I started out this year with six very specific goals geared towards building a Writing Career of Significant Worth:

1)  I want to write more…a lot more…as in I want to sweat, sneeze, and bleed fiction.  Vomitus de Muse, Fiction Eruptus. That’s Latin for prolific and inspired.

2)  I want to edit that fiction. No, not just edit it.  I want to make that shit sparkle like Edward in the noonday sun.

3)  I want to submit said sparkly fiction. Momma needs to get brave, pack them sandwiches, give them lots of hugs and kisses, and wish them good luck as she puts them in a cab.  It is time for all the stories to grow up and fulfill their destiny.  “And don’t come home without a paycheck!”

4)  The platform, I wants to build one. What do you think we’re standing on here?  Sure, it passes code.  Why do you ask?

5)  Accountability. This is a transparent attempt to trick myself into doing my work using reverse psychology and false deadlines and penalties…but I think I’m on to myself.  I may have to resort to urban legends about the Muse Patrol…you know, that ghostly gang of scorned muses who stalk, mob, and tear apart writers who don’t write?  Didn’t you know the gift of writing is located in a writer’s gizzard, tucked right underneath our big fat egos?  And if you don’t use it, they come to take it back….  Yeah, I’m not buying that one either.

6)  Read more short stories. I want to drink deeply from the well.  I want to be on the other side of the relationship between writer and reader more often.  I want someone else to do the driving.  I want to be directed and misled, tricked and delighted.  I want to fill myself with the words of others.  I want to walk in other worlds, crash into strangers, fall in love with them, and escape with them via solar pods to planets made of mercury and ash.  I cannot create in a vacuum.  There is always give and take, and that, bruddah, is the circle of life.


So how am I doing so far?  Well, I spent most of January blogging and hammering together my “platform,” to be quite honest.  There hasn’t been much time left over for the fiction, something I need to correct posthaste.  I need to catch up with my Write1Sub1 obligations.  Even so, I feel like I’m in a nice, well-greased groove as being in work mode, which is priceless.  I just need to get faster, dammit!

Which leads us to this month’s obsession:  speed.  (Italics makes the word look faster, don’t you think?)  The most important item on the above list is — wait for it — No. 1, writing.  No surprise there.  There is no Writing Career of Significant Worth without the writing.

Here’s my problem — and it’s not a unique or uncommon problem — I don’t have a lot of time.  I really don’t.  I won’t bore you with my violin-accompanied sob story, but I’ve got a toddler and a husband stationed out of state.  You get the picture.  But I understand that Joe over in Sherman Hills spends two hours a day in his car.  And I get that the PTA is depending on Violet down in Texas to organize this year’s bake sale gala.

We all have the same sob story.  We all have children and spouses and jobs and commutes — important things! — that take up our time, and rightly so.  It’s called life.

But what makes art great is not what we’re capable of creating under perfect conditions — there’s no such animal — but rather what we actually create under imperfect conditions.  It is the challenges and obstacles that enrich our writing.  The harder we have to fight to create, the more value it has.

So I accept that I have certain limitations on my time that cannot be negotiated, and I choose instead to make the most of the time I do have.  And that means getting faster…because I am at this point in my life incessantly barraged with new story ideas, and I am afraid that I will become buried in their lifeless, unmanifested husks and haunted by the ghosts of their unfulfilled destinies if I don’t get a handle on it now.  The situation is urgent.

So this month my focus is on making fiction and lots of it…and quickly.  I don’t believe speed has to have a detrimental effect on first draft material.  In a lot of ways, it serves the writer to have a part of the process in which they are free to spew out all the tropes and clichés, scratch that itch, lay on the purple thick and gooey.  All the mistakes and groan-worthy metaphors will be excised later.  Let all the cheese come out.  Go on.  The important thing is that we make something to work with in post-production, which we will worry about later.

So speed…how do we do this?  I want to be very specific.  I want to take the river of poetry that flows within me and turn it into Niagara Fucking Falls.  Profane emphasis intended, deliberate, and calculated.  Why am I getting all at-the-docks-after-sunset about it?  Because sometimes you have to be if you want to be a contender.  So crank open those gates, let it come rushing out.  Cast out the monkeys in their barrels and give them the ride of their life!

And yes, writing like this means I most certainly will have to backtrack at times, but that’s okay.  Ferreting out and marking dead ends in stories is just part of the process.  Gotta be done.  Somebody’s gotta clear the sewers.

