Friday, March 26, 2010

What's Your Excuse?

There's no excuse for not writing - at least not very many really good ones.

You know, I think I see more people make excuses for why they can't write than I see people who make the effort to find half an hour in their day to jot down a few words. For that first group, everything is priority for them except for writing.

If you want writing to be a significant part of your life -- and future income -- then you have to adapt your thinking to include it. You can't have a 'oh, when I have time, I'll think about writing' attitude. Yes, there will always be important work that you must do first. Writing can't displace work and family. However, it shouldn't be the bottom of the list, somewhere after channel surfing for a couple hours to 'relax.' I know people who apparently take great joy in showing how much other stuff they can shove into their lives to avoid writing.

Look, bottom line: If you want to be a writer, you must write. More than just write a few lines here and there, jot down notes on a fantastic new character, think about the story you will write someday . . . when you find the time. Writing has to become important enough to you that you want to do it more than you want to sit in front of the television staring at something that doesn't even interest you. I don't mean you have to avoid your favorite shows -- however if you record them and speed-search through commercials, you'll already be gaining a significant amount of time back right there. Grab that time and apply it to writing.

Here's one more thought -- if you can't find even half an hour in your busy schedule to jot down a few lines and thoughts on your current work in progress, then maybe you seriously need to start restructuring your life anyway.

Everyone is busy. Most people can't find as much time for writing as they would like to have. The people who are serious, however, don't let that stop them from all writing.

If you make half an hour a day for writing, you will find that in that half hour you'll be able to write a few hundred words. It may take you a week or so before you get into the knack of it -- but once you have trained your brain to think 'half hour story time' you'll be surprised at how much writing-related work you can get done. You might even find it fun and rewarding enough that you expand it into a full hour.

We allow things to take up our time. We always have something on a list that we must do We'll fill that list every day; it's the kind of creatures we are. You consciously have to make room on the list for something new. I have seen people one day say they don't have time to write, and a few days later mention how they're taking up a new hobby. There is another indication that writing isn't getting the kind of recognition it needs. Those people are considering it less important than a new hobby.

If you are starting to see yourself in any of these descriptions, then you need to rethink your work as a writer.

Now some of you are thinking about how your muse can't be tied to a specific time, and how it would just be a waste of your time to set a schedule.

That's just more excuse making.

You are your muse. You are your inner editor. You are the writer. It's up to you to decide what you want to do. Maybe the angst part of not writing appeals to you. There are people out there who write far more about their writer's block than they will ever write of their fiction. They become addicted to the angst. Not all people with writer's block are in this situation, but it is often apparent which ones really are there just for the attention. If they could get a book published without the work and get the same amount of attention, they'd do it. This is just easier.

You have control over when and how you work. It may take you a while to get the knack of sitting down and working at a certain time. Give yourself small goals. Start with two hundred words. Those can be on the manuscript itself or on world building, characters or outline. You must make yourself write, though. You must put words on paper or screen. They must be words related to a writing project -- not notes about things you need to get done around the house.

You can do it. It's not as difficult as it sounds. You just have to want to give that much time to your writing. Maybe you really can't fit in half an hour every day -- but you should at least seriously consider trying before you say no.
There is no good reason to not do some writing every day. It doesn't have to be writing the fiction itself; you can work on world building, character creation or notes on your story idea. Eventually, it will add up to a story. You just have to be prepared to do the work, and not to make excuses to avoid it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snippets and stuff

It's been one of those weeks. Not a horrible week, but one that just keeps getting skewed off in odd directions. My plan had been to use the rest of March to work on two projects, one the short story class for the Holly stuff, and the other a project for me and a few friends. I would love to do the project for me, quite honestly. Instead, as usual, I find myself doing everything but that. The last couple days it's been a reworking of the FM site. A major reworking, in fact, that is taking most of my days to work out and do. Other matters set me to do this, working out something that I hope will make it easier on the moderators.

It will probably be late April before I get back to my project. The class stuff should be done far sooner than that, unless I dump another entire plan. I don't know why this is giving me so much trouble. Maybe it was just this winter. It seemed a very long, dreary winter to me. I must be more positive now and get things done. Time to get a few more things out in submission and start the last edit on another novel. I think it's going to be Paid in Gold and Blood. The start needs work, but the story is interesting.

