Monday, January 27, 2020


I expect to deliver my current WIP at some point in the next month. Unless I don’t.  Uncertainty seems to be my normal writing state.
The Muse had her way with me several months ago, which, as her brief visits go, was more or less a pleasant interlude.  The word fairy’s infrequent and fleeting encounters always leaves me with a warm inspirational glow of what is to come. Sadly, the next morning I struggle to remember the details of our encounter.
Nevertheless, and with great confidence, I immediately began gathering the foundational elements; sketching a key scene, imagining a dramatic ending or a simple beginning phrase that will entice the reader, or perhaps some half remembered fragment of a technical article. A smatter of dialogue, a glimpse of character and occasional bits of scenery flavors the mix.   
Although all of these fragments are initially in a disorganized jumble, connections begin to form and clarify what looks to become a plot. Many of these connections fail to survive the encounter with the story’s logic. Undeveloped characters who emerge from the quantum foam and, once they’ve contributed their part, are as quickly absorbed into the naked narrative of the emerging story.
My struggles are not helped when I realize that bitch Muse has impregnated me with yet another irresistible story idea that could not be resisted. It squirms and twists in my mind until there is nothing to do but put aside the as-yet-unrealized first draft to thoroughly capture the essence of this new idea. I saw no problems developing two stories in parallel. It can’t be that hard, right?
Instead, with alternating fervor and frightful dismay, I attempt to focus as the emerging draft(s) struggle with their confusing and compounding problems. Mid-draft issues do not seem to clarify despite frequent infusions of coffee and chocolate, neither of which do much to assuage the contractions as scene after scene, subplots, and the main thread(s) are tested, adjusted, and are too frequently dismissed or abandoned. 
A day’s thousand word writing spurt is usually offset by the following day’s massive edits and deletions. False epiphanies and resolutions arise only to be struck down by the immature logic of the developing plot. Contradictions pop up in unattended places, unnoticed by my Teflon eyes for draft after draft.
So here I sit awaiting the stories’ development as their uncertain plots refuse to resolve.  Still, I know in my heart of hearts that somewhere ahead lay a plethora of less than satisfying endings and that one golden, satisfactory ending for each story.
The trick is finding it.                                                               

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 Writing in Review

As 2020 begins, as in previous years, I’ve updated my archives, cleaned out the messes I've created, and looked at the various pieces I've worked on during the year.  I've been doing this assessment since I started writing again in 1990, partly to see how far I've come and partly to torture myself with the realization that I could have done much better.  It also makes me to humbly reassess the wisdom of writing fiction.

 During the last year a few of my short stories and a novel were published.  My remaining WIP remain around 98% completed due to continual rethinking and rewriting/revising.
The number of drafts I count in a given year is the gross number of files, not the number of times they’ve been accessed.  Novels count the same as novellas, novelettes, short stories and articles.  I do not count the number of multiple drafts, edits, and crap I throw away in frustration at my fickle muse.  Some other writers may obsessively count and report their word production and have suggested that I really ought to keep track of total words written (drafts, sketches, edits, etc ) instead of a simple file count, but even for me the resulting number would be too horrifyingly large with ratios of written words to words sold at  millions to one. 
The source of this data is an Excel database I have maintained to keep track of my submissions.
Writing Statistics 1990 - 2019
The BLUE line represents the number of drafts (22) worked on during the year.  The cumulative number of drafts is just  559. 
The PURPLE line is the number of submissions for each year.  In 2019 I made 22 submissions bringing the cumulative total to 387. This represents 65% of the total drafts. The flattening of the curve from 2014-2018 is when I was writing novels instead of shorter works.

The GREEN line is the number of pieces I've completed during the years. The cumulative total now stands at 189 or 32% of what I worked on.
The RED line shows the number of unique stories sold by year (I haven't included sales of reprints, audio productions, or donated stories.)  The cumulative number of unique sales is now 134 (three in 2019). I seem to sell 24% of my drafts, which is better than a third of submissions. On the other hand  this indicates that I sell about 70% of everything I manage to complete (and submit.)