A Week in the Writing Life, 15 April 2023

[Photo note: My front porch area this Easter weekend, courtesy of my wife. It’s a nice place to relax in the morning because the sun comes up behind the house from the west.]

Hi, everyone. Let’s get to it.

Home Front Stuff

I decided to include that photo at the top of this newsletter since A., my wife took it, B., it showed her nice work with our back patio, and C., it was a reminder of a fantastic weekend weather-wise. It is the type of spring weather I really look forward to when April comes around.

Unfortunately, this week in southern Iowa has hovered in the 70 to 80 degree Fahrenheit territory, which is entirely too much like early summer weather for my taste. If I lived in a place that was 50-70 degrees year-round, I would be in paradise[1].

Although we were not in the same city, me, my wife, and both our kids had steak for Easter Sunday dinner rather than the traditional ham, with excellent results all around. We might be starting a new family tradition.

What I’ve Been Writing

Due to the volume of corrections/revisions I suggested for the manuscript of The Yank Striker, it took me until this week to get that second revision of the book wrapped up. I’m hoping to get a better idea of when the publishing date for the book will be within the next few weeks. When I know, you will be the first to know.

After an extended hiatus, work on The Yank Striker 2 has resumed this week. Much of this work had been more in the nature of initial revisions and review as I see what I already have and start making plans for what I want to put in the book. I’m a bit frustrated that some of the written notes I could have sworn were stowed away in one of those hand-sized notebooks I have around my house and get half-filled with writings. After a quick check of my existing notebooks, I decided to recreate those notes in another half-used book and solidify my tentative plans for how I want to plot out the project. With more than 15,000 words already down, I want to make sure what I have to tell next will fit a manuscript of about 80,000 words or so, which I think will fit this second part of the series.

I’ve been working on a few ideas for some more paid-subscriber exclusive material, including a continuation of this article I did regarding worldbuilding in fiction, a revisit of my first book, The Holy Fool, and what I think it had to say about the state of journalism in America and elsewhere, and a quick discussion of the new Substack Notes feature on Substack. Keep an eye on this space to see which of those ideas I decide to tackle this weekend.

On a somewhat related note, I’ll likely try and post my first Substack Notes this week as well. We’ll see how that goes. There have been one or two people who are wondering whether it could be an alternative to Twitter. My experience with Twitter was something of an afterthought, so the decline and fall of that platform is not really a concern to me anymore. Hopefully, Substack notes doesn’t end in tears like Twitter did, though I am somewhat optimistic.

What I’ve Been Doing Having to do With Writing

I’m still trying to update my pages and previous posts to account for the new paid subscriber tier. I talked about that a bit during the last newsletter, so I won’t repeat all of that here. I actually think I could have imported my entire WordPress blog to Substack now that I was reading some of the Substack FAQs. Oh, well, I’ll stick to what I have now, I think. I’m about… 35 percent finished with the Substack work, at least? It’s a work in progress.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be meeting with my Iowa Writers’ Corner writing group right around the time this newsletter gets published. I’m on the program this week with a presentation on revision. I’m glad that I worked up my Google Slides presentation for the meeting at least a week in advance, so I had that going for me this weekend.

Another thing that I need to think about is having a regular reading schedule as well as a writing schedule. There are so many great writers out there on WordPress and Substack and I try to catch them sometimes, but I don’t do it on a consistent basis. I truly believe in Stephen King’s advice that good writers have to both write a lot and read a lot. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I need to be doing constructive writing as well as the fun sort of writing. And, if I expect people to read my work online, I should be willing to do the same. Perhaps I could try and set aside dates (midweek and weekend?) to just tour the writing interwebs for a bit and see what other people are writing. I have been doing at least some reading as you see below, but I need to make it more of a routine. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Free Piece of Writing Advice/Insight for This Week

I do believe I’ve settled on having these short writing advice pieces in the newsletter every other week. I want whatever advice I do give to be something that you typically couldn’t just Google right off or figure out when you use spellcheck/grammar check on your documents. I also want for the advice not to come off as too repetitive, because I am writing this newsletter on a weekly basis. I’ve also re-titled the section “Free Piece of Writing Advice/Insight for This Week” because some of these thoughts might be more observations that precise instructions to readers. Consider yourself warned.

This week, my advice is this: as soon as you can, try to find a writing group. By a writing group, I mean a group of people who are interested in writing, are actively writing, and who are interested in making themselves better writers. Not all groups that call themselves “writing groups” could fit all three of those criteria.

Why is this a good thing? A good writing group helps sustain your interest in writing. It puts you in touch with people who share your interests, can encourage you and provide solid critiques, and be an invaluable resource for you as you seen to improve all aspects of your craft. I credit belonging to writing groups later in my life, when I wanted to restart my interest in writing, as a critical part of my growth and development.

Also, don’t be discouraged if, for example, you live in a smaller community where there might not be enough people to form a strong writing group. There are plenty of opportunities to meet online with writing groups and even attend meetings through Zoom, Google Meets, or other programs. My group has many members who attend virtually (and I count myself among that number sometimes).

What I’ve Been Reading/General Recommendations

Although I’ll likely get into a deeper dive into my initial thoughts on Substack Notes in another post, I appreciated this post from the founders of Substack on their vision for the platform. It’s been refreshing to see this idea of growing an online community through reader-first and writer-first policies. Hopefully it stays that way.

Theodora Taylor is another writer out there who is giving some writing advice on Substack through her page The Official Universal Fantasy Substack. I’m starting to dive into her advice, and once I get paid, one of her e-books will likely be on my shelf. Looking forward to it.

Writing Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is absolutely true. Also, if you have several different places where you can stop a story, you have a nice little series on your hands. 🙂

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.

Frank Herbert

Final Thoughts

When I have some time to myself and don’t have anything else going on, like work, family obligations, this blog, or my other writing projects, I’ve begun to think about this big fantasy project I’ve been pondering for the past couple of years. Whenever I do get it started and I start looking for some music to listen to while writing fantasy, I think this song will be on the top of my playlist. Fairport Convention is the real deal.

– 30 –

Footnotes:

  1. Can you guess that I’m living as far south as I ever want to at this point?

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.

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