For the last three years, I have tracked my writing using a daily word count log. I find this helps me be honest with myself about what I am doing–or more likely not doing–to achieve the goals I so often claim concerning books and blogs.
2018’s average daily word count was 796. I aim for 1K a day but recognize I may not always make that. Right or wrong (not that anyone can really say), I’m not as disappointed about it as I would have been a couple years ago.
At the start of the year, I thought I might hit Fantasy Book 2 hard and get that near completion. I got several chapters in but found myself slogging through, unmotivated and lacking a clear vision. Even the outlined parts that I know or think are right for the book feel less than thrilling… so I have to go back to the outlining board for that one.
I tried completing 2017’s National Novel Writing Month project, a prequel of sorts starring one of my favorite characters from the fantasy series. I finished a few more scenes but mostly left that unattended, awaiting future revision.
I put forth a few short stories or flash fiction pieces, and some poetry, so I don’t feel like all was lost… but I neglected this blog and major projects for far too long.
Some of my procrastination might be blamed on Dungeons & Dragons. For the better part of the year, I was running a game every other week, trying to craft some interesting story arcs or surprise moments for the friends and family sitting around the table rolling dice. I think I managed to pull off more exciting sessions than train wrecks, so I am proud of that. However, the creative effort involved both satisfies the urge to write and drains me of energy to pour into more writing.
I walked into NaNoWriMo 2018 knowing that I wouldn’t succeed at hitting 50K. I don’t want to keep using retirement from the military and moving our family home as an excuse, but it’s a simple fact that more important things demanded my attention than the blank screen of a manuscript-in-progress.
The few scenes I added to my “someday I’m really going to write this character” gambler prophet were well received by the local writing group, so that gives me hope. It also leaves me wondering if I should work on that while the desire is stirred in me, instead of trying to sort out the “more important” Fantasy Book 2 and all the other parts down the road.
In any event, I am definitely starting to feel the relaxation and liberty of civilian life, and I am looking forward to ways to put my scenic location and extra free time to use in the endeavor of writing.
I’ll continue aiming for 1K minimum each day (I’m already behind!), but I won’t have nearly the same number of reasonable explanations at the end of 2019 if I don’t meet that goal.
Have you set writing goals for this year? I’d love to hear what you have planned. Let me know in a comment so I can cheer you on.
Quality writing doesn’t happen by magic or mere desire. Improving any discipline takes a large quantity of effort…
For me, this meant 1,000 words a day. Here’s how I got there:
In 2016, out of curiosity and as a bit of personal challenge, I counted the words I wrote all year-long. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” the motivational gurus say. I thought I’d see where I was at before trying to improve. I built a spreadsheet tracker on my iPad and watched the numbers build up over the course of the year. I surpassed 215K, or about 600 words per day on average.
In 2017, I decided I would set a particular goal–something that pushed me past what I had done the year before, but something I could actually manage.
I belonged to a group on Facebook where writers commit to writing 500 words a day, and I’ve seen several sites or groups set their quota around that number. ( 4thewords – a writing game website where I do a lot of my drafts, sets 444 as the daily goal). Jeff Goins is a writer who has built a platform out of encouraging others to write their own 500 words a day. I figured I’d take that and double it because I’m so hardcore! (kidding!)
I declared my goal: 1000 words a day on average. I knew there would be days where I didn’t write a single word, so I added that caveat at the end.
I built a new spreadsheet for 2017 and adjusted the formulas to fit each week and month. I had also started using a Bullet Journal recently, and got sucked into the Pinterest-perfect trackers and spreads I saw online. I decided to make a daily pixelated word count page in my journal, with colors representing how much I did or didn’t write.
Over the course of 2017, I adjusted my expectations here and there… some months had far too many 0 entries or brown squares on my tracker, and I started thinking, “Maybe I’ll hit 300K total… maybe I’ll hit 250K… maybe I can just do better than last year.”
November is National Novel Writing Month, where participants try to write a novel of 50,000 words or more between November 1st and 30th. I knew I would score some significant word count during that month, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Four months out from the new year, I realized that if I wrote at NaNoWriMo pace for the rest of the year (50,000 words in a month), I could meet my goal. That realization was followed by several days of less than 1000 words.
