“Work” Writing Vs. “Fun” Writing: A Reflection (Part 3/3)

Well, I’ve been trying to shovel out a lot of what our current president might call malarkey, so I figure that I might want to try and bring it to a close.

I started my writing life harboring a small little hope that someday, my talent and great stories might end up making me rich and famous.

As I approach a half century of life, I now realize that my writing goes beyond notions of fame and fortune. I realize that I would be writing and creating even if nobody was reading it. I realize that I would be flinging my work into the electronic beyond even if I didn’t know that someone would be reading it and be interested in it.

It is nice, however, to have someone praise your work and tell you that you are a great writer. That’s the truth even if you don’t know exactly who those people are and couldn’t be relied on to pick out those people in front of you even if they were wearing name tags that bore the usernames that they went by in the electronic Wild West. None of that matters.

As a responsible writing instructor at the secondary educational level (and previously at the post-secondary educational level), this is where I would start insisting, quite annoyingly, that the author of whatever nonfiction writing piece that they are trying to create (and this is, by clear definition, a nonfiction writing piece) needs to lay out, in a single sentence, if possible, what the thesis of their writing is. If they are not able to recite this sentence for me, I often insist, then they will be lost regarding what the intent and purpose of their writing is, and more importantly, their readers will have no idea what in the bloody frozen hells of the lower levels of Hades what the purpose is of what they are writing.

So, I’m going to see if I can manage some sort of thesis statement not just for this piece of writing, but also for the previous two ones in this series. In addition, I think that by definition, it is going to end up being a working thesis statement regarding who I am as a writer.

When I was a kid, I self-identified as a writer. This was what I wanted to be when I grew up, this was how I was going to Make My Living. I also had a small little ambition to become a Famous Novelist, but like all sorts of fame and success, I didn’t know how much talent, desire, and luck1 you needed to get to that point. I had at least just enough of the first one and plenty of the second one, but the third I had no more than most typical people and I hadn’t learned yet how critical that can be when it comes to fame and success. You can almost certainly succeed if you have sufficient levels of all three qualities, but if you only have even just two or one of them, you’d have as much as a chance as most people have on the lottery.

When I was a younger man, there were many times where I did describe myself as a writer but I almost felt like a fraud doing it. Yes, I was making money off my writing skills, first as a journalist, and then as a teacher. In the former case, I certainly could say I was a published author, but it wasn’t like I was a novelist or anything. I had set aside my writing for a while, and there were years that went by where I hadn’t written a single word of fiction. Those novelist dreams of mine kept getting further and further away.

Now, I have actually gotten to be a published writer, even though I am far from A Success yet. I have been concentrating on improving my writing skills, both from a productivity and a quality standpoint. I am starting to see results. The fact that I am not supporting myself as a writer, or that I am producing some work that has no economic or marketing potential whatsoever, is totally irrelevant.

I am a writer because I want to write, I am writing, and I want to grow and improve my craft. No other definition is needed.

How’s that for a thesis statement?

So now, I don’t have any existential debates anymore about whether I’m a writer or not. Whether I’m as good or as productive of a writer as I should be, however… that is a different story.

I’ve managed to set some goals for myself this year. Maybe you heard about them. I know I will have to continue to set new goals and challenges for myself in the years to come. I’m in the process of considering what those goals should be, and I think self-publishing is going to be at the top of that list.

Keep going upward and forward, for as long as my health and faculties hold up. There’s still a ways to go, and any lifetime is never enough time to learn everything that there is to know about writing.

Footnotes:

  1. Luck I define as any other outside forces or circumstances that fall in your favor when you are trying to accomplish something.

“Work” Writing Vs. “Fun” Writing: A Reflection (Part 2/?)

It all started with a television show.

The time was spring 2019. I had just become a published author for the first time ever, but I was having difficulty getting things off the ground. 

