December 13, 2011

So, that happened

Hard to believe it's halfway through December already. Happy Holidays, y'all! November was a wordy, wordy month, as I raged against the arbitrary and unyielding demands of NaNoWriMo. I won! Weird, huh?

But "winning" came at a price, a slump that I've been trying these two weeks to recover from. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days was a major challenge and accomplishment for me, and it felt great for about a day or two. After that I started to feel twitchy; it was hard to realize that I didn't have to spend all day struggling with words, and I wasn't sure what I should be doing with my time.

Even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't keep writing for words. Because of NaNoWriMo's frenzied pace I'd already written a lot of things that probably have to get cut in revision. When word count is the ultimate goal, writing can suffer. In my case, I'd only outlined half (maybe less) of the novel before the month began. When I should have taken the time to do more outlining, I felt like I would get behind. So instead I rushed ahead blindly, down what may have been a dead end. I'm trying not to think about that now (just finish!).

Then came the saddest realization of all: the novel, the thing I'd been killing myself all month to make, was only about halfway done being drafted. Yes, I'd written 50K words, but the novel needed that much again in order to be done, and I knew it would take me much longer to write the second half--by definition it would, since the first half was the fastest writing I've ever done in my life. I felt like I'd just run a marathon and still had 26 miles to go. After all that work, looking at the long road ahead made me want to lie down and sleep.

In other words, I am a dope who apparently needs external motivation in order to work productively. So here goes: now that I've finished a rough outline, I'm going to commit myself to writing 1,000 words per day until the novel is drafted.

Starting tomorrow.

November 11, 2011

Hold in the pee, let out the words

Today is day 11 of NaNoWriMo (as well as the eleveniest day of our lives!) and all those upright ones have got me thinking about productivity. Actually, productivity has got me thinking about productivity. You see, after getting a little bit behind in the first week, I am now on track to actually "win" NaNoWriMo.

Take that, naysayers! By which, of course, I mean myself. I was my own biggest doubter, and now I am surprised.

Here's what happened: on NaNoWriMo's site there is a graph showing my progress compared to the goal. When my word count dropped below the line, it made me sad. Now that it's above the line, it makes me happy. Which is to say that I have learned a really elementary lesson about getting shit done: setting goals is an excellent way of achieving them.

Sounds pretty basic, right? I should have known it before. I have even engaged in write-as-much-as-I-can events before (Write-a-Thon, I'm looking at you), which should have given me this insight. But it didn't. It took looking at the very specific, very challenging (for me) goals on a silly little graph to kick me in the butt to actually DO IT.

So I kind of feel like a moron. But also proud.

And while I'm sharing my moronitude, here's another trick I learned to boost my productivity: writing in bed. It's a little silly, but for me it's brilliant. It combines laziness with accomplishment, rewarding my work with the awesome benefit of getting to put off the day a little longer. As long as I keep writing (and don't have to pee) I get to stay in my warm, comfy bed. I am writing on average 500 words a day this way, words that I suspect would otherwise be lost in the urgent needs of morning.

Also, my cat gets to help

October 31, 2011

On trying not to self-defeat (NaNoWriMo)

Here I go!

In the past, I have avoided National Novel Writing Month (in which one tries to write 50K of a novel in thirty days) with the unimpeachable excuse that I had classes to teach and couldn't possibly have the time. This year I have no such excuse, and therefore I have guilted myself into signing up.

And yet. It's hard for me to believe that I will write fifty thousand words this month. It's not because I don't want to, but because (unfortunately) I was gifted with the ability to do math. If you followed my write-a-thon progress this summer, you know how proud I was of my output over the first five weeks. It was more than I'd ever written before. It was a little over 25K. In other words, it was half as many words as I will try to write this month, in four days more than I will have. Furthermore, on zero of those days did I manage to write 1666 words, the daily number required in order to meet NaNoWriMo's goal.

