I’ve posted a new entry on my writer’s blog. Please take a look.
Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
I have begun a new blog over at Clifton D Healy: A Writer’s Journey. It’s devoted to what I’m learning about the craft of writing. I invite you to take a look. If you like what you see, subscribe to it; put it in your reader feeds; or just bookmark it. At this point I’m not sure how often I’ll post, though I intend to put some focused energy to it. It’s still being developed. Feedback is welcome.
I have reposted some original blogposts from here on the topic of writing over at the new blog. I may also repost the Kansas blogposts over at the new blog. I’ll continue to post theological, philosophical and socio-cultural reflections here.
A couple of year ago, I took a month and attempted to write as many words on a single project (a book I was working on) as I could. My goal was to write 2000 words per day. At the end of the month, I had written about 45,000 words. That included a weekend where the goal was to write a many words as I could, and I wrote about 9,000 words in several hour or hour-and-a-half bites.
Want to know how many words you added to (or deleted from) your MS today? Need to see how close you are to your total word count goal? My favorite way to do this in Scrivener is via Project Targets, especially now that it’s more customizable than the 1.x version.
The Project Targets feature lets you set an overall project target (of words, characters, or pages), as well as a target for your writing sessions.
If you had an activity, healthy, non-addictive, which did not involve an over-dependence upon others and did not harm them, in which you could make a contribution to others, that gave you a huge sense of accomplishment, which gave you deep contentment and pleasure, which you had been doing off and on all your life, which didn’t cost anything, which you could do almost anywhere under almost any conditions–if you could do that activity, wouldn’t you? Merely for the sheer joy of it?
Tonight I read about a man who carried his Smith-Corona around with him for years, but did not use it for a very long time. When he finally did, he discovered something about himself, indeed a few things; things he wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t lugged that ancient typewriter around with him like talisman.
My first typewriter was a Smith-Corona. I was not so attached to it. When a proto-version word processor/typewriter came out, I ditched the old Smith-Corona. It probably sits in some landfill somewhere, though the romantic in me would like to believe that it has all these long years since graced a dusty corner in an old shop selling the sewing machines, typewriters, irons, and such from decades ago, as a sort of mascot of the place.
When I was younger, in grade school, junior high and high school, I wrote stories, fiction. I wrote fiction because that is what I read. And I wrote fiction because it was fun. I wrote reams of the stuff. I quite consciously imitated the authors I was reading, their style, their pacing, their plots. It was a good apprenticeship of sorts, if haphazard and without the sort of mentoring a writer needs to find the soul within his craft.
On a brief phone call a short while ago I was asked, “Have you written today?” The hazel-eyed voice of accountability on the other end was reminding me of my commitment to 500 words (a couple of pages or so) per day. I had not. (As I’m writing this, my word counter says I’m at about 50 words or so. 450 to go.)
If one is at a social gathering, say a holiday party of friends and acquaintances, introductions having been made and the inevitable discussion about one’s interests and hobbies comes up, admitting that you “like to write” borders on the level of awkwardness as admitting you like to glue Kewpie dolls together into large pyramids in your garage. Weird and perhaps harmless, but nonetheless antisocial.
What is it about writing that, unless you’re a published author with titles on the New York Times bestseller lists and making gazillions in royalties, admitting you do it places you in a category somewhere above politicians and telemarketers but below tax accountants and postal workers?
Perhaps this is why whenever I’m asked what I like to do I usually say something like, “Watch sitcoms.” It may not have more socially redemptive value, but at least my interlocutors understand that and can pigeonhole me among the “safe” nerdy set.
I have long aspired to “be a writer.” When I was in first grade I recall riding in our family’s dark green (so dark green it was almost black) Pontiac station wagon. To a first grader, it felt like a land ark. Now granted this memory comes down corridors nearly forty years long, but as I remember it I had in my lap a Big Chief tablet and one of those pencils the size of horses legs. I interrupted whatever I was doing at the time and asked my mom, translated into forty-four year old speak: “Will a publisher accept my manuscript if it’s written in pencil on Big Chief tablet paper?” Being a father of two young and precocious girls I understand what goes on in the mind of a parent while driving children on errands in the car and simultaneously running through mental checklists and responding to the random chatter of said children. I do not know whether or not my mom actually heard the question, and if so whether or not she actually took it seriously, and if so whether she had any definite knowledge of the subject. But I do remember the answer: “I think so.” Whether by intent or happenstance, the answer my mother gave set within my little first grade heart a desire that has never left. To be a writer.