Tag Archives: creative process

Time Sinks

You know what they are. They’re those black holes that you fall into and before you know it you’ve lost hours of your day.

A few of mine:

Pinterest. I’m pretty good at avoiding this one, but when I fall… I look at someone’s board, then go the board of someone that they pinned an image from, and from there I find other boards and other people and… Yeah. Half a day and forty boards later I come up for air, bleary eyed, wondering what year it is.

Jigzone.  I’ll admit it. (I may have already admitted it here.)  I am a jigsaw junkie. I have been known to skip meals while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have been known to ignore chocolate cake with peanut butter icing while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have foregone sleep while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle.  I’m only semi successful at avoiding jigzone.

YouTube. *sigh* Let’s not go there.  No, I mean, really, let’s not go there. I’m currently addicted to all things Pentatonix.  And to Superfruit videos. And the comments on them. And the Moody Blues. And then I look up old songs that I used to like or wonder if they’re on YouTube.  And then I start looking at horse videos and videos of Boxers (dogs, not fighters).  I’m um… really not good at avoiding YouTube. I tell myself that I’ll use it as a reward, that I’ll watch one (just one!) video and then get back to work. And, yeah, one video becomes two hours and…

Yeah. FaceBook pales in comparison to those.

Then there are online games. I’m pretty good at avoiding them, mostly because I haven’t even thought about them recently. (Until now.  Thank you, me. Now I have to go find Alchemy and BookWorm and Hangaroo, and…)

No. Just no.  I am not going to go there, I’m just not.

 

 

 

 

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Camp Update — Sort Of

Week one of Camp NaNoWriMo is wrapping up and I’m feeling kind of “blah.” Editing for Camp isn’t nearly as much fun as writing for Camp so it’s kind of hard to work up any enthusiasm for it.

(Then again, editing isn’t nearly as much fun as writing even when it’s not for Camp.)

So, anyhow, I still have 150 some pages to enter changes to, and two additional scenes that are written but need to be inserted somewhere. And a ton of notes to work through. (No wonder I’ve been putting this project off!)

And, of course, the increasingly evil day job to contend with. I’m seriously about to beg for a steady night shift there.  I could take my laptop, put my current project on a thumb drive, and edit the heck out of stuff.

But since that’s unlikely to happen (plus, as mentioned before, I have trouble sleeping during daylight hours), it looks like I’m going to have to carry on as is for a while.

So far I’m hanging on with NaPoWriMo, too, thanks largely to my dogs (two poems about them) and the weather. (Spring weather in Pennsylvania is always good for poems – it’s totally unpredictable.) It is still early in the month, though, and subjects get harder to find near the end.

I even managed to enter Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Thread challenge yesterday. (And my first draft was only three words over the limit.)

Now if I could just get something written to submit to the Queer SciFi flash fiction contest with a deadline of the 10th… I’m trying, but I keep coming up empty, or with things that will require way more than 300 words.

I should go back to writing haikus.  They are great for teaching economy of words.

Of course, then I’d have to revert back to being wordy for novels.

Seems I can’t win…

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Families

Like them or not, we all have them.

And so do our characters.  After all, they don’t exist in a vacuum.  They had a life before the story (and hopefully they’ll have a life afterward too.) They have families of some sort, just like we do. And friends and rivals and…

And let’s just stick to families, okay?  They can have enough drama for multiple books.

Like it or not, our families helped form us into who we are.  We might break from them and their beliefs, but they are still there in the background.  Why should our characters be any different?

Answer: They shouldn’t.

Even if your characters’ families are never shown or mentioned or named in your book they’ve still had an impact on who your character is and why s/he is the way s/he is.

Some people are great at writing families and family relationships.  I’m… not one of them. Most of my characters seem to come from families that are dysfunctional at best and downright toxic at worst.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

In Onyx Sun (which I will finish the revision of sooner or later), Taliya’s mother tried to cheat her out of her rightful place as head of household, and sold Taliya’s lover to a slaver.  Growing up, Taliya always felt closer to her grandmother than to her mother – and to the father that she barely knew.

