Writing Update #4

It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these. For one thing, I’ve been working on the Goddamned Assignment for my Ethnic Collections Development class, which took up too much of my time before I finally finished it and turned it in on Sunday afternoon (I don’t expect a good grade on it; I worked my ass off, but I never really figured out what the professor wanted, so who knows?).

I’ve also been reading The Dark Tower, the last book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Say what you will of Stephen King and what you will about your estimation of my critical thinking skills and ability to appreciate good writing, but I think Stephen King tells a hell of a good story. Reading this book reminds me of when I watched The Return of the King last year; it’s the end of something I’ve been enjoying for years (in the case of the Dark Tower series, nearly twenty years), and nothing after it will even come close to comparing. Oh, sure, there will be good, even oustanding, movies and books afterward; but anything King writes after this will simply be afterthoughts. It’s no wonder, to me, that King is planning on retiring after this; the Dark Tower storyline has been the Big Story which has driven most of his fiction since 1982 (and possibly before), and with its completion, the story is done. He’ll either retire, or simply take his writing in an entirely new direction. King is a good writer. He’s also popular, though, which means it’s fashionable to discredit his writing abilities.

I did manage to do some writing over the past few days, though. I’ve added about a thousand words to “The Winds of Patwin County”, though I haven’t worked on the Outer Darkness outline at all. My writing is suffering because of my reading.

Some of the things that King has written in The Dark Tower, as well as some of what he wrote in On Writing, has gotten me to thinking about the creative process in general. I never took a course in aesthetics when I was getting my degree in philosophy, but I understand that one school of thinking in that field posits that creative ideas are not truly invented by artists or writers, but are, actually, “discovered”. The stories and the ideas are already out there; it’s the artist or the writer who brings form and expression to these stories and ideas. This is the sort of thing which Michelangelo had in mind when he said that he could see the sculpture in the rock, and all he needed to was chip away to obscuring stone.

One could argue that this notion seems to be supported by findings in comparative mythology: the same themes and ideas and motifs seem to crop up over and over throughout the world, across cultures, and throughout history. I think that the value of this observation to the notion of pre-existing ideas is weak at best, but it’s an interesting idea to ponder.

Many writers — including King, Tolkien, and many others — have said that they feel more like a conduit for the stories that they write and tell than creators. And just about every writer I’ve ever spoken to or read about has said that they often feel like the story “takes over” from time to time, or that the characters have taken over the story. More than one writer has warned that the stories which the writer tries to force too much control over are usually the worst. Of course, other writers have cautioned against going along too much with “what feels natural”, because what feels natural is often just the first thing that comes to mind; and the first thing that comes to mind is usually a cliché of some sort. I’ve noticed in my own writing that “what comes naturally”, though, is usually different from “what comes first”, and that what comes naturally is usually a lot longer in coming. Stories do have their own flow, and it takes awhile to discover what that flow is. And, of course, no story is ever perfect in its telling. God knows I’ve never managed to write a story which captured perfectly the tale I’m trying to tell.

At any rate: I’m not the first person to make this observation, and I certainly won’t be the last.

Some stories, I think, are simply parts of a much larger story that the writer is tapping into. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was simply a small part of a much larger history of Middle Earth that Tolkien felt he was tapping into. George Lucas’s Star Wars films are a part of the much larger Star Wars milieu that he and his fan base have been building over the last thirty years or so. And most of Stephen King’s novels have been a part of the overall Dark Tower story.

I’ve been trying to pull off the same thing myself. Most of the role-playing games that I’ve run over the past fifteen years have been a part of the overall Terassic Cycle story which I hope to wrap up this year, and I do plan on writing a series of novels which tell that story. I do wish, though, that I could have done what King did and write a couple dozen novels which all tied in somehow to the Terassic Cycle but which each stood as good novels on their own merit as well, but that would have required me starting my writing career about fifteen years ago. A little late now.

Of course, I know that I should be spending more time writing than writing about writing. So I’ll get to it now.

Bagpipes on the breeze

I haven’t had a chance to do any writing, either on “The Winds of Patwin County” or the outline for The Outer Darkness, since Monday. Since then I’ve been too busy with work and school to focus on my creative writing, and I’m beginning to feel The Itch. It’s something I’ve never really paid attention to before, but if I go for several days — and it’s usually several weeks or even months between bouts of creativity — without writing, I start feeling unfocused, frustrated, and restless. I suppose I should have noticed that before, and it could be that it’s just a coincidence right now as well (I almost always feel unfocused and restless), but I think it’s worth investigating. So as soon as I finish this post, I’ll open up the “Winds of Patwin County” file and try to slug out a couple hundred words and see how that makes me feel.

