The Juggling of the Duties

The novel did not advance quickly last night.  If anything, I managed a few hundred words–just under three hundred, in fact–because . . . well, so many things happened last night.  Allow me to explain–

Believe it or not, I’ve got a bunch of different things floating around at the same time.  Mine is not a simply life of “Get up, work, come home, eat, write, sleep.”  There are times when it does feel that way, but last night wasn’t one of those night.  No, it was more like I had miles to go before falling off into sleep.

First off, I walked throughout most of the day like a zombie.  It wasn’t a good time, because my “Hey, it’s four AM, let’s get up” body was doing just that to me, and I’d only gotten to bed just a little after midnight, so I was running on just under four hours of sleep.  Not a good way to start the day.

"No, I can write code when I'm half asleep . . . Um, what does two plus two mean?"

“No, I can write code when I’m half asleep . . . Um, what does two plus two mean?”

Then I get home feeling sleepy at four-thirty in the afternoon, and it’s time to eat.  And write.  Only it takes an hour to get dinner ready, and I can’t concentrate on writing.  So I jump online for a bit and chat up a bit.  And then I get into discussions with people:  we talk about things they’re working on, I give a few opinions on copyright protections (this is something that’s come up a lot among the people in the crocheting group in which I hang out), I lay out a few memes for people because, in another life, I am The Memestress, and I come bringing the snark.

One of the things I got involved in while on line was helping out a woman who was having a problem with mold in her house.  She rents but it seemed the landlord not only wasn’t going anything about the mold, he was being confrontational about it.  As I have mad Google skills (no, I won’t spell it the other way), I did a quick search and discovered three sites in the city where she lives (which, by the way, is not in the U.S.) and posted them for her to use.  It does appear that she received help with her problem, and she posted a thank you on my Facebook wall which greeted me this morning when I logged in.

Ah, but then!  I had to take over asking questions in a book club.  Yes, the person who was running the show this month went MIA, and I sort of got elected to step in and ask questions for the book in question, which I read.  So late at night, as I was trying to work on my novel, I jumped in and set up a few questions for other people–in fact, I did a few more this morning, because I’m nothing if not diligent.

There you have it:  my crazy night.  Juggle, juggle, juggle.  Maybe tonight I can actually get back to work on my novel . . .

Maybe.

"I need to have Annie kick some ass here.  People better just leave me--oh, look, a message!"

“I need to have Annie kick some ass here. People better just leave me–oh, look, a message!”

Magically Distractive

Last night I sort of fell off the wagon.  I was a squirrel running about the yard, and I simply couldn’t find my nuts.  There are so many other examples I could use, but why–oh, look!  Nuts!

What this means is I didn’t write as well as I could have, and I didn’t hit my numbers.  Well, I came close to five hundred words, but that’s not my numbers–at least not the numbers I’ve had for the last week and a half.  I know:  I shouldn’t get down on myself.  I had stuff I was doing in a book club, I had problem with my computer lagging last night, and I found myself jumping into chats at the most inopportune moments.  None of those are conducive to a great writing experience.

"No, I need to finish this scene; I don't want to hear about your Nutella smoothie resepie."

“Please, I need to finish this scene; I don’t want to hear about your Nutella smoothie recipes.”

That said, I managed some words–enough that I didn’t feel like a complete failure.  The kids are doing spells:  you know, the real magic?  And how is that working for them?

 

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

He took a few deep breaths to clear his mind. The idea behind the spell was simple, but he was worried about getting the visualization right. No V, No T: that was a mantra he’d started saying to himself during transformation class when he found himself facing some doubt about pulling off some transformation magic. He was had similar sayings in spell class and Formulistic Magic, though he’d yet to come up with a saying for Sorcery, since all Professor Lovecraft had done since the start of school was lecture—

You’re wasting time, dude. He smoothed his hair out and smiled at Annie. “Okay, so magic time, yeah?”

Annie smiled back, but the look in her eyes urged him on. “Yes, it is.”

“Then . . .”

