You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist. - Isaac Asimov
I spent yesterday with my nose in a book. Two actually. Unfortunately, neither were mine. On the upside, one was Alien Proliferation by Gini Koch. (If you haven't read this series, what are you waiting for? It's gnarly.) And the other was Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman. Also quite gnarly. Two awesome books at a time? Heaven.
My own book? Well, it's sitting on the hard drive waiting for me to finish it - preferably before midnight Tuesday if I want to keep my promise that this sucker will be done in January. No excuses.
But it does bring up an interesting point. When your two loves are writing and reading, what happens when those loves collide? I know I should be writing. I knew when I got our of bed yesterday that I had four days to finish Djinn 2. But I also knew I wanted to read JB's book. So I told myself I'd read for an hour and then get to work. And I did read for an hour. After which I made myself step away from the ereader program for a quick trip to the postal place and the grocery store.
My big mistake after I got back was going to the couch. Evil wicked nasty couch. I thought I'd read a little of Gini's book and then go work. Flash forward several hours and I'm so deep in someone else's story, that even when I take a break, I can't envision going back to my own book.
:headdesk: I should've known better.
Well, today I'm going to do better. Even though I'm still not sure how to write the end, I will write it. I will stay away from the couch. I will not open the Kindle for PC. I will write until I can write no more, and only then will I allow myself the reward of reading.
I just wish I'd had this talk with myself yesterday morning. Feh.
What do you do to keep yourself on track with your writing when the books you love to read beckon?
I'm nearing the end of this WIP and I've been having trouble seeing the end. Sure, I'm a plansterer and I hardly ever have everything mapped out ahead of time. Still, I like at least knowing a little about how the book is going to end. With this WIP, I had no clue.
I was standing outside, thinking and smoking - trying to figure out where exactly I was going to go from here. To a certain extent, I painted myself into a corner. Which isn't necessarily bad, since it always gives me a chance to be creative with how I'm going to crawl out. However, this time the blinding flash of insight that came led to a path I did not want to follow.
Sure, the readers totally won't see it coming. It'll be awesome dipped in awesomeness covered in awesomesauce. And Jo's going to hate me for this. I will effectively be both saving her and screwing her over.
Sort of like with that climber a few years back who got trapped when a boulder rolled onto his arm. His choices were die or cut his arm off. He cut his arm off, but despite the fact that he lived, he can't be happy with the choice left to him. (And no, Jo the genie won't be losing any body parts. Since djinn are pretty much self-healing, she'd just grow it back anyway.)
Yesterday I didn't write the scene. Looking back at it now, yesterday was sort of like a moment of silence. (And a little bit hiding from what I have to do.) I'll get to the scene today. And deal with Jo afterwards.
Ever have a plot point come to you that's both wonderful and horrible? Ever worry whether your characters are going to hate you?
For the record, I know my characters aren't real people with real emotions. I just feel like I'm betraying Jo to save the story, and it's making me squirmy.
First off, I have to admit I haven't read her latest release yet. I bought the e-version for Kindle (I don't own a Kindle, but I have the nifty 'puter program Kindle for PC.) yesterday, and it's set to be my next read. I did read the first chapter - which she posted on Scribd - last week and then spent the days between then and now twisting in the wind to see what happens next. (I just have to finish what I'm reading right now first.)
From that preview and the snippets I've read - as well as knowing JB is an incredibly talented person - I know this book is going to rock. After all, it's got a gal - Maggie - who gets squeezed into the job of hitwoman by circumstance. It's got a less-than-shining knight in the form of a cop who helps her learn the ropes. And, of course, it's got a snarky talking lizard who's kid named him Godzilla, but he prefers the nickname God. Yeah, I'm so there.
Look for more about JB as she stops by here for a guest post sometime next week. Until then, get your questions ready for her and for petesakes, go get a copy of her book. It's only $3.99. And if you enjoy that, go back and pick up a copy of her first book - The First Victim (which I reviewed here). It's a great introduction to this Wicked Awesome Author.
Oh, and if you like fun and snarky tweets, go follow @NeuroticTweets - where JB posts thoughts from Maggie and God.
