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On Sleep

Yesterday I went to work, like normal, and about half way through the day I just started feeling run down. My eyes burned, my throat hurt, and I was exhausted. Sure, I didn’t have a full nights sleep, but I rarely do and it shouldn’t have come on so quickly.

I had to work half my shift, so I forced myself to get through the last hour or two before coming home. As soon as I laid down I fell asleep, another thing that never happens, and I slept for about five hours before waking up. If I hadn’t been so hungry I probably would have gone back to sleep, I was still exhausted. I tried…I really tried to stay awake for a little while. Gregg and I watched a little tv together and I started falling asleep leaned up against him after only a couple hours. So back to bed I went.

This morning I woke up at 8am and I felt a little better. My eyes didn’t burn, and my throat wasn’t as sore. I didn’t feel exhausted, just the normal amount of tired for waking up to go to work. And I did. I went to work. I lasted about half the day before I started getting really tired and had to go home again. Got home, climbed into bed, and fell right to sleep for another five hours.

I did manage to stay awake this time for a few hours, but it’s midnight and I’m starting to fall asleep at the keyboard again….so I’m going back to bed. Thankfully it’s my weekend so I can get over whatever this is that’s keeping me down. I’d really like to get back to normal.

But I did manage to write a little before I passed out again. Now… Off to bed.

For today:

Word Count: 180

Duolingo: 2 module

Steps: Not achieved

Art: none

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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in Personal Notes

 

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But that’s HARD!

I recently got an email from a young writer (young in her writing, I have no idea her actual age) and she described her writing to me in the same way I would describe mine. I write until I come to a hard part, jot down a little note, then skip to the next easy part to write. Anyone who is just trying to get their words down for the day has probably done this, or skipped that spot of dialog that didn’t quite work, or put down “battle scene with hero as the winner” or some such. I do this a lot for battle scenes because it takes me a while to puzzle through the moves to make it right.

The problem becomes, and this is me talking more about myself than anyone else because this is where I am in my writing… eventually you have to finish something or you have to admit this is just a project novel. Like that project car your dad had in the garage when you grew up. He kept it to tinker on, and play with, but never really got around to finishing it.

So here I am, 40, with hundreds, if not thousands of ideas in my idea journal, half written novels and partially written short stories, and only a small fraction of them finished. I keep putting aside the hard parts because… it’s HARD!

And damn right it’s hard. It’s hard because you’re writing something that is actually worth reading. Something with detail, and heart, meant to move people and get them to read. If it was easy then everyone would do it. If it was easy then there would be no value in it, but a book on a shelf has a value. People buy it and read it, then take their time to review it. If you expect people to spend time and money on your words then it should be good.

But there is good, and there is perfectionist. Finding that balancing point where you can actually finish stories, and get them out there in good order vrs tinkering on the story for years…that’s the edge that you walk.

Sometimes I do have to walk away from a story. Maybe it doesn’t work, or something isn’t quite fitting together right, so I put the story away and I work on something else. I’ve been working like this for years, and I have over a million words banked in my folders, waiting to be finished. (Here’s a picture, but this is not ALL of the stories I have started. The blue are published short stories and novels. Pink are finished, but not published. The rest plots, or started stories, but never finished.)

I have a whole shelf filled with tinker stories. I add a few words here and there, I might even binge through a few chapters on a novel, but finishing one isn’t easy. There’s always that point where it’s just hard, and I skip it.

I need to stop skipping it. I need to write down why it’s so hard and get my head back into the game. Last year was my worst word count in almost five years. That’s not acceptable, and neither is never finishing another novel.

So here’s to the hard parts! *Cheers!*

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in On Writing

 

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What is slow?

I just read this article about slow writers, and their place in the current Amazon world. They make some valid points about certain authors who advocate for writing fast and not editing. I also advocate just getting that first draft out and on the page, and then turning it over and writing something else. That is because a person who writes often, and a lot, has more practice then someone who does not.

But I digress, the question today is “what is slow?”

I know the guys over at Self Publishing Podcast can crank out the wordage. They managed to publish quite a few books last year. I think they are slowing down this year to focus a little more on their brand and put a little more time into their writing, but even then they still crank out more words in a month then I do in three.

Dean Wesley Smith writes TONS of words every single day. He also advocates Heinlein’s Rules about writing fast and not editing (unless your editor tells you to.) He has some great reasons to do so. He also has good examples of published writers who do write incredibly fast. Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and every other author on this list. From authors that wrote a short story every week (because no one can write 52 bad short stories) to those who wrote several novels a year.

Then there are others who wrote one single book and earned great acclaim. Withering Heights by Emily Bronte. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Gone with the Wind by Margret Michelle. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. All books that have made their way into the national culture, film, cartoons, spin offs, etc.

A huge difference between Ralph Ellison and Stephen King… One makes a living as an author. The other made his living in other things and also wrote a fantastic book that has inspired generations. Not to say that Stephen King hasn’t written some wonderful things, some of which might inspire others along their path. Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov were all extremely prolific authors who made their living writing. Their works are now considered classics that will inspire and influence our culture for a very long time.

