July 15th, 2006

writing everywhere

Week of July 9-15

Three rejections. But I did finish "Why I Live in the Silver Mine" yesterday -- figured out where the cherries went -- so that'll be one more thing to make the rounds. And possibly baffle some people, but that's how this thing goes, I guess. Some people can't figure out what happened in stories that seem head-bashingly obvious to other folks, and no matter what you refer to, there'll be someone who doesn't know about it.

I really think that word count is an addictive and (for some people at some times, not at all universally) inaccurate measure of progress. It's very easy to say, "Oh, I wrote 5K today, I am awesome, I am a book-writin' machine!" or, "500 words, that's a start." But then when you start revising, if you've gotten too addicted to statistics, you grasp at something else: notecards destroyed? Chapters revised -- but what if you have different things to be done to a chapter that ought to be done at different times? Pages gone through -- but again, one page may have a tiny red mark indicating that you mistyped "heart" for "hearth" while another says, "Fix this conversation so it makes sense." So I don't know. I think the best thing is to cultivate a sense of how much you've accomplished, calibrated internally somehow. How do you do that? I have no clue at all, my dears. I think you either just do it or just don't, and I think it's entirely possible to be a very successful writer by whatever standard you want to use for success and still not have a good internal sense for when you've gotten a lot of quality work done in a day. If you've got some suggestion, by all means share, but I suspect that this is one of those things we each get to do mostly alone, even alone from our previous selves, mostly, because how people handle things can change with time.

Ah well. We're working on it. And will likely continue. And the forecast for the weeks to come looks positive on the short story front as well as the revision front. This is a relief. I've had several short stories rattling around, and I would like to have no major internally-generated novel revisions on my desk and no short stories immediately nagging me by the time I start serious work on another novel. I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle against new novelness, but at least it varies as to which one I'm fighting off most, and when I capitulate, well, that's not the worst thing that ever befell humanity, either, right? (I just like to have things submissibly finished from time to time. Little quirk of mine.)


You know who I miss? I miss Lou. Lou was our mailman at my folks' house from the time I was 12 until sometime after I left for college. I gave Lou cookies at Christmas, and Lou left a Christmas card, and he did everything right, just as a mailbeing should, and he talked to me sometimes but never too much. I've never had another mailbeing that good.

I mean, I don't miss him like I miss the_overqual or wshaffer or somebody who's a personal friend. But I think he moved to Amber to be their Platonic essence of mailbeing. That's what I think. And I wish they'd send him back, because how important is it that the denizens of Amber get their mail delivered properly? For me, not very. Doesn't help me much, is what I'm saying. Given that they're fictional and all.

If you're thinking this is like the time I missed my former bookstore clerk, you're probably right. (Except that I miss Will more than Lou, even though I buy SF far less than six times a week.) But you all remember how well that eventually went. Well, at least some of you do: I went to Minicon, and I met madmanatw, who sees Will all the time, and so he could verify that Will was okay, or at least as okay as one might expect, and I was so happy I kept telling random friends and acquaintances. So maybe Lou is okay, too.

There's a reason timprov makes frequent reference to the "Dharma and Greg" episode where Dharma is considering adopting her grocery clerk's baby. But Lou was my mailman for over four years, so naturally we had a friendly relationship. It's not like he was a substitute one weekend or something. I only know a few of our substitutes.