“Some days you battle yourself and other monsters. Some days you just make soup.”
Patricia McKillip

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

what writers can learn from a sack of angry raccoons
Wed 2017-04-19 23:53:49 (single post)

So apparently Chuck Wendig and I have something in common, and that's a birthday in the back end of April. (Also we're both writers, but I would like to stop the comparison there before it becomes too depressing. I mean, what have I published in the last 5 years, right? NOT 20 NOVELS, THAT'S WHAT.) I'm not sure what I'm going to do about my birthday, but Wendig's using the occasion of his to reflect on the lessons of his writing career. Said lessons, he hastens to emphasize, may not necessarily be transferable to other writers--that's the first bullet point right there, Writing Advice is Bullshit and Largely the Product of Survivor Bias:

Even the list below is just meÖ spouting off. Theyíre lessons that apply to me, not to you. Maybe to you, itís gold. Maybe itís a sack of angry raccoons, I dunno. The only writing advice you can count on is: you gotta write, and you gotta finish what youíre writing. Everything else is variable.

I'm down with that. And I'm pretty much down with the whole list, actually. If any angry raccoons are involved, well, maybe they have cause to be angry. They're not saying anything that strikes me as fundamentally untrue or less than useful.

Some of it is really reassuring for me. Take number five, Find Your Damn Process--Then Challenge It:

You have a process. So go find it. Maybe that means writing 2k every day, reliably. Maybe it means writing 15,000 words every other weekend. Maybe it means you write in coffee shops, or in the crawlspace under your house. Maybe it means you eat a handful of bees before you begin. I dunno. Thatís on you to figure it out, and while itís important to figure out what you write and why you write, itís also incredibly necessary to figure out how you write. You may think how you write is the way others have told you it must be, but that doesnít make it true. Also important: when your process isnít working, you need to evolve it. Your process isnít one thing forever just as you arenít one person forever.

I bolded a bit there 'cause it's speaking to me. My current process, the one I was so proud of coming up with, the whole 5 hours a day thing, morning shift, afternoon shift, fill out a time sheet, check the boxes on Habitica, do the daily gotta-git-dones... it's not working. I hate that it's not working because it ought to work and I don't know why it's not working. But it's not. And maybe I have to acknowledge the possibility of some answer other than "Try HARDER tomorrow."

I don't know what the right answer will be, but it probably starts with "change something." Change what? To what? I don't know. But asking the question generally comes before answering the question, I guess. I may not like the period between ask and answer, since it's filled with confusion and despair and flailing around and going WTF I CAN'T EVEN, but I suppose it's inevitable to spend some time there.

Which means this bit is also reassuring. From number 24, You Know A Whole Lot Less Than You Know, And Thatís A Good Thing:

Every day of a writing career is exploring a new planet. All the truths you hold are likely half-truths or even cleverly-costumed lies. Embrace that. Every day I know less than I knew before, and I find that oddly and eerily liberating. It means I donít have all the answers and neither do you.

So it's OK not to have answers. Not having answers is a necessary state of art, and in fact life.

What is also necessary: continuing forward, despite that lack of answers. Despite the lack of success. Despite the lack of hope, even. Quoting number 25, which--given all the times I've gritted my teeth to hear someone say, "Not everyone's cut out to be a writer, so there's no use encouraging the ones who aren't"--sings harmony with my heart of hearts:

Writing as a career takes a certain kind of obsessiveness and stubbornness, I think: the willingness to put a tin pail on your head as you run full-speed into a wall, hoping to knock it down. Again and again. Until the wall falls or you do. Sometimes I think maybe that the thing that separates those who have it from those who donít is simply those who decide, ďFuck it, Iím a writer,Ē and then they do the thing. They choose to have it, to count themselves among that number rather than those who donít. But I have no idea. I donít know what the hell is going on. And neither to do you. What I know is this: writers write, so go write. Finish what you start.

The rest is negotiable.

It may look like I've already quoted the whole darn article right there, but, honestly, there are 25 bullet points in that there list, and Chuck Wendig wrote them all, which means they are (mostly) verbose and profane and hilarious. And also wise and inspiring and reassuring. At least, I thought so, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Besides, I didn't have much news of my own to share. I mean, I got up, I took care of some household necessities, I wrote, I went to see the Doctor Who Season 10 screening at the local theater. Things are OK. They're just not news.

