Oi. Well, May is shaping up to be kind of a shit show. Personal crap is keeping me away from the keyboard most of the time, which is making me go stir crazy. Add to that a lot of client work (which does pay the rent, so I can’t complain much) and illnesses going around the house, and I’ve gone to bed most nights wondering whether I’m just a lazy writer.
Well, I am a lazy writer, but I wonder if I’m lazier than I gave myself credit for.
The net result was that over week and a half starting at my last blog entry, I got a grand total of 820 new words done, in a single writing shift on the thirteenth.
Then, two nights ago I got fed up with myself and got back to it. I knocked out that chapter that was killing me (finally) with a proper three-thousand word evening…
…only to lose about half of that work in a vicious conspiracy between the gods of computer crashing and the gods of autosave (who were evidently out having drinks when the computer crashing gods came around).
So, last night I looked at the manuscript, despaired, and went to the recording booth to do more client work.
Today was different.
Today I spent the bulk of the day working on the next block of Nanocast episodes which will post starting tomorrow. Then I went to bed for a nap that wound up being rather longer than I expected, then I returned to the keyboard and broke through the mental block, recapturing that lost scene and drawing even with my previous progress.
Not a lot of words, but it’s something. Gross gain of 1500, net gain of 820 due to cutting out notes on the manuscript and other misselany.
Things are back in full swing here. The day was packed, end-to-end, with lovely, lovely work.
First shift for me actually started out with trying to get the pup worn out. I got about three miles of walking in, which is less than I’ve gotten accustomed to but was just about what the post-injury knee could comfortably take. On the upside, the pup got about twelve miles of running in as a result of a very stubborn little orange ball that just would not stay with any of her humans, despite her fervent attempts to keep it from escaping into the surf.
Hey, what can I say? It kept her busy enough that I could actually hatch some evil plans with a potential client who joined me on the walk, and then go on to hatch further evil plans with another writer who was along for the stroll.
And the agate-hunting wasn’t bad either.
All in all, a good way to start off the day.
After I got home, there was a good solid AWP board meeting where She Who Must Not Be Named and I got all our in-house evil plans hashed out for the month. We finally figured out how to hang war boards in the office lofts, so the final part of our Evil Plan Management System is in place (huzzah!). Turns out that the evil plans really are ticking over–the amount left to do is shrinking at a glorious, if alarming, rate. I may soon have to cope with the problem of not being behind on anything.
A little intimidating, but I think I just might be up for it.
Once we had a plan, we hit the books.
Well, She Who Must Not Be Named hit the books. Suave Rob 3, to be precise. She set up on the couch with the manuscript and started her proof-and-continuity pass over the thing. Trixie noticed she was at work, so helpfully occupied the other half of the couch so that Kitty would have a place to put the pages she’d finished with. I caught a glimpse of it when I came downstairs to discover the collaboration-in-progress:
Me? I finished up some video production work and dove into some 3D graphics training for a while. Getting my skill-set updated to include character modeling and animation, in anticipation of a big project later this year.
Around 2AM I shifted gears, and set down to do my writing. I got about a thousand words down, hit a wall, threw them all out, got another thousand down, threw those out, and backed up to the beginning of the chapter and took another run at it. I might have to wind up abandoning this storyline for a while and coming back to it later. There’s a piece I haven’t been able to find yet.
On the other hand, I’ve left it in a place where I just might be able to run out the system. Just as I was wrapping up, I realized that my problem is that I’ve been resisting adding a new important character to the mix, because I’m afraid of losing track of all the moving pieces. So, tomorrow, I’m going to bite the bullet and take one more run at it, and see if I can beat it–if I can’t, I’m going to hop storylines for a while and then come back to this one.
This kind of stuff is a problem that I had with Book 2 of this series, and it comes from the complexity of the thing. It leads to a lot of second-guessing, false trails, and other stuff. And, since my characters have already blown up my outline, I’ve got that uncertainty going on without a map.
I’m having more fun, and this book is definitely even better than the last one (at least so far), and I’m working this in the way that I’ve learned how to work over the last ten books, but there’s still a huge lump of fear around “getting it right,” which is screwing me up. It’s all head games at this point. I’ll get through it, one way or another.
But, unlike with Book 2 when I’d get stuck like this, I’m actually excited about these roadblocks. I’ve learned to trust my process in a way that I didn’t used to, so I’m fairly certain that my subconscious will work this out.
Net progress: negligible. But I’m heading to bed in a fantastic mood, because I left things in a place where things could really take off tomorrow.
