Tag Archives: writing

PRINCESS OF STARS UPDATE #7

Yes, a progress report on Princess of Stars, something that hasn’t happened in over a year.  That’s because, effectively, there has been no progress.  To be precise, I have written, re-wrttten, cut, deleted, re-purposed, re-arranged, laid the story down in the despair, hovered on the edge of deleting everything and un-publishing the first four Divine Lotus novels, considered giving up writing entirely, written some more and deleted that– with the net effect being that I have been more-or-less cycling around the same point in the story for more than twelve months.  Throw in some clinical depression and about three major life-changes (which are still all working themselves out) and completing this novel has been a goal that has seemed far, far out of reach.

What has changed?  Nothing seismic. There’s been no epic epiphany, nor sea-change in my writing.  Just a couple of small things that seem to be helping me get unstuck.

Firstly, I think I have hit upon a means to finesse some of my inability to get past my blockage.  In my flibbertigibbet way of doing drafts, I normally write passages out-of-sequence, working on later or earlier passages in the narrative when I’m stuck somewhere.  Knitting it all together into a coherent story is what happens in the second draft.  This time around, however, I am doing something a little different; I am writing the story with the intention of not necessarily adhering to a linear timeline for the action– and, in the process, I am not worrying my pointy little noggin too much about connecting passages and such what.  It seems to be helping.  The finished product may look quite different from the other Divine Lotus novels, but the whole point of this is to get to a finished product, and I’m getting kinda ruthless in pursuit of that result.

Secondly, I think I’ve finally reached the acceptance stage of grief over my writing.

When I started, rather late in life, to write in a serious way I thought that I was pretty good.  The process since then has been a slow coming to terms with the fact that I will never be anything more than mediocre.  There’s a reason why no editors ever accepted any of my over-the-transom submissions, nor any agent ever took me on.  I’m just not that good.

It’s been hard for me to get to this place.  I spent a long, long time in the denial stage (ain’t just a river in Egypt, folks).  I think I passed through anger and bargaining pretty quickly, and then spent a very long time in depression.  It didn’t help that my depression wasn’t just about my writing, either.  The last twenty or so years have been hard in many ways, lightened here and there by friendships and the arrival of my daughter (make that the glorious and splendid arrival of my daughter, but I digress…..).

I may- may-be coming out of that stage.  As I mentioned, there have been some serious life-changes, and those may be helping.  The jury is still out.  But I believe I’m done with illusions about myself and my writing.

I will never have much of an audience; I will never make much money at this; and it’s very doubtful anyone will ever make a movie out of any of my works.  If any of this were to happen, I would be pleasantly surprised and give God the glory– but I have to stop holding my breath over it.  I’ve been getting dizzy….

Having said that, I’ve gotten to the point where I want to finish this story and the others still in my head, for my sake and for the story itself.  It’s not going to be great literature and it’s not going to wow the masses.  But I think the story is worth completing.

So– 49,000 words out of a projected 150,000, not quite one-third.  I am finally on the verge of getting Kathy on the road in pursuit of the Lady Rose Adamant– yes, the core action is a chase– and hopefully I will be able to report solid progress from here on out.  Not that there won’t be missteps and recalculations– knowing me, it’s pretty much guaranteed.  But I think I see a path forward, and that’s progress.

Later.

Oh, and PS– I got to use the word selbstgefällig today in the story.  I am so jazzed…..

 

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction – October 16th 2016– A Pest Problem….

A response to the Sunday Photo Fiction flash fiction challenge for October 16th 2016– 200 words based on this image–

177-10-october-16th-2016

Copyright 2016 by Douglas Daniel

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“I don’t care if they’re an endangered species,” Frank said.  “Next one I see gets shot!”

“Granddad, you don’t mean that,” Cindy said.  She stood and watched the bird feeder through the living room picture window.

“Why not?  Damn liberals, always trying to protect this dicky-bird or that spotted snail or whatever.  Poking their noses into people’s business.  But if it’s on my property I should be able to do as I please.”

“Granddad, they’re wonders of nature,” Cindy said.  Two blue-jays had landed on the feeder and were pecking away at the seeds in the feeder.  Cindy could hear their squabbling through the glass.

“You, young lady, should take all those science classes with a bigger pinch of salt, is what I think,” Frank said.  “Balance of nature this and global warming that—half of it’s hooey….”

“Wait!” Cindy said.

