Reinterpreting my own advice

My efforts to keep writing as a significant entity are coming along swimmingly. Even with time off for the “weekend”, I’m ahead of schedule and finding it easier each day to separate from whatever else fills my time and use it to get the words done at my writing desk.

I’m doing my best to celebrate that progress, though the voice of contention has to chime in. I can pick up on the novel and produce the next pages of text without too much effort, but the summer job is keeping me from percolating on the short stories I need to write. Not enough quiet thinking time. Sometimes, writing a novel feels like throwing thousands of words into a giant hole. I can’t help the ever-so-slight sense of not doing enough, all centred around how I haven’t added anything to the short story list, even when I’m successfully exceeding my daily word quota.

Part of my drive to push a few extra hundred words in here and there stems from the inevitability that my next holiday will be writing-free. Date of departure is approaching rapidly, and I’m helpless in the face of three weeks of writing lost to being away.

Not only am I making up for those days off in advance with my extra effort now, but I’m looking ahead to what my writing plans will be when I return. One of the biggest things I tell many creative friends is to forgive themselves when life gets in the way. We’re a damn critical bunch, and harshest upon ourselves for any perceived lapse.

I’d love to believe I could keep up my excellent daily word count for the duration of my holiday, but every single other vacation has proven otherwise. There’s just not enough time or mental energy to spare when I’m out of the house. I could try and fight it, but I think this is one of the instances where forgiving myself is more important than struggling against the path of least resistance. I mean, it’s supposed to be a holiday, right?

Afterwards, though, I have to be honest, and persistent, and stubborn when vacation time is over. It’s too easy to pretend like the excuses have validity and weight when it’s “just writing”. At no point would I call my manager and tell her I can’t come back to the day job because I’m recovering from holidays. I wouldn’t give up partway through my shift because I’m tired and it’s hard to rebuild the routine. Writing is no longer a just-for-me activity. I have external expectations to meet.

So that will be the thing I fight against, and not simply forgive: the tendency to let myself cruise along as if writing is just too hard when I’ve taken a break. Yes, it is difficult to get back into the groove with a three-week-hiccup in the way, but not enough to actually matter! Step one is my mental approach. I have two jobs to come back to, end of story.

It’s one thing to be forgiving, and another to let myself wallow in lingering post-vacation laziness.



Two Days

People have asked me, in an almost constant stream, aren’t I excited about my book coming out? Even aside from the fact that I’m rather reserved with expressing my enthusiasm (I simply do not understand the people who actually scream and leap around when they are excited), I’ve had a whole lot more to take care of in the lead up to release day. I haven’t been so worried that I couldn’t still feel eager, but at the same time, most of the nervousness I’ve had is that distant roar of panic instead of glee. So little time and so much to do, and a drive to do it all well.

But I’m running out of other responsibilities. I’ve crossed almost everything off the list. The first shipment of books coming to me is taken care of. Incidental tasks are completed. The Market on The Damning Moths website works fabulously. I’ve put up sample chapters and illustrations to the delight of many readers (and once again, thank you for the wonderful feedback). A free short story was made available. I’ve remembered to send updates to the mailing list, and finalise the ebook formatting, and complete a rather intimidating amount of business-end work.

There’s nearly nothing left to distract me.

In two days, my first novel will be available. Pre-orders will be sent out. Guests will come to the launch party on Sunday. I will sign bookplates and posters (both part of the pre-order freebies), and it’s both all too real, and a little unbelievable. Sure, I’m excited, if you dig under the veil of bewilderment.

I’ve asked some of my long-time author friends: does it get easier? Does release day ever stop being this vibrating, ruffled thing of delight and fear? There’s a reason they are my friends, because they were utterly honest with me. Even someone whose novels are bestsellers and internationally renowned warned me that, no, launches don’t get less unsettling. They just become more familiar in their terrible wonder.

And yet, here I am, ready to do it all again for the subsequent books. Stars above.


Ups and downs

The problem with trying to be positive about the achievements I’ve already made, the goals I have reached, and the work I have successfully completed, is that I am still all too aware of what I haven’t gotten around to doing yet.

I know, only so many hours in the day, busy person with many responsibilities, Life constantly getting in the way with a relatively challenging year behind me. I do know that. It doesn’t help knowing exactly why I am still behind on what I intended by this point. Being able to catalogue my positives doesn’t erase the comparable negatives.

I do try to stay up-beat about things, of course. After all, I’m sitting on a really engaging fantasy series which just requires patient attention to get the first book out there. I keep myself sane by working out numerical estimates. Check the amount of words remaining, divide by page averages, calculate how many weeks it will take me if I cover the bare minimum every day. It gives me the sense of an ending. This isn’t going to be forever. There is a point within reach where things will be finished. And it’s not too far away, even just getting through a single page each day.

I have the trouble of impatience (I know, I’ve talked about that too much already), which means I bury myself amidst a mound of doubt when things hit delays. Today’s lesson is: stop measuring myself at my peak rate. It makes me feel bad when I can’t maintain the pace because uncontrollable things cropped up in the meantime.

I just need to trust in myself, and in the Universe, that the overall plan is going just fine. As long as I show up for the minimum each day, just one little page, there will always be forward progress. Chipping away.


Look at me, I do stuff!

Wow, okay. Another week of forgetting to blog. I’m sorry! I don’t mean to get so caught up in irresponsibility!

I have been hard at work, several types of work no less. I had to submit final edits on “Harvest”, which went rather well (at least, in my mind!). The only thing I have to show for much of my time spent (aside from, you know, a pay check and food in my fridge, that sort of thing) is a great new bio and a very, very slick header for The Damning Moths. The Husband took my concept work and made it AWESOME. Yes!

