2019 Goals Recap – Week #4

I usually start with the food, but I figure since most of you are probably more interested in the writing vs. whatever I’m shoving down my gullet, you’d be better served if I rearranged things. 🙂

This week saw me averaging a little over 1,400 words a day. I started out focusing on my novel but spent the past couple of days working purely on what turned out to be a 4,200 word short story–one that was assigned on Friday afternoon and due Sunday at noon.

Talk about being pushed. It was both nerve-wracking and thrilling. This is for a five-day workshop I’m taking on writing short stories based on series characters. I don’t have a series (yet) so I’ve been working with characters developed in my 52 Stories In 52 Weeks experiment. I’m awaiting feedback, but I turned it in this morning with four hours to spare.

With the initial short story I’d turned in for this workshop, I had three weeks to finish it. It didn’t receive very good marks. I thought it was going to be well-received and when I read the feedback email, I have to say, it was quite a blow.

After I tossed and turned that night and re-read the email the next morning, I pulled the story back up and saw that I’d failed in exactly the way the instructor noted.

Once again, the ego loves to subtly sneak in. Even after telling myself several times that the story would have problems, an unconscious part of me really believed I’d done a bang-up job of it.

Nope. I failed and I failed in such a beginner’s way. I’d completely forgotten to dive deep into the setting at the beginning and it was talking heads until page three.

For shame. 🙂

But I will do what all writers should do: Accept the lesson and carry it with me into the next story. You better believe that for a long while, I will be triple-checking that my story openings have plenty of setting depth.

In fact, I’ll be applying that lesson right away–I was just assigned a new story as I’m writing this on Sunday evening, due Tuesday at noon. 🙂

Okay, on to at least something I could swallow this weekend that didn’t give me heartburn:

This week’s recipe–Shrimp Po’ Boys–came from an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook my wife received for Christmas. The only online link I could find appears to require membership to view. Sorry…

I’ve always loved po‘ boy sandwiches, but have never made one myself. In fact, I’ve never fried shrimp before. I’ve typically grilled or sauteed them naked in a pan (the shrimp was naked, not me…scalding heat and nudity seem like a bad idea).

These came out fantastic! Honestly, my wife and I weren’t expecting much because the flavors weren’t far out, but everything came together in a symphony of taste.

Dip ’em in batter.
Fry them puppies up.
Golden-brown delicious…
A lot of rémoulade goes a long way as it gets soaked up by everything else.

I hope you had a productive week! Expect a new post this week in my Learning How to Learn Fiction series.

-Phillip

10 thoughts on “2019 Goals Recap – Week #4”

  1. Awhile back, to practice grounding the reader, for a few days straight I wrote nothing but openings. Intentionally. And to practice writing into the dark, I wrote them one after another, as quickly as I could, writing about the first thing that popped into my head. It works. And of course, some of those openings became stories later as I glanced back over them for ideas. Good luck with your workshop!.

    1. I think that’s a fantastic way to practice, Harvey (and one you’ll see me mention in my series of Learning How to Learn Fiction posts). In fact, for the past couple of months, I’ve been typing up openings every day so I can get used to this. I think the issue I had here is I was focusing on the core of the assignment which was to get several of my characters into one place–so I spent a lot of time figuring out their relationships, how to explain backstory, etc…and so I neglected the basics. I guess that’s just par for the course when you’re learning skill #23 out of 500. 🙂 It’s a good reminder to zoom back out when you get too lost in the trees; something else I’ll be talking about.

      Appreciate the comment!

        1. Of course. Writers and Cajun food is already a premise I can get behind. Something good is bound to come out of that! And having only been *around* Cajun country, you could tell me differently about LA Tech and I’d believe you.

  2. The ego is a real bear. On the one hand, you need confidence to write and then share your writing. On the other hand, that confidence can make you miss things. I’m glad you’re not internalizing your instructor’s criticisms and are doing what the whole purpose of a writing course is supposed to be about: to learn. I’m experiencing a bit of that myself. I’ve hired an editor for a few of my short stories. I’m getting very good feedback, but some of it does sting. When someone reads your story and says, “I’m halfway through and I still don’t know why I should care about this person,” well, ouch. I think I neglected to set the story up. So I’m still learning. And I appreciate the criticism because I want my writing to be enjoyed.
    What you want to get out of this course, if I am be so presumptuous, is growth. Carry on, Phillip!

    1. Thanks, Marie! It’s definitely all about growth. So glad you’re taking the criticism well. I don’t think it ever stops stinging, but I believe the scar tissue helps. And you’re right–this writing thing is a fine balance of wanting to speak our minds and needing to be told we’re speaking gibberish. 🙂

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