In the meantime, I’m sitting at my desk in our home office, right next to the window, which is wide open at the moment. Less than a mile away is the D— Mayfair, a fairgrounds right here in D—. Something happens there every couple of months; in May, there’s the Mayfair, a three-day long festival of the things that our town is famous for: crafts and sheep. There are also rides and music, though our town is less well-known for these. Typically, we get second-runs from the eighties such as Joan Jett and the Blackbirds, or Sammy Hagar (I’m not kidding on this; imagine a field full of rednecks and John Deere cap wearing farmers thrashing to heavy metal and you can get a decent picture of how things can get around here sometimes). I think we also had Alison Krause one year, which I am sorry I missed.

Right now, the Mayfair is hosting the D— Scottish Games. The Games have, incidentally, been voted the Best One Day Scottish Games in the United States, which is impressive considering that this is only the fifth year that these particular games have been around. So in addition to our sheep farmers and our head-thrashin’ tractor drivers, our town boasts possibly the largest Scottish subpopulation in the region.

The point of all of this is this: that right now, as I sit writing at my desk next to my open window facing the Mayfair, I can hear bagpipes, the volume waxing and waning as the breeze waxes and wanes. I can also hear Tempest, one of my favorite bands, who showed up for the first time two years ago. They’re good music; if you like Celtic rock then you probably have already heard of them and have a couple of their albums. If you’re just finding out about Celtic music, you should check them out.

Today should be an interesting day. My folks are coming up in about an hour to go to the Scottish Games with me; then after that we’re all headed to the church for the second-hand ball that Jennifer has arranged. I’m readying my surreality meter.

Now to the writing.

Cleverly disguised…

I got no writing done at all yesterday, dammit. Nothing on the outline for The Outer Darkness, nothing on “The Winds of Patwin County”, nothing. I did get quite a bit of research done for the homework assignment from Hell for my Ethnics Collections Development class, though, which is a Good Thing. I had planned on writing down a couple hundred words on the assignment last night, but I wasn’t able to; the assignment has me completely bamboozled, and my enthusiasm is low. I found plenty of resources, and this morning one of the other students in the class posted another great resource to the class’s on-line discussion board, but the writing has not yet happened.

If I were the responsible adult that I were cleverly disguised as, I would have had this assignment completed by now. In all of my other classes, I always made it a point to have my assignments done at least a week early, so that I could get them in to the professor for some preliminary feedback (if they were amenable to doing so). This time, however, it’s been different. The assignment itself has confused me; I’ve never done anything even remotely related to ethnic studies, so the task itself is beyond anything else I’ve done. I’ve gotten plenty of help from good friends (including my wife) and fellow library students who’ve helped me figure out the assignment, but my one query to the professor himself wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped it would be. I’m afraid that what I write won’t be up to his expectations, and I’m afraid that I probably won’t be able to divine his expectations properly: hence, the lack of enthusiasm.

I think that from now on, I’ll probably be sticking to the technical and computer classes in library school as much as possible. That seems to be what I’m good at, and what I’m enthusiastic about.

Speaking of which: last night, on the way home from work, I also swung by the town’s public library and picked up the desktop computer that the librarian had set aside for me a few weeks ago for me to play with. The plan is to install LuMiX onto that machine and use it as a proof of concept installation: a Linux thin client that can be used as a public kiosk in the library alongside all of the Windows computers. Should be some fun times. I’ll be chronicling the adventure in The Literate Penguin.

And tonight I’m playing Chairman of the Board of Trustees at church, since the actual Chair is off to Bible Study tonight and I’m the vice-chair. Following that is the Administrative Council meeting which I’ll be attending wearing at least one — possibly two — hats. Jennifer has been hard at work building a website for the church, and I get to provide the technical support for demonstrating it to the rest of the council (including our pastor). And I may have to serve as a temporary member of the council by virtue of being the acting chair of the Board of Trustees.

In other words, I don’t expect that I’ll get a lot of writing done tonight either. Nor much reading, nor much done on the LuMiX installation.

