Thursday, December 26, 2013

White-knuckled Adventures, Thrill Rides And The Year's End

I've been harping away at this week's story being the last story of the challenge, but it didn't occur to me until just now that this is the final blog update of the year as well. Well, not counting the brief snippet announcing said last story this weekend. I'm not going to count that because I am deceitful like that. So, without further ado...

Status Update: The story's outlined and the coffee is damn fine. In a moment which was probably symbolic as hell, I ran out of beans this morning making this last pot. They died so I could awaken slightly more easily after my five day holiday weekend. Your sacrifice will not be in vain, beans.

And here it is. 52 weeks of Thursday status updates, some of them about writing, some of them about...I dunno. It's usually about seven in the morning when I write these bad boys, and they tend to be about whatever's on my mind at the moment. This early in the morning, I'm still ripping the cobwebs from my eyes and attempting to come to grip with the inevitability of having to go to work and be awake instead of being all horizontal on my sleep-implement dreaming dreams of war-aardvarks, robot badgers and my awesome ability to knock down brick walls with my enormous wang. Leave dreams about hobnobbing with the philosophical giants of the ages to the philosophers and classy folks. I dream about things that matter.

It's been an odd year. I started this resolution like a lot of New Year's resolutions, fully intent on carrying it through all the way. Nobody kicks off one of these things intending to drop it after a month like a bathroom baby at a high school prom. But, on the face of it, it was a lot of work. It looked like a lot of work from the start, and yes, it was.

I suppose if I were the sort of person who'd make numbered lists at the drop of a hat and then post them on the CyberWebs at the end of the year like it's one of those year-end lists or something, I'd go about it like this:

Seven Things I Learned Writing A Story A Week For An Entire Year

1. Failure is kinda cool.  It's okay to suck at something as long as you pick yourself up afterwards and try again, learning from your personal suck-Vietnam.

2. Smarter, not harder. I started out writing very long short stories. Novellas, even. Problem is...that's a lot of words to write in one week. After a while I had to ask myself exactly what I was accomplishing banging out 15,000 words in just a few days? Was I training typing speed? All the useful work I had to do was usually in the first six or seven thousand words--after that, I was just slogging through the story. It was fun to test the limits of my writing speed and the ability to crank through plot to reach a deadline but...after I did it a few times, proved my point, such things weren't that useful. I wasn't really growing that much, nor was I practicing much in the way of useful plotting and writing technique. I was just doing work. Occasionally fun, though. Now when I write short stories, I try to work shorter but more to the point.

3. I suck at pantsing, after a point. I can go about 2,000 words without a plan before it becomes painfully obvious I have no idea where I'm going with a story.

4. I suck at following outlines, up to a point. If I get too specific about what's going to happen in a story, I get bored and then writing the story feels more like a chore instead of something fun and creative. It's all about balance.

5. Get weird. I have the most fun writing when I'm trying new things: the stranger, the better.

6. Books don't just happen. There were a chain of stories this summer where I decided to serialize my way into writing a novel. This was a very bad idea. At least I'll have material to draw upon when I get the chance slice it apart and reform it into an actual novel. But it was a lot of wasted effort and it almost got to the point where I wanted to give up in disgust. Not good.

7. About myself:  the biggest things I discovered during the course of the 240,000 or so words (just from the stories, mind you--I'm not counting the blog) are simply a myriad of things about my own writing: what I'm good at, what I need to work on, what my voice is like when I'm writing in various modes, what makes me procrastinate and how to get working and productive. What makes me tick, what I'm not excited about doing, what gets me fired up. All those kinds of things.

So there you have it. One year of Thursday updates. Next up: the year began with a story about clones and it'll end with a story about clones.

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