Writing Journal/Random Notes 7.22.2018: Revision City

In looking at last week’s numbers, you can tell that I’m getting deep into the revision game.

+1,303 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 6 out of 7 for [EDIT] 510 total minutes.

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

I’d have to look, but this might be the best week I’ve recorded regarding revisions, and I’m nowhere near done. It’s definitely the first time in a long time that I met my DWGM every day of the week.

The thing that kicked off this spurt of activity was the feedback I’d gotten from one of my beta readers I really respect. That and some of the other comments I’ve received made it very clear where I should be going with this revision on The American Nine.

The good thing is that to give my character more of a struggle along this path, I’m not going to have to add any additional material. (Version 3.0 of the manuscript is hovering at around 93,000 words – I’ve said before about how I want to keep my finished manuscripts at a maximum of 95,000-100,000 words, preferably on the lower end of that scale). It’s just going to be a matter of me rewriting scenes to show more uncertainty and struggle. I realized that while I wanted to create an idea of the American Messi or Maradona with this character, the character is 17 at the start of the book and like Messi and Maradona, they had to work and rise to the top to get where they were. I have to show that process in this book.

Two random notes to close things out:

  • How much of a soccer fanatic am I? I’m seriously following the International Champions Cup that started this week. Also, it’s transfer rumor silliness time…
  • Trying to get into some new TV obsessions. Starting to pick through Stranger Things. Also saw a new trailer for the Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans MC. I’m going to be hyped for that in September.

Anyway, more later.

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Writing Journal/Random Thoughts 7.16.2018: A slight drop off, World Cup thoughts just because, and one insight that might only interest me

Yeah, so the numbers for this week… not really impressive, but not a disaster:

+1,206 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Days revising: 3 out of 7 for 90 total minutes.

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

So, not matching last week’s totals, but not a total collapse. Explanations? Two in particular come to mind.

First, since we are now in mid-July, I have to say that I am officially in the doldrums of my summer vacation where maximum complacency sets in. Luckily, this has not been as severe as previous years. Due to various circumstances, I find myself keeping active with local political volunteerism and assisting my wife with various errands. As a result, I am more occupied than last year, when I literally had nothing to do during the summer after a few consecutive years of taking and/or teaching classes during that time (to be fair, I probably needed the break).

Second, of course, was the conclusion of the World Cup yesterday and this past week. As has been documented previously on this blog, I have a pretty serious soccer obsession at this point. General thoughts (Random Notes? Random Notes!) on the tournament:

  • I was very happy with the quality of the games and the action.
  • Video assistant referees (VAR) have been a long time coming and much needed.
  • The final was great, with the young kids of France proving themselves against the best of the world.
  • Also glad to see the Belgians do well – my name and family background has some Belgian origin, so that was cool to see.
  • I was sorry not to see the USMNT in action, but I’ve been happy to see how the younger kids of that team have been doing in friendlies, and that plus the fact we will be hosting the 2026 WC alongside Canada and Mexico have helped me to get over that. Compared to the winter fiasco the 2022 Qatar WC will be, our tournament will be paradise.

How much of a soccer/football junkie am I? I’m actually counting down to the ICC club exhibition tournament in America within a couple of weeks. Plus there’s still Major League Soccer in America, and the European leagues will start up in a month… the fact that there’s always soccer on somewhere in the world is good for me, but it can be annoying to those close to me. 🙂

Well, hadn’t expected to write that much about soccer, but there hasn’t been too much writing items to talk about.

I will say this, however, as a small piece of writing advice. If you are writing a story and you are not feeling it, you may want to swap out your characters for new ones that attract your interest. Not to get into too many details at this very early stage of the creative process, but I started considering putting a main character from one of my current projects into a writing project that had a totally different genre. And I think it’s going to work. It might be a project that I wasn’t planning on writing for a while, but I think it has made it a far more interesting and not quite as cliched as I had initially feared. Mixing and matching – it worked for rap, and it will work for you, too.

That’s about all for now. I do plan to write up something for midweek – I know I didn’t do that last week as I have been trying to do. Anyway, I’ll get you more stuff later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 6.24.2018: A productive but really random week

Well, this turned out pretty weird:

+3,913 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Days revising: 1 out of 7 for 30 total minutes.

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

Not expecting quite those numbers this week. Let me explain.

This week, I had planned to do a little bit of writing on my next project and perhaps a little light editing on The American Nine. What actually wound up happening is that I posted two blogs within a week, one my first photo entry and another about one of my older poems.

Then I wound taking a look at an abandoned short story from years back which combined two of my obsessions, alternative history and late 20th century professional wrestling. What I ended up writing after two feverish days was a 4,000 word-plus short story speculating how the avoidance of a premature death could have changed the course of professional wrestling history. The operatic psychological storytelling behind professional wrestling has always fascinated me when it’s done right, and the action is over the top. The whole story I’ve written is probably ridiculous but I’ll post it later today – watch out for it.

