Thursday, September 20, 2012


Yeah, sorry Story A Day. Like National Novel Writing Month, it's a great concept and got me really worked up and (this is important) set me on a more productive course. I have generated and written more complete drafts in these past two weeks, than maybe ever.

This happened because I tried this challenge, but failing it has showed me something about my process. And this year is all about me figuring out my process. How to generate and manage new ideas while drafting material and shaping them into stories. And how to keep up with revising what I wrote last week. I would like to write a novel starting in 2013, but I don't want to entirely give up writing short stories so there's a lot to figure out.

I discovered that yes I can generate and draft a flash fiction story in a day, but I also found out that I cannot know how long any given story will be once I start writing it. Starting something requires an emotional committment, which means I must to see it through to the end even if doesn't happen for 6,000 words or more. Given my commitments I cannot hole up for 25 hours to write a novelette so Story A Day, while it's wonderful - is not a great fit for me.

So I've set some new goals. Actually they're old new goals as in ones I've set before, only this time I seem to be achieving them!

  • Write 1,000 words a day (That gives me one standard length story a week or a couple shorter ones.)
  • Keep up with revisions
  • Try to submit one story a week (it won't be that week's story because, you know, revising)

For now to heck with deadlines. It's all about keeping things moving through the pipeline.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Story A Day Week 1, With Cheating and a Story

Well, it's not cheating when you get to set the rules and that's one of the things I like about the Story A Day challenge.
"You get to decide what “every day” means. If you need to take Sundays off, go for it. You make your own rules, but you are encouraged to set them up early, and stick to them!"
I know busy days will happen and life will intervene because that's life's job, right? Also, with any creative challenge it's important to think about how it will serve your goals best. 

Here are my cheats, I mean rules:
  1. Some stories will take more than a day to write. I'm going to try to keep it under three days. This means I'll be writing some of these stories concurrently. To balance this I expect to be writing some very short fiction on some days.
  2. I'm going to finish a story every day, my cheat is that I have half a dozen stories that are either unfinished or not working, but that I can't seem to give up on. I've decided that finishing or refurbishing those stories will count. (This is a lame cheat as fixing a broken story is often more work than writing a new one.) Overachiever alert: not only do I want to write 30 stories, I want to clear the decks of the jetsam that's been adrift in my files for months. Quite possibly I'm delusional.
And here is this week's report:
  • Saturday 9/1  #Blackbird a story in 6 tweets. Posted to Twitter.
  • Sunday 9/2 - Kith and Kin based on a prompt from Brainstormer, the elements being enmity to kin and insects.
  • Monday 9/3 - Naturally a story about a woman and a dog.
  • Tuesday 9/4 - The Trumpet and the Ticket Taker from a prompt on Chaotic Shiny: "Write for at least 5 minutes about a financial difficulty, a horn, a vulture, and a backpack."
  • Wednesday 9/5 - The Mausel Dog based on a prompt from Cat Rambo. It's about 4,000 words long. (I'm supposed to be turning these prompts into flash fiction, i.e. around 1,000 words. Total failure so far on that count.)

My Saturday story was an experiment in web serial writing? Twitfic? In any case I liked it and will definitely do more this month. Jennifer Egan published a great web serial type story on twitter and in the New Yorker. It's not available on the net (yet), but you can read all about it here.


Hemingway wrote a story in six words - “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” How about a story in six tweets. Stay tuned:

For the love of all the gods of the river Lethe I will not abide the --

sale of Krake's horse or his sword. I freed the beast and buried the sword. This giant, I reared from a --

baby. No woman's breast mine, only black feathers, beak and talons. But cold comfort is a kind of comfort still.

Shoes I stole for his feet. A helmet I found for his head. I accompanied him on a journey of a thousand foreign wars. I will --

never forget the hours we gamboled with toy sword and wooden shield in the long meadow grass. The laughing child’s face slowly 

worn away, buried under the scars of battle. Now my brother carrion birds carry his flesh into the sky.