The Volt is back in full repair, by the way. The part that needed replacing--essentially, the charging port--was more specific to the make and model of car than I thought, so I actually had to take it to the Chevy people in Longmont. They spent about three hours chasing down warranty approval and one hour doing the actual repair, so I got very familiar with their waiting room. Too familiar. I kind of had to take a break from the waiting room and go skate around Sandstone Park for awhile. And I have to say they weren't very proactive in giving me updates. Even when they were done, it was like the dude was on his way to another errand and since he just happened to be passing by he thought he'd mention that "We're all done whenever you're ready." Dude. I've been ready all afternoon, where were you? But, hey, all's well that ends well, and I went on to treat myself to Popeye's fried chicken because I was practically at I-25 and 119 anyway.

And now the car is fully functional, the still extant manufacturer's warranty paid for it all, and I was able to charge it all the way up not far from the movie theater tonight, and it's all ready for John to drive it down to New Mexicon for the weekend. The end.

we pause for health and wellness (also sleep)
Sat 2017-04-15 01:26:47 (single post)

So the Friday Fictionette for April 14 will be out on April 15 instead, which is practically on time considering the last few months. And yes, I know what I said about how promising a due date means I'll miss that due date, but this time it's a sure thing. I've got the text finalized and the audiobook recorded; all I need to do is the production stuff. Create the cover art, export to pdf and ebook, that stuff. Easy stuff. Heck, I'd have it done tonight (this morning) except it's past 1:00 AM and I still have a bunch of other things I have to get done. Like, basic wellness and self-care. Brushing my teeth and doing push-ups and taking my blood pressure and spending my daily 20 minutes on the Posture Right. Like you do.

The other reason I'm pretty confident in a delay of less than 24 hours is, unlike last weekend, which was Bout Weekend, this weekend features an almost entirely unscheduled Saturday. I say "almost" because tonight I discovered that the reason I couldn't get the Volt to charge was there's a bent pin in the port, and so I'll need to take the car back to Green Eyed Motors for service. I do not expect this to be a terrible chore; the folks there are great, and they share a building with a very pleasant coffee shop. I expect I'll get some work done on both the fictionette and the weekend YPP blockade round-up while I'm there.

Speaking of bout weekend, everything went well! I wound up skating in both bout with energy to spare, so I guess I've finally gotten my endurance back up to pre-injury levels. As far as I know, no one got hurt, just the usual sore muscles and bruises that you expect from a derby engagement. (Very pretty bruises!)The visiting team were all just fantastic people, both on and off the track. A bunch of them came out to the afterparty despite some of them having an early plane to catch. I spent most the evening chatting with one of their MVP jammers. And BCB won both bouts (A team game, B teams game)! Which was not a sure thing at all, so we're all very proud of ourselves.

Next games on our schedule: Our Bombshells go to Colorado Springs on April 22 to play against the Pikes Peak Derby Dames, and our All Stars go to Eugene, Oregon the first weekend in May to participate in The Big O. Rosters have not yet been set for any of those four games. Will let y'all know whether/when I'm skating.

ARGH it's late. 'Til tomorrow.

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from Wikipedia.org
My machine...
...and what i been doing with it
so that's a thing too
Sat 2017-03-25 00:59:05 (single post)

Today will continue into tomorrow. I have excuses. They are not good excuses. Nevertheless, I did finally publish last week's Friday Fictionette, so that's a thing. It's called "Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree." It involves an exorcism, an unusual plant, an alarming rate of rapid exits from a high place, and a depressing amount of journalistic cynicism. Sounds like fun, don't it? (Patron-only links: ebook, audiobook.)

Although, come to think of it, I'll have spent as much time on writing tasks today as yesterday even if I don't sneak in a bit of submission procedurals before I go to bed. So that's a thing.

And my preferred procrastination method this time around was a productive procrastination method. I done patched the holes in the fitted bedsheet! I possibly had an unnecessary amount of fun doing so. Look, my sewing machine is back from service, it's suddenly a joy to use, can you blame me for wanting to use it to make little cat's eyes and stars and stuff on the patches?

