Writing Emotion and Owning Your Process

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is writing emotion and whether you as the author have to feel the exact emotion you’re writing.

There’s this tale about acting that’s been making the rounds for ages – it’s possibly apocryphal – about Dustin Hoffman being a method actor. That method asks actors to find the emotions within themselves to play the character, to find essentially their alternate self who would be that person and feel that way. The story goes that Hoffman spent an hour getting into that character’s skin and Sir Laurence Olivier strolled in, did his bit, and left again, saying, “My dear boy, it’s called acting.”

The point of this (again, possibly apocryphal) tale is twofold: the first that you can create the appearance of emotion without feeling it, and the second that everyone does things their own way.

You all should know by now that my primary mantra is this: figure out what your process is and own it.

People like that story because they can smirk at poor Dustin Hoffman doing things the American way, the overly-complicated way, the fancy way, but… is he wrong? Hoffman has an amazing acting career. He’s widely acknowledged as a brilliant actor. Clearly his approach isn’t “wrong.”

Is Olivier wrong in this story? Clearly not, for the same reasons as above. There is no wrong. There is no right. Both things can be true. Both processes work for those performers.

So, do I have to feel the emotion I’m writing in order to put it on the page? Nope. Do I sometimes? Sure, though it depends. Do other writers need to feel the emotion to write it? I’ve heard they do.

And it’s all good. Both things can be true.


Trusting the Creative Process

Happy Summer Solstice, all!

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking about our greatest writing challenge and how we manage it.

In some ways, this is a moving target for me, because it seems that – like clockwork – each book presents its own challenge. With 64 published titles under my belt, I feel like I should have this process down and there shouldn’t be surprises.

No such luck.

What I have to constantly remind myself is that the creative process is its own creature. It’s this connection to something beyond ourselves and thus is not within our control. Particularly for a writer like myself – I am incapable of pre-plotting and write for discovery, relying entirely on intuition – letting go of that desire to control is critical. It can also be difficult, especially when I’m trying to write to a particular idea or market.

For example, I recently wrote one-hundred pages of a book for my agent, according to a very particular comp. Let’s call it Ghost meets Out of Africa. (That is NOT it, but that’s one of my all-time favorite fictional comps. Points if you can name the movie it’s from.) In thinking about this project, I consulted my friend, Melinda Snodgrass, incredibly talented novelist and screenwriter who counts among her credits the Star Trek: Next Generation episode The Measure of a Man. I asked her how closely I should follow the beats of Ghost, if at all. She gave me an incredulous look and asked why, when I had a hugely successful story blueprint right there, I would do anything but follow those beats?

So, I tried.

Turns out that, not only am I incapable of pre-plotting, I also can’t follow an outline to save my life. I struggled to write that book. Having the story laid out in essence should have made it easier. Instead it made it 1,000x worse. For me. Because that’s not my process. Once I abandoned that outline (sorry, Melinda) and followed my intuition, the words began flowing.

That’s the major challenge for me: remembering to trust the process. Particulars change with every book. This principle endures.

Pinch Points: WTF Are They??

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Pinch Points or small turning points. We’re asking each other if we plan them, use them as foreshadowing, or just let the story flow?

So, I read KAK’s excellent post from yesterday explaining WTF “Pinch Points” are and how she uses them. Spoiler: yes, she plans them out.

Cannot possibly be a spoiler for anyone who knows anything about me: No, I plan them, I might use them?


I swear, I need to start adding topics like “when you’re intuitively letting the story flow, how do you…. ” Except then I get stuck because there’s just not a whole hell of a lot to say about writing intuitively. Yep, here I am, letting things flow. Still flowing. How will it end? I have no idea!


Amusingly enough, however, what KAK explained in her detailed analytical post is pretty much the exact scene I wrote yesterday in my current manuscript: ONEIRA.

(If you haven’t been following the podcast, ONEIRA is a Totally New Thing – new world, new magic system, unrelated to anything I’ve written so far. I’ve been calling it the book I’m not supposed to be writing – it fell on me from out of the sky and insisted on being written – but all of my friends have finally convinced me that clearly I am supposed to be writing it, so I’m trying not to say that anymore.)

It’s almost eerie, how the scene I wrote yesterday matches exactly what KAK says the pinch point with the villain is supposed to do. But I didn’t plan it at all. In fact, this scene introduced a new POV character and a new plot element, totally unexpected. But this is how I write and how I write this book in particular. It’s insisting on doing all sorts of things that I haven’t done before and don’t expect and I’ve just surrendered and am going with it. Which actually makes this project really fun, because I’m just letting it be whatever it is and not worrying about reader expectations or where it will fit in the marketplace.

All of this is to say that we all have our own process. My mantra: figure out what your process is and own it.

KAK loves to geek out on analysis, minutely controlling her stories down to pinches.

My stories just go their own way and I try to cling to the saddle.

It’s all good.

(Except sometimes I end up writing something I’m not supposed to be writing….)

