Well… That Was Fun

Vacation’s over! I did my hair (took two weeks, yes two weeks) bought a bed and built an office (including computer) I’m tuckered out. I’m all relaxed and out of the writer brain. So peaceful. So completely maddening.

Back to work and I’ve finally lost the thread of thought that’s been dogging my heels for the last three months. Now that I’m finally ready to pay attention Mitei, my MC, has fallen utterly silent. Great, I’ve got a lot of digging to do dragging her back out of her hole.

What’s that mean for Blargle Splect? Even more blather and nonsense! You know, the usual. Let’s continue on this only mildly guided journey a little longer shall we.

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Naming Names

I don’t know about the rest of you but I love a good name. Fanciful ones, really apt ones, names that sneak up with new meaning later on in the tale – I love a good name. Which means I’m also certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that I almost always fail at finding just the right name. Hell I have a whole blog dedicated to the fact that most of my characters start out with the same name: Sarah.

That doesn’t mean I don’t try like hell to find just the right nomenclature for each and every character, book and story. Over the years I’ve come up with a few methods for to help myself out, and on the off chance that others out there are struggling with this part of the process too, here they are: Continue reading

The 3R’s: Writing, Reading and Arithmetic Part 2 of 2

Reading

Remember reading? The joys of curling up with a good book, transported to lands and times beyond yourself, in the company of heroes and villains that thrilled and confounded you at every turn? Sometimes I miss it. I’m not entirely sure when it happened but the way I read changed over time. Worlds become depthless repetitions of a more capable writer’s work. Heroes and villains become predictable, indeed whole plots are spoiled within the first chapter. The joy remains in the line, the craft of the words, how well the writer manages to wrench me from my own writer brain and stick me all unwilling and wary directly into the moment. There is still joy in being lost in the words.

Now my reading includes, texts on style, grammar and technique. I go to bed with a dog eared copy of a grammar book on the bedside table instead of Stephen King (not true, there’s always his “On Writing”) dreaming of syntax. Still, a writer stagnates and dies that does not continue to consume and to grow. Reading is a must, a valuable staple in the writing lifestyle though the joys it once brought are a lot harder won.

Arithmetic

Did that just make you cringe? Remembering hours poured over dingy ill treated text books a bitten and battered pencil clutched in sweaty fingers, the eraser worn down to such a nib it’s been replaced with another already dingy and deformed? Sure as hell made me cringe and the thing is it never gets any better.

Now Arithmetic encompasses taxes, financial planning, bank accounts, budgets – it’s the hallmark of all that money you don’t have and where exactly it’s draining away. Reminds you of all the places you would like to be spending it. Of all the places you really SHOULD be spending your hard earned cash.

It can’t be neglected of course. Somehow you have to find the money for your daily expenses, your writing career and perhaps just enough fun to keep you from going insane at the Outlook Inn. Somethings simply can’t be skimped or skipped, and it’s all in the realm of arithmetic. Paying for your cover artist, advertising, editing, and anything else you can’t manage to do yourself, taking care of your taxes can never be forgotten, every penny you’ve earned working for yourself will have to be accounted for and half of it given to the government (don’t even think about bitching about it either).

If you skimp on the Arithmetic, cut corners, assume you’ve got all your shit covered when you don’t – you fail. Maybe the government gets you. Maybe you can’t get that awesome cover because you can’t afford to pay for it. Maybe you try and stiff someone and find yourself on a blacklist (yeah they exist no one wants to talk about them but they do). Or maybe, maybe you just can’t keep feeding yourself and your own.

The 3R’s: Writing, Reading & Arithmetic Part 1 of 2

Remember way back in the day when the rules of education were as simple as the three R’s? When just being well versed in the basics of Writing, Reading and Arithmetic were more than enough to prepare you for a lifetime as a responsible adult (whatever that is) and productive member of society? Things have gotten complicated. Arithmetic is now advanced Calculus, Reading is line analysis and Writing – well we all know Writing is a world unto itself of complexity.

Still, there’s something important to remember about the basics. After all, no matter how complex the world you are in today might be, it still is made up of the same basic elements that it was years ago. Sometimes, just remembering that can help you over the hard parts.

Writing

Well it’s the big one isn’t it. Stringing words together to make sentences. Gathering sentences together to make paragraphs. Groups of paragraph become pages and eventually all those pages become books. Writing improves with practice, long hours spent fondling words and worlds like lost lovers. A thousand and one books have been written on the subject, you can pay someone to re-drill the basics into you and there’s always an opportunity to practice practice practice.

