“Times of great failure or times of great success, the problem is the same (how do you keep going?) and the solution is the same: You write the next thing.”
Neil Gaiman

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

successful coping strategies are a work in progress
Wed 2017-10-18 00:46:02 (single post)

So every once in a while I question my routine. I ask myself: those things I do every morning, my "daily gottas," are they worth it? They're my whole so-called morning shift, two hours of the day's writing in fact, and other than the bit designated Submission Procedures, they do not contribute tangibly to my career. If I honestly consider how very many days I never actually get to the so-called afternoon shift, the period of time designated for the actual career writing, must I not conclude that I'm wasting all my time and energy on what amounts to warm-up routines and busywork?

I may be asking myself this because, in the back of my head, at the ripe old age of 41, I still have those toxic voices, the ones I mistook for mentors, damping down my enthusiasm:

Me: "I get to write full time now! Bliss! I get to make my own schedule! Freedom! It will look like this..."

Them: "My dear, after you've done all those 'writing practice' sessions and 'morning pages' and the rest of all that new-agey hoo-hah, when will you have time to, I don't know, actually write?"

It's tempting, on a day like this--a day when not a whole heck of a lot gets done--to feel like I'm proving those voices right.

Except I'm not, and I will tell you why. I'm going to take the long way around, but hold tight; we'll get there.

Lindsey, as in Real Name Brand Lindsey ("None of that generic crap"), has a blog post, which you will find if you go ahead and click that link right there, about depression. It is an amazing post, actually, just a really frank and honest and detailed description of experiencing severe depression. And there's a bit of it I resonate with hard.

(To be clear, this is not because I have been diagnosed with depression myself. It may be that if I took myself to see someone with the appropriate knowledge, I would be diagnosed with depression, or anxiety, or even chronic fatigue, or something else I don't even know to anticipate. I may have just about gotten to the point where I'm ready to acknowledge I should make such a visit and find out, so I can get some help devising coping strategies. But my point is, whatever I've got, it's relatively mild. I don't say that out of some valiant but misguided attempt to minimize my own struggles because others have it worse. My struggle is real, and others have it worse. These are not mutually exclusive statements. Anyway...)

I don't have the suicidal ideation she describes. I don't have that fog, that disconnect from other humans or joy and beauty. What I do have, that she and her commenters mention, is a bucket of self-loathing that drops on my head at the least provocation, this weasel-brain voice constantly telling me that I am the worst and here's why.

A huge portion of the "evidence" for the weasel-brain's argument is, as Lindsey puts it, a sporadic inability to do.

There was a time, a season, maybe half of a year, when things were very bad. Day after day, I couldn't seem to get out of bed. Anything productive I could have done with the day (i.e. writing) seemed impossible, dreadful, horrible, threatening, inconceivable. If there was something I'd promised someone else I'd do, I'd eventually drag myself upright sometime in the afternoon to do that. I'd get myself to appointments. I could be motivated by external consequences, but the internal motivation wasn't there. There was plenty angst over knowing what I should do, and plenty self-loathing when I got to the end of another day without doing it, but I couldn't seem to find the impetus to actually do.

It's hard for me to place exactly when this was happening, or how that era ended and I returned to some semblance of a productive life. My memories are vague, very much as though I were half-asleep and experiencing that time as a sort of painful, shameful fever dream. The way my memory works in general, I triangulate: X must have happened at Y time because Z was also going on. In this case, I can't identify Y because there was no Z. Hell, there was barely any X. The whole alphabet was more or less impossible.

I know this much: It was after I quit my full-time web developer job, because there's no way I could have gone through that and held down a full-time job. It might have begun while I was part time staff for that non-profit I was volunteering for at the time, such that it began eating up my days off. I know we still had the cats, because they'd curl up in bed with me through it all, and that the cats were both still healthy, because Null's intravenous fluid administrations weren't something that dragged me out of bed.

It was well before I started skating roller derby. Which isn't to say I haven't had isolated days where I only got out of bed in time to go to roller derby practice. But they've been one-offs, infrequent enough that I can tell myself that "I must have needed a day of hibernation. Well, I've rested now, and tomorrow I will work." But roller derby helps. Regular exercise is known to mitigate symptoms of depression, right? Roller derby may have been one of the factors that helped bring that era to an end. It may be a factor in preventing a new onslaught. But I can't say for sure.