Writing update #3

Sadly, I got no writing done today. I was at work today, where, strangely, I focused on work. After that I went home for a couple of hours, ate dinner and relaxed, and then attended the town Library Commission meeeting, since I am a member of the Library Commission. At the Library Commission we took up the issue of the library’s new facility, which is an issue we’ve been working on ever since I joined over a year ago. Then I came home and fretted about my assignment for my class.

Actually, it occurs to me that even though I got no work done on either “The Winds of Patwin County” or The Outer Darkness outline, I did do a significant amount of writing. My previous journal entry measures at just about 1400 words, and that’s a pretty respectable amount for a non-NaNoWriMo time period. And that’s the point. The words just need to make it out of my head and into some tangible form somehow. And today I guess they did after all.

On a whim, I went back to my old journal today and thought that I should update all of my memberships in all of those webrings and burbs that were set up so that all of the online diarists could see who else was out there being vain and pretentious. I found, to my surprise, that ALL of them are defunct. Well, not all of them. But the ones that aren’t defunct had apparently dropped my membership some time ago, which explains the serious drop in traffic a few months ago. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But I like to be noticed.

I think for now, though, I’ll settle for cross-posting these journal entries to my Livejournal, and counting on other people to read my journal and say, “Good heavens, there’s a smart fellow, we should bookmark him and read him more often.”

Yeah. That’s what’ll happen.

[Administrative note: I decided to disable my guestbook, by the way. It has only been receiving spam for a couple of years now, which is pretty useless. Individual comments on my journal entries seem to be more par for the course anyway.]

What sucks about being me

The MP3 player that Jennifer gave me for my birthday last year has room for forty gigabytes worth of music; I’ve filled up about twenty-seven so far. I don’t have a lot of pop music in my collection, but my MP3 player has music from many different genres. I have about a dozen different playlists, organized thematically. For example, this morning as I drove to work I listened to my “Clooneyverse” mix, which consists of music that I put together because it reminds me of some of the different themes and stories and characters and ideas that are swimming in my head for this particular universe (which I mentioned in an earlier post). The Clooneyverse Mix has music by Emry Arthur, Angelo Badalamente, Tom Waits, Alison Krause, Iron Maiden, Switchblade Symphony, and Nine Inch Nails, among many others. It seems to be generally bluegrass and blues. Still, though, I could be listening to an old, scratching recording of Emry Arthur singing “I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow” (recorded digitally from an old 78 RPM recording, I think), and then a few seconds later find myself mouthing along to “Sanctified” by Nine Inch Nails. Most of the other playlists on my MP3 player have similar variety, though with different overall themes. I have a significant number of songs from different cultures around the world as well on my MP3 player. Sometimes I play my “All Over the World” mix to hear Irish, Mexican, Cajun, and African music.

I find that this kind of eclecticism is reflected on my bookshelf as well. I have my books on philosophy and theology sitting next to my history books and my science books. And while I enjoy reading horror fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, my fiction bookshelf also has novels and short stories from all kinds of folks from all over the world. One of the best books I’ve read recently was The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad, which I thought did a great job of blurring the lines between different cultural groups. Nowhere else have I seen African mythology, Muslim theology, and Star Trek all so well woven together. Or at all, come to think of it. Right now I’m heavy into a Tolkien/Lewis phase, as my friends and wife can probably attest to with some annoyance.

And I find that I’m still looking for new sounds, new ideas, new ways of thinking. I wander into a Borders bookstore and spend time darting about from section to section, looking at books in just about every section, browsing here and there, listening to different songs at all the different music stations (that’s how I found Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys as well as Kassav and Buckwheat Zydeco). At work I’m almost always logged on to Live365, thanks to the suggestion of a couple of friends, and I love finding new genres. I’ve even found a hip hop station that I enjoy, after years of insisting that I could never learn to enjoy modern hip hop.

This has been a pattern all through my life. In college, as I’ve mentioned in plenty of places, I took a major which required relatively few units for completion, so that I could take as many classes outside of that major as possible. Even so, I never managed to accrue enough units in any other field to actually get any sort of minor in anything else. And even in my high school years, with my rather limited exposure to world literature and news in my small Catholic high school, I still managed to find quite a bit.