It's nearly midnight again, and time to start thinking about getting back to work on FM. I don't think it's going to be another six hour stretch of work. I'm too tired tonight. I want to go crawl off to sleep already!

Writing is going fine. In fact, now that I think about it, I even have a fun little scene to post. I did a snippet of this in chat. The set up is this. The two fey (Neelin and his female guard, Parklyn) have been somewhere they shouldn't have been and had to race back to their suite ahead of the guards. No time to change and clean up. They don't dare use magic, because the guards have charms. So here is what happens:

"In my room," Neelin said and propelled Parklyn through the door. He followed, closed the door -- not slammed, though. He had just enough sense not to do that.

"We can't hide --"

"Strip," he said and began to tear off his clothing.

"Wha --"

"Strip and into the bed! Now!"

Her eyes went wide, but her hands moved. They could hear the men on the stairs. No time. Clothes. Boots. All into piles and kicked to the bed and half under it. Parklyn had a scar from her right breast to her stomach. Neelin hadn't known. He tried not to stare.

No time. They got into bed, tearing at the blankets and sheets. She wrapped herself around him, nuzzled his neck -- and he grabbed hold of her and pulled her tight --

He'd even forgotten the guards for that brief moment before the door opened --

"What the hell!" Neelin shoutedd, truly enraged. He had expected at least a knock!

A human guard stood in the door, two of his men right behind him -- and Neelin could see the blush of red spread from his neck to his face. The guard stepped forward and looked around, but Neelin thought it was mostly just not to look at them. His companions were less embarrassed. Gray, standing just outside the door, had a hand to his mouth and was very plainly trying hard not to laugh. Lith, who must have come with the guards, had his mouth clamped shut and his own face red, but that came from trying not to laugh, he was sure.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Neelin finally demanded, grabbing at the sheet.

The guard seemed to find that much covering a little better. He gave a nod finally and swallowed. "Found your man down by the docks, sir. We thought -- we thought --"

"There's some law against him being down by the docks?" Parklyn asked. She sounded very annoyed and far more professional. She even reached down by the bed and grabbed her tunic. "We heard there was a Zatmen ship coming in. Why shouldn't he be there to see one of our allies come to port?"

"You heard?"

"Felt," Neelin said and then shrugged. "We try to be careful of human sensibilities --"

"Though obviously humans have fewer of those than I thought," Parklyn said with a look that could have turned a lesser man to stone.

"My apologies. But -- there are problems."

"Problems," Neelin repeated. Then he shook his head. "Can you hand me some clothing? Would you mind stepping out of the room for a moment, at least? I am a Lord of the Fey Court. I would like a little respect and privacy, if you don't mind."

The man looked around again, frowned a little, and stepped out, his people with him. The door closed.

Parklyn shoved him down, bent over, and kissed him.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Busy stuff....

I am a busy person. We know that, right? I'd be busy if all I ever did was write. I'd be a happy busy person, too -- but I'm not particularly unhappy with the rest of my work. I like my work. It is all writing related, at least, and not a lot of people get the chance to work in so many different ways within the field they love.

Forward Motion takes up the most amount of my time, but in many ways it's the least amount of work. I fret over it more than I work with it most of the time. I have wonderful moderators there who do far more of the actual site work than I do most of the time. I spend a lot of time coming up with ideas that I work though and see if I can make them work for the site. Quite often, I can't find the clear path that would make them viable. I don't give up on them, though. I think the answers will still come at some point. I obviously just need to fret over it some more. So I have hidden projects on the FM site, still looking for the one key that will make them work.

Vision is a different situation. Vision for Writers was my idea from the start, which is why it was always housed on and not at Forward Motion. The back issues went to the Forward Motion site only after I took over there. We put Holly's name on it at the start because her name is gold -- but once she stepped away from FM, we decided to take the name off of Vision, which she had very little to do with anyway by that point. So Vision has always been my baby and I have fretted for ten years at making each issue. I've managed so far, but again it's from the help of others. If they didn't leap in to help, Vision never would have made it this far. There are some issues where it's a fight to get it done, to get it paid and to get it posted -- but I've managed so far.

