How to break a writer’s block . . . .

Four cups of coffee followed by a chaser of two cups of (non-herbal) tea leads to about 1500 words and the near-completion of a first draft. Not, lamentably, one of the three I’ve been glaring at for the last couple weeks, but a whole brand new one that I started ’cause I had an opening. Sigh. I suspect this one will be unsaleable, because, again, I’ve written to one, highly competitive market only. But I enjoyed writing it and I feel good about simply getting words on the page at last. ‘Course it’s not quite done yet. But I know the ending already and I’m almost there.

I’m beginning to think that if I don’t finish a story in its first week of creation, it won’t get finished. Now that’s just sad.

But at least I’m writing something.

I think I’m on the tail end of my caffeine lift. Do I have more tea, or crash?

On a happy note, our Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 DVD set came in today in the mail. Hurray!

Grrr

I’m in a pissy mood. Just plain and simple, I’m grumpy.

First of all, my project is behind schedule ’cause the testing environment people were so pokey getting our environment set up. So, in order to make up the slack they created, us systems analysts need to now work shifts for the rest of the month because we all can’t test simultaneously in the same environment. When we do so, we crash each other’s jobs. So now I’m working a fucked-up schedule for the next three weeks with late nights and weekends and no overtime. I hate working Friday and Saturday nights. And I hate that I’m not getting overtime for it.

Next, I’m just plain feeling uncharitable. There’s a dimwit over in the LJ community who’s espousing the “poor man’s copyright” (send your manuscript to yourself registered mail, don’t open it, blah blah blah) as a means of protecting author’s works. The poor man’s copyright has been worthless since 1909. I tried to set him straight, as I believe in spreading the word about the writing biz when I can, and he’s just being irksome and pig-headed. Hell, I even cited sources and provided links which he blatantly said he had no intention of clicking on. The stupid git. It annoys me because I posted with good intentions–to set the record straight so folks won’t waste their time and money on the useless artifice. And he’s arguing with me while refusing to acknowledge my sources (my main one being a writer’s lawyer specializing in intellectual propery and publishing law, deceptive acts and practices, and complex litigation). No reason. Just ’cause.

Okay, normally something like that wouldn’t particularly bug me, but today I’m on a short fuse.

And finally, I’m especially miffed with myself because I seem to be, once again, mired in writer’s block. I sit down to write, and nothing comes. I re-read what I’ve got to get back into the flow (my standard operating procedure), and when it comes time to make new words, nothing, nadda, zip. Fuckity fuckity fuckity.

Fume. Stomp. Growl.

Rewrite completed and sent off to Leading Edge. Hurray! Now, again, comes the waiting. I hate waiting. I thought I was a patient person, but ever since I really started marketing my writing, I think my rock of patience has been worn to a little granite pebble. Sigh. But still, a sense of achievement. Yay!

Rambling about Hobkin

Hot Damn!

Got a rewrite request in the mail today from Leading Edge. Hot fucking damn! And it’s a very positive request, as in “provided you make this change, we would like to publish your story in our next issue.”

Woo hoo! I’m *this* close to making my first sale of the year!

*rewriting like a mad woman*

Back to the grind

It’s always weird coming back after a vacation. My time sense is all screwed up. Isn’t it lunchtime yet?

Last week was event-heavy. Paul, a friend of ours from Illinois, flew down to visit over the Memorial Day weekend. It was a pretty low-key visit as Matthew and I had much prep to do for the new arrival and the road trip to Iowa (gah–twenty hours one way). Paul treated us to a showing of AotC–he’s our resident (or not-so-resident as the case may be) Star Wars fanatic. This was his fourth viewing, only the second for us. And we introduced him to “Sam’s Gourmet Vegetarian Paradise” which specializes in faux meat facsimiles. Yummy.

And then there was the driving. Fortunately, Matthew and I are on different wake/sleep cycles. He drives at night while I nap, and I drive during the day while he naps. But twenty hours in a car is grueling no matter how you look at it. We left on Monday after driving Paul to the airport for his flight back to Illinois.

We arrived at the breeders in Iowa at noonish on Tuesday feeling pretty wiped already. We spent a few hours talking to the breeder and meeting Hobkin’s parents and touring the farm (they also breed foxes and lynxes) and then it’s back on the road for another twenty hours with baby Hobkin. Made it home early Wednesday morning–around 8am. Man, that was rough. There are NO rest stops in Kentucky and precious few in Tennessee. What’s the deal with that? There were some definitely worrisome hours there when I was so zoned I couldn’t keep my eyes open so couldn’t help Matthew stay awake, and Matthew’s hanging on to consciousness-behind-the-wheel by his fingernails, struggling to make it to the next rest stop so we can pull over and nap for a few hours. Yeek.

But it was worth it.

For those interested in hearing me gush about the new baby.

Fucking insomnia

When I was younger, I always thought insomnia meant 3am wakefulness and tossing and turning and not being able to fall asleep. I thought I was immune. I never had problems sleeping through the night, nor did I have difficulty falling asleep. But I was always an extremely early riser. Now I know better. Insomnia is your red, bleary eyes popping open at 5:30 AM and your heart pounding with excitement at the idea of waking up while the rest of your physiology rails profanities at it. Blagh.

Not being able to go back to sleep is a bitch. Especially when you’ve only had four or five hours of quality snooze time and it’s the seventh day in a row that this has happened. Fuckity fuckity fuck.

Matthew saw a show, several weeks ago, on the Biography channel or Discovery channel or something, about many great (terrible) historical world leaders. People like Stalin and Hitler and Mao, and some of them were loons, and some of them just really ambitious, but all of them, down to the last one, had problems sleeping. There’s also a greater percentage of tortured artists who have sleep dysfunctions.