But on the other hand . . . something about the unhelpfulness of negativity. So I will try this challenge, and I will try to stop telling myself that I will probably fail at it.

October 21, 2011

World Fantasy Convention & Me

This is me daring you to come.
You know you want to.
I'm starting to get excited about World Fantasy Convention next week. This is my first major Con, my first time staying at the convention hotel, and another big first:

I will be doing a reading!

If you're going to WFC, please come by Pacific 6/7 on 8:00 pm Thursday to hear yours truly read something. And after that, follow me to BarCon.

In related news, I'm taking requests/suggestions/votes on what to read. Have you read anything of mine that you think would be fun to hear? Would you like to hear something new? Something with carnivorous teddy bears? Or water-breathing girls? Zombies?

Feel free to comment even if you won't be there. Feel free to tell your WFC-attending friends. Feel free to share a drink with me in person or in spirit.

Other friends in crime (by which I mean SF writing) who will be doing readings:
Nalo Hopkinson, 12:30 pm Friday, Pacific 4/5
Cat Rambo, 1:00 pm Friday, Pacific 6/7
Siobhan Carroll (AKA Von Carr), 11:00 am, Saturday, Pacific 6/7
Liz Argall, 3:00 pm, Pacific 6/7

September 26, 2011

It Was Only a Dream

One of the awesome things about being a writer is that we are licensed to pay more attention to our dreams than the average person. In general, talking about one's dreams is boorish--no one cares--but sometimes we writers get to use those incoherent narratives to make stories out of.

I have done this many times, with very mixed results. It's dangerous, because the thing that makes a dream so intense is sometimes the thing that drifted away with unconsciousness. You cannot make stories out of this type of dream any more than you can make an omelette out of eggshells. But I've been lucky enough to keep a few dream eggs and hatch them into stories. Maybe even a novel idea.

Dreams also figure into stories often. Character dreams, used to scoot a plot along while everyone is sleeping. I use these, maybe more than I should.

Lately, though, I've been dreaming about writing, and especially about the business of writing. To be even more specific, twice this week I've dreamed about having stories rejected from markets. Not for the first time, I am thankful not to be one of my characters. Because that means that when I wake up from the dream in which I was reading my rejection email (from a market that I actually have a submission at currently), I don't have to roll over and read the real rejection email on my iPhone. The good news is that dream rejections don't count. The bad news is that neither do dream acceptances or dream awards.

Emily woke, finding herself in her own bed. Oh good, she thought, it was only a dream.

It's a lousy ending for a story. But this is not a story. Or is it?

September 06, 2011

New Story

FLURB #12 is up today. In addition to being generally awesome, my story, "The Curse of the Were-Penis," is in it!

I wanted to say something about the story here, but I think I'll let the title speak for itself. As Rudy Rucker says in his editor's note, "Only in Flurb do you find stories like this!"

July 31, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 6

The write-a-thon ends with a whimper. I mostly failed at writing this week, though I did heroic work accomplishing a non-writing-related project. Sorry, novel! Sorry, sponsors! I'll make it up to all of you . . . in a couple weeks when life begins to re-stabilize.

Until then, here's a partial list of places I've squeezed writing into this summer:
• on an airplane
• in a car
• outside a car dealership while waiting for an oil change
• on the floor of my bathroom while waiting for my cat to poop (long story)
• in my empty house.

July 25, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 5 & 5.5

Timing is everything. Urgent non-writing commitments refuse to go away, and are in fact reaching their most critical time this week.

So in the second half of week five I wrote another 1800 words, for a weekly total of 3800. It's the lowest one so far, but it has yet to be outdone by week six, which so far totals zero words. In my semi-defense, though, this year's week five would still rank as last year's second-highest week. Take that, last year's me!

I did also reach two pretty cool milestones--at the same time!



It's official: by anyone's count it's long enough to be a novel. Is it good enough? Not yet. But that's a problem for Future Emily.

