Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 01/12/21

Out the window: The sky is a haze of white-gray, with a soft breeze rustling through the palms and oaks, causing more oak leaves to fall onto our newly-raked lawn (:sad:), and promising rain (which may or may not come to us, honestly), which would make my orchids (and me) very, very happy.

On the desktop: TableTop Audio running a playlist: currently up is a new, jaunty Pirates! theme, which is working to get me energized. Notes, notes, notes. And a new fountain pen from Spousal Unit, a Christmas gift that of course I love to pieces!

Fountain pen, Conklin Endura Abalone
Conklin Endura Abalone fountain pen–so lovely!

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  It’s January, which means one thing: Weekend Warrior! This is an amazing contest over at the Codex Writers’ Group. 100+ SFF writers join up for 5 weeks to each write a flash story in 72 hours and upload it anonymously. Then we each download our division’s (with this many participants, we need divisions) stories and give feedback. I’m currently halfway through my division’s reading. 

In addition, I’m still working on the Unfinished Novel from the Depths of Hades, Which Will Not Be Finished in My Lifetime. ™  Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. It’s just a very complicated love about now, you know?

I’ve also just finished a new submission on a short story that just came back (i.e., was rejected) from its very first market–a rite of passage for stories. I’m well-acquainted with the drill: pat them on the back consolingly and shove them right back out the door to the next market. Languishing on the hard drive sofa gets them nowhere! Tough love, baby.

And Another Thing: I’m in the midst of making baby quilts for “upcoming” great-nieces/great-newphews. It’s a great distraction from the hellscape the world’s news has become, and it centers me in the here-and-now. These children are all being welcomed into good and loving families, and I hope each will encounter a world filled with bright potential and hope and joy. (Why yes, I do write fantasy and SF, why-do-you-ask!)

I try to imbue each stitch I make with acceptance and love and comfort in the hopes that the child will somehow feel those things when they see their quilt. It’s a small thing, but it’s a thing I can do. And it makes me feel good, too.

I hope you can find a similar thing: something you can do that makes the world better, and makes you feel better, too. We all need some “feeling better about the world” right now.

 

Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 10/21/20

Out the window: Thick gray clouds that sometimes open to spatter rain. Warm and humid, but not disgusting, so I’ll take it!

On the desktop: a thick stack of revision notes, going through the entire novel scene by scene. I’m over a quarter of the way through them, though, so that’s worth something. Also, an empty cup which once held Adagio’s Apricot Green tea. mmmmmm it was good.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Another scene of the novel, then another. And a third. Do you see the pattern here? Yup, it’s gonna be a long one.

Dasher says “Play!”

And Another Thing: Please vote. And, having voted, please take care of yourself. This is a terribly stressful year, in so many awful and horrific ways. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon your physical, mental, or emotional health to doomscroll endlessly. Take a tip from Dasher, who wants to play every day, whether or not it’s hot, or raining, or people are mad on Twitter. Do something you enjoy. Sit quietly. Sip tea. Read. Play with your dog. The world will still be here, and still be a honking huge mess, when you return. But you’ll feel better.

 

conventions, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 6/8/20

Out the window: Thick gray and white massed clouds, misting rain, humidity, and yuck. Better than Saturday night’s tornado warning, at least!

sad face
After the Nebulas were over, Sad Writer is facing massive edits and structural work

On the desktop: a scattering of notes from the SFWA Nebula Awards Conference (which was held entirely online, and was simply amazing!), a water bill that I needed help decoding (I love it when the numbers simply don’t add up and you can’t even figure out how much to pay, don’t you?!?), various scene cards in states of revision, the residue both tears of rage and tears of frustration, which leave entirely different marks, trust me.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Breathing. Thinking hard thoughts. My novel’s early chapters are broken. They need revising, badly, and that may entail re-envisioning the entire first half of the novel. Ugh ugh ugh. I took a great risk going with the protagonist I chose, knowing it would be far too easy for this to fail, and it did. Now I need to go back to the drawing board to make it right. Wish me luck.

And Another Dozen Things: This year is a dumpster fire. It shouldn’t need saying, and yet it does: Black Lives Matter. Racial inequity and inequality are unjust and inhumane. COVID-19 is still a thing, so please please please stay safe, protect your health and the health of those around you as much as possible. Hurricane season is upon us, so please prepare and take precautions to stay safe, especially in light of the first two items above. Look out for your friends and neighbors. Be kind. Be generous. Breathe. Be.

And finally, if you missed out on the Nebula Awards Conference and wish you hadn’t, it’s not too late. You can still get a membership! All the panels were recorded, and the accompanying Slack is still live and active. Re-watch parties! Write-in dates! Camaraderie! Social networking! Also, through June, every 2020 Nebula Conference membership purchased “creates a seat for a Black writer. If you are a Black Writer, please email events@sfwa.org for instructions on how to register.”  Where is all this wonderfulness to be found? Right here!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 3/19/20

Out the window: Clear blue skies and oaks in greens shading from newly leafed spring green to a contented have-been-here-a-month-now darker green, while the grass is turning a crispy shade of tan.

