Posts Tagged ‘Words Words Words’

Visual representation of what’s left to do on my novel

250 words (one page) per chip

Finally back on track with my novel.

After getting derailed last week, I started to wonder if I even had time to finish this book by the deadline. After some outlining, plotting, math and calendar fu, I’ve figured out that I have just enough time to finish the first draft by the deadline for the first 50 pages. I’ll hopefully polish the rest of it by the second deadline.

I was thinking about something Neil told me about how he writes his books long-hand. He numbers ahead on blank pages and when he finishes a page he circles the number. He says, “There is little in the world that gives me more pleasure than circling one of those numbers.”

I still need to post about my awesome new “get shit done” game, but for the time being I’m excited about having a visual representation of every page I write.

Anyway, expect updates as the stacks shrink!

I think I will grow to love and hate these chips.


What did I learn from Clarion?

The Clarion Writing Workshop was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had. A lot of it was explicitly positive, some of it was positive eventually (or may still be gestating) but was really hard at the time or for the months … *ahem* years … after.

Both the Clarion Writers workshops and are now taking applications. One of my instructors, Jim Kelly asks, “How about sharing five things you learned at Clarion?”


  1. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to write stuff that doesn’t excite you.
  2. Great writing has energy. Sure, get the mechanics down, but in the end it’s theme and emotion that drive the most powerful stories.
  3. Always be innovating. Every story start is sexy and fun and full of new relationship energy, full of riffing and whatever clever thing comes out of the id, but then the plotting and rewriting can feel like a drudge. That’s the time to bring the innovative mindset to finding connections and problem-solving. We can choose to be clever in every part of the writing process.
  4. Put as much work into your life as your writing. Yes, most of us need to lock ourselves away to learn the craft and find our voice, but it’s equally important to learn how to present and interact with each other. Skillful social awareness can help our career just as much as excellent prose.
  5. Writing is not a competition. Someone else’s genius doesn’t make you less genius. We analyze each other’s fiction so we see what works and doesn’t, both to point out to others and for ourselves. When this turns into a wash of negativity, we’re not helping anyone. The more we support each other as writer’s the stronger we all become.


If you write and you want to see what you are capable of, Clarion is well worth the time and money.

Apply to Clarion – Apply to Clarion West

$#!% to do …

Posted by ON in Dear Diary

Last night i wrote and read a story at the Wordos holiday reading, which went pretty well.

I mean, i think it did.

People seemed to like it at least. In general the process reminded me of how i used to write. Think of an idea in the morning, poke at it a few times in the afternoon, throw everything away and write something else all at once.

This system works pretty well for flash, but has been trickier for longer stuff. I kinda wonder about writing scenes this way, if i could lay out the larger story, maybe i could knock out chunks in inspired flashes.

Hmmm …

Anyway, thinking about what and who is important to me these days.

A lot of money work, mostly. I love my job, and i work with really cool people, but i’m still getting used to the time commitment. Sometimes i’ve been able to write in the mornings, or take short breaks in the afternoon, but mostly i’ve been writing at night again. That works, but i’ve been hanging out with folks a lot and i keep feeling the draw between being social and getting my words for the day done. I think trying to balance my writing life with social time is also making me feel pretty picky about who i hang out with. My tolerance for BS and games is pretty thin at the moment.

Anyway, the thing i’m most excited about is my new motivational system / game i’ve invented out. It’s kind of ridiculous, but i’ll post it here in a few days and see what people think of it. It has charts, goals … and poker chips …

Anyway, you’ll see.

But, yeah, that seems to be most of my life these days: Work, writing, exercise, friends.

I still have long term goals i’m thinking about: Portland, MFA, writing stuff, but i think as long as i’m writing, sending stuff out and hanging out with worthwhile people, i feel pretty satisfied with my life … short term.


Oh yeah, an update:

I promised myself that i’d keep up with this thing. Sheesh.

I have a few articles on writing bouncing around in my head. I’ll write those soon. I should probably repost the ones i’ve been writing for Shimmer. I just started digging out my recording setup and hope to be making music again soon.

One of the big things is i’m super excited about redesigning this site … and generally dragging my feet on, you know, doing it. Be it’ll be cool: I’ll have a section of my publications’ covers and images of my awards, some free fiction and a music section. But, yeah, that’s all on the back-burner at the moment while i stitch my life back together after traveling for nine months.

So, the check-in:

Life is unstable, but generally pretty good. I’m finally starting to feel settled in Eugene again. I rejoined the co-op i helped get off the ground. I was nervous at first, but am really happy with the folks and the house (and my room and my new bed.)

Look at it, just look at it!


Things with J are … a little off. We obviously still love each other, but being in the same town all the time is definitely taking adjustment. S and i are doing as well as we can. She seems to be adjusting pretty well in Turkey. L&D are having a baby! N is rushing to finish her latest novel!

