META: Raccowrimo

Tom Russell joltcity at
Sat Oct 23 23:06:21 PDT 2010

On Oct 24, 12:53 am, Phantasm <phantom_belc... at> wrote:
> I know for certain I won't be able to do an issue a day. I write much
> too slow for that, and I think a lot of writers are the same way. Tom
> Russell might be the exception to the rule - or at least he was, back
> in the day when he was starting.

I really could churn 'em out way back when, couldn't I?  Ten issues a
month, four to six pages an issue-- Jesus!

Now my pace has slowed down quite a bit, partially because I approach
things with greater care (and, I hope, skill) and partially because
I'm liable to spend a lot of time tweaking and cutting things.  Which,
while similar, are I think two very different things; the stories I
write for a deadline, like the High Concept Challenge stories, have a
lot of the former (which is why I'm almost always posting my entries
at the last minute) and not enough of the latter in most cases.
Whereas, say, JOLT CITY benefits heavily from both and is tweaked up
the wazoo-- which is why the last two issues have taken almost a year
each to write.

I look at the stuff I was churning out, and I cringe; most of it isn't
just bad, but a special kind of bad where I'm really not sure if it
was written by a human being, let alone myself.  I'm not even talking
about crap like "gualnats" or "angery"; I'm talking about structure,
pacing, coherent plotting, rudimentary science, characterization,
motivation, and some understanding of basic human nature-- areas in
which my output for a certain prolonged period of time was severely
lacking.  But.

I'm a bit better at it now: part of that is slowing down, part of it
is trying to make every single story-- every single word!-- count for
something, part of it is learning more about not only the world around
me but also about myself.  The biggest part of it, though, the
absolute most important thing I did, is that I learned how to write by
writing.  I didn't have any gift or talent for it; it developed
through practice, and in response to the intelligent, sometimes harsh,
but always well-deserved criticism of others.  Only a stubborn
childish idiot could write for years and years and years and get the
wonderful feedback I got and never ever get any better.

If it hadn't been for those reams of embarrassing juvenilia, I never
would have improved; if it hadn't been for the criticism I received
here, both in terms of my writing and my personality, I never would
have created a single compelling story, never would have stopped being
a snot-nosed little brat, and never would have started using that
holiest of holies, a spellchecker.

RACC is largely responsible for the person I am today.  My wife also
has something to do with that, and the debt I owe to both is one of
which I'm always cognizant and deeply, deeply grateful.


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