The New Office Lady

In case you hadn’t heard, something happened to me yesterday.  Something . . . well, few things don’t get bigger.

Besides being Imbolc (in some parts of the world, that is) and the celebration of an oversized squirrel somewhere in western Pennsylvania, it was also my coming out day at work.  They’ve known about this for three weeks, and from what I’d understood the higher ups had already told their people this was coming, and that people should be ready.

So . . . that said, I’d been waiting, and–no lie–dreading the moment just a little.  Waiting for it because something like this only comes around once in your lifetime, and dreading it because it was something that wasn’t quite what you see every day, particularly in an office environment.

Like it or not, it had been affecting me.  I had a bit more in the way of nerves than I wanted to admit, and it was affecting my sleeping, my ability to do things correctly, and even my writing, because as I wasn’t sleeping well, then I was coming home and crashing out hard at night, and remaining sleepy throughout the evening.

But this was something that needed to get done, and done it would become.

I didn’t sleep well the night before, which meant I was dragging a bit when I got up yesterday.  And up I was at five-fifteen.  I tried to write my post the best I could, then checked the weather, looked outside and saw it was a mess, looked over the outfit I was going to wear . . . yeah, everything was ready, so all I had to do was get ready as well.  Cleanup, change, put on my makeup–all the good things.

And take pictures before I walk out the front door.  Always be taking pictures.

And take pictures before I walk out the front door. Always be taking pictures.

With everything out of the way in my morning routine, it was time to start walking and head into work.  I threw on my walking shoes–no way I’m trying to cover a mile in heeled pumps–and headed out into the cold.  Along the way I passed three people who greeted me with a “Good Morning”, which is something I never got when I was in male mode.  I half expected someone to tell me to smile . . .

Since I’m usually one of the first ones in the office, I just entered an went to my office, which is actually an oversized cubical–sort of like the groundhog, only it doesn’t pretend to predict the weather.  I got my jacket off, changed my shoes, and then snapped a picture to prove I really was in the office and not fooling with people.

Who doesn't look their best in the harsh lights of the early morning office?

Who doesn’t look their best in the harsh lights of the early morning office?

I got my coffee, stomping all the way to the break room at the other side of the building, because when you wear a size 11 women’s wedge heeled shoe, and the floor is covered without insulated padding between the pull-up carpet squares above and the concrete below, you’re gonna make some noise when you walk.  Then it was back to the office cube and another picture.

Much better now that I'm just about to mainline java.

Much better now that I’m about to put down my first cup of the morning.

People came down to see me a few times during the day to tell me they had my back.  People who spoke with me that day were kind and curious–and you can’t help but be curious, can you?  I wa in a couple of meetings that day, and no one thought it strange.  Everyone addressed me by my chosen name after I told them what it was, and I expect that to continue.

In short, by the time I got home last night I was pretty high on myself.  I felt great, although I was tired:  not getting a lot of sleep the night before took its told, and I was nodding on and off from about eight-thirty on.  I had the story ready to go, but there was no way I was going to write anything worthwhile:  I was simply too tired.

But I’m better now, and I expect to do some writing when I get home from work tonight.  I’ll get right to that after I eat.

There you have it:  the tale of a new office lady.  One who I believe will be around for while.

Now that I've had my close up, I should get back to writing.

Now that I’ve had my close up, I should get back to writing.

The Ending Starts

The last week I’ve really slowed down a bit on the writing–and yet, in a way, I haven’t.  I didn’t do a lot of writing last night, for which I blame my energy levels being down, and Inherent the Wind and Forbidden Planet being on back-to-back, I was sort of pulled away from the novel.  The funny thing, however, is that when I worked up what I wrote Sunday morning and added it to what I wrote Sunday Night, it’s came out to about twelve hundred words for the day.  I’ve written more, but I’ll take twelve hundred a day.

I realized last night I’m fighting the of the novel.  It’s one of those, “I don’t want to go moments,” and I’m working through it.  The strange thing is when you’re tired you feel like everything you’re writing is drab, and I was getting that feeling last night.  What I had to do to break out of that feeling was go back and read what I’d laid down in the morning, when I’d set down close to nine hundred words in about an hour and a half.  It’s the same ebb and flow, and I knew it was the same thing, the same words, the same characters.  And I felt more alive writing them twelve hours earlier than I had at night.

