Tag Archives: Goals

Changing Gears

I published my first book a few weeks ago.

The fact that it was a programming book about fractals (and that I started to type fract instead of fact at the beginning of that sentence) is as much a surprise to me as it is to you.

Writing projects take on an identity of their own with me. They get their own mono-graphed coffee mugs (well, actually they don’t but that would be sweet and I should totally do that for Surreality). But I do have a process involving buying new flash drives, configuring the portable apps I think I’ll need, and repacking my “go bags” to include the appropriate material.

Right now I’m still using my fractal “go bags” which include more eReaders than I probably need at any one time, and fractal references I am trying to resist reading til at least this next fiction project is done. (I’m also trying not to buy any more fractal books, but I haven’t quite got that down yet).

I think the thing that is most surprising to me is how energized and how tired I am at the same time. I am chomping at the bit to re-read Surreality and begin the revision process anew, but I am also more exhausted than I realized from the 14 month blitz that was the fractal book, then bundle. Part of it is lack of creative energy, and part of it is physical exhaustion from a lot of late nights, and altogether too much coffee.

I had intended to pick up some video game as a distraction but in my recreational time I haven’t had the energy to do more than binge watch Star Trek: Enterprise (which if you can ignore Bakula is pretty okay). But realistically my brain is already in all Surreality all the time mode, even if I don’t have the energy to turn those thoughts into words.

My 35 minute commute, which was spent composing algorithms and plotting out the day’s fractal generation, is now being spent visualizing scenes, and re-writing them in my head. I may need to consider some kind of dictation machine if this keeps up.

But I am excited. I started some of my revisions of Surreality earlier this week, writing some new material for a scene and was pleased to discover it was fun to write these characters again. And the fractal book isn’t over yet. I’m still thinking of ways to get reviews, and get the word out to math associations and anyone else who’s willing to read it.

What was supposed to be kind of a break is turning out to be one of my busiest times ever.

Sadly, or maybe not so sadly, I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

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What’s Next?

I think friend of the blog Chuck put it best to me a few weeks ago. “When are you going to finish that &$#%! fractal book so we can see some of your fiction?”

Well, the book’s done, and should be on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in a week or so. So what’s next for [BTW]?

At the moment I’ve got three fiction projects in various stages of development. The top seed project is Surreality, a noir/technological mystery that I hope to have out to you by late 2013, early 2014. Surreality was actually the book I started working on after a long writing hiatus, and was also the first project I collaborated on with my editor/wife. I’m really excited to be actively working on fiction again, and this story in particular. As is typical of me, this one started as a short story, but the story I wanted to tell evolved first into a novel, and now probably into a series, though each book will be a self-contained mystery.

I’m also hoping to start the revision process up again for Dark Matter, my science fiction thriller, whose first draft I finished just prior to starting this blog. Writing [BTW] has helped me to develop a tighter writing style which I’m hoping to apply to this revision. Basically I need to take a 200K word book (Dune) and shrink it down to 125K (a little less than twice Surreality). My drafting process for Dark Matter was a little chaotic. For a while I’ve been writing first drafts with no chapters, just moving from scene to scene, with set word count goals for the day. While I think this can be a great way to let ideas flow out unfettered, I think I’d have a lot less work in revision if I drafted more like I do for the blog. With this in mind I’m going to try and redraft Dark Matter within a year, and maybe have a release version out to you by the end of 2014.

The last story, Atlantia, is a redraft of the first novel I ever completed, back in high-school. I got a good start on this redrafting process during NaNoWriMo 2011, and will probably try to work on it next year. I’d like to get this writing process down to six months for each book, but I still have a ways to go.

As for other goals, I’m working on giving the wife a night or two where I don’t mention the book, and taking my own little rest-bits between projects. Realistically I can’t wait to work on the next project, and I know the “little red-haired girl” loves me for it, even if I make her want to pull her hair out sometimes. Trust me, being married to a writer, and more than that actively working on projects with one, is not for everyone.

I am a very lucky man.

What are your next writing goals?

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Crossing The Finish Line

You’ve been working on a book for a year, perhaps more, and you are finally approaching the end of some significant milestone (first draft, first revision, or possibly even publishing), what do you do to celebrate?

My first draft of my first novel ever written took four years. I finished my senior year of high-school and my reward was a bottle of sparkling grape juice (closest thing to champagne for an 18 year old) and the realization I had 193,000 words to edit. (BTW, the book in question is titled Atlantia and I redrafted the first 50,000 words of it a few years ago for NaNoWriMo. It’ll come out one of these days).

