The Journal: The Purpose of This Journal

In today’s Journal

* Welcome
* Topic: The Purpose of This Journal
* Of Interest


Welcome to new subscriber lahunwicks and to any others who recently joined via email, RSS, or who just drop in from time to time. I’m always a little surprised (but happy) to learn the Journal has followers who aren’t subscribers. But new subscribers always are more than welcome too.

Topic: The Purpose of This Journal

This topic is predicated on Alicia’s comment on my previous post.

Part 1 — A Direct Response to the specific points in Alicia’s comment…

1. Of course you have to actually do the writing. This is kind of obvious, isn’t it? Like saying “As the baloon rises, it gets farther from the earth.” Duh.

Likewise, child prodigy Ludwig v. Beethoven had to actually write and play the music. By your definition, I’m pretty sure composing what has since been called classical music was a mature art as well. But I digress.

2. The notion that writing (storytelling) is or should be “work” is not accurate, at least not for me and not in this Journal. Writing fiction isn’t something to escape. Writing fiction IS the escape. To characterize fiction writing as “work” is antithetical to everything I’ve ever written or taught in this Journal. It is also dismissive of and disrespectful toward those of us who practice Writing into the Dark. (More on this in Part 2 below.)

3. Did I mention anywhere that all you need is one idea? In fact I didn’t even go that far. In previous posts, I’ve often said that to begin a story all you need is a character with a problem in a setting. But I take your point, although again it’s pretty obvious. If you want to write more than one story I suppose you could say you will need more than one idea. Unless you want to write different stories, perhaps from different POV characters, off that one idea. But again, I digress.

4. Umm, nope, you don’t “have” to keep producing. Free will and all that. If you want to write, you write. Then you’re a writer. If you don’t, you don’t. Then you aren’t a writer. But it’s all up to you. Certainly nobody’s holding a gun to my head. There are no great unwashed masses out there awaiting your or my next masterpiece, no matter how much “work” and how many years you put into writing yours or how much fun I have writing mine. That’s our business, yours and mine, and the readers literally don’t care. What we do, we writers, really isn’t important in the slightest. Readers just want a good entertaining story.

5. “There are skills to be acquired, and they … require thought and understanding.” Yes, that’s what the myths would have you believe.

The truth is, you have been acquiring and absorbing all of those skills — various types of structure, pacing, points of view, dialogue, etc. — all your life. You started telling stories long before you were even aware there was such a thing as an alphabet. Yet when someone comes along with a “craft” book and tells you that you need their help, you trust them instead of yourself.

Think about that. How screwed up are we, that we will trust an absolute stranger, often one who hasn’t published so much as a single novel or short story, to teach us how to write fiction?

Yet because they won’t kowtow to the myths, we dismiss out of hand novelists like Stephen King, Lee Child, Jack Higgins, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, me and countless others who enjoy the freedom and unbridled self-confidence of writing off into the dark.

And in the end, none of it matters. The truth is, if you and I both stopped writing today, not only would nobody care, they wouldn’t even notice.

Of course, these comments are not intended for you specifically, Alicia. I had to rebut your comment because it’s here, stomping around in my living room. Nor are these comments intended for others who have made the conscious decision to follow the myths. I have no interest in changing your or their minds.

My comments are for those who are still willing to follow their own mind and try new things that might free them from the yoke of the myths. If they choose to really try WITD they will be richly rewarded with self-confidence and freedom from the mob. If they try and fail, they can always go back to the myths.

But hey, everyone, if you choose to remain mired in the myths of writing, that’s fine. Likewise, if you choose to believe that to be of any value, writing must be hard work and/or take a long time, that writing a novel is something you must struggle through, that’s also fine.

But this Journal exists to explain that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Part 2 — What I’d Like You to Know

We were all brought up in a world in which work is something we dread. Work is something we do because we have to, most often to get money so that when we’re finished we can escape it for awhile to do something fun.

Writing doesn’t have to be that. It doesn’t have to be the laborious sweat factory that so many who are mired in the myths make it out to be. Writing fiction isn’t something to escape. Writing fiction IS the escape.

To my knowledge, since Dean Wesley Smith went 99% commercial a few years ago using his blog to push his Kickstarters and other promotions, this Journal is the only place on the internet where anyone regularly advocates for WITD.

As such, this silly little Journal exists as a lone, minuscule voice. All around it is a cacophony of noise emanating from thousands or even millions of other places on the internet, all of which are intentionally promoting the myths, in no small part so you’ll buy their craft books which, in every case, repeat almost word for word pretty much every other craft book out there.

Again, that’s fine. If that’s what you want, fiction by cookie cutter, go for it.

But if you want to talk in support of the myths, please visit any of those thousands of places around the internet where your comments will be welcome. There, you will be roundly applauded for pretty much anything you say as long as it conforms to the myths.

They’re like echo chambers, those places. Mutual admiration societies where everyone agrees what terrible work writing is, how laborious and draining it is, and that fiction writing itself — storytelling — is some high calling.

Readers at those sites will applaud you and nod sagely at your wisdom, just as if your comments were original thoughts that were never before uttered.

With all that going for those who advocate the myths, with literally thousands of venues waiting with open arms and bated breath to receive their comments, I don’t quite understand why they feel such a strong urge to come here to promote the myths and attack WITD.

It puts me in mind of a child refusing to try spinach while declaring it tastes horrible. It doesn’t, of course, but the petulant child will never know. He’ll grow up never having tried spinach, and he’ll go through life with that smug, self-righteous sneer on his face.

And he’ll never know that smug sense of self-satisfaction is all based on ignorance.

Talk with you again later.

I’m still under the weather, but next time, maybe, Part 3: How to tell the difference between the myths and WITD.

Of Interest

See “Mojo’s Smart Contact Lenses Begin In-Eye Testing” at SF anyone?

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1270 words

Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)

Day 19… 2117 words. Total words to date…… 41729

Total fiction words for July……… 0
Total fiction words for the year………… 45405
Total nonfiction words for July… 1270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 95400
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 140805

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. I’ve never said WITD is “the only way” to write, nor will I ever. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among other topics.

2 thoughts on “The Journal: The Purpose of This Journal”

  1. Glad to provide fodder.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word ‘work,’ but for someone who lost the ability to do the work I trained for – and loved – to illness 32 years ago, the ability to sit down, focus on whatever the writing will bring today, block the rest of the universe, and just be there for the story is the absolute best kind of ‘work.’

    It isn’t a given. Most days I have to wrestle with a broken body and mind to get what I want. Many days I fail, many other days have to be spent on something other than writing.

    It’s not ‘have to’ work, it’s ‘all I want to do’ work.

    • I understand, and with the context provided, others will understand too. But absent that context, it’s just one more writer pushing the myths. I used your comment to say basically this: If anyone wants to hawk the myths, they are free to do so, but not here on the one site on the entire internet that offers an alternative to those myths.

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