Tag Archives: humiliation

Mea Culpa…Again

I just realized on Saturday that I didn’t do EITHER of my blog posts for last week. That’s by far the longest I’ve gone without posting and it ruins a reasonably consistent streak that I had going. Suffice it to say, I’m not thrilled with myself, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. And, at the very least, I had an excuse.

So, I’m just closing Part III of the novel, and my deadline for finishing Part IV is Sunday. That’s not a lot of time to write a dozen scenes, much less the climactic scenes that need to get done. So…things may get stretched. That’s okay, though; I’m not working for a major publisher and I can allow things to get squishy. Plus, some of the things I had allotted their own separate time interval–things like cover design, layout, back-cover copy, and so forth–can overlap with the copyediting phase. I’d prefer that I had enough time to really focus on each thing as it came, but whatever.

I spent this entire week working at NaNoWriMo-like intensity trying to refactor and conclude Part III, which seems like it wouldn’t be hard, but it kind of was. It seems that despite my best attempts to the contrary, my rate of production has slipped a fair amount. Obviously my prose is a little more polished and the ideas are a little more sound when I’m writing slowly, but I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it. That’s a┬ásecondary point, though, because I need to write 2000+ words a day this week just to squeak by, and if the prose happens to suffer that’s barely worth thinking about. I will, after all, get one final revision for word choice.

As something of an aside, I find it interesting that when I NaNoWriMo ends, and I start thinking about my writing on a deeper level, I spend so much more time writing the same amount of text that it becomes almost sacred for me. I’m so reluctant to can what I have and redo it because the weight of all that time hangs so heavily over me. So I try to adapt and tweak, adapt and tweak, and in the end, more often than not, I have to can it and redo it anyway because it doesn’t work. In the long run, trying to save time, even if it is half subconscious, takes more time. Anyone else noticed that?

For better or worse, that’s no longer relevant for Fugitives from Earth because the end is so near. It’s definitely something I need to think about for the next novel, though, whether I write it for NaNoWriMo or not. Here’s hoping I don’t slow things down even more by trying to misapply the lessons I learned from FfE.

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The Road (from) Reno, Part I

So endeth Renovation, so endeth my first WorldCon. I’m decompressing, just relaxing, in our hotel room in Anaheim across the street from Disneyland. Tomorrow begins the second, more easy-going half of our vacation.

The plan is this: I’m going to write up my Renovation experiences in two parts. Today, I’ll just write some general, random thoughts in more or less the order they occur to me. Friday’s post, on the other hand, will go into a little more detail on the panels and talks I attended. So, stay tuned.

First of all, the bad news. Reno is a pukehole. There’s this contrast between the depressingly artificial glitz of the big casinos towering over the depressingly realistic grime of the rest of the city. There were some newer shopping centers, and the convention center was quite nice, but we avoided the rest of the city wherever possible. Don’t ever go there.

The convention itself was pretty awesome. It wasn’t quite the non-stop spectacle of a megaproduction like PAX; in contrast to a lot of gaming and comic-cons, it was quite small and sedate. Two reasons for this: first, there weren’t a lot of people there. Renovation only had about 5,000 registered attendees, about 3,500 of which showed up on any given day. So, compare that to the SDCC’s 130,000 or PAX’s 68,000. The second reason was far more surprising: the average attendee of Renovation was old.

Well, perhaps not old, but certainly middle-aged. I was really surprised to find that I was one of the younger people present, and that there were a few people as old as my grandparents. Science fiction and fantasy have been around for a long time, of course, but I didn’t really expect the demographics to look like they did.

And I definitely got the feeling that a lot of those people have been going to WorldCons (and cons in general) since they were my age. Science fiction fandom wasn’t just organized around their hobbies, like gaming fandom generally is. No, SF fandom is more like a family, or at least a club, where a lot of the regulars have known each other for years and years. There were times (not many, but a few) that I felt like I was intruding on their private gathering.

Of course there were younger people there too, and a lot of the authors I was most interested in were in that group. Of course, they had their own groupies, and that leads me to the slightly negative part of my experience.

So, the panels were really interesting. And I did meet a number of authors–including everyone from Writing Excuses, which was very gratifying to me. But I didn’t really make any connections, like I was hoping to. I only chatted lightly with a few of the authors, and except for maybe Howard Tayler I don’t really expect any of them remembered me beyond the next moment. It was a little disappointing that I couldn’t find more of an “in.”

