Monday, 30 October 2017

Weekly Update: October 21 to 28 (with photos)

Weekly word count: 15 250

This week marked the end of a very hectic period of my life.  After six weeks of various events, commitments, and chaos, I got my beach week.

Now, those who know me will realize that I get very nervous in new situations.  The evil voice of lies in my head tells me that I'm going to invariably screw everything up and be revealed as a pathetic incompetent impostor.  The slightly less evil voice of poorly understood probabilities tries to convince me that nothing can ever live up to my expectations.

Both of these voices got slammed by reality.  First off, there was this:

That's where I was.  That's a beach, with actual sand and ocean and sunshine and temperatures that do not require insulated pants.  Strike one, voices.

Strike two: these are the wonderful ladies I was with, including the one who took the picture.  I could not have asked for a better group to spend a week with if I became a supervillain and tried to design them in a computer.  Their generousity, kindness, sense of humour, passion and wit is unparalleled.  Any group that can both give a group hug to help someone dealing with difficult personal issues and continue sniggering over our newly invented vocabulary word "Ass-tertaste" is a pretty great group of people.

Strike three and the final blow: this week was both highly productive and fun.  As you can see, everyone grabbed their own little writing spots through the day (mine was the blue couch on the left with the cushions piled to one side.  I could lie on it and see this:

Since I do very well with writing in a semi-reclined state, it worked brilliantly.)  I got five chapters completed (including writing two of them over twice).  Now that the middle of Judgment is nailed down and sparking fire, it's a race to get the second half done.  (Which is why I joined Nanorimo, though I'm having some trouble with getting my account working.)

We would write until five or six in the evening and then gradually begin to congregate in the kitchen or start using our laptops to share videos rather than working.  Some of the ladies did some sight-seeing in Charleston, there was almost always someone ready for a break and a walk on the beach if you wished, and a delicious assortment of home-made meals served each night.

Now, I've done my own "writer retreats" where I go to a hotel and put my nose to the keyboard, but no matter how productive the day goes, there's no matching how much fun the night gets when you're with a group whose crazy matches your crazy.

I introduced the group to Deadpool and Lucifer, and they introduced me to Outlander and Good Behavior.  We played Cards Against Humanity and invented our new word: Asstertaste (that sour taste you get in your mouth when you realize you're dealing with a complete asshole, Oxford English Dictionary patent pending).  We talked about dating after divorce, love at first sight, promotion techniques, traditional vs indie publishing, our kids, our husbands (or exes), the best ways to hide bodies and whether or not its possible to ride a horse from New York to Savannah in under two days.  We talked about our favourite books and authors, shared stories about different conferences and reader events, discussed the implications of Amazon's latest newsworthy faux-pas as well as the recent inclusivity push by RWA.  

We would be up until well after midnight, laughing and barely noticing the time.  Then crash and start it all again the next day.  There would be periodic shout outs like "Does anyone know what kind of helicopter would be used to transport large animals?" or "Can you give me a name for my new villain?" followed by furious keyboard clicking.  

It was exactly the kind of break I needed and while I settle back into temperatures that have a little minus sign in front of them, I'm already looking forward to next year.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Ink Tip: So What Do These Romance Tropes Really Mean Anyway

Romance readers and writers have their own shorthand.  If a romance reader comes up and says "I like MC, secret baby, friends to lovers type books" then we know exactly what books to recommend to him or her.

But sometimes, we forget that these tropes aren't universally understood.  And after participating in the romance tropes panel at Can-Con, (and fielding several questions afterwards), I thought I would put together a common romance trope primer for this month's Ink Tip.

All of these tropes will end in a happily ever after with the hero and heroine falling in love and getting together.  (And for the record, these tropes also appear in LGBTQIA+ stories as well.  I use hero and heroine to describe the two characters in the central relationship but they can be of any and all genders.  And there can be more than just two.)

Accidental pregnancy/Secret baby: this trope requires the heroine to be pregnant and the pregnancy either forces the heroine and hero into proximity (think Fools Rush In) or the heroine tries to hide the baby, creating additional conflict (and the best film example I can think of for this is Superman Returns).

