Down the Rabbit Hole

Holy moly, I didn’t realize until tonight that it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Gah! The main reason for my disappearing act is that I’ve been deep, deep, deep in my story world — I’m not sure how many words I’ve written because I’m not tracking it any more, but I know it’s been a lot. The ms. is 209 pages and nearly 64k words long. Most of what I’ve written in the last month is going to need overhauling, but I’m learning I’m okay with that. I’m starting to think I might be the kind of writer who needs to figure out her story by writing it. Who knew?

I’ve also been baking — the madness continues. I’ve made brownies and pancakes from scratch, (in the usually-make-it-from-mix category), and I’ve made lemon-cornmeal cookies and cornbread (in the revisiting-old-favorites category), and I’ve made orange-cranberry scones in (the baking-something-for-the-first-time category). So far, nothing’s been bad, and I’ve had friends willing and able to help me eat everything.

Of course I’ve been reading, too. Asking if I read is like asking if I breathe. I’ll try to post my thoughts on what I’ve read this weekend.


Vindication, Sadly

A while ago, I decided to stop tracking my word count. The negative number in the total column, which showed up every time I made a major cut, just depressed me. A couple of times, it made me reluctant to do what I knew I needed to do, and that’s a problem. So I stopped.

I spent the last week or so writing a couple of scenes. The second one got harder and harder to write as time went on, and I realized my problem was that the scene was boring. I went back to the preceding scene, to figure out what to follow it with, and realized that it didn’t work either, though in this case the problem was with story logistics.

So today I have to cut both scenes, and then I have to figure out what happens instead. 4k words, gone just like that.


Where is time going? Why are the days flying past so quickly? It seems impossible and ridiculous that two and a half weeks should have passed since the last time I posted. And it’s not like I have anything to say–I just felt the need to say whatever. So I’m just going to write a bunch of bits.


Last night my sister and I watched the 2nd and 3rd episodes of Caprica. So far, so good. As far as I can tell, a lot of stuff is being set into motion, and I’m starting to be very curious to see how it all plays out. And not even interested to see how it plays out in a way that leads to the world of Battlestar Galactica–just interested to see how it plays out on its own terms. That being said, there is something connecting both series that I’m curious about. In BSG, Joseph Adama, Bill’s father, is known as a great jurist. (Or at least that’s my recollection.) In Caprica, he’s Joe Adama and he’s a corrupt mob lawyer. I want to know how one man becomes the other. I hope I’ll see it.

Whatever happens, the ads for this week’s episode make me want to see it now. My sister and I talked about watching two episodes every other week; I’m not sure I can wait that long.


After finishing Deborah Crombie’s Necessary As Blood a couple of weeks ago, I was absolutely compelled to start the series at the beginning again. I flew through the first seven books–A Share in Death; All Shall Be Well; Leave the Grave Green; Mourn Not Your Dead; Dreaming of the Bones; Kissed a Sad Goodbye; and A Finer End–but now I’m slowing down. I think it’s partly because I remember the more recent books more clearly than the older ones; I’m having a “Oh, yeah, this one…” reaction.


I’ve also been writing: scribbling the first draft of the mess-in-progress, and averaging over 500 words a day, which is a smoking pace for me; and writing posts for The Moody Muses.


I’m unlikely to watch the Super Bowl tonight–it’s not how I want to spend that time–but I hope the New Orleans Saints win. They’re underdogs and that city has been through enough. It’s not even that I don’t want the Colts to lose. It’s really all about the Saints.

So Busy! (In a good way)

I didn’t realize until just now how long it’s been since I had something to say here. Yeesh. The interesting times in my personal life have become duller–thank goodness!–but I’m still scribbling quite a lot. I’ve written well over 5000 words since January 6, which is crazy-mad productive for me.

I think a change to my process is behind this new productivity. More

Attacks of Creativity

I was just at one of my favorite blogs — Already Pretty — and it struck me how into playing with clothes I’ve been lately. I’m mixing and matching pieces from my wardrobe in ways I haven’t before, and I’m very aware of accessories, thinking about how this necklace will change the look of that ensemble.

I’ve also been subject to attacks of baking: cookies, scones, quick breads. I don’t know where that’s coming from, but I’ve baked and baked and baked in the last couple of weeks. I went food shopping this afternoon, and came thisclose to buying pie crust. Fortunately for my weight management efforts, I’ve been able to give away most of what I’ve made.

What I realized a few minutes ago is that all of this is about creativity. I’m expressing myself with all of this. The odd thing is that I still find it surprising that I’d be creative. Apparently, I don’t think of myself as being a creative person, despite over 13 years of writing seriously.

When will that sink in, o universe? When will I finally see creativity when I look at myself?

Okay, Now I Get It…

I”m not sure where I’ve been. I’ve been somewhere, but where is a mystery. I haven’t been writing very much — 300 words is an amazingly good day — and I haven’t been reading much, or at least so it seems.

I think the idea that I’m not reading is driven by the fact that I’m returning so many library books unfinished. I start them, read for an hour, think, “Inh,” and put it in the bag to go back. Some of these books I reserved weeks, or even months, ago. It’s disappointing and disheartening to return them unread, after all that waiting and patience.

