September 30, 2003

Jumping again

Well, "One Song Before I Go" is printed and packaged up and ready to go to the post office tomorrow for the all-important October 1 postmark for the Zoetrope Short Fiction contest.

I can't imagine that it could possibly win, but it's the first thing I've written that I feel really good about sending off to a contest. To everybody that read and commented on it, thank you SO much.

Posted by Lisa at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

What, me crosspost?

Finally finished Chapter 14 of The Exile's Daughter, hereafter known as The Chapter That Kicked Lisa's Ass. Chapters 15, 16, and 17 left to go. I'm looking at another 50-60 pages, if I hold true to the pattern for this book--about 15,000-18,000 words or so. That'll put my final word count around 95,000. God help me, I'm already seeing the flaws that need to be fixed. I have a feeling editing and rewriting is going to be a painful, arduous process--but I am NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT NOW. If I start freaking about rewrites now, I'll never finish the first draft.

Posted by Lisa at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

Finally finished Chapter 14 of

Finally finished Chapter 14 of The Exile's Daughter, hereafter known as The Chapter That Kicked Lisa's Ass. Chapters 15, 16, and 17 left to go. I'm looking at another 50-60 pages, if I hold true to form, 15,000-18,000 words or so. That'll put my final word count around 95,000. God help me, I'm already seeing the flaws that need to be fixed. I have a feeling editing and rewriting is going to be a painful, arduous process--but I am NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT NOW. If I start freaking about rewrites now, I'll never finish the first draft.

Posted by Lisa at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

There's nothing like discovering that

There's nothing like discovering that all of your antagonists have gone insane at approximately the same time. Well okay, one was a psycho hose beast from the beginning, but she appears to have influenced her boss, a bit, in that "contributing to your downfall in any way I can" sort of way. Apparently a combination of continual self-delusion and the sexual frustration of chemically-induced impotence can drive you mad.

Just something to file away for possible future reference.

(In other words, writing again today. Go me.)

Posted by Lisa at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2003

Weekly progress report

It was a kind of blah week last week. I was distracted by a short story, distracted by the weather, just... blah. I think I'm feeling October already.

Weekly word count: 4886
Last week: 11,579
Highest day: 1387 (Tuesday)

However, as this week includes the Minions' writer retreat, I imagine things will look much better next week.

Posted by Lisa at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2003

Closer still...

So I revamped the outline for the final chapters of The Exile's Daughter, and cut one. Now I have roughly three full chapters left to write, and two scenes in this current chapter. The end is so close I'm afraid I'm going to start galloping, which is my customary reaction to seeing the end of a piece. Please, no galloping. I think the outline will help that tendency a lot. We'll see.

Posted by Lisa at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

It's not laziness, I swear...

I've somehow managed to cut a chapter from my outline. While I was sitting in my car last night and waiting for roadside rescue, I was thinking about the timeline of the final events of the novel. I'd had it stretched out over days or weeks, but one of the characters, literally, in dialogue I wrote just yesterday said, "I want X finished by tomorrow night." I thought about throwing some obstacles in his path, but he's stubborn little feline, so I figured it would be a waste of time. So, I changed the timeline. I think that'll give the whole climax of the novel faster pacing. Plus, well, it'll probably leave me with less to write. I'm not complaining too loud about that either.

I spent most of the morning figuring this out. I'm thinking I should probably spend at least a little time actually writing now. :P

Posted by Lisa at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2003

The Chair

Some days the chair feels wrong. Don't get me wrong. I have a great chair. It's a $1450 chair that I got for $80 (no, I didn't miss a decimal point there, that's fourteen hundred dollars). But some days, it's the wrong chair. Logic would suggest that I move. But no, damn it. My butt has to be in this chair every day. Them's the rules.

Some days it's physical. I'm too tired to sit in the chair. I'm too restless to sit in the chair. Other days, it's psychological. I'm not good enough to sit in the chair. I'm wasting my time sitting in the chair. Some days it's a combination of both.

