Journal


You can tell it’s been a busy and distracted summer when I lose track of what I’m reading. I have been reading, but finishing…? Yeah, not so much. I’m currently reading eight books, predominated by non-fiction. One’s been on my pile for almost three years, so I REEEEEEALLY need to just set some focused time aside and plow through it before December. I think I can knock out two this month, which would be better than nothing, and then come September, I’ve really got to redouble my reading focus.

Notes:

Verbalize – I’ve had this one set aside for a while. While there are some ideas in it that resonate with me, I’m not 100% sold on it. But I’m over halfway through, so I really do need to just buckle down and wrap it up.

The Glass Blowers – I’m nearly done with this one! I picked it up to balance out the mass of nonfiction I’d gathered on my side table and I’m so glad I did. It’s one of those books you almost want to sneak away from friends and family just to get a few more pages in. It was a bit of a slow start, really establishing the “normal” prior to the shift into “revolutionary” but it’s worth the set up. While I’m not sure I like it better than I liked Rebecca, it’s a fun read so far.

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony – And the record for longest stay on my “currently reading” list….! It’s such a wonderful book, and it makes me think all the time while reading it, which is why it’s taken so long. Every couple of pages, I want to stop and ponder for a while, but it’s time to wrap this one up. Seriously, ALMOST THREE YEARS? Geez…

Eiger Dreams – I love Jon Krackauer’s writing. Whenever I need some adventure escapism, I head for his work, and this book is no different. It’s a compilation of his articles, and each one–though often different in tone–is so engaging. I could probably finish this one pretty quick, too!

Boy, Snow, Bird – This one’s slowed down only because I can’t read it before bed (last time I did, it actually gave me my first nightmare in quite a while!). But it’s a beautiful book, and I was thrilled to see a reference to Lake Quinsigamond here in Worcester! What are the odds? But it’s a fascinating read, and I do look forward to having more during-the-day reading time once Bee-Bug starts school again.

Climate Change – Haven’t gotten too far yet in this one, just cracked the introduction, but it’s engaging in that horrifying reality kind of way. But I feel like it’d be a good one to have under the belt. It just needs a little focused attention.

Homo Deus –  I’ve gotten through the intro on this one, and it was riveting, so I’m looking forward to spending more time on it.

Ten Arguments […] Right Now – I picked this one up on the recommendation of Warren Ellis’s newsletter (which is brilliant and a wonderfully curated look into the comics world and modern futurism). It’s an interesting read, though I’m not convinced it’s discussing much I didn’t already know about (largely though Ellis’s writings!) social media and its messy elements. I’m not sure I’ll be fully deleting my FB account anytime soon, but deactivating it indefinitely? Yeah, I might consider that. Also close to finishing this one!

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Yesterday, I cleaned off my desk. I don’t think I’ve seen the surface of it since about mid-June, and it took some time to shovel off the build-up. It has been an absolutely insane summer so far. I knew it was going to be a challenge to get writing done regularly with Bee-Bug around the house full-time again, but it has been so. much. harder. And Bee-Bug’s presence is the least of the distractions!

In mid-June, we housesat close-by for some friends of ours for two weeks. It was lovely, because they live right on the lake, and we were able to just kick back and enjoy the view and the kayak and just chill. I managed to keep up a little on the writing during that time, but it was sporadic and I was hitting that 20/30k wall on the novel HARD. Then about halfway through that stay, I realized with certainty that the draft I was laboring on just *wasn’t* going to be able to carry the story the way I’d envisioned. I’d managed–through some decent plotting–to completely eliminate the soul of the story I wanted to tell, which left everything puppet-like and lifeless, despite better world-building and better “theory” of the characters. Discouraged, I had to sit back and regroup. I reread a few chapters of the original draft, and liked that SO much better, that I decided what I needed to really do was take all the world-building and all the plot-fixing and see if I could install it into the first version, saving the heart of the story, while fixing its underlying issues.

About this time, I was also mid-first trimester pregnant with #2 (Codename: Goldbug, for Bee-Bug’s pal in Richard Scarry’s Cars, Trucks, and Things That Go), and working through some possibly pregnancy-hormone-induced depression as well (wee! It could also have been just that usual period of the beginning of summer where such spells tend to hit me anyway, and add crazy pregnancy hormones to that, too, and whoa mama…). Needless to say, I was nauseous (difficult to write scenes about someone being chronically ill when you ALSO feel like horking on the carpet), and exhausted, and completely emotionally wiped-out. I was also planning Bee-Bug’s b-day party at the time, so I was DONE.