Alpha hero/Protector: the hero is a take charge, shoot first man of muscle and action.  There are lots of variations on this trope: MC (motorcycle clubs), military, billionaire, police, monster (usually vampire or werewolf), and more than I can easily list.  There are two main types of alpha hero, the broken hero dealing with damage from his past (Wolverine) and the protector hero who will do anything to save others, particularly his love interest (Die Hard).

Arranged marriage/Marriage of convenience/Faked relationship: this could be seen as a variation of the friends to lovers trope, but I feel it deserves it's own entry.  For some reason, the hero and heroine must get married, either to each other or just in general.  Once they are married, they discover their affection and love for each other growing into true love.  An example of the arranged marriage trope would be The Princess Diaries 2, while marriage of convenience would be The Mirror Has Two Faces, and Just Go With It exemplifies the faked relationship trope.

May/December: one of the characters is in the "December" of their life while the other is in the "May" of their, i.e., there is a significant age gap between the two characters.  Usually the hero is the older one but we're seeing more with women snagging younger mates, like How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

Disguise/Mistaken Identity: one of the characters is misrepresenting him or herself in a way that threatens the developing relationship.  While You Were Sleeping is my favourite example of this trope.

Cyrano: the hero or heroine helps the other to woo another, only to realize that they are falling in love instead.  The Ugly Truth is a great one for this, if you don't want to go with the classic play.

Enemies to lovers/Friends to lovers: the couple starts out either as platonic friends (When Harry Met Sally) or on opposite sides of a conflict, like Beatrice and Benedict in the classic Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing.  (And for the record, Romeo and Juliet is not a romance.  Unless there's a post-credit coda showing the two of them happy and in love in the afterlife.)

Forbidden love/Opposites attract: the characters are separated by social, economic, cultural or other taboos for forbidden love but just on opposite sides of their points of view for opposites attract.  If Romeo and Juliet ended happily, they would be an example of the forbidden love trope.  And actually, for the life of me, I cannot think of a movie where they use this trope and allow the characters to be together at the end.  But Dharma and Greg did opposites attract over five seasons. (If you can think of a movie for forbidden love, please let me know in the comments so that I can smack my head and say "why didn't I think of <title>?")

Jilted/Runaway: these are two sides of the same trope.  For jilted, we start with a character who has been abandoned at the altar and rebuilds their hopes, like Meg Ryan in French KissAnd runaway is where the character realizes that he/she is marrying the wrong person and finds love (like Paula Marshall in That Old Feeling).

Return to hometown: a character returns home and finds love in the last place they ever thought they'd come back to. (Sweet Home Alabama)

Reunited love: the couple used to be married or dating but broke up sometime in the past.  Now those feelings are coming back.  I could use Bette Midler's character in That Old Feeling as an example but Did You Hear About the Morgans is another good one.

Heart of Gold/Redemption: in heart of gold, one character is "bad" but is also a generous and caring person (Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman), leading the other character to fall in love despite the stigma.  This is often paired with a story of redemption where one character is trying to atone for past actions (like Black Widow in The Avengers)

This isn't an exhaustive list.  There are hundreds of variations out there, but it does cover the common ones and my own particular favourites.  And gave me an excuse to run through some of my favourite movies and characters.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Weekly Update: October 15 to 21st

Weekly word count: 3150 at home and 4700 for first full day of writer's retreat

As I write this, I am in Isle of Palms (which is near Charleston, South Carolina), in a gorgeous beach house, listening to the waves from the beach which is right at our back door.  I'm saying this not to be a "Hahaha, you suckers back in Canada with your cold weather" kind of bitch, but because next week I'll be back in Canada with the cold weather and tons of responsibilities and this is all going to feel like a dream that didn't really quite happen.  So I need to document it while it is happening to remind myself that it was real, at least for a little while.

I decided to try a new tack for writing last week, inspired by a very vivid dream that involved David Tennant and a lake with the sun setting behind it.  (Not that kind of dream.  I'm honestly offended that you think I would go there... and not be up front about it.)  It was just a powerful emotional moment and in that moment, I *knew* what had led up to it and what would happen after.

