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Tempus Fuggit

As I sit here, the sun refuses to peek over horizon. Well, over the trees and “hills” (I’ve seen what the East Part calls mountains, and I remain unimpressed) surrounding the Kilted Homestead. Frost is thick on the grass, the fence, likely the cars ringing the cul de sac, and likely the roof, as well. And I hear sirens. (They must have discovered my pending Minion of the ELOE status. Look like I’ll be spending New Year’s at Fallback Position Gamma-9) It seems like just yesterday that Wee Dave took his first coughing breaths and gave me his first dirty look (there have been plenty of both since) and I’m minded – as an ambulence goes past – that there are any number of people who won’t see the sun come up tomorrow. At least not on this world.

As the days march past, I’ve been watching my fellow genii from afar. Words are worked, projects begun, pounded at, finished, and announced (not necessarily in that order) and I wonder what I’m doing with my time. And then I remember: I’m the primary on a (now) seven month old. Plenty of people have suggested (gently; they understand the fragile state of mind of the new parent) that I’m doing just fine, but there’s that niggling part of my mind whispering poisonedly that I haven’t finished a story since July. Which is true, but the conclusions it’d have me draw are off. Or at least I tell myself this. It’s all part and parcel of the Fake-It-‘Til-Y’Make-It Method (copyright, patent pending, thought-banked at First Rigel).

Christmas is just past (unless you’re Catholic. Also, Merry’to’yer, Joyous Yule, Happy Hanukka, and an exciting Hogswatch!) and New Year’s is coming round the corner with martini glass in one hand and rattle in the other, the lush, and it’s the time when people think about transitions and turning points and what they have and haven’t accomplished during the year, and hope to during the next. As writers, we tend toward the morose and maudlin (or so I’ve noticed, and I don’t think I’m just projecting from my own experiences). The weight of books unfinished drags while half-formed plots and characters tease at the edge of thought. It’s quite distracting, really.

And that’s on a normal day. Any number of us have had the pleasure of what Kris Rusch and Dean Smith call “life rolls.” Birth, death, marriage, divorce, wild success or abject failure. Moving (I’m really learning to hate that one) or health that can only be called complicated. All of these, and more (can be had for four low, low payments…) fall under the Life Happens category, and most of us have experienced at least one such in the past year, it seems.

I know Wee Dave has drastically impacted my ability to get anything accomplished. Writing is something that happens very occasionally when I steal time from the normal routine (which suggests a solution, right there) and almost always when I have some kind of deadline, like when I realize I have a post to write as I’m getting ready for bed. That kind of thing. Fiction is harder, at least right now. I’m told things ease as the small creatures become more independent. I hope this is true, as writers write, and right now, I’m not so much with the writing, as the wanting to be writing.

But that’s just where I’m going with this. Life happens. It keeps happening all around us, and to us (without permission or blessing! the nerve!). It’s verges on the discouraging, but that seems to be how this particular vocation rolls. Oddly, and with much jouncing and bounding about. I’d like to have a few words with the Author about the whole set-up, let me tell you.

As we look toward the coming of a new arbitrary division of time, we get the pleasure (for lack of a better term) of a stew of emotions, reactions and anticipations. Will Bezos the Conqueror choose 2015 as the Year of the Great Darkening, as the publishing prophets have foretold? Will relentlessly advancing technology unseat the Lords and Masters of this place from their positions of power? Will Skynet (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) arise? Or at least, will the world, and my part in it, settle just enough that I can knock out that multiple best-selling story and set my parents up in the manner to which they would like to become accustomed? Right now, I don’t much care, as it’s early, yet (lazy sun is just now getting with the program) and I haven’t had coffee, yet, much less the remains of last night’s eggnog and bacon-wrapped roast for breakfast. Not together; that would be odd.

