Angel Behind Me, Witch At My Side

Busy, busy day, though not as busy as I might have been.  Editing, shopping, lunch, more editing, TV, and finally getting my Halloween story set up in Scrivener.  Up at 6:30, down at 11:15.

Not a bad stretch.

TV consisted of sitting in the dark and watching the last Doctor Who episode until Christmas.  We sat in the dark because the Internet said we were suppose to do this, probably to make The Weeping Angels that much more frightening than they already are.

It was a good departure episode, for it was time for the Ponds to leave and make way for a new Companion.  As I like to say, Moffat is Evil–I should make a meme out of that, but I’m too lazy–and he teases you, yes he does.  He loves to play with time, as well, but then, what would you expect from the man who invented Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Whimey Stuff?

After the show, then it was up to get my Halloween story ready.  I’ve through of a basic concept, and my daughter gave me some ideas that I may, or may not, use–some of which I’d love to use–so all I needed was a title, which was driving me nuts.  I finally hit on something, which brought about the response, “No one can pronounce that!”  Not my problamo, dig?  I’m just the writer.  Besides, I know what it says, so I’m not worried.

When dream time came, I was pretty much ready.  I took a nap during the day, so it was probably closer to midnight when I finally fell asleep, but then came the dreams . . . oh, my.  Talk about not so much out there while being out there.

There was a company, and a lot of dancing in a huge space where we were building something.  One of my friends was a female humantaur (looking like a human with four legs; think of a centaur without the horse body) dressed pretty much as I imagine one of the characters in my story will be dressed–and she even had a pointy hat.  There was driving around and visiting towns with friends.  There was my trying to pick out a tie for the owner of the company.  There was a lot of coffee–like, we’re talking, twenty gallon vats.

Oh, and there was a Weeping Angel going around trying to zap people into the past.  I know because I saw it a few times as it followed me around.  I think it was avoiding me, though, because I was with a witch friend, and I was in my witch dress and hat–yeah, I was.

I’m a cute witch, too.  You gotta trust me on this.

After the depressing dreams of the night before, last night was much better, even for all its strangeness.  I don’t know, but there was a frivolity that said, “Don’t take this seriously, just go with the flow.”  I wonder if this has something to do with my Halloween story, which is going to be, well, light and fun.  Not with all the death and revenge and murder I had in my last story.

Naw.  This’ll be fun.  You know it’ll be fun when the first line is, “Hey, Witchbaby!  Come here!”

Now all I have to do is write.

I See What You’re Doing There, Dreams

Back to the Real Home, back to editing . . . back to my dreams being a pain in my butt.

Though the drive was long and stressful, I managed, after a little rest, to get back into Her Demonic Majesty.  There was a chapter waiting for me, the second one of Part Three, and since it was only about thirty-four hundred words, I figured I could knock it out pretty quick.  With some help from Genesis (I’ve been listening to a lot of their live shows on YouTube, in particular one great bootleg recorded in Zürich in 1977), I got through it with few problems.

The next chapter was up, and it was about 9:30, but seeing how the waiting chapter was a little over fifty-four hundred words, I decided to leave it for today, which was tomorrow yesterday.  I know:  wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey.  Don’t worry; I got this shit.

So it was off to bed with the Luna Moth.  The window open–which I can’t do at The Undisclosed Location because of noise–and the cool air entering the room.

Then the dreams hit . . .

I’ve been remembering bits and pieces of my dreams lately, but nothing that I would call complete.  But this one last night–it was vivid, it was long, and it was sort of condescending.  To make a long story short, it seemed most people I knew had a device that would tell you just about everything important about anyone you picked out.  Nearly everyone I knew was checking out things on everyone else–famous people, not-so-famous people, and people in our own little circle of friends.

When they got to me, the readout was always the same:  blackness, with nothing written upon the dark background.  The slate was, so to speak, completely blank.

The only thing everyone in the dream took away from this was that I was not an interesting person, and nothing important had ever happened to me.

This went on for what seemed like hours.  Even with all the running around I did trying to find things to do, to find people to interact with, to conjure up some magic in this world that would make someone sit up and take notice–nothing.

The screen remained black.

Yeah, I know what you’re doing there, Subconscious.  All this talk I’ve given, and the words that I’ve written, about sending off my novel–this is your way of saying, “Hey, loser, stick to coding, because that’s something you at least know how to do.  If you’re gonna fail, fail at that.”

