Three things make a long overdue post

1) First, I’ll get the pimpage out of the way: The Best of Every Day Fiction, which includes my story “Dumping the Dead” and a slew of other flash fiction stories (including some fellow flisters), is now available.

2) Today the procrastination gods compelled me to take a look at the “ideas” folder on my computer where I throw whatever crumb of an idea lodges itself in my brain–from quotes I’ve overhead to phrases or titles that have popped into my head to full-fledged plot sketches. The crumbs in there stretch all the way back to high school, so there was a lot of…well, dreck. Cliches. Ideas that have been done to death and that I had no original spin on. Some that were just plain stupid. So I jettisoned some of the dead weight (though not all of it; occasionally, I’ve been able to mine something cool out of an otherwise craptastic idea). But most of the stuff in that folder is there for a good reason, so I now I find myself wanting to write 20 short stories all at once. Stupid lack of a clone.

3) I’ve been feeling restless. In need of some change–which will soon be coming, but not soon enough for impatient me. Appropriately, it wasn’t all that long ago that a discussion group I was participating in raised a question about change and whether you’re someone who resists it or welcomes it. As with so many things for me, it depends.

With some things, I easily fall into patterns. I’m the type of person who tends to gravitate toward sitting in the same seat on the train and will find myself getting irrationally annoyed if someone is already in it. But with a lot of other things, I get restless if things stay the same too long. I get bored if I have to perform the same piece of music too many times. One of the things I loved about college was having a different class schedule every semester, so I’m looking forward to that again with grad school. And one of the many things that appeals to me about writing fiction is that I can write a story, and then do something completely different with the next one. Different genre, different style, different point of view, different tense, you name it.

So now that I’m done rambling, feel free to chime in with your own thoughts on dealing with change. Love it? Hate it? Too busy changing your hair color to answer?

A letter from my brain

Hello blog readers,

I’m Barb’s brain, and I’m here to tell you that she’s been AWOL from this blog because she doesn’t love you anymore. It’s ok, she doesn’t love me either. I wanted to watch this bad movie the other night, and she wouldn’t let me. She seemed to think the critique she was working on was more important than my entertainment.

After that, when she looked at her friends page and saw just how many posts you had all made, she insisted that we couldn’t stay and comment on them all. Something about having to figure out the schedule for TNEO. Please, like writing workshops need planning.

Then, when we could have been watching a hilarious YouTube video with a cat playing piano, she wanted to work on a short story. This time there was some excuse making about a deadline. I know what you’re thinking: how selfish can she get?

And even though neither one of us enjoys it, she insists on doing work for her day job. Every weekday! I don’t see what a paycheck has to do with anything.

So there you have it. Now you know how horribly abused I am having to live in Barb’s head. I would cut off ties with her immediately if I were you. Or start a fund. People United to Save Barb’s Brain. Or something with a catchier acronym.

Love,
Barb’s Brain

Escape from the Void Of Too Much Else To Do

Urgh, so much for resurfacing on the blogosphere. Well, I did resurface. I just got sucked right back into the Void Of Too Much Else To Do. I have a feeling that’s going to be happening a lot over the next few months.

So the bulleted version of what this writer has been up to:

* I’ve been encountering far too much lately that has led to forehead slapping and *head desk* moments.

* After much demanding from my brain, I returned to the slow-going revisions on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel–so of course a short story idea immediately started jumping up and down and waving its arms around and asking for a little love. Stupid brain.

* I began my dive into the critique fest that is TNEO.

* I changed the look of my website.

* More details to come, but it looks like my story “Final Report” (from issue 4 of the sadly short-lived Darker Matter) will get some podcast love in the near future.

* The last few months spewed so much crazy all over the place that my attempts at establishing a routine were repeatedly thwarted. That really needs to change. I was determined to get myself onto something resembling a consistent schedule starting today. It’s not even noon yet and that plan’s already gone to pot.

And on that note, I think hear the unmistakable sucking sound that is the Void Of Too Much Else To Do.

My brain is a vengeful brain

So, that last post where silly conversations with my uncooperative brain eventually led to me outlining the rest of the short story I’m working on? Well, yesterday I sat down to write, confident that I’d now be able to crank out some significant wordage and maybe even finish the first draft, only to discover that, somehow, none of the outline had saved. I’m rather obsessive compulsive about constantly saving my work, so how I managed to completely lose half an hour’s worth has me completely baffled (not to mention annoyed as all get out).

So instead of finishing the story, I spent most of yesterday’s writing time redoing the outline.* There were many frustrating moments of “I know my protagonist was going to do this next, but for the life of me I can’t remember why.” Eventually, though, my plot came back together. Who knows, maybe what I have outlined now is better than what I had originally. But still, the whole process took far longer than it should have.

