Home » Blog » Writing Out Loud

Category: Writing Out Loud

Milemarker #200 on this blog

Tonight is noteworthy because this is the 200th blog post that I’ve published here on MGHerron.com!

A little history will help provide perspective.

I registered this domain and launched the website in December 2013, shortly after I settled on a pen name and began to write and publish fiction seriously. That’s almost four years ago now.

Looking back at the early posts, you can tell what my goal was setting out. It was all about writing and getting published. There was still a lot I didn’t know, but if nothing else at least that much is clear.

The first blog was published on 12/12/2013: The Oxford Comma Makes a Funny.

I shortly followed this up with some modest writing goals a few weeks later, in the form of writing resolutions for 2014 (1/4/201).

Fast forward 4 years

As I’ve published a dozen stories, 3 novels, and a nonfiction book since then, looking back at the beginning is surreal, almost like I’m looking into someone else’s past life instead of my own.

I’ve run personal blogs on and off for a decade before this one, publishing articles and stories and links and quotes and conspiracy theories and code snippets and other various things I was interested in at the time.

But none of those blogs had any staying power. They were all attempts to find myself in some way. Those projects taught me different aspects of writing and critical reasoning and creative collaboration and website management and HTML/CSS and other important skills. Eventually, though, I grew bored or restless of each and moved on to something else.

The biggest downfall of all those previous attempts was that they all lacked direction. This blog, for any failings it might suffer, at least knows what it’s about: my journey as a writer and everything that entails.

My journey, told in my own voice. After four years, I finally feel like I’ve embraced that. That’s liberating in its own way.

So 200 posts is a milestone I’m glad to have reached. I’m grateful to be able to look back and see that I’m a different person than I was then, that I’ve grown, and that I’ve got a few books on the shelf and many hundreds of thousands of words under my belt.

I wonder where I’ll be four years from now…?

Well, there’s no reason to rush it. If you’re not diligent, you blink and life rushes by.

I’m just going to continue being present here, trying to squeeze the most of each day, and be a better writer this year than I was the last.

The finished fence

The fence is done!

There are a few details left to clean up, but the gates are on and the yard is once again completely enclosed. And bonus: Between the cedar wood scraps we’ve been burning in the fireplace and the fresh-cut lumber of the cedar planks, the house smells amazing.

I love how the new fence makes the yard feel so much bigger, even though it runs along the same property lines. Really strange but cool. And now we have privacy in the yard that the old chainlink fence never provided.

My father deserves most of the credit for the work. I just followed orders, while he designed and directed the construction. Couldn’t have done it without him.

It’s always gratifying, whether it’s a book or a fence, to be able to look on something you built with your own hands and say, “I did that.”

Today was uneventful

Inevitably, as with any significant undertaking, there are days when I am tempted to say “screw it” and skip the daily blog.

Today is one of those days.

Perhaps it is because today was uneventful. I went to the gym and I worked. And then I worked some more.

Or perhaps it is because my focus is on the novel and what’s going on in my freelance work.

Either way, one of those days. Not much else to say. I’m going to go finished reading The Lives of Tao and have a glass of wine, and then probably watch Stargate SG-1 reruns.

Enjoy your night!

It is change, continuing change…

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be … This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”

– Isaac Asimov, “My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock; later published in Asimov on Science Fiction (1981)

A third of the way on Translocator 3

Almost two weeks since my last update on Translocator 3. Now I’m sitting at just over 32,000 words, which is about a third of the way to done if I use my upper limit of 90k as a gauge.

I didn’t find much time to write over the weekend but I got back on the wagon today. Managed 450 words on the novel and another 800 words for a fiction writing workshop assignment for a total of 1250 words for the day.

I’ve been learning and doing at the same time. I figure I can trade a few words on the book once or twice a week if the time investment makes me a better writer. In the case of a writing workshop, that’s almost certainly the case.

This particular workshop, which has just one week left, has been an eye-opener for me. I’ve read a ton of books on writing fiction, but there’s no replacement for taking a class and getting feedback to help you calibrate. I’m excited to try some more advanced classes in the future.

So much to learn, so little time.

Another day on the fence

Another day working on the fence, so no new words today. I’m beat.

It’s hard work but coming together nicely. We got the rest of the supplies purchased, and I figure we’ll be done soon…maybe not tomorrow, but a day or two after that.

Here’s the garage, full of the aforementioned supplies.

Fast drafting mindset on Day 1 of NaNoWriMo

Today is day 1 of NaNoWriMo.

Which means thousands and thousands of people are setting out on the crazy journey to write a 50,000 word novel in one month.

That’s 1667 words a day.

Which is awesome. Crazy awesome.

Good luck to all the writers. You got this. Buckle in and get to work.

I didn’t plan on doing NaNo this year, partly because I’m 25k into a novel already and partly because I’m juggling a lot of projects right now and didn’t know if I could handle that time commitment.

I was only thinking 30k :p

But I was on my game this morning so I did a nano wordcount before work, to cheer on those who are doing it.

I got 1830 words. It took me five sprints of twenty five minutes a piece, writing with focus, to get there.

You can see it unfold on twitter.

That’s about 2.5 hours, and most of it done in the morning.

A Nano Mindset

For those if you reading and thinking “1700 words a day is insane, matt, I could never do that!”

I hear you.

It does seem scary. Part of the magic of NaNoWriMo is how it teaches you to face that fear.

What practicing novelists learn early on is that half of doing your words every day comes down to mindset.

Everyone has their own take on mindset, but essentially it comes down to this:

  • Keep going
  • It’s good enough
  • You can fix it later

I have a theory that every writer reaches this point in their mindset at some point in the writing of a long project.

The key to winning nano is getting there faster than everyone else.

On day 1, if possible. Abandon perfectionism and just focus on putting one word after the other.

The key to finishing a book at all is just getting to the end of the rough draft. In November every year, that’s what nano is all about.

NaNo provides both community and the structure of a fixed deadline to help you get there.

Take advantage of it if you can!

And as always, fail forward. If you don’t win nano, you still have half a novel in your lap.

Finish it.

Then do it again!

Keep going

Don’t stop here. Let me be your gateway drug.

Here’s some more good advice from writers I admire. Read the threads!

A Halloween Story for Video Game Lovers

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Halloween GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

If you’re looking for a delightful little Halloween treat, check out my urban fantasy story, Magick Mirror. Originally written for a Halloween anthology and inspired by Super Nintendo RPGs, it takes place in high school, where our hero’s unusual attire on the the school bus on Halloween morning is mistaken for a costume.

And he can’t tell anyone, because the game his life has become now has consequences.

Maybe reading that will help keep your hand out of the candy jar—at least for a little while.

Here’s a little more about the story…

 

Magick Mirror

When was the last time a character in a video game stepped out of your TV?

Anders is just an ordinary high school teenager suffering from a painful breakup and trying to drown his sorrows in video games. But when a rare Super Nintendo RPG he bought at the flea market comes to life, he is sent on an extraordinary quest.

A wizard grants him the power of the Magick Mirror. But is that enough? Does Anders have the heart of a true hero?