Sanguine is something of an exception, in that Gregor has a large, warm, loving, and closely knit, extended family (with one exception).

In Song and Sword:

Marlia’s family is dead but the manner of their deaths did a lot to shape who she was at the start of the story.

Dakkas’ father and half-brother want to kill him, so he grew up not really expecting to grow up.  It made him cautious and hesitant to trust.

Pashevel and his father don’t see eye to eye, but at least he’s not plotting his son’s death.  Pashevel’s mother is dead, and it was her banishment from the kingdom – along with his father’s somewhat cold attitude – that had the greatest effect on who he turned out to be.

Kashrya never knew her birth parents, but was raised by a shaman, who, while respected by the tribe, was never really a part of it, so she was also always an outsider.

And lastly, in The Academy of the Accord series:

Marsden is the oldest of a large family, and when their mother died after the birth of the youngest he pretty much took charge of raising the others.  He loves his family, but we only meet two of them. He still fills a “father” role much of the time.

Vinadi is the only child of wealthy parents, both of whom were wizards, and was never really close with his family. (We only meet an aunt and a couple uncles.)  He grew up isolated and lonely. His early wanderlust came from an unconscious desire to find “home” – which is also what led to his dream for the school.

Kordelm’s mother was a whore who kicked him out to fend for himself when he was just a child. He is resilient, street-smart, and independent.  Something of a loner growing up, now that he has friends he will give his life to protect them.

Wellhym’s father threw him out when he was ten years old and it was discovered that he didn’t like girls. Wel’s mother never said a word, but his older brothers did.  One of them later comes around and accepts him. The other… not so much.  His friends become his surrogate family, but he never really stops wishing things could have been different with his birth family.

Torlew’s father was more interested in money than in his children. As the youngest son, Tor grows up seeing how unhappy his older siblings are, and resolves to not fall into that same trap. We meet his family and it’s about as awkward as you’d expect. He has one free-spirited aunt, who we never meet, and a little sister that is following in her footsteps.

Caristen’s family is loud and boisterous, and except for one temper tantrum from his father, they are totally accepting and supportive of him and his friends. (Cair’s mother is a force to be reckoned with and his father should be glad she wasn’t holding a cast iron skillet when he was throwing his tantrum.)

Yhonshel never knew his birth parents. He saw his first foster family killed for no reason other than that the man wanted to.  It was eight years after that before he could form attachments to other people. (And then it was mostly because they didn’t give him a choice.)  It was because of his helplessness as a child that Yhonshel became very good at protecting people.

(No, I’m not going to go through the families of the other characters from later books. If I do this post will turn into a novel and there are enough of those in this series.)

Maybe on Friday I’ll talk more about families – the kind you find or create vs the kind you’re born into.

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Back In The… Oops!

So I finally got started writing again and was on a pretty good roll with the current Elven Bard novel yesterday morning – I added about 500 words or so, but then I had to go to work.

But I was on fire! Ready to dive back into it when I got home.

But then work happened.

It should have been a good night.  It wasn’t a shower night, it wasn’t blood sugar day, and I had two good aides. (Although there’d been a bit of weirdness between them the night before, but still, they were good aides and I figured we could muddle through another night before I talked to the bosses today.)

Ha!

Three hours into the shift, after yelling at the other aide (and yelling and swearing at me) one of them threw his i.d. badge about ten feet from the back room behind the nurse’s station onto my desk, and walked out.

So, yeah.  There went the “good night” at work.

And there went my writing time when I got home. I sort of needed to use 750words to destress from work.

I did manage to get some more editing of Book 8 of The Academy of the Accord series done, though, so that’s something at least.

And I’m hoping to dive back into writing after work tonight. (As long as nothing changes I have two very drama-free aides tonight and tomorrow.)