Today, instead of having days upon days of inability to get out of bed, I have days--in isolation or in batches--where I experience the inability to get started. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that today was one of those days.

I've adopted a strategy to help keep those days at bay, and to help limit the damage when they hit.

The strategy is to have a routine.

I have a clearly defined process involving several discrete steps, each small enough that, when avoidance/depression/anxiety hits and my brain slides right off the idea of getting writing done and into yet another hour of hitting refresh on some piece of the internet, I can say, "That's cool, I hear you. Life is hard and work is scary. That's OK. All I want you to do is this one little thing."

Just make some tea. Just water the plants. Just open up your notebook. Just get out your favorite fountain pen--isn't that nice to hold? Just jot down the time and date in the upper left corner of the page. Just write down what's on your mind. Good. Now another sentence. Now another. Now another page. Now another.

If you said "That sounds like Morning Pages!" then you win a prize.

The daily gottas are my routine. Each task follows the previous in mechanical succession, so that the automatic process of one step after another can provide its own momentum when I can't seem to provide any of my own. And that, for your information, O toxic voices from 2004, is the worth of morning pages and freewriting exercises and all that new-agey hoo-hah. It damn well is actually writing. It gets me actually writing. So you can go take a long walk off something short and made of wood that dumps you somewhere wet and full of sharks.

(And the Friday Fictionette project? That's the external-consequence-motivated activity. External consequences remain more motivating, for all practical purposes, than internal ones. But then I have this blog here for converting the internal consequences to external ones by saying HEY YOU GUYS THIS IS WHAT I PLAN TO DO and then I don't want to have to come back and say I DIDN'T DO IT I'M SORRY. So that's OK.)

So the reason I have trouble getting to commercial fiction in the afternoons is, I don't have a reliable ritual for getting back to work yet. The morning shift routine starts pretty much the moment I wake up, but the afternoon shift is... whenever I get off lunchtime chores and errands? Feeling like I haven't really had a break yet? Which makes me want to take just a little time to read blogs and play games... The train never leaves the station and avoidance corners me in the terminal.

And the reason nothing got done today at all was, the morning routine got interrupted. I had to take the Saturn in for diagnosis and maintenance. I was going to just initiate morning shift at the tea house down the street, and could have done, but somehow... didn't. Once the train gets derailed, unfortunately, avoidance/depression/anxiety/etc. sees its chance and pounces, and it's hard to get out of its clutches.

It's the failure state of all writing rituals--what happens if you lose your Special Pen, or you can't be at your Magic Desk, or you are otherwise denied the ritual? My goal is to keep tweaking the rituals until they a reliably undeniable. Until they don't depend on where I am, what time it is, or what I was just now doing. Until the ritual is, in its entirety, "Time to get to work."

Until then, I'm working on having compassion for myself, and I'm repeating the mantra, "I must have needed a day off. Well, I've rested now. Tomorrow I will work."

On the plus side, I did discover what a harmonic damper is, and why it may need replacing just shy of 200K miles on the odometer.

So that's OK.

Yes, it is a stout.
just a minite ago it was last week where did the time go
Mon 2017-10-16 23:14:39 (single post)

I saw this great tweet this morning about how A NEW EVIL ARISES but it is MONDAY so EVIL HAS A HARD TIME GETTING OUT OF BED. It was funnier in the original, but the paraphrase will do. This goes double for the first Monday back from a week of productive and mildly adventurous out-of-town introverting.

The challenge is always to continue in ordinary life the good work practices I found room to practice during my getaway. There is less room in ordinary life for good work practices. Ordinary life has household bills and cleaning and other chores and also a 4:45 appointment and my shift on the monthly roller derby training calendar at 6:30. But I am happy to say I rose to the challenge. If I did not get to revisions on "White Noise" before having to leave the house at 4:20 PM, that's probably because I took the time to mildly polish up "The Blackbird Is Involved in What I Know" before sending it out to a pro-paying literary magazine. Can't complain.

The remainder of my mountain adventures were quiet but rewarding, and they were as follows:

Saturday morning I set my alarm so I could be at Taquería No Se Hagan Bolas right at menudo o'clock. Word is they make the best menudo for miles around, but you have to be there early, because once they run out, it's gone. So I got there shortly after they opened and, yea, I acquired menudo.

