A Week in the Writing Life, 25 (Oops, 26) February 2023

Hi, everyone. Sorry for the bit of delay, but I was on the road pretty much all day yesterday and I was also busy with a bit of a writing contest. I’ll get into all of that below, but it’s great to check in with everyone.

So, on we go…

Homefront Stuff

Not too much on the personal level this week. I think our portion of south central Iowa should be done with snow days for the next several months, but perhaps I should not say never. After maybe one or two snow days for the entire winter, we had three in two weeks, which is a bit of a surprise this late into the winter.

So, that’s the weather from south central Iowa, and only about three more months before the school year wraps up.

What I’ve Been Writing

I’m still deep into reviewing the first proof of my new book The Yank Striker (which will hit the book shelves, virtual and otherwise, this year). If I want to make sure that I am getting this done in a timely manner, I’m pretty sure I should get this wrapped up no later than two weeks from now. This is my way of hinting to myself that I need to get back on this, oh, say, tonight.

Current state of my first proof. I was actually reviewing the proof during my visit to the Johnston Public Library Saturday (25 February 2023), and it wound up being a good talking point to visitors.

I’m well past the first half of the book for sure. I am finding myself being excessively fussy about certain items, especially anything that might be considered a continuity error. I’m being extremely fussy about this since this is going to be the start of a series, which is a brand new thing for me. I don’t want to be in a situation 10 years later when some reader asks me a question and I have to admit that it was a screw-up on my part.

Afterward, I’m going to start generating a revising document where I lay out exactly all of the changes I want to make to the text. Usually, what I will do is put together a separate copy of my manuscript so I can have all of those changes in one place as well (while keeping the original text in a separate file). All of this means that my productivity as far as new writing is going to nose-dive again while I devote time to finishing this revision process.

As I’ve said, as soon as I have a publication date, you will be the first to know and take part in the celebrations, which will likely involve a contest or two. Watch this space.

The other writing projects have slowed to a crawl, but I managed to put together one chapter of a fan fiction project I hadn’t been working on for a few months. That was a way to blow off some creative steam. However, once I’ve started to sort out the revisions on The Yank Striker, I think I’ll feel more confident to continue my work on Book Two in the series. I’m still hoping I can get that done by the end of fall this year. (Fingers crossed).

Speaking of creative steam…

I Survived the Iron Pen

The Midwest Writing Center is based in Rock Island, Illinois, but it supports writers in Iowa, Illinois, and the greater Midwest, and I was proud to be a member at one point. Maybe I will be one again, depending.

Every year, they host an annual Iron Pen contest where the MWC releases a writing prompt to participants in the contest and they have 24 hours to produce a work of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry based on that prompt. I got it at 5 p.m. Friday, so I had to produce something by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Due to my traveling around that day, I had to expedite the process that evening. After turning over the idea in my head for a couple hours, I started the writing at 10 p.m. Friday and emailed the MWC something by 2:30 a.m. Who knows, I might win a prize or two.

I think I do another post later going through what it was like to put that together so fast, but I will say for now that it was a great creative challenge and a fantastic experience.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing – Meeting and Greeting in Johnston, Iowa

Yesterday was the Local Author Fair at the Johnston Public Library. It was the first time that I’d ever been to the library, but it was a fantastic facility, and the staff were absolutely fabulous to me and my fellow writers.

Me at work during a (very brief) lull in the action.

I had an amazing time talking with fellow authors and book lovers. It’s a good thing that I had some cards for my WordPress and Substack pages because I handed a lot of those out to fair goers, and their library now has a copy of The Holy Fool. And I actually sold some stuff, can you believe that?

Anyway, here’s me talking about if for a moment on Facebook.


I absolutely enjoyed the afternoon there, and I’ll look forward to going there again next year if my schedule allows for it.

What I’ve Been Reading/Listening to/General Recommendations

I’ll give you two for this week.

Misty Urban is a great writer and teacher who got her MFA from Cornell University and ended up settling down in my hometown of Muscatine. She’s won a ton of awards and I’d consider her a friend for sure and someone who I sought writing advice from in recent years. She’s written about everything from Middle English literature to a Midwest woman switching places with a Hollywood actress. Tell her I sent you.

With Grant Wahl passing on last year, maybe you’re looking for more soccer journalism. Grace Robertson has an interesting blog on Substack called Grace on Football. She did some good coverage on the World Cup last year, including this piece on the final.

Writing Quote of the Week

For this week’s writing quote, let me try one from one of the 20th century science fiction (and fiction, period) masters. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ray Bradbury:

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Final Thoughts

Last week, I had a short tribute to the longtime Quad City Times columnist Bill Wundrum. At the end of that section, I wrote the number 30 like – 30 -. I suddenly realized that probably one percent of the possible readers of this blog would not have any idea of the significance of the symbol.

The number 30 was long used, especially in the late 19th and the 20th centuries, by American newspaper journalists to indicate the end of their story. Although this is typically not done anymore, especially not in online journalism, there probably a few older reporters (like Bill was) who would recognize it.

There are several different theories as to why 30 was used to end stories. The one that seems to make sense to me is that telegraph operators used to use the letter “X” to indicate the end of things. For example, X would be the end of a sentence, XX would be the end of a paragraph, and XXX would indicate the end of the message. Of course, XXX are also the Roman numerals that indicate the number 30.

Whenever I’ve come to the end of a school year (or the end of my time at a school), I usually draw a large 30 somewhere on the whiteboard. I’ll probably keep using it for these weekly columns/newsletters. Even though existence is never-ending, stories eventually have to stop somewhere.

– 30 –

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

3 thoughts on “A Week in the Writing Life, 25 (Oops, 26) February 2023

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