Random Notes:

  • I am planning on going to this conference Thursday and Saturday of this week (missing out on Friday). I figure that I will write at least one post about it, likely sometime Saturday, and let you know how it all went.
  • The American Nine has officially gone out to the beta readers in my local writers group. Who the hell knows what they will make of it (I’m one of the youngest members of that group), but I did warn them, so anyone who reads it is going in with their eyes open.
  • As someone who’s written a fiction book featuring soccer, I have been paying close attention to the World Cup. I put some money on it, but I have no idea whether I’ll actually win anything. When Iceland can tie Argentina, Portugal tie Spain, and Germany narrowly escape being eliminated by Sweden, who the hell knows what’s going to happen. The games have been great but Fox Sports has done a crap job of covering the events with the exception of the team of JP Dellacamera and Tony Meola. (I remember watching Meola in goal for the USMNT back in 1994. How time moves…)

That’s all I can think of for now. Watch for more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 6.10.2018: Holding sort of steady

If you were waiting for me to make a post today, sorry I didn’t get to it until now. It’s interesting that I now have around 70 people following me on WordPress at this moment. (I have around 300 each for my Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated to writing.)

The numbers:

+1,556 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 90 total minutes.

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

So, pretty much holding somewhat steady for the week, down in revising days and DWGM, but up a little in writing.

Not much to talk about this week, so I’ll go over a few things (RANDOM NOTES) and leave it at that.

  • I decided to go to that conference later this month in the Quad Cities. It cost a little bit, but I think it will be worth it for the networking and having some more people beta read my stuff.
  • Revising is still slow on We Can Be You… but I’ve started from the beginning again and have made some progress from there. Now that I’ve determined that it is going to be a three-book story and roughly where I’m going to split the action at, the secret is figuring out the motivation for the main characters in my band and how that gets resolved in the first book. I think I have that pretty much resolved in my head and will be willing to go into that very shortly.
  • Looks like Friday of this week will be the day my town’s library will reopen in a brand new location. I look forward to spending time there and will get some interior shots for when that happens. Might even do some writing there.
  • This week, I plan to tour my new school that I will be teaching at next fall. Also, I’ll see if I have any “summer homework” to consider before classes start. I’m excited about that new opportunity.

That’s it for now; more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes, 6.3.2018: New Milestone and Increased Activity

With me now on full vacation and some ideas shaking loose from old projects, I think that it was reflected in my activity this week.

+1,354 words written.

Days writing: 3 out of 7.

Days revising: 4 out of 7 for 300 total minutes.

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

Not a lot of original writing, of course, but I am keeping active. I’m going to keep the journal update brief this week, both due to the level of new info I have to share (not much) and the desire not to repeat myself (which is strong).

  • I have reached a milestone on my work for The American Nine after about 1 1/2 revisions to the book. Over the next month or so, I’m hoping to have beta readers from my writing group and possibly others have a chance to take a look at what I’ve produced and give me some comments. (I might revisit the topic of beta readers in a later post).
  • As far as other projects, I want to keep busy. There are two possibilities – We Can Be You…, which I’ve already discussed, and an old project that I’ve rechristened Excitable Boy to see if the name fits and if there’s enough story there to support something. Right now the latter project is at 50,000 words – shorter than most of my recent stuff – and I suspect there’s some things to cut and some things I might need to add.
  • My intent with the second point is to not get caught up in not producing or revising something and keeping busy with the work. I was very happy this year that I didn’t have any major declines or dead times of not writing or revising. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep that up when the next school year comes up and my new job. I think that I should be able to manage that.

Just a few Random Notes:

  • Looking into what format I might want to start reading e-books in. Considering how I might be publishing in the e-book format soon and many of the writers I’m running into online are doing that, I might want to consider it. (That also might be worth its own blog post later).
  • Getting in a lot of soccer watching on the weekends – will watch the World Cup even though the US won’t be in it, and Major League Soccer is still deep into its season here in the US.
  • I’ve recently noticed that when I get bored or start feeling down about things, getting more sleep is a good remedy to reset your mind. Probably helps healthwise, as well.

I’ll write some more when I have some more to write.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 5.27.2018: Getting back in the groove as vacation starts

So… I was kind of lazing around for the past few weeks, but things… sort of picked up this week?

+502 words written.

Days writing: 1 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 180 total minutes.

