The Seeing of the Scene

If by now you haven’t caught on, I write.  It’s not my day job–I have one of those where I go into an office and do things and stuff and come home at the end of the day–but it’s one I’ve been doing for a while; just about four years come this September.  It is my dream to do this full time, but unless I get the damn books out there for people to read, that will never happen.

If you’ve followed me from the start, you’ll also notice that my writing style has changed considerably.  There is a different flow to it these days, far more than when I published my first stories two and three years back.  The way I write has changed a great deal, too:  probably because I spend so much time now waltzing through these new worlds which now have become old worlds due to my having lived in them for right around two years now–three years if you count the times I’d think all this over while driving back and forth to Indianapolis during the summer of 2012.

Lately, however, the writing has turned into . . . well, I have become heavily involved in a task known as “getting it right.”  Particularly with this new story, getting each scene started has become a complete pain finding the right words, the right setting, the right mood.  Example One is below.  This is the start of the newest scene in my current novel.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The evening had reached the point where the coven tower lights would flash three times to indicate the lights were going out in a minute, but on the second floor of Cernunnos Coven there wasn’t a need for lights out, for the lights had been out for nearly an hour while the students used alternate light sources as they relaxed in comfort in the open space outside their rooms.

Penny, Alex, and Jairo had gathered pillows from the ground floor storage and set them out in a circle. Penny and Alex used various spells and enchantments arrange a few of the pillows so they could lay back against them, while Jario prepared local snacks and cool drinks in the small kitchen in the lower level.

While the C Levels were busy, the B Levels did their part to make for a relaxing evening.

Since they’d need light, Annie created several small spheres of cold fire and levitated them overhead. Kerry took musical suggestions from everyone, set them up on his tablet, then set it against the wall between the entrances to the bathrooms, then crafted a spell so the speakers would project the sound around them, making it seem as if they were surrounded by music.

In the blue light of cold fire the five B and C Levels sat listening to music, snacking on tequeños and golfeados while drinking merengadas, and enjoying their company.

 

That’s just two hundred and thirty-five words–and that took me forever to write.  Or close to forty minutes, if my internal guessing is correct.  Now, I will admit to about five minutes of research looking up snacks and beverages from Venezuela, which constitutes the last line of the excerpt, but the rest of it was all me sitting in front of the laptop trying to figure out what I want to say.  Particularly that first paragraph:  that little gem probably took a good fifteen minutes of my life to figure out.

"Lights?  Lighting?  Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?"

“Lights? Lighting? Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?”

Don’t ask Annie about that last; she’s got a couple of students in mind.

It’s been like that since starting this novel.  Getting the scene started usually takes a bit of work, but once it’s going, it’s off and running.  Tonight might not be that case, since I’ve got a butt-load of things to do when I get home, but then again, since most of that revolves around laundry, I can write while waiting for things to get clean.  At least try and get it finished before Touch of Evil comes on tonight, because that’s one of those movies I don’t like to miss.

There’s nothing wrong with getting it right up front.  I know most people who have cut their teeth on NaNoWriMo say, “Write first, then edit later.”  To paraphrase Col. Tom Parker, “That’s good enough for you, but what about me?”  Not that I haven’t worked on a major edit:  I did it last year about this time on the Parts One and Two of A For Advanced.  But I like to avoid that if possible, because . . . well, just because.  Really, too:  I’m laying out the scenes in a far different way than the last novel.  The kids are back on familiar ground, so there’s no need for a lot of oohing and aahing.  They know the drill, just like when they boarded the plane, and there isn’t much of a need to get back into that–save for the moments like the one above, where my kids are truly in The Pond and becoming part of the student body.

I’ve noticed this popping up more and more.  Some of it is likely due to distractions around me, and the mind is looking to focus on something else instead of the task at hand.  Writers need to write, but they also need stimulation, and I’ve tried to put that into my life so I don’t keep turning back to a cycle of work, eat, write, sleep again.  That way leads to burn out, and I’ve fought with that for too long now.  I give into burn out now, and it’s going to be a while before I recover from that.

And there is so much story ahead to tell . . .

Letting the Rest Roll

Let it be known that I’ve been slacking off.  Really, I have.  I feel it.  Because I’ve needed to slack off, to be honest.

One, I’ve been tired a lot.  The last couple of nights I’ve taken sleeping pills–just one each night–to help me get through the night and not wake up at three-thirty AM with no chance of getting back to bed.  I’ve managed to get some sleep out of these nights, and even though I was awake at four AM needing to use the bathroom, I went right back to sleep and woke up only moments before the alarm went off.

Two, I’ve been distracted of late by wanting to do things, be it watch TV, read, get out of the house and travel–anything.  I’ve needed to change up my routine for some time now, and it’s great for recharging.  Tonight I’ll go out and do a little grocery shopping, and when that’s over I’m going to stop at Panera, get something to eat–probably a big bowl of soup–and then set up my computer and write.  I did this last week and plopped down a thousand words; I want to finish this scene I’m in, start on the next, and maybe finish it as well.  Because I’m moving ahead.

Annie's letting me know I better get her scene finished, because . . . well, because.

Annie’s letting me know I better get her scene finished, because . . . well, because.