There were the usual difficulties with being a first-time author, of course, but I had many other things going against me other than the typical stuff. First, in a business where you want to be well-known in the region that you live in, I was less than a year away from moving to a totally different section of the state, far away from my home base of 40 years. In the middle of me doing that, trying to hustle for a side gig was the last thing on my mind. 

Looming in the distance, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, was COVID, which would keep me away from doing anything in-person for a long time to come. That would eventually halt most of the momentum that I had, and the fact that the publisher I worked with on my book was not accepting any new fiction work stopped my progress on that front, as well.

I was in a weird middle place, which I haven’t totally escaped from yet, where I was in-between projects. I have (still do have) some fiction that I had been working on, and the idea of trying to get back into the grind of trying to find a new publisher or agent was something that I was dreading. I was anticipating a years-long process behind that, because that was how it had gone previously for me. And there was no guarantee that I would have what I wanted in the end.

It was then that I got… a bit distracted by a shiny object – that television show.

Back in 2019, Game of Thrones was king. While I am not an HBO subscriber, I had been following the progress of the television show by other means. I am a big fan of fantasy fiction, and this interest had only grown since I was in my pre-teens.

The show was in its final season and I know there were plenty of people online anticipating the ending of the show. Many were anticipating it so much, even, that they were starting to come up with their own endings for the show. Even more, I was beginning to read them and watch them online.

I’d never had a totally favorable opinion of fan fiction by this time of my life. I had heard the old stories about how Star Trek had gotten that and “slash” romance fiction (such as Kirk/Spock). It seemed like people just trying to write their weirdest fantasies and throw it out into the ether of the Internet.

I started, in an ever so gradual manner, to read some of this work. Some of it I found on Reddit; some I discovered lurking around on other sites. I even saw a table read of a Game of Thrones play covering the final season on YouTube. There was a lot of speculation on YouTube regarding how this was going to shake out.

So, as I began to read and watch that material, in waiting for that final season to drop, I came upon something of a revelation for myself. I started to realize, some of these authors are good.

When I say that, I’m not talking about writers who were basically literate. I’m talking guys (and ladies) who were really good storytellers. I was getting as much enjoyment out those stories online as I had ever gotten out of anything I’d bought from a bookstore or Amazon’s Kindle store. They had everything – compelling, real-to-life characters with compelling relationships, great descriptions, plots that drove the story and that made sense based on a clear understanding of human nature and logical thought.

Because there wasn’t a lot of that – especially good plots – on TV screens right around spring 2019. Specifically, on any screens showing Game of Thrones.

If you haven’t heard, there were a whole bunch of people not happy with the ending of Game of Thrones. In fact, it was a debacle that eventually ended up killing a lot of the rewatch potential for the series. Somehow, it has managed to not destroy interest in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe (as the George RR Martin series is called), based on the reaction to the new House of the Dragon series (essentially a prequel to Game of Thrones).

I had been through bad endings of television series before, many many times. Anyone who grew up with any memory of 1970’s television (and reruns of 1950’s-1960’s television) would be able to recall bad series endings. Especially in those early days, there was no sense among television executives that series could come to a clear ending. They’d usually run those series until the wheels came off, when the ratings kept dropping even when cute kids were introduced in a desperate effort to keep eyeballs on cathode ray tubes. 

Eventually, those producers and show-runners got more sophisticated and realized that series needed a decent ending so that you could have satisfying series-long story arcs. Of course, show runners still got things wrong when it came to final seasons and endings. I had already suffered through Rosanne, Dexter, Lost, and, most horrifically, Battlestar Galactica (1-2).

But this ending – the ending to Game of Thrones – that threw me more than nearly any other ending of a show or a movie ever had. And as I was stewing over the many flaws of not only the ending but the entire final season of the show, one thought kept nagging at me: I could do this better than the 2Ds (3).

So, I started writing, pouring all of that frustration and a desire for a great story out onto the computer screen. Within a few weeks, I had a 40,000-word story set after the events of the series. It was a wild little tale that was never going to earn me a single dime. I wound up posting it in full on FanFiction.Net. 

