Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting It Done

By Bryon Quertermous

WARNING: Extreme gloating and self-congratulation to follow.

I'm sitting now about 18 months into my life with children and I think it's time to reflect on how things are going. One of my biggest fears is that my writing would stall and fail after kids came along. But looking at it now, I'm quite pleased. Since Spenser was born in 2008 here is what I've completed:

-30k of 75k words to finish the first draft of my third novel
-A second draft of that novel
-A complete first draft of my fourth novel at 70k words
-20k of new words in a second draft of that novel
-5k word short story to be published this summer in Plots With Guns
-1k word flash story for my beginning of the year challenge
-700 word flash story for Dan O'Shea's airport challenge
-800 word flash story for Steve Weddle's Walmart challenge
-A 3k word short story for the Do Some Damage anthology

Now, if that was all I'd accomplished in my writing career to this point I could be happy, but that I've managed to do it in less than 2 years with two kids in the house pleases me greatly. Now I'm looking to challenge myself. Against my own advice, which I've spewed numerous places, I'm putting a hold on revisions on the new book to work on something else. And not just any old thing. I'm working on something at an almost unmarketable length (novella) and in a field I'm notoriously lacking in skill (traditional mystery).

I want to enter the Nero Wolfe Society Black Orchid Novella Award. The winner gets $1000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, plus gets to accept their award at the Nero Wolfe banquet in New York City. I've not been able to get back to New York City since I've been married and would like to. And as sad as it is to say, that's the main reason I want to enter this contest. Which isn't as odd as it seems. I've used writing to fund and justify my travel for several years now, and hope as my career progresses and I begin to sell more things, my travel will increase with my income. But for now, I scan airfare and hotel prices for NYC and use it to fuel those days when the writing doesn't want to come.

Update: This sounded even more self-congratulatory than I planned because I forgot to mention the main reason I was writing it. At the beginning of the year Dave White and John Rector both wrote things that made me smile about productivity. Dave had a great blog post about how much he hates people who approach him and tell him how much they would like to write a novel if only they had the time. Then John Rector tweeted a New Year's Resolution that he would try not to punch anyone without kids who claimed they didn't have time to write. So I wrote this to show that if a guy like me, with little kids, a day job, and the attention span of a hopped up toddler can find the time to do this, anyone can.


Dave White said...

Oh, great. Blame me and John for this wackiness. THHAAANNKKKSSS.

Carol said...

Hope you do enter the Black Orchid Novella Award!! Regards, Web Master at

The link for the guidelines, etc. is:

Barna W. Donovan said...

Amen! I'm forwarding this post to a number of people I know who've been working on their Great American Novel (and nonfiction for a few of them) for something like 8+ years