Kerry positioned himself between the fire pit full of wood and the block of hickory. The idea was simple: use one item as a pattern to copy, then transfer that pattern to other items. It was like a magical cut and paste, only he wasn’t using Word here, and he was taking a hunk or wood and transforming a lot of other hunks of wood.

There was nothing wrong with the visualization: he had that down. And there will—Annie was right here, he didn’t want to look bad in front of her, he wanted to do this.

Power. He needed power.

The books told him the same: larger, complex spells require more power. Not huge amounts, but the harder these things get, the more of that magical manna you had to yank out of the aether. He knew where it was—he just had to get it . . .

The energy was there: he felt his neck hairs tingling, standing up. He glanced at the single log, then back to the wood in the fire pit. He could see the pattern shifting from the one to the many in his mind, but nothing for real yet. He narrowed his eyes to slits and reached down for something more—

He felt something pushing at his back, between his shoulder blades. He tensed his fingers, shooting the force into the wood, pulling the pattern from one to the others. He visualized it, he felt it—

He heard Annie’s whisper. “Kerry . . .”

Kerry opened his eyes and he saw it happening.

 

Power:  we all need it, be it for magic or keeping your phone on.

But Kerry pulled it off.  So Step One:  turn all your work into hickory.  Step Two:  that’s Annie’s part to play . . .

 

He stepped back from the fire pit rubbing his hands together. “Okay, then—your turn.”

Annie tilted her head to the right, keeping her eyes fixed on the fire pit, and sighed. “Yes, it is.” Now it was time for her to be nervous. Though she’d read many times about what she was going to do—and knew all the theories behind the crafting—she’d never actually performed the spell.

There was also the fact that what she was doing was about as dark as sorcery got without getting into Morte spells—which she knew this spell could be used for in a pinch. That meant she absolutely needed to used Dark Energy, and—

“What’s the matter?”

Kerry’s question broke Annie’s train of thought. She turned and saw the strange look on his face, a combination of puzzlement and concern. “What do you mean?”

“I mean you look like something’s bothering you.” He shuffled his weight from one foot to the other. “I just wondered what it was.”

Annie debated telling him, then decided there was nothing to hide. “This is a tricky bit of sorcery, and it’s something I’ve never done.”

Kerry shrugged. “You can do it.”

Annie laid her right hand upon her hip. “Why do you always think so? And don’t say it’s because I’m your ‘Dark Witch’.”

 

Okay, he won’t tell you that, because that was as far as I got.  Tired, distracted, and just not feeling the words, but we can’t be Hemingway every night–or we can if we just drink a lot and peck words into our computers.  It’s that editing part that he was good at, however, and that seems to confound some writers . . .

Even so, the scene is up to thirteen hundred words, and the act just limped over the twenty-one thousand, three hundred word mark.  Which means somewhere in the next scene I’m at one hundred seventy-five thousand words for the story.  Yay, me?

Pace yourself; there's a ways to go.

Pace yourself; there’s a ways to go.

Slipping the Creative Gears

Some days you hit, other days you miss.  It’s impossible to stay on top of everything, what with all that goes on in life anymore.  Yesterday was busy for me:  up for breakfast, shopping, meeting online with friends, watching a little TV, dinner, and then writing–

Yeah, about that last.

Last night was another of those frustrating moment in writing where it seemed like nothing I wanted to write came out quite the way I expected.  I’d thought out all the stuff in this scene ahead of time–which I normally do–but it just wasn’t happening how it was in my mind when I put it onto the paper.  It was, in a word, a mess.

"No, their suppose to invite them to sit down, not sign a murder pact in blood!  Damn you all to hell!"

“They’re suppose to invite the others to sit down and talk, not sign a murder pact in their blood! Damn you all to hell!”

Now, I will admit I was partially distracted last night by The Lost Weekend, which was playing at low volume as I–and I use the term loosely–wrote.  That probably played a big part in what I was doing wrong last night, because when I should have been tap-tapping upon on my keyboard, I was getting yanked into Ray Milland’s plight with the bottle and imaginary bats eating mice as he watched in horror.  And falling down some stairs while trying to pawn his typewriter, which now that I think about it might have been a clue for me to hang it up at some point during the evening.

