Excitement and Rising Early

I get up early so I can get a little writing in before work. And I work early, so, that means I’m up early. I rolled out of bed–no alarm needed–around 3 o’clock this morning. And that was after common sense and discipline informed me that waking up at 2 would just be overkill.

I’m working on revising the tail end of my novel. Two more months… I hope… and I’ll be done. Or done-ish. Or… at the very least, going back over the beginning to pull out a few loose ends that never went anywhere.

My creative mind does not feel like 2 in the morning is ridiculously early. I just think that if I get up at 2 one day, it’ll probably be 1:30 the next, and so on. Makes it difficult to maintain a normal schedule with normal human beings. (Don’t get me wrong. I like normal human beings. I’m just… not one.) On the other hand, my rational mind can’t wrap itself around the idea that sleeping in til 7 is like someone who usually gets up at 7 sleeping in until noon.

So, we have the general excitement of let’s get up and do something. Make something. Finish something.

So, I woke up.

And I’m writing a blog post.

Because I have now stared at a blank piece of paper long enough, and I’m not exactly sure how what I’ve written connects up with all of the rest of the story.

Right now, the chunks I’m revising… well, they’re all middles. I have to get to the middle, and then connect the middle to the beginning, and in some cases, add an ending.

But I’m making wake up at 2 in the morning progress.

And I’m more excited about the process than I have been in a long time.

So, back to staring at that blank piece of paper.

My Editorial Diversion

Later on today, I should finish the last of the scenes that were not on my original revision schedule.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with them, at least in part because I’ve been getting a lot of OH, so that’s where that goes! Some of the things that just seem to fit, now were things I had generally envisioned having to cut entirely.

I’ll be getting back to regularly scheduled revision, and more or less on time for the month.

This month, I’m also working on a short story for the Storytime Blog Hop. It should be something Halloween-y, which is always a fun theme.

Has anybody but me noticed that when you have an hour, you actually use it, but when you have a whole day, you watch YouTube videos until it’s all gone?

I’m so very guilty of believing that my regular wake-up time is absurdly early (because it is.) and that I deserve another fifteen minutes. And then, that fifteen minutes turns into the rough equivalent of sleeping til noon. (If, you know, I woke up at a decent hour in the first place.)

I cannot get it through my head that sleeping til 4 or 5 is actually sleeping in, now.

Oh, well. Somewhere, there’s a glass of water that’s destined to resurrect my Kreb’s Cycle. I just know there is.

Any tips for keeping a schedule, even when you work a weird schedule?

NaNoWrimo Prep Month

National Novel Writing Month is coming up in three weeks. Three weeks?!? Yup. Twenty-one days.

And while I’ve always been a little hit-or-miss in winning NaNo, I usually start the month with good intentions.

This time, I’m starting the month with two pristine notebooks (240 pages each) and a shiny set of brand-new ballpoints in multiple victory-oriented colors.

What are we doing tonight, Brain?

Same thing we do every night, Pinky… Try to take over the world. Try to write a cleaner first draft.

So, I have notebooks. Of a hard-bound, and pocketed variety, in the hopes that I’ll

  • Write neatly organized and linear scenes. (And the truth is, what I hand write really does tend to be less fragmented than what I type.)
  • Be able to look and see whether a given day was a good day or a bad day.
  • Not have little scraps of paper running around the bottom of my purse and the back of my hard drive.

I’m also working on finishing up the revision of my current novel. Which demands at least some time in November to finish on schedule.

I have a couple of ideas. I’m not really at the talking about them stage, yet, but I’m working on deciding between them.

I’m not that much of an outline person, but I do have a wide variety of index cards so I can make myself a plot deck as I go along.

If anybody wants to buddy up, my NaNo profile is at https://nanowrimo.org/participants/r-typewriter and I’d be glad to hear from you here, too.

Are you doing NaNo, this year? Why or why not? Tips for the terrified? Leave me a comment, and hit the share buttons, to pass on the insanity.

There is something about settling in to write your revision that churns up all kinds of silt. As you can see, I’m making progress:

And that’s good progress. I’m a little ahead of schedule (according to my marvelous math) and headed toward a clearly-defined endgame.

However

You see that little smudge between 6 and 7?

Yup. That would be an addendum. It’s not a huge diversion, but I will be adding some material that just didn’t exist.

And you will note that the smudge is labeled #1.

I’m adding three or four chapters to the existing material. And that puts me into my “Warning: Word Count!” index cards, so there’d better not be too many more.

