Saturday, February 15, 2014
Scott D. Parker
Longtime readers of my column (and by longtime, I'm going as far back as early 2013) know that the one simple thing I did to get myself off my non-writing snide was to start writing everyday. I fuddled around most of May 2013 and then, on Memorial Day 2013 (27 May for the literalists), I decided to ask myself a simple question: how many days in a row can I write fiction?
I now have my answer: 255 days. Now, a bit of context.
For much of that streak--May - November--I was producing, on average, 800-1000 words per day. I busted out two novels from mid June to mid October. That was after *not* writing anything for seven years. I gave myself permission to drop the word count down to 500 a day since I had been so productive so consistently for so long.
One thing led to another and I stopped striving for the 500…but I kept the streak going. Even on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, I kept writing. It was slower, it was often messy, but I kept it going.
Along the way, however, I started wondering if the streak itself had become too much of a Thing, if it, perhaps, was getting in the way of the writing. Think about this: I have not, yet, read through those two manuscripts I finished last year. Partly that's a result of my other reading but there's also the obvious thing: the time I had to spend reading the manuscript I was using to write new words. I had begun to consider breaking the streak just because, to reset myself, give me time to read those manuscripts, clean them up, and then look for beta readers.
But I hesitated still. I liked my steak very much. It filled me with lots of pride, even when I was slogging away for a couple hundreds words.
Then, last Friday, between me working my day job all day and then chaperoning a lock-in at church, the writing time slipped away. Poof. Just like that, the streak was over. At first, I was filled with shock and a little sorrow. Then, I took it as a blessing. Without the streak--and without the burden of actually choosing to break it on purpose--I now have time to read those manuscripts (including the other novella I'm nearly done with) with a clear conscience.
I'm still pondering how I will work my various streaks this year. Chances are, I'll start a project and a streak at the same time and continue said streak until said project is completed. That's more logical anyway.
So, a moment of silence for the streak. Thank you for what you did for me. I shall never forget The Streak of 2013.
Oh, and having said all of this and believing it, I then read Chuck Wendig's blog on Thursday.
Crap. I should have kept the steak alive.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I'm not a big fan of quotes about writing or "writing rules." Sure, Elmore Leonard's rules are useful, and occasionally, an inspirational quote strikes a chord. But in general, these platitudes about writing I see so often on Twitter and elsewhere just bore me. I'd rather hear what you had for lunch, or better yet, see a picture of your puppy.
1) Just do it. ~Nike
2) Finish your shit. ~Chuck Wendig
3) The best marketing tool for your book is your next book (or something like that). ~Don't remember where I heard this
The first two "rules" helped me cut through the romantic notion that writing is some mystical thing that requires muses, copious amounts of booze, and an MFA to accomplish successfully. Once I realized that the only way I was going to be a writer was to write, all of my previous excuses kind of fell away and I got to work.
The third reminds me that I'm in this for the long haul. It doesn't so much inspire me to sell books as as it does to continue creating and working hard. If I sell a few books along the way, well, I'm certainly not going to complain about that.
Distilling my writing philosophy down to these three principles keeps me focused. When I start to waver or doubt myself (which is pretty much every day) I go back to these basics. Simple as they are, it actually does help. And sometimes, I need all the help I can get.
What's your strategy for keeping focused on the work? If it includes inspirational quotes, don't worry, I won't judge (but the puppy might).
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Recently I came across a piece of advice from one of my favourites, Rosalind Russell (even if just for His Girl Friday). She said that what makes a great movie are the “moments.”
So, not the big themes, not the intricate plots or the twists or that incredible originality – but the moments.
That seems about right to me, what we remember most, what we talk about most in a story (movie, TV show, book, play, whatever) are the moments.
The big Olympic coverage going on now was another reminder of how the small moments make up the big picture. In this huge, overblown, media circus what everyone seems to be looking for are the small moments.
I don’t really have anything to say about this other than to offer it up as a reminder that whatever story you’re working on is made up of the moments. One moment at a time till you’re done.
And it made me think of this:
So, I’m trying not to fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way because it’s been more than ten years since I realized that I missed the starting gun and no one told me to run (that’s not really true, lots of people told me to run and I ignored them) and now when I try to catch up to the sun it’s sinking and I’m shorter of breath and one day closer to dea…
Wow, I never realized how depressing Pink Floyd songs are. I should have gone with something about The Beatles 50th anniversary on Ed Sullivan.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Check out Benoit Lelievre's excellent review of THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE.
The mysterious Parker paid a visit to a plastic surgeon at the end of THE HUNTER, because there was somewhat of an Outfit bounty on his head. THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE picks up a couple of weeks after the surgery as the bandages are coming off. Parker is low on cash, so he accepts a job from Skimm, an old acquaintance who found a way to contact him at the sanitarium.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
1)Where did the idea for The Testing trilogy come from?