I’m on vacation. I’m actually doing some work while I’m on vacation, but not a whole lot. Nope, not a lot at all. I did find an old story in one of my notebooks that I’d started and stopped a couple/few times. I took it out and wrote it to submit as my final Whittaker story. The results aren’t out yet, but I’m happy. I met all my deadlines except one, and that one was a result of a brain fart about time zones (I was out at the time I should have been emailing my poem to beat the deadline). So yay!
I’ll definitely do the Whittakers again next year. Deadlines are win when it comes to productivity for me, apparently. I got several good pieces out of this year’s and that makes me very happy. Shame my brain doesn’t assign the same degree of importance to deadlines I give myself which don’t affect anyone else… Maybe someday.
I made a newsletter and went to send it out, but then I found that I couldn’t quite do it. Why? Well, lemme tell you.
The newsletter had a zombie poem and included a retelling of an incident that happened to my family and I when we were in San Francisco. That incident involved a very angry man wearing woman’s clothes stomping around a McDonald’s and shouting at everyone in there that we were “all a bunch of faggots”. It was so bizarre that I filed that man away to be used as a character at some point, and Jo called me on it after we left the McDonalds. So why not share it?
I find that I’m incredibly uncomfortable sharing it, actually. I define myself as ‘mostly straight’ but I haven’t a homophobic bone in my body. Still, I can’t bring myself to share that story in its entirety because I’ve learned that it’s impossible to overestimate people’s ability to misconstrue your words. I’m SO not looking for that to happen.
Hopefully I can find another short worth sharing and send out the newsletter before the end of the month is completely over. Wish me luck!
So, I just got back from a writing retreat at the Strawberry Creek Lodge. It was an interesting expirience, one I’m still processing. I’m not sure what the take home message is yet. I think it will either be ‘I need to ease up on myself a bit’ or else ‘I am not really a retreat person’. It might even be a combination of those two things.
This picture? I took it while I was there, as well as all the other pictures included in this post. The retreat was good for pictures, it was also good for birds. I love watching birds, listening to birds, photographing them, and I got to do all those things on the retreat as well. The pictures didn’t turn out so well for the most part, but like I told a friend what I expirience trumps what I capture on film. So yes, the birds were good.
The writing? Less good.
Well, perhaps that’s not fair. It wasn’t what I’d wanted though.
The retreat ran from Wednesday afternoon through to Sunday afternoon. That gave me three full days and two half days of writing. There is no television, no internet, no distractions. I thought this would be the perfect chance to pen the new first draft of SHADOWS. My plan was 5k words on the two half days and 10k words on each of the three full days. That’s a lot of writing but, I told myself, I know the story so it’s not like I will get blocked or anything. I’m mostly transcribing from my brain more than writing in any sort of creative way…
Um. Yeah. It’s funny the lies I can convince myself are true.
So I arrived at the cabin, all ready to go. Sure I was going to get the first 40,000 words on this draft done and then be able to finish writing the story in no time when I got home. I’m hoping for about 90,000 words on this draft, so in essence I was hoping to get half of it done while I was writing. Oh yes! A few days of intense writing and I’d be good to go!
The problems with this, as I’m sure you see even though I didn’t until I was right in the middle of everything, are many. One of the biggest ones I ran into right off the bat was that apparently some switch got flipped in my brain, and I suspect it came directly from the ‘I’m transcribing more than writing’ thought process. You see, pretty much everything I wrote while I was on retreat is remarkably dry and lacking any sort of personality or emotion. The current draft of Shadows (the one written pre-retreat) has loads and loads of personality, it needs to be re-drafted to fix plot problems and because if I just revised it to fix them I feel like the whole thing would begin to feel over-revised. Now, the draft I’m in the midst of has a stronger plot but lacks personality.
This is going to be a freaking nightmare to revise. I’m going to have to sort of try to merge the two drafts first and then revise. Wheee! Fun fun. In order to save my own sanity I am sorely tempted to start pulling descriptive passages from the pre-retreat draft and write them out in my new first draft. It will no longer be a ‘fresh’ draft if I do that, but it will have some flavor and since it seems that’s something I’ll end up doing in the first round of revision/merging, might be a timesaver. We’ll see, I guess.
Sadly, that problem wasn’t the biggest one I encountered on retreat. The biggest problem was my own brain.
