Sunday, July 26, 2015

Is That A Light Up Ahead In This Tunnel?

I actually did some writing this week. Not a lot, but some. And I even got some words I was happy with.

I've started teaching a new semester of students in my high school writers' class. It's an elective for 14 year olds who want more English, and perhaps don't want all the usual elective subjects like sport, or technology. Now in its second year, it's proving to be popular. And I'm seeing some great results from the kids.

But this week, while teaching kids about openings to stories, I had a few ideas of my own. So I wrote three openings. Three random pieces from nowhere that have given me ideas. And I plan to expand them into fully formed tales.

I may be coming to the end of my motivational slump. And that's something I feel good about. I hate feeling guilty about not writing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Drought.

I haven't had a story sale since late last year. A few good, personal rejections. A few not so personal rejections. A few rejections that were so impersonal they almost hurt. For a number of reasons, I had reason to think one or two of these would be acceptances. I was wrong.

In the meantime I have had a couple of publications. Good magazines, with high profiles and reputations. There was even a decent review.

But the drought I'm experiencing isn't only in regards to sales. My motivation seems to have dried up as well. Not a writer's block. I have ideas, and I know how to 'make' ideas, just the willingness to sit down and write those words.It's been months since I've sat down to write new words. Well, new fiction, at least.

I started the new semester at work this week. A new group of students in my Writer's class. I've started showing them how to structure stories, and I learned a couple of points myself.

I'm hoping this is what it takes to push me back into the writer's chair. And yes, I realise it's something I need to make myself do.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Back To Work.

I've just finished two weeks' holiday. And, of course, I was busy. I had a list of jobs to do, and didn't manage to finish the list.

I got very little writing done. One good day last week where I wrote some good words, only to discover they had disappeared the next morning. No I'm reasonably computer savvy, and I save as I go. And yet that document is gone. Completely. I spent far too much time trying to recover the file, but to no avail. I simply cannot explain what happened to it.

The next morning I rewrote as much of it as I could remember, and I must admit I think I did a better job on the second occasion. Of course I cannot compare the two pieces, but I was more satisfied when I read it back. I think it might be a keeper.

But back to work tomorrow, teaching. And it's going to be a busy term. I must work out the best way to make time for me, to make time to write.

To motivate myself to write after teaching English at school, working with words all day.

This I something at which I must work.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Red In Tooth And Claw.

My writing buddy and crit-fiend, David McDonald, has a story out in the latest issue of Dimension6.

Although I've yet to read this issue, I read an earlier incarnation of Red in Tooth and Claw a while ago. I enjoyed it then, and I have no doubt it's improved since.

Congratulations, David. A fine sale to a quality magazine.

Dimension6 continues to be published three times a year, and is free to download and distribute. Keith Stevenson, the editor and publisher, produces high quality stories and five issues in he is yet to disappoint.

Issue #5 also includes stories by SG Larner and Jessica May Lin.

Run, don't walk, over to the Coeur de Lion website and download.

What? Are you still here?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's The Write Time.

I'm on term break now, and I must say I've been hanging out for this one.

It's been a very, very busy semester. And, for a variety of reason, it's probably been the busiest time I've had teaching in the past ten years. I have a few things to do during the coming two weeks, but writing is definitely one of them.

I must sit down daily and get words out. I have to get back into that habit. Last week I managed some words, but nowhere near as many as I would like. I was able to sub a couple of stories as well, but even though these are markets that promise rapid responses, I'm still waiting to hear back on those.

And that other story, the one that's been sitting at Analog for 135 days.  Yup, it seems as though my prediction was correct and response times have blow out again.

In the meantime, apart from waiting with fingers crossed on all these stories, I guess the only thing I can do is write. And that starts again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Words, Words Everywhere.

Lots of words. Thousands of them. None of them for sale. I wrote them all, but they've been given away and I don't even know how many of them will ever be read.

In the past few weeks I've marked lots of essays and written hundreds of school reports. Then there's been the proofreading, corrections and tweaking to get the comments just right. It's not a pleasant job, but one that has to be done. It's one of the compromise aspects of my career, one of the roles I must do if I want to do the actual teaching stuff.

The creative side of my writing is still quiet, although some would joke the reports I write are fiction. But one of my mentors tells me to take those 'report' words, use them. There are narratives in there. Hopes, dreams, success, failure - all you have to do is sort them out. Use some, twist them.

He's right, of course. He usually is. And he's far more experienced with words than I am.

I will play with those words. I will contort them, slash them, hack them within an inch of their lives.

Another experiment. Will it result in anything useable? Who knows? But that is what experiments are about. And it may plant a seed, something that leads to something that leads to something else.

They are, after all, only words.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Many Missions?

There are times I feel like Yossarian in Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Not that I imagine millions of people are trying to kill me and no one will listen. In my case that would be paranoia. Although as Yossarian was in the middle of a war it's likely he was speaking more than some truth there.

No, I'm talking about his missions.

Yossarian simply wants to go home, but his command continue to increase the number of missions he has to fly in order to do so. This is usually done when he's only one or two missions shy of the target number. And so, of course, he can never get there.

Earlier this year, I submitted a story to Analog magazine at a time when they had reported response times of around 70 days. While that may seem high, it's actually much lower than the 180ish days they were reporting a year or two ago. And so I waited.

Around the 70 day mark, I checked the response times, only to find they had increased to around 90 days. A few more weeks wait then.

Three weeks later, when I was on 90 days, they had increased out to around 110 days. Two weeks after that it was around 135 days.

I'm currently sitting at 119 days and there has not been a reported response for two weeks. Is that because no one has recorded a response, or because the editors have given up reading slush and all gone home?

Either way I'm sure the response time will have increased.

In the end Yossarian had to make a deal in order to go home. He had to pretend to be friends with his commanders.

I'm willing to do that. Analog Editors, would you like to come over for drinks some time?