writing

That first encouragement…

When I opened this page up I had a completely different post I had planned on writing. Funny how the mind can wander and take you someplace you did not expect but you just possibly needed to go.

I remember my senior year, ’90-’91, as one that was all over the map. There was a lot of drama along with a lot of good times, just like most peoples senior years. But that year I was blessed with three amazing teachers that I still think about to this day, one of them was my English teacher named Ms. Ann Habeeb. She was passionate about literature. She made us look at it and turn it around and realize it was more than just words on a page, that it was an experience to be lived. I was always an ravenous reader who devouring anything I could find, but she made slow down and appreciate it. I learned the language of the words above and beyond the feelings they could invoke.

I had one of those moments which, years later, could only be called a turning point in her class. We had been assigned to write a story, I can’t remember the guidelines, but it was only to be about a page or so. I wrote about a deserted town and a young boy who was the only one with the power to defeat the rolling evil that was coming down the shadows of Main Street. I wrote it, turned it in and about forgot it. The next day, or maybe a few days later, Ms. Habeeb was passing the assignments back out to the class, walking up and down the rows of desks as she did. She matched the story with the writer as she handed them back, sometimes with a comment, sometimes not. When she came to me she stopped and looked down at me.

“I am so mad at you.”

(more…)

Questions About Writer Tools & How Long It Takes To Write…

I’ve had several people send me emails inquiring about the tool bars you see over top the right of your screen on my website, unless you are on a mobile browser and then they may be at the very bottom of the page. Those are my word count progress graphs. The overall questions I’ve had about them is , where did you get them, and are they helping?

I originally saw them several years back at Cheri Priest’s website and she linked over to this website, Writertopia. Of the two styles they have available, I use the more straight forward one. They have one with a cute little cartoon that you can have show your mood, but that one just wasn’t me. The page I linked to a few sentences back has complete directions on how to use them, and they should be no problem if you chose to go that route. By the way, if you have not read at least one of Cheri Priest’s books, you are missing out, go pick one up today.

How much do those counters help me? To be completely honest, not much. All of the word counts are currently out of date. A few of the works have been finished and one was put away to peculate for a while. If you are on your page several times a week posting and updating it, I can see it being a great boon. For me, not so much. I just have spurts of updating consistently, and then weeks of nothing, but I’m trying to get better.  Hopefully tonight I can find time to delete the onces that are no good and update the others.

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     The other question I have noticed popping up is, “How long does it take to write your book/story/whatever? My answer is this…

“It takes as long as it takes.”

     It’s kinda trite, but its the truth. There are writers out there that can set themselves a deadline and on that day they are FINISHED. I am NOT one of those writers. I just can’t, I guess I am not disciplined enough yet. I finish a few works, submit them, and get on to other projects while waiting for the rejection slips to come in. I’ve been working on my two long form projects for a while and have to bounce between them every few weeks. Makes for slow writing, but it keeps my mind busy and on a different problem all the time.

     All that to say that I will endeavor to be more consistent in my writing projects and on this website. I will try not to bore you, but I wont go weeks with nothing either.

     On that note, I leave you with this little meme…

How Long to Write Novel

How Long to Write Novel

Have a good day, and keep on writing!

Stacy

@stacybaugher

Focus is not just for cameras…

Okay, so this in yet another informative (not really) fun filled (uh…no…) blog entry into my writing. Its part of what I have charged myself with doing to keep the blog up to date while I procrastinate regarding some photography work that has be down and getting more writing finished.

I’ve always been imaginative. The first time I can remember actually creating a story and putting it in print was when I was around seven years old. I had gotten the new Missile Command game for my Atari and was completely enthralled by it. I remember handwriting a four page story about aliens that were attacking the Earth and trying to take out our cities, and a group of Missile Commanders that were given the assignment of protecting those cities; very Buck Rogerish (my favorite television show at the time) and very optimistic. I later took that four page story and turned it into a twelve page hand drawn comic complete with folded lined paper and staples in the middle. It was modeled after some of the small comics that were starting to show up in the Atari games at the time. No idea what happened to it, but it most likely was tossed as my Mom cleaned my room.

I related that story because at seven years old I had more focus than I do now. Of course, my life revolved around school, comic books, fantasy novels, old classic monster movies, and playing an Atari 2600 on a black and white thirteen inch television I was allowed in my room. I remember building a three story play set for my Star Wars figures out of nothing by tape, Popsicle sticks, bendy straws, and old cereal boxes. I really believe that if kids ever realize the power of their own minds at that age, all of us “adults” will be in deep doodie.

So, as if to illustrate my point, let me know get back to what I originally wanted my subject to be, how I stay focused on writing.

The answer is simple, I don’t.

I currently do a good bit of my writing while I am at my real world job. Often have some down time and I am stationed in-front of a computer anyway (all day), so it works out. I keep my writing on a little sixteen gigabyte thumb drive and carry it from work to home daily. I work on multiple projects at a time. Currently I have am editing/revising a short story, working on something that looks to be turning into a novella, translating a two-hundred and sixty plus page graphic novel script into a prose novel, and trying to work on an outline for another novel. I have a backlog of short stories and a couple of partially complete works that need attention as these other projects are finished also. I also take the occasional photography gig when time allows, and play Mr. Mom in the afternoon for my kids while my wife works her tail off teaching music to elementary and high school kids.