Now, enough gushing. Go buy her stuff and enjoy yourselves. It'll totally be worth it.
I spent some time this morning thinking of an analogy for writing the end of this damn book.
First I thought it might be like that super-annoying Barney ditty - The Song That Never Ends. Or maybe it's like the snake eating it's own tail... Nah, that's not it. This isn't circular. Which means it's also not like the Barney song - that's circular, too. Still, this is like the book that never ends.
Then I tried to relate it to climbing. I've read that sometimes when you're climbing, you think you've reached the top only to find you ended up on some kind of faux-summit and you still have some major climbing to do. It's kinda like that.
But really I came to the conclusion that it's more like totally unsatisfying sex.
You know, the kind where you're building toward a climax but never reach it. You thought you might be close once, but then it all fell apart and you missed it, but he's still up there grunting away... Nothing is quite getting you where you need to be, but something (or someone as the case may be) is getting in the way of reaching a really explosive climax.
Yeah, that's it exactly. Finishing this book reminds me of sex with this guy I knew about fifteen years ago. A really long time spent sweating and grunting, trying new things to get where you need to be and just when you think you've almost got the big payoff, you realize in the end, there really wasn't an end.
Crass analogy, I know, but it works. Sad, but true. Maybe he was trying too hard. Maybe I was. Unfortunately what it all boiled down to was a whole lot of work and nothing to show for it but a new appreciation for what gymnasts have to endure.
Lucky for me, I can still get to the climax of this book, and if I'm not satisfied, I can do the whole thing over again. One thing I know for sure is I can't be like that guy and leave my readers with an unsatisfying end to show for all their hard work. Because they sure as hell aren't willing to fake it just to save my feelings.
Okay, time to write this. If I'm lucky, I'll reach the real climax sometime today. And then all there is to write is the afterglow.
I looked at my To-Do list this morning and wondered what in the hell KiTam meant. Then I realized it was a note to remind me to call my daughter at 7am. (I didn't need to, btw. She was already on Facebook, so she's up to make her early Geology class.)
She totally didn't appreciate my geology puns first thing this morning. I mean, come on. Rock on! was funny.
When you talk to people at a college billing office, you need to realize they have no clue what it means to pay for college out of pocket. So when I called to bitch about the huge difference from one bill to the next - caused by taking an online course vs a go-to course - and she told me there really wasn't a difference, she didn't realize $600 was a big difference to me. (I made the kid drop the damn course and take something else... which is why she now has an 8am Geology class.)
I still can't wrap my brain around why an online course would be $600 more than a go-to course. I mean, there's no overhead. It ought to be cheaper, right?
I so totally want to take my daughter's classes this semester. Well, except for Econ. But I would rock Geology. I already took Public Speaking, so that would be a breeze. Business Computing? Fuggetabowit. Business Communications? Puleeze. Okay, so I wouldn't want Algebra either, but I'm seriously jealous of the rest.
Her RA (resident advisor) is a Monty Python fan. I want her for a friend. My own first RA was the one who introduced me to Monty Python back in 1988. I will forever love that woman. Chris Anderson? Wherever you are, you have my undying gratitude.
I went to Northern Michigan University. On the sunny shores of Lake Superior. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was snowy. But I got used to it. Could I do it now? Oh hell no. I got used to it then, but that was 20 years ago.
Daughter and I were having a discussion over Christmas break. It all pertained to her less-than-stellar showing for her first semester and my 'No Excuses' commitment for 2012. She asked me "When does something stop being a reason and start being an excuse?"
Basically, where do you draw the line?
Yesterday I took the Kid back to school. We left at 7am and I got home around 3pm. Three hours up, three hours back with lunch in between. (And some hefting of her things from the parking lot to her dorm room on the 7th floor - thank goodness for elevators.) As I've bitched about before, the whole trip wipes me out. I felt pretty good at 1pm, driving down the road listening to various better radio stations the city offers. By 2:30, I was feeling like dog doo. About ten minutes out of town, my leg started cramping. So yeah, once I got inside the house, I became one with the couch.