NaNo actually produced some great results for me, coupled with a family journaling project, so I cranked out over 80,000 words in that single month. December slowed down a bit, but I still managed to do more than 1K a day average, and on the 31st, I crossed my finish line with a year-long total of 365,468 words.
Now I’m not claiming those words are quality, but I firmly believe that the key to producing some quality is a quantity of effort. The work creates opportunities for quality to bloom.
It’s like saying “I will spend quality time with my kids.” That doesn’t happen by saying, “Okay bud, we got 10 minutes of real quality time. Go.” It happens by spending frequent time together, which makes room for those few, magical moments to blossom into memories that last.
It’s the same with writing, or so I tell myself. With that in mind, I saw Jeff Goins post about starting the year off with a 500-a-day challenge. Since his influence sparked my original goal, I’ll try his method and commit to writing 500 words every day for at least all of January. They may not all be great words, but that’s not the point.
Happy new year to all of you following or glancing at this in your Facebook / WordPress feed. I hope your 2017 was filled with accomplishments and your 2018 looks promising. What goals are you setting for this year?
I’m proud to have put over 50,000 words into my project, but I’m most excited about connecting and re-connecting with writers in my area. Not only did all four regular members of our base writing group dive into the challenge this year, but a WriMo participant from a few years ago jumped in (and won!). On top of that, I met four writers I didn’t know prior to the NaNoWriMo events.
Not everything went perfectly.
I had the privilege once again of serving as a Municipal Liaison for Japan–specifically Okinawa.
We have three stellar individuals on the mainland who managed the bulk of the nation’s participants. On island, our group had a rough start that forced me to develop some guidelines and contingency plans for future NaNo events–stuff you hope you never have to enforce, but you realize should be in place “just in case.” Yay for opportunities to grow and practice interpersonal skills!
The librarian on Kadena is passionate about writing groups–participating and supporting–so we enjoyed an array of Keurig coffee cups and a constant influx of writing resources. (Anyone need a journal? Here’s a stack. Need a book about researching how bodies decompose? I know a great one we might even have here… Stuck in your manuscript? Try playing around with some poetry magnets or story dice.) Who said libraries aren’t cool?
My writing felt like a mess more than usual.
In the past, I approached NaNo like a plotter, laying out the overall course of the story with key milestones I knew I needed to hit as well as rough scene ideas documenting who needed to say or do what and for what purpose. That usually works for me, like following a recipe of cake mix. I have a little bit of freedom to substitute ingredients, and I can change plans in the middle if I really want to do so. “I think I’ll turn this into cupcakes instead of using a standard 9 by 13 cake pan. I’ll switch out the oil with applesauce for a healthier option.”
Some people are “pantsers” who sit down with a blank document and go to town, allowing the muse and the characters they’ve created in their minds to develop on paper in whatever way the story unfolds. More power to all of you who can manage that.
This year, I think I fell in the middle of the two–what some NaNo types call “plantser.” I had much less to go on than my last three NaNo drafts. The rough bones of a story arc bounced around in my mind, and I jotted down certain key points at the bottom of my manuscript Word document, but I had nowhere near the detail or preparation of previous efforts. It showed, as I left myself a lot more notes with questions to follow-up on, gaps or plot holes I could see while writing, even basic details like “insert her mom’s name here.”
On the one hand, “plantsing” gave me enough freedom to do as I pleased, changing up the events in the story as I wrote, to fit new ideas and revelations. It also gave me enough signposts as reminders to keep me moving in my intended direction. “Not saying you have to take the left lane onto I-80, but Chicago is far down the interstate in this direction, so you do you.”
I kept distractions to a (relative) minimum.
My favorite author Brandon Sanderson released the next novel in his massive epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archives. Those books are so good, my non-fantasy-reading wife even loves them. That has been sitting on my iPad for the last three weeks, taunting me, beckoning with one finger crooked. “Just one chapter… that’s all… won’t take long… come on…”
The Netflix Punisher series came out mid-November, and I am a sucker for Jon Bernthal’s amazing combination of brooding / unhinged. Dude is like the stacks of unstable dynamite from my favorite 80s post-apocalyptic games. Sure, you might gain something by searching this, but you probably ought to back out of the fallout shelter slowly and forget what you saw here. (Fans of Wasteland might know what I’m talking about. The rest of you can take pleasure knowing I suck at analogies.)
