WIP Update #1

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in my charity drive wrap-up post that I wasn’t particularly sure where I wanted to go with my writing. At that time, I was pretty down on how things had gone with said charity drive. In a way, I took the results of that effort as an indictment on my creative writing. I clearly have never been the best at marketing my writing — and by extension my book — and despite the book’s good ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, I ended up in a bit of a rough place mentally with how I viewed my own writing.

At the same time, just as the charity drive was wrapping up, I finally finished an outline for a project that I’ve been wanting to work on for some time now. Last year, I wrote a prompt-based short story that ventured into the realm of artificial intelligence. More specifically, the short story focused on whether or not humans and artificial intelligence could love one another, as well as the societal implications of that thought process. I actually did three short stories of various lengths on the topic last year1I’ve taken all three down off this blog, as I may end up using them in the future as part of this project (or another)., however the first one from that series is what prompted the outline. Said outline was originally 42 pages in length when I finished it, though it’s since grown to nearly 50 pages as I’ve added additional notes to it for my own reference.

A little more than a week after I wrote that charity drive post, something clicked. I wish I could tell you what it was, but I really don’t remember. I just wanted to try writing — to try working on this project that I had created a giant outline for. So I spent the better part of six hours between two plane rides working on the project, getting to almost 10,000 words in the process. I excitedly took a screenshot of Google Docs’ word count feature and posted it to my Twitter, getting better than I expected reception to the work I had done. No one had read the work in progress. Hell, only one person knew what said work in progress was related to at that point. The reaction still made me happy to see all the same.

We’re a little more than two months on now from the point at which I started working on this new project. Since starting, I’m at just over 24,000 words in the project. This accounts for about one-quarter of the chapters in the story’s outline. Even then, there’s really just been a lot of world building done at this point2There’s a surprisingly high amount of world building I’ve felt like I’ve needed to do with this story, even though the technologies within it aren’t that far-fetched from what exist today., as the main story itself has only just started to take shape in the last chapter or two. I’d ideally like to have the first draft of this book written by the end of spring, though we’ll see how much I can get done over the next couple of months.

I’m not necessarily writing this post for anyone. If you’re interested in the writing I’ve done and would like to stay up to date on the work in progress I have going on now, great. I’ll (hopefully) be posting additional updates about it as I continue working towards completing it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a handful of people approach me about wanting to be beta readers for the story once it has gone through an initial edit, which is something I didn’t have with my first book3I had beta readers, however I had to proactively seek them out. Seeing people actively want to be beta readers for me is a welcome surprise.. With this book likely being my first novel that I actually try to do something with4I’ve written a full novel for NaNoWriMo three times now (twice in the time limit, once with some extra time needed). That said, I don’t feel like continuing work on those for various reasons., there’s a long way to go. That said, I’ll try to keep doing these posts, not only for my own self-accountability, but also to let you all have some insight into my writing process, if you’re interested.

And hey — if you are interested in seeing more posts like this, let me know in the comments. I can’t really know that people want to see more about this project if no one says so.

2018 Blog Goals

I have never been much of a person for making goals for a coming year, especially not for my writing or my blog. Sure, there’s things I’d like to do, but I generally don’t set them out in goal form.

I thought I’d change that this year for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I’ve had this blog for a little over three years now. While I’ve enjoyed writing on this blog, it’s never quite reached the traffic levels of either of the two blogs I had before that. I recognize that part of that is timing related. Early on in this blog’s existence, the active blogging community I was part of closed its doors. I received a decent amount of traffic from that site, we well as various bloggers who frequented that site coming to my blog(s) directly. Losing that was unfortunate.

Additionally, I think blogging as a medium is in a decline. That’s not to say that people don’t read blogs anymore, as I don’t think that’s the case. What I do see, however, is a decrease in the number of bloggers who have stuck with blogging for a long time. I can count on one hand1Maybe two hands. But that’s only if I’m being generous or if I’m forgetting a lot of people. the number of bloggers who I’ve seen stick with blogging over the past three years. There’s new bloggers out there who write good content, but for every one new blogger I’ve seen, I can think of three or four that have stopped.

