Friday, September 30, 2011

Quick Update

In the past few weeks I hit a couple of milestones in my writing goals for the year:   I reached both 300,000 words and 1000 pages.   The word count goal is the most important, as I’ve tried to keep myself to a thousand words a day all year.  This really keeps me motivated, even on days that I don’t feel like writing.  It’s good to see the totals add up in the little Excel spread sheet that I use to track my writing.  At this pace, it looks like I could go over 400,000 words for the year. 
I consider this quite an accomplishment.  I’ve never maintained that pace at any time in the past, but I’ve found it very doable this year, particularly with the extra time afforded since retiring from my full time job.  The 400K words is all short stories or novellas, but I think it’s a good number, as I am eventually planning to move more fully into novels, and this represents the number of words necessary for perhaps three novels of good length, or perhaps four even if we go with a more standard length.  
Now no, I don’t plan to work toward writing four novels a year.  I think that’s asking for too much, and probably stretching the creativity too thin.  I think I will be happy with writing one to two first draft novels a year, interspersed with some short stories and novellas.  The rest of the time will be spent on revision, which is something I haven’t done enough of this year. 
Revise, revise, revise, or so they tell me. 
Also on the good news front, I just had another couple of sales to Every Day Fiction.  They're flash pieces; one is called “Annie’s Book,” and the other "Nikki Comes Home."  They should be coming out in October or November. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Old Titles List Discovered

So I was shuffling through some ancient files this morning. (Read:  College.  Twenty-four years ago.  Stuff I originally wrote on my IBM PC jr and saved to floppy disks that were actually floppy)  While doing so I came across this list of short story and novel titles that I compiled sometime during college.  These were stories that I either had written or planned to write, with the majority of them still being in the planning stages. 

Full disclosure:  I loved titles then, and I love them now.  Give me three odd words and I’ll gladly arrange them into a title, and then my mind immediately starts creating a story to go under them.  It was how I liked to work back then, and how I still like to be inventive now. 

Just for fun, I’ve attached the list of titles for your perusal below.  If memory serves me right, the ones in italics are all the ones that I can remember having completed back during college.  Most of the rest were just ideas that I had that I had given a title to, or just some words or a phrase that I thought sounded cool. 

 Short Stories Titles
1.   Far Pavilions
2.   Father Figure
3.   Way Down South
4.   Free Enterprise
5.   Boomtown
6.   Bellum Bellum
7.   Blue Song
8.   Michaelangelo's Going Out of Business Sale
9.   Sound and Steam
10.  Creativity is Neuron 151 Firing Twice
11.  Spin, Infinity!
12.  Worlds Apart
13.  Mars Needs Women
14.  Shades
15.  Socrates, Please!
16.  The Church of Christ Bar and Grill
17.  In the Rain18.  Northern Girl19.  Soar!
20.  Bend Sinister
21.  South Seas Sun Co.
22.  Jihad #83q
23.  Insensation
24.  The Having Been Loved Man
25.  To Raise, Again, the Dead
26.  Lettuce, Thank You...
27.  Boobs
28.  Breezeway
29.  Fish
30.  Greenway
31.  Heart of Stone
32.  Storm Warnings
33.  A Clockwork Banana
34.  Designs
35.  Taylor's Place
36.  Stones
37.  A
38.  In Black Mourn I
39.  Carols
40.  Refrigerator Repairman
41.  Stream of Consciousness
42.  White Stuff (Snow)
43.  King
44.  Kid
45.  Victoria
46.  Third Person
47.  Inferno Lost
48.  The Mephistopholes Gambit
49.  A Penny Earned
50.  Raindance
51.  Windy
52.  Cassanova Jones
53.  Ice on Pearls, French Say (Ici est Parle Francais)
54.  The Supreme Conversation
55.  Banner of a Thousand Lands
56.  Weeds are Would-be Flowers, Man
57.  The Antarcticans
58.  Faraway's Star
59.  Leap Year
60.  A Vision Once I saw
61.  Our Grandfather's Plan
62.  Carrabeing
63.  The Belt of Orion
64.  Arc to Arcturus
65.  The Heart of Antares
66.  Olympus Mons
67.  Red Train
68.  The Melancholy Man
69.  Madonna and Child

Reading through this list brought a smile to my face, as it reminded me of some good writing times back in college.  College was an intensively creative time for me and my writing, and I got a lot done then, in spite of (or perhaps because of) all my classroom workload.  Why didn’t I finish more of these stories?  Well, that would have to do with me getting hired by the FAA as an Air Traffic Controller during my senior year of college.  I suddenly was so beleaguered with ATC training that I had to leave college temporarily (I finished up a few years later) and I suddenly had no time or energy to write.  It was great to have a good job, but getting it probably set my writing career back twenty years, because I didn’t write for a long time, and when I did I just didn’t have the energy or drive to stick with it.  Thankfully, now that I’m retired that is not a problem, and I am trucking along great this year with the writing.

Since I love titles so much, I think I will go back and see if I can mine this list for some titles that appeal to me now, and perhaps create some new stories to go under them.  I particularly like Michelangelo’s Going Out of Business Sale.  I remember where I got the was an art store commercial on the radio, but I had no idea what sort of story I had in mind for it back then.  Guess we’ll have to come up with something now.   I’m also inspired to go back and read some of these old college short stories, which thankfully I archived from floppies to hard disk a long time ago, and see if there are any that could potentially be updated and/or brought back to life. 

Oh, the list also contained some titles for novels I had planned back then.  Here they are:

Novels Titles
1. Winter's End
2. Samson Sound
3. Padre South
4. Fiji Archipelago
5. Raindance
6. Baron Red
7. Bend Sinister
8. Obsidian
9. Lancelot
10. Shillelagh
11. A Boy and His God
12. Autumn
13. First Person
14. The Antarcticans

Reading through this brings back memories as well.  Shillelagh I actually got about two thirds through when I was nineteen.  It was a Tolkienesque standard fantasy knockoff about a dwarf who wanted to become a wizard.  Samson Sound was about a deaf kid who discovers he is an amazing baseball player, only to lose the talent when he gains his hearing back.  Padre South was about a band of outrageous college kids and their adventures during a summer on Padre Island, written in the style of Steinbeck’s Cannery RowRaindance was about a planet of perpetual rain.  Bend Sinister was the story of a bastard son of a king and his rise to power on a medieval world reminiscent of feudal Britain.   A Boy and his God was about a child–the sole survivor of a plane crash in a South American Jungle–who invents his own religion to explain his surroundings.  Winter’s End was a fantasy about a world locked in an unending winter which I’m actually gently trying to nurse back to health as a current novel project.  Most of the others I can’t remember exactly what I had in mind–may have just been a title.

So, I had some ambitious goals way back then.  Perhaps some of these works will make their way back into future projects.  For now, I’m hopelessly caught up in nostalgia, so I will have to tear myself away from these old files so I can actually get some new writing done today.