October 21, 2020 I hit record for the first time and did the very first episode of 5 a Day With Jay. I do think I’ve done more than 150 episodes, but for the sake of numbering, this is the 150th. I took a moment in today’s video to think about lessons learned along the way.
- Don’t wait.
If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never be ready. When it comes to creative endeavors, the longer you drag your feet, the less likely you are to get started. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never get any better. Take a look at Beeple Crap’s feed on Instagram. Sure, he’s putting out some neat stuff. For him, it started out as a hobby and every day he worked at his craft, he got better. Not everything he does is ground breaking or amazing, but he’s putting out something every single day. He’s been at it for years. If he’d waited until he had the exact software he needed and the right tablet or mouse to draw with or..or..or…you can see how it goes. Don’t wait to start. Use what’s handy and get going. You will get better along the way.
2. Learn what you’re doing along the way.
Had I continued to watch videos and tutorials on how to create a youtube channel and created videos, and do title cards, I would have been in a learning black hole. I would have never started. This ties in with #1. But there is a time to learn and you should make time to learn. Along the way, I’ve watched more “behind the scenes” about video creation. That’s why I decided to start going live instead of recording. It’s sped up the process for me and freed up a LOT of time to write this blog and write books. I’ve also started doing learned courses about writing, and reading books about writing and social media. Learning is as big of a key as getting going, but you can’t use it as a crutch not to start.
3. Time management is important.
As I said in #2, you need to also learn how to do things faster. With doing the videos, going live sames me a ton of time. With writing, typing faster saves me time. Keeping notes on both ends helps me better focus my attention on what I’m doing even if I don’t always reference those notes. I’m not a professional. I need help getting started some days, and making sure I have the time to do what I want to do helps. To accomplish my goals, I’ve had to cut back. I’ve started unsubscribing from a number of YouTube channels that I regularly skip content on (feel free to skip my videos if you get nothing from them). I’ve cut back on the blogs I’m reading. I’ve cut WAY back on the amount of news I consume across all media. I’ve increased educational videos both on video creating and writing. I’ve increased the amount of time I’m reading. But I’ve also freed up a LOT more time for getting my publishing career going in the direction I want.
4. Planning is important.
This ties in with #3. I know I need to get on a schedule with my video production as that’ll let people know what time to expect me. I’m thinking about shooting for 6pm PST. It’s not too late on the East Coast, and early enough for me that I can get to writing as soon as I’m done. Beyond videos, I needed to plan my book release schedule. What books I’m going to write next. When they’re going to come out. Scheduling the release of those books so they’re ready to go and I don’t need to think about their release. I want as much of this process on auto-pilot as I can make it. I’m a developer and that means I’m lazy and will come up with a program or process to make my life easier. It’s how I work. Having a plan allows me to keep content flowing without having to put too much thought into the process. This frees up my mine to work on other things.
5. My Videos and Blogs don’t always match.
If you only read the blogs, or only watch the videos, you’re missing half the picture I’m getting out. It’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to do both. I’m doing different content for different audiences. There’s only so much time in the day and I don’t want to be someone’s crutch preventing them from getting to their creative endeavor. Explore what you like, ignore what you don’t. I never had an expectation that anything I record or write would get viewed or read. This is why I do more free-form on the videos, and try TRY to have a little more format on the blogs. I don’t always succeed.
6. Slow, steady progress is good.
I knew that nothing I was doing would take off like a rocket. That’s the nature of the game. I’m not a megastar. I’m not famous. I was barely a blip on the podcasting scene. I made many good friends along the way and enjoyed my time doing that. There is zero expectation that those friends will watch my videos, read my blog or buy my books. Those kinds of expectations are deadly and dangerous. I had them before and they lead to disappointment. This time around, I’m going for slow growth and I’m happy with any sale.
7. Keep going.
Unlike all my other false starts, I don’t intend to stop what I’m doing. As long as I’m enjoying the stories I’m telling, I’ll keep telling those stories. It’s that simple. With my goals small and under my control, I won’t be stopping any time soon. I want to have fun. I want to tell stories. That’s it. That’s my current goal. Yes, I’d love to sell books, but that’s for Tomorrow Jay to deal with, not Today Jay.
