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.

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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.

Writing As Comfort: A Short Post

Don’t worry, this is going to be brief.

Last night, I was talking with my wife, and I said (this might not be a direct quote, but anyway),

You know, one of the things I really enjoy about writing is how much it is helpful for my mental state. I could have a long day or maybe a stressful day at work or somewhere else in the world, but when I’m sitting down in front of the computer, all of that goes away. It’s what I look forward to at the end of the day, resetting myself for the next day.

She replied (also maybe not a direct quote – anyway),

It’s like when I go work out, when I want to relieve my stress. That’s how it works for you.

I love her. And I love writing, too.

A Writer’s Biography, Volume III, Part 4: On Leaving an Author Behind

There’s always been discussion about whether to separate artists and their behavior in real life from their art. This debate has grown exponentially given the political climate over the past two years, but that is just a reflection of the conflict that has gone on for many years before.

It may be strange that I’m posting this as a Writer’s Biography blog, but I’ve long held to the belief of Stephen King and others that reading other people’s work is nearly as much a part of building a writer as the actual writing process itself. So, something having to do with what I chose to read in the past, present, and future is part of building me as a writer moving forward.

I’ve written before about authors I’ve admired in this series, as well as authors that I’ve fallen out of love with for various reasons. However, I’m finding myself making more decisions regarding what authors I choose to read and what authors I choose not to read.

Basically, more and more new authors are coming out with more and more new stuff. Since I happen to be a newly published author myself, I have made the decision that I want to do what I can with the financial resources that I have to support these types of authors, especially those whose work I admire and/or those who have been a support to me now and in the past.

There are a lot of authors out there to choose from. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to devote my time to any authors that I think are problematic for whatever real life reason. Some that argue the opposite way would say that to do that would ignore many great works of writing. My counterargument to that is, there are plenty of authors out there who are good people. Why force yourself to make moral judgements when there are plenty of great alternative authors and writing out there? It’s too much work and I don’t want to support people like that financially or with attention if I can help it.

One example of this cropped up with me last week, and one particular author. I’m not going to name the author here, but he’s active in the entertainment industry as well as being an author. I had the chance to read a memoir of his, and I thought it was some great writing about his experiences in the industry. It was definitely one of the better books I read during the past couple of years.

However, I was on social media and I found him making some profoundly unfunny jokes about people, and it was apparent from other posts and information that he’d turned into some sort of right-wing crank. Within a half-hour, that book was no longer in my personal library and I put him out of my head. It was that quick.

I regret that the guy turned out to be someone I couldn’t approve of, but I don’t regret my decision. You may have to work with and live near people whose personal philosophies you disagree with, but there’s no requirement to have to rely on them for entertainment and reading joy. Both reading and writing are my passion, my escape, and my art. I have no problem having what I read reflect my passions and views just the same as my writing does.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: For a while on my blog, I’ve been posting stories about my past that helped build and mold me into the writer and person I am today. You’ll be able to find these (and a couple of other stories) in the Biographies category section of my blog. Here’s a direct link, too.

A Poem Idea?💡

Today I’m off from school due to ice storms.

This is the eighth snow day at least since school got stared.

That’s not counting early/late outs due to weather.

During the past three years I had maybe three snow days combined.

I think there might be a poem in the idea of sitting at home late at night or early in the morning, checking your phone or the local news, seeing if you are staying home that day more than you expected and all day.

There also might be a few lines covering what it’s like to be off those days, relaxing but not really relaxed, wondering how this throws off all of your well-laid plans.

What do you think?

I think I’m going to give it a shot, even if what I produce is rubbish in the end.

Writing Journal 1.6.2018: Good start to 2019

Made some great use of my last bit of winter break, but I think that I’m back in the writing groove. The numbers:

+1,101 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 6 of 7 for 615 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Six out of seven days of quota-level activity is always good, considering how I lazed around this December.