Aren’t we lucky though? In this day and age you’ve got social media as a constant practice arena. Twitter teaches you brevity. Facebook reminds us of the constant and far reaching potential of our words. Texting… invites us to re-imagine language in ways we never considered before, then destroys it to be rebuilt anew. There’s even helpful ever present Grammar Nazi’s always ready to remind you that yes, indeed, you’re doing it all wrong.

Rock, Hill, My Poor Back!

So I’ve done it. I’m a writer! Except I don’t make any money (I really need to change that) not many people are reading my book (I’ve got to fix that) and somewhere in the midst of all that I have to find time to write even more and improve my craft. Why hello giant boulder that just got three times larger when I thought I had reached the top of the hill, only to find there’s a bloody mountain on the other side of it I have yet to climb…

As far as I’ve come there’s still miles to go. Writing is hard enough but it’s also rewarding and satisfying. I probably couldn’t stop now if I wanted to and I don’t want to. Improving my craft as a writer? Yeah that’ll be work, work I’ll probably end up loving every second of. Becoming a book marketing genius so that I can pay the bills I’ve been neglecting in order to concentrate on the joys of writing? Yeah not looking forward to that at all.

In fact, the sheer amount of information I have to assimilate, the changes I have to make, the doors I have to knock on with beggar’s cup in hand – depresses the high holy hells out of me. Writing, as hard as it is, is the fun part. Everything that isn’t writing doesn’t have even half of the same pay off and I’ll admit I’m artistic enough to prefer living in my art without all thoughts of the need to finance the “living” part. Almost.

If I don’t reach my financial goals by the end of the year, I will have to go back to office work and put the writing on the back burner again. The year is half over and I’m not even close. Threaten an addict with cold turkey rehab and see if they go and rob someone faster than I force myself to master this marketing bs. No one’s going to take my writing time from me damnit!

There is a pitfall here however. As determined as I am to meet my goals so that I can justify another year writing like the happiest mad woman ever, facing the big block of the backend (what I call everything that isn’t writing, marketing, blogging, twitter, cover design, stat checking, editing, etc.) I get horribly depressed. Depressed and fidgety, fidgety and sidetracked, sidetracked and turned around till I’m so dizzy and I’ve lost so much time and those other two books I wanted to finish this year aren’t even halfway ready to be published.

So I’ll have to work on this marketing shit while writing, let that carrot on a stick help me move the boulder up the mountain. The ever present need for balance in one’s writing life, I’m still finding it, at some point I have to add ‘other people’ back into the mix but gods they’re such a waste of writing time!

Scheduling

One of the first things I learned when I sat down to write my first novel was, scheduling is a bitch.

Finding time to write in, even when you’re ‘unemployed’ isn’t as easy as it sounds. You really think you’ll just casually roll up to the computer at some point in the day and start furiously typing away? Yeah, well something will come up, something always comes up. Even if you live alone with no one to interfere with your desire to roll out of bed and write at some point during the day, something will happen and it won’t get done.

Hell even with a concrete schedule and everyone you live with appraised of what you’re doing and when – something will still probably come up. Something will come up, possibly prompted by you wandering away from your manuscript for a moment while trying to coax your muse back for a few more paragraphs.

That’s why the schedule is so important. It gives you permission to turn off the phone, disconnect the internet and yell at loved ones, from a specific time to a specific time while you’re writing. Without the schedule, well, you’d just be an angry random bitch.

I think I’ve mastered the schedule pretty much… except for scheduling time off and a life. Basically I’ve scheduled all of my days right up to about 10pm with writing stuffs. I allow myself Sunday ‘off,’ except that’s never actually a day off, it’s a day I end up giving to my long suffering family who needs this and that and this done.

Spending most of my time telling the rest of the world to bugger off is fine with me – except sometimes it isn’t. It would be nice to really just relax for a day or so. It would kind of rock if I could schedule in enough time for people but they’re notorious unapologetic time hogs.

My hat is off to all the writers out there that manage to juggle full time office jobs, families, friends and writing time, as I have no idea how the hell you do it!

Muse Food

Muses are fickle fey things, apt to hop out of the car right when your pants are off and all the blood is flowing downhill. Inconvenient. Vexing. Vital. So what can we do to keep these lovely creative lubricants around all the way to the finish? Turns out, there’s actually quite a lot.

First is the relatively obvious advice you’ve heard a million times before – writers write. Even when you’re not being guided by your muse’s talented hands, you write. Especially when you know you’re alone and writing badly. It’s probably the hardest part of writing, not even editing compares to accepting the fact that today, maybe tomorrow and even into next week, you’ll be writing badly.

You never want something as sought after and desirable as your muse to know for certain how lost you are without them, it just encourages them to treat you badly. Or even worse they might wander away never to return, searching instead for a partner that is equal to themselves. Your muse is your partner, without hands to type or a voice to speak to anyone but you they need you as much as you need them. Continue reading