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I kept forgetting to do this in December, so it's a little later than most people's.

Published stories in 2014:
"The Day the God Died" in Kaleidoscope
"Katabasis" in Lightning Cake

Some of the Kaleidoscope reviews mentioned my story, quite a few of them favorably! This was probably the coolest part of 2014 for me as a writer. (Plus the part where I ended up talking with a book group about my story.)

I am in my second year of eligibility for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer. If you are nominating for this award, please note that I have another short story available online for free, "As Large as Alone" which was published in Crossed Genres Magazine in summer 2013. This story will also be appearing in Twelfth Planet Press's Year's Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013 (not yet available).
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Blair tagged me a while ago, and then my life got ridiculous for a bit, so here goes!

long post is long )

I am tagging Brackett and Steph to carry on! I've been having fun reading people's answers to these questions and look forward to theirs.
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I have gone and gotten myself a website: alenamcnamara.com.

So far it's just a tiny thing, with links to my blog and to my story at Crossed Genres. Mostly I've put it up so that people who read Kaleidoscope and want more like that can find their way to my Crossed Genres story, and so that I can expand upon it later. I have no particular plans to enwordpressify my blog (it would take too much work and I like LJ/DW). But, well, who knows what the future will hold? At the least I have the domain name.
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Dear ten-year-old self:

Not that you don't know this already, but you were totally right. You will be a writer when you grow up (heck, you're a writer already) and, yes, writing doesn't pay very well, so you will in fact have another job. (Spoilers: it has more to do with books than with science. But majoring in physics was a solid choice anyway.)

Actually...everything you told your parents that evening? Is completely accurate. Just thought I'd let you know. Good job with that. And good choice. So far it's a pretty awesome life.

your twenty-two-year-old self
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In four days, I will graduate from college.

In the meantime, among other things:
- My last days at work. I shifted four or five ranges of books today, in order to shelve the lion's share of the previously in-processing books. Talking to my boss and another student worker, I realized how much I actually have put into organizing and neatening the stacks. It's been so gradual that sometimes I forget how neglected it was before I got here. I hope I get to go and do this somewhere else now, I really do. If I never work with old books again it will break my heart.
- The increasingly pressing need to go through my thesis committee's notes on my senior thesis. I keep meaning to do this, and keep doing other things instead.
(- Like look for jobs. Which is useful! But polishing my thesis and submitting it to the library ought to happen before I leave campus.)
- We are up to four mice caught. The problem with old pretty dorms is, apparently, that they are full of holes.
- Movies. Lots and lots of movies. We had a million senior week plans, and none of them really came to fruition except the "watch a ton of movies" one.

Also, I've been reading books. I got a cache of used ones recently: a Sladek mystery (entertaining), Jumper by Steve Gould (pretty good, though I had some plausibility problems--I do want to find the sequels), some Liavek stories by Mike Ford (more straightforward than other work of his I've read), and Sunbird by Elizabeth Wein (which I reread in a gulp, wincing for Telemakos all the way).

And I just finished A Stranger in Olondria (Sofia Samatar), which is...fascinating. It brushes past the edges of societies that could host entire novels. It is about death and life and religion and books and stories. I want it to be in the Imagined Worlds class I just took, except that that class mostly read lighter fare, and this book is very rich. (I dog-eared a page in it, which I hardly ever do.) Reading about it other places on the web, I can tell that I will have to come back to this book, and that I will probably get different things out of it next time.

(I can't tell if Samatar made the mispronunciation of her main character's name similar to the name of the main character in The Dispossessed on purpose. I hope she did. It made interesting things happen in my head.)

I've contemplated, recently, what kind of books I want to write--or what kind of books I have inside of me--as I've been emerging from the college cocoon. The inside of my head is a very different place than it was four years ago. Even over this last semester, writing my thesis, the way I think about putting words-onto-pages has shifted. I think I like the changes, but I am not sure what to do with them yet.

The nice thing is that I have time to figure this all out. Am I the kind of person who writes flashy adventure stories that happen to have queer characters (or whatever) in them? (The world does need those books.) Am I the kind of person who writes thought-provoking books that don't follow any pre-set patterns? Can I combine those? How can I combine those? How does my brain default to combining those, and do I want to do something different? The last couple of novels I've tried to write have been fairly surface-level YA urban fantasy things, and I think maybe I need to dig deeper for whatever ends up being my next big project.

