Posts Tagged ‘work’

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Here’s a little post for aspiring writers—just a few tips that I hope will speed you on your way:

You should treat your writing project as though it’s so much clay, there to be shaped and molded at your whim. That is to say that in order to achieve the desired final result, you sometimes have to add things, embellish a bit here and there, and you sometimes have to lop things off wholesale; those things that don’t contribute to the overall project in a meaningful way, must be scrapped. The most direct way of stating this is that you must be perfectly willing to waste words. Words are your stock-in-trade. No book is ever written except that it’s done One Word At A Time. After the first draft stage, you may have a few dozen, possibly hundreds, and even thousands of words that don’t add anything to the story you’re trying to tell. Waste those words. Kill them. And add more if need be. I believe that writers who suffer from this truly non-existent malady they call Writer’s Block, actually suffer from one very simple thing only: a dearth of words. The remedy for any lack of a thing is to supply that thing. Therefore, you have to Sling Words At The Page. You have to sling far many more words at the page than you would care to think. The trick is to sling more than enough, and be willing to waste what’s not needed. Poof, no more writer’s block.

In keeping with the whole “clay” theme, there is no rule that says you have to write linearly. It’s true, books are written one word at a time, just as I said. But! There’s no reason you have to write them in straight order, from beginning to end. Those who say that a thing “must be done this way” are typically people who can’t break out of the box. They tend to write the same story, over and over again. And, well, that’s just yucky. But you don’t have to do that. You can write the first chapter, then write the last chapter, the write the next to last chapter, then write the second chapter, then the third from the last chapter, then the middle, then the Prologue (before the beginning), then the Epilogue (after it’s all over but the shouting), etc. There ARE no musts. None. Period. So don’t get trapped in downtown Linearville. It’s boring. It’s nothing but a one-way street through the same old town. Jump around a bit. See the sites, and along the way, write whatever the hell you want to write. Make it fun. Surprise yourself. The only person you have to please—at least at this stage—is you. And guess what? You’ll be way tougher on yourself than your future fans will ever be, by lightyears. So don’t sweat it. Just have fun with it. Splurge!

Another thing about rules is that I have found that they are made to be broken. Not just one of them, but very damn nearly ALL of them. Somebody says to you that you must must must begin a book with action, well by Jiminy, prove they’re wrong. Start with how boring everything is here in Dumpville, and that nothing ever happens. What? Nothing? Yep. That’s what I said. Nothing. You will be amazed at how riveting nothing can be. I mean, the reader is on the edge of his damn seat! Because guess what? Something ALWAYS happens! But guess what? Not here. Not in this first chapter. And pow! It just sucks them right on in. So, find a rule, break that damn rule. And that’s my only rule. I remember an editor told me once that you should never use words ending in ‘ly’. Words like “suddenly” and “freely” and “likely.” I mean, crap, there goes about five percent of the language, just because some wet-behind-the-ears junior editor with a brain filled with all the claptrap he learned in college latches onto something a professor—who probably couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag—blurted out because he was having a bad day and his wife was riding him about something stupid that morning. These are the same people who will tell you that you must sneeze thus. No. Not even. Forget about it. But they won’t listen to your protests because they are incapable of thinking for themselves, so whatever you do, don’t argue with them. Just smile at them, thank them, nod sagely, and then run like hell. And while you’re running, flush everything they just told you, because it’s a load of garbage.

For me, writing is a freeing experience. It’s best when it’s not loaded down with semesters (and even lifetimes) of preconceptions, bad advice, and a host of other baggage. Write to be free. You command the language. It’s your language! I mean, you’ve been speaking it well, bad and indifferent since you were kneehigh to a busted knee. Well, why the hell don’t you write it?

Shoot, I could go on. I could teach whole writing classes on this and get the weirdest looks from the attendees (who have each and every one attended other writing classes where they’ve been told the exact opposite of everything I’ve said thus far) but it’s all pretty well summated in the above few paragraphs.

It’s my contention that if you can speak the language passably well, if you can tell a story around a campfire and have everybody’s attention and have them leaning forward so as to catch every word, then by God you can be a writer. You can be the best writer who ever lived!

I guess that’s all. Go do it, now.

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Success-word-590

I have, this lifetime, sifted through quite a bit of data on success. I’ve narrowed my findings to ten basic points:

Work toward your goal every single day. Do not let the sun set without accomplishing something towards it.

Hold on to any wins you achieve along the way and disregard the losses.

Don’t allow anyone to evaluate or invalidate your goals, your dreams, and particularly your abilities.

Thinking about a thing is not the same as doing a thing. Success is only ever accomplished through action. The dream, however, must give your actions purpose and life.

Treat your goals as if they are living beings, and grant them life. All other rules apply with regard to your goals, particularly the Golden Rule.

Study, learn and become the top person on the planet in your field. Knowing WHY is of immense value. Knowing HOW will guarantee prosperity. Knowing both HOW and WHY is everything.

If you get mad at someone or something that stands in your way, you have granted them or it immense power. Become unflappable.

In any situation you are the expert. You are the source. Unquestionably.

Success is hidden in the minutiae. It’s the small things that, brought together, create the whole.

Fortune and fame are illusions, and at best are fleeting. Don’t seek these. Instead, seek happiness. You will ultimately find that it resides within you.

Okay, I guess that’s it.

Body of Work:

Follows is a comprehensive list of completed, incomplete, and planned future works by Yours Truly.

Novels completed but never to be published:
The Dawn File
The Light Warrior
Wolf Country

Novels completed and awaiting publication:
Murder In Elysium
1889: Journey to the Moon (with Billy Kring)

Published novels:
The Last Call
Capitol Offense
Longnecks and Twisted Hearts
The Devil to Pay
Death On the Pedernales
Slow Falling
Caddo Cold
Arrowmoon
The Vindicators: Book One—Last Defense (with Robert A. Taylor)
Long Fall from Heaven (with Milton T. Burton)

Contributions to anthologies:
Lone Star Noir (story: “Duckweed”)
The Kiss (story: “Death Kiss”)
The Bitten (story: “Blood Anthem”)

Short stories:
Duckweed
The Grid
The Leonids
Nickel Cup
The Devil and Mr. Tom Bean
The Coat Man
The Field
Death Kiss
Butterflies of the Amazon
Seven-eighths Rainmaker

The Eternal
In the Radio
The Woodsman
Blood Anthem
They Sure Make Good Potatoes at the Mayhill Cafe

Novels in progress:
1899: Journey to Mars (with Billy Kring)
The Vindicators: Book Two—Parsec (with Robert A. Taylor)
After the Fire (Bill Travis #9)
Boland’s War (sequel to Long Fall from Heaven)
Pantheon (science fiction)
Errant Knight (crime drama)
The Footprinters (science fiction)
The Banishlands (science fiction)
Ghost of the Karankawa (Bill Travis #10)

The planned Bill Travis books:
Desperate Crimes (#11)
Mexico Fever (#12)
The Lone Star Express (#13)
Trinity Trio (#14)Buffalo Bayou Blues (#15)
Reveille In Red (#16)
Bexar County Line (#17)
The Long Goodnight (#18)
Wolf Country (#19—prequel)
Manhunt (#20—prequel)
Borderline (#21—prequel)

Planned Far Journey Chronicles (with Billy Kring):
1904: Journey Into Time
1909: Journey To Atlantis

Screenplays/Teleplays:
Personal Injury: Pilot
Personal Injury: Ep. 1-5
The Woodsman

Phew. That’s enough for the moment.