Sunday, October 14, 2012


As I've done with a few previous blog posts, in this two thousand fifth entry, I'm going to check in on where my writing was in the corresponding year, 2005.

I had, as was typical of that time, been agonizing over writing but occasionally producing a short story.  "Boar Lake," a story whose first draft I'd written almost two decades earlier, had appeared the previous year in Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic, a nifty original anthology that Brett Cox and Andy Duncan edited.

I'd also pushed to the very last possible date the completion of a short story, "Bring Out the Ugly," for Toni's original anthology, Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Far Futures.  That story was the first time Jon and Lobo appeared together in print.  I was so late with it that the book appeared in the same year in which I turned in the story, a tolerance for which I have always owed Toni. 

As I was in the throes of finishing that story, I hit a pivotal moment for my writing.  As I wrote in an earlier entry,

Now, flash forward to early 2005. I had been farting around with fiction writing all those years, selling some stories, getting one in The Year's Best, and so on, but I was never really able to commit to writing. I had turned 50 in March and was using the occasion to reconsider many things. My fiction writing was one of them. After much thought, in the middle of May, I decided I would give up fiction and thus gain more peace in my life.

I couldn't sleep that night. I couldn't give up fiction.

If you've read this blog regularly, you know that my advice to writers is that if you can possibly not write, don't. I couldn't stop.
At the same time, I barely wrote fiction, maybe a story every few years.
So, on the day after my sleepless night, I resolved that on June 1 I would start writing every day. (I chose that start date to give myself time to live with the decision and see if it was correct.) My goal was simple: each day I had to devote at least 30 minutes to staring at a blank screen (or notebook or sheet of paper) and doing nothing else. No word minimums; just at least 30 minutes of time that belonged to fiction. I would not allow myself to go to bed until I'd done it. Every day. No exceptions, no matter what. 
That June 1, I started working every day on writing.

On the last day of 2005, I finished One Jump Ahead, my first novel.

2005 thus became one of the most important years for my writing, if not the very most important one, because I finally, truly, viscerally figured out that to be a writer, I had to write--and then I put that lesson into practice.

I sure wish I'd started that practice at 18 instead of 50.


Anonymous said...

We're all just thankful you made the right decision.

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind words.


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