Category Archives: Writing

Entries where I talk about my writing: stories, novels, general creativity.

Fear of Distraction

It’s midway through National Novel Writing Month, and things aren’t looking good for me this year. At this point, one should be at about 25,000 words… and I’m at, oh, 7,000 or so. This may be the year that I don’t win this thing. I’m sort of upset about that, because it breaks my winning streak of having won every year that I’ve participated (which is every year since 2001, though I skipped 2002 — or did you know that already?).

So I figure it’s time to dust off the blog and get to pondering things. Like why I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month for fourteen consecutive years, but don’t really have anything that I would consider ready to show off for publication. I’m pretty sure it’s not a fear of failure that’s holding me back, or the complementary fear of success. I can pursue a short story to (near) completion, but novels are another thing.

I’m pretty sure that what holds me back is a fear of distraction.

By which I mean that I have a hard time committing to a novel of mine if I fear that something else better might come along and hey, I can’t work on it because I’m already stuck working on this thing. And therefore I’m afraid of committing to a novel. And the irony is palpable, because if I had been able to commit to, say, The Outer Darkness (in 2004), I may have finished that novel completely, and gotten others completed as well. But no, I had to dither and go through angst and worry that if I focused on that one, then other brilliant ideas would go unwritten.

And what if I finish a novel, get it all the way done, and find it was a waste of time? What if I find, at that point, that I should have written something else?

I suspect these are questions that just about every writer faces. But when does that fear of distraction/wasted time get to the point that it’s pathological, and interferes with your ability to get anything done?

I don’t know.

Suggestions, anyone?

So, the votes are in!

Twenty people voted on what I should write for National Novel Writing Month this year, more than I expected. More than half of you voted for And the Devil Will Drag You Under1, a novel about devils at war with each other in a modern city. Amusingly, this is actually the novel I was planning on writing last year during NaNoWriMo until my friend  Andrea Stewart talked me into writing Padma, a novel I’d been planning on writing for years. I have no regrets there.

If you want to have chapters of And the Devil Will Drag You Underr emailed to you, go click on my contact page and fill out the contact form there. I’ll know what to do.

Speaking of Padma, I’m still revising that one. I had hoped to have the second draft ready for my critique group in October, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ve been taking an online class in writing inclusive fiction (by Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford of Writing the Other), and learning that there is a lot of work to do in order to properly flesh out my main character, who is a woman of half-Indian descent. That’s not to say that I’m not going to finish it, just that I have more work to do than I had originally anticipated. I’ve been working on it daily for about a month now.

My kaiju short story “Anamet” is progressing slowly. Again, I need to do some research in order to do the main character justice. This is another story I’d intended to have completed earlier; by mid-August, in fact. I tend to be very optimistic when estimating how long it’s going to write a story.

Other writing-related news: My short story “The B.I.M.” is with my critique group right now; and “A Pine Romance” is with a beta reader. We’ll see how they both go over.

How’s your day going?


 

HELP! What should I write?

Earlier I was firmly committed to my kaiju novel for NaNoWriMo this year. But now I’m wavering. I have three ideas, all of them equally attractive. So I’m throwing the question out to you, faithful readers:

What should Richard write for NaNoWriMo 2017?

  • And the Devil Will Drag You Under: Devils at war with each other in a modern city! (55%, 11 Votes)
  • The X of Doom: Pirates, sorcery, and time travel! (20%, 4 Votes)
  • The Wind Walker: A giant monster from Antarctica wreaks havoc on the Earth! (20%, 4 Votes)
  • Other: Please elucidate in a comment on this blog post. (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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Of course, I won’t be posting my novel online this year for Reasons, but you’ll be able to request that chapters be mailed to you as I write them. I’ll work on a mechanism for that.

Storm’s a-brewin’….

…and National Novel Writing Month 2017 is just around the corner. Lurking. Waiting. Ready to pounce on any unsuspecting writer who ventures too near its deathly maw.

So the answer is yes, I am participating in NaNoWriMo once more. And yep, I, along with Kat, will be one of the Municipal Liaisons for the Sacramento region. You may applaud.

This year, I think I’ll be writing The Wind Walker, a kaiju story. I mentioned it a blog post or two ago, and the more I think about it, the more excited I am about it. I’ll be plotting it and outlining it and so on. My short story “Anamet”, which I’m working on, is going to be a prequel for The Wind Walker, though it will have a very different tone.

And just for funsies, I created this potential cover art:

I made this with the “Pulp-O-Mizer Cover Maker“, which is way too much fun. Obviously if I ever get around to publishing The Wind Walker, I’ll need a whole new cover, but this one is inspiring enough for now. Go and make one of your own!


Still on my social media hiatus. I admit dipping into Twitter a couple of times here and there, but I can only last a few minutes at most without encountering something that upsets me. Ugh.

I did go to reactivate my account on Absolute Write. So find me there, if ye care to.