I’m uncertain I’ll ever truly acclimatize to the shifting of the seasons, and I’m equally unsure that I actually want to. At the least, it keeps life a little more interesting. I wonder how true this is of humans, in general. Are we, as a species, always playing catch up? Regardless, the thrust of history can really only be determined with hindsight, regardless of the thoughts coming from certain quarters. As for me, I’ll be taking the new year as it comes. There’s already plenty on my plate, and I can’t see the portions getting any smaller. Which is oddly comforting.

  1. I too am in the northern tier, but among the mountains you call hills, way older than your upstarts and beautiful nonetheless. Our weather is December schizophrenic. We’ve had days near 50 and we’ll have our first 0 degree night in a few days. This is when I can be most productive, because all of my responsibilities are down for the holidays. I feel your pain, although you have joy riding in yours, an dthat I don’t feel right now. Winter is coming!

    December 26, 2014
  2. Merry, Happy, Joyful [fill in day, week, month, year, holiday of choice]!

    You left out the distraction of injuries. My family specialized in injuries this year. I just hope we’ve gotten it all out of the way, and don’t go to anything worse.

    On the writing front, yes, make it part of your routine, but as you’ve noticed, plans and babies don’t mix well. You might consider channeling your frustrated writing urges to think up new ideas, and write them down quick. Just build (more likely extend) a file of ideas for the future. Even if you don’t write them as stories, some of them may make great subplots, somewhere, some time. It’s always frustrating to never see any results, no final manuscripts to send to publishers or publish yourself. But backlogs are a good thing, and may enable you to, at some point, publish several in short order and hook some fans.

    December 26, 2014
  3. sabrinachase #

    If you think you can wrap a roast in eggnog you ARE sleep deprived. Or maybe that isn’t…eggnog.

    Have you thought of a small digital recorder? At least you can get thoughts down. Wee Dave might make editorial comments, but lots of rich-and-famous authors do dictation! And somebody else whose name escapes me at the moment dictates his books whilst hiking.

    I’d suggest a defense-in-depth for Wee Dave. Yeah, he’s needy now but at least he isn’t self-propelled. You need to think of a way to work while on roving patrol for little grabby hand disasters. (“Ah, he’s quiet!” *ponders* *goes to Defcon-1* “HE’S QUIET! WHAT’S ON FIRE!!!”)

    December 26, 2014
    • Dorothy Grant #

      If you have dragon naturally speaking 13 pro, it even does dictation from any usb-pluggable voice recorder. Rich or famous not needed; it’s getting popular with writers with carpal tunnel syndrome.

      The writer who hikes is Kevin J Anderson; awesome guy!

      And Dave, you know my day job. I haven’t even managed to write a blurb in the last five months, due to work getting complicated and chaotic, and increased responsibilities. I don’t even have a wee one, just a job what eats my brains. You’re not alone!

      December 26, 2014
      • masgramondou #

        That sums up my 2014. Far too busy with work things to be creative when not present. OTOH work is going great and we have much growth and customers love the product, even if it sometimes feels like we’re sticking it together with duct tape and baler twine.

        December 27, 2014
    • mrskiltedave #

      Ms. Sabrina, did we gravely offend thee in some horrendous fashion? Were we, perhaps, in some way responsible for liquid bodily excretions being introduced to your morning libation of choice? Because if not, I am curious why you chose to express such a sentiment whilst within reception range of They With Cosmic Powers And Questionable Senses Of Humor.

      In other words, guess what Wee Dave was up to exactly *40 MINUTES* after you made that comment.

      So, yes. Our time of being able to set the Wee Tyrant in a spot and having a reasonable expectation that he will yet be there upon our return (the world as we knew it) has come to an end.

      December 27, 2014
      • …Oh. Oh dear.

        I gather that things shall become quite …exciting… here on out.

        My sympathies.

        December 28, 2014
        • Nah, no worries: I’m going to hang him from the ceiling. Some kind of straight-jacket/harness. Keep him about two inches off the floor.

          December 28, 2014
            • We’ve got one of those. I was thinking something a bit more … inescapable.

