Day 26: The Day Job is Totally Kicking My Ass…But I’m Still Writing

The 2011 Legislative Session is being a tricksy thing. Started out deceptively mild, but it’s shifted into full gear and is now thrashing my ass. Weekends and late nights galore.

This week looks to be pretty hellish. All the legislators are scrambling to get their bills introduced before Day 30, Crossover Day–when bills have to pass at least one chamber or be dropped–coming up next Wednesday.

Put aside the novel last week to work on another writing project, but just fired that baby off (it’s still in the glint-in-the-eye stage, so I can’t say more about it). Now getting ready to pick Dragon Queller back up. Overall, words-per-day dropping to less than 500, but the important thing is to keep chugging away. Right? Right??


Day 21: Princess and the Golden Fish: Part 3 Now Out and Writing Progress

It’s Day 21 of Georgia’s 2011 Legislative Session, and we’re now officially past the halfway mark.  The day job is utterly cleaning my clock.  Spent all of Sunday at the capitol, and I must’ve looked pretty haggard yesterday, ’cause my co-editors shooed me home as soon as the office closed…or maybe it was the number of times I careened off a wall or door jam.  (There’s a marked and dramatic correlation between how mushed my brain is and how klutzy I am; I seem to lose peripheral vision and stop being able to gauge distance-to-wall/door with any accuracy.)

However, I’m still making good progress on Dragon Queller.  Averaging between 800 and 900 words a day and have put down a whopping 25K since session began.  Rah.  Keeping on keeping on.

In other news, got my contrib. copies of the March issue of Cricket with part 3 of “The Princess and the Golden Fish.”  Shiny:
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Day 13: Calculating a Formula for Writing Productivity

So we’re one month into the 2011 legislative session, and we’re only at Day 13.  I’m a little scared of what that may portend. 

On the writing front, I’ve managed 16.4K words on Dragon Queller, 11.5K of those since session began.  Not quite at the “novella” marker but well into “novelette.” From past experience with my novel efforts, I tend to hit my “oh-my-god-this-is-too-long-must-stop-now” wall somewhere into the novella range. My short story writer’s instinct kicking in or something. But since this is my first actual, bona fide sequel, I’m thinking maybe I won’t be smacking into that particular obstacle. I hope.

Also, as Matthew observed, that’s a better month’s word count than a lot of my non-session writing months. Been suffering from more insomnia, too.  There’s a formula somewhere in there. If I can figure out the proper ratios of time crunch pressure, generalized stress, and sleep deprivation to maximize writing productivity, I’ll have the ultimate Eugie-writing-machine.

Yeah, I’ll let everyone know as soon as I figure that out…

Thumbs Up from My Agent and The Princess and the Golden Fish: Part 2 Now Out

Finished my final revisions on Demon Queller and, with heart thumping and sweating palms, shipped it off to my agent. Just heard back from him, and he really liked it! I am unable to properly express the profoundness of chuffed that I am.

And now, of course, comes the waiting.

So far, managing around 350 words a day on the sequel, Dragon Queller. Not exactly what I’d call great productivity, but considering its session, I’ll take it. Three chapters down, 6,607 words and counting. It’s a start.

Also got my contrib. copies of the February, 2011, issue of Cricket with part two of “The Princess and the Golden Fish.” Yay! Continue reading

Ruminations on Writing: My Aging Brain and Trying to Keep it Shipshape and Yar During Session

So this year, I’ve decided that I’m going to try to not take a hiatus from writing during the legislative session. I’ve mentioned time and again how after a prolonged break from writing it feels like my writing muscle has atrophied and I need to build it up again.  It’s getting harder and harder to tone it back up these days.  Compounding the stress of session with the stress of writing might be the height of folly, and I’m sure there will be episodes of frustration and failure, but I think it’s something I should attempt.

I’ve noticed that those elusive, transcendent periods of writing flow, where the words and the story stream from mind to page in a euphoric epiphany of rightness are becoming not so much elusive as extinct.  I’ve waved the “Writing is Hard Work” banner at nearly every panel I’ve spoken on.  I know better than to expect cake.  But there have been vast stretches of time—months and months and months—where it seems all my hours of writing, day after day, have been spent groping for words that never come.  I’d almost forgotten what flow felt like until one day last month when I was working on an additional scene for Demon Queller, and I hit it.   Then it was totally, “Oh, yeah.  I remember this. This is what writing-love feels like. Where have you been, baby?”  And I realized that the last time I remembered hitting flow was…one year, no two, maybe could it have been even longer ago?  And that made me go buggy. Continue reading

First Sale of 2011: Beneath the Silent Bell, the Autumn Sky Turns to Spring

Woohoo! I just heard from the fabulous Jennifer Brozek that she’s buying my “Kiyohime” story–now titled “Beneath the Silent Bell, the Autumn Sky Turns to Spring”–for the DAW anthology Human for a Day.