There's this one Yelp reviewer who docked them a star (thus giving them only 4 out of a possible 5) precisely because they run out of menudo by noon "while customers continue to request it all afternoon. How about making a 2nd pot?" I wondered whether this reviewer also docks stars off great donut shops because they, too, run out of product by noon. My friend, this meal is not something you just whip up another pot of if you're running low. To give y'all an idea--and this will sound delicious to fans of bone stock, and gross to everyone else--after my leftovers had cooled in the fridge (maybe 10 ounces left of the initial huge portion; a good menudo is too rich for me to finish in one sitting), they were no longer liquid but rather gelatinous, indicating thorough integration of the collagen from the bones used to make the stock. That takes hours to achieve--this article suggests overnight.

Anyway, it was delicious and I got to eat it two mornings in a row and I am docking that reviewer a star for unreasonable expectations.

Saturday afternoon I took a trip into Edwards to visit the Bookworm on the Riverwalk. After that, I went back across the river to spend some quality beer-and-Puzzle-Pirates time at Crazy Mountain Brewery. Pictured above is my favorite of the beers I tried there--and I tried the whole flight, even the IPAs and ESBs I knew I wouldn't care for. The winner is a stout. I know it doesn't look like one. They warn you it doesn't look like one. But, hell, if you can have black IPAs (when the P stands for "pale"), why not a golden stout? It was delicious.

Sunday morning I checked out of the resort. My original plan was to hang around to watch the Saints game at Bob's Place. Then I thought, I'm going to have an ice chest with things inside that should stay cold, I should just get that stuff home and put it in the fridge. Also I expect the traffic heading east on I-70 on a Sunday afternoon is worse after 2:30 than it is before 10:00. So instead I set my alarm a little earlier and got out of town by 9:00, got home by 11:30, unpacked the car, refrigerated the ice chest's contents, and headed over to the 28th Street Tavern.

This turned out to be the right choice. The bar wasn't too crowded, I had a great view of the game and a place to plug in my laptop, and John, whom I hadn't seen all week and whom I missed dearly, was able to join me midway through the third quarter about the time that things got really entertaining.

The Saints won. I'm not really sure what else to say. It was a very weird game.

So that was the rest of my Avon weekend and the beginning of my reintegration into ordinary life. Hi.

i come by this all-worn-out business honestly
Fri 2017-10-13 00:03:32 (single post)
  • 3,339 wds. long
  • 649 wds. long

Wooooo I am exhausted. It's late and I'm squinty-tired and bruised. So this will be short. Here's the teal deer version: I DID ALL THE THINGS AND DERBY TOO. And also solid playtime on my computer over beer and pizza after derby. I made a very good day happen and I am pleased.

The longer version, which is not very long:

  • I sent "It's For You" back out into the slush. Go, little story, go! Wow your readers! Go!
  • I reacquainted myself with the novel in progress and had a new worldbuilding factor occur to me while I did so.
  • I revised and fleshed out what had been a rather weak backstory for the short-short "White Noise." 700-word short-shorts don't typically need a lot of backstory on the page, but having it worked out satisfactorily made approaching the rewrite a lot easier. I drew up a new outline incorporating what I now know, and I hope the actual rewrite will go smoothly.
  • This in addition to the getting the cluster of daily gottas done by 1:00 PM.
  • This, as I said, in addition to roller derby scrimmage with 10th Mountain.
  • Also the currywurst was as delicious as advertised.

And now, that blogged, I go collapse. G'night!

some things still hold true, even with extra altitude
Mon 2017-10-09 23:38:04 (single post)

Tonight is my second night in Avon, Colorado. I arrived yesterday around 5:30 or 6:00 PM or so. Hi.

The drive was pleasant, if more tiring than I expected (though I should have expected it; I'd been up since 7:00 AM and had attended a full 3-hour roller derby practice from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM already). Traffic was light, the weather was good, and I enjoyed watching the Chevy Volt recharge itself as I came downhill after the Eisenhower Tunnel and later after Vail Pass.

