novels


Kamala Harris was right in the Democratic debate to bring everything back to Trump each time. He’s the real enemy here. There were Democrats on that stage who I like better than others but any one of those people would be a better president than Donald Trump. But I think I’ve watched my last debate. I’m sure my Twitter timeline will be relieved, as I couldn’t stop live tweeting. I’ve watched all the debates so far and my opinion hasn’t changed much. I have certain people I’d be quite unhappy to vote for but several of the remaining candidates I’d vote for happily. #AnyDem

An interesting side note: I’ve said uncomplimentary things about several of the candidates but the only time trolls have come after me is when I’ve said uncomplimentary things about Tulsi Gabbard. I am not the only one who has had this experience. And I am such small potatoes on Twitter. They must be very well organized. Good thing I don’t respond to trolls. It’s no fun for them if you don’t engage and they stop playing.

Russian bot, Russian bot
Fly away home—
Your pants are on fire
And you’re all Putin owned.
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Yes, there are many tragedies in the world we need to pay attention to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a day to remember the murder of nearly 3000 innocent souls. Politicizing that is pretty reprehensible, no matter which side of the debate it comes from. Especially since 9/11 is an ongoing tragedy. People are still dying as a consequence of what happened that day. In honoring the fallen of 9/11 we are also honoring those who still struggle with illness and death because of it.
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Every act of artistic creation is also an offering to the Universe.
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Dear Everybody Who Needs Money From Me: I’d love to donate to your project/cause/campaign but I’m on a fixed income. Doesn’t mean I won’t donate when I can but if I donate to one thing I probably won’t be able to give to another thing that same month. My sincere best wishes to you.
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Even at my advanced age I can still sing all the lyrics of every Beatles song. You never forget the things you memorized in your youth. Unfortunately, this is also true of every commercial jingle I heard when I was young.
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Whenever I’m doing a piece of art and I say to myself, “I’ll just eyeball it,” every time I hear Louis Gossett Jr. saying, “Don’t be eyeballin’ me, boy.” Every. Fricking. Time.
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I was reading about the psychological theory of behaviorism one afternoon, but each time the notifications rang on my phone I picked it up to look. The irony of this was not lost on me.
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I hit the wall of character motivation on the novel and had a painful slog trying to get through it. I wasn’t believing this character’s reason for acting as he does so I couldn’t expect anyone else would. I did a partial re-read and reorganization to see if that would shake anything loose and after some reworking I came unstuck—at least for that particular problem. I’m not sure that part of the novel works, but it works for now, and I’m moving forward.

But not quickly. I pushed through a major hump a few days ago so at least that section of the story is finished. I’m past the 90k mark and closing in on the end of the book, but I still have a ways to go. I’ve never worked well from outlines. They usually kill an idea dead for me. Part of the problem with the current novel is that I know everything that happens until the end rather than making it up as I go along and that’s turned it into a real slog. However, I feel I have to finish this one, not only because I’ve come so far, but for the sake of my own spirit. I need to finish a substantial piece of work. To prove something to myself, I guess. That I’m still a writer?

I look forward to typing The End and putting this one in the trunk for a while and moving on to something else. It’s not my best work. Most writers I know feel that way at the conclusion of a novel, but in this case I may be write. Er, right.

Until I reread it many months hence, of course, and temporarily suffer from the “this is the best thing I’ve ever done” delusion.
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Euphomet, Jim Perry’s high strangeness podcast, has become my very favoritest. There are many fine podcasts out there, but I love Jim’s sensibility and his openly inquisitive tone. Check it out here.

Random quote of the day:

“Every novelist ought to invent his own technique, that is the fact of the matter. Every novel worthy of the name is like another planet, whether large or small, which has its own laws just as it has its own flora and fauna. Thus, Faulkner’s technique is certainly the best one with which to paint Faulkner’s world, and Kafka’s nightmare has produced its own myths that make it communicable. . . . The work of art itself. . . is the solution to the problem of technique.”

—François Mauriac, La Table Ronde magazine, August 1949

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“While the novelist is banging on his typewriter, the poet is watching a fly in a windowpane.”

—Billy Collins, The Paris Review, Fall 2001, No. 159

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

I haven’t written much in the last three weeks. I allowed myself to get distracted by my mother’s memoirs (and I do mean allowed). Then late Sunday night I came down with either a stomach virus or a bad case of food poisoning and have pretty much felt like I was run over by truck all week. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit I’ve been on a writing vacation. (Screwing off, in other words.) I’m finally starting to feel human again, health-wise, so I’m rapidly running out of excuses not to write. I need to just hunker down and do it.

I’m about 80k into the novel I’ve been working on. That sounds way the hell more impressive than it actually is because this novel is basically stitching together a bunch of pre-written stories. However, I’d say about 25k of that is new writing. I’ve gotten to the part of the novel where the pre-written material has mostly been used (there’s one more story for near the finale). I’ve completed chunks of partially written stuff and done substantial stitching together. My last bit of serious writing before flaking off was finishing a barely-begun story that had been sitting on my hard drive for years, than slotting it into place. It felt really good. I liked that section so much I even considered ripping it out and marketing it. But it doesn’t really work as a standalone story. It works quite well in the context of the novel framework, so I’ll just leave things be.

