Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Summer Nights (of Writing)

Some time ago I declared that I was going to spend 3 months as a writer, working full time 5 days a week, pounding out a chapter in the sci fi epic novel, a chapter for the online web serial, and at least one short story.  In addition I was going to edit the web novel, promote FantastiCon, promote the web novel and maintain the blog.

I knew it was ambitious.

I knew it was going to take work, dedication, and perseverance.

Writing is hard and I was ~ready~.

So... how'd it go?

It sucked.

And I need glasses now.

I'm serious.  The eyestrain of staring at a computer screen for 5-9 hours a day, plus time playing in the evening basically totaled my vision.  Apparently I've always been farsighted and until this summer I've been able to compensate by, well, not reading too much.  Or getting up from the computer once in a while.  Or just changing tasks.  But this time, my 'changing tasks' wasn't "take the kids to the park now", it was "stop writing and work on the blog."  The result was that my eye strain was bad enough I started to get serious head aches and a trip to the doctor confirmed it is time for me to wear glasses.

So, accomplishments so far:  Destroy eyes.

Now, on the web novel front I had my most success.  I have managed to put out 16 chapters, keeping to a chapter a week with one exception when grades were due and my wife went out of town for the weekend.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to change up my voting paradigm in the future for family weekends but I do think that my "Write for Mind the Thorns Fridays", worked well to keep me writing and keep me the most on the deadline.

My regret on that front is that the novel is still pretty unknown.  I realize that vampire stories have pretty well played out, but I still see new ones coming in to my wife through her book lending websites so I know people are still reading them.  Sadly my efforts at promotion have more or less been busts.  I tried printing small issues to put on Amazon; no sales and no reviews.  I tried doing a give away with Good Reads only to have people rate it as a 2 star because they did not read the description and realize that, hey, this is not a full novel.  I did say "This is not a full novel; you can read it online for free at the website", but that was not enough for some.

So on that front I still need to get some readers before I consider that an accomplishment.  What's success on something like that?  I'd say 100 views a day would be an accomplishment.  That's pretty humble as far as blogs go, but still within reach.  I came close this summer but it's dwindled since school started and my week off tanked it.  I feel as though I need to completely redo the entire marketing campaign, minus efforts at Goodreads.

The sci fi epic?  Almost totally untouched.  Why?  I blame the fact that it's meant to be a big deal, but also I don't have a good solid plot outline for it yet.  I have a series of events I want my captain to experience, but I'm in a constant state of confusion how to get her to them.  For good or bad my friends say she's one of the most interesting characters I've written; I just don't write her enough.

I wanted to write a short story each week, specifically for the "Weekly Short Story Contest" on Goodreads. I tried but I got distracted by a few that needed editing.  I did write a couple, but they're not the kind of quality that I think will sell.

So why did I not produce more?

First, it's not nearly as easy as it sounds to make yourself create prose every day for 10 weeks.  It's work.  You have to make yourself keep making Stuff.

Second, without an outline for the epic I spent a lot of time staring at the screen trying to think of what would happen next, what characters to introduce, what ideas to get out there.  It was time consuming.  I respect that fan fic is a great way to hone your craft, but make no mistake:  it's a lot easier to work in someone else's world then it is to build your own.

Third, there was no immediacy.  I knew what I hoped to produce but the one place I managed to accomplish my goals was when I had a deadline hanging over my head.  I had to write a chapter every week.  I had to have them up for readers every Sunday night/ Monday morning.  I did not have a choice.

All in all, it was a good and informative experience.  I know it will be a long time before we can afford for me to do it again, so I hope that the lessons I learned are learned well enough I don't need another round of education.  Timelines, outlines and just an appreication for the challenge of generating meaningful words.

And the most dangerous?  Burn out.  By August I was losing it.  I needed to talk to people, and I didn't care who.  My wife would come home and I'd ramble for an hour straight before she even changed out of her scrubs.  I just kept going.  I would look at the same short story I'd been editing for weeks and have nothing left to change but know it needed something more.  I struggled to keep working and I did not have the incentive of someone saying "where's the novel you promised us?"

In some ways I miss the time, the quiet, and an opportunity to create.  In others I'm glad to return to the structure of the school year.

No comments:

Post a Comment