Writing Chaos

Brr chilly! It’s finally fall here in Texas, and for this no’thern girl who is used to it having arrived six weeks ago, I’m still marveling over the warmth and comfort of the southern sun. Yes, I know I’ll pay for it by being stuck inside in the air conditioning all summer – this is different from being stuck inside all winter how? Plus, sunshine!

On the writing front… I’m writing. I have finished one solitary thing in the last season of my life, dealing with the move, the seemingly unending separation from my First Reader, a teenager who has been taking turns with himself to be defiant and helpfully cute… it’s chaos here at the Acorn Hut. The last house was the Nut House, named by my mother who gave us a silly tin sign with that on it and a squirrel. Here in the apartment surrounded by oaks? Yep. We name houses, vehicles (mine is Smoke), and also cats (Inspector Gidget, belongs to the Boy). Sometimes it’s easier to name a place or a thing than it is a character. Especially when the character doesn’t want to tell you their name! Had that happen last week, and I finally pried it out of him.

It’s not helping that I’m managing less than a hundred words written, most days. I’ve had three days this month where I didn’t write at all. Yesterday I was just too tired to think straight. I can do art while I’m in that brain fog. I cannot write. It’s just not there. I take that back – I can try to write. I chose not to. But sometimes, when I sit down, and just start making word appear in front of me, it’s like shining the sun on that fog, and it will melt away slowly, revealing more story as it goes. Those have been the good days. Those are the reason I have 11K words written this month in spite of all the days with a pitiful or nonexistent wordcount.

I’m back to tracking it in a spreadsheet, and that’s helping. I started that after the con in September, when I realized I didn’t want to quit writing. I need that daily check on myself to see that ok, I have ticked the box, I’m working at it. I realize this may not work for everyone, but over the last couple of years of struggling for every word, it’s been helpful for me.

The other thing that has been helpful have been the weekly writing prompts. Not so much in the ‘finishing a thing’ as I did with The Case of the Perambulating Hatrack last year. Simply in giving me an external impetus to write something. It’s a commitment, and accountability. I’m also going to start taking a chapter up to the North Texas Troublemakers dinners… which means I’d better get cracking as I’ll need to have that done in, um, about six hours. Eep! LOL

What I’m doing might not work for you. But then again, it might. Or at least parts of it might. Life has a way of going chaotic for a season, then settling down again. I’m looking forward a bit wistfully to having a groove to get in a rut with. I love my job, but it’s taking all of my mental power during working hours, and it’s not exactly a 40-hours-and-done kind of job. This last week I went to an after-hours event to represent the company. I find myself researching when I am not on the clock – I know, bad Cedar! no biscuit! – and when I’m at work it’s not like past jobs where I had bored downtime and could either write in a notebook or daydream. I love my job, did I say that already? But it is definitely a challenge to work my writing back in around the new mental processes.

I’m clinging to the promise of more routines, and having my First Reader where I can sit and sip coffee with him and talk. It’s not the same over the phone. Then, hopefully, I’ll be able to up my production. Until then? I’ll keep writing through the chaos. It’s possible. Just not easy all the time.

9 comments

  1. The craziness around us and constant barrage of stupidity from the media is hard to ignore and get on with your life too. I mean – the evening news now has all the appeal and trustworthiness of a carny barker.

    1. I don’t do the evening news. I haven’t for… decades. In fact, I kind of avoid ‘news’ at all, although I have ways to keep a tab on what’s actually going on without playing into the breathless news cycle whirlwind that feeds all that insanity. I couldn’t do it. It would be the last straw in my life. I have enough without trying to take on the entire world too.

  2. I’m writing a story that wants to be written. Then I’ll dig into the next Merchant book, then work on the next Familiars. Not what I “should” be doing, but I have to try to get ahead of Day Job so I don’t drown come January.

      1. I’m not either. When I don’t write, things leak. At bad moments. I need to be seeing traffic, not stories, when I drive! Thanks be for lunch, so I can shut the door (mostly), put on headphones, and write undisturbed for half an hour or so.

  3. Grinding through a step that I mapped out for the story, trying to express the characters I KNOW… hard to convey “everybody is reasonable still, except this ONE GUY” and have the dialog work out. But I’m learning!

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