Day 3: A Day Trip to Reno, but did I get it done?

It all started with a trip to Reno

The business I'm in takes me to Reno, Nevada on a regular basis.  Some months I'm up there once and other months it can be up to three times.  Luckily Southwest has direct flights between Las Vegas and Reno all day, every day.  I had to get up at 5 am for a 7 am departure.  That meant that I wasn't getting up for writing at 4 am or anything.  I had it in my head that I was going to write my 500 words later in the day.

Did I get it Done?

I had my doubts it was going to get finished today when I had come home later than planned and my wife and I decided to get Reflexology as we are both dealing with an inordinate amount of stress.  Prior to leaving, I squeezed in about 230 words.  After the massage, I sat down and squeezed out some more prose.  Knowing I would have to report the number to you tonight pushed me forward to get it done.  I actually feel really satisfied knowing it is finished for the day.

So here's my report:

Starting Total: 10027

Finishing Total: 10557

Daily Total: 530

Day 2 of the Writing Experiment

Jumping In with Both Feet!

Well, it's the first time I wrote consistently for two days in a row.  However, this might be the first time I have worked to track my progress.  I woke up a bit later today than I had yesterday.  I still made writing a priority.  I haven't calculated the total as I write this sentence, but I think I ended up getting carried away and writing over a thousand words.  If you take away some of the minor interruptions I had to deal with this morning, I would say it took me about 45 minutes.  

A Little More about this Project

So, a while ago, after reading about all of these Kindle authors who wrote at super fast speeds and then possibly went over their work one time before publishing it, I thought I would implement some of their experiment.  It seems like the reading public is wanting this more pulpy-style of writing.  I don't know if it's true or not, but I wanted to experiment.  

As I said yesterday, The Son of San Diablo is still finding its audience and I have been working a very long time on the sequel.  However, that becomes a boring drudgery and slog after a while and it starts to feel like you can't tell which way is up and which way is down.  I had been looking at pre-made eBook covers around the holidays and it dawned on me about a month ago:

What if I purchased some of these lower-priced (but still lovely) pre-made eBook covers and then conceived of a series of stories that could be set around them?

And that is exactly what I did.  I decided on a pen name that had been rattling around in my head for a couple of years and then went to work.  I chose about 10 color covers and had a rule that none of them would exceed $30.  I kept that rule for all of the covers I had purchased except one.  That one came in at around $35, but it was so beautiful and fit what I was looking for that I couldn't resist.

The next part of the plan basically involved coming up with a central character who would find himself in various scraps and situations that would lead to something that the cover conveyed.  I developed a couple of supporting characters as well and then I set to work on outlines.  

The outlines were based on a very simple outline I had already conceived.  The question I asked myself when I first started out on this project is:

Can someone write a story that is exciting, engaging, a little philosophical and addictive?

Having read nearly all of the works of Ian Fleming and much of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I had concluded that yes, one could do that.  It just would take focused, concentrated effort and an economy of words.  

I now call the approach: 'Flemingway Block.'

'Fleming' for Ian Fleming and his love of the flair that comes with the adventures of one James Bond.  These adventures were always punchy and forward-moving, but had a lust for life in the sensual pleasures that included how food and drink tasted, what a beautiful woman looked like or the pain that Bond would feel at the hands of his enemies.  I love his writing.  It is especially good if you've ever heard a well-known British actor read it aloud.  So, there was that.

The 'way' was a reference to Ernest Hemingway.  Recently, I heard someone say the only people who read Hemingway are high school students and it’s usually because they’re being compelled to. That’s not entirely false. He wrote the tightest prose, so it only made sense to abbreviate his name in this title.  Like others I’ve spoken with, I have found his stories a bit difficult to get into, but have read enough to appreciate his desire to have an economy of words.  Therefore, from him I have taken that.  I also have worked to keep things on the surface without digging too deep and losing the reader.  I have tried to avoid too much exposition.

Finally, 'Block' for Lawrence Block giving me the inspiration to try this.  Also, because having read a few of his detective novels, I have found his free-flowing prose to be liberating and economical all at the same time.  He pulls one in unlike many others.  I wanted to homage some of that.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't think I have the skills, talent or body of work to stand next to these men in any kind of peer-style relationship.  Instead, I want to emulate these three and see what happens.

More tomorrow.

Daily Report

Starting Total: 9115

Finishing Total: 10027

Daily Total: 912


My Writing Experiment

Thank you, Lawrence Block

If you are someone who has ambitions to become a professional writer or at least to see something published under your name someday, then this post is for you.  In order for this post to make sense, I am going to make one or two assumptions about who you are and why you might be interested in this post (and the posts that follow on this blog).  

My first assumption is that you are a busy person.  You might be going to college full-time and working a part-time job or vice versa.  You might also be raising a family with or without a spouse/partner.  You might also be the type of person who has wanted to write and publish your own work.  Honestly, you might be thinking to yourself: Even if it is self-publishing on Amazon, it is better than nothing.  And you would be right.  

