Christmas is over, and this book ain’t gonna write itself.

On the 21st, I began a two-week vacation from teaching.  On that day we held our annual christmas party.   It only occurred to me the next day that one of my VP Tribe lives close enough that I really ought to have invited her.   I’ll fix that next time I hold a big to-do.

The party was successful, and the next day was pleasant at first–but by the end of the day I realized I was getting sick.  The next day I came down with a fever, and felt worse and worse as the day wore on.  Christmas Eve I was sick.  Christmas day I felt a a little better, but still under the weather.

I got a small amount of writing done when I woke up at 3:45 on Christmas Eve morning (and decided, when I could not get back to sleep, to just get up and write).  But reading it later, most of it had to be heavily culled.  It was Not Good.

Now I’m well again, and Christmas is over… and it’s back to writing, because I have only one week before I must begin attempting to cram knowledge in the poor wee brains of our youth once more.

Onward!

Things to Do over Winter Break

So, I have today and tomorrow, and then I have two weeks off.  Much of that will be taken up by holiday celebrations and playing with Bun-Bun (my daughter Tegan’s nickname), but there are also some things I want to get done:

1. Finish this short story I’m working on, which I have taken a break from the novel to write.

2. Get at least 5000 more words into the novel.

3. Record The Unstrung Harp in “Bored British Voice” for VP17 alumni.

4. Plan out Semester 2 in detail.

5. Catch up on the several weeks of unread Daily Science Fiction stories sitting in my inbox.

Some changes around here…

First, new title, suggested by one of my oldest friends, Ed Gyles Jr.  He knows me well.  While I try not to post as much snark as I once did over on LJ, it does pop up, and I am a pretty snarky kind of guy.  I may end up changing this one, too, but we’ll see.  Let me know if you like it or hate it.  If you don’t care, well, that’s nice, but I don’t need to hear it.

Second, over on the upper right is a word meter, showing my current progress on The Remembrance War.   I’m using an estimated length of about 100,000 words, but that may not be the final word count; if I get to the end of the story and it’s 90,000, well, I’ll adjust the total rather than write 10,000 words I don’t need.

I’ve been using the working title of Things Fall Apart, based on Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” but the more I think about it, the more I think the similarity to Achebe’s book may not be a good thing.  So we’ll see what it eventually becomes.  If Book one’s title changes, I would bet books 2 and 3 will also have to change.  We’ll see.  First I have to write the bloody things; I’ll worry about titles when and if that happens.  

Lastly, I’m going to keep on this new thing wherein I post more often than once every six months.  I’m going to try to stay away from frivolous nonsense, for the most part, but that, too, will show up here from time to time.  I’m hoping that over time, a regular commenting readership will emerge, but we’ll see.  That depends partly on what I write and partly on my commenting elsewhere, so again, we’ll see.  Job and writing the book take precedence over social media, but I also want to keep in touch with my “VPeeps,” especially from my year, but from other years, too.

Still waiting on the Tor.com submission; at best I won’t get my rejection for another month, at worst sometime in the summer.  See how my confidence goes?  That’s part of the “lies we tell ourselves to function” Steve Brust talked about.  I’ll write more on that later.

See ya ’round, folks.

How I Hold On To The VP Magic

I have a HUGE case of Impostor Syndrome that flairs up probably more often than it should.  And VP was almost two months ago now.  It’s hard, when faced with the minutia and annoyances of life, to hold on to that magic that VP had, the feeling that I am a writer, and I can publish.

Whenever I start to feel like I wasted all that time, money, and energy, I open the folder I keep of VP pictures.  Some I took, others are from my classmates.  I look at them, and remember.  I remember sitting on the seawall talking into my phone’s video feed.  I remember the look on Paul’s face when he tried to read Cards Against Humanity answers with a straight face.  I remember Alex’s tears when we told her how good her writing is, and Teresa’s face when she scolded me for thinking I didn’t belong there.   I remember Shannon’s strong voice and Bear’s advice and Jen’s delight in dead horseshoe crabs.  I remember gazing into the water and watching glowing jellyfish along with 30 other people who all had looks of child-like delight on their faces.

