Updated November, 2003
Before we retired it had been my plan that upon retirement one of my avocations would be to write, to be an author, maybe to even publish something. Then as we actually prepared for retirement, I decided I would write a novel -- something simple that would keep me from being bored. When we actually headed out, I started the task.
We have now been on the road for over five years. I find I have learned a lot, a lot about writing, and a lot about myself, and a lot about the task of writing, but not exactly what I expected. I decided it would be good to talk to someone, possibly myself, about these things and to make a record of my feelings, observations, and even some of my writings. That is the excuse for this page in our web site.
I ramble from time to time, and I add to this section sporadically. Comments from anyone who reads this section are most welcome, including criticism and editing remarks. But I do not promise to take your advice, only to listen and maybe respond.
I begin by becoming organized. Here is a Reverse Chronological Table of Contents (except that there are some updates mixed in):
11/22/03: Self-Publishing (Updated from 6/21/03)
4/1/03: Working on Short Stories
3/16/03: What Comes After Memphis 7.9
3/15/03: Queries for Memphis 7.9
3/1/03: No More RV Companion Net Links
10/4//02: Southern California Writer's Conference, Oxnard, 2002
9/13/02: My writing goals (updated from 3/15/99)
9/6/02: Northcoast Redwoods Writer's Conference, 2002
2/14/02: Southern California Writer's Conference, San Diego, 2002
2/14/01: Southern California Writer's Conference, San Diego, 2001
6/1/00: Wolf and the RC cars
12/26/99: Some short pieces
6/19/99: I am a published author in RV Companion
3/20/99: Who do you think you're writing for?
Some days I wonder why I want to write, especially on those days when I am pushing to get some words into the laptop. They don't come easy every day. I have read of authors who have a passion for writing, and they sound a little unbalanced to me -- I am not one who writes for passion, but sometimes I do write passionately.
I have found that I enjoy creating things, especially things that I call a system (comes from my engineering days). A system is an inter-related set of objects where the various objects play against each other to create an effect. When I was younger the objects were pieces of hardware and/or software, and the system ranged from a thing to monitor volumes of fluid on an oil drilling rig to a software thing to keep track of business expenses.
As I write a story I find I am creating a system of characters and events that interact with one another to act out a plot in a way that hopefully generates interest and excitement in whoever reads the story. I will talk about that mysterious "whoever reads the story" later, but I can tell you that one of the most important "whoevers" is me -- what I write must generate interest and excitement in me.
Enough philosophizing! What is my goal in writing?
Well, over time I have daydreamed and built a plot in my mind that I want to write about. It is a plot about what happens if the New Madrid Fault near Memphis experiences a great earthquake. How the people in the area feel and how do they react. What happens to the infrastructure, both during and after the quake.
This is a big plot about what to me is an important possible future for the country. I feel it will be rewarding to bring this plot out into words, making sure it is consistent and believable, following through on effects that result from causes, creating a system of characters and events that adequately describe the story I want to tell.
After looking over all the action I expect to describe, I concluded that there are a lot of words involved, enough to create a large novel. This is not short story stuff. And then I realized I faced competition from two sources. The event I want to describe could happen before the novel is complete, or someone else could publish a novel with a similar plot before I had finished.
So my goal is to write (and publish) a novel about the New Madrid before the quake happens and before someone else publishes a similar plot. I have a sense of urgency. Even though Alice and I are retired, I now have a driving ambition that provides direction to what we do and where we go while we retire from place to place around the country.
For an old type A, it's kinda nice.
Today Brenda Eanes, the agent at WriterStore, will have had my manuscript for two months and I switch into the mode of painful anticipation. The WriterStore entry in Writer's Digest says response on manuscripts takes two months. Either she will send a communication saying "Not For Me" or something like a contract for her to take the piece and try to find a publisher. Which will it be?
I have finished the novel -- well, at least the first two parts of what may be an even larger project describing the earthquake. I want to see it published, out in front of people so they can hear its message and judge its worth. In my moments of lesser confidence I become convinced that I can publish it on the Internet, then Deb and others say "Wait, it is a big book about a big subject and it deserves a hard-cover."