As for what’s going on:

  • I am within a few days of signing a formal contract with the publishers I have been working with. I will give an announcement on that when it happens, but the rollout for the new book will likely come in stages. In addition to the publishers themselves, it will also be available on Amazon.
    My loving wife says that she would be willing to help me with a promotional campaign, and she actually has a bit of experience with that. It will be interesting having her help in this part of my author’s journey.
    I’ll likely have to add a wing onto the old blog and my Facebook page for the new items. Don’t worry; I’ll announce that when it happens.
  • I think this year will be more than a little bit of a promotional push. There’s a good writing community in Iowa and the Quad Cities, and I want to try to make the rounds and see what I can do to get my book out there.
  • Of course, what comes next will also be on my mind. I was very happy with the results of my latest revision to my current work in progress. I’ve managed to cut the manuscript down from 92,000-plus words to just under 87,000. Currently, I think my writing priorities will be:
    • Another revision to WIP #1. Main goal: to cut the size down to under 85,000 at least.
    • Decide which other WIP (call them A, B, and C) I want to concentrate on when not revising WIP #1. A is essentially a sequel (one of at least two in mind) for WIP #1, B is a period drama about a 1980’s-1990’s indie rock band, and C is an ultra secret project I’m not sure if I want to release, at least not right away. Right now, I am leaning toward B.
  • I have a feeling that my personal life will be much different by the time the next 18 months is up. My son will be graduating from high school this spring and my daughter will be graduating the spring after that. That will be it for the kids, and then it will be me and my wife, just like it was 20 years ago in some small apartment in eastern Iowa. I’ll be excited for both our adventures and the new adventures of our kids.

OK, enough for now. For all you writers out there, keep writing and keep supporting each other. We definitely need it.

On the Apostrophe S and it’s effect on me: a special #WritingAdviceWednesday #WAW post

As a writing teacher, I have an interest in correct grammar. I know from first-hand experience that having to read someone who doesn’t have a clue about grammar can be massively distracting from the message you are trying to convey.

One of the biggest questions I ever had growing up was, how do I, personally, deal with the apostrophe-s situation? I have a particular concern about this issue, because it directly affects me.

To review, the rules for apostrophe-s are basically as follows (I’m sure someone will nail me if I have misstated these rules):

Add an apostrophe and s to show possession for all words not ending in s.

ex. Jason’s, team’s, child’s

Add just an apostrophe to words ending in s.

ex. cars’, bakers’, fields’

Makes sense, correct? However, there is considerable debate regarding one issue in particular. What is the proper style in the event that you are trying to show possession for a subject that is a proper name but has an S at the end of the name? As someone with the surname Liegois, this is pretty relevant to me.

I recently came across these three articles on the subject. The general consensus is… there is no general consensus as to whether I should write, for example, Liegois’s car or Liegois’ car. Different stylebooks and grammatical techniques have it one or the other way.

Well, I believe I have decided for myself that Liegois’ will be the way I use it from this day forward. The tiebreaker for me is that the Associated Press Stylebook comes down squarely on the side of using just the apostrophe. As you might remember, I used to be a journalist, and we always kept one of those spiral-bound copies of the AP Stylebook on our desk to settle any uncertainties of language. So, Liegois’ it is.

Writing Journal 8.12.2018: Numbers stable, but I’ve got a new short-term goal

Decided to give you a shot of the Mississippi River today to accompany this entry. (I wasn’t around this part of the river today, but I decided to make this work.)

Anyway, the numbers.

+395 words written.

Days writing: 1 out of 7.

Days revising: 5 out of 7 for 300 total minutes.

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

From a statistical standpoint, the numbers are more or less flat from last week’s performance. As I mentioned during the last piece, the end of my summer break is approaching and I am genuinely curious as to how much my work schedule will affect my writing activity.

A bit of this is unknown, since I am going to a new district with new duties. I have an idea of what they will be like, but it is a new culture, unknown students, etc. You never know what you are getting into until you are truly into it. I have to say that I truly enjoyed my previous district for the past three years and had no complaints about the workload I had or the support I had from staff and administration. I am getting similar good feelings and impressions from the new district, as well.

