truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
[first published on Storytellers Unplugged, July 7, 2010]

click! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: hamlet)
So, one of the pieces of writing advice I tend to endorse is the idea that you need to write every day, or as close to it as you can manage. And I still think it's true, or at least helpful, to think of writing as something you have to practice frequently and regularly, like music or baseball or dressage.

But I swear to god I had no idea how hard it is.

I knew about how hard it could be to find the time, especially if you have the pieces of a real life to try to assemble around it. And I knew how hard it could be when you felt like there were no words in your head, even when you had time to write them down.

I stopped blogging last year because of tendinitis in my right thumb (and, yes, that word really is spelled correctly, wrong though it looks) and carpal tunnel issues and the fact that my day job was all data entry. Thumb and wrists have improved, especially if I am NOT STUPID; temporary day job, being temporary, ended in November, and I am still waiting for another assignment; it seems like this would be the perfect time to write things: An Apprentice to Elves, for example, or Thirdhop Scarp, or any of a score of other projects.

But then there's the Restless Leg Syndrome, which revved up about the time my day job ended and has been relentless ever since. I learned in 2010 that creativity and RLS exist in inverse proportion to each other; in 2012 I learned that not only does RLS scour the creativity out of my head, but on the occasions when I do manage to write something, or to think seriously about writing something, it also deploys the worst of all the inner voices any writer (or artist or musician or anyone who loves what they do) can be afflicted with, the one that says, That's stupid. No one wants to read that. God, that's just puerile. This isn't working. The more words you put into it, the worse it's getting. Stop before you destroy whatever good you'd managed at all.

I know that voice is a liar. But I'm also tired and stressed and unhappy (see above re: neither job nor writing), and you know, that write every day advice seems smug and self-satisfied, and dear god don't you think I would if I could?

My RLS specialist and I are working on adjusting my medications. I am trying to get the things done that I can and not to beat myself up about the fact that right now there are things that I can't.

But it may be a while before I'm blogging regularly again. Thank you for your patience.

Yay?

Jan. 28th, 2012 05:13 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (mfu: ik-stet)
I have a complete revised draft of The Goblin Emperor . . . 20,000 words over budget.

This is what one might call a mixed blessing.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec)
I should descend into the endless hell of revising The Goblin Emperor, and I may even do so this evening.

(Seriously. This book will not fix itself, especially not the big structural problems. And I know what to do; it's just the how that's beating me up.)

However, this afternoon, I have been making notes on projects that aren't ready to be written yet, because if I don't write things down, I will not remember them.
  • This AU-America novel is way more ambitious than I am. Which is a problem, since I actually don't like novels with as much scope as this one is trying to claim it needs (Salem! Mormon Utah! Airships! Lansford Hastings! Circuses! Helen Keller! Frankenstein! George Armstrong Custer! Mammoth Cave! Angels! Demons! Dogs and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!)
  • otoh, the great thing about writing about Puritans is that you can name characters things like Dread Not Dawson; I don't know anything else about Dread Not yet, except that her older sister is named Remember, but the name is full of promise.
  • Mélusine's equivalent of Jack the Ripper is Jean-the-Knife.
  • Now I just have to figure out which district he preys on. (And approximately three thousand six hundred and fifty-two other things as well. I am terrified that by the time I get Yes, No, Always, Never worked out to the point that I can write it, I will have forgotten most of what I know about Mélusine.)
In acknowledgment and celebration of the fact that I'm working at all, here's that first line meme again.

click here )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
ME
1. washed (1) gray and (2) white bras.
2. outlined plot for the rest of Thirdhop Scarp.
3. got a page further in The Goblin Emperor revisions (I know, doesn't look like much, but trust me: it's huge).
4. picked up Emma's ashes (NOT "cremains") from the vet. She would be offended by the paw-print patterned tin; I will obviously have to find something more suitable.
5. bought a BRIGHT YELLOW Lamy fountain pen to replace the one that vanished over the weekend.
5.5 signed stock at the University Book Store
6. discovered that Shakespeare's Books has been reborn as Browzers Books. Feel that this is a sad come-down, namewise, but glad to see the bibliophoenix rise from the ashes.
7. bought The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America by G. J. Barker-Benfield (research); Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons by Lawrence Foster (research); and Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook by Donald Rumbelow (research). I love my job.
8. wondered where the cut-off is between a respectable interest in historical criminology and a ghoulishly trashy taste for true crime.* One's own birth-date? Hardback vs. paperback? Use of the word "true" in the subtitle? Serial killer vs. non-serial killer?
9. picked up more cat food, more cat litter, more cat treats . . . and a three-day pass for the Midwest Horse Fair.
10. put more gasoline in the truck.