I suspect that my brain did some self-sabotaging and made me unconsciously delete the original outline as revenge for me subjecting it to Battlefield Earth. The movie was on TV the other night, I was morbidly curious to see if it was as horrible as I had heard, and wow. Just wow. The sheer dreadfulness overpowered my ability to mock. I only made it through half an hour–approximately the same amount of time I spent doing that original outline. I think my brain decided, “You wasted 30 minutes of my life, so I’m going to destroy 30 minutes of yours.”

*I normally don’t outline short stories, but this one is the type where having a road map will be a huge help to my writerly sanity, even if I ultimately decide to take a different route.

The Writerly (and Readerly) Update

As expected, this past week was rather weird for me schedule-wise.  Adjusting to the whole part-time from home day job shift was sort of like pulling on an old pair of pants; you’re thrilled they fit again, but it’s been so long since you’ve worn them that you’re trying to remember which tops look right with them.  As a result, the time I spent trying on metaphorical tops meant I didn’t do much fiction writing during the week.  At least until yesterday, when I finally got my ass out of the metaphorical dressing room.

After doing a small amount of research and photo scrounging on Thursday, I finally started the prequel-ish My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel short story.  Well, I had already written a first sentence or two and jotted down some notes a while back, but yesterday was when I finally sat my butt down and started writing in earnest.  The Silk Road Ensemble was kind of a "duh" soundtrack choice for working on a story set at a caravanserai, especially when one of the albums I have from them has a track called "Night at the Caravanserai."  And I threw Loreena McKennitt’s "Caravanserai" onto my writing playlist for good measure.

After working on the short story for a bit, I switched gears slightly and did an hour writing exercise with some online folks for the first time in forever.  Recently, I’ve imposed all these huge expectations on myself as a writer, which often has the unfortunate side effect of making me petrified when I’m staring down a blank page.  This was a good way to tell those expectations where to shove it.  I turned off Serious Writer Brain and just goofed off for an hour by writing something silly that will probably never go anywhere beyond the exercise.  It was also my first time playing with Write or Die, which was a great help in turning off Serious Writer Brain.

And finally, on to the reading front:

Readerly update under the cut…

These are not the keyword results you are looking for

For me, one of the best parts of using website tracking tools is seeing some of the odd keyword searches that have led people to my blog or website.  Some are just entertaining.  Others leave me wondering, "What in Jeebus’ name was this person hoping to find?"

My short story "Love Spells" once received a rather snarky rejection that said the story was a few tweaks away from becoming a trashy bodice ripper.  So in a few entries on my blog (I was using Blogger at the time), I referred to the story as "my would-be trashy bodice ripper."  Since then, the most popular keyword search leading to that blog has become, not my name, but "ripped bodice" or variations thereof.  One of my favorite variations is "what is inside a ripped bodice." I mean, really? You have to ask?  Equally entertaining were the keyword searches for "tortured ripped bodices" and "reaped bodice."

Here are some of the other strange and entertaining keyword searches that have led folks to my internet babblings:

  • viking bunnies of doom
  • how do i make my words big?
  • thing guess
  • incoherent sentences exercises
  • screwing barbara stewart
  • death star slug
  • wackiness august 29
  • i am slug
  • musicophilia galactica
  • how to avoid pesky holes
  • castrated husbands

Anyone else have entertaining keyword searches of their own to share?

The FUBAR is strong with this one

2011 and I do not seem to have gotten off on the right foot.  These last two days have been rather strong with the FUBAR side of the Force, but it’s all stupid trivial crap which has the added annoyance of making me feel bad for wanting to complain because it’s, well, stupid trivial crap.

Trying to look to the positive: this week will likely continue to be all manner of FUBAR, but next week I’ll be a part-time, working-from-home gal again.  Hopefully that will mean some time to start a new short story.  My silly poll for which idea I should tackle next ended in a tie between the My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel prequel and the town where dying is forbidden.  That means my muse, Jim Bob, has the tie-breaking vote.  He just glanced at his tool belt, belched, and told me we’ve got the tools and materials already set out for the MBFEFN story, so we should work on that.  And then he belched again.

Welcome to my shiny new WordPress blog

Just like the subject line says: welcome to my shiny new WordPress blog.  This is going to be a work-in-progress for another few weeks yet, so bear with me.  I was originally going to import entries from Livejournal since I’ll likely be cross-posting between here and there from this point forward, but I decided that I’d rather start this blog with a clean slate.  Anyone interested in my previous ramblings can find them at my Livejournal blog, Writerly Wackiness.  But for the uninitiated, a quick rundown of some things I often reference:

  • AsYouKnowBob = my awesome husband
  • My muse is a surly plumber named Jim Bob
  • I usually refer to the novel I’m working on as My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel