June 28 writing

I’m going to log my writing today.

I finally got a really good night of sleep, but that means I’m starting one hour and a half later than I’d planned. Here’s the revised plan.

8:30–10:30 Write
11:30–1:30 Write
2:30–4:30 1:30–3:30 Write
4:30–6:30 Work on paperbacks Write
7:30–9:30 8:30–9:30 Work on paperbacks Write

(Edited as changes became necessary, but I’m leaving original entries so I can see what worked and what didn’t.)

I decided on two hour blocks with one hour between, because… I’m not really sure. It felt right: enough time to really get into what I’m doing and a nice long break between. If I can make the two hour blocks work, I’m going to carry this forward.

(Not such long hours though—ten isn’t too many for today, when I need to get so much done, but I certainly don’t think this is good for me long-term. I’ll stick to the four hours a day and 3,233 words I want long-term, but I’ll try to do it 7–9 & 10–12. That’ll leave me two two-hour blocks for publishing stuff every day so I can really dig into my cover design studies and do lots of other stuff that’s been backing up on me. Honestly, I’ve been squandering time for too long.* It’s time I used what time I have for the things that are important to me.)

We’ll see. Today is definitely more experiment than anything else.

Results (as I go)

Hours Words Session WPH
Story 1 1.08333 199 199 184
Story 2 0.91667 606 407 444

I’m numbering the stories in the order I work on them so my work pattern is clear to me later.

At this point, I’m completely off the scheduled times. I’m not sure how I’m going to adjust, but I’m going to figure something out. Likely I’ll lose the last paperback work session. (I figured it out and edited the plan above.)

Well here it is many, many hours later and I’m just not getting ready to write for another hour. Can I explain why I didn’t work during the other times I planned to work today? No.

I really don’t have an explanation and all I can say is that I feel like I’m trapped inside myself, unable to get free. Like my head needs to be opened up and I need to take my brain out, shake it around, wipe it off, and then put it back. It just doesn’t feel right. There’s a tiny voice in there telling me I should probably be on some kind of medication, but I don’t listen to imaginary voices, any more than I listen to the voice of reason. :D

 

*I’m not much of a sports fan, but I read the news today about Pat Summit’s death. I’ve always respected her drive, and her abilities. It made me feel… regretful, you could say, that I’ve not valued my time more. Maybe the feeling won’t last, but I want to take advantage of that feeling while I can. RIP Pat Summit.

This blog and the accountability I need

I have a problem with internal motivation. I don’t have a lot of it. I use this blog to create a sense of accountability with the world at large, despite the fact that I’m mostly writing these posts into a great wide void.

I like that. I think I’d find it a lot harder to write these posts if I thought people were actually reading them. I’d want to say all the right things, and I’m not very good at that. :D

But I do like the sense that someone could be reading, and therefore, whatever I write needs to be real and I need to mean it, at least when I write it.

I admit when I fail. I fail a lot, to be honest. If you read the blog, you know that. I mean it. I fail a lot. Trying is more important to me than succeeding.

But posting my goals, even when they’re crazy and I know almost before I start that I’m going to fail, works in some weird way to keep pushing me forward and that’s important to me.

This blog is important to me, because of that.

Thinking out loud helps me think better

I started wondering at the purpose of this blog again this morning, just as I was about to write another “I’m not meeting my goals at the moment, but I’m going to do better” post and discovered it would be post number 721, and I actually came up with a couple of interesting (to me) answers today.

It comes down to this: I think better when I’m talking or writing. Or I shouldn’t say “think” better, more like, I think in a more organized way—writing things down, or talking them out, is a way for me to unravel the thoughts that knot up in my head. Because that happens a lot. I can get caught up in circular thinking and I lose track of what I’m thinking about even. Since I don’t always have people around to talk to—or I just don’t want to bother those people—I choose to write the thoughts down instead.