One Piece of Advice for Aspiring Authors

Figure out what your process is and own it.
See, the point is that every single creator has the0ir own creative process. It’s as individual as retinal patterns. While it can be helpful to take classes on writing processes and techniques, to learn from other authors, in the end we all find that our process is unique to us. I’ve seen SO MANY writers struggle to change their process and try to “make it be” something or other, to no avail. The whole point of learning various techniques is to triangulate on what works for you. It can be a long and iterative process, but that’s the “magic formula.” Figure out what your process is and own it. Don’t try to make your process be something other than what it is, even if you are occasionally frustrated by it. (I often am by mine!)
Like learning to love yourself, learn to embrace your process. Own it. It’s yours.

First Cup of Coffee – October 18, 2022

Building a writing habit and incremental work – when it does and doesn’t work for people. Also an update on loading my audiobooks on YouTube and thoughts on three decades in publishing.

First Cup of Coffee – October 17, 2022

Quitting what doesn’t work for you and getting away from survivorship bias and reverse engineering success. Instead finding out what works for YOU & owning your process. Also putting audiobooks on YouTube.

First Cup of Coffee – October 7, 2022

Some straight talk about group anthologies: what works, what doesn’t, why doing it for that USAT Bestseller badge isn’t worth it, and something I didn’t know before. Also, the perils of survivorship bias and how to transcend it.

First Cup of Coffee – August 26, 2022

More on critique groups and workshops, how to tell if crit is toxic and what to do about it, critique during the drafting stage vs during revision, and my extended analogy of shaken baby syndrome and how it applies to early drafting.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

It’s actually my second cup of coffee I have had a morning people. Ah I will tell you that today is just say it with me Friday woo which is good and bad I can’t believe it’s already friday. August Twenty sixth and if you’re on video. You’ll see that I’m recording inside I recorded one podcast already outside in the grape arbor and it was a really good podcast I mean I I feel like I can say that now. Because um, well I feel like I can say it because ah it’s gone. It’s lost forever I kept getting these weird alerts as I was talking and they were annoying.

So so this morning. Ah yeah I don’t know why I kept gaining these alerts they were annoying me apparently the alerts meant that I all know that my part of the podcast wasn’t recording and. Since I’m the only part of the podcast I don’t know it’s I mentioned yesterday that Zencastr totally changed their thing while I was gone and now it’s messed up charming. So I’m re-recording. Here it is 10 in the morning normally I like to have my podcast totally done uploaded before 9 and have an hour of writing done by now and here I am recording my podcast I was trying all the recover backup things on it and had spent like an hour and finally I thought well. Better to just rerecord so the lost podcast ah I felt like I said some really good stuff all right anyway, I’m trying to let that go move on with my life I am going down to. Ah, Bubonicon this afternoon going to Albuquerque so I’m on the timeline and so so I’m basically screwed I’m also really fussing with this camera that is the exciting news that.

My aunt for my birthday gave me this New Webcam and so I only use it when I’m inside I tried using it outside yesterday and spent way too much time getting that to work. Um, technology here. So this is on my monitor now. So. So. It’s a lot better and it’s pretty isn’t that if you’re on video. It’s pretty so anyway, um, I wanted to address some things. Hopefully I’ll talk about them. Well so add ons to yesterday I appreciated the many comments I got. There were some wonderful insights and glad that my rambling made some sense so continuations from yesterday I realized that I’d never explicitly answered. Um. Or finished a thought I suppose I should say on toxic crit because I do get asked that a lot when I’m mentoring or doing author coaching and it it’s hard to know when critique is. Harsh versus when it’s toxic. So and and the answer is probably not a perfect one because the answer is is that you just have to know you have to sense it and I will explain so.

The thing to keep in mind is that when people give critiques they are not always um, they don’t always have your best interests at heart. Ah, people are jealous. People are competitive. People also have lots of their own shit going on in their heads that lead them to ah vent that shit in um, ways that are not great for you. Some people don’t have that going on but you don’t really know. So with a critique. Ah the rule of thumb but still applies for this that you give it 24 hours or 48 hours or a week ah to to sit and to let your own emotions attach detach. From the thing once your emotions have detached then you can come back and look at it and you can see are these my feelings or are they coming from somewhere else because you are always always always going to have feelings. Nope I’m gonna sneeze hold on. You’re always going to have your own feelings. About critique and that’s just that’s way it goes. It’s natural. Um, we all secretly hope that somebody will tell us that what we’ve written is perfect and transcendent and if you’ve asked someone to give critique. They’re always going to find something to tell you about it.

And sometimes it’s painful to hear and that’s just natural. That’s part of the process. But sometimes what they are telling you is not well meant they don’t have your best interests at heart. Um, their own poison has come out. And leaked onto the page or into their words and and it is quite literally toxic to your creativity. So that’s the thing to keep in mind um, give that waiting time and then if. After the waiting time you still feel. Ah, okay, so now I’m paying attention to these alerts that are popping up and it’s telling me it’s having problems saving the local backup which is new and irritating. And it’s entirely possible I’ll lose this podcast too. We um 1 thing about this though is once I stop it I cannot come back and um restart it. So I’m just gonna keep talking and. We’ll see what happens so um, okay, so keep in mind that as a creative and we know that you’re creative or you would not be listening to this particular podcast I know a lot of readers listen to this too for insights into the process. But.