CATZILLA
1. hampered
2. purred
3. napped
4. talked to robins
5. purred

THE TERMINATOR (a.k.a. THE LITTLEST NINJA)
1. hampered
2. purred
3. napped
4. was mortified by Catzilla
5. purred
6. vanished into thin air and mysteriously reappeared
7. purred


---
*Having just marathoned the first season of The First 48, I'm not casting aspidistras at anyone. Just saying: there's clearly a cut-off somewhere, and I don't know where it is.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] oceankitty1! He is a charming fox and I am glad to make his acquaintance.

Also, thank you, Jason from Virginia, for your letter! I'm sorry I don't seem to have gotten any of your previous attempts.

Other than that, yesterday--to be blunt and vulgar--sucked donkey balls. Sleep is still a no man's land, if not quite enemy territory; doctor's appointment did not produce miracles; Barnes and Noble has fewer books than ever, which just makes me unutterably depressed; still no luck on the job front; still can't write.

Still not king.

So I am all the more grateful for [livejournal.com profile] oceankitty1's present and Jason from Virginia's letter. They are a bright spot in the general gloom. Thank you both!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
I am a Guest of Honor at Odyssey Con 11, April 8-10, Madison, Wisconsin.

I am also a Guest of Honor at LepreCon 37, May 6-8, Tempe, Arizona.

And I am attending WisCon 35, May 26-30, Madison, Wisconsin.

Unless my financial situation changes, that's it for this year. I hate missing PenguiCon and Fourth Street and World Fantasy, but the simple ugly truth is, I can't afford to go.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: hippopotamus)
95,000 words and it's all dénouement from here.

Meanwhile, on the internet, [livejournal.com profile] cmpriest talks about what authors do and don't control, and [livejournal.com profile] jaylake describes the Larval Stages of the Common American Speculative Fiction Writer. Go read them because I got nothin'.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
So I'm trying [livejournal.com profile] thecoughlin's advice for whiny princess feet (thank you, btw!), which means there is a towel draped across my footstool (stubby little legs to go with the whiny princess feet), and, periodically when I feel warm enough to take my slippers and socks off, my bare feet kneading it.

This would be the unparalleled glamor with which the life of a writer is filled.

It took Catzilla a couple days to notice (Catzilla, while nowhere near as dumb as my beloved first cat Richie, is nevertheless not the brightest porchlight on the block), but then this evening, he was all, "Dude, what are you doing?"

"It's not for cats," sez I, by rote.

"Dude," says Catzilla, unimpressed as ever by this line of reasoning. "It's totally for cats. Here, lemme see."

We then had to have a discussion about whether or not this was a game (the cat voted yes, the biped voted no) and whether or not the biped's bare toes were cat toys (the cat voted yes--"Dude! They're moving!"--the biped voted no), and then, philosophical in his defeat, he curled up on the spare stretch of towel, just close enough that I can feel his body heat on my right foot, and sacked the hell out. ("Dude, I told you. Totally for cats.")

Catzilla is the epitome of the annoying younger brother, for both the bipeds and the other cats, but he is, when all is said and done, a very sweet kitty.

I will try to remember his sweetness when we have to have this same discussion all over again tomorrow.

ETA 9:57 P.M.: My toes just got licked.

ETA 10:08 P.M.: The biped was just completely discombobulated (i.e., I broke all records for the sitting high jump) by the cat's cunning introduction of a milk jug ring into the field of play--I mean, the towel. Notice the way in which this achieves the feline goal ("totally for cats") while staying technically within the previously promulgated rules (which may be boiled down to, "No attacking my toes, fluffybutt.")

And in conclusion, totally for cats.

Grump.

Dec. 30th, 2009 10:06 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (porpentine: flowers)
I am grumpy today. Because:

1. female problems )

2. Laundry. It had to be done before the laundry shoggoth got ambitious and ate a cat, but nobody can make me be gracious about it. On the plus side, I have yet again not killed myself going down the basement stairs with a full laundry basket.

3. I am one of those incredibly annoying people who get all pedantic and fussy about how the decade doesn't end with 2009. It ends with 2010. I realize that I'm being annoying, pedantic, and irredeemably fussy--but that only adds to my grumpiness.
(GUILDENSTERN: Let it go.
ROSENCRANTZ: But it's wrong!
GUILDENSTERN: I know. Believe me. Let. It. Go.
ROSENCRANTZ: But--!
[Guildenstern commences to beat Rosencrantz about the head and ears with a pillow]
ROSENCRANTZ: [muffled but defiant] It's still wrong!)


4. The goblin book is stuck. Yes, with a month to deadline. I'm fairly confident I'll get unstuck quickly, but that doesn't, unfortunately, do much for the part wherein I am stuck and I hate it.