I watched one episode the night it came out, then forced myself to close the app.
Thor: Ragnarok was a must-see, so I used that as my reward for getting ahead of schedule early. Justice League was going to be a mid-month reward, but I started falling behind and never found a good time to see it. In 20/20 hindsight, given the reviews and images, maybe that wasn’t a bad thing.
The addiction to video games kept its hooks deep in my flesh-husk. While I pulled away from WoW, and only played a couple hours of the intro of Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds (omg such a great game), the mindless entertainment bug bit hard about three weeks in. For inexplicable reasons, as I looked at the Blizzard launcher on my PC, I realized that I own Diablo III, and I never played through the fifth act expansion, nor have I tried the necromancer class they added long after the game’s release. Easy fix! A few minutes of monster-grinding and loot-grabbing wouldn’t affect my writing too much, right?
In the course of a week, I played through the whole story and raised my overpowered goddess of death to just shy of max level. “Just one more level… just one more quest… just need to kill this one boss…”
I’ve put 75,000 words on various projects this month.
I started this year with a goal of writing a thousand words a day. Like many New Year’s resolutions, that lost steam after the first month or two. By about April I recalculated my goal. (500 words wouldn’t be too bad, right?)
In September, I realized if I cracked down and wrote like NaNoWriMo every month until the end of the year, I would make it. That didn’t pan out, though I exceeded my 1K/day goal. After the last month of grinding, I’m sitting at about 320K, with a few different projects clamoring for my attention. (I’ll post about one of them soon, because it has been both fun and valuable to me.)
Not saying those words are great words… but they’re something I can edit, revise, or cut, which is better than a blank page on screen and a bunch of imagined plot lines in my head.
All of that to say, I’m sort of sorry I was gone for the last month (plus), I’m not too worried because I can see how many or how few views come through, but I’m grateful for those of you who care enough to read this and/or support me, even if it’s just asking, “How’s that writing coming?”
Cue the wild-eyed Superman pain-rictus. “Pretty good,” I say through clenched teeth, choking down my self-loathing. “Everything is fine.”
I’ve posted about my word count tracker and daily / monthly / yearly goals in the past, but I haven’t provided an update on that in quite some time… probably because I’m disappointed at the low numbers and slow progress.
Life has been an airplane in severe turbulence for the last two weeks – rapid descents, attempts to climb out of the bumpy ride, moments of radiance above the storm before another cluster of dark clouds obscure everything else.
I know, everyone has results, or excuses–one or the other, rarely both.
My 18-year-old daughter, our oldest child, just got married a week ago. I’m a jumble of equal parts happy celebration and hopeful concern. The Bee heard all our warnings and listened to all our worries. But she remained determined to move forward, and we decided it would be better to stay supportive and connected than to resist and watch her do whatever she pleases without us being a part of her life.
She and her husband just left the island yesterday to head back to the States, where he will probably enlist in the Air Force soon after their return. That’s awesome and provides some certainty of security.
Our first of four leaving the nest is, naturally, a painful but necessary process. Wifey and I are working through the emotions and adapting to a new normal.
As I typed this, I was sitting at the base exchange getting ready to sign a bunch of copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families Edition, in which I am a contributing author. I asked for permission to sign and place an origami bookmark in the two or four copies I expected them to put on the shelves–instead, they decided to order 40 and prepare a display. It’s a cool thought that something of my work will be out there for others to see.
On top of that, they’re crafting plans for a book signing or at least a meet-and-greet with interested customers. As the manager put it, there’s a community connection and an increased value in “I shook this guy’s hand, I talked with the lady who wrote this story.” (There’s another person on Kadena who contributed, so we’re trying to get both of us into the same place at the same time.)
The salespeople in charge of books provided enthusiastic help, placing bookmarks, lining up copies for signatures, and snapping pictures for some eventual publicity. They might even work out a radio spot.
Going from celebrating a wedding, to saying farewell to my daughter and her husband, to experiencing a form of success and publicity as a writer–it’s more chaos than a kindergarten class high on candy and Kool-Aid.
