Grabbing Those Great Ideas

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is all about Ideas. How do you write down or remember those great ideas that you get mid-shower/dream/car drive? If you lose them, how do you get them back?

It’s funny this came up now because I talked about this very thing on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee, just recently – and even commented that I liked what I’d talked through so much that I should transcribe it. So this gave me the impetus to do that – and edit the transcription, which is the time-consuming part.  Come on over for more!

I Always Slow Down at the End…

I finished writing THE PROMISED QUEEN! This is the third book in the Forgotten Empires trilogy, and – as happens with many trilogy finales – the draft came in long. I sent 118,489 words (about 426 pages in Word) to Editor Jennie Friday afternoon. A lot to pack into that ending!

As usual, finishing the book wrung me out. As an interesting statistic, writing the first 100,000 words took me 57 days, while revising those words from the beginning and adding 19,000 more took me another 19 days. So a full quarter of my time creating this manuscript went to revising what I’d written and adding the last 16% of the book. I always slow down at the end. I always feel like I *shouldn’t*, but I do.

And you all know what I always say: Figure out what your process is and own it.

So there I am!

I am trying to be better about refilling the well after I finish a project like this. So instead of plunging into the next fiction work, I’ve been taking a little time off. Those of you who listen to my podcast know that on Saturday I drove our 20 year-old Highlander into town to buy plants. When I arrived after a twenty-minute drive, I discovered that a pack rat had built a nest in the engine. How did I find out? Because the engine caught on fire! That’s it in the photo. You can see the bits of detritus from the pack rat nest – and that lots of the engine components melted. I’m fine – many thanks to Newman’s Nursery for quick action with a fire extinguisher and being so lovely to me – but the car will cost more to fix than it’s worth. So, goodbye to Nessie. My mom bought her new in 2000, so she had a good run.

A friend pointed out that it counts to a fiery sacrifice to the gods upon completion of this trilogy, so I’m going with that.

Refilling the Well

I finished THE FIERY CITADEL, book two in my Forgotten Empires trilogy with St. Martins Press, sequel to THE ORCHID THRONE. Yeah, it doesn’t come out until 2020 – maybe summer? we don’t know – but I completed the first draft and sent it in to Editor Jennie. There will be more work to come, but that’s the big milestone to pass.

I promised myself this time that I’d take some time off before heading into the next project. More than the weekend. As a full-time author, I write five days a week, going for 3,000 – 3,500 words per day. It takes me an average of 3 – 4 hours to get that, with an overall elapsed time of about 6 hours, including breaks. I usually have a pretty tightly packed schedule, so finishing one book has meant diving right into the next. But I track my productivity pretty carefully – I can’t control my creative process, but I can learn all there is to know about it and plan accordingly (which is part of owning your process) – and I’ve discovered that the week after I finish writing a book draft tends to be unproductive.

Even when I schedule myself for my usual work week, the writing tends to feel like pulling teeth. My word counts are low, I screw around a lot, and I don’t really refill the well.

So this week I’ve been not writing. Yesterday I tackled the garage. We have this one corner with a built in workbench and set of shelves. When we moved in (lo, these ten years ago – sheesh), we stuffed a lot of stuff back in those shelves, especially the lower ones, and back in the deep corner where they form an L. The original plan was one side of the L (the long one) would be for David’s tools and the short side would be my garden bench. My husband, however, while possessing many sterling qualities, is almost pathologically incapable of organizing his stuff. So his workbench has been a mess since day one. In fact, it’s a more ancient mess than that, as he pretty much threw the existing mess of his workbench and garage stuff into bins when we moved and dumped it out here.

I keep a hammer and a few screwdrivers in my office, just so I can find them when I need one.

Not only is his workbench a nightmare, when he has no place to put anything – which is always – he’d stack it on my garden bench. It got so I couldn’t even get to my gardening stuff. So I ceded the field of battle. I moved the baker’s rack from our front patio around to the secret garden and put everything there that can safely weather outside. I’ve also pulled most everything out of that space – discovering numerous rodent nests in the process – and now I’ll organize it for him. I kept a lower shelf for my garden stuff that needs to be out of the weather, but otherwise my garden bench is now for his fishing supplies. I’m kind of excited to do the thing where you hang up the tools and draw Sharpie marker outlines to designate where they go. We’ll see if it works and how long that lasts…

Anyway, it’s been good to disengage my brain and simply lift and organize. I’ve been rearranging the patio and garden, too, and things are looking pretty. Plus, I found some cool garden ornaments I shoved back in that corner and forgot I had! Watch for pics of those as I get them put out.

Hands on Keyboard, Butt out of Chair

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is the deceptively simple “Perfect Writing Snacks.”

I say it’s deceptively simple because I’m going to have to pull a Veronica Scott this week and say that I just have nothing on this one. Come on over to find out why.

 

Really, but No

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! David and I are both from Irish families. You can see it in those smiling eyes, yes?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “I don’t think so. Name a piece of writing advice you do not agree with and explain why.” Come on over for mine.