Friday, December 02, 2005

A False Jazzing

Here I was all jazzed because I thought I had just completed story number 50. A landmark in my opinion. I was ready to add it to my list and saw that it was actually story number 49. Sigh. Hopefully I will feel even better when 50 does occur and will not have spent all of my jazziness on this pretender. Number 49 is called If We All Get Together. It’s no 50, but it is silly and was fun to write.

No progress on A Girl in Crisis yet.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Where the Heck Have I Been?

I’ve been not writing, that’s where I’ve been. This past holiday week, everyone has had the same days off I’ve had. While that makes for nifty holiday fun, it also makes for stinky holiday writing. But fear not, phase 2 of my master plan has already been set into motion.

Phase 1 was getting the forty hour a week job, which I had done shortly before beginning this blog. Originally, phase 2 was to get a laptop. With that laptop, I could then steal away to the backyard or the car or the bathroom or whatever and get some work done away from distraction. The price was a major stumbling block. I couldn’t stand the thought of spending that kind of dough on a machine that I only planned to use for writing. After a failed attempt at a good deal on Black Friday, I resorted to searching for word processors online. Not a whole lot has changed in word processor technology in the years since I last saw one. They still use daisy wheel printers! I cringed, imagining myself trying to track down replacement wheels and ribbon. Then my son, who was trying to pry me away from the computer so we could play Magic: The Gathering, suggested an Alphasmart which his friend uses.

The Alphasmart 3000 IR is a keyboard with a memory and a little screen. According to the website, it runs for hundreds (!) of hours on 3 AA batteries (!) and stores about 100 single spaced pages of text. You can use it anywhere and then upload your work to your PC. It auto-saves every keystroke and turns on and off in a couple of seconds. This thing sounds great and I talked my wife into getting me one for Christmas. We ordered it yesterday.

I’ll let you know if it lives up to the hype. If it does, I think my output is going to seriously increase. Not only will I be able to bring it wherever I go and crank out the words at a moment’s notice, I won’t have the distractions of the Internet and e-mail or anything else. The only thing you can use this thing for is writing.

Why don’t I just use a fifty-nine cent notebook and pen, you ask? I do, for ideas and quick notes, but I hate using them for work of any length, because I have to type it all into the PC anyway. Besides, I type a lot faster than I write.

It’s still going to be more than a week before I get a day off by myself. Whatever I can sneak in between now and then will be a bonus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Something to Read

I can’t believe I’ve been away for a week! To What it May Concern is now up at Antipodean SF issue 90, so go check it out.

I finished the first draft of A Girl in Crisis the other day (It’s been sitting around for a couple of years, waiting for a decent ending) and I think it’s going to take more work than I thought. It’s a decent enough story, but the writing is pretty clunky. That’s to be expected for a first draft. I just remembered it as being better than it actually was.

Scifiction is being given the ax along with one of my favorite editors, Ellen Datlow. Please make sure you visit the site while it’s still up and dig through the archives to read some great speculative fiction.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Holy Cow! A Comment!

And here I thought no one was reading this blog. A reader named Bobo posted the following:

can I read the Purpose of the machine??

I'm very happy that you’re interested, Bobo, but unfortunately you’ll have to wait an unspecified amount of time before reading the story. Most of the stories that I mention on this blog are stories that I am submitting to magazine editors for publication and so I cannot make them available for the general public at this time. Hopefully these stories will be published and then anyone who wants to can buy the magazines and read them.

I’ll let you know as things come up. For instance, my flash fiction piece, To What it May Concern (Number 42 in the catalog) should be available in a matter of days at Antipodean SF, issue 90. You can also read some of my older stories at my website, STIMULUS.

Sometimes You're Just Inspired

An idea struck me as was going for the mail today and I quickly wrote number 48, a piece of flash fiction (Under 500 words) called, The Next Vampire Story. I’ll be mailing it shortly.