One of the things I haven't had very much in the last four years is a solid aesthetic space (nb: what I mean by this is a little fuzzy even in my own head): it's all been equations and academic prose. When setting up my post-college life, I definitely want to figure out how to both build in time to write (get up super-early?) and to find people or a place to talk about this sort of thing. LJ/DW are a good place for this in some respects, so I might end up blogging some of my process here, but it would also be fabulous to have a not-online version.

...I think that's all I've got right now. I feel a little bit like I'm surfacing; hi, world. I'm still here. Somewhere.
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15952 / 80000

(not all today)

Some kind people interrogated me about my novel today, worldbuilding and characters and plot, until I had to give up and say, "Okay, I guess maybe I do have enough stuff to fill a novel."

So now I just have to write the rest of it.

I've been feeling a lot better about my writing lately in general, partially due to some nice personal rejections--partially due to reading DWJ's essay collection--partially due to being back where I can talk to writer-friends online and in-person, and partially due to some kind of personal breakthrough I don't really understand. Which last may have been triggered by either or both of the preceding, or have nothing to do with it...or have more to do with me getting more sunlight since I've gotten back from England. I have no idea; I am just glad it's happened. I feel vaguely competent most of the time now! It's nice.

For context, this has been the end (I hope) of several months of general disaffection and despair brought on by a thorough lack of perspective on my writing. At WisCon when someone said something nice and generally encouraging to me, I almost started crying because I had been in such desperate need of validation.

Which is the sort of thing that they do warn you about when you want to be a writer, but is worse when you're in it, even if you know that that's what's happening. Because you start jumping all over problems in what you write--real and imaginary--and you can't tell the difference; but you're determined to Keep Going, so you send stuff out, and then you feel terribly guilty because you are supposed to Have Standards and Only Send Out Your Best; but you had to send something out and you can't tell the difference any more...

It's not pleasant. I'm glad that it seems to be, for the most part, over. At least for now.

At any rate, I've outlined what I've got of Whisper-Trail so far all over one wall of my room. I also realized that a short story I wrote at Odyssey five years ago was in fact only the first scene of a story; wrote the second and part of the third scene; stopped and outlined it; and through that figured out what the ending should include. (I haven't written all the way through it yet, because there are some tricky things I want to get right, but I've added at least another half scene to it and modified some earlier material.)

...I have also run out of notecards. (nb: buy more soon.)

So apparently I outline things while I'm writing them now. Weird and disorienting, because for ages I was religiously a non-outlining person (except maybe when I was done with the first draft), but there we have it. I didn't like the lack-of-perspective phase one bit, and I don't think it was "worth it" or any of that claptrap, but I'm damn glad it's done and that I seem to have gained more or a different understanding of these stories I write, maybe despite it.
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Get struck by inspiration during physics class--to adapt an idea that, you remember vaguely, you tried out once before. Surreptitiously scribble notes amongst your equations. Treasure the idea's flavor in your mind. Move to your writing notebook; draft the first few paragraphs and pour out a few more thoughts.

Type up those paragraphs and those notes. Decide to dig through your old files and find the original version of the story, now that your new version is down in electrons. Not remembering any of the original names of the characters makes this more difficult, especially because younger-you usually named files after the main character. Find a file from a couple of years ago saying "there was that idea I had a while ago, I should write it again better!" about the same idea. The other file must be in there somewhere--

Dig further. Eventually become reduced to searching your documents folder for bland key words such as "lake" and "forest". Realize that one of the things you skimmed earlier actually was the original story in question, almost utterly unrecognizable. The file name says "v2".

Go dig up the first version. Read it. Ponder the fact that the new story idea is almost completely different than the original one, down to focusing on a different character entirely with different magical powers, but they are still the same story. In some weird way.

Carry on with your new idea. It may be the same one, but it's all shiny and fresh and it sparkles when you hold it into the light.