I like writing things down. I have lots of journals and notepads and Evernote, and when I get antsy, I start writing it out. I write down so much stuff that I often look back at it and wonder what’s the point, but I do it anyway, again and again. I cannot resist the urge to write stuff down. I don’t really want to resist that urge, tbh.

That still leaves unanswered the question of why I choose to blog those thoughts instead of just leave them in Evernote or in a tablet somewhere (where, tbh, tons and tons of those thoughts still end up despite me having the blog!). I don’t actually know the answer to that. I’ve tried to figure it out a dozen times or twenty, but I never seem to come up with an answer that satisfies me. I’ve tried several times to just limit myself to writing about my writing in Evernote or a journal, and yet, I always end up back here, ready to make all this stuff public.

Maybe it’s a form of accountability that I can’t get anywhere else and I just don’t know where to draw the line about what I share and what I don’t share in the effort to be accountable.

Could be. Could also be—simply—that I like imagining someone reading this stuff and commiserating with me and being hopeful that I’ll eventually reach one of my crazy-big goals. :D

Can’t do that with a private blog in Evernote. No one but me will ever read those things and I’m not enough of a narcissist to think they will. After I die, my journals and computers and files all will end up in the trash or a box in someone’s attic to molder and fade and become obsolete and unusable.

TBH, I don’t mind that. People get on with their lives even after someone dear to them dies and that’s just natural. But while I’m here, I’d prefer to write here, on the blog, and hope that maybe someone will get something—even just a moment’s entertainment—out of my words.

That feels real to me and I think I finally understand why I can’t just keep this all to myself in Evernote.

Sorry, but post number 722 is coming soon. :D

Knowing something needs doing will have to be enough

My response to the pressure that deadlines create? Complete and total shutdown. I don’t deal well with anxiety, stress, overwhelming goals or odds, or pressure. I used to believe I worked better under pressure, but I think that’s just something I told myself after the fact because I had come up against a hard deadline that left me no wiggle room and I had finally overcame the inertia holding me back and got down to business. In a limited sense, I do work better under pressure—because outside pressure can actually make me work whereas I might not work otherwise. As far as quality of that work, well, there’s just no way to know. Doing something is better than doing nothing in most cases, so there you go.

The problem with writing as a career is that there are almost no hard deadlines. Even when something has been promised to a publisher, most writers know they can ask for an extension if they ask soon enough. How hard you consider a publisher’s deadline will greatly depend on how concerned you are with your reputation and how important your self-image as a promise-keeper is to you.

I don’t know how I’d handle it, to be honest, but I have this fear that if I weren’t my own publisher, I’d be in trouble. I generally keep promises, if I see the sense in it and if I care about the person to whom I made the promise, but if I can rationalize it away, then all bets are off. I rarely bend over backwards to make most other people’s lives easier than my own.

I hope this is the last post I ever write about this topic, because I’ve come to a realization today. I have to stop setting personal deadlines and goals and start focusing on just doing the work day in and day out. Consistency is going to be key for me, because I’m not looking for goals: I’m looking for a way of life. At this moment in time, I want my fiction to be the way I earn my living until the day I die. I’m not saying that’ll never change, because I’d like to live a long time and have a long life and maybe that’ll mean I come up on the day when I’m ready for something different. But that’s not today, and I doubt it’ll be next week or next year.

I want to get up each day and I want to write. Some days it’s obvious I’ll write more than others, but overall, I want to write every day and I want a routine that makes it easy to do.

I can’t keep stressing over the goals that I’m not even supposed to be worried about right now, because I’ve got the schedule. The schedule is not working well at the moment, but I’m not giving up on it. It’ll be the backbone of my writing routine.

This post came about because of the aforementioned realization. I was choking under the pressure of the production schedule I created when I decided to focus on my income producing series.