It’s funny how our minds work against us this way.  I should go back and reread some of my older posts about getting to this point in a story, because I know I’ve been here before.  I had a lot of problems writing the end of Suggestive Amusements because of what I had to do at the end of that story, and I just didn’t want to go there.  It was hard, so hard to get that ending in place.  Also Echoes.  I cried pretty much through the last two pages of writing, because of what the characters meant to me, and the feeling behind the character.

Like a certain Doctor I don’t like to say goodbye.  But I know I won’t be saying goodbye, really, to my kids, because there are more stories to tell.  I just have to finish this novel, then edit a four hundred thousand word story in three parts, get three covers–four when I sell the “Big Book”–and get that done before I move on to B for Beginnings, the second–and I promise, shorter–novel.  It’s a lot of work, and it’s on top of all the other things I have happening right now–

Like getting ready to come out at work next week.

This is the last Monday for the “Old Me” at work, and with the clothing in place–with a few bobbles here and there–I’m ready to go.  It’s just getting to that point where I can blow this final week off and move one.  The term “waiting for the other shoe to drop” has a different meaning for me right now, and I know I’m gonna be geared up come next Monday.  And thinking about finishing this novel isn’t helping.

"Send Annie and Kerry off to their homes alone and figure out how long it's gonna take me to do my make up in the morning.  This is so not fair!"

“Send Annie and Kerry off to their homes alone and figure out how long it’s gonna take me to do my makeup in the morning. This is so not fair!”

I will promise myself right now that I will finish the Invitation scene tonight.  Once that’s finished, that’s really the penultimate “school event” and then it’s a goodbye to all the students and . . . then Annie and Kerry start the trip home.  With a few stops along the way, but–

This is it.  It’s the beginning of the summertime blues.

The Tired Trek

The last thirty-six hours have been presented me with a real challenge:  how does one write when they aren’t there mentally?

It’s a strange feeling, let me tell you, but this whole weeks has been a bit of a writing bummer.  I’ve been managing five hundred words here, six hundred there, and while I was able to manage nearly twelve hundred on Wednesday night–which really is my night to shine–last night I managed only two hundred twenty-two, and I struggled the whole while I put that out.  Part of the reason was eating way more than I should have:  for some reason I was in the mood to pig out, and I overdid the carbs something spectacular.  That didn’t help at all.

Another reason is I’m tired.  I was up at four in the morning Friday, and last night I was up and down the whole evening, finally giving up the struggle to crawl out of bed about four-twenty and sit in my leather easy chair until about five, at which point I figured it was time to start getting ready for the long day ahead.

Why the trouble sleeping?  I’ve a few troubles going on:  there’s a friend I’m concerned about, and in another week I’m moving on from my old life and into the new one as I finally come out at work.  Nothing really major here, but it all adds up after a while and starts playing on your mind.  Particularly the coming out thing at work:  I’ve finally pulled the trigger on that matter, and though I’ve known it was going to happen one day, it doesn’t mean that I’m not finally getting a case of nerves over the fact that people I’ve worked with for a year and a half are now gonna deal with the New Girl in the Office.

Come on, who wouldn't love that shinny face?  Probably a few people, that's who.

Come on, who wouldn’t love that shiny face? Probably a few people, that’s who.

I’m also recognizing that the end of the novel is near, and I know this is gonna sound strange, but this time, I really don’t want it all to end.  Yes, it’s been a huge part of my life–sixteen months by the time I finally put it to bed–and it’s not only hard to say goodbye to these kids of mine, but there’s the realization that I don’t know when I’m going to revisit them.  There is a need to get out some other stories, and that will take me away from Salem and my Baby Snakes.

I have to finish this story.  And in a way, like them, I know they’re going to be real sadness when that happens.  I even had one of the lines I want to write for them in my head not long after I woke up–which followed, incidentally, a lyric from Wichita Lineman, “And I need you more than want you; and I want you for all time–” which was in my head as I opened my eyes this morning.  Those kids:  they won’t let me sleep.

A smoothie later and I’m finally waking up.  There is shopping ahead of me today, and I hope to get back into the story tonight after I return from my long afternoon trek.  Being out trying on clothes I’ll use for work should go a long ways towards waking me up.

