2013: Movies of Interest

The first of the two big Movie Seasons is almost upon us… indeed I daresay it starts rather soon.  Last year, I wrote about the upcoming flicks that had captured my interest.  I thought it would be a fine idea to do so again.  In fact, if I can remember in time next year, maybe this’ll be an annual feature.

Here are the movies that have caught my interest this year, in a sort-of-order of my interest:

  1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug With a few relatively minor caveats (Storm Giants, anyone? What the Helsinki was that, and how, exactly, was it even remotely necessary for the movie?) I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the planned Hobbit trilogy, as I had expected to.  Being a huge fan of both the Lord of the Rings books and movies, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the next Hobbit movie is my top flick-to-see in 2013.
  2. Man of Steel Only one comicbook superhero ranks higher on my all-time favorite list than Batman, and that is his boyscout, super-powered, primary-color-clad sometimes friend and rival Superman.  So yes: I plan to see the latest incarnation of the cinematic Superman, and I have very high hopes.
  3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Dear Wife and I quite enjoyed first Hunger Games movie (well, I did; I can’t really speak for Dear Wife, but it is my belief that she enjoyed it).  I finished reading all three books last year, and I’m quite looking forward to the second installment in the film franchise.
  4.  

    Those are the movies that I expect I’ll actually see in the theaters.  After that… there’s a big drop in the likelihood that I think I’ll manage to catch anything else on this list.

     

  5. Pacific Rim I think I’ve mentioned before how much of an anime geek I am.  Not the hugest one around, but still… enough of one that I totally grok where this movie is going.  Giant Robots (called “Jaegers“, no less) versus Giant Monsters (“Kaiju“).  This is totally live-action anime.  And so, I’m excited for this movie.  I figure, though, that this could go one of two ways: this could be this year’s Inception… or this could be this year’s Prometheus.  With Guillermo Del Toro directing, I’m hopeful it’s more like the latter… but then again, Ridley Scott carried a lot of cache into Prometheus… Assuming the sci-fi and fantasy community tends to lean more toward the former than the latter, then you can be sure, even if I miss this in theaters, I’ll queue it up on DVD as soon as I’m able.
  6. Star Trek: Into Darkness I saw and enjoyed 2009’s Star Trek reboot – although a few things about it left me unsettled. (Red Matter?  And really, [Spoilers] did you need to blow up Vulcan?  And with all that time-traveling going on, you really couldn’t, you know, travel back in time and save the planet?  The last fact really miffed me fiercely.  Once you’ve established that time travel is an option, you better have a dang good reason why it can’t be used again to undo later events in the story.)  Regardless of those snafus, I enjoyed the Star Trek reboot enough that I’m very interested to see the next in the new series.  Added to that the mystery of who, precisely, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing – is it Kahn Noonien Singh? Is it Gary Mitchell? Is it some other dude who combines the attributes of Kahn and Mitchell? – adds to the intrigue and interest in this film.  As I expect this movie will skip the time travel plot problems of Star Trek, I expect this will actually be a better movie.  Still… I figure I’m unlikely (all things considered) to catch this in theaters.  So, as with Pacific Rim, I’m sure I’ll be queueing this up on DVD as soon as available.
  7. Oblivion The trailer for this flick has at least intrigued me – it’s hinted that not is all as it seems for Tom Cruise’s character, nor for desolate planet Earth in the far future.  But what really catches my interest: Morgan Freeman as some sort of Resistance/Rebel leader.  Is there any role that is not automatically cooler when played by Morgan Freeman?  That gives me promise that this film can live up to the ideas presented in its trailers.
  8. After Earth ‘Tis the Year for “In the Future, Earth has been abandoned by Humans”, isn’t it?  The attraction of this particular version of that story is in having real-life father-and-son acting team Will and Jaden Smith play a father and son stranded on an inhospitable future Earth struggling to survive.  The downside? It’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan (whose last few movies have not exactly been great, and who lost whatever remaining goodwill he had left as a director when he miscast and ruined the fundamentally un-ruinable big screen adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender) – so don’t expect the trailers to pint that little fact out.  The possible saving grace? This is Will Smith’s baby more than it is Shyamalan’s.  Regardless, I’m interested, but I’ll see what the critics have to say.
  9. Ender’s Game This one very nearly snuck up on me.  There’s very little buzz about Ender’s Game that I’ve seen so far.  Many, many years ago I read (and enjoyed) the novel as well as the companion novel (Ender’s Shadow).  I have yet to read (and not a terrible great interest in reading) the supposed sequels to Ender’s Game. (My understanding, for the most part, is that they diverge in some pretty radical ways from the story, characters, and world presented in Ender’s Game.) Anyway… I’m interested to see and hear more about this before casting judgment.
  10. World War Z Funny… I think I saw this title on a list of movies I made somewhere, once before.  Oh yeah: It was last year’s list.  Obviously, World War Z didn’t make it out in 2012.  But I find myself more interested now than I was then, thanks to several trailers that have given me a better idea of the film.  On the other hand… long delays and changes in release dates usually don’t bode well for a film.
  11. Elysium What was that I said above about the year for desolate or abandoned future Earths? Okay, so the Earth of Elysium isn’t really desolate or abandoned, but it may as well be: it’s a place where the poor and downtrodden are confined while the rich live high above.  (And the meek shall inhereit the Earth?)  What Elysium has going for it is a top-calibre cast, including Matt Damon and Jodi Foster.  Again, however, other than this, I know relatively little about the movie.  So I’ll take the wait-and-see approach.
  12. The Wolverine Remember when I said Superman was the superhero who ranked just above Batman at the top of my personal superhero pantheon?  The guy right below Batman is Wolverine.  And yet… I did not see the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie.  I heard the reviews were pretty bad.  But I’m open-minded.  I’ll wait and see what the buzz says about Logan’s second solo-outing.  On a semi-related note… I’m still keen to catch X-Men: First Class on DVD some time.

