Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dean Wesley Smith Workshop & My Story in a Day Challege

On Friday, I spent most of the day creating a 5000 word short story from scratch.  I had no advance preparation.  No planning.  No nothing, but a hard deadline that I had to write the words "The End" by the end of the day.

Part of the reason for this challenge is that I'll be attending Dean Wesley Smith's Character Voice and Setting workshop in April of next year.  This is an invitation only workshop, and I had to answer a lot of questions before I got my invitation.  I've heard lots of fabulous things about the workshop, and also that we will be doing a lot of writing while we're there.  From talking to people who have attended in the past, I'm anticipating that we will have at least two assignments to write a 4-7k words short story in a day during the week of the workshop.

I am a person who responds well to deadlines, and I know that I'm capable of writing that many words in a day, but I was less certain of my ability to write a complete story in that time.  Words on the page with no ending are great, but not the goal here.  I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of performing.

Now I know I can.  I am really pleased with the story I wrote, and nowhere near as nervous about the workshop in April.

Don't get me wrong, I still have some trepidation, but it's tinged more with excitement than dread.  I can do this.  Hooray!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Story in a Day Challenge

I've been dragging my feet about starting a new story for too long.  It's time for a jump start, and I want to do it wholeheartedly.  To that end, I'm issuing a challenge to myself to write a story in day, tomorrow, Friday, August 17th.

This story must be between 3,000 and 7,000 words.  It must end.  It doesn't have to be polished, but it does have to be done.

If anybody is interested in joining, please feel welcome to post here.  We can send each other our results, so there's some incentive not to blow the challenge off.

I realize this is short notice and tomorrow's a work day for many, but I also plan to do this again a few times a year, so if you're interested and this date doesn't work for you, go ahead and suggest a date that would.  It's words time!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I should have written this post long ago, but I've been struggling to convince myself that the email acceptance I received and the contract I signed were actually real.  After so many years--my last story was published in 2004--I was beginning to think it was a fluke.  I hadn't written my proverbial million words of crap yet.  Shouldn't have happened.

Yet, from all the conventions I've attended, and the successful authors I have heard speak, they all say the same thing.  The people who find success are the people who don't give up.  No matter how bleak it looks.  No matter how tall the stack of rejection letters--even if you could heat your house in January with a ritual burning--each of those rejections is a step towards publication.  Every story you write teaches you something new.  No matter how often the error side of the trial and error cycle looms its ugly head, if you keep writing, and keep learning more about the craft, you're getting better.

I lost a lot of time over the past eight years.  Some of that was through divorce and the emotional upheaval that goes with it.  Some of it was from choosing to spend my time in unproductive (if enjoyable) pursuits--hello, World of Warcraft!  Some of it was plain, downright fear of failure.

I wonder where I would be now if I had made different choices?

The truth is, I'll never know.  In the meantime, I am happy to announce my first sale to a pro-paying market.  My short story, The Memory of Huckleberries, will be the cover story in the September issue of Penumbra ezine.

I am only just now letting it sink in that, yes, this is real, and yes, I can succeed if I keep working and don't give up.  We never know how long the journey will be, but if you're passionate, the journey is worth the effort.  Enjoy the process, have fun, and (cliche alert!) keep your eyes on the prize.