Today, I had to face what I’ve been doing to myself. I made that schedule to see if I could squeeze in the other books I want to write alongside the ones I need to write if I’m serious about focusing on growing my income for a while. Of course, it became a ridiculous expression of everything I know is wrong with the way I think sometimes. I had input deadlines for every book I want to write between now and next year and I had compressed those deadlines to the point that I was going to have to write more words every day than I’d ever written in my life and maintain that pace for weeks at a time.

To remind you, if I focus on my income producing series to the exclusion of my other books, I can write half the number of books in the same time period and yet in all probability earn more money. There’s just no world in which this isn’t the smart thing for me to do, knowing how slow I write.

And yet, there I was this morning, staring at that production schedule and wondering why I’ve been having so much trouble getting myself to write since I created it. It should have been inspiring, I told myself, because it showed what I could accomplish if I just buckled down.

But it wasn’t.

My sanity returned after a flurry of scribbled notes and much too much time spent trying to make it work out to a smaller, more reasonable daily word count average. It’s never going to work out. I just can’t count on myself to write at a steady pace each day and I can’t work to these deadlines. The reason I love writing for a living is because I can take the daily ups and downs I naturally experience and smooth them out into what will become the whole. A book is a book when it’s done; it doesn’t matter if I wrote 1000 words a day for 50 days or if I wrote 0 words for 25 days and 2000 a day for the rest, because I still end up with my book. I can count on my averages. I can’t count on much else.

I don’t want to stop trying to improve my averages, and I’ll still keep trying to stick with my schedule as best I can. I want to improve. But I don’t want to do it with deadlines hanging over my head.

And that’s all I really wanted to say today.

Reasons matter: a rambling essay

I’ve decided many times over that a schedule is a bad idea for me. It occurred to me today that my reason for this isn’t exactly rational: A schedule puts me in a position of having to consciously face the fact that I’m choosing not to do something I’ve already decided I need to do, something I know I need to do.

I’m undisciplined when it comes to work (tbh, I’m undisciplined about most everything in my life). Deadlines don’t help. I still don’t usually become inspired to work until the very last moment and only the most serious of consequences is enough to get me going soon enough that I’m not absolutely scrambling at the last moment to get done on time.

This makes me ill suited to the career I’ve picked for myself, I know. It’s a struggle, but it’s worth it because I love earning my living by writing fiction.

I’ve tried to come up with some kind of system that doesn’t hang on goals but that’s just a mind-bending exercise in futility. You can’t have a system without goals of some kind. It’s impossible. I’ve tried to come up with a system that relies on me aiming at a targeted word count, but I keep coming back to the fact that I put it off until the end of the day and I just can’t get enough done in the time I end up with. I decided I would write until lunch every day; then I watched myself not start writing until lunch and wow, I sure produced a lot of words getting started ten minutes before I was supposed to quit (sarcasm alert!).

I’ve tried relying on my love of writing to keep me going without goals but my natural tendencies toward procrastination make that a terrible idea; I’ve failed miserably to get any appreciable amount of writing done at all without them.

But then when I set goals and I fail to meet them, I feel bad. I mean, really bad.

Setting goals based on things out of your control is never a good idea. And I can’t control my word counts. I can’t know how well the writing is going to go for any particular scene, book, day, hour, or month. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes, I delete more than I write.

It’s hard to remember that word counts are out of my control. Sure, I remember right now, but will I remember tomorrow or next week when my deadline is closing in on me? Probably not.

A word count quota is the kind of goal that feels completely rational and within my control, until I have a bad day and manage 200 words in four hours because I had to delete a ton of work and couldn’t get moving on what was left. Then I feel like I’ve failed at something that should have been easy, and even though I know rationally that this is silly, the irrational parts of me (and there are a lot of those!) do not care. In the least.

There’s only one path left for me and the only reason I have for not taking it is because I see it as a failure.

If I loved writing, wouldn’t I want to do it all the time?

I feel dumb writing that out because I’ve known for a long time that working to your passions doesn’t mean you’ll never have to make yourself work again.

