I’m a winter writer. Endless gray, rainy days suit me very well. I like to sit and stare out the window, watching the sky weep, my brain tuned to that expectant humming that the next sentence will bring itself out of.

Maybe this is why I have, whenever I could in my adult life, built time into each day for dreaming, and insisted that the Prince and Princess have unstructured time each day. I’m of the opinion that it’s those moments of blankness that helps young (and older) brains catch up with themselves, and is also a necessary component of the creative process–the “creative pause.”

When you’re rushing to a solution, your mind will jump to the easiest and most familiar path. But when you allow yourself to just look out the window for 10 minutes – and ponder – your brain will start working in a more creative way. It will grasp ideas from unexpected places. It’s this very sort of unconscious creativity that leads to great thinking. When you’re driving or showering, you’re letting your mind wander because you don’t have to focus on anything in particular. If you do carve out some time for unobstructed thinking, be sure to free yourself from any specific intent. (Scott Belsky)

Part of why I prize that humming in my head so highly is because I’ve lived with people who have an absolute instinct for knowing when one’s brain is approaching that cycle, and for some reason they want to disrupt it in any way possible. (WHY they do this is a whole ‘nother ball of blog post wax. Let’s carry on.) Of course, it could be that I am picky and hard to live with. (Who isn’t?) But I’ve since become grateful for that harsh everyday annoyance. It was invaluable training in getting the creative pause in anyhow, triggering the blank expectant humming at a moment’s notice, slipping myself into that interstitial space within an eyeblink. It takes practice, but it can be done–and often, I surface knowing What Comes Next in a story.

My point (you knew I had one, right?) is that your faculties might do their best work with a little bit of white noise. Not too much–then you just drool all over your keyboard, and this, while not incredibly expensive if one buys cheap keyboards, is still annoying and embarrassing. But finding a way to fit even five minutes of just sitting and thinking, or sitting and staring (not at the television, Christ, throw that thing out the window or at least only use it for films) into your day can reap you rewards all out of proportion, especially when it comes to any creative endeavor. And getting into the habit of protecting that time will help you develop the skills necessary to protect your writing time, tooth and nail, against all comers. Which is exponentially more important…

…but that’s another blog post.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are new releases, contests, and all sorts of other fun and no-bullshit writing advice. Check us out!

Well, hello. It’s Wednesday again. First, two announcements!

Yes, this is espresso and Bailey’s in a mug that says “I am going to hex your face off.” After I Tweeted that picture, I was snowed-under with queries about where to buy said mug. I got mine in 2006 from a CafePress shop (the shop’s owner was “lalejandra2″) that has now gone under. At least, I can’t find it. Which led to me putting a version of the mug up in my own shop, with no markup. (Because I feel incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of a profit, however tiny, from it.) It goes without saying that if I find the original seller, I’ll change the links and direct everyone there. But I’ve dug and dug, and can’t find her.

Announcement #2 is kind of vague. Remember that zombie-hunting cowboy trunk novel I was working on? The one I was just delighted with, and was sure would never sell? Well…paint me lilac and call me Conrad, it sold. I can’t give any details, but I can say that I’m sort of…bowled over.

Now that’s taken care of, let’s talk about ideas. (WARNING: I am foulmouthed today. Read at your own risk.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

So of course someone had to ask Jonathan Franzen what he thinks about ebooks, since he’s the critical darling of the moment. And of course the Internet exploded when he said ebooks are damaging society. Ink, both actual and virtual, was spilled. Haterade was prepared in copious amounts. It was like the hate that started swilling when Sherman Alexie called the Kindle “elitist.” Of course, I am much more likely to think deeply about anything Alexie says than Franzen, for a variety of reasons.

When Alexie “clarified” his stance, this caught my eye:

Having grown up poor, I’m also highly aware that there’s always a massive technology gap between rich and poor kids. I haven’t yet heard what Amazon plans to do about this potential technology gap. And that’s a vital question considering that Bezos wants to change the way we read books. How does he plan to change the way that poor kids read books? How does he plan to make sure that poor kids have access to the technology? Poor kids all over the country don’t have access to current textbooks, so will they have access to Kindle? (Sherman Alexie)

Right there, in a nutshell, is a point that gets lost when people on the Internet talk about ebooks. The hidden costs of buying that cheap digital edition–why aren’t more people talking about this rather than hating on Franzen for having an opinion? (Admittedly he comes off as somewhat of a pretentious knob in that Telegraph piece, but still.)

It sent me off on a (quelle ironic) Twitter rampage.

Why doesn’t anyone factor in platform and obsolescence costs for ebooks? I.e., the ebook reader and its updates.

Frex, the laptop or ereader you’re using, and the cost to charge it and replace it for wear and tear, not to mention updates.

Until we get wetware that can jack the book right into our brains, there are still going to be platform costs.

A paperback’s cover price takes into account production and platform costs; an ebook’s price does not.

These are the discussions we should be having, not hating on writers who have Opinions About Publishing.

And certainly not stroking the turgid egos of highly-paid anomalies on the Internet, either. (My Twitter feed)

After having a great deal of fun with the phrase “turgid egos” I really warmed to my theme.

Ebooks are not “cheap” or “free”. They are *convenient* for certain socioeconomic strata.

There is not nearly enough attention paid to the hidden costs, like hardware, platform, obsolescence (planned or otherwise) of hardware–

–replacement costs, access to electricity, etc., etc.

This is the kind of conversation I wish we were having about ebooks, not “So and So is elitist because they have Opinions about Self-Pub.”

Or “So and So gives their books away so piracy is always OK.” (Hint: this one REALLY irks me.)

Or, “Big Name Author has enough money/brand recognition not to worry about lost sales, so they say piracy isn’t a problem.” (My Twitter feed)

At that point I started getting a lot of “But I LIKE my Kindle/Nook!” And I’m happy that they do, but that was not the point I was making OR the conversation I was inviting.

There is a narrative out there saying “digital=free.” I’d like to see discussion that doesn’t use that equation, because it’s untrue.

Most of the human species can’t afford a desktop/laptop/Kindle/Nook/monthly smartphone bill/startup smartphone investment.

Those that can tend to think their experience is ubiquitous, because it FEELS ubiquitous. The curse of the Internet, you could say.

An examination of the underpinnings and the hidden costs is more productive than hating on ebooks or Authors With Opinions. (My Twitter feed)

At that point Stephen Blackmoore made the great observation: “Not to mention there are still places in the world that don’t even have electricity.”