I sometimes get to hang out with friends, and occasionally run a pen and paper roleplaying game. Those times I am inevitably asked, by those who know I write, if the adventures they are playing will end up in my stories. My answer is always, much to the players disappointment, is no, they won’t. I know of several writers who run their adventures past role players as a way to proof their work ( few big name ones), but it just never seemed to be something I was interested in doing. A RPG session consists of collaboration between the Narrator (Dungeon Master, Storyteller, what have you) and his players. Whether you are running an original adventure or a pre-written module, it is a give and take. I’ve been burned on collaborations to often to give something that I’m pouring my heart into to someone else again. Don’t get me wrong, I want to collaborate in the future, just not right now… not with my current batch of babies.

So to reiterate my earlier statement, as this article shows, I really don’t focus on any one thing, unless it is the thing currently in-front of me. I tend to jump around and listen to the voices in my head, whichever is yelling the loudest is the one who will get the most attention. After a while they get tired and take a rest so I can let one of the other kids out. But lately, I think they have realized that they need to give each other more space, as I am getting more and more work done on one piece over another.

Everyone is different. I know of an author who claims she cannot focus on writing unless she has her over the ear headphones on listening to white noise. Another once told me that he had to have a cigarette before he started writing, and a cold glass of wine (or two) to loosen the spirits as he wrote. Me? Well, if I am at my real world job, I seem to need the hum of fluorescent lights, a constantly ringing telephone, and people coming up to me every ten or fifteen minutes asking me to help them with some office related task or needing to be checked in for their appointment.

At this stage, I need the interruptions; they force me to focus on what I am writing just that little bit more than when I am at home with my Spotify playing whichever soundtrack I need for background sound that day.

To each his or her own.

But I do have my own dream writing place, that place that I promised myself when I sell a novel and make a little money off the writing that I will be able to transition to.

I’ll talk about that next time.

Till then, take care and God bless…

Stacy

GO KILL IT.

A few months back I ran into an old friend.

The wife and I had been at the bookstore and this old friend walked up smiling and chatting just like we had seen each other a few days before instead the year or more it had been. He’s one of those people who always seemed gung-ho and raring to go, had a plan and was always advancing on his goal.

“Whatcha’ doing up here?” I asked.

“Picking up this magazine,” he held it up and opened it to a page toward the center. “They did an article on me and my company and I just needed to pick up a copy.” We talked for a few minutes about the article, checked out the images that were accompanying it, and he pointed out some interesting stuff about it. Then we moved on to some of the photos I had seen on his Facebook account, him with famous people, and how impressed I was.

“Well,” I said, “Looks like a must read, let me grab a copy too.”

“Cool, let me know what you think.” Then he asked, with absolutely no trace of arrogance, damnation, or a holy-than-thou attitude, with honest curiosity “How’s the photography going? You still writing?”

I hesitated for a moment. I had some good things happen with my photography as of late; a nice series of gigs with a music promoter shooting shows and a few other unrelated gigs with local musicians. I even had been collaborating with a local artist on a graphic novel. Despite the fact that I had completed the script and the artist never bothered to do any of the art for various real world reasons (is that still collaboration?) I was damn proud of the work. But, I felt, it was nothing compared to the accomplishments he had made since we had really seen each other. I told him about it, and I swear I could see just a hair of disappointment, which he quickly covered up with a flashy smile. We agreed to get together later that night at a skate park and hang out.

For the next few weeks, I watched him online through his social media accounts. He was travelling to various shows related to his business, posting pictures of himself and the people he met, showing the masses his latest work that was in the pipe, and all the time having that confident smile on his face. I admit, I was jealous; not because of what he had and was experiencing, but because I had not pulled the trigger myself to take the steps I needed to advance my own passions.

I sent him a text a few weeks ago, asking if I could get a little time to come out to his shop and photograph him and some of his latest projects. The message back was positive and inviting, and I ended up spending 6 hours in the middle of the night photographing him at work and his products. We asked questions of each other and closed the gap of time a little more. Then he brought up my own works.

“I’m just having a time getting it going.” I said. I knew it was an excuse. “I work my real world job and try and squeeze in writing time when I can, try and get out and take some photos when the obligations allow. It’s tough. An 8 plus hour day and then my family, which I love, it’s hard to make time.” He looked at me, and I knew he didn’t buy it.

“I haven’t work for anyone but myself in sixteen years.” He looked at me for a moment. “Man, you just got to get it out there! Even if you don’t feel it’s your best, get it out there, sell it, and replace it when you got something better to show!” We talked about it a little more, and I honestly felt deflated.

Now, I didn’t feel deflated because of anything he said, it was because of what I had said. His words were inspiring. Mine, on the other hand… I was using my family and the real world job as an excuse. I knew this. But this guy, without actually using the words, called me out on it. You see, while he has not been married quite as long as I have, he has more kids than me, and is younger than me.

Yea, talk about a kick to the pants.

I got home and was going over some of the photos with my wife. She was amazed, but after a little bit, sensed something was wrong. So I told her. I told her about what I had said to my friend, his reply, and how right he was.

She looked at me with that look that was known to send student into cold sweats. The, quietly, she said, “Oh, so you’ll listen to him.” then she swatted the back of my head as she got up to get a drink.

Damn, I love her.

I’ve got people in my circle of friends who are the types to go out, kill it, and bring it back to the cave. I also have the kind that waits around for the zookeeper to throw their prepared meal into the cage. I’ve decided that I want to be one of the ones who are killing it.

Wish me luck.

Stacy