If You’re a writer if you’re a creative you are you have intuition you have emotions and feelings. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to write the things you write. So You have to learn to trust those feelings and you have to learn to divide out your own feelings. Of you know things like um, chemical imbalances anxiety emotions that are coming from other places like dealing with family drama or things like that from what you are intuiting.

That’s coming from the person giving you the critique. So Not always always easy, but this is part of being a human being right? So we have to find ways to separate our real emotional responses. From those that are coming from other sources. So You know like feeling fear and anxiety about May may not mean that you need to fix a situation. It may mean that you have a chemical imbalance that needs Addressing. Or it may mean that you are anxious about this other situation and it’s bleeding over into this thing right? That’s part of being human so you separate these things you learn to divide it out So That’s part of what the waiting period does is that lets you separate your feelings. Just receiving critique in general from your feelings about that specific Critique. So Then what you do is after that waiting period You know you clear your mind and wait till you’re in a calm space and then you take a look at whatever notes you might have on it. And this is what I did I was in a cri group I’d been unhappy for a number of months I was never thrilled with the critique I was getting but I thought well you know I’m trying to move up to a new level this I’m trying to learn a new thing working with different people.

So I was really giving it the old college Try. So I come back from a particularly disheartening session I’d been working up a new book that I was going to go on submission with with my agent and I’d come away feeling really disheartened. From this crit group Session. So This is another sign. Um, ideally you should come away from crit sessions feeling excited and feeling like you know what? you’re gonna work on that is like oh okay I have insight I have inspiration I have ideas I’m gonna. Go forward with this if you come away feeling crushed. That’s a clue that’s a clue that that something’s gone Wrong. So Then what I did was I let that week go by I looked again at the manuscript. Some people are printed it out and made notes. And I looked at my own notes that I had taken as they were talking and as soon as I looked at the notes particularly from a certain person I just felt bad I felt that toxicity again. So That’s how I knew and I took those pages and I. Burned them which made me feel much better and sometimes that’s what you need to do as it seems dramatic but you have to clear that shit out of your life and out of your creative process. Ah, and I also burned my own notes on it and separated myself you know and then I went on.

To sell that particular book in a 3 book deal. So you know I feel like I I trusted my own intuition and I trusted what I was trying to do so That’s that that’s how you know if crit is toxic. Um. And in the end it comes down to if you feel like it’s toxic if you feel like it’s not benefiting you then that is the truth. Um, the only way that this can turn out badly if you don’t take people’s crit is you run the risk of of not becoming better. You run the risk of becoming someone like and this usually happens to very advanced authors who begin to believe that they are the best thing ever. You know like um, you know seeing an interview with Anne Rice once where she you know said well believe me, no one edits me and she was hugely successful I mean she was making tons of money. But arguably her books needed to be edited at that point in time and you know maybe she didn’t feel that way I mean obviously she didn’t feel that way. Maybe she was happy with the level of success that she had you know who am I to say she should have had those books edited. That’s that’s the only risk you run. You know, otherwise it’s if you decide that you’re not going to take critique from someone. You don’t have to trust yourself, it’s it’s your book. It’s your creative process. The other caveat I would throw in there is people who.

Ah self-published books that aren’t ready to be self-published. Um, you know if you don’t listen to the feedback you’re getting you run the risk of putting out a book. That’s not ready, but you have to sort those things out for yourself. Um. You are the one who will care most about your work always always ever. So another point that someone made and I’ve forgotten your name so apologies. But someone commented that it makes a big difference if it’s drafting versus revision and this is absolutely true. And one of the things that prompted yesterday’s podcast S.L. Huang’s essay on Tor dot com about writing workshops particularly science fiction and fantasy writing workshops. A lot of times what they’re doing is they are working at a drafting level and bringing those ideas to the group and workshopping them and yes critique at that level is very very different than if you are doing critique of a fully. Complete work that you are now at the revising process for some people that pressure of the critique workshop works really well yesterday I referenced Mary Robinette Kowal.

I happen to know that her process is very much crowdsourced. She works with a group of people who read as she writes and she retools as she goes. Um Andy Weir wrote the martian that way too. Some people love that collaborative process. And Mary Robinette comes out of a theater background and so she’s very used to a collaborative process and that really works well for her. Ah and she had commented that you’ll like after. Ah, Clarion I don’t know if it was clarion. But after a workshop like that that she had not written for a couple of years and it was because she was absorbing um to me that’s I don’t know I think that’s a sign that your creative process got a little crushed but you know I can’t speak to. You know she’s very happy with her results and she’s doing well so you know own your process right? It’s different for everyone. The thing is for many of us including yours truly the drafting process is a very fragile place to be and it is easily damaged. So if you are doing a workshop like clarion or Taos toolbox or something else where you are drafting and you are involving people in the process very early on debt can be can be difficult and note that.

With that kind of intensive workshopping. You are also not getting that 24 hours 48 hours one week of buffer to come back and evaluate instead you’re coming back day after day after day and getting crit from those same people. So the toxicity can build up. Um, and. So my favorite analogy for this which is content warning here I call it shaken baby syndrome. So if you don’t want to go with that analogy if that’s upsetting for you tap out now. But I find it a really useful metaphor because. When you have a new draft when you have a new story. It is like an infant. It’s um, brand new to the world. It is fragile. It’s also very easy to love your new baby.

