Monday – Three Things

  1. $.49. That was our electric bill for last month (May, 2020, for the calendar impaired): forty-nine cents. To break it down, we used $14.99 worth of electricity, and we were paid $14.50 for our solar panel energy. The rest of the bill wasn’t as good. Twenty-six and change for water. We had a wet June this year, so our water use was about half of what it was for the same time last year, even though we planted a garden this year and skipped it last year. Our utilities (gas is on separate bill), then, were about twenty-seven dollars. The one hundred dollar monthly bill’s remainder, about seventy-two dollars, were taxes and fees. Yeah, it’s a regular rant; I can’t save much on my monthly city bill because most of it is taxes and fees.
  2. WordPress Editor. I’ve returned to the ‘classic’ WP editor. Didn’t like the new stuff. Found it intrusive, counter-intuitive, and irritating. It was a change I didn’t want. And that’s okay, as I went back to the old way. No one’s rights or safety was threatened by my move back to how it was.
  3. I can’t keep up. My muses tell me the story too fast for my mind, and waaayyy too fast for my fingers. They don’t tell it in order and they’re always filling in the gaps. I get excited by what they’re telling me and their implications, and jump up to pace off my excitement. It’s a fun road that I follow, that struggle to write.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

The Typist

I sit down to write each day with little idea of what’s going to happen. This terrifies me.

Then I read a sentence or two of what I’ve written the day before, sometimes a little more, and the story takes off. In the space of ninety minutes to two hours, I’ll add two to three thousand more words, then stop and edit a little. Few changes are required; the story is coming to me so fully complete, I’m just the typist.

I know where and how the story started and where it’s supposed to be going. I lack all clues about how to get it there. I just followed the muses. They’ve presented this character that I don’t understand. He’s erratic. I know the reasons he’s erratic, as more of his backstory comes to me after I’ve written about him. After I write, I walk away and think, why did he do that? What’s wrong with him? He’s so inconsistent, I worry about it; I want to fix that, and make him consistent. But I suspect that if I attempt to fix him, he’ll just stop and the muses will walk away.

So…I let it ride, accepting my role as typist. The story sometimes entertains me, but more often baffles me. I’m writing mostly to see what happens next.

It’s a weird, odd role, being the typist. I know some writers insist that what I’m describing is complete bullshit, muses and characters don’t just take over.

Yeah, but here I am, with my coffee, about to do it again. It really is writing like crazy. It’s gotten me to seventy-seven pages so far. Guess I’ll just hang on and try to enjoy the ride.

Onward.

Oh, the Hangover

Bit groggy this morning. The muses paid me a no-notice last night. Yeah, bit of a work out.

I’d been workin’ on something yesterday. Testing the waters, feeling the characters, hunting the story. Nothing really working, though. Interruptions, life, etc. Miss the old routine, and not very good at pivoting, it appears. Yeah, working on it, working on it.

Went to close up the doc last night, elevenish. Sat down to read what I’d written. The muses clambered in in their size fifteens, giving directions. This happened. Here’s the concepts. Story arcs. Main character. Yeah, this is good, this is fun, work with this.

Next thing I know, the numbers have moved into the next day. Twelve forty-seven has arrived. I’m cold, my ass is asleep from sitting in a chair, and my body wants to join my ass in sleep.

Good night of writing like crazy, even it it was without a walk and coffee, even if it left me feelin’ groggy this morning cuz I ended up not getting enough sleep. ‘Cause, yeah, it was twelve forty-seven, but, you know, I had to take my time saying good night to the muses.

Hope they come back today. Feel ready for more writing like crazy. Cheers

Thundering In

They thundered in on loud, glittering machines (Harley motorcyles), ostentatious in their efforts to be cool and tough, shattering me with their numbers and volume.

It was the muses, awakened, returned, and energetic.

Six thirty AM, I’d just finished reviewing my dreams and wasn’t ready to get out of bed. I’d stayed up late watching “Ozark” on Netflix. A cat (Tucker, black and white, long-furred) was nestled against me, warm and purring. Yeah, no need to get up.

I began going through my manuscript in my head. I’d finished reading it. It was okay. Satisfactory.

Yeah, satisfactory and okay weren’t what I was looking for, damn it.

So the muses began riding around, revving their engines and hurling ideas at me. Do this, write this, what about this?

No, that’d be a much different book and not the one that this book is. Ah, but what about doing this? Hmmm…that makes sense. It’s attractive. Appealing.

Time to write (well, edit) like crazy, one more time.

