A Writing Challenge

I was busy this past week doing a fair number of things, some of them writing-related.

I have scheduled an event at the Comic Store in Nashua for June 1st.  It is part of the Magical History Tour.  I will be playing Bethorm:  The Plane of Tekumel.  I intend to have an introductory group adventure on hand in case anyone would like a demonstration of the game.

I have been feeling more confident in my storytelling and creative writing abilities this year, so I decided to do something which I have not done since 1987.  I have set a writing challenge.  I intend to take a crack at writing a novella.  The target word count is 7500 words, far longer than anything else I have written.  I may fail.  From my experience, the attempt will result in something salvageable if I do fail.  I may not.  The only way to find out is to start typing the thing.

This week, I also noticed that the daily word count for my diary, my personal journal, was a little low.  472 words per day.  That’s not good.  Two decades of experience have shown me that I need to brain dump at least five hundred words during the day or  I will feel unwell the next day.  So, I started doing @TimClairePoet ‘s writers’ boot camp, “Couch to 80K”.  You can find it on his podcast “Death of 1000 Cuts” on SoundCloud.  And it’s working!


On The Magical History Tour

This blog entry is a link between what I was doing early in 2016 when I stopped updating this site and early 2018, when I started updating again.

2017 was a mixed year for me.  In March of that year, I decided to begin a long-term project.  I wanted to go back to the earlier table-top role-playing games and settings and explore them.  Note:  I have a somewhat unusual opinion of Dungeons & Dragons.  I do not consider it a role-playing game.  It is, from my experience, a transitional form between a miniatures war-game and a role-playing game.  So, the first table-top RPG I could find in print at the time was the current version of Tunnels & Trolls.  The first edition of that game dates from 1975.  That was my first stop on what I came to call the “Magical History Tour”.

That month, in a hastily scribbled note on a loose piece of notebook paper, I stated the intention to start a solitaire campaign of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.  Tunnels & Trolls was designed with the ability to play the game solitaire.  It was far more difficult to find other people to play a role-playing game with in the Seventies than it is now.  I set up a binder with a storage pocket for loose notes.  And I kicked off a campaign journal.  I play solitaire sessions by logging them, noting dice rolls and significant game events.  I also found a PDF on DriveThruRPG which served as a guide for solitaire role-play.


On Journaling

I started keeping a personal journal in the Autumn of 1982.  I was in college and I kept forgetting to do important things.  So I started writing reminders to myself in an empty notebook.  Perhaps I had a memory of that passage in The Hobbit, which states that Bilbo only remembered things when he put them down in his “Engagement Tablet”.  I have continued to keep a journal since that time.  The purposes I use it for have changed and grown over the decades.

I discovered that I need to journal at leave five hundred words a day after about fifteen years of observation.  If I write less than that during the day, I feel unwell the next next.  The upper bound is 2000 words in a day.  If I write more than that, it means I am feeling anxious.

While it is fairly common knowledge among readers that the first diary published was The Diary of Samuel Pepys, it seems that far fewer people are aware of the first journal which was published.  It was The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth.  She was the sister of the poet William Wordsworth.  And the most interesting part of the journals I have read so far her stay at some place called “Grassmere”.  There is a difference between a diary and a journal.  “Journal” is the more general of the two terms and covers a number of different forms of publication.  A private journal, a record of events, is a diary, from the Wikipedia article “Journal”.

Much more recently, I began splitting off special-purpose journals to better organize my creative writing.  I have the organizational skills of a cat.  As I mentioned in a Twitter thread, the first such journal I started was a “campaign journal” for the Pathfinder Open Campaign I host every month an FLGS.  I was writing adventure and setting notes on loose sheets of notebook paper or in my personal journal.  And losing track of them.

The second such journal I started was late in 2016.  Both my ancient desktop and my notebook computer suffered fatal hard drive crashes.  This is significant because I had the developed the habit of typing my flash fiction pieces into a word processor.  My latest work to that point is still locked in the hard drive of a dead computer.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is I was backing up my files on multiple flash drives.  So, about the other journal.  Late in 2015 I was in a bad place.  I decided to start journaling more.  And then I started revising my creative writing.  That came to a crashing halt when both my computers failed.  So I started a “creative writing journal”.  I gathered up all the flash fiction printouts I had made since 1999.  I started copying them into an empty notebook.  And when I got stuck for a story idea I wanted to revise, I began ransacking my memory for the books I had read over five decades and the influences they had on my creative writing.

#amreading #amwriting #journal




Update: Creative Content Production

I haven’t been blogging much this month.  I have had my writing energy go in other directions.  I have revved up and continued my “Thelsikar’s Ambition” Pathfinder campaign.  I am continuing to type and write in my private journals.  I have begun cutting and archiving the entries in my computer journal file because Word 2007 can’t handle files over 1000 words long.  Just yesterday I organized, added to and consolidated my fiction files on the hard drive of my current computer.  According to the Properties tab, I have 1.16 Megs of text files in the My Fiction folder.  That’s about half of what I had on my hard drive before the Russian Virus hard drive meltdown of 2006.  Last month I found a cache of old printouts from before the meltdown, so I have begun sorting and filing them into a binder with pockets.  My plan is to manually type them into Word and save them to my current hard drive.

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On Remembering and Forgetting

One of the most important things I think a person can do is remember.  That is why I started my journal in college.  At first, I had things to do which I needed to be reminded of.  Then I learned things I didn’t want to forget.

I think the worst curse I can say to someone, after “May you live in interesting times” is “I will forget you.  I will forget what you have done”.  Within the past year, I have been doing some more close reading about the written work of several authors and about their lives.  There are some writers whose work I feel is so foul, or worse, their actions while alive were so vile, that I feel they deserve to be forgotten.  The worst thing you can do to someone who leaves a creative legacy is forget them and their efforts.