More Good News!

Despite my somewhat hesitant anouncement of a modicum of success recently, I have something else -- again something positive -- to report.

The first item is the revelation of my previous success, now that the deadline is passed: I received an honourable mention in
Desdmona's Shivering Short Story Contest! You can read my story, "Search in Snow," at http://www.desdmona.com/conteststory.php?StoryID=5452.

The second item is another piece of success:
Xodtica Magazine has accepted my story, "Buzz Me!" It will be published in the March 2005 issue.

So, things are looking up, and I'm keeping going....


Finding Time

I've read tons of writing books.

If you're pursuing an occupation/pastime/vocation ... call it what you will ... it's natural to see what advice is available. One of the compensations for writers looking for advice is that the advice is invariably well written. Or if it isn't, you can safely disregard it.

Stephen King, who has been described as the world's most successful living writer, wrote a book of advice for writers, called On Writing. Part memoir, part discussion of the writing life, it doesn't dictate what writers must do in order to be successful, but has many suggestions (based, of course, on his own experience).

But one piece of advice he does give, and forcefully, is that to be a successful writer you must write a lot, and read a lot. To demonstrate his own reading, King lists in an appendix the books he has read in the two or three years prior to finishing On Writing. It's an impressive list, whose integrity is reinforced (for me, at least) by the inclusion of Furnace by Muriel Gray. Gray's latest, The Ancient, has King's blurb on the back cover.

No-one can doubt that Stephen King writes a lot. But where on earth does he find the time to read so much? I wish I could.


A Schedule for the WIP

My recent mini-success has prompted me to tackle the serious issue of a schedule (including self-imposed deadlines) for the current Work In Progress.

Last night I finished the first draft of the first story of what I'm calling The Jenny Ash Collection. It's to be a kind-of-episodic novel comprising vaguely linked stories about the same character, which I'm aiming to finish around the summer, and pitch to e-book publishers.

There'll be a dozen or so stories, each around 6,000 words, and I'm aiming at a total length of about 75,000.

At 1,000 words per day (fairly high for a spare-time writer, but I've done it before), that's about one story per week, so twelve stories in twelve weeks, plus a month for rewrites, takes me up to the second week in June. But I'll probably start querying publishers when I've completed just three stories.

I already have rough outlines for a third of the stories, and sets of ideas for the rest, and will probably end up with more stories than I need. The 'surplus' stories can be put towards the sequel (!)

So, starting my new schedule now, I shall be writing every day until June.

I still want to submit stories to contests as they may appear, but if I'm to keep to my schedule, contest entries will have to be written outside my set quota. Putting it like that makes it all seem arduous and a bit restricting, but writing (especially writing seriously and commercially) must be treated like a job -- because that's what it is.


Encouraging (but secret) news...

I'd been concerned that my recent efforts have not seemed to be having much success, but this week I received some encouraging news: specifically, one of my short-story-contest entries has been shortlisted. Less specifically, because there's a moratorium on telling anyone else until the day of announcements, I'm not allowed to say anything more about it. Sorry.

Which brings me to musing on what keeps me going at this lark. Is it the thrill of creating something out of nothing, or perhaps the harvesting of wild, dark and uncharted recesses of the imagination? Maybe it's the exercise of literary artifice.

Or is it the fame and the money?

Well it certainly isn't the money. As for fame -- not much of that either. But there's feedback, and the possibility of making some kind of difference in the world. It's comforting to believe, after spending three-quarters of a year writing a 130,000-word novel, that someone, somewhere, might actually read it, and like it, and want to read more. (We all have dreams.)

It's the little victories, like having a story shortlisted, that keep me going.