Let’s hope the drive home doesn’t make me sad as I revisit the story once more . . .

The Hall of the Mountain Queen

Yesterday, Friday, was a lazy day.  I wasn’t exactly busy, but at the same time I wasn’t eager to do anything.  Like writing–

I work on this blog every day.  I’ve had people tell me that this isn’t real writing, but then again, if it’s not, what is it?  I’m of the opinion that if you write, it doesn’t matter what you write, it’s still writing.  I forget who said it–may have been Stephen King–but he said something along the lines of, “If you don’t have ideas coming to you, or you’re finding it difficult to write about anything, start typing out things.  Songs you like, your grocery list, names of places you want to visit.  Keep typing, and eventually you’ll find get through your block and write.”

That’s why I blog.  If I keep writing, every day, then when it comes time to do something I need to write–like a story–then it’s not a problem:  I’ll sit right down and get to writing.  You’re working on the skill, developing it further, and it will eventually show in your other work.

That’s the hope.  As another writer said–the name escapes me at the moment–if after a year or two, your writing hasn’t improved, you haven’t started to take chances with your work, then you’re not growing.  You’re not trying to improve, you’re just sort of marking time.

This is my little mountain hall, my blog.  I have another, but I’ve been really lazy about going there, and I should do something about that.  But this one, the one I’ve stuck with for a little over two years, is my fortress.  I have my followers, and you’re all very good to me.  A few of you even know me beyond this blog, which is both strange and crazy when I think about it.

I try to think of how I look, sitting in my mountain hall, upon my throne, waiting for my subjects to appear.  I could say I’m like the Lady Death of Blogging, but that could be a bit scary, don’t you think?  Or am I sitting here in my Witchblade armor, pretty much naked, my body all bent and twisted like I’m constructed out of Rob Liefeld’s best imagination?  Maybe I’m more Jean Grey-like, ready to eat a planet on a moment’s notice.  Naw, not that:  she’s been dead for eight years, though she’ll probably come back to life one of these days–again.

Whatever it is, I’m here, in control of my works and words, and doing both as much as is possible.

I had a couple of people tell me that I’m an inspiration, because I work at this craft every day, and I never seem to give up.  It’s not easy–the working part, not the inspiration.  I do this because I want to do this, and I want to do it every day for the rest of my life.  It’s my dream, you know?  But I find it easy to want to give up.  I find it easy to walk away, sometimes forever.  Quitting is easy–

Writing is hard.

This is post seven hundred and fifty, and in another eight or nine months I’ll have a cool thousand to my name.  Sometime in early 2014 I’ll sit down and come up with a cool name for post number one thousand, and recollect.  Maybe I’ll even have some good news to tell you about a novel I’ve just published.

Until then, feel free to hang about the fortress.

The Mountain Queen is always in.


Q1 and Done

It’s the end of the month as we know it, and I feel fine, save for the soreness in my legs.  Too much time on my feet, too much time laying on a bed that hurting my calves for some reason.  Or maybe it’s me:  maybe my weight is pressing down on my lower extremities and causing problems.

Last year this time I was lamenting over writers, people who usually make things up for a living, being unable to make up the names of towns and people.  I read this post over last night, and was struck by the fact that most of the people who I’d written about don’t seen to write these days.  When I joined a few writing groups on Facebook back in 2011, it seemed as if there were  hundreds of people posting about what they were going to write, what they were writing–and then, how they couldn’t finish what they started.

Today, those same groups seem to be inhabited by a few dozen hard core members, and a few dozen more people who flit in and out when they decided to pick up their book and get back into The Great and Not So Loving Game.

Writing wears you out.  I managed to edit two chapters of Replacements last night, maybe twenty-seven hundred words total, and when I was finished I wanted to write something new, but couldn’t.  I was starting to nod at the computer, and trying to crank out anything that would have made sense wouldn’t have made sense at all.

In his March 30 blog post, Neil Gaiman offered a few simple words for writers:  “Write.  Finish Things.  Keep Writing.”  Sure, you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, Mr. Last Cybermen!”, but at one time he was just like everyone else, working hard to get into the biz.  He’s now in the biz, and he still works hard, only now he does it full time, whereas most of us need another job to play the bills.