I got a great view of the aspens going golden all down I-70. Well, having gone golden. In some cases, having gone bare, or sometimes only mostly bare and retaining a yellow-gold match-head up top. The maples were bright red and the ash trees were purple and the pine trees were, of course, still green. Also other trees I didn't know to name were contributing to the overall kaleidoscope. Basically, Colorado's classic leaf-turning season isn't so far past its peak that you'd feel you missed out. Get up here and check it out quick, is what I'm saying.

I felt a strong upwelling of relief just coming around the traffic circles and turning right on West Beaver Creek, just seeing the familiar lodging and retail locations that have been there every year--the Christie Lodge, Vin 48, and the Blue Plate on the left, the bank and the Walgreens and the Lodge at Avon on the right. I've been coming here once a year for more than a decade now, and the place is heavily associated with a much-needed break from stress and extraneous responsibility. I don't think I realized the extent of that association, though, not until I got off the highway, caught sight of the building housing the Blue Plate and Vin 48, and just sighed. I don't even like the Blue Plate much, to tell you the truth. It always struck me as unjustifiably pricey. Haven eaten there once last year has not shaken me of that impression. And I've never been inside Vin 48 to know if it's worth the price or not. It doesn't matter. What matters is, seeing that wedge-shaped building on East Beaver Creek means I'm here now.

So. The following is a non-exhaustive list of things I have done since getting here:

  • Fully charged the Chevy Volt off a 120 volt wall socket overnight for the first time. It was my first opportunity to do so; we don't at this time have access to a wall socket in our parking spot at home.

  • Ate at Nozawa Sushi for the first time. Wondered why I'd never done it before. They have a daily half-off discount on their sushi rolls and dinner entrees for the entire off-season, "from when the mountain closes until the first of December" as the server told me. I told her she'd see me again.

  • (Realized this discount had really only brought their specialty rolls down to a reasonable price. Thing being overpriced at restaurants around here is a theme.)

  • Went grocery shopping to prepare for Monday's snowpocalypse.

  • Went to bed early and slept very late. "I should get up," I told myself; "I have all sorts of Writing Goals to accomplish today." But then I told myself, "You have nowhere to be today. You can start your working day late. It's cool."

  • Was very considerate and moved the Volt out of the only parking spot with access to a wall socket, seeing as how the battery was now fully charged. (I won't deny this considerate gesture was more than partially motivated by wanting to have the adapter cord safely locked inside the car once more. Because someone's going to randomly steal a J1227-to-120-volt adapter cord and, I dunno, resell it on eBay I guess? But I get paranoid about that.)

  • Got a reply to my message to 10th Mountain Roller Dolls saying of course I was welcome to drop in with them, and in fact there was a practice tonight, 15 minutes away from me, at 6:15. Thought ruefully back upon my rationale for sleeping late. Accepted my fate.

  • Realized it wasn't all that snowpocalypse after all. Decided to go walk some errands.

  • Went to the post office. The post office was closed. Today is a national holiday.

  • Went to the library. The library was closed. Today is a national holiday and I am, apparently, slow on the uptake. But the walk was nice. The sun was back out again. After the brief flirtation with winter this morning, the region had returned to the comforts of fall.

  • Typed up one whole Fictionette Artifact, the whole thing, all in one go while dinner was cooking. I hope people passing by in the hotel hallway heard the typewriter and were amused. I'd be amused if I randomly heard a typewriter in use.

  • Discovered the best way to boil water for tea in the microwave. It involves having a microwave with a BOIL/SIMMER setting. I put the teapot full of water into the microwave for five minutes on that setting; it comes to a boil around minute three and holds temp at a simmer until I come back and hit CANCEL. The tea steeps up strong. I am pleased.

  • Spun, on my spinning wheel, a good handful more yardage of laceweight ply from the half-fleece of black lamb I've been working on forever. Or, in fact, not working on, which has been the whole problem. I worked on it tonight, I did.

  • Went to the 10th Mountain practice. Rediscovered that living and practicing at a bit over a mile above sea level is of dubious preparative value when you drop in on a practice at 7,861 feet. It's amazing how much of a difference that extra 2,400 feet or so make. And everything this team does at practice, they do with endurance in mind. Thank you for kicking my butt tonight, 10th Mountain!

