So many marshmallows

I’m not sure what’s going on with this story.  I thought I had a nice rich platform to build on but I’m having a hard time finding any center here.  Sorry for the writer’s-speak but that’s really where I’m at.  Also, one of my biggest fears as a writer is that I’ll start repeating myself.  It’s a tough fear to live with as far as things go.  I write a preposterous amount of words and characters and to lose sleep over the idea that two characters from separate works share a similar storyline is a silly thing to do, but it’s not like it’s a conscious choice.  It’s just one of the things I worry about.

So this story has me nervous, because it’s a lot like “You’re Allowed to Order Takeout” and it’s a lot like, “Continental Drift,” and I’m a little worried that I’m stuck in a rut of plotless character-study works.  Two wasn’t bad, but now it’s getting silly.  Of course you may not feel this way, you might see these stories as radically different, and there was a Matthew and Epp story in there but, well like I said, this isn’t a conscious choice, it’s just me worrying.

And, on top of everything else, I’ve been sick with a head cold.  I’ve mentioned before how when I get a cold my brain shuts off and drifts in a marshmallow cloud.  Rewriting alone is almost impossible as by the time I’ve reached the end of a paragraph I’ve completely lost track of what the opening sentence said.  This sucks. The last time this happened before a deadline I waved off and opted to wait out my cold and finish the story later.  I’m not going to do that this time.   This time you get to see what my writing looks like when I can’t concentrate.   Should be fun.


I think I’ve talked on here about the amazing amount of data I get from the Google Analytics program.  I can tell what town people are visiting from, how long they stay, which state contains the most readers, stuff like that.  On the other hand, it’s all just data, and there are always tons of different ways to read data and, in the end, you never actually know what’s going on, you can only decide how you’re going to interpret the data.  In other words if a visitor stays on “Black Eyed Susan” for thirteen minutes, then they could be reading that story…or they could have arrived at that story and then really really really had to go to the bathroom, gotten up, left their computer on and their browser open to that page, and forgotten about it entirely.

So recently I started receiving a lot of direct hits to the site.   A direct hit means that the visitor didn’t come via another site or get sent here by a search engine.  They opened up their browser and typed “” into the address bar in their browser…in Bahrain.  Or Turkey.  Or Japan.  Or Estonia.  Lots of direct hits from lots of different places.  That’s been the newest thing.

To give you a clearer idea of what I mean, I’ll tell you this: in the nine months from the start of this project up until last Wednesday I had received 34 direct visits from 16 different countries, excluding stats from the United States.  In the four days between then and now I have received 198 direct visits from 36 different countries.

It’s weird.  And I have no idea what’s going on.  My gut says that this is a fluke or that search engine visitors are accidentally being classified as direct visitors or it’s some sort of program scanning my site or something.  But who knows?  So if you’re from Singapore or Bahrain and you’re reading this, clue me in.  I’m lost.

And hopefully you’re not a robot.

This Old Story

When I started this project I was hoping that these daily blog posts would shed some light on the writing process.  I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened.  It most certainly hasn’t happened the way I thought it was going to.  I foresaw coming on here after writing each day and walking step by step through some choices I had made or explaining why I set a scene in a certain area or things like that.  I don’t think I’ve written a blog post like that yet.  (Have I?)

The thing I’m realizing (again) is that you can either talk about a story, or you can tell the story, but it’s difficult to do both.  It might even be more than difficult, it might be impossible.  I have no idea what it is that I do here, or why I have this annoying innate urge to tell stories, nor do I know why you all have an innate urge to read stories.  I don’t think about it too much but I’ve become certain over the past decade and a half of writing that some sort of purpose is being served here.  I don’t care to narrow it down more than that and maybe all sorts of things are happening, entertainment and catharsis and empathy and the passing of knowledge and the sharing of ideas and so forth.  Or maybe we’re all just really bored.

What I do know is that the more I talk about a story, the less I write a story.  Which makes it very difficult for me to blog about writing, which is something I probably should have seen coming.  It’s almost like there isn’t a “how.”  There’s just “do.”  I don’t know, maybe I should have written more recaps over the course of this project, those were doable, once the story is done then I can talk about it some, but the stories started coming awful awful fast and those recaps kind of died out.

Anyway, no real point here. I’m just procrastinating on a Sunday afternoon and looking back over the course of this project and trying to figure out what it is that I’ve done here.

Is it Friday yet?

I’ve got nothing. Nothing to say, nothing to write, nothing done on the next story. Nothing.

Earlier in the week a friend of mine sent around a funny picture of marshmallow peeps at a strip club and reminded me of this study done to test the impact of smoking and drinking on a marshmallow peep.

Here. Enjoy.

Show me how this ends

Matthew and Epp have started to take over this project.  I’m having a harder and harder time leaving their world after every story and thinking about them when a new story is rolling around starts earlier and earlier.  This is understandable I guess, and, judging by how that last story came out of me, has zero bearing on what actually happens.  I seriously thought Kyo’s story would be summed up in a quick little flashback.  Oops.

Anyway, I find myself with eight days until I need a new story and while I have something of an idea, I can’t seem to get my head to focus and instead I’m constantly toying with Matthew and Epp ideas.  It’s clear where their story is heading at this point but how it ends is not exactly obvious to me.  I should rephrase that. I have no idea where it’s heading but I have a number of scenes that keep rattling around in my head that it’d be a shame not to have happen.  And, well, it’s so much fun to play in their world.  I mean, this is a series of stories where I could have a gun toting outlaw from the 1800’s American southwest fighting it out with a member of Napolean’s infantry…and they could do it on the deck of the Titanic.