(This may become three linked novellas. Not completely sure, but it may. There are three sisters, and they each distinctly have their own story--although at the moment the one that's caught hold of my brain is the youngest's story. The earlier version was about the middle sister, and if I ever get that far that story may stay vaguely the same, but we'll see.)
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In light of all the World Book Day posts, throwing this one out there--not quite a meme, but--

I've been reading bits and drabs of Thackeray T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. It's making me vaguely uncomfortable for a reason that I can actually identify: all the readings I've been doing for Post-Colonial Theory complicate this anthology like woah. The dippings-into that I've made all subscribe to that imperial worldview, and I haven't hit any yet that question or critique it. Maybe they're in there! But it's interesting to see how I start poking at the influences of stories, frown at premises, etc. based on the academic readings I've been assigned.

Also, how there are particular types of narratives that depend on an imperialist society to take place. Especially the "lone adventurer, exploring the wiiilds!" type of thing. Arguably (okay, possibly have been reading too much Spivak) the whole chosen-one-hero thing? And so it's always a choice, I guess, to put that in or not. Restricts the stories that you can tell but in another way opens up to more stories--or at least I hope it does, for me individually; I know it opens up to a wider variety of stories told by other people. Growing up in a very quest/explorer/hero-centered vein of fantasy literature makes it harder to see my way out of that, though, or to see in what ways that trope can be used without invoking the imperialist structures that grew it in the first place.

Possibly I'm getting too thinky. I should go to bed.

(Meanwhile, I have four and a half pages of a short story which is incredibly difficult to get right. Cursed thing. I will keep on, though; it's interesting just to see where this goes.)
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I was going to post about Things I Learned About Publishing By Reading Slush. Instead you get this:

Tonight I strolled across campus in an evening chilly enough to feel cold. I'd left an information session on summer funding early--I had seen all the parts relevant to my application, and I couldn't stand to watch a powerpoint any more--and wandered through the library to print some things out. I stopped at the post box and opened its blue-painted flap.

Then I said, "Well, here goes." And I dropped a query letter into the mail.

Walking back to my dorm, I had a sudden peculiar feeling that I was standing on the precipice of something huge and wonderful and amazing. I think it was my life.
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So I tried to do the whole "your ten rules of writing" thing but I only ended up with two. Neither of which are actually rules, more reminders to myself.

Drafting and rewriting and revising and outlining and plotting and thinking about stories and doing other things entirely are all parts of writing. They all use time and brain and energy in different quantities and in different ways.

Words on pages are the artifacts of your mind and process. This is all anyone else gets, and from these--ideally--they will reconstruct what you originally thought. This is also all that anyone will ever pay you for (um, assuming that someone will at some point pay me for my writing).

In other news, it's midterms!

Time management is still... a thing. A thing which I have not yet figured out. The fact that my physics homework problems take me approximately half an hour (each) this semester does not help. Neither does the fact that I like sleep. But I still want to revise A Returning Power by the end of the (calendar) year. Halp?

Also, I want this job. Pity they're taking applications for it now. (Is it bad of me to hope that whoever gets it doesn't end up getting tenure, so that I can apply for the job after I graduate?)
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One of the big weird things this summer has been how close to adulthood it feels. I have a full-time job to which I go every weekday; they give me paychecks; I have a commute; et cetera and et cetera. Which... that's the Received Model Of What Adulthood Is. 9-5, hanging on to bus or subway straps, coming home tired and eating dinner, maybe watching a little bit of TV. Not that all those things are precisely true in my case, or in any case. But.

(Let's not mention the part where I'm turning twenty this week. Shhh.)

One of the big awesome things this summer has been, well, first that I have been writing. The science (and the issues with me getting food) ate my brain thoroughly for the first couple of weeks, and--but--then I settled into a routine, and I have that half-hour on the bus going and coming, plus some time after I scarf down my lunch. And it's really, really good to know that I am able to have a job and also work on stories. My pace is nothing like what it's been in previous summers when I had very little to do, but the fact that it exists at all suggests to me that I might well be able to keep writing consistently, albeit at a slower pace, after I graduate college and have a job for longer than a couple of months.

Which rocks. Classes tend to take up enough of my energy and time and brain that I don't get very much writing done during the academic year; before now, my big writing times have been summers, since I have never had a full-time job prior to this.