July 20, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 4.5

So far this week I've managed 2000 words on the novel project.

But I woke this morning from a strange dream, and while I can't now remember what the dream was about, it may have given me a new novel idea. So today instead of writing on the current project, I wrote a quick, dirty plot synopsis for a potential next idea. The funniest thing: the idea is kind of "Romeo and Juliet in Space," which I have said is exactly the sort of thing I don't write. So maybe I do. Deal with it.

No excerpt this time. I know you're heartbroken about it.

July 16, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 4

Zoinks. This was a hard week, but I managed another 900, 1000, and 700 words, for a week four total of 5200. The four-week total is 22,100, which is 3600 more than I wrote in all of last year's WAT, and 1000 more words than I had written by this point in my Clarion West experience.

It's too bad that what I'm writing is such a mess.

It's fun, in a way, to just throw words up on the page like spaghetti against a wall. This isn't the way I normally work, and we'll see if it succeeds in the end.
Over the rise, her doppelganger was talking to Gabriel. “Wait here a minute,” she said, breaking away from him. She wore a puzzled look on her face, and Ari thought it made her look dumb. Then she laughed, noticing the distance she was trying to put between herself and the woman now walking toward her—her very own self, only about a half hour younger but a good deal more innocent.
After a moment, the other Ari crept around a tombstone. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
Ari laughed. “I’ve come from the future,” she said in a mock-spooky voice.
You can still sponsor me or a writer similar to me here. Every little bit helps!

July 13, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 3.5

Slow going this week, as life gets in the way. Curse you, life! Additionally, now that I'm so close to the end of the novel I can see how much is wrong with it. Revision will be tricky. But I'm trying to tell myself that that's a problem for Future Emily, and not worry about it right now.

Saturday: 600
Sunday: 1500
Monday: eaten by urgent life
Tuesday: 500
The graveyard was exactly as Ari remembered it, to an uncanny degree. Of course, it was not only the same graveyard, but the same moment in that graveyard. Every leaf on every plant bent in precisely the same direction as they had when she and Gabriel left.
They walked quickly and silently across the neatly trimmed grass. Ari didn’t check for footprints, or bloodstains. Her own clothes were clean, stolen from a secondhand shop. She told herself that the things she’d seen and done that night never really happened. For the most part, they hadn’t.

July 09, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 3

Just the facts:

I wrote every day this week, for a total of 6400 words. This brings my three-week total to 16,900. That's almost as much as I managed to write in all six of last year's weeks!

I also learned that one very generous sponsor donated $100 in my name. Thank you, generous sponsor! Your donation inspires me to keep writing.
His knees felt weak, transparent. He sank to the grass. He wanted to stand tall in front of her, touch the side of her face with his knuckles. But he couldn’t summon up the strength. He managed a smile full of pain. “I want to say, ‘we’ll always have Paris,’ but I guess I won’t.”
Ari looked at him, face unreadable. It looked scrubbed, lines smoothed away.
“Remember me,” Gabriel said.

July 05, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 2.5

I am dangerously pleased with myself. Saturday I wrote 1300 words, Sunday 700 (in an airport!), Monday a measly 300, and today 1200 and counting. I admit to writing a lot of words for words' sake--a hazard of challenging oneself to a quantity output without specifying quality--but the plot seems to be moving forward.

Even more encouragingly, the total word count for the project is around 49,600. I had thought that 50K was the threshold of noveldom, making this an exciting time for me (it WILL be a novel!). But then I looked up SFWA's definitions and saw that they call anything over 40K a novel. So, it's a novel. Or at least it will be when it's finished. AND, I think that will happen this summer, despite a lot of offstage life chaos.

All of this optimism is dangerous, though. Tim Powers is always telling me that guilt is a powerful motivator, and it's hard to feel guilty and proud at the same time. The writing equivalent of this fantastic blog post might happen. Go on, read it; I'll wait.