I do see other bloggers doing great things. I’ve watched Laidig grow her blog significantly over the past year. Tabitha does some of the better written posts you’ll come across. Todd does some quality (and frequent) work on his blog. There’s other great writers out there (even non-bloggers) who are doing great work that leaves me inspired to improve what I do each day.

In light of all of this, I think there’s definitely some value to setting some goals for my blog. Here’s the goals I’m setting for 2018, along with a short explanation of why I’m setting each. I recognize the numbers I’ll be mentioning below aren’t big numbers, but you have to start somewhere.

  • 20 new WordPress followers – This blog doesn’t have a ton of WordPress followers, as I get a decent amount of my traffic via my various social media accounts. That said, I did pick up 16 new WordPress followers last year, bringing the site’s total to 29. I’d like to think that picking up 5 new followers per quarter (on average) isn’t particularly outlandish as a goal.
  • Average 250 visits a month – Last year, That Tiny Website averaged 197 visits a month. On one hand, that was a great thing to see, as it was this site’s best year ever. On the other hand, my previous blog’s worst full year saw an average of 245 visits per month. This will be the site’s third full year in existence and second one where I’m writing fairly regularly. I don’t want to be lagging behind my old work anymore. I recognize that this is around a 27% growth number, but I’d like to think I can hit it.
  • Grow comment count by 20% again – My blog comment totals got thrown all out of whack when I migrated from WordPress.com to a self-hosted blog2Through my own error. I didn’t follow directions well.. As such, the only comment data I have is from 2016 and 2017, where I went from 102 comments to 122. Ideally, I’d like to see a similar percentage increase this year, which would mean 147 comments on this blog this year.

I realize that none of this will be able to be done without the help of you, those who are reading my blog. Some of you have been reading and interacting with me for quite a while. For that, I thank you. Others of you are likely new to this blog. Welcome. I hope you stick around a while.

 

What are some of your goals for the new year? If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, or other creator, what are some of your personal growth goals for 2018? Sound off in the comments.

2017 Book Charity Drive – Wrap-Up Post

It’s been a few weeks since the charity drive I was running with my book finished up. You might have noticed I’ve been a little slow to write up a post about how the charity drive went. There’s a reason for that.

Before I get into this year’s drive, I want to provide a little context with how things went last year. During last year’s drive, those who purchased my book raised $24.28 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. While it wasn’t the number I wanted to hit — it fell just short of one-quarter of the goal I was aiming for — it was still something and it still went to a good cause. This year, I decided that instead of doing a 50+ day long charity drive that I’d do a one week long drive. Considering the fact that about one-third of the sales that happened during last year’s drive happened within the first seven days, combined with the fact that I had more people helping me out promoting the charity event this year in comparison to last year, I figured thing would go close to as well as last year1I didn’t set any charity drive goals, but I was honestly expecting a similar result in terms of money raised..

About that.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the Kindle sales. As a reminder, the drive lasted from November 12th through the 19th.

That’d be one copy purchased. Total. At least it was on my birthday? Well, no matter. Most of my sales historically have been from the paperback side, which is (currently) tracked through CreateSpace. How did that go?

Oh2Fuck..

As for final totals, I was able to pull that from the Kindle site.

Needless to say, I’m not making a donation of $2.06 to UNICEF. I’ll be donating more than that3I don’t feel a desire to divulge how much. Sorry.. That’s not the point though.

It took me the better part of two weeks to write this post because I found myself at a loss for words. I didn’t know how to say what I was feeling without sounding like an entitled prick. There’s a pair of thoughts in my mind that I can’t completely reconcile in a way that I can phrase them quite in the way I’m thinking them.

On one hand, I really want to see my work become successful. Whether that success is through acclaim, through the admiration of a small but devoted fan base, or through actual financial success is something I haven’t fully figured out my desire for. But I want to be successful with my work. Specifically, I want to be successful with my writing4Because frankly, my actual work isn’t particularly fulfilling..

On the other hand, I recognize that by raising money for charity with my work, the important person here is not me. It’s the people the money will be going to help. I’ll be fine. But there’s a lot of people who won’t be if they don’t receive the help that charitable organizations give. Hell, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the work of charity in my childhood. So to see this event fail when I’m not the recipient of the proceeds is disheartening.