As I write a novel I go through lots of stages, and I know I’m not alone. In fact, Jim Hines summed it up pretty much perfectly here. Usually while difficult it’s not impossible to work through those things, largely because they are spread out over time. However, I learned last weekend that if you compress the time you are taking to write the novel you also compress all the emotions that go with it. They don’t get weakened either, quite the contrary. By Friday night I was pretty sure I was wasting my time and money by going on retreat to write and by Saturday I was paralyzed. Certain I was a hack who didn’t have an original idea in her head and couldn’t write her way out of…well, take that cliche where ever you want. The point is, I was not writing. I was laying in my room staring at the ceiling, or calling home on the cell phone with the dying battery (no charger, whee!) just to hear Jo and Danica’s voice.
I relaxed my writing goals on Friday morning because I am writing this draft long hand and I didn’t want to cripple my hand. Plus, I was beginning to see the emotional price I was going to be paying for my ‘intensive writing’. Maybe I shouldn’t have, then I might have been able to push through the slump and start climbing back in love with the book, but maybe I also would have made myself feel even worse.
The end result is that I’m at about 20,000 words and I haven’t written a single word of fiction on that draft or anything else since I got home on Sunday. I’ve not even looked at it…though I have considered pros and cons of beginning the merge sooner rather than later. That has to count for something and I’ll take my victories where I can find them.
Despite how bad I made it sound, it wasn’t all bad, certainly. I met some new people, got some pretty nice photographs, ate a lot of fantastic food and had some wonderful non-writing expiriences. I listened to some great audio-stories (The Classic Tales Podcast) because though I made a point of not bringing any books with me in the midst of my writing paralysis I remembered I had some unlistened to ones on my ipod. I got 20,000 words done on my new first draft, and even if I think they are going to need a ridiculous amount of revision, those are 20,000 words I didn’t have before. So it wasn’t all bad and perhaps with this improved insight into myself future retreats would be better, but right now I’m left wondering if I’m really a retreat kind of person. I guess only time will tell…
First of all, I sold another zombie poem the other day. It will be on Everyday Weirdness June 3rd Yay!
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you likely know I’ve been going through a bit of Con withdrawal. It’s sad but true. I missed the last World Fantasy convention and also World Horror in Brighton (and Neil Freaking Gaiman! Gah!) to apply to attend Clarion West (they said no). There is something incredibily rejuvenating about writers conventions to me, it’s something in the air (and seeing my friends doesn’t hurt either). I’ve been looking for cons closer to home and thus less costly in order to get a ‘fix’ but so far I’ve found nada. So I turned my gaze back to World Fantasy in Columbus.
I want to go. I want to go SO bad. It’s a World Fantasy convention, that puts it very high on my ‘want’ list all by itself, but when you add in the fact it’s in Columbus where my friend Amber lives (who I’ve not met in three dimensions yet) I really, really wanted to go.
I won’t be though. *sigh*
It’s disappointing, but I think it’s also the grown-up decision.
You see, instead of going to World Fantasy I’ll be spending a fraction of that money and going to the Strawberry Creek Writers Retreat instead. While I’m there I will be re-writing a first draft of Shadows (you read that right). I could go to World Fantasy, but let’s face it, it would be more of a party weekend than a professional one. If I go to Strawberry Creek I will make good progress on a novel I really love and maybe, just maybe, give me something to sell (whether to agents, editors or readers) at a future World Fantasy.
It’s the right thing to do, but it’s still disappointing.
Writing goals. I need ’em. Without them I write but not in any sort of organized or consistent way.
In April I am doing the poem-a-day challenge from Poetic Asides. I don’t think I’ll be entering the contest, but I will be using the poetry prompts in order to write some more zombie poems. Ideally I would love to end up with enough poems to create a chapbook (with April’s poems combined with the ones I wrote in November).
It is in May, however, that I have a slightly less orthadox writing goal. Each year in May my writing group, NaNoLJers has a writing challenge we call Writo de Mayo. For Writo de Mayo each person is encouraged to set an individual writing goal and report their progress throughout the month. Most people choose a word count or a revision goal, I am not. My goal for May is to get healthier.
My plan is to do the 30 Day Shred each weekday. I’ve started doing The Shred before but fell out of the habit. I know from that expirience that the first few days are going to be pretty hellish and I will NEED weekends to recover. I’m hoping that toward the middle of the month I’ll be able to do it in addition to my regular work out on the exercise bike. I’ve also started counting calories again effective today.
How is this a writing goal? Well, the way I figure it I have a lot of stories I want to tell, and I’m going to need a lot of time to do it. With my health and weight as it currently is, I am decreasing my life expectancy and thus how much I can write. So from now through April I will be building up slowly to May when my #1 priority (other than my family and friends) will be working out. Developing some good habits and a routine that I will be able to stick with afterward. Before I buggered up my ankle backpacking I had a routine I loved and actually became addicted to. I was losing weight and inches and feeling good with loads of energy. I want that again.
Writing goals. They come in all shapes and sizes, eh?
