2014-05-11

Never Stop Learning

Peacekeeper Update
I managed to get quite a bit of writing done last week and the word count now stands at 57,854. All of the story snags have been resolved and the only thing standing in my way now is time to get the book finished. This is, of course, only the first draft. I will set the book aside for a short time to take a break and then begin work on the first editing pass. I have lots of editing to do.

Education
We had our monthly writer's group meeting yesterday. I walked away from it wondering how I've managed to sell any books at all. We have a fairly new member of the group who writes Gothic fiction. When he first appeared in the group we had quite a number of critical feedback for him. He's been with us now for several months and yesterday he blew us away with how much he has improved. This guy is going to go far! He has an entire set of worlds as well as a large series of books planned out. He has a very descriptive writing style that immediately puts you into his world and refuses to let you step back out. He's obviously been learning how to write.

I also read something at the meeting and received some very useful feedback. Comparing what I wrote and what the other guy read was like a slap on the side of the head. His writing digs deeply into the meat of a scene, explaining things in a way that puts the reader there with the characters. My style is a little more distant, putting the reader near the scene but leaving enough to the imagination for each person to be able to conjure up their own scene in their head. Which style is better? His I believe -- and I'm going to try to make Peacekeeper a better book by learning how to be more descriptive.

If a reader has to think about creating a scene then he or she is having to devote a part of their brain to do so. If a writer's words are so descriptive and done so in a skillful manner, the reader is immersed in the world of the writer without even realizing it. Time passes as the reader is swept off into a distant land, the world around her fading away into nothing. I am hoping to learn how to write like that and the only way for that to happen is to keep on learning.

Writers must be able to accept feedback and they must realize that like any other occupation writing is a never-ending process of learning. If someone has a comment about what you've written, listen to them! They are telling you something you need to know. Don't become defensive. Think about the feedback and try to learn something from it. A writer should never stop learning.

In today's hectic world, finding time to learn can be difficult. A friend of mine (Jamie Todd Rubin) is a very good writer who also holds down a job. He 'reads' using audio books. I think I'm going to look into this because I spend about an hour a day in my car. That's enough time to listen to a lot of books every year. Instead of listening to NPR news or music, I think I'm going to check into listening to audio books.

Upcoming Events
Next weekend I will be attending a writer's retreat. This one's a bit unique in that I will be returning home each day. It's being held at a local B&B where most of the writers who are attending will be renting rooms. Since I live so close I'll just drive there every day. I hope to get quite a bit of writing done as well as socializing.

July is fast approaching and I will be leaving for Launch Pad. I won't be doing daily blogs this time as it would only be a repeat of what happened last year. I will keep everyone up-to-date on interesting activities though. I am looking forward to meeting another group of fine writers.

Dream Job
I have officially turned down the chance to change positions at the power plant and to work in what could have been my dream job. I love to program and I'm very good with Microsoft Access. When a planning position opened up a few months ago I applied for it. During the supervisory / managerial review process of the applicants  my supervisor brought up the fact that I have quite a bit of experience writing database programs. A manager in the room heard this and wanted to hire me as a DBA (DataBase Administrator) -- a position that had been empty for some time. I got the planner job and then he approached me about the DBA job.

On the surface, it sounded like my dream job. I would be working with databases and mostly MS Access. It would involve a lot of programming as well. But, after digging deeper there were other duties and issues which I won't get into here. In the end, I turned down the job. The manager was very disappointed. But, I don't like to burn bridges so I asked this manager to have his group put together a top 3 wish list of things a future DBA would be expected to work on. I've already solved the first issue and I'm working on the next two. Everyone seems happy and I'm having fun as well.