Monthly Archives: May 2014

To Write, I Have A Closet

Continuing the writing spots posts. Me, I write in a closet.

Not a metaphorical one, a real one. A nice one! Our house is old, and the master bedroom has a tiny room/big closet attached to it. Maybe it was a nursery once, or  a sewing room, but now it’s my office.

I like it because it’s small but not claustrophobic (having a window helps, and it’s convenient the window is behind me, so I can’t just stare out it).  It’s just big enough to fit a good sized desk with my computer, reference books, gaming supplies, gargoyles, pretty rocks, etc, and there’s enough wall space to hang up my Writers of the Future artwork.

While I’ve had this space ever since we’ve moved into this house, I only really started using it this year. There were two reasons for this– 1, we got a new computer and moved the old one into that space, replacing my decaying laptop, and 2, the children are now both in school. Before that happened, I did almost all my writing out of the house, at the library or in coffee shops. But with the kids out and about, and an empty house, having a space set aside just for writing suddenly mattered. That was the place where I wrote– instead of internetting, or chatting, or cleaning, or gaming,  or any of the other things I did around the house.

So basically, I lock myself in a closet to write. And usually it works.

When I’m not having tea parties with the gargoyles.



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Writing Spots, Part the Third

Or is it fourth? I’ve lost track.

When we had a house, I mostly wrote in my office. I told myself that sitting in the office is for writing and sitting anywhere else is for internet surfing, and eventually my brain believed it. Having that dedicated space did wonders for my output. I consistently wrote 1K an hour, which isn’t too shabby.

Since the move to Chicago, I don’t have a dedicated writing space. I write on the couch, at the dining room table, sometimes at a coffee shop or bar. My output has gone down a bit–I usually hit around 700 words an hour–and I wonder if not having a dedicated writing space has anything to do with that. I could be that I’m a bit more cognizant of the mistakes I make and so I self-edit as I write, which saves time one the back end but obviously does the opposite on the front end. And I do find that I interrupt myself to “just check facebook” more often.

We’ve been condo-hunting (which is an adventure in Chicago, I must say) and so hopefully I’ll have a writing space in the near future.


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Back to Basics

For the past couple months, my job has been sucking away my writing time and energy. April was the worst writing month I’ve had in years. May has been better, but not by much. 

One of the worst things, I realized last week, is that by not writing, I’m losing the habit. Even when I do have time and energy, digging into my current novel or a short story isn’t the first thing that pops to mind. I’m back to having to remind myself of what I’m working on, and forcing myself to do that work.

This is not acceptable. Yesterday I started a back to basics plan. Every morning, I will write before I do anything else. Every evening, I will write immediately after dinner (or immediately after getting home from drawing class/Toastmasters). Even just 5 minutes counts. And sort-of-writing activities like dealing with submissions count too. 

I might not get much done with this system, but it’s better than nothing, and it will keep my writing muscles in shape for when I can really get back to work.

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On, Wisconsin

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s time for WisCon.

This is the first con I went to, and this year will be my… sixth? Sure, I’ll say that since it doesn’t involve me getting up and trying to figure out the exact number. Anyway, this will be a light year programming-wise for me.

Reading- Sunday at 10 in Michelangelo’s Coffee. I’m reading with Clockwork Lasercorn. Five authors reading stories that may or may not have anything to do with clockwork, lasers, or corn. Or clockwork unicorns with lasers.

Panel- SFWA: Is it Relevant? Is it Useful? Sunday at 1 in Conference Room 4. Sneak preview of my positions- yes and yes.

Other than that, it’s hanging out and having fun.

Oh, wait, no. Networking. I’m networking.

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Is there a “right” way to read?

So a few days ago on Twitter someone got a little fired up about the way books are marketed. Specifically, that some books would be labeled “beach” reads, as though there were specific times of the year to read a particular book. I subscribe to that notion, and so I said so. I explained that for me, summer books were quick, fun, sometimes fluffy reads while winter books were meatier and required more concentration.

He replied, “That’s ridiculous.”  

I replied, “No, it’s not,” and left it at that. In general, I avoid arguments on social media. It’s been bothering me, though, and so I’m writing a post about it.

I’m not bothered that he disagreed with me. I’m bothered because his “that’s ridiculous” response implied (to me, at least) that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to read books.

Listen, if I want to read novels with no substantive plot other than “I like this boy” during the summer and dark, dreary literary books that are Frought With Meaning during the winter, that is my perogative. If I want to read the ending first, that’s my choice. Maybe I do it the other way around because that’s what works with my work/life schedule. If I want to read five books and once, I get to do that. Maybe I read short story anthologies during the week and read novels on the weekends. If I only read scary books during the month of October, that is my right. You know why? BECAUSE THERE’S NO “RIGHT” WAY TO READ A FUCKING BOOK. I would go so far as to say that the ONLY wrong way to read a book is to not read the fucking thing at all.