Discussing the real costs could help us bend our considerable energies to raising literacy, not getting all hatey on the Internet.

Why is this not a blog post? Because I don’t think I can refrain myself from ranting without Twitter’s character limit. *sigh* (My Twitter feed)

I’m glad I waited, but so many people asked me to collect those tweets I decided to put them all here.

There were a number of responses that I should probably answer right now:

* “But I LIKE my Kindle/Nook/ebook reader!” Well, see above. That’s GREAT. It’s WONDERFUL that you like it. I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t. I’m saying that when we talk about publishing and ebooks, we should be talking as well about the hidden costs of the platform used to decode/store/show the digital “book.” Because those costs are more than you think–not just electricity, and the initial investment in the platform (desktop computer, laptop, ereader, smartphone, tablet) but also things like the monthly cost of an Internet connection or the cell phone bill, the cost of upgrading the hardware every few years (because of the pace of technology and obsolescence both planned and unplanned) not to mention the social costs of slave labor to make it, pollution from the making of it, pollution from the electricity used to power it—the list goes on and on.

* “I’m disabled and the ebook reader makes it easier for me to read!” Often accompanied by “Alexie is ableist!” (I shit you not.) It’s great that this technology is helping you, I am very happy for you. But I am mystified at how this was even a response. I don’t think it’s “ableist” of Alexie to point out that poor kids and their families can’t invest in this kind of technology as easily as others can, or of me to say that talking about the hidden costs might help us find a solution.

* “But I have a computer/laptop anyway, adding the ebook-reading function is free.” It’s not “free.” Adding that functionality presupposes the investment in the platform; it is convenient, certainly, but you pay the hidden costs for that convenience whether or not you engage it. It is the fact of the hidden cost we’re talking about, not whether or not you feel like added functionality is something you want to use.

* “Paper books have hidden costs too!” Well, those are rather elegantly included in the cover price, so they’re not so “hidden.” The cover price of a paper book takes into account the price of the paper and distribution, and has for a long time because of the built-up infrastructure. You could argue that bookstores are the purview of a higher socioeconomic stratum too, and that there’s invisible privilege there, but I don’t think it’s quite as germane. For one thing, there’s the used books factor; for another, there’s few upgrade costs with paper books–if you read them to pieces and get another one, that’s an upgrade cost, but it’s not nearly as huge as upgrading an ereader every couple years or a laptop every four-five years. There’s also the marvelousness of libraries, which even the field a bit for some poorer strata of society.

Of course, it’s incredibly hard not to snark observations such as:

Franzen said he took comfort from knowing he will not be here in 50 years’ time to find out if books have become obsolete.

“I’m amused by how intent people are on making human beings immortal or at least extremely long-lived,” he joked.

“One of the consolations of dying is that [you think], ‘Well, that won’t have to be my problem’. Seriously, the world is changing so quickly that if you had any more than 80 years of change I don’t see how you could stand it psychologically.” (Telegraph)

Somehow I think the world will carry on, Jonathan dear.

But I would really like to see more discussion of hidden costs, platform costs, access differences between socioeconomic strata, etc., instead of hating on an author for having a goddamn opinion about developments in the industry they’re working in. Doctors have opinions about developments in their field; bricklayers and pizza delivery people, retail workers and scientists have opinions about their chosen (or just career) field. People have goddamn opinions about everything, as evidenced by the jackasses who know nothing about publishing but try to school me about the industry.

But that’s another rant, and this is already long enough. Let’s talk about the hidden costs of ebooks and eplatforms instead.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

“My royalty cheque from (insert Traditional Publisher Name) was only $X00! Why, if I’d self-published, it would have been $X000 for the same number of books sold! Clearly, self-publishing is better!”

I hear this frequently, and it always irks the bejesus out of me. What annoys me is not the assumption that self-publishing is better. For some writers and some books (Chuck Wendig’s and Laura Anne Gilman‘s writing advice books spring to mind) it IS the best path. And it is awesome. No, that’s not why, when I hear any of the hundred versions of this hoary chestnut, I immediately start taking EVERYTHING the speaker says 300% less seriously.

Take the number of books sold on that royalty statement. Now we’re going to play a game of takeaway!

* Take away the sales to people turned off by a low-cost self-pubbed cover. Even the worst of Big Six covers is preferable to a Poser monstrosity.
* Take away the sales to people buying in stores serviced by the distribution companies the trad publisher has good agreements with. Consider the ease of returns and the likelihood of a buyer taking a chance on a book from the known quantity of a trad publisher vs., let’s say, Greenlight or nonreturnable items from a POD (or God forbid, a vanity) press.
* Take away sales to people who have been priced out on, say, a $20 trade paperback of middling quality from a self-pubber using a POD press. Now, you could say, “But I’ll price my book at $.99!” Great. You get a slice of a miniscule price from miniscule sales.
* Take away sales to people who are turned off by indifferent editing/copyediting. Oh, but you’ll pay to have that done? News flash, cupcake: that’s an out-of-pocket expense you need to balance against that royalty check. Either way, that $X000 takes a huge hit.
* Take away the sales the trad publisher gained through marketing/publicity of any type. Now, rare and fortunate is the author whose publisher gets them all sorts of good, high-cost publicity. Most authors get bundled together in catalogs and on lists, but guess what? Those catalogs and lists are invisible publicity that ups the chance of your book being on the shelf somewhere people can see it. Self-pubbing doesn’t have the “invisible” publicity a lot of readers don’t see but feel the effects of, which then reflects on the royalty statement.

These are just five things wrong with a one-to-one comparison. There are at least fifty on my list. (We could be here all fucking day, but I don’t have the patience.) Most of the time, when I bring one or more of them up, the response is a blank stare shading into immediate hostility. (It could be that I lack patience the umpteenth million time I hear this shit spouted, granted.) Self-publishing is not a replacement for trad publishing. It’s a different tool.

“My book is awesome but I can’t get an acceptance from an agent or publisher!” Well, look at why. Do you have a problem with following submissions guidelines? Is your craft–grammar, punctuation, etc.–spotty? Is your book impossibly niche–like, say the vampiric flatworms that live only in the urethras of one tribe of the Antarctic Red-Jacketed Tundra Sparrow? (If so, drop me an email, there’s an academic press that might be interested.) Have you not polished your query letter since you first submitted *mumblemumble* years ago? Writing well requires a time investment, are you investing? Are you using the hard sell and stinking of desperation? Are you just not targeting your queries or networking attempts at people who might be interested? Have you revised your finished work and figured out where it would be shelved in a bookstore (its genre, if you will,) and hence, who in the industry might handle it to bring it to market? Do you know who the publishers and editors in your chosen genre(s) are? If you can’t answer those questions, well, your chances of acceptance are not maximized as well as they could be. Knowing this shit gives you an edge, both in trad and in self-publishing.

