A Brief Hiatus

I’ve been aiming to post on here every Friday, and right now it feels like Friday comes round pretty quickly.

There’s a lot going on just now, and with focusing on the writing, I haven’t had time to think about blog posts as well. The should be some changes coming at the end of the month that will free up some more time, so I’ll play the next couple of weeks by ear, but definitely be back in March.

See you then!

From the Archive #1 – Writing Process

Today sees my first Patreon short story distributed to the $10+/month backers! Between getting the story ready, working on the novel, picking up extra hours at one of my jobs, and being ill, I’ve not had much time this week to work on the a blog post. Consequently, I thought I’d look in the archive for this one.

Back in 2014, I wrote a couple of blog posts for a virtual tour organized by my then-publisher. Since parting ways with said publisher, I’ve lost track of where the posts were uploaded. However, I kept my own copies, and I thought I’d post them here. Below is the first of these posts, and below that is a note providing a couple of updates. 

Writing Process: The Physical and the Mental (November 2014)

Whenever people ask me about my writing process, I’m always intrigued as to whether they mean the physical process of sitting down to write, or the mental process of deciding which words to write. So I guess I’ll try and talk about both.

I’m one of those nocturnal authors. I’ve always found that my most productive hours are between about 11pm and 4am. Not sure why, they just are. Maybe it’s the silence and the lack of external distractions. Maybe it’s that I get appalled when people suggest waking up earlier than 9:30am. When I do sit down to write, it’s in a dark room, usually just one lamp, and with my laptop (my handwriting is awful, left hander’s curse, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to write an entire novel by hand and then type it up). I’ll settle down with a cup of coffee, a can of coke, and a glass of water (yes, all three at once, something nice about the temperature and flavor combination….and the caffeine high) and can sit there and just get involved in the writing.

People have often asked me whether I listen to music when I write. The answer is yes, music is an important part of my life, but when I’m writing I ban (give or take) anything with lyrics, and will sometimes have it so it’s barely audible. Any other time I love good quality vocals in my music, but they can be too distracting to the “writing process.” Its purpose becomes to provide a beat for the work, something to listen to in those moments when I need a short breather, and to block out some of the other, more disruptive noises—I used to live in the countryside surrounded by all manner of noisy night time creatures and farm animals, now I live three feet from the sidewalk in upstate New York and it’s a whole other type of night time creature. Some of my favourites to listen to are movie soundtracks (Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams tend to provide well there), Apocalyptica, the instrumental/orchestral versions of Kamelot and Nightwish, and a small instrumental rock group from Albany called Yoma.

As for the mental side of things, you’ll see articles about how meticulously J.K. Rowling planned her series (with accompanied photo of scrawled blue biro), or hear advice of how you have to have a clear plan written down. That’s not how I work. I plan massively. In fact I have plots already in place that aren’t likely to appear for another seven books or so. But I don’t write it all down in notebooks. It’s truly a mental process—if it’s good enough to put in a book, then I’ll remember it.

Most of what I write in any one session I’ll have outlined mentally beforehand, and maybe thought of a few key phrases while driving, walking, standing in the shower, anytime I’m doing something that requires only a small amount of thought. And from there, I let the narrative and the characters take it away and flow freely.

In all honesty, I do occasionally take a few brief notes to keep track of my various plot strands, but nowhere near what I’m aware that some people do. I find it too restrictive—one of the first novels I wrote I planned out scene-by-scene and the result held little feeling because it was just following a preordained plan. I have also looked back at the brief notes I’ve made after I’ve finished a section and seen something about where a plot is going, or what a character will do and thought “wow, I was really wrong, [that character] wouldn’t have done that…”

For me, the writing process is a source of great joy. It holds elements of quiet contemplation, or having a laugh with a group of your friends (even if these ones are imaginary). I can get very excited about what I’m doing, even if it’s 3 in the morning, dark, and everyone else is in bed.

 

2017 Updates:

It’s no longer true to say that I do most of my writing at night. While it remains my preferred time to write, work schedules have required that I be a little more flexible on the matter. I wonder what 2014 me would have said about me getting up at 7am for a work shift. My desk is always the home of my writing, but I’ve actually started getting some of my writing done now in the café at work before my shift (employee discount!)—sometimes I even write while it’s daylight outside!

I no longer live in New York, having moved to just a little way outside Atlanta back in August. It tends to be pretty quiet where I live, but I still listen to my music. The biggest concern I have when it comes to night time creatures is hitting a herd of deer on my way home.

New Patreon Goal

I’ve just set a somewhat ambitious new goal on my Patreon.

As I’ve mentioned before, I currently work two part time jobs and must fit my writing in around those (and, you know, eating, sleeping, having some form of social interaction, and occasionally some personal hygiene). It had never really occurred to me that two part time jobs seem able to take up a lot more time than a single full time job.

Thus, the ambitious goal: if patrons pledge $800 a month, I will be able to leave one of my jobs, and devote that time instead to my writing career.

With the current reward tiers that I offer, that would mean having about 80 patrons, which seems like a Herculean task at this juncture. However, it is something to set my sights on. In the meantime, any shares of my Patreon with people you think might be interested in supporting an author, and receiving a monthly short story in return, would be much appreciated.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for higher reward tiers, I’d be happy to hear them (either in the comments here, or through a message/post on Patreon or Facebook).

