An Update

At the end of August I found out I have an infected wisdom tooth. All my wisdom teeth need to come out. So I’m putting a pause on my fiction writing until November 1st. I don’t know how long it will take me to recover from this surgery. Every surgery is different. But I should be my new normal by November 1st. So that’s when I plan on working on fiction again.

A Plan Designed For Where I am Right Now

I wanted to post on this blog yesterday, but too much happened.

I broke my toilet and had to have a new toilet installed, and it was my birthday. Written like that it doesn’t seem like a lot but it was.

I finally figured out why I am not where I want to be in my author career. It’s because I’ve been trying to follow the plans of others to create my success. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about success, it’s that everybody’s path to success is different.

This is as true for artists as it is for entrepreneurs. So it’s no wonder that everything that I have tried up until this point hasn’t worked, because I focused so much on working someone else’s plan that I didn’t develop my own.

I’ve rectified that. I have a rough plan of my own that I’m going to follow. This plan will change as circumstances develop, but it’s a plan that I designed for myself given my experience over the last three years.

My Rough Plan

I plan to publish my first novel on September 14 and a novel every month after that. I know that seems ambitious to some of my readers, especially considering that I have yet to finish a novel. But it’s very doable.

LET’S DO SOME MATH

First of all, I’m assuming I work 22 days a month on my writing eight hours a day. This allows me to take weekends off, and it also allows for leeway if I decide not to take weekends off. I’m also assuming an eight hour workday when I know I can work 10.

In all my previous plans, I’ve never given myself breathing room the problem with that is that mentally I’m always stressed because I always feel like I’m behind.

So…

22 x 8 = 176 hours

My production process will go like this: 100 hours to produce my first draft of this months novel. Then I give it to my first reader, and my cover designer. So, producing my first draft will take me two weeks. That will give my first reader two weeks to read and return my novel, and while my first reader is reading it my cover designer can create a cover for me to use.

I told some people I’d be posting here on a weekly basis. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t do well trying to write in public. Some authors have been very successful at it (Harlan Ellison springs to mind) but honestly it’s just not for me. So, I’ll post here when I have something to post about the progress of my work, but I won’t be posting on a regular basis, because it hinders my creative process.

Thanks for all your support.

If you want to be notified when I post something feel free to join my mailing list and I will be sure to email you when I update this blog.

An Open Letter to the Person Who Pushed My Big Red Button

A proper apology comes in three parts.

1. I’m sorry.
2. It’s my fault.
3. What can I do to make it better?

The third part is the most important because it’s where you can gauge the person’s sincerity.

I’m sorry I ended our friendship abruptly. I know it was shocking to you. And there were certainly kinder paths to take in implementing my decision.

It’s my fault for not being honest with you sooner. It wouldn’t have changed the eventual outcome, but it would have made it less painful for everyone.

Unfortunately, I’m going to fail in step three because I don’t want to make it better. Things once said can’t be unsaid. At this point in history time moves ever forward. And while I do sincerely regret any shock and pain I have caused you and our mutual acquaintances, I have no desire to be your friend.

This has nothing to do with the challenge I just undertook, and everything to do with the dynamic of our friendship over the last quarter of my life.

I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me over the past decade. We had some times worthy of good stories.

I wish I could have ended our friendship with more class. But I wish you well and I know you will succeed at whatever you truly attempt.

Sincerely,
Thomas F. Bennett Jr.

August 11th Results

So clearly, I’m not going to make the challenge. Right now I have 12,000 words in my manuscript. And I might have hit the one third point of the story. I guess that most people get lost at about one-third point.

After talking it over with my accountability group I’ve decided to set a new publication date for September 14, 2017. This gives me five weeks to finish my story. It could be finished much faster, but this way I know I will have the time to finish it and I won’t be worried about time pressure.

I always find it interesting how people judge you based on their own internal compass. And how the shortcomings that most bother us about our friends are the shortcomings we don’t like to see ourselves.

By the end of this challenge all of my close friends were following me, some were encouraging, and others were “playfully” mocking the increasing likelihood that I would fail.

In one sense I have failed. In another sense I have simply learned a strategy for writing stories that doesn’t work for me.

Thomas Edison failed 1000 times to find a filament that would work in an electric light bulb. He tried 1001 times. And so we have Edison electric light bulb. Imagine if he gave up because his friends were mocking him, conceivably we’d all be sitting here in the dark, and who knows if the Internet would have been invented. (All sci-fi fans know how one little change in the fabric of space-time can spiral out of control.)

I actually considered retiring this name and publicly giving up, while writing under a pen name in the future and never acknowledging my own fiction. I decided not to do that because I’m not alone. And, if there’s a writer sometime in the future who is going through what I have gone through over the last week, I hope they read this and take courage from it.

Failure is only final when you give up. The opinions of others don’t matter at all. If you want to be a writer, read a lot and write a lot. You don’t have to be a fast writer to be successful (although it helps.) You do have to finish your projects. The more projects you write, the more inventory you have and the better you’ll become as a writer.

I’ve never understood the social construct of men mocking and belittling other men. I think it slows down the growth of human civilization.

