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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Goals Part 2

Alright. Here's the scoop.

A while ago I went to a writer's workshop. Here, I found a publisher who was interested in a short story of mine. She said they were thinking of doing a monthly online short story publication, an eBook at half price because it's just a short story.

I was bad and never got back in touch with her. I need to do that and see if they're still interested or if they even went ahead with it. I never got back to her because my short story was not 100% up-to-par and complete.

I also took part in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - nanowrimo.com) back in November, but did not finish. I did not like what I had done with it, and I got a job which got in the way. But, those are really just excuses. Simply, i did not finish and did not succeed.

Finally, I am part of a writing group that meets twice a month. I haven't had anything new to show them in a while.

So I have new goals.

1) I want to finish the short story ASAP
2) I want to rewrite the book.
3) I want to have something to show my group EVERY meeting.

As there is a meeting this coming Thursday (it is the 1st thursday and 3rd tuesday of each month), I feel it is a reachable goal to finish my short story by then. I already gave it at the group, and it is too long to give at one sitting (limit is 5 pages, it is so far 8), but I should be able to give it again with just the updates.
I should also be able to start writing the book and using THAT as the thing I bring in each meeting. So I want to have that started for the second meeting in february.

Friday, January 29, 2010


It occurs to me that in order to fulfill my larger goals, I need to set a series of smaller goals. A professor of mine once told me that "a writer is born out of deadlines." This is something I need to take to heart. Without deadlines, nothing will get completed. So, I need to make REAL deadlines for each part of the writing process. And I need to have some kind of incentive, be it positive or negative, to complete it by that deadline (and it will have to be something more than the satisfaction of it).

I will set some deadlines soon. Right now I cannot due to time constraints, but soon I'll be able to.

Also, I need to look into the eBook store involved with the new Apple iPad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I like to think of myself as an "idea man." I am constantly having minor inspirations for stories, commercials, characters, etc. So for me, coming up with ideas is not an issue in my writing. It's focussing them. I can't turn off the ideas. This is probably in part due to my being ADHD. It also makes organizing things a little difficult, because once I get a thought in my head, I need to write it down before it gets away. This happened to me yesterday - I had what I know was a fantastic inspiration for a notable quote... and I took too long to write it down. It is gone now, likely forever. I usually write them in a small notebook I keep with me at all times (a Moleskine, gotta love it) or on Google Docs. Google Docs is a wonderful tool - check it out. And when Google Wave comes out, check it out too.

But I digress. I may, once in a while, share a thought with this blog just for the heck of it. Maybe someone else will like my ideas. Someday I'll actually get back to telling you all about where I stand in terms of being published. Someday.

This morning I was contemplating being asked on the bat to come up with a commercial for a random product. The first thing that popped into my mind was diapers - Pampers. I have to admit, at first I didn't think I'd be able to actually make a commercial for it in less than 5 minutes. But it happened about 2 minutes in.

Simple commercial, just one scene, one shot, with words changing on the screen. The shot is of a baby sitting on a toilet holding a newspaper or something of the like in front of it, covering all but his hands and feet. The words show up "Until your baby can do this" then "Pampers".

I don't know, I think as far as a commercial goes it would be successful. It would be memorable, slightly funny, and the brand name might just stick out enough to be recalled later. What do you all think?

In other news, my brother and I are working together on his blog, Weakly Animated. At first his idea was to make an animation every week, like Jonathan Coulton was writing a song a week. Now it's one per month, with an update weekly. It's spelled "Weakly" because in a rushed state like that, they will be a bit weak, but they'll get stronger. Anyway, I am writing the animations and he is actually drawing and animating them. The first animatic (a simple "test" of sorts, like a rough draft) is up! I've had this idea for a while, originally as a Snickers commercial. It has had several different endings over the years, but I am proud of this one!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Keeping up with things

Alright, I have not been good at keeping up with these goals. In the end, however, I blame myself.

Several days I have not written because it was late, I was tired, and I had a lot of stuff to do that day. In fact, there have been days where I did not check my email because I was so busy with work, taking it home to complete it. This is not copacetic. I can definitely say that this is simply an excuse, which is the antithesis of dreaming. I also have definitely not done the work I needed to do towards getting published. These excuses vary. I have considered going back to school, but I may be late in this endeavor as I have not yet taken the accursed GRE. I have also been bogged down with keeping up at work. I've done several things for church. And I haven't had time to relax until recently, so I spent that time playing Ghost Busters the Video Game. It's a fun game, but it takes time. I should spend my time elsewhere, right?