This has happened before:  not the distractions, but the inability to get things out the way I want.  It happens.  There are times when the juices don’t flow, you can’t write your scenes as they should be written, and everything has a stilted feeling that leaves you a bit off-center from reality.  It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s normal.

At least I think it is.  It certainly felt frustrating.

I know–oh yes, I do–I know there are probably a few people saying as they read this, “But, silly, this was your characters telling you they didn’t want to do that, they wanted to do something else.”  If that’s the case, they can rewrite the damn scene themselves while I’m at work and save me the trouble of having to rewrite nearly five hundred words.  The character are never going to tell me they want to do something else, because they aren’t real:  they have no life save what I first give them, then whatever comes from others reading them.  No, my kids are stuck waiting for me to tell them what to do–just like actors in a movie who don’t know what is coming up thirty-three scenes from now in the movie they’re filming.  Though if it’s a Micheal Bay movie, it probably involves explosions.

This gives me something to look forward to tonight.  Come home, cook dinner, put on music, repair this lonely mess of words, then continue writing the scene.  Keep the distractions to a minimum and pull out what should have came out last night.

And stay away from movies about the DTs.  I have enough problems as it is.

The Evening Breakfast Talk

Tell us you listened to something yesterday, Cassie . . . why yes.  Yes I did.  It was Achtung Baby and The Unforgettable Fire by U2, and Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen.  Oh, and the most famous song on Ocean Rain, The Killing Moon, has one phrase that was brought about because the guy who penned the lyrics had to pee in the middle of the night.  True story.

Does this mean I was writing yesterday?  Hell, yes.  Even with taking my daughter to her martial arts class in the morning, getting ready to watch Day of the Doctor with her, actually watching it at one-fifty in the afternoon, then screwing around with my timeline software for a few hours, I got down to writing sometime after seven PM–or nineteen hours, as they say at my school.  I started writing, and while I didn’t hit the recommended daily goal for NaNo, I did score just over sixteen hundred words, finished just short of fifty-two thousand words, and finished the first scene of Chapter Five–which, if I check, is probably the longest scene I’ve written for the novel so far . . . I was correct:  it is.

As predicted the truth about the school came out at the fifty thousand word point, and even though I sort of stumbled through the writing last night, it was done.  Words were put down, scenes were developed, the novel moves on.  After lunch I can start on this again, and should I manage more than two thousand words today I can hit my personal goal of fifty-four thousands words for NaNo and consider myself totally, completely, actually having “won” it once more.

And then keep pushing on into the future.

There is some strangeness here because I keep coming up with other ideas right now, and I know why:  it’s a trick your mind plays when you’re concentrating on something that need doing, and it’s attempting to stave off boredom by distracting you with pretty notions.  Writing is monotonous, it can be boring, but as with any other job, you push through.  As Harlan Ellison once said, you don’t go up in the attic in the middle of the night and cast chicken bones around and find your story completed in the morning, you sit down and get to work typing the damn thing out.

So after a day of relaxing and mending and getting recharged, I’m back to finish out NaNo and keep the story moving forward.  I’ll jot down my ideas when they get to where they nag me a little too much, and maybe on a few of the weekends to come I’ll go back to editing Couples Dance, because I want to get that damn thing published.  2014 isn’t far away, and it’s time to get something else published even if I’m not really selling.  Why?  Because the next thing just might be the one . . .

For today, though, it’s get my kids down the path and have them confront their future.  And I mean that in a very literal sense, because I’ve got a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey reference I simply have to write–

Feleena

Strange morning for me.  I set in Panera with my coffee, my breakfast consumed, and I’ve got the song El Paso on repeat because–well, just because.  I have my reasons, and in a few I’ll change it to something else.  Something that will give me just enough time to do this post and hit the road, for I have some travelin’ ahead of me this morning.

This afternoon I get back into the routine.  I’ve had a few distractions this week, but it’s all legit, and you need a distraction now and then just to break things up.  But once you get too far away from what you should do, then you get distance, and that distance can lead to break up, and once you’re made that break it’s tough to take it back into yourself.

