Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Writing Short Stories

Until recently, I had not written a short story in quite a few years, ten or twelve, maybe longer. Late last year, I found myself at an impasse. I was burnt out on writing novels. The two or three or four I'd been working on for several years had grown tiresome. Revising was a struggle. Late November, I decided to take the rest of the year off. However, I got an idea for a short story and started writing. It went smoothly. In less than a week, I had a finished it. The following week, I wrote another story. The next week, I wrote another one. The week after that, I started another short story and finished it the following week. And now I'm sold on writing short stories. I feel as if I can cover more territory in less time. I've been reinvigorated.

I know that writing novels is the mother load of writing. It's what gets you noticed. It's what sells, much more so than short stories. But, I'm beginning to think that maybe, with the ereaders, short stories will sell again. Reading something on your ereader that you can finish on your work break or while sitting in the doctor's office is desirable for some people. Whether it's a huge demand, or just a slight demand, there is probably a market for it. In fact, I'm sure I heard this from other writers.

I have no idea whether short stories will attract many readers. But, I'm willing to try. So, my writing plan now is to write short stories for a while, maybe the rest of this year. I'd like to publish a book of short stories every couple of months. I'm trying to write one story each week. That should give me about six to eight stories for each book. It should give me close to fifty stories for the year, and six books. Can I accomplish this? I'm not sure, but I will give it a try. I know, a positive thinker would say, I will do it. I will accomplish my goal. OK, I'll give it a try. I will accomplish my goal. There. Now you have it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rebirth as an Artist.

I'm excited with my new approach to writing and blogging. Thus far, I'm satisfied, even a bit ecstatic, over my new writing of short stories. I'm finding new inspiration in some of the new blogs I'm following. This reaching out to different blogs focusing on different subjects--philosophy, art, poetry, music, photography, self-discovery--plus my second drawing course, has rejuvenated me. I feel reborn: a new person. I'm happier now than I have been in a long, long time. Stepping out of your old ways into new ways of viewing life and doing things is powerful. I highly recommend it.

It amazes me that, at 66 years old, I can feel this way. It's not a 66-year-old feeling. It's a childlike one.

My drawing courses and my attempt to work with pastels has taken a bit of time out of my days. But, it's a time I'm beginning to look forward to more and more.  My artistic talent is minimal, but it feels huge in my mind. Perhaps it's a delusion. But I'm having fun with it.

Tanya Reimer told me I should write for men, men's stories, which is part of my move to crime fiction. That's a man-thing, isn't it? I know, a lot of females write crime fiction.

I don't know where this fascination with criminal minds comes from. I think it's in part because we know, deep down inside, committing a crime is something we'd all do if the right circumstances came about. Many of us have already committed crimes during our lives. Perhaps they were petty crimes, stealing something from a friend, beating someone up, breaking something that belongs to someone else. Perhaps some of us have committed more serious crimes. There's a dark side to everyone, a shadow side, and to ignore it is to do so at your own peril.

How long and how deeply I'll delve into crime fiction is yet to be determined. All I know for sure is the ideas are swirling, and that's a good thing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Write what I like, or write what readers like?

As a writer, you have to decide if you write what you like and hope readers will like it, too, particularly today's readers, or do you write what you think today's readers like, and hope they  will also like it? Of course, if your mindset is "I like writing horror," or whatever, and many readers love horror, then you have the ideal situation, that is, you and the readers enjoy the same thing. Of course, I'm talking about writing for publication and financial survival. If you don't care about either, then the point is moot.

I've come to the conclusion that the majority of fiction readers today do not care much for nuances, subtle variation, or poetic language. What do they care about? They want extreme emotion: extreme hatred, extreme love, extreme sex, extreme friendship and the extreme straining of that friendship (maybe it's always been that way, now that I think about it [Sophocles, Homer, Shakespeare, Hugo, Camus, and on and on and on]). The more extreme the better. Of course, it has to work as a story and, preferably, a fast-moving story.

Perhaps it's the result of the television and motion picture industries that we've come to the point we're at now. Slow moving, "normal," has become boring. Abnormal has become appealing. We want our characters to be bigger than life, and their struggles titanic (and violent). We want our characters to be beautiful, but flawed, but beautiful just the same. We want our stories to enthrall.

This is a pretty tall order. But it is doable. We writers have to realize the reality of today's literary marketplace and go for it. Otherwise, our chances of being published and reaping financial success are limited at best.