Sometimes, self discipline is a bitch. Life has weeks where it throws one thing after another at you, and it’s too easy to just piss and moan about it, which is why I disappeared for the last few days. Last Wednesday I got thrown off my beam by a knee injury. That got followed by a flu. That got followed by a SNAFU with the Free Will podcast drop that delayed things by a week. And that got followed up, right quick, with a whole bunch of minor-but-completely-distracting personal crap.
Frustrating, that’s what it was. And I let it get into my head and seriously screw with me. Which, in the end, is my responsibility and nobody else’s.
It’s not that I didn’t manage to work–I did. Got a new block of the Nanocast moving. Got some paperwork out of the way. Read a couple good books (I’ll review them here later on, when I’ve got more sleep in me). And, in general, I made progress on the things that keep the world moving round, but I tell you…
When I’m not working on this book, things just seem…gray.
Well, I finally got back to it tonight. Felt like bashing my head through a brick wall. I’d been away from the manuscript so long I didn’t want to think about it. Everything in the world was more interesting to me than writing–that’s not an exaggeration. Clipping my toenails was, literally, more interesting than writing.
Thankfully I only have ten toes, so I wound up with nicely groomed toenails and one less excuse to not-write.
Eventually, I relented. I found a secret sauce that slipped me into something of a groove (the soundtrack from David Lynch’s Dune does it for me every time) and I sank in, only to find that Brittany’s storyline is taking a very dark and interesting turn. She might turn out to be a bigger player, with a very different role, than I had expected. Time will tell.
So, not a great word count today, but I did finally get going again.
Here’s the damage:
Starting word count: 43,373
Ending word count: 44,523
Well, whatever I’ve been fighting the last week has cleared up. Be it virus or allergy or circadian dysregulation (which is fancy I-spent-too-much-time-in-a-psych-program talk for “jet lag”), I kicked it.
Which meant I actually got out for my walks today–both of them–which left me wobbly after being off the beam for half a week. Felt spectacular though.
As for work today, I did several hours of research–I’m listening through an audiobook called The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene, which is excellent Antithesis fuel, and also quite distracting.
It’s a deliciously Machiavellian synthesis of the principles of The Art of War married to a wide-ranging selection of readings from various practitioners of realpolitik from manuals of psychological treatment to the policy to the strategic writings of people like Ghandi and Kissinger. More interesting to me is its extensive use of political and military history, particularly the history of revolutionary movements and insurrectionist warfare, since, at its heart, this is what the series is about, being in deep mental contact with the history of this sort of thing gives me many very dark and chewy ideas about what might happen as tis story unfolds MUAHAHAHAHAHA…ah hem.
Anyway, it’s a good book if you’re interested in this kind of thing and it won’t depress you to read a book predicated on an utter lack of a moral compass.
Other than that, I got a few more Nanocast episodes recorded today. Probably won’t finish the block till the end of the week, as there’s another Free Will episode due on Thursday, which I’m determined not to miss.
I’m actually still neck deep in a really fabulous chapter in my writing, but I’ve hit the fatigue wall and am not putting my sentences together well without reading over them several times (for example, I just typed the word “felt” as “flet” and didn’t notice it until I saw the red squiggly line, and then all the other red squiggly lines, and realized I’d dyslexified every word in the sentence), so I’m calling it a night. I made a little under half my word count goal today, which isn’t great, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the last few days, so I’ll take it.
Starting word count: 41,919
Ending word count: 43,373
Gorgeous day today. I mean, just look at that sunset!
Still fighting the fatigue today. Woke up with inflamed eyes, so something is definitely up that goes beyond poor sunlight regulation (on the upside, the dark room last night meant I slept a lot better–go me!).
On the upside, I got some killer Nanocast episodes recorded and did a lot of cleaning. There’s something basic and satisfying about spring cleaning, especially spring cleaning I also took some time to make a big pot of my slow-roast marinara sauce, a seven hour process that makes the house smell like an Italian restaurant.
Writing was again a struggle. The fatigue makes the brain cloudy.
While I was working on the house I was also knocking a lot of research out of the way. Part of the whole Antithesis gestalt involves a deep immersion in political and military and espionage history, so when I’m not actually writing I’m swimming deep in the streams of culture I find most refreshing (and distracting). Today I was listening to some lectures on the history of revolutionary movements–which is a colorful history, to say the least. It made a few other pieces fall into place, and lead to me laying in yet another thread from the previous book that I thought wasn’t going to come into play until later.
Oooh, boy, is this book getting complicatied. But I shall persevere.
As far as progress today, there wasn’t any on the word count. Wrote a little, cut a little, wrote a lot of notes. But no real advance worth reporting. Oi.
The fatigue persists. I am now convinced that the good weather is screwing with my sleep cycle. I’m going to sleep in another room tonight, one that doesn’t get direct sunlight in the morning, to confirm my theory.
