Frustration Saturation

Quiet intersection
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
October hath arrived, that most blessed of months, wherein I can finally buy house decorations and candy comes in reasonable bite-size pieces BY THE BAG LOAD. Also, pumpkin spice. I love me some pumpkin spice. Not the chemical syrups, no, but ground nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, all in a handy shaker. It’s like crack, I put it in my coffee, in my morning gruel, in pies and other baked goods. PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYWHERE.

The world is burning, but Samhain approaches, the turn of the witch’s year. I have a lot to think about since the last time the Wheel reached this particular spot.

I took some time off in September to luxuriate in the aftermath of a creative frenzy. Now I’m itching, and I long to get back to work. The pressure behind my eyeballs has reached its normal level, so to speak. There’s the zero of Roadtrip Z’s Season 3 to finish, edits on Steelflower at Sea, and I’m sure now that Afterwar is up for preorder I’ll be getting copyedits and proof pages soon. That’s apart from the epic fantasy I’m currently being consumed by, and now that the weather is cooler I really want to finish the zero of Dog Days.

There’s no shortage of work, and forcing myself to take two weeks of 200-word days, as wearing on my nerves as that was, means I’ll be able to do it more effectively now.

I’d talk about the current fascist mess, but I just can’t. I’ve hit frustration saturation. My resistance today is self-care. And working. It feels wrong to be joyous about Samhain, candy, and work, but I need that joy to get through to bedtime, now more than ever.

I hope you have some joy to get you through your day too, dear Readers.

Time to Run

Spring branch
© Papelita | Dreamstime Stock Photos
It’s not a monsoon. It’s steady, penetrating sheets of small drops, coming in waves, tiptapping the roof. It’s a warm rain, as things go. Not jungle-warm, but it’s not coating everything with ice and it has no particles of sleet in its many beating hearts. Mud’s collecting in every corner, grass is a sludge with a thin green hat, your shoes sink in, the cedars are bathing like naiads.

Down in the mud, the crocuses bloom. Snowdrops, too. The hyacinths are coming up, and the daffodils are raising green spears. I saw the crocuses yesterday, and a wave of hot, acid relief went through me right at the solar plexus. I’ve never been a springtime person–winter is when I’m most productive, especially in a damp, temperate clime. It’s a good thing we only have ice and snow here every once in a while. It kills off the slug overstock and keeps some of the other pestiferous populations down, but it’s not my favourite.

In a little bit, I have a long run. In the rain. I won’t be taking Miss B–she’s getting older, and this distance isn’t for her. She will no doubt be pissy with me for the rest of the day, until I give her some trick training to exhaust her doggy brain. Her separation anxiety is intense, even when someone else is home while I’m not. I’m not sure why, it’s not like she’s ever left alone for long, and there’s the cats and Odd Trundles to herd as well, but every time I leave, the kids tell me she mopes. SO MUCH MOPING.

There’s wordcount to chip free today, but Afterwar is in that funny fallow phase right before it breaks free and I race for the end. I can feel it gathering itself, bubbling and boiling under a cauldron lid, but whenever I go to peek, it rattles warningly. This particular book has been an education in submission to the process, yet again. I just keep repeating, it’s my job to show up, don’t worry about the rest.

Some days I even believe it. Most days, though, my entire body is a mass of exposed nerve-wires. I’m also in the Slough of Despond on the other two projects: Nobody will like it. The publisher will hate it. They’ll decide you’re not worth publishing. You’ll starve to death, your kids will starve, the sun will go out and everyone will hate you hate you hate you. That’s the big problem with juggling multiple books; when they all hit that moment of paralyzing doubt, it’s exponentially worse for each project added to the pile.

Ritual and habit are going to get me through this, just like they’ve gotten me through *mumblemumble* other books. It’s just a little painful right now.

Time to run.

Thursday, Like A Monday

blank It’s Thursday, but it feels like a Monday. In a good way, mind you. Because all the damn ice has melted off or washed away, which means I get to go running. Not only that, but Miss B gets to come with me, which means we’ll both work off a mountain of fidgets and irritability.

All I have to do is wait for my breakfast to settle. Then it’ll be time to tie my shoes and get the fuck outta the house. The big thing will be reminding myself to be careful and take it easy, since there may be some slippery patches–the mud is going to be incredible, if I have to veer off pavement. Sticking to a dry-ish route is going to take some ingenuity.

I couldn’t be happier. I am twitching while I type, all but desperate to get out the door and work off these nerves. It was so bad yesterday I had to consciously remind myself not to snap at anyone or anything interrupting my train of thought. Working when one is snappish can be good–the irritation can push you to better characterization and to fiercer work, not to mention attention to small details. Most of the time, though, it’s a handicap because EVERYTHING MAKES ONE WANT TO KILL. “Perpetually murderous” might be a good story, but it’s an inefficient method of goal achievement. It creates bodies and paperwork, both things that take up a great deal of working time.

I jest, but only halfway.

So, today I run all my fidgets out, and Miss B’s, too. Then it’s Afterwar, and some more Roadtrip Z, and maybe a bit on a super-sekrit project. And yes, today is the day another chapter of Roadtrip Z goes live! I am tremendously excited.