Honorable Mentions:

These are the movies I feel like I want to see (in theaters, where possible). But a few other movies have hit my radar, too. Some of these I have no interest in seeing theaters, but may be interested to catch on DVD later, some it’s practically too late to catch in theaters, and some I just don’t know enough about.

Oz the Great and Powerful There’s no way I’ll find the time to see this before it makes its way out of theaters.  I’m interested in it, but not enough to try to make the time, and especially not enough to to press the issue when there’s a brand new wee bairn at home.

Frozen Frankly, I don’t know enough about this movie yet.  I think it’s an animated Epic Fantasy sort of movie.  But… I’m not really sure I’ve read about it right.  If and when I hear more, I’ll make a judgment at that time.

Monster’s University It’s Pixar and it’s not Cars.  So that’s a good thing.  On the otherhand, while I enjoyed the previous Monster’s Inc., I didn’t love it enough to want a sequel.  This movie seems… I dunno… gratuitous.  But because it’s Pixar and, Cars and Cars 2 notwithstanding, Pixar has a lot of goodwill with me, I can almost garauntee I’ll watch it on DVD at some point.

The Lone Ranger I was convinced, when I heard about this, that it had “Epic Flop of John Carter Proportions” written all over it.  I thought: Johnny Depp (no matter how good an actor he is) in a racially insensitive portrayal of Tonto?  This thing is going to get cremated in the blogosphere!  Now I’ve seen the trailers and I’m… less convinced.  And the buzz is actually pretty decent.  And word is Disney has done a lot of legwork (enough? I don’t know) to make good with Native Americans over the casting and portrayal of Tonto.  (I’m that mythical “1/16th” Native American, which basically doesn’t mean anything, except that a deep respect for Native American peoples has been passed down in my family, owing to that ancestry as told in family legend.  I haven’t done the genealogy work to back up that claim.  But the end result is that I’m a little sensitive to the question of how American Indians are portrayed in stories.)  So… If all that holds true… well… you can expect The Lone Ranger to do bonzo at the Box Office.