Had an excellent day regardless. Spent one shift working on network infrastructure–we have a couple new machines coming online as we segment different aspects of the business onto discrete workstations, so that we can use the space more effectively and get more ergonomic variety.
Spent another shift at the traditional sunday socialization and business lunch, where one of the other writers shared some very interesting information that he received from a lawyer this week–nothing that is easy to re-share in any kind of intelligible way, but it created a new research project for me that ought to be a lot of fun (and, possibly, very useful).
Third shift saw me completely sacked out on the couch listening to the BBC Radio production of Wilkie Collins’ “The Moonstone,” which is probably the most important detective novel (or suspense novel) written before The Maltese Falcon. It created the rules of the genre later made famous by Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.
I’ve read the actual book, and it is, in typical 19th century fashion, verbose and only semi-penetrable. For the modern reader it takes a bit of work to relax into an epistolary novel–it’s a very alien form and not frequently done now. But once you get into it, it’s phenomenal.
The BBC Radio 4 production of it is glorious listening. Very well acted and well-adapted (of noticeably shorter than the original book), and is a delightful, relaxing story to listen to (alas, currently out of print, or I’d link you to it).
So, the nap treated me splendidly. Waking up after, not so much. If you’re under 35, trust me, your circadian rhythms are going to start kicking your ass when you inch up on age 40. Quitet shockingly so.
Sleet woke me up. Sleet, in April. The weather around here isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Just on its own, it’s enough to keep you hopping from one foot to another and wondering what’s coming next. Keeps the mind nimble and the body agile.
So, fourth shift I dragged my ass upstairs and started trying to find things to smack into my face to help me wake up. The fatigue persisted, feels like a weighted mask pushing on my eyelids, but I did actually get a good writing shift in–only eight hundred words net gain, but also cleared out some notes, so wound up with a total shift of about a thousand. Not great, but I’ll take it. I was starting to lose my shit thinking that this book might be beating me back.
I also took a little time to record on the Nanocast block, including the longest episode to date on a topic I care deeply about. Should be a great episode when it drops 🙂
So, here’s how the campaign goes.
Words I started with: 41,131
Words I inflicted: 41,919
Spring cleaning dominated the morning and afternoon. A severe winter that kept the house locked up meant that a lot more dust and grime built up in the quiet corners than usual, so that took a bit of elbow grease and patience. The Puppy of Doom did what she could to help, and didn’t seem to believe me when I told her there was no interesting food in the window frames and there weren’t any treats for her on the bottom of the inside of the oven.
She, being an eternal optimist, continued trying to double-check my apparently unbelievable claims anyway, until I finally told her to go watch TV. Since she can’t operate the remote, she had to settle for looking at the blank TV screen with an air of great tolerance and forbearance.
So, cleaning took first shift. There’ll be more next weekend, I suspect. Maybe sooner. Now that there’s a clean spot in the house, the rest of the place is going to need a bit of a scrubdown. Looking at it, I feel a bit like Ripley washing Newt’s face in Aliens
Third shift got split between recording new Nanocast episodes (made it about a third of the way through the block before my voice went out) and working on The Book In Question. I dropped another hour on reading back over scenes in another storyline that I’m picking up, made about a page worth of notes, and only got three sentences of new fiction written–but it means there’s a scene solidly started, and I figured I’d pick it up in late fourth shift.
Fourth shift started with a fantastic networking and brainstorming session with some other writers up the road, and I got so keyed up from it that I just about popped a migraine, but the application of some emergency tea helped avert the problem.
However, it did wear me out flat, so after unsuccessfully attempting to write coherently through a lot of yawning, I gave up, watched the new episode of Blacklist (which is a fantastic show and will probably appeal to you if you dig Antithesis).
It was a good choice. It was a singularly excellent piece of storytelling.
Now, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow there’s a little more networking, brainstorming, and client work in the air, and then two shifts of writing unless I get terribly side tracked. The book is starting to scare me again, after two days away, so I’ve gotta start kicking its ass again before it gets the better of me.
I was awoken today after only four hours of sleep by a cold nose in my face. The Puppy of Doom was very happy to see me, and very happy to be back from her morning run on the beach with She Who Must Not Be Named, and VERY happy to get to snuggle down into my bed and nap for a couple more hours.
Unfortunately, the weather here is gorgeous right now, and once I was awake and the bright sun was blasting through my window, and the high surf was crashing outside it like a Siren calling Come to us, Dan! Bring your surfboard and come!, while not listening to my groggy protestations that I don’t currently own a surf board.
First shift, I read over what I wrote last night and made some notes to myself.
Second shift, I collected my notes for the next block of NaNocast episodes. Looks like I’ve got enough for a big block this time–I start recording them tomorrow.
