February 25, 2004
Breakthrough or distraction?
So last night at Write Club (which was really much more talking than writing--but that's not a bad thing), not only did I manage to bull my way past my block on "In the Pines", but I had a sort of brain flash about Sword and the Mound, my abandoned 25,000 word chunk of romance novel. I think I see a way to rework it so that writing it doesn't make me crazy, and even a way to give it a satisfying ending, which was the biggest problem before. In fact, thanks to Mer's suggestion, I ADORE the ending I see in my mind.
But, that said, I already gave myself to the end of this week to wrap up "In the Pines" before vowing to throw myself back into the Exile's Daughter rewrite. Is this sudden flash on Sword yet another attempt by my brain to derail the first rewrite? Maybe. Maybe. Julie offered to steal my notes on Sword, but that probably wouldn't deter me from working on it. Mer suggested making sure Exile gets as much attention as Sword if I try both. I'm not sure what to do.
Well no, I am sure what to do. I need to finish this blasted story before I do anything else. And then I need to get Exile into shape so I can start seriously pursuing an agent. I wonder if I'm putting it off because I'm nervous about the whole agent-hunting scenario? This is a definite possibility.
Now it's time to stop procrastinating with blog entries and get to work.
February 23, 2004
Warning: this entry will probably ramble a bit.
There's something magical about being able to close a door when you're working. I have a door to my office, but I don't close it often. Usually when I'm writing, I'm home alone. Even when I'm not, it's never disturbing enough to require a closed door (well, unless Rumpus is in a mood--he's gotten shut out on a few occasions).
So it's not a matter of privacy or noise reduction. I think it's something psychological on my part. As if, by shutting that door, I'm enforcing my solitude--not to shut others out (Rumpus excepted), but to shut myself in. Invariably, when I shut the door, I concentrate better, even when I'm the only human in the house. And I've done some of my best writing that way.
You know, it could just be another superstition, but why mess with what works?
I worked on "In the Pines" today--I swear I will finish that story this week if it kills me. On the DVD commentary for The Two Towers, one of the writers (I think it was Phillipa Boyens) commented that when Sam gives his speech at the end about the old tales and what the heroes were holding onto, Frodo had to ask him the obvious question: "What are we holding onto?" And there they got stuck for an extended period of time, not sure what the answer should be.
I'm at a similar point on "In the Pines". Does the main character's wife believe he killed their daughter, or not? I don't know yet, but the point for a decision has come, and it will color the rest of the story. I'm thinking about doing some characterization work this afternoon, see if that helps. I suppose I could just write it out both ways, but I'm lazy.
And yes, I finally dragged "Midsummer" out, reread it, tweaked a line or two, and resubmitted it. As a story, I think it's about as good as it's going to get, multiple points of view and all. I still believe in it, which alone means I should keep pushing it.
Listening: "My Immortal" -- Evanescence
Hooray! Congratulations to Mer on her second publication in like, a month. I'm hoping some of that will rub off on me here soon. :)
February 22, 2004
I managed about a thousand words on "In the Pines" this morning. The last time I had a thousand-word day was over a month ago. Whew!
So far I really like my protagonist a lot. I feel sorry for him. I only have a vague notion of what's really happened so far, but there are clues lying about for me to pick up. There's a desperate feel to the story I like, but I feel like I'm meandering a bit. It's a first draft, I suppose it's allowed to meander. The thing I like most about this story so far though, is the voice. I'm trying out some new things as far as narration is concerned. I'm not completely sure it works, but I think it could work.
Now I have to stop for a bit, and figure out what happens when my hero goes home to his wife.
February 20, 2004
Here kitty kitty kitty...
I started out this morning doing some research on "In the Pines", trying to find out if there's a meaning to the song I can manipulate in my story--in other words, catwaxing*.
The catwaxing continued when I was struck by some ideas about murder ballads based on a show I saw last night. So of course, I had to write about it at length. That took up most of the rest of the morning. Now it's 11:30. I suppose I could add a few words to my actual story, huh?
This is why I need to start another novel, soon. I do more consistent work on a novel. :P
* - Term stolen from Elizabeth Bear, describing a writer's tendency to find other "productive" non-writing things to do.
February 19, 2004
So... the advantage to postal submissions over email submissions is that you can only check your mailbox once a day. Email you can check over and over and over and over and...
Someone, help me. Please.
February 18, 2004
More Write Club goodness
I forgot to mention, I bought two books last night (I can't remember the last time I bought books at Borders--hooray tax refund check): Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (which I recently read) and the 2004 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market.
