New Plan, Same as Old Plan

Well, mostly the same as the old plan.  I’ve noticed that one of my issues with writing is that I have too many ideas.  I don’t get the traditional form of writer’s block (ie not knowing/having anything to write about), but I get the reverse of that.  And it does slow me down and sometimes stop me entirely.

What I’ve noticed the last couple months is that I write in shifts.  I’ll write for an hour or two and then take a break (breaks often lasting a couple of hours) and then go work again.  Starting today, I’ve decided to try to use that to my advantage.  I have so many stories in my head right now that I feel like I’ll never get them all out.  I have a novel almost done and one started that literally needs to be done by Feb 1st in order to make a workshop deadline.  If I write in shifts, I should be able to finish both.  So for the rest of this month, I’m going to try that method out.  Work on one in the morning and one in the afternoon/late at night or whenever the second “shift” happens.  I know I can keep the stories straight in my head because my head is juggling about 20 different novels and short stories at the moment including these two.  Hopefully doing things this way will prevent the “but I want to work on this instead” block, because I’ll just go work on that instead.

And hey, if this works, then I’m going to keep assigning shifts to projects and see how writing multiple things concurrently pans out.  I’m still adapting my process and finding ways that work for me.  I fully intend to try different ways of outlining novels as well at some point this year (that Snowflake method looks interesting, for example).

So that’s the new plan, which is pretty much the same as always.  I’ve got a lot of writing to get done (about 90k words) in a short amount of time.  But if I finish it or even get close, I’ll have finally gotten my 100k words in a single month.  Which is pretty cool (I’ve written about 30k this month already).

November Summary plus Extras

So first, my story “No Spaceships Go” will be out from Daily Science Fiction on December 17th it looks like.  So go sign up for their daily stories already, geez.  (Though it will also be posted on the website at some point as well if you’re somehow allergic to getting awesome fiction in your inbox each weekday morning).   Besides this being my first pro sale, it is also a story I really love.  I write a lot of stories and I’m not sure I could even list the titles of all of them off the top of my head (probably, with some serious thinking, because I do have a good memory, but I might miss one or two).  However, I play favorites like woah.  This story was one of my favorites and I’m very happy that Daily SF took a chance on it.

So in November my writing went not too poorly, but I’ve discovered that writing while in pain really, really sucks.  Or perhaps rediscovered, since I had to do it this summer when I pinched a nerve in my shoulder.  I have my new keyboard now and am so far liking it (it’s only been a day, so no idea how it will serve in the long term).  I’ve also adjusted my desk and my chair and gotten a wrist brace to try for the more sore wrist.  All these things will hopefully contribute to less pain and a more consistent writing schedule.

All that aside, I managed about 52,000 words this month.  That means a handful of new stories out to markets and some of what will be the first novel in my Pyrrh Considerable Crimes series.  I’m going to be finishing up the novel in the next week or two, then it’ll go to first readers, then to the copy editor, and finally (hopefully!) on or around Jan 31st, 2011, it’ll be available to purchase.

For December I’m going to take it somewhat easy.  While I’d like to be writing 5-6 hours a day, I know that on many days I’ll have other commitments (I have a huge family, and the holidays are always made of crazy sauce).  So I’m setting my daily goal at 10 pages each week day and 5 pages each weekend day.  I’m planning on writing the second Pyrrh novel this month, as well as starting a romance novel that will go out to traditional publishers in Feb.  I was going to write my horror/western, but it needs to percolate more I think, and I’m debating writing it for e-pub instead of trying to figure out how the hell I’d pitch something like that to trad publishers.  We’ll see.  I like that I have all sorts of options now and can pretty much write whatever I feel like (not that I wouldn’t anyway, I’m stubborn like that, but nice to know I might actually get paid for this stuff).

So November was a mixed bag.  I didn’t hit my goal, but I got over the halfway point and I still got something done, which is better than nothing.  Even if I only get 50k words each month next year, that would still be 600k words of new fiction ready for various markets and experiments, which isn’t a bad production rate.  So we’ll see.  I’m going to aim for more like 75k to 100k a month, but it’ll depend on schedules and wrists and my own laziness.