And it’s It’s a wonderful stage of the process because you have this infant you can hold all of it in your Arms. You can hold it close and cradle it and it needs you and and you need it and then there’s this pure. Imperfect love between you and the new Baby. The new baby idea. But the new baby is also helpless. It is not able to feed itself. Its Bones aren’t formed yet. It can’t walk. It can’t grasp things on its own. Um, even it’s It’s a little skull. The bones aren’t hardened yet to protect its tiny Brain. Ah. It’s a vulnerable little baby and it needs lots of nurturing and this is what we do with the new story ideas we cradle it and we hold it and we feed it and we we daydream with it it naps and we nap a little bit with it and it’s.. It’s a very important part of that initial idea ah later as that story grows up and develops legs and is able to go out and like do things on its own. Ah it’s tougher. Right? Your your children grow up so you want to think in terms of who do you trust with your infant baby Idea. So if you take that infant and you hand it to someone who is the equivalent of a college.

Admissions person who job it is to decide whether or not that baby is ready for college and you hand them this little infant they’re going to take that child and they’re gonna hold it up and they’re gonna shake it. You know, but bla. But that’s where shake and baby comes in. Ah I know it’s gross, but it scrambles the idea right? And also they start demanding all sorts of questions right? They they want to know they ask this baby. You know what about this, you know and how do you know about? What do you know about Calculus and you know like what sort of public service have you taught. And of course it’s an infant. It can’t answer. It’s not ready yet and when they hand the idea back to you and they say well this isn’t any good. It’s not ready for college. It’s you know tap talk can’t walk I mean I were dribbled. Ah, it’s not good enough. Well of course it’s not good enough. It’s not ready for college yet. It’s not ready to put through that level of examination and when you get this baby back. It might be irreparably damaged and what you do then? So what you want to do with your infant baby ideas is you want to think in terms of. Who do you trust to hold your baby. Ah, you want someone who loves you and by extension loves your idea you want someone that you can trust to take it and nurture it. You want the fairy godmother for your infant idea right.

You want the fairy godmother who will take it and give it magic who will give it ideas and say ah I think this child will be a genius I think that this child is going to grow up to bring love and light to the world and. Let me give it my blessings let me give it what it needs to grow up. These are the people that you want to share your brand new ideas with and if you don’t do that You run the risk right? so. This is my extended analogy On. Um you know who do you involve in your critique process at what point you know later after your baby has grown up and it’s a teenager and it has become insolent and difficult to deal with that’s when you send it off. For the college admissions interviews and when it comes Back. You’re like okay so you’ve got to go back to summer school or you know you need to improve your ah physical conditioning. Whatever let me let me help you with this so that eventually your child your book Your story. Can graduate from college and go into the world and deal with the slings and arrows arrows of professional life. So on that note coming to try recover what I can of my morning try to get something done before I head down to Bubonicon If you’re going to be there say hello.

And otherwise I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye-bye.

First Cup of Coffee – May 10, 2022

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Ah, delicious.

My mom said that I sounded perky on yesterday’s podcast which I guess I was I think I am still perky. Um I am in the throes of this book was book. Talking with one of my writer friends last night and she said well you’re doing a lot of brain work. A lot of thinking which is true I am which is you know for those of you listened a lot. No is not my favorite way to do it I prefer to um stream from the subconscious and this one I’m thinking thinking taking and yeah, so the revision is going slowly. I am typically when I revise I can get through about 70 pages a day. That’s my average. So sometimes I do a lot more than that and that’s typically with like 3 hour sprints so you know Twenty Ish pages an hour 20 to 30 and on this revision I’ve just slowed down overall. But on all my things I’m doing 28 pages a day. Ah day. So the revision’s taking a long time I still have a hundred and thirty pages to go I know I’m going to cut them cut some cut them won’t cut them full stop I’m gonna have to cut some words. Because as I suspected an argument that Lena and Ryan have later on is almost verbatim an argument that they have earlier on so I’m going to have to reconcile the two. It’s not that they can’t have essentially and and amusingly enough. The argument is about how they always have the same arguments. So I don’t know maybe it’ll stay sometimes I wish I could be like the minimum viable product people I’m always thinking about that when I’m laboring over a book like this. Ah. Because as I mentioned you know these books don’t sell as well as some my other books. The heirs of magic but they still sell well so I shouldn’t let that stop me somebody tweeted me and said that they were really surprised because these were their favorite books of mine and and this is one of the great truths.

Is that the book you’re thinking about writing the book that you’ve already written is somebody’s favorite book I have this one book that was an e-serial to begin with master of the opera modern retelling of phantom of the opera. That it was interesting I don’t think I ended up doing what I originally set out to do and yet I mean it’s a good book. But it’s I don’t know I think it was mispackaged. I I can’t even tell you but anyway almost nobody finds this book or and reads it I get a miniuscule amount I get like I don’t know in royalties I get something like $20 a quarter. But I know at least 1 person who that’s her favorite book of mine and one of her all-time favorite books and she rereads it regularly so and I only know this because she told me right? So just like all the people out there that you don’t know about who reread your book. Over and over and that’s their favorite book. So so that keeps me going on the one side. But then when I know that there are people out there who are just um, basically printing the same book over and over again and I know they do this because they tell me they do this. I think why am I laboring so hard. Why am I worrying so much about Lena and Ryan having the same conversation over and over. But that’s me that’s how I write. That’s what I do.