I love writing. I love having written. I love publishing my books. When I’m in the mood. Sadly, I’m not in the mood as often as I should be. In fact, I’m not in the mood a whole hell of a lot of the time because I tend toward moodiness as a general rule. And yet, if anyone cares to know, writing fiction is the one thing I’ve loved almost my entire life and it irks me that there’s someone out there that’s going to read this and say: “Well, she just doesn’t love it enough or she wouldn’t have to make herself do it.”

I need a schedule and I know it. Even if I can’t stick with the schedule most of the time and even if I choose on more days than not to skip writing, at least I’ll have some framework to keep me aimed in the right direction.

A system is made up of goals and habits, and habits can form around schedules more easily than they can form around random events that occur throughout the day.

So here’s the challenge. I’m going to make a schedule. Every day will be a challenge to stick to it. I’ll probably fail more often than I succeed. Maybe if I’m lucky some good habits will develop around the times I’m supposed to be writing that will make it work over the long-term even if I have a lot of short-term failures. If not, well, how’s it any worse than what I’ve already got going on?

No more searching for the best system, no more word count quotas or goal-setting, no more excuses. It’s time to move on from all that and settle in. The remainder of 2015 is going to be the year of the schedule.

The only requirement for myself is that if I choose not to write during the times I’m supposed to write, I have to admit that to myself. It’s a choice and I need to be responsible for it.

I won’t stop myself from writing outside the scheduled times, but if I don’t write when I’m scheduled to write and end up not writing as much as I should, I want to end the day knowing I had an obligation to myself and that I chose not to meet it.

I can’t keep avoiding the one system that is guaranteed to give me the opportunity to write more just because I’ll have to face how often I choose to fail.

What’s the Purpose of This Blog?

I’m not that sure most days. I do think I’m done with the blogging about my word counts and progress and the like, because I sometimes enjoy it but mostly I’m positive it’s boring to read. I can journal my writing day in private and be a lot more forthcoming about things that I’m struggling with or that I need to work out.

It’s just … I don’t see a lot of point to this blog. It doesn’t really help me write more fiction and it doesn’t always make me feel good or optimistic about my goals.

But if I stop writing about my word counts and the like, I doubt I’ll write about much of anything on this blog, and it will have no purpose at all.

So I guess that’s my answer. There is no purpose for this blog.

Update (7 days later, after coming to the realization that sometimes things don’t have to have a purpose other people understand)—

This is a purpose for this blog … whatever purpose I want it to have.

Reading Binge; Why I Write

So I’ve been in the midst of a reading binge this week. I decided I needed some time off from the pressures I’ve been putting on my writing and reading felt like the thing I really wanted to do. So I’ve been reading. A lot.

Too many books to keep up with! I’ve added those I’ve finished to the reading log. I’ve also read several of my own books again and some of my fan fiction too. Counting the started but unfinished books off in my head, there are more of them than I’ve finished. And I was pretty far into some of those books.

I can feel the binge slowing though. I’ve spent more time today looking for something to read than actually reading. I’ve read some good books that have made me crave other books that are similar but just a bit different, with this thing or that, and I’m kind of stuck in that place where nothing’s satisfying now, because nothing’s just what I want.

Meaning I’m feeling the urge to write my own stories, ones that satisfy me exactly. Last night I put down 300ish words on new story, trying to get a feel for it since it’s a bit different than my other books. Although truthfully I’m not sure it’s going to go anywhere. I start stuff a lot that never goes anywhere.

And I left my novella characters in the middle of a foot chase, so there’s that too that I need to get back to.

Another thing I realized while reading my own fan fiction though (something I finished days before I turned to writing original fiction again) is that I still feel like I’m trying too hard with my current stuff, having a hard time enjoying myself because I’m just not relaxing into the writing like I should. Ego or not, that fan fiction was good. I remember a few issues I had with the beginning of the story and how I had to do some edits on it to get it the way I wanted it to feel as I read it, but I certainly didn’t agonize over it and it reads as good as or better than some of my most recent stuff as best as I can tell.