Iron Man 3 I have not seen Iron Man 2 (nor, for that matter, The Avengers).  So I know there is Zero Percent chance I’ll make it out to see Iron Man 3.  I at least owe it to the movie to see the two preceeding flicks (even if I still manage to avoid Thor because I think the idea of “Thor” as a superhero character is basically a bit cheesy and overwrought).  I did see and enjoy the first Iron Man movie, though, and I enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Stark.  So, whenever I get around to picking up Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, I’ll eventually follow that up with Iron Man 3.

What happened to 2012’s Movies?

As for the 2012 movies that I had listed previously?  As alluded above, I did see the first Hobbit movie and the first Hunger Games movie.  I also caught Dark Knight Rises and Brave at the theaters.  I did not get a chance to see The Secret World of Arietty, but that’s okay, because I’ve always consumed anime on the small-screen in the past.  (I love Hayao Miyazaki, but I’ve never seen a Miyazaki movie in theaters.)  Prometheus was… well… based on all the reviews I heard, it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  And life’s too short to waste a few hours on a basically dumb movie.  The Amazing Spider-Man, as predicted, I did not see.  I still expect I’ll see it on DVD eventually.  Also didn’t see The Avengers, so no, I did not contribute to that massive box office haul.  John Carter, I heard, was actually better than many gave it credit for.  But, again… well… my own sense of it was not super-positive from the trailers.  (I said it looked “vistual-tastic”, but I also worried, based on the trailers, that there wasn’t much “there there”.  I still sort of feel that way.)  Again, life’s too short. 

So, that’s where I stand on movies in 2013.  How’s about you?

Tidbits of Inspiration: Quantum Entanglement

I read this today.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it.  I’m no physicist.  I don’t really get it either.  My highest education in the field of physics came in my Undergrad career when I took the slightly-more-difficult and rigorous Calc-based Physics as my required Science class instead of the mushy, cake-walk Physics for Dummies class.  (I did well, by the way, getting As in both semesters.  But that was somewhere in the vicinity of a decade ago, or more, now.) 

Anyway, Quantum Entanglement was one of those high-class physics concepts that was mostly beyond the scope of the classes I took.  But it’s a pretty important concept for the development of future technology.  Basically, it means this: two particles can be “entangled”, which means that the state of one effects the state of the other, even if the two are separated by a great distance.  In effect, this can theoretically allow for faster-than-light transfer of information, because changing the state of one instantaneously changes the state of the other.  Or something like that.  I may be misstating this, so if this piques your interest, I suggest you educate yourself from someone who’s actually knowledgeable and an expert.

But what I read today?  It blows that idea out of the water and takes it further than I thought possible.  Basically… in this experiment, there were two pairs of entangled photons: Pair A and Pair B.  One of each of these pairs (one from Pair A and one from Pair B) was sent to separate machines (Machine A and Machine B) that measured the state of the photons.  Machine A and Machine B are independent and do not share information with each other.  The second photon from each entangled pair was at a later time sent to a third machine, Machine C, which decided either to entangle the the two or not to entangle them, and then measures them.  Of critical interest here: the decision made by Machine C to either entangle or not entangle is made after the measurements at each of Machine A and Machine B were made.  Also to note: if Machine C decides not to entangle then you have two independent pairs of entangled photons.  If Machine C instead decides to entangle the second photon of each pair, then you have a chain of four entangled photons: the first photon of pair A is entangled with the second of pair A which is entangled with the second of pair B which is entangled with the first of pair B. 

And the result?  When Machine C decides not to entangle, then there is no measurable correlation between the states of Pair A and Pair B.  But when C decides to entangle, the state of Pair A and Pair B are correlated.

