Progress Report

Hello readers! It has been six months since my website went up and the announcement I was writing The Edge of Snow and Dust. Six months of a lot of hard work with an immense amount of time researching the field of storytelling and writing. I figured then I should show you how far I’ve come.

Currently I am at 131,130 words, that spans over twenty-two chapters so far. Just as a reference, the Harry Potter series averaged about 154,000 words. So you know you will be getting the most about of bang for your buck. Now as a manuscript 131,000 words equals about 496 pages. Formatted for ebook, the primary way the book will be sold, it becomes about 211 pages. I will also have hardcovers for those looking to have something more tangible.

You can see the manuscript is a little more than twice the size of the ebook.  A few people I have talked to have asked what exactly is a manuscript and why it is so much bigger than the final novel? A manuscript is the “I’m almost done” part of writing. It is after you have finished developing your characters, describing the settings, and plotting out the story. Unless your editor believes there should be some radical change, it is done. The reason the manuscript is double size is because it is double spaced. It needs to be so that editor can have room to make comments and corrections, as well as make it much easier to reread sections without getting lost moving from one line to the next. I primary write using single space until I feel the chapter is done. Then as a marker, as another line in the sand if you read my last post, signaling I am one step closer to finishing the novel.

I get questions about too about the chapters. How do you know how many chapters it should be? Truth is I don’t, not really. Yes, chapters are more or less scenes in a movie. When a scene has run its course and pushed the story far enough along it ends and another begins. Each scene had could be the mark for another chapter. However another mindset is to have multiple scenes within a chapter. There is no set rule. I personally write until a feeling or an idea is finished. That means it could take just a single scene or a series of them for that feeling to work itself out. When a new one starts to surface, that’s when I jump to the next chapter.

The final question I get is: when will it be done? Last winter was my deadline and in a superficial way I made it. The story was finished. There was a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was not however, complete. There were emotions that I was only able to touched on, thrills not quite used to their fullest. I kept feeling this hook tug at me during my final reread before moving on to publishing. It was a signal there was more meat on the bone.

The answer is soon. I know it is abstract but it is the truth. I have purchased new software which is allowing me to work quicker. I have arranged a schedule that’s allowing me to get the most out of the day. This is now my full-time job. Eight hours a day writing and editing. And I can see that finish line. I wanted you, readers, who have journeyed with me this far to have some hard numbers to see how far we’ve come. It has been an exhilarating six months doing something I am passionate about. I hope you will join me as see that passion payoff.

Take care!

 

The Mindset of Five Percent

Hello readers! It has been ten days since I decided to make writing my chosen profession. And today I am happy to announce I have entered the 5% of the 5% of the 5%. No, that is not regarding my financial security (I wish), it is a threshold you draw in the sand and stomp across, a threshold not just in writing but the pursuit of any goal.

I first learned of this five percent mindset about a month ago. I came across an article at work during lunch while scouring the net for a lighthouse on a hill. You see, I had heard for the fiftieth time “you know, a lot of people try to become authors.” I took the first forty-nine times silently, or at the most with a joke, to hide how equal parts infuriating and baffling the warning was. Did each person that told me that really think they were the first? Why would it be necessary to tell someone whose pursuing a dream, how many have traveled the same road and fallen by the wayside? Has anyone ever said, “you know, a lot of people try to work their whole lives in a cubicle so those above them may live a life of luxury”? I sure haven’t.

I knew any argument based on emotion would persuade no one. Despite the fact that what drives anyone towards a far-reaching dream is precisely that: emotion. I could say staring at my monitor for eight hours left me feeling no more satisfied than the previous thirty-two that week. I could tell them having the executives, who had the power to decide my fate at the company and in effect my entire life, not know my name made me feel less of a human than a cog in a machine.

I could tell them that writing a book meant every single person that read it would see my name below the title. That among the seven billion people on the planet, my name was known by someone, that they had made an effort to learn my name. Knowing such to be true would set my soul ablaze and make me write five more novels, no ten! Such a goal is worth putting in forty, sixty, eighty hours a week. A dream like that should be encouraged and celebrated. Right? Right?!

That’s all emotional though, that cannot be the foundation for my counter-argument. Instead, I perused the net for some statistic, some tangible proof that there were more successful writers than not. That is when I came across a great article by Kristin Lamb. (http://authorkristenlamb.com/2014/12/what-are-the-real-odds-of-being-a-successful-author/)

The article did not have any of the hard numbers I was looking for: salaries, number of successful writers, number of best-selling fantasy novels, etc. It instead had a soft number that hit me like a sledgehammer,

5%

5% were those who crossed every barrier towards success in any worthwhile goal. For myself as a writer, I reached the five percent mark by writing my first word. Not the first word of The Edge of Snow and Dust, but the first word of any creative writing. Because 95% of those who say they want to be an author never write that first word. I crossed another by writing a chapter, then another finishing my first draft, then another barrier by shredding my first draft with the savageness any editor would have. Then a month later another line and then another a week from that one, I leaped past another.