Then, eventually, I’ll do NaNoWriMo, so that I have a shiny new first draft to work on while I’m querying.

Dying Computers, Chainsaw Editing, and Snail Races

As I’m going through my revision, I’m noticing that certain letters are missing. Not all the time, and not always the same letters, but… I’m writing in letters. After a few pages of this, I’m starting to think about new computers (or at lest, new keyboards.) My slightly neurotic alternate theory is that it’s me, somehow, just not hitting the keys as hard as I should be. I can’t decide whether that last one’s a sign that I’m cheap as hell and don’t want to spend money on a new computer, If I could just get degenerative muscular diseases instead, or if I’m paranoid that I’m getting something I’ve encountered in other people.

Note to self: It IS you, and in the future, don’t pop the keys off your keyboard to clean, you moron.

I’m editing with a chainsaw, today. Twenty one pages come in… and four come out. Four! And there’s nothing wrong with the extra 17 pages, really. Just chunks that are duplicated in other places, or that I don’t need anymore, because I’ve revised them out of my timeline.

On the bright side, think of all the word count that frees up.

I have front row seats for #pitmad this morning, which basically means 1.) I’m not working and 2.) I have all kinds of tabs open on my computer, watching various agents from by TBQ (to be queried) list punch in those likes. Likes on Twitter do not automatically refresh, or even notify you of their existence, so I’m wearing out the reload button. Exactly why am I doing this?

Well, maybe I’m bored, and maybe I’m diligent. It does give you an idea of their specific tastes, though.

The process reminds me of the snail-races we used to have back when I was a teacher’s aide. Place the agents inside a circle, and wait. So far, none of them have actually done anything, but the kids are entertained, and teacher gets a few spare minutes to catch her breath and organize the next lesson.

Snail A has liked two pitches. Snail B has poured himself a cup of coffee. Pretty sure Snail C is in one of Billy Ostermeyer’s pockets.

In most cases, the reward for getting #pitmad likes is… Well, you get to query in exactly the same way you would, if you’d just read the guidelines, but you get to add #pitmad to the subject line.

I can’t decide whether that’s worth the effort of the snail race, or not.

Cutting Manuscripts In Public

I spent yesterday playing slice and dice with the next overgrown sasquatch-chapter of the manuscript I’ve been revising. 40 pages going in, and probably right around thirty by the time I decided it would just be easier to rewrite the whole thing. There are just too many pieces, people! I think I’d collected every single unanchored question in the entire book, and thrown it into the interrogation scene. And some of them aren’t very interrogation-y questions. And there’s this really random character (who I love) in the middle of it, telling them how to work a bathtub.

Well, he’s a retired college professor. They’re just going to do things like that, from time to time, and you can’t stop them.

I’m caught somewhere between But I don’t want to cut the retired college professor!!! And So… uhm… why is there a college professor in the first place?

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I did most of the cuts at a table filled with chatty co-workers, so I’d be able to cut with one hand and gossip with the other. You know… keeps your mind off the cutting, so (hopefully) you don’t notice that you’re about to remove the last good bathtub explanation scene.

I wound up talking about how to sell a short story. Where to find addresses to send it to. And maybe the truth is that there are plenty of writers floating around my small town, and that they just don’t know how to take the next step.

Maybe they just need to be wrangled into the library for a writers’ group, and maybe… if I were more social, more organize-y they’d already be there.

Revising While Reading

I just printed out the next chapter for my revision.

It is forty pages long, and in at least three different viewpoints. And the actual purpose of the scene didn’t come to me until well and truly after it was written. (They? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just one scene when I started.)

I’m going to read through it–pen in hand–and decide whether it’s worth revising  any of it, or if I should just sit down and re-write it.

Did I mention I’m reading American Gods while I do this? Because, well, when you’re playing search-and-destroy with your own shortcomings, stupidities, and holy-shit-where’s-the-rest-of-this-es, you should definitely be doing so in the shadow of giants.

Well, you can’t help but compare.

My book is down in every category, including penis descriptions. ONE to kinda lost track along the way.

What I should be doing is something like this: The day he was scheduled for execution was gray and overcast, and also his penis was in an indecisive state of half-rigidity. OR The birds were singing before he woke on Tuesday, and not being content with an exuberant erection, his penis had also decided to wear a festive hat.

Yes, I’ve really lost track. And yes, I really am comparing.

