29-4 The Bookish Blues
And then, disaster struck.
Okay, okay, that might be a tad melodramatic. But you know what? I’m good at that. So indulge me a moment while I discuss how outrageous the flu is.
There’re shots to prevent it now, it is known. It is also known that if given the choice between getting a shot and not getting a shot, I’m usually going to drift toward the needle-less route.
So here we are. It’s January 29th, I’ve got 3 days to finish my book, I’m on schedule and everything is looking bright. I can see the finish line. I’m almost there.
Naturally, something had to dink it all up. And that something—you guessed it—is the flu. Instead of flexing my wisdom and squeezing a spectacular ending out of a roller coaster of a narrative, I spent my Tuesday night embracing the porcelain gods (i.e. the toilet). Something of a let down, as you can imagine.
Somewhere in my fever-riddled dreams that night, I also thought I’d accidentally published the unfinished work and was reaping the tides of ridicule such a blunder would contain. Literal tides. At one point, I think I was in the ocean and my tormentors were Olympians.
Maybe I shouldn’t listen to Circe right before bed. Might be a lesson that I can stack right up there with GET THE FRICKIN FLU SHOT KRISTEN.
And maybe this lost writing day will be made up for with my can-do attitude and plucky spirit.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
I almost never take sick days. No matter what, I always feel like if I put my head down and power through, I can get anything done—the more difficult or painful the task, the more I prove I can withstand!
Yeah well, today I took my first sick day.
A hopeful part of my brain believed that even through my fever and nasty nose, I could at least get some writing done. I mean, come on. I can do that from my couch.
I wrote maybe three sentences. They weren’t even that great. And I couldn’t say the word “breadstick”. I could picture it in my head, but when I opened my mouth and spoke, the word “eggroll” came out instead. So much for being clever and wrapping up my book.
Instead, I buried myself in blankets of pity and slept the day away. This time my dreams were plagued by the Big Bang Theory, which I thought would be a cheerful something to fall asleep to. But it turns out that even my happy things can turn into things with teeth if my brain is given free rein. Reign? Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever written that phrase before.
I mean, free rein would make sense from my horsewoman’s standpoint. You’re giving the horse his head and letting him run. But free reign makes sense, too, since if you free people from reign, they can do whatever they want. Hold on…
…It’s free rein. Thanks Google. All of the mystery is gone in the world.
So maybe, no thanks, Google.
The bases are loaded.
Except they’re not, because after work today, I went home and went to bed. I think. I honestly don’t remember what I did after work. I was feeling plenty sorry for myself, naturally. And I wanted to finish my book, though part of me had already given up on that deadline.
I think I took a bath, and I think there were bubbles. I know I got my fire going and I’m pretty sure I poured boiling tea down my throat, because surely that would kill all of my problems. But the truth is, whatever I did Thursday night, it wasn’t meeting my deadline.
When I write, I always set deadlines. I know what a lazy slothbeast I can become if given—ahem—free REIN. I want to write, just like I want to read, clean my house, and fold my laundry. These things make me feel good. These things make my life better. So why in the world wouldn’t I do them?
It’s the same when summer rolls around. I know that hiking, fishing, picnicking…reading under a tree, climbing a tree, cutting down the dead trees and setting their severed limbs on fire…I like these things, they make me happy. But what do I do? I spend too many beautiful afternoons inside or, worse yet, piddling around outside without a plan or motivation. Summers in Minnesota are glorious (minus the bugs, but you do sort of get used to them—in the same way that you do sort of get used to -40 Fahrenheit with -70 windchill). I ought to be reveling in every free second.
So, I guess there’s only one solution. Do or do not. There is no freakin’ try.
I officially missed my deadline.
And it’s okay. I fell about 6000 words short, which I could make up for in a day. Right now, I could binge out 9000 words like it’s my job (which it is). But frankly, they wouldn’t be great. I’m still sicky sick, for one thing, but for another: I don’t know what I need to do.
Writing books is a lot of plodding along, finding your story and following it. And some of it is like flying, exhilarating and baffling and brilliant. And then there are times like today. When it sucks.
I know how I want the book to end, but I don’t know the ending. It’s like knowing that you want to have dinner with someone, knowing you want to cook, but not knowing how to make dinner, or how to contact the human of your desire. Except that your self-worth hangs in the balance and if you don’t freaking do a good job, then you might as well go sit by yourself in a corner.
I might be exaggerating, but that’s part of being an author. People read your shit. I know, I know…you’d think that’d be something you don’t have to realize upon publishing a book. You’re obviously writing it so that someone will read it.
