August 15

Writer’s Log Aug. 7 – Aug. 13 (Backstory)

Weekly Word Counts
Novel draft: 794
Short prose: 233
Poetry: 80

Editing hours: N/A

Last week was pretty much a fail for writing (no sense in beating around the bush, eh?). I barely got my serial chapter done on time, started but didn’t finish my prompt story, and was writing the prompt poem late Friday night. No work on any other drafts, no world building exercises, no editing. Nada. Annoying and frustrating, but some weeks are just like that.

I did work on backstory for the main character in my serial draft, which was good. It needs to be moved to earlier in the book and sprinkled in rather than info-dumped, but for now, sticking it in that last serial chapter will be okay. I need to think about things like this earlier in the writing process – they’ve always been an after thought until now.

Dean Wesley Smith is doing workshops on “pantsing” that he calls “Writing into the Dark” (which is admittedly a better name, but also quite a mouthful). They run about every month, and I’m planning to take one this fall and get an insider look at his practices and methods for writing off the cuff, but still managing to keep track of settings, backstories and all that good stuff so only one draft with minor editing after is needed.

I hate revisions. *Hate* them. So anything I can do to write a clean, nearly perfect first draft, I’ll do.

In any case, bad writing week last week…better writing week already started this week. So, onward.

August 6

Writer’s Log July 31 – Aug. 6, 2017 (Setting as Character)

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.
– Daniel J. Boorstin

Weekly Word Counts
Novel draft: 803
Short prose: 1161
Poetry: 0
Editing hours: N/A

I’ve been thinking a lot about layers in fiction lately. And until I started thinking about this (I read some articles and such that got my wheels spinning), I didn’t realize that my plots tend to be pretty one-dimensional stories. It’s partially a side-effect of “pantsing” – I don’t know where the story’s going until I get to whatever point it branches off at, and I don’t know anything about most of my characters until I discover it while I’m writing. After I get done with a draft, if I do think up more layers that would flesh the story out, so to speak, I’m often too lazy to go back and “revise” them in. I can see hints of where I nearly got it right in my older stories, but so far, I’ve been missing that particular boat.

It’s not that I think my plots are bad. But some of them are just thin, and need to be filled in with more details and description.

Story layers, as it turns out, comes from knowing a lot more about the character’s backgrounds than the reader, and exploiting that knowledge. It’s about knowing the history behind the story I’m telling, and deep details about the setting, and being able to leverage all of that to make a deeply layered “story space” that meshes it all into one, richly layered story.

Here’s where our quote of the week above comes in: I thought I knew how to do this. Or rather, I thought that because I was enjoying the story as I wrote it, and there was enough detail for *me*, that there was enough detail to entertain a wider audience as well. And I was wrong. Which is fine (ie, I’m not being all pity-party/whiny here, just noting facts).

To be clear, some people have enjoyed my earlier books and short stories. Some stories have been more successful than others, and some have languished. But they haven’t caught on with a wider audience, and I think this is at least one of the reasons why (my non-existent marketing skills are undoubtedly another).

Yes, you say. But you’ve been thinking this to death. What are you going to *do* to fix it? And when? As it turns out, I need to break the process down and work on it one section at a time, rather than trying to keep track of it all at once. For now. Eventually I’ll be able to create richly layered stories more automagically, but only once I can recognize and properly execute the different types of layers separately. It’s just how my mind works.

So that’s what I’m doing, and I’ve already been working on it this past week, with what I think are good results. Mostly in the form of world-building. Even that, I’ve started to break down into its component parts.

For example, I have a few different fictional towns I like to set my stories in. Calling them “settings” is really a misnomer at this point – I came up with a name and general location, and then just wrote what I needed for the story in as I needed it. I never once actually sat down and thought about what else was in the town, or any of its history aside from what I needed for that particular story. And that didn’t bother me because since I started writing, I’ve been focused on the characters and the actual story/plot, leaving the setting as just “filler”, basically.