People started posting comments on it and saying it was good. It… was a bit of a rush, to be honest. I mean, I’ve had people compliment my work before (more than a few of them family), but this was some random strangers giving them out. 

Then I decided to post it on a site called Archive Of Our Own (AO3), a virtual warehouse of fanfiction content. I met several cool authors there who put out some really ambitious work. There was one younger writer out there who essentially did an entire rewrite and reimagining of the entire ASOIAF series (4). There was plenty of great writing out there… and the craziest idea popped into my head.

“I should do a rewrite of Season 8.”

Part of me thought it would be too much work to do for a “fun” project, something that had no commercial potential whatsoever. But the other part was drawn to the challenge. I’d seen too much cringe moments in that season that I knew I could have done a better job of it than they could. I’d had that feeling reading plenty of paperbacks over the years, but I hadn’t gotten the idea to actually redo a book. Until now. 

I ended up with about half a million words. 

It’s now a series. 

I’ve had more than 1,000 people give “kudos” (AO3-speak for likes). 

I’m not sure how much more of it I’m going to write. If I wanted to be a “serious” writer, I should just try and come up with an idea about a new OC dark fantasy series. 

But, it turns out it’s one of the most fun things that I’ve ever experienced as a writer. 

And because of it, I think I fell back in love with just writing for writing’s sake. And I’m so thankful for it.

And yes, there will be more to this in a later post. Maybe you’ll see it next weekend? And maybe you’ll see it with some other stuff.

Footnotes:

1. The one that started in 2003, not the one in 1978. You’d never expect a science fiction series to last long in the 1970’s.

2. The four best ever endings in TV history so far are, of course, The Shield, The Wire, Six Feet Under, and The Sopranos.

3. The Showrunners Who Will Not Be Named.

4. He’s since started at least three other series reimagining that universe. He’s a very ambitious and creative young man.

“Work” Writing Vs. “Fun” Writing: A Reflection (Part 1/?)

I’ve probably started and stopped at writing this for a while.

I had to think about it a bit1. Anyway2-3.

When I was a kid, I was thinking the endgame of my writing would be something like this: I write some books, and then I try to get them sold to some publishers or agents. Eventually, someone is going to take a bite, things move along, and then I would become a published author. And at that point, I would have officially Made It as an author.

What did that look like to me? I can still picture them, even now. Even my kid dreams were a bit modest. I could picture myself being Successful but not A Celebrity. A Celebrity status was something for guys like Stevie King, Tommy Clancy, Anne Rice4, the older Lit Boys like Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, and DeLillo, as well as the pulpier guys like Elmore Leonard, Micky Spillane, and the others. Even as a teen I wasn’t totally thick.

No, I pictured myself as having Made It. That would mean some books on the New York Times bestseller list. That would mean the occasional appearance on the weekday morning chat shows they always host in New York or maybe Los Angeles if they want to be contrarian. It would likely be New York because that’s still the home of American publishing. Every so often, someone from Hollywood would call my people and one of my books or short stories would get optioned for a television series, movie, or even graphic novel.

I’d likely have a day job – maybe teaching at a four-year university after spending a few years earning my academic spurs at a community college near my home. I would be there, teaching writing in a nice, clean classroom with pristine whiteboards to eager young people with up to date laptops. People might call me “Professor Liegois” as I walked by them on the campus green or in the main buildings. I’d have a nice, cozy office somewhere on campus, stuffed with textbooks and novels, some of them even my own. And I would have regular office hours where I would help those students struggling with how do deal with the written word.

Man, I was dense as hell back then. What changed?

Well, life got in the way. I started being a journalist, then got into teaching. I got started in teaching junior and senior high school to give it a shot, but I always had my eyes on trying to get on with my local community college. I would have loved to teach there… but that was not to be. This entry’s not the place to get into all that business, but I think it might be worth a later blog entry to discuss how that worked out.