My biggest problem was always finishing things.  I’d jump into a story with both feet, burn through ten, twenty thousand words, and then–nada.  I’d get disappointed, depressed, defeated:  the story before me had to be crap, so why bother?  It’s not like anyone’s going to read it . . .

I’d say that’s a mindset that it not just unique to me; I’m almost certain there are others out there who end up feeling the same way.  I even get that feeling still, only it starts kicking in about forty-five thousand words into a novel, and it screws with me until I’m about ten to fifteen thousand words from the finish line.

And then I find the strength to make my way to “The End”.

I’ve told people I know that one of the reasons I keep a blog, one of the reasons I write every day whether or not I have anything interesting to say, is that it keeps me thinking, it keeps the mind going, it keeps me writing.  Without it I might not ever bother pulling out a manuscript and doing anything with it, and just become another of those left by the Writing Wayside.  That’s not completely true, but I do feel as if my blog keeps me anchored and focused on my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

Back on December 1 I detailed what I’d written up to that point over the course of a year and change.  At that point, with everything from the end of 2011, and all over 2012, I’d calculated I’d written approximately 568,000 words.  What I should say is that I wrote and finished that much, because I don’t consider the story worthwhile if I haven’t finished it.  During 2012 I started a story for someone, got about five thousand words into it, and then put it away, because what I was writing wasn’t me; the story didn’t feel right.  And to have went on would have meant doing something that I wasn’t going to enjoy, or take from the work any pride.

Since I wrote that last post I’ve written another novel, and blogged every day.  Suggestive Amusements ended up running just over seventy-one thousand words, while the blog has averaged about five hundred fifty words a day for 121 day, or right at sixty-six thousand, five hundred fifty words.  Add all that up, and at the end of Q1 (the First Quarter of the year, as we call it in the business world), I’ve another 137,550 finished words added to my total.

Plug in the numbers from before 1 December, 2012, and we have a new total:  705,550 words.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!

Yes, there is marketing and editing and getting a great book cover, but the above is the real heart of the issue:  writing and finishing.  You wanna walk that walk, you gotta do diligence.

You gotta write; you gotta finish; you gotta write some more.

Which reminds me–

I got some writing to do.


Office Gatherings for the Fictionally Inclined

Today is not the sort of day one wants to wake up for.  It’s cold, and we’re expecting a winter storm tomorrow.  My right ear seems to have become infected, and it’s bad enough that I can’t put my earbud in since the canal appears to have swollen.  The room is cold, and my cold, while nearly gone, is forcing me to clear out whatever I have in my lungs on a pretty regular schedule.

Another day in the sunshine–who doesn’t live for that?Little Miss Hellspawn

So here I am, Little Miss Hellspawn, thinking about what I’m going to write, the people whose lives I’m going to destroy, the souls I’m going to drag screaming off to my realm . . . just kidding about those last two, because, as I said, I’m total pussycat.  Look at those pretty eyes:  are those the eyes of someone who’d run you through with one of her shoulder spikes?

I was playing with making pictures like the one at right, while chatting with a friend.  I felt a bit uninspired for writing, in part because I’m finding it hard to type for long periods of time when I’m coughing up a hurricane, but in part because I know what I have to write, and my mind is saying, “You need to be in a good place when you write this next scene.”

Suggestive Amusements has reached a point where things will begin going sideways, where events that people didn’t know could happy will, and some of what’s coming isn’t going to be good.  I’m starting with that now, and while the first couple of thousand words came pretty easy, I’m feeling the hesitation to begin writing what’s next because those same events are a little to close to my own experiences . . .

I’ve been in situations at work where I’ve had to sit in an office and hear about how I’ve been . . . lacking.  Where I’ve been told I don’t handle interaction with users well.  Where I’ve been told–well, that my services were no longer required.  It’s never a good feeling, and after twenty-five plus years of dealing with that crap, it’s something I’d like to put behind me.

Except you never really put these things behind you, right?  You remember ever slight from every person you ever worked with, particularly if they occupied a position high enough up the hierarchy that their action, no matter how misinformed or idiotic, will not only affect your position, but possibly your life.