              December 28, 2014
              • Duct tape? My son thinks that would actually be kind of awesome so it hasn’t been deployed when he’s been a hyperactive little critter. (It was a rather hilarious backfire of an exasperated scold too) Nowadays we send him out to weed the back yard, but your little one will be too young for a while yet…

                December 28, 2014
                • Maybe a suit made of loop, with the hook side on the wall. That way it’s “fun,” too. “Think you can get upside down without bashing your head in, my son?”

                  December 28, 2014
                  • At a trap range in Virginia, by the reloading supplies, they had a picture posted of somebody’s toddler laying on the floor, spread eagled, with 25 lb bags of lead shot laid across his hands and feet. Kid looked like he was giggling his head off.

                    (Obviously not all 25 lbs of weight was directly ON him, just to be clear.)

                    December 28, 2014
      • *stifled giggles* Um, I mean, How Strange! I was just trying to WARN you! I don’t believe I have had the pleasure of speaking with you but I did meet Not-so-wee-as-wee-Dave and, well, intelligence is heritable. I also paid close heed to the stories my poor mother told about *me*, and extrapolated. You know that book with “expected stages of development”? Toss it. I apparently read ahead as an infant and decided to skip to the fun stuff.

        Strongly advise Marine-proofing your domicile ASAP. Relocate or add locks to exterior doors at 5′, hide all ladders behind key-entry doors. Motion-sensor lights facing *in* on perimeter. No glass cookie jars. Anchor bolt everything, including the dog (you do have a nice cushy dog for him to land on, yes?) Turn off the main electrical breaker for the next, oh, 18 years or so. MOVEMOVEMOVE!!

        December 28, 2014
    • Y’know… I’m probably going to have to plan for that in advance. As in, the boy hasn’t been born yet, and I’m now thinking about possible planning. Having large gaps between the kiddies has a way of dulling the memories to the pleasant ones. ~_~;;;

      I remember my mother putting my youngest brother down with pots and pans on one end of the kitchen. Or having us elder kids mind him. He works for HP now, so yes, he survived. (He was quite the cosseted baby!)

      December 28, 2014
  4. H-ll, I’d just settle for 365 days without people talking about/opining over/raising funds for/whispering about the 2016 election! Let alone a productive, uneventful, healthy year.

    In theory, we’re supposed to get to 45 today. I don’t think it will get to freezing, the way things are going. Winter has set in with a whomp, grey and brown cover the land and sky, and the birds and animals passing by Schloss Red are fluffed for the cold. So are the humans (except That Guy, the crazy runner in shorts, running tights, and a t-shirt. And knit cap.)

    But I have another two weeks without being on call, no choir or chorale rehearsals, and everything mechanical in the house seems to be working for the moment. I’ll take this year’s small miracles and salute whatever comes with as many fingers are appropriate. *lifts tea mug* To Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Feast of Stephen.

    December 26, 2014
  5. robfornow #

    The author of Harry Potter is reported to have scribbled her books on pieces of note paper every time she found a time and place to sit. Winter is coming and I’m almost a year behind schedule as it is. No matter, days come and go, it’s only man that counts them. Stay steadfast and all will come in due time.

    December 26, 2014
  6. The forwarder I go, the behinder I get. It’s always something.

    At least you haven’t been struggling 15 years on the SAME book. I was planning to publish in October (Book 1), major life rolls (3) happened, and I’ll be lucky if I finish the revising by February.

    I was about to mention the self-propelled quality acquired by small ones, but someone already did. At least at that stage, if they thouroughly tire themselves out (and they do – they go at it 100% and then crash) you MIGHT get some writing time. IF you don’t need sleep more.

    If there is a local teen or preteen who lives close enough to walk over, and can give you a couple of hours of babysitting several times a week WITH you in the house (as backup adult – the available babysitter age declines every year as the older ones prepare to wow college application staffs with all their extracurriculars), it is worth it. If you don’t take advantage of their availability, you are on duty way too many hours in a row, and get a little unhinged.

    End of advice. It kept me sane.

    December 26, 2014
  7. Disclaimer: I am seriously, seriously sleep deprived.

