The Week in Words (July 17)

At the Editor’s Desk

This week I’ve spent a whole lot of time advancing hundreds of different projects and goals in hundreds of parallel paths. The net result is probably only a gain of a few inches on average, but miles and miles if you add them all up.

I suppose that’s too vague to be useful, but getting into all the specifics would probably be tedious. So I’ll just give you an overview of the more interesting pieces.

Visiting with Family

My parents came to visit two weeks ago for the holiday weekend, and my mom stuck around, so I got to drive her home last Friday night. That gave me five hours to chat with her on the drive to Little Rock, which was probably the first uninterrupted time we’ve had together in most of a decade. She just finished her degree to become a certified therapist, so she’s got a lot of exciting stuff going on.

I also got to check out the major work they’ve done on their house, and spend lots of time talking with Dad about his plans for opening a web practice for his therapy. It just so happens I’ve spent most of the last six months learning the kinds of things he really needs to know right now.

It was a busy weekend, but it was also incredibly valuable. I’ve got to make the time to get out there on my own more often.


After promising to get caught up last weekend, this week I did prewriting work on three different books, and finished chapter six of The Girl Who Stayed the Same. I also got to know Jesse Lane in the process, and he’s turning out to be a much more interesting character than I expected him to be.

In fact, I wrote a lot this week. I wrote six detailed project descriptions, and a couple dozen critical emails. I wrote editorial reviews for a dozen different projects in a dozen different media. And best of all, I wrote ten blog posts this week. For the first time since February, I’ve got an actual blog post buffer.

I’m really hoping to get some significant fiction writing done this weekend, to brag about in my next newsletter. In the meantime, here’s the firstfruits of my blogging labor:

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: the ways writers use word count, and the value of free art.

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on word count with a story about a busy weekend I spent finished up a digital copy of Ivanhoe. It wore me out (but, as I admitted this morning, it also inspired me to start on a brand new project).

Then on Monday I talked about the single metric writers, editors, and publishers use to avoid that same confusion: word count. It’s amazingly handy for a lot of reasons (and you’d better believe I exceeded my allotted word count to list them all).

Then Tuesday I explained how to convert word count to page (and vice versa), and listed some standard word counts given for a handful of common document types. I also tasked you with figuring out the right word count for the documents you write, but what are the chances you followed through on that? Probably about (one):(the word count of the fifth Harry Potter book). I can live with that.

On Wednesday, Courtney told us what she learned about writing this week from words, and weird as the words were, their message was a simple one: until you’ve got them right, you’re never completely making the connection with your reader that you want. Spend a little extra time, and hone in on the fine details. You’ll be glad you did.

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on the public domain with a story about Twilight that I thought was funny. I suspect in the process I probably alienated nine out of ten of my readers, though (and that’s not a ratio, sadly enough, that’s a direct accounting).

On Friday I discussed the difference between free speech and free beer, and it was all in the context of stealing a Dickens novel from Barnes and Noble. Wait, no, that’s not right. I know it had something to do with the public domain. Go read it, and find out for yourself.

Then I wrapped up that discussion with today’s article on how to use free art in your original creative works. It’s not as complicated as you might think, and it can be incredibly valuable. If you haven’t already, check out the Creative Writing Exercise and give it a try.

Around the Web

I also found an article or two online this week that you might find worth reading (in light of our current discussions).

  • I’ve been hanging onto this one for a while, because I knew I had an article in the works on free art, but Julie Roads (yes, that Julie Roads) posted an article at Geek Girl Camp with a great primer on Using Creative Commons to Add Media to Your Blog. And, y’know, I was just talking about that yesterday!

  • And I’d like to pretend that, like last week, I’m sharing this post as a valuable counter-point to some of the things I’m saying in support of self-publishing, but I mainly wanted to share literary agent Mary’s post over at Kidlit in which she talks about Self-Publishing, Finally so that you can see the viciously condescending attitude the publishing industry has toward…well, most writers. It’s painful to sit through.