I’ve found myself in the position of being surprised by a change that I never saw coming, and this hasn’t been a one time event:  I can name at least three times when it’s happened.  It’s never been good, and one time pretty much changed me in ways I can’t get into without writing a story about it.

Which, in a way, is what I’m doing with Suggestive Amusements.  Some of what is happening to Keith has happened to me, and his reactions . . . okay, so he’ll handle things a little differently then I did, but that’s why one takes their experience and sometimes writes it into a story.

Then again, I am making everything up.  Aren’t I?

Revenge Served Lukewarm

Last night was Hack and Slash writing time:  the cold was there in strength  and I was hacking like crazy, trying to get whatever had taken up residency in my chest the hell out.  It left the throat raw, but it did help clear the lungs–much in the same way a barium enema will eventually clear up that bloated feeling you’re experiencing.

I decided to go old school for writing last night, doing something I did when I started my story Kuntilanak almost a year and a half ago:  I cued up Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition, knew I had forty-four minutes to crank out some wordage, and went to town.

The story is picking up about a week and a half after the events of Chapter Eleven, and Keith is feeling somewhat–lets say different.  He’s in tune to the story; he knows what he wants to say, and he’s getting it all down in the written form.  Erin the Muse is busy with other things–things that got me a stuck-out tongue when I posted a few short paragraphs of the story after I was finished–and Keith is wondering hard if maybe something changed because they hooked up.  Anything is possible, because I’m Erin’s boss, and what I say goes, right?

Something is about to happen in Keith’s life, and I’d be lying if I said not only has this happened to me, but what follow is probably something I would loved to have done, but never did.  Call it Revenge Fantasy, which for me is petty mild, because the days where I’d plot and plot and plot some devious shit to those who’d wronged me are well in the past.  See, this is why you should go into therapy.  It does work.

I had some qualms about putting this chapter in the novel, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense.  Keith is at a turning point in his life, and just as Erin kicked his butt to get him going on this story, he needs another kick to remind him that he shouldn’t live today for tomorrow like he was immortal, the only survivors on this world of ours are the warming sun, the cooling rain,
the snowflake drifting on the breath of the breeze . . . oh, wait:  I’ve been listening to too much Burning Rope.

But it’s true:  we don’t get the dreams we want, we have to go after them.  No one has ever walked into a place where I’ve worked, pointed at me, and said, “Cassie!  I need you to write a novel that’s going to be big!  Come on, girl, lets go!”  No, it’s always been something short of an eye roll whenever I’ve mentioned that I’m trying to become a full-time writer, like I should be happy cleaning up after ever mess ever left by an egotistical manager.  Don’t reach for dreams, they’re saying.  You’re crazy to think you can do something that you’re not suppose to do . . .

I’ve chided other people for buying into the revenge fantasy memes that pop up on Facebook almost every day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments when I think I should have done something like flip over a table and run out of a room laughing like a loon.  I once did tell a room full of people, after being told I was being laid off, that it was a good think I was on meds, otherwise my departure might go a little differently–and that day I had someone watching me like a hawk the entire time until I was in my car and out the company parking lot.  Not that I would have done anything, but it’s always good to keep the suckers guessing . . .

I’ll give Keith a little room to move, to express some opinions that I should have, but didn’t.  Maybe he’ll even have a parting shot as he leaves the building–

Sometimes I just can’t help be a wise ass when the need arises.


The Starving Soul

The cold is trying to come back; I can feel it.  I actually felt it last night, sneaking about in the darkness of the bedroom right before I headed off to sleepy-time.  Pain in the ass, it is, but I’m not going to let it get me down . . . even though it’s doing its best to do just that.

But to hell with the cold.  I’ll beat it one way or the other, and tomorrow the Chicago area will find itself somewhere warm, with the temps getting up close to seventy.  Changing climate?  Shirley you jest!  (I know you saw what I did there . . .)

Chapter Seven was begun last night, and I was on a good run last night.  Had Yessongs playing on the computer, and I must have been in a great mood, because I was typing away with few distractions.  I’m at the point in the story where my character Keith finds he’s come home after an evening of sybaritic pleasure with the lovely Elektra, and discovers he’s written something—a lot of something.  Then Erin appears, they have a little back and forth about where she was sleeping, and then . . .