Is all this a sign of a well-rounded, broad, expansive personality and intellect? Or an inability to focus and give serious attention to any one field for a significant period of time? Over the past few years, I’ve found my own opinion on the matter shifting from the first point of view to the second. I enjoy conversations about all kinds of topics and can hold my own pretty well and speak intelligently about world history, philosophy, technology, cosmology, mythology, religion, philosophy, and so on (I don’t mean to brag; at times, I only really know enough to ask intelligent questions). And that’s neat, but where do I go with it?

Since I graduated from college fourteen years ago, I haven’t been able to find a focus or a direction that was a suitable match with my eclectic nature. I wasn’t able to take seriously the idea of doing graduate level work in philosophy (though sometimes I wish I had), or in English (though sometimes I wish I had), or in folklore (though sometimes… well, you get the picture). I’ve had a lot of different jobs, and considered a lot of different fields. For awhile there, I was gung-ho about going into ecological engineering or conservation biology until my lack of skill in calculus was thrown painfully into my face. Even so, I decided to stick with it, take those remedial math classes, even got a job working with a hydrology professor at UC Davis doing library research and field research (I actually miss the field research; it was a lot of fun getting all muddy and collecting water samples). But then I kind of just… lost interest.

An intellectual moving on? Or an inability to focus and commit?

My work history since college has been spotty. Instead of picking a career and being able to focus on it, I’ve jumped among part-time jobs like video store clerk and barista, and doing temp work. I’ve stumbled into web development and programming, discovering to my amazement that I’m actually pretty good at it, but it’s not necessarily where I want to be for the rest of my life.

About two years ago, Jennifer showed me an article which showed that California was in danger of facing a shortage of librarians. After researching the field online, talking to as many librarians as I could track down, both online and off, and visiting a few libraries, I decided to take the plunge and start going to library school. And so far I’ve enjoyed it.

Very annoyingly, though, I’m finding my enthusiasm waning yet again. Part of it has to do with a professor I’m having some difficulties with right now, but part of it has been watching our local district librarian doing his job and seeing what he has to put up with: the issues, the politics, the management issues, and so on. I had nurtured this dream that, as a librarian, I would be surrounded by the ideas and thoughts and literature and poetry of people from around the world, and have the opportunity to peruse those ideas and meet people from cultures and countries from everywhere as well. It looks like that was more dream than reality. In addition, I’ve discovered that the job market for librarians in California is not as rosy as it once was (due to massive budget cuts), and at some point in my schooling I will have to take a practicum of some sort, which usually involves working in a library facility. Unfortunately, I like my current job a little too much to want to dump it for a practicum somewhere. I know that there are practicum opportunities that don’t involve working physically somewhere for a few months, but such opportunities are few and far between and hotly contested for.

Add to all that the fact that I’m really starting to focus on my writing, which I think is a really good thing. With the Writing Plan that I outlined in a previous entry, I feel like I can focus more on my writing than I have been able to in years. The one class I’m taking this semester — with its subject matter that I can’t really get into and the professor that I’m having trouble with — seems a lot more like a chore than a pleasure to me.

And yet, I know that if I drop out of library school, I will kick myself, hard, in years to come for having failed yet again to follow through.

There are the folks who say that every now and then we come to a crossroads in life where we have opportunities to make great changes. I think that the truth is more likely that every step we take is on a crossroads. Every moment we have the opportunity to make big changes in our lives.

Which, of course, makes it even harder to know what the right decision is.

Writing update #2

As I figured, I only got about two hundred words written in “The Winds of Patwin County” today, and only a paragraph done on the outline for The Outer Darkness. I don’t mind all that much, though, because the two hundred words for “Winds” were two hundred pretty good words, and the paragraph for the outline was a useful paragraph, more or less.

With “Winds”, I now have a strong sense of where the story is going. I know what the central event is, who’s responsible for it, and what’s going to happen at that event. Oddly, it’s an idea which first occurred to me about three and a half years ago, and which has been festering in my brain ever since. I don’t yet know what role some of the other characters have to play in the story yet, but I know that they’re important ones. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story works out.

I know that I should start revising “Variations on a Theme” soon, as well. Unfortunately, I was so disenchanted with how that story turned out in its first draft that I just can’t bring myself to look at it. Not yet. I think I’ll wait until after I’m done with “Winds”.