On the desktop: oh what a mess! Notes, a water glass (it’s the dry season, and not only the grass gets crispy without hydration), a pack of gum, the dog’s toy (so he’ll just nap already!), about 15 gagillion notebooks (no I don’t have a notebook problem why do you ask?), more notes, a scattering of various pens, a to-do list, the type of toner cartridge my printer needs written on yet another note, printouts of chapters for editing, and a Lamy fountain pen containing beautiful Diamine Red Dragon ink.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  I’m doing another pass of Unspoken, this being the final one before beta (alpha?) readers get their hands on it. It’s nerve-wracking, seeing what you thought was “really good” writing at the time, and now seeing all the problems with it. Like, “What was I thinking, this is terrible and why didn’t I just do thing X here instead? The whole novel is a trashfire” type of problems.

And yet, my friends tell me this is completely warranted at this stage of writing. I’m sick of this book, seeing and reading the same stuff, over and over. And yet, I still love this world, and my characters, and…

I gave myself a break this past week. I worked on short story editing. It felt great. Like a huge breath of fresh air and energy. Subbed out a few shorts, and now have two stories on hold–YAY! “On hold” doesn’t always result in a sale, of course, so there’s still room for disappointment. But it did the trick and I feel ready to attempt novel edits with renewed enthusiasm.

And Another Thing: Novel corona virus. Social distancing. Isolation. Ugh. This stuff is real, and really bad. Wherever you are, I hope you stay safe and healthy. Wash your hands, please, and stay home whenever possible.

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Today's Desk

Writer’s Desk, 10/22/19

Out the window lanai: High clouds quickly burning off as the sun’s glare rises above the treeline in the east, until they thicken to the west and flow back east, making the sun play hide and seek. Green, green everywhere, after the rains last night and yesterday’s sprinkles. And with the rising heat, the humidity is already beginning to feel oppressive. Birdsong and a jay’s scolding screech mostly mute the distant hum of traffic as I sit outside in the screen room this morning.

On the desktop: Since I’m outside, there’s a potted jade plant taking up much tabletop real estate. Other than that, this computer, two notebooks (one for the novel, the other holding today’s To-Do list), my glasses case, a book to read, and a pen. Pretty austere, but it’s all I need for now.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  I’m editing this draft of Unspoken, my novel-in-progress. I’m nearing the end of a rather large section that needed 100% new words, and am looking forward to faster progress once I burst through to the next “revision edit” section (instead of a “rewrite edit”). I made a rather significant plot change near the end of the last draft knowing this would entail some dramatically rewritten sections, and I don’t regret it in the least. Now I can see how much better the book is, how the character is gaining a clear arc, how the plot is moving along much more quickly. It’s both gratifying and motivating to see this happening; to have proof, of a sort, that my writing actually doesn’t suck–because, you know, writers are always fighting those Brain Weasels that tell them they’re the worst ever. Even once they’ve made it to full “active” SFWA membership.

Of course, the dog is another “work-in-progress” who demands attention, too. We’re a week post-surgery right now, and he’s not allowed to move. I carry him outside to pee and poop; he eats meals lying down in his crate; if I’m not there watching he has to wear the Elizabethan collar; he puts no weight on the leg that was operated on, and if he bends that leg much he’s in such pain he gasp-whimper-kreels until I can straighten it again. So, yes, divided attention.

And Another Thing: Supplies for the walls that will make our back yard terraced are supposed to start showing up today, and I can’t wait for this to begin–so it can end and I can actually have a usable back yard! The herbs and veggies I want to plant along the wall edges will make my gardening and cooking heart so happy! But, with the scattered showers we’ve had, and which are predicted for the next week, who knows if delivery will occur today or not. So, fingers are crossed but I’m not holding my breath.

Besides, it’s hard to type when your breath is held too long. lol

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 5/29/18

Out the window: Low, dense clouds that sometimes spit sprinkles of rain. The forecast calls for storms later this afternoon, and as it’s getting darker, it looks like the forecast may be right. Oops. There it is–heavy rain, hitting the metal roof hard enough to echo and reverberate in a mysterious, lovely way that makes me crave a good book, and a nap.

On the desktop: Not much, really. The usual odds and ends of notebooks waiting for words, my glasses case, Burt’s Bees lip balm, and a pack of gum.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Structural edit notes to my novel, Unspoken. I’ve gotten a printout of the novel and am marking it up by hand, so I can see at a glance the length of each scene, how many pages each one is, and how many slow or fast scenes are bunching up. I can flip pages to see how long the pace has been fast, or if it’s gone from “a breather” into “catatonic,” and make notes to fix this, as necessary.

