15k on week 1. Binge writing for the win!
Currently, I’m working on several projects. Projects are lovely, because they allow you to be creative in many ways at once. They are also soul-sucking, energy-draining anxiety machines, and the worst part is you know that accepting them was your idea.
Here’s my current project list -
Whatcom Writes – I am writing a short story of approx. 5000 words for a book that will celebrate local authors. All proceeds will go to Northwest Youth, a charity dedicated to helping at risk youth. The piece I’m writing is called “Nitpix,” and it’s an urban fantasy about three teenagers on their way to a huge summer concert and getting into a car accident in the middle of nowhere.
Tokyo Yakuza – This project is a Kickstarter project, and I’m a contributing author. The year is 2020, Tokyo is hosting the Olympics, and in an alternate history, the Yakuza are an authority to themselves. My piece is called “The Gaijin and the Butterfly,” and is about a half-Japanese, half white soldier whose daughter has been kidnapped by the Yakuza, and he intends to get her back.
Bento Box – A novel about identity that brings gender confusion to a whole new height. Set in Seattle in the year 2291, a young con artist is forced to use her skills at identity theft to bring in a vigilante who has targeted her boss. She never expected that she’d have to take the vigilante’s place!
I’m still working on the synopsis, but I’m still working on the story so they’re both in development. I’m editing my work, and I have an editor that I will pass the story off to, with luck in January. Writing a book is slow work since I have a full time day job, but I’m enjoying the hell out of this story and can’t wait to share it with people!
Bastions of Earth – A working title for a story still in pre-production. It’s written in the same universe as Bento, but this is the story of a colony world learning how to manage with old prejudices and new soil.
The Adventures of Locke Kiger – a serial adventure set in the same world as The Corsican. This will consist of swashbucklin’ adventures in space.
The Guide to a Happier Life – Wherein Tina tries her hand at editing a novel. Probably not before January 2015.
So, if anyone’s been wondering where I got off to or why I don’t post little microfictions anymore, it’s due to my prodigious workload. I’m not going anywhere, I just haven’t had the chance to show my blog any love lately.
I’m working on a short story for a project. In an alternate history Tokyo, Yakuza first in power, and largely unchecked. A gaijin’s daughter is kidnapped from her private school, and he is in search of her. I present my excerpt:
He made it to the darkened storefront of Jimmy Fong’s Authentic Chinese Emporium. The glass of the storefront barely contained the gaudy baubles stacked in tall, thin rows. It looked as though the store wanted to forcibly eject the tackiness onto unsuspecting passerby, pulling them in and digesting them into yet more effigies of cheap plastic promises. Paul knew better. He reached out and pulled on the door, which squirmed like a friendly dog trying to wheedle more pets from a stranger. It was the easiest thing in the world to pull the door just that much farther, feeling the locks give way to the kitsch.
“Excuse me! Excuse me, we’re closed..” Jimmy Fong’s round face fell when he saw who he was interrupting. His small, pearl handed pistol was quickly secreted behind his back when he recognized his client. “Paul Bitaendo. I should have known. My shop has a soft spot for you.”
“Nice place.” Paul said quietly.
“It’s retarded, do you hear me? Fucking retarded! It should never have let you in here.” The Chinese man growled and shook his pistol at the wall. “You hear me! Some help you are.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d feel much better if you stopped waving that antique security device around.” He knew Jimmy wouldn’t actually try to shoot him, but he had no faith that the gun wouldn’t go off by mistake.
“You’re fucked, Paul, and you brought it on me now.” Jimmy scowled. “You can’t cross the Itchy Gitchy clan, they are Big Medicine around here. If they took your girl, your girl is theirs now.”
“I won’t let that stand.” His words were measured carefully, and distributed thoughtfully. “I can’t.”
“Dammit man, you are looking to get yourself killed. I know your wife’s death make you crazy, but you have daughter still. If you take on the Itchy Gitchy’s to steal her back, they kill you, they kill her, they kill Jimmy.. we all smears on pavement.”
“Better free in death than the slavery they’ll put her in.” He looked down when he heard the snap. A little porcelain figure he didn’t realize he’d palmed lie in two pieces. The little kitten’s head snapped clean off.