  • Mildly cussed out whoever had parked that sporty black not-even-a-little-bit-electric car in the only parking spot with access to a wall plug while I was at practice. Dude, you're not even using it! You're wasting it! Grumble grumble grumble

Things I didn't do since arriving in Avon, Colorado: Anything at all beyond the same bare minimum I managed all last week. Sigh. Well, I mean, yes, the Fictionette Artifact in addition to the usual daily cluster of morning pages/freewriting/this week's fictionette. But no short story revision. No novel brainstorming. Damn. Certainly no work after derby practice (this blog post excepted). Damn damn.

Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow I really don't have anywhere to be in the evening. Still... just to be safe... better not sleep late.

in which both story hour and postcard acquisition are a win
Wed 2017-10-04 23:48:28 (single post)

I have postcards! I wrote my postcard today! (I would like to write more than one a day, but some days less amenable than others.) Many thanks to my league-mate Pink Bang Theory for suggesting I try the Used Book Emporium in downtown Longmont, just across the street from the library as it turned out; they had a plentiful and varied selection of FirstLight postcards featuring Colorado's flora, fauna, and geological features. Thirty cents for one, four postcards for a dollar.

I'm still going to buy some online. I'm partial to the designs at this Etsy store here. But the ones I got today will tide me over until the online purchase comes in.

Meanwhile, there's a lovely mention of our visit with the kids at the library this morning in the Longmont Times Call. Don't miss the photo gallery! On a related note, Strictly No Elephants is now one of my favorite children's picture books ever.

a brief interlude for stationery sourcing
Wed 2017-10-04 00:25:49 (single post)

Hey, Boulder County - where the heck do you buy postcards?

Yes, well, "online," I just figured that out, but I need more postcards today. Meaning Wednesday the 4th, because I see it has snuck around to past midnight while my back was turned. Today, I need to send at least one more postcard urging Democrats in Utah to vote for #DrKathie because that's how it works, you pledge to send at least one postcard per day, and I take these things seriously.

Don't look at me like that. I know I've mentioned Postcards to Voters before. To review: You sign up, they send you addresses, you send postcards to those addresses. There are ground rules, of course. Postcard designs must be inclusive. Postcard messages must be legible, handwritten, and stick to the talking points for the associated campaign. Postcards are addressed to "Awesome Voter" or similar; they are signed with first name or initials. Ground rules like that. But it's still utter simplicity and great for folks who love sending old-fashioned physical mail but who maybe get the cold shivers and the hot red hives at the thought of making cold calls.

My postcards to date have been sourced from one of two places:

  • A pad of watercolor-friendly postcard blanks I picked up at an arts'n'crafts store while I was still in high school at the latest; and
  • A handful of European luggage-tag style postcard blanks I picked up at a stationery store at the east end of Loveland last month.

Those sources have run dry. I can't go back in time, and I'm not going all the way to Loveland every time I need more blanks. Besides, I damn near cleaned the store out of this particular product. And they don't interact with fountain pen ink reliably well, anyway.

I'm guessing maybe Michael's, maybe Office Depot or Staples? Those kind of places?

If anyone local's got suggestions, I'm all ears. Bonus points if it's somewhere in downtown Longmont within skating distance of the library.

normal service in the process of resuming your patience is appreciated
Mon 2017-10-02 23:22:58 (single post)

OK. OK! We have blog. I repeat: We have blog.

We do not quite have business as usual ("What's usual?" "What's business?" "What's a cow?") but we're getting there.

The problem with getting back to business as usual is, it doesn't happen until the crap-ton of Overdue gets dealt with. I found this out last week. Last week I tried to have Normal Writing Workdays and just peck away at the Overdue Crap in between regular daily writing tasks. I thought, heck, we're in the roller derby off-season now. Plus this is a week culminating in a fifth Friday, so no Fictionette release is due! This should be easy. However, it was not easy. Turns out I have to put the Normal Writing Workday on hold in order to just get the Overdue done in one big heave. Then, that heave having worn me out, I hibernate.

So last week turned into the Week of Catching Up on All the Things and also napping. But now that the Overdue has been successfully reduced to a manageable amount, I can return to the original plan of having Normal Writing Workdays and, between those tasks, continuing to peck away at what remains of the Overdue.