The fact is, I can’t be objective, and I know that, but I know how it makes me feel when I read it and I’ve said it before, I love my own stuff the way a reader loves those great stories that make you want to re-read a book over and over again. I won’t ever let myself put out a book that I don’t love that way. But it’s possible I’ve come close.

When I go over my books in my head, there’s one that I haven’t re-read but a few times—many fewer times than any of my others. It’s not my worst selling book, not by far, but it’s book two of a series I have and when I think of it, I don’t get flashes of scenes that I remember that are just so juicy they make me want to go back and read them again just to feel the feelings those words make me feel. Even writing this I’m struggling to remember any one scene in the book that just makes me go—oh, wait. Maybe I’m forgetting something here because now the ending is coming to me and I’m realizing that I have read that section of that book quite a few times. I can remember the way one of my characters looked in that scene, wearing a t-shirt, belt and gun, even visualize how his hair looked and how he was standing, and how it surprised another character to see someone they’d never thought of as dangerous looking quite a bit less harmless than usual. It was a good scene. So never mind. Maybe I just need to read the book again from the beginning. ;)

The thing is I want to remember my stories. I want to remember every little detail of each one, and I enjoy going over bits and pieces of them in my head like a movie on an automatically replaying loop.

This is why I have trouble with the idea that writing is a way to get a story out of my head. Because that’s not how it is for me. Writing is the way I get a story into my head. Reading has exactly the same purpose for me.

This is also probably some of the reason I’ll never be able to write to market. I don’t control the stories I write. I write to passion. It’s the only way I can write. Some of those good books I’ve read this week have made me wish this book or that had had just a bit more of this or less of that, just missing the spot for me and in the process giving me lots of intriguing flashes of ideas that I’d love to be able to take and write stories to them. But I can’t write in most of the genres I’ve been reading in. I don’t know how to create a good story out of the daily trials of a normal life. I like big, and bad, and over the top, and what ideas I get, I don’t know where they come from, but the small moments, the tension of a slow story eludes me in my writing.

I guess it’s time I made myself try one just to push myself as a writer. I honest to God didn’t think I’d be able to write the third book in one of my series because it went somewhere I wasn’t sure I could go as a writer—a character had to change significantly from the start of the book to the end. I remember conversations I had about that book with my mother where I worried I wouldn’t be able to make that change, turn a fairly unsympathetic character into a good guy. A hero.

And it worked out. I am really proud of that book. But I definitely had to push myself—step out of my comfort zone—to write that story. Maybe it’s time to do that again very soon.

Anyway, just some thoughts I’ve been having this afternoon. I think I’m going to let this be my cue to get back to writing now since I don’t have another book I want to read queued up. :D

Aha! I Am Definitely Older than I Used to Be

I crashed early last night, after a long night the night before and too little sleep over the last week. I thought I might be coming down with something. Turns out I’m probably just getting old. :D

Too old for all-nighters anyway. My birthday’s coming up soon, and I’ll have reached the big 4-0. Yikes. I can’t decide whether I want to be amazed or horrified at the prospect that my life is probably half lived at this point. I’d love to imagine living a century but my family history doesn’t support that. I have only one grandparent still living and she just had her eightieth birthday a few months ago. My other grandparents died a very long time ago. I wasn’t out of my twenties when I lost the last of the three. I never even met one of them. My maternal grandfather died when my mother was seven. Cancer.

Cancer got them all, in fact.

I try not to think about it too much, tbh. I would definitely prefer to live to see my kids hit middle age. :D

I’m still exercising daily, and my fatigue issues have been getting a lot better. Spacing my meals out 5 to 6 hours apart and not eating between them has made a huge difference in how I feel.

But there’ll be no more all-nighters for me. Yesterday really brought home to me how hard it is for me to recover after a few nights of too little sleep. I’m just not that person anymore. Going to bed late isn’t a problem; going to bed late when I have to be up at 6 am so I can get back to work to meet a deadline is the problem. And I won’t be doing that anymore.