Sometimes on those days, I make myself sit in the chair anyway--cause them's the rules. On those days, I bitch and whine a lot. I sit in the chair and stare blankly into cyberspace until my time is up, like a recalcitrant therapy patient. But it doesn't matter, because I'm sitting in the chair. After all, I know people who dream about sitting in this chair; I damn well better appreciate it.

And I do. I just need to stop being so rigid about it. Getting my butt in the chair every day is a big priority. Climbing into the chair every day is what gives me some structure, some purpose in what would otherwise be my great big unemployed life. But it doesn't have to be exactly the same thing every day, and I can't understand now how I got so hung up on it. My butt's gotta be in a chair every day. Them's the rules. It just doesn't always have to be the same chair.

I think I'm going to go find another chair and see if I can't do more than spend the afternoon staring blankly.

Posted by Lisa at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

It's 10 am...

I haven't started work on Exile yet this morning, but I did get two stories back out into submission, "Midsummer" (yes, you read that right) and "The Weird Sisters, 2003". Did a lot of soul searching, helped along by the Minions last night, and shelved "Girl Behind the Counter" for now. I'm starting to accept that some things I've written, no matter how well-written, or how much I enjoyed writing them, just either aren't pro-quality or aren't publishable--and that's perfectly fine. I need to stop worrying about how many stories I have in circulation, and just make sure I have the good ones out there.

That said, why is "Midsummer" back out? Because I love it, for one thing. I'm trying one more 'respected' market, and if that falls through, then I'm going to go to non-paying markets. Because I want someone to read it, to enjoy it. I've done as much damage to it as I can. Rewriting isn't going to improve it at this point.

I have learned so much over the past two years. I think my writing has improved in leaps and bounds. The stories I've got going around now, with the exception of "One Song Before I Go", "Weird Sisters", and "An Eye for an Eye" are all nearly two years old. It may be time to let them go and respect them for what they are: stories that taught me about writing.

Posted by Lisa at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2003

I found this quote in one of my old journal entries

I was looking through my old journal entries from three years ago. I used to post a poetry quote with each entry. I found this one, and it made me laugh, because now I understand it. I didn't then.

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn'd profession of writing,
where one needs one's brains all the time.
--From The Lake Isle, Ezra Pound

Posted by Lisa at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

Wavering

For the first time ever, I have something that I think might be contest-worthy. The deadline for this contest is October 1st. Part of me says I should send it off. But I have stage fright all of a sudden. I wouldn't get any feedback, I wouldn't hear anything for two months. But then, how is that different that doing a regular submission? Why am I even considering NOT doing this?

It's too soon. I think that's part of it. I just wrote the damn thing on Sunday, and now I'm moving from the "I am a literary GODDESS!" stage to the "Shit, it's not perfect yet, how can I make it perfect?" stage. Because I want this one to be perfect. More than anything else I've written, I want this story to be perfect. It's like... I dunno, I think I read this in something of Stephen King's once, it's like this time I got a hold of an almighty big one and I don't want to screw it up.

Jesus Christ. It's just a story. I know I'm making far too much of it. But the thought of sending it off into the cruel world without making sure that its tie is straight and its hair is perfect and its shoes are polished is killing me. I'm afraid I'll fix it until it breaks. I'm afraid I won't fix it enough. I think, when all is said and done, I'm just afraid.

Fuck it. If I can get the entry fee together, I'm sending it. I'll edit it this weekend. I think I need to just ship it off and quit worrying about it.

I really am a freak. I think I'm worried more about this one, because when I write something that's crap? I know it's crap, and I either know how to fix it or I know that it's not fixable. When I write something that's really good and needs some fine-tuning? That's when I'm on unfamiliar ground.

Posted by Lisa at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

75K

Another milestone today, 75,000 words. I can't help but wonder now if I'm going to go over 100,000 or not. We'll see, and very shortly too.

Posted by Lisa at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2003

Back on track

I got back to work on The Exile's Daughter today after a two day break--unplanned. The rejection on Sunday shook me up pretty bad, but I responded by sitting down Sunday afternoon and writing what is arguably the best short story I've ever written. I'm letting it mellow for a little bit before I start sending it out. It's mainstream fiction, so that means I have a whole new batch of market research to do for it.