Speaking of laziness, I’ve been playing some Mass Effect 2 (well, helping my husband play by mining planets for him and such).  I mention it because the world-building is boggling and awesome.  Flying around and reading the different planet descriptions alone has been a joy and very inspiring.  After I finish up the next couple novel projects (or perhaps in between), I’m totally going to get some sf stories done.  I wrote fantasy in November pretty much, so maybe it’s time to return to space.  Hmm, I wonder if I can write ME2 off on my taxes? It’s totally helping my writing, totally. *grin*

(Speaking of taxes, I’ll be filing my first schedule C this Jan.  I’ll definitely be posting about that process around then, because I think more information needs to be available on how this works exactly.  I’m going to hire a professional to talk me through it the first time, because while I’m competent as the house accountant, I’d rather not mess up when it comes to the IRS.  They aren’t exactly forgiving of honest errors.  So look for a post about that, and some neo-pro interviews coming soon!)

Vacation!

I’m on vacation.  Because I work for myself and can go on vacation when I want.  Seriously.  Also, I was stressing myself out with made up deadlines because I knew I was going to be gone for almost two weeks in the beginning of April and the writing was starting to be very very not fun.  When I did my writing schedule at the start of the year, I left room for 6 months of “off” time because I know how I write and function.  I wanted to make sure I worked out a schedule that left me time for the rest of the things in my life I enjoy doing.  I’ve gotten a bunch accomplished this year already, I can afford a couple weeks off, especially if I return to the writing revitalized and ready to tackle it.  (And I’ll admit, I haven’t totally been on vacation, I’ve clocked a few hundred words on a story because it was there and I wanted to.  And my brain is full of scenes and ideas for one of my novels, plus I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers and looking at pacing and mood in them.)

I’ll be at Norwescon from the 1st through the 4th.  I imagine it will be a different experience than last year.  I’ve sold a story, have a lot more knowledge about publishing and writing, and will actually know people this year.  I’m looking forward to it, as well as the workshop portion.  I’m curious how the stories will go over, both have now garnered a few very nice rejections from various places, so I’m interested to see what this batch of pros has to say about them.

Then I’m down to Cali to see family, during which I will ride lots of rollercoasters and get zero writing done.  But I’m back and resuming mad writing plans as of the 12th.

So, to restate my crazy plan.  Get home, write five novels and 16 short stories.  That’s it. Though it looks like two of those novels will be done first, since they are getting the most brain time.  Also, once I get back I’ll be making my first ever submission to the market that started the whole wanting to be  writer madness: “MZB’s Sword and Sorceress”.  Finally have a story I think might work, after about 19 years.  It’ll be an historic moment.  Or something.  And if I get accepted I’m pretty sure my head will explode.  Good times.

Cleanup Week

Novel editing is done.  Novel bits are mailed and emailed off to appropriate places for the workshop.  Now to get the rest of the stuff done this week that should get done.

I have two stories I need to mail off.  I’m discouraged in that I’m fairly sure I’ve sent them to the most ideal markets for each, which means now I start sort of shooting in the dark.  One of the stories is pretty much hard sci/fi, in that there is nothing in it which isn’t utterly possible in the near future.  But it’s a love story, not a traditional hard sci/fi story.  So I’m not sure if the harder sci/fi markets are right for it.  Never know til I try I guess, right?

The other story is sort of fable/fairytale-esque and has gotten some really nice rejections, but now I’m low on markets for it.  It has eight rejections, which isn’t enough for me to trunk it, but the next two most likely markets for it have other things subbed to them already.  So I think maybe I’ll sit on this one, much as I hate to, and wait for one of those markets to open back up again.  Or I could send it off to a major long-shot.  Hmm.

I have four short stories and a novella to finish, hopefully this week.  Then, next week, I start “Sindra’s Storm”.  For real. Outline or no outline.  Who knows? Maybe one will miraculously come to me this weekend to be written down hurriedly on hotel stationery.  If not, well, I have enough to get started.  I know the general plot and have the shape of the first few chapters.  I even have villain motivation and all that good stuff.  It might be that I just have to sit back and let the book write itself, so to speak.  Not something my control freak brains are good at doing.  Normally I have to be inside everything, figuring out what is going on and what is going to happen next, and I prefer to work from an outline that tells me where the story is going (even if I generally end up revising this outline four or five times while writing).    This time, maybe not.  I’ll know in a week.