The weekly newsletter for actually pays me. This is a rather startling event, given the amount of time I spend on things that don't pay me. It's not terribly difficult work, but it is time consuming and after 150 weeks of this work, it's sometimes hard to come up with something new to say. I have a lot of imaginative leeway in what I write about the new Platinum Club items, though. It's frustrating at times, but in almost three years, I have not missed an issue. (There were two weeks when they were doing something special -- actually four weeks, but I had done the newsletter the first week before they told me they were doing something special that week. Then I did something for the next week before they said it was actually for the entire month. LOL)

It's actually fun work a lot of the time. And it pays me.

The other work that pays me is writing, of course. But I spend so much time on those other three items that writing, even with my best intentions, waits on the wayside while I get other things done. I still manage to write quite a lot because it is what I do for fun. Even my submissions have been few and far between over the last few years. I'm changing that, which means a lot more attention to final drafts, rather than first drafts. I've already made that change over in the last couple years. I still write new material, and I do a few 'rewrite from scratch' stories where the original becomes a fancy outline. But I am also focusing on the final 'read aloud and fix' drafts, which I haven't done in a while.

I have two new projects this year, both of which will be starting up soon. The first is a set of classes to go with Holly's classes. I'll be covering short stories in the first one and probably some world building specific to science fiction and fantasy in the next. (Or that may be two different classes... it's hard to say right now.) I have scrapped three short story class versions so far, but I think I may finally have a clue what I want. The outline for the current version is looking better. If it keeps going this well, I may have a class ready by the end of the month. It would be about time. I hate it when things fight me, and I know a lot of this has just been because of a very long winter and a feeling of not making progress on anything.

My second new project is still a secret, but I have two people signed on already. I hope to have it somewhat up and going by the end of the month. This one has the chance of helping other authors and helping me. But it also means more non-writing work.

So there is my writing, stuck in the middle, so it seems from this list. It's what I want to do most, and it's what always calls me, so in some ways it's all right to have other things that need to be done and that I have to set as priorities. If I didn't have those, I'd be writing all the time. Nothing particularly wrong with that in my book, but it also doesn't hurt to have other work to do -- especially the stuff that pays. Amazing stuff, that money thing people sometimes give me just for writing, including writing the newsletter.

And in the last things I'm getting done, I have the new cover for Silky 1 done for the print edition. I think. I have gone through so many versions of this in the last week that I've come to realize I have less trouble editing books than working on this stuff. But it is a nice change for me, too. It gets me away from the writing stuff. Yeah, I love writing. There's nothing I would rather be doing. That doesn't mean it's what I should always be doing.

But you know, I think it's time I get back to it now.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Opening to the new novel

(Just started this, and it isn't even titled yet. All names subject to change... and edited to fix a gender problem)

Crossing the Alanius River, the last real obstacle between Neelin and the human's capital city, turned out to be a fiasco that bordered on a disaster. Parklyn pointed out the problem, saying nothing at all as she waved a hand toward the sign by the ferry that had started loading.

Humans only.

If he hadn't already traveled well over five hundred miles at the request of the human king, he might have just turned around and headed back home. Nothing a human had to say to him could be worth this much trouble and annoyance.

"Hey, you. No Feykin here," the ferryman said, as though they'd come closer. It made everyone turn in their direction, of course -- a good many unhappy faces to find fey anywhere near. "You ride with the animals. Down there."

He pointed down river to where someone was fighting a half dozen sheep onto a flat-bed barge. Neelin looked back at Parklyn, his personal guard, and didn't dare say anything at all. Grey and Lith said nothing at all as they all turned and walked down the muddy path, stinking of sheep, horses and cattle.

"He can't possibly have anything this important to say," Parklyn finally mumbled, walking close by. Her eyes had narrowed and her hand rested very, very close to the dagger at her side.

"We've come this far," Neelin replied, but his voice didn't sound any happier.

"And we can have a nice journey back home. Maybe raze a couple human villages and wake up a few dragons along the way," she said with a snort. But she pushed ahead and started helping to get the recalcitrant sheep aboard the barge. The old man who ran it looked half blind. Maybe he didn't even know he had feykin on the rotting bit of wood and rope.

