*Crickets*

You can’t always judge people by appearances. Likewise, just because my website looks dead doesn’t mean it is. I know on the internet if a website hasn’t been updated in a month it’s officially declared dead, so I guess my site is looking like some mummified relic of a forgotten age.

But I’m here to change that.

So I took a “sabbatical” (it’s just a word I use to feel better about being completely unproductive) from around the first of the year until around June. I feel pretty bad about it, but hey, them’s the apples. Work has been pretty hectic and I have a baby on the way, due the end of next month. I tell myself that’s enough reason, but then again excuses are cheap.

I’ve tried to be more active in my local writers group and the online crit group I’m a member of. I found a pretty decent (so far) writer’s exercise workbook from Goodwill that I’ve been slowly making my way through. Since June I’ve written two new stories that I’m currently editing and I’ve got a submission that’s been out for 122 days. It is by far the longest I’ve waited for a response and it’s slowly killing me.

One of the stories is a western, the first I’ve attempted to write and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve got to send it out to a couple of beta readers after this next round of edits and see how it goes, but I hope that within a month or so I can get it out on submission.

Also, the NC State Writer’s Contest is coming up with a deadline in early October. I’ve got to decide what my strongest story is, send it out and cross my fingers.

I feel like my writing is a lot stronger than it was a year ago. Well, actually, I think the writing itself is about the same, but my storytelling or story construction seems to be coming together in a more coherent way. I actually went back and read some things I wrote two, three years ago and was surprised that they didn’t make me laugh at how horrible they were. I’m thinking of doing a few edits on them and submitting them. I didn’t think they were even worth the attempt after I wrote them. It’s amazing what your impression of your work can be if you just get a few years away from it.

So, despite the lack of updates here I am trying to keep my nose to the grindstone, and while I pull away often I always go back. I’m really hoping I can get more disciplined in my routine, but again with an infant on the way I don’t think I can give myself too hard of a time. Though, plenty of people do much more against far more difficult situations, so I shouldn’t use that excuse too much.

There’s only one thing that’s going to get me to where I want to be and that’s persistence. And the more constant the effort the quicker the results. Well, you would assume. Nothing goes anywhere if I’m being lazy.

I’m going to put my head down and pull my collar up and endure. And I’ll try not to forget I have a website until I get a renewal notice.

Still here…

Not that you can tell, been like six months since my last entry. I’m still plugging away writing and trunking and hopefully improving my skills as I go.  I joined a local writers workshop but its more of a support group than anything constructive and I think that’s ok. If nothing else it gives me a chance to spend some time with like minded individuals that take my writing seriously and that is a really big deal. I’m still getting used to it.

I have joined an online crit group and got great feedback on The Heirloom. I also got a rejection on that piece and the editor praised the voice as being “impressively and consistently well done”. Being a period piece I think that’s a huge compliment. I know the story portion needs some work, but I’m still fairly proud of that story.

My latest story “The Drought” is without a doubt the best I’ve written so far. It’s currently being reviewed at a magazine, looks like the got past the slush readers so assuming that’s correct then that’s a compliment. I fantasize about the market buying the story but I really don’t believe it will happen, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a personal rejection. It’s the little victories.

I’ve been playing too much Minecraft recently, but I’ve made some progress in the past few days. I got a new story idea while I was out mowing the yard this past weekend and I’ve gotten a pretty decent start on it, though I’m still trying to figure out where the story is going. Based off my history I’m trying to do a bit more planning on where the story is going before I really dive int it. It can be pretty depressing to have a story just go on and on and on and have no idea where it’s going. That’s when I have a real bad habit of having my characters getting knocked out. Hey, you live and learn.

Anyways, I’m very excited about “The Drought”. I think it has a good chance at being the first story I get published. Or maybe, its the first story I feel confident enough about to actually try. Either way, I think good times are coming.

Until then, I’ll keep on writing.