“I put it on your tab.” Jimmy said dismissively. “I have no more information. I give you what I had. I’m sorry, Paul. They run drugs through here, not girls.”
“You led me there. The bartender was going to talk.” Paul couldn’t keep the frustration from rising in his voice.
“There is a wisdom here, if you only look hard enough.” Jimmy said wisely.
“Fuck you, Fortune Cookie. I need information.”
It is safe to say that I’m doing it wrong.
I can’t tell you the number of happy, unemployed writers who are writing up a storm, who are spending hours a day on their efforts and treating it like a real job. I see them schedule signings and market new books. They post word count that makes me nauseas from jealousy.
I hear about product funnels and how to make a mint by posting serials, and I continue to labor on my second novel.
I have a full time job, a seven year old son, and a husband. Most people might consider that to be three full time jobs.
Unfortunately, I have a powerful need to eat sometime this month. I also like to talk to friends, although unfortunately most of the time I bore them with the same thing I’m writing about here – my life and how my writing fits into it.
Still, I see how my other friends live. Two of them stay at home and manage their domiciles. One of them writes, and I am terrifically jealous of the “free time” she seems like she has. In her perspective though, she chooses to spend this “free time” helping out her brother and sister, both who have several children. She’s doing Very Important Things. And it’s easy for me to say what I’d do with that time, but I’m not in her shoes. My other friend is an artist and a mother. When she does get free time, she has multiple hobbies, which she seems to switch in and out of.
Several other of my writing friends do what I do – work to make money, and write on the side to get started. They’re mothers, they’re wives, and they’re exhausted, like me. And our word counts suck. And our writing groups are tiny, and barely held together by the invisible force of the Internet. Hell, I’ve only had a writing group since March.
But I’m doing it anyway. I’m writing, I’m editing, I’m taking classes, and I’m reading articles. I tweet, post, and network. I try to minimize the Internet stuff, as it eats into my all-important writing and editing time.
I have by no means become rich off my first book. The good news is, I wasn’t expecting to. I really do have high hopes for Bento. Hell, I want it to be a zeitgeist, and I’m in love with it. On the other hand, I’m a novice, with only one book under my belt. I still have so much to learn about marketing and all the things. If Bento becomes my golden goose, so be it. But even if I never made a dollar writing, I would still do it.
I love writing. I’m passionate about getting stories out. And despite the obstacles I’ve mentioned previously, I still make time to write. I go out with my girlfriends and talk plot. I hop onto Hangouts and learn about the publishing world. I listen to podcasts about how to improve my writing skills. And I write.
Maybe in five years there will be articles about me. Maybe my name will sit on the shelf with authors I adore: Gaiman, de Lint, Martin. And maybe there won’t. There are few guarantees in this world, but there are lots of stories.
And maybe, I’m not doing it so wrong after all.
I’m in no way done with my previous novel, edits being what they are. However, I decided I’m going to take a break from editing in November for Nanowrimo. Then I decided I’d start writing a story that’s been bouncing through my head since 2009. Lately it’s been surfacing more, like a whale breaching from the depths of the ocean.
The trouble is, this story has real teeth. The beauty of The Corsican lies in its simplicity. The characters were in a space ship. There were only so many square feet they could interact with, and all of the background was bland and boring. The ship was blocky, square and utilitarian, and that allowed me to focus on the characters. It was a cheat for a first time novelist, and not one I recognized until recently. That doesn’t mean it was bad – a space story should have a space ship, after all – it just means the backdrop is just a backdrop in that story.
Bento shows a lot more personality from beginning to end. It has a living background, full of different slices of urban life in 2291. The story is based in the far future, but it’s still the far future of Earth, so a lot of it is recognizable, though distorted.
This next story, not yet titled, takes place out in space, on an Earth-type world. I’m not looking to do a huge examination of an alien society, but the fact that it’s not Earth means that the backdrop will be all consuming and fabulously important. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to that level of intensity, but my stories seem to not care about what I want.
