Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writing Update - The Notebook (but not that "The Notebook")

I did mention a few weeks ago that I started on a sequel to "Birth of a Sidekick," which is a story I published, audio-booked, and podcasted, but feel free to buy it anyway.*

Well, I do continue to work on it, nearly every day.  It's already eclipsed the size of the first story, and shows no signs of stopping.  In fact, there was a point last week or so where I realized I could just write "The End" and continue the narrative in the next installment.  It may actually have been a wise choice, but ah well, I forged on.

I'd say I'm about at the two-thirds point, and if I haven't finished it by the end of the month, then I'm even lazier than I realized.  I'd like to talk about the story's theme, and how having a theme in mind changed the way the story went, but I could easily do a whole post about it (and how I'm scared it's gonna be nearly novel-length, even though it's not supposed to be), but I don't want to be here all day.

I do need to finish the dang thing soon, though, because I went ahead and entered my name for the Masters of the Macabre contest (for the fifth time), and this year, they want an audio drama (with other voices, sound effects, and music in it), which is, frankly, more ambitious than 90% of writing contests.  And maybe even for me, we'll see.

In a related (semi-related?) story, I finished out my notebook this week.
Now, I guess I should explain why this is--if indeed it is--significant.  I write my stories longhand in spiral notebooks.  I do this because I am too distracted when I'm at a computer, and because my experiences with laptops are almost wholly negative.  I keep planning on getting a new laptop, and use it only for writing (which is easy to say, and damned difficult to actually pull off), but for now, I write my stories on paper.  It's frustrating for the (few) people who want to read my work, though, because there are no easily-shareable ways of letting them read the stories, save scanning, photographing, or transcribing my scrawls.  In fact, I vaguely remember asking once if somebody wanted to try their hand at typing up one of my stories, so that I wouldn't have to do it, and I can't remember if there were any takers.

Regardless, doing my writing in this way is pretty darn inefficient, in that it's all in one single location, so if I lose the notebook (as I did with the one I took to work, and wrote "A Lovely Singing Voice" in, only to find it again months later), those pieces are gone forever.  I like to think that I get an easy rewrite when I sit down and type up the stories, but it's actually an easy way to get typos into a second draft, when I should be cleaning them up.  Also, people ask me how many words I've written on something, and unless I go through and count them (which I've only ever made the mistake of doing a time or two), I'll never know.

Even so, it is pretty great to have filled another notebook, and to soon start up on another one.**  This is gonna sound self-indulgent (but hey, it's a blog, what else are they for, unless it's to generate ad-revenue, which is even more self-indulgent, you arrogant, money-hungry bastards), but Tom Tancredi recently asked me about claiming to write a lot of stories, so I thought I'd take a moment to look through it, before it gets tossed in the closet and covered with dirty clothes, like the last two notebooks.
I don't know if you can see this picture or not, but it's of the first page, the folder part, of the notebook.  It's got a printout of an old (unfinished) story, "Training Program" there, and then a list of stories in the notebook, with asterisks by the ones that were actually completed.  The next page starts with the story I was calling "Baby Talk," from where I had left it in the notebook before ("Who the hell are you?" Alex asked me.  I couldn't help but laugh.).  But here's the project list from that first page:

Baby Talk/Say Uncle
Sin Eater (western vampire story)
carnival story (Mick Attends)
space opera
Caller I.D.
Parsec song
Greetings From Sector 19 (squad report george lucas)
percy jackson/devil daughter story
christmas zombie story 2 (TRU)
Caller I.D. sequel
Balms & Sears
The Gold Bug
Subtext 2 (text from dead students story, "Callback?")
Van helsing script
Murdertown 1 Mile
A Lovely Singing Voice (rewrite)
plane crash (alt history tale)
From Another World
3 witches tale (Expected Visitor)
Lost & Found (teleporting boy story/Finder of Lost Children)
Annabel Lee
Unpleasant Truths
Superman-type tale
Birth of a Sidekick sequel

That's quite a bit there, no?  It didn't include author's notes and journal entries and additions to pieces like "The Calling" and "Like A Good Neighbor" and "Last Contact" and who knows how many ideas for stories that never went anywhere.  It made me realize that I wrote "Caller I.D." to please some longtime reader of my blog, and I never put it out there.  I really ought to do that soon.

Remind me.
This third photo is just of a random page in the notebook, with three things on it: a list of stories I might put into a collection called "Something Weird," a half a page from "Sleeptalkin' Gal" where Eli watches the episode where Kevin calls the pretty girl on the phone (this part didn't make it into the audiobook version, unfortunately), and the beginning of a story I wrote for a contest, which will eventually be published as "Greetings from Sector 19," but was there called SQUAD REPORT GEORGE LUCAS (sadly, this story won that particular contest, I type with head lowered in shame).  It's got the names of the two main characters at the top of the page (to keep them straight), and the date of the story has 2041 crossed out, and 2106 replacing it.

Writing can be difficult, but boy, can it also be fun.  As I complete this notebook, and continue on with my BOAS sequel, it's remarkable how enjoyable this tale has been to write (at least the first draft; I may be horrified by how bad it is when it comes time to type it up and start fixing things).  My worry had been that this story would be boring, and that it's overly long, but I think I had those same fears on the first one, and people seemed to like it quite a bit.

Dean Wesley Smith's attitude has been: put out all your stories (for people to buy and read), and if one is bad, figure out why it was, and focus on not doing that in your next story.  I wish that I could follow his instructions/commands to the letter, and self-publish ever single one of them, happy to spend the money, and not care if somebody dislikes one or two (or all).

I am working on it.  Seven of those above stories have seen publication, so I'm not completely pathetic.  I dunno.  I do like the whole notebook thing, though I'll admit that it's not as efficient as it should be, and I really ought to become more efficient.

In my blog-writing as well.

Rish "Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook" Outfield

*This probably ought to be its own post, but I just wanted to say that SOMEBODY'S been buying my audiobook recordings over on Audible.  It used to be that I'd log in there, discover I hadn't sold anything, and if I was lucky, I'd find the number increased by one when I'd try back in a week.  Now, though, it increases every time I log in.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I sell a copy a day, but it's darn close.
And that's a pretty good feeling.  I've got one more book finished, and I just reached the halfway point on a second Dean Wesley Smith book (in narration--the easy part, not in editing--the uneasy part), after which I will begin another E.C. Tubb book.  All of which should add up to more sales.  If I can keep this up--and the sales continue--I could effectively retire and live off royalties, oh, somewhere around 2051.  Not bad, eh?

**Right now, I'm using the aforementioned "Lovely Singing Voice" notebook, which I used to keep under the passenger seat in my car, and would fish out only when I got an idea for a sketch or a song to use on the Dunesteef.  There's still an abandoned Valentine's Day 2012 sketch in there that would be a fake commercial for "Love Songs For One," which would've been a bunch of songs about eating, dancing, and sleeping alone.  Also, an abandoned Barbie sketch (a Batman parody, "Barbie Begins"), which I tossed when Liz M. stopped working on Dunesteef episodes.

1 comment:

Journey Into... said...

"Annabel Lee"

Hmmmm. I wonder what might have inspired that one. I'd be interested in reading that one. I might not run another contest soon, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to add a story to the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Month just because.