You know, at the end of last year, I remember thinking: I’m going to use this blog more. In the new year, I’m going to write more, hermit less, and simply DO more.
The “write more” part is working out decently. I’ve been attempting to write 10K per week, and while I haven’t hit the goal every week, I think I’m starting to establish a decent writing schedule for myself. It remains to be seen how this will work out in the future, since I’ve only been reliable about it since the start of February, but one of my Things To Do in 2015 is to take my writing much more seriously, and that I’ve been doing.
As for the other part, though …. HAHAHAHA. 2015 might as well be called the Year of the Hermit. It’s terrible. And it’s not just online: I haven’t been talking on the phone. I haven’t been seeing people. I’ve been doing a bit on Twitter and Livejournal, but for the most part I’ve simply withdrawn into my shell and I seem to be waiting for spring to come along and hatch me.
(This time of year is always the hardest to get through. By the end of February, we have about 5 months of winter down and another 1-2 months to go. This is the part of the marathon when you’re just slogging up the last hill toward the finish line, going slower and slower …)
I have been writing, though! Over the last three years I’ve written five novels. One of them, Held For Ransom, a contemporary romance with no spec-fic elements, came out last year from Dreamspinner Press. All the others — two urban fantasy, two alternate-history steampunk — are presently in various stages of revision.
I have an almost obsessive fear about not talking about my projects while I’m working on them. It’s mostly because my projects have a tendency to twist around on me. Characters change, plots change; fantasy becomes science fiction; two projects merge into one, or divide into two; things move constantly on and off the front burner. I worry that discussing a project while I’m still developing it will petrify it at an early level of development, freezing characters and plots in their early stages without leaving myself the mental flexibility to keep developing as I move forward. Or what if I get readers interested in something and then disappoint them when I drop it and move on to something else? Or what if talking about it sucks out some vital energy from the creation process and makes me lose interest? It doesn’t help that nearly everything I’ve talked about extensively online actually did get dropped; I’ve gotten better at recognizing viable projects now that I’ve written more, but I still struggle with a mayfly attention span and a tendency to flit from one project to another, working on one until it loses its shiny and then bouncing to the next bright thing. I’m working hard on combating that tendency — trying to approach writing as a career path rather than a series of new toys, while not losing the sense of play — but I am only beginning to understand how my own creative process works. What does make me interested in something? What makes me lose interest? I truly don’t know, and because it sometimes feels like trying to paddle a leaky dinghy, I don’t want to risk doing anything I’m afraid might overbalance it and send all my good ideas spilling over the side. Okay, that metaphor got away from me a bit … but the big problem is that I still don’t understand what makes shiny ideas turn to coal in my hands, and while I’m still cultivating my own creative efforts, I’m nervous about causing problems for myself by discussing them too much.
But I’ve also realized, from reading authors’ blogs, that I really love reading authors talking about the projects they’re working on, and it does whet my appetite for their next thing to hear them ramble about the construction process. And I figure that once I’ve got the rough drafts down, even if I’m still revising it, then I’m probably not going to up and change the thing completely, am I?
Okay, so: as mentioned earlier, I have two main projects right now. The urban fantasy I’ll discuss at a later date (baby steps, baby steps!). The steampunk novels are based off a story I wrote a couple of years ago, for the Layla M. Wier alias, that was published in Dreamspinner Press’s Steamed Up steampunk romance anthology. Called “Untouchable”, it was set in 1930 and was a pastiche of The Untouchables and other ’30s noir, about two Prohibition agents, one of whom had a clockwork heart. More dieselpunk than steampunk, really, though I’m going to persist in calling it steampunk until someone makes me stop. I had enough fun with it that I thought I’d like to write more about the characters, Agents Rawson and Aldis. I also had been wanting to try my hand at writing a murder mystery, since I like reading them.
And that’s actually what I spent most of last year doing. I didn’t write a lot last year, but I did go through what amounted to a self-inflicted beginner-to-intermediate class in writing murder mysteries. By the end of it, I had two murder mysteries in rough draft, and I think I’m starting to get a general idea of how to write them. (On top of that, I have general ideas for a few more in the series, as well as another murder mystery/suspense series I’ve been wanting to write, completely unrelated to this one, set in Gold Rush-era Fairbanks. I think I can keep going for some time …) And, okay, I realize that I’ve spent 90% of this post talking about anything other than the project I’m supposedly writing the post about, but, hey, baby steps, right …? Now that I’ve introduced the Steampunk Chicago project, I’m going to try to stop hermiting quite so much and discuss the revision process as I work through it.
*crosses fingers that I haven’t just jinxed myself …*