Just after making this decision, I was invited on a picnic with my family out onto our local mountain. It’s a drive, but it’s a pretty drive, and when we got up to the familiar ear-popping sensation of altitude, I couldn’t help but look at the world like a visitor to the planet. Rocks, undergrowth, flowers, ponds, even the odd whistling sound of the marmots made me wonder, how would a world be different? How would the world be the same?
This leaves me with a lot of ideas that have to be created and be consistent prior to my word-dump in November. History, geology, culture, biology, how humans interact with the system, how the system reacts to the humans. In fact, I should probably be working on that instead of this.
I just like to check in once in a while, you see.
The career is the goal. The way to get to the career is through the work. It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you can move forward. Money is the consequence of the work, it is energy. Money flows from hand to hand, helping people communicate. It is a medium, a concept, and should not be the focus or the goal.
The career is the goal. There are benefits of having the career. Not all careers offer the same benefits, and the benefits can sometimes be intangible. Having more time, enjoying what you do, knowing your family is taken care of are benefits.
Leave enough room to think. Leave enough room to breathe. Remember how powerful you are when you’re alone, uninterrupted, and allowed to chase down “idle” thoughts.
Growing hurts, but it’s meant to stretch you out of old thought processes and adopt new ones. Abandon approval seeking – you already either have it, or you don’t, and you don’t have to swing the fence-sitters. That’s energy better spent elsewhere.
Find a voice. You don’t have to wait until you’re so angry that your inner Hulk shows up.
Don’t obsess about how others are going to feel. You can’t predict or control their inner Hulk, but if it shows up, maybe they weren’t your friends to begin with.
On that note, letting go of those “friends” is like ripping off a Band-aid – worst at first.
When you’re working, set everything else aside. When you’re not working, don’t work.
It’s okay to be sick, or hurt, or just not want to. You’ll get the momentum back.
Time is not the enemy. Time is your friend.
Money is not the enemy. Money is a tool.
Balance isn’t permanent, in three dimensional space it’s tensegrity.
Well, I’m back.
First, thank you for all of you who enjoyed my microfiction experiment. I’m definitely doing more microfiction in the future. However, it takes a lot even to create a little fiction short like I was, and coming up with many tiny ideas proved to be a lot more work than expected. It’s kind of like getting a kitten. No one ever imagines how much energy and time a tiny warm ball of fuzz is going to take up, until you get one.
And I was getting a kitten a week.
Finally I had to accept that if I was going to put out bigger pieces of fiction, I had to set aside my diversion. It would be nice to say that I could just turn 180 degrees from a short piece to a long piece, but each piece takes up a slice of consciousness, and they all dig in equally as hard. That’s why I haven’t been blogging for weeks now. I just could not bring myself to produce.
Wonderful things have been happening beyond the blogosphere, however. I have found myself in a small, elite cadre of women writers, and we are critiquing each other’s work. Having found an echo chamber, let me tell you how priceless it is. I have been in four local writer’s groups, and each one was more dismal than the last. One almost seemed like a fit, but at the end of the day, I am an elitist snob and they weren’t up to my unreasonable standards.
Now, I’m surrounded by like minded, brutal, hungry writers, and I’m loving it. They challenge me, they provide me with awesome, useful feedback, and we all share what we’ve learned about the industry.
The most validating moment for this month happened after this month’s writing group meeting. A gentleman came out for a cigarette. The space we’d overtaken was apparently the smoke break area for several nearby restaurants. We tried to give him space while still enjoying the last lingering moments of our group session. When we started our goodbyes, the guy introduced himself as Sam Hill. We all had our laughs, which he was good-natured about. He then admitted he was a writer too. He told us he thought we had some really great ideas that he found helpful even as he eavesdropped. Our group had it’s first follower. It was magic.
I’ve also been duel wielding a novel and a serial, which would work better if I had more time. I’m laying fresh word count for Tin Can Sailors, and editing my rough draft of Bento Box. It’s hard to sharecrop two incredible stories, but one is for a publisher who wants my stuff done by this winter, and the other is getting bumped because it is deadline free.
I now understand how it takes George R.R. Martin so long to get a frigging book out. Of course, if I had a TV deal, I’d have more excuses to be so late, but the year isn’t over yet.