But first, I really need coffee.

Measures Learned

We’ve been in coro self-isolation for a week. Not really isolation, but coupling. (Yeah, it’s not as sexual as that sounds; we’ve been married over forty something years.) I’ve gone out for walks; my wife and I shopped together twice in that period (keeping six feet away from others, not touching our faces, wiping down the shopping cart handle, wearing gloves), replenishing products and adding new items as we map out a longer term strategy and sort what we have. Some small matters have been learned.

I struggle to write fiction at home. I’m married to my walking-coffee shop-writing process. Like an old married couple, I feel it when the other isn’t present. A vacuum ensues.

I need to bridge it, and I’m working on that. Interruptions are the issue (which I’ve always known): cats visiting, wanting attention (sure, just shut the door, right? Ha, ha!), and the spouse speaking to me to share news or ask questions. Besides that, I developed the WCW process, deliberately training myself to shift to the writing mode.

I’m muddling through, sorting energies and times, trying to make my writing side work. I’ve wondered, though, if the muses haven’t also gone into self-isolation.

Beyond the writing issues, things are working out well. Our place isn’t gigantic, but it’s big enough for a couple and four cats (three residents and a perpetual visitor) that we’re not always on top of one another. We also have the yard, and can escape to it.

In many ways, we’re enjoying ourselves. The coro has united us in focus and intentions, providing structure. We’re working on a jigsaw puzzle together (it’s a good one) and have fun with that. We were doing that before coro struck, though.

I reflect on how our isolation is different from other times. I’ve gone through typhoons, where we stocked up but had a general idea that it would last only a week. Tornadoes were shorter and much more intense. We prepared for earthquakes (we have a disaster kit for fleeing) and wildfires (have N95 masks on hand) (and wish we could donate them to the med professionals because of the mask shortage, but they’ve been in our home for at least a year). We went through several years of drought here where we cut water use, and stayed inside (or went out for limited periods, wearing a mask) because of wild fire smoke. We lived through water rationing on Okinawa, and gasoline rationing in America.

This period, in fact, reminds me of our early married years. I was a young, low-ranked enlisted person. With little money, we were on a strict budget. We never ate out and saved money for treats (HoHo’s could be purchased for one hundred pennies in those days). We didn’t have a television (or a telephone) in the first few months. VCRs (and DVDs, etc) and the net, with its streaming options, didn’t exist. It was just us (with one cat) in the house, entertaining one another with card games, eating simple, inexpensive meals, and reading books.

So, this situation is somewhat better, if you discount the threat of getting sick and dying. We have the net. We have a phone, and several televisions (yeah, way too many, but when you buy one, getting rid of the previous is difficult; I’ve given away many working televisions…but anyway), and streaming options.

And we have money! And an extra freezer! And rooms! And toilet paper! And coffee! (And some wine, beer, brandy, and a few other things.)

We’re damned fortunate to have these things. (Yeah, nice not being poor and having a decent cash cushion.) (Sorry, not gloating just stating facts.) We have the net to entertain us (like reading others’ posts) (and writing my own) and a multitude of news sources (and entertaining animal videos). I love the humor I can find on FB and in posts (like MyDangBlog and “Signs of the Apocalypse”.) People’s comments on my posts, especially about Floofinition and floof rock, divert and amuse me. I love that they address these matters with the same tongue-in-gravity that I apply to them, building on the ideas and adding new material.

Although, alas, there’s not much good stuff to stream right now. Going from source to source last night (Prime, with access to HBO, Showtime, STARZ, etc), Freeform, Hulu, Acorn, and Netflix), it struck me that most streaming services are just like the old cable system that we fled. Lots of old reruns and syndicated old television shows on, and not much new (that we we enjoy) (yeah, we’re picky).

We also have a phone, and email. Jokes fly on email. So does good info. We hear from our extroverted friends and relatives, trapped in their homes, looking for an outlet. My wife handles those calls, except for my family.

Not bad, so far. Yeah, it’s early days, innit it? Hunker down, children. Fingers crossed.

Cheers

 

 

One More Time

I was frothing with surprise and delight for a while today.

The morning’s email brought interest from three agents. They wanted to see more material from April Showers 1921, a surprise. I thought that all interest from the first round of submissions had died (accomplished in October, 2019). I was regrouping for another round of submissions.

I also thought how odd it was that these agent things happen in clumps. But then, I submit in clumps, and the agents describe similar processes and response times. It shouldn’t be a surprise when they respond in clumps.

