Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Writing Journal: 6/28/11 Update

So as an update for the end of June, where am I in my writing life as of today?   

Probably, at least at some level, where I'll always be:

I am a writer who is working towards becoming a writer.

Clear enough?  Or do you think it doesn't make sense?  Okay, let me try to explain by breaking it down:

Well, "I am a writer", because I'm writing.

I'm regularly writing created-in-the-spur-of-the-moment stories for the Creative Copy Challenge prompts (and posting some of them here to share also).  I'm also regularly creating short stories, flash pieces, 50-word stories, or even 5x5 25-word stories as part of my Write1-Sub1 output, and submitting them each week.  Finally, I'm also semi-regularly (much too slowly, I confess), continuing to work on the first draft of my first novel.

So -- just by the fact that I'm doing all of that and generating around 3,500 words per week, I'm a writer.

But I'm still "working towards becoming a writer", too. 

Not because I remain (so-far) unpublished, although that is part of it.  But more-so simply because I don't think my writing is good enough yet.  Not that I think it's terrible.  In fact, there is usually something I like quite a bit in every piece I complete -- some nice phrasing, characterization, a fun twist, some decent scene-setting, or whatever.   But it's not consistent.  Hell, frankly, it's virtually uncontrollable.  The more I try to make something particularly good, the less likely it is to turn out that way.  Damned if I know why, but most times, the parts I like are the ones that just basically happened.

Still, I would like to improve -- to be able to generate those magical moments of writing more often.  To be able to know going in how to make sure that a new story is going to be good, and to be able to control it somehow.

But I'm discovering this may not be completely possible.  

Sure, I know that writing more and more stories will make me a better writer, but I don't think it will ever be possible to totally control that magic; to ensure that any given story, scene, or even sentence will be decent before it's written.

The renowned and admired writer John Steinbeck said as much in this "Letter of Advice for Beginning Writers" that I came across.  

"Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.  ... after many years, to start a story still scares me to death."


Even John Steinbeck, towards the end of a long and hugely successful and highly-awarded lifetime of writing, considered himself essentially the same thing:

A writer, working to become a writer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Writing Sample: "A Date With Wendy"

Well, there's not too much new and exciting on the writing front to share -- at least no acceptances, but no new rejections, either.  I'm plugging away on this week's W1S1 story and hope to have it finished by tomorrow, then give it a final edit and get it submitted on Saturday.  I also have a re-write of "Waiting Backstage" completed and ready to submit also.

At some point, when I want to share a piece of my writing, I'll hopefully be able to just give you the link to wherever it's been published, but for the time-being, how about another writing sample from the latest posting I made at the Creative Copy Challenge?

This is fresh from today's prompt, based on the following ten words:

1.         Sordid
2.         Velocity
3.         Unanswered
4.         Concretize -- to make real or specific
5.         Miscalculated
6.         Raincoat
7.         Stalactite 
8.         Creepy
9.         Bumpy
10.        Arduous

As I like to do with the CCC prompts, this piece was a rapid, improvised story, written on the spur of the moment, as soon as I saw the prompt words.  I enjoy seeing what I can come up with and discovering where the story will go in as fluid and organic a way as possible.

I hope you enjoy it -- as always, comments, suggestions, and any feedback are always welcome.  Thank you very much for reading!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Writing Journal: Now I am Officially a Writer

Well, I knew it was going to happen eventually.  It's virtually impossible to be a writer and NOT have it happen.

But knowing its going to happen doesn't always make it easy when it does.

I received my first story rejection...

Well, technically, I'd been turned down before on my 50-word story over at the 50-Word Story blog, so I guess that was really my first rejection.  But this seemed, somehow, more "real".  It was for a story that I'd spent quite a bit of time writing and honing, and so I think I had more emotional investment in this piece.

My flash-fiction story "Waiting Backstage," the first piece of writing I ever actually submitted, was rejected by Every Day Fiction.  It was a positive that it even made it out of the slush pile and referred to the editors, and the rejection was a personal rejection, not just a form rejection, so that's another positive.