So, as an added short-term motivational tool, I have determined to finish my most recent revision of my WIP, The American Nine. I’m currently at page 237 out of 317, and I think that I can wrap that latest revision up by the end of this week. I definitely think that can be done.

I’ll get started on that later tonight, but I’m going to get some social media posts lined up for the next few days first.

That’s it for now; I’ll have more later.

 

Writing Journal 7/30/2018: A lull at the end of the month as I contemplate going back to school

Well, I got on a little bit of a losing streak this week, everyone. Here’s the totals:

+349 words written.

Days writing: 1 out of 7.

Days revising: 3 out of 7 for 120 total minutes.

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

Not much to say. I think part of it is because I am now in the “Sunday” section of my summer vacation. As of right now, I have 17 days until my first in-service day and 25 days before I start teaching to kids. It’s that mental of still being on vacation yet preparing yourself mentally for getting back into the school environment.

There are a couple of factors adding to my… not anxiety, but anticipation for the new year, at least. It will be my first year at a new district, and it will likely take me the whole school year to adjust to the new environment. This was after working for three years at a school district that I truly enjoyed and learned a lot from. It was where I first began working as a special education teacher, and the students and staff were amazing there. It definitely felt like a second home.

Now I’ll be a new district. It is slightly larger than my previous one, but I’ve got a good feeling from the staff and administration, and I do know some people there from previous professional experiences. I’ll have to go back to a five day-per-week rather than a four day-per-week schedule, sadly, but the school days will be shorter and I will have less travel time even taking the extra day into account. And of course, there will be the whole process of getting to know new school procedures, culture, students, and other expectations. I believe this will be a good move for me (one I had to make due to a decline in special education student enrollment at my previous district), so I am looking forward to making it a good year.

As for the 17 days I have left, I am going to try to use them to get as many revisions and writing done as possible. I have been doing OK with doing mid-weekly posts to the blog; that might fall off a little as I get closer to the start of the school year and into the school year. You will still see some of them sometimes.

That’s about all I can think of right now. I’ll write more here later.

Regarding How to Read and Consume E-books: Like I Have A Clue

It appears likely that I will be the author of at least one book, maybe more, that will be available in an e-book edition. As a result, I started considering how I should consume said e-books, because I’m not really doing that right now.

I was going to make this an in-depth study of e-book readers and formats, but guess what, I didn’t make the time to go ahead and research any platforms that I could use to read them. Instead, I decided to make this a quick piece about my (very brief) history with ebooks and the pros and cons I have with them.

Either my wife or my mom got my an ebook device who knows when from who knows what company. After a few years of sitting on my desk at home, I wound up stowing it in the big plastic tub where I store all of my old electronic stuff I no longer use but might remotely have a possible use for later. (All the kids out there, mine included: Don’t buy a lot of stuff. After a couple of decades at least half of it is going to either be in storage or cluttered junk, and you won’t remember most of it, anyway. Save your money and go on vacations instead.)

So, I’ll just list my pros and cons for each media, and let the chips fall where they will.

The Wood Books (just books)

Pros:

  • I can pick them up and read them anytime anywhere, except in the rain (naturally) or the dark.
  • No loading times.
  • Can be a nice decorating touch for a home office or library.
  • A pretty straightforward gift for people.

Cons

  • Heavy as hell and inconvenient to pack up and move.
  • Take up too much space once you get a whole bunch of them.
    • I might have mentioned before that I’ve had to get ruthless at culling my current collection, and I probably haven’t been as ruthless as I’ve needed to be.

The Metal and Plastic Books (ebooks)

Pros

  • Easy storage.
  • You can get a bunch of them and not break any of your shelves.
  • Portability is pretty nice, too.

Cons

  • No power, no reading.
  • Difficult to figure out all of the ins and outs of the programs.
  • Different formats – why can’t I buy one ebook and have it read on different platforms?
    • If any readers know if this is possible, let me know in the comments.

Well, regardless, I’m going to take another dive into this brave new world and see what is up with it. Wish me luck, and I’ll write more later.

 

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