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[writing|process] And then I passed the top step…

I finished the first draft of Their Currents Turn Awry this past Monday. Ever since then my brain has been nagging me. “Why aren’t we writing? Why aren’t we writing?”

It’s like running up the stairs and stepping wrong because you tried to keep going upward past the top step.

This almost always happens to me after I finish drafting a novel. For some reason, the sensation has been very strong this week. I know from experience that it’s a bad idea to view this phenomenon as a form of momentum and try to keep writing. The writer brain must be allowed to reset and recalibrate.

Still, why aren’t we writing?

[writing] Their Currents Turn Awry is complete in first draft

Yesterday I finished the first draft of Sunspin book two, Their Currents Turn Awry. This wrapped at 149,100 words, which represents 82,500 new words since April 1st, working from an existing stub of 66,600 words.

I wrote those 82,500 words over 37 elapsed days, with 10 of those days off from writing, mostly due to cancer stress. That’s an average of 2,200 words per elapsed day, 3,100 words per writing day. Given that my minimum target for myself on novel production is 2,500 words per writing day, five days per week, I met my productivity goals in that sense.

The book has a couple of problems I’m aware of, mostly around the way the scenes are structured. Writing a dozen POV characters is kind of different for me. Not to mention the whole interlocking-protagonist-so-there-is-no-antagonist thing. No Evil Overlords here, sorry. Just people with conflicting agendas working toward differing ends. Kind of like real life, except I worry that there won’t be a sufficiently satisfying moral dimension for reader cookies.

(And therein lies another essay, about whether or not we need Voldemort and Sauron, but that’s not in the scope of this blog post.)

So I’m pretty happy. I gave myself to the end of May to get this done. I’m going to take a few days, possibly this entire week, for a brain break, then I’m on to the copy edits of Kalimpura, which in a fit of nearly stunning irony arrived in my inbox a few hours after I finished Their Currents Turn Awry. After that, I’ll be working some more on the book proposal for Going to Extremes.

[personal] Updatery of various kinds

In no particular order…

I’m off to Seattle shortly this morning for a Day Jobbe trade show. Somewhat unusually for me, I’ll be taking the train from Portland northward. Thursday I fly from SEA to Columbus, OH, for a day of meetings on Friday. Back home Saturday morning. So three travel days this week, and what look to be two twelve-hour work days as well as one more (hopefully) normal work day. Oh, the glamor. There is, however, the Open Dinner in Columbus, OH Friday night. [ LiveJournal ] Watch this space, though. If my meetings run short, I might try to catch a late flight home Friday and cancel dinner accordingly.

On the plus side, I’m (probably) one writing session away from finishing the first draft of Their Currents Turn Awry, Sunspin volume two. At that point, it will go into the drawer for a while, likely until the fall.

My next effort in sequence is to process agent feedback on the book proposal for Going to Extremes, though I’ll take a few days off for a brain break, not to mention dealing with the forthcoming crazy week, before picking that up. I’m ahead of schedule in terms of my production calendar. This is nice. June is set aside for short fiction and miscellaneous projects, so if you’re looking for something from me, now would be a nice time to remind me. I do track that stuff, but sometimes projects slip through the cracks.

Yesterday, [info]the_child and I (and a friend of hers) went to see The Avengersimdb ]. As my (step)mother commented, “But no Emma Peel!”

For reals, it was an awesome movie. So awesome I don’t really have a review. The film bypassed my critical brain and inserted raw entertainment. Not a lot of books or movies can do that to me anymore. If you’re any kind of a fan of action movies, this one is a real winner.

I think I was most impressed by the dialog, which was often extremely apropos, rather witty and sometimes inducing of swoon in my otherwise silent-at-that-point writer brain. Which given this was co-written and directed by Joss Whedon should be unsurprising. I will also comment that you don’t have to be particularly familiar with Marvel comics or the recent spate of Marvel-based superhero movies that serve as prequels to this film, though it would help if you were. I’m sure I missed a bunch of in-jokes, but the ones I caught were enough.

So, yeah, things go boom with witty banter. Though for my money the best line in the whole movie is Harry Dean Stanton’s cameo security guard talking to Incredible Hulk Bruce Banner. “You got a condition, son.”

Ok, maybe that was a review.

Off to be busy. Posting may be more irregular than usual for a travel week due to the odd schedule.

[personal|photos] A wee bit of updatery

Last night I slept eight and half hours. Then I got up and went for a two-hour walk this morning, including the hidden canyon stretch of the Springwater Trail. I always feel good when I’m walking like that, which makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often.