In layman’s terms: the entanglement performed by Machine C extends backwards in time to affect the states of the first photon of each of the newly entangled pairs.  Or in other words: Machine C sent information into the past!  I am probably overstating things somewhat.  But still.  Into the past!

This is truly mind-boggling.

Back to the Future, anyone?

Holiday Fun: The Gingerbread House Cometh

These are fun: a series of Gingerbread creations in the shape of icons from Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction.

My favorites (with added points for technical accomplishments): the Gingerbread Burrow and Gingerbread Hogwarts, but they’re all quite fabulous.

Dragon*Con, Decatur Book Festival and Parade Pics

This weekend I almost went to my second-ever Con.  I was all mentally-prepared to go.  I assumed that was my plan for the long weekend.  What a great chance to exercise my writerly-networking skills, right?

And then Dear Wife asked a couple leading questions: not saying I shouldn’t go but asking what I was going to do when I went…  Which got me thinking: what would I do if I went to Dragon*Con this weekend?

The 2011 Dragon*Con Parade

The start of the 2011 Dragon*Con Parade

Dragon*Con seemed like a no-brainer.  It is a major convention in a reasonable proximity to where I actually live.  Lots of major editors, authors, agents, and pop-culture F&SF heroes would be there.  What’s not to love?  Except the sticker shock.  (A weekend pass costs how much? I sputtered.  And a day pass isn’t exactly cheap, either.  I know major theme parks that cost a lot less for a few day’s fun.)  But what really got me thinking was my lack of a real plan.  Sure some authors and other luminaries would be there.  But did I know who those were?  How would meeting them, if I knew who they were, benefit my writing career?  What was the point of meeting them?

In fact, I had answers to none of these questions.  So what if I met an editor or agent at the con?  That’s assuming I even knew of any specific editors or agents at the con and where I could find them to meet them.  I don’t have a book finished, so I can’t sell them anything.  I don’t have any major short story publications, so I can’t point to anything I’ve done.  I’ve got nothing by which they will even be able to remember they met me.  At this stage in my development as a writer, I realized, it was an exercise in futility.

There was the possibility that I could attend the writer’s panel track and learn something about the craft of writing – except I’m slowly finding that after a decade of absorbing generic writing advice there isn’t much that’s news to me.  I’ve mostly heard all these things before.  I still appreciate getting those lessons refreshed, periodically, but I can do that for a lot less than the ticket-price at a major convention.  On balance, I realized, Dragon*Con was turning into a somewhat over-priced F&SF-flavored theme-park ride.  Under my immediate circumstances, it just wasn’t an expense I could presently afford or rationalize. Continue reading

“The Story of G” First Draft: Complete

Yesterday evening I finished a rough draft of my new short story, “The Story of G”.  As I’ve mentioned here before, “The Story of G” is my follow-up to last year’s Writers of the Future Honorable Mention “PFTETD”.  (I mean follow-up as in it’s my next short story and next potential entry into the WotF contest.)

“The Story of G” is not the actual title.  I’m not indicating what the real title is, yet, because I still haven’t decided on it.  That’s one of the bits of feedback I’ll be looking for from first readers (I have a few options I am mulling).

Dear Wife has already read it.  She says she likes it better than “PFTETD”.  That’s encouraging news.  There are some caveats, of course, but I won’t publicly share the specifics of her feedback – in part because the specifics of feedback are a private matter, and in part because I don’t want to taint future beta readers.

So… if you’re got a little free time and don’t mind lending a helping hand, I’m looking for beta readers to provide a little feedback.  It’s a fairly short story – a little under 8,000 words, which is quite a bit longer than my target of 6,000 words, but it’s still not terribly long.  Let me know if you’d be willing to help.  I’ll try to make myself available for beta reads and feedback in return.

Thanks everyone!