Excuses aside, life has a way of sticking its nose where it doesn't belong and bogging things down. This is true for everyone, so I just need to work that much harder to get myself published. However, I'm not sure working towards it every day is feasible. So I should change my rules.

Every day I need to write something that I will want to get published. Contribute at least a little to it. This would be like the NaNoWriMo. I am not sure if I should put a minimum yet, but I need to try really hard towards it. If I don't write something, then I am actively trying to get published or managing publications.

Let's see if this works...

Perhaps I need an incentive. I've never been too good with giving myself incentives unfortunately. Right now we have budgeted a certain amount of "fun" money for my wife and me to use every month, $x each. I am having an incredibly hard time finding what I want to spend my money on. I thought about using it to get back into City of Heroes, a game I loved and played for... 5 years?... essentially since it started. Then I had to quit for money and time reasons. But I don't want to use my time in a game... so that also rules out Eve Online and any of a variety of PS3 and Mac games that I considered using my money on. I found a great board gaming group in the area, but the dues are expensive and I'm not sure I'm willing to use almost all of my spending money to, once again, play games (although they're social games). Then I wanted to get a Blue Tooth mouse, but so I really need it? My USB mouse works... I suppose there are a few books I should get, like the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents (I will have to ask my brother how to insert amazon ads so people can check it out). that might be the best use of my "fun" money, but it's more like a business expense. I even considered using it to contribute towards the webcomic my brother and I are trying to start. *sighs* Right now I'm unsure. I just shouldn't spend it on something that will waste my time. People may say I'm young, but I'm not, not for all the things I want to do. If I don't get started now, I'll never make it.

PS - anyone out there have the solo music to "Amie" by the Pure Prairie League for guitar in either tabulation or sheet?

Monday, January 18, 2010

First challenge

It's only Day 3 and I've already been met with my first real challenge.

Today was rather busy. We drove 250+ miles and then I had to finish some work before tomorrow. I did not finish until it was already after 10, right around when I should be heading to bed. Then we assembled the item we'd purchased some 125+ miles away and here I am after 11 still up without having a single thing written or having done anything to further my goal.

....There. I did something. I found out that I will have to do a lot MORE searching to find an agent in my state. Perhaps I don't need one in my state. NY is where all the big boys play, right?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And now, for my next trick...

Good morning Cybernauts!

After much thought and internal debate I have decided that as my second post, I should inform you, the world, about me, the writer. But first, there are a few things I feel that are worth mentioning.

Rule 6:
I must do something everyday, no matter how small, that brings me closer to getting published. It may be that this is in fact my daily writing, or it may be that this is making a call, looking up a name, researching an agent, or reading about other writers' experiences with getting published.

Exception to Rule 6:
Sundays can be difficult, particularly here in the South, when it comes to contacting anyone. It is also to be a day of rest. As such, I reserve the right to pursue another passion on this day instead of getting published.

And now, for your edification, I feel you all should know who am I, where I am coming from with this challenge, and what my circumstances are. In short, my dossier.

My name is Spencer Hixon. I lived in the northern Virginia area for 20 years, then got married and moved to the South in the pursuit of furthering my wife's education. She is behind me 100% on this. I have not listed her as a passion of my life because I see her as my support to help me on my journey to pursue my passions.

I went to George Mason University in Virginia where I earned a B.A. in English - Nonfiction Writing and Editing, but only after doing 2 full years as a Systems Engineering major. Why I changed is a long topic that I will avoid on this blog. As you might be able to discern, having a fair amount of engineering in my background (top of the class in engineering and physics classes) has affected the way I write and how I perceive and approach challenges in general. I am currently employed writing SEO content for hotels (if you do not know what this is, a quick search on your favorite search engine- I recommend goodsearch.com- will reveal the facts more succinctly than I can).

I am also a twin. Yes, identical; no, we don't share thoughts or pain. We just think and look alike. This is important to mention because my brother is an artist and we have begun collaborating on publishing webcomics, that is a comic book posted on the internet, and I am the writing force behind his current project and blog, Weakly Animated. For the purposes of my challenge, I will consider getting my webcomic published as fulfilling my goals, but it will not take precedence over getting published by other means. Our webcomic is currently set to be published on TangentArtists.com, a group my friends and I made for just such a purpose.