The thing that follows that, or comes with it, or something, is how my writing's changing. My process, anyway.

I spend more time planning, because it's easier to spend half an hour standing up on the bus thinking focused thoughts about plot or structure or character than it is to fill up three pages with prose. But it's more focused planning, more deliberate planning, than I usually end up doing. Often the way my brain approaches planning is a lot more loose--I think about the story for a bit and then wander off, get distracted by the Internet/a book/figuring out when I'm going to do my homework/the way the sunlight falls/whatever. On the commute, my brain can zoom in on the story and only the story; my science work stays at my job, and while I might have thoughts about that, they stay firmly on the back burner of my mind.

And I do write prose--the fact that I typed up over three thousand words of fiction yesterday just from my notebook should be some indication of the fact that I do compose the text of the stories themselves. But writing by hand is, for me, a lot different from typing. Typing saved me as a young writer because my hands could finally keep up with my brain: writing longhand was just too slow. I was already half a page along by the time I had finished the sentence. I think my handwriting speed has increased, but I've possibly also gotten more patient, trying to find--if not just the right one, a good--word or phrase.

I'm not entirely certain what any or all of this means. I know that the different way I've been approaching planning stories or novels has been affecting the plans that come out and that affects the story itself, but I can't pinpoint how. I think that the hand-written prose is different from the prose I would have typed for the same scene, but again, can't pin down precisely why, or whether it's better.

For now, it's enough that I am writing. That is the thing I'm most glad of, I think.

(I got invited to meet up with some MHC friends/acquaintances yesterday, one of whom was coming into Boston to visit for the first time all summer, and sort of eased out of it--all right, okay, it was a last-minute invitation, and yes, it was very hot out yesterday, and it would've taken me half an hour on public transit to get there... but part of my reasons was, selfishly, that I needed to do those three thousand words, type everything up so that I could recenter and figure out where I was, what I had, what I should do next. And, dammit, I was not going to give that up.)


Jul. 15th, 2011 06:00 pm
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This is just a note to say that I am going to Readercon (yay!) and will be arriving tonight.

Once more with feeling: I look like my icon, except that I will not be wearing a tuxedo. (I didn't bring it with me from Minnesota for the summer. How do men wear full suits in the summer? I am impressed, and do not understand.)


Also, apparently I have become the sort of person who a), commutes, and b), writes on a bus. I am okay with this. (And at lunch breaks. Um.) It gets things done! More things than I was getting done before, definitely. However, I still do not end up with time to type stuff up/update LJ with word count or progress or anything, and this weekend's pretty much gone... ah well. Next weekend, maybe.
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There are two big envelopes sitting on my bookcase right now. One of them has the last of my financial aid forms; the other holds my application to Viable Paradise. Both are addressed and have the appropriate bits of paper stuck in them (don't want to get those envelopes mixed up...), and one has postage. (The VP application is enough paper that I need to buy actual postage for it.)

I am not wholly happy with the state of the two chapters I'm sending, but hey, I've gotta send it out sometime. May's well be now, right?

Last night I wrote my annual poem. It usually happens around this time of year. This time it's a sestina and I think it actually has a turn. It's interesting; even though I have been working very slowly on stories and novels during college, doing something like writing a poem lets me see how my writing skills and even just my brain have been developing. I am starting to believe that college actually will leave me a better writer than I was before.

This is comforting, because real analysis so thoroughly took over my brain this semester that it was hard to envision college leaving me as anything other than a blob. (A blob who is better at proofs than she used to be. And who has forgotten how to write actual numbers--when we started using numbers again I had to try to write an eight three times before my hand stopped automatically doing an infinity sign instead. I could not make this up.)

Which is all very well and good but does not get any more work done on my real analysis midterm. Or my music organized for the choir rehearsal tonight. Um. I will do that eventually, honest.
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When novels leave there are these big gaping holes in your brain where you used to fiddle endlessly with plot and characters and What Happens Next. (I would be lying if I said I didn't think about the novel-that-was at all, but I've been trying to push it out of my brain as much as possible.)