Then it was out to the beach with another local scribner, and the two of us spent a couple hours running the pup and chasing agates–got some nice ones too.
Third shift it was back home for an AWP board meeting, tackling scheduling for priorities the next couple weeks.
Fourth shift, I hopped over to a mixer in town with a bunch of other authors to talk business and compare notes and catch up with friends.
Then, around midnight, I headed home and got this post started. As I write this the spirit is willing to dive in to writing, but fatigue has got every muscle in my body screaming out in pain–one of the side effects of having only four hours of sleep last night.
Well, I had one chapter started, so I decided to give it a go and see what I could knock out. I made a little progress, but not enough worth updating the word count over.
So, I’m going to make an early night of it, and take another run at this tomorrow.
Sorry I missed the blog yesterday. Wound up taking a break from updating a bunch of ebooks (putting AWP Corp. style sheets into books that didn’t have it yet–the company is updating the look of everything, which will mean a better reading experience for all of you). When I did, I got accidentally seduced (I swear it was an accident!) by the glorious weather, and wound up on an epic beach-hike that left me with some mild injuries on my feet, and that made me crash out early.
Fortunately, this all happened after I’d done a writing-and-reading shift and racked up an ever-so-humble 500 words.
Today, I was back in form.
Spent the morning shift cleaning up the Suave Rob 3 manuscript—this mostly involved fixing continuity errors that I caught at the very end of the writing process and hadn’t cycled back to fix, and compiling notes for the series Bible (and boy oh boy, has Suave Rob’s universe gotten populous and complicated with this book!)—and finally getting the book off my desk and out to the beta readers.
So, that’s done.
Took a break in the afternoon to go walking with the local brain trust. Got some nifty ideas for some fun stuff to do this spring–stuff that you guys are going to seriously enjoy (but that I don’t want to tease until I’ve got firm delivery dates I’m not going to blow).
When I got back, I dove back into the last of the ebook cleanup for the novels–turns out I’d missed a few things in two of the volumes that made them fail epubcheck–then I got back to work on Book 3.
Like the books before it, this one will be divided out into several parts (at least four, probably five), which cover different acts of the story. Today, I officially started winding up Part 1 of book 3 by closing out the Washington storyline on a nice little cliffhanger.
Then I had to dive back into book 2 and make a map for myself of where the other storylines left of (by which i mean, the other storylines besides the three I’ve been concentrating on so far–there are about 12 of them in total) to see if there are any more I need to pick up in part 1, and which ones can wait for part 2.
Then I got started with a new chapter bringing one of those threads into the rope I’m weaving to hang the characters with MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!….ahem…excuse me. Must keep the evil voice in the box.
Anyway, in the end, I got a lot of good notes done, but not a lot more writing. So, here’s my pathetic total count for the last two days:
Starting Word Count (yesterday): 39,847
Ending Word Count (today): 41,131
Well, whatever virus or bacteria or mass hysteria I was fighting off seems to have fallen before the advancing armies of my epic immune system.
That’s not to say the day was without frustration. My recording schedule’s gone screwy due to a neighbor reconstructing his vacation home. Over the winter we got a larger-than-usual number of really gnarly storms (hurricane force winds and worse, forty-foot waves coming over the sea wall and frequently bearing gigantic tree trunks, rain the likes of which make God reach for his SCUBA tanks–it was seriously epic) and a few of the houses on the sea wall…well, their winterization didn’t hold up, and they got some serious water intrusion.
So, the walls are coming out, the roofs are coming off, the outer walls are coming off–they’re basically rebuilding large sections from the studs up. All of that means that all daylight hours (and those are getting longer and longer now) are filled with the joyous sounds of nail guns, pounding, sawing, and crashing.
And, as soundproof as my little studio is, it can’t keep out all that noise. So, starting day 25, my day is getting switched around–writing early, recording late, because I’ve got clients waiting on the narration.
Other than working out that little problem, I spent most of the day doing publishing work and hiking. Felt good to be out and moving around after a day and a half being laid up.
When I got down to the writing shift, I discovered that I’ve hit that point in the book where everything is opening out–the actions and adventures of the characters that started this book are pushing the narrative to pick up the other threads left hanging at the end of book 2.
This means that I’ve got nine POV voices to load into my head–as well as the characters’ current situations and concerns. That’s going to slow me down for a while, as I’m now having to go back and read large sections of Book 2 as I write.
Once that gets done, the pace will pick up again, though I frankly expect this book to go through a few cycles like this, a new one each time a new batch of storylines comes on board.
So, here’s the unimpressive damage:
Starting word count: 38,638
Ending word count: 39,394