The fall Minions retreat has been planned for the first weekend of October. Frighteningly enough, that may be the weekend I finish the first draft of this beast. There will be much rejoicing, believe me.

In other news, I made myself cry while writing today. I think that means the scene worked.

Posted by Lisa at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

*presses back of hand to forehead*

I feel dramatic and melancholy all of a sudden. I don't know how else to describe it. Maybe it's the music--I'm listening to some pretty mournful stuff while trying to write the aftermath of the Very Bad Things that happened last chapter.

I dunno. Ever have a movie moment? You know, where you feel like you should be standing on the edge of a cliff somewhere overlooking the ocean with the wind blowing through your hair as you stare pensively at the horizon while the music swells behind you?

Okay, maybe it's just me.

I'm not sad, necessarily. Solemn, maybe. Whatever the mood is, I'm too caught up in it to write, which was the point of all this mood music anyway. It's pissing me off. Maybe I overdid the music a bit. Hm.

Posted by Lisa at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003

I can't let it go

I haven't written anything on Exile's Daughter this morning because I can't let go of the story I wrote yesterday. I've spent the morning posting reviews over on Zoetrope so I could submit it for review there. (You have to review five stories for every story submitted, and I was a couple short.)

I suppose it's okay to spend some time rejoicing. Honestly, "One Song Before I Go" is the best thing I've finished. Ever. I think I keep looking at it because I still can't believe it came from my brain. It's the sort of story, that if it were written by someone else, I'd read and be envious. I never do this. I like stuff I've written, I'm protective of it, but I'm never in awe of it.

That's what scares me. I showed it to and last night because I desperately needed another set of eyes (or two, or three, or a thousand) to see it and confirm that I'm not imagining things. Julie and Dawn did the reassurance thing very very well. I felt better. I just keep thinking, "Now what?"

What's wrong with me? I bitch when I write something bad, then I freak out when I write something good. Grar.

Posted by Lisa at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2003

Weekly progress report

This week was a little scary. One short story rewrite, one brand new short story, and the single most intense chapter of The Exile's Daughter to date. Whew.

Weekly word count: 11,579
Last week: 7231
Highest day: 4071 (Friday)

Okay, the numbers are a little skewed because of the rewrite--those weren't all brand new words, strictly speaking, but they were carefully considered words nonetheless.

Posted by Lisa at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

"One Song Before I Go"

I jumped.

Jesus Christ. I hope it's as good as I think it is right now. If it's even half as good as I think it is right now, it's saleable.

I don't usually do this. I don't usually finish a story and go, "Wow." I'm afraid to go reread it. I think I'm going to hide the file away until I've come down from the high, then think about reading it. Maybe.

Posted by Lisa at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

Ah irony, my dear old friend...

No sooner had I bemoaned my lack of story ideas and given up writing for the day, than a story rose up and smacked me between the eyes while I was reading and listening to the Rent cast album.

I'm afraid to write it. In my head, it's a perfect, stunning idea. It even came with its own title.

So here I sit in front of a shiny new word document, and try to decide whether to take a deep breath and jump, or whether to sit on the edge and think for a little bit longer.

Posted by Lisa at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

Another rejection this morning in

Another rejection this morning in my email ("The Girl Behind the Counter"). This is the first time a rejection has caused me to not write. I managed to set up my scene order for the next chapter of The Exile's Daughter (five chapters left, whee!), but that's it. I just didn't have the heart to dive into the chapter.

It's not self-doubt, exactly. I'm getting a clearer picture of what my strengths and weaknesses are, I'm just still at that stage of not knowing how to fix them. Or if I can consciously fix them. Grar.

Posted by Lisa at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Short stories are harder to

Short stories are harder to write than novels. I've reached this conclusion. Never mind that I reached this conclusion after a fairly stinging rejection, and that I've yet to actually submit a novel anywhere. Allow me my wallowing.

