Tag Archives: writing

Writing Fast, and Furious, and 50,000 words

PrintEvery year I tell myself I can’t/shouldn’t rely on the special NaNoWriMo magic to get my deadlines done. Because, you know, what are the odds that I’ll manage to write 50K words in a month every single year?

And yet. Every year that I genuinely make the effort, it comes off well.

If I could do NaNo four times a year, I would. But I’ve tried the alternatives and really, it only works in November. Which is crazy, because November is a terrible time for writing. In Australia it’s the end of the university year, not the middle – I have an annual two week job that overlaps with NaNo. There are so many other things that tend to collide – this year it was the coverage of Jessica Jones for Tor.com. Next year it will be something else. In 2009 I’d just had a baby, it was crazy to even try…

But the secret it, it’s always a bad month for writing. I have kids, I have commitments, I have all manner of things that leap up and demand attention. My email inbox is enough to make anyone cry.

NaNoWriMo works for me, and it works mostly because of a combined magical cocktail of pressure and obligation. The words get written. They get written fast. And (here’s my own personal secret) they get written good.

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The Contents are on the Table

Uncanny_Issue1_FINAL_large1-340x510Several exciting Tables of Contents were released in the last week, that I’m invested in one way or another.

Uncanny Magazine #1 is available for purchase now! Some free content has been released on the blog this week and some will go up in December. But you can read the whole thing now as a complete ebook.

Featuring new fiction by Maria Dahvana Headley, Kat Howard, Max Gladstone, Amelia Beamer, Ken Liu, and Christopher Barzak, classic fiction by Jay Lake, essays by Sarah Kuhn, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Christopher J Garcia, plus a Worldcon Roundtable featuring Emma England, Michael Lee, Helen Montgomery, Steven H Silver, and Pablo Vazquez, poetry by Neil Gaiman, Amal El-Mohtar, and Sonya Taaffe, interviews with Maria Dahvana Headley, Deborah Stanish, Beth Meacham on Jay Lake, and Christopher Barzak, and a cover by Galen Dara.

All of that plus two podcasts!

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The Shape of 2013 (how it was)

I wasn’t going to do one of these this year. 2013 has been a bit of a crazy, scattered blur in many ways. But then I read my 2012 post and was so pleased I had noted things down for future reference. And then I remembered that I won a Hugo which is, you know, quite extraordinary and belies my general impression that I spent most of this year chasing a 4 year old and recording podcasts.

I did totally spend most of this year chasing a 4 year old and recording podcasts. It was a family and friends sort of year, occasionally punctuated by books, short stories and a whole lot of Doctor Who. There were hospitalisations and dramas, all of which are (KNOCK FREAKING WOOD) behind us now. ( I still don’t feel I’ve properly caught up after my pneumonia bout back in September! If I owe you an email, please remind me) It was a tough year in many ways, and a stupidly slack year in others.

Mostly, we came through it intact.

Here are some good things that happened to me:

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Devoured by Book

So the blog has been a bit quiet of late and bound to continue so. Shhh! I’m writing a book!

NaNoWriMo is doing what it’s kinda supposed to do, as far as I’m concerned – it’s kicking me back into habitual writing. I’ve been struggling all year with time shrinkage and my various parental etc (so much et cetera!) responsibilities, and not getting much of anything done. But I gritted my teeth and started this 6am thing (most days). The fact that it started working early on did, of course, spur me on. Funny how success tends to be encouraging!

Slowly, slowly, I’m remembering how to write books. More specifically, how *I* write books. I tap into my barely-veiled addictive personality, I challenge myself, and I turn up to the damn chair. So far, so good.

The first time I did Nano, I blogged nearly every day. Not only those damned wordcount bars, but reflections on what I was writing, and how I write. The second year (which was 2009) I blogged everywhich way, including possible typing with my ears. Words poured everywhere because I was writing WITH a three month old baby, and the more fiction I wrote, the more I wanted to blog as well.

I suspect that won’t be happening this time. I’ve been giving a lot of attention to my blog lately and now having great fun with the enormous secret which is the book I can read and no one else can – the one I’m writing!

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Things To Be Excited About (Writing and Parenting Edition)

I missed out on the fun & professional inspiration of Genrecon this weekend, which would normally have been pretty depressing, but I got to hang out with my snuggly family and watch a bunch of black and white Doctor Who which was quite a major consolation.

In any case, without a convention to kickstart the last quarter of the year into gear, I have to find my own inspiration!

Firstly, I’m super excited by the first Twelfth Planet Press crowdfunded book, with Julia Rios joining Alisa as editor. This is Kaleidoscope, a book devoted to contemporary fantasy for YA readers which reflects the diversity of the world we live in. I’m writing a story to submit to that (as well as a bunch of other books) right now, with four deadlines between now and December. Eek!

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Insert Strong Male Protagonist Here

ned-stark-needs-a-hugKate Elliott writes about strength, and writing “strong” characters, and how that ties into our societal preconceptions about the definitions of female vs. male strength. It’s a great post, and I highly recommend it.

There have been many additions in the last year to the conversation about strong female characters in SF/comics/movies and the problematic idea that ‘strong, female’ is so often defined as ‘acts in a traditionally masculine way while having a great rack.’ It’s a good conversation, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, even though it feels like there isn’t a LOT left to say once you’ve read Kate Beaton’s take on the trope.