I’m going to reiterate, because I can just tell there are going to be a lot of comments on the “But you get a bigger percentage with self-pub, you elitist gatekeeper, you!” I LIKE SELF-PUBLISHING. It’s a good choice for some writers. It is a great choice for other writers. The problem is, it’s a kumquat and trad publishing is a tomato. They are both fruits, yes. But they are not the same thing, and they don’t behave the same way when you cook them. You will not get the same results, and comparing them inappropriately will only bring you grief. A bigger percentage of a tiny number is…still a tiny number. Self-publishing is not the get-rich-or-famous scheme a lot of people unconsciously think it is. And that “bigger percentage” has to be balanced against the sales you can reasonably expect AND the out-of-pocket initial outlay you’re going to spend. Less outlay, less professionalism, less sales; more outlay, more professionalism, bigger sales but a bigger debit in your ledger to begin with, too.

Speaking of not getting the same results, let’s please skip the “But so-and-so was a HYOOOGE SELF-PUBLISHING SUCCESS!” That’s great, and I’m happy for them. But those successes should come with that same disclaimer you see in the fine print of infomercials: Results not typical. There’s the self-pubber who had a huge web presence and parlayed that into profitable self-publishing. There’s the odd raw talent who was lucky and marketing savvy and could spend tons of time growing their “overnight success.” There’s the Big Names In Trad Publishing who use that name recognition and their financial gains from said recognition to springboard self-pub projects–and that’s another thing, a professional writer with connections to editing and experience with the publishing process and what makes a quality project is NOT going to have “typical” results. They have experience they have invested in it, and it shows. Results. Not. Typical. Okay?

Muddy, uncritical thinking is not your friend when it comes to writing or business, or the business of writing and publishing. And, frankly, these are the kinds of discussions and numbers I’d love to see more of when it comes to talking about self-pub, instead of the usual round of Internet hateration and shaking pitchforks at mythical “gatekeepers”.

Speaking of hateration on the Net, tune in next time for my reprise on the hidden costs of ebooks. I did a series of tweets yesterday on the subject and have been convinced that I should put them in a blog post for ease of reading.

See, occasionally I can be bribed. Or swayed.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, who you should really be reading. Because we’re awesome.

Instead of the Snowpocalypse we feared (and that Seattle is currently suffering under the spike heel of) we’ve got rain. Lots of rain. Well, this is the Pacific Northwest, and I happen to like rain, but I wish the weather would make up its mind. Heavy wet snow yesterday, melt and easily an inch of rain today, branches down everywhere and my morning run more like a swim–oh, I know I could have used the treadmill, but Miss B was inside all day yesterday, which meant it was either get her out for a run or go to the dog park and stand in mud up to my knees. An appetizing choice, indeed.

Plus, the Little Prince became, once more, Sir Pewksalot last night. All of which is a roundabout way of saying my temper and nerves are equally frayed, and I decided on a Three Things post because if I start on a rant or two now there will be nothing but a smoking crater left where my computer used to be. (Expensive.) Not to mention with all the biting and snarling going on all over the Internet about Authors Daring To Speak, so to speak, and a rant doesn’t seem like a good idea. For lo, if I strap on my armor now and go all Don Quixote after Idiot Entitled Jerks On The Internet, I may never stop. And I’ve writing to do, so…yeah. Three things. Let’s see.

* Kickass is not a prerequisite. It’s not even a requisite. I swear to God, someday I am going to write about Milquetoast von Constipated, a potbellied, balding vampire with bowel issues who lives in Minnesota and, whenever there is an incident of violence, he *gasp* alerts the authorities! Together with his werecow buddy, Milton Morton (who is not only vegan but gets tipped every full moon), they do not fight crime willingly. Rather, they sort of bumble through and the police take care of things on their own. (As to why he has bowel issues when he’s on a liquid diet, I’ll just say, have you ever tried to live on protein shakes? HAVE YOU?)

Sounds amusing, doesn’t it? But it’s sparked by a frustration of mine: where is it written that I can’t write anything other than kickass leather-clad wiseacres? I mean, I’m very glad people connect with my kickass heroes and heroines, but that isn’t all I write, it isn’t all I am. It isn’t all the world consists of. I dislike it intensely when I write a character whose strength is internal and am immediately subjected to a “but your fans won’t recognize…” Screw that. They will recognize, and those who send me venomous screeds about how I should just stick to writing kickass chicks even though I don’t do so very well (seriously, it’s like the writers of these things all got together in a room somewhere) can just go…fly kites. Yes. fly kites.

The point of this is: If you’re used to writing one thing, and you want to write another thing, go ahead and do it. You may have to attempt a couple times before you get a salable piece, but it will teach you things about writing that staying in your comfort zone will not. I’m fairly okay at writing angst and violence, but you know what I would really love? I would love to be talented at writing comedy. Comedy is hard effing work, it doesn’t come naturally to me. (Unless it’s bleak black macabre humor. Heh.) It doesn’t stop me from wanting and trying, and from seeking other types of characters and stories to play with. What you’re good at writing and what you want to write may be two different things, but you should try them both.

* The Levenger catalog is pure crack. I mean, their 3X5 cards are incredibly useful while revising or making grocery lists, both things I do at my computer. My bag lust is inflamed every time I see their briefcases. And, oh my God, the desk sets. The desk sets. It’s nice to reward myself with some lovely tools after slogging through a zero draft. I nerd all over their paper, and one day, one day, I will have a Levenger desk. I’ll save my pennies, by God, and I will have it.

Other things I keep within easy reaching distance while I’m writing: a statue of Ganesh writing, some Climb On creme, cell phone, tarot cards (Rider-Waites, for those curious), Moleskine notebook, a couple pads of paper both legal and Levenger, scissors, pens and sharpened pencils, rubber bands, a Keep Calm and Carry On paperweight, two pink plastic flamingos, six dictionaries, two thesauri, two visual dictionaries, assorted other reference works from encyclopedias of military arms to herbals and Jack the Ripper books. Also, two copies of Jane Eyre, plus six or seven DVDs of different treatments of Jane Eyre, and a few Wuthering Heights. (Don’t ask.) Also, tissues, ibuprofen, and Carmex. Because you never can tell.