No, it is not an embroidery machine. It has no computerized settings. It is an old all-metal workhorse of inferior design--so the staff at the sewing-and-vacuum-cleaner place tell me. It sews. You can vary the length of the stitches and the width of the zig-zag. You can hold down a button and it will sew in reverse. It sews, OK? That's about what it does. It's attached to a table. It only sews flat things. I think if you detach it from the table you can then maybe get it inside pants' legs and stuff? Not sure. It is very heavy and detaching it from the table is a pain. But it sews, and it was not very hard to sew little cat's eyes and stars and stuff on the patches.

Anyway, it is back from service, and it no longer makes birds' nests under the fabric, and the old disintegrating belt has been replaced, and on top of everything I just figured out how I was supposed to be using the knee-pedal all along so that I don't have to put a book under my foot to reach it. Sewing is enjoyable again!

So, here's the thing. I brought it to that place on 28th and Glenwood, Blakeman, I think it's called. I had misgivings when John and I first went in (hoping that we could just buy a replacement belt and put it on at home; alas, no) because the dude talking to me--I'm going to call him "asshole dude"--after Asshole Dude told us how to detach the machine from the table and how late they'd be open that we could bring it in, he then looked over my head at John and said, laughing, "I know what you're going to be doing this afternoon!" The insinuation was that, because the Little Woman wanted to sew, the Manly Man would be roped into lugging the heavy machine around. (Honestly, it went right over my head at first, but in the car on the way home, John was all, "So that guy was a sexist dick. Why are sewing machine shops full of assholes? It's like the sewing machines got modern but the attitudes stayed stuck in the 50s.")

(It's kinda true. The first place we took the machine to in Boulder, Wallace Sewing and Vacuum, something like that, I don't think they're around anymore--this was about ten years ago--the technician told me that although my sewing machine says Fleetwood on it, it's what they tend to refer to as a generic Japanese brand. Only he didn't say "Japanese." He used a WWII-era slur instead. *twitch*)

But I went back to Blakeman with the machine, pointedly lugging it in all by myself (having single-handedly uninstalled it from the table myself too, which was incidentally how I put it back after I got it home again), and this time I wound up talking to this other guy who wasn't an asshole. Did not even blink at hearing that probably John would be using the machine more than me, what with his history of making costumes for LARPs and for Gen Con and all. We enthused about role-playing games and costuming and then roller derby came up, like it tends to do, and he said he was from Cheyenne and watched the bouts there, and I said, "Hey cool, that was your team that came down and played my team in February!" I left happy to report that not all sewing machine shop staff are assholes, and vaguely regretting not bringing our season schedule flyer.

Fast forward two weeks to when I picked it up. I paid the lady behind the counter, and I asked her whether I could ask some questions about the machine. She said yes, just a moment, and I'm afraid it was asshole dude she fetched out from the back office to talk to me. And he stood there, leaning up against the table with my sewing machine on it, telling me that it will now sew the best that it could possibly sew, but that this isn't in fact all that great, because it's an old and inferior model whose zig-zag mechanism is outdated and subpar, and how I really ought to buy one of their new machines. And while he stood there lecturing me about my machine's obsolescence, he's absentmindedly fiddling with just about everything on the machine. All the settings that the service technician had just set during the servicing, that I had just paid for, so that it would sew the best that it could possibly sew, he is fiddling with.

He yanked out the thread before I could make a note to myself how to thread the thing (it had been quite some time since I sewed on it). Then I asked him how one adjusts the tension on this model, and before he answered, he spun the tension dial all the way around without looking to see where it was first. It was like his fingers had to interact with it to identify which piece I was asking about or something. Then he says, "You shouldn't have to adjust it at all. It was set correctly as part of the service." And I'm sort of involuntarily facepalming and almost pulling my hair out because YOU JUST WENT AND UNSET IT THOUGH DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHERE IT WAS BEFORE YOU MESSED WITH IT AND WOULD YOU PLEASE PUT IT BACK. Well, OK, he says, it was "probably" right around here, and he puts it back. Ish. And while he's telling me about how you adjust the knob one way if there's too much thread on top the cloth and the other way if there's too much thread beneath, now he's flipping the foot up and down and popping the foot pressure adjuster thingie in and out and spinning the foot pressure adjuster dial thingie round and round. I don't know that's what they are. I have to ask him, "And what's that thing you're messing with now?" He explains it. Fiddling with it the whole time.