While down in the greenery, I ran across these two gentlemen:


(Sorry for the blur, this is a tight crop of a phone cam shot taken from a distance.)

A bit later, walking past the police station, I saw another group of birds:


Clearly, there was a theme to the morning.

Laying low today, except for [info]the_child‘s late afternoon lacrosse game, and a possible dinner with [info]lizzyshannon this evening. (We’re still discussing logistics.) Likewise laying low tomorrow except for taking [info]the_child to choir practice. The only other things I am doing are morning bloggery, writing time on Their Currents Turn Awry, and packing for this coming week’s travel.

The week itself is going to be a mother bear of a trip. Even so, I’m close on the book, and expect to be done within a few days despite travel silliness. I’ll take a couple of days’ brain break, then be back on Going to Extremes. But this weekend… low and slow.

Photos © 2012, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

[writing] Back on Their Currents Turn Awry

I managed to bang out 4,600 words on Their Currents Turn Awry yesterday. I was feeling a little uneasy about my days-long hiatus from working on the book, though I recognize logically enough that the combination of the port removal surgery and the fourth anniversary of my cancer was deeply distracting.

It’s good to slip back into the headspace of the characters. My sense of muddling has receded from where it was a week or two ago, and I am definitely on the downhill run toward wrapping this first draft of Sunspin‘s second volume. I’m also definitely at the stage of thinking, “This is stupid, no one’s going to want to read this tripe.” In other words, situation normal for this author.

I started reading Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself a couple of days ago. Man, is he hard on his characters. Everything is fast and difficult from page one. Sunspin isn’t like that. I’m moving a different kind of pace, more deliberate. So at the moment, Joe is making me feel inadequate. Like I want to say to myself, “Quick, kill somebody!” Except this is a different book.

It’s funny how we look to others. I believe I’m a perfectly good writer who sometimes can trend towards great. (I have to believe that, otherwise I’d never sit down at a keyboard.) Yet there are so many ways to go about this. “There are nine and sixty ways / Of constructing tribal lays / And every single one of them is right.” And when I’ve chosen one path, all those other paths look so much more attractive.

Sort of like when you order the chicken parmigiana and then salivate over every other dish that comes out of the restaurant kitchen.

Ah, writing. Insecurity must really be part of the process.

[travel] Off to Omaha again

I’m off to Omaha again. A bit short-slept, eager to be back on Their Currents Turn Awry after a weekend of cancer echoes and chest pain. We shall see. Blogging and email service may be irregular.

Whatever you’re doing this week, be well.

[cancer] Happy Cancerversary

Four years ago today I was admitted to the hospital with copious rectal bleeding, which turned into my cancer diagnosis.

Today I’m having family and a few friends over to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived four years with Stage Four colon cancer. As it happens, this past Friday my second chest port was removed, so we’ll be honoring that outbreak of optimism as well.

I got to keep this one:


So, yeah. My brain’s been kind of eaten these past few days, but the stress is basically good stress. Getting my life back, at least for a while.

Today: Happy Cancerversary. Tomorrow I’m off to Omaha, back on Their Currents Turn Awry, and back to real life

Photo © 2012, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

[cancer] Having the port taken out today

I’m off in a couple of hours to the clinic to have my chest port removed, for the second time. It’s a very minor outpatient procedure lasting less than an hour under local anaesthetic only. Which involves a doctor and a nurse digging about in my chest for most of that time, via an entry wound just close enough to my right clavicle that I can’t actually see what they’re doing. Fairly twitchy about that, even though I’ve had this exact procedure before. The last time, I was so nervous that I took two Lorazepam before I went in. By the time I got to the clinic, I could barely walk, I was so looped.

I think I’ll stick to one Lorazepam this time.

Of course, after mentioning last night to [info]mlerules how well I sleep and how consistently I sleep well, I had a terrible night’s sleep. Though I wasn’t consciously worrying about the procedure today, I rather assume that medical stress played its part.

I’ve lunch with a friend from high school today, and I’m due at the Ooligan Press social tonight with [info]lizzyshannon and [info]the_child, otherwise I’d be tempted to pop two Lorazepam, call in a sick day, and sleep off the stress post-procedure.

So, yeah. Yesterday’s no writing was due to schedule whackiness (of the good kind, a nice potluck dinner, among other things) and me wanting a day of brain break between sections of Their Currents Turn Awry. It’s quite possible today will be no writing as well due to me being in a drug-induced haze and medically stressed out. Or not. We shall see.