My back hurt. My legs hurt. Even my stomach hurt from being in one position for most of three hours. I didn't even eat dinner - I was so dragged out.
And as I lay there, watching whatever crap was on the toob*, I went back to that discussion with the kid. Cripped up on the couch? Is that a reason to not write or was that an excuse? Where was the line?
This morning the whole thing is still on my mind. Could I have written last night? Hell, I sat here for at least a half hour answering emails and checking blogs. And therein lies the answer to that particular instance. If I felt good enough to be at the computer doing other things, then I sure as hell felt good enough to sit here and write. Sure, it might not have been more than a few hundred words, but it would've been better than the zero I put on paper yesterday.
I think the line has to be evaluated on a case by case basis (which was basically the answer I gave Kidlet). The hard part is making yourself do the evaluation and then acting on the result you come up with. I knew last night that I could've been writing. I chose not to and I used my own body as an excuse instead of just saying 'It's been a long day and I choose not to write', I told myself 'I hurt, so I can't write today.'
Choosing not to write is one thing and it can be totally acceptable. Making up excuses is a whole nother thing and I'm not going to tolerate it. If I let myself get away with it today, it'll just lead to other excuses and other excuses, until I'm right back where I was when I started.
I never said this whole 'No Excuse' thing was going to be easy. It takes work not to tell myself I have reasons for my laziness instead of just accepting that I was being lazy. And now today? I have work to do. And I choose not to make excuses if that work doesn't get done.
*toob = my new word for the TV. Basically a smushing together of boob tube.
It's Friday the 13th. (Yes, I have a flair for stating the obvious.) I didn't even think about it until I ripped off yesterday's page on my daily Dilbert calendar. Derp. Oh well, this day isn't any less lucky than any other.
Anyone remember that song Mahna, Mahna from Sesame Street? Well, last night as I was writing, it showed up on my Bush radio station in Pandora. A band called Cake remade it. Sesame Street meets heavy alternative. Very warped.
Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the car accident that pretty much changed my life. An instant of stupidity followed by months of therapy and a total transformation of the silly, ignorant, immature girl into someone who learned how with enough hard work a person can achieve any damn thing. No one should have to learn that lesson the hard way, but I'm glad I learned it. I can't imagine who I'd be if that accident had never happened. (Although, there's a pretty good chance I wouldn't be all scarred and gimpy.)
Oddly enough, it's also right around the time 8 years ago when I started what would become my first finished novel. What started out as simple The Comet, and morphed into something called Scaremongers, to finally end up as Spectacle. And later, when I realized no one got that title: Fear Itself. I still love that book and have great hopes it will someday be published. But yeah, it's gathering dust.
If y'all remember correctly, I finished December out at 47K words. This month's total so far? A piddly 8700. I really need to pick up the pace, but Daughter's still home and we've been dealing with college stuff. Expect better word counts after Monday when I take her back to CSU.
Skinny little teenage girls in bikinis who are looking for love keep trying to follow me on Twitter. I'm a little creeped out. Do I look like a pervy male? Do I come off as tilting toward that side of the street? Seriously. Ewewew.
I heard an owl this morning. My native American neighbor says that according to her people, an owl hooting outside your house is a bad omen. Since I hear them all the time, I'm not feeling the urge to run screaming into the night. Still, today is Friday the 13th. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Got anything random to add? Feel free to leave it in the comments.
And while I was looking for a video of the Mahna, Mahna song, I stumbled across this Muppet version of Bohemian Rhapsody... ROFLMAO!
*I took the above pic the other night. Creepy, huh?And the other image? Well, that was my lame-ass attempt at creating a cover for Spectacle. Don't judge me.
This morning I had a whole post set and deleted it. It was mostly kvetching (which, as I understand it, is the yiddish word that sort of combines whining and bitching). So, instead of subjecting you to me pissing and moaning, I'm going to give you a picture to look at. I hope you enjoy it.
That's a set of headphones someone threw up in the tree a few years back. (At least I think it's been a few years. That things been in the tree as long as I can remember, but we've only lived here three years.) It's held on through thunderstorms and wind shear and near-miss tornadoes. And it's still kept it's pretty blue color. Go headset!