Oh, and did I mention that sleep problems are a major symptom of incumbent or progressing mental illness? Well, it’s nice that my graduate degree in Psychology is of some use. I can tick off the symptoms of my ailing brain as they happen and hand a diagnosis on a plate to my physician. And then I can write my own psychotropics cocktail prescription. Snarl.

I wonder how much of it is whacked out circadian rhythms? I’ve always had an internal wake-alarm (and they’re only now examining the existence of an internal alarm clock in sleep research–snarf. The sillies.) which tended to wake me about a minute before my digital alarm went off, or that I could set if I needed to wake up in the AM without an alarm clock, but I think the clock in my brain got skewed. Like when you reach your arm out in bed and accidentally thunk your clock and it jumps forward a couple hours. That’s me. One poorly set clock.

Oh well. I’ll be awake for sure when my alarm goes off in about . . . oh an hour. So we won’t be late picking up our friend, Paul, at the airport. He’s flying in from Illinois to visit over the long holiday weekend. Hurray!

Hah. I ended this ranting entry on an up note. Good for me.

I feel like whining.

Overdid something at belly dance class on Tuesday. Owitch. Not sure what those muscles are, but they sure are protesting loud. It wasn’t this bad yesterday, but I felt twinges. Should’ve soaked in the hot tub. Owie. Will definitely spend some quality time under the Jacuzzi jets tonight. Ouch.

I took some ibuprophen, but, as I suspected, ibuprophen appears to inflame my thoracic nerve (don’t know why. That makes no sense that I can comprehend.) and now my arms ache and my hands are tingly. Dammit.

My story picked up thirty critiques on Critters this week. Blink. I typically average twenty, so that’s a larger sampling of readers than I’m accustomed to. Lotso mixed reviews. I got TWO regulars who said this was the best thing of mine they’ve read. I’d be worried except they’re usually pretty glowy about my stuff. And I got several useless “you should re-write this story completely and make it my story instead of yours” and quite a few comments about the vocabulary complexity. Can’t help it. “I don’t understand the big words you use” sorts of comments always irk me. Writers and aspiring writers should have extensive vocabularies. I got one critique from someone who didn’t know what the words “cloying” and “precipice” meant. Oh dear.

But, since I rewrite as I get comments in, the rewrite’s done and the story’s off to seek a home in the wide, wide world. Good luck little story! Do me proud!

Now if I can just finish up the @#*$&! three stories I’m currently working on.

Or, better yet, sell one of the ones that’re currently out.

Sigh.

Harlan Ellison

Okay, I just finished Angry Candy. I read “Chained to the Fast Lane in the Red Queen’s Race” and “The Function of Dream Sleep” during my lunch break and I’m all weepy-faced and sniffly in my cube.

Damn, but that man can write.

And I was so absorbed I stopped eating my lunch and now it’s cold and vaguely glutinous. But it was worth it.

I was thinking of switching to some William Gibson after Angry Candy but instead, I think I need to find more Ellison to read. Damn. “Dream Sleep” really got to me. I still have that hollow feeling you get with tears coming. Damn. I wish I could write like that.

Ramblings

Waiting on the database analysts to upgrade our test environment. This project has resembled a fiasco since moment one. But, while I’m in the limbo ether of waiting, my mind sort of spiked off into a ramble-a-thon.

I’ve been on a Harlan Ellison kick recently. I read his Deathbird Stories anthology and am mostly through his Angry Candy anthology. Authors who excel and revel in the short story form are rare these days. The short is an under-appreciated and under-utilized format. I think most genre writers view it as more of a training ground than as meritous in itself.

Did I mention that I’ve met Harlan Ellison? The man’s amazing. Rather intimidating, but you can see the heart beating on his sleeve. There’s a picture of me with him at Dragon*Con floating around on a hard drive somewhere. Gotta get that.

Anyway, Deathbird seems to be much angrier than Angry Candy, ironically. The fire which is a hallmark of Ellison’s writing is . . . banked in Candy. It’s more despairing than angry. I think his works are best served simmering.

And on a tangent–I mentioned this was a ramble, didn’t I?–I’m seeing a trend in authors where their childhoods really shape what they write. Like with Ellison, he had a vicious childhood as a Jewish child at a time when anti-Semitism was still pretty prevalent in America. And, as anyone who’s met or seen Ellison knows, he’s never been one to back down from a fight. And he carries a lot of angry memories from that time, apparently. You can see it in the stories he writes–in the children’s faces, either innocent evil or oppression. While Ray Bradbury seems like he had a more idyllic childhood and he writes of long, beatific summers and the mystery and wonder of youth.

I kind of wonder that my childhood doesn’t shape my writing more. I mean, it was horrible. And it’s not like I’ve blanked it from my memory or anything. I’ve still got some pretty vivid memories of my mother railing abuses at me at the top of her lungs in public, and in front of my little school children non-chums who then proceeded to mock me with it. Plenty of emotional abuse, pain, and repressed fury, a ripe landscape to transfer into emotion-filled tales. But it doesn’t seem to figure into my writing much. Wonder why? And I wonder if I should try to explore that more, give my writing that edge of despair.

Or maybe it’s because it doesn’t really bother me anymore. My childhood was horrible, but it happened and I’m over it. It sort of feels . . . I dunno, feels odd somehow to consider intentionally trying to revisit it.

Aw Hell. I just need to write something. I’m in the middle of three stories now. Dammit, I need to finish one of them.

Enough rambling. It’s lunchtime.