To me I suppose when I say I am slow it is because I am unsatisfied with how quickly I am writing. I know I can do more, spend more time at it, and get the ideas out of my head and on to the paper.

I think if you want to make a living at being a writer then you have to write enough to sustain that career. Every author who has come forward to say they are currently making a comfortable living off of their writing has said the same thing: they write almost every day, and they write a lot. You can not sustain a house, cell phone, car, water, and electricity off of one book in a lifetime… not unless that was a REALLY good book. And striking that really good book isn’t likely. It happens to one author every couple of years. Do you know how many authors there are out there right now?

There is something to be said for writers who are still learning their craft, honing their skills, and fine tuning their instruments. A pianist doesn’t go out to play in front of a crowd until he’s had years of practice. And those of us who started writing as children have an advantage. We had those years of honing our skills while others were out playing kick ball and hop scotch. You, the beginning writer, need to take that time to hone those skills and become more comfortable with your words. Take that time, get it right, and then decide what you want to do with those words. What level are you comfortable at.

There is also room for the part time author. The author who has a “day job” while they write. (That’s what I’m doing.) I am still an author. That is how I think of myself, and how I introduce myself, because that is what I am even if I don’t make my entire living off of it.

How slow is slow? That depends on your goals. For me I feel slow because I know I can do more, and I feel that I need to because I want more then anything to be writing full time. To get out of the rat race once and for all. I need to write faster, which for me just means less time gaming and more time on scrivener.

But you have to make your own decision. You have to find what your comfortable with, and decide if that fits the life style you eventually want. It might mean you are perfectly happy with exactly where you are. It might mean putting in extra hours every week to learn that skill, to get better on your instrument so that you can finally play for the crowd.

(Also listen to this great podcast with Neil Gaiman who comments on the subject of writing every day, finishing, and breaking through the wall.)

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in On Writing

 

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Back tracking

zombie miniA while ago I started working on a short story called Zombie Swarm. I even came up with a cover that I really liked.

So why isn’t it out? Because as much as I liked the concept and several of the scenes of that story, it just wasn’t good enough.

The biggest problem was easy to fix. I added a few more characters. The whole situation wasn’t very convincing or suspenseful enough so it ended up falling a little flat. Most of the story takes place inside of once little lab, but with only two people working in a lab you don’t have a lot to work with. I added three more people and suddenly things started coming together. There were more issues between characters, more problems, and more strife. Then the creature they are dealing with, I didn’t have to change it much, but I did have to add a few more scenes to the original plot, and a lot more detail.

So it meant going back, completely reworking the original plot line, and rewriting it. I threw away the 6000 words I’d already written to start all over again. But I know I’m going to have a better story because I did that, even if it really REALLY sucked throwing away 6k words that I wrote. I’m also expecting the finished story to be twice as long, at least, so that’s a plus.

Don’t be afraid to throw it out and start all over again.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in On Writing, Writers Block

 

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Creative Blocks

So today I did my Vlog about frustrations of finishing, and publishing, SOMETHING. Anything. Well, especially my trilogy that I’ve been working on for all of 2014.

Well, it’s 2015, and I guess I needed a break. My boyfriend gave me a little pep talk (Crissy, you need to write, stop making excuses.) and I sat down to do so. But I couldn’t face my trilogy again. Not after all that time spent on it. So I switched to another project, the one that I was actually going to work on once this trilogy was finished. And what do you know, in 15 minutes I’d already written 500 words.

Sometimes you need to take a break. Sometimes you need to mope for a few minutes and get your frustrations out. And sometimes you just need to shelf the project for a little while and work on something else. So that’s what I’m doing. Mermaid’s Curse won’t be shelved forever, but it will probably be a week or two before I get back to it. A month at most. Till then I have to work on something. So I’m working on Eternal Tapestry book 1. (You know, the book that comes before Forgotten Ones. Can I never write anything in order?)

(BTW, I finished with 750 for the night since it’s already midnight and I have work tomorrow. But that’s way better then zero.)

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Stories, Writing Exercise

 

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End of the Year

It’s almost the new year. Christmas is coming and everything is coming to a close. It’s time to asses what I’ve done with my writing for this year.

Last year, 2013, I wrote a total of 211,727 words. 14% of which was this blog. That’s not bad.

This year I’ve already written 226,665 words. 125 of which was this blog. That means I wrote a lot more in my books, and less in this blog.

I finished writing, and published one short story this year. Footprints back in April, and another chapter of Absolon. I’m kind of disappointed in that because last year I published 17 short stories and three novellas. Yes, it’s true that I was working on most of them for part of 2012, and completed them during 2013 to publish. It’s also true that this year I have almost completed a trilogy of full length novels. One is about to go to an editor, and the other two should be three months apart.

It just feels like I didn’t accomplish anything with my writing. I know I’m being harder on myself then I should be. I wrote more then I did last year, and have three nearly completed NOVELS. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But not enough publishing going on here. This is why a writer can’t judge themselves solely on published works.