Then, I started trying to get back into the groove of writing. It was a long process to try and recover my love of writing fiction, of writing, period. I had spent a long time cosplaying as a writer, but I eventually realized that I had to start producing things to actually be a writer.

And that’s what I eventually did. Somehow I actually managed to get a book published. It wasn’t A Massive Success – like I even knew as a kid, few books are – but I was on my way.

However, during a recent time in my life, when I moved from my old haunts to the middle of south central Iowa, and I became involved with other types of writing, something changed for me once again. I began to fall in love, once again, with the idea of writing for the sake of writing. I started to write just because I wanted to do it, rather than because I wanted to accomplish something.

In Part 2 of this essay coming up (let’s say two days from now – this Sunday?), I’ll talk a little bit about how that came to be and what effect that’s had for me.

Footnotes:

  1. I’m also, once again, trying to write through a cold, which is not a good thing. And I’m going to try to travel cross-state to be at a book festival this weekend. They invited me, so I definitely wanted to be there.
  2. Just realized that is my favorite word to quietly and politely move on from a subject. My students take a bit to catch on, but sometime I think I should just be more blunt. But a bit of finesse does help. Ironically, I think, based on listening to his podcasts, that this is also a favorite saying of Jim Cornette, the pro wrestling podcaster and historian and former pro wrestling manager, personality, and promoter.
  3. Pro wrestling and my writing intersect a bit more than what you might expect.
  4. I was a Facebook follower of hers while she was still alive (and still am). She was a very sweet lady.

A Self-Publisher’s Progress, or Lack Of It: Why I’m Going to Go the Self-Publishing Route

These are interesting times.

You might remember that I managed to get a book published with an outside publisher a couple of years back. That was a feather in my cap, certainly, and I crossed a big item off my bucket list in the process.

Since then… I have not yet had a chance to publish another book. The publishing company I worked with previously is not accepting new fiction, so that avenue is closed to me. I have at least one or two possibilities for projects I could move forward with. I have at least one that is almost publishing ready, except for a few items.

So, I am faced with two different possibilities. First, there’s option of trying once again to find a publisher or agent willing to work with me to put together a new project. They would have a better idea of the current publishing climate than I would, obviously, and more connections in that area as well. Usually you won’t get a look from any of the Big FIve publishers – Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan – without an agent1. It’s a long-term process, as well – getting a book through the publishing process even if you succeed can take months and even years at a time, not even counting the initial writing process.

Or, I can go the self-publishing route. Selling physical books on demand is easier than ever thanks to Amazon, and e-book distribution can cut out even more middlemen out if you want to go the all e-book route. (As for me, I am too much of a traditionalist to totally abandon physical books. There I would be my own boss and have the majority of the profits. How much of those profits there would be is an open question. Some people can make a tidy career out of this. For others, the revenue is few and far between.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this. As a result, I have elected to go the self-publishing route.

There are two main reasons that I’ve made that decision.

The first has to do with fame and fortune. When I was a kid, I may have had a small little dream to be a Stephen King-level writer. He was one of my idols, so of course I was going to think that. Then it turned out that for a long time I didn’t write a lot of stuff, as a young man. It would take me a long time to build up to being a consistently productive writer, and even then I wouldn’t imagine that I could be as productive as King, even in the early cocaine days2.

There are so many writers out there trying to make a name for themselves. A good number of them are truly great and talented, and most have at least some talent. Very few of them “make it,” just like so many talented actors, dancers, musicians, and other artists don’t make it. The ones who make it are successful enough to have publishing contracts, book advances, and teams of agents, attorneys, publicists, and other handlers to make their lives easier.

I don’t think that is going to happen to me.

I’d say that realistically, I am at the halfway point of my life. If it hasn’t happened at this point, I see an even smaller chance of it happening to me, even as you hear the tales of older authors becoming an “overnight” success. So if such a fate is not likely to happen to me, I shouldn’t want to concentrate on doing things with that in mind. I’d rather have full control over my fate, no matter what sort of financial rewards there are in it.