What WAS a surprise was an agent expressing interest in Four on Kyrios, the first novel of the Incomplete States series (five books). I submitted to her in February, 2019, ten months ago.

(A pause to consider that I’d finished writing a five novel series last year (Incomplete States, 430,000 words), and then wrote a novel earlier this year (April Showers 1921, 180,000 words), and now I’m finishing a third book (To Begin, 73,000 words so far). And yes, that does please me. Plodding along at about five pages a day does start adding up. Especially when I remember that Incomplete States and all of its support documents (side stories, character, planet, and cultural histories, etc) added up to one million words.)

Although it’s exciting to receive the emails from the agents, after reflecting, I thought, well, I’ll do my writing session today, and then try to respond to these agents tonight. I wasn’t being contrary or sabotaging myself, but in thinking through where I was and who I am, I enjoy the writing process, I’m enjoying writing the current novel, and I have momentum. (The muses are being friendly and I don’t want to alienate them.) So, although my goal is to find publication for those previously written novels, writing the current novel entices me more.

It’s a curious sensation. Yeah, I seek publication beyond the self-publishing of the four novels that I’ve already done. The agent interest is validation, in one sense; someone is interested! In another sense, I shrug; I’ve always written for myself, creating mysteries and logic problems for me to solve, building and expanding worlds in my mind, and discovering characters who emerge as people to me.

I’m also a tinge jaded, reconciling myself, yeah, you’ve been shown interest by agents and editors before, and it’s come to naught. (Really, are you so cynical, Michael?)

Yes, I am. More than cynicism, in the course of writing novels and following a quest to be a better thinker, story-teller, and writer, I’ve fallen out of concern about what others think about my writing. I can argue that some of that is self-preservation (and perhaps a tincture of imposter syndrome). See, if I don’t get excited, then I’ll be less dejected if the agents decline my project. That’s the theory.

It’s also short-sighted; being in a bubble of my own thinking, reading, writing, and criticism means that I don’t receive feedback that could help me grow.

Yes, true.

So, being cynical, jaded, short-sighted, and dubious, writing, with all of its challenges and frustrations, is more immediately rewarding and satisfying. Solving these self-made issues generates a sweet dopamine infusion. Perhaps that’s the lesson — and warning — that I should really find in my response today: I’m a writing addict, looking for a quick fix.

Today’s news does want me to treat myself to a scone or muffin. Comfort food, I believe, to help cope; the potential for advancing also carries the angst and burden of failure. Have something to eat, right? It’s a humorous pattern.

Yet, again…there was that time when I came across a woman reading my novel at a Starbucks here in my town, a cool experience. I’ve received feedback from readers about how my they’ve enjoyed something I’ve written, which was a powerful jolt to the ego. Multiple those intangible rewards by the potential that being published on a larger scale could bring.

Also in passing, though, I do enjoy reading my own work. It’s fun to read what I’ve written, and it often surprises me. I understand what that says about my process and being in the tube. What was originally conceived and written (in my methodology) frequently evolves under editing, revising, refinement, and polishing. I write to know what I think, and I rewrite to clarify it and deal with loopholes in my thinking (and plotting and problem solving).

As a final piece, of course; this is me, today. Me, tomorrow, or yesterday — or even later today — might respond differently. Moods (and the hopes and expectations related to them) are dynamic. Hence, I needed to write all of this out just to think about it, a prelude, perhaps, to discovering how I feel.

Well, it’s all thinking fodder. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Got to feed that addiction, you know?

 

 

Writing Time Again

Yesterday’s writing session went well. Only five pages finished, taking me to two sixty, and closer to the story’s end. More of the final details flashed into me, which was really exciting.

I kept writing in my head in my après-writing walk, which ended up being two and half miles. I’d just kept writing in my head and forgot about the time or distance. I was ravenous by then, as it was after three and I’d not eaten lunch.

Books had been given to me for Christmas. I began reading one of them last night after watching the news, but had only read a paragraph before the urge to add a line to my novel jumped into me. Opening the document, I added that line and then experienced more ideas and wrote three more pages.

This morning, as I fed les chats, I wrote in my head and decided to add another line to the novel. So I sat down in the sweats that I wear to bed and wrote two more pages as I ate breakfast.

That seemed to satisfy the muses.

Breakfast is finished but I’m not dressed or anything. Must clean up, shave, brush the teeth, etc., so I can go out and write like crazy, at least one more time, and have a cuppa coffee. Haven’t enjoyed a drop yet today.

I take it all as it comes.

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