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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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This IS the organized version
Okay, I am tired of this. I am done. I am done, ironically, with not being done. I am tired of not finishing things, like a book I've been working on for eight years while every bandwagon in the world saddled up and passed me, and I am tired of being jealous of writers whose only sin was ACTUALLY FINISHING SOMETHING.

I also feel--just like you predicted, shesnotallthere--a manic phase coming on. It's not pleasant, the way hypomanic creativity bursts used to be. I don't want to eat, I'm tired but I can't stay asleep, my scalp itches a little--sometimes I'm focused, and sometimes I'm so "focused" that I can't focus on anything at all, like looking through the glasses of someone who has a much higher prescription than you do. For weeks before this, I had headaches, weird muscle aches for no reason, and continual fatigue. I think some of that was allergies, since I now spend a lot of time 1) outdoors with Sam, so he can enjoy the fresh air with his seeing-eye human and 2) sneezing. Also, guilt, anxiety and secondhand stress, but those are a given. But basically, I have been dealing with a lot of low-grade, pointless bullshit health issues, and now I'm seeing a wave coming in to surf. I mean, I am sure I will continue to deal with pointless bullshit health issues, but we might at least get some variety in here.

Anyway. My book. The other day, I woke up from a nap and figured out how to change the last 2-3 chapters. I didn't dream it, per se; I just woke up, lay there for a moment, and started thinking about it. It's going to require moving up location research meant for the second book, but I can set that aside for the moment. Basically, I need information on the Exposition Universelle--i.e., the 1889 Paris World's Fair--and while I do have a book called, reasonably enough, World's Fairs, it might not be enough. I don't know--I'm always trying to remind myself that I can make stuff up. You do as much research as you can, around the subject if you can't get near enough to it (Devil in the White City, for example, is a wonderful book about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair), so it's not an excuse for laziness.

But it's why I decided to look into this steampunk business when I started writing this in 2003, back when the only result on Amazon was a steampunk GURPS manual. I don't even know what GURPS are. I WAS INTO STEAMPUNK WHEN STEAMPUNK WAS INDIE. YOU PROBABLY HADN'T HEARD OF IT. *hipster glasses* My point is, I was looking into this before a lot of the tropes had solidified as recognizable to the mainstream--the clockwork gears, the goggles, the airship pirates, the rampant cosplay. And, I mean, that's great for steampunk, that it has its own vocabulary now, and one that's recognized beyond the websites of the people who first loved it. It's ~A Thing~ now, and that's good for anyone trying to sell work in that genre. But the reason I was interested in it was a vaguer fantastical aspect--the opportunity to make stuff up, not a fixation on gears and goggles. It first occurred to me when I read the first volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that I could be a little more free-wheeling about writing the Victorian era. And I keep having to remind myself that if I'm going to deviate from historical fact, I need to do it in broader, more fantastical strokes. Otherwise, it just looks like I got it wrong. And that realization ought to be freeing.

Of course, here in 2011, I'm worried that what I'm writing isn't steampunk enough, and that people who hear that word are going to expect certain tropes that the book won't deliver, because that's not what it's about.

And then I remind myself that genre labels are for marketing departments. You can put me in whatever section you think will sell the book, I'm cool with whatever. But there's a point at which it's not my job to think about that. It's my job to get on with telling the story I want to tell, and FINISHING THE DAMN THING.

(I spend a lot of time reminding myself of things.)

What I'm getting around to is that I've got to focus on finishing this, SOMEHOW, and the only way I can think to do that is either to post less--well, continue posting infrequently, if we're telling the truth. Or, to pop in every day or so and report what progress I've made. I don't really think of this as putting pressure on myself, because living up to the expectations of an audience is the least of my problems right now. I don't know--I kind of want you to be able to see that sometimes writing is hard, sometimes it feels like coal-mining, sometimes it's a fight. I mean, I love it. You're probably reading that sentence and going, "Jesus, if it's so awful for her, she needs to find something else to do because she is doing it wrong." I don't mean that kind of hard. I mean that sometimes you get blocked, you feel insecure and maybe even a little terrified, you can't figure out why something isn't working, you don't know what to do instead, you want to give up. You can love writing and get an incredible amount of joy from it, and it can still be hard, even then. You're never "doing it wrong." Not as long as you're striving to write better. Not as long as you're striving to write, period.