Honestly, I'm starting to feel like a parental figure racing to clean up the last mess that a child has made while the child is blithely going on to make the next mess. I'll be like, "Stop messing with that, how was it set, will you please put it back the way the tech left it, can you pretty please answer my next question with WORDS not TOUCHING" and even while he's dismissing my concern and promising me it'll sew perfectly regardless of whatever he just did to it, he's off and fiddling with something else until finally I just sort of burst out, "Will you please step away from my sewing machine and let me take it home home now?"

At which point he acts all "Oh! I'm sorry! Here you go!" like he only now realizes he was physically blocking my access to the thing. Then he disappears around the back, leaving the lady who charged my card to see me out and hold the door for me while I lug the poor old heavy thing out to the car. She keeps a tactful silence the whole way, no comment on what just occurred. Which could either be because she doesn't want to tell me that she thinks I was unreasonable, or because she can't exactly admit she thinks the whole scene was hilarious, or because she mustn't be heard agreeing with me that Asshole Dude was an asshole. It really could have been anything, whatever she wasn't saying.

And yes, the machine is sewing perfectly now, despite all of Asshole Dude's fiddling. But I really wish Awesome Dude from Cheyenne had been in the shop when I came to pick it up.

"Sewing machine shops! They're full of assholes!" says my husband, provided with this fresh set of evidence. And I'm like, no, there was Awesome Dude from Cheyenne. But I had to admit that, at the critical moment, Awesome Dude was not about. And that's on me. I should have called first to find out if he was in.

There is another sewing machine shop in Boulder, I think, on 30th maybe? I'm kind of afraid to find out what they're like.

Cover illustration incorporates public domain photography from Pixabay.com.
"What the heck does auld lang syne mean, anyway?"
Sat 2017-01-07 00:37:14 (single post)
  • 1,077 wds. long

Ahoy! So. The Friday Fictionette for January 6 is up. It was supposed to go up at 6 PM, taking advantage of Patreon's clever SCHEDULE POST feature. Only apparently I am not so clever, and I thought today was Jan 7. Eleven-thirty came around, and I was pulling up the HTML excerpt to copy-paste into Wattpad, and emergency! emergency! Where is my post?! Ya fool. It's right where you put it: on tomorrow's docket. Oops.

It's up now, though, and it's called "The Land Exhales" (ebook | audiobook | free excerpt ) It is not one of my more cheerful stories, dealing as it does with a meta-fictional land where everyone is miserable, but I like to think it ends on a hopeful note.

I wish I'd had time to do more with today--like take another crack at the novel-in-progress--but I got a little self-indulgent trying to produce a presentable four bars of "Auld Lang Syne" on the piano that I could include. Why "Auld Lang Syne"? Because it's January. Why on the piano? Why indeed. The flute version worked a lot better.

(Speaking of "Auld Lang Syne," this post's title is a quote from Barry Manilow off his double live album, segueing into "It's Just Another New Year's Eve." It may not be a very good question, but it's a pretty good song. "Don't look so sad / It's not so bad, you know / It's just another night, that's all it is...")

Artifacts are not quite in the mail yet. BUT THEY WILL BE SOON.

In other news, I skated on the track at our practice space tonight. The new floor is done. And it's so nice. it's flat. It's so nice, having a flat and level floor. And clean! So nice and clean...

Cover art incorporates Illustration at p. 73 in Just So Stories (c1912) (public domain) via Wikisource
several things you should know about today
Sat 2016-12-10 01:05:48 (single post)

Thing the first: It's Friday; there's a new Fictionette. "How the Elephant's Child Lost Her Voice" (ebook | audiobook) is exactly what it says on the tin. It is not about an elephant. It is about an elephant's child. The distinction is key. The one has a trunk; the other is full of 'satiable curiosity, and that means that she asks ever so many questions. Until... well. That would be telling.