And that brings me to the second reason for this. I just want to write.

I’m tired of putting so much effort into finding publishers and agents, putting in so much time into it and not getting anything out of it. If I’m going to spend my time on this passion of mine, I want to start putting out the stories that I want to put out, and getting them out to anyone who wants to read them. Yeah, I’ll have to do promotional work, and other things like formatting and cover designs, but it will be a lot less foolishness than if I went the traditional route.

I know I only have a limited time in this existence, although I hope I still have many years still left. I want to do it telling the stories I have in me.

It’s going to take some time, even with the self-publishing route. But I’m looking forward to getting it started.

Footnotes:

  1. I should qualify this by saying that I would not include pay-to-play publishing or agents in this category. I have had past experiences and meetings with such people, and I’ve concluded that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
  2. I do not endorse using hard drugs for any reason, but especially creative ones. Anyone who thinks it is sustainable needs to read The Tommyknockers and watch Maximum Overdrive. When he had a prescription drug relapse after getting run over by that van, he wrote Dreamcatcher. I rest my case.

Pure Promo Power Here

I decided to make a quick post promoting everything that I have going on, as well as one special event coming up in less than two weeks. Here we go:


First, I have a new presence on Substack. I have decided to start a Liegois Media branch there on that writer’s platform. You can see me there at the link below:

There is a Liegois Media page on Facebook, which reprints all the stuff you see here on WordPress and Substack, as well as any cool writing memes I run across on Facebook.

Also, there is a Liegois Media page on Twitter, for much of the same purpose as my Facebook page.

In the realm of upcoming events, there is a new one I mentioned just a bit ago. Here’s just a couple of reminders of what it’s about:

So, I and a whole group of Midwest writers will be at the Badger, Iowa city-wide garage sale and book fair beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, September 17. The location will be at the Badger Public Library, 211 1st Ave SE, Badger, IA.

Here’s a link to the event.

So, I will be headed there for an appearance and with copies of my book The Holy Fool. Hope to see you all out there.

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Badger Book Fair, Badger, Iowa

A Quick Discussion/Restatement of The Purpose Behind this Blog

Today, since I just got started posting on Substack, I decided to post what I considered to be a mission statement for what my intentions were for that blog. However, the longer I was writing, the more I realized much of what I was writing for Substack also matched my evolving intentions for this site, my blogging home base, so to speak.

With that in mind, I decided to post a slightly altered version of that post below. Consider it a revised mission statement for Liegois Media.


Essentially, what this will be about is writing – specifically, me talking about the art of writing and occasional bits of advice about writing, some of my own original work that aren’t blog posts, as well as my experiences with the craft and a hint of memoir as I recount my continued growth and progression as a writer in my own right1-2.

Let’s tackle each of those topics in turn, shall we? Just like they taught us in school (and I have been teaching everyone from junior high, high school, and junior college students over the past several years).


The Art of Writing

I think one of the biggest topics of this blog will obviously be about the art of writing. I have worked in professions that have a heavy emphasis on writing skills for more than 25 years. During that time, I have developed a few ideas about writing, how it should be done, what are the important elements of writing and how someone who wants to really improve their writing should concentrate on.

As reflected in this blog, this might, sometimes, involve posts where I discuss what could be called writing advice. More often, it will involve discussing my philosophy of writing, how this is evolved over time, and what it is now.

There are three things that I can comfortably say about myself as a writer. First, I can definitely say, that through a combination of a small innate talent, a strong desire to excel at expressing myself, and more than a few years of experience, that I am a very good writer. I also believe that since one lifetime is nowhere near enough time to learn everything about writing, I also still have a lot to learn and room to grow as a writer. But I have learned a bit, and I’ve grown a bit as well.

So, me discussing that philosophy and the various ways how I put it into practice will be a major part of this blog. I don’t think I would have wanted to become a teacher in the first place, for example, if I didn’t want to share that love of writing. And this place will be another way for me to do that.