The flamingos are for practicing dialogue with. (But that’s another blog post.)

* Beware of great ideas. “A million cat clocks! That’s a GREAT idea!” Then some of them started looking a little odd because their tails weren’t moving. And I had to find more batteries. This just goes to show you, great ideas are only great until one gets to the care, feeding, and administrivia involved. (Note: I have six cat clocks, all on my living-room wall. And I want more.)

What does this have to do with writing? Simple. Beware of great ideas. Sometimes they happen halfway through a zero draft, and you either have to go back and alter what you’ve already written to account for the Great Idea, or you just go ahead and write as if the Great Idea has been there all the time, which means the first half of revising the zero draft is likely to send you to the booze cabinet sooner rather than later. Sometimes the Great Ideas happen during revision, and one should be careful because they are like pebbles thrown into a quiet pond. (BOOT TO THE HEAD!) The ripples spread throughout the entire book, which may mean you have to go back and deal with tweaking everything before and after in subtle and overt ways. Rippling tweakage is another thing that will send you to the booze cabinet during revisions. Or to banging your head against a brick wall, whichever is handier. (Also, Rippling Tweakage is my new indie band name.)

Great ideas are great, but there is no Great Idea that fixes everything without a lot of work. If the Idea is Great Enough, the work, while frustrating, is also a process of simplification. If it’s a Mediocre Idea masquerading as Great, or even just a Garden-Variety Idea Of Some Magnitude But Hardly Greatness, well, booze cabinets and brick walls, or whatever coping mechanism works for you, STAT. It doesn’t make the Rippling Tweakage any easier, but it can dull the gnawing pain between your temples somewhat.

…I just looked at that last sentence and cannot believe I typed that. Some days, I really love my job.

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Get out the pitchforks and torches, it’s that kind of day…

So, there’s been some brouhaha in the book-reviewing world. Mostly, it’s been yet another edition of Authors Behaving Badly, and I’ll just point you at Cleolinda’s rundown and my own hoary old advice. Of course writers shouldn’t respond, positively or negatively, to reviews. Of course it’s wrestling a pig in mud–the pig loves it, and you just get dirty and look like an idiot. Of course. Of course.

But.

Look, it would take the patience of a saint to put up with some of this shit. And writers are most definitely not saints. Neither, dear Reader, are you.

In any group of people, X% are going to be assholes. It’s like the speed of light–it’s a fucking constant, so let’s get used to it and go on from there. Even those who are not assholes as a matter of course can sometimes act in an asshole manner, given the right conditions. Sometimes, we’re all assholes. You, me, that guy over there, everyone.

I have to tell you, though, sometimes I just don’t blame authors as much as you’d think. There are “review” sites that only serve to aggrandize their owners’ precious little pretensions, and there are “review” sites that should have a sign attached saying “LOOK, JUST FEED MY ENTITLEMENT COMPLEX BECAUSE OTHERWISE I’LL BADMOUTH YOU!”. Then there’s Goodreads–which I use myself, as a means of tracking my reading, and to be available, to a certain degree, to fans. Which is all fine and good, but just like EVERY OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE, there are some corners of Goodreads that might as well be 4chan. That’s all right if you like 4chan, and of course, if I claim the right to say whatever the hell I want here on this corner of the Internet that I pay for and maintain, I can certainly allow it to “review” sites that appear to be someone’s shallow little reproductions of high-school cliquishness. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre, c’est the fucking marmalade.

A lot of times, however, when I see an Author Behaving Badly On Teh Interwebs–I’m not talking about harassment, I’m not talking about plagiarism–I see a writer getting mad at some deliberately provocative pieces of horseshit. There are “review” sites that keep waving red flags and waiting for the moment a writer, any writer, will snap. They get a charge off this, and I don’t precisely blame some writers for responding. It turns into a situation that only ends well for the petty little provocateur, because they end up getting the emotional charge and the hit count. It never, ever ends well for the writer.

So while I don’t precisely blame the writer sometimes, I do wince. And I do sometimes privately agree with the kernel of some of their rants. I am, and plenty of other writers are, in the position of not being able to offer agreement publicly or professionally, and I think a lot of “review” sites and Mean People on social networking sites bank on that. It’s like the Speshul Snowflakes who decide to be rude to retail or food-service workers. They get the emotional charge and get a kick out of being the “injured party” or merely the Stirrer Of The Shit, and their stink spreads far and wide.

The point of all this is, sooner or later a writer is going to be tempted to respond. If the idea of taking the high road and behaving professionally isn’t enough to stop you, just think about what it means to descend to the level of the jackass who’s trying to taunt you into reacting. Is it worth being just like him or her? Is it truly worth it, when you know you’re just going to end up covered in shit while they laugh at the fact that they made you respond while basking in their brief Internet celebrity? Is it seriously worth it?

This isn’t to exonerate every writer who behaves badly on the Internet. It’s just to say that sometimes, you know, I don’t exactly blame the ones who do snap under the provocation. There but for the grace of God goes anyone, really.

It would do well for us all to remember that.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 13th, 2012 01:01 pm)

If you aren’t reading The Fox Sister or Girl Genius, dear God, hie ye forth and do so!

It’s a bright cold morning, and what isn’t frozen is close to it. Including me. I find myself in a curious abeyance today; Miss B is quiet and watchful as if she senses a change in the weather. Of course, it could just be that we’ve been too busy to be believed lately, and she’s been right with me during all of it. I bless the day I visited the shelter and saw her sweet doggie face. I know every owner thinks their dog is the best, but I’m sorry, my girl has them all beat.

Anyway, the Bandit King revisions proceed apace. I am really wishing I could have killed this protagonist early and saved myself all this fuss. I normally don’t like my heroes much (there’s an exception in Jack Gray, who I actually kind of admired, and Darik isn’t bad but he still has a long way to go) but it’s rare for me to dislike them to this degree. My mild irritation with this hero has turned into outright flaming hatred, which means my notes for revision are covered in little Post-Its saying I can kill him, please tell me I can kill him!, or Idiot asshole or even, Why did I think writing from his POV was a good idea? In the time it takes me to scribble one of those little notes, I could be making changes…so I suppose it’s just another avoidance tactic.

This career is full of those.