In addition to trying to keep my Friday Fictionette releases punctual (check out those timestamps!), I've been on a push to catch up with the Wattpad part of the equation. When I started this project out, I'd publish each release to Wattpad, too. The excerpt, anyway. Then I'd come back and add the rest of the text for the Fictionette Freebie at the end of the month. But at some point, probably the same point at which Friday releases started being delayed until Saturday, well OK Sunday, well no later than Monday I swear, I fell off the Wattpad wagon. And then every week it was "I can't post the latest excerpt until I'm caught up; they have to be posted in order, so." And then the big catch-up never happened, and I fell farther and farther behind, and--

--and a couple weeks ago I said "screw it" and just started backfilling at the rate of one per day, or almost that. And on Fridays the one I post is the current one, because, what the hell, Wattpad lets you rearrange your story order, how'd I miss that?

Speaking of things I missed: Patreon may no longer let you paste in raw HTML or do much more than Italics and Boldface in its publishing interface, but there's still a way to publish linked text. If you copy HTML-formatted text out of a browser window--not the source code, but the actual display--and you paste that into Patreon's text editor, it retains all styles and links. Except for paragraph marks; it seems to change them into single line breaks. Pleh. But easily fixed.

So that's cool.

Thing the second: I baked the annual fruitcake today. Its fruit-and-nut-etc. ingredients for Winter Solstice 2016 are:

  • Degla dates
  • black currants
  • green raisins
  • cranberries
  • candied ginger (rinsed)
  • papaya
  • pineapple
  • black mission figs

...in more or less equal proportions to add up to about four pounds. This was a quarter pound more fruit-and-nuts-etc. than the recipe called for, but the cake still seemed to hold together. Still, if it crumbles more readily this year, we'll know why.

The fun thing was, just as I was about to mix the fruit-and-nuts-etc. into the batter with my clean bare hands, the water to the building got shut off. Thankfully I discovered this while I was still staging the kitchen in preparation for this step, and not after.

The reason the water got shut off: Our next-door neighbor unit to the south was in full flood. And the owners-or-tenants were not home. And initial attempts to gain entrance were failing. And there was a general panic and hue-and-cry.

I scooped up a few quarts of clean water from the toilet tanks and staged that for post-fruitcake-mixing hand-washing. That worked.

I assume eventually the management called in some pop-a-lock service to get into the unit; in any case, they discovered the cause of the flood. The owners or tenants of that unit had shut off the heater before they left. We just had a few nights of deeply arctic temperatures--well, down in the teens and single digits Fahrenheit, anyway. Cold enough that you should not shut off your heater, because otherwise your pipes may freeze and burst. Only someone didn't get that memo.

Oops.

For the rest of the day, the song of the shop-vac was heard in the land. Or, as it turned out, the song of the commercial cleaner's van. Management called in ECOS Environmental & Disaster Restoration to mop up the environment and haul the disaster away.

Our neighbors are in for a nasty surprise. Alas.

Thankfully, we are all on the bottom floor. Water is still dripping through the insulation and drywall in the parking garage ceiling, but not, Gods bless, into anyone else's home. Nor did the water seep through or under the walls into our unit--the guy who shut off the water came knocking moments later to double-check that with me.

"All's well that ends well?"

"For you."

"Oh. Right. Sorry."

Thing the third: What the eff, does everyone in my novel have supernatural powers? The hell kind of sense does that make? *grumbles off to figure it out*

Cover art incorporates public domain photography from Pixabay.com
for the wages of tardiness is insomnia but also a fictionette finally
Tue 2016-11-15 23:59:59 (single post)
  • 1,328 wds. long

OK. This'll be quick, 'cause it's nearly two in the morning. (Ignore the timestamp. The timestamp has been altered to give the post a Tuesday datestamp. It's actually a couple hours later than it looks.)

I posted last week's Friday Fictionette today. (Yayyyy.) It's called "The Witch on the Corner" (Patron-only links: ebook | audiobook) and it's mostly about the futility of conformity. To a small extent, it's also about why you shouldn't try a witch's temper, nor try to categorize witches as "good" or "bad."

Like I said, I'm quite pleased that Patreon has added a "scheduled post" feature. I intend to use it the moment I have a Friday Fictionette ready to go sooner than its designated Friday. I am less than pleased with other features Patreon has recently rolled out, namely a new publishing process that (1) forces you to choose whether yours is a text, image, audio, video, or link post, (2) if you choose text or link, removes the ability upload an image, and (3) no longer lets you use HTML to format the text part of your post. You can include URLs by pasting the link in as text and relying on Patreon to make the link text clickable, and you can include inline images by jumping through a few more hoops, but that's it.