As people may, or may not know, I have made no secret that I have suffered from great doubt at times.  I think everyone who gets it in their head to do something creative, to try their hand at making something that can be appreciated by other, always reaches points where they step back and say, “This totally sucks.  Why am I wasting my time?”

I’m no different.  I have had more than a few “Worst Novel Evar!” moments, and I believe I’ll have them for some time to come.  It’s the way the creative mind works:  you are your own worst judge, your own worst critic.  Even when you’re creating something good, you think it’s the pits and should be left in an alley for the rats to consume.

But, I can look at this dream in another way . . . see, the screen was black, because the future, for me, hadn’t been written.  If there ever was a tabula rasa, that device was it.  My life hasn’t been written, and I can do anything I want.  I don’t need to worry about perception, because that hasn’t occurred.

I can look upon this, not in a negative way, but as the Schrödinger’s cat of dreams.  It can go anywhere, depending upon observation of events.  Until there, there is not future, and without a future, there isn’t a past.

So bring it, Dreams.  I’m two-thirds of my way through that big chapter, and I’ve got a story to write.

You really think you’re gonna hold me back?

Re-imaging the Vision

There was a point last night, during the editing of Chapter Sixteen of Her Demonic Majesty, that I found it necessary to slap the side of my head.  I was probably half way through the chapters, and the editing was turning into a bit of a rewrite.  Not that I was changing the tone of the chapter any, but I was cutting here and adding there . . . at one point I was forty words down from where the word count had started, and by the time I slapped myself I was just a hair over one hundred words over where the chapter started–

I sort of mumbled, “I can’t believe I sent this off for publication.”  Because if there’s one thing I’ve discovered during this edit, it’s that I should have never sent Her Demonic Majesty for publication back in June of this year.

It’s not that it’s bad, but there are so many little things that needed correction, and more than a few areas where it needed elaboration.  With Chapter Sixteen, it was really a case of changing around how some things were said, getting rid of a few things that were unnecessary–I sometimes used two or three words to say something, where one was sufficient–and made things a little clearer.  I think there was only one part in one chapter–Chapter Fifteen–where I realized something was likely happening in a room, and I never indicated what, if anything, was done to fix that issue.

So seven chapters remain.  My original plan was to finish up by Saturday evening, put my submission package together Sunday, and fire everything off to Harper Voyager on Monday morning, 1 October.  That will not happen.  I’ve got a new story to start this weekend, and at best I might edit four chapters.

So . . . I will get Her Demonic Majesty off to Harper Voyager before the deadline closest, but I’m not going to be the first out of the gate.  Because to rush at this point would be to half-ass the edit.  And half-assing at this point is little more than admission that I, the writer, does not give a single shit about getting published.

That is about as far from the truth as one could get.

I am under no illusions that I am sending off something perfect.  But, this copy is going to be damn good.  It’s already damn good; I’m in the process of making it better.

Some might say, “Why are you putting all this upon your shoulders?  Get someone to help you.”  The time will come when I will get help, but right now I am sharpening my skills.  I am learning an art form that I didn’t know when I started on this path–and that is the art of editing.  And while editing Majesty, I’m seeing what it takes to sharpen a story.

I am making it sharper.  So when it hits the desk at Harper Voyage, this time it’s going to make someone take notice.

Or such is my hope.

If there is one think I take away from writing, it’s that I don’t know everything.  I am learning each day, and the more I learn, the better I become.  I know now it’s only a matter of time before this is recognized.  All that was really necessary was for me to do the work.

And understand that not all visions are right the first time you see them.

Museday

This is a strange thing to say, but I once had an idea for a story . . .

It was a very simple story, about a writer and his muse, which is nothing like that movie, The Muse, which was something of a Hollywood insider movie, and the muse in question may or may not have been a crazy person.  Mine is different, naturally.  And it’s not about a guy who was successful–it’s about a guy trying to find that success.

The gist of it is this:  the guy goes to bed one night, and he’s shaken awake by someone, a very pretty girl–think Manic Pixie Dream Girl type–who’s telling him that he’s got a great idea, and he needs to write it down now.  Of course, he does have one, and he writes it down, and when he goes back to bed, the girl is gone, vanished, totally ghosted.

But not for long.

She starts coming into his life when he least expects it.  She just shows up:  at home, at work, while he’s shopping.  She brings him ideas, and she won’t leave him alone until he starts writing.  The more he writes, the more she’s around, and eventually, as he works upon this epic novel, she’s living with him pretty much all the time.  He and she both know what she is, and they’re happy with that–

Or are they?

