Writing Journal 4.14.2019: Broke out of the slump, at least

I’m putting my mug on this post just because I can’t think of something cute to post like flooding.

[My town – at least, our riverfront – is getting flooded. Take a look:

Muscatine flooding

[Courtesy of my former employer the Muscatine Journal.]

Anyway, I’m out of my slump. at least. Here’s the raw numbers, so to speak.

+1,190 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 4 of 7 for 165 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Basically, I just sat down in front of the computer and started revising, even if what I was doing seemed to be garbage. Thankfully, what I produced seems to work, at least. At least, it seems to be material that I can work with.

Here’s the project updates:

  • Project A: Waiting on the Writer’s Market subscription for later in the month. Have just barely started the proofreading edit/follow-up revision on this work.
  • Project B: Decent progress this week. Most of my revisions have been on this project. Got through a scene that seemed to be a dud on the page and have moved on to a brand new scene. I’m feeling good about getting through a tough patch and being able to go forward with this.
  • Project C: I’m going to try today to transcribe some of the poems I’ve written down in longhand through Google Docs voice to text. I’ll let you know how that worked out in the next journal.

The projected deadlines for those projects (an attempt by me to keep myself accountable for all of this).

  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

That’s about it for now. I want to get back to more writing on the projects, so I’ll see you later.

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#200 – A Wild Ride

Hey, I was going to do this earlier, but life got in the way. Sue me, yeah?

I never really expected that I would stick with this. I never did before. I’d done blogs and journals before, but never stuck with them for any length of time. So, I started this blog with relatively low expectations, but hopes that it could be something important for me.

And now, I’m writing the 200th post on this blog, nearly two years after starting it during a lazy week in July when I was dreaming about being a published author like I did back when I was a kid.

I’ve been reading over all of the posts. A lot of them are those repetitive journal posts, where I write about how much I wrote and revised over the past week. But that writing journal has been vital for me. It’s been a tool in trying to hold myself accountable for the work that I do, even when nobody cares whether I write something during the week or not. [There are people who do follow me, but I keep that in perspective.] My family is going to love me no matter what, and I don’t have the type of fandom that was happy Stephen King survived being hit by a fan so he could finish The Dark Tower series and is more and more fearful that George R.R. Martin’s will executors or agents are going to have to hire someone to finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

But it’s gone way beyond that now. When I was a kid, I had visions of being a Stephen King, being a James Patterson, being one of those brands that goes beyond just being a writer and becomes An Institution, one of those people that’s famous for the books he writes. But, I’ve gone way beyond that now. Writing has become something more fundamental for me, more of an identity than a way to make a living. I honestly don’t care that I never become famous as a writer. I’d love that to happen, but that’s not the reason why I’m trying to put together three different writing projects with no particular prospects of getting them published by a reputable publisher. In many ways, writing is what keeps me sane now.

During the process of writing this blog, I went from being an unpublished author to a published one. In so many ways, I’ve accomplished my dreams, but I have a lot farther than I can go. It’s so exciting because this process of writing can go on for the rest of my life, and I always have further and farther that I can go. I used to say that I never would be able to write a memoir because I have such a garbage memory of my youth, but looking over this blog, I realized that I’ve at least written the rough outlines of such a memoir in a way that seems coherent.

To those who love me, thank you for that love, and thank you for all of your support. Thanks to everyone that’s taken the time to read this blog and a middle-aged-guy’s meandering thoughts about writing and his writing life. Thanks to anyone who’s ever bought my book – I hope I told a great story for you. If you stick around, I might have a few more tales for you before I’m done.

I’m a son, father, husband, and teacher, but I’m also a writer, blogger, and poet. I know that writing is essential to my identity, and that I’m going to keep writing no matter how many people see my work. It’s not about that. I’m a storyteller; I’m going to be telling stories until the day I die.

Hang out here if you want to hear a few.

 

 

Writing Journal 4.7.2019: I’m officially in a writing drought/blockage/stall/whatever

Well, it’s official. I’m currently stalled on my writing. And I don’t even have to look at the numbers for last week to sense it. For the sake of keeping track and fidelity to the process and so forth, here they are.