8. Look forward, not back.
I don’t want to revisit what I’ve done in the past any more. I’ve analyzed those failures and I’m moving on. They’re in the past, they’re done, there’s nothing I can do about them other than move on and do better. A book failed, write another one. A book has a plot hole? It was the best I could do at the time. I get a 1-star review. I can’t make everyone happy with every book I write. The future it out there waiting to be had. I’m going to reach out and grab it.
This blog will be my 137th consecutive blog post since I decided to start blogging every day. Today’s video my 150th 5 a Day With Jay. Some numbers I didn’t cover in my By The Numbers episode were video views and blog hits. I’ll make a point to get to those come the end of June.
Also of note, I will be gone a majority of next week, the week after that, and probably the week after that. it is, after all, Summer and there’s vacations to be had. I will continue to blog daily, even if it’s only a picture or two. 5 a Day With Jay will resume with regularity in the 1st week of July.
I’m off to make some words happen.
Until Next Time!
My expectation for the first month getting back to publishing after quite some time away was to sell exactly zero copies of anything. I fully expected my social media presence to also be stagnant. I’ve been away for a long time and haven’t put anything out for readers. Why, I thought, would anyone show up?
I read Dean’s blog post this week about not worrying about the numbers and just having fun. That’s a luxury I don’t have because I don’t have a staff to watch the number for me. That doesn’t mean I let the numbers drive my decisions on what I’m writing next. What it means is that I’m keeping an eye on things to see where they’re going and little else (at this point).
That doesn’t mean the numbers are totally unimportant. It doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing in the future to help those numbers. What it means is that I’m keeping an eye on things and tracking for seeing how progress is going. I won’t be dwelling on these numbers as if my life depends on them. I don’t check as frequently as I did when I first started this journey. Are they important? To a degree, yes. As an indie publisher, I want to know what’s happening. As a writer, no. They’re unimportant as the whole goal of doing this is to have fun. If I make money along the way, even better.
So, here’s the numbers for April and May
Month April May
Twitter 1227 1219
Facebook (personal) 701 702
Instagram 314 314
LinkdIn 300 300
TikTok 177 208
Blog subscribers 104 114
Facebook (author page) 56 56
YouTube 40 41
Newsletter 31 32
Anchor 2 4
Tumblr 0 4
Goodreads X 164
Published Books 14 16
Published Shorts 0 2
Orphan 0/0 0/698
Villain 0/0 0/207
Haircut 0 3
1010 1101 for President 0 2
So, that might be a little confusing. Here’s the gist. Social Media saw small growth over the month. Nothing major, just small growth. I expected stagnant growth, we had some growth (except Twitter). I didn’t track Goodread numbers from April, but I think I had one new “friend” on Goodreads. The fact that people started following me on Tumblr surprised me. I won’t lie about that. I’ve been posting there for YEARS and never had a single follower. Color me surprised.
As for sales, I know I’d said some time ago I was going to go wide. For reasons, right now, I’m staying narrow and we’ll revisit that discussion at a later time.
Again, 0 was the expectation. The first number is sales. Both Orphan and Villain, 0 sales both months. page reads, 698 for Orphan and 207 for Villain. This means at least 2 people read book 1 and one person read book 2. Hey! That’s a lot better than 0.
The two short stories, 3 for Haircut and 2 for 1010 for prez. Five short story sales.
Now, remember, expectation was 0. I’m nobody. I have a tiny following. The fact I sold anything at all amazes me. To no end! I’m delighted as can be. Any growth is the expectation. May was a good month for getting started.
For June, I’m doing nothing different. I’ll keep doing 5 a Day With Jay, and blogging daily. That’s it. I’ll make sure everything goes to all the different social media sites, but that’s all I’m doing at this point.
Speaking of announcements, GRPC2 is out in print!
I’m off to go make more words happen.
Until Next Time!
I never claim to be perfect in anything that I do. Far from it. Do I think I’m a perfect writer? Oh, heavens no. Not by a long shot. Do I want to be a perfect writer? That’s not the right question.
To write a “perfect” story is to be one that is so generic, it’s lost all its personality. It’s washed clean and no longer has any personality.
That doesn’t mean riddled with typos and grammatical errors. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the writer’s voice. When I write, I’m protective of that voice and my creativity.
I’m not out to offend anyone with my writing. That’s not my goal. I’m also not trying to set anyone on edge. All I try to do, is tell a story I’m happy with, enjoy telling and am satisfied with. In the end, I really write for myself first. I don’t tell a perfect story mostly because I don’t want to read a perfect story.