The outline for The Outer Darkness is proceeding apace. I have three main characters in development, possibly four. I also have an idea of the Big Thought that the novel is Really About. Unfortunately, there are at this point three different storylines, and I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to resolve them into one. I’m not yet an experienced enough novelist to try a subtle interweaving of the three stories. I have the feeling that as I continue to develop this outline, though, these things will resolve.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, says that he doesn’t like using outlines. Worse, he says that outlines are for wannabe English professors. I think he’s right to a point. The outline I’m writing isn’t so much an outline — it’s certainly not broken down into a step-by-step description of what’s going to happen when. It’s more of a treatment; right now it’s nine pages long, and I think it will be about fifteen pages long when I’m done with it. Again, I’m excited to see how this novel turns out, though I know that there will be times when writing the words down will be like slogging through molasses.

Which is why, by the way, I’ve chosen to write the first 50,000 words of the first draft in November, during National Novel Writing Month. I’ve participated in that twice before, and I’ve written two complete (though crappy) novels because of it. The rules stipulate that you can’t use NaNoWriMo to write anything that is already in progress, though you can outline and plot as much as you like before November begins. So, I have a reason to wait, and I know that when November comes, I’ll be able to get the words down, even if they’re crappy words that will all have to come out later. And sometimes, just getting the words down is the most important and most difficult part.

Avast, ye scurvies! Scuttle the web! Arr!

Today is officially Talk Like a Pirate day. It’s a lot more fun when this day falls on a workday, so that I can run around my office telling the other developers that they’re scurvy lads and lasses. Alas, I’ll have to settle for wandering around church doing the same thing. That’ll go over well with the director of Music Ministry.

In honor of the day, I’ve put together a playlist on my MP3 player of hardcore Irish punk music (which more than one of my friends has described as “Richard’s pirate music”). Included on this playlist are:

Pogues: Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
Dropkick Murphys: Blackout
Pogues: Pogue Mahone
Flogging Molly: Within a Mile of Home

Between church and grocery shopping and other chores, I don’t expect that I’ll be able to get more than a couple hundred words written on either “The Winds of Patwin County”, or the outline for The Outer Darkness. I also plan on buckling down today and getting a start on my homework assignment for my Ethnic Collections Development class. The assignment is a history of how African Americans are underrepresented in public libraries. Oddly, while I agree that minority groups have disproportionately low access to information in our society, I’m finding that my enthusiasm for this project is minimal.

I’m still working out the kinks in this system. I hope to figure out a way to send out only one e-mail notification a day, even if I post several in a single day, plus set up a more complete notification list sign up form. Since WordPress is written in PHP, I imagine it won’t be too hard to set up. I just need to take the time to do it.

Writing update #1

One of the reasons that I chose this new journal with its new format and update system and all that is because I just felt constrained by the last one. I felt like each entry had to be witty, concise, informative, enlightening, and all that. I don’t think that way. Very few of the thoughts I have are worth preserving, and trying to come up with something that met all of those qualifications on a regular basis was far too much for my brain to take.

My Livejournal is useful for random thoughts and the occasional meme or survey result, and for communicating with my friends who also have Livejournal accounts (which is by no means all of them). But then I’d come up with something that I thought was too long to post into my Livejournal but not quite witty or pithy or enlightening enough to post in my regular journal. So here is my new journal, “Worlds in my Head”, which serves as a happy medium. I hope.

For example. Occasionally I want to just post writing updates, to let those who give a hoot what I’m working on and how much I’ve done. Perhaps people will read these updates. Perhaps they won’t. Doesn’t matter; the point for me is to have some accountability. I will be writing every day, and I hope that having this journal in place will help motivate me to do that. I could be wrong. Sometimes I am. We’ll see what happens. I won’t be posting exerpts from my daily writing output in this journal because of copyright concerns (I’m not afraid that people will steal what I write, but I am concerned about reprint rights for stories that are published on-line), but I may occasionally post complete stories to my web server in a password-protected directory which people will be able to view on request.

Anyway. Today’s writing update.

Today, my previous plans having fallen through, I decided that I would go to the next town and sit in Borders and do some writing. I like going to Borders to do this: I have access to coffee or tea, and I’m surrounded by thousands of books, which I find inspiring. And music, too; today I bought an album called Within a Mile of Home by a band called Flogging Molly; it’s Irish punk, which I love (see also Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues), plus a hint of country.

While I was at Borders, I did get some quality writing in. In my previous entry, I spoke of a short story that I was pondering called “The Winds of Patwin County”. Today, I got busy on it and wrote about 1700 words. I’m not entirely sure what the story is about or where it’s going, but it’s been an interesting experiment for me in writing style. Since the story is written from four different points of view, I’m trying to write it with four distinct styles. We’ll see how successful I am at it.