I remember magic.

And then I get back to writing.

In 日本語, just because I feel like it. And I feel like testing WordPress.

This is the “Ninja Counting Song,” from an Anime nobody else I know seems to have heard of, Yoma: Curse of the Undead.  I love it.  To be honest, I’m glad I also wrote it down in romaji and english translation, because I can’t actually read most of this now, and might have gotten some of the kanji wrong.  Or all of it.  I can’t tell anymore.

Honestly, I’m just seeing if the Japanese text shows up.  You might see a bunch of tiny boxes instead.  It’s been years since I could speak Japanese with any fluency at all, but it’s something I’m trying to get back and continue with… along with fifty other things I’m trying to do, like get my fiddling back up to speed and finish this damned novel.   I also found a letter I wrote to a friend in Hiroshima back when I was in college, but since I can no longer read it, I’m not printing it.

一つ一夜の会楢葉  二つ二人で地獄絵と 三つ、皆お殺しても 四つ、読み絵の道しるべ 五つ戦の地の雨の。六つ向きらとかわりゃせぬ 七つ涙も彼は手て 八つ闇路が解けてゆく 九つ今夜は周年よう 十ね遠い気を趣味そうめて。

Last Night’s Writing, or, How My Beast Saved My Sanity

So, I’m trying to write more, which means finding space within my day as a high school teacher, father, and husband to write.  My wife is very supportive, and most weeks, we’ve decided, I can go away from home for a few hours on Thursday night to write, in much the same way she leaves every Monday to rehearse for the Sacramento Master Singers (consider this a plug–they are magnificent in concert, and CDs are available).  I have an office at home, and I can write in the main room, but it’s harder to focus when people are talking to you, and I can’t really ask my child not to talk to daddy.  But I can’t do that every day–they call that abandonment.  But there are other periods to work.

As I said, Elli goes to rehearsal every Monday, which means I spend the evening alone with my kid, which is awesome. When she goes to bed, however, it becomes Writing Time.  I have about an hour and a half in which nothing else matters.  Last night, I tried to use that time, but when Elli got home at 10, I had only a measly 230 words to show for my trouble.  I was disgusted with myself.  How could I do so poorly?  Why wasn’t this scene working?  What’s wrong with me?

I put away my laptop and talked with Elli–well, since I’m voiceless thanks to this illness, I listened while she talked–then I had an insight.  Simply put, it was “You cannot let this defeat you.  You have another hour before bed.  Keep going.”  So I did.  And halfway through a stupid, badly written line about my protagonist being angry at another starship captain, my Beast–that part of the writer that simply must write–rose up from its stupor, shook off the remains of teaching 14 year old kids grammar, grabbed me by the brain, and shook it really hard.  I suddenly realized what was wrong with this scene and how to fix it.  I deleted the bad line, moved my cursor above most of the scene, and started rewriting.

About an hour later, I had an additional 672 words, for a lovely total of 902 words.  Not my personal best (that would be the 4,800 words I wrote in five hours at VP), but good, especially as I doubt I will ever top that feat of writing when I’m not on break and alone.

I’m still not sure what to call the Beast, but I think I’ll keep him.

Thanksgiving Week: Ups and Downs

As always, Thanksgiving week had ups and downs.

Monday was great.  My daughter still had school, but I was off, so I wrote about 2700 words.  Then I went to her school and discovered that something was wrong with my foot; every step was painful.

Tuesday I dealt with the pain by walking with a cane all day, which included chaperoning a field trip–a walking field trip–for my daughter’s class.  At the end of the day I sat in my chair and barely rose from it until bedtime.

Wednesday was ok; a day with my daughter is always fun, even with the pain in my foot. Thursday was ok, too.  My in-laws and a friend came for dinner, and it was pleasant.  But that night I came down with a cold.  That was less pleasant.

On Friday the cold was bearable; but made me grumpy as hell all day.  On Saturday it morphed into full-on death plague, and I felt like crap.  On Sunday it got a little better, but still not good.

And today was fine–until my voice cut out in the middle of third period.  Now I’m croaking my way through the day.  Joy.