Category Archives: Writing

Dog Days


I made word count today.  The only lunch I had to fix was my own. The offspring is off attending a writer’s conference. Workshops in the AM, fun stuff in the afternoon and tons of scheduled writing time. She   came home eager to sign up the day she heard about it.

So, backhandedly, I get my own conference. I still have to fix my own lunch and housework, like the poor, will always be with us but I don’t have to break up my momentum at mid-afternoon to pick her up.

About four years ago I had an epiphanous moment.

I wasn’t supposed to. I was supposed to go to the planning meeting for the Eighth Grade banquet and volunteer to help with the clean-up. I wasn’t supposed to put my foot in it and suggest that we could do much better with our budget with just a bit of imagination and effort. Lord knows, I wasn’t supposed to end up practically camping at the school working on it for months.

But I did.

And I should have known better than to get so involved just before our first ever long Amtrak vacation, with so much logistical challenge waiting for me when I got home at night.

So just about this time, four years ago, I was running around making lists of things to be done and calculating the time left in which to  do them and stressing as only an over- scheduled  Twenty-first Century American mom can.

And it hit me.

Everything I’m complaining about is something someone else would be glad to have.

I know, I know, you can read this bit of wisdom all over the place now but back then, I had to figure it out for myself.

I made more than word count today, with the house all to myself and no interruptions. And it feels great.

But just between us, I kinda miss my little interruption.

Bootcamp Wrap-up

I hesitate to post the honest truth here, that what I really learned from doing writer’s boot camp was that I didn’t know what I was doing. We aren’t supposed to go around admitting that sort of thing,  not in American culture. I made a mistake-yes. I was kinda clueless-no.

But, how limiting, to do only that which I already know how to do.

Six years ago, when I started on this rather unexpected lurch off  visual arts path, I hadn’t used a laptop, or a word processor, or the internet or e-mailed, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

But, how embarrassing, to admit to my ignorance.

Still, this is what I have learned.

That if you are going to do a nanowrimo sort of  writing thing, you need to clear your schedule first. It doesn’t work as well if you also have commitments to vacations and helping with house renovations and moving an elder to a down-sized location on the docket.

That I’m not a daily writer. Sometimes I have to go do something else for a day or so and then when I come back my subconscious has everything sorted out and the pages just flow and they have what i think of as snap, crackle and pop.  I get just as much done-whole chapters in a sitting sometimes-if I wait. Pages slogged at too hard need tons of re-working. It doesn’t really save any time to do it that way.

I already knew this one, now I’ve confirmed it.

That joining an activity that involves encouragement via tweet when you don’t do that phone thing is not honestly all that encouraging. Quite the opposite really. Totally my bad on that one.

On the other hand.

I tried my hand at flash fiction as per their parameters and broke through in the short works department. Previous attempts had been less than satisfactory. Present attempts have been anything but.

I know more about setting goals as a writer than I did before.

That word count tool can be addictive. But also useful.

I am back to analyzing how to approach promotion in a way that plays to my own strengths, rather than being distracted by the thought that I should be doing things the way others do.

I learned.

Thanks, boot camp.




Month 3

Either I’m lucky or delusional.

Either way,  my readers and I rarely send scenes back for rip-it-down-to-the-studs revising. For one thing, I do a lot of clean-up as I go, re-reading the last pages I’ve written, to get the rhythm of the work, before starting up again.  And I tend to carry the shape of the patterns of tension and momentum in the work in my head, kind of like a graph.

So, generally, by the time I’m reading what I consider to be a rough draft, the polishing rag has been over it a few times and jarring problems have been caught. There have been exceptions. Today I will be working on correcting an exception, i.e. page count today will be minimal to none.

But, the story will be tighter.

Catching Up

Last week we were welcoming spring at a cabin in the woods. No phone, no internet, no tv. I had this idea that it would be a good week for writing, and at first, it was. The first day I made goal +half again. The second and third days, I made goal+a third again. On the fourth day, we took a really long hike and I made about three-fourths goal.The fifth – none of this is counting weekends, they were spent packing and travelling – I made about half goal.

I know why. Your sense of time is distorted when you have the feeling there is all the time in the world; time lengthens and you relax, and ideas flow. By the end of the week, the sense of not wanting to waste a minute, that sense of pressure, was coming back and it got in the way.

Writing flows best when you get to that place where your focus blocks out the things that get in the way.

And if my daughter were here, this pronouncement would be greeted with the words, Thank you, Captain Obvious.

This week, personal experience will be testing  that sense of focus,  whether I want  it to or not. I’ve managed  a few hundred words each day; not great progress, but progress. And when it is over, and I am dealing with everyday worries and interruptions again, I  am determined to be the stronger for it.





Day 9 – more or less

I made my minimum Monday. Tuesday I hit a block. The thing with pantsing is that, sometimes, despite all of your notes, a character ends up in a place you hadn’t expected. They belong there, you can feel that there is a reason for it but you don’t know what it is. The only thing to do is step away, do something else and then come back. The reason will have become obvious by then.

I made half minimum Tuesday.

Today, I could see it and I was flying along until my laptop started flaking out. My mate, the Resident Expert on all things SF and Computer straightened things.

Next week, my schedule clears wide open for long hours of writing.

This week,  I’ll do what I can.

Month 2 Day 4

Some days have more interuptions than others. Despite the fact that this was one of them, I made 1000 words.

My original goal was twice that much; as I re-read and revise rather compulsively as I go, getting up to speed may take some doing.

Still, progress is beiong made.

Month 2 Day 2

My first books were sheer fantasy and there is a freedom to writing fantasy;  if you need a small, venomous fish whose bite triggers hallucinations to waylay your heroine, all you have to do is describe one.

Steampunk though, is altered history, so, while you can imagine that Rufus Porter established the first “airline” in 1848, you have to pay some attention to the reality of the times. If you want his dirigibles to expand service to include a bi-weekly run to Mars, some idea as to how he managed it has to be shoe-horned in without derailing the momentum.

A system for reminding yourself to check whether or not iced tea was widely available in 1893 or what year the Japanese national anthem was composed – incidentally, yes, and 1868 – becomes indispensable.

And while using research as an excuse to read a book you can’t otherwise justify has its pleasures, it is possible to feel a bit “bogged down”, maybe even just a bit tired of it all.

Committing myself to punching through the “bog” has paid off. I’m rediscovering how much I love this story, how utterly insane, fallible, noble and human its characters are.

I’m remembering why I do this. Word count for the day 1070 words.

Goal Posting

I set out in the middle of this month with the modest hopes to read three related books, sort the chapters I had, and rough out a sketch of the rest of a work in progress.

The books are read – although I found three more that could only help, but those will be read at the end of the day.

I broke my writing into chapters – now I need to sort and polish that bit.

The rough sketch? It’s taking shape, but to meet deadline, I will need to finish it today.

Still, knowing I need to get it done has nudged me past the sticking points sooo …

I am thus far very glad to have chosen to join up. Let’s see how I feel writing under deadline.