I’ve been rereading this old favorite series of mine and there are many things I still love about it and I know I’ve been Cagey about saying who it is um and there are reasons. Reasons for that but reasons which I shall not divulge. But I’ve been rereading it with an eye towards what makes it? Why do I love it and it’s very much like um, there was a certain strain of series like these for quite a while that did very very well. And some of the authors continue to do will and Wednesday they have is lots and lots of action. Lots of fighting and there’s this scene this is just where I get hung up I get hung up on. When you have like these incredibly powerful virtually immortal beings and they’re having a hard time fighting zombies because you know like your immortal beings have incredible speed incredible strength and the. Zombies can’t be killed but they can be chopped into pieces and they’re like well the pieces will keep coming in. It’s like yeah, but after a certain point the pieces can’t do much to you and so you know like these people who ah like can move in a blur of speed. They can fly they can like tear limbs off like paper that’s kind of strength they have but they’re like getting nawed to death by these zombies and okay the zombies are fast and I know that this is like a suspension of disbelief thing. But. For some reason and this is like my particular thing right? I can’t get past the disbelief. It’s like well how come if you’ve got all of these people who can move at super speed. Why don’t you just like. All of them go move it super speed through the zombies and just like rip them apart because like all you have to do is like go through and rip their legs off first so they can’t keep coming and then go back and chop them up into little pieces and who cares if they keep coming and coming and you could do that for a long time right.

This is why I don’t write zombie scenes I know I did kind of undid type creatures in uncharted realms in the final few books, the dare war and I did that entirely for assistant Karine who loves zombies. And they were not even real zombies. So I guess I didn’t do a great job with that either. Ah yeah, sometimes I wish that I could be a writer who thinks less about stuff and that sounds kind of arrogant and awful doesn’t it. But. Now I just get too caught up in wanting to in getting these meticulous details right? 1 of my new ideas and thank you all for saying that it’s perfectly cool that I have many new ideas I appreciate that one of the new ideas I’m toyed with. I’m hoping will be more action. Packed. It’s got an action packed premise. So maybe I can pull that off in that one. Although I did think that errors of magic would be more action packed and I just. Um, who knows who knows what my problem is I I like people having interesting conversations. Ah now. So um, we watched finally the. Final episode of Julia season one last night and it was very interesting to see how they structured that episode for those of you trying to figure out how to write a book that could be either standalone. Or a series right? We always say standalone with series potential is the that is the catch phrase if you’re out there trying to submit a book to traad publishing. Um, that’s how you say standalone book with series potential if you’re trying to figure out how to do that. Watch the 8 episodes of Julia and pay attention to what they did in that final episode because you could really see how they were structuring it to go either direction that either it would be a sweet wrap up. That’s all she wrote or. Extended to season 2 and so there’s from about you can see them laying the groundwork in the first half of the episode but then for the second half of the episode on you could see how all of the scenes could have gone either direction that either it’s gonna be.

Another season of Julia which it is hooray or not and I don’t I’m not a screenwriter I don’t know maybe they wrote them and didn’t film them but I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t filmed both sets. Ah, films going each direction because all of the characters. It’s it’s a branch like and so they could either go this way or that way and and it was really well done. It’s fascinating how they tied it up and I enjoyed it very much a delightful delightful show. This is just going to be our adjective. Thank you Laura Darno and we also finished off winning time. The story of the liquors I thought that tied up nicely that one had a very obvious ending because it was the story of. That first season of the lakequor. So it ends with them spoiler alert winning the championship if it’s history. Can there be a spoiler. It’s like the people who go to see titanic and were upset that the boat saying if people died that was also spoiler. So yeah I thought um I liked how winning time ended up that one does not have such an obvious I haven’t looked to see if they’ve got a second season for that one but it doesn’t seem to be as clearly moving on to the next thing. But again that one had a much more natural here’s the story of how the l a wake Lakers went from being a shit team to winning the championship boom done your your plot structures there.

Yeah, so for this new series which I am mulling using my skalsy method. It has um, a very high paced premise.

