A Productive Cold and the incorporation of Real Life into Fiction.

I have a cold. I’m miserable, achy, stuffy, and completely unmotivated.  As a result of this, I have started working on my next book.  That seems to be the one activity I can do with enthusiasm even though everything else is too much effort. 

Me, the dog, and the laptop…it’s bliss.  Fortunately, it is also the one thing I can motivate myself to do when the weather is nasty (snowing, freezing, or blisteringly hot).  It’s my go-to thing when I can’t fall asleep – I’ve spent many a sleepless night crafting the characters and plot of books yet to be written.   It’s my mini-break when life is too hectic and I feel like I can’t get anything done; I can get a paragraph done, or a quick outline – then everything else seems much easier.  I can write myself out of bad moods, and when I can’t?  Well, I just have a particularly dark scene that I can later polish up and make work in any number of stories.

That’s what makes us writers.  Someone cuts you off in traffic?  Incorporate that into a story and stop giving them rude hand gestures.  Have a million Holiday parties to attend?  Have your character go instead…it’s great fun for me to look around at the room full of people and imagine Coyote baiting them and stirring up chaos.  News got you down?  Twist the plot of the latest political scandal into your next book. 

The more you write, the more you incorporate realistic things into your work, like a miserable cold.  Today, I know what it feels like to have every muscle ache and have zero ambition.  One of my poor characters will experience something similar in the near future.

Next time you’re reading a new novel, try to pick out the scenes that seem most authentic – those are the ones that with a twist of the imagination, the author has turned truth into fiction.  Keep a log of things that happen and might make good fodder for a story.  When I wrote Destructive Magic, I actually combined two separate stories in the plot.  If it weren’t for those days where it was just me, the dog, and the laptop, I’d still be writing it. 

Hope you find some inspiration out there!

A Productive Year

2012 was a very productive year.  I published two full length novels, a short story, and a novella.  Add to that, the four novels I have in process on my laptop and someone could get the impression that I write every time I get a spare moment.

That is not the case.  My first novel probably took me four years to polish and publish.  The second one was easier, but I had a portion of that one written before I published the first book.  I also had a portion of my new novella written – it took me three weeks to tighten it up and proof it.

The lesson for me is this:  It’s not about writing a novel from start to finish.  It’s about writing down all of those little ideas until I have enough to complete a story.  I write complete scenes, and I don’t always know where the characters or story are going next.  I write until I’m stuck and then I put it away for a few hours, days, or weeks until I get inspired again.

In the meantime, I might open another story I’ve been working on and write a little on that.  I might even start a new one if I’m so inclined.

When I feel like I’ve finally written everything I want to on one story, that’s when I start to really tighten up my novel and pay attention to word usage, pacing, grammar, punctuation, and all of the other technical things.  If I bog myself down in those things before the story is finished, I just end up frustrated.  Once I enter the editing phase, the other things I’m working on are ignored so I can focus on completing the one that’s done.

My eventual goal is to finish all of the manuscripts that I have started.  If I don’t stop starting new ones, I’m going to be at this for the next six years and that doesn’t sound so bad to me today.

Hold the Presses!

Ok, Tattered Shadows will be up tomorrow – I found an error and had to fix it.  I fixed it early this morning, but I’m still waiting for the wizards at Amazon to approve it.  UG!  So much for setting a deadline for myself!