I rewrote "The Girl Behind the Counter" for the Minions, and then, being me, couldn't resist sending it off again, to somewhere with a fast response time. Honestly, I knew it would come back, but NFG tends to give pretty good comments with their remarkably fast rejections, so I thought it would be worth it.

It was, in that "here are all the major flaws in your story" sort of way. Here are the opening words:

This is a pleasant tale, but perhaps rather unexciting. There's an old saying that goes something like 'if your character is a writer, kill them off on the first page; then burn that page'.

It went downhill from there. She liked my main character (in spite of the fact that he was a writer, apparently), but thought his actions were driven by the plot rather than by his character. The bitch of it is, I think she's right. And I'm tempted to say screw the whole thing, because even if I rewrite it UTTERLY and make his actions more character-driven, there's still the whole "oh, we never buy stories about writers" stonewall--which I've heard in nearly every rejection that wasn't a form.

Part of me wants to email the Minions and tell them not to bother with critiquing it, but on the other hand, what if I'm wrong? What if the first reader at NFG is wrong? Gah. I haven't been this bothered by a rejection in a long time.

So yeah. Short stories are harder to write than novels. With a novel, you've got room to take an idea and expand on it, add detail that makes it less predictable, less 'overdone'. With a short story, there's more focus on the idea. There's no room for a weak idea, no room for something that might be even a touch cliche, things you can get away with in a novel to some extent.

Finding solid ideas is my weak point. I think, honestly, "Rhythm of the Tides" is the most original, fresh twist on an idea I've had. And golly, that's the one I sold. I know I can write. I'm a damned good writer. I just can't come up with a short, pithy, brilliantly new idea often enough to be much of a short story writer. So I turn out stories that come back with comments like, "There's some lovely writing here, but..."

If I get comments like that on The Exile's Daughter, I think I'll cry.

Posted by Lisa at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2003

Wheeeeeeee!

I don't remember being quite this exhilarated about The Host. I mean, when I finished it, I was excited and happy, but I knew the ending had some serious problems, and getting to that point was painful and no fun.

No, I didn't finish The Exile's Daughter, although that's getting closer every day. I did, however, finish up the beginning of the end. I'm starting the last act, so to speak. Secrets have been revealed, and things don't look so good for our heroes. Some very bad things have happened.

And I couldn't be happier.

I just wrapped up a chapter, and I had to stop for a little bit, just to let the "oh my god, that was so COOL!" factor die down a little bit. It's not perfect. I already know the last scene or two could use some reworking, but the action itself is just right.

I can hear some of you ask, "But Lisa, you have an outline, didn't you know what was going to happen?" The answer is no. I should post some of my 'outline' sometime. Occasionally I'll put a specific plot point in the outline, but usually it's just "So-and-so finds out X about So-and-So #2"--no mention of how or why. That comes in the writing. That's what makes the first draft fun. I know what's going to happen--some of the time, anyway--but not how. And then there're the times when I think I know what's going to happen, but the characters hijack the story and it turns out otherwise. I think that's my favorite thing of all, because the characters are almost always right about what should happen.

Very excited. Too excited, at the moment. I think I'll go have lunch before diving back in to work.

Posted by Lisa at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

"The Weird Sisters, 2003" came

"The Weird Sisters, 2003" came back with a basic form rejection. I think tonight I'll look at it again with my nifty new editor eyes and see what I make of it. Not sure where it should go next. Hm.

Posted by Lisa at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

I did a complete rewrite

I did a complete rewrite of a short story this morning. My arms are about to fall off, but it's done. I think it's the strongest it's been yet. Yay me. No work on the novel. I'm taking the rest of the day off. After typing 4,000 words in less than three hours, I'm ready to get away from the computer.

But otherwise, I'm soaring. :)

Posted by Lisa at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

Whew

No, you're not seeing things. There was a four thousand word jump between yesterday and today. I didn't work on Exile this morning because I needed to do a rewrite on "The Girl Behind the Counter". I spent a couple of hours last night, re-reading and making note of changes, using a lot of things I picked up from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then today I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. In some places I was just retyping in (although even then I was making some subtle adjustments as I went), but there are two or three scenes that were either completely new or were utterly rewritten. I feel like I just ran a 100 yard dash. It was a mad extended sprint, and I'm exhilirated. I'm curious to see what the Minions will make of it.

