My respect for writers who juggle more than one project of more than one type of writing (fiction, non-fiction, long piece, short piece) has grown considerably in the past week.
I have signed on to three freelance Internet writing sites and am making myself available to write articles, blog posts, product descriptions, and nonfiction ebooks for client companies. At the same time, I’m trying to keep up with my novel-writing projects. “Multi-tasking” has taken on a whole new meaning. The mindsets involved in writing short and long pieces are two very different things. Longer pieces allow you to delve into background, explore more complex situations, and provide more detail on whatever subject you’re writing about. Shorter pieces force you to be concise and to the point, even when you’re writing in a conversational style.
Both fiction and nonfiction require research to add to their believability. Fiction research is subtle; it adds, among other things, depth and richness to the story and is more or less in the background. Nonfiction research, on the other hand, is in your face with facts, data, and information that needs to able to be readily verifiable. In fiction, it doesn’t have to be true, but it has to make sense. In nonfiction, it doesn’t have to make sense, but it has to be true.
I have already learned I have a lot to learn. But that’s a big part of why I love the writing gig. So! I’ll keep writing, learning to multi-task, and re-learning how to write to deadlines. I do hope you’ll keep reading.
This morning I stumbled across the phrase, “flash fiction.” I had no idea what it was, so my curiosity – and ignorance – prompted me to research “flash fiction” in depth.
Several hours later, I am pleased to announce I have a working knowledge of what flash fiction is: a very short (usually less than 300 words long) story.
I have always tried in my novels to make every word pull its own weight, but flash fiction writers take this concept to a whole new level. So far, my favorite flash fiction is a six-word story by none other than Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
I’m going back to the drawing board, now, and figure out how to say more with fewer words.
I am getting to take the first major step in simplifying my life. Next week I am moving into a smaller place.
I’m going from a two-bed-two-bath apartment to a one-bed-one-bath place. I call it my Crash Pad. With a little luck and planning, I’ll be able to use it as a base of operations for traveling on a semi-regular basis.
Part of the downsizing involves going through my stuff and having to be ruthless about what goes with me and what goes to new homes. Conventional decluttering wisdom recommends disposing of anything you haven’t used in thirteen months. This time interval accommodates the Holidays, so I see it as sensible.
What about my books, though? I may not read them, or reread them, within thirteen months, but having them on book shelves around me is like being with old friends.
Clothes, shoes, and furniture come and go, but my books stay. As Erasmus is quoted as saying, “Whenever I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”
If such a philosophy was good enough for a Medieval genius, it’s good enough for me. Most of my books will move with me.
I have been working on the manuscript for Book III – Blood Bonds: The Cavern, trying to solve some logistical problems that came up. I have been also reading about one ebook a day since I downloaded a Kindle app onto my phone, mostly works by independent authors.
I have built a head of steam on this topic that cannot take any more pressure. These are good stories ruined by imprecise writing and editing. I didn’t make it past page three (3) before I had to call it quits on one story. A major shame, because I knew the writer had worked really hard on that book.
As a writer, I look upon words, grammar, and punctuation as my stock-in-trade. If I don’t know exactly what a word means, even one I think I know absolutely, I look it up. If I’m unsure of grammar or punctuation and don’t know where to go for the correct form(s), I write around the idea. “Assume nothing” has become my best friend.
Grammar is more than just some dry something that had to be suffered through in high school. It is how words are put together to make sense for the most folks who know the language. Grammar contains the building blocks of a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, a story.
Writing is words, grammar, and punctuation. Period. No, exclamation point! So, in order to write, I consider those three (3) things to be my most basic tools. I always have. I always will.
When I first started writing the “Blood Bonds” series, I decided to read as much about the tenth century as was practical. That way, I wouldn’t put anything into my stories that hadn’t been invented or discovered yet. In my opinion, that is a fatal mistake to make. Shoots credibility to blazes.
At first, I stuck rigorously to reading about the first half of tenth century Europe. I learned there wasn’t much written about that era, so I expanded my reading. Am I glad I did! Amazing things took place around the year 1,000 A.D. While I can’t use them specifically, knowing what happened later in time puts events into context for me. One major example is learning Scandinavian women had much more freedom and equality than their counterparts in pretty much the rest of the world. Did I know that beforehand? No. Does this knowledge add to the depth and richness of my characters? Yes.
My research has taught me something about what it was like to be alive in the tenth century. I think I’ll stick with the here and now!
P.S. If you want to know the titles and authors of specific books I read, ask. – R
The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorites for reflecting on the year winding down, and planning for the year to come.
I’m at the brainstorming stage at the moment (cynics would call it the “wishful thinking” stage.): What would I like to do if I had no limitations?
I’ll divulge some of my revelations in the next post. What about some of the results of your brainstorming?