So if you have friends who are critical, or waiting to see you fail because it allows them to feel superior, without working on their own issues. Just remember:

“A ‘critic’ is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased—he hates all creative, people equally.” — Robert Heinlein

AND

“If you happen to be one of the fretful who can do creative work, never force an idea; you’ll abort it if you do. Be patient and you’ll give birth to it when the time is ripe. Learn to wait.” — Robert Heinlein (But write while you’re waiting.)

ALSO

“Have fun with your writing” — Dean Wesley Smith

Finally

Thanks to all of my friends who were sincere in their encouragement and excitement. It was fun talking to you all. It warmed my heart to see so many friends on the Team Tom Publish train. It was just awesome. I’ll be finishing the book and I’ll make sure you all know about it.

And to the guy who so enjoys pushing my big red button. Congrats sir. You got to me. I’d just like to publically acknowledge you’re my superior in every way, measured and unmeasured. Your masculinity is boundless. You are the best humanity has to offer. Your productivity is legendary. If I write 1000 novels, your first will be better than all of them put together. You are the master of all you survey. Nothing is beyond your considerable powers.

I realize our friendship is simply a distraction from a million things more worthy of your attention. I wish you well in your efforts to save the world from republicans, global warming, and conversations that wander too far off topic.

I’m just going to sit in my room and write until there are no more words to say.

–Thomas

August 11th challenge Day 7

Today I drafted 5500 words in 11 hours. The good news is that my average is established. I have a baseline to improve upon.

I always find it interesting that the story I’m writing deviates significantly from the outline that I have written. This is why Dean suggests outlining your story as you go and writing into the dark.

The problem I always have when I tried to do that is there comes a point when I get bogged down and then my critical voice stops me from continuing the story.

I don’t know if I’ll make my deadline at this point. Time will tell. The most important thing at this point in my career is to finish the story publish it and keep records of the production process so that I can use those records as data in the future.

Outline — 7043 words after approx 12 hours.
Daily fiction — 7935 new words in 16 hours
blog posts — approx. 680 new words
novel creation stage: Location Scouting/drafting
novel deadline: August 11th, 2017
blog streak 3 days

August 11th Challenge Day 6

To make my August 11th Deadline I’m going to need to write faster and/or write more hours in the day.  More hours in the day is easiest, and flow will allow me to write a bit faster.  Tomorrow will be the first real test as I won’t have an assignment to turn in for Dean which took a lot of my creative horsepower.

 

Outline — 7043 words after approx 12 hours.
Daily fiction — 2435 new words in 5 hours
blog posts — approx. 500 new words
novel creation stage: Location Scouting/drafting
novel deadline: August 11th, 2017
blog streak 2 day

August 11th Challenge Day 4 and 5

My Outline is finished and I’ll start drafting tomorrow.  I didn’t post yesterday because I took too much baclofen and I was too loopy.

Outline — 7043 words after approx 12 hours.
Daily fiction — 00 new words
blog posts — approx. 500 new words
novel creation stage: Location Scouting/drafting
novel deadline: August 11th, 2017
blog streak 1 day

Day 3 August 11th Challenge

Another 1200 words on the outline after 3 hours work.  In order for me to accomplish this challenge I need to put more hours per day on this.  It won’t be today though.  I’m too hot and tired.  Maybe I’ll get more writing in tonight.

Outline — 2400 words after approx 6 hours.
Daily fiction — 00 new words
blog posts — approx. 450 new words
novel creation stage: Outlining
novel deadline: August 11th, 2017
blog streak 3 days

August 11th Challenge Day 2

It seems as though I’m going to be a day behind posting these blog posts which is actually fine.

I’m 1200 words into my novel outline and what’s really cool is I’m definitely seeing how my novel will take shape.

For those who don’t know I’m using the Dresden files as a sort of novel template, but I’m writing a cyberpunk story. So magic is replaced with technology, and the story takes place at least 100 years in the future. Also artificially intelligent machines control the world. I haven’t decided whether humans know this or not yet.

No drafting done yesterday. But I spent a productive two hours with my writing group recharging my batteries.

My plan is to finish my novel outline today and begin drafting tomorrow.

I still have the number of hours necessary to complete my novel in the time allotted.

I also applied for the HWA writing scholarship which would really help me level up my writing skills if I get it.

Outline — 1200 words
Daily fiction — 00 new words
blog posts — approx. 390 new words
novel creation stage: Outlining
novel deadline: August 11th, 2017
blog streak 2 days

Restarting My Writing Habit

I’m restarting my fiction writing habit today.

I promised my friends that I would have a rough draft ready for them by August 12. I definitely have the number of hours to produce the rough draft necessary.

The danger of doing something like this for the creative voice is that you make the book more important than it actually is.

Writing is a skill that’s developed over time, and with practice. This means that every book you write is at once going to be the worst book you write, and the best book you are capable of in that moment. And one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I’m surrounded by people who think I have talent as a writer and who see my writing as something important. And I’ve already figured out that my biggest problem is that I care what people think way too much.

The only way to be successfully creative, in my limited experience is:

1. Enjoy the experience of creating.
2. Create like nobody’s watching.

The truth is this book is just practice. And so is every book I’ll write in the future.

I’ll have to keep reminding myself that until it sinks in. I’ll post again this evening when I have totals to share.

Daily fiction — 00 new words
blog posts — approx. 200 new words
novel creation stage: Outlining
novel deadline: August 11th, 2017
blog streak 1 day