“That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang”

It took me quite a long time to achieve the level of groove I’ve got now. I’ll be happier with it when I start seeing what sort of finished stories I start to produce. But right now, I’m more interested in my daily progress.

Before the AS3K, I used to carry around two legal pads, a white one for draft when I couldn’t or wouldn’t carry my laptop around, and a yellow one for notes. Nowadays, I don’t have much need for my white pad. I do all of my drafting on the AlphaSmart, and other writing and planning in my notebook or my canary pad. So yeah, I got a new style, as the kids say. The important thing is whether or not my new process helps me produce on a daily basis, regardless of how I perceive the “quality” of the first draft.

Because right now, I really don’t know where this new piece of mine, “The one with the warlock JuCo,” is going. I honestly wonder whether there’s a story in here. I think the initial scene that inspired the story in the first place is compelling and could maybe be turned into some sort of light flash piece. But beyond that, I’m running into the “Okay, why should anyone care?” question. It’s tempting to quit, but I won’t. It’s more likely I’ll be tempted to sit and type pages and pages of notes and summaries and shit–I’ve got 9 pages of “supplementary material” that thus far has helped me write a mere 7 pages of first draft. What point, if any, does a cost-benefit analysis come into play?

Written with

Drowning in RSS

So, I’ve been writing so much that I’ve let gobs and gobs of intarwub stuff pile up in my Google Reader. I’ve tried to quit “starring” anything, at least until I got caught up. Yeah, right. I just piled shit into Google Bookmarks.

Anyway, here’s a random sampling of stuff I’ve accumulated, mostly writing related.

1
From Dar Kush (Steven Barnes) on reading.

The point is that your output will be one step down from your input. You can’t read comic books and write classics. Sorry. Here’s a joke I always tell students: ‘If you want to write comic books, read pulp fiction. If you want to write pulp fiction, read popular fiction. If you want to write popular fiction, read bestsellers. If you want to write bestsellers, read classics. And if you want to write classics..? Choose your grandparents very carefully.’

2
Steve Perry on writers workshops (part one of two)

Damon [Knight]’s personal taste is not the same as an intrinsic flaw in the piece, and you have to be able to tell the difference, else you wind up producing stories that please the workshoppers but don’t sell …

Here’s part two.

3
Another POV on critique groups from Bev Vincent.

4
Sarah Monette talks about Five Things I Know About Worldbuilding

5
Paul Jessup writes about The Newbie Writer Cycle.

Jay Lake follows up with The Early Career Writer cycle

6
There is NO….number 6.

7
From Warren’s Bad Signal mail a few weeks ago…

But I did note that apparently the Gene Hunt role in the
ill-advised American remake of LIFE ON MARS is going to
good old Colm Meaney. And god knows Meaney’s made some
crap to pay the mortgage, but he tends to elevate a thing —
or at least let some light into it — just by showing up. So I
might give the remake a look after all, even though it’s
almost guaranteed to be a train wreck…

And there you have it. Vital bits of information that, only by the grace of God, I’ve managed to survive without blogging about until today.

“They’re only words, unless they’re true”*

(*with apologies to Carl Wilson, et al.)

Jesus, this place got dusty. That’s okay, though. We’ll just sweep it all under the rug and get to bloggin’.

My bud Jill asked me re: my latest piece “Masked”…

When can I read this?

Hell, when am I going to read it?

I haven’t since I posted that last entry. “Masked” ended up being a beast of a manuscript, clocking in at 6,651 words by MSWord count. By the “usual” method, we’re talking 6,960…call it 7k (especially if I’m sending this to a pro market :)). That’s part of the reason I haven’t re-read it yet. Yes, there’s all that jazz about letting a story “cool” for a bit. But, I just don’t write 6600 words! 5500, one time (the one piece I’ve sold for actual cash). But 6600? I know I’ve gotta trim, but the last couple of times I read it, I was hard-pressed to find 1600 words worth of stuff to cut.

That’ll change, I know. I’m in a panic over nothing. I’m sure when I look at it again (not until at least Monday), I’ll be able to take the pencil and slash away. Then, I’ll bring it to ol’ writing group (if they can stomach it again–if I can stomach it again), and once it passes muster, then I may pass it around to other folks, kind of like a Camberwell Carrot.

New Old Toy

I forget if I’ve talked about wanting one of those PDA/fold-out keyboard combos, something to use as an ultraportable word processor to write on the fly a la Warren Ellis, et. al. Others have opted for something like this here device, the AlphaSmart 3000.

It’s a sturdy one-piece word processor. That’s it. No wireless or Bluetooth capability, not even Tetris–at least, not the lower-end model and certainly not on the discontinued models. And, having been loaned one for the past two days with an option to buy, it’s taken me exactly that long to fall in love with it. It’s an older, dinosaur model and not as small as a PDA, but it gives me exactly what I need!

It’s solid and light (less than two pounds). The battery life is ridiculously long. It dumps content onto my computer, into whatever program I can type into (Word, Notepad, whatever), and even works as a keyboard emulator, to boot. I typed out most of this entry (aside from some minor edits) in a coffee shop a few hours ago, and I’m right now watching it dump right into a Blogger entry box.