I’m actually basing it off of a movie an old movie that is very fast paced and only it would be like a fantasy version of that. It’s such a great idea you guys. It’s such a cool idea but I will not be writing it just yet. Soon once I finish out storm princess on the Raven King and I have got let’s see I was going I hadn’t finished reporting in on that. So I have got almost 74000 words on this book. And as I mentioned the other day I might have screwed myself that instead of having 20000 words to go to finish this out because I was aiming for 95. It’s really looking like it’s gonna be more like 102 from where. Beats are falling out. Unfortunately yeah, so that means I’ve got almost 30000 words to go can she finish it. We shall see this book is gonna have four epilogues. So. For those of you who love this series. You could probably guess what I’m gonna do for epilogues I’m tempted to just go ahead and write to maybe I’ll go ahead and write those. Um, if I get stuck. But I think I can get this done I think I can. I should go through and look at my podcast episodes for like the 3 to 4 weeks before I release a book and I bet I say these same things over and over again I always get to that I think I can point how well. Learn what your process is a Nona right? That’s what we’re trying to do here I was thinking about something I wanted to tell you guys and I had a great segue to it as I was like. Getting ready this morning I was thinking about it and I was thinking oh and then that would be a really good segue into this other thing and now all I could think of is the other thing and not how I was going to segue to it from the writing stuff. And I’m probably not gonna be able to think about it. But I so I’ll just go straight to it. Ah no segue. No nice transition if we were editing. We would go back and add the transition but no transition for you.

I was thinking about the things we say to each other and how a lot of times people are very careless in how they talk to each other ah without meaning to it’s oh I know what? damn it. Now if we were doing postproduction I would go back and do this neat little segue. Oh well, here’s your transition because last week I was talking about my author friend who was upset that a reviewer had said that it was not her best effort because she’s like you could say anything about my book. But I always put in my best effort. Ah, she is also not a minimum viable product kind of gal and those people you could maybe safe. Not unless you want to say that they’re putting their best effort into creating a minimum viable product. So I was thinking about that some and thinking that probably the reviewer didn’t mean it necessarily the way it was received. Because it’s one of those catch phrases almost like a cliche phrase. That’s just um, you know it’s not easy to wrote viewbooks. It’s not easy to explain why you liked or did not like a story and sometimes it’s just because. That was not your favorite story but you you know that’s a short review right? So I think people sort of reach for and that’s what makes things cliches is their crutches. They’re these phrases that we sort of have. Laid into our brains like a tape recording that we trot out when it’s the easiest thing to grab and it’s 1 reason why people tend to be awkward in talking to each other about important things. Um, because sometimes words are inadequate. Sometimes it’s just hard to think of what to say hummingbird see if we can get her in there. Nope she’s. Took off again.

Or is she up there. She might be up there drinking a well ah you know so call, you’ve read that before in other places and you think oh well, you know it’s not her best effort and. That’s just in place of digging deep and coming up with more stuff to say that’s why cliches are bad in writing because they are these crutches to get us from place to place and they don’t most of the time don’t say anything meaningful. And so it’s in some ways I think it I mean it was upsetting to my friend but which I totally understand. But I think also the reviewer didn’t mean it how it sounded she meant it’s not my favorite effort in many ways and I think we. Say these things to each other not intending it to come across the way it does. We’re just hurrying through things and you know my husband was talking about this yesterday because he has parkinson’s disease and something that he says. Fairly regularly is yo. He’ll be upset by something that somebody says to him like oh well, you know we should do this thing. Let’s you know, but let’s work on this and do this thing and and he’ll say it’s like they don’t understand that I’m sick and how can people not understand that I’m sick. And I can’t do these things and and and it’s hard for me to to find the words to be comforting to him but that was what I was saying I said you know I think that you know like this most recent person who said something to him. About doing something that David just simply doesn’t feel like it can do you know I said he wasn’t thinking about it. He was thinking about all the other stuff that he has to go get done and that was just one of those tape recorded phrases. This is something I learned a long time ago with like high school reunions. Um, the first few like the 5 year and the 10 year my friends would all say the exact same thing they would say oh this has been so great. We should get together more often and they would all exchange contact information and say let’s get together more often. And they did this at like the 5 10 n and the 15 year reunion and finally I started to clue into the fact because nobody ever got in touch with anybody that this was just a way of saying goodbye of being you know, expressing affection and so forth, but it they were empty words.

And I think we use empty words with each other a lot and it’s it’s easy to do particularly if you’re conducting an internal monologue. You know like if you’re thinking about your work project or your book that you’re trying to finish or you know worrying about. Something else that you don’t always monitor the words that come out of your mouth and when that happens those tape recording parts of our brains. You know, just sort of insert comforting phrase here and we’re like oh yeah, we should get together sometime not meaning it at all and on that note. You know you guys. We should totally get together sometime and I will talk to you all on Thursday bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – March 15, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Oh that’s so good. Today is Tuesday March fifteenth if you’re on video you will see that I actually have a latte if you’re on audio only you probably heard how much happy I have that made no sense. How happy I am to have my latte I am um, doing things slightly out of bounce today because I am in my health marathon finally getting all of these things handled like a responsible adult. Ah, usually don’t go in for the adulting thing but this feels very much adulting. So um I get to have a colonoscopy tomorrow afternoon a girl never forgets her first colonoscopy. um yeah it’s um I don’t know if it’s even a funny story but I feel like it’s a funny story I may tell you guys this story? Um, but it’s not writing related but the the short the tl tl deal. Tiol didn’t listen. Is that I um have to do the fasting for the colonoscopy these rituals of getting older. It’s just one of those you know you’re supposed to do it when you hit a certain age and. So I can’t eat anything solid after 10 a m today and my appointment’s not till three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. So I figured id better go ahead and have my breakfast if I were doing my sixteen eight fasting thing I wouldn’t get to eat till like noon. So I figured well. Last solid food for more than 24 hours I’ll take advantage so I figured that means I get to have my latte small reward make you sure I didn’t smear my lip pencil. There. So.