I realize now that if I knew how my fictional towns are laid out, where the buildings are, why they are there in relation to other buildings, and what the history of the town is, I can really use all of that information as a layer that peeks through the narrative at key times and gives the story atmosphere and richer detail.

To the other writers out there who may be reading this and going “well, duh”…whatever. Keep your judgmental comments (I swear, writers – especially those who make money doing this – can be some of the most judgmental people I know) and eye-rolling to yourself. We all figure this out as we go, unless you just automatically knew from the start, in which case, kudos to you. I didn’t, but I’m learning now.

In any case, I spent a fair amount of time thinking up the details for a manor and its estate in one of my fictional towns this past week. Details, history, location, and by extension, part of the town layout and topography. I’ll finish the town layout and history this next week. I’ve only used this particular town in one draft so far, so I can go back in revision and edit the parts of the story that take place in the town to include little details I couldn’t before. And of course I’ll have all of it, including my manor estate, done and ready for reference when I start on the next draft and any other stories I might write that will be set there.

You can visit alter-ego Alex’s site to read about the manor estate, if you’re interested…

More world-building next week, and then…on to character building/histories. Back to basics, as they say.

August 1

Writer’s Log: July 24 – 28, 2017

Weekly accountability. It’s a good thing for people like yours truly who are prone to severe procrastination and work best on tight deadlines. So, I’m going to try to update this blog once weekly again starting…today, and hopefully next week I’ll have word counts to share as well. I’m sort of transitioning between writing programs at the moment, and I was too lazy to add up the meager count for this week.

For the last few weeks I’ve been getting up half an hour earlier than I used to, just to give myself enough time to wake up and have half an hour to write in the mornings before work. And while it’s kind of been a bumpy start, it is working for the most part. As it turns out, I write better and faster even half asleep in the morning than I do late at night. A sad truth, since I much prefer being up late at night than getting up early in the morning.

In any case, half-hour in the morning and another half-to-hour at night means I’m getting more writing done overall…on the days that all goes well. Which is generally three out of five days, because I’m either lazy, distracted, or unorganized (some days, all three). But the important thing is, I’m getting my serial chapters done early every week, and most weeks my prompt stories for the BSB site are getting done ahead of time as well. Which is far less stressful than doing any of those things the night they need to be posted. I just need to get with the program on the other two days (Tuesday I can’t write in the mornings due to an adjusted work schedule, so really, just Mondays). Baby steps.

I’ve been thinking a *lot* about craft lately, and how to specifically give my stories that “thing” they’re missing that makes a story really stick with the reader after it’s done. All about character depth and descriptive settings and backstory and keeping track of those peskily illusive timelines…it’s a lot to keep track of.

But I’m learning, and trying, and playing with descriptive techniques, and resigning myself to the fact that until I get these things so ingrained in my head and writing habits that I just “do” them, I’m going to have to revise and rework drafts. The part of writing I hate the most, but it must be done.

So, while I haven’t published anything in a couple of years, I think I’ve been studying the craft of writing enough to hopefully make my next published work quite a bit better. And while I’d like to sell a bunch of books and make some extra spending money, that’s not actually the main catalyst for me. I want to be a good storyteller. I want people who read my books to get lost in them, and want more.

I want to create stories that are addictive, that keep readers turning pages, and that incite them to either leave reviews or just recommend my books to other people, without being prodded or asked to. Call it ego – that’s really what it is, but that’s what I want.

And I guess what I needed to decide over these last few years was, how much work am I willing to put in to get to that point? The answer is, more than I thought. Thank goodness, because writing is just something I do, and if I decided working at it wasn’t worth the effort, I’d just be writing the same books over and over again for the rest of my life. Which sounds boring.

So…that’s where I’m at. I’m finishing a non-layered, needs a lot of work draft because I stupidly decided to serialize again (it gives me good, solid deadlines to do that, but seriously? Yeah. Last one.). But after I’m done with the serial draft, I’ll set that aside for “layering”, and get started on a book I’ve actually been loosely plotting out with the requisite layers already worked in, and I’m quite excited to see how it’s going to go. I’m sure that someday, I’ll be able to do all of this layering and description, etc without being so thoughtful about it, but until it becomes second nature, more deliberate writing is what I need to focus on.

