Sunday, March 31, 2024

Writing Newsletter First Quarter 2024


Probably the biggest writing news for this first quarter of 2024, is that for the first time in years I’ve submitted a story to a magazine.  I’m still waiting to hear if they’ll accept it, but I hopefully will have good news on it for next quarter.


I’ve continued writing a story for my website each month, publishing “Scheming,” “Outstanding Merit,” and “Always a Catch.” I’ve also posted “Deaf Ears,” “Always Have a Strong Finish,” and “Deadweight” on my Ko-fi account.  And I also posted “How Did They Get Our Number?” on one of my blogs.


In these three months, I’ve posted microfiction stories on my Mastodon and Bluesky profiles on the following days: 1/12, 3/6, 3/11, 3/20, 3/23, and 3/25.  I’ve also posted haikus on 1/8, 2/19, 3/4, 3/18, and 3/26.  I’m slowly working on collections of both, so my plan is to post them more often to force myself to write the hundreds of each I need.  I guess we’ll see how well I do.


In this quarter, I only managed one Free Story Idea, that of Star Jumping.  In my last Newsletter I wrote that I was thinking of only doing one a quarter, but I had been trying to do one every other month.  But, like other times, it seemed other things kept coming up.  And as with everything else, we’ll have to see what I’m able to do.


Image from Pixabay.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Random Writing Tips – You need to write


Your reaction to the title was probably along the lines of, “No shit.” So let me explain my point.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a previous Random Writing Tips about Schedules.  In that I talked about how if people know every third Tuesday there will be a new Random Writing Tips post on your blog, they’ll be more likely to check it out.  And I figured having schedules for posts on social media would work as well.  I had a schedule of posts I did on Twitter, which I modified when I moved over to Mastodon.  And over the past year, I’ve added new things to post.  For example, every Tuesday there’s a writing quote, I pose a question every Thursday, and I have a poll every other Sunday.  To keep track of all of this, I have an Excel document where I can check off everything once I schedule or post it.  The system is a bit cumbersome, but I’ve used it for so long I know how to work through its problems.

Then last week, I had an idea for a new system.  And I probably spent several hours setting this new system up.  The over simplified explanation, is that I went from each row representing a week, to each row representing a day.  And with some functions I just learned how to use, it should be easier for me to see what I still need to do to keep to my schedule. 

And if you’re wondering what does all that have to do with writing, as I said, I spent several hours preparing the system for the next two months.  I’ll see how it works, and if there are any little improvements I can make before spending a few more hours setting it up for the rest of the year.  But at several points while working on this, I thought to myself, I could be using this time writing a story.  Will this new system make me more productive with my scheduling resulting in more people finding me and learning about my books?  Probably not.  I did have a system, a clunky system I admit, but I knew how to work through the clunks.  But I wasn’t just cleaning the house, or whatever because I didn’t want to write, I was setting up a new system that was “writing related” which, is close enough.


Image from Pixabay.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Writing business cards

Recently, I was doing some cleaning and I came across some business cards I made years ago.

I think, in some office supply store, I found a pack of blank business cards.  Each sheet had like ten cards you could separate, and the pack had four or five sheets.  On the pack there was a note about how it worked with some template in Word.  You filled out the template, then put the sheet in your printer, and you could even print on both sides.  And then you had business cards.

Part of why I wanted business cards was because there were businesses that had containers on the counter with signs like, “Put your business card in and we’ll draw one each week for a free pizza.” I wanted business cards to get free pizza (I never won any such drawing) but I also figured if the business card was interesting enough, it might get people to check my stuff out and maybe buy one of my books.  I could also leave them in places where people could find them and be intrigued.

So I needed something interesting to put on a business card.  I don’t remember if I came up with “Professional dreamer and destroyer of worlds” before I started making my business cards, but I figured it was perfect to be noticeable.  To explain, I think writers are professional dreamers.  We dream of something and, if we’re lucky, we get paid for it.  As to the destroyer of worlds, well, not to brag but with my bare hands I’ve driven humanity to extinction, twice.  At least twice.  More like four or five times, but some of those stories start with humanity extinct, so should they count?

Anyway, these cards are no longer good.  On the back I had my website and my writing email, which are still good, but I also had a writing blog I haven’t posted to for over a decade as well as my writing Twitter, which I don’t do anymore.  Should I make new ones?  I don’t know if I have any more blank sheets, and I don’t have a printer.  Plus, where I used to live there were dozens of pizza places within half-an-hour.  Where I live now, there’s … one.  Also, do places still do business card drawings?  I don’t go out much, but business cards seem more for businesses so customers can know their website and email, and not for people.  Of course, I could be wrong.  But I still don’t see much point for making new cards, even if all I’d need to do is update the back.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Writing so bad … it’s good?

I watch a bunch of YouTube movie reviewers. One topic that many of them discuss at some point are movies so bad they’re good. As they explain, the difference between bad-bad movies and good-bad movies is intention. The word that often comes up when discussing bad-bad movies is “cynical,” while the word for good-bad movies is often “inept.” Bad-bad movies are made by people saying, “X is popular, let’s slap together an X-movie as quickly and cheaply as possible so we can make money off suckers who’ll pay to see it.” Good-bad movies are made by people with a passion for the project, they just have no clue how to make a movie. The reviewers I watch – most of whom make their own films – get nothing from watching the bad-bad movies. They’re usually stupid and they see all the seams on how it was put together as quickly and as cheaply as possible. But the good-bad movies – which may be just as stupid – they are intrigued by the nuts and bolts. They often talk about staring at the screen repeatedly asking “Why?” Why did the filmmaker decide to film the romantic scene on the side of the road with trucks rumbling past? Why did they cut to Joe during the climactic battle for no apparent reason? And other such questions that even the filmmaker probably can’t answer. And as someone who has barely scratched the surface of bad movies, I can see the appeal. Of course, it may just be that the reviewers I watch look like they’re having a good time.

Now the point of this post, is that as a writer I was wondering if there are stories so bad that they’re good. And I … don’t know. I’ve read my fair share of bad stories, some inept and some cynical, but to me they’re usually just painful. For example, there was a story I read years ago that was serialized in a big-name magazine. In the first few sections, there were hints that this character had a secret plan to save the world. But once the plan was revealed, not only would it not work, it would make things worse. I admit, it took me a few seconds to work that out, but only because I didn’t think anyone could write something so stupid. I don’t want to shame the writer, or the magazine, but trust me, it was fifty pages on a secret plan to save the world only to get to “burn all the forests.” I don’t remember my exact response, but it was probably close to “Are you fucking serious?”

Having spent way too long thinking about this (this is the fourth or fifth draft) I think the difference between bad movies and bad stories is that there are limitations in filmmaking. The script says this scene takes place in a lawyer’s office, but we only have the budget to shoot in grandpa’s study. Law degrees and bowling trophies, same difference. And I can see how figuring out how the filmmakers worked through the problems they faced can be entertaining. But in theory, there are no limitations when writing. So when you write this prestigious law office filled with bowling trophies, it just seems wrong. I’m not saying there’s a definitive right and wrong way to write a story, but sometimes it’s just wrong. And that’s not entertaining, that’s confusing.

Anyway, am I wrong and there are good-bad stories? Maybe we can start a list.