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Writing Spots

Jaleigh’s post yesterday got me thinking about where I write.

There’s my deck, which I love, except for the mosquitoes, and all the things that fall into my drinks. It’s great to sit out there in the evenings and stare at the jungle that will someday be a garden. It’ll be even better when it is a garden. But the deck chairs aren’t very comfortable for long periods, and as much as I like my iPad, sometimes I need to work on my (non-laptop) computer. Also, winter.

My desk in my office, where my computer lives, is where I spend most of my writing time. The walls are a cheery bright yellow, I can look out the window, I have my giant white board nearby, and my monitor is big enough to spread my words on. The desk is a standing desk, which can get tiring on weekends but is great during the week. But my office also has a huge number of distractions–aside from everything else on my computer and the entire internet, there are constant reminders of bills to pay, phone calls to make, and other household-related stuff like dusting and vacuuming.

I do a lot of writing where I am right now: the break room at work, looking at the roof of the hotel next door. And trees. And the roofing job at the nearby apartment complex. It’s not a bad spot, but there are definite drawbacks, like that my lunch hour is only so long.

Finally, there’s a collection of coffee shops and libraries, which all have their plusses and minuses.

So many choices, but none of them have what my ideal writing spot would provide: room service and a maid.




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My favorite writing spot

One of my favorite questions from the kids at my last set of school visits was, “Where do you like to write?”

My answer is my screened-in porch in the backyard.  Now that summer is coming on, there’s no place I’d rather be than sitting in my big white rocking chair with my laptop and a cold drink.  It’s a bit windy out here this evening, but most days, there’s a definite Secret Garden vibe.  We’ve got squirrels, rabbits, woodpeckers, cardinals, sometimes hawks, and the occasional cat stalking prey.  And when I need to just sit and stare and think about my story, there’s no place more peaceful.

Also, I can get internet out here.  Best. Porch. Ever.

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Looking for Other Worlds

One of the writers I follow on Twitter recently posted something along the lines of “I’ll always tap the back of a wardrobe I open. Just in case.” While I read the Narnia books as a kid, they didn’t affect me to that extent. However, plenty of other imaginary worlds have. I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts. Whenever I hear about a new flu virus I’m certain this is Captain Trips. Every now and again I think about how cool it would be to channel the One Power. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I found a paper bag with a bloody t-shirt and a pair of jeans buried in a pile of rocks in New Mexico.

Believing that a made-up world is real, even just a little bit, even though you know it’s silly and irrational to think so, is one of the simple joys of reading.

Making that world for the reader is a daunting task, but one I’m more than willing to undertake. The idea that a reader would find a world that I made up so fully-realized and fascinating that they forget it’s not real, even for a second, even if it’s just in their dreams … well. Humbling and inspiring.

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Deer, Rewriting, and Other Evil Things

I belong to a writing forum on which, every two months or so, someone submits a selection of stories and gets an overall critique on their writing. I’m up next and the stories are due Thursday. It’s great motivation to rewrite a story from last year, but rewriting takes time.

And that’s one reason I have no blog post for today.

The other reason is deer. They look so sweet with their innocent doe-eyed gaze. Then they hurl themselves into your car and you spend all your free time the next two weeks debating the balance of cargo volume and fuel economy and acceleration power and whether the car you’re test driving feels weird because it’s not your car or because something’s wrong with it.

Deer. Evil creatures.

(I don’t actually have any other evils to discuss in this post, but I liked the title.)

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Home again

This time to stay.  As amazing as these past few weeks have been, it’s good to get to sleep in my own bed again, spend time with my husband and catch up on everything else that’s been put on hold for writing and book promotion.

And boy, is there a long list of things to do.

1. My yard needs tending, and my garden needs a lot of work. Thankfully, I got a start on both these things the past few days.
2. Day job catching up.  This is also not the nightmare it might  have been since I’m no longer in tax season.  Although there is that pile of extensions waiting…
3. House cleaning.  The less said there, the better.
4. Hook up new computer.  Yes, I’ve had a shiny, brand new desktop computer just sitting in my office, waiting to be fired up for Elder Scrolls Online.
5. Play Elder Scrolls Online.  See above.
6. Organize office.  Because it looks like a tornado ripped through there and deposited books, gaming stuff and Dragonfly promo materials.
7. Finish the painting projects I started months ago.  Wall and trim painting, I mean.
8. Finish the bathroom. Also started several months ago.
9. Hang more pictures on the walls.  After the walls are painted, of course.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  So the next few weeks are all about finding that balance again, between life, day job, writing, and whatever else comes my way.

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