I’ve been there more than a few times.  Why?  Doubt.  Always the goddamn doubt.  you question if what you do is worth while, if what you’re attempting is going to be another “All in vain” operation that lead nowhere.  Nothing usual there:  that’s the majority of our lives, it seems.  You question everything, and doubt often comes into play when the questions fly.

To paraphrase a famous quote doubt is the creativity killer.  You doubt, and your creativity takes a hit–but you can’t allow that, for the creativity must flow.  It must keep moving forward, even if it’s stumbling about much like a young Keith Richards after many hours of Jack Daniel’s and heroin–or as he used to call it, “I’m awake, right?”

I have this little itty bitty part that I need to complete for my NaNo Novel research, and I’m sort of dragging on that.  Some of that I blame on AMC, for this damn Breaking Bad marathon is dragging me away.  And I would have stayed up until three in the morning to watch Gus and two others get rung up on the Heisenberg Hit-o-Meter, but it was midnight, I’d been up since four-thirty, and like I say, I gotta drive today.

There is a line in El Paso that goes, “My love is stronger than my fear of death.”  Writing should be that way:  one’s love of writing should be stronger than their fear of failure.  You are going to fail, and fail mighty, before something comes of your endeavor.  I know it sounds like BS, but there’s much truth in this.  I failed over the summer.  I wrote a novel, I did my best to get it published, to get the word out, to make certain it was clean and good–and a whole lot of nothing came.  Oh, sure, there were sales, but you always hope for sales, and those never materialized.

I shouldn’t call it a failure, however.  It’s the third thing I’ve published, and I learned from the experience.  I have the information filed away and on-hand for the next time I publish.

If you learn from your experiences, it’s not a failure.  Never.

Now I gotta road to catch . . .

 

Simulationville

I doesn’t take long to realize that sometimes your plans aren’t going to come through for you, no matter how hard you try.  You can always keep trying, of course, but at some point you realize that you may have to work extra hard to get things done.

Like yesterday . . .

I’m in the process of moving again.  I need to check out of this hotel by next Friday and slip into my new old apartment that same day.  I’m trying to get an internet hookup, but the contact person I’m trying to reach isn’t returning my calls.  Tonight I need to stop by and arrange to have some furniture delivered to the place next Thursday, and then I need to eat, and then . . .

Well, then comes either writing or editing.  I’m flipping a mental coin here, because I know what I should do:  it’s a matter of what I want to do.

Last night I wrote a lot.  I took my time and got it right, and there were a few moments when three or four hundred words flew out of my fingers in a good, fast spurt.  In two and a half hours I wrote a little over twelve hundred words, which isn’t bad–until I remember there was a time when I used to do that in an hour.

Distractions.  I haz them, you haz them.  Strangely enough, I’m writing about them.  My story is about a person trying to make a report, and how they’re distracted by . . . well, there in lay the kicker.  Needless to say they don’t have email to check or Facebook to suck up time like a meme-ridden black hole.  I’m actually getting better at ignoring these things, and my writing slow down, as I’ve said, is more from a sense of trying to get things right more than anything else.

I need to pick up speed, however.  If i want to do NaNo, I need to speed up.

Someone asked in one of the writing groups, “How do you manage to write when you’re working a job?”  The answer?  You just do.  You lock yourself up in your little simulation of life that is writing time in front of whatever medium you use, and you start making with the words.  You make like the character I’m writing about:  you get in said simulation and try to pretend there’s nothing outside of your current world, it’s just you and your characters and the setting, and you advance the action along.

Unlike my character, however, you don’t go for the virtual modeling menu and start screwing around making up another world to play in so you can get your mind off the fact that you have something in front of you that needs doing . . .

The next scene in my short story will see the character getting something they don’t want.  I won’t say what, but it leads to a resolution in the fifth scene, and I’m now thinking a sixth scene may not be necessary, because it doesn’t add anything to the story.  Five scenes, maybe another twenty-five hundred words?  If so, I have accomplished what I wanted to do:  write an actual short story.

