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Sidetracked by Paul Graham’s essay on ‘How To Do What You Love’ which seems to be hurtling through my LJ friends list this evening. Also read deannahoak‘s recent entry about How To Be Nice to Your Copy Editor and, coupled with a couple of days from my Daily Zen Desk Calendar (a bit behind there too), I seem to have hit some synergistic point. Every word matters, you know, and too often I’m thinking about the ones at the bottom of the paragraph when my fingers are somewhere in the middle. Same goes for reading. I’m scanning ahead to the end of the line while my brain is still pronouncing that two syllable monster leading off the row.

Maybe it’s been all that caffeine I’ve been drinking. 😉

Anyway, have a quote from the Gospel of Thomas that I’ve been hanging on to today. “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.” This is the life books take on when you start to build them. They become serpents which become circles, and it isn’t necessarily my job to say where they start and where they end. I simply chronicle this word. And the next. And the next.

Brain Go Boom

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Meant to get some writing done tonight but got a few other things taken care of instead. Little writing things that were on the plate that needed clearing. Some nights when I’m already exhausted when I get to my desk, there’s no point in trying to get work done on the book because it’ll all be revealed to be utter shit tomorrow, so it’s better to get other things done. Which isn’t to disparage those other things; they’re just not as…ah, fuck it, it’s a sentence that won’t come out in a way that doesn’t make something look like I just shit it out and put a period on the end of it. Okay, moving along now. Nothing to see here.

I’m starting to get that back of the nasal passage feeling of a cold coming on. Since we’ve all just managed to get over the last batch of bugs, I’m not entirely thrilled to be wandering into another one. One guess as to what I’m not getting enough of? Yeah, sunlight. Right. I doodled the math during a staff meeting today and figured that if I used every minute of every commute and every lunch hour AND managed to find two hours in the evening to work on the book, it would be March before I finished the draft. Which means April before the agents and I settle on a version we like. Which really means, realistically, that I might not be done with this fucking thing by Wiscon at the end of May.

Naturally, this isn’t the attitude to have towards one of your creative offspring. You’re supposed to love it and pet it and cover with it with jam when it gets cold. You’re not supposed to kick it out the door and scream, “JUST GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE HOUSE ALREADY! YOU’RE TOO OLD TO BE LIVING WITH ME ANYMORE.”

I’m just bitter that I realized there is a plot hole in Chapter 7 that needs to be properly filled which means less opportunities for serious x-plody. Want x-plody now. Don’t want stupid plot hole that I made for myself in Chapter 2 to bite me in the ass in Chapter 7.

We aren’t playing well together. Or I’m not getting enough sleep. Probably the latter. I do love my malformed children. Really. I’m not going to break my keyboard tomorrow. Though the ‘A’ is already busted and I have been secretly lusting after a new machine that DOESN’T FUCKING CRASH IN THE MIDDLE OF A FUCKING SENTENCE on me.

Yeah, it’s started doing it again.

I’m listening to Bong-Ra’s I Am The God of Hellfire tomorrow. All day long. My grouch will all be internalized and I will write like my fingers are on fire. Damnit.

Five

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Finished chapter five tonight. One of the first big rewrites. Well, maybe the second; Chapter Four needed some serious snip-snipping. Chapter Six is going to be mostly new, with stuff ganked from Eight and Nine. This is where the small size of my laptop screen is going to be a pain in the ass. Ah well, soldier on. A bit off my schedule but, eh, when is anyone ever ahead of schedule when they’re working on a book?

It’s been weird to dissect this book again. The first time though I thought I got all the meat out of it (well, okay, at the time I thought I rocked the house pretty well). On the heavy rewrite late last year, I felt pretty good about what I discovered about the characters. Now, it’s like another book again. Especially the last third which is going to have lots of new shiny bits. X-plody bits. You know, the ones I left out this last time.

Small Fires = Small Goals

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Poking around at things tonight. I’ve broken the book down into chunks that can (hopefully) fit into my schedule. The goal is to rewrite a chapter a day and I can already tell that isn’t going to happen. Some of the chapters are going to be marginally edited and some are going to be thrown out completely so it’s going to be hard to keep up though, in some ways, a full rewrite is going to be easier than the drudgery of cutting and pasting.

Most of the heavy plot issues have been worked out in my head. Having swiped something that jaylake mentioned a while back, I’ve gotten all the threads scratched out (point –> point –>) which is a hell of a lot easier than actually writing them down (thanks, Jay!). And, in IM conversation with omokage today, I hit a nugget of mental gold which might make this whole rewrite process a bit easier.

I love writing; I really love the moment when the sparks come and my whole brain ignites. But the trouble has been that such ignition (in the past) only comes after several hours of sustained work, of earnest mental effort, and I just don’t have that luxury anymore. I work in half hour to hour spurts, scattered throughout the day. And, doing intensive edits lends itself to more fine combing of material. I’m not so much throwing paint on the canvas anymore as I’m working off a heavily gridded structure. It’s not the same sort of fun and it’s harder to see the grandiose BIG PICTURE. It was one of those moments today when I realized that, like every big project that you’ve broken down into digestable chunks so that the whole project can be accomplished, you have to crumble up your enthusiasm so that it can be applied to the little pieces as well. Small fires, burning all the way to the horizon. They make a trail which you can follow.

Back to Chapter 4. Chapter 7 is the goal by Sunday evening.

