I Wanna Escape

Let’s face it. The last few weeks and months have been trying for all of us here in the US. Covid, the election, the post-election, the post-post election. It is all enough to make this writer want to scream and find a nice, secluded island for a bit. Of course, if that island also has a well-built, personable cabana man, I wouldn’t complain. However, that’s not going to happen. So I’ve had to figure out ways to keep from either going insane (okay, more insane) or to keep from doing something law enforcement might look poorly on. So I’ve written–a lot–and read and gamed. I’ve also delved into the backlog of “business stuff” related to writing. What I hadn’t figured on was how this need to escape would impact what I wrote.

It’s the time of year when I sit down and start looking at what I’ve written so far and what my plans for the first half of the next year should be. As I said, I’ve written a lot this year, especially the last quarter. Not counting the re-releases I’ve done this year, I’ve put out four titles since March. One, Nocturnal Prey, is a short story and weighs in around the 12k word mark. A Magical Portent, is a long novella or short novel as a little over 30k words. Cat’s Paw weighed in at 45k words. Rogue’s Magic is approximately 122k words. Finally, Risen from Ashes came in at a little over 61k words.

Word count aside, what I realized as the year progressed is that my writing has been a lot like my reading. The longer we’ve been under Covid restrictions, the more I’ve wanted escapism. I love the Honor & Duty series. But it is going to a rather bleak place in the next two books. So subconsciously I haven’t wanted to go to those bleak places. 

What is odd about that is there are bleak places I’m going with the Eerie Side of the Tracks series and, let’s face it, there’s always dark stuff in the Nocturnal Lives/Nocturnal Awakenings series. Yet I’m not having the problem with them I have been with the other. I’ve been trying to figure out why and I think I’ve finally found the answer. 

Well, an answer.

Now if I could just get it to make sense so I could return to the series. Until I can, there’s going to be another Eerie Side of the Tracks title coming out. Those are easy to write and, even when they go dark, it is a different sort of dark from the H&D series.

Currently, I’m working on Magic Rising. It’s been a bit of a slow slog the last few days as other responsibilities have intervened to keep me from the keyboard. It is plotted. There’s a very rough draft–and by that I mean much of it will probably change before it hits Amazon. But I am making sure butt is in chair and I’m getting at least 1k words a day done. I may have already shared this here before, but here’s the cover draft for the book. Remember, it too may change before publication.
Now I need to tell the Muse to quit messing with me and let me get back to working the way I want to. Of course, Myrtle being the evil muse that she is, the chances of that happening are slim to none. So I will adapt. And drink a lot of coffee. And possibly a lot of good booze.

But, for now, I’m going to escape into my writing and then, as a reward if I hit my daily goal, I’m going to play a little Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

 

20 comments

  1. Yeah, I wish I had something clever to add, but my brain is working even less than usual.

    I like what you have said.

    Thank you.

  2. Yeah, the year’s been rough. Usually I escape into writing a novel. My NaNo project just now? I am so not in it. And it’s obvious. So much telling instead of showing. If I don’t junk it, it’ll take a massive rewrite.

    1. I usually do the same. But it’s not been like this. What I didn’t list in the post were the other two novels I’ve basically plotted out and the new series–well, it thinks it is a new series and that it will be written–that is pounding on the door to my brain.

  3. I’m thinking about the back-story of David Weber’s People’s Republic Of Haven. 😦

  4. I love escapism. I also defy anyone to say that there’s anything at all wrong with it. It’s valuable. I don’t need to pretend that it’s “literature” either. It’s important and valuable for what it is, it doesn’t have to be what it’s not.

    I remember ages ago, way way back on usenet (probably) someone was trying to shame Lois Bujold for writing Space Opera (this was mid SF-is-literature, you hack, don’t you dare use the term “sci-fi”). Now, Bujold is brilliant on her worst day but she said something important and that was (and I’m beyond paraphrasing) that it offered comfort to people dealing with terrible things. She was a nurse and knew how important that was.

    Anyone who says that escapism is less-than can fight me.

    1. I read to escape. If I want reality, I’ll read history or how-to books (there’s nothing like dipping into a new specialty sewing book covering how to make a fifty kinds of patch pockets!)

      I hate spinach books.

      You know: spiritually uplifting, morally enlightening, socially relevant, beloved by English teachers and librarians everywhere and they’re good for you!

      1. Everyone says this is a great book because everyone says so. At least everyone in my academic and publishing circle, because the Book is Relevant and Timely!!!

        Meaning – dated and full of naval gazing, the downer kind.

        1. Naval gazing is only a downer when most of the ships you see are enemy ones.

          As to what you were actually saying, the book might actually be timely–however, that almost certainly means that it’s going to be dated in about five years, maybe less. We need fewer timely books and more timeless ones.