So all I can think to do is talk about the fact that writing can be hard, while I get myself productively indignant enough to fight my own insecurity. Because I'd rather get mad than pitiful. And maybe, once I've burned off that self-pitying fog, I can FINISH SOMETHING.

So! Today! I had spent yesterday wailing and rending garments because I couldn't find a really good scene I'd written a few weeks back, no matter which terms I searched on Windows Explorer. Today, I found out that it's really hard for Windows Explorer to locate a document that you wrote by hand and never typed up. Also, that it wasn't as good as I remembered. But it is found! And then I worked on chapter eleven, pulling together all my existing notes and drafts into a 19-page mess that I get to start whipping into shape. Possibly with actual whips. This chapter is called "The Scientific Method," and if you like the kind of thing where I natter about the history of vampire literature for half an entry, this is the kind of thing you will like. Because yes, it is about vampires (I know you're shocked). Then I'm going back to the first chapter and rewriting the opening with some of those broader fantasy strokes I mentioned, because my writing process is perennially unstuck in time. I can count to ten, as Francis Ford Coppola once said, but not in that order. Thus, I'm still wrestling with the first third of the novel, but I know exactly how the middle goes, and I have a reasonable idea of the last third, and the final paragraph is already written. I have a finely-honed one-sentence pitch, but I doubt I'll have to deploy it until after I have FINISHED THE THING.

So, my plan for the evening: typing up more of my handwritten drafts. Also: tacos. Mmm, tacos.

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I am printing this out and sticking it on every wall I own (and possibly tattooing it very tinily on the backs of my hands) because YES.

Especially this:

So all I can think to do is talk about the fact that writing can be hard, while I get myself productively indignant enough to fight my own insecurity. Because I'd rather get mad than pitiful. And maybe, once I've burned off that self-pitying fog, I can FINISH SOMETHING.

Thank you.

I will be printing out a copy for myself, too.

You write it, I will buy it and read it and love it. Even if it isn't available for Kindle;)

Good luck, and I've had the "can't find it on the computer! Where is it on the computer!" then finding the handwritten draft issue too.

I had a some Thoughtful And Introspective things to say initially but now all I can think is OMG TACOS.

sigh. pms.


Man, I had been craving jalapenos for two or three days now.

I know that. Four years ago I was totally that guy who had that book he was always talking about but not actually getting written.

Now, that book? Done. Shelved away, but done. Two other books, done. Third one, rough draft done. I have an agent and a book is starting its journey through him to publishers. Things are happening.

This is my roundabout way of saying: GO YOU. Get it done. Because it can be.


Part of my problem is that I see it as an eight-book series, very neatly divided in the middle with a Big Event, and I've front-loaded the whole stupid process with working out what could happen in the future books, because I'm obsessed with foreshadowing. I'm having to let go of that.

Well yay for making a hard press to finish the book because I really want to read it!

BTW did you decide which strategy you're going to use for the LJ? I couldn't figure out from the above whether you were going to check in every couple of days or continue with the once-a-week updates like you're doing now. (One advantage of the former is that your audience will be suitably hot and bothered when the book comes out, so at some point it probably makes sense to do that.)

Edited at 2011-05-25 11:59 pm (UTC)

I'm not coming up with a schedule, because all that does is guarantee I won't stick with it. *hangs head* If I have a good writing day, I will be more than happy to pop in and be all like HAI GUYS!! I WROTE SOMETHING TODAY THAT I CAN'T TELL YOU ABOUT! *cabbage patch*

Genre labels ARE for marketing departments, but honestly, right now Steampunk is hot and those marketing departments are taking anything that's pseudo-Victorian and not even really science fiction based and making it Steampunk. So, you know, I wouldn't worry too much about whether or not it's Steampunk ENOUGH. You could probably find a place for it.