Plus, the rejection had feedback and comments from three of the staff at EDF, and there were many positive things said about me and the story, most notably "I'd like to see more from this author."  Several of the comments suggested ways to improve the story, and they were truthfully spot-on.  Overall, they were fair, very positive, and extremely helpful on how I might make the story better, and I have to admit that I agree with them on what were some weak points of the story.

So, in many ways, it was a positive experience.

But it was still a rejection.

I'll edit and tweak the story to make it better incorporating the feedback from EDF, and then throw it back into the submissions pool at another venue.  And I'll also keep writing and submitting other work to Every Day Fiction (in fact, there's another story of mine over there currently in the slush pile).

So the rejection isn't the end of the world.  It's just part and parcel of being a writer, right?

I expect I'll get more, so I'd better get used to them.

But it still kinda bites...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing Sample: "I Bring You Wonders!"

For this writing sample, how about something hot off the press (or at least the keyboard)?

This is from today's prompt at the Creative Copy Challenge, consisting of the following ten words:

1.         Hit
2.         Boy
3.         Girl
4.         Seminar
5.         Stellar
6.         Resources
7.         Timeliness 
8.         Feral
9.         Eucalyptus
10.        Hobby horse

As I like to do with these prompts, this piece was created essentially off-the-cuff; an improvised riff that, frankly, pleasantly surprises me with how it turned out.

I hope you enjoy it -- as always, comments, suggestions, and any feedback are always welcome. 
Thank you for reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Writing Journal: Wow -- I'm a Winner!

Wow! I can't believe it -- Something I wrote won a contest!

My 50-word story, "A Trashy Story" was selected as one of the three winners at the GeekingOutAbout 50-word story contest!  Awesome!!!

While I didn't win the grand prize, I am still amazed and very honored to have had something I wrote be selected.  Also, technically, this qualifies as my first-ever 'published' piece, since someone other than me had to accept it and then post it or put it in print.  So a two-fer of awesomeness!

There may not have been a huge amount of entries ("over 25"), but I think the ones they selected to post show tremendous talent, and I'm extremely flattered to have one of my stories chosen from among them.

Click HERE for the Announcement Post.and to read the other winners.

Too cool!!!  I'll be smiling all day...   8^)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Writing Sample: "Come See It"

Well, it's been a while since I offered up any writing samples here on my blog, so how about another one now?

This is an impromptu piece I did for a prompt at the Creative Copy Challenge.  If you've read this blog for a while, you know that this site offers a prompt of ten words, and encourages you to come up with a story using the prompt words.

For this prompt, the words were a tough group, all pulled from the same section under the letters "Bo" in the dictionary: 

  1. Botulism
  2. Bouillabaisse
  3. Bougainvillea
  4. Boulevard 
  5. Bouffant
  6. Boudoir
  7. Boulangerie
  8. Boondocks
  9. Bosun
  10. Bosom

Out of these, the word 'Boondocks' kind of jumped out at me, and I came up with an idea about something out in a cabin in the woods, and a kid being scared to go see it.

The piece was intentionally left unresolved, because I wanted to experiment with a suspenseful "what-will-happen?" ending.  But I'm not sure it works, and I may actually visit this again at some point, and use it as the basis of a longer story.

This version has been edited slightly for clarity.  If you're interested, the original off-the-cuff version can be seen HERE.

I hope you enjoy it -- as always, comments, suggestions, and any feedback are always welcome.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thoughts at Large: Max

Although this is not really a personal blog, I do want to share a family update:

We have a new family member!

His name is Max.  This is him:

He's a one-year-old Lab and Border Collie mix.  He came to us through someone my stepson knows, who was moving and going through some other life changes and really had to give him up, although she hated to do so.

So far it's only been one day, but he's smart, well-adjusted, loving, and very well-behaved, and we're happy to be able to give him a good home.  We had lost our last dog, Kelsey (a Lab-Afghan mix), quite a while ago, and have been thinking about getting another dog, although Kelsey was such a great dog and an ingrained member of the family that it was not something we just wanted to rush into.

Max seems to be one of those 'just-the-right-dog' at 'just-the-right-moment' things, and so far it's working out well, although our cat has voiced her disapproval of the whole idea.  But we think that in time, she will come around.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Well, not much, other than from now on, if I decide to write any dog stories, I have a new technical adviser.