 

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It Takes Balls

So, I’d had a crazier than normal shift at the Evil Day Job, ending with a resident who was talking to someone no one else could see – probably one of the ghost children who roam the halls. (Seriously.  Several residents are plagued by them.)

But anyhow, I was talking to a friend about it on FB, and we had the following conversation:

DM: Maybe you need to take a stress ball to work with you.

Me: I’d probably bounce it off a few heads.

DM: *Snickers* Well, that DOES help with stress…

DM: One of those isoflex sand filled are stress things wouldn’t be so bad. You can’t bounce it off someone at least. Can still throw it but…

Me: I’d rather have something hard…

That led to a discussion of various types of balls and which ones hurt the most.  She reminded me about wiffle balls, but I settled on bowling balls as my weapon of choice. (They bounce!  Sort of.)

Anyhow, we went on to other things, like my sudden obsession with Pentatonix, and I commented that I needed a topic for a blog post.

DM: Talk about balls. That would be interestingly hilarious.

Our conversation cycled back to Pentatonix, then back to my lack of a blog topic.

DM: Hey I gave you a suggestion, you didn’t like the balls.

Me: My mind slipped into a different direction when you said that and I almost replied “It’s not that kind of a blog.”

DM: ROFL! My mind’s already down that gutter. Why do you think I said it like that?

Me: Well, it’s still not that kind of balls.

DM: *Snickers*

Don’t you mean blog?

Me: Balls, blog… at this point, they both start with a “B”

DM: Good point.

Me: Okay, balls it is.

And, that, dear reader, is why you are now reading a blog post about balls.  Blame it on Daelyn Morgana.

(And it’s still not that kind of blog.  Nor is this post about that kind of balls.)

Writing novels while working an Evil Day Job is a lot like juggling a bunch of balls. (Not that kind of balls!)

(Although, there are days…)

Anyhow, there are all the normal writerly balls: the writing ball, the plotting and outlining ball, the editing ball, the revising ball, the promoting ball (I drop that one a lot), the wrangling of plot bunnies ball, etc.

And then there are the normal non-writerly balls: the stuff to do around the house ball, the keeping up with the rest of the world ball, the errand running ball, the cooking and eating ball, the laundry ball, the pets ball, etc.

And then there are the EDJ balls: the getting dressed to go there ball (hey, I’m an introvert and a would be hermit – leaving the house just isn’t my thing, okay?), the dealing with people ball, the pulled in seventeen directions at once but still need to get tasks done on time ball (welcome to the wonderful world of nursing), the keep everyone alive and safe until the end of shift ball…

And then I come home and stare at my computer wishing I had the energy to juggle the writerly balls.

So, yeah, when they say it takes balls to be a writer, they don’t necessarily mean that kind of balls.

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Burning Out?

My “weekend” is Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday night at work (I work the 3 to 11 shift) I was all full of plans and energy to tackle the never shrinking “To Do” list. (It seems to hover around 45 items.)  I was going to start at the top of my list and just cross things off until I got to the bottom.

But that was Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning I woke up and all that energy was nowhere to be found.

Not too unusual, really.  My job can be stressful (I’m a nurse in a long term care facility) and my first day off usually is pretty much a waste; I’m tired, I’m sore, and I’m drained both emotionally and mentally.

So I spent most of Wednesday staring at my computer, poking at stuff on Face Book, trying to ignore the Word docs that I’d opened in the hopes of making myself do something useful, and doing way too many puzzles on Jig Zone.  (It’s “too many puzzles” when your hand and wrist hurt from using the mouse and your eyes can no longer distinguish subtle differences in color, such as between brown and blue.)

Ah, well.  Thursday is a new day, right?

Thursday was only slightly more productive than Wednesday.  I got the rat cage cleaned and its shelves washed, cleaned the bathtub, and took out a bag of garbage. I also started looking for recipes for dog treats and got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them, so that project got put on hold.

And my other projects? They never got started.