Kate raises a really interesting question, though, of the perceived strength of male characters. How far can we get from traditional masculine behaviour before our (male) hero starts to feel, well, not heroic enough? Why is it that so many beloved, ‘romantic’ male lead characters actually behave like arseholes?

What kind of role models are these heroes?

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Burnout and Recovery: When Publishing Hurts Writers

please look after this bookThis post by Kameron Hurley on how she dealt with the burnout that comes from writing a series (itself an exhausting thing, especially towards the end) for a publisher who has let her down in many ways.

It’s not a post you see very often. Authors still tend to feel vulnerable about airing their bad experiences in public, worrying that this lack of solidarity will get them a bad reputation in the industry.

But keeping quiet can be more damaging. Not just to the other writers you fail to warn, but also to your own sense of self, and to your writing. If all writers talk about is the good experiences, we are not only letting each other down (by pretending everything is rosy) but ourselves.

We’re not always the hardbitten hacks we pretend to me – even the toughest of us do have at least one layer of self conscious, self-doubting fragile snowflake, and one bad experience can make it incredibly hard to pull up our boots and keep working like nothing has happened. Our business is emotional, and that can take a mighty toll on the work itself. Which SUCKS BEYOND BELIEF.

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How Does She Do It?

I love this picture. It basically sums up everything I’ve ever written about writing/mothering.

I came across an old post of mine, Writing While the House is Messy, and it sparked off a whole lot of recent thoughts I’ve been having about writing and parenting (specifically mothering which carries an emotional baggage and social expectation with it that is particularly weighty).

It’s school holidays, a shorter summer than we’re used to now that Tasmania is finally going to the four terms system. And what I should be doing is what I have done most other holidays, which is relax, read books, enjoy my kids without wanting to strangle them, and not put pressure on myself to MAKE WITH THE WORDS, MADAM.

But no, this summer I am writing. Not one thing, not a big pressing deadline (that’s for next month!) but I decided that I needed to put something on paper this January, to start as I mean to go on for this year. It’s now the 2nd of January, the first day that my honey is back at work leaving me with the two girls, and it’s already been a balancing act.

I always forget about the cleaning. There’s so much more of it in the holidays, because they’re here ALL THE TIME, and plates get dirtier, and clothes tear through the mud, and oh the toys, the toys get everywhere. Shoes are always underfoot, partly because Jem likes to stand in whichever shoes are closest (the more outlandishly big on her tiny feet the better) and tromp them from room to room until she can leave them in the perfect place to be tripped over later.

The detritus of Christmas is still partly with us – not just the tree and many of the more recently unwrapped gifts, but scraps of paper and plastic, stray ribbons and gift bags. Half open packets, and empty stockings. Sure, I could have tidied it all up by now. But frankly, I’ve BEEN tidying it up since December 25th, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any neater.

I swear, the walls pump out glitter and stray hair elastics across the carpet whenever I step into another room.

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Looking Towards 2013

I’m still getting the hang of what I want my writing/professional goals to be this coming year. I’m pretty sure I need some because 2012 was such a scattered year for me, but I want to keep that flexibility that I had to respond to new projects, and I also don’t want to heap too much pressure on myself instead of enjoying the last year with Jem properly at home – she starts kindergarten three days a week in 2014 and while that isn’t going to make a massive difference to now when she has 2 full daycare days a week, it means a lot psychologically. She will be a SCHOOL GIRL.

So, what does 2013 hold?

At least one novel deadline, which is good. I need to get the revised manuscript of Drowned Vanilla, the second Livia Day novel, to Twelfth Planet Press by May. Have I mentioned how much I adore having deadlines?

I also have one for a solicited short story, which always makes me happy. But apart from that…

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The Shape of 2012 (how it was)

It’s been an odd sort of year, and one in which I have tended to forget to stop and count my successes. I planned for many things in my writing career, few of which came to fruition, and I ended up with a bunch of words written, but nothing (major) new and finished, for the first time in several years.

On the other hand, some massive personal achievements surely help to balance that out. In particular I have seen Raeli grow from being very timid and panicky child into a far more relaxed, confident and brave young person. She has conquered her terror (and I don’t use the word lightly) of cats, managed her even more extreme fear of dogs, as well as getting over the hurdles of learning to swim and to turn somersaults. It’s been a big year!

Jem meanwhile has stopped being the baby (she is a BIG GIRL), and it’s quite extraordinary to see our three-year-old become herself, taking on an at times stroppy but quite original personality. (she can be a thug but she’s cute with it) And boy, can she talk. You may all pause your reading to faint from surprise.

They’re really good at being sisters, which makes me very happy. And we’re only a year away from Jem starting school now which feels… exciting and terrible, all at once. But by gods, it’s going to be cheaper. And those tiny windows of writing time are shrinking and shrinking between then and now. Somehow, she manages to fill every available space, which is what children are best at.

What other milestones did I/we manage to clear this year? Well, there’s that little thing of Galactic Suburbia getting its first Hugo nomination, which was extraordinary, and means that we will always look upon the Best Fancast category with great fondness. Galactic Suburbia also received the Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award for Excellence at the Aurealis Awards this year which was an amazing honour and really made us feel like we have made a mark in the Australian SF community. And of course we produced 23 new episodes, bringing us up to 73. We’ll be soooo close to 100 by the end of next year!

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