Putting the Pieces Together

It’s been a while, since I worked on my revision. Too long. Oh, I’ve done some rough outlining, some putting pieces into place, but still, too long since I touched the manuscript, itself.

Too much thinking, not enough writing.

And after a while, the two kinda blur in my mind. So, I dredged out the pieces this morning, and looked at them, and… well, some of the things that are so clear in my head just aren’t there on paper. I think–rationally–that I found all the pieces I have. But I’m still looking at the pages, and feeling like… hey, where’s the rest of this?

Well, after a search of my computer, and my email inbox… well, that’s it.

In my mind, there was a lot more written, and–my muse being somewhat egotistical–in my mind, it was absolutely brilliant.

In real life, it’s patchwork, with a little bit of rubber-cement oozing out the seams. There are pieces missing–pieces I can almost recite from memory. And did I write them down?

Well, I’m working on that. And after that, I can start sanding and polishing.

 

Invitations, and Other Teases.

The StoryTime Blog Hop is coming up on October 27th, and–believe it or not–I’m not hosting it, this time around. My friend Juneta Key is, and you can find all the information about joining us here:  http://www.junetakey.com/posts/october-storytimeblog-hop/  Long story short: SciFi/Fantasy/SpecFic; G to PG rated. Deadline for links is the 20th of October.

I’m still thinking about what to write, but the last few stories I’ve done have turned out pretty well, so I’ll keep posting them.

Later on, I’m also doing a short story for an Advent Calendar the Independent Bookworm puts on every year. That’ll be winter-themed short stories, with one or two summers thrown in, courtesy of our Southern Hemisphere Players.

I’m also doing Nanowrimo in November–50,000 words in one month–because someone slipped something or other into my coffee, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Sometimes, it still seems like a good idea. We’ll see. Drop by my profile over there and add me to your buddy list, if you want to join me.

Look Who’s a Grownup

I may have mentioned it, before… I ran into a video of an old friend a while back. You know, after I searched for his name on a whim, and landed on his YouTube channel. What a coincidence!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. When I say “old” I mean, really old. Like known-him-since-cradle-roll old. Like, I’m pretty sure his mom really does love me best, old. Like, the thought of him being a real-life, honest-to-goodness grown-up still makes me giggle old.

No. It’s not the thought of him being a grown up that makes me giggle. It’s the fact that he really hasn’t changed all that much. He was always a grownup. Now, he’s taller.

So, here’s this video of him grown-upping.

Sort of. He’s soldering together an electronics kit, and you can tell that he’s a grown-up by the way he does this without adult supervision. Other than that, he’s exactly the same. (Except taller.)

I’d link to the video, but let’s be honest. I was always the wild one. I’m not going to ambush him with an unexpected audience.

The last time I saw him in real life, we were about eleven. We stayed in touch until about 9th grade.

And now–probably because of my sister–I’m on a real nostalgia trip. You can’t get more nostalgic than homemade donuts and picking blackberries. Unless it’s jumping into piles of freshly-raked leaves. Good times.

Wholesome.

I don’t really know what the point of this is, either.

Juggling Commitments

I got some real writing squeezed in, today. I’m nearly six hundred words up from when my alarm went off this morning, and I’m hoping to hit 1000 before I go to bed. (And yes, this is an accomplishment, right now.) I’m working on getting one of my characters into some real trouble. Of the Is this treason? variety.

I’m not getting as much in over my lunch hour as I usually do, because the co-workers are all suddenly very interested in talking to me.

I’m supposed to be writing short stories–I have a blog hop and an advent calendar coming up–and I’d like to have both of those finished before I start Nano in a month. And I want to match those stories with something for the magazines of the world, while I’m at it.

I’m supposed to be reading.

And I’m supposed to be out doing things, too. Something to distract me from all the things people feel I should be distracted from, and all the things I really should be distracted from.

Nanowrimo, Side Projects, and Momentum

The thing I really need to work on–not just this year, but always, no matter what–is organization. I need to write more linearly. I don’t know how to do that, right now, but I got some good suggestions the last time I brought it up.

Right now, I’m working on a story–and that’s using the word “working” pretty loosely–about a ship sent out into space to start a colony. I have a main character, and a secondary character, and maybe a thousand words. I had to think to remember what it was about so I could mention it here.

I really did intend to write, when I got started, but old projects and other commitments keep pulling me in. Maybe it needs to marinate a little longer before I have real thoughts on the subject. Or maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s not marinating; it could just be rotting at the back of the refrigerator.