Sometimes when I wake up from those types of dreams, I'm all excited because I think I've got a brilliant story idea now and it just dropped out of the sky into my head, fully plotted and ready to go.  And then I take the time to actually look at my brilliance and realize it's not quite as good as my subconscious brain thought (that side of myself is enthusiastic but not always coherent) or that it's actually a plot that I saw on Buffy, or Star Trek, or something else.

This one might have the potential to be something more some day, but right now it doesn't fit in with either the lalassu or with the companion series I'm working on.  Usually this would mean I would take copious notes and then store it in the wistful "Someday" bin of ideas.    But I'd been having a hard time working on Judgment in the evenings, despite being eager to get on with telling the story, so I decided to give myself some slack and allow myself to explore this idea.  Not worry about the writing or the story being good, but just exploring the emotionality of the moment.

And three days later, I had 3150 words.  I'm not quite sure what to do with that information, other than maybe recognize that I'm under more pressure than I thought, including the pressure of getting Judgment ready.  So maybe I needed some consequence free writing time to get the pump primed.

Either way, once we got settled into the beach house, the words have been flowing much easier.  It's only been one day and I've already written more than I did in the previous two weeks combined.  If I can avoid the temptation to just goof off and socialize, I could make some real progress here.  And if I can keep up the momentum, then maybe I'll meet my goals for Nanorimo too.

And maybe I also need to remember that if that doesn't happen, that's also okay.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Feeling Safe at Work And the Me Too Campaign

For me, it started with a David Bowie quote: "If you feel safe in the area you're working in, you're not working in the right area."

I saw it on Twitter and while I approve of the idea of artists pushing their limits in creating their art, the phrasing really bothered me.  Because people should feel safe in the place where they work.  The full quote is "If you feel safe in the area you're working in, you're not working in the right area.  Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in.  Go a little bit out of your depth.  And when you don't feel your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting."  So, from the context, it's clear that he's talking about taking risks creatively and I can support that idea.

But at the same time, I doubt that anyone who has faced threats against their physical safety would phrase their advice in quite that way.  Because feeling safe is definitely a requirement for being able to push your limits.  If a person doesn't feel safe, they cannot extend themselves.  Their creativity will shut down as their mind focuses on survival.  

Soon after I saw the Bowie quote, the Harvey Weinstein stories began to break in the media.  Those stories cast a bright light on the open secret of the casting couch in Hollywood.  Weinstein used his position to coerce young women into giving him sex or performing sexual acts, in exchange for promises to promote their careers.  Unspoken was the threat that if they did not agree, then he would use his power to destroy their careers.

In response, Alyssa Milano launched a "Me Too" campaign, encouraging women who have been harassed or assaulted to tweet #MeToo as a way to demonstrate how endemic the issue is.  And it is.  (And, by the way, it isn't just women who have to face this.)  It is incredibly rare to find a woman who has not experienced it.  On the lighter side are catcalls and unwelcome comments on our bodies and sexuality but it's all part of a spectrum that goes right up to the most horrific rapes, attacks and murder.

When the people speak up, their experiences are often dismissed.  "It was just a joke."  "It's not like anything really happened."  "Oh, that kind of thing happens all the time, don't be so sensitive."  If they report assault, they often face scrutiny on their choices.  "What did you expect, wearing that?"  "How much did you have to drink?"  "Why did you go to <insert location>?"  Their motives are questioned.  "Oh, they're only saying they were raped so they can get money."  "They're just jumping on a bandwagon to get publicity."

It's overwhelming and so women decide to keep silent.  But, to be honest, it's not just the outside attacks.  I've felt it myself as well as watched any number of colleagues and friends struggle through it.  At that split second when the first inappropriate act happens (usually verbal, but not always), everything changes.  Suddenly there are too many choices which need to be made (should I say something back? brush it off as a joke? ignore it?) and a huge awareness that if we make the wrong choice, it can backlash against us in significant ways (if I say something, will I risk my place at the office/group? if I don't say anything and something else happens, will my silence now be held against me?).