But are you? For most of my writing life, I wrote for me. I wrote things I wanted to see, I wanted to experience. And I still do. I wrote Firebird because damnit, I wanted to see more powerful women in the SciFi world. And I am writing Olympus because they’re not nearly done yet.
So the fact that other people read my shit is wildly confusing at times. That’s all I’ve got.
The great thing about being a writer is that no matter what you do, you know deep down that it could be better.
Yeah, I’m lying to you. That’s not the great thing about being a writer. It’s one of the worst things, and it’s probably what makes so many of us a step left of sane. Granted, it makes me a better writer. But that isn’t mutually exclusive from never feeling accomplished.
A good friend asked me the other day if I feel accomplished. And my immediate reaction was no. And it surprised me. Haven’t I done anything—everything—toward my goals? Don’t I have a published book that the majority of readers enjoy? Haven’t I succeeded in creating a new world, fresh characters, and engaging plot lines? I draw my own character art, design my own covers, do all of my marketing and sales.
And yet, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished enough. Just like when I’m reading Olympus, I don’t feel like I’m perfect. This sentence needs tweaked. This character needs less time. That character deserves more. It’s never done because it’s never perfect. I’m still finding typoes and little slips in scenes within Firebird, and that puppy has been out for almost a year now. I’ve had my beta readers comb through it, a professional editor have at it, and my own standard five re-reads before publication. And there ARE STILL TYPOES.
It’s enough to make me want to tear into the forest screaming. And while the majority of my readers are comforting, supportive, and smell like freshly baked cookies, there’s always a couple of humans out there who can just drop their turd-opinion in my bowl of frosties and ruin the whole thing.
The point to today is that nothing is ever perfect, but neither is life so *shrugs*.
I’ve literally never been less excited for a Super Bowl.
There’s so much American hype for American football, I can usually feel myself being swept up with the energy. There’s beer (which helps any spectatorship along) and there’s usually a wonderful group of family and friends to watch it with. I like the commercials, the funnier the better, and I really like the amount of chicken wings it’s suddenly socially acceptable for me to ingest.
And while the friends, food, and beer were all in tip-top shape, the football game was a side note to an otherwise awesome party. I didn’t care which team won, I’m SUPER congested and couldn’t hear the majority of the commercials (plus, I had liquor, so I was probably talking blithely through most of them). Nothing exciting ever happened during the game. And that’s stupid, because it’s supposed to be the most exciting game of the season.
Still, it was a fun night. And I think 85% of the people attending were also ill, so we just snuffled our way around the liquor cabinet together. I’m probably going to be sick for the rest of February, from the sheer amount of germs I inhaled, but whatever. February is probably my least favorite month, anyway.
And no, that’s not just because of Valentines Day. I mean, when I was younger, I’d look forward to the infamous 14th because my dad would buy my sister and I chocolate and stuffed animals. He’s a wonderful guy. And when I got older and realized what it’s really for, I went ahead and bought chocolate and stuffed bears for myself. Because you know what?
The only two Valentines Days that I’ve not enjoyed were the ones I had dates on. 😉
Happy freaking Monday, humans!
It doesn’t feel like a Monday. I spent most of Friday and Saturday on the road, and Sunday was subsequently treated like Saturday because there was a Super Bowl and there was alcohol. Today feels like a Sunday, and I’m kind of excited about that because it means that tomorrow still will be Tuesday and it’s like Monday just went and offed itself this week.
I just realized that I never resolved Day 1 of this blog. Olympus and the climax that never came. I couldn’t find my ending, and so I didn’t finish by my deadline. Blah, blah, blah writer’s block sucks.
But it’s not the end of the world. I think I’ve mentioned before that writer’s block doesn’t bother me. It usually means that there’s something important I’m missing, some twist in the story that I overlooked. And if I go back for a read, I usually realize what it is and can charge ahead.
So that’s what I’m doing. Instead of forcing an ending that I know isn’t right, I’m skipping ahead to the first editing brush.
First editing brush, you say? What be that?!
So glad you asked. I have three designated groomers for my work. The editing brush is the initial contact. It has thick, widely spaced bristles, designed for tearing through the bigger knots and removing the debris. It’s bulky and not at all elegant, but it gets the book to lay flat and—if not shine—at least make sense.
Then comes the editing comb. This fine-toothed son-of-a-biscuit has only one thing in mind: get out the snarls (aka, the typos). And it hurts and is frustrating, but it gets the job done.
And last, there’s the shampoo/conditioner. Let’s make this book shine. Let’s make sure every word means something, every breath with purpose. And—if you’re being fancy about it—maybe a little trim and style, because hey—your book is worth it.