The Depths of Genre, the Heights of Audience Expectation

I regularly read the Magical Words blog, whree a group of speculative fiction authors joined together to offer writing advice and stories from the word-mines.  Over time, I’ve become ever-so-slightly more active a commenter on the posts, sharing my own thoughts and experience.

One recent post got me thinking about Genre.  In it, fantasy author Misty Massey begins a series of genre-definition posts similar to what you’d find on fellow writer-blogger T.S. Bazelli’s blog.  The post and ensuing discussion made me think about genre a lot (so much so that I was accused of overthinking the matter; I deny the charge as I don’t generally think it’s possible to overthink anything, and more likely to underthink something; I’m guilty of the latter as often as anybody else, but I’d rather be guilty of the former, which I think is no sin).  So, this is going to be a long post.  I’d split it up, but I think I’d lose something salient to my point in doing so.  My intention is to inspire deeper thinking on this topic – maybe even overthinking.  So put your thinking caps on.

Misty sets off on this whirlwind tour of the many genres and subgenres and subsubgenres of Speculative Fiction by discussing high and epic fantasy.  But before launching into discussion of individual genres, she says this:

When you’ve finished your manuscript and are ready to send it out into the world, one of the most important things to know about it is what genre it belongs to. Once upon a time, if a book had magic in it, it was fantasy. Period. Tolkien was fantasy, Tim Powers was fantasy, Glen Cook was fantasy. That’s no longer true. Genres have split and split and split again, becoming more and more specialized as the audiences demanded. Where once agents said they read fantasy, now they say they only want comic paranormal romance, dark epic or dieselpunk. Which puts the writer into a quandary – how do you know what you’re writing? Continue reading

You Vote: NPR’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

So, you may have already heard, but NPR is taking nominations for an upcoming Top-100 list of the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy books.

They have a few rules: no YA fantasy or science fiction (which cuts out Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and my personal childhood favorite, the Prydain Chronicles), no horror and no Paranormal Romance (which means no Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer) – although that last rule seems, to me, to be a bit unclear, because the line between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy is pretty thin and fuzzy, and the latter is definitely SF&F…

Anyway, the excluded genres and subgenres they intend to cover in later Best-1oo lists, so they say that’s why.

If you haven’t already, you can go and nominate your five favorites in the comments here.

Friday Flash: Kathryn’s Child

This week, T.S. Bazelli’s “Author Aerobics” challenge is on internal monologues.  Here it is:

This week’s challenge: Write a piece of fiction (1000 words or less) that includes moments of internal dialogue. The theme: “fireworks”.

Well, after two straight epic-fantasy stories and a contemporary fantasy story, last week I decided I’d put up something a little more sci-fi for my next short story.  And thus, this story.  At first, I didn’t have any particular purpose to this story, but as I wrote it, I decided I wanted to set it in the space opera-themed world I had created several years ago that I called, at the time, “The Alchemist” (and that I don’t currently call anything, yet).  How this story fits in with that setting, I’m unsure.  Several elements in this story didn’t appear in my original write-ups.  Anyway, I’ll get out of the way, now, and let you read.  It’s a tiny bit shorter than what I’ve been doing lately – only 1,066 words – and I’m calling it:

Kathryn’s Child

By: Stephen A. Watkins, Jr.

“Time for the fireworks to begin.”  Kathryn gazed through the wide window at the tiny red, yellow and brown orb suspended in a sea of blackness beneath her.   In the distance, a pale red light glimmered, the shell of a dying star.  Doctor Vanwick shuffled his feet on the deck beside her. Continue reading

Summer Reading Plans

So, on Friday, John Scalzi linked to the new blog home of an old column he used to do called “The Weekend Assignment” that gave a weekly topic for writers to blog about over the weekend.  This week’s assignment is about our Summer Reading plans, and what we look forward to most.  So, I thought: “hey, this is cool, and as a writer it’s a nice challenge that would give me something to write about regularly, and this topic in particular is one I can actually say something about.”  So, I’ll be trying to do these “Weekend Assignments” going forward.  Assuming I’m able to keep up with it, they’ll usually post on either Mondays or Tuesdays.

