Supposed To, Should, Maybe

I’m supposed to be resting today.

I did line edits, then a final revise on a submittable manuscript, back to back. The big scab on my forehead from Boxnoggin’s antics has fallen free, though the ones on my hands and knees are still clinging for all they’re worth. (I know, you really wanted to hear about that, you’re welcome.) I feel just generally run-down and like my body’s fighting off a cold, though it could just be my immune system screaming “COME AT ME, MOTHERFUCKERS, I GOT ENOUGH AMMO FOR ALLA YOUSE.”

…my immune system, she is just like me.

Yes, I should be resting today. Instead I’m considering a Viking fantasy gothic werewolf book1, and looking at my production schedule for next year to see where I could ram one in. Bonus if it turns out that I can do the Rebecca-from-vampire-Mrs-Danvers-POV novella2 as well, since that’s been boiling in the back of my head.

It’s… nice, I suppose? To feel books jostling inside my head again, and to feel like I might, if I budget carefully, have the energy to finish another one? I’ve spent most of 2020 feeling down in the dumps because my productivity has taken hit after massive hit. I have a lot of Tolkien to read too, and I should be planning nothing more taxing than a day on the couch with a stack of Unfinished Tales and History of Middle-Earth, drinking tea and chortling while I make notes for Fall of Gondolin fanfic.

I am making the supreme sacrifice–no run today, because I rolled over in bed this morning and my body informed me that if I suit up for one, it will have some Strong Words for the management. I figure I’ve put my faithful old corpse through enough lately, so it’ll be ibuprofen and just a gentle ramble with both dogs. Miss B’s hind leg is bothering her a bit, so we keep our pace almost glacial, which drives Boxnoggin almost to distraction. Still, the two of them wrestle with abandon after lunch and dinner, so they get plenty of exercise and Boxnoggin’s “Gawd, will you just come on,” dance burns a lot of energy as well. Or so I hope.

Maybe I’ll yell some more about the Silmarillion or related things3 later this week. If I do–I’m not saying it’s a given, mind you–is there anything in particular you guys want me to cover? I don’t think I’m up to Children of Hurin4 but other stuff is fair game. I kind of wish ol’ JRR had novelized the Kingdom of the North, but that could be because I’m a total Witch King of Angmar fangirl.

…anyway, the dogs want their walkies and the coffee is down to dregs, so I suppose me and the faithful carcass that’s been hauling me around since birth should get a gentle ramble in. Then it’ll be time for ibuprofen and tea.

A writer’s life is full of excitement, kiddos.

Over and out.

Out of Season

Sunday chores mean my desk is somewhat better organized–not too organized, since a little bit of mess allows room for creativity to sneak in. Or maybe too-neat just stresses me out of any kind of proper work mindframe. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The weather is turning, so there’s some sniffles and sneezes in the house. Every time one of us reaches for the tissues I tense up, wondering if it’s the plague, if it’s the moment I have to start making awful decisions.

Fortunately, it seems to be nothing more than the usual postnasal drip that happens along every time our damp autumn wanders in and settles down to. But still, my nerves twitch all sideways when I hear a sneeze. We’re still enduring lockdown and masking up whenever forced to leave the house, except for during outside exercise. When the rains start there will be nobody on the sidewalk to infect, either; I won’t have to hop out into the road when a middle-aged white man decides he’s going to take up the entire bloody walk with his waddling self.

The zero draft of The Bloody Throne, full of holes and bracket notes, is set aside to marinate–generally one of the hardest times to endure during project, since it’s still smarting and itching like a fresh scab. I have revisions on Damage and Moon’s Knight to distract myself with and get out the door, as well as continuing work on HOOD‘s Season Three and The Black God’s Heart. I forced myself to only write on things that do not resemble work over the weekend, which means there’s 8k of text I’ll probably never use–a mismatched pair of occult detectives who talk like an old BBC serial is great fun, but I don’t think it’s publishable, you know? Still, it was therapeutic, and bits of it might be used elsewhere, who knows?

The coffee tastes particularly fine this morning. I long for caffeine to soak in and finally give me a spark or two. Taking three days off should be enough to recover from an epic fantasy, right? I should be right as rain now.

Except I have the sneaking suspicion I’m not, and it’ll hit me in the middle of revisions. Normally it takes three times as long as one thinks to truly recover form the end of a project; unfortunately, nothing about the time is normal. It’s all out of whack, if not completely out of joint.