[writing] Another small milestone on Their Currents Turn Awry

Yesterday I finished the latest chunk of Their Currents Turn Awry, Sunspin volume 2. The manuscript now stands at 119,200 words, and I figure on adding about 30,000 more words with the last chunk. I’m definitely wrestling with some plot timing and sequencing issues, but that’s absolutely a problem for revision. I am also emerging from the natural self-doubt of the eternal muddle in the middle, at least for this book.

It’s nice to see it flowing. I expect 10-12 more days of writing time before I’m done with this draft altogether. It’s a first draft, of course, so this won’t be going out to first readers or anyone else (unless someone really insists, I suppose). Rather, it will be going into the drawer until about August. I have other fish to fry in the mean time, including working on the Going to Extremes proposal and possibly first draft, Kalimpura copy edits, a rewrite on Little Dog: Son of a Bitch once [info]bravado111 has drafted it, some short fiction projects including at least one novella, and maybe a run at the first part of The Whips and Scorns of Time, Sunspin volume 3.

Plus some other cool stuff in the works which I can’t quite talk about yet. But trust me, it’s cool.

Busy, busy.

[travel|food] Having fun in Newark, CA

Last night’s open dinner at the Bombay Garden here in Newark, CA, was fun. We had about a dozen people show up. LiveJournal is down as I draft this post, so I can’t check LJ to namecheck everybody by their Official Internet Handles, but there was good spread of folks from dear old friends to brand new acquaintances. Author Juliette Wade brought her kids, who at about 9 and 7 reminded me a great deal of me and my sister at their age. Editor Gabrielle Harbowy was there, with Mr. G.H. and her assistant F—. K—, T— M— and her husband, Springtime Creations and Mr. S.C., as well as Dave a/k/a Dad. (I hope to Ghu I didn’t leave anybody off…)

Food at the Bombay Garden was pretty good, the service could kindly be described as eccentric, but that didn’t matter. It was a good bunch of people, and we hung out in the restaurant for about 2.5 hours.

Walked for an hour this morning, now gearing up for a day of Day Jobbery. Flying home tonight. With luck, I’ll finish the current section of Their Currents Turn Awry on the plane.

[personal|cool] Mysterious lights were seen in the sky, flashing

Yesterday was by design a pretty slow day. [info]the_child was heading off for snowboarding at Mt. Hood, and I had planned only two things. One, to spend some time working on Their Currents Turn Awry; and two, to spend some time visiting [info]lizzyshannon, who continues in the throes of post-operative recovery. After an almost too-solid night’s sleep, I made it so.

Plus as a bonus round, between writing time and Lizzy time, I threw in a quick trip to Powell’s Books. I wanted to pick up a birthday gift for [info]tillyjane (a/k/a my mom), and [info]the_child had asked me to score some Brent Weeks books for her. I signed stock while I was there, picked up a copy of the first volume of the A Game of Thrones graphic novelization [ Powells | BN ], and some brag copies of the April issue of Portland Monthly, wherein I penned a review of Mary Robinette Kowal‘s new novel, Glamour in GlassPowells | BN ] (first line thereof optional).

I left Lizzy’s place late yesterday afternoon feeling pretty tired. I just wanted to go home and go to bed early. (This happens sometimes after I’ve overslept significantly the night before.) I’d done everything I’d planned that day, [info]the_child was away with friends, and, hey, it as Saturday. But I kept thinking about the Lyrid meteor shower due last night. And how clear and beautiful the sky was as I’d cruised around all day in the Genre Car with the top down. And how I wasn’t a sick man right now, and didn’t have to protect my sleep quite so ferociously. And how there would be meteor showers that night.

So I ate, shopped for groceries, then went home and brooded in my easy chair for a while about how tired I was. I then rattled up [info]mlerules to see if she was free. We headed out to the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, overlooking the western end of the Columbia Gorge, to watch the skies for a while from the comfort of the Genre Car’s fully reclined seats with the top still down.

We were there perhaps an hour. Clouds were moving in and out from the east, which was annoying, as that horizon had been clear at sunset. The sky stayed mostly clear, with stars down to fourth or fifth magnitude easily visible, and perhaps a bit beyond that at a squint, so there must have been some haze at altitude. Still, we saw a ton of satellites, including one Iridium flare. [info]mlerules spotted a meteor trail that I happened to be looking in the wrong direction to see. A bit later, we both spotted a long, bright meteor that trailed across the sky in two pulses. For the win!

Finally, my case of the tireds overtook me. We were there too early for the Lyrids’ peak, but we saw cool stuff. Well worth the extra couple of hours of awake time. And hey, who doesn’t like mysterious lights seen in the sky, flashing?