Been a while.
How have you been?
Can’t recall the last time I posted something here. Thought I’d drop in, for a minute, and remedy that.
I remember, some long time ago, having a goal of posting here at least once a week. Going to cross that off the list of things that definitely didn’t get done. It’s a distinguished list: losing weight, journaling every day, finishing unpacking the new house, cleaning up my office…
If I kept going that list would take up the rest of this piece. Best to stop now, before it develops its own gravity and sucks us in like a black hole of regret.
(Black Hole of Regret is the working title for the memoir of my high school years that I’ll never write, and occasionally shiver at the thought of, by the way.)
So, the world feels a little fucked right now.
America in particular – but that’s just because I live here and not somewhere besieged by famine, drought, war, or the constant barrage of natural disasters obliterating the local infrastructure, et al.
Sometimes you need perspective.
And sometimes it doesn’t help – at all.
To say that the world feeling fucked has contributed to my lack of productivity, at least in creative realms, would be something of an understatement. And while it has contributed to it, it hasn’t stopped it. Not yet, thankfully.
Last month I finished my work in progress. At 110k words, it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written. Earlier this month I finished the latest round of revisions – I tend to revise as I go – and sent the manuscript off to my Beta Readers. (This time around it’s all about content, continuity, and entertainment value. Any typos or grammar errors they catch will be things I don’t have to hunt for on the next round of edits, and that’s a bonus. )
As an aside: just about every professional author I’ve spoken with or read about says that you should not write the sequel to a book until you’ve sold the first one. It’s good advice. I didn’t follow it. This book was the book I had to write at the time. I have a steady day job and no deadlines to meet, so I could write the sequel – on spec as they say – and not worry too much.
I also got back all of my first round of rejections. (Not the first rejections I’ve ever gotten for the first book, but the first round since I’ve had it professionally edited and spent the time to learn how to properly write an interesting query letter. Only the first of those two things is assured. The letter writing? I may still be bad at it – which might explain the rejections, but it’s impossible to know without feedback from the agents, and they’re not in the business of sending feedback on query letters. Can’t say as I blame them.) I finally found the box with my agent list. I’ll be querying the next round before too long. Want to get at least two rounds in before the new year. We’ll see what we’ll see.
To stay busy during the interminable waiting, I’m doing what most writers – at least the ones that want to stay vaguely sane – do: I’m working on a new project. (The notes for which I also have to finish digging out of boxes.)
NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) is coming up in November. I’ve always been already into something in years past, but this year, no such restriction on my time, so I think I’ll give it a shot. If you’re interested in NANOWRIMO definitely look it up, but here’s a brief overview: the challenge is to write 50k words of a novel during the month of November. Simple huh? But any writer knows that simple don’t mean easy. Ok, maybe most people know that much. Anyways, if you’re interested, there’s a ton of stuff online about it, even a website where you can create an official profile and log your daily word counts. It’s not a competition with anyone except yourself, but there is a large support community and I recommend looking into it, unless you’re a weirdo-hermit like me. Also, if you’re going to try to write that much in one month, I strongly advise getting all your prep work done beforehand. Know your character’s names, personality, location/ settings, general plot if not detailed outline, (I’m not much of an outliner), that kind of thing. You want to remove as many potential obstacles to word production as possible, and that means trying to get all your research – or as much of it as you can foresee – done early, like yesterday would have been best, but today works too.
(Just, as a point here: I was going to make this post a general update. Some writing stuff, some fitness stuff, throw some Halloween love in for fun, but it seems to be mostly a writing update, so look for the other stuff in weeks to come.)
My new project, it barely has a working title, came about as a strange synthesis of two projects that I didn’t think were at all related.
I started writing a short story, ages ago, that turned into something much longer. Sometimes that happens. I like the story and the characters, and I knew the plot – something odd for me. But it got shuttled to the back burner when I got back to writing regularly and dedicated to finishing the last novel. But my brain is a bit of a squirrel at times, burying nuts and digging up others. So, a couple of months ago, I got a line in my head – that’s how all of my poems and a few of my short stories start. It wouldn’t go away until I said it out loud. Then the next line came. By line three or four I knew I had to write the damn thing down because it was giving me goosebumps. So, I wrote it in my notebook. What came out was a kind of horror nursery rhyme. Nifty thing, and no idea what I would do with it. Quite a lot of my poems are like that. (I’ve been writing poetry, steady, for more than 20 years now. That’s just how it happens sometimes.) And then, one day, while letting my current manuscript sit before taking on the revisions, the poem came back to me, but this time connected to that short story cum novel I never finished.
There are rare times when all the windows in my mind line up and I can see clearly, out to the scenery beyond.
This was one of those feverishly exciting times.
To that end, that’s the research I’ve been doing. The comingling of the horror nursery rhyme has changed the story somewhat, but in ways that make me feel better, well, more certain about the narrative. Still things to nail down, if I want to make this my NANOWRIMO project, but I can feel it building momentum in my guts.
As a writer, that’s a great place to be.
A lot of people love having written something. I found out, in my journey, that I actually love the writing. I get wonderfully lost in the process and spend a decent amount of my time writing in what psychologists refer to as flow state.
I’d really love if I could make it my day job, but that might be a ways in the future. Still, good to have goals and be working towards them. Makes a day feel purposeful, and that makes for a better, more enjoyable life. Try it sometime, you’ll see fairly quickly.
And, like the small, weirdly cute rodent my brain actually is, now that I’m working on something, other ideas spring up and try to borrow some of the energy. I write them down and then let myself forget about them. If I remember them later, or if they spark the same sensation when I’m not into a new thing already, then they’ll get given a go. Works for me. If your brain is a skittering thing, maybe give it a try sometime.
Well, that’s about all for now.
Thanks for tuning in after so long.
Until next time…