The next story I’m planning on finishing has the working title, A Girl in Crisis. I’m thinking it will be done within about a week and a half, but who know if any others like today’s will sneak themselves in in the meantime?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Roothi Has Left The Building

I wrapped up Roothi’s Reassignment and I am sending her out. Number 47 is in the bag.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Number 46

I should make this clear here and now: Not every story is a story. Pretty much whatever I decide to send to an editor is considered a story for the purpose of this blog and my life in general. For instance, #31 is issue 1 of a comic book script, Unity. And #25 is a poem, Mr. Mellon Puts on his Fingers. Last night I jotted down a little poetic bit of insanity called Running Downhill, Naked and just sent it off. Therefore it is now and forever number 46. If that doesn’t suit you, I’m afraid you’ll have to find someway to cope with it. It’s my blog, my life, my rules.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Writing, Writing, Nothing Exciting

Nothing is really congealing at the moment, but that’s okay. I’m throwing a little bit of work into a lot of different stories. Ultimately, I think, if I keep this up, I will have a steady stream of finished stories. I’ll have too many almost-done stories not to.

Poor Roothi is a mess. It’s about as subtle as a marching band right now and clunky as hell. Still I tinker, waiting for the answer to rush up and jump right onto the screen with a splash that will spray little droplets of light all over myself and my keyboard. Patience.

Although NaNoWriMo is not exactly my cup of tea, it comes close to making me want to do something. This William C. Dietz article was closer to the mark, so I’m going to try to write a book over the course of a year. The tricky bit is the outline. I don’t work from outlines, but I see his point in doing so in a case like this. I’ve got a rough idea for the book, but I’m struggling with the outline. As soon as I have something, I’ll have at the book.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Well, I don’t know if The Purpose of the Machine is a good story, but it is, in my opinion, a story. I’m elevating it to number 45. There just wasn’t anything else to be done to it. You’ve got to know when to let go. How’s that for throwing my enthusiasm behind a project?

Only 955 stories to go!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Light of Other Days

I did another revision of The Purpose of the Machine today. I fleshed it out a bit and felt a little better about the characterization. But I’ve got to reread it in the light of another day. You never know if your work is genius or crap or somewhere in between while you’re writing it. You’ve got to come at it cold and see how it hits you. So more on that tomorrow, I hope.

Even if this story is done, I’m not sure where to market it. It doesn’t fall neatly into a genre, in my opinion. But that’s something you can’t worry about when you’re writing it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Cracks

We got through Hurricane Wilma all right. No real damage and we only lost power for a day. Of course, I had been scheduled for a lot of night shifts this week and had planned to get a lot of work done, but the family has been home with me all week. I enjoyed being able to hang out with everyone at least.

Once I switched jobs I figured this was going to be a cakewalk, but in the last month, I’ve only had a couple of days undisturbed so I’m actually going to have to discipline myself if I’m going to get any writing done. Discipline is not my strong suit. I have been able to get a little done here and there in the cracks. I’ll need to widen the cracks. Sounds painful, doesn’t it?

Friday, October 21, 2005


I’m reading through both Roothi and the Purpose of the Machine and although they’re done in one sense, they’re not right. I can tell they need something else, but I’m not of a mind to say just what that is right now. There will come a time when I’m hot to get a bunch of new stories out, and I’ll see exactly what they need and I’ll straighten them both out and ship them off. In the mean time, I’m making more words, growing my more under-developed stories and biding my time until that mood shows up. You have to do what your mood wants. Don’t fight it. Make the best of it. You have to do exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it if you want your work to have any life.

By now, just one week into this blog, you’re probably thinking, "What’s up with this spastic freak and his inability to finish anything? No wonder he’s only finished 44 stories in the last fourteen years!" Well it’s true, my mind flitters like a butterfly. Call it mild ADD if you want (my psychiatrist did, after all), but I prefer to think of myself as nimble-minded. Whatever it’s called, all I can do is work with it. Medication leaves me uncreative, so that’s even worse. I make the best of it and always have dozens of unfinished stories with which to tinker. Then, when that completion mood hits, I have a sudden spike of output.

You’ve got to work with what you’re given. What else can you do? Take those things about yourself you’ve seen as problems and use them to your advantage. It’s okay if what you get isn’t like everyone else’s. Who wants to be like everyone else?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Just Showing Up

Next to no writing got done tonight, unless you count e-mails to one of my writing compadres and this blog. A little punctuation and fluctuation on Roothi. Friday looks like a good window unless everyone is off from school because of Hurricane Wilma.

I didn’t even get much reading done.