So, clearly productive things I have done this week include watching TV on the internet (Community, Glee, the last episode of Tipping The Velvet), reading, making my christmas wishlist, fretting about my future (after college; next summer; this January), and doing assorted homework. Finals are approaching; they're still far enough in the future that I don't actually have to study for them yet--just worry about them, too.

(While I was thus distracted, the new issue of Ideomancer came out. It's awesome.)

I've also realized that I never wrote up things about all the books I read while staying at [livejournal.com profile] vcmw's house over Thanksgiving break. Possibly that will never happen. Short rundown: Pegasus, Hopeless Savages (Best Of?), a non-fiction book about awesome Victorian women, um? Probably something else. Since then, I have read Sayers' Nine Taylors (creepy) and caught up on a bunch of online fiction venues.

The state my brain's been in, though, everything takes me twice as long as it normally would. And the pointless fretting about my future definitely isn't helping: should I go to physics grad school after undergrad, even though I'm not really sure I want to? Should I get my MLIS, even though really I would like to do special-collections librarianship and that isn't a very large field and I'm not sure I would like the job enough to go wherever there was an opening? Should I sell some best-selling novels before I graduate college and then just end up with enough money to never have to do anything but work on novels for the rest of my life? I like that last option but it's even less likely than the rest of 'em and all the bits that I could affect of that one are intimidating, too.

Also, I feel like this summer is Important to what I do after college--if I am going to grad school for physics, shouldn't I try to do physics research this summer somewhere? But I kind of want to go to Taos Toolbox and learn about writing novels, and that is both not doing physics and spending more money than I am likely to earn, seeing as how I have no idea how to get a job that isn't work-study in a library. And preparing for a career plan that is very unlikely. Whee.

...yeah. Any, er, advice, anyone? (Hint: "go drink tea and read some more nice books and don't worry about life after college" is perfectly legitimate advice.)

next steps?

Nov. 9th, 2010 09:50 pm
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My body let me know this morning that it hasn't adjusted to the new time yet by waking me up at 4:45. (I then went back to sleep. For, um, an hour or so.)

I have just sort of resigned myself to not getting any writing done the first few days of each week. I always think "Well, I only have one class on Tuesdays--" and then there's work-study and homework and reading and physics research and a meeting with my advisor and the physics talk of the week, and True Colors, and here I am staring at nine-thirty again.

But the physics research is going well! I finally showed what I have so far to my advisor, who seems to think I am making good progress, so--yay!

On the other hand... class registration for next semester is this week. And I have been informed in no uncertain terms that the creative writing class I was so, so hoping to get into doesn't want me. Because I am not a senior. Not that I can come to the first class and if there's room I can be in there--which was the first offer, before I admitted to being a sophomore--but just that they don't let non-seniors into the class at all. Apparently because that would involve, like, actually judging people's writing or credentials or experience or something. Weird stuff like that. (And this is the college that's supposed to be anti-bureaucracy and -rules? I'd think you would throw out the seniority and keep the 'judging on merit' bit.)

You can probably see why I did not write any emails back to this professor after receiving the email today. Anything I could possibly say about this as a pedagogical theory would mostly be directed toward satisfying my own sense of justice.

Anyhow, that squashes my plans for "take creative writing next semester!" very neatly. No other colleges in the consortium are offering anything involving fiction writing at length, as far as I can tell. And while I know there are more things I could learn about writing novels from writing short stories, I would rather learn things about writing novels by, well, just writing the novels.

Overall this is saddening and frustrating, too. I just can't see why they will let me into writing classes suddenly when I am a senior... and still a physics major, any more than they will when I am a sophomore and a physics major. Or into writing for grad school, if I want to get an MFA for some reason (there are awesome programs out there!).

As well, I had been vaguely thinking of trying to study abroad somewhere with an awesome writing program--who knows if they will accept a sophomore (a physics major, an American) into their higher-level writing classes? I am tired of waiting until I get older, tired of the fact that even when I am older there will still be things that hold me back from getting to do the things I want. Tired of trying to think up ways to stick what wants to be a writing career into the cracks and crannies of a college life, of work-study, of every responsibility I have and hold, of my brain and my energy levels.

(I'm not quite going to run away and write novels, but I'd kind of like to.)