I don’t like stories where everything works out perfectly for all involved. That’s not how life normally works. There are bumps, ups, downs, lurches, crashes. Things can get messy. Many of my favorite books have devastating outcomes. I’m not a happily-ever-after writer.
On top of that, I’m not perfect in the fact that I may be plugging away on a story, and forget a detail by the time I get to the end of the book. Yes, I’ll usually do a read through of the book once it’s done and try to clean up typos, but I will sometimes miss a small detail. I’ve had some of these pointed out to me before. Every time I’ve decided that it’s not critical to the plot and likely not something that most readers will get hung up on. If they do…guess what.
I’m happy they got hung up on that one little detail. Why? It’ll keep them thinking about my stories. I may not be the best writer you’ve ever heard of…but you have heard of me, right?
Don’t take that as “I hate my audience” or “I think they’re all stupid.” Heavens no. I love every reader. I don’t want someone to walk away from a book upset or unhappy. Let me give an example of what I’m talking about.
In Golden West book 1, one character gives another character a coin during a train ride.
Now, will this detail get you hung up on the outcome of the story if it’s not resolved? I did go back and remove that based on one person’s feedback and now I wish I’d left it in there. Not because I want anyone to get hung up, but because it was a minor detail that had no impact on the outcome of the story. Perhaps readers would have allowed their mind to wander and come up with a solution on their own.
When I reader an Epic fantasy series years ago, I got hung up on a small detail like this. The main character pricked himself on a thorny vine and the author dedicated a paragraph to how the thorn worked its way under the skin and into the character’s flesh.
And? And? thousands of pages later…I’m still hung up on that one small detail. Years later, I still remember that small detail. The book series had ‘thorn’ in it. The main character got pricked by a thorn. Why? Why did the author invest so many words to tell me about it?
In the end, the series is magnificent. I have no complaints. Is it a perfect series? No. It’s got flaws, and quirks. But it’s got character its own and I’m not talking about POV characters. I’m talking about the writing style is almost its own character. The author’s style comes across. I’ve read everything by this author because of those little details that keep me thinking about the book and wondering “What about?”
I’ve rambled long enough. I’m off to go make words happen.
Until Next Time!
Today I did a little test with my YouTube live stream. It hadn’t been streaming. Not sure why or what I was doing differently. Today, it appeared that it all worked.
Even though I was only testing, I still decided to chit chat a little bit about what’s going on with the books, what I did today, and other things about the setup I’m using.
Lots of info in the video if’n you’re interested. I’ll write a longer post on Monday.
Until Next Time!
Up first: Live stream scheduling.
I know I’m not on a schedule with the live streams to YouTube. My apologies for that. I’ve many things to figure out, like how to set up my feed to alert people 30 minutes before I “Go Live”. The main purpose of the streaming instead of recording and uploading is time savings. I also need to figure out the background music and title shot before I start streaming. We’ll get there. Please be patient while I figure out new technology.
Secondly, my person schedule. I still work all day. That’s not going to change any time in the near future. What will change is I’m getting up earlier to do my workout rather than taken an hour after work for my workout, then shower, then get dinner, etc. I’m getting as much done in the morning as I can, so, when I’m done with work, I can get to the writing business.
That said, today I got done with work and took a nap. I’m old. My body doesn’t want to adjust as quickly as I want to. Again, this will take time but we’ll get there. Much like my brain, my body is learning new things as well.
Finally, Jack Kane book 3. My intention was to sit down last night, crank out a couple of thousand words, and get the file over to Mike so he could do his chapter. Well, I’ve been in the story of 3 other series, lots of edits, and getting things scheduled and uploaded. My brain wasn’t fully in the Jack Kane brain space. I didn’t get as much done last night as I’d hoped.
Tonight, I’ll get further along and hopefully get that over to Mike.
If’n you’re curious how I got started in reading and writing Steampunk, check out the video tonight.
I’m off to go make words happen.
Until Next Time!
The title of this blog post couldn’t be any more simple. I’ll get to that in one minute. Let me cover two other topics first.