Ordinarily, I’d just walk away from the idea–after all, if it can’t even hold my attention, how can I expect it to hold anybody else’s? But right now, I don’t really have a lot of focus, and my attention span is… hey, look! a duck!

I’m only a couple thousand words into it. If it doesn’t perk up, soon, somebody’s going to be torn apart and eaten, just to kick things off.

Momentum is one of the big things I get out of Nanowrimo. It helps to have a goal and a deadline, and four billion of your closest friends all waiting to be horribly disappointed.

I am going to need another project for that (since this one’s already started.)

I’m also coming up on the October edition of the scifi-fantasy-specfic blog hop I participate in. I’m supposed to have a story. I don’t have a story. Not even a small one. I have to glue myself to a chair and just do it. And later on, there’s the literary advent calendar (same deal.)

And a couple of other commitments that need time.

Plus, I may wind up having to squeeze in a Transcontinental Airway System beacons and arrows road trip later on. I can’t decide whether that sounds like fun, or not. But if everybody else is doing it… well, I don’t have a choice.

Touching base, and Turning In

Today was a long day.

My coworkers are on the “Find Karen a MAN” war path, and that gets tedious fast. It’s something that comes up, every once in a while, and almost always with disastrous results. It will die down in a week or two–always does–but the general approach is throw it at the wall, and see what sticks. I’m the only single girl, though, and when the matchmaking bug strikes… **sigh**

What’s the nice way of saying I know you all way too well to let any of you pick a date for me?

It has been determined that what I need is an intellectual. There was a long discussion of this, followed by a general listing of man-traits. These are, by the way, all excellent ideas… on paper. Basically, they spent the afternoon describing me, only ten inches taller, with chest hair. The conversation usually ends right around the point they realize they don’t actually have an intellectual (chest hair, or no.)

Once, it got as far as suggesting a name. We’re both quiet, you see.

No, it didn’t make sense to me, either.

On the bright side, I got a cheese steak pizza. It was hot.

Of Resistance Fighters and Prostitutes

I spent a good chunk of my lunch hour today working out what the next scene in my revision has to be. Prostitutes. Gotta be. I happen to have just the girl. She’s made herself rich on hard work and government contracts. Oh. And she’s a resistance fighter. I do have to mention that.

I used to run into hookers from time to time (when I was living in the degenerate city) and by and large, I liked them. I can only think of one exception. (crack whore. We’ll call that a story for another time.)

My neighborhood–I’m sure you’ve seen one like it–was an up and coming(ish) artistic enclave. By the time I was there, it had risen high enough to be safe(ish), but not so high that the bistros had pushed out the old dive bars and sex shops. Three sex shops, to be precise. Gay, Straight, and Geriatric/Kink. (Because, once you start selling hoists… you might as well.)

The personality type interests me. That half chatty neighbor, half-used car salesman approach. The pure likeability. After all, they’re paid to be nice, and being nice keeps the complaints from neighboring businesses to a minimum.

That sense that if circumstances were different, they’d be able to really make a mark in the world. Get things done.

Circumstances are different for my character. In the first place, her profession is more respected in her world. And in the second place… she has government contracts to exercise the soldiers. She’s making real money.

And she has her causes to work toward.

She wants to overthrow the government, not just whore her way to Burning Man. She has power. She has accomplices. Minions, even.

Unfortunately, I just killed off her last known accomplice, and I’m not sure what’s left in the conspiracy.

Revisions.

Exercise is Bad For You

I’m trying to get my body to start feeling good after a long walk in the heat. Right around 90 degrees. I think I’m a few electrolytes and about six gallons of water down for the day. I never was good at outdoors and heat, so there you are.

The walk was supposed to dislodge some kind of information about what my villain is doing, right now, but as it turns out, I spent more time noticing flowers than contemplating prostitutes.

Unfortunately, I just finished killing off all the accomplices I knew about, so now, she’s all alone with no one to talk to, and no one to commit violent assassinations with.

I also realized… much to my surprise… that I’m not exactly sure what the role of a prostitute is, in a society where there’s a perfectly good Temple of Erotic Love just down the street. So, I made a list. Which will probably horrify whoever finds it after I fall into my post-exercise coma.

Organizing Query Research: Part Two

So, I finally got up the nerve to go through my Rejection Collection, and this is what I came up with:

Small stack of index cards next to enormous stack.

