01 Sep

State of the Revision: Week 5 of 13(?)

Made good use of the only perk of RWA membership that matters to me.

Confirmation email for voting in RWA board elections

All six of the incoming directors could be women of color, nudging the needle toward more accurate representation of the authors working in our industry, which is crucial in an organization that wields so much influence and potential for positive change in publishing.

In other news, I did not move the 573 units by the end of August needed to alter my future, so the Going Out of Business countdown is officially on!

I need 15,000 publishable words toward a 40,000-word paying gig by the end of next week, so The Book got a whopping 2,325 words this week (versus a “minimum” target of 7,700). The revision has gone from 3 days ahead to 6 days behind, and it’s only Week 5. Morale could be better, but maybe 2 weeks of absence will make my heart grow fonder and I’ll be so psyched to get back to The Book, progress will be BLAZING.

"Dream with me here, folks" gif from the Gilmore Girls

25 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 4 of 13(?)

I’ve tried hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes and spent countless hours trying to perfect my own version. This week, while others were once again writhing in ecstasy over a batch from a bakery recipe that didn’t impress me, I began to wonder if the problem is… I just don’t like chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies everyone else assures me are amazing.

I could eat the dough all day. I have a molasses cookie, a peanut butter cookie, a sugar cookie, and shortbread I can point to as good, so it’s not the cookie format that’s the problem. I acknowledged 40 years ago that I can’t stand snickerdoodles, so I don’t know why I’ve held onto a fantasy of chocolate chip for so long. TODAY, I SHAKE OFF THE SHACKLES OF CONFORMITY.

“What the hell do cookies have to do with the revision, Ren?” Well, you can measure how well the revision isn’t going by how many hours I’m doing literally anything else. Given the amount of “anything else” that’s necessary for survival, I really ought to be devoting every other second of my life to this book, but I had a shortage of will this week and did only about half the book work I should have.

I lost the last of my “ahead” days… and then fell a day behind. Cue additional chorus of “WHY DO I WRITE SUCH SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS?!?!?!” I’ve broken into the second act, though, up to 26,000 words. They’ve passed the Stuck With Each Other stage and moved onto the Might As Well Enjoy Making Out stage. It wasn’t a good week, but progress was nevertheless made.

Part of the problem is I’m now obligated to describe things, and if I had any interest in doing that, I’d have done it in the first draft. Me, writing fantasy in a world you’ve never seen: *easily writes 10,000 words about fashion, hairstyles, architecture, social structure, culture* Me, writing about contemporary America: “Assume they’re not walking around naked and the buildings have walls and roofs. WHO CARES?!” Contemporary was a bad choice in so many ways.

I had been taking two classes of antidepressant and an atypical antipsychotic in a last-ditch attempt to put a dent in the juggernaut of my mental health. The effect this time was all the physical symptoms (chest pain, lethargy, flinching at movement and noise, etc.) while rendering my brain incapable of acknowledging that these were psychological issues. It was like blindfolding somebody, holding a match to their feet, and telling them it wasn’t happening because they couldn’t see their flesh smoking. Chemically induced denial. Given that the best treatment options medicine has to offer have progressed from “ineffective” to “demonstrably worse,” I’m ready to accept that what’s “wrong” with me is my personality, and everybody who doesn’t like it can just fuck off because, honestly, I feel pretty damn all right in the absence of other people.

Things I’m Supposed to Like But Don’t: chocolate chip cookies and people.

25 Aug

Reading Challenge: August 2018

Posting early because I have to bring some job credentials up to date, which means studying for the rest of the month.

It’s ritual to read some writing books between drafts in hope of leveling up for the work to come. Nothing life-changing there, so moving on to the recreational reading.

Unless otherwise indicated, product links go to Amazon, and those are affiliate-coded. I buy all my books and have no involvement, professional or personal, with any party named below.

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18 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 3 of 13(?)