Status of Things

So I’m still plugging away. I haven’t felt very productive recently. I got some feedback on my recent stories and plan to do at least one more revision on them to incorporate a couple of suggestions, but I’ve been tied up with two other stories I’m working on.

The main story I’m working on now was inspired when I found a pocket watch that had been left to me. I can’t remember exactly when or how I got it, but I know from my father it belonged to my great-grandfather, Andrew. It’s never worked since I’ve had it, so I popped it open to get a look at the clockwork. Apparently, the winding gear is broken, not sure how difficult or expensive it would be to fix or replace, and I’m not sure that it’s the only problem.

Anyways, so that sparked the idea of a young man in the early 1900’s, taking a leave of his studies to return home after his grandfather’s death. He discovers, while going through the estate, a pocket watch that was left to him and, after some time with it, discovers it has a mysterious ability.

I like the idea, I’m just not sure how it’s going to play out. I’ve also been reading Chekhov and Wells to mimic their style and vocabulary to set it in the time period. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve written. Usually takes me about an hour to write 250 words or so just because I’m focusing on a different style, but it’s fun.

I’m also toying around with the idea of posting some stories on this blog, maybe one here and there when I feel it won’t sell but still see worth in the story. At the moment I’m not really sure, but then again, worst case scenario I could always delete it later if I thought it was crap.

I’m also lacking much of an audience, but maybe that’s because I’m lacking the content. I know this blog tends to fall by the wayside with everything else I have to focus on in life.

 

Out of the Forest and Into the Clearing

I feel like I’ve finally busted out of my slump. I finished up two stories earlier this week and feel pretty good about them. I’ve polished one up and sent it out for publication. And I’m confident the story will get published, I just need to find the right market for it.  I’m going to be working on the second story and getting it out shortly and hopefully use this momentum to push forward into more uncharted territory.

Now I just have to pull away from the short stories and get back in novel mode. *Fingers Crossed*

Audit

I’m already a month behind on my audit. I don’t really know what to make note of but I’ll throw some things out there.

I’ve failed writing everyday. I think it’s just too much of a lifestyle change.  Trying to go from zero to sixty. So my goal now is to write every other day and if I can meet that as a baseline then I’m in a better position to move forward.

My personal opinion of the previous writing year isn’t very positive.  I don’t feel like I did enough and I’m disappointed.

I’ve got a first-draft of a novel stuck at 41k.  I’m very excited about the novel, but I dread moving forward on it so I’ve focused on writing short-stories and getting published.  Neither has gotten me very far.

I’ve been in a slump since around October that I’m still fighting my way out of.  I can’t say I haven’t written at all, but it’s been  a much, much lower frequency than I would be happy with.

Since October I submitted 9 stories and had all of them rejected.  So one goal for 2014 is to submit more than I did last year and – cross my fingers – get one of them published.  I’ve got 27 stories in varying degrees of completion. Some worth finishing, others not.

I’m also disappointed with the number of books I’m reading, so I have a goal to get that number up as well.

So there it is, my writing State-of-the-Union and to mark the occasion I’ve just submitted a story for rejection. Wish me luck.

A New Year of Unknowns

So here I am in the first hour or so of a new year, ripe with unknown possibilities, achievements, heartaches and disappointments.  I can only control so much of what’s possible.  I will strive to achieve my goals and, even if it’s by baby steps, any movement forward is better than the alternative.  I have goals of exceeding my output from the previous year if not in quantity, at least in quality. That’s about all I can do.  The rest is left in the hands of fate, luck, or some other generic cosmic deity that probably has me on the naughty list.

But what I can say with certainty is that I will spend the year as I spent tonight. With my best-friend, fiancee, favorite reader, and just all around favorite person. She motivates me to be better than I can be. Looking forward to another year with her by my side I find it hard to have doubts.  Behind every great man is a great woman. She’s meeting her end of the bargain, I just have to step up to mine.

Time to be great.