I’m feeling intimidated by the novel I’m working on. It’s sad but true. The novel in question is currently titled ‘See The Sky Again’ and so far its got an interesting ‘life story’. I started writing it as a NaNo novel a couple years ago and then stopped because I realised it could be a really good novel if I gave it some more time to develop in my brain before writing it. So I stopped working on it, but not thinking about it. My subconcious has been chewing away on it ever since.
A few months ago I started working on it again, then I enrolled in a novel-writing class with Candas Jane Dorsey. The class, it turned out, include a lot of critiquing (both giving and recieving). I don’t usually show my work before I’ve got the entire first draft done. History has taught me that this is for the best, however, I mean, this was Candas Jane Dorsey. If I was going to get a critique from her on my work I was going to get it on the project I cared the most about. That was StSA.
I got fantastic feedback on the first two chapters which I then revised the crap out of, turned into one chapter and submitted for new feedback. The second round of feedback was even better than the first, so another revision ensued. Then another after I sent the first chapter to my regular critique group to make sure some parts I wasn’t sure about worked.
Here’s the problem. Chapter one of StSA is the best piece of fiction I’ve ever written. Ever. And now I’m intimidated by it. It feels like a betrayal almost to add on to it with a crappy first draft. I know I have to. I know that the first chapter is like version four and that the stuff I’m writing subsequent to it will eventually be polished and revised to be good. I know that the first draft of anything is shit and that I have to let it be so and just get it out. I know all these things, but I’m still paralyzed. Knowing things and knowing things are entirely different.
I’ve decided that enough is enough. I can’t be held hostage by this block anymore and I’m going to write. 1,000 words a day. The plan is threefold. First, I’ll use willpower. I know I have it, I just need to channel it into this and really stick to it. Secondly, Jo is making me a spiffy word count program with pretty graphs and stuff, that will help keep me motivated on the especially hard days. Thirdly I’ve discovered that I write better outside the house. Now that it’s warming up around here I’m going to be going to coffee every morning, taking a notebook and writing long hand while I’m there. The link between coffee and writing will be a good one, as will setting up a routine and getting out of the house.
That is a screenshot of the links bar from Kari Wolfe’s blog at Imperfect Clarity. What does it have to do with anything? Um. Not much. I just think it’s fantastically amazing to have my name included in that list. I’m in pretty good company there, hmm? 🙂 Thanks Kari! That really made my day when I first saw it (obviously, I screenshotted it LOL).
So, the subject of this post is ‘Point Form Stuffs’ because I have so many things to touch on that the only way to do it all without this turning into a novel is in point form (hmm… point-form?)
Niteblade is no longer putting out a print anthology every fifth issue, however payouts for contributors have increased significantly. Linky Linky
I decided to work out more and play World of Warcraft less. This has resulted in my having more focus (already, I started yesterday LOL) and actually, finally, beginning my Eowyn Challenge. So I’m now walking from Bag End to Rivendell, following Bilbo’s footsteps in The Hobbit. Why The Hobbit and not Lord of the Rings? Because I couldn’t decide what character to follow for LotR and I needed to make a choice and get started LOL I’ll do LotR next. To make myself feel accountable, I’ve put up a file in my public dropbox that will record my progress. That means, anyone who wants to can see how I’m doing. Clicky Clicky. I’m biking, not walking — I cite the winter weather as my excuse.
Shades of Green is coming out soon, and I’m trying to think of a way to have a contest to give one away, but I’m not coming up with anything clever. Any ideas?
NaNoLJers is having a short story contest (Short Story Contest) and since I’m not a judge and the judging is blind I thought I might enter. Alas, I am pretty much stumped. I have the vaguest concept for the story, but not much beyond that. The deadline is the middle of February though, so I have a little time to put something together still. If you write you should think about entering too.
I’m working on my newsletter today. It should go out by this afternoon. Yay for only being a few days late instead of weeks! 😉
I feel like I’m forgetting stuff…but that seems like a pretty good collection of ‘stuffs’ to share 🙂 How about you? Do you have any exciting stuffs to share?
I have a ticket for the World Horror Convention in Brighton this year…but I don’t think I’m going to be able to use it. I’m not known for making these sorts of decisions easily, and my mind isn’t completely set on this one, but really, I would say with 99% certainty, I won’t be going. You see, the thing is as much as I really want to go (and I do, I really do) I applied to Clarion West this year.
The odds are very much against my being accepted to Clarion West but if I get in, that would take priority for me over WHC.
While it’s actually possible for me to manage to go to both, I don’t want to. That’s a lot of money and a lot of time spent away from my family. Danica will have a tough enough time dealing with my being gone for six weeks if I get into Clarion West, adding another week for a trip to Brighton not long before that would be wrong.