Now that my breakfast has settled a bit, it’s time to brush my teeth and tie the aforementioned shoes.

Over and out.

Stability Underfoot

blank I just want to stay in bed reading schlock and playing AbyssRium today. Unfortunately, the flu–I’m pretty sure it was flu, I certainly ached all over for it–has abated, which means I’m back to running. One cannot do that while snuggling in bed, and Miss B, in forced leisure while I hacked, coughed, and shivered, is brimming with energy that needs to be worked off. Otherwise she will find herself Jobs Around The House, and they will likely involve Things Mum Does Not Want Done. I won’t be cross with her for them, because she is Dog and Dog Can’t Help It, but I will be rather cross with myself for being a lazy puppy mum and not providing proper work for her.

The snow and freezing rain all melted off. There was a day when I couldn’t tell if it was raining or if the stuff falling from the sky was melting ice from the tree branches. The trunks were lathered with bubbles, there was so much water running everywhere. We live on a hill, and often the only thing keeping us from sliding down it are the fir trees. They take up an amazing amount of water, and when people higher on the hill cut down a lot of their trees I could really tell the difference in the runoff. Idiots. Branches on the roof are a small price to pay for stability underfoot.

I spent the weekend doing a revise on Harmony before sending it off to my agent and writing partner. It’s not going to see publication, I wrote it specifically and only because my agent wanted to read more YA from me and I wanted to give her a gift. Pretty much the only gift I do not suck at giving is my time and stories, so I invested heavily in this one. I hope she likes it. And my writing partner got it because, well, she kept me sane during finding said time to finish it. I agonized over spending time on it instead of a paying project, mostly because after the Steelflower fiasco and the concomitant financial hit things are tight.

I did try to open up the Steelflower 2 file on Sunday, just to see if the physical reaction had gone down. It hasn’t; I shook and dry-heaved into my office rubbish bin. The feeling of violation is as strong as ever, and I am despairing of it ever going away.

Anyway, I have Cormorant Run copyedits to deal with this week, and Afterwar wordcount to get in. There’s no such thing as a day off for the foreseeable future. I’m also contemplating a serial for my Patreon folks once the new year is here. If you’re interested in that sort of thing. I just have to decide which story simmering in the back of my head will do for such a thing.

And now, it’s time to get out the door and run. Gently and easily, but enough to work off Miss B’s fidgets and make her livable again. She knows, since I’m in my running togs, and is being Very Patient while I sit in front of the glowing magic box. The ways of the Hoomin Monkeys are strange to her, and she tries very hard to be patient, indeed. The need for action is twitching and trembling under her skin, and mine as well. Odd Trundles could also do with a constitutional, since it’s been too cold and slipper for his short-haired, clumsy self lately, poor fellow.

Off I go.

Pendulum, Post

wonder-woman Afterwar continues to fight me. Or more precisely, I continue to keep chipping away at it, my vision of what it should be interfering with what the book actually is, and once again I must learn submission to the shape of that is. I’ve had a good run of bookage I didn’t have to fight myself to carve free, lately, but this one seems fair to break that.

Part of the problem is that 2016 has been a very bad year. Death of loved ones both mine and others’, fascism stalking the land, intense stress, bad luck…the hits just keep on coming, and I keep hoping things will turn around. I am wavering between violent grief and equally violent hope, and both are bad for my nerves.

The other part of the problem is that this book is big and complex, and while I don’t have the entire shape of it, I know it’s larger than anything I’ve done so far. I get damn near paralyzed by the sheer size of the obstacle, forgetting I can break it into small chunks. When I do remember about the small chunks, there are so many of them scattered on the floor around me I get paralyzed by their sheer number. So I oscillate between too much detail and too much big-picture, with spates of furious working when the pendulum is passing between those two points. Once I get the first 50K of the book out of the way, some of the panic will be ameliorated, but…that’s a ways away.

With most books, the fear is, “I’m never going to finish and it will be crap anyway if I manage to do so.” This one is a heaping helping of “Oh, I’ll finish but it will be awful and the publisher will hate it and I’ll have to sell the house and THE SUN WILL GO OUT AND WE’LL ALL DIE.” So, you know, at least it’s something new to be afraid of? Every book is different, they all terrify one in different ways, it’s enough to make me type “why does Wonder Woman even bother” into Google just for a laugh.

Of course, Wonder Woman does bother. She bothers to do superhero things all the time, because it’s who she is. There’s a certain amount of comfort in answering one’s own silly question so definitively. Right now I’m just telling myself that even the worst years end, and at least 2016 isn’t the Year of the Divorce (which was bloody awful), and that I will finish Afterwar because I have no choice and even if it’s horrid, it will not be horrid and unfinished, and I can work with a whole corpse.

It’s not much, but it gets me through daily wordcount.

There is still no snow. There’s a bit of sunshine, which means it’s cold and clear. The hacking cough means I haven’t been running, but perhaps I can venture out for a short walk with Miss B, who is FULL OF ENERGY and does not understand why I am so slow and making such awful sounds at short intervals. She veers between worry and twitchiness, sort of like her owner.

Well. Time to wrap myself in a blanket and get the morning’s wordcount underway. Let’s hope the waning days of 2016 hold no more shocks or bad luck, hm?

Over and out.