+711 words written.

Days writing: 1 of 7.

Days revising: 3 of 7 for 75 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 of 7 days.

As I suggested last week, this stall is absolutely related to factors with the projects themselves rather than external issues. Things have been hectic at work – longer days to get school wrapped up, paperwork for students to try to get wrapped up, testing probably for the next four weeks or so at least to get the last round of assessment testing done before the end of the year. I love my job, but I am looking forward to summer break when it starts in eight weeks.

Here’s the project updates:

  • Project A: Haven’t yet gotten the Writer’s Market subscription, but that might come later this month.
    I was thinking about a comprehensive proofreading edit/follow up revision before I start marketing. If I had started that last week, I might have gotten more done, to be honest.
  • Project B: Ugh. (My wife’s favorite expression of disgust.)
    Remember when I thought this was going to be easy…? Yeah, it’s not.
    I’m just looking at the first rough draft (this will be a first revision/second rough draft, as I mentioned before). I have to reassure myself that this will not be anywhere near perfect when it comes out. I have to get over myself and finish work on scenes that don’t feel the best reading through them but I think can get turned into a coherent story. I have to remind myself why I choose to try the story in the first place. I need to build a bridge and get over it.
  • Project C: No progress on this whatsoever. It’s such a pain to transcribe poetry I’ve written in notebooks. I’m thinking that voice to text for Google Docs might make this a lot less painful process.

The projected deadlines for those projects (an attempt by me to keep myself accountable for all of this).

  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

 

To be honest, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve got to get some stuff for work done tonight and get set for tomorrow. I am planning on doing a 200th post celebration post, likely for either Friday or Saturday coming up, before the regular Sunday writing journal post.

That’s about it for now.

Writing Journal 3.31.2019: Need to pick it up as I laze into April

[We’re still getting flooded in the Midwest.]

I was worried about what the results of this week’s work would be from a statistical standpoint. It’s better than last week’s, but only by a little.

+1,606 words written.

Days writing: 3 of 7.

Days revising: 4 of 7 for 105 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Again, there might be a few extra words not counted there from as a result of totally new writing from revising and some printed rough draft poems, but I don’t think that would add significantly to the weekly total (I might count those later once I officially lay them down, or maybe not.)

I was trying an experiment, which I talked about last week, to try and improve my writing work over the Friday evening-Saturday evening stretch. I’m glad that I tried it out, and it was a good thing for me personally. However, it did not effect my writing productivity. My birthday was this weekend, but I, like Stephen King, would refuse to consider that to be an unnecessary drain on my time from writing, especially I only did two things that day and my schedule should have been clear for at least a half-hour of revising both Friday and Saturday.

In my long experience with procrastination, I’ve found that there are usually two groups of factors that come into consideration as being its causes. The first of those are external factors. By that, I mean factors that are outside of the project itself (your health, distractions, comforts, substances, habits, outside hobbies, other people, etc.). Forgive me for being too vague, but what I was looking to change was related in this category. In my experience, external factors wind up being the most common reason for my procrastination.

However, I honestly think that my difficulties this week belong in the second category – factors that have to do with the work itself. I’ll explain more in the project comments, but essentially, I have to get over whatever hangup I have over whatever material I’m working on and get on with it. It will get better, I know it.

Here’s the project updates:

  • Project A: I’ve been playing around with the idea of getting a Writer’s Market along with other possibilities. I’ve just learned that the book’s parent company is going through some financial difficulties, but I think a subscription is worth it to start with researching agents and/or publishers.
    I’m now leaning toward a comprehensive proofreading edit before I start shopping it around. I might wind up doing this at times when I’m getting frustrated with the other projects.
  • Project B: Slow. I am realizing that it might be more of a matter of me heavily revising some sections rather than just slashing them and moving on. Naturally, the former will be longer going for me than the latter. I thought it was going to be easy…
  • Project C: Another poem done. Still more need to be transcribed. Still a ways away from completion.

The projected deadlines for those projects (an attempt by me to keep myself accountable for all of this).