I might’ve fallen short of my hopes, but that doesn’t mean that my hopes were necessarily realistic. I didn’t really know how cons worked, and I didn’t make much of an effort to connect with people before WorldCon, which would’ve helped immensely. In a sense, I was hoping to make an “in” with some of these writers, but I should’ve come to the con with an “in” already prepared.

Of course, part of it was just my usual social anxiety. I hate feeling like I’m being an inconvenience to someone, and I can’t tolerate the thought of being “that guy” that hounds after authors, desperate to make conversation.

Well, there’s always next con. If what I saw was any indication, most of these people know each other pretty well, so I’ve got to start small. Like, say, by getting something published. Hmm…

Ooh, lemme talk about the Hugos. Pretty fun stuff, like our very own tiny little academy awards. It really made me feel like a part of this big happy family watching the way that the emcees, the category presenters, and the winners were so chummy. No real competition, and lots of genuine emotion. In particular, the winner of the fanzine Hugo was pretty much sobbing like a maniac at the podium for five minutes. Fun stuff.

Despite the fact that we were in Reno, no odds were offered on the winners. Which was good, really, because I picked almost none of the right ones. Best novel? Nope. Writing Excuses? Nope. Freaking best novelette? No, no, no. Ah, well.

That’s pretty much it for general impressions. The dealer’s room was cool, and the art gallery was amazing, but they’re both pretty par for the course. The panels were pretty much uniformly awesome, but that would be getting into specifics.

Speaking of specifics, on Friday I’ll be discussing the panels and kaffeeklatsches in more detail, plus anything I forgot to mention today. Stay tuned! Should be great.

Mea Culpa

I was hoping to have my beta reading roundup finished in time for my regular Monday post, but it’s not quite there yet. Look for more details tomorrow, but for now I’ll just say that I got some really good feedback. The consensus was right where I wanted it to be: needs work, but it shows promise. I’m really hoping to have the novel substantially done within two months, but my previous schedules haven’t worked out all that well, so I’ll just say that my OryCon release date is looking good.

Oh, and thanks to any beta readers who may be reading this. Without you, I am nothing! Look for details tomorrow, as promised.

While you’re waiting: some good news, some bad news.

Finally, congratulations to fellow NIWAn Pam Bainbridge-Cowan AKA P.J. Cowan on the release of her new novel Something in the Dark. Looks like it’s been getting great reviews, and her experience getting the thing published in the first place will prove invaluable to yours truly. Naturally, I wish her the best of luck.

The Continuing Adventures

After a bit of a downer post on Monday, I first want to say that I’m feeling a lot better. I have actually gotten some writing done over the last few days, and even though it’s not exactly a thousand words a day it feels good. Real good.

I had two realizations this week that I think helped. The first one seems really obvious, but it’s surprising how easy it is for the newer writer to forget: write stuff you like to read. They say that you should write what you want to write, rather than writing for a market, which is obvious. “Ha!” I’d say. “Only losers try to write the next Harry Potter or Twilight.” And then… I go out and try to write something that I think could get published in Analog. I mean, I love Analog, but that’s still putting the cart before horse. Or in my case, leaving the horse out entirely, because I psych myself out of actually writing.

Realization two also sounds obvious, but I think it’s something I need to write down and staple to my forehead: just because writing isn’t my most favoritist thing to do evar, just because I like to do other things as well, doesn’t mean I can’t still be professional about my writing. It’s almost embarrassing to say, but that’s the mindset I was in, and it was seriously putting me in this spiral of despair. I’ll feel bad about not writing ten hours a day when (if) I’m writing full-time. For now, I have other things on my plate, and they need to be there.

Don’t worry, this is going to be the last post on this subject for a while; I don’t want to exhaust all of your goodwill.

I’ve made a few site changes, particularly in the sidebar area. As you can see, I now have a blogroll, and it’s looking a little meager right now. If you want your blog or website on it, go ahead and let me know. You can also subscribe to have new posts sent directly to your mailbox, and really, can you bear the thought of missing one of my posts for even a few minutes? Go ahead and admit it to yourself.

I didn’t get much writing done at all this weekend; I spent Saturday and Sunday hiking in the beautiful Tillamook State Forest. It was a nice chance of scenery, and provided a bit of inspiration for my next novel.

