Head better, neck not

Headache is definitely better. To make up for it, I slept funny, and now I’ve got this truly annoying crick in my neck. I can’t turn my head very far to the left. Sigh.

Had a lovely evening last night with dire_epiphany, astralfire, and their son, Blake. They swung by to drop off some film festival stuff, and stayed to gab. Although Hobkin spent most of the evening cowering under the hutch. Silly, antisocial beastie. Or it could be the heat. We’re pretty sure we need to have someone come in to look at our A/C unit. It’s just not doing a good job of keeping the heat at bay, making for hot humans, and a cranky skunk.

Writing Stuff:

Did some dwelling on the work-in-progress story, but no new wordage.

Haven’t started writing a review of the new Sci-Fiction story for Tangent yet. Last I checked, the new story hadn’t posted yet. I saw on the Nightshade Books board that they’re doing server maintenance so they have to manually load it, hence the tardy. But in any case, the impetus to complete my review and get it to my editor as promptly as possible is mitigated by his apparent disappearance into a sucking vortex.

Another of the writers’ boards I drop in on is conducting a “why/how/when you write” survey–so I engaged in a nice bit of writerly procrastination, which seems to be a recurring theme today . . .

1) Do you have any rituals associated with your writing?

Not rituals, per say, but I have things that seem to encourage the flow of words. Hobkin, my skunk, curled up at my side and a pot of Teavana’s Empress of China tea or Harry & David’s coffee are strong aides. Sugary candy to nibble is nice, as is a non-demanding but pretty television program on in the background, maybe music if I’m so inclined. I prefer a nicely regulated environment, not too hot, not too cold–hmm, maybe Goldilocks was a frustrated writer? Aside from that, I’m pretty freeform.

2) How do you organize your research and story notes?

Via computer word processing documents. I keep a separate folder (broken out by year) that holds my research notes. If they’re for a specific story, they go in my “works” folder. If they’re just generic topical research that piqued my interest, it goes in a “research” folder for later speculation.

3) Do you ever use your dreams as the basis for stories?

Very rarely.

4) Do you believe writers should only write what they know? Or do you think that research can take the place of what you don’t know about things, places, people? On a metaphysical level, do you think that it is possible that one doesn’t know what one knows until it’s written out? Stephen King once wrote that no one knows what he or she really thinks about anything until they’ve actually written it down.

Barring any metaphysical debate, I think writers should both write what they know and do their research. A writer’s firsthand sensory experience can bring a story’s setting to life, but knowing the basic rudiments of astrophysics if you’re writing a space exploration story is essential too.

5) Do you keep a journal? Do you keep a regular, daily journal (what teenage girls call diaries) or a writer’s journal of story ideas? Do you keep a dream journal? Or do you keep all three? and if you do, are they in the same book or in different books? If you do keep a journal, do you keep it on the computer or in a blank book by hand?

I keep a LiveJournal blog which I use to document my writing progress, milestones, and funks. It also serves as a daily diary of my non-writing life–pictures of my pet skunk, gossip, rants, and suchlike. I don’t keep a dream journal. I started to once, but it got tedious, so I quit.

6) Do you have your own room? If not, do you have a special place to write?

Not really. I tend to write propped up on the living room chaise, although I can and have written in other places. It’s not the external environment which is important to me; it’s the internal one.

7) Do you write every day or only when inspiration hits? If you do write every day, do you set yourself a quota of so many hours, so many words or so many pages? Which? If you do set yourself quotas, how do you feel when you meet them? When you fail to meet them? Do you write on a schedule – so many hours at a certain time of day? If yes, when do you write – morning or evening – and why? Is it because this is the most convenient time or the only time when you can write or because it is the time when you write best?

I try to write everyday, but I don’t. I’m pretty much at the mercy of my muse. When I first set myself a daily goal, it was a thousand words a day, but I ended up writing five-hundred words on some days, and three-thousand on others. At first it annoyed me when I couldn’t make my daily 1K goal, then I became resigned. I write what I can, when I can–AM or PM.

8) How do you write? By hand or with a computer? If by hand, do you write in notebooks or on loose leaf paper? With a pen or a pencil? Is the paper colored or white, lined or unlined? Do you write at a desk or table or on a lapdesk? If by computer, do you use a word processor like MS Word or WPerfect or do you use one of the new special writer’s softwares like Rough Draft, WriteItNow2, yWriter2 or some other one and if you do, which is it and why?

I write on a computer–primarily on my laptop, although I have written on my desktop system on occasion. NEVER by hand. I use MS Word. My handwriting is atrocious and I can type much faster than I can scribble longhand. When I write longhand, I find myself constrained and irked by having to wait for my writing to catch up with the words in my head. And then my hand cramps up, or my elbow, and I find I can’t read everything I’ve laboriously set down in the first place because of my appalling penmanship. Far too frustrating a system. I don’t know how people managed to write before computers. Masochists, all of them.

9) How do you feel when you write and the writing is going well? Those times when the words just flow and nothing impedes your imagination or your ability to express yourself?

Transcendental. Yup.

10) WHY do you write? To communicate? To be “inside”, like Anais Nin? Because you can’t NOT write, like so many many of the greats have said of themselves? For filthy lucre (BIG GRIN) – fame and fortune?

I write because I can’t imagine not writing. When I haven’t written for a space of time, I start feeling jittery and unhappy. I jones for my writing fix. I crave the feel of the keys depressing under my fingers, the little clicky noises that accompany them, and the Courier New 12 point black letters that array themselves so neatly on my screen. It’s a physical longing.

Of course, money and accolades are nice too.

11) Are you an intuitive writer who lets the characters tell the story through you, or a conscious writer, who uses outlines, note keeping (whether electronic or card files), deep planning or summaries?

Both. Sometimes the story springs from the ether and tells itself, and sometimes I spend days (or weeks) agonizing over a plot point or character development issue. I prefer the former method, but far too often get stuck slogging through the latter. Stupid muse.

12) Do you have a desire to write the Great American Novel, or to reinvent the genre you work in or to experiment with the form and structure of the novel? Or are you content to write for the market and inside the box (as is said far too often these days and is becoming a cliche of our times)?

None of the above. I write what I love and what I want to write. It’s up to my readers and editors to pigeonhole me or not, as they see fit.

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6 Responses to Head better, neck not

  1. mery_bast says:

    Is Hobkin generally shy with other people? Three of my cats are completely social-phobic. :/

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Unfortunately, yes, Hobkin tends to be a bit freaked by new people. Primarily, the problem is new people in “his” territory, and he responds better to some people better than others. He seems to feel less threatened by women versus men. He’s not so bad when we take him out, although his main behavior then is to cling to me and peer at everyone through a curtain of my hair.

  2. I hate when that happens to me–crick my neck and you can ONLY turn to one side. When this happens, I usually exercise my neck to left and right slowly… Thanks for sharing about your writing–Q&A.

  3. Okay, I have a crick in my neck and discogenic pain in my lower back. Cripes! I feel like an 80 year old.

    ~Maggie, wallowing with you in your misery. 😉

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