- I got background music on the live stream for youtube. My next step is to get an opening and closing video sequence. Once I have that, these streams will be mostly on auto pilot and I’ll be saving so much time. It’s exciting. 🙂
- Got started on Jack Kane book 3. I hope to get that over to my co-author, Mike Plested soon so he can dig in and get going.
Back to the main topic.
As I’ve gotten older, unlike many, I’ve found that I don’t hate certain content as much as I used to. Sure, there’s music I don’t like. Movies I think stink on ice. Books that should never have been published.
Why am I going to waste my time and energy being angry that people love something that I dislike? Twilight? I thought the books were awful and the movies worse. You love them? Good. Enjoy! I’m glad you found something you like.
Avatar? Prometheus? Those movies, for me, were beautiful to look at, but the stories so disjointed that all I could do was shake my head and wish they’d spent any amount of money on script doctors to fix the glaring problems on the screen. Did you like them? GREAT! I’m glad you did. Many people loved those movies.
John Scalzi? I think he’s a good guy, though I’ve never met him. I’ve heard stories about how he talks down to his fans and other authors. I’ve never had that interaction. I think his books are well-edited junk that have awful plots and are easily predictable. You like his stories? GREAT! I’m glad for you. Buy more of his books and enjoy them. You are his audience.
When I posted last about Scalzi, a couple of other authors thought I was on the Scalzi hate train. No, I’m really now. I wasn’t then, I’m not now. Please, if you’re an author that hates Scalzi and you think because I don’t care for Scalzi’s work, don’t think that means I’ll love your work. The last two authors that sent me work on this premise…well, let’s just say I cared for their work even less.
Quite simply, as I get older, I find I’d rather focus my time and energy into spreading love for what I love instead of hate for what I don’t like.
How do you deal with content you consume that you don’t care for?
Until Next Time!
This isn’t my first time on this merry-go-round. I’ve asked myself this question several times over the years. Is this all worth the effort I’m putting into what I’m doing? I’m creating art, but to what end? Why put so many hours into something only to put it out and watch it fail?
GRPC2 launched yesterday. I sent an email to my newsletter. Put out a blog post. The YouTube video. Put it out on FaceBook. All my other social media.
2 days in, I’ve sold 0 copies.
Let me stop you from going and buying the book right now. Please, don’t buy the book because I don’t want to guilt anyone into buying a copy. I fully expected to sell zero copies. I said when I launched the book, I expected to sell zero copies in the first month of launching the book. This isn’t a surprise.
When I launched Golden West, I sold a couple of copies. Gave away quite a few. Second book, I sold very few. I didn’t sell any of the 3rd. To this day, I think one person has read book 3 in the Golden West trilogy and that’s a completed trilogy. Honestly, I expected to sell some copies. I didn’t think the story would fall dead.
It did. I didn’t fully promote that series. I don’t even know how many people know I wrote it. By the time I’d started publishing those books, I’d already lost a good number of my audience. These things happen. It’s all my fault for having so many stops and starts over the years.
For those that have stuck with me and watched what I’ve done, thank you for being there. Even if you’ve not bought a book and are waiting for audio editions, I still appreciate you being there. You help keep me motivated to keep going and put out more books.
So, is this all worth it?
Honestly, I won’t be able to tell you for quite a while. I don’t know. I’ve invested myself in a 2-year plan. I want to get these 16 books written, published, and out to readers. After those 2 years, I want to work on something else if the sci-fi hasn’t taken off. If, after 5 years, I’ve still not garnered an audience, I’ll have to evaluate if it’s all worth it.
Yes, I’m giving myself 5 years. I hit publish on my first book, Chosen: Astel 1, back in 2011. I’ve been at this for 10 years already. I’ve published in fits and starts and with no consistency in either topic, genre, or schedule. This time around, I’m changing my tactic. I’m on a schedule. I’ll be putting out only Sci-Fi (Space Opera) books until I complete a story arc. I want to give readers a completed story line to follow from beginning to end.
I know I’ve lost so many people because of what I published and how I published it. I can’t change that. What I can change is how I approach my publishing going forward. That means getting on a course, on a schedule, and sticking to it. Getting words down every day to get more books done. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
The only thing that’s currently out of my control is growing my audience. How will readers find me? By me getting more and more content out there. That’s my goal. If I stick to it, over the next two years, I’ll have a dozen new books, and 50 or more short stories. 2 years, over 60 new pieces out there for people to find. That’s how I’m planning on attracting people’s attention.
