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Month: January 2012

SF Signal’s Mind Meld

SF Signal’s Mind Meld

The fantastic guys over at SF Signal were kind enough to invite me to participate in this week’s Mind Meld about resolutions. (Kind of crazy to be included with people like Joe Abercrombie and Martha Wells! And I’m happy to be keeping company with my friend Stina Leicht.)

Speaking of which, with awards season in full swing, let’s not forget the service that these guys do for the community. SF Signal is eligible in the following categories this year:

Hugos: Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Related Work
World Fantasy Award: Special Award, Non-professional

Week 1

Week 1

So, how am I doing on those lofty goals so far? Well…

The good news is that I wrote 5,512 words over the course of six days. The bad news is that’s not even close to what I was shooting for.

4000 of those were on the novel, which felt pretty substantial. The rest were on that Story-a-Week project, in which I wanted to have a story drafted each week in January.

I’m not off to a good start on that. I actually ended up starting three stories–the first was just going absolutely nowhere, so I ditched it. The second one I think is viable, but I need to think it through some more. Had I started it on Monday or Tuesday I probably could have finished it, but I just started it yesterday and it needs time to steep. The third one–which I started today–initially seemed the most promising in terms of language and structure, but I hit a wall in the middle and everything I’m coming up with now is cliche. I’m going to tuck numbers 2 and 3 away and see if I can finish them in weeks 3 and 4.

Week 2 begins tomorrow, and with it the first draft of my story for Fireside, which I’ve been brainstorming for a couple of weeks now. I have two Tuckerizations to do, as rewards for Kickstarter supporters–meaning I have to name a character after each of the people who paid for the Tuckerization reward. Strangely this actually helped me to shape the story, as they both have great names and the story is set in the real-world U.S.

That’s going to take most of my mental energy, I think, so I’m sure that the novel is going to languish for the rest of January. I might set the bar lower, like 250 a day or something, just so that I keep making progress and don’t lose the thread of it.

Oh, and so far, working on the novel and short stories simultaneously doesn’t seem to be a problem. I can’t detect any bleed-through, and it’s actually been nice when I run out of steam on one project to switch to the other.

In other news, I sold a story yesterday to Shimmer, which made my day. I’m told that it will be out in the summer issue. This was a particularly victorious sale because there’s a story behind the story–but I think I’ll save that for when it’s published.

Bring on Week 2!

Regarding Fireside

Regarding Fireside

I was in Alabama when I got the email from Brian White inviting me to participate in Fireside Magazine Issue #1. It was a total surprise–I hadn’t encountered Brian before, but he dropped the right name (I was suggested by someone else who had to decline). I looked him up, thought about it for a couple of hours, and replied. Yes, I said, I would love to participate. Thank you.

It’s a quirky project in a couple of ways–the writers were contracted without having written a word, for starters. And while it is Brian’s magazine, and the writers are just contributors the same way we would be were this any other sale, because it was a Kickstarter campaign that we helped to promote, I think we all feel more invested than we would otherwise.

Yesterday the project was fully funded on Kickstarter. There was a round of jubilant emails, and then we all got to work. When we turn our stories in a month from now, Fireside #1 will become a reality, and I think it will feel like a real group victory. Then it’ll be time to pass the torch to the next group of contributors for Fireside #2.

Thank you all for your support. I confess to feeling some pressure on this one. Because of the inside-out way the magazine came to be, this isn’t a story that he can easily reject, so it has to be strong, and worthy–and it has to be done in four weeks.



Story-a-week project

Story-a-week project

I am armed with spreadsheets and a crazy idea.

I got a lot of great suggestions yesterday. It seems to really just boil down to consistency, right? Imposed deadlines, word minimums, things like that. Well, I thought about all of that, and Galen’s project, and other things like 365 projects, or Thing-a-Week, or in Matt’s case, Mucho Mango Mayo, in which he podcast a new piece of original fiction every single day during the month of May. You know what I’ve never done? A project like that.

So in addition to working on the novel, I’m going to do a Story-a-Week project. I’ve actually managed to write a couple of short stories in a week, one of which will be coming out in Daily SF some time soon, so it seems possible to produce something worth editing in that time.

While I’d love to say I’m going to do a story a week for the entire year (52 stories, errr…I can take 2013 off, right?) I suspect that’s not reasonable. So I’m going to start with just January–four stories by the end of the month, one of which is going to be my Fireside story (which will, of course, get lots of extra love and attention. The other three just get drafts). We’ll see if I make it that far.

I’m hoping that this will get my brain back into the habit of creating freely and regularly, and give me something to revise and ultimately increase my body of work.

I won’t even tell you what my word count goals are for the novel. You’d think I’m seriously nuts. But right now I’m feeling optimistic. I had a good writing day yesterday, and would like to have another one today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that while I’m calling myself lazy, I did omit the fact that I was doing a lot last year, it just mostly wasn’t writing. Fair point.

Thanks for your suggestions and words of encouragement, both left in the comments and sent by email. You guys are the best.

Now I’d better get to work. :)

Banishing laziness (suggestions welcome)

Banishing laziness (suggestions welcome)

I am not a prolific writer.

I look at people like Genevieve Valentine and Ken Liu, who have stories everywhere, all the time, and I’m just in awe. Or Matthew Sanborn Smith, who is working his way up to one thousand stories. I wonder how they do it. Matt has done this while raising two teenagers on his own and working full time; Ken has a young daughter, coauthors software with his wife, and works a day job that would leave most of us gibbering on the floor at the end of the day; Genevieve accomplishes so much even while working, writing a novel, and consuming hours of media to review on her blog.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just fundamentally wired differently than they are; other times I wonder if I’m just fundamentally lazy. I’m leaning toward the latter.

I’d like to change that this year. I’m not sure if this counts as a last-minute resolution, but maybe.

Creating new habits is hard. Limbering up the brain is hard. What’s the best way to do it? I want to focus on the novels this year, but I also want to write more short stories. Stop being so lazy. Get something done. Should I commit to spending half an hour a day on short stories before I work on the novel? Should I commit to a specific series or theme, to limit the paralysis that comes with having the entire universe, real and imagined, to write about?

Artist Galen Dara did a project a few months ago in which she asked her writer friends for characters to illustrate. She did one every day. What’s the writerly equivalent of that? It occurs to me that John Remy’s use of tarot cards as prompts might be a good way to start.

Have you faced this problem of lack of proliferation, and if so, did you find a good way to solve it?