I keep feeling like everyone is doing more (and more interesting) things than me. Obviously i want to let this go, but i also just want to get off my ass.

As always, writing:

My main focus these days is getting back into consistent writing and submitting, which is hard with the new 40-hour a week job. (and still reading for Shimmer and my various art and music plans)

… Oh yeah, the job:

It’s great. Great people, interesting work, fun office and … and, well, it’s been a long time since i worked 40-hours a week (for money at least.) It’s taking some time to get my head around carving out writing time (and exercise, and friends, and fun, and and and … )

So, yeah, still more to do, more to plan and implement, but i’m getting by … and feeling a little more excited everyday.

You wanna know the weird thing? I find myself more and more wanting to become a sort of ascetic. I really just want to exercise and eat well and work for money and make an INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF ART, mostly writing, but definitely music and physical things too ….

… don’t get me wrong, i’m only talking for the next six months or so. I’m much too much of a hedonist to maintain asceticism, but i really really really want to produce a body of work and rekindle the buzz that was forming around my stuff a year ago.

Anyway, i gots plans. Watch this spot for more ridiculous and outrageous claims.

As always, RAWR! ONWARD!

Horses, and getting back on them.

Looking back at this blog, i see my last substantive post was in June. It’s been a weird trip, confusing, lots of good, lots of bad. I’ll probably do another post after this to go over trip highlights since Kazakhstan, but this is more about … well, the place i’m in now. I’m not 100% sure what i’m doing next.

I had a wonderful meeting with my goals group, all my best writing friends. (Well, in Eugene at least.) There were a few tears. Most of us were feeling pretty unhappy with the past few months in relation to writing and career. It was good to get it out.

My favorite part was when Damon said the best decision he’d made in a while was to quit writing.

… whoa.

He said it didn’t last terribly long, but letting go gave him a break and helped him to stop hard-timing himself. It opened new possibilities. Now he’s actually enjoying writing again. I don’t know if i’m fully ready to quit, even symbolically, but i certainly need some kind of change. Normally in these situations i make big proclamations on the internet, create a goofy persona and work really really hard till i have something to brag about. The last couple of times i’ve tried that haven’t worked all that well, so …

First i’ve been evaluating.

Here’s me as a writer, so far, give or take: Looking through my files, i see that i currently have 3 novels in the trunk (2 terrible, but with potential and 1 probably readable, but also fatally flawed.) I also have 2 other novels initially plotted and with less than 5000 words written on each. For short stories i have 15 published, 5 stories in the mail, 22 stories that should be in the mail, 60 stories that are half to completely done (but need revision), 207 story-starts and 77 things that are so sucky that i’ll never look at them again. I also have 2 completed screenplays, and a comic book script.

Whew, ok, so i’ve got a lot to work with, but i haven’t been doing much working in the last 6 months. So …

Thinking about the problem.

I haven’t been happy writing, but i haven’t really been happy not writing either. I still have huge aspirations and i know i have a lot to say, but the actual writing process is ripping me up. I can look at past stuff i’ve done and see some quality there (or at least i’ve gotten some positive feedback,) but for the life of me i can’t remember how i did it. What’s up with that?

Yeah, what’s up with that?!

I’ve felt for a while now that i’ve lost my Beginner’s Mind. Wordos, Clarion, Writer’s of the Future, it’s all been good for my skills, analysis and self-esteem (at least temporarily), but it’s been nearly impossible for me to just, well shut up and write. Part of me thinks that i’ve probably garnered enough craft and knowledge to trust most of the stuff i write will work on some level, but the rest of me thinks nothing i write is ever good enough.

Starting over.

Part of me wants to just throw away everything i’ve done before now …

… figuratively. I’m not stupid …

… but just start writing and learning and taking everything that comes out of me at face value. I know i still have a problem with endings and i see that i seriously shy away from dialog, so maybe some exercises are in order. And, sure, i like being extreme and setting challenges for myself. I like pulling off stupid stunts, but i want to do that stuff because it’s fun, not to save my flagging writing career. I also think i’ve been putting huge pressure on my writing, thinking that i wont be as cool if i don’t write, thinking S won’t love me as much if i don’t. It makes it all not very much fun.

The Ideal Life.

The last 6 months have been necessary. I needed to get out there and see things. I needed to work out stuff about Jai. It hasn’t always been fun, but i feel like the last 6 months have been the transition i needed. I still don’t know where i’m going from here, but it’s been educational.

Today i started by thinking about what i want my life to look like. I’ve been thinking about my ideal day, what i want short term, what i might like long term. It’s scary and uncomfortable, but i feel a lot less like i’m drifting.

So, i’m getting back on, and if i fall off again, i’ll get back on and again and again.