I'm attempting something that is, for me, new. I'm venturing into crime fiction. I've completed three short stories that I will self-publish as part of a collection when I've written enough to complete a decent-sized collection, say a total of twelve- to fifteen-thousand words. Right now, I've written almost eight-thousand words with the three stories I've completed. I've written a story a week for the past three weeks, and am planning a forth one now. I'd like to write a story a week to reach the five or six or thereabouts stories, revise (proofread primarily), and self-publish. Hopefully I can have a Beta reader or two. But I'm really not too concerned about that. I'm following what I perceive as the Jack London plan of action: just write it; don't worry about perfection. Not every story written by every great writer was a masterpiece. As long as the reader likes it, that's what matters.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Battles and other stories" is free today on Amazon for Kindle.

My short story collection Battles and other stories is free today on It's under R. Patrick Hughes and the title of the book. Please feel free to download.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Writing Anew

I've read many times in many places the saying, maybe by Albert Einstein, I'm not sure, that failure is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. I've been thinking about that during the past month or so, trying to determine if I'm caught in that vicious loop. I've decided that maybe I am. I've been writing the same kinds of stories (novels) for ten or fifteen years, and getting the same results, which haven't been satisfying. I know, many writers are successful writing the same things (thematically, or genrewise, or parts of a series). But it hasn't happened for me. Perhaps it's time for a change.

So, I've decided on a new approach to writing. What is this amazing new approach? It's following in the footsteps of Jack London. Write 2000 words a day, everyday, without worrying about perfection. Just get the story down. Keep writing. It's kind of like automatic writing, I suppose. Some of it will be sucky, some of it will be good, and maybe some of it will be great. But don't worry about that. Just write your 2000 words per day, come rain or shine.

I'm not sure I'll aim for 2000 words a day. My days are pretty cramped with life responsibilities, like house cleaning (yeah, I do some of that), chauffeuring my grandson back and forth to school, taking drawing classes (I started my second class yesterday), collecting art (I'd love to be an art dealer), blogging/reading blogs, doctor's appointments, shopping for groceries (yeah, I do that, too), and a thousand other things I can't think of right off hand (mowing the lawn, maintaining the pool, etc.). So maybe I'll be happy with 500 or 1000 words a day.

With that in mind, I did something during the past few weeks I haven't done in ten or fifteen years. I wrote a short story. I just wrote it. No worrying about whether it's any good. No worrying about which genre it belongs to. No worrying about anything other than finishing the story, which I have done. It's about 2300 words long. I'll have to get a Beta reader for it. But that will come in time, hopefully. I'm thinking I'll write some more short stories: just write them. Polish them as they are, more or less, and move on to the next story. Publish them as a collection, eventually, once I have a decent number written.

I'll apply the same approach to any novels I might work on or write in the future.

Yeah, I like the change. Hopefully, the results will be better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Only The Lonely" is free on Amazon today.

I guess I got my dates mixed up. I see that Only The Lonely is free on Amazon today.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Only The Lonely giveaway not working

Something has gone wrong with my give away of Only The Lonely today. I'll figure out what went wrong and redo it. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Only The Lonely" free on Amazon Monday Jan. 8

My self-published novel "Only The Lonely" is free on Amazon on January 8; one day only.

I haven't been offering the novel for free because it has a formatting problem with paragraph indentations. I've wanted to fix the problem, but my attempts failed. But when I read it, especially on the Kindle Fire (I love the back lighting), it looks good enough to read.

My short-story collection "Battles and other stories" will be free on Amazon on January 15; one day only.

I hope someone reads them and gives me feedback, especially a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

I hope to add a book or two this year. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"How I Write, The Secret Lives of Authors" Editied by Dan Crowe (3)

More 'secrets' of various writers on how they write:

Siri Hustvedt: found a group of keys on a key chain with the label "Unknown Keys" that belonged to her deceased father. She keeps them as symbols that unlock the various "dream spaces of fiction" in her mind.

A. L. Kennedy: keeps a pocket-sized notebook for the book she's working on and carries it everywhere she goes to note everything about the story and characters.

Willy Vlautin: writes between races at the horse race track . He feels at home there.

James Flint: drinks copious amounts of Yerba Mate (a drink from Argentina), which is said  to relax the muscles and stimulate the mind.

Jane Smiley: when she doesn't know what to write next, she takes a hot soaking bath, and what to write next comes to her.

Hanif Kureishi: Has various rituals for writing--obsessions. If you're not obsessive, you're not a writer, she says.

Michael Thorne: spends a lot of time walking and thinking.

Michael Faber: listens to music, but music that is not connected with what he's writing. E.G., he might listen to jazz while writing about Victorian England.

Hope you're noting all this down.