Outside the blue-jays looked up from their feeding, squawked in alarm, and took wing.  Another winged form landed on the feeder, gripping the plastic with sharp talons.  It hissed at the departing jays, folded its leathery wings, and began to eat.

“Look, look!” Cindy exclaimed.  “It’s an Eastern Green dragonet!  Isn’t it beautiful?”

Frank looked sour.  “Damn pest.”

Been gone so long….

No one is likely to have noticed, but for the last several months I have been largely disconnected from my blog– a couple of movie reviews, a few short political rants, but nothing about the core reason I created this blog in the first place, which was to share my writing experiences and struggles.

I won’t go into graphic detail about why.  My writing efforts tend to go through cycles of enthusiasm and despondency as it is, but for the last few months I have been particularly disconnected from my major projects, and could only doodle away at other pieces that have no hope of being published any time soon.  More than that, I came perilously close to closing out and discarding the Divine Lotus series of novels altogether, and had to be talked out of it, to a large extent, by an old friend whose enthusiasm for the books exceeds my own.

Life changes and personal failures contributed to my malaise.  I have been actively depressed, if that’s not a contradiction in terms, to the degree that it was hard to see a point in my writing.  A sense of futility often made it hard for me to even get my hands to the keyboard.

I cannot say that is all over and done with.  I’ve taken certain steps to redirect my life, but it is unclear at this hour whether these steps will be effective.  I have, however, resumed writing Princess of Stars.  The Horseman (a terrible title, but it’s only tentative) is also in the pipeline.

The truth is, I am not a very good writer, and I never will be.  My writing is mediocre, at best, and it was that sense of dissatisfaction that nearly caused me to dump the Divine Lotus novels.  I’m also never going to make any serious money at this.  That’s become more and more apparent to me, as well, but I think that I have recovered enough from my depression to simply want to see the stories completed for the sake of being completed. That seems a worthy and sufficient goal in itself.

Hopefully this new resolution will hold, and I will be posting more often in the coming months.  In addition to talking about my progress on my projects, I’d like to get back to doing more movie and book reviews.  I might even once more take up the cudgel of flash fiction challenges, but I make no promises.

Of course, this all assumes that a certain bloviating blowhard is denied access to the nuclear codes and doesn’t thereby blow us all to hell.

But that’s another post.

Later.

 

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction – March 20th 2016– The Door Between Worlds

A Sunday Photo Flash Fiction challenge– 200 words based on this image–

148-03-march-20th-2016

Haven’t done one of these in a while, so this is probably meh.  Plus, I couldn’t quite squeeze the story into the 200 word limit. Sorry.

Copyright 2016 Douglas Daniel

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Clarke shoved the garage door open.  Dust motes danced in sunbeams.  A bare concrete floor, a wooden bench on one side, a bricked-up back door.  “What’s this about?” I asked.

“It has to do with the gravity wave activity we’ve been picking up,” Clarke said.

I wondered how, but said nothing.  I was just glad Clarke and I were on speaking terms again.  Radical changes in physics as we knew it and personal conflicts were a bad mix.

“Look again, Peter,” Clarke said.

I stepped into the garage.  I saw nothing, until I peered down at the floor.  A dark discoloration– not an oil stain, but a perfect circle.  It seemed to shimmer.

“What is it?” I said.

“A physicist of your caliber should be able to figure it out,” Clarke said from behind me.

I shook my head.  “Sorry.  I need a clue.”

“Okay.”  Clarke’s tone changed.  “Carol belongs to me.”

He shoved me.  I stumbled into the circle.

I fell, and fell, and fell.  Wind that was not wind rushed past me.  Tortured vacuum screamed in my ears.  I stretched, pulled ever downward.

I hit the ground.  There was grass beneath me, all around me.

I looked up.  The garage was gone.  I was in open country, grass in every direction, and hills in the distance.

Above those hills, three moons stood in the sky.  None of them were the Moon.

“Oh, God,” I said.

Suspension of disbelief and its limits

My recent post on The Guardians of the Galaxy got me to thinking about a part of story-telling that gets mentioned every now and then, but which (it occurs to me) is actually extremely critical, in any genre, anywhere, anytime. I’m talking about the reader/viewer/listener’s suspension of disbelief.

I’m not sure this is talked about a lot in writing classes, and I hardly ever heard about it in the various writing groups I’ve been associated with over the years- at least, by its full name. Many times, however, readers would say to me, “That just threw me right out of the story.” In other words, something about the narrative prevented the reader from suspending their disbelief in the fictional world I presented to them.