This is how they spin it: "We recently removed html capabilities on Patreon to reduce confusion and allow creators a more seamless posting experience."

NOT IMPRESSED.

Well, like I said, two in the morning. This is all you get today. More thoughts on other subjects tomorrow.

Cover art incorporates public domain photography from Pixabay.com
this fictionette has no time for cupids or obsolete code
Fri 2016-11-04 23:48:05 (single post)
  • 1,037 wds. long

Hey! Guess what?! The blog is working. Today's post should be visible in REAL TIME. So without further ado, I bring you the on time publication of the Friday Fictionette for November 4: "Tit for Tat" ( ebook | audiobook ) in which we have absolutely no time or patience for cupids.

So my plan was to work on the novel after I got the Friday Fictionette up. But today I just said "eff it" and started poking at the non-functioning code. I mean, yes, my domain host support people got back to me two days ago asking me to verify that my email had actually come from the account holder. Cool. But I hadn't heard a peep from them since, and I was tired of having a broken blog. So let's at least take a look and see if it could be fixed from my end, yeah?

So it could. Here's the deal, in brief: I'd written some PHP code that conflicted with a reserved word. I'd created a class and called it SessionHandler; PHP already has a class called SessionHandler. The real question is, how the hell was my blog working at all before last week? Well, since the native class SessionHandler has only been available since PHP version 5.4.0, I can only guess that my server only got updated to 5.4.0 or above around October 27 or so. I don't know how to verify that. I do know we're currently running PHP 5.4.45, but I don't know how long that's been the case.

Anyway, I renamed my class to MySessionHandler, and everything worked like magic after that.

Note to self: Stay current on PHP and keep your code maintained, OK? OK.

NaNoWriMo Day 3: the slow accretion of plot and character data
Thu 2016-11-03 23:59:59 (single post)

There's been a little movement on the broken blog front. I heard back from my domain host's support people. They wanted to verify that I really was the account holder. I sent them back the requested proof that I am. Now I'm waiting some more.

Meanwhile, on the novel front, a few additional plot points and proto-characters came to light. This was in no small part due to a dream I had this morning, a rather disturbing one actually, but the disturbing ones make entertaining fiction fodder, so it's cool. (I have a strange relationship with nightmares. I wake up fascinated with them, replaying the memories with enjoyment. It's like I just got to watch a really entertaining horror-action-thriller-suspense movie in my sleep.) In that dream, I was obliged, because of careless promises I'd made, to give up several of my fingers. It wasn't going to hurt much, and the wounds would heal instantly, but it would--contrary to my understanding when I made those promises--be permanent. I was heartbroken because I wouldn't be able to play piano, flute, or guitar anymore. (You'd think "or type, or write with a fountain pen" would have occurred to me, but no.)

Once awake and thinking about the novel, I translated that into a better understanding of why Protagonist 2 had to give up her name and accept a new identity at the Magic Pixie Call Girl agency. She'd signed a long-term contract, and when time came, she found she simply couldn't bring herself to fulfill her part of the bargain, possibly because fulfilling it turned out to be a more dire proposition than she'd originally thought it would be. (Nothing to do with removal of fingers, by the way.) So the magical contract enforcement clause was triggered and she had to forfeit her name. The call girl agency gave her the improbably name of Delta Echoes. She's working hard and saving up money to buy her name back from--I dunno, the perjury pawn broker, something like that.

The name-forfeiture thing will be foreshadowed quite early when Protagonist 1 goes to fill out some routine form and is informed what will happen if anything he signs his name to turns out to be false. This will shock him. Also shocking will be the cat that one day starts talking to him. They don't have magic back where he's from. He's going to have to get used to it.

Things continue to slowly come together. Slowly. I'm very tempted to just start writing the first scene and see where it goes from there. But I have written quite a few novel drafts like that already. I want to try out this other method of novel writing, and I can't very well see how well I like it if I don't actually do it. So the planning stage continues.