Anyway, it’s time to dive back in. If I can’t outright kill this guy I can stab, burn, heartbreak, and eye-mutilate him. He won’t be nearly as pretty when I finish with him, dammit, and it serves him right. *quietly fumes*

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

The Dames have been answering a lot of questions lately, and I’m going to join the fun. I often get emailed the same questions by a number of different people at once; they seem to come in waves. Here are the three questions about writing I’ve been asked by more than five people in the last two weeks, and my answers. Enjoy!

* How do you get your ideas/How do you know if an idea is good enough for a book/What do you do when you don’t have an idea of what to write? (And various permutations thereof.)

I get asked this in spates, usually about every three months. It kind of puzzles me.

Ideas are not the problem. The discipline to sit down and finish something is the problem. Being worried about “not having ideas” is kind of like living in the Pacific Northwest and being worried there isn’t enough mold. If there’s one thing I’ve never had to worry about, it’s a paucity of shiny things to mentally play with. If you’re reading this, you’re a thinking monkey with an actively-producing-ideas few pounds of meat inside your skull; if you want to be a writer, you always have ideas swarming around inside said skull screaming to get out. There are ideas lurking in your kitchen junk drawer, in the face of every passerby, in every daydream or what-if question. Believe me, the there are enough ideas around to keep everyone busy until the sun explodes, and we won’t even have scratched the surface.

How do you know if an idea is “good enough”? Short answer: You don’t. Longer answer: You don’t until you attempt it. After a few years of constantly attempting stories, you can develop a feel for those ideas that have some meat and legs to them, weight and heft and complexity enough for a short story or a novella, or a novel entire, or a series. You also learn, in the course of those attempts, how to scratch below the surface of a story and discover the complexity in even the simplest of ideas. This can only be learned by doing, like so much else in this line of work.

As for “not having an idea of what to write”…I have never understood that. Is that an attempt to resuscitate the old canard of writer’s block? (There’s a cure for that.) Is it saying “I have so many ideas I can’t pick one?” That’s time-wasting, and a way for your Inner Censor to keep you chasing your own tail. Pick one and go. Is it saying “I don’t want to sit down day after day and do the boring typing?” Well, okay, but that defeats the purpose of being a writer, doesn’t it? Writers write. It doesn’t matter what you write, it matters THAT you write, and if you “can’t find” an idea, the problem isn’t with writing or the ideas. The problem is not opening your eyes and seeing the crowd of ideas that’s screaming “PICK ME! OOOH, PICK ME!” You can go to a mall or a casino and people-watch, you can open up your kitchen drawers, you can watch a few random scenes from a movie or listen to some random songs on shuffle. The genesis of story idea is usually a “What if/Why…” question, and getting into the habit of asking yourself “what if” and “why” about things is sort of the magic set of goggles that will allow you to see that invisible crowd.

* I am a new/young writer, do you have any advice?

This is an every-six-months sort of question. I’ll get twenty of them in a row every half-year, usually for summer and winter breaks. I kind of want to do a form letter to send back saying “Yes. And yes. And yes. I can only add: pay attention, and do the work.”

* “How much research do you do?”

Every month I get one of these. Short answer: a LOT. Longer answer: well, everything I read is research, every movie I watch is research, every new song I find is research, every time I cook it’s research. All things feed the work. If you’re asking me how many or how few hours of research go into each book, I can’t tell you.

For example, some of the things I researched for the Valentine series included: leaf springs (for hovers), ballistics, brushing up on human and canine anatomy and physiology, the geography of Prague, the battle of Blackbird Fields, legends of the Nephilim, the Goetia, demonology, friction, strata, relative weight of a dotanuki, ethical systems–and other things, too varied to count. The research ranged from simple questions that were answered in a few minutes by looking something up to month-long binges of reading in a particular subject, strip-mining everything I could lay my hands on. I probably research less than most authors of historical fiction, who go deeply into their chosen era, but I range pretty widely. I’m more a magpie researcher; everything I pick up goes into the storeroom and moulders into a fertile sludge there. Your mileage may vary, but I am (as is pretty evident here) a big believer in creative ferment, and in everything that goes into my head serving some sort of purpose, even if only as ballast.

So there you have it, three questions I’ve received numerous times over the last few weeks. I expect a new crop by the turn of the year…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 22nd, 2011 11:10 am)

Well, I finished the zombies-and-cowboy trunk novel last night. At least the zero draft. It weighs in at 65K, which is a little large for a zero draft, and means it’ll be closer to 80 after I revise it into a reasonable first draft. That’s not going to happen for a while, though, since I’m going right back to proof pages for Bannon & Clare (due the first week of 2012, I weep for my sleep schedule) and another round of revision on the new YA (after the first of the year) plus the drop-dead date for starting the zero draft of the next Bannon & Clare is New Year’s Day. Begin the year as you mean to go on, I guess.

So last night, sweating and excited, I typed finis at the end of DAMNATION. There’s a sheriff with a hidden past, a schoolmarm with a secret, a gold claim, and zombies. Lots of zombies, and some bonus vampire action. I need to go back and layer in a lot of stuff now that I know the shape of the finished work, and it may be a crappy trunk novel nobody will ever buy, but at least it is no longer a crappy unfinished trunk novel nobody will ever buy. Plus, it features a death by skillet and the immortal line “He ain’t gettin any fresher.” Also, horses, and a group of “frails”–saloon whores–who want to learn to read and figure so they can open their own fancy houses OR stop being cheated by the saloon manager.

…Yeah, I had fun.

I am also thinking of getting bids for help in putting some of the SquirrelTerror saga into, say, a nice thin trade paperback. It would need editing and copyediting, and perhaps an index, and I’m sure I would want to add some footnotes. And a map. So editing, CE, and formatting/design. I’m not sure if it would be viable; I’d probably spend more on the editor than I’d ever make on the damn thing, but it would please me. At the moment, it’s just a thought.

I have further decided I’m not going to run until next Monday. I’m told that every once in a while you have to stop beating on the flesh and give it a slight rest so you can shock it more effectively when you restart. I am sure my body will appreciate this, though the rest of me will be cranky.

And that is all the news that is fit for something, I guess, or at least all the news I can give right now. Next year promises to be very exciting. Maybe another trunk novel will fall out of my head?

*shakes Magic 8 Ball*

Ask again later? What kind of crap is that?

