Monday, October 21, 2013

Hooky day

Enforced idleness is hard on a writer. One of my favorite authors, Sol Stein, was fond of saying, “A writer is someone who cannot not write.” That’s me all over. My fingers get itchy if I’ve gone more than a day or so without jotting something down, or plotting a scene to a song on the radio, or having a conversation with an imaginary person.

But having sent Teh Novel out to the beta readers, I pretty much had to sit down and rest for a while. For one thing, I wanted to do my own light polish while I let a group of readers do the heavy lifting of figuring out whether the story really works as well as I think it does. (It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have that particular stress-boulder sitting on your back.) So I couldn’t run off and work on another project. But I was also physically exhausted. I’d had to stay up until 3 in the morning (my most productive writing time usually ends around midnight, or 2 a.m. at the latest, which tells you more than you need to know about my circadian rhythm) just to make the final changes and get the manuscript ready to print on Tuesday, October 15. I’d spent that whole Tuesday sleepwalking through my commitments, chugging cinnamon black tea and Coke Zero as I emailed PDFs and dropped off 300-page printouts in floppy binders. So Wednesday I was pretty much a lump—moving slowly, feeling sore, still not all the way recovered. Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I’m old.

And Thursday was my day off work. So naturally I set off a bug bomb.

I knew I needed to hit my mental reset switch in order to make those polishes before the beta period was up, and I’ve been having trouble with moths lately, so I set off a noxious lavender-scented moth bomb in my closet and ran off to play hooky. My sensitive nose ensured that I wouldn’t be coming home anytime soon.

So what do writers do when they play hooky? Well, my first stop was the nearest kayak-rental place. And unlike my last kayak adventure, this time I had my camera along. So here’s what the world looks like from just above the waterline of a banged-up yellow kayak:

I only crashed the boat once. Progress!

My next stop was a local independent bookstore, where I wanted to pick up a copy of Shadow of the Alchemist, the new Crispin Guest noir by Jeri Westerson. I was hoping to hit one of her signings over the coming weekend, but I wanted to start reading early. Hooray for the inimitable Book Carnival! (They have more signed copies if you want to buy them—hint, hint.)
And Book Carnival is a couple of doors down from Altair-4, a store that specializes in science fiction and military books. I ignored the tanks-and-guns side of things, but I did manage to find a Shadow pulp novel I hadn’t read yet and a collection of sword-and-planet stories that I’ve been looking for since 2005 or so. The store owner thought the really important part was the Frank Frazetta cover. Having skimmed over the stories, I’m pretty sure he’s wrong. 
 I then finished up the day with the most important part of writer-hooky …

 Yes, I went home, tossed the moth bomb outside to finish airing, and vacuumed pretty much the whole apartment. I am a bit of a compulsive vacuumer—I run the vac when I’m stuck on a story, or stressed out, or any of a hundred different varieties of distressed—but cleaning tends to fall off my to-do list when I’m in the final stretch of a book project. By the time a manuscript goes out, I’m lucky if I can find my floor. And at that point the general state of mess begins to stress me out, which makes it that much harder to do anything else … you get the idea.

But I also put new strings on my guitar over the weekend, so I wasn’t totally responsible. 
Okay, here are more kayaking photos. You can drool over them while I go work on that last round of polishing … the manuscript goes to somebody who wants it around November 1, and then it’s back to Masks… 
Paddleboarder with dog. Yes, dog is in midshake.


I swear I didn't run into all these landscapes I'm pointed at.

I imagine rogue paddleboarders graffiti-ing the retaining walls
of these obscenely expensive bayside homes. Atlas!

Why yes, that IS a freeway bridge off the port bow (between the palm trees).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Deep in the weeds

What Chapter 28 of 38 looks like.
Last night, I finished rewriting Chapter 28.

There are 38 chapters in Teh Novel.

I have been averaging two chapters per day, most days.