Me? I've only been working on this Steampunk novel thing since 2008, so I'm not quite as indie as you, but it's been interesting to watch the tropes and debates EXPLODE over the last 3 or so years. And every time I read an article about how not enough Steampunk talks about dominionism (is that a word?) or class privilege I kind of smugly think to myself BUT MINE DOES. And, you know, I don't sit down and finish WRITING it or anything. I just think about it.

So um, yes. I am also tired of being a person who never finishes things. GETTING ON THAT!

Er, nothing insigtful to say except that your comment made me LOL. About the procrastination and things. I do know that feeling. :)

You're probably reading that sentence and going, "Jesus, if it's so awful for her, she needs to find something else to do because she is doing it wrong."

Oh no, I'm not. I get it. All art is like that. I'm a painter and it's like that. The mood swings between "OMG this is the most beautiful painting in the history of civilized humanity" and "OMG I really need to burn all my stuff because it's crap"... and I don't even have a mood disorder, that's just being an artist. And it doesn't matter which extreme you're at, you still have to actually WORK on it. Either way.

So, in short, *hugs* if you don't mind hugs from a stranger, and we're behind you and waiting to purchase this thing when it's done! You can do it! I get the feeling from this entry that maybe you're rounding a bend in the tunnel and there does appear to be a light ahead after all? Keep going!

Yes, yes, exactly all of these things. Including the hugs and the keep going!

Please tell me you actually own a GURPS book, & I can die happy. Okay, not going to die like, anytime soon, but you know...

Castle Falkenstein, maybe? Ooh no, GURPS Steampunk came out in 2000, so yeah.

GURPS is an acronym for Generic Universal Role Playing System, btw.

Edited at 2011-05-26 12:20 am (UTC)

Ohhhhhh. I knew role playing had to be in there somewhere.

I totally would have bought it just for the steampunk (since it was the ONLY THING THERE) if I'd had the money at the time.

Irrelevant, but:
Why don't you publish for kindle?

That way you could sell to the US market as well as all us rabid/avid kindlers?

I was specifically thinking MI15M, but...

Lol, you sound like I feel today. But yes, especially YES on the "finish something" part. Because I should. I really, really should.

And so should you. *brain fizzles out* Damn, knew I shoulda carried the spare...

Yes. This. Exactly.

Of course, I've been publishing my book serially online on Amazon, so in addition to just wanting to be FINISHED ALREADY AARGH, I have people waiting for the rest.

I'm right on schedule, but has that stopped me from freaking out? Of course not.

Yay, writing and posts about the writing process! And Getting Things Finished!

You can doooo eeeeet. Go you! :)

I feel you. I've been writing for years, but every time I manage to finish a draft of something, I realize I was wrong about nearly everything. Then I get frustrated during the next draft, or I get bored and move on to something else. I admire you for having the patience and foresight to plot and plan as long as you have.

I wish you the best of luck (Wait, that sounds kinda random. Make it the best of success, or sth?) with your book. Out of, frankly, totally selfish reasons. Because the more you write about it and the more bits and pieces you reveal, the more I SRSLY NEED TO READ IT NAO. Frankly, it sounds like it'll push all of my buttons, and the fact that you obsess over historical accuracy and research despite the fantastical twists makes me think it'll be brilliant. Er, no pressure or anything. :P Just letting you know that you have a potential fan ♥

Heh, thanks. I'm trying really hard not to reveal too much, but it's hard to talk about the process and stay cryptic. I originally didn't even want people to know it was about vampires (though they might suspect) until about halfway through. I mean, not as completely out-of-nowhere as Psycho, but a similar kind of moment where you realize what the story is really going to be about.

Aaaaand then I realized that, while that was a nice idea and all, knowing it was about vampires would be the reason people would be interested in it at all. So.