I’ll just have to plan my life around getting a good night’s sleep every night. ;)

I feel good today. I took a quick break from my read through of my last book to type this out, and now I need to get back to it. I’m sure I’ll be back later. I’ve been in a blogging mood the last few days! :D

Daily Writing Streak—The End

Oops … if I have a 100 word minimum, I broke my streak yesterday. However, I did write. Only I wrote 58 words, not 100.

Then today, I just haven’t done it. The change in routine with the school year ending is throwing me off, but really, I just didn’t want to write. Sigh.

This just isn’t working.

I should clarify. My new routine is working quite well. I’m exercising. I’m no longer snacking between meals. I’m not feeling as fatigued as I was. So that’s great. I’m just not writing during the times I have set aside for writing. That’s … problematic.

As for the money thing, well, that’s easy. Apparently money has no motivational power over me at all. I mean, maybe if I was starving or something, but since I’m not… Yeah.

I just don’t understand why I keep trying the same things over and over, except … I kind of do. I forget. I forget why it didn’t work, or I think something’s different this time so I won’t have the same outcome—but then I do. And I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am.

I don’t know how to overcome that. I don’t know how to make myself remember that I’ve tried the “hours thing” before and couldn’t get it to work for me. Although basing my writing goals around the time I spend writing seems rational and doable, when I put it into action, I end up feeling like I’m trapped, and I avoid writing as if I hate it. As if—ah…

I think I get it now. As if it’s a job.

I just can’t keep doing this to myself. I know better. Treating writing as a job in the sense that most people think of “job” just doesn’t work for me.

I have to take the time scheduling off the table, completely, forever, else I’m just going to try this again in a few months and have this happen all over again.

I sincerely hope this is the last “schedule” post I ever write.

Here’s my plan for the rest of the year: enjoy my writing life and give myself a break.

This doesn’t mean I can’t have goals and dreams and continue attempting to improve as a writer. I will write—I don’t doubt that. I will try to reach a weekly word count goal, and I will continue to try to write every day, because that’s what I do.

Frankly, I don’t have a choice if I want to keep earning a living with my writing. But that doesn’t mean I should spend so much time driving myself crazy with perfectionism—not with the writing itself (I seem to have that under control), but with how much writing I do and how often, because I’m never satisfied. It’s never enough. It will never be enough for the perfectionist in me.

So here’s how much I’d like to write each week—a realistic number that’s going to get me to the number of books I would like to publish each year. 13,535. It’s not my lowest recorded word count for a week and it’s not my highest, so it’s realistic for me. It’s a modest number, and if I don’t make it each week, so be it.

I’d like to do this in conjunction with continuing to write on multiple stories each day, because that’s working for me, and it’s refreshing to be able to switch stories when things get all tangled up in my head. The breaks always seem to do me good.

But it’s just something to keep me focused.

And that’s it.

I will still probably have days where I’ll want to challenge myself—because it can be fun to do that sometimes, but my days will be devoted to enjoying the writing life as much as possible and learning how to let go of the perfectionistic ideals of what my writing life should be like.

My fiction writing is not a job

“Lucky number 13, anyone? 6,000 words. That’s what I’m going for. I’ve decided if I’m going to break my record, I’m going to do it in 1,000 word increments.”

I was going to call this b-log “Break my daily word count record—attempt #13” but then I had a realization. And then, immediately on the heels of the first, I had another.

There’s more than one way to get to the same finish line. My finish line is, ideally, one million words of fiction in 2014. Things are going to have to change if I’m actually going to make that happen.

But back to the realizations.

As I was getting ready to write down my plans for another attempt at a word count record, I recalled that I’m supposed to be more concerned with consistency, because everyone knows that consistency will get you there faster. So why was I again chasing the ever-elusive too-high-to-repeat-regularly word counts?

