A.C.’s Journal: Entry 24 – A Workhorse Writing Day

People keep posting on social media about 5k to 7k per week is a lot. I just calculated my average over the past four years on just the Freelan novels, and it came to 12,207 per week. Of course, that’s an average and doesn’t include my little “side trips” into short stories, a romance novel, and a fantasy novel, totaling a little over 300k. But then, I write full-time. For me, everyday is a workhorse writing day.

How such a day goes:

  • Get up
  • Grab a glass of orange juice
  • Turn on the laptop
  • Start writing (or rereading/tweaking/editing what I previously wrote)
  • Take a break and get some hot tea and yogurt
  • Back to writing
  • Break for lunch
  • Back to writing
  • Get an afternoon snack
  • Back to writing
  • Greet hubby when he comes home from work
  • Back to writing
  • Backup my files
  • Relax and rewind for the next day

Just as a workhorse gets harnessed and spends the day at the work for which he is trained, I get harnessed to my laptop and my brain gets hooked into the work for which years of life had trained it.

Thankfully, I have lots of “buddies” to keep me company and make sure I stay “at it.”

How does your workhorse writing day go?


A.C.’s Journal: Entry 23 – The Push-Pull of Writing

A few days ago, I sat trying to decide whether to push or give into the pull of writing. “What’s that?” you ask. Good question. Answer: It’s something I just made up.

To me, the push of writing is new stuff, pushing at my brain to get out, get typed up on my laptop screen or jotted on a notepad. It has a loud voice and a very pestering manner.

The pull, on the other hand, comes from the stuff I have already typed up (right now that amounts to 2.6million words in the Freelan series and about 200k in various short stories and a fantasy novel in the works titled The B’raith Chronicles). It all pulls me to reread, edit, purify, clarify, and catch those pesky typos.

Recently, I found something in one of the Freelan MSs that contradicted something in a later Freelan MS. Not surprising. I often have an idea that occurs later in the series and go ahead, heeding that push, and type it up. Then I get pulled back to where I had been working and continue on. As a result, a new technology that I had first appearing in Year 12 of the series got mentioned in Years 7, 9, and 10. Yikes! The issue became a choice between removing those references or keeping them and changing Year 12. Since the scenes in 7, 9, and 10 needed that new technology, guess which choice I made!

Yes, I changed Year 12. Sigh.

Would love to hear if you’ve had similar experiences.

Thanks for stopping by and wishing you the best in your writing.

Meanwhile, I’m getting a jump on St. Patty’s Day with these little beauties! Brain fuel.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 22 – That “Gee, I Wrote This?” Moment

You’ve all probably experienced it – that moment when you’ve reread something you wrote days, weeks, months, or even years earlier and are struck with how good (or bad) it is. That’s the test of time, when you think “Gee, I wrote this? It’s darn good (or terribly bad)!” The feeling can go either way. But that time test is valuable, giving you a more objective perspective on things.

As I read through a MS for a book in the Freelan Series, I have both reactions. Fortunately, the bad stuff (usually a somewhat garbled paragraph or some events not occurring in the proper order) only needs a little tweaking to improve it. But mostly, I have the thrill of really liking what I had worked on a few months ago. A dastardly plot – a moment that makes me cry or laugh – a scene that gets my heart pumping with excitement – they are all here. And I think, “Gee, I wrote this?” And then I say, “Of course I did!”

Back to my reading, and thanks for stopping by!

Hope your writing is going well. Let the light of creativity forever shine within you.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 21 – Becoming a Storyteller

Not sure how or why, but since I began working on my first long work of fiction Hammil Valley Rising, following it up with eight or nine more drafts of rather long works and then deciding to veer off into short stories for a bit of a “side trip,” I have found the ideas coming more easily. Practice not making perfect, but certainly easier, it seems. I have become a storyteller.

“But hey,” you might say, “they’re not published.”

True, but I have had a number of people read some, have had a few posted online (one was a bit mangled but still readable), and one just won third prize in a short story contest, and the response has been fairly positive with one person commenting on my imagination and another on my use of language. I wonder if this is all because my consumption of hot tea has increased lately. Hmm. It could be that at my age I have a lot more life experiences tucked away in my brain, and this is how they’re coming back out. Either way, I’m enjoying the experience.

Oops! Another idea is trying to pop out. Time for more hot tea and getting my fingers typing. Have a great one, all. And tell your story!

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A.C.’s Journal: Entry 20 – Originality

Tough to be original. I wrote a short story (about 8300 words) titled Book of Memories about 27 years ago. Last summer, I revamped the story and submitted it to the National Fantasy Fan Federation for their Eldritch Science publication (it’s in the October 2022 issue). The editor told me that he had read a similar story years ago (he commented that my treatment was different, though, and very poetically done). So much for my story being original. But that has me thinking that we authors shouldn’t worry about originality, at least in terms of a plot. In fact, I just finished a short story inspired by an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot with David Suchet called “The Western Star.” In that episode, a large diamond is said to be the eye of an Indian god and brings a curse on those that own it. It inspired me to write a story about some powerful stones.

The result was the short story The Eyes of Cleopatra in the collection titled Flights of Fantasy (see more here).

Of course, a common idea, especially among New Agers but also in movies and books, is that of various kinds of stones having powers. Hubby and I just watched Tom Cruise in The Mummy. There is a dagger with a large ruby mounted at the tip of the hilt. Without the ruby, the dagger is just a killing weapon. With the ruby, the dagger allows Set, the Egyptian god of death, to enter the body of the man stabbed with it. If it’s good enough for Tom, it’s good enough for me. And hopefully, my story, along with the rest of the ones in that collection, will be good enough for you.

As for originality, don’t worry about it. Just let your own voice come through that rather well known plot.