Crossing the river turned out to be a fiasco that bordered on disaster. The other ferry had gone nearly all the way across before they even had the last of the sheep aboard. And the sheep didn't want to go across the river on the floating pile of logs. Wise sheep. The young shepherd, who glared at the feykin and looked ready to leap into the river if they came too near, huddled at the far edge, one leg already in the water. The half-dozen sheep, left without someone to keep them in line, started milling about, knocking over a crate with chickens, moving far too close to the edge of the barge -- all of them at once --

They started to tip.

The shepherd slipped, flailing as he started to go over. Two sheep landed in the water. The chickens were about to follow and probably all they feykin as well. The old man shouted and leapt up and down, as though that would help.

And somewhere, over on the human ferry, he heard the sound of laughter.

Damned if he was going to let the humans laugh at him, the animals, and the shepherd who was likely going to drown if they didn't do something.

He heard the whisper of his Uncle's voice in that moment: Don't do anything that is going to cause the feykin trouble, Neel. Don't use magic at all where they're around. Be wise."

Wisdom said he should fall in the river, let the animals and the people drown, never mind the chickens trapped in the cage.

"Neel --" Parklyn said, her voice rising in worry. She caught his arm, and he wasn't going to go over unless the entire barge did. But the shepherd lost his grip and the sheep were already starting to go under --

"Not going to let it happen," Neel said, pulling free from her. She gave a hiss of anger, but when he brought up his hand, she did as well.

There were shouts now from the other ferry. Sounds of surprise and worry, but not about the magic. Not yet. The shepherd had gone under and didn't come back up. Apparently they all thought the joke had gone far enough.

Neelin did. He pulled away from Parklyn and went to the edge of the barge -- and leapt into the water.

It was the only way he could find the boy. Down into the cold, dirty water -- one of the damned sheep kicked him in the head -- and not a moment too soon. The boy was already lifeless, heading downstream --

Neelin grabbed him with a rope of magic -- it probably glowed very prettily through the water -- and grabbed the boy. He yanked him closer, fed him magic and tried not to drown himself, all at the same time. Not an easy task. The damned sheep were still there and another knocked right into the back of his head.

He surfaced, pulling the boy up with him.

"Get -- get these damned sheep out of the water before they kill me!" he shouted.

That brought laughter from Parklyn, at least. Lith and Grey were pulling he sheep in, praise the gods. And the boy was breathing -- he could feel that with his arm wrapped around his chest, trying to pull him back to the barge that was still moving across the river.

"Got him," Parklyn said, coming close enough to the edge to grab the boy and pull him up. The sheep were all there, along with the chickens. Lith kept the animals in the middle of the barge where they belonged and the old man was moving as fast as he could to get them across the river.

Neelin pulled himself up out of the water. He unexpectedly heard shouts of approval from the ferry that had nearly reached the other side of the river. Well, not all bad, then, though he felt half ill.

"Alright, Prince Neelin?" Grey asked, kneeling beside him and offering his flask of ale.

"I've had better baths," he said with a sigh. He sipped the ale with a nod of thanks and handed it back. They were, finally, pulling up on the far bank.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Late, busy, preparing....

For the last week or so, I've been trying very hard to get Silky 3 done. I'm down to the last 20 pages of read aloud/edit/read aloud/edit ... you get the idea. It's actually going very well, despite that my right eye is acting up again and that I'm fighting a headache because of that. The great thing about computers, though, is that you can resize the font larger and make things less troublesome.
Silky 3 should go to Holly tonight or tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I start a new novel of which I only have a 14 point outline at the moment. I would like to have more, but I don't know if I'm going to get there. I can see a lot in those 14 points, though, so I'm not worried about anything except that it might be a novella rather than a novel. That's not really a worry, just an observation.

I am going to do print versions of the Silky books. Holly and I have discussed this in passing for a long time now, and I'm really preparing to get it done. This is, quite honestly, the month in which I take charge of my writing future and start moving again. We all know the world of publishing is changing. There are so many new ways to reach readers, and yes, I am going to start taking some of them more seriously than I have in the past.

That's going to be my birthday present to myself this year. And you know -- it's kind of exciting.

I am also thinking about creating a zoo photo book for myself. That sounds like an odd sort of fun, though searching through over 3k in pictures to find 50 or so I want to put in it may be a little more time consuming than I really want to do. We'll see!

But I'm late with this by a few days, and I have those twenty pages to edit still. So up this goes and off to work I go!
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