And that was when I had my second realization. I haven’t actually thought through the comparison of consistency and irregular-but-awesome word counts, and I should. Before I assume one is better than the other, I need to do some math.

If I want to write one million words in 2014, I’ve got to write about 926,262 words more than I have right now, because yeah, I’m way behind. But let’s pretend it’s feasible that I’m gonna catch up. Here’s what I’d need to do that. :D

I would need about 25,730 words every week until the end of the year.

Now, if I were to concentrate on being consistent, I’d need about 3,676 words every day until the end of the year.

If I were to concentrate on hitting a few big days a week, I’d need 8,577 words three days a week. I wouldn’t have to write another word those other 4 days.

If I were to concentrate on being consistent but counting on a few big days each week, I could catch up with less than 2,800 words most days, with 2 big days of 6,000.

And, now that I’ve done the math, it occurs to me that I’m concentrating on THE WRONG THINGS, as usual. I enjoy writing and setting out to create these kinds of quotas is a sure-fire way to turn the writing process into a mindless job.

Hit a number, woo-hoo, you’re done for the day. Didn’t hit a number, boo-hoo, you didn’t do your job.

Every job I’ve ever had, I hated. I don’t hate writing. :D

I want writing to be important to me—to stay important, but I don’t want writing to be a job. I’m creating assets, and creating assets for myself is not a job, not for me, and I don’t want to treat it as if it were. I don’t write under someone else’s direction, and no one pays me for writing. I write what I want, when I want. I’m creating assets, for myself, to exploit. Exploiting those assets could certainly be a job, but the writing is not a job.

This distinction is important for me, because I don’t want a job. I don’t ever want another job if I can help it.

However, I love the idea of creating assets and then leveraging them, exploiting them, generating income with them. Makes me feel good. :D

My Obligation as a Writer

Hah! I start this off with a blatant misdirection because as a writer, I feel I have only one obligation. That obligation is to tell a story that means something, either to myself, or to those I want to read it.

Since no one is obligated to read my writings, I feel the same lack of obligation to make any adjustments to my story for any particular person.

A lot of people claim that if you want to publish your writings, you should pay for proofreading, cover creation, line-editing, and sometimes even more editing, but first I ask why?

And then I say, No.

Are artists obligated to have someone edit their art, adding splashes of color where maybe it needs a little something extra, or throwing on another daub of paint here or there? I don’t think so.

I’ll be honest here. I’m not that good with metaphor. That’s why I make it a point to avoid any kind of deliberate attempt at metaphors when I write.

But I can’t think of that many instances where people are sitting around telling an artist that if they don’t have the help of others, then they’re not doing their best work.

I can’t imagine writing as an interactive process, either with readers or editors. That’s not why or how I write. It really is all about me, until I’ve crafted something I want to share and then I personally feel a small obligation to make the story I wrote come across as cleanly and crisply as I imagined it in my head. So I reread, and I edit myself, but no one knows what I intended better than me, so having someone else do this stuff for me is not part of my process. I don’t want people telling me I’m not clear here or I need more description there. The story is what it is. The reader isn’t obligated to like it. The reader isn’t even obligated to read it.

Seriously, I never finish reading a story I don’t like, because I don’t have enough time in the day as it is.

When I get done with a story, I know it’s right for me when I find myself wanting to reread it, and when I do reread, I don’t find anything I don’t like. Boring parts? Don’t need to be there. Clanky sentences? Rewrote. Bad plotting? Trash it. The thing is, I’m telling a story. If it sucks, I know it. If it doesn’t, then maybe there’s someone out there who will enjoy it as much as I do.

I reread the stuff I really like. I can reread a good story within a day of my first read. And if I’m not finding myself tempted to reread my own stuff? I haven’t written a good story. Plain as that.

That’s my obligation as a writer. Admit when I haven’t written something worth rereading. For the rest, edit myself, proof myself, and take full ownership for everything in my story as my art.