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

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…

I Got Sick!

I never get sick. Well, not seriously and not for long. It’s actually kind of freakish. I also never get fevers — I can count on the fingers of one hand the fevers I’ve had since childhood, and that includes the two times I had appendicitis.

I got sick this week. Not seriously — it was a very mild case of flu. But it was enough to make concentration impossible and it kept me out of work (though that was more about not infecting anyone else than about being too ill to work). So I’ve barely been writing, and I haven’t been thinking, and I’ve been reading people I’ve already read.

For years, I was somewhat against the BICHOK school of writing, the one that says that some part of every day must be spent with Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. I was a bursty writer, one who would think and think and then write in a giant burst of at least a thousand words.

But things have changed in the last year. I’ve spent a lot of it writing at least 100 words a day, almost every day of the week, and if I didn’t write 100 words of new narrative, I spent at least five minutes of active planning and brainstorming on paper (because you can plan in your head forever; writing it down is serious business). Being sick enough that I couldn’t focus derailed me, and I’m finding it a little tough to get back on track. I’ve reached the limits of brainstorming, for now at least; now it’s time to get back to writing.

Head ‘Sploding

The problem with really fabulous brainstorming — a problem I’m just discovering — is that eventually your head starts to feel like it will explode, because there’s no room for all the ideas you’re coming up with. I’ve been writing things down, but I think I’m not writing enough down, because a lot of stuff is still inside my head.

I also think I’m reaching the saturation point, where I’ll have so many ideas I’ll just get paralyzed. I need to organize what I have so far and go with it. There’s still a whole lot I don’t know about the story — especially the second half — but I’m starting to suspect that’s a strength, not a weakness. If I don’t know what I want to have happen, I can let the story go where it needs to go. That is, I’m not going to crush the life out of it by trying to force it to go in a particular direction.

I also wonder if it might not be best to sketch things in. Scott Westerfield and Justine Larbalestier are writing a series of NaNo-related blog posts — his on the odd dates in November, hers on the even — and this one from Sunday the first is part of the reason I’m thinking about sketching the scenes I have and even sketching scenes I don’t have, just to see what happens.

Whatever I end up doing, I won’t be starting it tonight. Head full, me tired, sleep soon. (Plus, very early morning wake-up for workout with trainer.)

You Got A Friend

I’m lucky enough to work with one of my best friends. In many ways, he’s like my brother — we had that kind of relationship almost from the moment we met. (And since his last name is the same as my mother’s maiden name, we figure we’re related somehow…even though there are a bazillion people out there with the same last name.)

Today I was telling him about NaNoWriMo and KaBraiMo, and he said, “We should brainstorm together.” At first I was skeptical — he’s not a writer — but he’s creative and clever, and he’s one of my best friends. So I went for it.

He had all kinds of wild hare ideas, which are the best kind when you’re brainstorming, even when they freak you out a little bit. My initial reaction was to resist, but I kept thinking about them, and I think they’re starting to break up some of the rigid thinking that’s been holding me back. I’m not sure I’ll use what he gave me — he’s thinking movies and big, visual battle-y stuff, which isn’t something I’m likely to write. But I think I’ll use the underlying ideas, the biggest one being the idea I need to let my big ideas play out in big ways. I need to stop thinking small.

Riding home on the bus tonight, I realized that one of the reasons I’ve been thinking small is that I’m not sure I have the skill to write the big ideas in a big way.

Only one way to find out: try it.

Previous Older Entries