A couple days ago, I drove the newlyweds out to a shopping area so they could get some Indian take-out (my daughter’s last chance to eat at her favorite restaurant on Okinawa) and Japanese candy for relatives in the States. “I’ll just hang out at Starbucks while you do your shopping,” I told them. After all, that writing word count was still looking pretty bleak.
“You could come with us to the candy store when we’re waiting for the food,” she suggested.
It hit me that pretty soon I’ll have all kinds of time to sit in coffee shops, alone with my writing. I wouldn’t get another such opportunity to have time with my daughter for… well, we’ll see how long it ends up being.
Word counts are a tool, a motivational aid meant to track progress toward the overall goal of completed writing projects. But the word count isn’t the be-all/end-all of writing, and writing isn’t everything there is to life. (It hurts a little to type that.)
What matters more is the conscious choice about what I’m doing with my time. Word counts can help reveal when my efforts are slipping or when I’m succeeding, but sometimes it’s okay to see that string of zeros. Other things are more important.
I wrote this at a lovely Creative Writing workshop I attended this past weekend. The facilitator sang a series of haiku he had written years ago, accompanied on his acoustic guitar with something like a Spanish sound. I pictured a carousing and carefree pursuit during a fiesta through dusty, packed-earth streets in a Mexican town. He invited us to write our own haiku to show the variety of meanings and thoughts that could still fit the same rhythm and song.
I debated whether to go in the first place. My dance with my writing muse has been far from a cat-and-mouse, let alone something so intimate as a tango. More like “go sleep on the couch while I make an appointment with the divorce lawyer to draft the necessary paperwork.”
About a month’s worth of word count entries read ‘0’ and the status of my current projects remains unchanged. Scheduling a writers’ group has been problematic, and the pace of work only seems likely to increase.
But the Muse crooks that painted nail at me and flashes that smile, and like it or not, here I go again.
I’ve been listening to Brandon Sanderson’s recorded lectures on YouTube during down-time, and Stephen King’s On Writing audiobook in my car. Though the base library version is scratched up a bit–“theme is what unifies a novel into a plea- plea- plea- plea- pleasing whole”–there’s still so much down-to-earth insight that I can’t help but enjoy it.
He talks a lot about writer’s block while at the same time talking about–in his own life–putting his nose to the grindstone and pumping out several pages a day, every day, seven days a week, all year ’round, Christmas and the 4th of July included.
He and his muse must get along a lot better than mine. (Actually he also talks about that, and his muse sounds like quite a jerk.)
The end result of the weekend is my little group of three or four writers can connect with a larger community in the initial forming stages on island. And I wrote a snippet of dialogue for Fantasy Series Book 3 (when book 2 is barely started). And there’s that poem.
But the word count didn’t show zero that day, so I’ll take it.
My writing word count spreadsheet mocks me. So many zero entries in the last week! I just finished a 6-week Mandarin Chinese refresher course, which might explain some of the lack of effort–except there was hardly any homework to occupy my off-duty time.
No problem, I told myself. I’ll do amazing writing things over the 4-day weekend for Memorial Day.
Yeah, not so much.
Problem-but-not-really 1) Overwatch is amazing and I want to play it just about every waking moment even though it’s basically run into battle, use whichever character’s amazing powers, then die and do it again.
Seriously, it’s fun. Evil fun. Like “lock up the PlayStation 4 so I will maybe write a word in the near future” fun.
Problem-but-not-really 2) I did some other creative things instead. A couple weeks ago, I picked up the handy talnts app (which I keep reading as ‘taints’ and I really don’t like that mental image but there you have it). It’s basically LinkedIn for creative people. The app has an option to share YouTube videos of which I had none. But a family friend asked me to record a worship song for her, and I marked “pianist” as one of my talents in the app… kill two birds with one stone? Sure why not!
While my Christian friends might appreciate the rendition of Indescribable, I have a lot of other friends who won’t care. But I know there’s a special fondness in the heart of many gamers for the music of Final Fantasy VI, particularly the Opera Song. So here’s that one too.
Final Fantasy VI Opera Song
All in all, my word count is shameful to behold over the last week, but it was a nice break. I’d already written more words in May than in any previous month this year, so I don’t feel too bad.
May is off to a good start on the ol’ word count tracker.
Roughly a thousand words a day, on various projects, for the first half of May. I can live with this.