Well, part of it. I also plan on reaching out to podcasting friends when I get the wheels in motion. I’ll reach out to blogs, send out review copies, find websites that do reviews and see if they’d like a copy. I’ve got plans in my head and I’m reading more books and taking more lessons to help better chart my course. Many have gone before me. Some have been wildly successful.
Let me state emphatically, I don’t feel I’m owed anything. It’s not “my turn”. I won’t succeed simply because I waited long enough and I want it bad enough. That’s not how art works. First of all, art is subjective. What one person hates, another will love. I need to get work out there, and let people find it. That’s all I can do right now.
Is it all worth it?
I simply won’t know for quite some time to come. I’m going to enjoy the ride for all its worth. I’m glad you’re here with me and I hope you stick around to see what happens next.
Until Next Time!
After many false starts writing Of Gnomes and Dwarves, I felt I needed to do something different. That world wasn’t ready to be written and my brain wasn’t fully ready for the task of creating such a monumental body of work. I had several things I needed to learn before I’d ever be able to write my great epic fantasy.
One of the biggest things I needed to learn was how to tell a full story from start to finish. I had limitations on word choice and needed to study up on grammar. There were many holes in my education. I understood technical jargon, but when it came to writing a story, I was lacking.
During NaNoWriMo, oh so many years ago, I wrote V&A Shipping. It was, at the time, intended to be a stand-alone book. I had no intention at the time of writing to create more than one story in that universe. Much like Of Gnomes and Dwarves, Vic and Argmon were from a role-playing game we’d played in high school. Other than the characters, the story had very little to do with the game.
At this time, I also thought I wanted to be a humor writer along the lines of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. Only, when I wrote, that humor didn’t fully materialize for me. There are a few funny moments, but overall, the tone of V&A Shipping is a serious story. Far deeper than intended. Yes, I wrote the story, but it went where it wanted to go.
Now, when I say this was a NaNoWriMo novel, I wrote a majority of it during the money of November, but I finished it off in December. The book weighed in around 100,000 words. It was a hefty work, but I’d finished it. I told the story I wanted to tell and I loved it.
Then I did a re-write because as everyone knows, a good book isn’t finished until you’ve done at least one re-write, right! I subscribed to the myth of re-writes and did that a couple of times with this book before putting it aside and working on Astel. Then Billy Barbarian. Then Paradise Palms. Then My Teacher is a Zombie.
I’ll stop here and pause for a second and try to explain what I was thinking at the time. My intention was to write the first book in several series. I would drop those books out into the wild and see which people loved the most. V&A Shipping and Billy Barbarian I did as podiobooks and got those uploaded. They generated an audience. So, logically, the first book I published was Astel.
You can see where I’m going here. I failed many times over. First off, I should have kept writing in the V&A Shipping universe. Secondly, I should have published V&A Shipping first. Eventually I did, but I’d released so much else first. I compounded my errors by not sticking to one series or even one genre. I wanted to write and publish everything.
Nothing sold (of course).
This caused me to completely rethink what I was doing and I stopped writing and publishing. I’d put out 16 books over the course of 4 or 5 years. Nothing stuck. I’ll put numbers out next week and show where this failure happened. It was depressing.
I’m one of those people that was quite prolific and then disappeared. I’m a “what ever happened to?” writer. I’ve done that a few times. I’d pop my head up and drop something, only to fade away again. Why? Cuz I kept failing.
Now, I wasn’t putting a lot of effort into keeping things rolling. I’d write books and keep track. I blogged. But I wasn’t releasing anything. I came up with more excuses than you can shake a stick at not to publishing anything else.
There is a silver lining to all this. I found my way into the story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it. I wound up with a backlog of books in that story and I’m excited with the direction it’s headed. Much has changed in publishing over the years and with my mindset around what I’m doing and planning on doing. I’m excited once again about what’s coming.
I’m not just excited, I’m pumped! I’m eager to start putting books out again and getting this machine rolling. Why? Because for the first time in years, I’ve a plan, a schedule, and a backlog. With this series of blog posts I’ve been doing over the past few months and with the YouTube videos I’ve been doing, I’m excited once again to see what’ll happen.