I actually saw this happen recently.  A man with a reputation for inappropriate comments told a woman to "just sit in his lap" when she asked if there was assigned seating.  The woman, who is a lovely and competent person, ignored the comment but felt flustered and insecure throughout the event.  When she left it, she was visibly shaken but also clearly trying to put it behind her.  But when she shared what had happened, it was also clear that it had a big impact on her.

I've used the metaphor of a burn before to explain it to people who don't understand how a single comment can cause this level of reaction.  It only takes a fraction of a second for skin to burn, but that burn takes a long time and special care to heal.  And even in the best circumstances, it often forms a scar.

Now, the good news is that the woman decided to share the incident and rather than being dismissed and questioned, she was supported and believed.  It was treated seriously and while I don't know yet how it all will turn out, I have faith that appropriate action will be taken.

This is the sort of thing that is all too common.  I doubt that the man thought about it beyond the moment.  I'd even be willing to guess that while I suspect he uses such comments to discomfort other people, and also to elevate his own status, it's probably mostly unconscious.  It's a strategy that he has found to work and he doesn't think much about the impact it can have.  

The guy who hollers "Nice ass" at a woman isn't expecting her to turn around and proclaim her willingness to have sex with him.  He's showing off for his friends and doesn't think about her as more than an object for his banter.  Ditto for Internet comments and jokes at bars or while watching TV.  

But it's not just a men problem.  Women are also quick to dismiss and blame.  When Mayim Bialik wrote an article for the New York Times about her experiences as a woman in Hollywood, it ignited a backlash.  She talked about how she dressed modestly and didn't behave in a flirtatious manner and hadn't experienced the same kind of harassment as her prettier coworkers.  And it's true, women who aren't conventionally attractive don't get the invitations to sexual activity or unwanted touching, or at least, not to the same degree.  But we get our own brand of harassment.  Getting to overhear someone say that they'd rather masturbate than touch us, or how fat, disgusting and ugly we are is just as painful and demoralizing.  And, yes, sometimes there is a piece of us that wishes we were pretty enough to have to worry about it.  But not really, because no one enjoys being afraid and we're aware that we are still at risk.

But I think women tend to dismiss harassment for different reasons than men.  Often, I think women are trying to reassure themselves that the "rules" they rely on to protect themselves are still intact.  Don't be alone, don't get in the car, don't wear clothes that emphasize your body and attractiveness.  But in that reassurance, they isolate the victims/survivors and force them to share the blame for an attack which is already devastating.

I'm glad to see the #MeToo posts going viral.  I'm glad to see #IBelieveYou starting to trend as a response.  I hope that this will cause some real changes before it subsides into the next viral trend.

But as it continues, I keep circling back to that Bowie quote.  Because we all deserve to feel safe.  We all deserve to feel confident.  We all deserve to make our choices without fear of those choices causing us to be physically or verbally attacked.  So while I have great respect for both David Bowie and the concept he was expressing, I won't be using that quote as inspiration.  Because "safe" was the wrong word to use in that context and words matter.

Me too.  And I believe you.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Weekly Update: October 8 to 14 (Can-Con)

Okay, let's get this out of the way first: weekly word count was zero.

<hanging my head in shame... and now I'm done>

It was not a productive week for writing but it was an amazing weekend at the Canadian Conference for Speculative Fiction.  I had a great time, caught up with some friends, got stood up for coffee (but was secretly kind of glad because then I could go home early and I know I'll get to see that person another time), I chatted with Tanya Huff and Charles de Lint, was avoided by Robert J Sawyer (I'm assuming, since he slowed down in front of my table about a half dozen times and then hurried on to something else... because the universe revolves around me, duh!), saw my Browncoat buddies, my original fan, gave some panels, did a reading (to people who didn't know me personally), stayed up way too late, got up way too early, explained the RPG, sent people on secret missions for hot chocolate, wore the same shirt as the Con-director, chatted with the Heart Tea Heart tea guy (Robert, see, I remembered his name), gave away a ton of kisses and buttons, oh yeah, and sold some books.