I think I'm taking the rest of the day off.

Posted by Lisa at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

Victory!

As always, a change of scenery is all I needed. (Well, I also think I need to rearrange my workspace again, but that's another subject.) So, wild and crazy writingness at the library. I dove into a scene and had to tear myself away because I had to come home and start dinner. Here's an excerpt that made me happy:

Jack turned around to the others. "I spent most of last night trying to come up with my very own St. Crispin's Day speech, but I'm not Harry and these aren't the French we're going up against."

He cleared his throat. "Don't die. That's all."

He pulled open the wooden door and started walking down into the darkness of David's dungeon.

Happy happy me. I may have to restrain myself to diving back in tonight, but I have a story to pull together for the Minions.

Posted by Lisa at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

Grar.

Shoulder still hurts. Getting tired. I've had three mornings in a row where all I've managed is about 500 words, and I keep telling myself to quit stressing about it. It'll get easier again. I just need to keep laying down one word after another and I'll get my second (or third or fourth at this point) wind. If I stop now, it'll be that much harder to start up again.

It just irritates me because I'm at what should be a really exciting part of the book, and I can't focus nearly as well as I'd like.

Posted by Lisa at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2003

Game called on account of internet

*sigh* I did close to 500 words this morning, but was completely distracted by various aspects of a new online project I'm involved in. This afternoon I'm going to go to the library and get away from the evil internet. Plus, there's Write Club tonight, which is always a good thing. I'm thinking tonight I may try and finish up the re-drafting of "Girl Behind the Counter", then give it a re-editing thanks to the interesting tips I've been picking up in A Fiction Writer's Guide to Self-Editing. Then send it to the Minions and see what they think.

That almost sounds like a plan. Yikes.

Posted by Lisa at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

I think the playlist thing

I think the playlist thing has gone too far. I created another one this morning for writing. Mushy, romantic stuff. I'm so ashamed. The characters made me do it. Alex and Jack started getting cutesy and I realized I couldn't write it while listening to Rage Against the Machine.

I was a little shocked to discover how much mushy music I have in my collection.

Posted by Lisa at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2003

While watching "The West Wing"

Toby is watching Sam write

"Sam, you're going to come to a verb soon, right?"
"You know what this is called?"
"Bad writing?"
"Imagery."

Posted by Lisa at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

You knew I had to do this sooner or later...

With the luxury of my MP3 jukebox, I've been able to collect my MP3s and many of my CDs into one little portable device. I think it's one of the greatest things ever invented. I can't tell you how intoxicating it is to have over 1,000 songs at my fingertips. (And believe it or not, most of those are obtained legally!) However, this large of a collection requires playlists. I always end up with at least one playlist for whatever I'm working on. So far for The Exile's Daughter I have four, for different moods and characters. I thought I'd share a few selections from the two character-based playlists, as well as snippets of lyrics that are usually the reason I picked that song for them.

"Defender of the Child" -- Heather Alexander: "Fresh drawn blood upon your cheek / Confrontation's all you seek / Passion round and hatred wild / Defender of the child..."
"Going Under" -- Evanescence: "Don't want your hand this time, I'll save myself."
"I Stand Alone" -- Godsmack: "Now I've told you this once before / You can't control me / If you try to take me down you're gonna break..."
"Drive" -- Incubus: "Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear."
"March of Cambreadth" -- Heather Alexander: "How many of them can we make die?"
"Harder to Breathe" -- Maroon 5: " When it gets cold outside and you got nobody to love / You'll understand what I mean when I say / There's no way we're gonna give up..."