I’m setting a totally arbitrary deadline for finishing the rough draft of this novel as March 26th.  Eight weeks. 110,000 words.  About 2,000 words a day.  This’ll be fun!

Crazy Short Story Plans

Still no word on my WotF third quarter entry.

Which means I really need to distract myself.  I’m between novels at the moment, so the best way to keep up my writing habits is to work on short stories.  I’ve got 9 out on the market right now.  I need more.  I want to saturate the market with my work, plus starting in January I’ll be super busy trying to write an entire trilogy in six months while querying about my current novel.  And I have three workshops to apply to, all of which want slightly different word counts etc…

Inspired by Jim C. Hines post, I’ve decided to push some stories at more anthologies.  Writing to a specific theme isn’t really something I’ve done before.  Even with the Shine anthology, which I was very nicely rejected from recently, I wrote a story that I’d been wanting to write and thought it might fit (it didn’t, which once it was written I knew it was a long shot).  So I think it would be an interesting challenge to myself as a writer to write for some anthologies.

I went through ralan.com’s anthology calls and made a list of all the ones that interested me and pay at least 1 cent per word.  I have a notebook now full of deadlines, requirements, and submission information for each.  I’ve picked out about eleven, most with deadlines around early next year, though a couple have deadlines coming up very soon.

I read somewhere, and I honestly can’t recall where though I think it was linked to off of sfsignal.com in a post there, that when writing for anthologies, you don’t want to write the first idea that comes into your head because that will be the one that everyone else thinks of also.  I believe the advice said to pick the 17th idea.  So I’m currently brainstorming all sorts of ideas, and trying to aim for a good blend of crazy enough that it might not have fifty clones in the slush but still something I’d want to write.

This decision to write for anthologies as well as working on the giant list of ideas I already had is timely.  November is coming, traditionally National Novel Writing Month.  I’ve done nanowrimo twice and “won” both times.  However, I think that my last nano will be my last nano.  I learned I could write at length and on deadline.  Nano (not that I want to start a war if you disagree with me here…), but you don’t get a novel out of it.  Well, maybe if you’re writing middle-grade, because then 50k words might work.  But 50k is too short for what I want to be doing.  And while I imagine I could write 100k in a month,   I think, for myself at least, I’ve learned what I could and it’s time to move and do novels my way (you know, a novel in two to three months instead…).

But don’t think I’m not going to be silly crazy in November.  Oh no, I’m going to invent my own tradition.  NaShoWriMo.  National Short-story Writing Month.  My goal is to write a short story a day.  Yes, everyday.  I’m not limiting the length, though I’d dearly like to write at least a couple decent ones under 4k words to make my life easier come Clarion sub season, but I am holding the minimum to 1,000 words.  I figure if I even get six stories worth cleaning up and submitting at the end, I’m ahead for a while.  And it will be fun, a chance to experiment and get some random ideas out.  I’m planning on using the anthology calls as fodder.  I can write the 5th, 14th, and 20th ideas I have for any given theme and then pick the one I want to send.  Sounds like crazy fun right? Right?

So, my goals for October are to write up the novella formerly known as Werewolves in Space (which will be my 1st quarter sub for WotF most likely), and finish two themed anthology stories that are due by the end of the month.  A fairly light load, all things considered.

November is when the real exciting stuff gets going.  A story a day.  NaShoWriMo.  If anyone wants to join me in my insanity, bring it on.  I usually write short stories in a day anyway, just not generally consecutively.  And I’m pretty sure my typing limit is around 12-13k words in a day (10k is really more my comfort limit, and 3-5k my cruising speed), so at least my stories won’t be crazy long.  We can hope.

That’s my plan.  In December I’ll collect the notes from my first-readers and try to make my novel outstanding before the queries go out in January.  Until then, time to fill up my short story basket.  (Just think, I’ll get to 500 rejections much much more quickly if I have 50 stories out than 9…)

First Term and Future Plans

Heh, wordpress looks strange again. Grr.

Anyway, I survived first term of graduate school.  It was underwhelming.  Hopefully next term will go better.