5. The credit card statement came today. 'Nuff said.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
[livejournal.com profile] truepenny: Cats here say they are traumatized by the vacuum balrog. TRAUMATIZED.
[livejournal.com profile] matociquala: The Dark God Wakuum!
[livejournal.com profile] truepenny: Cthulhu's little known but much more dreadful younger brother.
[livejournal.com profile] matociquala: JUST ONE TENTACLE BUT IT REALLY SUCKS.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (tr: mole)
(I really need an icon for this book. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything suitable.)

69,029 words. I will make it to 70,000 tomorrow. I kinda wanted it tonight, but the novel explained to me that this next bit needs more thinking, and I have become leery of the whole words-for-the-sake-of-words thing. (Why I will never do NaNoWriMo, short version.) Sometimes, you know, that's what you need, is just to push the damn hippopotamus another two inches up the hill, but it's too easy for me to get my perspective out of whack and get all invested in chasing the word count and let the important things kind of slide out of the story. Which is bad.

I am not, by the way, saying that measuring progress by word count is a bad thing or that people who use that as their metric are Doing It Wrong. I'm saying I found out the hard way that, FOR ME, it's a double-edged sword.

Also, today, I got my share of the money for "Boojum" being translated into Russian. I'm much more geeked about the translated-into-Russian part than the money, and would be even if the money were rather more substantial than it is. (Translated into Russian! A story I co-wrote! This is the glamor, baby. Right here. -- I get this way every time something of mine gets translated into a language I can't read, which thus far has been all of them.)

And for some reason, the sf espionage novella has woken up in my head again. This is why I never throw anything away. You never know when the wheel is going to turn round again.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
BEAR: I have practiced guitar, and am about to go look for the first line of Grail in the fridge.

MOLE: Oh, is that where you keep them? I suppose it keeps them fresh.

BEAR: Well, it wasn't in the guitar.

MOLE: Are you the first line of my novel?
No, I am not the first line of your novel. I am a guitar string.

Are you the first line of my novel?
No, I am not the first line of your novel. I am a sweet potato.

Are you the first line of my novel?
No, I am not the first line of your novel. I am unidentifiable leftovers that should have been thrown out a week ago.

Are you the first line of my novel?
No, I am not the first line of your novel. I am a bottle of imported beer.

BEAR: Oo. Beer.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: catfish)
[livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna has a really smart post about why writing is work.

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala has a really smart post about a different aspect of why writing is work.

I do not have a really smart post about anything, because my brain has collapsed like a flan in a cupboard. But I do have a sale! A drabble, "Extract from 'Horror in Pierre Lucerne: Suburbia, Alienation, and the Rejection of Community,'" to The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. I am so happy about this I could . . . well, I don't know what, but I'm happy.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Werewolf story finished, 6,000 words, except that (a.) it's turned into the first chapter of a novel on me and (b.) it's drivel. Utter damnable drivel.



My aquarium has a new inhabitant, who was sold as a blue mystery snail, but who I believe is actually an apple snail, specifically a Pomacea bridgesii. The snail's name is Louise. (No, don't ask me, I don't know either. I put the snail in the tank, it opened its trapdoor to start looking around, and I thought, You go, Louise! You now know as much as I do. The fish, on the other hand, still does not have a name. He doesn't seem to require one.) Louise is fascinating and weirdly beautiful in a tentacled Lovecraftian way.



Tomorrow the ninjas go in for their annual check-up. They would dread it more than I do if they knew, but they don't know, so I'm dreading it for all three of us.



Piccadilly notebooks, while obviously Moleskine knock-offs, are (a.) cheaper, especially if you get them on clearance at Borders and (b.) use thicker paper, so--if you are a fountain pen user--there's less bleed-through than with Moleskine. Thus far, I certainly do not like them less.



There was probably something else, but I've forgotten what it is.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
I have lost the index card on which I kept track of the submission history of the zombie coyote story. Now, as I never throw anything away (just ask my poor long-suffering spouse), I know it's here somewhere. But, on the other hand, as I never throw anything away . . .

This is hardly the Fall of Carthage, as tragedies go, but it means that I no longer have a record of where I have and have not subbed that story. And since it was teetering on the verge of being trunked, that means there's an awful lot of markets to which I can no longer say with certainty whether I submitted it or not. (Memory like a steel wossname, yes.) And this in turn makes me feel grumpy and incompetent and who told me I was fit to be let out on my own?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Page proofs: page 127 of 421
Fish: nom
Scrabble: yes
Bathrobe: yes
Burning question: What is it about cats and stacks of paper?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
My page proofs are Trent Reznor.

The upside of this metaphor is that I get to be David Bowie.

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