    Did health issues get mentioned as a source of disruption to writing and life? Yeah, that’s me, the Walking House MD episode. ~_~; (Really, I’ve had the panel of doctors standing around my bed once in my life. One of the ones there, a doctor of Indian descent, very seriously suggested lupus. The young female Chinese one saw me open my mouth, close it and bite my lips. From the twinkle in her eye and the clipboard suddenly going up under her nose, I think she recognized that I had stopped myself saying “It’s never lupus!” in time.)

    I just got back from the hospital about 40 minutes ago. Again. Because of a particularly annoying symptom that crops up only at night-time, and deprives me greatly of sleep. Oh the ‘joys’ of pregnancy-related complications, both obscure and rare (…really not joking about the Walking House Episode. I’ve got one confirmed and one in the progress of being tested) but happily I’m on the home stretch with the wriggly Work In Progress, and am looking forward to having little toes to nibble in Motherly Privilege Revenge for the times those toes decided my bones were fun to kick. Birth removes the complications – and imagine my shock when I mention offhand an annoying thought it was common symptom of pregnancy thing and my midwife sends me off for observation and blood tests at the hospital. (…no it’s not Maternal Mirror Syndrome. Thank the gods.)

    So between the lack of sleep and vigorously kicking baby and the whole I’m a hummingbird trying to incubate an ostrich egg, very little writing has gotten done, though I’m channelling my insomnia as best as I can, and somehow managed to write a couple of chapters, so this first draft is 80% done.

    Nibble away at the work, I say. I carry a pad and pen on me at all times now, because while I might not be coherent enough to write most of the time, that doesn’t seem to stop the brain from coming up with plots and concepts and ideas.

    Sometimes, that bit will contribute to my inability to sleep!

    It’ll get better though, I promise.

    December 26, 2014
    • You’re a better woman than I am, Gunga Din. Seriously, I’m like the walking talking memory machine of toxic forensic weirdness I’ve absorbed from mystery shows, and the only thing that makes me bite my tongue is trying not to make the doctors think I’m a paranoid or a hypochondriac.

      December 26, 2014
      • *laughing* Yeah, it really doesn’t help when one has researched so much random info, does it? Kinda wish I could have better access to the information in question though, kind of like how they have Sherlock’s ‘mind palace’ in the BBC tv series.

        December 26, 2014
        • Dan Lane #

          Information retrieval gets better with time, but I dream of the day when I can customize predictive software well enough to fit *me.* And an archival system thorough enough to actually *have* the information I want accessible… Seriously, half the time what I want is behind a paywall for scholarly articles and often enough the archives haven’t made it to the internet. *shakes head*

          Much luck with the wee one, lass. Good mothers are a blessing to the world.

          December 26, 2014
          • Thank you. This one may be my last, I’m afraid. *wistful sigh*

            And I hear you about the scholarly articles and paywalls. I miss large libraries, but sometimes my memory will have juuuuuuuuuuust enough of a snippet of info that sends me scouring the net for it (and often failing to find it because it’s a touch obscure.)

            December 28, 2014
  8. Totally OT, but I thought I should mention that in my recent conversation with Amazon support, I’ve learned that automatic book updates on your Kindle are basically hit or miss. From Support:

    Thanks for letting us know that your book “***” got updated on your device. I understand that you want to know about the another updated copies of the books available under your kindle library.available under your kindle library.

    I checked and found that updated copy is available for below mentioned books :

    [List of 6 books redacted, most from folks here]
    and many more…

    And be advised that updated copy is available for the most of the books available under your account.

    So if you want to get the available updated copies of your books sent to you, please write us back with your authorization and we’ll send you the same to you.

    Emphasis added. They sent a link to a more secure e-mail page on Amazon, and I said “Please update everything that can be updated.” and we shall see what happens.

    But basically that means having Automatic Book Updates turned on will not update your books for minor corrections, or at least one of them by a friend of mine got a new cover as well, without the update coming in.

    December 27, 2014

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