I have a goal to add 9000 words to the sequel to Song and Sword this month and I never even opened that Word doc.

For one thing, I’m at a scene where I’m kind of stuck and am having trouble working through it.  I’m not sure where it’s going and it’s kind of… dull.  (Which means it will be dull and boring for a reader, too, so I need to either cut it or spice it up, but I’m not sure which so it’s going to stay until I find out what happens in it (it’s not in the outline) and then go for there because something important might be lurking in it.

But meantime, I still have to get through it.  (I think it might be time to go to Write or Die to plow through this bit because I really want to have this finished before November.)

I think maybe I’m burned out, both at work and at writing.  The problem is, taking time out from writing is counter-productive: it doesn’t refresh me, it just makes it harder to get started again.

So maybe it’s time to take a break from this particular project and go work on something else for a bit so I can come back to it with a fresh mindset. I won’t be making progress on the Elven Bard novel (but then, how much progress am I making when I am so resistant to working on it?) but at least I’ll be writing something.

But what to work on…?

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Camp is Coming

Well, it’s been an interesting week, writing-wise.

I was making pretty good progress on the Elven Bard novel (sequel to Song and Sword) and then…

And then a character showed up that I wasn’t expecting and sort of trashed my scene. I have no idea why she’s there, either, but I know I need to find a way to get that scene back on track – there’s stuff that needs to happen in it that got pushed aside because of her arrival. (I think I just figured out how to fix it.  Work in the other stuff before her presence is announced.)

But anyhow, I kept going to see if I could figure out how her being there was going to play out, and then I realized that the conversation I was writing just plain would not have happened in that setting.

But the conversation is important.  It can work into a sub plot that’s been mentioned (and which will be of more importance in the next book) and it makes use of the above-mentioned character (Inizi, for anyone who is curious) but it has to happen in a different kingdom.  (I hate writing scenes out of order, I really do, but this was an accident.)

So I added a bunch of white space before it and will use it when the characters get to the other kingdom, hopefully some time this month.

Why this month?

Because next month is Camp NaNoWriMo and the cabins are already opening for it.

Yes, I’ll be doing it.  No, I’m not sure if I’m going to commit to 50K for it.  I’ll be doing NaPoWriMo again too, and job stress is really getting to me so I don’t know if I can do 50,000 words of novel, 30 poems, and cope with work.

Anyhow, keeping Camp word count separate from your main Word doc is hard enough without trying to work it in around already existing scenes. And since I do want to work on this during Camp I’d like to get caught up to that scene by the end of the month.

I have a 9k word goal for this month, so we shall see.

Of course, I can always work on something else during Camp. It’s not like I have a scarcity of plot bunnies and started novels. (I think my count currently stands at 40, plus I’m sure I’m missing some.) I’d really like to get the first draft of this book wrapped up this year, though, preferably before November so I can start the next sequel then.

Or I can use Camp to finally complete the current round of revisions to Onyx Sun.  That might be a more productive use of it.  Has anyone ever done that? If so, how do you verify it at the end?

 

 

 

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Thirteen Book Series?

So I’ve been working my way through the first round paper edits of Book 7 of The Academy of the Accord, and I’m thinking I may need to rethink the series.

There is so much overlap between the original ending of Book 5 and the starts of Books 6 and 7 that I’m thinking of taking all that overlap stuff and making it a book unto itself.

For one thing, it would certainly make editing this mess a whole lot easier in the long run.

And there is a whole lot of stuff that I had to cut because it didn’t really fit into any of them, but I saved it all because a) I’m even a packrat when it comes to computer files and b) it is still kind of needed somewhere but there’s currently just no where to put it.

And this extra book would let me expand some things that I need to put more emphasis on so it’s there for later books. (I’m looking at you, Book 11 – you and Andrek and the most confusing and convoluted family tree ever created.)

And for yet another thing, it would let me focus on just the characters that are center stage in Books 6 and 7 (Rahmael and Shander in Book 6, and Brythel in Book 7) and would cut down on a lot of repetition between the books.