My Work

It’s only natural that if this is going to be a blog about writing, that I would actually share some of this writing with you. By writing, I’m talking about stuff that’s not blatantly blogs, but other forms of writing.

Over the years, I’ve shared examples of short stories and essays on various subjects on this blog. About a decade ago, I got convinced to actually try my hand at poetry, with some results that were… satisfying, at least? Take some time and look around the “My Works” category if you want to see them.

I have not contemplated what a paid subscription to this blog might look like, and it will be a while before I think I can make that next step. However, maybe some of that work becomes exclusive content… I’ll have to think about it. Go ahead and check it out, though.


A Writer’s Progress

A good portion of this blog will be me recounting what I have been trying to do as a writer and the progress I have made up to this point. I started doing a little series entitled A Writer’s Biography where I looked back on my life and how I came to be fascinated with writing and fiction. That might wind up being a project in its own right, as I have been reviewing and examining the posts that I have written so far and I’ve now been toying with turning it into its own project. I never anticipated being one of those memoirists, but it appears that I’ve been doing it almost unintentionally. We’ll have to see where that goes.

I’ve also been discussing my efforts to get published in one form or another. Part of my dreams came true when I finally became a published novelist with my book The Holy Fool, but I’m wanting to move forward and write more stuff and put it before an audience. Right now, I am contemplating moving forward with the self-publishing route for several different reasons3. I’ll discuss that journey, as well as some of the things I experience as a writer online.

On this blog, one of the more frequent types of posts are my weekly writing journals, where I recount my weekly word counts and if I am meeting the daily quotas I’ve set for myself. I certainly will keep doing that on the WordPress blog, because I find that being publicly accountable for the writing I do helps me to keep self-motivated. Go ahead and check them out if you want a laugh some days.

As far as when you will see posts here, I think I can guarantee that I can put out new content on at least a bi-weekly basis or weekly basis. I am leaning towards Saturdays being my publishing/posting days, although I will likely start putting those posts together in the proceeding days. Also, there will be some bonus posts I make here that will be “archive” material from my WordPress blog.

I think I have covered most everything regarding what this blog will look like in the weeks and months to come. I would like eventually have monthly discussion threads with readers, and I will plan to do the first one later this month. Keep posted here as to exactly when that will be3.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the time to come. Take care, everyone.


Footnotes:

  1. I have to say that’s a pretty nice little thesis statement I whipped up. It would be worth at least an A- in one of my Composition 1 classes.
  2. (Also, after using Substack, I have to say that I really love how it has a really good format to set up footnotes. As some previous readers of this blog might have noticed, I’ve begun to get more addicted to putting footnotes in my posts than David Foster Wallace.)
  3. I was aiming this at my Substack readers, but I might look at how I might set up something like that here on WordPress, as well.

Assessing Summer 2022, or Did I Waste My Vacation This Year?

The question – or usually a statement – I’ve heard people make regarding teaching is “it must be wonderful to have that free time during the summers.”

I have to admit that it is good to have that vacation time. Even during the best of times, a school year for teachers is the mental equivalent of running a marathon. After it’s over, you need recovery time mentally and to some extent physically.

However, I also feel (at least, I have felt this way for the past several years teaching) that I have all this time to myself, and there is this internal pressure that I “make good use of it,” so to speak. There were times these past few months where I felt that I was not doing that effectively. For example, May-June of 2021 was a blank time for me, to be honest. But that made sense in retrospect because I was contemplating not even returning to teaching, so I was a bit unsure of my IRL status for a while.

However, when I look back on what happened this summer, there were a bit more positives than negatives when it came down to it. Let’s review.

Negatives

I think that there were a lot of times when I found myself just sitting and either watching television or staring at my phone. As I have chronicled in this space before, entropy and sitting still is my natural level. It takes me a lot longer to get bored with hanging out at home than many other people. Could I have spent more time writing instead of watching soccer, Formula 1, and Australian Rules Football, watching YouTube to catch people’s movie reviews (especially bad movies), and what Jim Cornette thinks about the current world of wrestling, or using Minecraft to build a digital castle? Well, probably I could have.