I also forgot to mention that when Mer read "Sinful Waste", she gave me a six word tag for the ending that just made me shudder in revulsion. I'm debating whether adding it would push the story over the top or not.
Oh, and here's the reason I'm thinking of retitling "Down to the River", and in fact, changing the setting of the denouement:
Little girl, little girl, where'd you stay last night?
Not even your momma knows.
Lord, I stayed in the pines where the sun never shines
And I shivered when the cold wind blowed.
There's a creepiness to that song I can't define. All the lyrics seem to be veiled references to something else, something darker, that I just don't have the cultural grounding to translate. But the creepiness I can appropriate for my uses. (There's more about me and my unraveling of death-related bluegrass music here.)
Progress, but not in the direction I planned
In short, Write Club a resounding success yet again.
-"Sinful Waste", according to Mer, doesn't suck. This makes me happy. It needs work, but another scene or two stuck in there ought to fix things up.
-I started a new story that's threatening to turn into a novel. I'm going to try and wrangle it into a short story first. Tentatively I'm calling it "Down to the River" cause that's what I started with, but after listening to some old-time Stanley Brothers, it might get changed to "In the Pines". More on that tomorrow, I'm too tired to explain.
February 15, 2004
In case you missed it the first time...
Jeez. I just got my second rejection on a story I've already trunked. And by second rejection, I don't mean I sent it out to a second magazine. I mean the first magazine rejected it a second time.
Okay, they really just wanted to make sure it was handled the first time around during a staff changeover. I can appreciate that. Better that then never hearing anything at all.
But still... so bad, they rejected it twice.
February 13, 2004
Well, I finished one of my two horror stories, creepy EC Comics one. I think I blew the ending, but I think I can fix it. There's not enough lead in to what is a pretty horrifying, gross-out sort of ending.
Good lord. Who ever thought I'd write something that would be partly designed to make people go "Ew, gross!"
I finally have word count to post for the month--although that doesn't include the work done on my AWOL Exile's Daughter outline.
February 12, 2004
Titles would be nice...
Once again, I find myself all about Appalachia. I started a new short story this morning, which I plan to finish today as well. It's a pretty straightforward little horror story, almost EC Comics style. I have another idea I'm turning over as well, also set in Appalachia, and weirdly enough, also horror--although this one is more like Lost Weekend meets "Young Goodman Brown".
Both stories were inspired in part by stories I've heard about my family, although the first one also owes a lot to a dream I had this morning where Dolly Parton (!) was describing hillbillies to somebody. The second comes almost directly from a story I recently heard about my father and why he quit drinking. I think the second one's going to be a better story, which might be why I'm putting off writing it.
Listening: "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" -- Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
February 10, 2004
My subconscious hates me
I've already heard back some promising news on "Sic Transit Gloria"--by no means is it an assured acceptance, but I've gotten some very encouraging comments already. Encouraging enough to make me smile, at least.
So last week at Write Club I outlined the second draft of Exile's Daughter furiously on Julie's spare laptop (which she graciously lets me use, since mine is on the fritz). I outlined a chapter, came up with a new subplot, all sorts of goodness, only to realize that I hadn't brought a diskette with me to bring my file home. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and I haven't done a thing on it since then. (It's made a nice excuse.)
Fast forward to this week's Write Club. I remembered to bring my diskette! I outlined my new subplot! Another chapter down!
Then I got home. And after a careful check of my belongings, sent this email:
From: Lisa Nichols
Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 11:29 PM
Subject: I am a big dummy.
Could you possibly bring the diskette I left in your computer to Buffy on Thursday? Thanks. :)
And so it goes
"Sic Transit Gloria" came back last night, off it goes again today. It seems I am officially back on the short story submission horse.
February 09, 2004
Alive and well...
But unfortunately, I've been web-desiging instead of writing. I know. I am an evil slacker girl. Write Club is tomorrow, however, and I know that it will give me the kick in the butt that it always does. And this time I will take a disk with me, so I can bring home the brilliance I wreak on Julie's laptop.
I also just had to post a link to this, M'ris's brilliant non-apologetic spec-fic apology (apology in the C.S. Lewis sense). Not that I'm ever ashamed of what I write, but this just made me hold my head extra high.
They think that we're aiming to be them but somehow getting tangled up in all this spaceship and unicorn stuff along the way. Oops! I tripped over the alien sentience and got my feet wrapped in the cord, so I had to drag it with me; sorry about that. But no.