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Why Do I Do This?

January 20, 2014

Tags: Writing Life

Been having a tough time getting started on my new novel, a blatantly libertarian science fiction tale that essentially shows a new way to solve a very old problem. So what's the writing problem?

After more than two years of dodging health bullets and writing and restarting again and rewriting again my Joe Torio Mystery ROPE PAPER SCISSORS, I ended that particular 340K marathon flat-out exhausted. I'd bore you with all the medical/migraine/ADD crap, but it bores me. Suffice it to say, if I owned a car with as many mechanical problems as I have health issues, I'd junk the damned thing. It would embarrass me to try and sell it.
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Blurbophobia

November 19, 2013

Tags: blurbs, favors, writing tips

Years ago, I was asked by a friend to come up with a blurb on his soon to be released science fiction novel. I hate doing these things. Throw friendship, honesty, and my own peculiarities concerning what constitutes good storytelling into the mix, and unmindful of my agonies of effort and decision in coming up with said blurb, certain things are guaranteed to happen: (1) I am going to lose a lot of time; (2) I am going to be emotionally torn seven ways from Sunday as integrity and honesty come up against a tale that essentially doesn't fit my pistol; and last, but by no means least, (3) I am going to lose a friend.

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WIGGLE ROOM

October 1, 2013

Wiggle room: It has a lot to do with getting the story finished.

Okay, in Twelve Step programs they have a bit of advice that goes like this: Live in the solution, not the problem. So, what does this have to do with getting the words into the manuscript?

List your reasons for not writing. Go on. We'll wait for you, and here are a few to get you started.
Nobody believes in me.
I just can't get started.
There are too many demands on my time.
I just can't seem to sell a word.
My ideas don't seem to go anywhere.
No support from my family (friends, parents, spouse, partner, bartender, etc.)
Poor health, low energy, can't concentrate, the neighbor's dog keeps barking, my dealer really wants to get paid, it all seems so hopeless.

Here is an example of living in the problem: "Look at what's happening to me; I just can't win! Boo hoo!"

Here is an example of living in the solution: "This is standing in my way; Now, what can I do about it?"
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Authors: Why Attend Conventions?

March 21, 2012

Tags: Conventions, publicity, ideas, writer's block, fear

A fellow writer, thoroughly jammed with writer's block, shared with me that he never attends genre conventions (mystery, SF, fantasy) because, "It's just not his cup of tea." After a few minutes of additional probing, it turned out he was afraid of meeting new people. Those he had never met before hadn't been vetted, hence, might commit one of the following errors:

1. The person in question might impart that he never cared much for that writer's works.
2. He or she may not have even heard of that writer.
3. The bothersome attendees might besiege him for autographs.
4. During the autograph session, no one might show up.

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FATAL ERROR Number One

March 8, 2012

Tags: Mistakes

I really enjoyed this guy's first book. Fresh, racy, on the edge, I didn't know from one page to the next where the story was going. I seemed to be able to count on it, though, being outrageously unexpected. Just couldn't wait for his second book.

I should have.

In his second book the author committed the Big Crime. I can forgive almost any error except for bumping me out of the story to deliver a political message. What is perplexing with this book is that it's only the fellow's second. Usually, a mystery writer has to have several tomes and at least a decade of a well-established publishing career before the author becomes dotty enough to think that stopping his tale to deliver a political message or to spleen vent all over some disliked politician is a good idea. (more…)

What In The Hell Do I have To Put On The Paper To Make A Sale?

February 21, 2012

In your writing career, if you have never uttered sentiments similar to the title of this post, you are either a famously successful and fabulouly wealthy wordsmith or you just don't give a flying crap. In either case, this posting is not for you. The big sellers in writing, for the most part, believe they have all the answers. "Just look at my checkbook," or, "Count my followers on Twitter." Those who don't give a flying crap as to what happens to their writing, well I don't give a flying crap either.

The rest of us are staring at a shrinking market, an increase in the number of writers, and in an economy in which more of us will be flipping burgers and greeting folks at Walmart than had planned to do so. The ticket into the literary life, we are told, is a sale. Survival requires more sales. A writing career requires even more sales and for big bucks.