Can-Con is, without doubt, the best-organized con I've ever attended and one of the ones which is actively inclusive and always looking for ways to improve.  The people who set it up each year do an amazing amount of work and genuinely care about making sure that everyone feels safe and included, and has a chance to enjoy themselves.  Can-Con was my first con and as I've done more and more, I've come to learn how much of a rarity those two things are.  And how valuable.

It was a great antidote to the anger and vulnerability that's been filling my news feed lately.  And a reminder that for every jerk who is abusive, there are at least dozen other people who care, are supportive, and willing to make changes.  It reminded me about all the awesome folk who bond over Star Trek, Star Wars, card games, Firefly, Buffy, X-files, Marvel, DC, and all of the other worlds created out of imagination.  

One of the panels which got me doing some thinking asked about our favourite 'ships.  (For those not familiar with the shorthand, that's a relationship which is implied by the text or show, but never officially developed.  So for example, Ron and Hermione wouldn't count, but Hermione and Harry would.)  My favourite implied 'ship is River and Jayne from Firefly and Serenity.  First of all, she's a telepath, so would probably appreciate Jayne's "never hold anything back" approach to conversation. Secondly, Jayne is a big enjoyer of all things violent and River is superlatively and gorgeously deadly.  Third, and this is the important part, Jayne is the first person at River's side during most of the scenes when she's in danger, far more often than her brother or Captain Mal.  He does it even though she beats him up and humiliates him and he hates humiliation.  But he keeps coming back to her side.  And there's this little moment when he thinks she's dead, and there's a little pained, determined set to his mouth as he watches Kaylee and Simon.  In that moment, he's thinking he's missed his chance (that's my interpretation and I'm sticking to it).  So I have my happy little fan-fic world in which Jayne and River get together and create gorgeous, smart (from her), deadly babies who take over the verse.

But then, on the way home, I was thinking about Loki (whom I adore and feel is terribly misunderstood.  Just because he has no value for human life doesn't mean he's not worthy of love... yes, I have issues.  I accept that).  He's a force of chaos and change, necessary as a counterpoint to the law and order side.  But there's no one in the Marvel universe who would really be a good pairing for him, at least in my opinion.  He would need someone strong, unafraid of power, who's not afraid of the crazy... oh my gods, I'm talking about Harley Quinn and didn't even realize it.

So now, I have an idea for Loki/Harley Quinn Tom Hiddleston/Margot Robbie fan-fic bubbling away in my head and oh sweet Christmas, do I love it!  (It may involve the Defenders, whom I'm also enjoying at this point, we'll see if it gets that far.  Because Loki and Harley could totally take out Danny Rand, which would make me happy.  And she'd slap Daredevil out of mopery, which would also make me happy.  And they could pair up with Luke Cage and Jessica Jones and go on a massive crime spree... And and AND it would get Harley away from Joker, who is fun but abusive and she deserves a man of refinement and psychopathy who will treat her like the queen she is and Loki would have someone who isn't afraid to challenge him on his bullshit and who would encourage him to work with what he does best instead of constantly pursuing a throne that he wouldn't want once he got there because it would be boring and require too much stability... and I may have done too much thinking about this but the sentences just keep running on because I'm in love and yes, this is really what my brain looks like when I'm excited about an idea.)

Which is why editing is really crucial for me.

But I need to take a breath and store that on the "really awesome ideas for later" pile.  Then buckle back down to finishing Judgment.  Because the next time I see Tanya Huff, I need to have a new book ready for her to buy and love.  

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Heroine Fix: Wonder Woman

Heroine Fix is a monthly feature looking at characters I admire and who influence my own writing.  (Warning: this article will contain spoilers.)

Sometimes, I think modern women forget how far we've really come in the last century.  In 1900, women were not allowed to vote and while we were allowed to keep pre-marital property, any wages or income post-marriage belonged to our husbands, and we were considered "persons" under the law for penalties but not for rights or privileges.  The Victorian ideal of a woman, devoted to children, home and husband, stayed strong.  An ideal woman was artfully weak and helpless, deferred to others (or stayed silent and invisible entirely), and the best possible compliment was that everything she managed ran smoothly without anyone seeing her make an effort or even realizing she was there.