Suspension of disbelief– the ability to say “I am going to temporarily accept the baseline premises of a fictional universe in order to enter into that world and enjoy the sensation that the world is real and happening now.” That’s a little long-winded, but I think it covers all the bases.

Here’s the point– suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader/viewer/listener is essential to the story’s success. Without it, without the implicit agreement between the story-teller and the recipient of the story that they are going to pretend, for just this moment, that this fictional universe is real, the recipient of the story cannot enter into the tale, and cannot enjoy it. Period.

And this is true for all fictional endeavors. Science-fiction and fantasy have to work harder than some other genres to achieve suspension of disbelief, but SoD is in operation in every sort of narrative story, because it permeates every critical aspect of a story– world, characterization, action. If Jane Austen had written Lizzie Benet in Pride and Prejudice as her independent self in one chapter and a compliant mouse in the next, her readers would have said, “This threw me out of the story” (or early 19th Century words to that effect)– in other words, they would have been unable to suspend disbelief.

In an important sense, this was what I was complaining about in my review of Guardians of the Galaxy— there were moments (thankfully not that many) that threatened my suspension of disbelief. That giant head, for instance, for me just doesn’t work as an object in a science-fiction story– my brain starts gnawing away at questions like how is it possible to have a giant organism in space, and how are the bodily components of a giant space alien valuable? etc., all of which immediately interfere with my enjoyment of the story. The head violates what I assumed were the basic premises of the story.

Failure to maintain SoD is a threat to the very success of a story. Do it too often, or to too great a degree, and the audience turns off the television, walks out of the theater, throws the book across the room. Worse, the disappointed are likely to spread poisonous word of mouth– Yeah, that book/movie/show sucked, it made no sense. Not making sense to a reader or viewer is the kiss of death.

Or it should be. However, suspension of disbelief is actually a personal thing. Elements of a story that might absolutely destroy the experience for me might go completely unnoticed by others. It is, in fact, a factor of personal taste.

Which brings me to this–

In ordinary circumstances, the thought of a new Mad Max/Road Warrior movie would leave this particular fan-boy gibbering with delighted anticipation. Watching this trailer, however, fills me with dread. The original Road Warrior had a simple, gritty sensibility, which was actually enhanced by its low-low-low budget. Among other things, its effects and stunts had to be practical and guaranteed not to kill anybody. This gave it more verisimilitude than you would have expected from a stark description of the film (post-apocalyptic survivors fight over gasoline).

This film, on the other hand, looks like a badly-made video game– overblown, filled with explosions, hurtling cars, hurtling bodies, and pieces of action that either seem to violate basic Newtonian physics or just not make any sense (people on poles? Why?). It looks as if George Miller, now that he’s George Freakin’ Miller, is bathing in money, and has thrown most of it at this production. But to me, it is the apparently nonsensical and over-the-top action that has already set my SoD to trembling. To my eyes, the action doesn’t look plausible– and, as a consequence, I will hesitate to dive into this particular film experience without at least seeing a goodly number of reviews. Lots of reviews. And I sure as taxes will not be camping out at the Cineplex waiting for opening day.

Of course, judging a movie by its trailer is probably even more problematic than judging a book by its cover. This movie may yet redeem itself to me. But here’s where the part about SoD being an expression of personal taste comes into play. This movie will doubtless make buckets of money, because, quite simply, there seem to be an incredible number of people nowadays who, in my opinion, are undiscriminating action junkies who will watch anything with a sufficient number of very large explosions and/or fast moving objects. Think Fast and Furious or Transformers. We’re talking about people for whom, apparently, no explosion is too big, no piece of action too outlandish. People whose SoD, it seems, has acquired a nearly infinite elasticity. As a consequence, classics like The Road Warrior are betrayed by junk sequels, and movies (and story-telling in general) are left all the poorer.

I seem to have slipped over into a rant. I will therefore stop here, leave poor Max alone, and just come to my point. Suspension of disbelief is one of the absolutely critical elements of the story-telling art. Not pushing your readers or viewers into disbelief, not breaking that implicit contract with them to create a plausible world, is essential. Every creator of a narrative needs to pay attention to it.

Unless you want your story to feel like an overblown cartoon.

‘Nuff said. Later.

A quick emergence from my cave to squint at the sun…

And we’ve been having entirely too much of that sunshine stuff here in Seattle lately. I have a mind to the tell the Sun to knock it off.

