Taking Stock

It can be easy to get discouraged. Maybe you don't feel you're living up to your potential. Maybe you feel that you should have made greater strides after so long. Maybe you are struggling with a self-imposed deadline that feels unrealistic. In these situations, it's often nice to take a step back and look at what you've done.

I'm a copywriter by day and a creative writer when I can carve a few hours out of my evenings or weekends. It's not always easy to do, but I love telling stories and the desire to create something new drives me. As a creative writer, my career pales in comparison to many others I know … many of whom also pull the dreaded "double duty." But, I was pleased to realize that I had put many words on paper in a relatively short amount of time.

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine - musician/writer Jon Sergott - about fictitious corporations. We were talking about the easy trap to fall into with naming, either characters or companies. Too many casual writers name their protagonists something like Jake Strong or Teddy Brains. Their evil corporations take equal shortcuts - Megalith Industries or Hyperleverage. It can be hard to name a company in your story. The most recent two I have scribed (Allied Genetics in "Objekt 221" and Precision Robotics in the next Event collection) seemed rather normal. I had a vague recollection of a Fortune 500 company in the book "Coldwater," so I pulled it off the shelf and started flipping through.

The company wasn't named, so my research was fruitless. However, when I walked over to the bookcase to return the volume, I noticed the date the book was published … March 4th, 2014.

At the time, it was January 3rd, 2019. Coldwater was published just over four and a half years in the past.

Wow.

I thought it had been longer.

Then, I started thinking. I had written "RESET" and "Merchant of Time" before then. I wrote "Sketch" for the 2012 NaNoWriMo competition and "Coldwater" for the 2013 version. Coldwater was published a scant five months later. But, the kicker was this … since March 2014 I had:

  • Written and published "The Hidden Riches of Lord Granite."

  • Written and published "The Beast of Trash Island."

  • Published a heavily revised version of "Sketch."

  • Written the novella "Paradox Iron" and edited the collection "The Event: The Chicago Rust Yards."

  • Written the stories "INK" and "The Coronado Reef" and edited the collection "The Event: Iron Bay."

  • Collected 400 pages of Trevor scripts and published (for a select group) the volume "Readings from the Book of Lewd."

In addition, I've written stuff that still hasn't seen the light of day:

  • The finished novel "Lot 23."

  • 148 pages of "Objekt 221."

  • 103 pages of "Phoenix Hill."

  • 20 pages of "Matanza."

  • 20 pages of "Blood Wake."

Not bad for just under five years. Also, not great. But still, not bad. It's encouraging, I suppose. Most notably, because I was concerned that I hadn't been able finish the WIP stuff … namely O221. I started writing that book in June of 2017. It's going to be a short novel - probably around 40k words - and I figured I'd be able to get it done rather quickly. In truth, I stopped writing it to work on Iron Bay and have only been chipping away at it since then.

Which, ultimately, is what has changed for me. In 2012, 2013, 2014 … I was able to sit down and hammer through 20 or 30 pages at a time. Now, however, it's more of a grind. Again, "chipping away" at a story rather than writing huge chunks of it. I'm not sure which method is better. I greatly enjoyed being able to plow through big pieces of a novel over a weekend, but, now, it's more about taking my time.

Objekt 221 should be done this month (in January, 2019) with the plan of it being revised and sent off to publishers in February. During that time, I get to work on the next installment of the Event series, "Precision Robotics." After that, I plan to put some serious effort into Phoenix Hill … an adventure story that's dear to me.

So, enough of this self-congratulatory blog post. Yes. I've been quiet. But I've also been quietly writing. If you ever want to discuss motivation, planning or the writing process itself feel free to contact me.

Keep reading. Keep writing!

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