Not that that’s going to happen but with that sort of creative freedom it’s difficult to leave their world.

I don’t know.  I need to get my head together.

Stupid hubris

My idea for next week’s story is odd. I was all excited because I got a decent idea this past weekend, mere days after finishing the previous story. This never happens. But it did and so I assumed I would have an easy time of things this go around. But the idea is really quite strange and frankly I’m not sure what to do with it. So now I’m getting worried. Also I’m very sleepy.

I knew I shouldn’t have let myself get ahead of myself.

In other news, over at Tim King’s blog, Be The Story, “Private Showing” has been decreed to not be crap. High praise indeed.


I just found out that another old story of mine was accepted for publication. The magazine that picked it up is Ellipsis out of Westminster College.

I don’t know when it’s going to be out in print, exactly. After a story gets accepted it can take six months to a year for it to appear in an edition of the magazine and sometimes it never makes it at all. I wrote this story in college and mailed to Ellipsis in November of 2006. It’s now March of 2008. It’ll be a few more months until it shows up in print.

You can read the story I finished writing last Thursday here. Right now. No wait.

I already went through this in this post but I’ll mention again that I’m pretty sure the smaller short story publications could start utilizing the internet to streamline things a bit and spend more time doing the work they want to be doing. Like me. I hate putting together mailings. It takes me weeks and weeks and I get all thrown off track and my work routine goes to hell. Now, though, I just copy and paste into my WordPress dashboard. Then I hit the publish button. Then you can read it. Pretty simple.

As I mentioned in that other post I don’t claim to have all of this worked out. But I’m pretty certain some things can be improved.

I’ll let you know when Ellipsis puts my story out and you can buy a copy if you want.

I have no idea what I’m doing

I really don’t have any idea how to go about running this site.  None.  I’d like to make it as enjoyable as possible, and I’d like for you to play on here as much as possible…but this project makes that difficult sometimes.  For one thing, as more and more readers come in, more and more people are commenting on stories that were posted, like, eight months ago.  Which is great, I love comments, but it’s hard to get a sense of community going when my main content is buried in the archives.  I threw up a “Most Popular” sidebar a few months ago, and hopefully that helped people pick the stories out from the daily babble. And the “Stories” page up along the top seemed to help too.

But what I’m talking about now are the comments that are slowly starting to amass on some of the stories.  I’ll say again that I love comments and there isn’t anything that makes a story come alive for me more than hearing how readers respond to the characters I’ve created.  There’s a metaphor, not mine, I forget where I heard it, but it compares art to gambling at a casino.  The basic premise being that it’s all sort of fake, you have these chips and you know on some level that they’re real but it doesn’t hit home until you go to the cashier and get actual money.  That’s what you all are.  My cashiers.  You make this real for me and I thank you for it.

And from the other end of things I think reading what other people have to say can be an eye-opener and can enrich your reading of a story.  Some people don’t like that, I know, but some people do, and for those people it’s hard to keep track of comments since the meaty ones are going to be way back on the stories.

So, I’ve also added a “Recent Comments” thingy into the sidebar.  You can see all the latest comments if you scroll down…and look in the sidebar.  Likewise, you can subscribe to the comments via a feed.  That’s up in the sidebar as well by the orange chic-let.  Although that’s probably just for die-hards.

I’ll also add that the comments sections for stories are yours and yours alone.  I know a lot of bloggers will pop in and say hi and “chat,” so to speak, via comments, but I don’t think I’m going to do that.  It’s just not me.  Once I hit the publish button on a story I’m a firm believer that I should then back away from the story and let it be yours entirely.  So I won’t be popping up to reply to comments.  Sorry.  I will, however, happily respond to e-mails.  Relatively quickly.  And maybe maybe maybe I’ll give you a nod if you’ve been getting busy on the old comments (Give me a “T!” Give me an “A!” Give me an “M!”  Give me an “M!” Give me a “Y!”).

Generally speaking, though, the comments are all yours.

And, for the first time in forever, I’ve got an idea for the next story right off the bat.  Kind of.  At the very least I’m not nowhere.

My apologies to the entire nation of Japan

I’m very unsettled by that last story. For a number of reasons. For starters, though, I’ll mention again that me being unsettled is generally a good sign for you, the reader. You don’t want me positive a story was good. But still, that last story drew on some weird things and I found myself in the annoying position of wanting to do a good job portraying ancient Japanese culture while at the same time needing to completely ignore everything I knew about Japanese culture in order to just tell my story. That was unsettling part number one.

Unsettling part number two was that I’ve got to get a move on here with the main players in the world of Matthew and Epp, and I thought I’d be jumping around from place to place in that last story, putting a few more pieces into place before letting the whole thing start to unwind naturally on it’s own. Only, I decided to dip a bit into Kyo’s history and thousands of words later, there I was, still investigating Kyo’s history. Nothing else in the Matthew and Epp universe got advanced very much.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to be extending this project by a story or maybe two in order to wrap up that world.

For now, if you enjoyed “The Monk, the Warrior and the Lord,” than I would like to credit the large number of Japanese myths and folk tales that I drew on. If you weren’t so crazy about it than that’s on me. Either way, it is absolutely necessary for me, once a deadline is done, to just move on to the next story. If I let myself linger this whole project goes to hell. So that sound your hearing is my hands being wiped clean and me moving on to Untitled 19.

Anyone have any ideas?