In fact, read that instead of an excerpt this time. There's too much plot in the last few days of writing, and I don't want to spoil it. Maybe next time.

July 01, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 2

The second half of this week got off to a rocky start. I fought to write 700 words on Tuesday, then on Wednesday those words seemed to have disappeared. Husband saved my sanity by finding them, but there was a long enough space in between that I was starting to feel like this project was cursed. Wednesday ended up being a day off, then I squeezed out 600 words on Thursday and 1400 on Friday.

For a Week Two total of 5400.

The real news is that, as of today, I'm starting to think I can draft this novel by the end of the summer. It won't be good. But it might exist. Finally.
Ari and Gabriel landed in a thick stand of trees some distance from the main house of White Falls, on the wide surface of a fallen tree. Ari, pre-crouched and balanced for the surface, set down as softly as a cat. Gabriel, on the other hand, landed like a kitten—all limbs that he didn’t seem in full control of. He slipped off the side and landed with a twiggy crunch on the forest floor a few feet below.

June 29, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 1.5

Okay, so this post is late. Like a first-year college student, I'm filled with excuses, but no dog can eat the Internet (or can it? story idea?), so I've no real defense. This is late. What of it?

In the first three days of week two I wrote 600, then 800, then 1300 words of the novel project. Will this pattern of increase hold into days 4-7? I'm not telling.

In sponsorship news, I learned today that I've raised $15 so far. Yay! If you feel like donating even a tiny amount in my name, go here.
Ari struggled, pulling her hands from the not-blind woman’ bony grip. It only took her a second, but that was much too long. When she looked up, they stood face to face in a desert landscape of dirt and trembling skinny trees. A breeze ruffled the loose hairs behind Ari’s ears and spread goose pimples up her bare arms, and she marveled at how easily her mind and her eyes accepted the fact of teleportation, yet how her body rebelled.
She staggered, head pounding. The name Catherine sung like a plucked string in her mind.

June 24, 2011

CW Write-a-thon: Week 1

The first week of Clarion West 2011 is over, and that must mean that week one of the write-a-thon is over too. After a day off from writing on Wednesday I rallied, despite frantically attending to other things, and wrote another 2000 words on last year's novel project, which I suppose I should admit is now this summer's novel project. That brings this week's total to 5100 words. But who's counting?

(Me. I am.)

I expect to do better from here on out, other commitments notwithstanding. Yesterday the part of me that says, "I'm not inspired to write right now" had a duel with the part that says, "Who cares? Just write something," and the former was seriously wounded.
It was a struggle for Ari to keep her atoms together. She was bombarded with lives in pain, stories begging her to follow them, clamoring like puppies in a pet store window. The stories were all different, but they all ended here. No one, she thought, was getting out alive.

June 22, 2011

CW Write-a-thon Update: Week 0.5

Three days of write-a-thon (WAT) have passed, and I'm off to a schizophrenic start. I envisioned this summer's goal as drafting a new novel, but in the run-up to WAT I tried on three or four novel ideas, none of which seem to fit. Most are too small, one is too big, and none of their colors are flattering on me.

So then a strange thing happened: I re-read the abandoned novel from last summer and said, "This isn't so bad." At this point, there's nothing I can say concretely about what I will write this summer (which, when I think about it, is generally the case). But, I promise to write.

Here's what I've done so far:
Day 1: wrote 1600 words on theoretical current novel project. At the end of the day, I felt very "meh" about it, and not excited to keep writing (always a good sign). So . . .
Day 2: wrote a 900-word zombie story called "10 Things to Do in Los Angeles After You Die."
Day 3: wrote 600 words on last year's novel project, while on a plane. It may not seem like a lot to some, but I am very proud.

Due to life happening, output may fluctuate. But in the meantime, here's an excerpt. Guess which one it's from!

1) Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Breaking out of your grave will be the hardest part. Remember not to panic; you’re already dead. Once you punch and kick and claw your way to the surface, take a moment to enjoy the serenity of Forest Lawn’s rolling hills. Visit some of your famous neighbors—Lucille Ball, Liberace, and Buster Keaton among them—if they’re home. You’re more likely to meet Lucy and the others shambling over the hills to feast on the brains of star-struck tourists. Though small, these brains are highly prized by Los Angeles area living dead.

June 10, 2011

Clarion West Write-a-thon 2011

Two years ago I packed up my laptop and my trusty stuffed shark and drove up to Seattle for SF summer camp, otherwise known as Clarion West. The experience definitely ranks among the best times of my life, and I can honestly say that it was more helpful to me as a writer than my MFA (sorry, formal education!). In a nutshell, Clarion West puts eighteen emerging/aspiring SF writers in a sorority house for six weeks, gives them one well-known writer or editor to learn from each week, and asks them to write a story per week, which will be workshopped by the entire group. It is an intense and wonderful thing.

Nom nom laptop

Here comes the sales pitch.

In order to do the great work that they do, they need money. One of the ways they raise money is through the write-a-thon, which I am participating in again this year. Basically, from June 19 to July 29 I'm going to write fiction, as much of it as I can. I'll be posting updates and excerpts on this blog (you've been warned). Then, you sponsor me for any amount you like--even $1 a week.

In other words, the write-a-thon, like my life and the lives of underwear gnomes, follows this pattern:
step 1: write (or steal all the underwear)
step 2: ???
step 3: profit
The only difference is that for the CW write-a-thon it actually works!

You can sponsor me here.
Or, if you're a writer, go here to sign up to participate. You don't have to be a CW veteran to do the write-a-thon, and it's useful for actually getting writing done.

End of sales pitch.

June 06, 2011

Brevity

A few things have happened so far this year that leave me feeling a little bit disjointed:

1) I finally, really realized that my agent was not going to sell the novel I wrote as my thesis for my MFA.
1B) I therefore realized (for about the fifth time) that it's critical that I write another novel. Now, if not sooner.
2) I became an Editorial Assistant at Every Day Fiction, an online magazine that publishes one very short (under 1,000 words) story per day.
3) I was inundated with ideas for short stories.

It's perverse, but the more I want to write a novel, the more I end up writing short stories. In fact, lately they've been getting shorter. I've written two flash pieces this year, which is at least one more than I've written in any other years . . . combined.

There are a lot of reasons for this. The primary one, I suspect, is the abusive relationship I had with my last attempted novel, which culminated in the loss of a couple weeks' work in the Great Data Blight of 2010. Even before that tragedy I had felt at odds with the novel; while working on it I compared the project to a bowel obstruction--something painful, but something that needed to be cleared out before anything else could get by. A disgusting metaphor, I know. But a telling one too.

Having failed to complete that novel, I am shy about starting another one. When you work for months (maybe years) writing 40,000 words of a novel that doesn't get finished, you are left with nothing. If I had written the same number of words in short stories, I'd have (on average) ten stories, and maybe a few of those would eventually find homes.

I have been blaming my inability to get back into long fiction on a short attention span, and I'm sure this is also a factor. But if I'm honest with myself, I think I've become stingy with my attention (as my father-in-law says, nobody pays attention because attention is so expensive these days), afraid of throwing so much of my effort away on a project that might not go anywhere.

The good news is that I have a secret weapon. I stole it from Kevin Brockmeier, author of the memorable novel The Brief History of the Dead. He said, in an interview which I cannot now find, that he likes to write the first chapter of a novel as a short story, to test the waters before jumping in headlong. His short story of the same title (which became chapter one) was published in The New Yorker, and then again in the O. Henry Prize Stories. So, it's an approach with at least some proven success. Of course, I'm no Kevin Brockmeier, but I do have hope that using his method I can trick myself into writing a novel.