"Know Your Enemy" -- Rage Against the Machine: "'Cause I'll rip the mike, rip the stage, rip the system / I was born to rage against 'em / Now action must be taken / We don't need the key / We'll break in..."
"We Are the Ones" -- Sweet Honey In The Rock: "We are the ones we've been waiting for."
"Jack the Giant Killer" -- The Nields: "Do you see me, / I'll knock you down / I'll break your crown / Yesterday I was afraid but that's over, / yeah that's over. / Cause I'm Jack, the giant killer..."
"Falling Free" -- Tom Smith: "Got to find the future 'cause the present's all I see, / And I won't last without a past, I'm out here falling free."
"Steal My Kisses" -- Ben Harper: "Now I've been around you for days / But when I lean in you just turn your head away..."
"Come Down from the Tree" -- Audra McDonald: "Come down from the tree / Open your mind and trust / You know in your heart / One of these days you must..."
"Children of the Revolution" -- U2: "You won't fool the children of the revolution..."

I think it's interesting that Jack's playlist has more romantic songs on it than Alex's (who has none on hers). He also has some fairly playful songs. I think the difference is that while both characters are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore, Jack can see a life after his anger, and Alex can't. I can't wait to see how it all works itself out.

Posted by Lisa at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)

I'm disturbed about something. In

I'm disturbed about something. In trying to write The Sword in the Mound I learned that I have a strange reluctance to write sex scenes (nearly 100 pages into a supposed smutty romance novel, and only a few kisses here and there). However, on several occasions--most notably in The Host and now in The Exile's Daughter--I've written rape scenes, or scenes that were so blatantly symbolic rape that they may as well have been rape scenes.

I'm bothered by this. I know that I have a fairly healthy sexual outlook, so why can't I write about it? Am I somehow less ashamed to write about sex if its not consensual? It's almost as if I don't have a choice if I write rape, either because it's part of the story or because (since I invariably write from the victim's perspective) I'm "not in control". It's like a bizarre literary reenactment of a rape fantasy. I'm free to enjoy it as long as it's "not my fault". It's weird, and also troubling.

Or I may just be making entirely too much out of this.

Posted by Lisa at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Game called on account of injury

I dunno what I did, but my shoulder hurts like a son of a bitch this morning, so I'm knocking off early this morning. This afternoon I'm still planning to hit the library, we'll see if writing in a slightly different position is a little more bearable.

Posted by Lisa at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2003

70,000!

It's like rolling your odometer over, but with a greater sense of accomplishment. Whee!

Posted by Lisa at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

So I took a three-day

So I took a three-day weekend from writing. This wasn't entirely intentional, but it wasn't entirely a bad thing, either. I attacked things this morning, and wrote a couple of scenes that I really found pretty exciting. This is the neat thing about writing a novel. I'm finding that I'm having the same excitement about writing the scenes leading up to a climax as I would if I were reading the same scenes in someone else's book. Yeah, I said 'a' climax, because there's at least two.

My September 30th deadline may not come to pass. We'll see. If I miss it, however, I shouldn't miss it by much. Not unless I'm wildly off about how much time it's going to take me to wrap up the rest of the story. Going to cross the 70K word mark this afternoon, barring catastrophe, officially making this the longest thing I've ever written. Heck, I think it already is. I think The Host topped out at about 63K.

Very excited about this now. Excited to have a draft finished.

Posted by Lisa at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)

Weekly progress report

Forgot, once again, to post this last night.

Weekly word count: 7231
Last week: 6870
Highest day: 2775 (Tuesday)

Not bad at all, especially when you consider that I didn't write Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I can't remember the last time I took three whole days off. I think it was a good thing. But now it's time to get back to work!

Posted by Lisa at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2003

Winding down

Weirdly, I have the sensation that The Exile's Daughter is winding down. It's not, not really. I mean, I still have at least five or six chapters to write, and those are the big climactic ones. But there's a realization that I'm honestly close to finishing it. It's an amazing feeling. I can already feel myself starting to detach from it in a way, getting ready to say goodbye maybe, starting to think about what projects might be next. While I seriously question the wisdom of diving into another novel right away, those are the only ideas I have simmering on the back burner.