Yet, in the midst of this economic disaster, there are any number of writers who go out of their way to teach the art of writing to aspiring key-ticklers, and are very free with their experiences and hard-won bits of knowledge. By so doing, they increase the number of manuscripts competing against their own (more…)

DA NIGHT BEFORE XMAS by Louie

December 24, 2011

Tags: Xmas

DA NIGHT BEFORE XMAS
by Louie (Barry Longyear, really)
A Tale of Redemption

It's da night before Xmas, and on da cell block ,

Da lights was shut down, da screws checkin' da locks.

Bernie 'n' me, shut up high on third tier,

Da same as we been for t'ree friggin' years,

Da rest a da cons was passed out in dere racks

Blasted out on pruno, smack, oxy, 'n' blacks.

And Bernie wit' his ear plugs, in da top bunk

An' me down below gettin' into a funk,

When from da air vent dere arose such a grumble,

I pulled out my shank and got ready to rumble.
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Art, BS, Illness, Success & Rotten Apples

November 27, 2011

Tags: Art, Success, Principles

I admit: There are times when I feel filled with the writing wisdom of the ages. All one need do is ask and I shall bless you with beginner, intermediate, or advanced sets of pearls from the fountainhead of literary profundity itself. At other times I feel so full of crap I could be the featured ingredient in a truck bomb of substantial proportions.

Observe: On October 23rd of this year, a shade more than a month ago, I blogged about defining literary success, and how defining it in terms of art, instead of money, is the path to true literary fulfillment, happiness, and sanity. So there I was, beginning a week ago until last night, on a hook because I was so frustrated that a certain book of mine is not a commercial $ucce$$.

"Hypocrite!" you shout from the battlements, or from your window if your castle has no battlements. Perhaps you only mutter it. In any event, (more…)

Followers, Friends, & Phantoms

November 22, 2011

Tags: Facebook, Twitter, social networking

One compensation of being disabled by an illness is more time to think about stuff about which one normally ignores. For this illness, the thoughts have been drifting toward the changing definitions of important words brought about by advances in technology. As the definitions change, so do the concepts the definitions attempt to represent.

For example, the word "Friend." Dictionary definitions for this word have always been lame. I like the "Someone who knows the worst about you and loves you anyway; someone upon whom, for that love, you can depend on and trust; someone who wishes only the best for you." By this definition, twenty years ago I had perhaps three friends. Then came Facebook and GovSpinSpeak. (more…)

White Space: Ski Slopes & Story Beginnings

October 27, 2011

Tags: First Page, Story Starts, Writing

Writers: Ever freeze up trying to get an important new story started? Your mind is going a thousand miles an hour, searching for the perfect beginning, but your fingers are caught in quick-set concrete. You are jammed. The upshot is that nothing gets on the paper.

Skiers: Ever freeze up at the top of a steep new double black-diamond trail? Your heart's in your throat beating a good 500/min, your mouth's suddenly dry as dust, you're seeing yourself flying a thousand miles per hour into a solid wall of ice, but your skis are bolted solid to the snow. Not going anywhere; You are jammed. The upshot is that your tracks don't make it down the trail at all.

It was easy for me to recognize the similarity between the two situations because I both ski and write. (more…)

What About This Blog?


For writers & readers. For writers, this is stuff I've learned, am in the process of discovering, and stuff that is imparted to me by other writers. For readers, I believe the more one knows about what goes into the writing of a story, and into the life of being a writer, the more one appreciates an author's writings.

This is a two-way blog. Your comments on the blogs are welcome, as are your questions. Comments on blogs can be made directly on each blog entry. For questions and comments not related to specific blogs, use the eMail link below.


Barry B. Longyear is the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer all in the same year. In addition to his acclaimed Enemy Mine Series, his works include the Circus World and Infinity Hold series, Sea of Glass, other SF & fantasy novels, recovery and writing instruction works, and numerous short stories.