I also am a little disappointed in myself that I am not farther along on my route to self-publishing than I wanted to be at this point. (That will be its own post a bit later.) I am further than I was, and I am starting to get a handle on what things I need to take care of before I jump into this. It might take time, but I also want to make sure than I am getting things right.

Positives

My overall writing productivity has not been bad during the summer months. So far, I am definitely ahead of where I was at the same time last year, which was definitely a down time for me.

I believe that I have make at least a little more effort to take care of myself than I have in years past. Even though my weight is not where I would like it to be, I have made the effort to walk nearly every day for the past couple months. That’s something that I didn’t really do on a consistent basis before, but now I am. I was never comfortable with the gym or other stuff, but I have been comfortable going on a walk along some relatively level sidewalks and I feel good after getting them done, especially in the hot summer sun. I definitely will keep up with it during the school year.

I’ve been able to get out and do things that I have not had the chance to do for a long time. I managed to get away with my wife to Duluth, Minnesota, for a few days and it was a fantastic experience. I got to go down to Kansas City for the day and watch the US men’s soccer team for the first time in my life after more than 20 years of fandom.

Also, I’ve gotten more active on this site and trying to write more blogs and content here than in the past. I didn’t actually write a new post every weekend, but I did do it on plenty of them – including this one. And after some brainstorming, I have quite a few other ideas for blog posts to come.

It’s not been a bad summer. Shame it has to come to a close.

Writing When You Are Away From Home

“Did you remember to bring your laptop?”

Those were the words I heard from my wife a few days ago when we were leaving for a quick extended weekend getaway from everything. I had already planned on doing so beforehand, but it was really sweet for her to have a thought for that even while her head was filled with issues regarding our plans and what we were going to do when we get there.

Laura does not, under any circumstances, has a passion for writing. She is a good writer for her profession (city management, in case you were wondering) when she needs to be, of course. But she is not someone who relaxes with trying to write a story or poetry, or try blogging. She has read some of my work before (especially this blog), but she has not made it a habit. Regardless of that, the question she asked me before I left was one more thing of many that let’s me know how much she realizes writing is important to me. And that really means the world to me.

All right, enough with the mushy lovey stuff, let’s talk about writing.

One of the views from where I was at.

People who know me and some of the people who read this blog realize that I talk about Stephen King more than a little bit. In some of the past interviews of his that I have read, King talked about how much writing was a habit for him that the only times that he didn’t write was on Christmas Day and on his birthday. As I recall, he later admitted that was just a tall tale that he had spun for that reporter, and that he wrote on Christmas Day and his birthday as well.

I appreciate that dedication and productivity in a writer, a level of which I will likely never reach on a career basis. However, this whole process I have been attempting to commit to has been an effort to make me a better writer and get some King-like productive years out of me before everything is over. So, I have tried to emulate that with varying degrees of success.

Then there is writing when you are on vacation. That becomes a different situation altogether.

Another pic from vacation.

The first thing that gets complicated when writing on vacation are logistics, of course. You need something to write with, which can be pretty complicated if you’re not one of those Luddites who insist on writing everything with paper and pen or pencil, or the even bigger insanoes1 that insist on using typewriters. Usually, this means carting laptops (or desktops? No, more insano2 behavior) to wherever you are traveling to. If you are basing your vacation plans around a hotel, you’re in luck – most of those places if they are not in the Stone Ages will have at worst a coffee table and power outlets and at best a designated writing desk and USB ports nearby.

As for all of you whose vacations involve physical challenges like canoeing down the Mississippi River or hiking the Appalachian Trail… I guess you’re screwed3? My best possible advice might be to bring some lightweight writing equipment (Chromebook, iPad, something lightweight that isn’t a power-guzzler), some recharging ability, and some water-proof storage? I guess?