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

So, there’s that. Less writing, but more revising. So, I want to talk about where I am at with the three writing projects I’m actively working on, then get into some RANDOM NOTES. 🙂

  • The Holy Fool: I’ve been in contact with a publishing company for the past few months. Basically, it’s now at the point where we are bouncing cover ideas off each other. As soon as I have signed a full contract with them and getting everything set as far as number of pages, etc., I will give the full details on it. The upshot is, as I might have said previously, is that my goal of being a published author by the end of the year looks to be on target.
  • The American Nine: I am now in the process of rereading the manuscript. It is a light revision – the idea is to cut any unnecessary wording as I see it and see what would be absolutely necessary to add. I am also looking for anything that I need to add to the story. My initial thoughts on this area is that I need to add some scenes – maybe “moments” would be a better description of that, as they might not have to be too long – that illustrate the ferocity of my main character’s father and the type of dominant personality he is. I don’t think I’ve shown that enough. Also, I need to expand at least one scene that shows that father discuss with his son, for the first time, his son’s sexuality. Usually in revision, my aim is to cut stuff – and I’ve already made a couple of subplots disappear during this process – but I will also have to add on things. It’s a good thing I still have 5,500 or so words before I hit the 100,000-mark, isn’t it?
    Also, my local writing group is going to do a critique of it two months from now, and I’m interested in seeing their input.
  • We Can Be You…: I’ve now come around to how I can make the first book in what I’m projecting to be a three-book series interesting. I want to focus on the collaborative and friendship-based bonds between my band’s members rather than who they eventually end up with romantically. That I can save for the next two books in the series. So, I believe that I will be restarting the rough draft very soon.

That’s it for the projects; now, it’s time for Random Notes:

  • My summer vacation has officially started, giving me more time to write and help my wife out with projects. With that in mind, I can see myself doing at least two posts per week, but not being too much of a yammerer here. If you just want to see me post interesting random stuff connected to writing I find online, you can check out my Facebook and Twitter pages. (I also cross-post all of the blog posts from here on those pages, too.)
  • This conference is happening near me later this month. I’ve been to two of them before, and got something out of them. I likely will sign up for a couple of things and leave it at that to save cash.
  • It’s the end of the month, and I know what time it is – time to schedule some posts for the month of June for the Facebook and Twitter pages. I’ll try to find some cool stuff.

More later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 5.20.2018: Officially blocked?

Well, here’s what happened last week in the official extension of my “vacation” :

+1,572 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 0 out of 7 for 0 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 2 out of 7 days.

writing notes idea class

[Pictured: What I’m not doing.]

These, I believe, are the factors behind the pause:

  1. I honestly had to take a break from The American Nine for a bit while I let the project sit for a bit. I think I am feeling more confident in taking another look at it and seeing what I can remove from it as being not needed. (One thing I realized two days ago, however, is that I believe I need to add a scene – or add to an existing scene – a confrontation between my MC and his father regarding his sexuality. I don’t want to make it a cliched standoff between straight dad and LGBT son, but I think I can take it into a better examination of how many of the personal choices my MC has made were a result of trying not to make the same mistakes as his father did, and his father trying to understand how it applies to his situation. It’s a characterization moment I can’t miss out on.
  2. I made the decision to try and move forward with We Can Be You… but I realized I’m more excited about the idea of the prospective third book in that series than the second or first. I think one of the reasons the rough drafting of The American Nine went so quickly and well was that I concentrated on writing just the parts that excited me, which told me what was worth keeping and what was not worth keeping. However, that is a bit more of a challenge over a series of books. I have to think about that one.

So, that’s what I have faced, but I think that this week I will start to turn that around.

Quick Random Notes:

  • I have now solidified my job situation. I will be leaving my district due to budget cuts and start work at a new district, contract in hand. Having all of that resolved is a big load off my mind, and with this being my last week of school, I will be getting into the writing mix soon.
  • This big conference sponsored by the Midwest Writing Center in the Quad Cities is coming up. Will have to check bank account and other financials to see if there is interest. I’ve been there twice and I have found the experience beneficial.
  • The Holy Fool will be published this year. Once I sign a full contract and the book would be available for purchase, I will announce it here first. My hope right now is that I could get something out in the fall, perhaps. You’ll have the details right after I get them.

That’s it for now; more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 5.13.2018: OK, honestly, this week I took a break

Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it? So do the numbers:

+352 words written (Blog).

Days writing: 1 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 60 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 2 out of 7 days.

Yep.

So, what’s behind the break?

Part of it was my personal situation. Actually, I got into that a bit last time, so I didn’t want to just repeat myself too much here. What I will say is that I’m trying to gee myself up, as they would say in the British Isles, and getting myself ready for what is coming next. That includes:

  • An actual, full first-draft of We Could Be You…, the “lost classic” and incomplete work that I talked about before. Now is the time to start putting it together, even though I am realizing as I look at the piece that it will likely turn into a three-book trilogy rather than an extra long book. J.R.R. Tolkien’s buds were correct – nobody wants to read that many words in a full sitting, even in the pre-Internet era.
  • A full, tough rewrite of The American Nine, something that kicks it into another gear. I think it is right at the right size, but I want to forge it well enough that it sings when it hits someone, to paraphrase Gendry from the Game of Thrones series. I’m picking at it right now, but I think I’ll have to make a few interesting choices coming up.
  • With the fact that I now have talked myself into two trilogies, and other ideas bubbling around, I now realize that I’m really not going to run out of material for books for some time. I had wondered how many books I was actually going to write, but it looks like lacking material will not be an issue for some time.