So… I’ve got two weeks till the end of the year, and I’d like to do something to close out the year with a little bit of a success. I’d like to finish with a good 250,000 words under my belt. That’s just 23,335 words to go. I think I can do that. It will be a lot of work, and I’ve got a few things going on, but it’s one hell of a challenge. (This is including blog writing too, so not as difficult as it sounds. Not like NaNoWriMo which is just the novel.)

Next year I want to actually PUBLISH the damn novels. All three of them. Plus a few short stories. I’d also like to up my word count to 300,000 for the year. That’s only a little over 800 a day. I CAN DO THIS! Heck, if I’m really good I’ll stretch it to 500k for the next year. Let’s see where this can go!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Aaaaand DONE!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileI finished writing 50,023 words for my book, “Mermaid’s Curse” at 8:35 am the morning of Nov 30th. I am kind of shocked that I was able to finish so early. Not only that, but I only had 1300 words to write that morning.

Every year that I’ve done NaNoWriMo before I’ve been faced with the last day rush to get words. 8000 one year, 10000 another. It got to the point where I just threw words at the page hoping to see what stuck later in editing, and most of it was terrible.

First drafts are suppose to be terrible. But it isn’t always good to feel like nothing you write has any value except words on a page either. When you’re so tired you are holding your eyes open with toothpicks, and your back and neck hurt from all the typing, all you want to do is curl into bed and sleep, that’s when your writing suffers the most.

So, this year I’m going to share what made a real difference. Why did this year feel different from every other year? And why doesn’t it feel like I am so exhausted and sick of writing that I can’t pick up the keyboard this month?

Practice and Reality

dataFor the last two years I’ve been trying to write every day. That hasn’t always worked. I could give you lots of excuses as to why this hasn’t always worked, and of course there are days when things came up, or I was sick, or there was a lot going on… But the truth is most of the days I failed to write I just didn’t feel like writing. I was lazy. I didn’t take my writing seriously enough.

In October, for the first time, I actually started realizing how important writing was to me. I wrote a bit about this earlier this month, and the two things that really seemed to help. This was my reality check. I had to decide this thing, this writing, was important to me. More important than the job I go to 5 days of the week. More important than video games, or board games, or long soaks in the tub. (not that I can give up or stop doing all of those things, just that I had to decide what was more important.)

Once I got the reality check I started practicing writing every day in earnest. That meant that when NaNoWriMo came along I was willing and able to take up my own challenge and slay some writers block demons. And do so with excitement because “This was my story, and I loved it, and I wanted to see it finished!”

Be prepared for distraction

Things will get in the way. My daughter made an unexpected trip home. There was Thanksgiving, and a day where I felt sick. I had a day when I was literally so exhausted I almost feel asleep at the keyboard.

These things are going to happen. Prepare for them. I did this by always striving for 2k a day from day one. I wrote 2k a day more than half of the month. That’s what allowed me to finish NaNoWriMo that morning without stressing over it. I only had 1300 words and two hours before work. No problem because I had already been putting in 2k a day most of the month. This morning it was just the pure excitement of “OMG I’M ALMOST DONE” that got me to do it so quickly.

Listen to your body

I had a few days where I couldn’t quite reach 2k for the day because I was so tired. Being tired does not help your writing. When I was exhausted I tended to write much slower, and the words I wrote were far more likely to be deleted the next day. The next morning I still had work, and I was still exhausted. When I got home that night I would get to write and find myself doing even worse than the day before.

About a week in I decided that I wasn’t going to play that merry game of chasing my tail anymore. Nope, time to listen to my body. My body said sleep, I was going to sleep, darn it, and forget about writing that day. Each time I got to about 400-500 words and started feeling my eyes start to droop I’d close the programs, turn off the PC, and go to bed. The next day I would almost always manage to get 2.5k words out in a few hours.

Small Steps

I also talked a bit here about how I would listen when my brain started to wander and then I’d go do something else. After a bit I’d come back and write some more.

I’ve learned that I can do about 500 words in thirty minutes. Then after a short break I could come back and do it all over again. Four thirty minute sessions got me the 2k words I wanted for the day.

They are small steps, each step carving out a little more of the story, sharing it. And adding it to the already piled up masses of FINISHED chapters.

Take Joy in Small Accomplishments

About a week and a half from the end of NaNoWriMo I started to have a few new challenges. I was getting to the point where I had lots of words, but nothing finished. The chapters were in pieces, with lots of connecting sentences that read “and they did this and this until this happened” before going on to the next scene that I had been able to write. I needed to finish those connecting pieces so that I had a complete chapter.

So I got out my scrivener file and I just sat down and started on page one. Working my way down the page I filled in all those little pieces, and after half an hour I had a finished chapter. I added a little asterisk to the title of that chapter and went onto the next chapter.

After a couple of days the asterisks started adding up. I am done with the first twelve chapters of Mermaid’s Curse 3, and the rest of them are mostly finished. Each time I added that asterisk that said “this is done, it just needs and edit” I felt buoyed and wanted to keep going. It was awesome.

Take joy in the small accomplishments, because they eventually add up.

I have about 15,000 words to go to complete this novel, and then I will have a completed trilogy to send off to the editor. I think I’m incredibly excited! NaNoWriMo was a success for me!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing, Updates, Writers Block

 

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