I’m going to be taking a break from writing for a while. I don’t particularly want to stop writing, but I also don’t feel like my writing has a purpose at this point. Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. There’s a handful of blog posts I’ve pre-written that’ll still go up on this blog each Monday (as per normal). In theory those will last until around the end of the year. I have a few ideas that will likely be content here early next year, though I haven’t gotten around to writing those yet. As for my long-form/story stuff, I think I need to reassess where I’m at there.

Dialogue Only

This post is a response to November’s mid-month short story challenge. Click on the link in the previous sentence to read the prompt, share your story, and read those written by others.


“I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

“What’s that?”

“People keep saying that one of the stories I wrote is the funniest thing they’ve ever read.”

“That’s a good thing, right?”

“I mean, typically it would be. But it’s the worst piece of shit I’ve ever written.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“It’s the one I told you about that I tried to write as shittily as possible. The one where the basement dweller and the girl with the lazy eye go on a date, then they start banging fifteen minutes into getting coffee.”

“You’re fucking with me, right?”

“Nope.”

“You wrote that solely for the purpose of making fun of the meet cute.”

“There weren’t even character names in the first draft! No one had names! In a story that is seventy percent dialogue.”

“No one would read that shit.”

“Nor should they. I doing everything I can to keep myself from having convulsions just thinking about it.”

“And yet people like it?”

“Apparently.”

“There’s got to be something good in it. Let’s break it down. The setting?”

“Coffee shop in a suburb. Barista is a bit of a wild caricature of a coffee shop hipster crossed with an overconfident snake oil salesman.”

“That’s out then.”

“Yep.”

“What about the characters? They’re both pretty flawed, right?”

“Oh yeah. Physically, emotionally, psychologically — they’re a trainwreck in every way.”

“There’s a lot of growth that can come from characters like that.”

“Didn’t do it. Not in this story at least. I drilled home that they were grotesque fuck ups. There’s no scrappy comeback to relevance from a guy basically living out of his car. The over-medicated woman remains over-medicated and un-redeemed.”

“Is there anything that makes the reader feel like things will get better for them?”

“They fuck at the end.”

“Sex is good. Erotica is in right now. How did you write it?”

“I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“My family reads my work. They’re already not fans of my writing. I can’t imagine adding graphically explained sex — especially to this story — would help my cause any.”

“Well, what about where you wrote it? Some people do their best work in the same place. Maybe you wrote this story at the same place you’ve written some of your other quality work.”

“I think I wrote it sitting in an airport after my flight was delayed from a snowstorm. I saw a guy who inspired the barista serving hamburgers at an airport restaurant and just went from there. I’ve only been back to that airport once and didn’t have my computer with me.”

“Fuck.”

“Right?”

“I’ve read it. It’s not a good piece.”

“It’s not.”

“You sound like a bit of an insensitive asshole as the narrator.”

“I do.”

“And people liked it?”

“Even the people who bitched and moaned about some of my other stuff liked it. I don’t get it. Dialogue doesn’t tell a story.”

“It’s part of a story.”

“Sure. I’ll give you that. But if the primary driving force of your story is your dialogue, you’re not writing it well. It’s a lot like how people who only photoblog aren’t really writers.”

“I thought you gave up on that point of view once you realized there’s money in it.”

“No. I gave up on saying they weren’t bloggers when I found out how much money some people made. There’s clearly money in it, so they’re making money blogging. What they aren’t doing is making money writing.”

“Could be worse. Could be a social media influencer.”

“That’s not a real thing.”

“It is and they’re just as filled with irrational confidence as you might think.”

“Fuck. Am I getting old? Did I miss when things that aren’t supposed to be funny got funny? When could you start doing nothing all day and become famous for it? Is this just a fugue state?”

“It’s none of that. You just have to keep working to get better. You have to learn.”

“So I have to learn why this story’s funny?”

“No. It’s shit. People can be dumb. But you do need to learn to work through this plateau you’re in and improve what you’re not good at.”

“Like writing dialogue?”

“Like writing compelling dialogue.”

“Shouldn’t all dialogue be compelling? I mean, I get that not all dialogue in real life is compelling. But no one gives a shit about two people talking about how they need to get a gadget to open the lid of a pickle jar because the factory sealed them on too tightly.”