So what's next? I don't know for sure. I know I want to follow Stephen King's advice in On Writing and let the manuscript sit for a while before starting to edit. I'll hand the first draft out to several folks with strict instructions not to give me critiques for at least six weeks or so. After that, we'll see. I never really finished editing The Host, so this is new territory for me. Another reason to avoid starting a new novel. I'm not sure I want to wait three or four months to start editing this one--and I sure as hell don't want to try editing one novel while writing another one. I'll bet that way madness lies.

Second draft, third one? Whenever, when it's ready, I'm going to quit farting around and start seriously looking for an agent. I said I was going to do it with The Host, but didn't, largely because I didn't think it was good enough. I think this one is good enough. Plus, I have considerably fewer distractions to keep me from successfully editing Exile, I think.

One thing I can tell you for sure: my next big project WILL NOT be the sequel. I need something in between. I just don't know what.

Posted by Lisa at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)

September 10, 2003

It's a little scary how

It's a little scary how much more I'm getting done in the mornings now that I've stopped checking my email every ten minutes. It's even scarier what I had to do to make myself stop: every morning when I sit down to write, I have to unplug from the network completely and physically move my network adapter to the other side of the room. Otherwise I kept plugging it back in. But if I have to actually get up and go get it... well, that's too much work.

It's amazing what we have to do break bad habits, eh? I'd fallen into the trap of popping open Outlook or IE every time I had a momentary blockage. Stopping that has nearly doubled my productivity, I think. Not a bad trade off.

Posted by Lisa at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2003

On the path

I seem to have wandered temporarily out of that dense patch of woods in which I spent most of the past two weeks. Instead of having a path laid out in front of me, leaving me free to go merrily skipping through the forest with my little basket of goodies, stopping here and there to pick flowers, I've been forced to grab a machete and start hacking through the undergrowth until I found a way to go. Now I'm back on the path, basket in hand. Of course, now in addition to the goodies in the basket is the machete. I decided it was wise to keep it around, in case I run into another patch of undergrowth.

Translation: I'm back to a section of the plot I have pretty well thought out. Writing scenes feels more like filling in the blanks than pulling teeth. Filling in the blanks creatively, of course. More like mad-libs than those stupid SAT verbal questions.

Also, in case you missed it on the sidebar, I have a sequel in mind for The Exile's Daughter. I kinda fibbed. It isn't precisely untitled, but the title of the sequel might give away a little too much about the current book at the moment, so I'm keeping it to myself.

Posted by Lisa at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003

Holy crap

I have a sequel. Maybe even a trilogy. Jesus Christ. How did that happen?

I was writing what turned out to be a pretty pivotal scene in The Exile's Daughter, where one of the relatively minor characters gives birth. It was supposed to be a scene where the main characters realize some things about themselves, and it did that. They did and it was good. But on a whim, the baby was born with a caul.

I started wondering what that might signify for him later in life, and by golly, the sequel popped right into my head.

Help me. Please.

Posted by Lisa at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2003

Weekly progress report

All in all, not a bad week. I took today completely off. I think one full day off a week is not only completely reasonable, it's insanely helpful.

Weekly word count: 6870
Last week: 8319
Highest day: 2159 (Monday)

You know, I've printed this out as I go along, since is reading as I go. I took her the latest pages yesterday--206 now. I crossed the 60,000 word mark this week, and I've been giddy. I can't tell you the insane glee it gives me to flip through the binder and look all those pretty printed pages. :) I feel very accomplished.

Posted by Lisa at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

I said I'd post 'em, so here they are...

My epigraphs for The Exile's Daughter, for now. Two and three are subject to change.

Part One (Chapters 1-6)

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you
can understand.
--"The Stolen Child", W.B. Yeats

Part Two (Chapters 7-11)
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
--"The Hosting of the Sidhe", W.B. Yeats

Part Three (Chapters 12-?)
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--"The Second Coming", W.B. Yeats

Not sure about the last two, as I've said. The first though, the first is practically carved in stone, particularly since the novel started out as a story with the title "A World More Full of Weeping". Dunno. The second one is reeeeeally starting to grow on me. Maybe for the last two, I'll mix in some other poets. Eliot's always a frontrunner.

Posted by Lisa at 07:36 PM | Comments (1)

You knew I'd work Yeats in there somewhere...

