The Person from Porlock has struck again! I had a topic, something about people being too stubborn to obey minor laws and too proud to disobey major ones, but my girlfriend came in trundling the vacuum cleaner and by the time she was thru- I had forgotten the whole logical sequence of argument to support that statement. Poof! Like a soap bubble. But it did give me another topic that's more to the point of writing. Interruptions can kill a train of thought, a story. What can you do to prevent it? Short of armed guards and a moat, nothing works. Oh, I suppose you could live alone and never answer the door or the phone, but what kind of a life is that? You're a writer, when you're working on a story someone has to remind you to eat every once in a while. That's a given. (shrug) This person can also shield the writer from the rest of the world until the writing project is complete. If you're lucky, you are involved with such a person. And if so, you know that they themselves can conjure up lots of interruptions all on their own. LOL! Witness my plight with the Light of my Life and her housekeeping. Interruptions happen. The phone rings, someone asks you a question about the groceries, you have to go to the restroom... Whatever.
There are writer's tricks you can learn. Like one I use that I heard about from a PJ farmer book: If you have to stop typing unexpecdly, stop in the middle of a sentence. Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage, popularized that one. He found it easier to pick the thread of thought back up when he did that. And the man could write a novella in a month or less. Another is to jot things down in notebooks as soon as the idea comes to you. Doesn't matter if it is in a computer or a paper notebook, write it down right then! Don't waste a moment. Ideas can be fleeting things. Rarely do they haunt your memory until you are forced to write them down. David Gerrold used to recommend writing an outline of each scene on index cards, then swapping them around until you found the right mix to tell your story. (Of course, that one was pre-computer too, but the idea is still sound: Nothing that you write is set in stone. Don't be afraid to swap stuff around. Rewrites are your friend.) And then there is always the best trick, save the file often to a back-up copy- before something can happen! (Back-ups are your Guardian Angel.)
Other ways to fend off interruptions: Set yourself up a room to use for an office. One with a door that you can shut when necessary. And make it clear to any co-inhabitants of your dwelling that you will snarl most fiercely if your barriers are breached while you are working. Set up regular times to write. Write something even if you can't seem to get going on your current project. Expect occasional writing binges when you set up your schedule- be flexible. Multi-task- have several projects going on at once so you always have something to work on. And don't be afraid of stopping one project to pick up another if inspiration strikes. When it is time to eat, stop and eat! You can't think straight when you're hungry. When you're not writing, read everything you can get your hands on. You've got to have lots of grist for the mill of your imagination. The wider your interests, the more you can bring to your writing. Pace yourself- the 800 pages of "Dune" wasn't written in a weekend binge you know. Make sure that you take time out from writing to have a life. Otherwise, your dialogue could get rusty. You have to talk to lots of people to know the vocabulary necessary to use for specific characters that you create. An interruption that drug me out to a nightclub wound up being the most vivid scene in a novella. Your entire life can be mined for your work. The trick to that is to do a lot of different things.
Interruptions can be decreased, compensated for, or used to create better fiction. As with comedy, timing is everything. It is really hard to tell sometimes when, or even if, a distraction will turn out to be worthwhile. But some are, so don't be afraid to take the chance. You can always come back later and pick up where you left off, if you learn the tricks.
Everything you know, everything you learn, everything you do, everyone you meet, everywhere you go- everything adds to your resources as a writer. Interruptions can stop you cold, but then again, they can set you off in a new direction too.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled reading...
I'd like to thank those of you who have sent e-mails or signed
into the Lettercol for your feedback. Keep those messages coming,
folks! Without those messages we will never know what we need to
improve upon. Hope you like the improvements so far!
Senior Editor, Publisher
Short Story Editor
Assistant Short Story Editor
Production Editor/Serials Editor
Assistant Serials Editor
Serialized Stories & Novellettes
The Tree Wife
By Michele Korr
The ancient beech is in flames, as foretold by ancient prophecy. Mae, the
village seer and Tree Wife gazes upon her husband's destruction, knowing
that only by following her husband in death can she save her village.
But first she must find another to take her place.
By Sonny Meadows
On a world which is basically a habitable waste dump, everyone's dream
is the same--to get off the planet forever.
A crazed poet and a secret from the past lead Dr. Simon Litchfield on a race to stop a coming terror.
A new shared universe series: Nightwatch, under the direction of Jeff Williams.
In the Blink of an Eye
By D.J. Burnham
In the world of modern commerce and business, Brent Black was unequaled. He
was the Prince of Exploitation and the King of Opportunity. Then, his luck
By Noel Carroll
I hate putting this down on electronic paper because, in doing so, I concede
failure for the first time in my short life at the time of this recording, I
am nineteen years old. I suppose I should also state that I am the
biological mother of hundreds of children, all under two years of age.
Within a Thousand Years
By Terry Dartnall
He was hitching on the Einfart, the feed-in road. It's illegal but everyone
does it. The cops clear away the travellers but they reappear as soon as the
cops have gone. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and he looked
incongruous, standing there in the sleet and rain. He had a fuzzy beard that
sparkled with rainwater. That should have given me a presentiment, but it
didn’t. We’d come a long way that morning and we were tired.
In The Land of Lexykon Corp.
By Kathleen Vesi
If Fox News were to obtain ownership of the words "Fair and Balanced" where
would it end? It would not end until we reached the land of Lexykon
Three Wishes in the Iraqi Desert
By S.P. McCully The "Milwaukee Misfits" were four Special Forces soldiers who somehow found
their way from a small Wisconsin suburb to the desert sands of Iraq.
by Jim Parnell The collected wisdom of Bubba WARNING: Contains Language.
Aphelion proudly presents the installments of Double Wide all on
one page of links. We wanted to make sure that the wit and wisdom
of Bubba wasn't lost for new readers, so we made a mini-archive
list of just the Double Wide features.
And banner artwork for links. If you want to link to Aphelion and want more than a text link,
then this page is for you. Some of these banners are finished, but
most of them lack only my adding text to make them complete.
Unfinished banners can be completed and e-mailed to you within 8
days. The banner HTML code-- and image --can be e-mailed on
request, or can be more simply copied from the "View / Page
Source" option in your web browser. Finished images can be copied
from the banner artwork page itself. An exchange of links or banner
links is always welcome. Link Swap E-mail should be sent to: Dan Hollifield
A Challenge to
Writers... --8\8\2000-- Not a contest, but a series of ideas to spark off a story.
Challenge 1 is the paintings of Daniel Hannaquand, Challenge 2 is a
collection of narrative hooks composed by Dan Hollifield.
Click here to see the Links Page. Our fellow E-zines, Astronomy,
research material, entertainment, and much, much more!
Aphelion IRC Chat --7\31\2003-- Information about an underused feature for Aphelion. IRC Chat is a fun
way to talk to our readers, writers, staff members, and other
netizens. This link takes you to a basic intro and provides further
links to the IRC software that you can download for free. Look for
new updates as we refine this feature.
Chat --Repaired 3\25\2003-- For a quick look at the JAVA chat client, this link launches a
new browser window that takes you to a Log-in form for a JAVA-based
chat in your browser window. No special programs are needed. This
will be a very simple, but passable IRC client, very no-frills.
This will also tell you if there's anyone else in the chatroom, by
If you would like to receive notices from Aphelion when this
page is updated, please join our new, revised, automatic mailing
list. To subscribe:
Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the
following in the body of the message:
subscribe aphelion <email address>
As always, this mailing list will only be used to notify you of
new issues and will never be given out to anyone else... 'cause I
hate spam as much as you do!