The hole in the tree? Well, that's a starling nest. If they got wifi in there, the birds could use those and have a party.
Yesterday I set out to take some art quality shots - sky through the trees, birds, interesting branch configurations, etc. I tried taking what I thought would turn out awesome. After about fifteen minutes, I had 33 pics on the camera.
I ended up with 7 that I can say I'm pretty proud of. There might be another three or four that could be good with some tweaking. In all honesty, none of them are stunners.
Part of this picture taking process is a learning curve. The more I take, the better I get - at least in theory. The better I get, the more pictures will be worth saving and the more that will be worth the extra effort of tweaking using some kind of software. (I'm learning there, too.)
Still, running around shooting random photos isn't going to get me anywhere. Sure, there's beauty all around us. Taking photos from my front yard helps me remember that. But the really great shots are a combination of skill and being in the right place at the right time. The squirrel I posted the other day ended up as good as it did because I held the camera still and adjusted the zoom and pointed it toward interesting subject matter. It ended up better than it should've because the silly beast picked the same instant I took the picture to stretch. And the shadow? Well, that was serendipity.
In a way, it's like writing. (You had to know I was going to tie this in somehow.) Success in writing is a combination of skill and luck and a little serendipity. The skill is totally within our control. Sometimes the luck is, too. After all, Thomas Jefferson was right when he said "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." If I bust my ass researching agents and send my queries out to only those who really are looking for what I want, and one of them chooses me... well, that's the kind of luck you make for yourself.
The serendipity is totally outside our sphere of influence. I could've nudged serendipity by walking farther afield and picking subjects that have a better chance of doing something interesting, but sometimes you get what you get and you're happy about it. Like this...
I had maybe ten seconds to line this shot up, but I didn't have anything to do with the jet flying over. And I sure as hell didn't envision that the branches would look like they were trying to reach for the plane - which is why I called it "Come Back". That pic is 25% skill and 75% out of my control.
I wandered kind of away from my point this morning. Maybe you got one anyway. I guess it all boils down to - control what you can by honing your skills, make luck where you can find it and the serendipity will take care of itself.
Which put me at 51050 on January 5th. (That last week was longer than 7 days, but it works for me.)
During the month of December, I took 5 days off - which is why I ended 12/31/11 with 47440 words. Two of those days fell apart because I went to Ft. Collins to pick the kid up for break and I'm always toast the day after that. Two other off days were Christmas and Christmas Eve - because, hey, writers get holidays, too. The other day was just a burp. I don't remember why I took it, but I did. So there. =op
On average, I reached 1418 words per day. My biggest word count was 3483 on the 11th. My lowest count for a day where I actually wrote was 545 on the 2nd.
A couple things I discovered along the way:
1) Writing a sequel is equal parts easy-peasy and tearing my hair out. Sure, some of the words I wrote were already pre-formed by the book that went before. But in addition to having to hold the threads of this book, I had to remember the threads from the previous. (And all the character traits, btw. Like Basil is BLOND.)
2) I don't need someone else's preconceived month to set my ass down and write 50K, but it helps to have someone writing alongside. My sincerest thanks to my friend, JB, and her constant emails of encouragement and commiseration. I probably could've done this without her, but I wouldn't have liked it nearly as much as I did.
3) I really missed writing new words.
Now, even though I did what the organizers of NaNoWriMo consider a book worth of words, I still have about 20K left to write before I consider it a whole novel. I also have to work on editing the book that started it all - Djinnocide. This month will be a mishmash of writing and editing as I attempt to tear myself along the dotted line between creative genius and anal editor.
:waves: Hi Everyone! I woke up this morning and noticed that I've neglected the blog again. No excuses - just dealing with non-tragic, but very distracting and brain-draining, life stuff.
Which reminds me. If you didn't catch the first episode of the new season of Biggest Loser on Tuesday, they are modeling this season on the idea of No Excuses. Seems pretty good to me. I mean, there are million excuses why we don't do the things we know we need to do, but very few actual reasons. And sometimes even with things that seem like reasons, we can usually find a way to still accomplish things if we think hard enough.
