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Where the inane meets the mundane

Do Not Adjust Your Browser

Like an episode of the Outer Limits, you might be tempted to adjust your browser, assuming there must be some mistake at the sudden appearance of material on this blog.

To say I have been dealing with a malaise of the mind and spirit is to oversimplify. I have, for the last few months, been completely burned out, especially when it comes to coalescing words into sentences, or even words in general. I haven’t written more than a word or two of fiction in months. Months. It pains me to no end to admit that. I get a perverse sense of satisfaction from writing fiction; it’s therapeutic, invigorating, and fun. But between the stresses of work and the real world, the last few months I just haven’t had the energy to spare to create fiction. Or, for that matter, to blog. Or even read. I set out this year with some simple goals, but somewhere along the way I got slowed down.

But, finally, the weather outside is changing. Today is a cool, drizzly day here in the Pacific Northwest, and the beast within my mind stirs to embrace it. Sure, it could be the boost in vitamin D I’ve started taking, but I suspect it’s equally a seasonal response. This is the weather I yearn for. This is the weather I most associate with reading books and writing fiction. This is the start of the Writing Season.

So gather close, friends. The most glorious season of the year approaches!

Being a Reader

They say you can’t be a writer if you aren’t first a reader. On the one hand, I’ve been reading for most of my life. Writer, fan, and all around nice guy Jamie Rubin recently commented on his blog:

High school and college taught me how to learn. Reading has taught me nearly everything else.

These words really resonated with me. I’ve been trying to read more lately, carefully spreading the reach of my knowledge eating tendrils. I have a hard rule that it has to be interesting to me, even if that trumps other merits. At the start of the year, I tried to establish that I would read nonfiction in equal measures with fiction, switching back and forth. That didn’t survive the actual test of reading, though.

So what has qualified recently to make it to my active reading pile?

  • The Rise of Athens (fun)
  • Vampire Forensics (research)
  • Monsters Among Us (research)
  • Persian Fire (fun)
  • The Daily Stoic (fun/journal)
  • Paperbacks from Hell (fun)
  • In Joy Still Felt (fun)

Of that list, two notes. Paperbacks from Hell is an awesome journey, but it is very much a leisurely, almost coffee table setting journey I’ve been reading from it on and off again for months now, and can see it taking me another three or four months to finish. That’s ok – it’s not a race.

The Daily Stoic is, as you may have guessed, 365 daily stoic thoughts. I’ve been pairing it with my daily journal, partly to encourage me to journal more often (believe it or not, I journal daily even though I only blog once every few months), but also because it’s been nice to have some thoughts to chew on. Stoicism isn’t for everyone, but enough of it fits my world view to make it an interesting journey.

Two books in that list I marked as research. Scary stuff, that. I have a notion for a book I’d like to write (eventually – though maybe not right now), and I felt like I didn’t know enough on those subjects to write intelligently. I realize the subject matter isn’t exactly serious science, but they are a natural extension of the joy I’ve always had watching classic horror movies.

As for the Persians vs. the Greeks in that list – you should see some of the ancillary books I have lying around (who knew I had opinions on Iliad translations???). In some ways it was the first volume of Asimov’s autobiography, In Joy Still Felt, and his tales of walking around reading the Iliad that led me there.

My fiction TBR pile is actually larger, and equally chaotic. I’m still reading Stieg Larson’s books (Nordic mysteries), along with trying out Anthony Ryan (fantasy) and some classics I picked up on a recent trip to Powell’s (Pohl, Asimov, and Weber being the bulk of the pile).

And this is how I spend my summer 🙂

 

**EDIT – Added “In Joy Still Felt” to the list of books being read. Maybe my list is getting too long to manage…nah…

Of words and things

It’s early morning, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep. The resulting blog post could end up being slightly incoherent.

Last week, I finished the first draft of The Mermaid’s Tears. Not tooting any horns – it’s a hot mess, and I’m too burned out from writing it to want to fix it right now. But, it has a beginning, a muddle, and an ending, and there is at least some sense of closure to a story line buried in there somewhere. Pitmad is next week, and that’s pretty tempting despite the mess that is the novel as it stands (I mean, that’s what editing is for, right? Right?)

Meanwhile, the mental butter mill continues to churn on the next novel. As is the course of the things, I find myself muddling back and forth on outlining vs pantsing. Instincts of course say I should take the time to  outline the next book, find the direction it’s going to take, get a roadmap for speedy writing. The side that usually wins, though – and it’s not helped by a current reread of King’s On Writing, says outlining is for fools. What I need to do, what I really, really need to do, is just sit butt in chair and start getting those words out. “You know what the story is [vaguely] about,” that voice chides, “and you know where it ends [ish]. What’s the problem?”

And that’s the problem. I’m a glutton for diving right in. It’s usually a mess and I hate myself for doing it, but it’s so much fun along the way.

OK, coffee time. That next book isn’t writing itself.

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