A quick note, just in case anyone wondered if I had been kidnapped by aliens (I wouldn’t mind, if they looked like Gwenyth Paltrow)– other matters continue to pull me away from the blog, but progress is being made on Princess of Fire. I think I’m re-engaging with Kathy in a way I haven’t been able to the last few months. She’s starting to deal with the Deep Serious that’s about to land on her and the people she cares about, and the pace is picking up as I get excited about what I am writing.

On another matter, which I may talk about at more length in a near-future post– I have made a decision to resume the effort to seek traditional publication, in a small way. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that self-publishers are not eligible for SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) membership. As irritating as that is in one way, in another I totally understanding the logic. SFWA doesn’t want the slush pile to come knocking on their door….

This re-entry into the pursuit of trad publishing doesn’t mean my novels will be leaving Amazon– I plan to try my hand at short stories. And the first might be based on an idea I got from Chuck Wendig’s challenge from last week, which I started to write, and then realized I might be able to do something more with. Mixing and matching sub-genres is fun, and the two I got out of the random selection was “dystopia” and “superhero”.

I can do something with that.

More later, when it’s not my bed-time. Good night.

A memory

In honor of a certain young lady’s sixteenth birthday.

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I saw the look on the physician-assistant’s face– alarm, perhaps horror. She turned away from taking my wife’s blood pressure, muttered, “Please wait here,” and left.

She came back and said, “We’re admitting your wife to the hospital.”

They gave me a new word to learn– pre-eclampsia. My wife’s body was rejecting her pregnancy. They would have to induce labor and deliver our baby.

It was too soon, by almost seven weeks.

When my daughter was born, she was too small. She was just three pounds, eight ounces. She should have been over five pounds. She was small and red. She cried, and the sound was weak and thin.

They had me carry her up to the neonatal ICU. She barely filled my two hands together.

It was after midnight. Two-thirds of the lights in the halls were turned off. We moved through gloom into brief patches of light and back into gloom.

In the light my daughter shut her eyes tight. When we entered the gloom, she opened her eyes and looked up at me.

Now she sings arias in Italian, and tells me, “I can take care of myself, Daddy.” She thinks her old father is silly.

Short Fiction– Fifteen Minutes

Another of Chuck Wendig’s short fiction challenges— 1000 words on the theme “We’re all human, even when we’re not.”

I took a first stab at this, and it came out wrong. Bad wrong. There are times when I finish a piece and just know it’s a turkey. So I slept on it, changed some things around, made it first person, and tried again. This is somewhat better– at least, I don’t think anybody’s going to come after me with pitchforks and torches.

Copyright 2014 Douglas Daniel

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Fifteen minutes.

We had just that long before the station reactor detonated. The terrorists had done their work well, even as they died for it. The nanites they’d inserted into the station’s structure had done irreparable damage. Systems were failing all through the station.

But the reactor had been their chief target. It was running wild. That was news I had to take back topside.

The lift doors opened on the command deck. Controlled pandemonium— the command team appeared to be doing a dozen things at once, and every being doing it at the top of their lungs, or whatever gas exchange organ they possessed. The wall monitors, the ones working, showed scenes from different parts of the station– all showing masses of beings, dozens of species, all scrambling to get to evacuation stations. I felt sick– we had mere minutes to evacuate thousands of sentient beings, none of whom had done the Kulanians any harm—but the Pure had always hated other species, and the tolerance the station represented.

T’kalas stood by the station infrastructure consoles. The Sinuran caught sight of me coming out of the lift and came down the tiered platform toward me at once. “What’s going on in the core?” he demanded. “We haven’t been able to raise any of you.”

“The comms are down,” I told him. “They sent me up instead. The reactor’s going critical. We can’t shut it down or damp it out. The rest of the team has evacuated the core. We’ve got fifteen minutes– fourteen now.”

“Formada and Signa!” T’kalas said. “We’ve got ships lined up, but it’s going to be close.” He turned. “Clear Control! Everyone out, get to your evacuation stations.”

The watchstanders didn’t need to be told twice. “Help me,” T’kalas said as everyone fled to the lifts.

For five minutes I helped T’kalas set what systems we could to automatic. Sometimes the Sinuran was a fidgety sort of being, but in moments like this he steadied down. I tried to imitate him.

Systems were going down even as we tried to work on them. I got glimpses from external vids, saw Sinuran cruisers hard-docking in haste to take people off, but the monitors were going black one-by-one even as I switched views.

