LTUE 2020

Obligatory LTUE recap time!

One reason I love going to this con is that I always get so many ideas, just being around so many other writers and going to so many panels. From zombies to medieval sieges to colonizing the ocean, I’m so chock-full of thoughts they’re about to start pouring out of my ears. Fabulous.

The commute to the con is also part of what makes it such a good trip. I love planes and trains, and once you get past security, airports are pretty good too (despite the jacked-up restaurant prices). Something about liminal spaces just really really does it for me.

I also got some new reading material, and have already polished off one of the four books I bought at the signing on Friday. (Goodreads review is incoming — but in the meantime, suffice to say I love a good villain manifesto.) It’s really cool to connect with other indies, and that’s actually going on my to-do list for 2020: reading more indie work. Classics like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and The Martian by Andy Weir are good (no, I’m not just saying that because they both got movie deals out of it), but there’s so much more out there. And that’s the whole point of indie! That you can put anything you want into the world. What wonderful freedom as a writer; what wonderful freedom as a reader. Time to get going!

Related to that point, or kitty-corner to that point, is something else that hammered in this time that hadn’t been emphasized in the other LTUE cons I’ve been to. Brad R. Torgersen was the writers’ keynote speaker, and it was really cool. The guy’s worked really hard for a really long time. A guy like that says something, and you best listen. And one thing he said was that if something (a story, a genre, whatever) isn’t working, try something else.

That sounds like the most obvious thing in the world. But it needed to be said — or at least, I needed to hear it.

I’ve pretty much been bashing my head in trying to write the fourth Iron Gentry novel. I’m about 2/3rds of the way done with the manuscript. But I just can’t get any farther with it. Ok … so I took a break, and wrote a whole 40k draft of a romance. And then I went back to bashing my head against that Iron Gentry book for the rest of the year. And wondered why I wasn’t able to get anywhere with it.

Brad R. Torgersen’s keynote was like a lightbulb going ding! over my head.

If romance is what really scratches my id right now? If that’s what I’m excited to write? Then, dude, what the heck am I doing writing anything else??

Now, it’s still gonna be historical or supernatural or scifi, because it’s still me we’re talking about. I’m not completely switching gears. But the Tomelin books are (mostly) done; the main trilogy for Callan and his family is over. I can afford to branch out into different worlds at this point.

And, you guys, I’m really stoked. I have SO many ideas. I’m already almost 3k into a new draft.

And that’s the whole point of LTUE, after all. To develop, to get better — and to get out there and write.

So I’m off to go and write.

writing is like brushing your teeth

or: get ready for an overly-explained metaphor that you’ll have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to read.

My new laptop has been up and running again for just over a week now, and in that time I have written nearly 28,000 words — today I’m hoping to cap it off at a neat 35,000. On Goodreads the other week I mentioned that using the Writeometer app is a good way of making writing fun, because the neat little bar graph and line graph show my progress (and the bright green graphics certainly make it nice, and the little inspirational writing quotes on the main app page are super cute).

But what it also does is it keeps me honest in not only how much I write, but how long it takes me to do it. What it comes down to — and I can’t claim that it makes sense, all I know is that that’s how it works — is that if I don’t time myself to write as much as I possibly can within 20 minutes, and do so multiple times a day, then I waffle around a bit and at most I’ll write 5,000 words.

The week before my old laptop died, I clocked almost 12,000 words, none of those using timed sessions.

Between yesterday and the day before, I clocked nearly twice that amount. By timing myself, 20 minutes at a time, for nine hours yesterday and six hours the day before.

Now, that wasn’t all in one go each day. I had to get coffee and eat food and take out the recycling and water the plants and get the mail and sleep. And what I found is that I naturally fell into a rhythm of 4 sessions in a row, then getting up and stretching my legs and running errands as needed, then getting back in the saddle.

And waking up this morning, I knew very well that doing marathons like that isn’t sustainable: because my wrist hurt, and because my eyes felt like they’d been dried with a blow torch. I normally spend my days staring at a computer screen, but not quite in such a concentrated manner, and dang if it doesn’t make a physical difference.

So: writing is like brushing your teeth. If you’re anything like I was as a teenager (and college student), and you forget to brush for days at a time until finally about a week later you realize your teeth are absolutely covered in gross slimy fur, then when you finally do brush your teeth (taking five minutes to excavate and floss and all the rest) your teeth feel so shiny and slick and clean that you wonder why you don’t do this every day.

I do brush my teeth regularly these days. And (knock on wood) I haven’t gotten a cavity yet. But the procrastination to the point of discomfort, and then the mad rush to do a week’s worth of time in a matter of hours, is the exact same whether you’re brushing your teeth or whether you’re writing.

And frankly, it’s healthier to write 3,000 words a day for eight days than it is to write 24,000 words in the space of 48 hours.

The long and the short of it is that by the end of the day today, the rough draft of my first romance novella will be going up for edits — and by the end of next week (given a more reasonable pace rather than a marathon), so will the fourth Iron Gentry novel.