For instance, 'my computer died' might seem like a good reason not to write. But if you think about it, people were writing long before there were computers.
So, I'm going to try and not use excuses this year. If I don't write on a given day, I need to recognize that was a choice I made. It wasn't because I was too tired, or too stressed, or life stuff intervened. I didn't write because I chose not to not to write. Maybe I made the choice because I felt overwhelmed by some other aspect of my life, but it was still a choice. Perhaps I chose not to write because my hands hurt or I had a headache. But that's why they make Aspercreme and aspirin.
And I also need to realize that sometimes making the choice not to write is okay. As long as I don't make a habit of it. I chose not to write on New Year's Day because I felt like I'd earned a day off. It was a lovely day spent reading, btw, but the next day, I got back at it. (And then Tuesday struck and bits of hell broke loose. Now that day of not writing wasn't a choice, but shit happens.)
If I didn't lose weight this week (or in fact, gained a pound - I haven't checked), it wasn't because this life stuff had me stressed out. It was because I chose to stuff my face and not drag my lard butt off the couch for a few simple exercises. Hell, sometimes stress makes me lose weight and become a little frenetic with the house cleaning, so not losing weight this week is my own damn fault.
No excuses. And every time I think I've got a reason, rather than an excuse, I'm going to try and remember to pick that reason apart until I'm sure it's valid. No letting those excuses sneak up on me disguised as reasons. (Sneaky bastards.)
Anyone with me? Any urge to make 2012 the year of no excuses or am I the only nut in the trail mix today?
And in case I haven't said this in a while, thanks for following The Writing Spectacle. I really do appreciate your presence here and I hope to provide you with reasons to come back - not excuses to leave. ;o)
(On a completely unrelated note, doesn't the shadow in that picture up there look like a bear?)
I seem to remember wanting to read more literature and nonfiction when the year started, but I got busy. So many great books in other genres came out this past year, that I fell down on the last few categories. And of course, Urban Fantasy tops the list again because hey, I've been working on this UF manuscript for like ever and I need to see what the competition is up to. (At least that's what I tell myself.)
And the age ranges looked like this:
Adult - 74
YA - 14
MG - 3
Thirty of the books I read this year were by new-to-me authors.
June and July tied for the most books read in a month at 11 books each. October failed with only 3 books read - but hey, I wrote like a banshee that month. And my eyes were tired. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.
And there she is - stats for 2011. Any questions? How do you think your reading went last year? Were you busy-busy without a lot of time to read? Or did you leave my numbers in the dust? And if you had to guess, what do you think your most read genre is?
I don't do resolutions. In fact, I pretty much stopped with the whole goal-setting for the new year thing a few January 1sts ago. But, this morning I was inspired. (You know who you are.)
Anyway, following this inspiration, I figured I probably ought to write some of these 2012 goals down.
1) Finish Djinn 2
2) Polish Djinnocide
2a) Put together submission materials so I can...
2b) Send this sucker out
3) Edit at least one other forgotten book (you know - one I wrote but never edited like Nano or UEQ)
4) Edit Djinn 2 (just in case Djinnocide sells or something)
5) Read at least as many books this year as last year (the count was 90 in 2011 - more on that tomorrow)
Those five ought to keep me busy - the first four at least for the next six months. I have trouble thinking beyond that. (Thank goodness my husband doesn't or we'd be in debt up to our eyeballs with a savings balance of ZERO.) Of course, I have other things I need to do. Some of them will get done. Others will be forgotten and end up on this list another year. (Like my never-ending goal of losing weight.)
What are a few goals you have for 2012? Think you'll get them done, or will they end up on your list again next year?
Time for another beginning to a books I've read this year post. If you haven't seen the others, it goes sorta like this: I leave the title with a link to where you can buy the book, the author's name, the date I finished the book and the genre. Pretty simple really. Oh, and they end up in reverse order - with the most recent read on top.
Last year, I read 90 books. If I can do the same this year, I'll be satisfied.