Anyway… uh… Comment here on my blog if you care.

Overworrying about a work in progress

A number of years ago I wrote a short story, “Coyote Goes to College”. It was about a generic version of the Coyote trickster who populates the lore of some Native American tribes. I think it’s a good story and pretty funny, but should I publish it? I don’t know. Coyote isn’t a character that I invented, and comes from a culture that I don’t identify with. Input would be appreciated.

Another worry I have is about my novel-in-progress, Padma. The main character differs from me in many ways, but mostly she comes from a racial/cultural background — specifically, she is biracial (half white and half Indian) from India, though she was born in the US and came back at the age of 11, and has little knowledge or experience with her native culture; little enough so that when supernatural entities from Indian mythology show up, she doesn’t recognize them.

I would appreciate as many thoughts and comments as possible. If you could, please comment on this blog entry directly. I’m still on my social media hiatus, and may not see what you have to say if you say it on Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks!

Edited: It was pointed out to me that I misused the Twitter hashtag that I had included earlier. It’s been removed.

Now in my Head

Right now, I’m on a social media hiatus (with momentary lapses to announce new blog posts, of course), because I found that going on to Twitter was getting more and more upsetting and going on to Facebook was getting frustrating. I don’t like feeling upset and frustrated. Of course, I’ve felt that way since the 2016 election, but at least I can take some breaks where I can. I still have my blog, though, and since I control all content here, I feel less frustrated (though perhaps writer’s block counts). And I ask that if you feel compelled to comment about this post, please do so here rather than on Twitter or Facebook, because I won’t see those.

As for what’s going on right now, I’m still sad about B’s passing. I encountered a number of cousins I hadn’t seen for years, as well as a number of first cousins, once removed, that I hadn’t known existed. That was a nice thing, even though it was under less-than-pleasant circumstances.

I’m still taking that Data Science certification series on Coursera, but it’s only been over the past week or so that I’ve been able to use some of what I’ve learning at work. Specifically, I was able to use the R programming language in conjunction with the SQLite3 command line interface to convert large JSON files to simple SQLite databases. That may be incomprehensible to you, but when I was able to pull it off, I felt great joy, a serious sense of accomplishment. It was great.

I finished up that “Question Reality” class I was taking through edX. My final score was 90%. I wanted higher, but will be happy with that. Now I’m taking a self-paced course called “Climate Change: The Science”, which is, of course, about the science of climate change. It’s an exhilarating, but also depressing, course.

But the thing that’s really stomping through my brain right now are kaiju: giant monsters, like Godzilla or Mothra or Cloverfield. The word kaiju is Japanese, and means “strange creature” (for years I ran a webzine called Daikaijuzine, another Japanese word that means “giant strange creature”).  I’ve always had a soft spot for Godzilla. When I saw Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (also known as Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster) as a kid in the early 70s, it terrified the snot out of me. The issues of Daikaijuzine were all named after various monsters in the Godzilla mythos.

But at Westercon I picked up this book, an anthology chock-full of giant monster stories. It’s a fun book, and while some of the stories are mediocre, most of them are pretty fun. And now ideas have been churning in my brain. I had an idea for a kaiju story set in Antarctica, but as the days have gone on, more plot elements and character moments have emerged and now the idea is for a novel instead of a short story. I’ve decided that this is going to be my NaNoWriMo project for this year. I also have an idea for a kaiju short story which I am determined will remain a short story; it should be short, and I hope I can get a first draft ready for the next meeting of my writers’ group.

And so that’s what’s going on my in my head right now. I am hoping to post an entry to this blog every Thursday, but most entries will probably be minor ones like this instead of well-thought-out missives or vague ponderings about life and death and grief (though the novel I’m working on, Padma, is about exactly those themes). Please enjoy these entries. As Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Share and Enjoy.”

The Writing Life

This is just a brief post. Its purpose is to let you know what I’m working on, writing-wise, right now, so that you can help keep me accountable. It’s also meant to help me clarify exactly what I’m working on and my self-imposed deadlines. So here goes.

NovelsPadma. I plan on finishing up the first draft by September so that I can throw it at some beta and sensitivity readers.

Stories:

  • “The B.I.M.” This is the story I promised Jennifer for her birthday. I was planning on having it finished by her birthday, which was May 30, but I missed that deadline. So now I’m planning on finishing it by the 15th of June.
  • “A Pine Romance”. I need to make some fundamental changes to this one to clarify the main character’s emotional journey. No problem, right? Deadline is the end of July, so I can toss it around to various markets.

And that’s it!


A wee administrative note: This is the very last post that I will be cross-posting to LiveJournal. The Russian owners of that site are well within their rights to set the Terms and Conditions to whatever they want, but their homophobic stance convinces me that I just can’t anymore. I’m planning on setting up a DreamWidth account, so you’ll be able to follow me there.