(What is the Overdue? It is so very many things. It is household bills and accounting. It is travel plans and doctor appointments. It is email and league communications and those league committee tasks for which I am responsible. It is housecleaning, random mending and repair jobs, to-do items that have been on the to-do list for so long that I mistake them for part of the stationery design. It is a lot. And each overdue task has not only a time-and-effort cost associated with completing that task but also a non-trivial emotional weight associated with simply knowing that these tasks are due and that each minute not spent doing them is another minute that they are overdue. Why yes, I may indeed have anxiety issues, now that you mention it.)

Signs that we are nearly back to business as usual and that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train:

  • I made tortillas this morning! I had never made tortillas before. They were easy! I filled them with a yummy chicken-yam-eggplant mixture from yesterday's crock-pot session, and that was breakfast.

  • I went to the Shuttles Spindles Skeins spin-in tonight for the first time in more than a year. Now my ankles and calves are sore. Treadling a spinning wheel is kind of a work-out, y'all. I'd forgotten, what with how long it's been since I last used my wheel.

  • For the first time in almost a month, I got a blog post out that wasn't a weekend YPP blockade report. Here it is! Go me.

So that's the State of the Niki report. Hi. I will try not to be so out of touch going forward.


Real quick: Since I didn't blog all month and thus didn't get to tell you about them at the appropriate time, here's a brief round-up of the Friday Fictionettes released in September, with accompanying links.

For those of y'all just tuning in, the Friday Fictionette Project is a flash fiction subscription service powered by Patreon. Subscribers (Patrons) get access to a new "fictionette," which is to a say a short-story-like object, every first through fourth Friday as an ebook ($1/month) and/or audiobook ($3/month) depending on their pledge tier. At the end of every month, one of the four fictionettes released that month becomes available to all and sundry. (If you're thinking, "That sounds kind of cool, and the price is right, but I just don't know if I dig this author's writing style," browsing the archive for the "freebie" tag might help you figure that out.)

in which a tedious writing exercise becomes inconveniently interesting
Thu 2017-08-31 22:48:21 (single post)
  • 1,136 wds. long

The long blog silence is testimony to the truth of the adage "After derby is too late." Not a universal adage, admittedly, but a fairly reliable one in my little universe. So today I'm blogging before derby. Just before. Instantaneously before. I'm in fact sitting at the folding table in the Officials' Corner at our practice location, and I have until they arrive and need to actually use this table to get this blog post done. Go me!

(I think I will be able to manage posting it after derby. There is no wifi at our practice location unless I beg use of someone's smartphone uplink. And smartphones notoriously fail to get signal in our practice location.)

I found a little time earlier this week to play around with interactive fiction. In Melissa Ford's book Writing Interactive Fiction, I had just got to the Designing Agency section--it's pretty early on in the book, I'm not moving through it particularly quickly--and worked through the Beanstalk exercise. The exercise has, to my thinking, two purposes: It gives you more practice using Twine to give the reader/protagonist choices, and it focuses your attention on whether those choices are meaningful. If they aren't, the interactive fiction isn't.

The exercise was to write a sort of Jack and the Beanstalk... sequel? Alternate plot? Basically, the giant is threatening to come down the beanstalk and STEAL YOUR SISTER. Oh noes! The first scene must end with two options, and each of two ensuing scenes must end with two options, which means there will be four possible endings.

I was not enthusiastic about this.

(Oh, crap, it's 6:30 already. I have to go put my skates on. I will finish this after derby! I will!)

(And now it is 10:00 PM. I'm a little more bruised and a lot more tired than I was when I left off. Now... where did I leave off? Oh. Right.)

I was not enthusiastic about this. I had absolutely no desire to rewrite Jack and the Beanstalk, much less in four permutations. But that was my assignment, so, darn it, I was doing it.

Forty-five minutes and 1,500 words later, I had done it and it wasn't so bad. Having no love for damsel in distress storylines, I had worked every branch toward the revelation that Jack's little sister had become a soldier competent to lead an army. The reader's choices would determine where she and Jack stood as siblings. In one, they were teammates working together to defeat the giant. In another, they were enemies, traitor and betrayed, and Jack wound up exiled for his sins.