I’ve got to recommend a chapter to both of you who are reading this, or at least to the one who writes: It’s a chapter called Dare to Suck in a book called Page After Page by Heather Sellers. Derek is my hero. Go read that chapter and then go home and write for a little while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Good Day

It was a good day. I finally had the house to myself and I got some good work done on "Roothi." Sent out a story to Fantasy and Science Fiction. Really discovered Maria Mena, great stuff, great soft autumn music. I was on top this afternoon. For the first time I could remember, my body was quiet. Not too full, not too hungry, not too tired, not too hyper, I went to the post office resting back against the driver’s seat, windows open in the perfect day.

If I was hungry for anything, it was something different to read, something nourishing and well-written. I’ve decided to read what I want to read, rather than what I feel I should read and to give a work a few pages of my time and if it doesn’t earn anything more than that, toss it aside and move onto something better. I wanted some good character-driven mainstream fiction. You need to read the crazy stuff to feed your imagination and do something that approaches originality, but you’re not going to transcend the field without looking beyond it. I want to help bring science fiction into the realm of great writing. Many people have already done great work in that area, but as a genre it still has a ways to go. At least in this country.

So I picked up a number of things and read "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" today. I haven’t seen the film, but I’m betting it’s a bit different. I’ll compare notes with my movie-gluttonous wife tomorrow.

I’m hoping to have another go with "Roothi" tomorrow and maybe get her out the door by the weekend, but you never know. I won’t send something if I don’t think it’s ready. Of course, I’m off track for the one-thousand but it’s way too early in the race to sweat. Things are getting better every day.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Little Steps

Alright, it didn’t go so well last night. By the time I pulled my son off of the computer and sent him to bed, I got about a half an hour of writing that I wasn’t crazy about before my wife pulled me away. I’m living for the occasional weekdays that I’m home and nobody else is around. That’s when I’m at my most productive. Whatever I can squeeze in around that, I should be grateful for.

Tonight has been a little better so far. I hit upon a completely different story that I pulled out from the files and it has the potential to be finished and good sooner than "The Purpose of the Machine." This one is called "Roothi’s Reassignment" and I should be able to polish it up within the next few days and have it completed.

I should explain what constitutes a completed story. It’s not just anything with a beginning, middle and an end. To qualify, it has to be a story that I deem ready for submission to a magazine. Now admittedly, some of my first forty-four stories were pretty bad and I realized it eventually. But at one point I thought they were good enough to be published and I sent each of them out at least once. And that’s all it takes.

This blog is accomplishing what it’s supposed to, even if there isn’t a soul that’s reading it. As long as I believe someone might be reading, I feel the obligation to work on my stories and not to be a completely lazy ass. It’s getting me moving a little bit each day. There will be momentum, trust me. You just can’t see it from here.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Up Against It

I’ve suddenly got a few minutes to scribble and that’s a rare thing. Part of the challenge, part of the reason why I’ve only got forty-four stories done so far, is because I’ve been working a lot and I’ve got a family. I don’t have a lot of time to concentrate. I took a step in the right direction lately by moving to a company where I can work about forty hours a week, as opposed to the sixty or seventy hour weeks that I have been working for years. So things are getting better and that’s why I can even conceive of the goal I’ve set for myself.

I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m thinking I have to crank out something like a story and a half a week to reach the thousand mark in the next thirteen and a half years. Theoretically, I’m capable of doing that. I have written a few stories each in six hours or less. That’s from initial idea to printed and into the envelope for submission. However it wasn’t always six hours in a row. Sometimes it was over the course of a couple of days. Nevertheless, I think I can do this and this blog is here to kick me into gear when I need it.

So although I might not have worked on it otherwise, tonight my goal is to work on the prime candidate for story number forty-five, "The Purpose of the Machine." Not a terribly science fictiony story but by a stretch of the imagination it may be seen as fantasy.

If anyone’s interested they can read some of my older stories at my website, Stimulus:

My newer stories are making the rounds at various magazines and I’m hoping that you’ll eventually be able to read some of those in print elsewhere.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

From the Top

Who I am: My name is Matthew Sanborn Smith. I’m thirty-six years old and I intend to become (In the voice of Mr. Haney) a gen-u-ine bona-fide full-time pro-fessional science fiction writer before I’m dead.

What the blog’s about: Inspired by Julie Powell of Julie and Julia fame I decided that I wanted to write 1000 stories by the time I’m fifty. Sounds possible? Here’s the thing. I’ve been at this for fourteen and a half years now and I’ve got a grand total of forty-four stories completed.

I’ve got some work ahead of me.