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 7th, 2011 04:13 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are contests, prizes, Readers on Deadline, and demons. But don’t worry. We have the demons under control. Mostly…

“Do you ever take a day off?” a health professional asked me today. “Do you ever take a vacation?”

“Not often,” I replied. “I can’t go for very long without writing. It itches under my skin, the words have to get out. It’s physically uncomfortable.”

“But everyone needs some time off.”

“I guess. Sometimes I just look through and tighten what I did the day before. That means I only write about 200 fresh words, sometimes, but it’s tweaking and tightening everything else that scratches the itch.”

“Weekends too?”

“Weekends too. Except then I get up and wander away to spend time with the kids, then come back when they’re done.” I paused. She was looking at me in a most peculiar manner. “I’m not crazy, I just like my job.”

I’m the picture of health, actually, other than some anemia. My pulse is a nice even 60 per minute, my blood pressure is extraordinarily low because of the running, and I’m reasonably fit. The bloodwork says my liver is healthy, for which I give a great deal of credit to that glass of red wine with dinner. (You’ve got to stretch those cells out, keep ‘em flexible.) But all of a sudden she’s looking narrowly at me.

I’m not crazy. I just don’t take a lot of time off. My job is a vacation, for heaven’s sake. Each day I get to do the thing I was designed and built for. It lowers my stress to sit down and write.

I’m between books right now. Kind of. I have some revisions staring at me, but I am coyly refusing to return their gaze. (We’re in the let-the-edit-letter-rest section of revisions.) After the crunch of three books at once earlier in the year (who else was seriously questioning my sanity? OTHER than my writing partner, editor, and agent? Why, that would be ME. Anyway.) I deliberately built a little bit of time into my schedule to decompress. But am I lying about on some tropical beach? Hell no. Sand would get into my laptop.

I’m writing. A trunk novel about zombies, a cowboy, a schoolmarm, and a gold claim. Not to mention vampires and a pawnshop and chartermages. I am having a ball with it. Nobody will ever read it, of course, I don’t think it would ever sell…but I like it. I giggle with glee every time I open the document. I wriggle with joy at a neat turn of phrase. I outright chortle every time I throw another obstacle in the sheriff’s way.

This is a vacation, dammit. And the little dopamine glows I get from, say, a well-turned phrase or the wordcount reached for the day just reinforce it. I get a reward each time I sit down to write. Yeah, some times it’s like chipping hardened cheese out of wooden scrollwork, but there’s even some joy in that. In a job well done and polished at the end of the day.

Slight digression: I advocate daily writing because it builds discipline, not because I happen to get a glow from it. Some professionals can take a few weeks between books, or need to refill the well with time spent away, or days when they’re not dragging the words out into the ring and making them dance. (Isn’t that a lovely mental image.) That’s perfectly okay–one size does not fit all. And yet I advocate daily writing, and will continue to do so, because it’s very easy to mistake laziness or fear for the much more pleasant-sounding “needing some time off” or “vacation.” The professionals who take time off know that it’s hard to get back up onto the horse, and they have their own tips and tricks for doing so. YMMV.

“I hated writing in school,” she said, finally, taping the cotton ball over the bright tear of blood on my inner arm. “Your job sounds like my idea of torture.”

“Likewise.” I grinned. You’re sticking needles in me. I would be unhappy if I had to do that all day. “If I had to do what you do I’d go mad. Well, madder than I already am…”

“I don’t think they’ll commit you just yet,” she laughed.

But I got out of there quickly anyway. You never can tell.

And now, back to scratching the itch…

This Saturday I’m at the Author Faire at C2C books in Battle Ground! Also, check out the Hedgewitch Queen–my first e-only release, and $2.99 in the US for the entire month of December.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Just a few quick things, since Monday is humping my leg like a sabretooth Chihuahua:

* To those of you asking for a Hedgewitch Queen/Bandit King spot in my fan forum, success! Here it is.

(See below)* I am informed there are some copies of Reckoning floating around out there with a printer error. As in:

Just finished reading Reckoning. Very confused. Book pages screwy? After p278 went to p215 with repeat through p246 then ended.– A fan on Twitter

There was a printer error, and they thought they caught all of them, but such is obviously not the case. My editor is asking around about how to solve the problem. So, hang in there–as soon as I know more, I’ll share it here.

* This last Saturday my friend Zen E. participated in the Portland Boulder Rally at the Circuit NE. I was on hand with the video camera, and it was a great event! I am constantly surprised by how supportive the climbing community here is. Out of all the people I’ve met since I started climbing, there’s only been one outright-nasty person. The rest of them have been kind, thoughtful, polite, cheering on everyone and just generally being good sports. It’s amazing. Anyway, Zen stuck her last route of the day, one she’d been working for a while during the competition, and it was great to see. (The video of the occasion holds audio of me whooping with you when she makes the last move and her hands stick at the top. I was Very Excited.) Thanks to everyone who made such a great event possible!

* I’m getting a lot of mail about Steelflower lately. Guys, even if I had time to write the second in the series, there are other considerations. I know you want to read about Kaia and her troupe heading off to Rainak Redfist’s homeland to take back his birthright, but it might not happen for a while, and being angry with me won’t help or solve anything. I have the last two books of the series in my head–the third book deals with Kaia and Darik’s return to G’maihallan. But like I said, it may be a while. I am looking at a number of different options. That’s all I can say.

Coming up this week: my thoughts on epub-only, the Pyrrhic Victory of Pelennor Sunroom, and possibly (if I can figure out how to meld the music into it) a podcast. Not sure about the podcast, though. It takes me a while, and much swearing, to get those right…

Over and out.

ETA: Heard back from the publisher–no more than 200 copies escaped with the error. If you received one of them, contact the publisher’s Customer Service directly. If you can’t take the book back to the bookstore from whence it came, they can send you a new copy. (Note the “IF.”) Thanks for letting me know about this, guys–I got six emails in a 20-minute span about it on Monday, and about had a heart attack. Whew.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

The downside of a highly productive weekend is that Monday comes and one is exhausted, washed-out, and moaning softly while staring at the pile of accumulated work on one’s desk. On the upside, I got everything done, including laundry and the successful hunting, acquiring, and dragging back to the lair of Halloween costumes for the Little Prince and Princess. I did not even have to beat anyone over the head with a plastic gothic tchochke, because we were at the costume store before church ended on Sunday morning.

After church lets out, the crowds turn mean. You don’t believe me? Hang out in the grocery store down my street about 11:30-11:45 next Sunday. I triple-dog-dare you. You couldn’t pay me to be there, no thanks. I like my appendages all attached.