This is where I left off the chapter, almost thirteen hundred words from the beginning.  It was a fast thirteen hundred, too:  I did it in about fifty-five minutes, making this the quickest writing I’ve done in a long time.

The whole gist of the chapter involves what we do for work.  A couple of times Erin, the muse, tells Keith he has two jobs:  one that pays the bills, but doesn’t “feed his soul”, and another that allows him to engage in all the things he wants and loves.  This is nothing new for anyone who isn’t a professional writer; if you’re like me, and you write, you do so with the hope that one day this is all you’ll ever do, and you aren’t thinking about being crazy-ass Twilight rich, you’d be happy if you could knock down high five figures every year . . . though I will take the crazy-ass Twilight rich, because who doesn’t want to laugh at haters who come online just to tell you that the first five minutes of Up tells a better love story than your crap, because after your laugh you’re going to dive into a room full of money, Scrooge McDuck-style.  Haters gonna hate, right?

We all wait for that message that says someone has read your manuscript, and they found it worthy of publication.  It’s after this that you work your butt off to produce another work that will be published, and if and when that’s bought, then you write another, and so forth, and so on . . . and before you know it, people are on Facebook posting, “You’re book suzks!  You should stop righting, because your story is told better by The Host!”  At which point you either flip the computer off (not turn it off, but flip it off, if you know what I mean) and get back to your current work in progress, or you laugh and look for your bathing suit.

At some point you have to ask yourself:  would I miss a day of “work” to work on my story?  I have asked myself that question—

I know the answer.

The Management of Lost Time

There is a quote that’s been around for a few months, or at least that’s when I first saw it pop up.  It says:


When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock… Kick it in, smile, and introduce yourself.
Dwayne Johnson


Many of us spend a lot of time saying, “I wish.”  I wish I wasn’t doing this job; I wish I was living somewhere warm; I wish I’d wake up in bed next to—oh, wait.  That last is just me.  Never mind.

Since I know a lot of writers, and writer-types, I also hear the following now and then:  “I wish I could finish this story.”  If you are a creative type, you know that manta well.  You wish you could finish a story, or a painting, or a drawing, or anything that involves taking something that can only be found in your imagination, and turning it into a living, breathing entity.

I’ve been in the situation where I wished I could finish something.  I did that with my first novel—not the one I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2011, I mean the first novel that I started way back in 1989, and worked on now and then for the next fifteen years.  It wasn’t until the banner year of 2012 (hereafter known as The Year of Apocalypse Not) that I finally got my shit together, pulled up that long festering document, and got down to the business of finishing the sucker.  Took forty-five thousand words to do so, but I did finish it.

My days of saying “I wish” were over.

I know a lot of people who say they’re bad at time management, that they have a hard time working with the time allowed them day to day.  But that’s a bit of a misnomer, because time isn’t there to be managed.  It’s far too wibbly wobbly for that.  No, time is there to be used—or to be wasted.

None of us are Time Lords or Ladies; none of us have some relative dimension in space device that we can jump into when we need to go back and redo something that was should have done, but couldn’t get around to at that particular moment.  We’re all living through our own Blinovitch Limitation Effect, and we have to deal with it as there isn’t a better option available at any price.

You don’t manage the time you have coming, because there isn’t any time coming.  You can’t tell what’s going to happen next; even before I finish typing this line, I could have a stroke . . . well, I finished, so that didn’t happen.  But I have no idea what will happen in the next couple of hours, or days, or months, so I have to make do with time as is currently exists—

Else it becomes lost.

You lose time in this here and now, the Ticktockman isn’t coming after your ass, because he doesn’t exist.  No, that time is forever gone, never to return, and one will usually find in its wake a person going, “I wish I’d—“  Time gives not a shit about your wishes, however.  It keeps going beyond us to a country we’ve already visited, and can never visit again.  If you hadn’t managed that time before it slipped away, then those are moments forever lost, and no amount of wishing will ever make them return.

The only way to kick in opportunity’s door is to find your way there, because it doesn’t like to travel.  Getting there takes work, and it takes time—most of all time.  Manage that time you’re going to lose, otherwise you’ll out in front of Marion the Librarian’s house, thinking about all those empty yesterdays she’s piled up.