And, admittedly, I enjoy the break.  Which leads into–

Three:  I’ve been feeling a lot burned out.  I’m two hundred and thirty thousand words into the novel, maybe two-thirds of the way through, and after ten months I’m ready for something else.  This is the doldrums part of the story, where you want to keep pushing, but you also want to do something else.  You’ve lived with these people for so long it’s like having guests who never go away, and just like you want the Guests Who Wouldn’t Leave to pack up their shit and move on, I’m ready for another project.

Not that I hate what I’m doing, but like anything else where you do it over and over every day, it starts to wear you down.  I feel that what may be needed is an adjustment of schedules.  Set aside the time I need to do something, and do it then.  I’m thinking Wednesday afternoon is going to become a new writing time for me for the next few months.  After that I’ll find something else to help with the time.

My fear is taking a break from writing for a week or two.  I’ve done that in the past, and when I have I’ve managed to take a month off and get back into things without a problem.  Then again, I’ve also taken a break that lasted years, and I don’t want that to happen.  Because I’ve got the story where I want it, and I don’t have time to take a year off from this project.  Sure, I might be able to get other things done, but I want to finish this story.

Let me correct that:  I need to finish this.

Because it’s too damn important to put to the side.  No matter how I feel right now.

Conversing Round the Rotunda

A lot of strangeness this morning–starting off with waking up at 3:30 AM, laying in bed for ninety minutes before deciding that I needed to get up and do something.  Said something involved finishing up a scene I sort of stumbled through last night, which I mean with all sincerity, because I didn’t have my head in the story last night.  Some of it had to do with watching TCM last night while I made my way through some five hundred words of conversation between Annie and a fellow student from Lesotho, but the truth remains I’ve been tired most of this week, and writing at home is boring the hell out of me.

It’s nice to have a routine.  Writing is my routine; has been for a while.  But the last year, most of which has been spent in hotel rooms and a small apartment, have taken their toll.  I’m finding that changing things up a little here and these gives me more productivity, and that’s something I require at this point, because five hundred or so words a night ain’t cutting it.  Time has come to rev things up.

Really, though, it’s not usual.  Whenever you spend a lot of time working on the same project, doing the same thing over and over, in the same place and location for months, it seems natural that you’ll find a little burnout creeping in from around the bend.  Now if I was only like George R. R. Martin and I could take five or six or seven years to write a novel.

That would assume I’m making money from my novels, first . . .

"Also, I could write some hot, kinky, dragon action.  Just as long as I leave their mom out of it.  Right?  Right?"

“Also, I could write some hot, kinky, dragon action. Just as long as I leave their mom out of it. Right? Right?”

But I wrote this morning.  I managed almost six hundred words this morning, because when there isn’t anything on television to pull you away, and no one on the Internet to distract you, it’s easy to get things done.  I might even be able to snap out another five or six hundred words later today, or maybe even a thousand.  You can’t tell, can you?

Here’s the last part of a three-way conversation between Annie, Nagesa Okoro–the aforementioned student from Lesotho who has two friends out flying the same patrol as Kerry and Emma are flying–and Lisa, she of the Bad Attitude and the Magical Ownage during Sorcery class.  Needless to say, Lisa’s trying to break bad on Annie, and Annie is not digging it in the least . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“I’m surprised you’re not out with Kerry.” Lisa looked over her right shoulder. ‘Then again, he’s gotta flyin’ partner—” She turned back to Annie. “Ain’t he?”

Annie slowed her breathing so as not to lose her temper. “Emma’s with him, yes. They volunteered together.”

“An ahm sure they’re havin’ a great time.” Lisa rubbed her hands together slowly. “Is that why you’re doin’ triage? ‘Cause if anythin’ happens, you’ll be here when he’s brought in?” The smirk returned as she looked around the Rotunda. “Those guys flyin’ around by the wall, they’re gonna be the first to get hit if there’s trouble—”

Nagesa laid a hand on Annie’s; she sensed the girl was about to explode. She turned on Lisa. “You are not helping with this talk; you are trying to upset us.” She twitched her head to the left. “You should rest—this may be a long day.”

For a moment Lisa didn’t appearer willing to take Nagesa’s advice, then shrugged. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” She waved at Annie. “See ya ‘round.”

Annie waited for Lisa to head up the stairs to the First Floor before speaking. “Thank you.”

Nagesa removed her hand from Annie’s. “I sensed you were about to say things that would have resulted in an argument—”

“Or worse.” Annie set her hands in her lap.

“Or worse.” Nagesa rocked her knees back and forth. “We do not need that sort of negativity here. We need to stay focused on our duty.”

“I agree.” Annie sat quietly for nearly thirty second, her mind swirling around Lisa’s comments. “Are you here because of your friends?”

“No—and yes.” Nagesa slightly turned her head so she could look at Annie as she spoke. “I am here to help anyone needing help. And were my friends brought in, I could help them as well.”

“What . . .” Annie didn’t want to ask the question, but found she must. “What if you can’t help them?”

“Then I would have the chance to say goodbye.” Nagesa patted Annie’s hands. “Don’t worry: your boyfriend will return safe. Professor Salomon would not have allowed him to fly with the patrol if she didn’t feel he could make the right choices when necessary.”

Annie squeezed Nagesa’s hand briefly before looking up through the skylight. “I’m not worried about him . . .”

 

Of course you aren’t, Annie.  You’re worried about someone else, aren’t you?

And speaking of Kerry and that girl . . .