Continuing Education

There’s a flat spot of no new words on my NaNo graph. (A couple, actually). There’s a book for Margaret Ball that I’m… a month? ack! overdue on writing a blurb for. (Yes, more mathemagics coming!) There’s a writing class that I just threw up my hands and skipped turning in the assignment, and went and got some sleep instead. And let’s not even talk about the state of my kitchen floors, or the way I’m failing to make the gym coaching sessions I paid good hard-earned money for.

Welcome to adult life, eh? But why did I even get into this writing class in the first place, much less NaNo? Because I looked around, and realized a basic truth – nothing alive is static. If you’re not learning, then you’re not growing, and if you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s too late in the year to pick up glider lessons, so I’m going to concentrate on warmer, indoor pursuits. 


As for why did I get into all these things at the same time? Because this is when the opportunities came open. Life rarely waits for you to be ready, so I took the chance when I had the availability. Now, I’m hoping that the difference between “swamped beyond recovery” and “this is awesome!” may be three night’s bad sleep. I hope so, because then I’ll be able to recover soon. On the far side of family obligations for Thanksgiving, at least.

And when it comes to writing, the best way to get better is directed practice. So I’m doing a writing class set around NaNo, where we’re specifically to take lessons and use them to focus on improving a novel, while we write the darned thing. No endless rounds of revision, here, but instead trying to take what we’ve got an improve it on the fly, in constant practice and motion. Which is kinda hair-pulling-out, but at the same time, I think I’ve written more this month than in the last 3 combined, and I’ve learned a bit about taking criticism, and about my lack of foreshadowing and character introductions (In which I need to learn more about how to do those without hitting my “blech! infodump!” limits.)

After I finish this, I have a bunch to learn about marketing, because the market is changing on me while Peter hasn’t been releasing, and I’m pretty sure I’m well behind the power curve. I may post more over the next few months on what I’m studying in an effort to catch up. Long before then, I’ve got to get this blurb from incoherent mumble to attracting buyers, and my kitchen floor mopped. (That last may be the hardest of them all.)

What new challenges have you tackled, or things have you been learning about, lately?


  1. My NaNo experience has been much less than I had hoped for, as a result of my letting the Perfect be the enemy of the Good. Still I will slog through this.

  2. I am also participating in NaNo this year. Not going as well as I hoped because I started a new job and they are pushing the bounds of part-time hours. Then there’s the regular stuff I have to do. Best part is that I have managed to punch out more words this past month then I have over the previous four.

  3. When I was stuck completely in my writing a few days ago, I went and read a bit of the inspiration NaNo puts up and realized that my main character’s motivation needed some juicing. I can totally see the value of a class during this month. Survival isn’t specific enough. I’m definitely developing a love-hate relationship with the idea of 50,000 words in a month.

    My other new challenge is that last year I went back to English change-ringing (bells in a pattern not a melody) and in a fit of insanity I signed up to ring a quarter peal which is forty-five minutes of ringing with no breaks and as few repeats as possible, the day before Thanksgiving, down at the Old Post Office in DC.

    And yes my family is coming for dinner and to spend the night on Thanksgiving…

    1. Change-ringing? Does that mean that you actually understand The Nine Tailors? (awed, impressed)

      1. Uhhh, yes, I do? But you have published lots of entertaining books and that’s harder. Most people who try change ringing and then don’t continue, do so because they realize that they just don’t care about it after they see what it is, not because it is so impossible.

    2. I just saw those bells last week and asked if there were real bells and if the pulls worked. I was told about your practices. Weird timing.

  4. Learning a lot more about medieval metallurgy and smelting than I really wanted to know (and adding a whole lot of technical German vocabulary in the process), taking on an entirely different class at Day Job (double the classes, quadruple the class prep, or so it feels at this moment), and reconfirming my suspicion that Beethoven got dumped by a mezzo soprano at some point in his life and opted to take it out on the rest of us—forever. And that Amazon’s new procedures for print books have some good points and some really strange points.

    1. What are the good points? I’ve just had a crash course in some of the really strange ones!

      1. I like the speed of the preview, and that they are clearer about cover size problems. OTOH, it took four tries to get it to quit flipping back to the default trim size from what I had selected.

        1. And that they approve the book so quickly. I uploaded everything on Saturday. Reset the pre-set three times on Sunday and checked fro gross errors, ordered the proof then, and the ‘Zon approved the book and it’s available as of this morning.

  5. Dorothy, you’re not ‘overdue’ on the blurb; I haven’t even shoved the synopsis and sample images at Cedar yet! I never expected to get The Ruby Revolution out before January.

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