I attended the Northcoast Redwoods Writer's Conference in Crescent City last week and Linda Allen, an agent from San Francisco, said that self-publishing makes it very hard to find a traditional publisher. If I am to go big-time, I must be patient.
So, I suppose my goal must be to write the sequels while patiently waiting for the publishing process take its two to three years to reach the public. If Brenda says "Not For Me" then I will query Linda Allen. I will attend the Southern California Writer's Conference in Oxnard in three weeks and meet more agents, so there may be other opportunities. Somewhere I will find an agent who will present my book with its best opportunity.
But rest assured, if it appears I cannot go
the traditional route, I will self-publish. Writing and recognition
are like an addiction now.
I have put together a few small pieces just for fun and practice. I sent one piece to my cousin, Roseann, and asked her what she thought about it. She responded with the question, "who are you writing this for?"
After thinking about that question, I realized that I had written it for myself. Take a look for yourself; it is called "The Young Devil and the Fiddlers Convention." And then I realized that I was not a very big audience, and if I wanted to be published, I should write for other people.
I am still working on figuring out who I am
My RV Travels website attracted the attention of a couple of editors. First the folks at about.com asked if I would be interested in becoming the keeper of their about.rving.com site, and after reading over their requirements and working on putting together a site, I decided it would just be too much work.
Next I, like many other RVers with websites and travelogues, received an email from Bev Weiber who was starting a new magazine called RV Companion. She wanted people who actually travelled about to write for her publication. She asked me to write a column for each issue suggesting Internet links that other RVers would find helpful and/or interesting.
On June 19 I sent my submission for the November/December issue of the magazine and in November received payment. That makes me a published author. BTW, with permission from RV Companion all my old columns can be found at RV Travel Links.
At the beginning of 2003 I decided that with
my intended travels there simply would not be enough time on the
Internet to meet the commitment of providing RVers with up-to-date
Internet site suggestions, so the March/April issue was my last.
I had published 21 articles over the three years. It was something
to be proud of and I learned a lot about writing from the experience.
I want to share some of my writings with people who read this page.
The first piece I offer is called "The Young Devil and the Fiddlers Convention." I wrote it just for the fun of it.
The next piece was from my novel. I offer two versions: the first in past tense and the second in present tense. Which do you prefer, "Stop at Carson City (Past Tense)" or "Stop at Carson City (Present Tense)"?
The next piece tells of how some people view disaster when it strikes. I just call this one "New Madrid." It has been updated to the present tense as well.
And I am adding a new piece from the novel of a technical nature, describing something about how an earthquake begins. Just call it "The Start."
Our son, Michael, and his family joined us at Lake Minden TTN for Saturday afternoon. The heat of the day died slowly as the sun set over the lake, and the temperature finally reached a level suitable for a short walk. The time had come to tempt Wolf with the Remote Control cars.
"I'm the one who brought all the batteries, so why can't I use them?" Rebecca, our twelve year old grand-daughter, had made arrangements to bring the remote control racing car early in the week, preparing all the supplies and handling all the logistics. She topped off the charge in the batteries.
"It's my car. I want to drive it!" Matthew, her fifteen year old brother, suddenly intrigued by the attention given the RC car by Wolf, changed his mind about the value of the toy and attempted to exercise his primary rights of ownership, usurping his earlier agreement with Rebecca. He reached for the controls, ready to yank them from his sister's grasp.
"Matt!" Their father intervened loudly, sounding much like his father of twenty-five years ago. "You told Becca she could use the car. Now let her at least run through the first battery."
Our son.... . . (well, it is an interesting story and I may finish it some day.)
For three years Bev Weiber was my editor at RV Companion. I wrote a column for each issue suggesting Internet links that other RVers would find helpful and/or interesting.
At the beginning of 2003 I decided that with my intended travels there simply would not be enough time on the Internet to meet the commitment of providing RVers with up-to-date Internet site suggestions, so the March/April issue was my last. I had published 21 articles over the three years. It was something to be proud of and I learned a lot about writing from the experience.
With permission from RV Companion all my old columns can be found at RV Travel Links.