That's what I'm supposed to be doing now, while I sit here procrastinating. Tell me to go.

June 02, 2011

Here, Statement Statement!

I have been musing lately about the phrase "released a statement." This is something said of famous (or infamous) people, as in: "Harold Camping released a statement on May 22 saying, 'Whoops. My bad.'" (disclaimer: this quote is fake).

Artists, of course, try to make statements. For them (us?) it is an act of creation, something active and intentional. This is not the way of celebrity statements. In order to be heard they need only be "released," like a cat bolting through an open door. The statements long to get out, and once they do, they are heard. No agent, seemingly, is responsible for them.


As a writer, I "release" statements all the time. I shove them, kick them, hurl them with force and aim into the world, but they rarely get very far. They take a few steps outside, lick themselves, and turn around to scratch at the door.

Sometimes it feels like we're all shouting to be heard over the whispers of a few. Oh well. I suppose I'll plug my ears and keep yelling.  One day, like teased and ridiculed zoo tigers, the statements will escape.

May 22, 2011

Writers of the Future XXVII

Despite being friends with writing judge Tim Powers for years, entering the contest I'm-not-sure-how-many times, and going to Clarion West with contest winner Jordan Lapp, last week marked my first time attending the Writers of the Future awards. For some reason I always thought it wouldn't be worthwhile. But here are a few things I hadn't realized:

1) Free book! I hope this doesn't make me seem greedy or materialistic, but I will do a lot of things for a free book, including driving into Hollywood at 6:00pm. As an added bonus, the book is actually good. It would have to be, right?

2) This event is a big deal. For those of you who might not know, Writers (and Illustrators) of the Future is a contest that was founded by L. Ron Hubbard for emerging writers (and illustrators) of speculative fiction. It's one of the only contests that is free to enter and judged purely off of merit (submissions are blind). Winning this award comes with publication in the book and a cash prize. That is all stuff I knew. What I didn't know is that the ceremony is like the Academy Awards, down to the seat-fillers. In fact, the room in the Roosevelt hotel where it's held was the site of the first Academy Awards. Or so I'm told. The winners are all treated like stars, and being writers and artists they're all pretty much blown away by the attention, in an adorable way.

3) Everyone involved in the contest is the nicest person ever.

4) The writer's contest is a sausage-fest. I don't know if this is always the case, but this year there was only one female winner. I also don't know if this has any relevance at all; it was just something I noticed.

Congratulations to all of this year's winners, but especially to the ones I knew prior to last Sunday, Keffy R.M. Kehrli and Ryan Harvey!

April 12, 2011

_____ is the hardest part.

I write something. I am proud, if not of the work itself, than at least of my own productivity. I send the little miracle toddling into the world, to seek shelter in the hands of an editor.

I wait. And while I wait, I tell myself that this is the hardest part.

I have nine stories making the rounds right now, which for me is a lot. With so many of them, I feel like every day I should be hearing from one market or another. I am not arrogant enough to expect them all to find homes, but I crave responses nonetheless. Go ahead, reject me, but don't leave me in suspense. Oh, the waiting is the hardest part.

When I started writing more speculative and less "literary" fiction, I was excited by the short response times in genre markets. I thought my days of six-month waits for form rejections were over, and I was happy to trade the shotgun approach of simultaneous submissions for a quick bullet to the head.

But so far this year my average response time is 30 days. Pending submissions average 54 days out as of today. Yikes!

Then, inevitably, a response comes in. It says thanks but no thanks. I am sad. Surely this rejection must be the hardest part?

What is hardest for me, it seems, is actually getting to work. I get into a pattern of waiting, and waiting is a holding pattern: inactive. NOT waiting is the hardest part. So, I'd better go get to work.

Here I go.

No, really.