The last project I queried was a thriller, and I really wasn’t envisioning myself writing outside that genre, back then, so my priorities were different. A lot of the people I wrote to were very focused on that genre, so they wouldn’t be interested in my new project.

Last time, I also wound up deciding the project needed more work, so I stopped well before I made it through every agent and agency in the universe.

So, all said and done, there were about fifteen repeaters in the Rejection Collection. Eleven of those are in the picture above. (The big stack is about 150 people deep, right now. )

Going through the Rejection Collection wasn’t bad. Actually, it was kinda… well, I enjoyed it. I recommend it, even if you aren’t actively querying a new project.

Why You Should Revisit Your Rejection Collection

  • It’s easier to see progress after the emotions cool. During submission, you’re frequently collecting rejection after rejection. After a while, you just want to shove that letter in a box and get on with it. You don’t always see how many of the letters were personalized, or the rate of requests as you’re doing it.
  • It’s not me, it’s them. My last querying marathon ended a little over a year ago. I’ve done other things, and so have a lot of the people on my list. It’s one thing to know objectively that not every rejection is about you, the quality of your writing, and the volume of blood spatter in chapter 7, it’s another to look back and actually see the number of people who have–for their own personal reasons–switched agencies, switched jobs, quit publishing. Because–**Happy Dance**–you really can’t represent my book, if you’ve run off to teach the poor, starving orphans to read.
  • What worked… and what didn’t. I’m not organizing in quite the same way, and a lot more casual in my approach. I don’t have actual numbers to support this, but Dear Joe appears to work better than Dear Mighty and Illustrious Sir.
  • Ego Boost: Believe it or not, some of those agents took the time to say some really nice things to me, even though they were clearly busy packing for that trip to the convent/orphanage/wild boar hunt in Macedonia.
  • Regain Faith in the People in Publishing Sometimes…. every now and then… the dedication and passion show through. My favorite, favorite, favorite rejection letter is just three words, handwritten on my letter. Not for me. And the handwriting is shaky. Little bit of old age, little bit of a tremor. You can tell she’s making an effort. It’s getting hard for her. But she’s still there. And she’s still answering queries. And she wouldn’t have to be.

Back to organization.

The people I’ve queried before are color-coded (pale turquoise ink, not that anyone cares). And now they’re getting re-shuffled into their appropriate sub-piles. Well, not shuffled. They’re actually a little closer to the top of their sub-piles than they would otherwise be, since they get points for being at the top of the last pile. Relevant notes from last time are color coded that same turquoise.

Write, Anyway.

There are moments, now and then. The seconds where things become incredibly clear, and all at once, you understand yourself and others better than before.

And usually, when you have a moment like that–no matter how much you’d like explain it to someone else–it’s something you just have to experience. There’s no way I could have explained this to the girl I was talking to, but… I know you will get it.

We’re both writers. We both have the same general dreams of getting published, and so forth. We talk, now and then, about what we’re working on.

She asked me how my project is going, and I had to ask whether she meant the website (I was checking stats) or the book. The book. Duh. Should’ve known that. I told her I was on chapter 26. She was impressed.

I asked her how her writing was going, and… well, she’s hit a dry spell. She told me about all the things that have come up. Computer down. No Microsoft Word. No battery. Too tired after a long day at work. Family. Activities at her church.

Life, in other words.

There was not one thing on her list that wasn’t… ordinary.

I sympathized, and gave her the websites for Libre Office and YWriter. Fixed the problems that could be fixed.

And maybe she believes that the right software will fix her problems.

I don’t.

I believe that I got through the conversation without laughing, shouting, or crying. I did not grab her by the shirt front and shake her. I didn’t even roll my eyes, and that was my accomplishment for the day.

The whole time she was “blocked,” I was writing. My sister died. I went on a necessity trip to another state to clean out her apartment. I made arrangements. I watched my family disintegrate.  I was writing, anyway.

I came back to work, and I’m still more or less balanced between bursting into tears and being angrier than I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m still writing.

Not as fast as during the good times. Probably not as well. But I kept up the blog, and I’m forcing out a few hundred words of (not quite palatable) fiction a day.

The girl I was talking to doesn’t know any of that.

She’s still looking for some other solution. And it’s too bad. She’s talented.

It takes time to write a book. Things happen. You write, anyway. A line, or two, or twenty. That’s how you write a book.