When I started these posts, I thought I’d just write about writing, but somewhere along the way, I started thinking I had to be more pointery (as in, I needed to have a point), or insightful or something. When you get there in your head, the posts stop flowing.
I think these need to be more like I Should Be Writing. Thoughts, feelings, my writing process, inner thoughts being put out there, that sort of thing. So I’m going to try and keep that in mind moving forward, and hopefully, more journal posts will follow.
I haven’t been writing a lot. There’s that whole thing where you tell yourself, “Oh, if only I had more time, I would totally…” and then, when you have the time, you squander it. I feel like I’m squandering the time I have. A certain amount of guilt comes with that feeling. I’ve already talked about this, so I won’t repeat myself again here today. Instead, I’ll talk about when I do, suddenly, find myself writing.
Yesterday was a busy day for me. The heat was blistering so I broke down and turned the a/c on. This made my basement office / writing area not only comfortable, it was downright frigid. (The path of least resistance tends to be the spot where the house is the warmest or coolest, depending on the season. Example: the furnace and air blower are located in the basement. A vent off that room points into the basement. This is the first vent along the line. When open, all the air blasts out and the rest of the house ‘starves’.) I had several freelance things to do, each one paying a little bit into the very small pot I’m using to pay bills right now. So, they are important and must be done. After that, I edited a podcast. After that, I edited posts for SF Signal and Functional Nerds. Now it’s dinner time. Need to cook. Spend some time away from the computer. Play with cats. Back to editing after.
I look up and it’s 10 pm. The temperature outside is 85 degrees, so turning off the a/c is not in the cards. (my bedroom is poorly insulated and if it’s hot outside, that room is sweltering and I cannot sleep.) I open Scrivener, pull up the project I’ve been working on and stare at the screen.
When last I wrote anything, our heroine was racing along the trail of her fellow warriors who, she knew, were locked in combat with the force who had destroyed their temple. The very last thing I wrote was something along the lines of her hearing the sounds of battle, and bursting through to a scene of carnage.
Now I needed to describe that carnage. And the words were failing me. They’d failed me before, too, which was why I left her there, sitting atop her horse, probably tapping her foot in annoyance at me for leaving her hanging. Rude of me, I know.
What did she see when she looked out at the battlefield? Something very general. Her brethren fighting? Okay. Who were they fighting? The bad guys. I hadn’t described the bad guys yet because this was the first time she’d seen them. She was late, you see? The temple was destroyed while she was off somewhere else. Now, she was seeing the enemy for the first time and so would be the reader. Okay, I can work with that. I had a rough idea of what these enemies would look like, so I pulled up TextEdit (like Notepad on Windoze), and sketched it out. They were bigger than her people. Like, really big. Viking versus Samurai, big. She wore banded armor, they wore plate. She’d never seen plate before, so that needed to be described through her eyes. How strange and awkward it looked to her. Bulky, too. Their swords were very different, too. Like long, flat clubs compared to her sleek and slender swords.
I have this sketch of what she is seeing, now to work it from flat observation to prose. Ok. I start typing. The first few words are terrible. I delete them and start over. The flow is better, but I’m not happy with it. Still, it’s worth sticking with so I continue on. Done. Now I go back through and edit. The passage ends up being just 92 words. And looking at the clock, it’s now 11:30 pm. The smart thing to do is go to bed.
I keep writing. She’s at the battle, she’s seen the enemy. What happens next? The enemy sees her. No time for her to make plans or join her forces, no, she’s become a target. 692 words of intense ‘oh shit’ fighting. Looking up, the battle is over, the enemy gone. Why? Where did they go? Her own people aren’t moving. She searches for her friend. 96 words. He’s dying. 117 words. Time to finish setting her up as a character, put her on the path that will take her through the narrative. 297 words.
1:15 am. Tired. Should totally go to bed. That would be the absolute smart thing to do. Bedroom has probably cooled down enough to sleep comfortably. Dakota the cat is sprawled against my leg on the ottoman. Shadow the cat curled up on the armest of the comfy chair. Sure, they can sleep just about anywhere. Heat doesn’t bother them.
Brain: The entire scene above is part of a flashback for our heroine. Now we’re in the present again and need to complete the bridge or it’s gonna bug us. 730 words.
2 am. Bed. Now. The next bit has already been written, though. I can scan through to see what’s what. Won’t take long. Hrm. A few things stand out to my eye. I’ve changed this bit, need to rearrange this whole paragraph. That line of dialogue doesn’t work anymore. Delete. 3,232 words read/edited later… 3:30 am. Body is saying: time to sleep! Brain is saying: BUT I’M ON A ROLL!
Body trumps brain.
7 am. Shadow the cat: *paw in the face* Hey! Feed us!