ANYWAY. Errands were run, costumes and a few decorations were acquired, the kids helped me clean up the yard and fill the bird feeders, kitchen and loos and laundry all addressed in their respective fashions, and winter thoroughly prepared for. So this morning, despite a hard run in the first real frosty-type conditions of the fall, I am blinking and feeling very much like I’ve been run over. I suspect another jolt of caffeine is in order before I can think about the copyedits, the revisions, the new wordcount I should produce on both the side project and the next book due…

…crap, my brain just froze. Like a rabbit sensing a coyote’s hungry attention. The problem, I have decided, is in choosing what beast to leap on and slay first.

*rolls up sleeves, grabs harpoon*

Here, little tiny copyedits! Come on over here! I’m waiting for you!

See you ’round.

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I’m going to have to write the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom next week. This week’s just not conducive to sitting down and telling a really embarrassing story about a squirrel loose in my house.

What can I tell you? I’m hard at work on the next Bannon & Clare book; there are revisions for a brand-new YA sitting in my inbox, I am turning in eleven-minute miles. The revisions…well, I’m in the week after receiving the edit letter where I am just processing. I think I’ve written about it before–when I get an edit letter, I open it up and read. Then, I cry. I scream. I fling the pages across the room, I stamp, and I basically have a little hissy.

Look, I’m admitting it out loud. This is part of the process.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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I find myself hesitating to write what happened next in the Saga of SquirrelTerror. I don’t know if I’m ready. *looks thoughtful* It’s a sad tale, but I guess I should have thought of that when I started writing about the little fuzzballs.

Anyway. It’s Friday, and I haven’t done a Five Things post for a while. Here’s three things I wish aspiring authors wouldn’t do on social networking, and two I wish they would. All usual disclaimers and mileage-may-varies apply. Let’s start with the DO NOTs. (They’re more fun.)

Please, for the love of Crom, don’t:

* List yourself as “Author” in your name field. When I get a Facebook/Goodreads friend request from JANE SMITH, AUTHOR, or AUTHOR JOHN SMITH or JANE SMITH, WRITER, I wince and die a little inside. It has everything to do with my experience of 95% of those requests that I approve inevitably end up with me being spammed, repeatedly and at great length, with desperate self-promotion. It’s unprofessional and just plain annoying. So you’re a writer? Great. You’re newly-published? Double great. You’re self-pubbed? Okay. You don’t need to put it on that particular billboard. Put “writing” in your interests, put a link to your website in your profile, and start interacting like a human being instead of a marketing machine. Hysterical insistence that everyone call you AUTHOR X is not going to gain you an audience or endear you to other professionals. Interacting like a human being and sharing neat things takes you further in the long run.

* Hard sell or spam. I’ve covered this before, but it can always be said again. Spamming me with fifty links during the day about your NEW BOOK OMG, especially when I’ve just approved a friend request, is the way to get yourself unfriended in a hurry and put in that little mental drawer of “Oh, God, I never want to meet this person IRL.” I try to keep to 5-10% marketing at most on my social networking streams, with the rest being interaction and fresh content. I am willing to say one can go as high as 15% without driving away potential readers and professional acquaintances screaming. The trouble is, I see a lot of new/aspiring authors reversing those percentages, and then getting frustrated when they don’t see a return from all this effort. When it comes to this sort of thing, bigger is not better.

* Monopolize the conversation. This falls more under interpersonal faux pas than marketing disaster, but I’ve seen it so much I figure it counts. Even if you’re excited to be in a Google+ hangout or a Twitter conversation with another author, one you might be a fan of or who you might think is a potentially good contact, try not to make everything about you. Do not keep bringing the conversation around to You And Your Hobbyhorses. Don’t try to one-up with better stories. Don’t, for the love of Henrietta, talk over other people who might be shyer than you. Do not lecture, and do not get invested in “getting the last word.” Interact, certainly, but try to interact on the principle that you are interested in what the other people have to say. Not only will this make you look good, it gives you a higher chance of people wanting to talk to you more than once. They won’t run the other way when they see your name pop up onscreen. You will acquire precious reputation as someone who is actually fun to interact with, and that goodwill is worth GOLD.

And now, the Two Dos!

DO:

* Start as if you are a professional with a reputation to lose. From the very instant you step into the wide carpet of kittens and rainbows that is the Internet, you need to be prepared for the fact that it is public. Not only is it public, but if you make a misstep, it lingers. Everything you have written on the Internet is on someone’s server somewhere, and you do not have any goddamn control over it. Solution? From the very beginning, act as if you’re a professional, and think before you hit “send.” There may be things you feel strongly enough about to risk offending people over, but you want those things to be chosen with care and thought, not just mushrooming because you opened your stupid mouth one day and something fell out. If you have Silly Internet Things in your past, it’s never too late to say mea culpa, tighten your belt, and make the commitment to act like a reasonable professional from this moment forth. Also, remember: pseudonyms do not make you anonymous. You are NEVER really anonymous on the Internet, most especially if someone really truly wants to find you.

* Chill. You’re going to find things all over social media and the Internet that make you want to vomit. People will say things that make you want to scream. There will be so much stupid your eyes will bleed and it will BURN. But if you get all het up over every little thing, you will burn out your emotional insulation, your emotional energy, your stomach lining, and quite possibly fuse a couple synapses. There is stupid and nasty and bigoted all over the Internet, and you will not be able to slay that hydra. Plus, sooner or later someone is going to get pissed off and troll you. It is unavoidable, especially if you are a “public” person. Your best defense is to chillax and practice the art of Just Not Engaging, with a side order of Banning Where Possible. Not only will it save you a pretty penny in ulcer medication, but it also makes you look like the Bigger Person and makes the trolls writhe in agony because they’re Being Ignored. And really, what better revenge is there? (Answer in comments. Cheap story prompts FTW!)

There it is. Three and two make five, and I’m done dispensing Possibly-Useless Advice for the day. (Well, not really, but it sounds good.) Stay cool, my chickadees.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

I’m in Revision Hell at the moment, chopping up and messing with the first Bannon & Clare book to get it from zero to first draft status. So I have the map of Dickens’s London out, a sneezing cat on my shoulder, a dog flopped at my feet with several long-suffering sighs whenever I move in the slightest, and a head stuffed full of story structure, plot arc, character cross-references, and things to look for in the zero draft.

