Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Life The Universe and Everything

Two weekends ago I attended my first ever writing conference, and I absolutely loved it. Sierra, the girls, and I drove up to Provo, UT for BYU's Life, The Universe, and Everything. It was a three-day conference with many of my favorite authors present, sitting on panels and discussing the craft and industry of writing. I also got to hang out with my brother Jonnie for much of the conference.

Why was this conference so awesome? Well, I have flirted with writing in spurts over the years. I've wanted to write novels, but I've had a hard time consistently carving out time to get my ideas down on paper. This has resulted in a lot of unfinished projects and frustration. What I got most from the writing conference was a sense of "finding my tribe," meaning I found like-minded individuals passionate about writing who motivated me to make this dream my reality.

To do so, I have had to commit to making some sacrifices so that I can carve out time to write daily (well, every day except Sunday). I can't sacrifice work, so instead I've been sacrificing TV/movie time. Instead of going home after work to veg out and binge on Netflix or movies, I've been focusing on getting home at a decent hour, playing with my family, starting bed time at a more reasonable hour, and then getting myself to bed by 10:00 p.m. each night. Usually I head to bed early enough to be able to read for a little while before I shut off the light. All of this routine is geared toward helping me get an hour of writing in before work each morning. My goal is to build momentum with one hour a day at first. As time goes on, I intend to train my body to function on less sleep (working my way from seven hours a day down to six) so I can get two hours of writing in before work.

I've been doing this for about two weeks now, and it feels great. I've been working on a short story that is a ghost story, adapted from a true life event from my youth. I finished my second draft of that story this morning. I am going to do one more revision, and then I will be looking for some alpha readers to read the story and provide "big picture" feedback on it. After that, I will send it out for publication and see what happens. While I wait to hear back from the publishers, I will begin writing the next story.

I'm treating this like a job. Clock in and out every day. After my morning scripture study, it is my top priority. Then, I shift focus and go to my other job (the longer one that actually puts food on the table). My focus for the next couple years will be less on publication and more on learning the craft and experimenting to find my voice. So, I will focus mostly on short story writing, because the smaller format allows me to: experiment with more genres and styles, build momentum through project completion, and focus my writing to practice certain skills that I need to develop without getting bogged down in the mire of a massive project. My end goal is novel writing, and I will still write one this year, I believe that there are some fundamentals I need to get in place first. Also, short stories are really fun.

So, please let me know if you are interested in being an alpha reader. Also, I want to join or start a writing group in the Henderson, NV area. If you are interested in joining me or inviting me to yours, please let me know. My genres of choice right now are fantasy and sci-fi.

There you have it, folks. I'm a writer.

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