So, what am I excited about reading this summer?  Well, I’ll surely be spending time reading some textbooks and/or business cases for class.  But that’s not what I’m excited about.  Actually, it’s kind of sad to admit what I’m excited about: I’m excited about finishing The Gathering Storm over the summer.  I say it’s sad because I got this book as a gift from Dear Wife over Christmas 2009 (Thank You Dear Wife!), and I’ve been reading it ever since then.

That’s right: I’ve been reading this book for nearly four monthsWhat has happened to me?  When I was a younger man, and still in either High School or College, I used to be able to devour one of the “Wheel of Time” books in a matter of a couple of weeks.  I’ll tell you what didn’t happen: it’s not that the book is boring.  It’s been an enjoyable read so far (I’m on chapter 20), especially when the book has focused on Egwene.

After I finish The Gathering Storm I have several choices for what book I will read next.  The two options I am considering are either A Clash of Kings, the second book in George R. R. Martin‘s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, or Elantris, Brandon Sanderson‘s break-out novel.  I’m interested in exploring Sanderson’s own work outside of what he’s done with Robert Jordan’s latest book, so I’m most eager to read one of these books.  On the flip side, I’ve been hearing about how great Martin’s books are for ages.  I did read the first in his Ice and Fire books already, but it was an odd experience.  While well-written, and while his world is interesting and detailed, it was also a very dark world.  I found myself lacking any serious rooting interest in the book, because all of the characters were either cold and hard or outright villainous bastards.  Even the good-guys (so far as I was able to identify a good guy) had a bit of a nasty streak.  Still, I’m curious to find out what happens next, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as big a fan of Martin’s books as I have been of Jordan’s.

That said, I’ll probably pick up the next Ice and Fire book after finishing The Gathering Storm.  That will probably take up the rest of Summer and beyond.  When I finish that book, I’ll probably put down the Ice and Fire books again and move on to Sanderson with Elantris.

In the future, besides the Sanderson and Martin books, I’ve cued up a hefty list of “To Read” books on my Amazon wishlist.  Most of these are books I’ve learned about since I started following the blogs of a few other writers.  These include Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, Mainspring by Jay Lake, The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, The God Engines by John Scalzi, Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, Spellwright by Blake Charlton and possibly Seth Grahame-Smith’s latest, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

So, that’s not a very short list.  Not a short list at all.  That is sure to keep me busy and reading well into the foreseeable future, and beyond.  What’s on your reading list?

Happy Reading.

Breaking In (Part 2): Writing Novels

On Saturday I talked a bit about what it takes to break into the Short Story market.  But, though I like writing short stories, and hope to get published in that market, what I like even more than writing short stories is writing novel-length works.  I mean, let’s face it: I’m a wordy writer.  I like depth, multiple plot threads, many characters, and a diversity of themes.  I like thinking up all the stuff that eventually will become part of a novel.  I like writing it all down.

There’s just one teensy weensy problem: I don’t know the first thing, really, about what it takes to get published in the novel market.

Oh sure, I’ve read articles on the subject.  I’ve read how-tos.  And those are fine and good, for what they are.  But then there’s advice like this.  The gist of that link: by the time an established writer is, well, established – enough that he or she is in a position to offer advice on how to break in – the market and industry will have changed.  That being the case, you’ll find some of that advice will still be true, and some will most likely be dated and inaccurate, and some will be so specific to a certain author’s personal experience as to be virtually invalid for anyone else.  Standing in the position of someone who has yet to break in, then, there is almost no way to tell the difference.

Still, the path to wisdom begins first by admitting your ignorance.  In that spirit I have read as much as I can to learn as much as I can.  And here, over the next few days, I will share the lessons I have learned on the subject of breaking in to the novel-publishing world.