  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

Things are going to be hectic, I think, for the next two months. I will be working on a lot of things for my work during that time and getting things wrapped up, so to speak, for the new year. One more sprint of a fourth quarter, but thanks to our extended schedule, at least I’ll be on summer break before June hits. Things have been so hectic that I’ll probably just run through some posts for the first week of April or so before getting back to other things.

Pretty soon I will have a 200th blog post for the site – you’ll see that in the next couple of weeks.

By the way. if you wanted a page where you could find all of my writing-related links, here it is.

That’s about it for now.

Another Reminder of Upcoming (Writing) Events I’m Part Of

The Holy Fool. book tour, lol, is continuing apace, and the first stop on that will be coming this Saturday.

the holy fool cover shot

There’s going to be a few events that I will be hosting or at having to do with writing, and some of them having to do with my book. So, if you want to put them on your calendar and can actually go to or travel to the Eastern Iowa area, I’d love to see you there.

Musser March 30 appearance

 

  • At 11 a.m. Saturday, March 30, I’ll be giving a book talk on The Holy Fool at the Musser Public Library in Muscatine, now located at the corner of Mulberry Avenue and Second Street. In addition to the book, I’ll be discussing this blog, my experiences with writing as an author, as a journalist, and as a teacher, among other topics. I might even have a few copies of my books around. We’ll be up in the large third floor meeting room there.

Writers on the Avenue

  • At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, I’ll be a presenter at the monthly meeting of the Muscatine, Iowa writing group Writers on the Avenue. I’ll be giving a presentation on revising and helping lead a writing exercise regarding revising (bring your own work if you want), but there might be people asking about the book, too.

800px-Rock_Island_Public_Library_from_northwest

  • From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, I will be giving a book talk at the Midwest Writing Center, located at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. Thanks very much to the center and its executive director, Ryan Collins, for hosting the event.

I’ll try to rerun some of these events later as we come closer to those times, and add anything that might come up as well. Thanks to whoever can come out and show their support and interest in literature,

Writing Journal, 3.24.2019: In a rut and planning to write my way out of it

So, I’m not feeling too good about the week that I’ve had, writing-wise. It’s not the worst I’ve had in a statistical sense, but it’s not great, either.

+742 words written.

Days writing: 1 of 7.

Days revising: 4 of 7 for 120 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 4 of 7 days.

There might be a few extra words not counted there from as a result of some revising (only from totally new wording and scenes) and some rough draft poems that I have written down on paper but not yet transferred to electronic storage.

I have to say that part of my lack of recent success (or relative lack of success) has been my focus during the weekends. I think there might be a way to focus on this in a way that reduces the number of distractions on those weekends where I let my mind drift rather than let it get out and play among the characters and scenes that I’m creating.

Somehow, I keep forgetting that writing can be just as much of an escape than all of the other stuff. I should say sorry for being a bit vague; I want to avoid getting too much into my personal life in these pages. What I will say, however, is that I think it is always valuable to take stock of yourself, and your behaviors, especially those that take place during your leisure time. There are many of those sorts of behaviors that can be a net positive for yourself, either creatively or in adding to your general physical or mental health. There’s also those behaviors that allow you to turn off your mind, allow yourself to just idle physically, mentally, or otherwise. I need to work, as always, at increasing the former kind of activity and reducing the latter. I hope to have better success at that.

On a tangent unrelated to that but related to my journal, I’m wondering if I also need to take some other activities into account. When I write down poems that I’ve written down on paper, shouldn’t that count as revising time? Oftentimes, I don’t write it down exactly the way I wrote it down on the paper, so isn’t that a revision? If I’m beta-reading someone else’s work, wouldn’t that also count as revising time? (Any readers who want to comment or message me with their thoughts, please feel free to do so.)

Here’s the update on my projects:

  • Project A: I’ve begun researching Writer’s Market and a couple of other possibilities. Current consensus seems to be that the cost of Writer’s Market is worth it, although there are some other possibilities. I’ll continue that soon.
    Not much tinkering with the project itself, although I am wondering if I need to give it a comprehensive proofreading edit before I start shopping it around. Most likely it will be the case.
  • Project B: Some revisions this week, not a massive amount. I need to pick up the pace on this.
  • Project C: I have another poem or two I have been working on this week. I need to get some more transcribed and get a handle at how many more of these I need to get done. It might be something of a race, but I am excited by the challenge.

