Forging Ahead—with New Stuff

“Silence is a source of great strength,”—so says Lao Tzu (or something like that). And yet here I am blogging… Anyway…Laozi

Wow. 2 weeks have passed by in a flash. It’s frustrating when my day job gets out of control like it is right now. It means that the fiction writing suffers. And the blog? Well, it becomes just an afterthought. This was the first time in a long time when I really drew a blank on what to write here on the blog. Thus, the Lao Tzu quote. So, in a nod to the time I have had to sacrifice to earning a living, I’m just going to give you a quick cut on where my writing’s at. Here are the stories I’m working on right now:

Barabanchik
Finally got this down to where I like it. On the recommendation of an editor (of a magazine I sent it to), I axed the entire first chapter. And I’m finally pleased with where this ended  up. I’m still waiting to hear back from various editors on an earlier version of this story. In the meantime, I’ll be submitting the new version to see if it garners any interest.

Pacha-Mama
Got to input some changes on the draft of this piece and then decide what to do. I think it will need a little more work before I start submitting it. But overall, I’m pretty pleased where it ended up.

New Stuff/Project Selection
After I figure out what to do with those two stories above, the non-fun act of selecting what work to begin next starts. I like to begin new projects, to write first drafts, but it’s tough to select new stories to start. I dip into my pre-writing notes on my computer. It’s often difficult to decide which stories are ripe for the plucking. It’s not a science, that’s for sure. You have to judge how good the idea is overall and how well-formed it is in your mind. That is, how close it is being a blown-out, mature story. Just the seed of an idea—no matter how good—is enough to start a story. It’s not easy deciding which story idea to finally commit to.

So, wish me luck. I will put Pacha-Mama to bed somehow, and then decide on my next fiction piece. I’ll let you guys know what I decided next time I post in a couple of weeks.

See you then!

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A Writer’s Equipment

Thought I would do something a little different today. I spend a lot of time talking about what I write, the craft of writing and all that stuff. But I want to take a play out of the musicians’ playbook and tell you what I write on. Guitarists in particular, will often list what guitars and amps they use. For example, there’s Slash’s preference for Les Paul guitars and Marshall amps. Bill Writes

But what do writers use these days? Surely, they don’t use quills and parchment, always sure to keep their pet monkey near by?

To put it simply, what does this writer use to write? Well,  here is a list of everything I take with me in my backpack when I go writing at the café each weekend:

  • Computer—A Dell Inspiron N411Z. With Intel Core i3 processor at 2.3 GHz with 4 GB of RAM. Nothing too fancy.
  • Operating system—Windows 7 Home. I’ve used Windows PCs for a long time and don’t see stopping now. I’m used to them and I feel I get better value for the money than with Apple. (Sorry, Mac lovers!). And no, I don’t think Windows straitjackets my creativity.
  • Writing software—Word 2010. Again, nothing fancy. It gets the job done. I might want to use something different if I go into writing scripts/plays, but I don’t think I would.
  • Red pens(2)—Uni-ball Micro red pens. I only use these when I have to markup/edit/proof the hard copy of one of my manuscripts (for more on that, see below). They seem to work well and, most importantly, don’t leak.
  • Pencils—A couple of Number 2 pencils, the brand doesn’t matter.
  • Chocolate—Chocolate, to me, is the most amazing stimulant ever created. It gives you energy, mellows you out a bit, yet sharpens your mind. It puts your right where you want to be for serious mental work. I have about 2-3 squares of my favorite chocolate bar with a dark coffee or black tea and I’m ready to get writing. I prefer something with a lot of cocoa, like Scharfen Berger’s 82% cocoa bar. So good.
  • A random book—I almost always bring a book (or sometimes, my Kindle) to read to get my brain warmed up for writing. After about 30 minutes of reading I’m usually ready to start writing my own stuff. The whole time I’m reading, I’m marking up favorite passages with my #2 pencil. In fact, I can’t read a book without a pencil anymore.
  • Print outs (when needed)—When I get to a third or fourth draft, I print out the manuscript and bring the sheets (single-sided with wide margins for easier editing) to the café and set to work proofing/editing them with my red pen.

First, NONE of these are endorsements and no one has paid me to mention the products above or to use them. They are simply what I prefer. I just want to list them to satisfy my (future) curiosity about the tools I use to write.

As you see, I like to keep it simple. I have written on computers since I was about 15 years old (that should date me, right there!) and can’t imagine writing on anything besides a notebook PC or tablet. I’ll post this list on a new section on the website which I will update over time. Look at this as a first cut to list the equipment I use to write and a sort of time capsule for how we wrote in 2015.


A writing update

Before I go, I wanted to give you an update on my writing.

As I previously said, I’m almost done with a new story “Pacha-Mama.” I hope to wrap editing on that piece up this weekend.

I’m also still sending two short stories around to editors. I have a number of rejections piled up, but no acceptances yet. I’ll keep you posted on the progress on all of these.

Finally, the clouds at work have cleared, so I should be able to write more freely and often now. Which is a great thing…So, until next time…

Keep reading, keep writing,

Darius