Being that kind of person with the aspirations you possess, you seek out all of the latest books of wisdom on writing.  You may dig into the past and see what past writers have said about getting it done.  Some of the writers who write about writing may be prolific like Stephen King or Lawrence Block.  Others you may have read might fit into the 'writers who write about writing' category like Anne Lamont whose most well-known book is Bird by Bird.  Sure, she's written fiction, but everyone talks about this book.  

The list of books on writing instruction is endless.  Honestly, there are only a few really, really good ones out there.  Then there are a handful of mediocre and a few that definitely should never have been written.  It seems sometimes that some people make a living off of writing books about writing more than they can make actual money from their writing.  That's not meant to be a dig.  If anything, I think every person who wades into the world of fiction and finishes one book (terrible or world-changing) should be lifted up on the shoulders of their peers and carried through the streets.  The heralding them as a hero to the masses wouldn't be a bad addition either. 

One of my favorite books on the writing instruction side is Steven Pressfield.  He wrote numerous fictional novels, but most notably The Legend of Bagger Vance.  I read that last year after picking up The War of Art and wanted to see what kind of writer he was.  It was a solid book that isn't just about golf, but about existence and meaning.  It's an interesting exploration and I recommend that if you are a golfer or just someone seeking some direction in your life on how to live 'the authentic life,' you check it out.  Pressfield's other books on writing are also quite insightful.  I have yet to dive into another novel, but I see that coming sooner rather than later.

The Son of San Diablo

Writing The Son of San Diablo: A Manifest Galaxy Novel came in so many fits and starts over the years that it is kind of astounding it ever really was published.  It took the imminent passing of my mother last year in August to spur me on to get it published on Amazon.  Though I believe we live on after we die and likely get to check in on our family members and friends, I wanted my mom to see a novel her son wrote while she was still in mortality.  

The Son of San Diablo was based on a short story I entered in a local writing contest about a dozen years ago.  It was a historical drama then.  Over the years, I had come up with another concept: What if a wormhole connected mankind to the rest of the galaxy and that eventually led them to discover new, habitable worlds?  Add to that the desire of every leader of every nation to first claim these planets and their resources for their own?  What would that kind of galaxy be like 500 or 600 years into the future?  

So, I played around with the idea and eventually got to The Son of San Diablo.  The short story I referenced earlier is passable, though I'd be embarrassed to give it a public reading.  My mom told me she’d read the short story one morning before work when the pain of chemo was too much.  I told her that I had expanded it and changed the concept into something more enriching.  I had even discovered a theme that had evaded me in the short story, but now was fully realized in the book.  If you want to know what that theme was, the book is on sale at Amazon in ebook and paperback format.

So again, thank you, Mr. Block

In a roundabout way, this takes me to the writing experiment I am undertaking.  

I was listening to Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit the other day and something he said about work habits struck me.  He will usually write seven days in a row regularly.  He will measure his work progress by output rather than by time put in.  Now, this isn't the first time I've heard this advice.  However, this time it sunk in deeply.

All at once, I formulated some ideas on a new project I had wanted to undertake.  You see, at this moment, The Son of San Diablo is still finding its audience.  I know there are some who have read it and have enjoyed the story.  They seem to get what I am trying for in the book.  However, there's a feeling of self-consciousness that I have (not the novel) that holds me back from being fully free and desiring to just let loose as Cameron M. Clark.

So, the project was rather simple:

Every day, I will track my progress on an unnamed project and will post the results here.  How do I measure my progress?  Well, Mr. Block says he shoots for five to six pages a day on the lower end (of course, this was back in 1981 when his book was originally published).  Being a full-time dad, a full-time professional (VP of Business Development) and a few other roles I can't get out of, I had to set my sights a bit lower.  

Instead, I read an apocryphal story that George RR Martin writes 500 words per day and that's it.  I don't know if that's true.  At first, that would be easy to judge and dismiss.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don't have the same pressure Mr. Martin has and I could do 500 (or more words) every day as long as the minimum goal was 500.  Once done for the day, I can wait until tomorrow.

I already had been working on this unnamed project for a while, but some of it was in stops and starts.  Instead, I will attempt to write at least 500 words per day and then update you on this blog daily.  If I miss writing on a certain day, I will post that too.  I will not sugarcoat.  Nor will each post be as long as this one. In fact, it has taken me longer to write this post than it did to write the 500 words for my fictional story.  Sweet irony!

Regardless, if you follow this blog or if you have a friend looking for some inspiration in writing, I highly recommend you tell them to follow along.  Even if this is a failure/disaster, we can all have a good laugh at the fact I got further on the project doing it methodically than not doing it at all. 

It’s a learning experience for me, most of all  

Without further ado: 

Starting Word Count: 8443

Finishing Word Count: 9115

Daily Total: 672