The tricky thing is, Clarion West generally notifies people about whether or not they got in sometime in March, usually (I’m told) toward the end of it. Word Horror is in March, which means I’d need to have a plane ticket sometime before then. And so, and so…
I don’t think I’m going to Brighton. I suppose the deal is actually pretty much sealed, even if I try to deny it or pretend there is still a question about it. I want to go to Brighton but let’s face it, if I went it would be more pleasure than business (I haven’t got a horror novel to promote yet and Niteblade doesn’t make money so I can’t justify the trip on the grounds of promoting it) and Clarion West could do amazing things for my writing and thus, my writing future. So I’m not going to Brighton. It makes me sad, I will miss being able to see friends, and hang out and all the good stuff that comes with conventions (oh, and the bag ‘o books, I’ll -so- miss the books!) but in the end it’s the right thing to do. And if I don’t get into Clarion West? I guess I’ll just take that money and take my family on a beach vacation somewhere. That will help soothe my disappointment.
Also, if you could keep your fingers crossed for me that I get accepted into Clarion West that would be fabulous.
(The picture is of my cat, Indy, and is completely irrelevant to this post. I put it there because I couldn’t think of something relevant to put as a picture and I’m trying to include more of my photographs in entries…so…yeah.)
I have been struggling lately. You may have noticed, it’s been a recurring theme for the past couple years and it just keeps getting worse. I have the attention span of a gnat nowadays. I look back at the things I used to accomplish in a day and that list has been getting smaller and smaller for the past 4 years or so. Unacceptable.
I have the attention span of a gnat.
This needs to change.
After a lot of consideration and discussions with friends who find themselves in similar positions as well as those who don’t, I have a theory. I think I have trained myself to be unfocused. This was obviously unintentional, but I think it’s what happened.
A few years ago when I was building websites and such for a living I had a livejournal and an ICQ account. I would check LJ once a day and keep ICQ up and running while I worked. That meant I could communicate with people if I needed or wanted to, but I wasn’t leaving the window or webpage I was on to do it. Fast forward to now and I have a LiveJournal, a Facebook account, a couple blogs and a twitter account. Discounting the blogs because they don’t fall into the same category — I have a lot more distractions. Firstly, Facebook and twitter update a lot more often than LJ. My twitter feed changes every couple minutes, that means I’m refreshing that page every couple minutes and in order to do that, I’m leaving the window I’m currently working in. Add to that the ability to get sidetracked following links or playing games on Facebook and really, it’s no wonder my brain is so fragmented and frazzled.
This hasn’t just affected my work, by the way. Look at my World of Warcraft account as another example. I play on two servers (one less than the other). On each of those servers I have 10 characters. 10. That’s the maximum. Why? Because I don’t seem to be able to focused on any one toon for very long.
The good news is I figure if I trained myself to be unfocused, unproductive and to have a short attention span, I can untrain myself too. (Is untrain a word?). Starting immediately during work hours I am only going to allow myself to check Facebook and Twitter once a day. That’s it. Just once. The same goes for Livejournal. During my off-hours I’ll ease up on myself a little bit. I will continue to check Twitter while I’m taking a long flight in WoW for example, but I need to force myself to focus when I should be working and maybe actually get something done now and then. The way things are right now is ridiculous.
My short story, Hell Tempted Me, is online now at Yellow Mama. This is an erotic piece and thus is not suitable for anyone under 18 or who isn’t into that sort of thing. I wrote it as an entry for a contest at FanStory a very long time ago (it didn’t win) and just recently found the right market for it.
I’m getting ready to go on my writing retreat today. I’ve finally figured out what I’m going to be working on there. First I need to do a final revision of THERE and then I’m going to start the rewrite of SHADOWS. I’m also hoping to fit some flash work in around the edges as part of one of my sekkrit projects. Wish me luck and productivity 🙂
I’m lucky enough to be starting my new year with a bit of flash and a poem at Shine — yay! Coffee, my rictameter about, you guessed it, coffee and Not So Smart are both online now in the January 2008 issue of The Shine Journal.
This time of year people all around me are making New Year’s Resolutions…which is something I don’t do. However, I do often set goals for myself and then work toward them, so I thought I’d share my current list of writing-related goals. In a few months I’ll look back and see how I’m doing LOL
My goals for the next little while include:
1. Finishing the rough draft of my untitled Circus Story
2. Revising Blood and Stone and sending it out into the world
3. Attend World Fantasy
4. Begin writing the sequel to Blood and Stone tentatively titled Secrets and Shadows
5. Increase traffic to and readership of Niteblade