It was all very silly, but it still managed to capture my interest by the end of it. That night, on my way to sleep, I couldn't stop thinking about ways to expand the story into something actually worth reading. I could foreshadow the little sister's development into a warrior princess, for instance. I could tell how she'd practiced swordfighting and climbed every tree in sight so she could grow up as fierce and strong and brave as her adored big brother. I could note the foolishness of Jack treating the giant like a personal problem when in fact his little farm was part of a great big nation which the giant might rightfully be seen as invading. And what about the harp? Did she resent Jack for having stolen her during his earlier foray? Did she miss living up in the clouds? Was she the medium by which the giant delivered his threat?

And so on, and so forth. And what's ridiculous about it is, it's probably not going to be commercially viable no matter how well I revise and expand it. The entire premise is from an exercise in a well-known (I think?) book on the subject, which other aspiring interactive fiction authors have no doubt already worked through themselves, and there aren't that many markets for interactive fiction at this time. So I really shouldn't let myself obsess over it, at least not until I've got a bunch of other projects out of my hair. Like, say, the short-short I want to expand into an interactive piece that actually is commercially viable. Hey, brain, maybe we should obsess on that story, and not on this one, what do you say?

Darn it, Muse! You are so inconvenient!

*Sigh.*

Lastly, some quick fictionette news: The freebie for August 2017 has been released. It's "Tina, Destroyer of Worlds," and you can now read/download it as an ebook, an audiobook, or as a webpage via Patreon regardless of your patron status. Also I finally put the Fictionette Artifacts for April in the mail. I hope not to take so long with the ones for May. If I take a whole month to do each one, I'll always be three months behind, and that would be depressing.

Cover art incorporates pubilc domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons and a totally overused lighting effect in The GIMP.
no crashy-burny for THIS fictionette; also, how the sausage gets made
Fri 2017-07-21 23:47:11 (single post)
  • 1,031 wds. long
  • 2,850 wds. long

The bad news is, yes I got sick again. Or discovered I'm still sick, and that Thursday was just a day off from being sick because the universe is merciful or because it likes a good joke or maybe just because I took a 12-hour Sudafed at exactly the right time, I don't know. Today was gross sniffly coughing sneezing bleaaarrrrrgh.

The good news is, I got all my work done anyway. So there. Take that, sick! You ain't the boss of me!

Seriously, though, 100% not kidding, today was probably a more powerful rebuttal to Jerk Brain than it would have been had I felt perfectly fine. It's evidence that my ability to Be A Writer™ is not dependent on the stars being aligned just right. It is something that, in all but the most exceptionally terrible cases, is always within reach. That's really empowering.

Today I...

  • Sent "First Breath" off on a new quest for reprint publication
  • Published this week's Friday Fictionette
  • Set up a Scrivener project for converting an old draft into a new piece of flash fiction

And also freewriting, Morning Pages, this blog entry, Fictionette Artifact catch-up, yadda yadda yadda. ALL THE THINGS.

The Friday Fictionette for July 21 is "Falling Toward the Light" (for Patrons: full-length ebook, audiobook), which is mostly about the hazards of having a rift in the space-time continuum open up while excavating for new building construction in downtown Loveland. It's also partly, possibly, between the lines, about the effects of the above on economics and politics at the hyperlocal level.

When keeping up with Friday Fictionettes was threatening to take over my entire writing life, I was beginning to question their viability as a continuing side project. I was sick of having nothing writing-wise to blog about except them. But now that I'm more or less caught up and reliably on time with the weekly releases (excluding, of course, the Fictionette Artifacts--I am almost ready to mail the ones from March), and now that I'm regularly working on writing and selling short fiction again, I'm going to designate Fridays and only Fridays for blogging about Friday Fictionettes. To everyone's relief, mine especially.

And now that they've been reliably on time for a few weeks, I feel like I can speak to the weekly routine of making them happen. So! Here is my Process, in case you are wondering.

Saturday: Tomorrow's Saturday! Yay. It is the Saturday preceding the July Week 4 release. So I'll take a look at what I wrote during my freewriting sessions during the fourth week of June and choose one of those pieces to develop into the Friday Fictionette for July 28. I'll copy it from the Daily Writing scriv to the Friday Fictionettes scriv, then set up its folder with all the relevant templates. That's pretty much it. It's the weekend, and I just valiantly published the previous release, so I get to take it easy.

