Tag Archives: the mind of a writer

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 Plans

I know I said I was going to write about family again today, this time about family that you find (or that finds you) instead of the kind you’re born into, but, well…

The bathtub happened.

Tuesday morning, while having a nice relaxing soak, I suddenly realized “Camp NaNoWriMo starts this Saturday!”  (It’s a sneaky thing, time is.)

Which means, of course, that Friday (today) will be my last blog post before Camp.

So, yeah.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and…

… and I still haven’t decided what I’m doing.

I was all set to work on the Elven Bard novel but then I started thinking about using Camp to finish this round of revisions of Onyx Sun instead.  I know I’d like to get the Elven Bard novel’s first draft done this year but I can work on it other months and maybe for next Camp and hopefully finish it before November.

And also on Tuesday morning (man, Tuesday morning sure was a troublemaker!) I had a flash of how to start Soraine’s story… (She’s a minor character in Onyx Sun, but an interesting one, and I want to explore her story – which will also give a lot of information on some background events in Onyx Sun, so…)

Then I started thinking about all of my works in progress and thought maybe I should pick 10 of them and add 5000 words to each one.  Or 5 novels at 10,000 each.  But I really don’t want to commit to 50,000 words this month, not with NaPoWriMo happening too and work being beyond stressful.  (Maybe I’ll try that next Camp.)

So, with less than 12 hours to go before the start of camp, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to use it for Onyx Sun.

But you know, I still have just over 11 hours to change my mind.

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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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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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The (Plot) Bunny is Growing

I had no idea what I was going to write about for a blog post today. It’s been a very stressful weekend at work and the creative portion of my brain was hiding. (Can’t say I blame it, and I’m tempted to go hide with it.)

But then I read an article that a friend posted and it triggered all sorts of interesting plot bunnies. I don’t know if I’ll actually write anything based on it, but it might be something that I can work into Paranormal Picnic

(Yeah, it’s trying to turn into something other than a short fun story.)

(And, yeah, I’m trying to tell it that I really don’t have time for another WiP.)

(And, yeah, it’s not listening.)

(And, yeah, I’m losing the battle.)

(And, no, I do not have an addiction to parentheses. Why do you ask?)

So, anyhow…

It’s kind of amazing how one little thing can change the whole tone of your day.

(Well, okay, maybe not the whole tone. I am still dreading going to the evil day job this afternoon, so that hasn’t changed.)

Since I’ve mentioned Paranormal Picnic a time or two now, I thought maybe I should give you a snippet of it.

 

“Dad?  What are you doing here?” 

Maya rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and stared at the scene outside her door.  Her father stood at the grill, smoke rising from around the meat he was turning and an assortment of people she didn’t know were gathered around the picnic table.

“I’m barbecuing ribs, what’s it look like I’m doing?”

“But…” She took a deep breath and decided to ignore the rest of the scene and focus on him.  “Dad,” she said gently. “You’re dead.”

“I know I am.  That doesn’t mean I can’t cook.”

“Well, yes, actually, it does.” 

“No it doesn’t.  Now bring out some plates and silverware.  Everyone’s eager to meet you but don’t worry, no one bites.  Well, Alfred might, I don’t think he’s fed recently, but it won’t hurt, and, oh, hell, you’re my daughter.” He turned toward the table and raised his voice. “Alfred! No feeding from my daughter.”

An older gentleman, lean and well-dressed, nodded and waved off the comment, not really looking up from the chess game he was involved in.  His opponent, however, looked up and laughed.  She was a short stocky woman with reddish brown hair and almond-shaped amber eyes. 

“Dad? Who are all these people and what are they doing here?”

“Having a picnic.  That’s Alfred and Ginny playing chess.  Ginny brought fried chicken, and potato and macaroni salads, would you get them from the fridge?”

“Right.”

“The two little girls playing tag are Dina and Annie. Dina’s the one with the dark hair.  Oh, and don’t worry, Mariposa is keeping an eye on them.”

She followed his gaze and saw a woman perched in the old oak tree, her clawed feet clutching the branch as easily as any bird.  She waved a wing at her in greeting and turned her attention back to the children.

“A harpie?”

“And the girls are ghosts and Ginny’s a werewolf. Alfred’s a vampire in case you hadn’t figured that out.”

“I’m going back to bed until I wake up,” she muttered. “This can’t be real.”

Juice from the meat dripped down onto the coals, splattering and hissing, and the smoke that rose from it carried a scent that made her stomach rumble.

“On the other hand, maybe I’ll just set the table.  If I’m losing my mind I might as well enjoy it.”

“You’re not losing your mind.  And can you grab me a Pepsi?”

Dead people don’t drink Pepsi, she thought. But then, dead people don’t cook ribs, either.

 

 

 

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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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Just Breathe

That sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

And it is, usually.

Friday night at work I started coughing and my chest felt tight. I put it down to the fact that it was hotter than hell on the floor I was on, but Saturday morning I woke up coughing and couldn’t go more than 20 minutes without hacking up a lung.

So, I dragged myself to urgent care.

(I hate going to doctors, so going that soon says a lot…)

The overall decision was that it’s bronchitis, but my lungs are clear, so it’s probably viral, which means there’s nothing I can do but suffer through it and suck down albuterol every four hours for five days.

This morning I coughed so hard I almost threw up and I think I may have cracked a rib.

And in true writer fashion (see Friday’s post) I’m taking note of how it all feels. (And debating a trip to the ER – see above about hating to go to the doctor.)

And all I can think of is a line in Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord, where Rahmael asks, “How important are ribs, anyway?”

(Sorry so short, but breathing is taking all of my energy.)

 

 

 

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Punched

Writers are just… different.

I once saw a definition of a writer as “someone for whom the act of writing is harder than it is for other people.”

It’s true.

I’m a nurse, and part of my job involves documenting incidents. I usually go through three or four drafts before I actually make an official note in a chart.

We also see things differently.

Last night at work I got punched in the face by an agitated and aggressive resident. He knocked my glasses off (and a lens popped out so I had to go get them fixed this morning).  My face is still sore on that side today, so I’m going to need to write a longer incident report than the brief notes I was writing last night.  I’m going to type it up here at home so I can edit it as I go and print it out to take to work with me to turn in. (Also, it will be easier for the powers that be to read – I freely admit that I have atrocious handwriting.)

But the thing is, I’m taking note of how it feels. I don’t know if I’ll ever need to describe it in a novel, but I’m storing the sensations away for future reference, just in case.

And that’s one of the reasons why they say that writers should keep a journal, to store away things like this so they don’t get forgotten.

I’m horrible at keeping a journal, though. Most of my life is pretty dull and not worth writing about, and when it isn’t, well… then I don’t have time to write about it.

I do take note of physical reactions associated with strong feelings, though, so I probably should start writing them down.

And, oddly, I take note of the fact that normal people probably don’t do that. (It doesn’t help that I’m an Aquarian, and an INTJ, so emotions don’t “fit” well with me.

Maybe that’s why I have trouble writing romance…

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