The Journal – A Short Story

write.pngI’ve been hanging out on Reddit for awhile and stumbled upon a subreddit (a forum dedicated to a single topic for those of you who have ever been on Reddit) called Writing Prompts. Here, people will post simple ideas and other posters will run with it creating amazing short stories. Earlier this week, I posted the following premise:

You receive a mystery book in the mail. Every page begins “Today I will…”. You soon find that if you write something on the next blank page in the morning, it will happen by evening. One morning, you wake up to find someone has already written “die” on what was the next blank page.

I’ll admit, I didn’t get many responses.  Only two people replied and each kept their story around two or three sentences long.  I began to think of a short story to fit my premise and came up with the following short story. I’ll admit that I deviated from the description a bit, but I’m really happy with the result. I might have to write more of these short stories and post them.

The Journal

Andrew put down his pen next to the bottle of white-out. What had he just been doing again?

“Why did you do that?” Gerald asked.

Andrew stifled a laugh. Gerald’s voice always became high-pitched and squeaky when he was upset.

“What do you mean?”

“You wrote in my journal.”

Andrew looked at the book lying on the table. Each page began “Today I Will…” and Gerald had a habit of writing in the book first thing every morning. He wasn’t sure why Gerald kept this thing anyway. Maybe as a motivational tool? Andrew was always more of a take-life-as-it-happened sort of guy.

“Yeah, sorry about that. It seemed funnier in my head, but looks kind of lame actually written out.”

“Now this is going to come true.”

“Dude. It’s just a journal.”

“That’s just it. It’s not a normal journal. I got that months ago. It just arrived out of nowhere. Whatever I wrote in the journal in the morning happened by sunset that day.”

“You’re pulling my leg.”

“No, I’m serious. Remember three days ago when I won $100 in that Lotto drawing?”


“Look at the entry for that day.”

Andrew turned the page back. Sure enough, that entry read “Today I Will win the lottery.”

“Total coincidence,” Andrew scoffed.

“What about a week ago when Mary agreed to go on a date with me after months of rejections?”

Andrew turned a week back. Gerald had written “Today I Will get Mary to go out on a date with me.”

“You could have written this afterwards,” Andrew said.

“You’ve seen me writing in it every morning,” Gerald replied.

“Okay, let’s say I believe you. That’s just normal day-to-day stuff. Well, maybe the Mary thing was extraordinary but what I wrote just isn’t possible.”

“That’s what worries me. Who knows what will happen now.”

“Fine,” Andrew sighed. “I’ll just white it out and write something else.”

Andrew picked up the bottle of white-out and used it to erase the words “Get stuck in an infinite loop.” As he picked up his pen, Andrew felt a strange tug on him, as if his entire world were rewinding.

Andrew put down his pen next to the bottle of white-out. What had he just been doing again?

Novel Creativity

I feel like I’ve been ignoring this blog.

*Checks last post date*

Yes, yes I have.

I swear that this wasn’t intentional. As you might know from my posts and many tweets about it, I’ve been writing a novel. Now, I know that I have a bad habit of not completing personal projects because I had another good idea. I didn’t want this to happen with my novel. I didn’t want a great blog post idea to derail me from the excellent novel writing progress that I was making. So I focused all my creative energy on the novel.

The novel is done now. Or, at least, as done as it’s going to be for now. I’ve entered a very nerve wracking phase called “Giving The Novel To Beta Readers.” During this phase, I give copies of my text to people to read over. They will tell me if there’s a plot hole I’m missing, if the characters seem realistic enough, or if there’s a problem with the story flow.

Once I got over the nervousness of “wait, I need to let other people read this?” I was confronted by the torturer that is the waiting game. At this point, my beta readers have begun their task but haven’t had time to finish. Do they like it so far? Are they shaking their head with every word? I want to know but don’t want to pester them with twice daily e-mails asking for their opinion.

In a couple weeks, I’ll get the reports in and will likely need to make some changes to improve my story. Then it’s time to format my book for printing and get a sample copy to make sure everything looks good. Finally, my book will appear on Amazon. If everything goes well, it’ll be available in early October. (I’ll definitely post when I get a firm release date – also, if anyone is interested in doing a review, feel free to contact me.)

In the meantime, though, I can use this “novel downtime” to catch up with some blog posts I’ve wanted to do.

Thanks to all of my readers who were patient with me while my creative energies weren’t blog bound.

Book Writing Insights

4362686814_0c76b989d6_zI might have mentioned this a few times, but I’m writing a book. My personal goal was for it to reach 50,000 words, but obviously it’s over when the story says it’s over. Right now, I’m over 48,000 words with at least another 5,000 to go. If everything aligns properly, I might even hit 60,000.  Along the way, there are some book writing lessons I’ve learned.

Get Inspired

For years, I’ve started the same pair of stories only to stop writing after a few weeks. The general world I was building my story in was fine, but I just didn’t feel the drive to finish. This time, though, I have JSL driving me on. He’s been so interested in my story that his enthusiasm has pushed me on when I might otherwise have let the writing slide.