So I’ll I’ll tell you this this story because I think it’s funny so I’m seeing this new general practitioner he had ordered you know all these things I had to do mammogram bone density colonoscopy you know, joy joy and. Yeah they’d said the physician’s assistant when she gave me in New Mexico we get doctor’s orders you have to have like an order from a gp to go see a specialist. Maybe they do that everywhere did we did not have to do it in Wyoming so it was a real adjustment when we came here that was like you have to have a doctor’s order to do anything. So when she handed me the order she had said um I guess they’re not very good about getting back to people so just keep calling I was like oh okay so I call get their voicemail and I’m you know ready to leave a message and. Their voicemail is incredibly long. You know and they say leave a message with your you know referring physician and your name and your date of birth and the reason for the procedure. It’s like gestural enterology associates and. And they said do not leave more than 1 voicemail only leave one voicemail and we will call you back in within five business days I was like wow five business days okay so I leave the message with all of the information as instructed. And Mark it on my calendar for like five business days later and I even went business days took out the weekend and any relevant holidays to tag back reader. They did not call me back. So I even gave them a couple extra days I think because I didn’t feel like. Calling you know how that is right? and it’s like oh I do and can’t make phone calls today. So then I called them back and I get the same message. So I say I left a previous message. No I’m not supposed to but nobody called me back in the five business days and I noticed they also had something on there when they said or you can stop by our offices at reader. They did not call me back so I was like okay yesterday afternoon I had to go in for my fiscal and I thought since I’m going to be in that kind of general neighborhood. It’s not a big town I live outside of town but it’s still only like fifteen twenty minutes but you know I treat it like I’m going on an arctic expedition once a year coil are out there this morning. So.

I Go to the doctor and actually everything’s great. My blood work is great. Everything is wonderful. Much much Physician Love which surprised me because I thought I was I don’t know.

That’s actually another story off to decide if I’m going to tell you guys that so he says you know any trouble with any of the other tests and I said well I said to gastroenterology people. I left them a couple of voicemails and they’ve never gotten back to me and and he’s kind of a serious gentle guy and I could see behind him the I don’t know what to aid I’m not sure I don’t know if she was a p a or what but she said she was very sweet but she was in there because I had to have a. You know pelvic of the examined papin stuff so she was she was like I’ll be your chaperone today. But so I could see her behind him when she kind of closes her eyes and shakes her head a little bit and I I just know that this is a thing right? They’re just never calling anybody back ever and he’s like oh. Yeah, he says you know they’ve had trouble since the pandemic and I’m thinking this is not pandemic. This is like something else and he says but you can’t stop by in person and I thought and I said actually that’s what I’ve planning to do today I had my order in the car and I’m just going to stop by there. So. So I do I stop by there and step in the door and there’s a sort of a receptionist and there’s 1 guy gal talking the receptionist and she says um, hi ma’am do you have an appointment and I said ah. No, and she said are you here to schedule an appointment and I said yes and she said okay, sit here behind the divider and you know so like our mask mandate is lifted this place acts like we are you know, major height of pandemic thing. They sta the dividers up they have the. Caution tape across the every other chair. It’s not that I’m against it. But it’s sort of like everybody every other place has opened up a lot more. You know like the the doctor’s office I was just in doesn’t have the social distancing on the chairs anymore you have to. There’s a little screaming machine that you have to like verify that you don’t have covid and haven’t been around anywhere from that covid and you put a sticker you know, verifying that your visitor for the day but you know and they have some of the dividers but this place is like crazy right? so. So I go and sit behind the divider in my chair next to the caution shape take chair and displaces like tomb. You guys. It’s empty and and they have big signs like on the outside too saying procedures are not done here and I’m like what do they do in this office. So the receptionist this other gal comes out.

And she said do you need to schedule an appointment and I said yes and she said I can help you with that so she takes me back so we sort of wents through this cubicle farm which is empty. She’s sitting at her desk and there’s a gallot another desk and I can’t there’s like There’s not phones ringing because clearly it’s all going straight to boysmail ah guys I I don’t know what anybody in this office is doing right? I mean this might be a cream puffed job if you need a job in Santa Fe where you don’t actually have to do any work. This is the job. So but so she like gets in the computer and she gets my information and she said how soon do you want to do this procedure and part of their voicemail message has this whole thing about if this is an emergency procedure ordered by your doctor. Have your doctor call directly and all this kind of thing and I said well whenever you know I don’t really care and she said well she said we could get you in this week I have openings on Wednesday Thursday and Friday afternoons this is when I stare into the camera. They have openings Wednesday Thursday and Friday afternoon I was like okay and she offers me like 6 different times 6 different openings now it’s occurred to me now that I’ve read the instructions and it’s like no eating after 10 a m today for my 3 Pm appointment tomorrow I can have clear liquids broths that sort of thing nothing purple or blue and you know you have to do the purging and all of that I was like well I’m sure most people don’t want to do those appointments in the afternoon because you know people want do it in the morning so they can eat but still I mean. It’s not like they’re so slam jam packed that they can’t be scheduling people right when David had his ah difficulties stomach stuff before Christmas. Had suggested that we also go to the gastroenterology people. So I I kind of left out that bit of backstory that I had heard this voicemail was before and they had never called back and David decided he didn’t need it so you know we didn’t pursue but ah so I was like well let’s do it Wednesday afternoon because this is a. Ah, much more relaxed week for me might as well get it done with I just I just can’t even but ah so um, you guys aren’t here to hear here to hear about my um.

