And I’m sorry (not!) if daft puns aren’t your scene 😉
Yes, it’s been a while since I posted and I’m still way behind on my short story writing schedule, but that’s partly what this post is all about.
I have been busy.
Short stories 15 and 16 are at last in this week’s pipeline and an update on both will appear on this website. I don’t plan to publish their full content here because I’ve submitted them to paying markets that don&‘t take reprints.
The graphic above is my tracking sheet for the 52 short stories in 52 weeks challenge I set myself on Monday, 8 October 2018. I’ve completed 14 stories, technically 13, I think, since short story number seven is not quite finished.
(I got this template grid from comicbookpaper.com. Thank you very much, guys!)
I printed the template out and added white stickers for 54 stories in groups of six for each of nine boxes. I will just check them off as each story is completed and an update published here on this website.
I believe this type of habit-building mechanism can be helpful because the paper is clipped to my curtain rail directly above where my main computer sits, and so if I look up I can see exactly where I am.
At the bottom of the sheet you can maybe make out the finish date; it should be a year from the start date. For me, that’s midnight on Tuesday, 8 October, 2019.
Wow! Only five months to go. The heat is on.
The Toho Cinemas ticket stub attached to the bottom right of the sheet is there to remind me of what I seem to fear the most. And, surprise, surprise, I guess that’s the risk of one or more of my stories finding a smidgin of success. Crazy, eh!
I don’t fear failure per se because many of these neophyte stories will not be successful. In that case I guess they can be considered failures of learning but what if one or more of them actually does get published or, heaven forbid, I get some positive feedback on my collection of six stories I plan to release this summer. (I’m calling this, The Big Six.)
I really don’t know why I should be frightened of doing well, but there you are.
Speaking of making a success out of a primal fear, it’s been many decades since I saw the 1975 hit movie, Jaws, but we watched it recently in a small cinema. Apparently Mr. Spielberg (at least, I think it’s him, but I could be wrong) doesn’t release this movie for these types of public cinema showings very often these days.
I felt for Roy Scheider’s character, Brody. He was the local police chief dragged out of his depth more and more by the pace of events and the personalities pressing in on him, terrified of the water as much as by the shark, but in the end forced to confront his greatest fears and see off the Great White monster just when all looked to be lost.
(Yes, I realize that in real life we humans do far more damage to sharks than the other way round.)
Jaws is still a scary and foreboding thriller, more so when the shark model is not visible, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anyhow, my own creative Jaws lies in wait for me down there at the bottom of this challenge and I plan not to be consumed by the fecking beast before the final Tuesday, 8 October deadline, but we’ll see how it goes.
The other thing that you might notice in the image on the right hand side, in the middle, is a kind of Japanese talisman, or lucky charm, bought from a local temple at the beginning of the new year. May the J-force be with my fellow writers, one and all!
I have also been thinking recently about how I handle my non-writing time online. And well, if I’m honest with myself, I am actually frittering away precious hours on so-called social media. I became addicted to Twitter for a while and followed many fascinating threads dealing with sundry social issues. But it was just taking up too much time and creative energy.
Of course, Twitter and other successful social media sites/apps are designed to keep peeps hooked by liking, posting, following etc.
So, I’ve gone cold turkey.
I’ve removed both the Instagram and Twitter apps from my phone and now have only have three things I need to work on when that thing is in my hand:
reading the New Scientist app.
listening to some podcasts and audiobooks when out walking.
OK, that’s my dumb phone addiction dealt with.
Next up, is my MacBook.
And I’ve gone cold turkey here too.
I bought the Cold Turkey app and this now blocks pretty much any website that distracts me all week until 10 o’clock every Saturday night.
And that means I can decide whether to have a freebie pass for Saturday evening into Sunday, or just switch it back on again. It’s early days but what I did notice from last week was how much I looked forward to actually having access from by 10 PM again!
Perhaps I am an addict and may have to go ultra cold turkey and just enable a small weekly window in which to do some basic social media work / marketing outreach for this fiction writing gig.
It should only take a couple of hours on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning to load my Twitter posts, check people who has followed me, and acknowledge any relevant messages.
For me, social media is more often than not proving to be a curse in terms of getting anything worthwhile done. Some good stuff but overall, a total waste of time. Your mileage may vary.
Well that’s very simple!
I’m still focused on short stories and I’m trying to ramp up production. Actually, you might laugh, but I am starting to write at least two stories per week to have a chance of making this 52-in-52 goal, and with at least one of them going to be more than 2000 words in length to meet another challenge’s requirement.
I’;m still reading a big book of Ray Bradbury’s short stories and get through one (bedtime reading) every couple of days. I’m also reading a ton of digital science fiction stories and magazines while commuting.
And on my desk in front of me are three short story anthologies I want to get to. One is from John Cheever; another is John Collier (Fancies and Goodnights), which I haven&‘t looked at yet; and the third is The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter.
I moved these three volumes from my bookshelf so that I can more easily dip into and really immerse myself in some great short stories now that the social media monster has been caged he-he.
Okay, that’s it for this post. I will have some more short stories of my own to talk about soon, so stay tuned.
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Thanks for reading!