I’m impatient. I want to be good *yesterday*. I don’t want to have to put in so much time just “learning”. Alas, such is life. I have the choice to either work at improving, or stay the same (or quit writing, which really isn’t a choice – I always fail at that one). I don’t want to stay the same so…uncomfortable and time-consuming improvement it is.

I think I’m going to need a lot more tea. A few bottles of wine too.

 

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February 1

Restarted…Again.

If you follow my personal blog, you already know that I recently took a very enlightening (and relaxing) vacation from the day job. One of the things I did during that vacation was sort of “jump start” my writing again. And so far, it’s holding, though not at the pace I’d like.

Between 2009 or so and just a couple of years ago, I wrote pretty much every day. Then, I hit a few “snags” in life: dog problems, changes at work, mid-life crisis, crisis of writerly-direction…take your pick – they were all part of it. And the writing became more and more sporadic until finally I was barely writing at all, and miserable about it. I tried, I really did, but my head was just not where it needed to be. I had to deal with everything else before I could focus on writing again.

So now that my life and head have both stabilized again (more or less), it’s time to get back to work. I bought myself a set of motivation videos by Dean Wesley Smith, watched the first three, and decided I would do my best to rearrange my evening/late-night routine in order to get half an hour more writing time (starting at 10:30pm instead of 11pm, and going to midnight).

I thought I was on to something, but last week, putting my plan into action proved more difficult than I anticipated. Long story short (and whining redacted), I really can’t get more than half an hour’s worth of writing time at night. I can’t get back to the office before 11pm most nights (which is kind of baffling, because theoretically, it should absolutely work with the routine I have set up), and I am falling asleep at my desk by 11:30-11:45pm no matter what I do to try to circumvent that (without jeopardizing sleep later, which I can’t because I do still work during the day, of course).

In any case, all this to say, I still averaged around 500 words Mon-Thurs last week, and I’ve been working toward that this week as well (400 wds last night). And while that’s nowhere near what I’d like to be writing (1400 words a night/4 novels a year), I need to remember that it’s consistent, daily writing, and I can still finish two novels and a few short stories just writing at that speed all year long.

And that’s *not* a bad pace, really. It’s what I can handle right now without sacrificing health, sleep, or mental well-being.

Yes, I could sacrifice “more” for writing, but, I’m not going to. Priorities, you know. I’m not writing Friday nights because I need one night per week to take care of my teeny-tiny publishing business, and Friday nights between 11pm and Sat. 2am or so is the time. It’s working, and I feel good about that.

I’m determined to just be okay with what I’m capable of now, and work hard at getting those two novels out this year, plus a few short stories.

The really cool thing is, I think the break was good for me, as far as getting some perspective goes. I’m suddenly seeing weaknesses in my writing that I knew were there but couldn’t quite put my finger on before. With that new perspective, I’m working on fixing those weaknesses as I go, which will hopefully result in stronger stories overall.

So, that’s where I’m at. Moving forward…slower than I’d like, but moving, nonetheless, and with a better idea of what I need to do. If I can just remember that’s not a bad place to be in, things will be good.

September 20

Motivation in Unlikely Places

A little over a week ago, I hired a personal assistant on a trial basis to manage the BSB Facebook page. I figured I’d start small, see what she could do, and perhaps work up from there. This is the nice thing about having a good day job…I can occasionally invest in services even when the books aren’t bringing in much cash (sales have been…well, lackluster is putting it nicely, at least partly because I do zero promotion). I wanted to see what kind of return we might get as far as visibility goes, and I have to say, I’m kind of surprised. In the past week, we’ve increased as follows:

10 new page likes (100%)
198 people reached (942%)
81 post engagements (189%)
12 new page views (500%)
2 actions (clicks on “About” or call to action buttons – 100%)

Basically, about a ton more traffic on the main BSB site. But I’ve also noticed more activity on the Twitter account (the Facebook page feeds into it), and some retweets of books for the other author I publish, so more visibility for her as well. No extra sales yet, but I didn’t expect that after just one week. It takes awhile for efforts like this to be lucrative, and we haven’t published anything new lately (as in, over a year – yikes!).