First story sale of 2011!

I love deadlines. I wrote most of this one back in November, and then ended up stuck on a plot point. Meant to finish it over the holidays but I never get anything done then. (I don’t know why I keep thinking I will.) Next thing I knew, it’s the new year, the deadline’s snorting steam down my neck and striking fear in my heart, and poof, I stopped being stuck. I hadn’t worked my plot issue out, but I just started putting words down because I knew I had to, and miraculously, what I’d been spinning my gears on resolved itself. La.

Deadlines stress the heck out of me and wreak holy havoc on my sleep, but I am never so productive as when I’m sweating to meet a deadline.

It’s Time to Stop Writing for the Day When the Pain Becomes Blinding

Managed 1.5K words on the new novel. Meant to try to wrap up the “Kiyohime” short story, but I wanted to put down a couple thoughts on Dragon Queller. “A couple thoughts” turned into “this scene” which turned into “this scene plus this bridge” which turned into “this chapter.”

Now head hurts a lot. Pain radiating down my neck and spreading to my shoulder. Looking at the monitor makes my eyes go squinty, and my stomach’s all queasy from the owing. Stupid of me, really, but I’d always figured that “suffering for one’s art” was figurative.

I think it’s time to call to call it done for the day. And take a handful of pills.

Writing Progress and State of the Human Suit. My Sinuses Hate Me.

The good news is that my joints don’t ache, so I’m likely not having a flare-up. The bad news is that everything sinus-related hurts or is otherwise nonfunctional: head, eyes, face, nose. But the upshot is that I’m not contagious (probably), and with the application of a veritable pharmacopoeia of meds, I can still function. Sort of.

Managed around 700 words on the “Kiyohime” short story. Also decided to give in and began writing the sequel to Demon Queller. It feels like the height of presumption (and folly) to start work on book 2 when book 1 isn’t even at the “ready to market” stage, but it also feels wrong to smother the craving to put words on the page. Ergo, 2K words on Dragon Queller.

My muse, she is a skanky crack whore. I know it. She knows it. We’re way beyond rehab.

Making Progress on the Short Story and More Thoughts on Short Story Versus Novel Writing

Managed 1.5K on the “Kiyohime” short story yesterday. It’s coming along well. Think I’m around the halfway point. Got the whole story outlined and plotted out, including the twisty bit which was annoying the heck outta me, and getting close to the climax scene. At this rate, I might have it at zero draft before month’s end.

It’s a little weird working on a whole new story after slaving away at the novel for so long. Having to reset my story/character head-space to get it out of my novel’s world. And I keep having the itch to return to my novel’s characters and continue their story.

That’s a brand new, shiny novelty for me. I’m accustomed to feeling done with a world and characters after finishing a short story. I’ve had folks ask me whether I was going to expand some of my short work into novels, and I had a hard time seeing the appeal of that. I mean, I told their tale, that’s it, the end. (‘Course, having said that, Demon Queller began life as the short story “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” )

But I intentionally left room for continuation in the novel, and now I want to continue it. I see the virtue of being a novelist with an ongoing series. The characters and their world become fundamentally ingrained in your creative consciousness, and you don’t need to be constantly rebuilding new worlds and new people–although, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of appeal in that too.

‘K, I get it. Writerly revelation, la. And I thought I was past those. Hah. The cosmos calls “hubris” on me yet again.

Weekend Productivity Fail – Lost in Research

So I spent the weekend not writing. Instead, I researched.

I really, really try to only do ad hoc research for stories because I know that if I start doing preemptive/preliminary/preparatory research, it will eat my soul–and my time, which is more valuable. But I started looking up a fairly, or so I thought, simple detail about Buddhism as practiced in Japan, and that led to the Meiji Restoration, which led to some interesting things about Shintoism…and, well, soul-eating was had.

And now I’m behind where I want to be on the short story. Sigh. Stupid inquisitive, obsessive-compulsive brain.