Additionally, I enjoyed some opportunities to hone my craft and improve my understanding of all things writing. I picked up Sol Stein’s much-lauded classic, Stein on Writing, and I attended a workshop on story structure led by an award winning sci-fi author who for various reasons retired and decided to teach on Okinawa, Japan.
Not only that, but my local writer friends and I finally held the first full-fledged, in-person critique group that we’ve been talking about off and on for over a year. Getting fresh eyes on a segment of Diffusion chapter 1 helped me identify what’s working well and what I should clarify.
Also I discovered–to my chagrin–as far as readers are concerned, I named a character “G-Mail.” One of the things I love to do in crit groups is read portions of everyone’s submissions out loud. Your ear catches things your eye glosses over when reading silently… like the fact that Gemail (pronounced in my head as guh-mail) turned into Gmail.com for everyone else.
This morning, I’ve been working on the overall outline. I’m a planner with sci-fi and fantasy… and pretty much everything I write, now that I think about it. Planning means I need to know Point A and Point Z, along with several landmarks and stops in between. There’s room for some creativity between these points, so characters can still surprise me as I write. But conflicts and character developments have to lead to certain key events–especially if I want the reader to get to the end and look back, thinking, “Oh, there it was all along, how did I miss that?”
I’m definitely not doing the “seat of the pants” method of “write whatever comes to you.” My multiple Grant & Teagan posts for BlogBattle entries are the closest I can get to that, since it starts with a word prompt that gives me an idea for a scene.
So one of the unrealistic things about fantasy and YA fiction is how the main character just so happens to be the linchpin of the entire world, connected to and holding everything together. And there’s room for that in the genre–it’s kind of expected.
Sure, you have stuff like Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (a.k.a. Game of Thrones),where riveting, beloved characters are killed with extreme prejudice. And as a result, certain fans look down on books that don’t have a double-digit death count of potential fan-favorite characters. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
Still, even if the hero/heroine is the center of that novel’s universe, there has to be a reason for all this attention. And in fantasy, one favorite way to get there is prophecy–partly because it fits the genre, partly because it ties current events to the past, and partly because the myriad ways characters misinterpret it can lead to wonderful conflicts (spoilers for my book 2 and beyond, haha).
Also you get to dabble in poetry, because as TheLego Movie taught us, “all this is true, because it rhymes.”
So, in first draft form, here’s a part of the “Daughters” prophecy that helps explain the motivations of and manipulations by characters in positions of power. It also plays a big part in the growing conflict between Lyllithe and Josephine:
In centuries yet far beyond I see four years of blight
When ev’ry soul is shaken and their hateful foes delight
As all the pow’r of Hell breaks forth with endless appetite
For blood and death and chaos plunging nations into night
In centuries yet far beyond, behold the Naurchoth’s rise
Whose rifts shall tear asunder and darkness blot the skies
Whose wrath—though slowly kindled—shall break forth as a flood
Let mankind’s candle dwindle, drowned in a sea of blood
Daughter of Puremight, hold back no more
On the one hand, that’s more than any of the previous months since I’ve started tracking my effort.
On the other hand, it feels like so little progress being made on any of the various projects outlined in my head or my OneDrive files. Plus I totally failed at my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 30K on a particular project. (I think I got about 9K done on that draft.)
I thoroughly enjoy the little games we play to get ourselves writing. My NaNo writers’ group tried doing word sprints a few times this month, and I enjoyed the camaraderie. The weekly (now bi-weekly) Blog Battle is another such activity, especially since the misadventures of Grant and Teagan is like a brief vacation for my writing brain.
Great interpersonal interaction helped out this month. I had the privilege of meeting a Japan NaNoWriMo member who lives on the northern part of the nation–she came down to Okinawa for a vacation and was able to attend a write-in. I caught up with an old friend who happens to be in town–a guy who read my fantasy novel back when it was a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in story form. We chatted about character arcs and came up with some better ideas for where all the threads are headed and how they interact with each other. Then I sold a couple books and created a personalized art version of a signed copy.
And it looks like we might get a local critique group going finally.
I left my WattPad novella Echoes pretty much dead all month. I’ve got the last third of it outlined, just need to sit down and write it. I also have the last bits of PERDITION outlined (my NaNo sci-fi project about psychic reconnaissance). Same thing, I need to sit down and write. And I haven’t touched Diffusion (the fantasy sequel to Diffraction), since this month was supposed to be all about finishing off the NaNo draft.
