My job is to learn stuff and tell people about it — more or less, anyway.

When I was a young kid, the professions I fantasized about (Paleontologist and Marine Biologist) certainly had that quality to a degree.

Between the ages of 12 and 15 or so, I wanted to be an actor.

During all of that — say from the time I was 12, I was also writing. I didn’t think of it so much in terms of work. I just… did it. It just felt natural to put thoughts on paper and play with them until they communicated something.

The first “serious” piece I wrote was a script for the Dukes of Hazzard. It was bad. Okay, no…it wasn’t bad. It was appalling. I tried some ten years later to write a script for Star Trek: The Next Generation. My husband at the time still has flashbacks from having to live with me through that.

Not long after that, I got a job — a work for hire deal, writing a manual on how to open a business. I remember clearly writing it and being scared because it was “too quirky” and was wondering if it would work or if I’d piss off my client. This was before the “For Dummies” manuals became as popular as they are, but it was written in that chatty style. In school, I always got fussed at for turning in chatty work. (I know, you can’t write like that academically!) But I used to get mad because it felt right somehow when I would write it. I really wish one of my teachers had pulled me aside and explained that chatty had its genuine and real place.

He liked it.

Why I didn’t pursue that at the time, I do not know. Part of it was that I wanted to write fiction. Honestly? I’m a hell of a lot better at non-fiction — teaching someone how to do something or poking at an illogical thought directly.

I wish I knew why. It kind of depresses me. I feel like Salieri when I read really good, moving epic pieces. And I don’t write epic well.

Maybe I oughta take a page from John Varley’s writing style. He makes it work. I just don’t see how I could write Stoneflower from a first person perspective and make it work.

The first novel I ever wrote was in the style of Heinlein’s Number of the Beast — shifting first person. It was easier to write, but I don’t think there’s any way in hell I could live some of the characters in Stoneflower for the time required to write them first person.

What to do on a snow day? Swim!

I didn’t go swimming at 5:30 this morning.  It’s snowing and I don’t like driving in the snow.  I’ll walk to the gym later today when and swim then.

School is closed, so I’ll be taking my son with me.  Yeah, just the “snow day” treat — a long swim!

If I’d had somewhere I had to be later in the day, I probably would have gone ahead and gone swimming early this morning, but I don’t.    I usually get up early to get in my swim just because if I get it done, I’m up and going for the day, better.  Still, it’s nice when I don’t have to!

Got some site work to do.

I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re a user of MS Office, I really encourage you to try One Note.  I find it a fantastic planning tool.

I’ve been collecting a book list for the Polyamorous Misanthrope recommended reading page, but it’s going to be very different from the usual Polyamory “recommended reading”.  It’s not that the poly books aren’t good.  Many of them are excellent.  But I’m going to be dealing a lot more with historical example of social dynamics (why yes, the Oneida Community among others), and modern practices in negotiation and interaction.  I’m increasingly of the opinion that the new business model for interaction works very well indeed in poly situations.  Yeah, I’ve got a Misanthrope article brewing on that, too.

I’m also looking at the shambles that is That Damned Book and wondering where to go with it.  I had it all plotted out and when I read what I’ve written, individual scenes are kinda keen.  But as a flow of plot and events, It Just Won’t Soar, Dammit.  I’ve been working on That Damned Book intensely for two years now.  (And have been noodling with it for more like twelve years).  Maybe I oughta just let it go.  I wrote At the Foot of the Throne, which is a much better story as far as plot and pacing, in about seven months.

Oh, for you writers?  If you really enjoy novel writing software, I encourage you to check out yWriter.  I do use and enjoy it.  It can’t solve my problems for me, but golly does it help with planning and plotting!

Time to Write

“Oh, I’ll write that novel when I get the time.”

This actually makes me grind my teeth a little. Not because I think everyone in the world needs to write a novel. Hell, probably all novelists don’t need to be writin’ ’em, if you know what I mean. (Yes, yes, possibly me among them, so hush!)

Like anything important, though, you don’t find time to do it. You make time.

I didn’t always. I’d write when the Spirit moved me, and often it was good stuff — fun vignettes with interesting quirkiness or a tasty idea.

What I never do, unless I have a production schedule, is complete a novel.

At the Foot of the Throne was not actually the first novel I ever completed. The first was one called To Ride a Black Dragon (not fantasy — it was a contemporary piece) back in 1994. It was crap and unpublishable because there were points about plot and pacing I did not understand, but I did finish a novel, by golly.1 At the time I was not working full time, so I had a 10,000 word a week goal for myself. Doable if that’s all you’re doing, which in my case, it was.

These days it’s 1,000 words a day, but I don’t take weekends off, so you’re still looking at a 7,000 word week.

I’ve had people question the idea of just getting the work out like that. My reason for doing it is simple. When I have a challenging word count goal, I finish the first draft. I have something to edit and work with.

And at 1,000 words a day, you find yourself making time to do a little writing here, or a little writing there. Can you write 100 words while waiting for the water to boil for pasta? What about waiting for the bus?2

I used to have a writin’ ritual to get myself into the creative “mood”. I’d get up, have breakfast, make myself a latte, turn on a specific series of CDs and then settle down to write. The problem was that if, say, my then husband stayed home from work, or I didn’t have the equipment for a latte or something, the ritual was spoiled and it would throw me off my writing mood.

I stopped doing that and decided that as Frank Herbert so quaintly put it, “Mood is a thing for cattle or loveplay.” The goal, a finished product, was the important thing, so screw mood. Just write.

I’ve read more than one interview with journalists who turned to writing fiction who said that the deadlines and the pressure to put out copy were excellent training for the writing of fiction. With my own self-imposed deadlines, I’m inclined to agree.

‘Course it could be I’m completely talentless and will never make it anyway. But trying is fun!

1 It’s also salvageable, so it’s possible that I’ll go back and edit it pretty heavily, or even do a re-write, after Stoneflower.

2If you think that’s absurd, I promise you that if you go to a writer’s convention, you will find people who find weirder places to write than a bus stop!