And it’s not the books. They’re good books. They’re just not what I want.

I think I ought to want them, since many of them get such excellent reviews (which is what makes me reserve them in the first place). I wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t want to read demanding fiction. I beat myself up for my lowbrow tastes. (I beat myself up about everything; I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my psyche goes looking for reasons to beat me up, and it doesn’t actually matter what it is. I’m working on ignoring it.)

Then, today, I understood. I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to read something that’s going to draw on a particular kind of emotional and mental energy. New-to-me fiction pulls from that exact energy source, and that’s why I’ve been resisting it .

I use that energy for my own writing, so I don’t see an end to this resistance any time soon. I suspect there’s a lot of non-fiction, and a lot of re-reading in my future.

The Reality of Balance

Today, I realized that part of the reason I haven’t been writing like a mad, possessed thing is that I’m not a mad, possessed thing when it comes to my writing — or anything else in my life. I’m in a place where everything is pretty much in balance — family, friends, diet, exercise, creativity — and it’s throwing me a little bit. Being able to spend time and energy on everything means I don’t give all my time and energy to any one thing — and it means I’m not as productive when it comes to some things as I have been in the past.

When I realized that, I had a moment where I considered throwing things out of balance again, giving more time and energy to writing, for example. I was tempted — I would really like to feel as if I were being productive and making more progress — but then I considered the cost in dissatisfaction with the rest of my life and decided it’s not worth it.


Through one thing and another, the writing is going very slowly. I think one of the things is my desire to write more quickly. I think I’m afraid that if I don’t finish it really soon, it’ll become yet another abandoned project. That, or there’s a window of opportunity for it that will be open next May 14th, and if I don’t have the book finished by then, my only hope for it to find readers will vanish, poof!

Yes, I know that’s totally irrational. I’m an irrational person. I can be sensible and all that when I need to be, but at heart, I’m irrational. And I’m okay with that, unless my irrationality starts to wind me in a bunch. Like now.


This is the kind of thing that makes writing hard for me, more, I think, than struggling with the technical stuff.

Or at least that’s my story tonight.


I’m reading Touching From a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, by Ian Curtis’s widow, Deborah Curtis. I’d say I’m about halfway through and right now, I’m disliking Ian Curtis enough that it might put me off his music. And it’s not that Deborah Curtis attempts to blacken him — the things he does and says that annoy me are presented in a matter-of-fact, “this is what happened,” way. She’s reporting, more or less.

The thing I probably need to remember is that in the story being told, he’s only in his late teens/early 20s. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t admit they behaved stupidly, one way or another, when they were that young. Since Ian Curtis died before he got out of his early 20s, it’s impossible to say what he would have been like, whether or not he would have grown up and out of this particular kind of stupid behavior.

But still…

Going Backwards

The KaBraiMo portion of November has been most fruitful. I’ve found a new direction for the story, which I love. I got goosebumps when I figured it out, which has never happened to me (that I can recall) in my entire writing life. That’s the really good part.

The need-to-look-at-it-in-the-right-way part is that in the last week, I’ve cut 14k out of the manuscript. On the one hand, that could make me very depressed. It feels like I’m never going to finish this book, and this kind of thing doesn’t help. But I can’t look at it that way. I have to recognize that all the cutting I did was necessary, and inevitable, given the change in the story’s direction. Whether I cut those words today or in six months, they’re still getting cut. So why not grasp the nettle and get it over and done with?

The upside to doing this now, is that I don’t have the scenes I cut in my head any more. Actually removing them from the manuscript removed them from my imagination, from my mental image of the story. That alone makes all that chopping worthwhile.

And now it’s just a matter of replacing them.



Earlier today, I watched Control, the movie about Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Excellent movie, with a rightfully praised performance by Sam Riley. The thing that impressed me most is the subtlety of his transformation into someone whose profound unhappiness led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.

Curtis killed himself before I became aware of Joy Division, but I was a fan of New Order, the name that band took as they continued in the wake of Curtis’s death. The thing is, I love, love, love, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, Joy Division’s biggest single. I didn’t know, though, that it was Joy Division — or maybe that knowledge just never stuck.


I have an author to add to New To Me: Emily Arsenault for her debut, The Broken Teaglass. Publisher’s Weekly put it better than I can: “In Emily Arsenault’s quirky, arresting debut, two young lexicographers find clues to an old murder case hidden in the files at their dictionary company…The result is an absorbing, offbeat mystery–meets–coming-of-age novel that’s as sweet as it is suspenseful.”

One of the things I particularly liked about the book is that it demonstrates the importance of context. Quotes that seem to mean one thing, to have one tone, have a different meaning, a different tone in a different context.


Things have been difficult on the writing front. I came closer than I have before to quitting Dragonfly — I was convinced its problems were insurmountable, or at least would mean cutting roughly 25% of the existing work. That made me sad, made me feel as if the wretched thing will never be finished.

Fortunately, before I got out my machete, I got to the heart of the real problem…and figured out the real solution. Whew! So now it’s just a matter of implementing it…

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