March 27, 2011

Note to self: other people exist

My story, "Apology for Fish-Dude," is still up at Ideomancer if you'd like to read it. But that is not the point of this post. It shares the issue with other great fiction, including a quiet, summery piece by Sandra Odell (Clarion West survivor from 2010) and a gorgeous bit of urban fantasy by Su-Yee Lin. My story is in good company. But this is not the point either.

The point is that while I worry about my own writing and work and blah blah blah, other people are publishing wonderful things. I've already missed posting about many such stories, but the solipsism stops now! Or at least it takes a break.

• Jordan Ellington, A.K.A. Jordan Lapp, has a story up at AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. Yes, he's Canadian, but I try not to hold it against him. The story takes you inside the head of a living statue, which is a surprisingly interesting place to be. It's called "Don't Move a Muscle, Mr. Liberty," and it's free (which is why I've read it). 

• J.M. Sidorova's story, "Watching the Rubber Band," is in M-Brane #26, which came out today. I just read it, and the rubber band in my mind is still expanding and contracting in response. In a good way.

• Fellow Clarionistas Von Carr and Randy Henderson both have stories in the April issue of Realms of Fantasy. I know nothing about either story, but I expect big things. Probably weird things.

March 02, 2011

"Oorf!"

My story, "Apology for Fish-Dude," is live today at Ideomancer!

This is--to date--my favorite of my stories. A product of sleep-deprivation and Clarion West (two things that go hand in hand), it features flying tigers, talking fish, and meat trees. As fellow Clarionite Lucas Johnson said, "the steaks are high."

Illustration by Lucas Johnson

January 23, 2011

On the Great Data Blight of 2010

Last August, my trusty Lappy was stolen, after seven years of faithful service. To put it mildly, this is not an experience I recommend.

The robbers who broke into my mother's house probably didn't know how little my elderly PowerBook G4 was worth to them, or how infinitely much it was worth to me. Though--of course--I had backups, they stole a great deal from me. Compounding this experience was the almost simultaneous failure of my husband's computer, taking with it some of my backed-up files.

I am still remembering things that were lost in the Great Data Blight of 2010. Some recent discoveries include every poem I ever wrote (this is probably a net win for humanity), and the 200-page travelogue I wrote about living in my car.

One of the things that I knew right away I'd lost was last summer's revision of a story I wrote at Clarion West. That revision was horrible, but it was extensive, and had taken me weeks to accomplish. I changed the POV from first to third, I added scenes from another character's perspective, and I completely changed the ending. What I ended up with was a bloated (nearly 12,000 words!) mess that I didn't even want to look at. Which, of course, is how it ended up not getting backed up.

Things like that are hard to replace. Rewriting lost fiction is like buying a new copy of a DVD that won't play any more. You've already spent money on it once (or more, if you owned it on VHS first), and you feel like you shouldn't have to again. Once that revision was lost it was hard for me to want to get back to that story. I felt like I'd already done the work.

But of course I hadn't.

Months later, I have finally taken another crack at revising that piece. And while I did occasionally have the frustrating sensation of knowing I'd already written and lost the perfect new scene, overall I'm glad I didn't have access to that miserable draft.

This week's revision is by no means brilliant, but it's better that what I wrote last year, and it's better than what I would have written from that lost draft. However, the real accomplishment is that I feel better now about the theft of Lappy, and the data he contained. I wonder if this is the feeling they call "closure."

I know now that I can rebuild the lost fiction. Better. Faster. Stronger.

January 12, 2011

Holy crap! I have a blog!

Welcome to my Internet home.

For a writer of speculative fiction, I am quite the luddite. I drive a car that was built in 1967. I read books made out of paper. Every time my husband's Roomba starts cleaning my floor I get a little spooked, certain that the inevitable robot rebellion that will be the end of humankind is that much closer. To me, the blinking light on the top doesn't say, "CLEAN . . . CLEAN . . . CLEAN," it says "KILL . . . KILL . . . KILL."

But this "Internet" thing seems like it's here to stay. So here I am.