In October 1941, Wonder Woman burst through the pulp pages of comic books to become a female icon.  She wasn't demure.  She was not deferential.  She did not rely on men to do things for her.  She was an Amazon (and for many, this was the first time that they would hear of the ancient Greek legends of female warriors) and was declared a Goddess of Love and War.

Wonder Woman was the first female superhero and is the one with the longest run.  She was created by Charles Moulton, who was an early pioneer in inventing the lie detector (under his real name of William Moulton Marston).  He and his wife and their lover created Wonder Woman as a foil for the male superheroes of DC comics.  They wanted a hero who would conquer with love instead of by punching.  They wanted her to be a female role model for girls.  In 1943, Marston wrote: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power...  The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."

Now, Marston also had some not-entirely-compatible ideas of female empowerment through submission and a bit of an alleged fetish with bondage, but that doesn't diminish the power of what he and his partners created.  For the first time, the female character wasn't a girlfriend, secretary or victim.  She was one of the powerful, one of the good guys.

But she wasn't effectively a male superhero with odd bumps.  She was a different kind of hero, one who loved children and animals, who could nurture as well as kick butt.  These two things weren't seen as mutually exclusive traits, they were both sides of her personality and neither negated the other.  She lived up to both interpretations of her name: she was a "wonder" in being a woman who was as strong (or stronger) than Superman and she was a woman who embraced the "wonder" of the world around her, able to enjoy it rather than brooding or hiding.

Granted, she wasn't always properly written.  When she joined DC's Justice League, she often found herself in the hands of writers who couldn't figure out what to do with her, so she got coffee or did the filing while Batman, Superman, the Flash and the Green Lantern went out to battle evil.  But in the right hands, she became something unique and valuable: a woman who grew up without society and culture telling her to be less.

Wonder Woman grew up in Themiscyra, a mystical island populated solely by women and cut off from the outside world.  Thus it never occurred to her that there was a job that women couldn't do.  Women do it all in her world and are never told that they are over-reaching, being unfeminine, or dismissed and cursed.  She was never cautioned not to do something because boys might get the wrong impression.  She was never told not to get her clothes dirty or to worry about wrecking her hair.  She was never told that people don't like smart women or strong women.

She is what all women could be, if they were given the same confidence as men.

That is an incredibly appealing concept to me.  Most modern female superheroes are dark and brooding.  They kick butt, but they don't talk about their feelings or have healthy relationships.  I love them and enjoy writing them, but I can also appreciate Wonder Woman as an alternative.  She is kind and optimistic without being silly or stupid.  And without giving up any of her power.  She has faith in the world, not because the world deserves it, but because she has confidence that she can deal with any failures or problems.  That's something I would like to explore more fully and I already have story ideas starting to take root.

I'm glad that the recent movie has breathed new life into Wonder Woman and introduced her to a new generation.  She take her place among the many different role models for girls, showing that they can be strong, powerful and uncompromising without losing wonder, joy and love.

Are you addicted to strong and intriguing heroines like I am?  You can sign up to get each month's Heroine Fix by email and then you'll never miss your next Heroine Fix.

Next month, I'm going to do one of my all-time favourites: Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Her transformation from nerd to witch to goddess is definitely worthy of celebration.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Weekly Update: October 1 to 7

Weekly word count: 4500

Today's delayed update is brought to you by Canadian Thanksgiving, where we ate turkey and marveled over being able to wear shorts.  And debated how Thanksgiving got started in the first place (leading "facts": Thanksgiving was created by the train company to encourage people to travel home, and Canadian Thanksgiving used to be in November, but got moved to October so that it wouldn't take away from Remembrance Day.  I have not looked either of these facts up yet, so I am not responsible if they turn out to be plausible bullsh*t).  We also had a brief talk about the myths of Thanksgiving and how European settlers actually treated native North Americans (spoiler: not great).  And then we made everyone go around the table and share what they were thankful for this year before sharing our favourite Netflix discoveries.

Writing in the evening after supper is not great.  I only managed two days last week (mostly because I was sick) and then had a big writing blitz on the weekend.  But we'll keep trying.

