Thing the first: A panel! On March 25, I’ll be participating in Storycrafting Sessions: Drafting, a free one-day virtual conference hosted by Weeknight Writers. I’ll be on the 5:30 p.m. EST panel, “Nailing the Ending: How To Write a Satisfying Story Conclusion.” There are some other great panels lined up as well, and did I mention registration is free?
Thing the second: A publication! Issue 6 of Weird Horror Magazine is out this month, and it includes my flash story “Dead Maiden Chic,” as well as some badass cover art, which Super Great insisted on showing off with the help of some friends:
Thing the third: A sale! My short story “The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen,” which was originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, will be appearing again in audio format thanks to the lovely folks at Cast of Wonders. Release date TBD. This story is close to my heart and, of all the stories I’ve written over the years, still one of my absolute favorites, so I’m happy to see it get more love.
Thing the fourth: All the novels! A few weeks ago I finished revisions on a fantasy novel that has now been tossed out to first readers so I can figure out what else needs tweaking. Tentatively titled Barren Water, it’s a bit of A Handmaid’s Tale blended with magic and an Old West-ish fantasy world. And now I’m outlining a horror/supernatural romance novel where an opera singer recovering from an onstage nervous breakdown takes a job housesitting an isolated beach home during the off season only to become entangled with a ghost and a cursed piano. This will be my first stab at a novel-length work set in the contemporary world rather than a secondary fantasy world, so all new challenges!
Oh, brain, must we have the same conversation with every first draft?
ME: Ok, brain, let’s get to work.
ME: What’s your problem this time?
BRAIN: You can’t do this.
ME: Why not?
BRAIN: Because you suck.
ME: That attitude is helping no one.
BRAIN: And the attitude that you don’t suck isn’t helping your solitaire score.
ME: Way to focus on what’s important, you lazy piece of–
BRAIN: Face it, you don’t know how to write anymore. All your character has to do is walk from point A to point B, but you don’t know how the hell to describe it. You don’t even have a clue where you’re going with this story.
ME: You said that with the last story, yet we got through the first draft and saw how wrong you were.
BRAIN: That was an exception.
ME: And the story before that…
BRAIN: Another exception.
ME: And the one before that…
BRAIN: That was–hey, look, something shiny!
In other words, the current WIP has been far more a slog than it should be. But as always, I plow through regardless. I think I might even be able to finish the first draft this week. But still, stupid brain.
3) On the non-writing front, it was a fun concert-going weekend. For both Christmas and his birthday, I got AsYouKnowBob tickets for concerts that happened to fall right on top of one another. Saturday night we saw Vienna Teng and Alex Wong at World Cafe Live in Philly. The concert was awesome. Not so awesome was me turning into a dorktastic fangirl when getting them to sign a songbook afterwards. And Sunday night we saw Randy Newman, which was a lot of fun, though I could have done without the guy behind me wanting to sing along (badly) with everything. I paid to hear the guy on the stage, dude, not you.
A month and a half after I started the damn thing, and the de-crapified second draft of my novel-prequel-ish short story (now titled Demon Dreams) is finally done. The wee beastie beefed up to 6,700 words in the second draft. That’s what a hearty diet of more detail and description will do for one’s fictional figure. Now I just need to give the beastie a final go over, and then it’s into the critiquing pile while I start something else.
I’ll be doing The Never-Ending Odyssey (aka TNEO) again this summer, so it’s that weird time of year where I have to wait several months after finishing a story to get critiques on it. (Well, I’ll probably throw the story at my lovely local group, the Awesome Ladies of Awesomeness, for our next meeting, but I’ll wait until I have the TNEO crits as well before making any major revisions.) Being forced to wait is probably a good thing for me. Even though I take forever to write stories sometimes (or maybe because I take forever to write them), I tend toward impatience, wanting to get them out the door in speedy fashion as soon as they’re done. So it’s probably healthy for me to have to sit on a few of them for a spell and see how they age.
And speaking of TNEO, I get to take on the roll of moderator this year, which I’m sure will keep me super busy on top of all the critiquing and writing to be done for it. But I’m looking forward to it.
Urgh. I did so well cranking out the first draft of this short story, but then the Procrastination Fairy came along and waved her wand at me before I could get started on the second draft. I’ve taken a hit out on the stupid fairy so I can get some second draftage done this weekend.
I fear for my lack of a title on this story. My experience with titles has generally been this: if a title doesn’t pop into my head while writing the first draft, I end up having a hell of a time coming up with one that doesn’t suck big hairy balls of suck.
On the positive side of writing-related things, I did an hour writing exercise a few hours ago and cranked out a 1K draft of a flash piece. I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll polish up for submission, though, as I’m not sure where I’d send it. Is there an appropriate publication for an unabashedly liberal-leaning flash piece about a gay Jewish superhero who saves the day only to be accused of being an illegal alien because he’s from another planet?
And as of last night, the crappy first draft of a new short story is done! Early on in the draft, I predicted this one was going to push past the 6K mark. And it did. Crappy first draft has clocked in at 6,800 words. I am so proud of my eerily accurate word count predictions.
Now on to the second draft de-crapification process!
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.
In theory, I should have had more writing time last week. In actuality, I didn’t make a lick of progress on the short story I had started the week before. But today? Oh, today was surprisingly lovely for a Monday. For what felt like the first time in ages, I sat down and just cranked out first draftage for three solid uninterrupted hours. About 1,400 words in all, which is pretty damn good for slow-going me. It’s all crappy first draftage, yes, but I think (hope) it’s going to clean up nicely. When the story’s done, that is. I usually get a good sense early on about how long a story is going to be, and I think this one’s going to push the 6K mark, at least.
In other and unrelated news: shiny new Apple trackpad! I’m quite loving this thing. It doesn’t make my hand all crampy and achy like a mouse would do after a day at the computer.
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.
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