Spent much of this week with my head in my hands, moaning, “Why do I always write such shitty first drafts?” Had to be ungently reminded that—because it is true I always write shitty first drafts—everything good I’ve ever written began with a shitty first draft and turned out okay eventually. Like it or not, this is my “process.”

I lost two of my spare days and am now only one day ahead of schedule. I was well on my way to four, but I arrived at a scene that was giving me trouble, realized the cause of the trouble was the scene being unnecessary, and chopped it, setting back my gains.

I also got distracted by “How about a Gumroad subscription for short stories about the curse-breaking sisters in that series you’re never going to have time to write? Let’s plan all the logistics, research some curses that can be resolved in 10,000 words or less, and start writing a bunch of those stories because that’s a good use of time right now.” My vision habitually exceeds my reality. We’re currently witnessing the death throes of my last vision, so this is a teachable moment.

I know I sound increasingly grim and that’s a drag, but it’s a long process to distance myself from writing so it doesn’t hurt too much when it’s over (I went through this seven years ago and know what it’s going to do to me [except that time, I got to blame most of the failure on someone else, so I expect this to be worse…]), with the added balancing act of having to sustain some level of enthusiasm for the book itself in order to do the work. It’s kind of like a hard-feelings divorce with a teenage child in the middle. For the kid’s sake, you put on your it’s-all-for-the-best face, but inside, you’re counting the days until that kid turns 18 so you can douse everything in gasoline and burn all evidence of life with your useless bastard ex to the ground. As liberating as that is, severing a chunk of your life is traumatic.


In my heart and head, I’m ready to move on, but I have this one last job to finish first. If you’re tired of me being maudlin about it, may I suggest signing up for the New Release and Nothing Else newsletter so you’ll get the memo when the book is done without having to witness my spiral into despair? It’s my policy not to spam you with useless emails or share your information with anyone else, and there’ll be only the one more mailing before:

More fire.

11 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 2 of 13(?)

Still reclaiming my time by eating trash. As an example of how far I’ve fallen, since I got my pasta roller, only noodles made from scratch have passed my lips. In July, I made the best stroganoff the world has ever experienced with my own egg noodles. In August, I’m dumping dry noodles and salt out of a pouch audaciously labeled “stroganoff” and boiling it for lunch. Sure, it’s not QUITE the same, but I don’t have to sear and roast beef, chop and sauté onions and mushrooms, or mix, roll, and cut pasta. Good food takes hours versus 8 minutes to prepare trash. AND trash costs a dollar. I’d pay more than that for an onion alone if I still cared about good food. I’ve been a fool for so long!

Still slightly ahead of schedule on the revision. (I calculated that I needed 1,100 publishable words per day to be done by the end of October. Using that figure, I’m now 3 days ahead.) Actually, I don’t think it of as being “ahead” so much as providing a cushion for the inevitable confrontation with a bad scene that has to be beaten into submission over the course of a week or an accelerated freelance deadline that leaves no time to work on personal projects. Since I hit chapter 3 and immediately had to develop 2 inches of text into 2 full pages, the this-will-be-a-breeze days of revising the polish-as-you-go! beginning are officially over, and those cushion days are now in constant peril.

I have to be done with this book by the end of October because I can’t wait any longer than that to find a new day job. I could use a steady paycheck now (that $800 pharmacy bill every month is absolutely breathtaking…), but if I give the best 8 hours of my day to a corporate overlord, then give 8 mediocre hours to my freelance jobs, there won’t even be crappy hours left to get this book finished, and I’m too far into it to throw away the work I’ve done. So I’ll finish it and then throw it away! Ah, well. My horrorscope did say I’d radically change my life this year — it said nothing about changing for the better.

Though this post sounds much less optimistic than last week’s, the story is still going fine, even if the writer isn’t.

Have a swamp flower to brighten your day/night!

Carolina spider lily

It’s a Carolina spiderlily. I usually leave them to go to seed, but this one was about to fall into the creek, so I meddled in the circle of life.