On a whim, I divided the book up into three sections, each about six or seven chapters. Each section now has an epigraph taken from something of Yeats. The first one is perfect, I think the second one too, and not so sure about the third. I like the idea though, and am keeping my mind open about which quotations to use where. I'll post them later, cause I've got an appointment at one and have to run.

Overall, excellent morning writing, almost 1500 words in one sitting. Haven't done that in a while.

Posted by Lisa at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

"Computer Dating"

Six day turnaround on "Computer Dating". Repackaged it to send off tomorrow morning to Analog. The problem is, I'm really not sure it's that good of a story. I like the basic idea, but the execution seems kinda naive to me now. But I don't feel like changing it right now, because changing it would mean a complete rewrite--and I'm not THAT in love with the idea. So it goes out, because hey, I might be wrong about its worth. I'll probably finish the edits on "Girl Behind the Counter" and get it sent back out by Monday. That one, at least, I'm still pleased with.

Posted by Lisa at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

"Random play" has a sense of humor, once again

As I'm getting into writing a quasi-romantic scene between Alex and Jack (another one), what does my MP3 player pull up but the below-mentioned song. It made me giggle. Although it put me in the right mindset to write these two goofballs with their awkward first steps towards a relationship, Jack is no Aragorn and Alex could kick Arwen's ass all the way to the Grey Havens (especially the book's Arwen, but hell, I could kick her ass).

It just amuses me. I'd been thinking of creating a mushy sort of playlist, and right about then is when the song came on, appropriate and yet utterly not appropriate at the same time. Whee!

Posted by Lisa at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

Trying again...

Write Club was a good thing last night, for several reasons. I needed a little boost of encouragement, for one, and Write Club is always excellent for that whether or not we actually manage to write. Sunday afternoon I had a brainstorm about "The Girl Behind the Counter", which I've always thought was a good story, no matter how many rejections it got. (Yeah, I'm the same way about "Midsummer".) I realized that my glee at discovering Harper-the-town as a setting when I wrote that story made it full of setting-related stuff that really had nothing to do with the story itself. While you can get away with that in a novel (to some extent), in a story, not so much.

So last night while I was waiting for Julie and Mer to get there, I went through the story with my fabled pink pen of editing (it's less harsh than red!) and cut mercilessly. When I did the cuts on the Word doc, I discovered that I cut about 3000 words from a 7400 word story. I haven't reread it yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be MUCH better, especially in terms of pacing. Plus, since it's about a stumped writer, I think I neatly managed to excise all of the "oh woe is me, an unappreciated writer" stuff--which I didn't consciously put in as my own point of view, but it was definitely coming across that way.

I also have yet another novel idea brewing, which also occurred to me last night. I have a hunch that Sword in the Mound is dead, and The Host, while not precisely dead, may continue in its zombie-like half-life indefinitely, having served its purpose well (got those first novel-writing jitters out of the way). That still leaves The Exile's Daughter, which is alive and growing in leaps and bounds, False Light, which still pokes through my subconscious on a regular basis, the Harper novel, wherein I will expand "Midsummer" and "Girl Behind the Counter" to my heart's content, along with some other ideas I've had for the town, and now this new one.

The new one... dare I say it... isn't genre at all. It's straight, mainstream fiction. The scope of it makes me gasp a little. It takes place over four or five decades, and will track one woman's personal development using US culture and society as both a mirror and a backdrop. I think I might be a little young to write this one yet. I adore the idea though.

For now, I should quit musing over future novels and get back to work writing the current one.

Posted by Lisa at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

What the hell.

Why not? I submitted "The Weird Sisters, 2003" off to Strange Horizons. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to get it out the door while I still like it. Go me.

Posted by Lisa at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

Slight change

I made a slight change to the sidebar, largely because I wanted to include a current page count as well. The page count is mostly there for my benefit. My Word doc got corrupted last week, including adding several pages of gibberish. If I'd been paying attention to my page count, I would have noticed it sooner, so... I'm keeping up with it now. Lucky you, you get to watch!

Posted by Lisa at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)