As far as my writing is concerned, I am very eclectic and have trouble narrowing myself down to one genre. I am currently working on a piece of historical fiction/suspense/horror and a creative nonfiction piece about a girl in the 80s dying of cancer. I have also written articles, a how-to guide, memoirs, fantasy, and even poetry, all of which has been published in some form (but I have yet to be paid for anything). I foresee this presenting some difficulty, but I know other successful writers have been able to overcome the genre issue.

I tend to prefer short stories, though I am also working on a novel. In my next post, I will update everyone as to where I am in my attempts to be published. Until then, happy surfing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prima Blogta

Welcome, Cybernauts, to yet another writer's blog.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "I don't have time to read a blog. Most blogs fail. You're not even a published writer, why would I care what you have to say? Why don't people make pretzel-flavored beer?" Ok, perhaps you're not thinking that last part, and I'm not sure I can answer it. But I can address your other concerns.

First, of all, yes, you do have time to read a blog. And write a blog. And write a book. I'm not writing this to convince only you, but to convince myself as well. I was told long ago that a working man has only time for one passion in his life. And it is true that time constraints limit what you can do - unless your job is your passion, you need to be picky about what you do. But I don't completely believe this. I have 3 real passions in my life: playing guitar, writing, and helping others. I do not believe that I must give them up in order to simply live. Of course, you have to LOVE what it is you pursue, and you show this love by giving up your precious time to it. If you really want to read this blog or write a book or write a symphony or change the world, you need to just stop doing other things and dedicate your time to THAT. And don't make excuses, make solutions. Think of hardships as challenges to overcome which will, in the end, made victory all the sweeter. If you make excuses, you've already failed because you have the wrong mindset.

Secondly, yes, most blogs fail. Just take a look at the blogosphere and look at the sheer number of blogs that have ONE post in them, or the humber that have been abandoned. I am guilty of this! But there are also very successful blogs which have huge readerships and there's NO REASON why this blog cannot become one too.

Finally, I am and am not a published writer. To be a published writer, all you have to do is post on the internet. If you're reading this, that proved that I have been published. But the internet withstanding, I have also been published in several college-level publications, including a newspaper, 2 literary journals, and several articles in a magazine (which was my internship). But in the real sense of the word "published," that is being in print for a consumer to purchase and read, then no, I have not. But that is WHY you should try to read this blog.

If you love to write and want to become a writer as well, think of this blog as a series of lessons - Authorship 101. I will use this blog to update the internet (and, no, I have no illusions that I have a great audience at the moment) on my attempts to get published. First I should set aside some rules:

Rule number 1:
Writers write. I must try to write SOMETHING every day - something that is NOT related to my work. It may be a blog post, it may be short, or it may just be notes on research I am doing for my project, but I must write.

Rule number 2:
Publish or die. This axiom has been adopted by professors around the world. I will adopt it as well. Once I have a finished manuscript, I must send it off to publishers until I either get accepted or it has been rejected no less than 20 times.

Rule number 3:
Adopt, Adapt, and Improve. If something isn't working, change it. If my manuscript is rejected 20 times, perhaps it is time to gut it and recycle the parts into something that does work. If I get distracted too easily, I need to find out how to prevent this. If I find I don't have time, I must make time. If I laugh while drinking bubble tea, what comes out my nose?

Rule number 4:
Have fun. This is, after all, a passion. If I don't enjoy it, why am I doing it? Unless, of course, I am changing the world or helping others (which I do enjoy). If there is some part of the process of becoming a professional writer that I don't enjoy, I need to find out why not and address the issue, or just figure out how to do it faster and more efficiently so that I get back to the parts I do enjoy.

Rule number 5:
No excuses. "I was too tired to write," "my cat threw up on my computer," "I just died." All excuses, no matter how valid, are detrimental to pursuing your dreams. I cannot let any excuse stop me from going after my dreams.

Finally, Rule number 6:
If I find that I need another rule, I will make it.

For now, I will leave you, dear Blogosphere, to return to your regularly scheduled distractions and will return on the morrow.