Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog.
I woke up early today, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. This is not so unusual—I’m rather insomniac by nature, or at least by long habit, and I often wake up well before I need to get up. It’s one of those hallmarks or symptoms of certain things in which I’m rather typical, which can be either reassuring or discouraging (or uninteresting) depending on your point of view. Anyway, as I said, I woke up early as I often do, but I felt atypically restless, and I knew that I was going to be writing my blog today anyway, so I just got up and took my shower and came to the office. Whether that will lead to this post going out slightly earlier than usual remains to be seen.
I don’t recall if I had finished it by this time last week, but by the end of last week I had finished the basic editing of House Guest and I am pleased with the result. Now, to round out the stories that I mean to put into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, I’m finishing a story I started about eight or nine years ago, called In the Shade, which I’ve mentioned, I think, more than once in the past. I had written perhaps fifteen pages of it, something like 14,000 words or so, when I kind of lost the thread.
To give myself excuses, and to defend the story itself (which deserves better treatment), many things were troubling me at the time. Not that my life is a whole lot more even-keeled now, but I guess I’ve gotten used to the difficulties, which is not to say that I’ve developed skills for addressing them. I think I’ve just arrived at a policy of “biding the end”. Basically, it’s all going to be taken off my hands by something eventually, so like the rat in the cage getting frequent shocks without any obvious pattern or way to avoid them, I’ve embraced the logic of learned helplessness. The Vagabond would probably approve.
Anyway, I came back to In the Shade and began applying my current writing approach, which has been much more successful and productive than anything I’ve done before: Just write something, anything, even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t worry too much about what comes out. You’ll fix it up in the rewrite/editing process, so don’t be one of those stereotypical writers who agonizes over each sentence as you produce it. Just write, try to write at least a page every day, and the outcome will take care of itself (as long as you’re strict about editing).
I’m pleased to say that this has been as successful as always. The first day of return to the story was pretty much all rereading (fixing a few grammatical and typographical things here and there along the way) and I perhaps wrote less than a half a page after that. But then Tuesday and Wednesday I came back, reread what I’d written the day before, and then wrote more. As always, when approaching the keyboard, I was reticent, with a sense of dreariness and inertia, but the rule is always just to write something, at least a page (or even less, if absolutely necessary) and move forward. The first day this worked well, and by the second day I was into full swing; after feeling as lazy and resistant as usual when I sat down, I churned out over 2600 new words* on the story in a little over an hour. I finally had to force myself to stop when it was past time to get ready for the normal workday. It’s really cool how that happens. If I could bottle and sell it, I’d be a billionaire.
As always, it’s good to be writing new fiction again, especially after quite a long stretch of doing mainly editing, rewriting, layout, and whatnot. From Unanimity, then on to The Vagabond, with only a tiny bit of work on Outlaw’s Mind in between, I haven’t done much new fiction for a while. Of course, I’m still just technically continuing an oldish story, but the writing is new. I’m also very pleased to have thought of newer, better ways to continue and conclude that tale than the vaguer notions I had when I first started it, so that’s taking life’s lemons and making a silver lining for the horns of a dilemma while the iron is hot. Or something like that.
I’m not quite sure how I’m going to arrange the stories in my collection** when the time comes. I think I’ll probably put House Guest right at the beginning, as it’s both brief and the oldest of my stories. It’s also, I think, a good introductory tale, and I’m reasonably pleased with it. I’ll probably put In the Shade at the end, since it’s the last story that’s going to be finished. I’ll likely throw Solitaire in the middle, surrounded by comparatively lighter fare***, maybe Ifowonco and Penal Colony. This is just brainstorming, though. You’ll have to wait and see, as will I, what the real order will be.
I’m getting pretty good feedback from the people who are reading The Vagabond, some of whom are not usually big readers. That’s certainly gratifying. If I could be part of turning one person who doesn’t read much into a habitual reader, I could consider myself worth having existed.
My sister, also, is apparently enjoying the book, and she even had a tee-shirt made by customink.com, a picture of which I’ll include below. I know she’s been reading the book because she quoted the Vagabond himself regarding the color, saying, “After all, gray is the color of despair.” She added a smiley, winking emoji to the comment, because I don’t think the shirt, or its color, really felt despair-ish to her. But gray is the Vagabond’s favorite color.
Hopefully, she doesn’t mind me sharing this. If she does, I’ll happily edit it out.
Speaking of feedback, I hereby make a general request to anyone who has read any of my books or stories please to leave a review and/or rating on Amazon for them if you get the chance—and do so for other authors as well, please. It makes a huge difference in encouraging future readers to buy the books, and it’s also immeasurably rewarding to get well-meaning feedback. I think I speak for most if not all authors when I say this.
By all necessary and possible means, keep reading—and just as you would tip your servers at a restaurant, please review or rate your authors. Above all else, take care of yourselves and those you love.
*Not really “new” words, I guess. If they were new, no one would know what they meant, even if I knew.
**I want to abbreviate its title the way I call The Chasm and the Collision “CatC” for short, but unfortunately, DECoC seems mildly obscene.
***Pretty much everything is comparatively lighter than Solitaire.