OK, Random Notes:

  • My professional situation is resolving itself. I will go into more details when I have them, but suffice to say for now that I will be changing jobs soon.
  • I believe I have a publisher for The Holy Fool. I hope to have details soon through this blog regarding who I will be partnering with and how you will be able to buy what I write. As soon as this information is solidified, I will be letting everyone know what is up. One of the things you learn about the publishing business is patience, but I do believe that I will be a published author before the end of the year, and that is the important thing for me. The longest of journeys starts with a small step and all that.
  • I’ve been to this conference before, but I think that I will have to attend this year to network and kick start the process of being a professional writer. Thoughts?

I was listening to this song by Townes Van Zandt while writing this, so you might as well hear it, too.

Towneshwhw

That’s it for now; more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 5.6.2018: Better numbers, and a few recent realizations

So, just checking the numbers for this week, and they are… better than last week, at least.

+1,368 words written (blogging)

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 90 total minutes.

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

So, what does all of that mean? I think I’ve managed to analyze what is going on with my work.

  • Right now, I’m not focusing on The American Nine. I’m giving it a rest until at least the end of the month, and I want to let it rest until I can properly give it a good look. This main character means a lot to me, and I don’t want to screw it up with regular stupidity.
  • I realized that We Can Be You… is no longer in the revision mode, but in a rough draft mode. There are only 30,000 or so words in the draft, and I will have to turn it into a proper rough draft to make it work.
  • There was one person I was beta reading, but I realized that the material he was writing was so alien to me that I had to tap out and give what I had done to him and move on. It was just something so foreign to me, that I knew that I would not have been a objective beta reader for their work.

So, that’s why my weekly count is where it is. I had to sort out where I was with all of my items and act accordingly. So, it will be a matter or figuring out where to go with my various projects and moving forward.

A couple of other items (Random Notes):

  • I’m a bit more secure regarding my day job, but I’ll get into that once everything is finalized on that front.
  • I think things are moving forward on the publication front, but some people are taking forever on that level as well. I’ll be happy to update you when there is something to update.

Anyway, that’s it for now. More later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 4.30.2018: Things happened, but who am I kidding?

Well, the last full week of April wound up being a bit of a flop:

+1,074 words written (blogging).

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 0 out of 7 for  total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 1 out of 7 days.

Yeah, it was like that.

I guess I could say that I had life things come up, etc. Which is true, in a sense. More behind the scenes stuff is happening, but you know how I tend not to get into too many personal blog details here. Once things begin to sort themselves out, I’ll probably talk about it briefly. None of it will affect the blog, though.

Right now, I’m kind of in a situation where I’m waiting on a lot of things – some of them writing-related, some work-related, some personal-related. There was one point last Tuesday where I was waiting on at least five different people to contact me about various things. I told my wife about that and she said “Welcome to the club.” (She runs her own consultancy firm.)

Also, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m in the lagging part of revising some projects. That is, I’m looking at them and sighing because I’m not quite sure where to go with them, or at least, what the next step should be.

Anyway, since I’ve spent longer on this than I intended, let’s get into Random Notes.

  • Quick update on where I am with writing projects:
    • The Holy Fool – now in “pre-publication.” That’s about as specific as I can get for now, but I will update everyone as soon as events merit it.
    • The American Nine – In second draft format, with at least two deeper revisions pending. Due to my need to keep the draft under 100,000 words, I think I have ideas for two other books that would make this a trilogy.
    • We Can Be You… – finished looking over the rough draft and making cuts to overly long scenes. The rough draft is now somewhere around 30,000 words – I’m now considering finishing it and shooting for a 90,000- word manuscript, with other material that was part of the book being part of two later sequels.
  • I want to thank everyone who has been visiting my blog recently, especially those that visiting this recent post. It’s nice to see people visit – feel free to comment as well.
  • In case you are wondering, the Volume I posts involving the Writer’s Biographies cover my life as a kid getting interested in writing, and Volume II includes my time as a younger writer, before the recent revival and production of my interest in writing. If there is a Volume III to those Biography pieces, those would cover what has happened with my writing in recent years. However, I think there might be at least a couple Volume I and Volume II posts left to write, too. [EDIT: I have created a new category, Biography, on the right-hand side of the blog. All of the Writer’s Biography posts can be found there.]
  • Depending on circumstances, I might be able to put together another midweek post as well as the regular journal entry.

That’s it for now. I’ll write some more later.