So in the words of Ray Bradbury, “Work.  Relaxation.  Don’t think.” This month is going to be all about speed.  Speed, speed, speed, my friends!  We are going to drill.  We will time ourselves.  We are going to kindle life into as many story ideas as we can.  This month we are going to see just how many words we can write to keep the Muse Patrol away.  Hang on to your gizzards, ladies and germinators!  (I don’t worry about mine as it is deeply ensconced and protected by my ginormous ego.)

So are you with me?  Be with me!  Be a come-with friend.  I will share my word counts each day, and you can post your word counts in the comments.  I will put together some sort of cumulative word count widget that I will install along the side here so that we can see just how big a pile of words we can make together.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of words they are, whether they’re song lyrics, blog posts, articles, novels…whatever it is that you’re writing, count those words.  They all count!  Just throw them in the comments, and I will pitch-fork them on top of the heap.  This will be like NaNoWriMo, except without the NaNo.  So really, this is just WriMo.

Anyway, at the end of the month, we can celebrate.  Maybe we’ll stack all of our words together into an elaborate tower of language and set it afire and dance by its light…and from the ashes will arise loud, squawking phoenixes…which we will take home and feed and preen their feathers and send them to editors to sing to them and convince them to give us money.  It is a good plan, yes?

But if this don’t float yer boat, don’t worry.  I got fun stuff coming, educational stuff, cheesy stuff…plus, there’s still the little matter of 72 Nutter Butters.

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  1. Beau Gamble says:

    My word count for today: 0.
    My word count for yesterday: 0.

    Not bad but I could probablybe doing a little better… Will try harder tomorrow.

    Your points about speed reminded me of something I’ve been wondering. Do you think typing speed is much of an issue? Does slow typing mean slow writing? Or are writers limited more by their speed of imagination and thought process than by their capacity to put those thoughts on the page?

    • mybluescreen says:

      Hey, you showed up. That’s what matters. Your word counts can only get better from here. 😉

      Great question, by the way. Hmm. I could see slow typing speed being a hindrance for someone who’s in a frantic creative downpour…and for those, there’s always tape recorders. I love them! But I think overall, practice begets speed which negates the whole concern. If you’re writing every day with the goal of becoming faster, you will be practicing your typing more and will naturally become a faster typist.

      Conversely, I don’t think being a fast typist means you’ll be a fast writer. I am a very fast typist and can still spend two hours on a handful of words, which is frustrating.

      I think where the focus needs to be when we’re talking about speed here is in our little brain-meats, not our fingers. And I think it’s more about moving boulders out of the stream than it is about making the stream go faster, if that makes any sense. We just gotta figure out what it is that slows us down and get rid of it.

      Can you tell I like this topic? 🙂

      • Beau Gamble says:

        Cool metaphor — I think it makes a lot of sense. I agree that typing speed probably isn’t an issue unless you have one of two extremes: snailed-paced fingers or rocket-propelled imagination.

        I’ve been working sporadically on this short story lately. It’s the first piece of fiction I’ve tried to write since highschool. My problem is that whenever I sit down to add to it, I just end up re-reading and fiddling with what I already have. It’s like I can’t continue until everything is exactly how I want it. And it means I’m only about 2000 words in… So I guess that’s my boulder in the stream: being too pedantic. I’ve just gotta say fuck it and keep the story rolling.

        • mybluescreen says:

          Ah, but you are writing! And after a long hiatus, I take it? This is monumental, and 2,000 words is a nice, meaty start. Cheers for that! Don’t feel bad about your progress though. You are certainly not alone in the whole one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach to writing. This gets me too. I think this trips up most of my other writer friends…even professional writers like Marjorie M. Liu:

          So, yeah…just fuck it and keep the story rolling!

      • Beau Gamble says:

        Hey, sorry about the slow reply. I’m on this university field trip and hardly have Internet.

        Thanks for the encouragement – I’ll checkout that link when I have some more time…

        I’ll have to catch up on your latest posts when I get back next Friday 🙂 Good luck with the word count until then!

  2. apparentbook says:

    Word Count Today (thus far): 23
    Word Count Yesterday: 0

    I am smiling at 7:30 in the morning, wonderful! Thanks for the encouragement, motivation, and sarcasm.

    • mybluescreen says:

      Ha! You and me makes 328. See? Together we look better. 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words…and for playing!

  3. Kathryn McCullough says:

    Great post! Especially so because speed is my biggest issue as a writer. I’m tooooooo damn slow! Curious to hear more about how you pick up the pace. Excellent work, my friend–but share your secrets, please.
    from Haiti,

    • mybluescreen says:

      Hiya, Kathy! Thanks so much. Speed is certainly an issue with me too…oh, man, is it an issue! But we’re gonna figure it out this month…or write a lot of crap trying. 🙂 And don’t worry. I will share all. 😉

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