“But if you don’t write something boring, nothing will ever be compelling.”

“True. Hey, did you notice that we’ve been talking about writing for nearly 800 words and haven’t once been in the genre we’re supposed to be in?”

“What genre are we supposed to be this month?”

“Science fiction.”

“Who thought that was a good idea?”

“Fuck if I know. Probably someone who wrote the prompt and is desperately hoping that someone — anyone — will actually do it this month.”

“Do you think anyone else will?”

“Nah.”

“That’s a shame.”

You

This post is a response to October’s mid-month short story challenge. Click on the link in the previous sentence to read the prompt, share your story, and read those written by others.


Hi,

As you’ll eventually find out, I’m not exactly the best at keeping my thoughts concise, especially when my emotions or creative writing are involved. This is neither your fault nor your problem, but you’ll likely get annoyed by it at some point in the time that you know me. Have fun with that.

I like change — except when I don’t. If something changes that has a minimal impact on me, I’m usually fine with it. Change can be good. If the way we communicate didn’t evolve, you’d never be able to read this. I have garbage handwriting. But things did change. That’s a good thing.

On the other hand, if that change negatively impacts the safety, security, or well-being of those I care about, I’m less okay with change. I’m not exactly the person I wish myself to be when bad change happens. I stress. I falter. I hold fear deep within my mind. I don’t back down from any challenge, however I am the type to obsessively scrutinize every detail of that challenge in my mind until I keep myself from sleep at night.

I hope that’s not one of the traits I give you. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I do well. I feel like I have accrued the wisdom to act in a moral, ethical, and just way in most situations. I have a natural talent to pick up most communication-heavy jobs and excel in them faster than most people can get comfortable doing that same job. I used to be an adept musician. I adore geography, writing, psychology, chemistry, philosophy, and history. I’d love for you to get those things from me.

Your mother, on the other hand, is the better person to learn from. She knows how to interact with people — real people, not just the facades of people that can be found on the internet. She’s extremely competitive, even more so than me. She’s organized to a level that gives me anxiety. She has a natural talent to take a moment and use it both as a teaching experience and a moment of consoling. You’d definitely be better off if you inherited her level of love for animals…though I’d encourage you to take after me and my love for cats. Cats are fun.

Neither of us are perfect. And if all you become is the combination of your mother and I, there’s been somewhere along the way that I’ve let you down. The hardest thing for me to learn was how to think for myself — to critically and objectively see the world not just through my own cultural lens, but also with the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of those who do not have the same luxuries I do in mind.

You’ll find that despite whatever experience I have in teaching and leading, I’m very green in knowing how to handle you. My emotions failed me when your mom told me of your existence. Ignoring the fact that I was exhausted and starving, I didn’t know how to react. My excitement was less than enthusiastic. I didn’t mean anything bad by it. You are a change. An exciting one, sure. But one I didn’t (and frankly still don’t totally) know how to handle.

There’s always been this thought in my mind that I’d be a dad. At times, the thought was nothing more than a blip in the vision of my mind — waiting, watching, stalking my thoughts in the distance. In other situations, the idea was much more prominent. Reality, of course, is far more prominent than a thought. The reality that we — our family — face is complex.

The world isn’t the place it once was, nor is it the place that will be in the future. We’re at a crossroads of history. It’s one where I truly believe that those who are compassionate, open-minded, accepting, altruistic, and well-learned will help to shape the future into a brighter world for everyone. My hope is that I can play a significant part in pointing you in the right direction so that you can be even better than those people who I just spoke of.

At some point, I will make a mistake in teaching you. I will yell when I shouldn’t. I will say something you interpret improperly. I will hurt you with my words when I don’t mean to. For that, I am so sorry in advance. Know that as you are learning, I too am learning. I’m learning how to help you learn. I’m learning how to help you be a better person than I could ever be — a person who is exceptional not just for their abilities, interests, and skills, but also for the way they treat their fellow humans.

This is my promise to you. I will help you acquire as many of the tools as possible to be the best person you can be. I will protect you when you need protection. I will guide you when you wish to learn. Above all else, I will love you so that you may love others in return.

You are safe. You are wise. You are loved.

-T