Thanks for stopping by.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 19 – Type-isms

In addition to word-isms about which I wrote here, I have type-isms, that is, typos that I make as a matter of habit. Some are caught by Spellcheck in MS Word while others are not. Catchable type-isms are “jsut” which autocorrects to “just,” things like “sawt he” which usually autocorrects to “saw the,” and starting a capitalized word with two capitals, such as “ACtion” which autocorrects to “Action.”

One of my most frequent non-catchable type-isms is typing “and” instead of “had.” I often catch it when rereading, but sometimes I don’t, making things a bit confusing for hubby when he reads the text. A big question is how to train my fingers to type things correctly.

Sadly, Spellcheck just reinforces the bad habit, but if I turn off Spellcheck, the typos will still exist. A bit of a conundrum, but not one that stops me from forging ahead.

If you have such a conundrum, don’t let it stop you either! Forge on in the New Year!

Time for a tea and donut break to fuel up my brain cells.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 18 – Writing Partner

My hubby is, quite fortunately, a great writing partner in that, he not only comes up with great ideas, he also catches my errors (timeline issues, inconsistencies, typos) as well as adding philosophical explanations and humanizing touches, things I tend to forget as I’m speedily typing along and trying to keep pace with my brain.

Every time he reads through something I’ve written, though, I feel like a kid in school as the teacher is reviewing my homework or grading my test. My stomach flutters like a horde of butterflies are in it, and my fingers shake a bit as I continue typing on other fiction works. When he is done, I review what he has added and sigh in relief at how good it is. I also relish his comments about how much he liked what I had written (and he is not one to spread on the false praise).

Yes, I feel fortunate to have such a writing partner available to me. I hope you have, or will find, such a person to aid you in perfecting your writing.

Let’s all head into the New Year with renewed vigor and hope. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors! And toasting you with a nice chilled glass of Darjeeling tea!

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 17 – Thoughts on Cutting Words

Doing a final read-through of Hammil Valley Rising and thinking of what a publisher/editor has on her website:

I often tell writers to cut about a third of the word count without cutting the content – they complain, and I don’t blame them, but they also find it’s one of the best self-teaching tools they will ever find.

As I read text in my manuscript that is somewhat new to me because of the passage of time (hubby took several months to do his read-through and edits, since he works full-time), I think which one of every three words I could cut.

Then I think, “Nuts on this. If Ayn Rand had followed this advice, we wouldn’t have Atlas Shrugged, we’d have Atlas Winked. And Charles Dickens wouldn’t have written his masterpieces Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. I don’t even want to think about how Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Victo Hugo’s Les Misérables would have come out after such treatment.

We writers really have to get away from seeing such advice from publishers and editors as golden. Yes, I have seen areas that are rough, where the ideas weren’t coming across clearly, and have fixed them. But this usually entails adding words, not taking them away.

By the way, if Rhett Butler had said in the movie, “Frankly, I don’t really care” (5 words) instead of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” (8 words), a lot of impact would have been lost.

Best not to worry about word count and instead focus on ideas, plot, character development, and descriptions. On the other hand, it’s not good to add what isn’t needed. Padding out work can be just as bad.

Got the excerpts page for the Freelan Series up sooner than I expected. Hope you’ll check it out.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 16 – Entering a Writer’s Mind

Ever want to get inside another person’s mind? You can – no joke. This isn’t about psychic ability, extra sensory perception, or any other phenomena that saw a surge in popularity in the 1970s and continue to be widespread today. There are no gypsies here gazing into their crystal balls, no seer reading tarot cards or tossing magic crystals to get a secret message from the cosmos. No, this is a pure and simple fact and based on the idea that, just as you “are what you eat,” you are also what you write.

One of the top-selling authors in the world, Ayn Rand, said:

“Art is the selective re-creation of reality according to
an artist’s metaphysical value judgments.”

That just means that how you see the world is how you will write. It comes through, often without you even knowing it. So, that means that when someone reads what you’ve written, painted, drawn, choreographed, or otherwise put out into the world, that person is seeing inside your mind. This is especially true of authors. The better you write it out, the clearer the reader will see it. And that makes the editing process all the more precarious. Be sure you’re working with someone who can see your vision and understand it.

With all this in mind, I was a bit worried about showing hubby a short story I had written a year or two before he and I met. It was from a dark time in my life and clearly shows it. But all was fine. He read it and then hugged me. And I told him, “Thank goodness we met.”

Have a great holiday, all, and thanks for reading. I am putting together a page to display excerpts from the Freelan series of novels. There will also eventually be a page with excerpts for the other fiction works. Look for both in January of 2023.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 15 – Catching My “Write-isms”

Having surpassed 2.5 million words in the Freelan series of WIPs, and adding even more in a collection of short stories as well as in a book of fantasy stories underway, I have begun noticing certain “write-isms” (not sure what else to call them). These are words and phrases that I seem to use habitually – a bit of wordiness that I am slowly catching and fixing.

One such word-ism is “a bit,” as in “I feel a bit tired” instead of “I feel a little tired” or “I feel rather tired.” In fact, “a bit” appears 217 times in the first book in the Freelan series (Hammil Valley Rising). Since I’m in the process of what I hoped would be a final read-thru, I’ll hunt them all down and change most, if not all, of them (thank goodness for the Find feature in MS Word).

There are others I catch here and there, such as “for awhile” which should either be “awhile” or “for a while” or something else such as “for an hour or so,” depending on the context. The tough job is recognizing them. They have become second nature in my writing. Sigh. Even Word’s grammar checker doesn’t pop them all up.

Hope you can catch your “write-isms” – those pat phrases and words that you use by habit. They are good at hiding in plain site, so fuel your brain with some nice hot tea and pumpkin pie.

Happy hunting!

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