In any case, this is motivating to me. Seeing what she can do in just one week, with just one of our pages has been pretty enlightening. Could I do it myself? Sure. Will I, and do I want to? No, and no. Otherwise I wouldn’t have let it sit neglected for so long. So I’m keeping her on, and am going to pay for some help in other areas as well for awhile. I think that with her managing the day-to-day promotion, and me working in other ways, we might just be able to pick book sales up.

One of the main things we need to do though is get some new releases out – as soon as possible. So getting in gear with the writing is paramount, and I also want to do some collections that I wanted to put together a long time ago, and never quite found the time for.

I’ve decided I’d like to have the option of retiring from my day job at roughly the same time my husband will hit retirement age…which is in 13 years (how’s that for a nice lucky target?). In order to do that, I need to get some debt paid off, get some more solid investments going, and…I’d like to be at a point with my writing where it’s making a passable monthly stipend. I have other potential income streams as well that would allow me to work part time to supplement my early retirement. But of course if I don’t to where I need to be for whatever reason, I’ll still have my day job. Nothing says I have to retire early, so I do have a security net. Not so important to others, perhaps, but very important to me.

In the interest of gauging where I started with my writing vs. where I need to be, I went back and read the openings of three of my first books. And you know what? While I can see where they could use improvement, they really aren’t bad at all. They held my interest enough that I could easily have kept reading. I certainly think they’re good enough to give someone a pleasant hour or two of entertainment. It’s important to acknowledge this, because I’ve struggled a lot with feeling like I was a “bad writer” due to low sales for a good long while, but while I have plenty of room to improve, I still think those early books are good stories. And I think I’ve gotten better, and will continue to get better with hard work and practice.

What I’m saying is, for the first time in a long while, I have hope that I’ll keep improving, and in the meantime, still entertain people while I’m learning. I’d lost that hope somewhere along the way. I’m happy to have it back.

Did I mention the new personal assistant is a fan of one of my later novellas, and is really hoping I’ll write the next one in that series? I might just have to do that…

In any case, a good investment, in more ways than one. And this weekend, I’ll be making out a plan that will stretch out over the next 13 years, so I can work my way to where I want to be in my retirement years – as a full-time writer making decent money to tell stories.

Now back to writing. Because it always comes back to writing.


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

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September 13

Working Low-Tech & “What If?”

Long time no write…posts, that is. But I’m actually making some progress writing now, and surprisingly, it’s taken a low-tech solution to make that happen. I’ve been having problems writing on my laptop simply because it’s easier to just sit and stare at web sites than to actually tap into my subconscious and suss out a story. I don’t particularly like that, and I’m working on changing my computer-use habits, but I suspect it will be awhile before I have success with that. In the meantime, my trusty Alphasmart Neo has been getting a workout, and I have to say, it’s a rather peaceful break to pull that out and just type…with no backlighting (so easier on the eyes by a lot) and no distractions save the physical when my dogs or husband need something.

I’m not happy to admit that it actually takes some willpower to close the laptop and pick up the Neo instead, but I’m always happy I did once I start typing. I think my whole body actually relaxes…probably partially because the Neo is too thick for me to comfortably use at my booth/desk, so I sit sideways across the booth with my feet up and the Neo in my lap.

There’s something very addictive about the laptop screen…it’s bright and shiny (though I actually dim the display way down to save my eyes at night), and obviously social media is addictive too. Facebook is my biggest online vice, and I think it’s because I’ve always been fascinated by people. I’m a watcher – an observer by nature, and sociology/anthropology has always been extremely interesting to me. I don’t need to engage, but many nights I’ll sit there just watching other people interact on the screen, analyzing why they post what they do, or why they respond as they do to other people. It’s like an ant farm, really, and I can watch for quite a long time without getting bored.