As I keep saying over and over and over again, I know this will be a LONG slow journey. I’m not expecting to do well out of the gate. It won’t happen. Each time I’d drop a book, I’d anxiously reload the web pages to see what sold. Multiple times per day. I’d be disappointed. I’m not doing that any more. I know my numbers will stink on ice. I’m starting at the bottom. Lower even. I’ve already put out books that went up the charts and rapidly dropped.
My plan going forward it to, once a month, pull the numbers and present them. How are books doing? How am I selling? How is my platform growing? What am I doing to expand my reach? I’m going to do all of this publicly.
I want you to see what I’m doing and know that I’m keeping an eye on things. That I’m not letting this slip again. I’ll even start posting daily word counts once again so you can follow the progress of the books I’m working on.
I’ve got big plans. Everything is already in motion. It’s difficult to explain how excited I am. I almost can’t contain myself.
Until Next Time!
When I was still in high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to tell stories and write books. Long ago I’d bought into the myth that selling a book meant instant fame and fortune.
So, I tried to write a book and failed miserably. I did, however, get on the path to telling this story about the first book I ever wrote.
Like many teens in the 80s, I played Dungeons and Dragons with friends. Many, many hours of Dungeons and Dragons. Also fantasy games like Ultima, Adventure, Wizardy, Bard’s Tale. But it was the characters from those lengthy D&D sessions that stuck in my head well past high school. I knew I had to tell stories about them.
Now, I’ll stop you from your eye rolling. Yes, I’ve long since heard the “Don’t tell stories about your D&D characters. I’ve heard that many, many times over the years.
In the Navy, I read many fantasy books and I thought, “Hey! I can do this!” The excitement overtook me and I set out to write, by hand, long form, in a notebook, the first stories about those characters. I would get 3 or 4 chapters in, re-read what I’d done, or someone else would read what I’d done, and it was terrible. I’d throw it out (I wish now, so many years later, I’d have kept it all).
I did this several times over my Naval career and failed every time I tried. I would give up and shake my head. I didn’t have a typewriter. That was my excuse. My hand writing is so bad that it’ll never be good enough to be a book. I had every excuse to stop and not continue.
The writing bug kept calling me back.
When I left the Navy, I still wanted to write those stories. I’d started collecting comics again and discovered Cerebus. I read every word in those comics cover to cover. Dave Sim was quite clear that he wanted to write 300 issues and end with the main character’s death and be done with it.
Wait a minute! That’s what I could do! I decided writing comics was easier than writing a novel. Why didn’t I describe each panel and put in the words that’d go with each panel? I loved comics, maybe that’s what was holding me back. I understood story structure, but I wasn’t good at telling the story.
Over the course of the next year, I would spend time writing, by hand, the first book as a comic. My plan was that each story arc would be 15 comics and I would later re-write it all as a novel. Over the course of 300 comics, that’d be 20 books in total. I plotted and planned each arc and wrote the first 15 comic arc.
Then I wrote the next 15 comic arc. Then the third. Then the fourth.
At the time, I hung out a lot at the local comic book store and met Pete Woods. Pete was a struggling artists and fantastic! He was submitting his art everywhere. I let him read my first pages and he nodded and said “Yeah, I could draw this. Looks interesting.”
I was stoked! I had an artist. I would just need to get money together to pay him and to produce a comic, indie style! It was the wild west with comics and indies were the thing.
Then Pete got a gig doing Warrior Nun Arela. Then he got picked up to work at Jim Lee’s studios. Pete and I hung out at the studio and I met many young artists, colorists, letterers, and a couple of the big names (never Jim Lee). Pete was on the fast track and we soon lost touch as our schedules no longer lined up.
I didn’t have an artist any longer. Drat!
Then I finished school, had my associate’s in Electrical Engineering, and went to work at Qualcomm. I put writing aside. I was there for a year and started at Pacific Bell.
I’m unsure why, but the writing bug hit me again while I was at PacBell. I had these comic scripts and knew I wanted to write them as novels. It was time to write a book.
Using the first 15 comic arc as a plot outline, I wrote book 1 over the course of a year. I agonized over that book and struggled to get it written. That first version was roughly 50,000 words when done. But it was done. I’d done it. It took me 15 years, but I’d finally finished book 1 in the Of Gnomes and Dwarves series. My epic fantasy novel had been written. Only 19 more to go and I’d have the entire collection done!
