Scott D. Parker
Sometimes it's the smallest things that can have a big impact.
Fiction Writing Stalled
Over the past month, the new fiction writing has been in a bit of a holding pattern. While I'm still proofing and re-reading the next Calvin Carter novel, BRIDES OF DEATH, there's no new stories flowing from my keyboard. And I've pretty much zeroed in on the culprit.
Blogging. I kind of fell into a blog-per-day schedule by accident. When I finally realized it, however, I wanted to keep the streak going. Why? Because it's a streak. Yes, I was enjoying it, but lots of my writing energy was focused on getting out the next day's blog vs. new fiction. My recent trip to Corpus Christ corresponded to 1 June and I made the decision not to force myself to write something every day. I will develop a schedule--likely Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday--but I want to make it memorable and consistent. If something jumps to mind or there's an anniversary, I'll write more. But my main focus should be writing new stories, not always new blog entries.
Planning the To Be Read Pile for Vacations
A key part of planning for any travel is to decide what I'm going to read on the trip. The family and I went to Corpus Christi, Texas, this past week. We frolicked in the Gulf of Mexico, fished, toured the city, and ate seafood every night. T'was a great week.
Leading up to the vacation, I had meticulously planned out the items I would bring. I brought my Kobo ereader, my iPad for some comics, a small pile of actual comics anchored by the newest Star Wars comics #108 (a continuation of the original Marvel Comics run), the latest issue of Men's Journal, the latest issue of Back Issue focusing on the 30th anniversary of the first Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movie, and a Time Magazine anniversary issue on D-Day.
I was going to be gone for six days.
What did I actually read? Half of Men's Journal (night one), about 75% of the D-Day magazine (every morning), and that was it. Everything else didn't even leave my bag.
Because I bought a few paperbacks: The Scam by Linda Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, First Counsel by Brad Meltzer, two Longarm novels by James Reasoner, and a Shell Scott sampler by Richard Prather. I read four chapters of The Scam and that was it.
Funny how meticulous planning can go off course for the best of reasons: spending time with the family. Look, I love reading and read something every morning, but after days of touristy things, I was pretty tired.
Oh, and I wrote zero words of new fiction despite bringing the Chromebook. It was truly a reset time.
Happenstance TV Watching
What we did each night was watch some TV. During the regular TV season, the wife and I have a few staple shows we watch together and a few we watch separately. Down in Corpus, we watched together every night while the boy entertained himself with YouTube and other streaming shows.
Now, we subscribe to Netflix and Amazon and the streaming-compatible DVD player in the rented condo likely could have been programmed with our passwords, but each night, we opted to "just see what's on." One night was a DVD my wife bought from Half Price for $2. It was for a show called "Maggie," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It wasn't great. One night was a 1983 Charles Bronson film "10 to Midnight," a markedly better movie but by no means great. We both chuckled about 80s action movies/police movies, especially considering the abrupt ending. The other nights were unmemorable except for the bulk of Lethal Weapon 2.
As I've written before, as nice as it is to have so much content available at our fingertips on demand, it's kinda neat to just channel surf and land on something.
That One Little Thing
So how does all this non-writing relate to writing? Well, it happened on Thursday morning on our way out of town. I specifically brought some old proof copies of a few of my books to leave in the condo. Instead, I delivered them to one of those free-standing neighborhood library pop-ups. Seeing as how these were proofs copies, all my marks-ups were scattered through the pages. So I penned a note inside each book letting future readers know what these books were, why they were marked up, but hoping they'd enjoy the story.
And I signed them.
That one little thing sparked the proverbial pilot light in my writing soul that had been too long at a low flame. Why? If I hazard a guess, it's because I was ultimately sharing those stories with others. As much as I enjoy spinning these yarns, I really enjoy sharing them. Yeah, I know ALL writers enjoy sharing their stories, but that doesn't make it untrue.
Moreover, the writing portion of the equation is the one thing over which we writers have 100% control, as JA Konrath so brilliantly pointed out this week.
I've written here about controlling the controllables. Well, earlier this week, prolific author JA Konrath discussed marketing plans by writers. He has a sobering verdict: most are bad.
However, he offered a ray of light to all writers (or all creatives) in the form of a message he'd send to his younger self:
"One brand, one genre, stop experimenting, stop being a perfectionist, and just write five good books a year in the same series. Make sure they are professionally edited and formatted, have great covers and descriptions, keep length under 75k words, and make sure they have updated, clickable bibliographies in the back matter, pre-order pages for the next release, and newsletter sign-up forms."
Head on over to the main post for his in-depth pathway that led him to this conclusion. It is chock full of details.
That's it for this week. A non-writing week full of barely reading. But that's not bad right?