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Monday, January 15, 2018

Gathering Steam

"When I get a little money, I buy books;
                   and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."


         Monday again already!  For some this day is depressing, as their mind is focused on the return to the grind.  Studies show that that dread doesn't translate into negativity.  On the contrary, your best work of the week, based on a study of Redbook members, and 28,000,000 of their completed projects, is complete by 11:00 AM Monday morning, so rejoice!  Today you will be performing your best work of the week.
         Of course, as a retiree, it's easy for me to be glib about this, but for 25 years before I retired, I was shift-working, dancing to a schedule created by a random number program.  I'd work a couple of days, a couple of nights, then have a couple of days off.  I was all over the clock and all over the calendar, so Mondays were "just another day" to me.  But yes, I'd see the nine-to-five crew moping in every Monday morning, bemoaning the fact that they hadn't won the lottery or had a rich uncle die over the weekend, and it can really make you think about how you're spending your life.  So if you have a job that fulfills you or is otherwise enjoyable, count your blessings and welcome Monday.  And if you don't, well, you'll cheer up come payday!
         Okay, now that I've redefined the whole concept of "filler," let me get to the blog post.  I got three scenes of Family Reunion written this past week, and a whole lot of outlining.  This story is flying along like they did in the old days, and I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am with the progress, Monday or not!  If I can hold to that pace, my incredible, fantastic, magnificently marvelous story for the ages should be complete and ready to read by late Febanary/early March, at which time I'll provide a link, and you can judge for yourselves.  This, of course, is the first story (of five or six) of what will become Beyond the Rails IV.
         Anyone familiar with my work knows that I'm an old-fashioned writer, in style at least, but I recently learned that I'm old-fashioned in substance as well.  A friend of mine recently blogged about an author who was prolific in the golden age of pulps, a literary style that describes me to a T, and he talked about how the pulp writers who depended on prolific output for their living never rewrote anything.  I have not been able to find this post again, so perhaps he was shouted down by hostile modern authors, but a statement made therein was that rewriting didn't become a "thing" until the new-age movement made its way to writing in the 1970s, and that all the classical authors your parents have loved since before you were born, from Dickens to Kipling to Poe, didn't rewrite anything.  Whether that's true or not, I have no idea, but I'm here to fess up: I don't rewrite either.  I will say this about my writing style:  I outline my outlines in two and three layers, so by the time I'm ready to write, I've already given deep consideration to what I have to say.  As I write, I rarely add more than one scene a day, and before I start the day's writing, I reread what I've written before.   During those sessions, I will often change a word or phrase, to strengthen or clarify a point, and in the final proofreadings, which I do multiple times, I will make final adjustments, but what you are reading is essentially a heavily proofread first draft.  My Beyond the Rails books have been reviewed all over the internet, and unless a bunch of strangers are all lying to make me feel good, that system is working for me.  I don't intend to change it.
         So there I am, as I have been so many times in my life, flying in the face of conventional wisdom.  Now that you know that I don't rewrite, do you hate me?  Are you going to go back and downgrade your reviews?  I hope not, but there you are.  It can be done, but I think it's only possible for a planner to get away with it, because we already know where we're going.  I'll be interested to see whether anyone has any opinions about this, because among writers in the 2010s, it pretty much amounts to blasphemy.
         All right, let's lighten the mood a bit.  I encountered several enjoyable examples of words having fun during the last week, but this one really stayed with me:

Don't assume malice for what stupidity can explain!

          Finally, I'd like to direct you to the site of a good friend, one William J. Jackson.  William writes the Rail City series of books that I can only describe as "The X-Men go steampunk."  If this sparks your curiosity mutation, pay him a visit at The Rail Baron's Blog.  He has a special going today on at least one of his e-books, and if you miss this one, not to worry; he does this frequently.  Worth a look for steampunk aficionados, which I assume you are if you follow my blog.
          Okay, class dismissed.  Until next week, play nice, look out for one another, and above all else, get out there and live life like you mean it!

~ Jack


  1. I wouldn't say you don't 'rewrite'. It seems, like me, you rewrite things in your head - several times - before it goes onto the page, and you polish the end result.

    1. Welcome, my old friend. This post is a near-duplicate of the one I put on my blog, and between the two, I'm discovering that I'm not as far off the main course as I thought. I guess those of us who do it right the first time have no need for do-overs ;*)

      It's always great hearing from you. I see on your blog that you have some exciting events coming up. The best of luck in all your endeavors! Read well, and write better...

  2. Rewriting has come to be synonimous with 'editing' and some writers let everything go until the end, then come back and do one to many passes through the whole, cutting, cleaning up, checking for consistency...

    I think that it must make them lazy writers because so many things can be put off to a later pass. So the current writing doesn't get any better.

    Not my problem what others do, but I may rework the scene I'm writing a hundred different times and ways AS I'm working on it, but when I'm finished, there is no coming back except to read the previous scene in a character's pov as centering for the next scene in that pov. I don't go back to change anything.

    I do my plotting separately - so I know where we're all going. The pansters say that robs them of originality and the pleasure of discovery. And then have to dump lots of words which don't actually belong on the path to the story's end.

    We're all different, I guess. I had the bad fortune to choose a pantser as my guide when I started writing (Lawrence Block) because his columns in Writer's Digest sounded so cool. It wasn't until MUCH later that I realized his stories left me cold - because of all the gaps. I still like his columns - they are so him - but they are not on my list of writing books to learn from. "If the action flags, bring in a man with a gun" is horrible advice for a writer like me. My "man intent on breaking down a door with a tire iron" was planned in from the very beginning and for a very specific purpose.