Now the rush is on to get everything ready for Can-Con this weekend.  I'm looking forward to it, especially the romance panels.  It's so nice to see romance getting some recognition in the spec-fic community.

And then in two weeks, I will be on my way to Charleston for some well deserved rest and writing time.  And then it will be Nanorimo.  Then Christmas...  wait, I want to go back to thinking about the well deserved rest and writing time.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

When Life Makes You Change Your Writing Process

Recently, I was faced with something of a dilemma.  My day job needed me to increase my hours, which would cut out the usual 90 minutes I had to write before the kids got home from school.  As much as I would have liked to insist on keeping that time sacrosanct, the day job is what pays the bills, so I had to find another solution.

It will probably take me awhile to come up with a new process.  I know from experimentation that 9:30 to 2:30 is my most productive writing time.  That's when it's relatively easy to knock off a thousand words in an hour.

I've tried getting up early to write, but my inherent lack of morning-personness and kids who can apparently hear a keyboard clicking from two floors away quickly put an end to that experiment.

I tried writing in the evening, after the kids are in bed and discovered two problems.  One, I'm usually worn out from the day which slows my productivity and increases my "Screw it, it's a Netflix night" impulse.  Two, I do have a second burst of productivity that starts around 8:30 and goes until about midnight.  That might not sound like a problem, but once I get started, my brain is "woken up" and I'm not getting to sleep until one or two a.m.  since it takes me a long time to fall asleep once I have an active brain.

So, for now, I'm trying a compromise.  I'm insisting that my husband take over parenting duties between supper and the kids' bedtime so that I can hide upstairs and write.  This isn't ideal, since it cuts into our family time for things like Board Game Night and Let's Pretend We're Watching Live TV Night (for Doctor Who and Star Trek Discovery).

I'm definitely slower, averaging 700 to 800 words instead of 1000-13000.  But it beats not having any writing time at all.  I'm still insanely hopeful that I will meet the 50 000 word goal of Nanorimo, which would put the manuscript for Judgment at complete or nearly complete.  (Fingers crossed)

I have real envy for the authors I know who are able to devote their full time to writing (either because that is their job or because they are supported by other income).  I wish I had that.  But the reality is that life doesn't always line up with our wishes (at least, not in the first 3/4 of the story).  

Dr. Phil has a saying that I've heard often: Winners do things that losers don't want to do.  

While I don't believe that success is automatic if one puts in enough effort, I do support the gist of it.  Sometimes we have to do things that aren't ideal in order to reach our goals.  Sometimes we have to do things which are hard, or which prevent us from doing other fun things.  That's what distinguishes successes from failures.  Those who succeed didn't give up on the less exciting parts of their dreams.  So for the foreseeable future, I'll be hard at work, hoping to get through to the next level. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Weekly Update: Sept 24th to 30th

Writing update: 4300 words

I didn't have a terribly productive week while I was out of town, but thankfully the trip home offered a good opportunity.  I did 3200 words between waiting for the train and the train trip itself, which keeps me on good progress.

I've signed up for Nanorimo.  I haven't participated before since I'm usually editing instead of writing, but I'm excited about being part of it this year.

The Persisting Beyond Margins fundraiser for ALSO was great.  We had a good turn out and the books were all very interesting.  It still makes me sad that people try to shut down things that make them uncomfortable, depriving other people of wonderful stories and opportunities to learn.  Nathan Burgoine made an excellent point that LGBTQ+ people are often particularly vulnerable to this.  Since most queer children are not born into queer families, with parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents to use as examples, the first time they encounter someone like them is usually in books.  That makes the availability of such books critical to helping them to understand themselves.

I also did my Beyond the Furrowed Brow workshop and despite running over the allotted schedule, I think everyone had a good time.  We had a good turnout and absolutely love the new room in the Ottawa City Archives.  As much as I enjoy Centrepointe, the room at the Archives is prettier and more comfortable.

Now my attention turns to Can-Con and the writers' retreat in Charleston.  I'm very much looking forward to them both.  But I'm also looking forward to the relative quiet of November and December.