More Than I’m Doing

schoolbus It’s that time of year again–the time when I get a deluge of letters from people who have school projects due, and want to put me in those projects in some way. I feel kind of bad that I can’t answer each one fully, but if I did, I would have no time to write and consequently no income. I’ve tried to ameliorate this by talking about my writing process openly and even collecting essays about it into convenient form, but each year, as school terms wax and wane, I get spates of requests. I’m honored to be asked, of course, and I wish students all the best. I just cannot do more than I’m doing.

This past weekend, I finished Volume II of Shelby Foote’s massive work on the Civil War. I was warned going in that Foote bleeds magnolia sap, and it’s been interesting to see subtle (and not-so-subtle) choices made in that vein. He is never so happy as when the South wins one, and never so conflicted as when he faces the fact that the South simply refused to turn away from slavery, no matter what. At least he has the intellectual honesty to admit and highlight the latter, though one can sense his gritted teeth during those passages.

I popped by the library to look at what they had in the way of Civil War stuff, too–specifically, about guerrilla actions in that timeframe. They had nothing much, and I suspect I’ll be forced to mine Foote’s bibliography for some starter overviews. This is, of course, me gearing up to write Afterwar. The prospect of that trilogy terrifies me as much as ever, but mere fear can’t be allowed to stand in the way. My head is a strange place these days, between geography, logistics, and the peculiar creative ferment of turning “tomorrow” into “history” and letting the result show me its own internal logic.

I’m also working on the zombie apocalypse book, a monster if there ever was one. I’m attempting bigger zero drafts–in the 100k+ range instead of 60-70k. This calls for more endurance and a greater attention to certain types of structuring. I’m hoping it means I’m growing as a writer.

These things mean Harmony has to be set on the back burner. I don’t like that, I’d rather finish it first, but needs must when the devil drives, and I have a deep abiding need to feed my dependents and keep the house standing. It won’t be hurt by a little more time to boil in the back of my head.

It’s a good thing we’re coming up on NaNoWriMo. I still haven’t decided which work I’ll use for it this year, but the time is getting close. Maybe I’ll use it to finish the last half of Harmony while I also lunge for the end of the zombie book. Once I turn to Afterwar, there will be no room in my head for anything else, so the sooner I get these other two finished, the better.

The only other news from Chez Saintcrow is the change of seasons bringing a heightened amount of squirrel antics. Every time I let the dogs out, one of the arboreal rats decides to induce a merry chase or two. Miss B’s fondest desire is to catch one (again, since she has a dim recollection of doing so at least once before) and Odd’s entire world narrows to the excitement of making a new friend each time. I have committed to wearing shoes even inside until things calm down a bit, because you never know. Chance favors the prepared, and all that.

So. Wish me luck, and something for the inevitable headaches this proposed amount of work will spur. *sigh*

Over and out.

photo by: Alan Smythee