While it’s not necessarily a bad thing for me (I understand that for some people it causes extreme emotions, but I consider myself an “outsider” aside from a very select few friends, so I don’t get too emotionally invested for the most part), it’s easy to just sit and stare. The thing is, once I tear myself away and start writing, and my subconscious takes over the story, writing isn’t much effort either. It’s tearing myself away from the fascinating lives of the “ant farm” that takes effort.

I’ve always been a curious sort…just the very act of comparing Facebook to an ant farm (which I’ve never actually had) makes me wonder if the comparison is apt, and how one would care for an actual ant farm, and whether I should go dig up some of the rather copious amounts of ants we have on the property to start an ant farm so I can watch and learn and decide for sure if the comparison to Facebook is accurate (the fact that my husband would probably like that as much as he liked the idea of putting worms to work composting under the kitchen sink is the only thing now stopping me from establishing an indoor ant colony this weekend).

That’s how my mind works. But I think that’s also what gives me access to endless stories, though the talent for writing them well is something I’ll be working on for the rest of my life. I am constantly asking “what if” questions, and wondering about this or that, whether it be something superficial or an internal thought process. For instance, the story I started last week (yes, a new draft – back to my romance roots just to get moving again) started with about three main “what if” questions that were posited in the first three paragraphs (indirectly, of course). Part inspiration, part curiosity, part “how would someone like me handle that”…and my new character was born, and in a situation neither of us would normally put ourselves in, handling it in a way that I would undoubtedly be too polite to actually do, but in the way I’d want to handle it if I weren’t bound by the self-imposed filter of social niceties. Which, of course, makes her interactions vastly more interesting than my own, or I hope they do.

And then I wondered what her background might be that she could so easily turn those filters off, and drawing inspiration from a TV series we’re currently watching, I decided she would be a sort of shirt-tail descendant of someone with even less of a social filter and a background that would allow her to justify that behavior in her own mind, even as she knows it doesn’t do her any favors in most settings.

I’ve written just under a thousand words of her story, and already I know so much about how she thinks and feels and what motivates and irritates her and ultimately, what she wants…which will all be revealed much more slowly on the page as this particular scene of her life plays out.

And that is why I love writing. It’s not just telling a story. It’s asking questions and exploring why my characters (humans!) do what they do, what drives them, what combination of personality and circumstances can result in someone feeling or acting (or both) one way or the other. It’s the ultimate ant-farm, if you think about it, and the characters are the ants, just doing what they do while we observe and perhaps get context for our own lives through the observation of theirs.

Suddenly I have the urge to watch the movie “Antz” again…

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July 29

Originality & Finding My Voice

I haven’t been doing much writing lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I’m still having trouble getting back into the habit. Part of that is growing pains…I guess it falls into the category of self-doubt, but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that I know I’m missing something (or rather, my writing is), and I want very badly to find and fix it so I can…well, be better.

So, whenever I hit a night that I just can’t make myself open a draft, I’ve been watching Dean Wesley Smith’s “Originality” series on Youtube. It’s one of his classic workshops, it’s available for free, and it makes me severely uncomfortable, though not in the way he seems to think most people will be. It makes me uncomfortable because I hear what he’s saying, and I’m really starting to see what’s missing when I write, I just…don’t quite know how to pull what I need to pull out of the creative part of my brain to fill in those missing pieces.

I’m also struggling with rich, descriptive prose vs. “purple” prose, and where the line is between the two. Purple prose, I can do (and my creative brain will happily skip down that road with little prodding). Keeping it descriptive but not purple is…well, I’m just not sure how to do that. Yet.

I keep reminding myself that writing is a process, and I will never be as good as I want to be, but I need to just keep practicing (read: actually writing) and eventually if I keep listening and thinking about what I need to do and where I need to be, I’ll eventually be able to actually “do” the thing(s) I need to do and my characters and writing will be that much richer for it.