Make today worth remembering.  Go kick in that door.

Or at the very least, give it a good shoulder push.


Checking the List, Editing it Twice

I didn’t finish a chapter last night, but I was surprised by how far I did get.

The current chapter I’m editing for Replacements is a big one; originally it ran a little over fifty-five hundred words, and it’s inching up towards fifty-six hundred.  So even though I was a bit distracted by things around me as I started working on it, I wasn’t in such a bad position that I was completely overwhelmed.

I was surprised, however, at how well I’m handling the edits.

A year ago editing was not my forte.  It was something I was pretty going at half-assed:  I’d get in and start giving something a once over, fully convinced that my first draft was so good I didn’t really need to do a lot of work.

Like I said, that was a year ago.

My illusions of First Draft Perfectness have vanished into the void, and I’m far more cognoscente of exactly how the creative process works.  My first drafts are very good when it comes to laying out the plot, but there are all sorts of little things happening within that plot that work every well at messing up the story as a whole.  I find misspellings; I find sentences where the tense makes no sense; I even find little things like using the same word twice in a row, or leaving out a word that I meant to use because my brain told me it was needed, but that I never used.

You know:  things every writer does.

It’s true there are some writers who can, or could, rip off a story on the first draft and never have to do a lot of rework after that point.  There have been stories I’ve written that were like that, but those were few and far between.  These days, with everything I’m putting into a story, I’m finding my mind working more and more towards keeping a chapter straight, making certain I don’t leave a bunch of plot holes around for people to twist their ankles in, and working towards the overall end of the tale—which means I’m missing things as I go along.  Things like writing “an” instead of “and”, or writing a statement in a sloppy fashion.

That was one of the things I found last night:  I had characters who were supposed to be intelligent, well-educated individuals, using slang you probably wouldn’t hear them use in day-to-day conversations.  I saw it, read it, cringed, then changed the statements.  At least I didn’t have them making a comment like, “Yo, dawg, just sayin’”.  There’s an advantage to working with people a thousand years in the future.

Though it may seem as if I’m spending a lot of times on editing, it pays off.  I found myself embarrassed to get messages from people telling me that a story I’d self-published was full of errors.  Not a huge amount, but enough that when I saw them I wondered how the hell I could have let them through in the first place.  The answer:  I didn’t have my editing chops down.

Becoming a better writer means becoming a better editor as well.  If you don’t believe me, just self-publish a first draft and see what sort of response you get.

If you’re lucky, your readers will be kind.

Now Leaving the Darkness

This is a strange day in history.  On this day Pope Innocent VIII started the biggest witch hunt in history in Europe; Columbus ended up in Haiti; Jefferson Davis was elected to the US Senate, and eventually went on to bigger and, um, better things; The Great London Smog of 1952 started and eventually killed 12,000 people; Sukarno expelled all Dutch people from Indonesia.

Fritz Lang and Walt Disney were born, and if only those two could have done a film together.  Werner Heiesbenberg was also born, thus being able to lend his name to great meth chemists everywhere.  Finally we have Strom Thurmond, who always seemed to find ways to elevate racism to a new level.

Something else happened.  One year ago I set off on an interview for a job, an odyssey that wasn’t nearly the same as one that had taken place ten years before, but eventually ended up in tears all the same.

This eventually became known as the Trip to the Undisclosed Location, and my experience at The Hole.  I wrote about this many times, and for those who have followed this blog, you know that it was a period of darkness for me.  There was some fantastic enlightenment, yes, and a bit of writing, but for the most part I hated the experience with a fervor few can imagine.

Notice I’m using the past tense when saying, “Experience.”  That’s because, for a while now–about two months–the Undisclosed Location ceased to be my reality.

It was really a very simple matter.  I was told my position was being eliminated, and as such I could pack up my shit and leave.  There was no shock there; things had happening throughout the summer, with people leaving in a hurry, either on their own, or . . . not.  In one case, we had someone in our group send out an email late on a Tuesday night saying the coming Friday was going to be her last day, then after Friday was set up to be the day she’d meet with people to hand over projects, she called in sick.  All this without telling anyone where she was going.