This may actually be why I stopped reading American Gods the last time: Tendency to compare my pile of gray Legos to someone else’s fully constructed death star.

I’ll be finished reading in a couple of days, and then I can go back to objectively nitpicking.

IWSG: Did You Ever Just Quit?

 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.
The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG will be JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

So, this month’s question is Did you ever just say “I quit” to writing? If so, what made you come back?

I’m not sure I ever quit quit. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing in one form or another, and writing regularly. There are highs and lows, of course, and there are moments when I think I should just make writing my secret hobby, and go sell insurance for a living, but quitting?

No. For me, the problem isn’t quitting, so much as starting.

I’ve always written. I don’t remember not writing. I have stacks of old journals in the basement, and files and files of hand-written, spiral bound stories. I entertain myself that way. Sometimes, I understand myself that way.

The problem for me, is getting to the point where I believe in my abilities enough to make this more than a hobby. Enough to do the heavy lifting that gets you from writing for your own amusement in the back of the classroom to writing professionally, with the intention of supporting yourself.

The trick isn’t–as far as I can tell–to keep writing. It’s to keep writing for others. Others who may not be cheering you on, yet, and who are definitely going to see that plot hole, and who are definitely not going to take “Well, it exists in my head” for an answer.

I’m getting there in baby steps.

There’s the first novel you write. And that revision nearly killed me. I kept going around in circles, and you know… since I’d only written ONE novel, and since I was having massive trouble getting it revised, and I was… probably having more fun writing for myself than working on this insurmountable, clean and polish until other people can read and enjoy it thing.

I’m not really to the place where I believe that I can revise quickly and efficiently, and not want to sell insurance. The write for others for a living thing just seems soooo far away.

But my version of quit would probably be start writing whatever suits my whim, without any professional intent, rather than actually giving up writing entirely.

Turbulence and Abrupt Stops

The middle section of my book came to an abrupt end, yesterday, as I realized that the scene I was writing and the scene where my main character turns herself in–we’ll say to the “police”–could be smushed into one convenient bundle, and end a whole lot of tramping around the countryside.

It also ends the potential for any of those love-scenes I write when I can’t think of anything to write, and leaves my characters divided and arguing.

Oopsie.

I’ve run into a few instances where things I thought were separate episodes turned out to be elements of the same scene, and they may be the only reason I have any hope of coming in under word count.

They also have a way of getting that story cracking, and I’m positive that’s a good thing.

So, now… MMC doesn’t know it, but FMC has come to “the police station” for two reasons–she intends to leave him in a safe place, and she intends to turn herself in.

For various reasons, he’s not crazy about being left in a safe place, and the accelerated surrender means that I have a plot card that’s just… floating. I need to either ground the plot card, or go back through the draft and remove it, entirely. I haven’t decided which one, yet.

Or, maybe I just haven’t decided how, yet.

So, my sagging middle is starting to tighten up, and I’m reaching the point that I’m happy with the results.

Reading, Writing, and Television Documentaries

I’m finally sitting down to finish reading the Doomsday Book, and it appears that I’ve saved all the most depressing bits for last. **sigh** Well, I guess I shoulda figured it out back at the beginning, when I found a quote from the author that suggested that all time-travel stories are inherently sad, because you’re dealing with characters who have long since died.

Let’s see if I can keep up here. I took a break from my Hugo/Nebula list to read Sandman, an now I’m taking a break from Sandman to read the Hugo/Nebula list. Oh. And some quick peeks at the book I was given at the writers’ conference. Because, hey, free books.

Ideally, I would like to have my own book finished before the people I met at the writers’ conference forget who I am.  So, I’ll just hop in a time machine, and go back to last week to mail the manuscript. I’m feeling incredibly forgettable, right now. And maybe, the truth of the matter is that the whole point is to be able to “jog” people’s memories later: “We met briefly at the Pike’s Peak Writers’ Conference. I did not throw up on you.”

Clearly, I need a more concrete timeline.

Right now, I’m working on organizing everything I have into one coherent document with a timetable attached. I think most of the scenes are written–or, at least, I can say they exist in real life–and just need to be polished.

And I watched a delightful–if somewhat mass-audience–documentary on syphilis today. It’s amazing the things that are just sitting there, waiting for you to find them on YouTube. I learned that there is a non-lethal, airborne version of the disease, and also that John Deere tractors are sold in England.

To the best of my knowledge, there are neither John Deere tractors nor venereal disease mentioned in my novel. Perhaps I should add a postscript.