That was really as far as I ever got with the idea.  There was so much going on in my life at the time that I was lucky to find the time to even consider the idea, much less flesh it out.  But I’ve just added it to my idea file, so there!

I talk about my Muse a lot.  To me, she is a real person, with real feelings, real needs, real ambitions.  She doesn’t exist merely to get me off my ass and into writing–though, in order to write, I have to be on my ass, if you know what I mean.  She’s there to do her own thing as well.  It’s just that one of the things she does is inspire me to do great things.

I haven’t done those things yet, but I keep working at them.

There was a time when my Muse was the only thing that kept me writing.  She was the only one who believed in me, who encouraged me to push myself, who said, “Keep going.”  I listened to them, and even when things were so very dark for me that I didn’t know if I could continue, I kept going.  Because my Muse would be unhappy if I ever quit.

In my unpublished story Echoes, Albert recollects a dream he had about someone he once knew, a woman named Marissa.  There is a line in the story:

But Albert was in the mood to talk—or, if nothing else, to finish describing his dream. “She said, ‘I hope you are touching others as you touched me’.”

You touched me.”  I have heard my Muse say that to me from time to time.  At least, I think that’s what she’s said.  You know how it is with Muses; one moment they’re very happy, and the next they’re pulling a knife on you.

Like the character in my idea, I would love to be able to sit and talk to my Muse.  To enjoy lunch with her.  Or dinner.  Or to wander a book store.  Connect with her in a way beyond the, “Me Muse, You Writer!” relationship.

It’s not possible, though, because my Muse is real only in my mind.  But . . .  She’s there every day.

Today is Museday, her special day.  How will I please her?

I’ll keep writing.

Waking Up in a Snowbound Valley

The last few nights have been, shall we say, pretty mediocre.  I’ve been getting my sleep, but the thing I’m really missing out on are my dreams.  When I was back home–the Real Home, that is–I was sleeping in and getting some rest.  Now that I’m back at The Undisclosed Location, the sleep is back to being languid, and while I’m getting rest, I’ve had better.

I’m missing my dreams, though.

I’ve been keeping up with my editing, though.  Knocked off another six thousand or so words just last night, and a little over four thousand the night before . . . I’ve probably edited close to thirty-five thousand since just Thursday or Friday, and I’ve probably another twenty thousand or so to go.  I’m being realistic in thinking I won’t make my 1 October date for submission to Harper Voyager, but it will go out next week.

This is all good, but something happened this morning that’s never happened before.  Let me set it up:

I was in bed; I think I’d woke up the first time about 4:30 AM.  I was dozing back and forth between being half asleep and half awake.  I let the alarm go off, then laid there for a while, because I don’t like to get out of the bed right away.

It was during this time that I started to doze again, and when I feel that coming on I’ll do something to remind myself that I shouldn’t fall asleep, or I’ll be late for work.  And I wouldn’t want that, would I?

So about the time I was suppose to be hauling myself out of bed, I found myself in a state that was . . . well, it was one of those strange moments when I could have been awake, but I didn’t feel like it.  As my eyes opened, I caught myself saying, “Don’t worry, Emma.  We’re gonna get home.  I promise.”

That wasn’t me speaking; that was one of my characters, talking to another character.

It was strange that I did that, however.  Yes, I was thinking of a scene with those two characters the night before, and they were on my mind before I dozed off to sleep.  But I didn’t dream of them; I don’t remember what I dreamed about.

But when I said those words, I knew where I was:  I was in a tent, in Quebec, up near the James Bay Project, and there was a blizzard raging around us.  I had to get up, break camp, and head for home by . . . lets just say we had to fly.  There was little food, and the feeling that our chances of making it home were low.

But I was feeling up.  I knew we’d make it–or, at the least, I was trying to appear that way, because I knew it was going to be a long day.

This is going to be a long day; I know it.  I felt it last night, and I’m feeling it today.  Things to do, people to meet, and writing to be had.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get into bed about midnight.

Then do it all again tomorrow.

Sometimes, I think I’d rather be flying through a blizzard with a good friend at my side.

As least I’d know that if I go down, if I don’t make it, I’m not going alone . . .

Time Enough to Bring the Strangeness

The drive to The Undisclosed Location wasn’t without its moments.  Not only because everyone seemed to drive as if they were possessed by the spirits of old people from Arizona who were frightened to death by some non-white person they thought was coming to do them harm, but because I was able to think things out for a story.

No, not those stories:  another story.