Sometimes this is a faster process than writing, and other times, it’s far, far slower. Regardless, it’s a process that definitely needs to happen, and I’m learning much from it–about myself as “a writer” (vs as “an editor”),  about my craft and skill levels, about my protagonist, and about what the novel is really, really about.

And, while yes, I wrote these words, I’m reading them from enough distance now that they’re almost new to me. And this is a good thing. I’m not just slipping over them, but I’m reading them the way I’d read another’s novel, and seeing all those flaws (OMG, the flaws! There are so many!). I’m also seeing the things I did really quite well. Which is always a pleasant surprise.

And Another Thing: Oh my gosh, the plums! The little tree is just ripening those fruit so fast now that it’s a challenge to keep up with them all, and the rains keep knocking them off the tree to the ground… We’ve had plum jam, plum cake, and plum ice cream. Next up is a plum crumble, I think. And of course, more plum jam. I think I’m going plum crazy!

Magic of the Everyday, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 10/25/17

Out the window: Clear blue skies, sunshine, and gorgeous coolness. Fall has landed with a thud on north central Florida. Last night the temps were in the low 50’s, tonight should plummet into the 40’s! That’s a far cry from the 90+ degrees of only a few days ago. And I’m soooooo glad.

On the desktop: Other than the plain green tea? A big old mess, quite honestly. Post-It notes trail off and sprawl everywhere, as I attempt to tame and structure a short story that’s had me flummoxed for over a year. I know the basic plot, and the story arc, but it’s still missing that certain spark that will lift it above “meh.” At least I found the obvious structural flaw that was killing it before, right?

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  The novel with the working title “Unspoken.” What with having been gone nearly 2 weeks (and this shortly after having started the novel), I thought I’d have a hard time diving back into the work. But honestly, I haven’t.

The first day back to writing (and yes, after traveling I took the weekend off to recuperate), I re-read the most recent 3,000 words, just to get back into the flow, and to find my protagonist’s voice and emotional state. Apparently it worked, because I wrote that next 1,000 word scene as easily as anything. And the following day, the next scene of 1800 words flew from my fingers onto the keyboard! It was a combat scene, so the action practically wrote itself, and I felt glorious, so accomplished and good!

Spousal Unit said, “Well, that’s because you stopped writing at a great point, leaving yourself an interesting place to dive into.” To which, I replied, “Well of course! Because it’s ALL interesting. I’m leaving the boring parts out of this one.”

Honestly, I’m trying really hard to conquer STRUCTURE on this novel, both on a macro and micro level. I want the final shape of the book to more than vaguely resemble the first draft, you see, because I’ve learned that nothing kills me deader than a really HUGE, HARD revision draft. (I feel tired and cranky just thinking of that!) Enervation seeps from my pours like a late August sweat at the prospect of such an edit. So, you see, I really needed to do something. Studying my craft (as usual) was the answer.

And Another Thing: How is Halloween just around the corner? If the weather cooperates, I’m going to dress up like a living scarecrow and flop on my porch swing to hand out the candy, freaking out (in a good way) all the kids that come by. So, hope and pray for good weather, okay? I’m feeling devilish! 🙂

Today's Desk, Writing

Writers Desk 5/18/17

Hey! Lookit here–something new? Oh, what? No, it’s an old feature resurrected. Like a zombie, but with words.

Out the window: Heat and humidity have draped the sky in a colorless high overcast. Breezes gust occasionally, drying out the plants even more, and even the wind feels hot. Ugh. The newly planted gardenias are drooping terribly, and I’m really hoping the weekend brings ALL THE RAIN.

On the desktop: A cup of everyday green tea. Scads of notes and notebooks, both for this book and the next one, and the notes from my recent trip to Paradise Lost. 3 x 5 cards, some with writing, some still blank and waiting.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Jessamin Stow, Book Three. Still.

I mean, yes, I love this. Honest, I do. but I’d hoped to be finished with it before Paradise Lost. Instead, due to so many things–Dasher and his ill health, my own ill health, home-life drama (let me tell you about the refrigerator dying suddenly, and the termites, and…)–well, I’m not done yet. And it’s making me crazy.

I’m kind of a stickler for making a schedule and sticking to it. None of this has gone to schedule, and it’s not a fun feeling. Which is only adding to my anxiety when it comes to sitting down to write, you know? (Ah, Impostor Syndrome, you know me so well.) The good news is that I’m so close to being done, I can practically taste it! Now to just do it.

And Another Thing: My next novel is all lined up and ready for me to get working on. I have a plot, and characters, and the basics of a world. I need to do more research on various things for world and culture building before I can get to writing the first draft, but OMG I am so excited at the prospect of this new novel!!!! It’s so shiny and fun and cool and I haven’t messed any of it up yet OH WOW!

But before that, I need to sip on some tea, calm down, and finish this novel before me. I got this.

Happy May, everyone.