Antics with the medical establishment. Um, yes, so yesterday I did get my 2000 words it felt it felt really good to only go for 2000 words it felt incredibly relaxed. I did have it my head that I needed to get to this doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. Um, which is a really funny thing and I’ve I’ve talked to a lot of people about this who have you know we’re we’re very lucky and blessed and privileged to have these. Kind of unscheduled lives where we work from home where we work for ourselves where we don’t have a really structured schedule and some people do fine with a really structured schedule. Other people do not and you I think that’s part of. Knowing what your process is and owning it I I think you have to know what kind of worker you are some people simply simply do not self direct and that’s it’s not a. Negative I mean I think it’s so tempting to think of this stuff as a negative but it’s it’s just what it is. It’s like if you have brown hair or you know, maybe you can learn to color your hair but maybe you just have brown hair. You know, maybe your hair is so dark that it doesn’t bleach out when I got my mammogram back to medical stuff the hispanic gal or the nurse was an hispanic gal and she really liked my hair color and she was and she said i. She said I don’t want to be offensive but can I ask if it’s natural and I said oh no honey was my stylist. Thank you and she said my hair doesn’t bleach out light enough for me to get that color you know and it’s hard when you have that really really naturally dark hair. Although it’s you know I I colored my hair black for a long time and I really wanted that. Glossy, rich, black like the hispanic ladies have but it sometimes you just have to take the cards you’re dealt. You have to take what you’re born with and you learn to work around it I spent a long time in my day job. Being kind of mental management for a team of people who worked across the country all working out of their homes I’ve been working out of my home for a long time even when I had the day job I started an office and then they closed that office and moved me home.

And 1 of the great take-home lessons of this was that some people do great working from home and other people do not there was this one guy who had been in the military. He’d been in a couple of branches in the military. Very sharp. Um, really. A great dynamic worker in many ways except that you he could not deal with working from home. He would slack off and we found out much later like he would log on to our company chat and then. So it would appear he was there and then he would go take a nap and then he would come and if you messaged him and he didn’t answer. He’d come back and say oh you know I was not I wasn’t looking at the chat I didn’t have you know I’ve had my head down in this document he got shit done working from home. Um, he was great when he was with a group of people. He could not make him sit down and work. You know I found out later that he was like going out and having long lunches with people. He was just like fucking around all day but that was his kind of personality. He did really well in. A more military situation which is incredibly structured where someone is telling you what to do all the time and there are many many people like this who if you want to you know if you do better in an office environment. A lot of people prefer going to an office and being there and. Now we’re all working I think some of it has to do with you know, like how gregarious of a person you are if you’re an extrovert versus an introvert I think one of the reason that so many writers and other creatives are introverts is because. We don’t need to be around people if you want to be particularly a writer I think but probably other kinds of creatives too. You spend a lot of time by yourself in your own head and introverts are happy with that. Extroverts are miserable but you can also be an introvert and still need structure. So if you are finding that and this is something that lots of writers talk about you know, even if they have the time to write. Ah, somehow they just never quite. Do you know? There’s always something else. There’s a lot of procrastinating dread and procrastination. Ah, there’s there’s just a difficulty in creating that structure. So yeah.

If you are struggling with that and I know many many people who do then you have to find a way to create that structure. You might need somebody else to tell you to do it. That’s 1 reason why Darynda and I meet on Zoom and work together. Because she really needs that I have to meet jeffie at Nine o’clock and so I can’t screw around I have to get there and I need to be there and be ready to work. It’s just something she knows about herself and she’s willing to admit about herself. So you know again, it’s not a good bad thing. It’s knowing which things in yourself. Um are not optimal for producing what you want to produce and finding ways to correct for that.

so um so yeah it did make a difference for oh that’s where I started on all this was that 1 thing that we’ve noticed for those of us who have these kind of unstructured lives where we don’t have fixed schedules. Is if we have something in the afternoon and these days I almost always have some kind of appointment in the afternoon usually an online meeting but leaving the house is worse that it creates a sense of pressure. It creates this deadline I need to get my stuff done by then even if I’m normally done by them. You know because I always tell people. I’m available after like two o’clock mountain time which gives me plenty of room to get things done theoretically. But I’m also fighting with the clock right now because of daylight savings time. So I’m a little better today. It’s um, it’s just 8 53 right now. So. I’m ah I’m working it backwards. So hopefully I’ll get um, a little bit earlier. But yeah yesterday duinda and I didn’t start writing until like nine forty five which is latish but I did get the 2000 words it felt good. It felt more relaxed. I mean do that this whole week and then reevaluate so we shall see so on that note I am going to get this uploaded and get to work I hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.