Compulsions

Yesterday I was browsing Netflix Instant and I stumbled across an A&E documentary series that demanded to be watched. It’s called Hoarders; perhaps you’ve heard of it? Each episode documents the cleanup/intervention of one or two compulsive hoarders, showing their incredibly hostile reactions to people trying to throw away the garbage that has utterly consumed their homes. It doesn’t go for cheap, exploitative finger-pointing, but tries to get into the head of someone who’s life is run by their obsessions.

It’s kind of cathartic to watch. “At least I’m not like those people,” you say, watching a woman break down in tears because she needs to throw away the rotted pumpkins on her floor. Yet, the longer I watched, the more I identified with those people. In one of the episodes I watched, a young man with clinical OCD had become convinced that if he threw away any of the dog hair clogging his carpet, he was directly shortening the lifespan of his dog. He loved his dog, of course, and so even while he was telling the show’s host, “This is stupid, this is so stupid,” throwing away that dog hair took a physical effort.

There are times–more times than I like to admit–where writing is the same way for me. I consider myself a good writer, and I think that I could make a career out of it. But when I actually sit down to write, the idea of not writing well paralyzes me with fear. I don’t mean failing at writing, I just mean writing poor paragraphs and scenes. That’s stupid, right? Obviously your writing is never perfect, and the earlier the draft, the less perfect the writing. The only way you fail at writing is not to write, and yet…it’s damned hard to start typing. And then I feel guilty that I haven’t started yet, and that starts a this downward spiral.

I don’t like to complain too much on the blog here; I feel like nobody wants to listen to me whine. Yet, I think this is literally by biggest obstacle to getting published and getting a career, and if there’s any chance that airing it to the world can help be overcome it, then I’m willing to tolerate some uninterested people.

You can’t tell a depressed person, “Just cheer up.” Likewise, telling myself, “Aw, just write,” doesn’t seem likely to help. I’m not sure what the solution is, here. I’m going to try to write a thousand words a day over the next week, just to get back into gear. It’s always hardest to start writing when I stop for awhile. Then, we’ll see. And hopefully, next post, I’ll have some better news.

Oh, and I don’t want to sound like, “wah wah, my life is hard,” because it really isn’t. So, don’t expect these types of posts to suddenly become the norm.

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Also, within the next two weeks, you’re going to see some changes around here. I’m finally going to be adding such novelties as a blogroll and list of links, and more than likely some pretty major formatting changes. I’m not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I do know this: you won’t want to miss it.

Not Quite

So, remember how I said that I wanted to have that bit of flash fiction for you today? Didn’t really turn out, believe it or not. I’ll try to have it tomorrow, but for some reason the muse wasn’t speaking today. Not sure why.

Okay, I do know why. It was because I spent all morning reading Catching Fire and everything that I tried to put down on the page looked like crap. It’s weird: writers need books to stay sharp, but there’s always the risk of backlash. Ah, well.

The Sound of One Head Bashing Against a Desk

So I just overcame this weird revision block that had been afflicting me since I finished my novel. Generally, I don’t believe in writer’s block – I think that you’re having trouble writing something, either you haven’t thought it through enough, or your subconscious is telling you that it’s not a good idea, or (most likely) you’re simply afraid that it’s not going to be good. Usually I’m able to recognize the insane ravings of my inner editor and push past them.

Not so this time. Remember how I mentioned that I was pretty pleased when my story was pretty decent right out of the gate? Remember how I said that I still needed to tune it up a little bit? Well, what happened (as near as I can tell) was that I could think of about a hundred little things that needed to be changed, but no glaring flaws that needed to be addressed right away. “This is a new thing,” says I, “so where to start?”

Well, what I started with was scrolling up and down the story a bunch of times. I marked all of the adverbs for later review and removal. I made a few notes of things that needed to be foreshadowed. And then I just stopped. I knew all these things that needed to be done, but I could not bring myself to do any of them.

It was weird! It was like I’d suppressed my inner editor so long that he had become atrophied and weak.

So I did what I always do: I grabbed myself by the throat, slammed myself against the wall, and growled, “You need to pick something and change it. Don’t think. Just type!” Then, as I slumped to the floor, I knew that I would kill me if I didn’t just do some revising. So I did – after 30 minutes of hand-wringing I finally changed the setting of the first scene of the story.

And then, suddenly, that impassable barrier just melted away, and I was able to get fully a third of the story edited this morning before work. It just happened.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes you do need that inner critic to start talking again, and you need to make yourself listen to him, and then you need to act on what he says, no matter how much you’ve trained yourself not to.

Also, on an unrelated note, this story still has no title.