It doesn’t solve all of my problems with the series, though.  I’ll still be struggling with the (re)introduction of Azlea, for instance.  Of course, I’m already not entirely sure when that happens so that’s not really a major drawback.

It won’t exactly solve the problem of Book 7 either.  It’s still going to overlap some of the others no matter when I set the beginning of it because it’s Brythel and he’s… complicated.

And this new book in the middle of things sort of comes with a couple problems of its own.

For instance, so far it’s mostly just a series of scenes with no plot. I’d need to come up with something to tie it all together and tie it into the overall story arc for the series.  (I’m pretty sure I can find something, I just have no idea what at this point.)

And of course, then it becomes Book 6 so I’ll have to renumber all of the other books and all of the files associated with them…

I think I’m going to scream now.

And the headache continues to grow.

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I Don’t Want To Write

Oh, I still want to create worlds and characters and bring them to life and share their stories.  I love doing that.

But I hate writing.

There, I said it.

I hate writing.

What I really want is for the stories in my head to appear on the screen in front of me, exactly as they play out in my mind, without me having to do the actual writing.

For one thing, I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the flow of ideas.  Plus, typing takes too long. I want them done now.

But the main thing is that what I type never matches what I see in my mind.

And a lot of that is because I don’t do a good job of setting a scene. I need to work more on describing the setting, of showing where my characters are and letting the reader see what they are seeing.  Description really isn’t my forte, but it’s something that I know I need to work on so I do make a conscious effort to include more of it, at least in the rewrites. (First drafts, not so much.  I actually left myself a note in one that says “Where are they having this conversation? Setting, please!”)

A friend who beta read my first (published) novel, Song and Sword, was the first to point that out to me.  He said something along the lines of, “Now, don’t go all Tolkien on me and spend three pages describing the mountain, but give me more than talking heads.”

And that’s another part of the problem.  I see the scenes play out in my mind like I’m watching a movie and I want to include everything that I see, including the sky and clouds and grass and backdrop and…

And if I put all of that in it would take me a thousand words just to do a single paragraph and the story would never move forward.

I know there’s a happy medium there somewhere, but it’s really hard for me to find.

 

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Back to Work

Well, as of yesterday I am back to work.

At the evil day job, that is.

Having eight days off in a row was wonderful, even if most of them were spent hacking up a lung, but it sure was hard to go back. It always seems like the longer I’m off the harder it is to back.

I need to remember that for writing, too, “the longer I’m off the harder it is to go back.”  Maybe that’s the real wisdom behind the advice to “write every day” — if you skip one day, it’s easy to skip the next, and the next, and the next, and… And then it’s really hard to get started again.

I haven’t been writing much, but I have been plugging away at writing stuff, adding to my current Work in Progress. Maybe not every day, but just about, even if it’s just a few words.

And I also started something new.

(Well, kind of. I’m not sure where it’s going or even if I’m going to turn it into something, but I did start it.  It’s based on a nightmare that a friend had, but I’m turning it into something… well, I have no idea where it’s going, but it is leaning toward being a light, fun piece with some… unusual characters.  The current title is Paranormal Picnic but if I expand it into something longer it will need a new one — I’m pretty sure I can’t write an entire novel set at a picnic.)

I’ve not been doing so well at editing Onyx Sun, sadly. I really need to get back to focusing on that so that I can get it finished so I can focus on The Academy of the Accord.

Ah, yes, The Academy of the Accord.  I had a major realization about it yesterday morning, and not a good one.  I seem to have left two major plot points unresolved in Book Six.  Part of me wants to go back and fix it now, but that would mean swapping out it and Book Seven, so I think I’ll wait until I finish the first round paper edits of Book Seven, then put Book Six back in the hot seat to try to fix those “oopsies.”

(But seriously, though, how could I have read something that many times and not have realized what I’d missed?)

So, yeah.  Back to work.

 

 

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