At least there’s no time to be lonely when I can sink into characters. Not that I ever feel lonely anyway; there’s generally so much to do and see and think about. I did have Midsommar flower-crown dreams, so maybe it’s time for me to poke at that one story with the wolves, the snow, and the flowers out of season. That sounds a lovely way to procrastinate, doesn’t it?

But no, the bloody revisions need attention. Whatever I’m going to procrastinate with will have to creep around the edges, stealing precious bits of sweet forbidden time.

Maybe another book will hash my wrists on its way out of my head. In any case, sunrise has strengthened behind the cedars, and the dogs are longing for me to finish my damn coffee and get to the real work, which is taking their fuzzy asses on a ramble. My human concerns are all very well, but they have actual business to conduct, or so they keep reminding me.

I’d best be off, then. We survived another weekend; I want to hide in my closet until after the election but I have to work. And my ballot needs to be dropped in a box instead of mailed; I’m taking no chances this year. So that will mean a short drive this morning too.

May we vanquish our Monday, dearly beloveds. I’m not anywhere near ready, but that’s why we have coffee, isn’t it.

Over and out.

Proof Positive, For Me

Woke up with a few story ideas running around my head, which hasn’t happened for about a week and a half. For most of that time I was absorbed in finishing a (messy, oh so messy) zero draft of Moon’s Knight.

I don’t know why my mini nervous breakdown needed me to shred my hands producing around 10k words of a portal fantasy every day for over a week, but that’s what it demanded so that’s what I did. Now the story’s finished and I’m on a much more even keel. (Well, as even as my keel ever gets.) My hands hurt, but ice, stretching, and ibuprofen will take care of that; I feel oddly clear, like a just-washed window.

I suppose I needed to prove to myself I could still finish something. It feels like 2020 has lasted decades and I haven’t “finished” a single thing. Irrational, yes–but when the Muse gets an idea in her head, it’s almost impossible to dislodge. She is rather stubborn.

Anyway, the proof positive that I can, indeed, finish a whole-ass 100k portal fantasy (that will never be published, I’m pretty sure) has managed to paper over some bare nerves, and I’m ready to lunge through the last half of HOOD‘s Season Three, catch up with The Bloody Throne, and keep The Black God’s Heart at a low burn by poking at it after dinner and around the edges of the other two projects. It will do me no end of good to be working on actual paid projects instead of being possessed by something I know is necessary for my mental and emotional well-being but not quite salable.

Maybe I just needed something simply and solely for me, however janky, farfetched, or outlandish. It’s been a while since I wrote something purely for my own enjoyment, managing to turn off the inner critic for a substantial period of time. Or maybe the Muse just threw that into my pit because she needed a rest from the other three projects. Who knows?

Tomorrow there’s a new release; later today my newsletter and subscriber fiction drops go out with links to a brand-new giveaway. (Subscribers–either newsletter or Patreon/Gumroad–get first crack at giveaways; don’t worry, I’ll post the link here and on social media after the weekend.) I recovered from finishing the zero by prepping all that yesterday, so I should be good for a full day’s work.

One of the things I’ve learned after decades in this job is when to just simply let things arrange themselves. When taking a break will actually make me more productive in the long term, when to follow that tiny internal voice whispering this is what you need now, trust me. I used to think working myself into the ground was the only way to get anything done. Now that I’ve been around a while, I know a little better–or I’ve simply accumulated a large enough body of work to be able to rest once in a while while the gravity of that body slings me through orbit without needing much fuel.

…now there’s a metaphor.

Off I go to update a series page, since Finder releases tomorrow. I’m already feeling the anticipation and dread of release day. It’s a good thing my nerves are re-wrapped, at least a little.

See you around, beloveds.

Portal, Book, Coping

I hit the wall last week. Bigtime. I’m still twitchy, but taking a few days completely off social media performed a wonder or two.

It didn’t catch me up with actual work, mind you. But it did mean I am three scenes from finishing a zero draft of a 100k portal fantasy. That’s right, Moon’s Knight is within spitting distance of being done. I don’t know why the Muse chose this particular story as therapy, but I don’t really care. It’s enough that the words are still coming, even if I am now terrified that I’ve thrown my publishing calendar off for the year.

