For most of us, 2016 has been a dumpster fire of epic proportion. For me, it began with the death of David Bowie, days after my father’s 69th birthday; a poignant reminder that our idols are also mortal.
We’ve added a shitload of fuel to that fire, folks. Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael; iconic artists who reflected pieces of ourselves back at us.
Florence Henderson, Gene Wilder, Allan Rickman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kenny Baker, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds; thespians who bared their souls through their work, allowing us to fall in love with them a piece at a time.
As writers, we fill our toolbox with things that help us in our craft. I’ve been experimenting with a few new things of late, trying to boost my productivity. Two of them in particular are making a difference.
I haven’t been involved in many word wars — timed writing sessions with one or more other writers. Set a short time limit, say 15 or 30 minutes, and write until it’s over.
Part of my new and improved resolve to Finish Things is accountability, and to that end I’ve created a master spreadsheet for the year where I’m tracking my daily writing, good things that happen (h/t Christie Yant), projects I want to work on, and deadlines I’m working towards. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
I’m trying to work every day while I’m involved in a project. Writing is, or should be, what I spend the most time on, at least at this stage in my current WIP.
The Clarion Write-a-thon starts on June 24th, running parallel to the six week workshop I attended in 2010. While this summers workshop students toil away in San Diego, I’ll be one of many writers helping to raise awareness and solicit donations to a cause we believe in.
What is a write-a-thon, anyway? It’s just like a walk-a-thon. But instead of walking, we’re writing, and instead of making pledges per mile, we’re making pledges per word, chapter, or story.
My first Ad Astra is over, and I didn’t completely embarrass myself. Huzzah!
I’ll admit to being intimidated at first, not knowing anyone. It’s a good-sized local convention with a lot of history and people know already each other. What I finally realized, though, is that I just needed to _politely_ join in the conversation. Everyone was welcoming and, even better, assumed I was Canadian. I swear, I am in all but name.
Sometimes, when I sit down and stare at a white blank page, my heart races. I fear the mistakes I’m about to make, at the same time I’m in awe of the creation about to spring forth the tip of my pen. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. I am not a fast writer, but I am a sprinter.
Sprinting is this — pen to paper, writing around 500 words/day until a story is done.
I just mailed off my first story submission since 2009. Most of my submissions are electronic but, dating back to my first submissions circa 2007, I think I’ve mailed off 5 or 6 stories or about 5% of my total submissions.
Some writers don’t even own printers (John Scalzi comes to mind). Markets are evolving — not quite matching pace, but at least trailing the pack. Analog and Asimov both use the electronic submissions system developed by Neil Clarke.
Can you believe I managed to blog three whole days in a row last week two weeks ago? Yeah.
Apparently I’m running in low power mode right now. New meds, a heavy work schedule, and two short story deadlines. Oh, and I’m outlining NOVEL.
I’ve got around twenty unfinished short stories in inventory. My plan is to revise a short story every month or so while drafting novel. I don’t plan to draft any new short stories until I’ve finished this novel draft, unless something new like Shanghai Steam comes along or a specific invite comes along that catches my interest.
I need to post a full recap of my Clarion write-a-thon efforts and a thank you to the donors. In the meantime, a little bit about accountability.
I’ve been bad about writing consistently lately (blogging seems to be a chronic problem). I’d write sporadically, finishing stories here and there, revising and evening submitting a few of them with some success. Mostly, though, I’ve been draft stories and that’s it. I still have some sitting in my moleskines waiting to be typed up.
It’s a funny thing. When I wrote tech news and my Linux column, I felt pretty confident about what I was doing. I could debate policy and technology without hesitation. I’ve been on panels, given demonstrations and was, frankly, highly opinionated and usually right.
It’s different when it comes to fiction, though. I’ve made sales and gone to Clarion. I’m comfortable with what I do and don’t know but I don’t usually feel like I’m speaking with authority.