“Come,” T’kalas said at last, standing. It was long after I would have run away, if I had been alone. “We’ve done what we can.”

We took the lift down to Corridor 3-Alpha. Its doors opened on confusion. People of every different species streamed past, toward the ship locks and the escape pods. Shouts and orders came in different tongues. The evacuation klaxon was still sounding.

“Nine minutes now,” I told him.

T’kalas blinked. “Maybe it will be enough– we’ve already cleared levels One, Two, and Four– just this one left.”

Another alarm– a rising and falling wail. To our left, a gas-tight door began to slide closed across the passageway. There were people still on the other side. They screamed, tried to rush forward and cram through the narrowing opening.

A huge being shoved through the crowd, right past me and T’kalas, toward the closing door, coming from the direction of the escape pods. It was of no species I recognized. I had an impression of a bull trying to be a gorilla, with a reptilian heritage showing through.

The door was nearly closed. The being flung itself down in the gap. The door crushed it against the seal.

The being screamed– but the door stopped, jammed on its body. A gap, less than meter wide, remained. The door mechanism whined, but it was not going anywhere.

“Help it!” I shouted. I got to the door, stood by the alien. Blood poured from where the door-edges had sliced into it.

“It wasn’t supposed to close!” T’kalas said. “We locked out the automatic function.”

“Nothing is working right, remember?” I said. I stood for a second, at a loss. I had no idea how to free the big being and keep the door from closing at the same time. A mass of people thronged together on the other side of the door.

Teisine hila,” the being gasped. “Eke passah brintine.” Even dying, its voice was like a sonic-drill on full power. I didn’t recognize the tongue.

“He says, tell them to crawl out over him,” T’kalas said.

I stared for a moment. There was nothing else to be done. I stood in the gap at the being’s feet, gestured to the people on the other side. “Come on!”

They climbed out across the being, stepping on him. I helped them– human, Sinuran, Prest– how many more? A Yed mother handed me her hatchling, then clambered out after it, her claws piercing the big being’s skin. He didn’t complain, but lay panting, silent now.

They kept coming– more Prest, a San, a family of Halchina. And then the corridor beyond the door was empty.

“Five minutes,” T’kalas said.

“We have to get him out,” I said. I had no idea how.

Shuma,” it said, gasping. “Shuma!”

“What?” I said.

Eke las krine.

“He says to go and leave him,” T’kalas said.

“No….”

Ljas pere brintine. Uk…uk bere males theru. Helua kimi gar kesu. Das mana.

“He says,” T’kalas translated, “it is over for him, but it is well. We must make the victory complete, and go.” T’kalas wrung his hands. “Peter, there’s nothing to be done.”

I still hesitated. I put a hand on the being’s shoulder. I met his eyes– pained, but clear and resolved.

Das mana,” he said again, gently.

The shockwave of the station’s detonation buffeted our escape pod, but we were well clear. The pod went down-orbit along with the cruisers, merchant ships and other pods. More cruisers were already matching orbits to recover the pods and help the smaller ships.

Watching the expanding cloud of glowing gas that had been the station, I asked T’kalas, “Who was he?”

Scary stories

Not stories about ghosts, werewolves, vampires or IRS tax audits. Oh, no. I’m not talking about stories you read to make yourself shiver. I am talking about story ideas so big, so ambitious, they intimidate me as a writer.

I have a few of these, some of which I’ve been mulling over in my brain for years– but which I have never had the courage to put on paper or hard drive. Perhaps tellingly, these are mainly mainstream literary ideas, rather than genre.

Among these concepts–

1. A contemporary novel, working title Life in the Abyssal Plain. This is only tangentially informed by my own life (a strictly autobiographical novel based on me would be useful only as a door-stop), but I find its protagonist– a man who has always felt out of step with his universe, reaching middle-age with nothing to show for it– compelling. But, frankly, writing about real life is much more intimidating than writing about dragons and space battles.

2. An unnamed Vietnam War novel. Although I have thought about it a lot, this one is so intimidating I will probably never write it, at least as a novel set in Vietnam. I lived through the Sixties, but I was never in Vietnam. I was in the Army, but my service was years later and I never saw combat. If I tried to write a novel about the war in Vietnam, I would almost certainly commit a thousand errors. It would also take a particularly rank sort of hubris for someone like me to write, as a non-participant, about a subject for which there are so many books– If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, Fields of Fire, and Matterhorn as just a few examples– by people who were there, and who are still around.

