Thursday, November 24, 2011

I call it holiday inflation

First off: thanks. To everyone who reads this, reliably, or just the once. Even on accident. You make the list of things I'm thankful for this year. Other notables on the are the warm, fuzzy feeling I have concerning next year and looking back on the decisions I made this past one (see, I'm doing it, too, winding the year forward faster than the calendar).

So, I can talk about the writing that got done with a fresh mind for once because I wrote this very morning. Off work for Turkey Day, I felt that I owed it to myself to tend to an additional chapter this week. I think the secondary goal is to hit 20 before   the new year hits me. The chapter went well, even threw in a bit of extemporaneous plot that didn't seem too horrid (as I was writing it, that is; remember I said that for when I get around to editing it into the 3rd draft).

Also, this past weekend I had the occasion to do some legitimate research for that short story. And by legitimate I mean leaving the house, libraries, decimal system call numbers, the whole shebang. I took several books into a little corner of the four-story building, and read and scribbled and read and scribbled. The yellow notepad I have for such occasions is slowly filling up. The old man in me likes the idea that I'll be able to look back and flip through it and leap frog backwards in time between this project and that one. That is, if it isn't burned, stolen, dampened, or yellowed into intelligibility. Stupid technology and its efficiency.

So, all in all, it's been a good holiday. Reflecting on how things have gone thus far, you could say that I've received compensation for things I've bartered away, and I understand a little better about my satisfaction having less to do with the transactions being fair and more to do with my making full use of whatever I paid for.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Still use dark pastels

A couple years ago I wrecked my car, which sucked at the time. It turns out that without any transportation, that summer proved to be the most productive time in my writing life. I finished the draft of a 90,000 word novel in thirty days, my first completed book. Fast forwarding to now glosses over a lot of struggle with the manuscript, mostly over trying to convince publishers that it would, in fact, be an awesome story for readers to discover their way through. Clerical error stretched out its shelf life, in such time I became a much better and wiser author, and thankfully so, because I better see now what it's going to take to push that particular round peg through the square holes provided to me. And I think I'm mostly good with that.

So I think I've turned a corner, and will be able to look back on this time as a decisive fork in the long and winding road, and will smile at my decision. I'm not going to stop working on the series, but after the book I'm currently working on (the third and finale) I think I'm going to actively put the trio of books on the back burner. Going through the editing process got me some really good notes on what I put down and what readers are likely to pick up. I have a good idea of what I'll have to do to marry those two ideas in a way that I'm satisfied with that won't sour me.

More immediately, the writing continues. I even have a plan for how to squeeze in a little extra during the upcoming holiday breaks. I have a goal to be more than 2/3 of the way through before January 1, which means I ought to be able to wrap this up in February, certainly before March. I also find myself looking past even that, to the next release, the promotion opportunities I signed up for, even the possible collaboration projects I ought to have meetings for. Over the past week I've said "I'm really looking forward to what things look like for me this time next year" no less than three times. Picture me excited.

So, not a lot to report, or a little. I'm still holding myself to the deadline of December 1 to get that short story drafted. I haven't done any outlining or sketching on it, so it may very well come down to a scramble at the tail end of some November day numbered in the high 20s. The thing I try to focus on is that I'm still confident that it's going to get done, while ignoring the fact that in the end, what I intended to do will mean less than what I actually did.

Also. This blog needs more pictures. Gonna get on that, too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Alive and well, afraid

The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Love that quote, almost enough to look up who said it, then really figure out who said it.

I totally dropped the ball last week. In fact, it wasn't until Thursday that I realized that I hadn't blogged. I wouldn't describe the winter season as busy, either. It just slipped off my mind and didn't stick back on until much later.

But I have been writing, both this past weekend and the one before it. I even squeezed in some academic scribbling as well. My students had some opinions about a Jack London story that were different from my own, and I thought it was an excellent time to show them how arguments go down among literary types. Initially, I intended to comb through the story for quotes that proved my point, but what started as some light reading during a lunch break ended up being a few pages of rhetoric. It was the first time that I had taken to something like that seriously since graduating college. I wasn't really sure what that meant. The next week I was discussing Arthur Miller's idea of the modern tragic hero with a co-worker and relating the citizen Miller wrote about to the ones walking around today. I had to consider the idea that maybe going back to school wouldn't be so awful.

I came to some other difficult conclusions, too. The book I'm working on is the third of a series, and the finale, and I don't know how much that has to do with it, but I find myself doing things I wouldn't otherwise. The pertinent bits of story seem to be dragging; moreover, the various plot lines seem to be getting in the way of each other. I'm not sure if I'm writing just one book anymore. Talking it over with a friend, we discussed a very popular fantasy series where the author, by the sixth book or so, had spread things so thin that most of the novels were nigh on unreadable to some people (because of course they sold like hot cakes). Both I and my friend only picked up the later books for one or two specific characters. The rest had gotten too powerful to be interesting or had never been worthwhile to read about from the beginning. I felt good to think that I wouldn't have those problems because my books are much shorter, and there will be fewer of them.

Still, I worry.

Then again, I guess those kinds of thoughts will always be there. For instance the short story I'll be attempting this month I had the idea to write in the future tense. The whole thing. It calls back to that story I wrote in workshop back in college, all in 2nd person, just because my mentor said not to, because people said it was impossible. I'm much more comfortable with failure than I was then. If I try, and it doesn't work, that's fine, but I certainly will gain nothing if I don't even attempt it. So I guess a little trepidation is fine, even healthy, so long as it doesn't roll over into paralyzing fear.