      1. Either him or Tolkien.

        I heard it as from a conversation between him and Tolkien.

        1. Tolkien first touched o nit in “On Fairy Stories”, but I don’t recall if he or Lewis was the first to come back and say that the people most concerned with preventing escape were jailers.

          In what the misusers are fond of calling Real Life, Escape is evidently as a rule very practical, and may even be heroic. In real life it is difficult to blame it, unless it fails; in criticism it would seem to be the worse the better it succeeds. Evidently we are faced by a misuse of words, and also by a confusion of thought. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in
          prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter.

          Edited to add: Looks like CS Lewis wrote “On Science Fiction”, and in it, recounts Tolkien in a conversation:

          That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of ‘escape’. I never fully understood it till my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, ‘What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and most hostile to, the idea of escape?’ and gave the obvious answer: jailers.

          So, Lewis was the one who got it in print and out to the wide world of readers, but he attributes it to Tolkien.

          1. Found out why we’re confused– Lewis wrote about Tolkien having said it– and popped in to share, since the edit to add didn’t go out with the email.

            https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/12/29/escape/

            I was trying to read On Fairy Stories, and having little luck– so I took a break to see if I could find the quote with any kind of attribution, and boom!

            There’s even more lovely quotes in bite-sized chunks, for those of us having trouble focusing.

  5. I’m enjoying reading about Skippy. I generally don’t like deus ex machina embodied in an AI, but I like Skippy; he’s an asshole and admits it because he doesn’t care what the smelly monkeys think. I’m pretty sure there are new books lurking at the end that I haven’t read (I don’t remember twelve), but until I get to them, I’m enjoying the re-read.
    After leaving the “I changed my audience and broke my world” comment yesterday, I’ve decided to start taking notes (as opposed to just thinking) about how I want things to be in my new world. The (tentative) milestone is that we’re building our first O’Neill cylinder. I figure that means a fairly well populated moon and a decent number of orbital habitats. I may need to push things out a century further than originally planned if I’m not going to have FTL.

    1. That sounds like a good improvement.

      I have memory issues. Story is a large collection of information, even for high level choices. I’ve thought myself into a lot of difficult redesign problems with WIP, because it was thinking combined with very disorganized notes.

      Suppose I have twenty choices that should drive the design of every major detail. With looking at the right notes, I can be aware of twelve. But I can really work with being aware of three to seven. What should I do?

      Easy answer is not doing that in the first place. 🙂 I think I’m going to need to find free headspace sort through notes and choices, reducing my goals and rules to a practical number. Implication, I should change my folder structure a little. Put the older notes in one folder, and a fresh set of notes in a new folder. That way, I have the old for inspiration, and can keep the new pruned back.

      1. “But I can really work with being aware of three to seven. What should I do?”

        If I may offer an opinion, there is usually only one good choice and a bunch of bad ones. The way to tell the good one is to look at the situation the character is in and ask “what would -I- do here, really though?” The answer set is usually very small, and in action situations boils down to either fight or run. Looking back over your own life to remember what you really did when X happened can be useful.

        One of the things I find extremely tiresome in books is when characters make choices that only serve to drive the plot. “For no apparent reason, our thief decided NOT to take the hundred dollar bill sitting on the table.” Which fortunately leads to him being recognized as the handsome prince blahblahblah… Sorry. I was out when he left easy money lying there.

        Because that guy would never do that. He would very definitely take it, because “thief” is his defining characteristic. When/if he gets to be prince his pockets will jingle, because he’ll be stealing the palace silverware. He’s a thief. He steals shit. If you want to advance the plot, you have to do it by him stealing something. Like he steals the magic ring that nobody but Royalty can touch or they get turned into a newt. ~:D

        But, characters are not robots. If they never do anything outside their stereotype, again, its boring. So maybe the thief always steals, but sometimes he gives loose change to street bums, or he’s nice to animals, or some other thing that gives him some dimensionality. (Which is totally a word, y’know.)

  6. NaNoWriMo is picking up speed. Still only 1400 words today but then I usually get the most done on days off.

  7. Completely off topic, aircraft fans may be interested to know that the Lancaster bomber just flew over my house for Remembrance Day. The Lancaster here in Hamilton Ontario at Mt. Hope airport is one of only two still flying in the world. The other one belongs to the RAF in England.

    It has a very unique sound, four Merlins. More of a hum than a roar, very melodious. You can sometimes hear the beat-frequencies when it turns, or when the pilot throttles up and then fine-tunes the engine speeds. Doppler shift when it turns to come toward you makes the hair on the back of your neck go up.

    Today it flew over at 10:55, to make a turn over Cayuga and then come back to be over the ceremony at the airport at 11:00. I guess the pilots saw me standing on the front lawn, they flew right straight over my head. A rare privilege.

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