I realized I needed to take a break. I wasn’t getting any writing done, and even writing a hundred words a day was sometimes just too daunting. So I cut myself the slack I needed, recognized the symptoms I’ve often tried to ignore in the past, and picked up a few extra counseling sessions, which got me through the worst of it, thank G-d. I did NOT want a repeat of the end of last summer, which was what finally drove me to get counseling in the first place.

That started resolving by the end of June, and then we spent about two weeks up in NH with my folks while my sister and brother-in-law and nephew visited, which was great (though again, no writing). We attended my cousin’s wedding, and went all over NH (Note: Polar Caves is FANTASTIC if you’re not scared of narrow spaces. I managed to get through about four of the nine caves, but pregnancy thickens up your abdomen really fast, which made it a bit too “I’m going to pull a muscle” for some of the twisting manouvers, so I left “The Lemon Squeezer” and “Orange Crush” to Bee-Bug and his more physically able aunt and uncle and cousin!). I managed during this time to at least print the first draft out and put it in some presentation folders so I could at least carry it around like I meant to get to it. I do think I actually managed to knock out a chapter or two re-read, adding notes in delicious red ink.

After my sister and her fam left on Friday, we came home Saturday afternoon, only to realized that my mother-in-law was coming to stay with us for a week on MONDAY not on WEDNESDAY like I’d somehow gotten into my head, so the rest of the weekend was a rush to get the house in some semblance of order, and no writing got done. My mother-in-law is a pretty easy guest, but I was so exhausted from all the socializing and activity from the past five weeks, I was probably running on socialization fumes by this point. I picked through a couple chapters, made more notes, felt a little better about how the fixed plot might actually slip into the old draft rather smoothly, and that was about it. Got a lovely personal rejection from Analog the other day which just about made me shriek with delight (I’ve never gotten a personal rejection from them before), and then just today I got a less than 24hr rejection for the same story from Asimov’s, so…yay writing life. XD

We’re going to be visiting my sister in California later this summer, actually, as it suddenly became clear with the arrival of Goldbug that we WON’T be going out to visit again for a while, and Ry’s been dying to do Disneyland and Legoland, and for once we actually have some expendable funds available to do something like that. SO THAT’LL BE FUN. It will be good, actually, because we’ve been meaning to for ages. The last time I went out was for my sister’s wedding five years ago, so it’s WELL past time. But again: major time loss on writing work.

I’m starting to accept that this is just the Summer of No (or Very Little) Writing. It wasn’t how I’d planned it, and it wasn’t what I’d hoped for (I’d assumed I could write in the evenings like I did for Draft #1, but with Goldbug, I’ve been so flipping exhausted by the time I put Bee-Bug to bed that my brain just doesn’t work at all). But I’ll have a couple weeks in August to tackle the read-through and make the rest of the notes and hopefully at least a preliminary rewrite plan for September. The nice thing about going back to Draft #1 is that there are a lot of scenes I can essentially keep for now, so it’s not a total “from scratch” job. (I think I have a problem reviewing first drafts and thinking: EVERYTHING MUST GO! It’s something I’m going to have to review and see if I can somehow short-circuit that tendency…) Bee-Bug will be in full-day school this year, so I’ll have a bigger chunk of time to myself to work than I’ve had since I was pregnant with Bee-Bug, and Goldbug isn’t due ’til after Christmas, so hopefully–barring enormous amounts of school sick days–I might actually be able to get Draft 3 done. I’d LIKE to say I’ll also wrap up a couple other short stories I have waiting for revision and submission, and I’d LIKE to say I’ll make some time to bang out a few new story drafts just for fun, but I know I tend to way over-estimate how much I’ll accomplish in a work-period, so for now, I’m just shooting for a completed Draft 3 (…and maybe one story polished and out…) If I can get more than that tackled, so much the better, but a completed Draft 3 is good enough.

But that’s what’s up with the radio silence for the past several weeks! I’m finally getting back into reading more, too, so I may try to do a Polyreader post here in August sometime if I’m really on my game. And who knows, if things go smoothly in September/October, maybe I’ll even jump into NANO again this year. I’ve got a few other new drafts kicking around in my head that might be nice to exorcise before pregnancy brain really kicks in (it’s a thing, folks!).