I’ve decided to attend a couple of cons (specifically geared towards spec fic/writing/etc…).  The deadline for the workshops for the first con I’m going to is the 14th of this month, so I’d better get my ass in gear.  I think I’ll send them Bladebearer because it’s a complex little story and has some weird problems I could use perspective on.  You can send two pieces, so I’m tempted to send in the first 3 chapters of Casimir Hypogean.  I still hate that novel, but maybe feedback on it would somehow make the path clearer.  Or at least give me a few better ideas of what is going so wrong with the whole thing.  I’d have to write up a synopsis, however, which could prove problematic since I’ve never written one.  It’d be a learning experience.  Well, we’ll see how far I get this week.  Otherwise I’ll send Monsters as my second piece.

The second con is World Con, which is in Montreal this year.  I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal, and I think Chwedl will be in at least polished draft form by then and (cross fingers?) ready for agent hunting, so it’ll give me something to really peddle around at the con.  Plus the panels should be informative and I’ll get to vote for the Hugo winners.  Which means my summer will be full of reading the nominated books, never a bad thing.

I’m also, this month, polishing Space Bones and Delilah for my application to Clarion West.  I’m terrified I won’t get in and I’m terrified I will.  It’s like a perfect lose lose situation.  But really, I want to go.  I think it would be fantastic and horrifying and awesome all at once.  Besides, then I could stalk EBear in person (note, this is a joke, unless you consider reading someone’s lj stalking…).  I’m just jealous that she has a cat. Seriously.  Stupid renting with no pets rule.    Moving on…  I think that the two aforementioned stories have the best shot of showing how I write.  They’re  also now the most polished of my spec lit pieces and Delilah is still one of my favorite things I’ve written ever.  It might be a risk considering the very Christian overtones and the linear inevitability of the plot, but I hope that the characters and stylistic tones will override that and punish the reader with its awesomeness.  Seriously, I like that story.  And Space Bones has grown on me.  I wrote it mostly for the title at first, but after about four drafts I finally feel a connection to what is going on in the story and to the characters.  Hopefully this will all translate into the Clarion peeps thinking I’m whatever they’re looking for.

By the end of December I hope to have the draft of Chwedl complete.  Then comes the editing and pain, but I already see things I can do to help it along.  This novel, to repeat myself, is nothing like Casimir Hypogean.  It’s such a breeze to write and the language flows nicely instead of feeling forced and choppy as all hell.  I wonder if I haven’t written the world of Casimir Hypogean too bleak, its characters too unsympathetic.  After all, why should a reader care about chars who hardly care about themselves?  It’s a strange dilemna.  More reason probably for why I should edit up those first 3 chapters of the rewrite and send them off for critique.  Maybe the novel is dead and I’m still pining for a ghost of a thing that shouldn’t be.  It’s hard to tell such from my close perspective.

Real Life Intrudes

My paying job, as I like to call it, is giving me plenty of extra hours lately. This is good on the whole paying for grad school front, but very bad on the whole editing three short stories and rewriting a novel front.

I worked a couple 61 hour weeks followed by food poisoning followed by a horrendous cold/fever. Needless to say, I’ve done very little writing in the last few weeks. Fortunately, I seem to work in binges, so hopefully as I feel better and my work schedule regulates, I’ll get more of the unpaid work (ie writing) in. I realize that many writers have full time jobs. I don’t think I could do it, however. Even working 36 hours a week takes a huge toll on my writing productivity and free time. I suppose for me it is a matter of priorities. I do tend to read a book a day (or every two or three days depending on length), as well as hang out with my husband and roomates and play videogames or watch DvDs. It’s about finding balance, as with anything in life.

Writing always seems to suffer first, however. I think that is because I really do require a certain amount of space and alone time to listen to the things in my head for the production of coherent stories and ideas. All work and no play, etc… I have three print outs full of comments on my stories as well as a word doc with comments from my online workshop readers. They are waiting for me to have the brain power and the time to deal with them.

I think I’m going to make a 500 a day rule until I am no longer working an extra 16 hours a week. 500 words of either revision or writing, every week day. It isn’t the two hours a day I was managing before, but with the extra days of work, I think this is a more reasonable expectation of myself. Hopefully this won’t last more than a month. Money is all well and good, but at 500 words a day, finishing a 100k word plus draft of a novel will take, well, forever. (Or actually 200 days, which might as well be forever and is certainly not going to get me to my goal of polished novel by Dec. 31st).

Time to go get those 500 words done before I have to leave for work.