And, well, I am just tired, too. It's time for bed.
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It's nearly the end of October. It's been in the sixties and seventies here, warm and humid, rainy. The warm damp breezes feel good sometimes, but sometimes sitting at my computer in the evenings it's just stuffy. (Or, um, maybe that's the fault of my roommate and me making pots of tea in this weather. Though can you blame us? October and tea go together so well.)

The end of October means some other things, too, though. Halloween, of course, but entirely apart from that--I have to re-evaluate my goals as far as writing goes.

I've been proud of myself, this semester, for keeping work going on A Returning Power. Ten thousand words? It seems staggering progress.

That isn't the only work I've done, either. Over fall break I did that timeline for The Urban Fantasy Novel; today I started a proper outline (well, sort of). (Notecards and markers and masking tape and a wall and four colors of thread; you do the math.)

But at the end of the summer my goal had been a full re-draft of A Returning Power by the end of October (not happening), and at least a partial revision of The Urban Fantasy Novel by the end of November.

I'm not really disappointed in myself for my slow steps on A Returning Power. I've been busy, and I have been working on it; it makes sense to take the time it needs. I know that when I have the time to work on it, I will get it done.

What the problem is, is that I'd told the Codex Novel Contest group that I'd turn in the first 50-75 pages of The Urban Fantasy Novel in early December. Other people will read them, other people will ponder them and tell me what they think of them. I really wanted, I really want, to have the beginning at least slightly more in shape than it is right now.

...and, if I do that, if I even can manage even that on my schedule (because fixing the beginning means knowing a lot more about the novel overall than I do right now), I definitely won't have time or space in my brain for A Returning Power.

So I have to choose. True, on the surface it looks easy. People will see The Urban Fantasy Novel rather soon, and I don't even have a self-imposed deadline on A Returning Power (having tipped over the October re-draft goalpost already). But I have something else on A Returning Power, which is a self-imposed determination to Keep Working On It; and they both have equal claim on my heart.

(It doesn't help that, being in the Middles of A Returning Power, I am slightly convinced that if I lose my momentum now on that project it'll take me a long time to pick it back up again. Also, I am closer to a reasonably presentable draft of A Returning Power, and the lure of that is hard to step away from.)

... yeah. Maybe what I really need to do is resign myself to the fate of turning in a not-so-great set of pages of The Urban Fantasy Novel in December, because I have a bunch of reasons for keeping work going, at least minorly, on A Returning Power. I still don't love that, but maybe it makes the most sense when considered as a whole. (Lately I haven't been paying much attention to external deadlines--the difference here, I think, is that I chose it in the first place. Now, though, trying to push through to what I had hoped to get done just doesn't seem to make sense.)

Or maybe what I really need is to go to bed, and get up in the morning and finish my takehome midterm and go to my last ballroom dance class. How about I try that first, and then see what happens from there.
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Capital letters in my post title! Woo!

Recipe for alleviating post-novel slump:
- Buy a bunch of new music, wildly inappropriate for just-finished novel (Hadestown, some Imogen Heap, "A Glorious Dawn")
- Spend three hours re-plasticking dust jackets in the library; reconstruct a dust-jacket's flaps when it decides it is too old and brittle to come off the book, and manage to get most of the letters back together
- Write down all the things you need to fix in the next draft of the book, to get them onto a page and out of your head
- Open belated birthday present to find Really Awesome Pen from Really Awesome Person... which makes writing something, anything, a deeply tempting proposition
- Buy strawberry-flavored iced green tea with those tapioca pearl thingies in it, sit on playground and drink it (tapioca pearls have a disconcerting texture/consistency)
- Swing on the swingset, come up with first paragraph for the other Sequel You're Totally Not Writing
- Sit by the lake, write down said first paragraph, walk home in the not-rain swinging your umbrella

The cover of my new writing notebook has that neat texture that they get when they're rained on, now.

Still don't know what my next project is--the rest of the Badass Library Hermits rewrite, maybe?--but I am starting to believe that this last one is done.
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304 / 350

"There is too much stuff! I will never fit this all in fewer than fifty pages!"

...humans (/writers) are so predictable. Forging onward!