I didn’t get upset when I was told to go.  In fact, I didn’t care.  I knew there would be a few hardships, but beyond that I just wanted the hell out of there.  In fact, they let me walk out on my own, which could have been a disaster–but I’m not the sort who would do anything that might lead to jail time.  No place is worth that.  My only regret is that I didn’t take advantage of the fact that as I took the elevator alone, with the HR director standing outside the door watching me leave, I didn’t yell out, “My Anus is Bleeding!” after the doors closed.

The kicker to this all?  One year after I interviewed for The Hole–on a day that had me humming, “Cold and misty morning, I heard a warning born in the air”–I have a new job.  I secured the position yesterday.  It’s a contract position, one that will last a year, which I’m happy about, because it allows me to keep doing what I’m doing with my writing.  I have four or five weeks to go before Harper Voyager gets/doesn’t get back to me, so fingers are still crossed.

But the writing goes on.  Always move forward.  Continue being the best girl I can be.

Oh, one other things happened today:  Flight 19 disappeared.  It’s was fitting tribute to what happened to me, because I feel as if I spent my time in some Bermuda Triangle, and emerged triumphant.

But, really:  no hard feelings to The Undisclosed Location.  I met a few very good people–it’s unfortunate that only one or two of them were my co-workers.  As uninspiring and boring as my last job was, as unfriendly and standoffish as the majority of my co-workers were, I don’t hold any ill-will towards them.  Not at all.

It’s a bright day today.  The weather is warm.

It’s a good day to do something.

I think I’ll write.

All the Tools of the Trade

Here it is, Thursday, and by this time next week people around the world will be writing their little fingers off–though I’m certain a few will be screaming at their computers, or on Facebook, yelling, “Why am I doing this?  Why?  WHY??”  Don’t worry if you fall into that later group; it’s really easy to play Throw Writer From the Train.  Let me look for some tall grass to cushion your fall . . .

Last night I was updating my NaNo Novel information on the NaNoWriMo site, and saw the information about uploading a cover for you novel.  I’ve done a cover before, and I thought, “Hey, why not do another cover?”  I mean, it’s not one I’d use if I sell the novel, or even if I self publish, it’s only going to be there for the duration of NaNo.  So I was on the Creative Commons Flickr, looking for something I could use.  I may look through for a few more things, but there are thousands of pictures out there, and that becomes something of a huge endeavor when you’re searching for the right image.

It’s the era of digital publishing, of self-publishing.  It’s not just enough to know how to write these days:  you are require to be able to edit and come up with ideas for promotion, and even do a cover or two when the need arises.  It’s not easy; even though I know a little about photo manipulation, creating a cover that makes your happy is hard as hell.

But it’s something that you have to know these days.  You have to.

I do my own editing.  I’ve had people ask me why, and it’s an easy answer:  I can’t afford to pay someone to edit my manuscripts.  I write novels, and we’re talking about two hundred, three hundred–or, for one of my series, around nine hundred pages.  Even at the cheep price of $2/page, you can see how I’m going to find myself deep in the checkbook if I pay to have someone go over my work.  It’s not that I wouldn’t like that, but . . . I’m just a poor, starving artist, and until I’m rolling about cash, I’ll have to be self sufficient.

Same with book covers.  It’s time consuming to find a picture you can use, and using software to create or manipulate an image, to get it formatted correctly . . . and then remember that the size of a cover for use on Smashwords is different that the size you’ll use for Amazon Kindle, and can become a bit of a headache.

Gone are the days when all a writer need worry about were their trusty typewriter, ribbons  pens or pencils  paper, and a fifth of Bushmills.  You gotta know how to use software, how to format an ebook, how to use social media for more than poking people, how to make covers, how to edit the hell out of your work . . . you gotta do it all.

You gotta be all the people in the band.  This is your Who Came First, and if you can’t step up and do the work, someone’s gonna beat you to the sales counter.  “I can’t do that” isn’t a valid argument these days, not when there’s so much open source software out there, and online tutorials showing you how to do things like re-size an image.

Yeah, it’s a tough old world, but writers are a tenacious bunch, and if anyone is going to figure out the whole mess, it’s us. Or you could sit around and make bunny dresses, then tell the world how things are so hard.  It’s your choice–

I mean, it’s not like anyone made you put words on a page, right?