But I did live through the Sixties, and I was in the Army after the war, serving with men who were in Vietnam (by-and-large damn fine people), and I can say something about that. I have an unpublished novelette based on my time in the Army, but I need to rethink it pretty thoroughly before I try to recreate it as a novel.

3. A Civil War novel, working title Leaves in the Stream. Yeah, probably a little too close to Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, but it captures the concept I have of the war sweeping an entire set of families, white and black, downstream through history, with the characters unable to resist the current. Its protagonist is a young Southerner fighting for the North. I relate pretty strongly to this character– I come from a southern family proud of its Confederate heritage, in which I was the only kid impertinent enough to remind everyone about the inconvenient fact of slavery (funny, I’m also the only one who now lives north of the Mason-Dixon. Hmmm…). My novella The Peach Orchard was actually a first essay at telling this story, as well as my first real attempt at historical fiction. It will probably serve as the jumping-off point for the novel when I write it.

This novel is close to my heart. The Civil War in general hovers over Southerners in way it does not for Northerners. More than that, this is family history for me, as well as the history of my nation, and I think there are important things I can say about it.

The problem is that this concept scares me witless.

This is the one story I have to get right (above and beyond just getting it right as a story). More than the overwhelming historical detail (and that alone is staggering), I absolutely don’t want to turn out yet another pot-boiling soap opera (and there have been so many Civil War pot-boilers, starting with that gold-plated turd, Gone With the Wind). That sort of failure would kill me. The terror of doing this wrong has been paralyzing. And then there’s the scale of it– if you do it right and don’t restrict your focus to one battle or one section of the country (as with Across Five Aprils, for example), you’re almost sure to turn out something longer than War and Peace— and length is not necessarily an indicator of quality.

Writing The Peach Orchard was confidence-building, but in the scheme of the whole novel it would be only about one or two chapters. I’ve been reading historical fiction on the war, including The Killer Angels and The March, but in some ways that’s counter-productive– reading works by masters only serves to remind me of far short I fall.

Which is probably what this all boils down to– my sense of inadequacy as a writer. I’m not formally trained, and I feel that most keenly when I contemplate projects like these. The sad truth is that I am far more confident handling science-fiction and fantasy (although Princess of Fire has lately been causing me to question even that) than in making everyday life interesting– which is probably a pointed comment on my writing abilities in-and-of itself.

At some point, however, I will have to screw my courage to the sticking point and just do these stories. Or, to put it another way, close my eyes and think of the book covers. Because, frankly, these projects represent something of a bucket list for me as a writer. And I ain’t getting any younger.

Where has all the mojo gone?

Some of you may have noticed (or not) that in my last few posts I haven’t really mentioned much about my current work-in-progress, Princess of Fire. Partly I’ve been spending some of my time trying out flash-fiction, which is kind of a new thing for me. Mainly, however, it’s because I seem to be having serious mojo problems.

Mojonoun: that which allows you to do what you need to do when you need to do it.

(If that definition seems kinda redundant, at least it avoids any sexual connotations. Not going there….)

Since completing my taxes it seems as if the wind that originally filled my sails with Fire (that was actually an accidental double meaning, but I’ll go with it) has dwindled down to a fitful whisper. I’m doing a few hundred words a day, as opposed to about a thousand a day before. I’m above 75,000 words, but it took me about a week or so to get there from 72,000.

It may be that I have exhausted most of the pre-imagined material that has carried me this far. I may also be slowing because I’m facing more difficult core sections. I also am not wholly pleased with a lot of the material I’ve laid down.

On top of all this, there has been some serious chaos in the personal space for the last three weeks, quite aside from the continuing unemployment thingie. The details would bore everyone, and spewing on about them here wouldn’t solve anything. But it’s a banal truth that it is hard to write when you don’t have a certain level of peace and quiet.

At this point I am not sure how to get the mojo back, or even if it’s get-backable. I may have to revert to the level of production I saw while drafting Princess of Shadows. If I have about 40,000 words left (a total guess at this point) that would mean approximately eighty days of first draft still ahead of me. That would mean completing the first draft sometime in May, and about a year between the publication of Shadows and Fire. I could live with that.

And who knows– things might calm down, I might get a job, and maybe Alfonso Cuaron will show up at my front door with an offer to film my novels for a lot of money.

Well, everybody needs a dream….