The implications for my writing productivity blow my mind. Plus, all the potential ways I could “lifehack” this thing–hell, it’s a listmaker and calculator, what more could a GTD geek ask for?

Of course, once I own this puppy, I have no excuse whatsoever for writing something–a “plug-in,” some flash fiction, the occasional brainstorm, some edits–every single day. Not that I’ll be using this every time, just for the times when I feel I just have to type as opposed to handwrite stuff for whatever reason.

Gone will be the days when I go, “Eh, I need to type this out; I’ll just wait until I get home.” Gone will be the days I lug around my laptop almost every damn day only to get a little bit done because I’ve dicked around on teh Intarwebs. Nope, no more excuses that don’t have to do directly with my willpower or lack thereof.

Bad Attitude

Wow, I’m just not feeling it on any level right now. And, I’ve already written the first draft of a story today, a flash piece for the online flash crit group I’m in, in about an hour. I remember when that would’ve been a coup. Today, (a) I’m half-berating myself because that’s just not the project I’m supposed to be working on right now and (b) now I’ve got one more thing to edit.

I know that’s the absolute wrong way to look at things right now, but there it is.

So That’s How It’s Done

Elizabeth Bear writes in Storytellers Unplugged: Passion and the single blogger

And that’s what makes [certain blogs] readable–compulsive, even. Because they’re committed. They’re there laying it on the line. This is what I do, and this is how I do it.

And that? Is interesting. And it’s interesting in ways that apply to fiction writing, too. Because characterization counts. I mean, let’s be honest here: Shakespeare couldn’t plot his way out of a wet paper bag. And he knew it, too, which is why he lifted stories from everywhere and anywhere, with the peculiar light-fingered pickpocket’s touch of his. But the man could write characters–people–better than just about anybody.

A good weblog is about character.

Rolfing My Inner Child

So you went and you found you a guru
In an effort to find you a new you
And maybe even managed to raise your conscious level.
While you’re striving to find the right road,
There’s one thing you should know,
“What’s hip today might become passé”

Tower of Power, “What Is Hip”

Note to self: Work that quote into a rewrite of this essay, written such a long time ago I’m almost embarassed by the prose.

Spreading the Blame

From Dar Kush:

Please remember [some stuff he was talking about in reference Ving Rhames’ character in the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry] in the context of white audiences still apparently unwilling to accept the onscreen hetersexual coupling of Black or Asian men. IT’S NOT HOLLYWOOD–don’t think you can pigeon-hole it, lay this problem off on a few executives. Hollywood just tallies the box office, boys and girls. They have no agenda higher than making their Hummer payments. This is America.

Scattered

I’ve just now had to stop, take a deep breath, and just accept that my creative energy is pretty scattershot right now. I thought that some of the writing I’ve done over the past couple of days would take the edge off, but it hasn’t.

Aside from the Raketenwerfer thing, I’ve scrawled about three or four pieces of my patented Vogon poetry. Just the usual stuff I’d never show to another living soul. Though I spent an inordinate amount of time polishing. I might never plan to show them, but at least they should be somewhat presentable in the unlikely event that they are ever seen.

I actually started two first drafts of things that will most likely end up as stories, once I figure out where they’re going. That’s six or seven pieces of writing, NOT counting the random stuff I’ve been cramming into the notebook, before I’ve even opened up the project folders of some of the stuff on the sidebar.

I had the idea that I could take a couple of past ideas, one unfinished and one I thought was finished, and hopefully polish one up in time for the crit group this Sunday. So far, it’s not looking good. Luckily, I have tomorrow off, but I was really hoping to get a jump on things today. Maybe I won’t.

I need to get up and walk around.

Brain Dump

I ranted like some rabid dog on the other blog some days ago. In case the context might have been lost, the story was that life conspired to deny me the writing time I took off from work to get (i.e. my first paid vacation in years). And since I couldn’t get it because, frankly, there were other needs to be tended to, I went and turned into a brat and went all “scorched earth” on my time. Meaning that I utterly refused to be a good family member and make myself present to attend to others’ very real needs if I couldn’t attend to my writing. Needless to say I made other people’s lives, and my own, pretty hellish for a while.

I’m not proud of that.

Luckily, by the end of last weekend, I got over it, even as I managed (to the possible chagrin of others) to beg, borrow, and steal writing time away.

Stephen King said in On Writing:

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects.

Well, I managed to jot some things down, anyway. Oddly enough, though, I really don’t think a lot of my company seemed to mind. I made a little bit of progress on the 3rd, and hopefully salable, draft of “The one about the angel”

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
288 / 4,420
(6.5%)

I’ve also started drafts of things. Good beginnings of…something. Trouble is, see all those projects on the sidebar, there? Regardless of what I choose to work on, if I can’t get anything finished come Sunday’s critique group, I’m going to be sitting there twiddling my thumbs, and I’m damned if I’m going to do that.