Clicky-click for full size!

So, this is used on the Facebook Page for The Damning Moths, found here: The Damning Moths | Facebook
And the official website, found here: The Damning Moths
The bio is also on the website, right there under “The Author”. Fancy.

Oh yeah. Did I mention at any point the books have an official website? Haha. See above. I’ve been gloriously lazy about getting the description finalised and put on the site, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of content.

Beside that, it’s all pretty slow going. Whenever I think I’m on a roll, I look at the overall progress and am hit with a “WHAAAAT?” moment. Because things like, I’ll have been editing for hours, and added over 2,000 words to the book, but only progressed through a third of the chapter I had intended on finishing. Don’t get me wrong, everything’s awesome, but the one thing I stuggle most with when editing is guaging progress.

There’s no definitive word count to judge yourself on. Editing isn’t all equal value. Working through a really tough scene might take twice as long as just whipping through a perfectly acceptable section of the manuscript. Man, final edits are trouble. Worth it, but trouble all the same.



Greetings my dear internet buddies. Today has been a very long day. Between having my super awesome photo shoot this morning, and covering extra shifts at work tonight, I’m feeling like sleeping a whole lot is a solid plan. But I’m also at a really exciting point in my writing, so I’m pretty drawn to working on that, even though I might blather pretty badly being this spacey. That isn’t always a bad thing, funny enough. There have been occasions where my subconscious has been 100% in control and poured out great work.

I missed blogging on the appropriate days, and this is just a short one, today. I’m sorry if I haven’t been seen around your respective blogospaces. I have honestly, really, truly been flighty and distracted, and even if I’ve read your posts and updates, I haven’t known what to say most of the time. I will make the effort to catch up soon.

Aside from not blogging quite on time and not commenting as I normally would, I have probably avoided doing a whole lot of other things I might normally find myself enveloped with. The good news to come from that, though, is I’ve been chipping away at various writing projects and other important related goodness. Making accounts and updating websites for writing-related ventures, certainly. I’ve also been subjected to candid video recordings by the husband, who proceeds to make the weirdest things he can with the footage. Somehow, I am not concerned by this. It’s actually pretty awesome.

I’m going to set a countdown timer for half an hour or something. Then I shall sit and klackity away, then get myself some reading in before sleep finds me. I hope you lovely people have been busy with all your favourite things.


The right time for writing

I’m quickly discovering, regardless of all good intention, mornings are not the best time for creativity inside this brain of mine. I can do endless research, gather information, type out blog post after blog post, noodle around on other people’s blogs and social networks, but to crack open a WIP shuts the productivity down.

Plenty of people say the direct opposite. They write first thing in the morning, before all the “static” of the day gets in their head and muddles up their creativity. Not so, for me. Not for these past many years.

When I first began writing, over a decade ago, it was an all day adventure. I could fire up the computer at dawn and get right into it. But then, when I was really new to all of this, I didn’t have any sort of direction and I seriously had no idea what I was doing. I can admit that. No harm in accepting that it took all these years of practice to be any good at my craft.

As I adapted and learnt more about writing, so too did I learn about plotting and exploring characters. To do that most effectively, I think about them. A lot. A real lot.

This means the morning and throughout the day is usually reserved for contemplating my work and building up to a point where I will let the words come out. Even if I force myself to write creatively in the morning, it doesn’t have the same cohesive flow as what I put down in the afternoon-evening sessions. I need to get warmed up, or as I always say, the ideas need to percolate. If I try and pour them out in the morning, they’re weak and under-done. Later in the day, they’ve been stewing and building flavour and end up that much easier to release onto the page.

So I will adapt and embrace my limitations. My other duties can be tended in the mornings, leaving me free of obligation in the evening, when writing becomes priority number one!


Sometimes I wonder

I read a lot online. Blogs, articles, forums, humour sites, random research. I spend a lot of time on my computer, and have for most of my life. Wouldn’t trade that for the world, either, because the kinds of opportunities which come from being on the internet are incomparable.

But sometimes, I’ll be reading something. Often of the writing/publishing nature, since we all tend to get a little obsessive over that at times. And I will think to myself, “Why am I reading this instead of doing something productive?”

I love learning. Acquiring knowledge. The reason I spend so much time online is because there is so much available. I’ve been known to spend days straight consuming a good blog, or disappear a six hour block following links around Wikipedia. Funny enough, while I do check on things like Facebook regularly, I don’t spend a whole lot of time there (unless someone catches me on the chat function while I’m not looking).

But there are little triggers. I’ll read something, and for a myriad of reasons, it will make me wonder why I’m not doing something else. It’s not a guilt complex; everything I do has its reasons, and I’m okay with that for the most part. It might be partly an avoidance technique; I’m in the middle of a lot of things, and what I should work on isn’t necessarily what I’m most drawn to. But really, I suppose I just want to have something tangible for my time and brainpower. Knowledge can’t be tallied like words or stitches added to a project, so even while I value what I’m reading and experiencing, I feel I will have nothing to show at the end of it.

Which is ridiculous. If I didn’t have all this knowledge accumulated, these observations of humans and their thoughts and behavioural patterns, I wouldn’t be able to apply that to my stories. Which is pretty integral.

All the same, I’m going to draw a line this weekend. Get some serious work done and knock out a few of the smaller projects I’ve been dragging my feet over. I will say I have enough information to cover me for those two days, cut off my reading of things until Monday.