Always Be Writing

I’ve written my story primarily using Google Docs. Not because it’s particularly well suited to novel writing (it really isn’t), but because it’s always available no matter where I am. If inspiration strikes at 1am, I can open up the file on my phone and type out some notes without getting out of bed. If I’m on the go, but need to wait for a few minutes, I can open my story and add to it.  Eventually, I’ll move the story to a more conventional word processor for final touch ups, but for now Always Available trumps Perfect Formatting.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Back in college, I wrote quite a lot. People liked my writings and I decided to try to get something published. I sent a story to a well-known magazine that published stories like my submission. A few weeks later, I got the news.  My story was rejected.

What I should have done was shrug my shoulders, write more, and submit to other magazines. Instead, I took the rejection personally (despite the fact that it was a standard form letter) and decided I wasn’t going to write anymore. I picked it back up here and there but not with the same gusto.

Had I not let a single rejection derail me, who knows how many stories I could have had published by now.

Publishing Has Never Been Easier

Back when I was rejected for publication, there was only really one way to get published. You sent your work to a magazine publishing house and hoped they picked yours from their giant stack of submissions

Nowadays, it’s simple. You format your file and send it off to CreateSpace or another on demand publisher.

Talk To Other Writers

When it became clear that my short story was expanding to novel length, I mentioned my project to some co-workers. They revealed that they had written and published their own novels and gave me some great advice on going from "The End" to "This is my book in my hands." At the very least, when you encounter a writing roadblock, it can help to know that others have been there before

Stories (And Characters) Have Minds Of Their Own

I first learned this when my short story decided to veer into novella territory. It turns out that telling your story just how long it needs to be is a useless endeavor. It will end up as long or as short as it decides to be. You have very little control over this.

The next lesson came with one of my characters. Without giving too many spoilers, one of my characters has the ability to see the future. He gives a prophesy at one point that was based on my idea of how the book would end.

Unfortunately, the story had other ideas. Now the prophesy is going to wind up being incorrect. This means that I’m going to need to go back and rewrite the prophesy after I’m done with the story.

Finally, characters can invent themselves. I was at a point in my tale when all of the important main characters should have been introduced. What was meant to be a quick intermediate scene with just my main character turned into my main character and a new character. This character won’t be a big factor in the current book but might just play a bigger role in the next one. (Yes, I’m already planning the sequel. I might even make this a trilogy.)

Read (And Reread) Your Own Work

I’ve been reading the book to JSL as I write it. Although he’s fallen behind. It’s forced me to reread my own writing. Not only does this let me pick up on autocorrect induced mistakes, but it shows me sections that flowed well in my head but not when read aloud. When this happens, it’s usually an easy matter of correcting the mistake or rephrasing a few sentences. Then the passage flows better and my entire work winds up improved.

I’m really enjoying the entire writing process. Sure there are days when I get stuck but those other days when it feels like I can’t stop writing are wonderful. I just love the feeling of the story flowing from my fingertips as if it were alive and I was just a conduit for it to come to life. I can’t wait until I’m holding the finished product in my hands.

NOTE: The "book and pen" image above is "Of Words and meanings…" by Trilok Rangan.  The image is available via under a license that allows commercial use with attribution.

JSL The Story Writer

StoryLast Friday, B’s parents took JSL and NHL to dinner.  When they got back, JSL showed us a story he had written.  Yes, in addition to learning how to read, JSL’s been learning how to spell and write.  He put it together, along with some inspiration from Lulu And The Brontosaurus (which B had read to him recently), and wrote his own story.

Here is what he wrote (with creative spelling intact and only his name changed to "JSL"):

JSL and the Brontsarus

One day JSL went to a frorist for a brontsarus but the nit came and JSL go to slef and wen JSL wok up he fawd a brontsarus but the brontsarus riley fawd he and they trd into fres.

And here’s the grammar and spelling-corrected version for those who find Kindergarten creative spelling hard to read.  (I did leave the giant run-on sentence intact, however.)

JSL and the Brontosaurus

One day JSL went to a forest for a brontosaurus but the night came and JSL went to sleep and when JSL woke up he found a brontosaurus but the brontosaurus really found him and they turned into friends.

I’m so proud of JSL for writing his first story.  This is definitely one project of JSL’s that will be kept for years.  I can’t wait to see what other creative works he comes up with.

Recipe For Creativity – Leave Your Comfort Zone

IMGP2139The daily grind can be draining when you need to be creative.  When it feels like you’ve done the same thing over and over, day after day, it can be hard to come up with new ideas.  The same-old-same-old can make it hard for new ideas to bubble to the surface.  When this happens, it’s time to break the routine.

On Sunday, we went for a hike on the Indian Ladder Trail in Thatcher State Park.  For those who don’t live near here, the trail winds around a mountain’s side.  You climb up and down the trail.  You pass under two waterfalls.  You carefully tred over rocks, mud, running water, and branches.  You are, at times, mere feet from a big drop-off.

IMGP2177In other words, *NOT* a normal day for me.  Hiking this trail was very freeing.  Walking along the ledge, your brain focuses on finding where your next step should be.  Should you place your foot on rock on your right or left.  Which is slicker or shaped right to give you the proper traction to move on?  When I did stop worrying about footing, I was too busy appreciating the wonders around me.

After the hike was over, I felt tired, but energized.  My feet ached and my knees kept threatening to give way, but my brain was going a mile a minute.  Getting out of the same old routine had lit my mind on fire.

What do you do to leave your comfort zone and spark your creativity?

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