My hope is, tomorrow, to figure out how the novel ends. Ambitious, I know, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

Nanowrimo Day 2: write what you know, know what you want to write
Wed 2016-11-02 23:59:59 (single post)

Nope, still haven't managed to carve out time for web site troubleshooting. I've begun to suspect it might be something very simple, like, say, all the files in the /journal directory having mysteriously disappeared, or maybe just a key #include. I DON'T KNOW. I haven't gotten to any point in any day this week where I've felt like I had the time and the energy to take a look.

But I did manage to sit down and nibble off a bit of Step 1. Why, that must mean I finished Step 0! Indeed. Three of the freewriting documents I read yesterday apparently lodged themselves on my mental backburner and fell into a single pot left simmering there, and this afternoon it turned into soup. It all came together while I was on a massage table, of all places, with nothing to do but relax and occasionally be stoic while a skilled therapist applied pressure to bits of my shoulder and neck that weren't ready for it but needed it very badly. (My right shoulder has not fully relaxed in years. It makes it hard to sleep at night. The chiropractic treatments are helping, but very slowly, and meanwhile I keep playing roller derby. So I'm trying to help things along by getting my upper back and neck massaged about once a month or after every bout, whichever comes first.) I took advantage of that time to mull over story ideas, and was kind of surprised to find one already there, spooling out scenes in my head.

Some wise writer said once that the best stories rely not on a single idea but on two: two story ideas that combine and intersect in interesting ways. I appear to have three. Possibly four, if the dream I woke up with this morning turns out to be useful. It was terrifyingly epic and needs to wind up in a story. I just don't know whether it will be this story. Anyway, here they are in all their generic glory:

  • The Manic Pixie Call Girl Agency
  • Being obliged to file for name/identity bankruptcy after breaking a magically enforced oath
  • The cat started talking to its human today because it had a warning to give
  • On a train incognito through enemy territory; team leader gave the order to get off-planet

The story that arises out of the intersection of those ideas is the novel I'm going to write. FOR NOW. I've written down all I know about it as of this evening. We'll see if, in the morning, I know more.

And for goodness's sake, I have got to get this blog fixed. I'm tired of posting into the void.

Nanowrimo Day 1: Picking Out a Novel
Tue 2016-11-01 21:40:00 (single post)

Hiho, yet another blog post for posterity and not the present. Another day without the wherewithal to troubleshoot the broken blog pages. But I will not let the day go by without reporting in!

Why? Because it's November, and I said I'd work on a novel in November, didn't I? So here I am. And, for better or worse, I've decided it'll be a new novel, not a revision of a previous year's draft. But at the same time I'm determined that this will be the novel that I finally make publishable and start submitting places, because it's about time. So I've got a bit of work cut out for me.

If you've been following along at home, you won't be entirely surprised that I'm trying out Rachel Aaron's novel-writing strategies from 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. Thus, rather than writing 1,667 words every day, I'll be taking my time choosing an idea and plotting it out before writing a whole bunch of words every day. I'm not too fussed about hitting 50K. Mainly, I want to write a first draft that isn't so tangled up as to make revision impossible. And I want--if not by the end of this month, than by sometime during the next month that I shall designate as a Novel-Writing Season on my personal calendar, which will probably be March--a novel I can begin shopping around to agents and/or editors.

So today I spent some time on Aaron's Step 0: "Decide Which Book to Write." I dove into the Scrivener project where I keep my daily freewriting and reread a whole bunch of documents that I'd labeled "To Do" when I wrote them. (I'll label a freewriting document "To Do" if it strikes me as having any long-term project potential. Some of them are clearly short stories. Some are novels. Some, I don't know what they are, but they're intriguing enough to be worth a second look.) And now I am going to go to sleep. Hopefully, sometime between now and tomorrow morning, possibly during a dream if I am very lucky, something I read tonight will shake itself out, fluff up all its plumage to make itself seem as big as possible, inflate its very colorful throat sac, and yell, "HEY! YOU! WRITE ME! WRITE ME NOW NOW NOW!"

If not, well, I'll take a little more time auditioning ideas and just pick one.

After that will come Step 1: "Get Down What You Already Know," which will help me decide if I picked the right idea out or if I really should go back to Step 0. But about that, more later.

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