Header Image - Getting the words out by any means possible.

Figurative Inspirational Espresso

by Jonathan 0 Comments
Sometimes I just skip the water.

Sometimes I just skip the water.

I read a fair amount of writing-related blogs and websites to help keep me going. There’s tons of good stuff out there and today I found Bibliophile Stalker’s links and plugs post to be an especially nice melange of good stuff. I went from there to John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, where I dug into his Big Idea series of posts from other authors. I have to confess, I was drawn by China MiĆ©ville‘s cover for The City and The City. Each author provides some insight for how they develop story ideas in general or how they developed specific story ideas. Good stuff. If you need a boost today, check these out.

80k Must Be the Breaking Point

by Jonathan 6 Comments
A Stylized Interpretation of Me Wrangling with My Laptop

A Stylized Interpretation of Me Wrangling with My Laptop

I hit 80k words last Friday – it felt damn good. I added a little sumpin’ to the word pile on Sat, knocking out 1000 words in an hour. I am set to finish up within the deadline I set in April – the end of August for my first draft.

My laptop has other ideas. It crapped the bed, so to speak, yesterday. I headed down to the shed to get another stolen hour of writing in before we headed to a going away party for a friend of ours. I plugged everything in, got my writing mix rolling on the ipod, and hit the on button. Nothing. No lights, no familiar whir of the fan, no glowing reassurance from the LCD screen. Maybe it felt overworked or maybe it just didn’t like my work.

I check a bunch of stuff. I took the thing apart (I only had three screws left over once I put it back together!). I tested the AC adapter. It would seem the problem is in the box itself. Good times.

Plan B – I dragged down our 10-year-old desktop (Dell Dimension XPS T500 – phat.) from the attic after much searching and help from my wife. She has a knack for finding lost things. I got everything up and running by 12:30 AM and went to bed.

Turns out I lost my last thousand words, as I had not backed them up on my external hard drive. I’ve surpassed Google Docs allowance for document size and have not broken the writing up to submit in smaller chunks. I’m hoping I can retrieve it from my laptop, but in the meantime, upward and onward.

P.S. I’m considering dumping Windows XP for an open source operating system. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment.


by Jonathan 1 Comment
I much prefer the stationary grindstone for nasal contact

I much prefer the stationary grindstone for nasal contact

I managed to reach my 10k word count last week. The 2k per day goal seemed to work out pretty well as far as getting deeper into the story as a writer and establishing a flow. Therefore, I’m continuing with that goal for the foreseeable future. Last night I was up until about midnight – 3 hours in the shack – grinding out the words to reach my goal. It was probably not my finest effort, but I did manage to get some story bones down. I’ll rely on the second run to flesh out things where necessary and prune the deadwood.

I’ve enjoyed a number of great posts this week concerning writer topics such as motivation, looking to unconventional sources for ideas, dealing with the “Am-I-Crazies”, not sweating genre, and improving your odds of publication. As always, there are tons more items out there, but I enjoyed these the most. Oh yeah, I enjoyed the New Yorker interview with Ursula K. Le Guin as well. Thanks to jlake and bibliophile stalker for the near-simultaneous linkage.

Altered States

by Jonathan 2 Comments
One of my all time favorite King reads. It kicked the movies tuckus.

One of my all time favorite King reads. It kicked the movie's tuckus.

I went for a run last night around 9 PM. I don’t run regularly, but I do it when I can muster the motivation. About half a mile in, the endorphins kicked in and my brain started to work. Dare I say, it may even have been better than a hot cup of strong, black coffee. As I ran, I worked at some issues with my story and came up with what I hope are nice additions to help flesh some things out and tie some things together that had been nagging at me. It felt good on so many levels.

I don’t have a whole bunch of ways to ratchet up my gray matter, but the ones I do use are coffee, running/walking, sleep (good rest goes a long way), reading excerpts on writing, reading excerpts of what I consider good writing. Anyone else have any suggestions? I’m always willing to try something new.

I don’t foresee myself going the Sadie Plant route (although I wouldn’t mind reading her book), so if psychotropics or opiates are your bag, well, bully for you and keep up the good work.

Writing Standards?

by Jonathan 7 Comments

I’m an avid reader of fiction writing sites such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America or any of the blogs on my blog roll. I can’t get enough of learning how other people write, what elements make for good fiction, character development, etc. The more I read this stuff, though, the more it occurs to me that anyone can have the formula for writing, but they still need to the ability to write (or at least cultivate it) to make the story fly.

Im hanging on to read the next chapter

I'm hanging on to read the next chapter

I was thinking specifically of the concepts of beginning chapters with hooks and ending with cliffhangers that I came across at Fiction Writer’s Connection tip sheet on revising your manuscript. Does blindly following these techniques result in homogeneous writing, i.e., if you put all writing done according to these guidelines in a bin and pull one out, can you distinguish one author from another? I suspect the answer will be sometimes. Ultimately, it will be our ability to write well and develop a compelling story that will set us apart.

As competitive writing (commercial writing?) is a new concept to me, I’m trying to sort through all this stuff without worrying too much about it. It’s easy to slip down that rabbit hole and never find my way to completing my current project.

My five favorite sites for writing resources are:

  1. Wikipedia – Quick and easy reference for just about anything on earth. I find it a nice way to get an overview on a subject or delve into the particulars. Lots of links to other related sites within the side. Loads of outside links as well.
  2. Dictionary.com – Part of the larger Reference.com – Fairly self-explanatory.
  3. Google Alerts – I subscribe to alerts related to writing fiction. That’s the coolest – you can subscribe to any search terms relevant to your interests – just type in your keywords. I recommend the digest format to keep your alerts to a minimum. It’s a nice way to find things that you don’t see in your regular blog feeds. If you don’t subscribe, I highly recommend it.
  4. Any number of Agent Blogs (or all of them), especially those in your area of interest. These blogs are incestuous, but in a good way – Et In Arcaedia, Ego., Nathan Bransford, BookEnds, LLC, and Janet Reid.
  5. SpecFicWorld.com – a nice clearing house for all things speculative fiction.