Again, here are my projected deadlines for those projects (an attempt by me to keep myself accountable for all of this).

  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

I plan to put out a quick mid-week post reminding everyone of my upcoming events, because one of those will go down on Saturday. If you’re around the Muscatine area Saturday, I hope you can make it out.

That’s about it for now. I’ll be back here later.

[PHOTO NOTE: We’re having a lot of flooding around our area rivers here in Iowa, and this was the first image that popped up when I searched for “river flooding.”]

Writing Journal 3.17.2019: Getting back to it and on with it

So, I had a little bit better luck with writing this week. There was one time this week I was at a friend’s house to see one of the presidential candidates that swarm through Iowa every four years. I was trapped in a kitchen nook by the swarm of people and national media, and I heard him speak, but I didn’t see him. I wound up polishing off two poems while I was standing around there, so that was a success.

Here’s the stats for people who care:

+1,526 words written.

Days writing: 3 of 7.

Days revising: 5 of 7 for 135 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 5 of 7 days.

I’ve got some appearances coming up if you want to see me out and about and talking about writing and my book, The Holy Fool, so don’t forget those. I’ll probably send out some additional reminders on my Facebook and Twitter pages, too.

OK, a quick briefing on what I’ve got going on:

  • Project A: Not really anything in the realm of revisions. The subscription to Writer’s Market might be around $39.95 or something annually, but I’m going to have to think about that. There are many different sources out there for finding agents and publishers, so I’ll have to do a bit of searching around. If anyone wants to mention any resources to me in the comments or to me directly, I’d love to hear it.
  • Project B: Maybe moving forward in this, totally recreating a scene for the book. Now that I think about it, I will be reviewing and cutting out so much of this rough draft that I have to properly call this the second rough draft of the project. Whatever it is, I think I will still be on track for this.
  • Project C: Probably made the most progress on this one. I created two new poems this week and have already finished typing out all but the most recently created ones. I honestly think I have a long way to go with this – I’ll likely need twice as many poems that I have on hand currently. However, I’m feeling ambitious.

And, for myself and for the readers, I’m putting my current deadlines for all of these projects here to keep both me and you in the loop.

  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

That’s all for now. Not sure if I will have a midweek post, but I am sneaking up on the 200th post on this blog, so I’ll likely do a special one for that when it comes along.

[PHOTO NOTE: We had one (last?) snow of the season, so I figured I’d document it.]

Writing Journal 3.10.2019: Dry patch to start March

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: I did an image search for “dry patch” and this photo was the first thing that popped up.]

Took a big dive in productivity this week. The numbers:

+960 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 of 7 days.

Yup. Basically, garbage numbers. I hit a three-day dead spot for the first time in a long time. No real excuse – I think I got sort of distracted by real-life stuff during the week. There were two days last week that my wife convinced me to play chess with her during the evening, and that actually was a good break for me.

I suppose that I just get paranoid about any drops in productivity and dry spells. I used to go months and years without writing or revising a single thing, and I never want to get back to that. So far, I’ve managed to avoid that level of procrastination and inactivity, but I never want to go back or give myself any possible excuses for it. Because, there really aren’t any for me. This whole idea of writing has gone way beyond any ideas of fame and/or fortune. It’s now so much a part of my identity that I would want to keep writing even if no one was reading it. (Why not; for many years nobody read what I wrote.)

OK, then – quick project update.

  • Project A: Still pretty much where I was last week. I need to sit down some night and figure out whether it makes sense to get into Writer’s Market or other sites. I think I got a lead on another site at an event the other week at the Midwest Writing Center, so I might check that out too. What I find out might be worth its own post.
  • Project B: Not too much more progress there. Got some additional revisions done, now I’m trying to trim out all of the useless stuff and get into a more cohesive and fast-paced read.
  • Project C: I have a couple of new poems done, but I think I’ll probably need at least a half dozen more before I have anything approaching a rough draft anthology.

No changes on projected completion dates.