Finishing that was an important for me. I’d completed a couple of stories late last year—the first I’d finished in years, and real milestones on the road to recovery from writers’ block. But they weren’t great stories, more like stretching exercises after a long time of sitting idle. But they were finished, and they were stories. The one I just completed inside the novel was solid work. It will have to be edited, et al., in the larger context of the novel, but it was a substantial thing. It had always been a linchpin story in the greater context of the world I created here, but it had existed in my mind, not in actual writing. That was also true of other stories I had to complete for this project, but this one a big deal for me.*

Now I’ve arrived at another story I’ve needed to complete for some time—the last before the big push to the end. I always knew it was going to be the hardest to write. I’ve poked at it a little and edited out some superfluous material, but I’ve mostly been like a horse shying at a jump. I know myself as a writer well enough to understand that part of the reason I’ve shied away is because it was going to be difficult to write. I just didn’t want to go there and had to wait for my psyche/right brain/whatever-the-hell to build up its nerve. (This is a totally unconscious process, by the way, and has to work itself out in the back brain.) So, the time has arrived to get over myself, jump the hurdle, and get on with it.

The good news in all of this, is that I’ve started to tell myself stories again after a long while of nothing. I’ve got new ideas on the back burner wanting to be written and decent enough that I want to write them. (And by stories I’m afraid I mean novels. I don’t seem to be able to write anything short to save my life.) Also today, the end scene of the current novel popped into my brain fully formed, so that’s a very good sign. (I’d been vaguely aiming at a last line before this time.)

It feels good, it feels like I’m a writer again. I’ve even started to take it a little for granted which I haven’t done in a very, very long time. I don’t want to take it too much for granted because I know quite painfully how easily it can be taken away from me again.

By my own psyche, of course, but we’re always our own worst enemies, aren’t we?

 

 

*For those familiar with my Dos Lunas cycle of stories, Ramona finally got hers.

Random quote of the day:

“One has to be just a little crazy to write a great novel. One must be capable of allowing the darkest, most ancient and shrewd parts of one’s being to take over the work from time to time.”

—John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

This morning one of my finished novels, the one that had some of the best writing and worldbuilding I’d done but was structurally flawed, starting talking to me, giving me new ideas and ways to fix the broken bits. Basically, after I finished this novel I realized that I’d tried to write a trilogy within the skin of a single novel (one of the curses of being an organic writer) and it would take a mountain of work to make things right. I’d slogged away at this thing for a year and a half and didn’t have the heart to do a massive restructure and start over, at least not at that juncture. So I shelved it and went on to another novel. I needed the break.

Well, today, as I said, that old novel started talking, doing a full court press, the new structure unfolding before me. It will still need more thinking, but I begin to see how to fix things. And, of course, it has absolutely nothing to do with the novel I am currently working on. But having finished six novels, I’m familiar with this syndrome. It is yet another elaborate attempt at sabotage by my subconscious—because the novel you’re not working on is always more attractive than the novel you are currently working on.

So, I took some notes and politely told the old novel to hold its peace. I would get to it in due time—but first I am going to finish what I’m currently working on. Like I said, I’ve been through this process enough to know that distractions are not my friend. Finish what’s on your plate before planning the next meal.

I actually take this as a positive sign. If the old habits of distraction are trying this hard, maybe it’s a sign that the Wonder Machine really is back online.

I’m so afraid to be hopeful because I’ve been disappointed so often in recent years. This time feels different from all the other abortive attempts, but who the hell knows?

I should probably stop talking about it, so if I go silent it isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Just conservation of resources.

I’ve got just over 42k done on a new novel. That’s not as impressive as it sounds because much of that was prewritten long ago and I’m getting back to it. But I have written over 4300 new words in the last two weeks. I’ve never written at a blistering pace. If I can write 700-750 words on a given day, that’s an impressive word count for me. So, I am unreasonably pleased by that 4300 words, enough so that I feel comfortable about talking about it now.

But not too much. Talking about what I’m writing is a sure way of killing that thing for me.

I’ve been flailing for so long, trying to get things back online, trying old ideas and new ones, and, apparently, I finally landed on the right piece of writing at the time that was right for me. I have been able to put in an almost daily writing habit, something that has eluded me for a very long time.

I won’t say it’s always been easy. The forces of procrastination are still there—but they are the normal forces of procrastination, the ones I’ve been used to dealing with my entire writing life. Not the procrastination of the soul that has been plaguing me for so long.

And the forces of sabotage are still there. As I said recently on Twitter, “I love how when you finally start to make substantial progress on a piece of writing and it’s feeling good the inner critic has got to find new and more extravagant ways of sabotaging things.” But I recognize that voice for what it is and I can tell it to shut up and move on with what I’m doing. It’s been nagging me all my life, it’s part of the artist’s way, all artists everywhere (or most I know), and part of the deal we make with the Universe. For some Universe-only-knows reason.

But unlike the last few years, I recognize that now, too, and can shove it roughly out of the way and get back to what I need to be doing.

So, wish me luck. I’m on that bumpy and thrilling road again and hope to keep on traveling.

Random quote of the day:

“A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.”

—Julia Alvarez, interview, The Writer, Aug. 4, 2016

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Novelists secrete a certain BO, which only other novelists detect…”

—Walker Percy, The Paris Review, Issue 103, Summer 1987

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“There have been plenty of self-destructive rebel-angel novelists over the years, but writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day. If you want to write novels, they take a long time, and they’re big, and they have a lot of words in them.”

—Michael Chabon, interview, Rolling Stone, September 27, 2001

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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