Enough of that. So, even if you are in a hotel, bed and breakfast, AirBnB, or whatever, it’s not exactly a straightforward process to just get writing. For example, what if the desk or writing surface you are using isn’t the same height that you are used to? That can get awkward, even to the point where your arms are cramping up by not being where they usually are.

For me, not having the right chair is one thing that can really throw me off. I honestly can’t concentrate on anything if I’m worrying about backaches or whatever. In the hotel room that I was in recently, I had to try out two different chairs before figuring out what works. If you are sitting somewhere for a while, you want to make sure that it is a sustainable writing position4.

Lighting is another thing. I typically want a place to be lit well enough so that I can see to grab, say, a pencil or notebook or something. However, I don’t want it to be so bright that I feel like I’m Spalding Grey5 sitting behind a desk on a stage with however many spotlights above or in front of me. You want it just right.

Of course, there are other items that come into play. When you are on vacation, especially with a significant other and/or kids, you are expected to do some activities. This might involve museums, art galleries, tourist attractions, kids’ parks, or various other entertainments. Obviously, this takes a bit of time away from when you can write. But then again, unless you are actually doing this for a full living, or retired, or living in a hovel alone, that’s going to be the same situation as it is at home. You just manage to carve out the time the best you can, whenever you can. Hopefully, you also have traveling companions that realize that even on vacation and even if you don’t spend a lot of time with each other back home, everyone does need some alone time.

The actual fact is, you’re likely not to get as much writing done on vacation even if you promise and dedicate yourself to that goal. There’s plenty to do, and you want to have at least a little bit of a mental vacation as well.

The point is, that is all right. You don’t have to be. Take it from someone who procrastinated for so long, you can forgive yourself if you are not quite as productive. Just get something done. It could be a five-line poem; it could be a 200-300 word section of your latest story; it could be you tour around some beautiful place and get inspired to do a new story or add something to an old one. Get done what you can get done and the rest will sort itself.

Take care, everyone, and you writers keep writing.

1. I just made that word up.
2. See #1.
3. For me walking around a city center is the height of physical exercise, so I wouldn’t know about hiking the Appalachian Trail or other such nonsense. To be fair I’ve been walking a bit more than I used to3a.
3a. Frankly I would be the one enjoying the night air when the comet or whatever it is comes by to wipe out Earth rather than scrambling to find an underground bunker. Although I was intrigued by The Last of Us when it was released a few years back, I in no way would do as well in that world as Joel and Ellie, for example. I know my limits.
4. I refuse to believe that standing desks are a thing, so don’t even bring that up to me in the comments. Writing and exercise are two totally different things.
5. Google it kids.

Writing Journal, 20 July 2022: Part of my frustration with keeping the numbers up

[PHOTO NOTE: I image-searched “frustration,” and this was one of the images that came up. Yeah, it’s really complex.]

The numbers were not quite as good as last week, but this week I have a decent excuse for it – an excuse that leads me into thinking of some of the frustrations I have with trying to reach this 200,000-word goal this year.

Back last Saturday, I posted a review of the writing/blogging service Substack. I actually thought it was a nice little review. I also ended up using much of the information that I had gathered for my article for a presentation for my writing group. It ended up going over pretty well with them.

However, it took me a long time to research and plan for both that article and the presentation. I logged in 300 hours of planning and/or revising during that week (not all of that was dedicated to the article, but much of it was), and that took away at least some time from actually writing stuff.

I go back and forth about whether I need to judge myself differently from some of the other writers that I know because most of the ones I know now are doing this full-time. I’m still doing it on my off-time… then again, this is the summer for me. (Insert shrugging gif or emoticon here.)

Well, I still am proud of what I did last week, despite the “lower production.” Anyway, I’ll make sure to put something out this weekend, as well.

Here’s the stats. See you around.

Writing statistics for the week ending 16 July 2022:
+3,111 words written.
Days writing: 3 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 3 of 7 for 300 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 3 of 7 days.