Lesson One:  Write, write well, and write a lot.  One “theory” holds that a writer needs to write a million words of awful tripe before they will have developed enough as a writer to get published.  At an average of 100,000 words for a decent-sized book, that’s 10 books.  One author I’ve recently been following revealed that he’d written some ten or twelve books before one of his earlier books was picked up by a major publisher. 

Several writers I’ve read about talk about the time of their “apprenticeship” – a time when they wrote prolifically, and practiced a lot, producing work of dubious quality.  Many can even pinpoint the time when their apprenticeship began (with it ending when the author actually gets published).  This leads me to wonder about my own career.  When did I start on my “million words”?  I never had an “aha!” moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer: I’ve known since early childhood that this is what I want to do with my life (and only turned from that path, directly, because of the general advice from one writer that amounted to “don’t quit your day job, kid”).  Did my “million words” start when I was 9 or 10, around the time I first started working on the original draft of that long-unfinished novel of mine?  Did it start in Middle School?  High School?

Honestly, although in theory I’m working on the same book as when I was ten, the story, characters and plot are so different as to be a completely different book, and different world.  So let’s set that aside for a bit.  Now, throughout High School I wrote a lot.  I started working on a collaborative story with an old Middle School buddy in pen-pal fashion – a juvenile sci fi epic in which two boys from Earth are caught up in intergalactic intrigue when they are contacted by two aliens who happen to look exactly like the human boys.  I’d write one chapter, mail it to him, he’d review it, make any corrections he deemed necessary and write the next.  I’d review his and the process would begin anew.  I probably wrote around 10 or 15 thousand words on that story.  I also wrote an alien-invasion novela that borrowed a lot from H. G. WellsWar of the Worlds, television’s “The X-Files” and the biblical Book of Revelation.  That story (and the follow-up that I never finished) totaled somewhere between 20 thousand and 40 thousand.  Throughout High School I also wrote around a half-dozen short stories (and one stage play based on one of those stories) each running between 2,000 and 10,000 words.  That brings my total to around 50 to 80 thousand words.  And then there’s my baby (no, not the human baby that will soon be brought into world – he won’t be using words yet for several years – I mean that novel I keep blathering about).  By the time I quit work on the last “draft” of my novel, I’d written around 140,000 words (and considered the book to be between two-thirds and three-quarters done).  Add to that a few more short stories (each around six to ten thousand words), and I can safely say I’ve written a little over 200,000 words so far in my “apprenticeship”.  But this means I have a long way to go before hammering out my “million words”.  That doesn’t mean I can’t try to get published before I’m done.

But if my first “few” books are likely to be complete garbage, I’ll admit it makes me hesitate to start work again on my life-long novel project.  Why write one more word on it if that word will be crap?  I love this project too much to spend more time writing crap for it!

That angst lasts for about five minutes before I decide “Who Cares?”  I love this project too much not to keep writing it.  But I am thoughtful enough about my “career” as a writer to consider what else is there?  In the time since I first read about how much work it takes to get published, I’ve come up with a couple more ideas for fantasy epics (albeit works of shorter length and less ambition) and I have one space opera concept that I’ve been mulling over since my freshman year of College.  I’m not sure at what point I’m going to turn my attention to these other three ideas and start work on them, or when I might come up with still other ideas for novel-length works.  I wonder sometimes if I should put work on my true novel love on indefinite hiatus and turn my attention more directly to these to finish honing my craft, cleaning them up and getting them ready to try to launch my career, or if I should stick to my guns and keep working on that behemoth of a project.  Until I get out of Grad School and settle into a normal working schedule, it’s not a question I intend to answer, because I don’t have time for either.

In the mean time, I intend to write – as often and as much as I can. 

Stay tuned for Lesson 2 tomorrow.  Happy Writing.

Back to Part 1: Short Stories & Periodicals

Continue to Part 3 (and Lesson 2): Writing Community