Highlights of today include but are not limited to Free Hugs, passing a guy playing guitar in the park, and working on old sheet music at the bindery.
(Lowlights include walking a mile and a half in the heat-index-91-degrees early afternoon. I didn't drop dead. Go me?)

The King's Peace: Interesting--not certain I will pick up the sequel, but I might.
Pale Fire: There are a few stories behind me reading this. One of them is "So I was reading Nabokov on the bus today..."*. One of them is "This morning I thought I wanted to read some SF-y, maybe space opera, novel, and then Nabokov lured me"**, and one of them is "Aaaaa, Nabokov"***.

All of them are true!

Spoilers, reading-protocols, slush )

**Reader/writer (at least in my case)
***Writer/reader (ditto above)


Jul. 21st, 2010 09:58 pm
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I wrote 64 whole words today!

There are, as always, excellent reasons for this. One is that I showed off my political cartoons to [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour at the library. Another is that I started reading Delany's About Writing this morning.

And then I read it on the bus to the library, and possibly missed my bus back from the library while reading it at the stop (I was reading! I'm not sure!), and read it on the alternative bus back toward home, and while walking home from said bus...

In summary, I think Samuel R. Delany is really, really awesome. I knew this already, and in fact had read several of the essays here contained before (in Jewel-Hinged Jaw), but even the short months since reading Jaw had given me a different perspective on those pieces, and they are surrounded in this by other essays and letters and interviews...

Delany makes me feel ignorant, unsophisticated, like I never read (anything, or anything good), and like I don't try hard enough. He consistently humbles me in every single way possible and some I didn't think were. Also, every time I read his essays or letters or interviews this one quote from DWJ's Year of the Griffin comes floating back to me--the one about Elda floating into breakfast with her mind feeling like a stack of umbrellas that have been opened, some of them inside out. My mind usually feels like that afterward.

So writing, even sixty-four words, feels like a major accomplishment. Instead of reading Delany's essays and going "I could never have that determination to the work, I may as well give up now" I took it and grabbed a prompt and wrote. Okay, two paragraphs (one a sentence of dialogue), but still! Not becoming completely discouraged! This is victory.

And then I stopped and wrote over three hundred words of analysis of possibly what those two paragraphs imply about the rest of the story. There is probably way more I could write down, and will. But in the meantime: sixty-four words! Hooray!

(The thing that is not a word is 'rimned', which I totally thought was a word until I figured out that I was conflating 'rimmed' and 'limned' into one portmanteau word that meant what I wanted it to. Now I think that 'rimned' should be a word. Intuitive? Votes?)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Revision-in-progress, new working title Badass Library Hermits (hey, I have to keep myself entertained somehow):
26.5 / 80

...which is the end of part two.

Obviously: I have decided not to stress about writing 5,000 words a day on this redraft. I never really made a coherent choice on whether I'm going to submit said draft or not, but I kept wavering so much on the decision that it seemed like a bad idea to stress myself out over it and stop myself from doing things like catching up on reading (for example, I got About Writing from the library last week, but haven't even opened it yet).

But, as obviously, I am still going to keep working on said re-draft. It makes a lot more sense and is way more coherent than the previous draft. And if I finish it a week or two after my birthday--well, I could send it in anyway and hope that they go "yeah, all right, it was mostly written when she was eighteen" or I could just keep revising/reconsidering it until I feel like it really is ready to be sent out/queried to agents. Either way, I'll be happier with the draft I end up with and also just happier in general with how stressed or tense my days have been recently.

(It is useful to know that I can still write 25k reasonably coherent words in a week. If I had an actual deadline, I could have kept going, I'm pretty certain. I also would've skipped library-work today, not stopped at a bookstore to read the rest of Will Grayson, Will Grayson (verdict: not quite as awesome as I was hoping from the beginning?)... but it just doesn't quite seem worth all of that as it is.)

At the same time, I do want to get back to working on The Urban Fantasy Novel, because I have gotten so close to the end of that. Which is another reason to slow down on this--I don't want to just skip off on something new and abandon that first draft.

I am happy with this decision. It is more sane, I think. Maybe I am missing a golden opportunity, but this is my life and I get to run it how I want to. So there?

May 2017



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