And then there will be another thing I’m not happy with, that I’ll need to fix, and the cycle continues…and that is why I do this – because my mind loves a good puzzle, and a good challenge, and writing is both.

As Dean says, I need to get out of my own way. It’s not the writing that’s killing me, it’s the thought of publishing books that aren’t good. Stories that won’t hook people. Bland, sterilized writing (because I do tend to be a technical perfectionist when dialog isn’t involved, and that results in bland writing – I need to get over that).

Dialog, I’m pretty good at (I think). It’s the stuff around it that needs the most work. And I think, if I work through some more of these videos, that I can get better.

Which is the “hope” I was missing before. I’d kind of gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure I could ever get any better, and what if my best was never going to be good enough? But these videos are starting to help me move past that. Most nights, I feel like writing after, and the only thing that stops me is the lateness of the hour. Damn my need for sleep…

In any case, Dean has two classic workshops up on YouTube, and then more on his site that are paid, but you get to work directly with Dean on the assignments, which I think would be a great help to me. They aren’t cheap, but I’m planning to save up and take at least one this fall, and then another in the winter.

In the meantime, I’ll take these free ones and work to incorporate them into my writing as much as possible.

Maybe I’ll even get moving on the drafts I have open again…

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July 12

I Forget Sometimes…

…that writing is a process. Or rather, becoming a “good writer” is a long process, and conventional wisdom (ie, all other writers everywhere who are any good at the craft) is that in order to become “good” you must write a lot of…well, let’s just say “not good” stuff.

Some of what I write, I like. Some of it, I think is just the greatest, most profound statement ever (short stories, mostly). Yes, I know – it’s the ultimate ego/hubris, but let me keep that, because most of what I write ends up being drivel, or at least falls far short of where I wish it was.

This year’s been a difficult one for writing, and full of a lot of self-doubt. Mostly of the type that makes me wonder if I’ll ever be a “good” writer, or if I’ll always be just mediocre at best, due to my rather lackadaisical habits. Which often leads to my wondering if I should just stop writing, but of course therein lies the rub: I can’t. I’m caught in this sort of Catch-22 where I may never reach the calibre of writer that I want to be, and yet, I can’t give it up. Been there, done that (for years, actually). Always come back. Always.

Now, I’ve managed to shove the majority of that self-doubt in a corner, and start writing again. And I’m really enjoying what I’m working on, and I’m excited for things coming up too. I haven’t been able to write as fast or as much as I’d like, but I’m still working away, and I’m still optimistic for a Christmas book launch and at least one other shortly thereafter. So…moving forward, more slowly than I’d like, but making progress. And I’m taking a vacation from the day job soon that I plan to use much of for writing, which is very exciting.

I think the key thing for me is just remembering that I am a writer. Whether I’m a good writer or not is really for others to decide (as long as I’m entertaining myself while I write, which I do), but I am and always will be a writer. Whether I publish or not, whether people buy my books or not, it’s just…a part of who I am. I need to remember that and embrace it. I need to stop feeling inferior to other writers just because of their fame or name recognition or book sales.

Be it. Own it. Write whatever the hell I damn-well please, and enjoy the living daylights out of every word.

I write for myself. Anyone else who comes along for the ride is a pleasant and welcome guest. But my stories are first and foremost for me.

Good stuff.


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

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June 20

Into the Calm

You might remember that last week, I’d finally resigned myself to writing in bits and pieces of time, rather than trying to keep a schedule that just wasn’t working. And I’m happy to say that along with a new commitment to daily planning, this is finally working. I write in 15 minute increments – at least two, sometimes three a day. I’m working on two drafts, and I get a few words in for each daily, which feels really, incredibly good. I wish I’d just done this earlier – quit “fighting” my life, and worked with the flow, rather than against it. I’ve known that was the key to success for many years, but somewhere in the last few, I forgot it and started fighting.

So I’m getting words done, I’m feeling more “sane” overall, and I’m definitely approaching that calm, smooth point where writing isn’t a source of stress or guilt, but rather a point of peace in an overly nutty world. The eye of the tornado, I suppose you could say. It’s a beautiful, though somewhat chaotic thing (or so I’d imagine).

