News of the make-believe world

A few minutes ago, I crossed the 30K word mark for National Novel Writing Month. Given some of the other things I’ve wanted to accomplish this month, I’m a bit disappointing in my output, since in past years I’ve “finished” by now.

But I don’t care so much about the eventual outcome. More than half of those words moved the plot along on a novel that’s languished for a few years, and all sorts of new and interesting things have happened to my characters. Oddly enough, I’ve been able to work some of my science background into my fiction, which makes me happy for other reasons.

Honestly, the real winner in the exercise is the short fiction I’ve been cranking out. Each new piece gets faster and cleaner, and I nearly sent something off that came in under 2K words in first configuration. It eventually swelled to a bloated but far more entertaining 2300, but those extra words were plumage more than poultry.

I’m not done by any means. With 8 days to go, I feel confident I’ll hit my goal. And by goal, I mean tell compelling and entertaining stories, and get paid for doing so.

It’s surprising to me how mercenary I am about my writing career. I like to get paid in general, but for writing doubly so. As a professional, it’s how we keep score. Not with each other, but with the universe in general.

When you get paid, your peers respect you as more than just the funny guy who brings the good booze. When you can hand out copies of something with your name on it and somebody else as the publisher, it demonstrates that people besides your mother have confidence in you, and believe that the world at large should as well.

This isn’t just Stuart Smalley talk either. If you don’t know any besides me (and given my normal readership, you more or less ARE me), you should understand that writers are a cowardly, superstitious lot. The Batman in our particular scenario is the sometimes crippling inability to realize you actually are a competent and worthwhile human being.

Time and again I come back to Stephen King’s On Writing. Moreso than any other book of its kind, King’s is a window into everything writers face when they sit down to create. It’s from a guy that’s been there, and most certainly done that.

His real secret is that he keeps doing it, whether or not anybody wants him to.

He has to. I have to. It’s who we are. I’m not comparing myself favorably to King (although he would probably instruct me to do so), but we do have this point of similarity.

It’s a day of giving thanks, so I’d like to thank me, for believing in me and making a difference in my life. I’m pretty grateful for the rest of you as well, but ultimately, I can only be held responsible for my own actions.

So let’s make sure I’m doing the “write” sort of things.


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