Then it’s time to build another simulation of life.

Filler As a Way of Life

First off, I’d like to thank Katherine Gilraine for being brave enough to take up my offer of hosting her guest post.  There was good response from everyone involved, and I clocked in over a hundred views yesterday.  Yes, that might not sound like a lot, but to me it’s impressive, because I’m just a small blog, and a small person, and I’m still growing and getting known.  So thanks to everyone who showed up to say “Hi!” and made it a very busy day.

Now, back to the mundane of what passes for life at The Undisclosed Location.

I know there are people who like to give me props about my dedication to this craft, how I’ve created his routine for gettin’ it done, so to speak.  I have to say, I amaze myself at times that I’m able to keep up this routine as I do.  I mean, look at now:  I was up at 4 AM, turned on the computer at 4:28, and here it is, 4:54, and I’m already 175 words into my blog post.

But lately . . . I’ve had a lot of distractions.

I’ve written before about having way too many shiny distractions, things that keep pulling you away from the task at hand and seeming to push you off the path.  This week it seems like they’ve been everywhere.  All during this week’s run at editing Couples Dance, and it seems like I’ve wanted to run off and do something, anything, other than work on that story.

There is one word I should change, however, and that’s “edit”.  This week I haven’t been editing, I’ve been writing.  I decided I wanted to “stretch out” the story, which was sitting at thirty six thousand words, and kick it into novel territory.  Aye, that I have done, but it’s not leaving me with a good feeling . . .

Don’t get me wrong; the chapters cover things that should have been covered the first time around.  In fact, I think Chapter 7.5 (as I am calling it right now) is pretty kick ass, if not a little sick.  But chapter 8.5, which is a discussion of ideas about things that happened in the story, and a tossing of ideas between characters . . . damn, man, but getting that chapter together has been like pulling teeth with a couple of toothpicks.

As I pointed out to some people last night, this last chapter is almost 6,400 words long.  That, right there, is a short story in of itself.  In fact, after going over the numbers last night, I determined that, as of this moment, I’ve added 15,000 words to Couples Dance.

That’s a hell of a lot of wordage however you cut it.

I don’t know what has caused me to stray during this last week.  Maybe it’s because this particular chapter just wasn’t “coming to me” like so many have in the past.  Maybe it’s because I have not one, not two, but three ideas for stories rolling about in my head at the moment, and it’s starting to feel like a Marx Brother’s movie in there.  It could also be that I’m straight up exhausted, and when I’m doing my night writing (hey, that could be the name of a band!) I simply don’t have the energy to crank out the words like when I was creating the story the first time around.

Or maybe . . . there’s this feeling I’m getting like the chapter I just finished doesn’t sit “right”.  Like I know it’s filler, and it feels like filler, and it’s pissing me off because I know it’s not right.

Sure, I know it’s a first draft.  I even said that last night as I saved it off:  “I’ll pretty it up in the edit,” is what I said as I saved the document and got ready to copy it to my external drive, and I know I’ll have to do just that.  There is this feeling . . . like I said, it doesn’t feel right.  I’ll fix it up later.

No, really, I will.

Does this mean I’m discouraged?  Somewhat.  I don’t want these to have these feelings that what I’m doing sucks, and what I’m producing isn’t worth a damn.  Or that it’s going to be rejected as crap.  Or, worst of all, it doesn’t live up to my exceptions of what I should write.

It’s enough to get your down.

And then something comes along that keeps you going . . .

Two days ago I get this Facebook IM.  It’s from the publisher who is putting out my erotica story next month–which, I realize, is only a few days away.  She had something for me to see, so I clicked on the link–

And there was the cover for my story.  All professionally done and looking slick as hell.  The only thing that kept me from jumping up and screaming, “Yes!” was that I was at work when I got this IM, and I would have scared everyone in the office.

My first professional cover, staring right back at me, and I know in a few weeks this sucker’s gonna be sitting on the ‘Net with people looking at it.

It’s that kind of filler that keeps you going.

It’s that kind of filler that keeps one writing.