That powerful single-digit number wiped out every argument against pursuing my dream. “you know, a lot of people try to become authors” – but only 5% ever start. “A lot of people try to get published” – but only 5% research the proper format to submit it. That fiftieth person tried with the mindset of cubicles and monitors and executives to caution me against flying towards the sun. Each barrier they saw, each obstacle they were worried I never conquer; I told them that’s when 95% give up, I am the 5% that’s left.

A million people can try to become a writer, a singer, a performer, a professional athlete. But only 5% will even attempt to.

You do, you are now part of 50,000. Hmm, that is still a lot. But you spend months on researching story structure, music scales, method acting, the proper training regimes.

You’re part of 2,500. That’s good; we can do better. You find writing groups and coaches. You expose yourself, make an attempt, and you take every bit of criticism with an iron chin. You make adjustments, you reflect on yourself honestly. You do what only 5% do: you push forward.

125. You can break past that Top-100 barrier. Let’s run through it again. Write till that pencil snaps, sing till the rapports rattle, pour your soul into your video, sweat, bleed, work, focus!

SIX! You, me, us – we are one of six! Now do the math, and you’ll realize there are no more barriers. Only the exhilarating feeling when a stranger knows your name from a book in their hand, of seeing your song up on iTunes, watching the trailer for your movie, hearing the crowd screaming as you take the field.

5% . . . tomorrow I’ll push to that next 5%.

Leave a comment, a pledge on a goal you want to reach and the 5% barrier you have encountered and how you are going to push past it.

Take care!

The Path Askewed? No, The Stars Aligning

Hello Readers!

My first post of 2018 and a declaration for the year, for the future. The past month or so I had been diving deep into my craft. Reading books, studying articles on writing and storytelling, and watching breakdowns of movies. I was then distilling all those sources of information into a concentrated potion, drinking it up, and applying all I learned to craft the next revision more refined than before. Then last week . . .

I get laid off.

More than a decade of my life, slamming to an ear piercing halt. From my first day, where a lovely woman helped me settle into my first career job, I worked eight to five, Monday through Friday. I worked as a CAD Associate, creating and managing drawings of varies malls around the country. I worked under the same supervisor whom from the start I called Boss as a sign of great respect, not of his position but his person. He made my jump into the world of careers and corporate life manageable while I heard horror stories from friends and families about their superiors.

The irony came when I learned how many of us supposedly laid off: five percent.

5% was going to be the name of my next post as I talked about what it took to achieve anything you have a passion for. That theory, that way of viewing a goal, became a silver shield that protected me from the typhoon of emotions surrounding me. Those thrown out beside me were drowning in their tears or leaking fires of raging fury. A crisis consoler waited quietly in the small warm lighted conference room to attend to anyone falling off their mental edge. A security contractor wandered the floor like a medieval guard to stop anyone from losing more than just a job. The coworkers that remained, my friends, were hugging each other for comfort at my departing.

Yet a small smile rested comfortably on my face as I packed up my belongings, in a silly plastic bag from the local grocer because I refused to mimic that image of a person’s life at work reduced to a stored away box. Everyone kept commenting how well I was taking it, how composed I was. I gave the cliché answers to their cliché comments and questions. When finished I said goodbye to that lovely woman the first greeted me when I started my job, Laurene. I shook Andy’s, check that, Boss’s, hand firmly thanking him not just for the job but for helping me through example become a better man. Then quietly I walked out, no racing heart, no sweaty brow, no rage in my step, no slump in my shoulders.

Then a few days later a friend of the family, upon hearing my lay off, gave me one more cliché comment, “when one door closes another window opens.” I scuffed at the tired parable and allowed the world to truly hear my thoughts since receiving that indifference, passionless, termination letter and said: “I don’t care what window they open, I’m kicking down the damn door I want.” He and my father were taken aback, laughing nervously at the determined answer.

The stars have aligned reader, for me to put in one hundred percent of my effort into this book, into this series. I can now concentrate without some other human being telling me I need to stop everything and help make another man, I have never met, a fortune, while I watch slipping away a chance to be alive. I will be able to post here more often. I will be able to dive into the zone, drop down into the world I am creating and write until the pencil breaks or the keys on my keyboard crack under my pressure.

So bookmark this page, snap a screenshot on your phone as I continue on this journey to publishing my novel and making a career out of storytelling.