Whatever. Between pandemic and fascist coup, I’m glad to be writing anything, frankly.

I suppose it’s like leaving the house with small children–one always triples the estimate of necessary time, one always has to carry a tonne of supplies, and one has to be ready to stop and go home at a moment’s notice.

The problem is, home is burning merrily. A fully involved, five-alarm fire, so I can only stand on the kerb with my aching hands and bits of stories, watching the light flicker.

Isn’t that a terrible mental image.

Anyway, my method of coping was to become utterly possessed with a book that will probably never be published, and to sink into it when I should have been working on other things. I did realize what was going on and gave myself until today to get it sorted, which means I’m only a few scenes from the end and can go back to regular work either this evening or tomorrow.

The dogs still need walking, I still need a run. We’ve had the hottest part of the year so far, and it’s been gross. Plus the Princess’s bike was stolen from her work this past weekend, which is just cherry on the cake. She doesn’t want me to do anything about it, wants to handle the situation herself. My mother-instincts went into Godzilla mode, but the Princess’s needs take precedence, so I’m biting my tongue and wringing my hands.

There’s a lot of that going around lately. But at least there’s one more book in the world–even if nobody else will ever read it–and I’ve proven to myself that I can indeed still finish a story. I needed the reminder badly indeed.

I suppose I’d best get started. Moon’s Knight isn’t fully finished yet, after all. Just three more scenes. It always takes longer than one thinks it will, but I have a small glimmer of hope and the rest of Monday.

It’s going to have to be enough.

Portal Fantasy Weekend

Spent the weekend reorienting myself, by which I mean “taking two days off and writing nothing but portal fantasy.” Subscribers will be happy to know Moon’s Knight is coming along nicely, and I’m almost ready to throw the heroine out into the Underdark to make her way somewhere very special.

I’m a little taken aback by the response to what was intended to be a throwaway few chapters of a story that would probably never gather steam. I suppose now I should finish it, but it’ll take a while since it has to fit around three paying projects. All of which I’m either behind on, or deathly afraid of becoming so.

Pandemic and fascist coup tend to put a spike in one’s productivity, alas.

The urge to retract into my shell–or crawl into a hole and tug the hole closed behind me–is well-nigh overpowering. Shutting off the wireless and just writing, fueled by tea, seems the best option right now. Looking at the news is a fool’s game. I’ve lost all hope of being able to turn any fraction of the tide. A vast mass of Americans not only wants to worship death and kill itself choking on its own jackboots and phlegm, but also wants to take the rest of us into the abyss as well. Fighting that current is exhausting.

But it’s a Monday, and today I start the last half of the last season of HOOD. Then I shift to The Bloody Throne, where two women are accosted by an Emperor in a garden and nobody gets what they want out of the interaction. Last but not least, I’ve dinner to think of, and finishing the day by getting the protagonist in The Black God’s Heart out of her city and well on her road trip to the West.

And Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped. At least I’ve my health.

At least I have music. Today is for Anonymous 4 and Alan Parsons Project. I don’t know why the Muse wants them in alternating order, but I’ve long since learned to just give the bitch what she’s yelling for and let it go. We work better together when I just feed her what she demands. I’m hoping she’ll let me listen to some Willie Nelson soon, I have an urge to put Red Headed Stranger on repeat once the church songs and synthesizers have scratched whatever is itching on the Muse’s back.

The dogs are eager for their walk. After Boxnoggin’s recent shenanigans he has not only his harness but two collars and a leash; the new, hopefully escape-proof harness arrives soon. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled. And there’s a run to get in today.

If you’ve lost the ability to deal with *gestures at the world* all this, you’re not alone. I’m taking refuge in work, as I often do; I wish I had some advice that held even a glimmer of making any of this better. Alas, I’ve got nuttin’. All I can do is write, and gods grant it’s enough.

And who knows? If I get all my work done today, I might steal a few minutes for the portal fantasy. Stolen time is the sweetest and most productive, as we all well know.

Happy Monday, chickadees. Take care of yourself today. We need everyone, especially you, so do what you’ve gotta to re-wrap the insulation on your nerves. I don’t see this ending anytime soon–and with that cheerful thought, I’m going to finish my coffee and walk the beasts. Pretty soon Boxnoggin will be in a hamster ball for the daily promenades, just to keep him out of trouble.

And with that hilarious mental image, my beloveds, I am over and out.