Yeah. The book was awful. Even though I had a computer to write on with a spell checker, I wasn’t well versed in sentence structure, grammar, and the flow of a story. I was excited at telling the tale, but it wasn’t a good book.
That didn’t deter me. I wrote the same book again. Then I spent the next 2 years editing, re-writing, and editing some more. I submitted that book anywhere I could, only to be rejected over and over again.
It took me a long time to finally put book 1 aside and look at the pages for book 2. I’d changed positions at work and was sent off for a week-long training. I took my laptop and decided, I’m going to write book 2. Let’s see how much of a start I can get into book 2 on this week long trip.
I left Sunday afternoon and checked into my hotel. I wrote all night long until around 10pm, which was my normal bedtime. I was up at 5:00 am, showered and ready by 5:30 am. Uh…I didn’t have to be to class until 10:00 am. So, I sat and wrote until the last minute I needed to be out the door. Packed up my laptop, and off to class I went.
We had an hour long lunch. Being frugal, I’d brought lunch. I had an hour to sit there and write. We had 15 minute breaks regularly. I’d write. We’d get done around 4:00 pm. I’d go eat dinner, go back to the room, call the Mrs, then spend all night writing.
Over the course of that week, I wrote book 2. It weighed in around 60,000 words. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. It was finished. It was, to this day, the fastest I’ve ever written anything. The closest I’ve come is writing 95,000 words in one month.
Of course, both book 1 and book 2 in that series were terrible. So was book 3 and the half of book 4 I’d written. It’s not garbage. I learned a LOT writing those book. They were all lacking.
I’d finished them, though. I learned that the best thing I could do was to finish a book, and move on to the next. By doing that, I became a better story teller.
This post is getting long. I ramble more about this in the video. Suffice to say, this is only the next stop in my writing journey. I’ll talk more about that journey tomorrow.
Until Next Time!
Read the quote again.
One more time.
I never intended to do this blog as writing advice, but I’m going to pontificate for a bit today, if you’ll indulge me.
Back in 10th grade…oh so many years ago, I took a creative writing class. I’d written some stories before and tried drawing cartoon. All were awful. This was the first time where I had a teacher explaining things like structure, pacing, and the like. I learned about poetry and haiku as well as different styles of writing.
The teacher introduced me to things beyond what I had thought about when it came to creating stories.
Learning about writing was a great thing and I applied what I learned in the stories I wrote during her class. It was a great class (watch the video for more about the class).
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of great things about writing and I picked up many hard to forget myths about writing as well.
This is all I’ll say. I don’t subscribe to the million words of crap theory any longer.
Yes, I’ve written about this in the past. I no longer believe that EVERYONE must write a million words before they’ll write something worthwhile.
I think back to that creative writing class. everything I wrote in that class got a “A” from the teacher. She didn’t know me. Didn’t know my background. All she knew was my passion for creating what I thought was a good story. She loved the stories I wrote. So I kept writing stories.
I lost my way many times along my writing journey, but I always wanted to be a writer. An author. To have people read my stories and enjoy them. To that end, I’ve succeeded. Many people have read and enjoyed my work. Many I don’t know.
Not all the words I’ve written are crap even though, over the years, I’ve written somewhere between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 words, of those not everything it published. Many of those words will never see the light of day. They were practice words.
That doesn’t mean I’ve trunked everything from those early days of writing. As I said, I don’t think all of it is crap. Some of those stories I learned a lot from and some are decent stories. I’m sure not everything I will write in the future will be a great story, but I will learn from everything I write.
Why am I saying all this?
Because I know with every word I write, I will get better at my craft. I’ve said many times over the years, it’s impossible to get worse at art if you practice with regularity.
To that end, not everyone will be at the same path on their journey. Some will take longer to produce a quality story than it’ll take someone else. One person will write significantly faster than another person. Everyone is different. What will make a person a better writer is persistence, patience, and practice.
That’s my goal, to keep plugging away and putting out books and improving my craft. Not everything I write will be a story everyone will want to read, but that will be more a matter of taste and opinion. Not so much that the story is lacking in quality.
What I’m saying is simple: don’t try to be Stephen King with your first book. Have patience with yourself and know it’ll take time to learn the craft of writing (or any art for that matter). Practice your craft regularly. Be persistent in completing and producing work. You’ll get better at your own speed and in your own time.
Until Next Time!