Lots of ups and downs, “coulda, woulda, shoulda” moments, and a general sense of I could have done more.
But April is over and done, no changing that word count. I guess I have to go with my Mom’s old suggestion of “Why don’t you make this activity into a game? See how many (fill in the blank) you can do in an hour, then try to beat it!”
Alright, May. I raise my tasty Jack and Coke Zero to greet you. Challenge accepted. Out of sheer fairness, May, since you have an extra day, I wrote nothing on the 1st of the month. 30 days to do better than 21K. Let’s do this!
What’s your goal this month? Do you have one? If not, why not? Let me know in a comment.
I started logging my daily word count this year in an effort to 1) see how much I am or am not accomplishing, and 2) push myself to do more.
Camp NaNoWriMo kicked off in April and I thought I had a good guesstimate of how many words I could knock out on my April project. And last week I logged the most words of any week this year.
7,442? That’s my best effort this year?!
I got a few word sprints in with my virtual cabin-mates. I spent a couple hours at Starbucks on Sunday, cranking out words. And Thursday I took it easy to spend some time off with my kids and to get over a headache.
Still, it feels like a weaksauce effort. I can only guess how much time I spend browsing Facebook (then closing it, then reopening it a minute later as if everyone may have just updated). I don’t know how many YouTube videos I watched of Gordon Ramsay swearing at people (it’s a terrible but addictive vice). And when I “need to veg” for a bit, I make time to level up yet another toon on World of Warcraft.
I’m sure I did better in November during the actual NaNoWriMo event, or December when I finished up my book revisions and got Diffraction onto Amazon and Kindle Unlimited (hint hint).
But I’m nowhere near the goal I set for the month on my Camp NaNo novel… not even if I count all the words written on other projects.
I know these things take time and effort. And I’m happy that I have 7400+ words more than I had the week before.
But good Lord this is not an easy discipline to master.
Maybe I should take up cooking. Gordon has some great “how to” videos…
Since the start of this year, in an effort to spur myself toward action, I’ve been updating a word count tracking all my writing.
A bunch of coworkers and friends bought my fantasy novel and gave me generally positive feedback in person (as polite people are likely to do), and several asked, “When is the next book going to be out?”
I set a goal of Christmas–a lofty goal that I don’t think I can make.
March didn’t help. I didn’t even hit 10K, and far too many days (or streaks of days) had the total of 0.
Sure, I had a heap of work and flying, followed by a bout of flu that lasted over a week and had me pretty wiped out. I slept about 16 hours on the worst day, and then the next day, the military docs ordered me to 48 hours of bed rest.
It worked as a nice, short-term diet at least. I lost 7 pounds in 3 days, and had to tighten my belt another notch–a good problem for a pudgy guy like me.
Excuses, excuses. I managed to watch Daredevil season 2 during bed rest, so I could have managed to fit in more words.
So what does April hold in store?
Well, it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time, and I set a reasonable (I think) goal of 30K words.
I aim to finish the draft of PERDITION, my NaNo project from the 50K novel challenge in November. It needs several scenes, followed by extensive review and revision.
(For example, EMPs don’t work the way I originally thought they did. Oops. Yay for research and science! Boo for not doing it before creating several plot problems.)
I also have my WattPad project Echoes going, or more accurately, being frequently ignored by me. I plotted out how many scenes or chapters I need to close it out, and it’s in the single digits. I’d like to mark that one completed.
And there’s always the weekly Blog Battle, submissions for which comprise the majority of my recent posts. I really enjoy writing silly with Grant and Teagan, and my oldest son is a huge fan of those two. So I expect I’ll fit that in.
So where does that leave the sequel to Diffraction? On the back burner for this month. And that’s okay, because honestly I haven’t been connecting with it when I tried the last few times. There are some character and plot questions I need to get clear in my head before I can write what I hope is something compelling and entertaining with Lyllithe, Josephine, and the rest.
I plan to hit it hard when Camp NaNo is done, but I think April is a great month to re-focus and get a fresh perspective.
Onward and upward, in any event. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
The home of David M. Williamson, writer of fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, and cultural rants.