As you might suspect, this makes for some exotic thoughts when I’m not actively revising. Like the peculiar, highly-colored, anxiety-ridden dreams I’ve come to expect during revisions. They rarely involve the story; instead, they’re some version or another of the old “here I am in class, naked and missing my homework” dreams. Last night’s featured Martians.

Seriously, you don’t want to know. In any case, here’s a selection of Things I Think While Revising, different than the normal oddness inside my head only in that the anxiety makes them much more vivid than usual ho-hum “how would I do a shootout in this stairwell” thoughts.

* “I have a tumor. I’m going to die.” This morning while running I had an amazing bolt of pain lance through my head. Wednesdays are my easy days, only three miles and no double in the afternoon. So there I was, trucking along at about two miles, and I had to stop and screw my eyes shut. The dog was confused, and as soon as the bolt passed I wondered if I had a brain tumor and I was going to be felled by it in a matter of weeks. Then I realized I was being ridiculous, and started running again.

* “Pancakes and watermelon are an acceptable dinner, right?” The kids agreed enthusiastically. However, I don’t really like watermelon, so it was grapes, pita chips, and Brie for me. That was when I realized I had grabbed “light” Brie. Let me tell you, such a thing is an abomination unto the gods, and shall ever be, world without end, amen.

* “A hansom only needs one clockhorse, thanks.” Said to the nice lady checking my groceries at the supermarket. She knows me–I’ve been shopping there for a decade now–so she just said, “Another book, huh? I’m gonna give you this coupon, honey. Go home and get some rest.”

* “Armored squirrels. With red eyes. Can I fit them into this draft?” Sadly, I could not. Altered rats, sure. But not squirrels. I’m sure there were squirrels in Victorian London, but I don’t want to dig them up. Let them rest in peace, for Chrissake.

* “I can climb tha–THUD.” It’s not that I overestimate my abilities. It’s that I throw myself at the wall and see what sticks, and while I’m in revision I’m tempted to do the craziest things because they sound good at the time.

* “Oh, God, if I just had a submachine gun right now…” Pretty standard, right? But when in revision hell, the ensuing mental dwelling upon the likely consequences are Technicolor vivid. I…won’t say more.

* “Could I teach the dog to bring me a glass of wine?” I actually spent a good ten minutes contemplating this. Then I ran up against the fact that Miss B doesn’t have thumbs. And decided it was time to go to bed, for I was getting silly.

* “What if it was an alien driving that car…?” One of the things about revision is that new stories start crowding the brain, the what-if muscle working overtime, begging to be used. I have not decided if this is a method of procrastination or a natural result of the creative faculties chewing on the bone and gristle of a zero draft, looking for something a little more tender. Who knows? In any case, I lose myself in little what-ifs like this an awful lot during revision. Even more than I normally do, which is saying something.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Here, have a trailer for a movie about the invention of the vibrator. Hat tip to the Selkie for that one. See, there’s a taste of the random that happens when it’s revision time.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to go back. I’m trying to find chapter names that don’t sound like coffee brands. *headdesk*

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there’s tons more writing advice, contests, and pie! (Okay, maybe no pie.) Check us out!

Every once in a while, I like to sit down and think of about five things to make a post. Since I’m exhausted and stare-eyed after a long, very busy week that went straight through the weekend without even pausing to nod, I see this as a very good strategy for today. So, without further ado, here’s Five Things Writing Will Teach You, Or, Valuable Skills Learned By Telling Lies For A Living.

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First, a couple things: the Little Prince is bright and perky again. That’s the thing with kid stomach bugs–they show up in the middle of the night and are gone pretty much right after dawn, and the kid is all energetic again while the adult feels like she’s been hit by a bus. Yesterday was…well, pretty stabby. But he’s doing all right.

Plus, I’ll be participating in a Book Country Twitter chat tonight. (The hashtag will be #bookcountry.) The topic is: “Author blogs & websites: what works, what doesn’t, how to maintain a balance of personal and professional, and how not to become an annoying book marketing machine.” I’ll be there with Colleen Lindsay and Dan Blank; it promises to be fun.

So. You’ve made it through the process of writing a novel, and your brain feels like three-day-rotted cheese. What does the recovery process look like?

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So the new YA is gathering steam. I’ve reached the point of excavating the world instead of feeling my way around in the dark, and I can tell the long dark slump of picking at the book like it’s a scab is just around the corner.

I have, over the course of writing a few books, become pretty comfortable with how that process usually works for me. Familiarity, while not getting rid of the frustration factor OR the sheer amount of work necessary, does help one plan, and it does help one get through the more uncomfortable parts of writing a book with something resembling grace. (Or at least, you can stumble through without stubbing your toes too much.) Being able to say, “Oh, this is the slump part of the project, I can just keep chipping and eventually I’ll get to the dead heat phase,” is a lot easier than saying “OMFG this book is going to kill me WHY AM I DOING THIS?” Note, however, that one can say both at the same time, and the former does help to ameliorate some of the sheer ARGH of the latter.

For me, writing a book goes somewhat like this:

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Yesterday I was out of commission for a variety of reasons. Today I’m back on the horse while recovering–well, sort of. Sort of back on the horse, not sort of recovering. Recovery is going just fine.

Argh. I can already tell stringing words together is going to be fun today.

I’m at that stage with a new series–too far into the first book to back out, not far enough along that I can see that I have a chance at finishing it–where every single word I put down seems wrong. The world the characters inhabit is opening up, slowly but surely, and everything I wrote up until I felt the first click in the lock of the story seems dead wrong. It’s not, it will just need tweaking. The biggest danger now is going back and getting caught in the death spiral of reworking the beginning so many times one doesn’t finish the rest of the damn book. Which I frankly can’t afford.

I know the solution is just to push through, that this is a part of the process, that I go through this every time, that it will get better as I gain momentum. Unfortunately, all the calm soothing self-talk in the world will not make the feeling of panic any smaller. The only thing that will help is lowering my head and diving right through. Maybe I’m a freak, I don’t know. I just know that the process does not grow any easier. It grows more tolerable with experience, but not easier.

There might be a lesson in that. *sigh* Maybe it builds character or something. When I build enough character, maybe I won’t feel like tearing my hair out and weeping when I start a new series. Won’t that be nice.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 13th, 2011 06:56 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are giveaways. And advice. And pie. Check us out!
I was raised to (by and large) obey unquestioningly.

Jesus. Stop laughing. I’m serious.

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