' legacy with some of the characters and concepts that were introduced in the first book.  It will be easier to give away one fiction book when I have multiple parts of the series to sell.  

It Should Mean Something 

It might just be me, but I think writing a fiction story should mean something.  I'm going out onto a limb here with this opinion, but since analytics tells me only a few dozen people are checking in every week, I am probably in pretty safe company at the moment.

When I say fiction should mean something, I don't mean that it must contain some moral message.  Nor do I think it has to teach or preach.  If some lesson or moral makes itself apparent through the theme of the story, then the best fiction will do that for some of the readers, some of the time.  I think the best stories don't have any kind of universal meaning, they just should have meaning.  Some things in the story might ring true for most of humanity, but it can mean something to others and neither is wrong.

Take for instance, the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness.  As far as we know, Conrad was being paid by the word and his intention may not have been to satirize the view that western culture was superior and that imperialism was some sort of infallible force.  Yet, after finishing the book the other week, I took to the Internet, as any inquisitive reader would do and I wanted to see what others thought of the book.  

While I can understand the racist overtones that many readers and critics perceive in the text along with some readers' dissatisfaction with what they call the underwhelming climax, I think there is something deeper there.  I believe that Conrad really wanted to explore the dark side of human nature and what a man might do were he left to his own devices and given all power out in the remoteness of nature.  Of course, this wouldn't be the case with every man or woman who was put into the same position as Kurtz was at the Inner Station.  However, his desire to enact on what were clearly psychopathic tendencies is clear and undeniable.  I think this was something Conrad was trying to explore, albeit indirectly.  

While we're digging for the truth, I have a confession to make.  I never finished Heart of Darkness until about a week ago.  I had made at least two valiant attempts to read the book over the years and failed in both at around the 40 page mark.  Conrad does seem to take his time getting things started.  However, once protagonist Marlow gets to the mouth of the river, things become more interesting.

Anyway, there is a reason for my strange confession to not reading a book that is over one hundred years old until just now.  It is because the stories we tell run parallel to each other in a certain way.  His story takes place in late 19th Century Africa and my story takes place over 600 after humanity has reckoned time in a way that coincides with the discovery of the first wormhole outside of our solar system.  Yet, both stories are told through the point of view of protagonists who meet charismatic and influential figures that have feet of clay.  

Both Kurtz in Conrad's book and Barney in The Son of San Diablo are held up as paragons of virtue by those around them.  In both cases, the truth becomes unravelled slowly and our heroes must make certain decisions related to what they will do with the truth.  I won't give up the end of Conrad's book and of course, I'm not going to tell you how my book ends.  The funny thing though is the way I ended up making decisions in the book that I never knew would be so closely related to Conrad's book.  However, let me be clear.  Conrad is the vastly superior writer to myself.  His way of weaving a yarn is so compelling and just darn fun, that once he gets going, it's hard to keep up.

Early Twentieth Century Literature

This brief touching upon Joseph Conrad and Heart of Darkness has led me to make another strange confession.  I've lately become a bit preoccupied and a little obsessed with fiction from the Edwardian Era.  This was early 20th Century fiction such as stuff written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Rudyard Kipling and of course, Joseph Conrad.  I have much more to say about this new avenue of study at some point, but I will digress.  I also have more to say about the mastery with which Conrad concocts his tale, but I will save it for another time.

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Writing Fiction can be FUN!!!

I have been dealing with a number of challenges in my life recently.  

My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just before Thanksgiving last year.  Her strength and courage have shone through in the past few months, as she'd undergone chemotherapy and has also participated in alternate therapies.  Unfortunately, things have continued to progress, but she is one of the toughest people I know.  I know a lot of people say that about someone they see going through something as horrible as cancer, but I would put my mom up against anyone else, anytime. 

Recently, she was transferred to hospice care, so I've been a bit distracted with that.  

Add to this situation the fact that I am starting a new job (with the company I sold) in a little over a week.  I'm excited for that change.  More to say on that in the near future.

Now let's get to what you clicked for!

I am happy to say that despite some of the challenges I outlined above, I am still persevering toward some goals I had set for myself.  Yes, I have published a number of nonfiction books, such as the quote books, the bald book and my latest business development book.  However, for nearly  a decade I have been writing fiction secretly.  I know, I know.  Join the club.  Just about everyone 'has a novel or two in them.'  

The Clark home has at least three completed handwritten manuscripts lying around the house for a trilogy I really have wanted to finish.  The shortest of these is about 300 pages and the longest probably clocks at 550 pages.  Anyway, those will never see the light of day in their current form or anything close to it.  In working on them though, I stumbled across a short story I had written about 12 years ago.  It placed second in a local writing contest and won me $250.  I thought that was a pretty good sum for a radio DJ who was barely getting by, but the writing and self-publishing bugs hadn't yet bit me.

What's it about?

It's called 'The Son of San Diablo: A Manifest Galaxy Novel.'  The funny thing is that the original short story I drew upon long ago was an historical piece and I was able to adapt it into a longer science fiction piece set in a planetary, colonial-type setting.  The story takes place centuries from now, after humanity has discovered a wormhole that opens up the galaxy and all of her habitable, yet-uninhabited planets for mankind to explore and settle.  

It is on one of these planets that we find a small mining town named San Diablo.  The 'golden boy' of the town has returned after being away many years to explore the galaxy.  However, not everything is as it seems.  As we watch the story unfold through the eyes of a local news reporter (yes, they still have those centuries into the future), not everything is as it seems.  

The book is called: The Son of San Diablo: A Manifest Galaxy Novel.  

Hardest Creative Project Yet...

Like I said above and I know many other people will say it: I've got a novel or two in me.  I'm no different.  However, I will tell you that this was a challenge.  I've been following and trying to learn from the 'fast-writers' on Amazon, who are turning out two or three novels a day... or maybe a little less.  I'm not nearly that fast, yet.  I'd like to think I will get to that speed, but it didn't happen on this book, nor do I think it will happen on the next.  

However, I really enjoyed writing the dang thing.  It was tough, but each day that I got a little further into the project, I felt satisfied.  Like I said, most of the fiction I will be publishing in the next year is 10 years in the making.  The trilogy I'm planning to write will be something I'd written more recently than The Son of San Diablo.  The trilogy started about 5 years ago when one of my friends connected to entertainment along with my brother, the film director, were asking for cool TV show pitch ideas.  I had been watching the newer Battlestar Galactica series on Netflix at the time and thought it would be cool to do a show that loosely drew from that universe.  Over time, the concept has changed and it will now be set in the same universe as 'The Son of San Diablo.'  Some of the characters in both stories will have connections with each other.  

However, I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'll be adding a page for 'The Son of San Diablo' soon.  

At heart, I've always been a fiction writer.  The nonfiction always felt a bit 'safer' to me.  However, as I have worked to publish this first novel, I realize that sentiment is silly.  We feel as safe or as unsafe as we allow ourselves to be.  The old sentiment to go out and create something you will love, even if no one else will, still applies.  I hope that isn't the case for me, but if it is, I will continue to create.  

San Diablo Cover 3D.png