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Failing the laugh test

By which I mean my prose sometimes sucks. Even, sometimes, laughably. Which you’d figure out on your own (from the title of the blog post, I hope…) but I said it anyway.

That kind of suckage is okay, though, because it’s fixable–up to the ceiling imposed by my current level of skill, which is not always a negotiable thing, but that’s the way it goes.

Oh, yeah–hi. If you’re keeping track, I was supposed to be off in the RV all week. But I’m not. I’m back.

Writing on the Neo was cool and all, but after about 10K words (once upon a time that would have been about 40 pages, back when people knew from pages) I had trouble making myself believe anything I was typing was worthwhile. Not in a style/wordsmith way, ’cause I was damn sure it had issues there…more that I was pretty sure I’d lost track of the story.

So last night I gave up on it and played with index cards, trying to come up with new scenes. More stuff. More story to tell. Something that resonated with something else. Somehow.

This morning I said the heck with it and drove for a couple of hours. I already had index cards with future scenes–virtual cards, anyway–on my laptop. I had all sorts of notes to myself in what I’d written, ’cause I find it’s better to type something like “blah this shotgun was a pistol a while ago” than it is to stop, find the earlier story-bit I need to change, change it, and try to figure out what the hell was in my head before I interrupted myself. Yes, I use the word “blah” and search for it later. No, I don’t know why; I just like doing it that way. I also like finding semi-legitimate ways to use “blah” in my actual story just to mess with myself.

I wanted to fix what I already knew was broken, and play with the story as a whole. The which of either doing is on the Neo quite hard.

Anyway. On the way home I realized what needed to come next in the story, and it’s going to be a real challenge to pull it off, but I’m excited again. Note: the laptop, and index cards, were irrelevant. A change of scene and some relaxed time for my mind to wander? Relevant. It turns out.

It also turned out that my wife was sick and it was a good time to come home, but she hadn’t told me. Weird mystical woo-hoo stuff, and it ain’t the first time. Of course both of us come from good witch stock.

So I have some new ideas about how to proceed from here…cut way back on the new-words-on-Neo bit so I can get that done in about two hours, maybe, and then do other stuff including fixing ugly ugly ugly words. Like that thing where I get an ugly word in my ugly head and then I find ugly ways to use its ugly self in three successive uglygraphs? Yeah, like that thing. And other things.

Still. The book thing is going pretty well. I just don’t have any quick/easy ways to get better/faster at this writing thing. Maybe the secret recipe for success is…wait for it…just a matter of practice? Putting in the time, writing down the words, and seeing what works?

That thing is okay with me, if it’s true. It’s something I can do.

Hope you’re reading something fun today.


Published inMy Fiction


  1. Rebecca

    What I really love about your books is that your writing doesn’t feel gimmicky. You have a story to tell and you tell it and so far each one (three so far) I’ve read has stuck with me. In a good way. Doesn’t matter how you do it, just please keep doing it.

    Have a great weekend and I hope your wife is feeling better.

    • Thanks! And I’ll try, but you have to realize I’m now trying to figure out a gimmick, just because. 🙂

      Thanks for the second review, by the way. You’re making me want to write more–and try harder.

    • And she’s fine–just weird unexplained vertigo. Seems to be fading.

      • Rebecca

        Wow, my husband was in the hospital for two days with vertigo recently. Nasty thing to have and I really feel for her. The strange way to cure it is to actually make it worse, there are videos out there that show the procedure if it comes back. Something about crystals in the inner ear. His was related to high blood pressure but he’s better now.

        Get a gimmick, I think I’d still enjoy your writing. Just please don’t fall into the trap of not knowing how you want the story to end so you just throw in -oh say a giant spider that lives underground and comes out dressed as a clown named Pennywise. Or a giant spider who lives in a dark tower waiting for the final confrontation with a gun slinging hero. Dumb endings are dumb endings I don’t care who ya are.

        You’re welcome for the reviews. You took the time to write so it’s the least a reader can do. I’m excited by the prospect of the sequel to Shiver on the Sky and also your current in progress work.

        • Y’know, I’m a huge Stephen King fan. Except for the Dark Tower stuff, anyway, which for some reason I can’t get into. When I was trying to jump-start myself into believing I should actually write my first novel, I’d read a few pages of his work every day at breakfast.

          But I get your point. I’ll try not to have aliens show up in Chapter 14. OTOH I have to tell you I have this goofy thing I often put on a 3×5 index card as a potential scene just to remind myself not to be boring. It says: “Giant Spiders Attack!”

          Ahem. Coincidence, that you would mention that? Or alien mind control?

          And yeah, those vertigo exercises are interesting. Fortunately Mary Anne’s doing much better, but she was going to try them if she’d needed to.

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