That’s about it for now. If you can make it to any of those events I posted about last week, I’d love to see you there. I also have events posted on my Facebook and Amazon pages. If you’re curious, here’s a link to all of my other writing links. Sorry I was a little late tonight.

P.S. – just checked and I’m coming up on the 200th post for this blog. I’ll probably have to make a commemorative post when that happens, probably not until the end of this month at the very earliest.

A Few Events That Are Coming Up (AKA Stuff I’m Doing Having To Do With Books)

It appears that I have started something that might begin to approach a book tour for my book, The Holy Fool.

the holy fool cover shot

There’s going to be a few events that I will be hosting or at having to do with writing, and some of them having to do with my book. So, if you want to put them on your calendar and can actually go to or travel to the Eastern Iowa area, I’d love to see you there.

HNI Musser Public Library

  • At 11 a.m. Saturday, March 30, I’ll be giving a book talk on The Holy Fool at the Musser Public Library in Muscatine, now located at the corner of Mulberry Avenue and Second Street. In addition to the book, I’ll be discussing this blog, my experiences with writing as an author, as a journalist, and as a teacher, among other topics. I might even have a few copies of my books around. We’ll be up in the large third floor meeting room there.

Writers on the Avenue

  • At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, I’ll be a presenter at the monthly meeting of the Muscatine, Iowa writing group Writers on the Avenue. I’ll be giving a presentation on revising and helping lead a writing exercise regarding revising (bring your own work if you want), but there might be people asking about the book, too.

800px-Rock_Island_Public_Library_from_northwest

  • From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, I will be giving a book talk at the Midwest Writing Center, located at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. Thanks very much to the center and its executive director, Ryan Collins, for hosting the event.

I’ll make sure to make an update post as time goes on and add any events that are coming up as well. I’m looking forward to all of them.

Writing Journal 3.3.2019: Progress of some sort

[NOTE: There was no particular reason I picked the photo I used for the featured photo for this blog post except it reminded me of the type of paneling I would often see in basements when I was a kid (there was some that looked like this in my old childhood home, or it was similar to this).]

So, honestly, it was a weaker week (no pun intended) than the previous week. Here’s the numbers.

+949 words written.

Days writing: 3 of 7.

Days revising: 4 of 7 for 90 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 of 7 days.

I think there are just about two explanations for this week’s totals. The first is complacency, of course. However, it is also, I think a side effect of writing poetry (see below). It’s my observation that you have to put in just as much work to get a certain amount of words in poetry, but with the same about of work you would get twice as many words in prose writing. I’m not sure if I should consider poetry words to count twice as much as prose words in my word count, but I’m a little wary of anything that would even seem like I was cooking the books.

So, here’s my progress on the projects:

  • Project A: Not much to report on here. Might have one guy beta-read it, and unless I hear something drastic from him, I think I’m about done on major revisions. Next steps; proofing edit (I’m still counting that sort of stuff as “revisions” in my counts even though it’s a slightly different process) and figuring out where I start with first in researching who and how I query this book. Projected completion date: Hopefully querying agents/publishers this summer.
  • Project B: Got some more work done on this. I’m finding I’m adding new stuff to it, eventually to replace existing material. Right now I’m at 51,000 words, and I’m hoping it doesn’t get bigger than 60,000. I think that is doable. Projected completion date: Finished with first revision hopefully by this summer.
  • Project C: I wrote a couple more poems this week with some others in the process. I’m still a ways away from this getting finished. I have the concept for the collection down; however, I still need more material. Projected completion date: Finished with rough drafts and beginning revisions by the end of the year.
  • Unrelated fiction-type stuff: I am beta-reading one acquaintance’s screenplay and am planning on reading an author I get on contact with online. I’ve bought his book online and am now in the process of reading. Projected completion date: Finish with the screenplay this week and the book by the end of the month, maybe.Related plea/promise: If anyone does a review of my book for Amazon or Goodreads, I will be very happy to return the favor. I want as many people reviewing my book as possible, and I am willing to do stuff to help make that happen.

OK, that’s about it for this post. Pretty soon after this post, I’m going to post another blog entry about some events I’m going to be doing, so keep an eye open for it.