Weirdness, in five little personal bits

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Okay, the five weird things meme*. I’m behind a few days (trying to clear my desk and, uh, other important things), sorry.

(1) Houses without books make me really nervous. I just get edgy and fidgety and want to start going through closets or get the hell out. These sorts of people are not my friends. In fact, if I ever admit to them that I do write, they will probably throw, ah — I was thinking about the easiest and closest throwable thing in a house but then realized THEY DON’T HAVE ANY BOOKS!

(2) When at eating establishments that allow you to gather your own napkins, I always take three. I usually only use two. But that third one is always there. Just in case.

(3) I don’t like ice in my drinks. Why? Buttermilk. This one I figured out. I strain beverages with my teeth and it is due to getting a glass of buttermilk when I was a kid and thinking it was regular milk (thanks, Dad). Ever since then: Strainer Boy. No surprises in the beverages. Ice isn’t meant to go into your mouth but it hits my teeth. A cold click-click against your teeth. Yeah, wrong.

(4) Rubber-suit monsters and ninjas will make me lose my train of thought. In fact, you can park me in any room with either a Godzilla or a Sho Kasugi film on the boob tube and I will suckle happily. Well, maybe not for Final Wars. Man, won’t they ever figure it out? We don’t give a shit about the human stories; we want to see the guys in rubber suits laying waste to miniature versions of Tokyo. How hard can that be?

(5) I hate squash. All forms. It is the devil’s own, never mind. It’s best not repeated in public. Anyway, it makes me leave the room. Not as a gourd sitting on the table, I can handle that, but when you cook it? Yeah, evil.

Got a shipment of vinyl goodies from my guy in Germany. Tarmvred, Larvae, Bong-Ra and Abelcain. Dumped all that recordy big beat goodness to my hard drive and have set up a playlist on my MP3 player which will cause my head to explode next week. But I’ll be typing at lightspeed when it happens so I will have gotten a lot of work done. These are the drugs which fuel the writing commute.

*I was tagged by barthanderson. These are the rules: The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You have been tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours. I’m meme-killing here, so if you want to play, do so but don’t feel like I’m tagging you.

Commentary

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I’ve got a stack of commentary from the lads at Scribe about the draft of SOULS_ONE (which, until we get done arguing about the title will be the simpler working title). Nothing terribly surprising and mostly things I kind of already knew in my secret heart of hearts but hadn’t really bothered to consciously recognize. I guess I was waiting for someone else to notice the seams before seeking to point them out. So, I’ve got some things to do on the book and, while I certainly frittered away the last few weeks being sick, hanging with the family and playing video games (Star Wars Legos and Dungeon Seige 2), I’m actually glad to be actively thinking about the book again.

It’s funny how you massage things as best you can and then, four weeks later, look at them and think, “Who thought that was solid?” And your brain spits out a better scenario that cuts to the quick so much more effectively. Funny, that. No, actually, annoying. I guess it is just part of the learning process.

I’ve also been trying to clear my desk of some records. Recent reviews at Igloo include Bluetech’s Sines and Singularities, Scanalyzer’s On The One And The Zero, a selection of records for International FAX Day (the first Thursday of the year where FAX devotees spend the day listening to just FAX records), and a couple for n5md releases. There. Small corner of my desk cleared. Now I have a spot for snacks while I settle in and crack this book in half. Again.

2005 Exeunt

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A year ago this week, we decided to move, citing the need for a greater quality of life. If we had any idea how stressful it would have been, we would have, well, we would have thought about it a bit more before jumping into the move. It took us five months to find a house and another five to sell ours. Coupled with a number of weeks of the “Who’s Sicker?” game, it’s been a rather long year and one that I am not unhappy to see gone. 2005 was the Year Shit Got Done for me and, yeah I did, but I’m ready for something new. 2006 is going to be the Year I Got Better. Need to. Getting too grey and worn out otherwise and I’ve got some things to accomplish yet.

I’ve been looking over the writing statistics and here’s the breakdown:

3 short stories (24,000 words)
1 novel (97,000 words)
130 record reviews (~ 40,000 words)

161,000 new words. Not quite 1K a day, but still pretty good for a guy with a shorter commute and a new kid and House Stress From Hell. We put out two Misfit Library books, I got back in the game with a pair of agents, and I rewrote an entire book from scratch and it didn’t kill me.

Thinking about 2006 now. Still have some thoughts about serial fiction and about flash fiction and photography in a design that gets me some web design time that is mine and is not done in to death by committee (you can only take so much of that before it starts to kill your brain). Hopefully the notes back from the agents about the book won’t be too arduous and we can get that off to New York soon and I can start something new. There are a couple of ideas floating about that are asking for attention and we’ll see which one grabs me the hardest when I get in the soup pot with them.

I saw an interesting statistic in jaylake‘s year end writing stats post: 144 stories submitted, 101 rejections. Most of the time we see his successes (25! nice!), but it’s also heartning to see that the 25 comes about because he never stops working the chain. And I also read matociquala‘s recent post about desiring to see spectacular failures in fiction (because it means people are trying to break out of the formulaic box of brain death). These two things ran together in my head and leave me heartened about being a new writer. Failure means you tried. Failure means you have another experience to make the next piece better. Failure means getting up again. Failure means you’re human.

Maybe this is the Year I Get Better At Failure.