Sunday: NOTHING. I started giving myself this day off from even the most minimal writing tasks after I was forced to recognize I wasn't doing them. Something about starting the day with a three- or even six-hour roller derby practice. I've still been optimistic enough to set up writing dates with friends on Sunday afternoons, though.

Monday: Back to work. Once in a while, I'm fortunate enough to have produced a pretty good first draft during the original freewriting session. Most of the time, I'm not, and the output will be this rambling exploratory babble. So I'll spend Monday's fictionette-prep session just creating a very wordy outline. It's mostly about structure: Start here, then this happens, then that, then the other, then finally end with this.

Tuesday through Thursday: Write the dang thing. Using the outline as a sort of fill-in-the-blank, using the weave-and-dodge strategy to keep from getting stuck, trying not to waste any of my daily 25-minute fictionette-prep session on staring into space or doing too much internet research. This is the hard part but it's getting easier.

Friday: Publish the sucker. Come up with a title and an author's note if I haven't already. Ditto cover art. Sometimes I have all the foresight and I create the cover from my own photography or drawings, but usually I do a last minute search for public domain or creative commons attribution/share-alike commercial-OK licensed imagery. Export the Fictionette as PDF and epub, convert epub to mobi, record the audiobook and convert to mp3, and post to Patreon. If by this time it is not stupidly late o'clock, do the excerpts for Patreon, Wattpad, and my blog too; otherwise, do those over the weekend. (I try not to have to leave them for the weekend.) It sounds like a lot, but everything after creating the cover art is pretty mechanical by now. It only takes forever if I didn't finish the actual writing by Thursday.

And that is how the sausage gets made. The end.

See you tomorrow for the weekend YPP report! Or, if that's not relevant to your interests, skip it and I'll see you Monday.

that's it, no more crashy-burny for you (you don't even LIKE crashy-burny, what the hell is wrong with you)
Thu 2017-07-20 23:34:13 (single post)
  • 3,339 wds. long

So it turned out to be just 24-hour sinus drama. Went to bed sniffly and feeling crappy, woke up before seven o'clock still sniffly but with boundless energy and well-being. It's confusing as hell, but I'll take it.

I submitted three things to paying markets today, y'all. Three! That's five submissions this week! And one of the things I subimtted today was a brand new drabble (100-word short story) that I just wrote this afternoon. And I finished up the promised manuscript critiques, and I did all the required daily things, and I continue to catch up on the Fictionette Artifact backlog, and I cleaned the toilets. (They really needed it.)

And now I am back from scrimmage. It was a lovely scrimmage. We hit each other really hard, damn near ended in a tie score, and then we had a party with beer and cake. (Also, one of my teammates wore assless booty shorts. It was a themed scrimmage, so this makes sense. Trust me.)

Days like today scare me. Rather, what scares me is the prospect of the day after a day like today. Past recent experience says I'm due to crash and burn tomorrow. I always crash and burn the day after phenomenally productive and fulfilling days. That's what jerk brain says, anyway. I tell it, "Hey, jerk brain, you have selection bias like woah, you're ignoring all the non-crashy-burny days, there is no good reason that I should crash and burn--I mean, unless I get sick again or something, and it would be just like you, wouldn't it, to make me get sick again tomorrow just to prove your crappy naysaying point?"

I spend a lot of time talking to jerk brain. But you should hear the mouth it has. Someone has to stand up to it.

So the thing about drabbles is, I planned to put together a raft of eight or ten brand new ones and submit them to SpeckLit. That went rather well for me in the past. Only I haven't visitied them in ages. I visited them again after writing that one drabble today and trying to remember what kinds of things authors put in their author's notes there. Turns out, they closed their doors last September. Dang it.

But there is, as it happens, no shortage of online markets looking for very very short fiction. Not all of them will pay SFWA professional rates, but at one hundred words the difference between pro pay and token pay is more in the percentage than in the pocketbook. And I just wanted to submit something that was new. You know? Rather than just collect another handful of rejections for the stories I've been shipping around for the past few years?

So I found a place (which does pay pro rates, by the way), and I sent it, by the Gods.

This is me, feeling like Real Writer™ again. It is not my default feeling. I have to work at it. Tomorrow I will work at it some more. It'll be great. (You hear me, jerk brain? It'll be great!)

email