Looking Back, Looking Forward

As you may have noticed, certain people are referring to 2016 as “The Year of the Dumpster Fire,” or similarly delicate epithets. And with good reason: between what seems like an unreasonable number of deaths of icons from all walks of life, paired with varying shades of political chaos, it’s been a pretty awful year for the population as a whole. However, I’m seeing a growing trend in these last few days of people saying “2016 was pretty awful on the whole, but I feel weird because it was actually a pretty good year for me on a personal level.” It’s the latter trend that I’d like to partake in today, and try to stay positive about things rather than being bogged down in grief. Now is a time for silver linings. Carrie Fisher’s passing hit us all hard, but I’m glad that she was first able to rewrite her legacy from one of an actress who “went off the deep end,” to one of a powerful woman, a strong actress and writer, and a potent voice in mental health activism. David Bowie may have left us, but he’s apparently left behind plans for posthumous collections which seem likely to include unheard material, and it has led to the vinyl release of all his previous albums, remastered from the original tapes—and they sound fantastic. For many groups, the leadership of their country has left them in fear for their lives and bodily autonomy, but within the voices calling for an exodus from this country or that, has been a group that reassures me of the potential for human kindness and sacrifice, one saying “I could leave, but it is my place to stay and support those who cannot leave.”

For me this was the year that I got engaged. The year my brother got married. The year that I graduated from my MA. The year that I made some important choices about where my future lies, and moved 1,000 miles (without leaving the country) to a position where I could enact those choices. This was the year where I left academia and began to be gainfully employed on multiple fronts.

I’ve made a lot of personal strides and I finally feel able to really focus on my writing career (if around two other jobs) as my primary goal in life. This year I officially started a draft of my new novel, started a Patreon, and received pledges that will not only help me to keep writing, but tell me that there are people out there who are still interested and invested in my writing.

I feel like I’m in a strong place to move forward, and I intend to do so in the coming year. While I predict that by midnight on the 2nd of January we’ll see someone post “Maybe 2017 will be better… [Insert headline of celebrity death]” it can still be a good year for us personally. I’m not saying that political troubles and popular culture issues won’t be present, but we must remember that we can push against political moves with activism, and that when someone dies, they leave a legacy; their passing should be properly grieved, but not negate our own ability to function in the long run.

In early January, I will be putting out the first short story for my Patreon backers (I’m taking a break from working on it to write this post). In 2017 I plan to visit writing conferences and network with those in my field. In 2017 I will finish and edit the fantasy novel I am working on. And in 2017 I will submit it to agents.

In 2017 I will survive, move forward, and be there for those who need me to be.

Free Short Story!

The $10/month tier of my Patreon commits me to provide at least one short story a month. As an example/proof of concept, I’ve posted one of my older short stories, The Weathered Man, to the public section of my Patreon.

If you want to receive the January short story from my Patreon, you must have pledged to the $10 tier or higher by midnight(PST) on the 31st. I hear there’s going to be a countdown.

The Season of Giving

As various memes have been reminding us, we are in the midst of a whole load of different holidays. Regardless of which of these, if any, you celebrate, and regardless of your views on the “happy holidays controversy” (personally, if someone says anything to me that demonstrates they mean “I wish you well at this time,” I’m not going to be upset, and I’d hope they’d do the same for me, no matter how I choose to express it), the majority of the holidays have a focus (sometimes obscured) on thinking of others and giving back to your community.

Now some of you might think that this is me putting in a plug for my Patreon, but it’s not (Did I mention I have a Patreon, now?). In this vast, expansive season of giving, it’s easy to get bogged down in shopping for gifts, planning for meals, and arranging get-togethers, and I wanted to take a moment here to provide a couple of suggestions for locations for charitable donations. (Note: I receive no gain from any of these, they’re just causes that are close to my heart.)

1. The Alzheimer’s Association is one of many charities that work against the disease. This one has been around since 1980, and seeks to both advance research in the hopes of eradicating it, and also to provide care for those who live with it. My family has been personally affected by Alzheimer’s, and it recently claimed the author Terry Pratchett. I have my Amazon Smile account linked to this charity.

2. Lost-n-Found Youth is an Atlanta based charity that works with homeless youths (13-25) and works to get them permanent housing and employment. They specialize in LGBTQ youths, which is especially good as a) a disproportionate number of homeless youths are LGBTQ, and b) other organizations have a history of ignoring or actively shunning them.

3. This is a gofundme page for a friend of mine who is currently transitioning. She lives in Georgia, so the environment isn’t great to begin with, and recent political changes aren’t going to make her life any easier. The page is asking for donations to aid with general costs that come with transitioning that aren’t covered by insurance and to enable them to be able to start a family one day.

 

Thank you for your time, and if you’re able to donate to any of these causes then it is much appreciated. Next week, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled programming of self-involved rambling and shameless self-promotion.

Happy Holidays! (Whichever one you celebrate, I wish you well at this time!)

$1 Patreon Update

A brief, mid-week update on my Patreon today.

I’ve edited the reward for the $1 level. Now, as well as receiving my “endless appreciation,” it will give you access to my patron-only feed. This is the first place that I’ll post any major hints or updates about my writing and releases, as well as potential teasers for the monthly short story. Some of those updates will be posted to this blog a few days later, but some of them (particularly the hints) will be reserved exclusively for my patrons.

These rewards are also available to patrons at all the higher levels.