Since then I’ve often used champagne as my little reward for a job well done, which is funny since the little red haired girl has to open the bottle. Never have gotten the hang of how those corks pop. (Some psychologist might say it goes back to a childhood game that involved sitting on balloons to pop them which also explains my distaste for the sound of a popped balloon).

For the Fractal Book I’ve selected a game (and the accompanying time to play it) as reward, since it’ll be the first to be widely shared with the world. True to form the game is a sci-fi RPG from 1999 which features songs from David Bowie and apparently an in-game concert appearance by a character modeled after him, Omikron: The Nomad Soul. (Never been a giant fan of Bowie (I didn’t grow up liking the Labyrinth) but the game sounds cool). I’m holding off on buying it til I’m finished to avoid the temptation to play it and put off the book.

I’ve bought plenty of games (and the occasional bottle of champagne) prior to the completion of the book, but it’s kind of fun to have a specific reward in mind, something I’m denying myself until I’m done. Just a way to sweeten what’s already gonna be a pretty great moment (finishing the book).

Got any big plans for your next big novel milestone?

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Setting The Write Goals

I want to write more in 2013 than I did in 2012.

The new year is a time when many writers reassess their goals and take some time to make a plan for the year. Me, I’m not a planner. Don’t get me wrong. I try it almost every year, and fall off the wagon in a few weeks. I’d like to be one of those authors who can work off outlines, and keep to a set writing schedule, but something in my nature resists that.

But trust me, there is still hope for people like me, and all of you who are trying to figure out what your goals should be for the year. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a couple of the things that have worked for me:

1) Keep it simple – I have at least 5-7 projects in my head at any one time. It can be a temptation to create a plan that incorporates all of them. Trying to do too many things at once can spread us thin, and decrease the quality of our work in any one project. We all want to succeed tomorrow, and this self-publishing world seems to increase the pressure to keep putting something out there, but it’s a lot better to get one or two things done than to start 5-7.

2) Keep it concrete – Simply put, 1000 words a day is better than writing an hour a day. That can be more or less than an hour, but it is a set amount to shoot for each day. If we make our writing goals by time alone, then we risk squandering our hour with distractions, or cutting ourselves off when we’re on a roll.

3) You are not alone – Most of us try to have relationships with other people. It makes us better character writers, and just plain better people. There’s a somewhat romantic notion in devoting ourselves so fully to a thing to the exclusion of all else, but the else doesn’t tend to love us for it. I do believe there are some professions that might be better off not getting married, but writing isn’t one of them. Make sure to structure time with your loved ones into any plan you make. Otherwise, what was it all for?

4) Don’t be afraid to drop goals – I’m not saying give up, but rather, reallocate your time to things that are working and lose the things that aren’t. Or it may even just be a matter of reducing time spent in one thing, and increasing it in another. I used to write this blog four times a week (my “Daily Show” schedule). Ultimately at least one of those posts ended up being “filler” and I was feeling exhausted when I tried to work on my external writing projects. I’ve been writing three times a week for half a year now, and I think not only has it improved the quality of the blog, but the quality of my other projects. You have to be willing to reassess rather than just sticking hard nosed to a goal.

5) Pray about it – For me, faith comes into not only why I write, but how I write. Personally, I’ve never felt it was a good idea for me to make decisions about what I work on without God. I’m not saying that I don’t make my own decisions, but there is something about the reflective process that is necessary when making any important decision. And trust me, any serious writing project is an important, potentially life altering decision. Take it seriously.

6) Track it if you must – We all like ticking off the little boxes when we finish something. Just make sure you’re not spending more time making and serving the list than doing the actual work. That’s why I’m a fan of the concrete but lose goals of 1000 words a day. Easy to check, quantify, and get back to work.

7) Be patient – You probably aren’t going to write your bestseller tomorrow. If you’re a blogger, your first, your tenth or even your hundredth post might not be Freshly Pressed. Writing is a lot of hard work, refining your craft, and plain old output. Success will come to those who put the time in, and who don’t worry about it to much. Relax and just enjoy the writing. You already probably work for money, and maybe you want to make money off the writing too, but it’s not going to be any better than your workaday job if you don’t remember to have fun as well. While I don’t think we should trick ourselves into thinking the writing life is an easy one, I think we should enjoy the fruits it has to offer, independence, community, and the ability to create something new.

Good luck in the new year. What are some of your goals for the year?

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