Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tasks that will probably kill me

Yesterday, 23 days after I sent Unicorn out, I got my first rejection in about 15 years. I guess that's what I get for not sending anything out for that long. Task for today: send it to the next place on the list.

Yesterday I also tried something new: Instead of starting the evening by knitting, and then abandoning that at like midnight to try to work on the story-of-the-moment, I worked on the story first. And I actually got through the draft! One more pass, and maybe I can let people read it.

And I still managed to do the 10 rows of Morrigan. It would be so sweet if I finished the sleeve by the end of January. There are only 1.5 inches to go until the armhole decreases, which is, best guess... 16 rows, or about 2.5 hours of knitting.

My other goal for January (aside from writing goals) is to finish reading "The Magicians". This book just will not end.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On people understanding SF

Read this Jo Walton article, and then come back.

When I was in college, my boyfriend and I took Science Fiction as Lit as an elective. I thought the course readings were awesome, but he had a terrible time with Ringworld (L.Niven). I told him, when you get to one of those really long exposition paragraphs, skip it, and it won't really harm your enjoyment of the story. He didn't love it, but he did finish the book.

Same person, I let him read a short story I'd written, and he said it wasn't as good as Mark Twain.

Well, duh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Today in research

Today's topic was the goldrush in Colorado. It's for a short story, so I didn't have to go into too much depth. Yet. We'll see when I read draft 3 what I need, but I'm still working through draft two.

A few days ago I tweeted that even my second drafts suck. This was in response (well, more in comment to, because I didn't reply to the actual person) to someone who said they had gotten to the point where they could reliably produce a decent first draft. But my second drafts aren't all bad. By the time I get towards the ending, there's much less red on the page. It's just the first half of both first and second drafts that is really, really awful. Posible causes:
  • I start writing before the story has jelled in my mind
  • My endings are really bad, but I've run out of steam on the editing towards the end, so I don't mark up as much
  • I feel the need to explain my world at the beginning of the story, and then I need to take that out and spread it around later

I don't have a solution yet, but it's something to think about.

With this story in particular, I didn't have a setting chosen, though I had characters and action, so most of the stuff I'm cutting out is rethinking the setting. Hence the connection to today's research. Also, I wrote this first draft on the computer, and my work habits, especially with short stories, tend to be a little non-linear on the computer (I think this is why I spend so much time moving things around in Toothbrushing Club, because I never had the structure firmly in mind). I wonder if I'll have the same problem when I look some more at my nanowrimo project. When I write on paper, I go straight through from beginning to end. In the current project, there's almost no exposition at all, which is a flaw, too.

Can't take criticism...

But can't take praise either. Last night at a band concert, I played a solo-with-accompaniment. Afterward, it was all I could do to keep myself from pointing out where I'd almost gone off the rails whenever anyone said "Nice playing, Robyn." Why can't I just say "Thank you" and move along?

"Gabriel's Oboe", from The Mission, by the way. Nice piece. My conductor arranged it for me.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Didn't I just make a rule about that?

Rule #1 was to rethink all scenes where my characters have food. So what do I do in Bezoar? I start with a really long scene with my characters sitting in a saloon drinking. Ugh.

I just realized this while I was messing with fonts. Yeah, the font Mesquite made me realize.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I've decided that's my learning style.

Or maybe my teaching style.

I finished the draft of Bezoar. Now I can cut out the bad bits. It came in just under 5K. I wonder if I can get it under 4K for draft 2.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bezoar update

Got another 700 words on Bezoar. There's got to be a better way to do this. But I have 3297 words now, which I guess is good.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Incredibly, I managed to write 337 words last night on Bezoar. And while they aren't perfect words, I started writing, and then found a way to explain the world with respect to the characters and their relationships, and that made me happy.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


One of my colleagues was helping a relative fill out an application to pharmacy school. The question:

What is the one question that should never be asked?

My guess: "Do you want fries with that?"


A special note to Franklin Habit

I would have totally enjoyed a collection of cartoons about taxidermy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

In process, Dec 09

What I worked on in December:

Manners. First draft novel. 75% complete.

"Dolphin". Short Story. Editing -- 3rd draft.

"Bezoar". Short Story. Still working on first draft. I have about 2000 words. Barely touched it last month.

"Mary Alice". Short Story. Still writing first draft. This one is based on a dashed-off comment from Catherine Schtamp-somethingorother at VP. I know what it's about. I have around 1300 words and a couple of sheets of notes.

"Limering". Short story. Still writing first draft. I have mostly notes.

Cat/tinfoil. Flash fiction. Draft done (hand-written while I was at my dad's). Needs a soul. Cory told her cats they were going to be famous, so I guess I have to try to revise it now.

I read a piece by I think Roberto Bolano that said that if you're going to work on short stories, you should be working on more than one at a time, five or six if you can hack it. I seem to have that down. And since I now have a story "making the rounds", it seems more like there's a point to editing them. If I could get one out there per month, that would be sweet. I am so slow at editing, that's probably not realistic.

Out there -- Dec 09

I didn't really send it in December, because the post office was closed too early on the 31st, but I'll count it as an accomplishment for then anyway, since I have nothing.

I sent the Unicorn story out on Saturday morning to an actual paying market. That wasn't so bad, really. Now the waiting.

Friday, January 01, 2010

from my phone...

Yeah, couldn't do it. Phone would not recognize the body textbox so I could enter text. Oh well. Maybe I'll try again later.

We were having dinner on New Year's Eve, and I had one of those stupid epiphanies. You know why we're all in debt so much? Because financial debt doesn't work like biological debt. When you don't sleep for a day, you don't sleep double the next day to make up for it; you sleep like 25% more for a couple of days, and then you're back to normal. When you forget to eat for a day, you don't eat 5000 calories the next day; you eat a little more, and you're back to normal. So sleep debt and food debt require you to pay less when you miss a payment. But if you forget to pay your credit card bill, you have to pay twice as much to make up for it, plus a penalty.

I wonder what it all means.