I am going to have to put in some longer writing stints if I want to make my publishing goals next fall/winter. And I have a vacation coming up soon that I may take advantage of for that. But for now, the short sessions are good enough. Anything to get daily words in.

This week’s excerpt is a few words from The Beauty Stone. Enjoy…

“Thank you,” she said, pocketing her money. “Next time, I’ll pay.”

Rob smiled and gave her a nod. “You’re welcome.” The words gave her a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach, and she tried to ignore it. It was just an ice cream cone. Why did it feel weird? Maybe she was coming down with something.

“So you think the next stone is in Hawaii?” Cass asked as soon as they sat down. “Did you figure out that clue with the sundial?”


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

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June 14

On Time & Words & Finding Both

I made a few mistakes when I came back to writing after my long sabbatical. I took myself too seriously – which I’m still trying to recover from – and I thought for sure I could find one solid hour per day for writing. Nevermind the fact that I’d never been able to before that, and all of my previous manuscripts had been written in bits and drabbles of time as I could find them – most often 15 – 30 minute chunks.

I foolishly thought that because I was a more “seasoned writer” now, that I could certainly set aside one hour per day (night) for writing, and stick to that. I’d done a couple of hour-long stints before here and there, and liked them, and it was so easy to just get lost in whatever I happened to be working on at the time. So that’s what I was determined to do. I blocked out my hour from 11pm to 12am Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri (and Weds in the summer when there’s no pool), and told my husband that I’d be in the office writing during that time, and that would be that.

The thing about plans is…well, you know. For awhile, I was religiously in my office at 11pm with tea and a snack, ready to go. And I wrote. And it was fun. But it was never, ever uninterrupted. Because the dogs needed in or out (or sometimes extra care for the dog who died this past February). Or just as I was hitting my stride, hubby would decide to go to bed, and we normally make the bed together at night. So then I moved my writing time back to 12am – 1am…which was fine in theory and finally quiet, but I was so tired I could hardly stay awake, and then I wasn’t getting to sleep by one either, which was making me late in the mornings, and it was kind of a big mess. I decided my health had to come first, so I had to be in bed by midnight (to read/unwind for half an hour, and then be asleep by 1am).

So then I moved it back, got lazy, and ended up having several late kitchen nights where something “healthy” had to be prepped either for us or the dogs (for the next day) before I could write, and then it got cut to 30 minutes, and hubby needed help, and the dog needed out, etc. And so I didn’t write, because I couldn’t get my solid hour, and real life kept interrupting, and I had to be in bed on time (which I haven’t been for the past couple of weeks again) and…yeah. No words.

Last week, I finally got over myself and realized that there was never going to be an hour of time for writing. Not at this point in my life, anyways. There is never one full hour where no one needs me unless I head out past midnight, and my health is not worth going too much past that soft deadline. So, I made peace with having to write in 15 or 20 or 30 minute intervals. It’s just how it has to be.

And now that I’m “finding” time wherever I can, I’m also finding words. It’s not always easy, but one thing about writing in shorter bursts is – I get used to remembering where I am in the stories at any given point in the day/night, so I can jump right back in and write another 250-500 words whenever I have one of those illusive chunks of time free.

Someday long into the future when I’m able to retire – that’s when I’ll get my long chunks of free writing time. But for now, in this particular season of my life, I need to make use of whatever time I can find. And that’s just the way it is.

A recent excerpt from my spec-fic novel in progress:

Unlike Donteneoux, where most of the buildings were built of wood harvested in the abundant forests, Nymar was a desert community, and the buildings were mostly yellow stone hewn from great cliffs that spanned the northern edge of the keep. The surrounding walls were also made of thick blocks wide enough for a man to walk on, which had served them well in less peaceful times. Detan’s workshop was nestled against the southern wall, sharing space with a woodworker on one side and a leather worker on the other.

Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

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