I had time to think.  I had time because to not think would have done a lot to put me in a bad mood, and I didn’t want to be in a bad mood as I rolled into town.  The last thing I want to do is show up at my apartment at 8:30 PM, knowing I have things to do, but to do it all feeling like I should just take a two-pound mallet to my skull, so . . . story time thinking!

I revisited some territory I’d seem before–namely, my character Jeannette, from Her Demonic Majesty.  I’d like her to continue, to carry on, to have many adventure that I can write–and lay around for people to read.  It seems like I do that with most of my characters:  I seek out additional trouble for them to get into.

Jeannette is no different.  After diving back into the final edit of Demonic, I’ve found myself liking Jeannette a whole lot more.  She’s a great character, and I need to have her grow.  So I thought about her yesterday, while I was on the road–

There was a story I once talked about, taking a couple of character close to my heart, and pulling them into Jeannette’s world.  I decided to forget about that particular story, but yesterday I was wondering–what if only one of the characters showed up on Jeannette’s doorstep, and she knew this was wrong, because she knew there should be two, not one.

With that, I was off.

Yes, I had a story there.  I won’t say it’s a great story, or even a good one, but there’s a story there.  It’s all in the telling, as they say, and not by just throwing words out there for people to consume.  By the time I made it to my apartment, I had my cast of characters, I had schools, I had events.  I knew how I wanted things to go.  There was just one point near the end that was, shall we say, a bit sticky?  Yeah, sticky.  I’ll leave it at that and say I’ll need to think about what comes after, because I know it involves something that is likely to pop up in another story.

But, wait!  There’s more!

See, as I headed into work today, something else came to mind.  A line, spoken by Jeannette, as she was sitting in a restaurant:

“This place has always bugged me.  It’s full of people acting big time, and not having the faintest fucking clue what that means.  They’ve tried their damnedest to cover up their hick bullshit with a thin veneer of culture, but it’s a total fail.  What we got here is nothing more than Deliverance, without the mountains.”

I know where this story goes, but that was the line running about my imagination as I headed towards where I park ever morning before work.  It’s a good line–

It could end up being an even better story.

Half Way Up the Pole

That long race to the end of the Harper Voyager finish feels like it’s almost there–but not quite.

This weekend was, in terms of writing, very long.  Did a lot of editing; a lot of editing.  Only six chapters in Her Demonic Majesty were put under my watchful eye, but when we look at the total wordage, we’re talking about twenty-four thousand words.

That is some cranking, my friends.

I’m half-way through the novel.  Most the of short chapters are out of the way, and there are some monsters left.  I’ve got one that’s about eighty-four hundred words, and that’s going to take most of whatever free time I have to get it into shape.

So even though I’m half-way finished, I have to place my work on the novel in the context of real life, and the time I have to do this work.

Today and Friday are “travel days,” which is to say, “I go from my home to The Undisclosed Location, so I can drag my ass off to work, the come back home when it’s over.”  Friday I’ll have a little time to do some editing, but tonight–probably not. It really just depends if I can find any time today.  Or tonight.

Not like I gotta sleep, right?  Not that I do anyway . . .

I need some time to put the submission package together, which should happen Sunday, but I’m finding that I’ll need to start working on my next story for the Storytime blog.  Four weeks starts 1 October, and I need to make the first chapter sing.  Or mumble the words if nothing else.

I’ve yet to begin my research for NaNoWriMo.  I keep saying I’m going to do it, and yet . . . nothing yet, folks.  As I did last year, I’ll probably start throwing the Scrivener project together about the second week of October, and jam, jam, jam.

Even though I’m half way to the end, my expectation that I’m going to wake up on 1 October, walk over to the computer, and kick off my package first thing that morning, is wishful thinking at best.  Between travel, work, and writing, I’m likely going to have to let the timetable slip just a bit.  Maybe a day or two, but it’s still a bit.

I know:  I have until the 14th to get it off.  I don’t want to be one of the last, I want to be in the first wave.  I want to get whatever news is coming to me as soon as possible.

The edits are good.  I’m getting a good feel during this reading, and I don’t feel like the novel is a piece of crap.  I’ve fixed what needed to be fixed, but the plot is good.  It’s all in the mechanics at the moment.

There is a lot of work ahead of me.  Don’t worry; I’ll get it.  I be a writin’ fool, you know, and I’m gonna make this chance a good one.  My odds of getting picked are as good as anyone else, and if it’s meant to be, it will.

In the mean time . . . damn, I need to do some writing, don’t I?