I also worked on the outline for The Outer Darkness. Since I’ve been doing some research for a class on “The Gospel According to Tolkien” that I’ll be helping Jennifer teach at our church, I’ve been reading a lot about J. R. R. Tolkien as well as reading The Silmarillion for the first time. The breadth and scope of Tolkien’s imagination is incredible, and I’ve been inspired by it in many ways. The Outer Darkness, I think, will benefit from my study of Tolkien.

That’s all the writing I did today.

Words, words, words

I’ve been struggling with my writing for a long time. It’s not that I think I’m a particularly bad writer (though I certainly know that I’m not one of the best), but I suffer from bouts of writer’s block that can last for months at a time. Years, sometimes.

The problem is that I have always had too many stories in my head that I want to tell. I get excited about one project, work on it for a bit, and then I get all excited about another project and move on to that before the previous one is done. The result, of course, is that nothing gets done at all. My files are filled with hundreds of short stories that I’ve started and not finished, as well as dozens of novels. I don’t have any plays or screenplays in there, but there is at least one teleplay that I started working on that never got finished.

It’s very frustrating. How do I know what’s a worthy idea, and what’s not? How do I decide which project to focus on? How do I stop that inevitable feeling of dread that comes up, the one that gets me thinking, “I shouldn’t have chosen to focus on this project, it’s a load of crap, I should have worked on something else?” I don’t know. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a number of years. I’ve even had the opportunity to discuss this problem with a couple of different successful novelists, who have given me some tips but nothing that could really help me in the long run.

So now, I’ve finally made a decision. I have A Plan. I’ve narrowed my list of projects that I want to work on, and I’ve come up with a timeline for working on them. And here is that timeline, with the projects listed:

  • From now through October, I’m going to work on an outline for The Outer Darkness. This is a space opera which takes place on a distant planet, in a universe that I developed with a couple of friends of mine for a role-playing game a few years back. The game never was finished, sadly, but I think that the universe itself has a lot going for it.
  • During that time, I’ll also be working on the following short stories:
  • “Variations on a Theme”. I just finished this story, but it’s in need of heavy revision.
  • “The Winds of Patwin County: A Tragedy in Four Gusts”. This is a short story I’ve been pondering for a couple of years now. I think I finally have an angle.
  • “A Thousand Times Before”. I wrote this story a month or so ago, and now my friend Ed and I will be revising it together.
  • I also have an idea for a short story called “The Reinvention of Timothy Livingston”, largely autobiographical, but I might put it off for awhile.
  • November is time for NaNoWriMo. So in November, I plan on writing the first 50,000 words of The Outer Darkness. That will be a really rough draft, of course. So starting in December I’ll be revising it. I plan to have the first draft of The Outer Darkness completed by June 2005.
  • And starting in December, I also want to take a year to outline The Terassic Cycle, a set of novels which take place in a universe I’ve been developing for close to fifteen years for various role-playing games that I’ve run. It’s a tremendously complex universe, I think, with lots of potential, but it needs… organizing. So I’m going to take a year to organize it.
  • Also in December I want to run a role-playing game using the Call of Cthulhu system called “The Shallows”. This game will take place in a universe I’m tentatively calling the Clooneyverse (after a character I played in a Changeling game, Gilbert Clooney). I’ve only been developing the Clooneyverse for a few months now, but I realized recently that the seeds for it were initially planted back in 1984 when I wrote a short story called “The Wayward Garbage Truck”. Most of my short stories take place in the Clooneyverse.
  • And then after I’m done with The Terassic Cycle — which I’m currently envisioning as a sequence of nine novels — I plan on writing novels that take place in the Clooneyverse. No ideas are forthcoming for them right now, but that’s easily ten years away anyway.
  • Looking at this now, I can see how ambitious this all is. Actually, it’s kind of intimidating. And my intimidation factor isn’t helped by the article I recently read in a back issue of Writer’s Digest: in this article, the author says, “Thirty-five may seem like a really late age for a first-time novelist.” I’m 36, and I’ve only ever published one short story. Thanks for the confidence booster.

    But I figure it’s kind of like that ninety pounds that I have to lose (well, eighty-seven now). It’s intimidating, but I know that by working hard and staying dedicated, I can do it.