Merry Christmas and all that. The year is coming to a close and there is much to do – so much to do. The journey continues.
BIG on the list is to get my thoughts in order; plans, goals and priorities so I can make the new year successful as a writer.
Teachers and students know what I am talking about. Teachers know all about lesson plans, and the necessary information that must be conveyed in a limited amount of time and in a palatable form. And students need to grasp that information, at least well enough to pass their exams. It is pointless for the teacher to decide, instead of American History, she would rather be teaching the History of China, or the student to decide they would rather be studying about China in an American History class, because the course is decided, at least for the semester. Maybe China can be taught and studied next semester.
Fiction writers have a bit more flexibility in the ability to make mid-course corrections, but need to exercise enough discipline to say no on a regular basis. Finish this course before starting the next one. Like any good teacher or student, I can work on from three to a half-dozen courses (stories) in a given semester, and that can give me options and a variety of things to work on, but they all have to be finished, courses completed, before I move on to the next semester. Now is the time to decide what to work on in the spring and, generally, for the year – to schedule my classes, you might say.
Likewise, preachers and journalists know what I am talking about. There is a thing called a deadline that cannot be ignore. A preacher needs to have the sermon ready by Sunday morning. There are no extensions. The journalist has to have the story ready to go when due or lose the article’s timeliness.
Fiction writers, again, have a bit more flexibility in making and reaching deadlines. A preacher might pull out an old sermon for the day and continue to work on the planned idea for a later time. A good editor might delay a story so the journalist can fill in information gaps or verify sources. But the work must be finished at some point. Delay cannot be forever, lest the writer end up with drawers full of half-finished glop.
Likewise, business people, both small local business people and great big business people, know all about planning and establishing goals and priorities. Why is this so hard for fiction writers? I know. Some feel they can’t write until they are moved by their muse. Some people believe they need the inspiration to produce true art: the rose colored clouds, the rainbows, the glorious sunsets. The stars must be aligned. I like these people. It means less competition.
Earl Stanley Gardner (the Perry Mason mystery author) had a goal of 5,000 word per day, while he was working full time as a lawyer, no less. That is prodigious. My more modest goal is 2,000 words per day, six days per week, or about 10,000 – 12,000 words per week. That is roughly a book every seven or eight weeks (every two months or so).
Notice that I plan on one day per week off. For me it is Sunday. No reason why it could not be Wednesday or some other day. The point is to take a day of rest. I feel it is vital to recharge my batteries and for my mental health; not to say I will ignore any ideas that come my way. I am never without paper and pen to jot things down. Only, I won’t sit and focus and type one day per week, and I won’t fall prey to the impulse to “get it while it is hot.” Frankly, if the idea is a good one, it will still be good on Monday morning.
So 2,000 word per day. I will be reporting here on how I do, starting in the new year, and sharing a bit of work, leaving myself open to whatever internet trolls (or angels) might think to comment.
Speaking of sharing, though the plan does not begin until January 4th, I spent this last week pouring out 12,337 words on my “Men in Black” story which is presently being saved under the heading “Aidan, Jesse and Bankar.” Here are the first three paragraphs, probably chapter one:
Aidan Clark saw the light in the night sky when he started his pick-up. He noticed it was growing, and certainly no airplane. He sat in the driveway and wondered if it was a meteorite or a piece of a satellite crashing to earth. Maybe it was a whole satellite It would have to be a big piece to burn so long. Curious, he could see the light growing, but he could not hear it. He felt sure he ought to hear something falling like that, zooming through the atmosphere. He kept waiting for the meteorite, or whatever it was, to burn up or break up in mid-air. Probably too big to disintegrate, he thought. He judged it would hit his cornfield. He could see the flames. It was damn big. Holy shit!
Aidan gunned the truck and spun out into the road. There was an explosion behind him, and he found himself down in the embankment. His face hurt and his nose started to bleed, but he did not exactly remember hitting his face on the steering wheel, or smacking the windshield. All he could think of was his home and his parents. He got out, stumbled to the roadway, and dropped his jaw.
Scant feet from where he stood, there was a ravine a quarter mile wide. Whatever it was hit and slid, and cut a deep trench in the ground as it burrowed slowly to where it stopped a mile away, just beyond the main highway. The thing had to be huge to cut a mile of dirt. And it took everything with it, including his house and his parents. Aidan got back into his truck to find a way to get a close-up look. He felt angry, confused and in shock. His eyes moistened, but he blamed the cut on his forehead and his bloody nose, though there was not much blood.
Feel free to comment.
Quote of the Week:
“Merry Christmas (Happy Christmas),” said by about a quarter to a third of the human race for roughly the last 2,000 years …