Cracking right along this week, which is good, because the school year is just about to end, and that’s going to mean a whole new daily schedule. Gone will be morning writing (most likely), and exercise will have to be squeezed in earlier before Andy leaves for work. It’ll be a game-changer, and not necessarily in a super good way? We’ll see. But I’ve rebuilt the buffer I had before the progress collapse a few weeks ago, so that feels good, anyway. Getting back into the running routine has immensely helped the writing flow, and I’m going to have to see what I can do to keep that over the summer. But at least I’ve updated today!

Current Progress (blue): 45281 / 100000 words. 45% done!

Estimated Progress (red): 42000 / 100000 words. Deadline: 9/6/19

This week was surprisingly tough. Besides some big family news, and the lingering mental health stuff, as well as Andy being on vacation (which is good, but also disruptive to the ordinary routine), getting a lock on words this week was nigh on impossible. There were days I just…could not. There were other days I could squeak out a little. I dropped my required word count temporarily to 500/day, simply because sitting down to hammer out 1k/day just seemed too impossible.

It’s also likely that this particularly complex period in my life also happened to hit RIGHT at the point in the book where ordinarily I’d hit a kind of energy lag–just after that 20k point, where suddenly you’re sure the book is crap, you’re crap, the writing is crap, the plot is nonsensical, and you’re just wasting your time (and possibly your life) pursuing this whole writing thing. So in some ways, it may have been something of a perfect storm.

But that just makes it all the more amazing to me that despite ALL of that, despite days of not writing a word this week, I actually managed to hit my word count goal for this week. I’m so proud of myself for that, because it was hard won. But I squeaked in just over the line at the last minute (precisely 27 words over the line), meaning next week I begin on schedule. I’ve lost most of my sizable lead on my original projected timeline, but as things seem to be settling back down again, I’m hoping I’ll be able to bump my time back up to 1k/day and that usually adds a little extra to the pot each day. We’ll just have to wait and see. If that’s not quite enough to rebuild the buffer, I may try to take on 500/day on the weekends.

Current Progress (blue): 35027 / 100000 words. 35% done!

Estimated Progress (red): 35000 / 100000 words. Due Date: 9/6/19

Have gotten a little behind schedule the last few days, due to a myriad of things, including big life changes and some general mental health dealings. Finally forced myself to get a move on today, not worrying too much about word count so much as getting something done. Managed about 800 words, which isn’t terrible, and wrote a future scene to break out of the slump that hit at about 29,000 words. One of the nice things about having a detailed outline is that I can jump ahead a bit and tackle sequences that might be more appealing on a given day. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get back to a normal flow, but I’m trying to not put too much pressure on, either, as past experience tells me that’s more likely to backfire, and I don’t want to get behind schedule. While I’d love to get this draft finished by August, I’m beginning to suspect that may be a little unrealistic. Still, if I can hit my original deadline of 9/6, that won’t be terrible, and should still leave me some good time to work on something else for the rest of the year.

Current Progress (blue): 30275 / 100000 words. 30% done!

Estimated Progress (red): 29000 / 100000 words. Due Date: 9/6/19

Made up some lost progress over the past two Bookcamp days (thank goodness!), though one of those days was largely a reworking day, in which I translated a bunch of mishmashed stuff from previous drafts to make sense in this one. But still work that needed to be done, and it moved the story forward, so I’m happy for it. And hopefully–hopefully!–we’re getting back to a healthy place. We could use a nice healthy week!

Current Progress (blue): 29471 / 100000 words. 29% done!

Estimated Progress (red): 25000 / 100000 words. Due Date: 9/6/19

Got a little behind schedule the last couple days due to Bug’s getting Croup again (sigh). So he’s been home getting better, and that’s meant different plans during the day, and in the evenings I’ve been so tired and rather sick myself still, that I just could not muster the energy to tackle the next scenes. But, I’m hoping tomorrow he’ll be doing much better–he was doing better today, though now he’s all sniffles and coughing again (pleeeeeze be healthy again!)–in which case I’ll be going over to a friends to do a Book Bootcamp session, which I’m hoping could net me 3k in a sitting, though that may be a bit optimistic. I usually nail about 1.5k-ish per day, so it’s really just finding the stamina to complete two days worth of writing. I think I can manage that by jumping ahead to future scenes. I’m not sure I’ll be able to manage the stamina on sequential scenes, but we’ll see. I could certainly use the words-buffer as this week has freaked me out on how productive I’ll be this summer when the regular school routine ends. Finding ways to hack my own energy level in the evening–even just for a little bit–will be key.

Current Progress (blue): 24232 / 100000 words. 24% done!

Estimated Progress: 23000 / 100000 words. Due Date: 9/6/19

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