Archive for April, 2004

4/25/04: I’m back

Word count: 66622 | Since last entry: 541 | This month: 1853 Sometimes success is worse than failure. It seems that whenever I have a major writing milestone or achievement, I stop writing for anything from a week to a month. I think it’s a combination of basking in the good feeling and fear that I’ll never be able to top that previous achievement. The last time I slacked off this long was, I think, after I finished the three-chapters-and-outline for the Wiscon writers’ workshop last year. In this case it was finishing the Lupton contest entry, plus the Hugo and Campbell nominations and the Zeppelin story sale. And I was sick for a week or so, and I’ve been to Minicon and the Nebulas (where I talked with a couple of agents — one asked to see sample chapters now, the other wanted to see them when it’s done) and I edited an old story and submitted it… and received an immediate rejection, and submitted it again. But during that time I have not done any novel writing, so I haven’t posted anything here. In the last couple of days I’ve been doing what’s known as “cat vacuuming” — just about any kind of chore or errand other than writing. The good news is that I got some things done that needed to get done. But I finally realized tonight what I was doing, and I made myself put my butt in the chair and write. Huzzah. I continued a scene I started some weeks ago, where Jason argues with Sienna about what they should do in Flea’s absence. That argument’s just about finished now, and the real action of the chapter starts next. Two weeks to finish the chapter. I should be able to do that. Of course, I think we’re going to be home for dinner only one night this week…

4/13/04: Sidetracked, and good news

Word count: 66081 | Since last entry: 151 | This month: 1312 I’ve completely fallen off track on the novel. For one thing, I went to Minicon and — despite the usual best intentions to write on the plane — I did no writing at all during the weekend. The only time I turned on my computer was for my reading, at which only one person showed up. But she enjoyed it. For another thing, I’ve been sick since returning from the convention. I’ve also got a deadline at work on Wednesday, which kept me late yesterday and will probably keep me late tomorrow. The 151 words noted above are revisions on a story called “The Last McDonald’s” that I first wrote a couple of years ago, had critiqued, but never got around to revising until just now. The prompt in this case was an invitation to submit to a major market that is in an unusual situation (that’s all I can say, sorry). Having revised the story to my satisfaction, I sent a query to the editor; I hope the story will go in the e-mail tomorrow. But the most interesting reason I haven’t written a thing on the novel in the past week is this: I’M ON THE HUGO BALLOT! TWICE!! My story “Tale of the Golden Eagle” was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story, and I’m up for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (my second and final year of eligibility). So I spent most of yesterday evening updating my web page with the news and responding to the many emails of congratulation that poured in. On the same day I learned of my Hugo nominations, I also received word that my Zeppelin story sold to All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. So, though I’m blowing my nose every five minutes and I don’t have any novel progress to report, it’s been a darn good week.

4/5/04: Back to drafting

Word count: 66081 | Since last entry: 357 | This month: 1161 Started in on Chapter F tonight. This is the big climactic chapter that Jason’s whole plotline has been leading up to, the place where Clarity’s plotline started, the place where even the most unobservant reader can no longer possibly fail to notice how the two plotlines are connected. I hope to have this chapter ready for critique before the Nebulas. You may note that the “word count” above has taken a big jump — much bigger than the 357 words I actually wrote tonight. This is because I moved the new/revised chapters I wrote for the Lupton contest into the novel itself. The new chapters are about 2000 words longer than the ones they replaced. But, though those words do legitimately join the novel, so the “word count” goes up, I have rejiggered my word-counting algorithm to subtract them from the “since last entry” and “this month” figures because I already counted them last month. But I am now nearly 2/3rds done with the planned 100,000 word novel. Jeez. In other news, today I received my author copies of the June 2004 Realms of Fantasy, including my story “Charlie the Purple Giraffe was Acting Strangely,” with a neat color illustration. Now I need to whomp up a page about the story for my website. Also, yesterday I picked up copies of Science Fiction: The Best of 2003 with my story “Tale of the Golden Eagle.” There are some really good stories in there!

4/4/04: Done with proposal, sort of

Word count: 63736 | Since last entry: 444 | This month: 804 I had planned to finish up the proposal, proofread it, print it out, and get it in the mail this weekend. I finished it up and printed a draft-quality copy to proof, but when I went to print out the entry form for the contest I discovered the deadline has been extended to May 5. I could take this opportunity to seek more feedback, do more editing, and just generally obsess about it some more. Instead, I will let it rest for a day or two, then proof it, print it, and mail it this week anyway. Thus I defy the Fates. Ha! Next: back to drafting!

4/1/04: Query letter

Word count: 63736 | Since last entry: 360 | This month: 360 Sat down and wrote the query letter this evening. It came out very tidily to one page. Everything I’ve read says that query letters are supposed to be hard. I didn’t find it to be so, particularly. On the other hand, I have the whole novel in my head — I know a lot of authors who don’t know what’s coming next and are unable to summarize their novels. So maybe I’m special. Or maybe I’m just incapable of seeing how bad it is. Four days to go. All I have left to do on the proposal is write a few sections which are basically expanded versions of things I just wrote in the cover letter. Should be able to polish it off by Saturday, depending on how much fiddling and noodling I let myself do. I find the whole writing business requires me to constantly reassure myself that I am, indeed, among the best — the top 5% or 10% that actually get published instead of languishing in slush piles — while simultaneously lowering my own expectations, to prevent my soul from being crushed by rejection. So, yes, I am wonderful. But it’s not going to win anyway. Is this a crazy business, or what?

3/31/04: All the running you can do to stay in one place

Word count: 63736 | Since last entry: 4 | This month: 10172 I’m laughing out loud at the word count, having worked for about 3 hours to produce a net change of 4 words. This resulted from a fleshing-out of the outline and an edit of the synopsis that apparently subtracted exactly the same number of words. I also spent a great deal of time experimenting with alternate layouts for the outline, to clarify the rather tangled timelines of the two plot threads (which my critiquers, sharp people all, are having trouble with). In the end I decided to use alternating long and short indents for the chapter titles: Chapter 1……..September 2051
Chapter A……………………..April 2051
Chapter 2……..October 2051
Chapter B……………………..July 2051
Chapter 3……..November 2051
Chapter C……………………..September 2051
etc. God, I hope this works. I think I’m done with the outline and synopsis, anyway. What’s left: Author Bio, Book Audience, Similar Successful Books, and Book To Film Potential. I can do this. I can do this.