The cat goes on little fog feet

The indoor cat who has had a (brief, unsanctioned) taste of outdoor life spends a day scratching at screens and voicing his discontent beside doors through which he cannot pass, and then, with a sigh as evening falls, returns to the world of food dish and water bowl.

We shall have to watch the doors carefully a while longer, though. Especially that one, which did open for him, just once, when the slightest crack appeared to let a paw through.

Meanwhile … (more email culling)

The first half or so of my backlogged emails took all of an hour to delete, mostly a matter of determining I could have deleted them ages ago and doing so. I suspect the lesson here is to get better at deleting email when it arrives.

I expect the next quarter of them to take more work, because they require writing actual responses.

The last quarter take the longest, though, because those will be the ones that require me to actually do something, or finish something. I fear finding out how many of last quarter have been in my inbox since the last time I cleaned out my inbox.

Onwards!

What strategies do you all use to keep on top of your email?

Honoring your practice, honoring your process

When I first began practicing yoga, I remember wanting to succeed at doing as many poses as possible, in as advanced a form as possible. In a sense, I was more concerned with quantity of my skill than its depth or the smaller details: since I was starting from the point of knowing nothing, I wanted to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could.

As I kept practicing, though. I actually found myself doing less, rather than more. Say, bending my back less in cobra pose, or not straining to make my heels touch the floor in downward-facing dog, or not worrying about whether my butt touched my heels in child’s pose. My focus shifted from quantity to process and depth and purpose, to why I was in a given pose, where I was going in it, how I felt in it, where my focus was while I was in it, to all sorts of things I just hadn’t even really known how to think about when I started, or that when I did think about them, had only felt like they were slowing me down, in earlier days.

I’ve gone through something of a similar process as a writer. Early on, I wanted desperately just to learn the basics of craft, and then just a little later, my focus shifted to wanting to be as fast as I could. I signed a work-for-hire project with a tight deadline in part to learn how to write faster, because back then, writing faster meant actually finishing stories, something I was also struggling with. I was a little baffled by more experienced writers who wrote more slowly than me, because they were supposed to be better than me at this, and because wasn’t a professional simply someone who wrote as much as she needed to, when she needed to?

Hah! Like it or not, I simply can’t write as fast now as I did 15 years ago. But while I have my moments when I angst over that, I’m not actually sure it’s a bad thing, because I also believe I’m writing better books than I did 15 years ago.

And regardless, processes shift, and worrying about what those around you are doing–or even what you did, last week or last year–will only make a writer crazy, as I know too well. One other thing I’ve learned in yoga is that it’s not only counterproductive to focus on what those around you are doing, but also untrue to one’s practice and one’s self. In yoga, I’ve learned to work to and then a little bit past my own edge–to honor and respect my own practice–rather than getting tied up in knots over what others are doing, or, really, getting attached to any particular result when I go into a class.

This is, of course, harder than it sounds.

I’m still working on it.

The glamorous life of a writer

Today, in the lull between the third draft and the fourth, is dedicated to catching up on email.

By a rough count, I have about 200 messages in my inbox. That’s actually not bad, as these things go.

Still, I think email messages really must take advantage of my elsewhere-focus near the end of a draft, and breed and multiply when I’m not looking.

Later, I may even do laundry.

For the next week, watching bird and cat videos really _is_ research

As are any number of other things.

Finished the third draft of the still-untitled raven book Friday, right around lunchtime. The ending needs work (the final chapter is entirely new), the usual various things need to be threaded through more thoroughly, the descriptive details and vividness of the second half need their also-usual work, I have several dozen different “research this” notes to address, and at least one central thing that made no sense in the last draft now makes some sense but still needs to make real sense, but …

… all in all, the book is in pretty good shape for a third draft.

I have some hopes of coming close to wrapping it up next draft.

Interesting to look back at other books and how they vary my five draft process. For Faerie Winter the early drafts were particularly rough, and as late as the third draft I was still working out who belonged in the story, combining and swapping out characters. Faerie After had a closer first/exploratory draft (at least it had the same concerns and same setting as the final one), yet fought me through the fifth draft and into the sixth for the details of just what was happening and just what our protagonist needed to do about it.

Anyway, the first and hardest between-drafts step is to take a few days off to gain some perspective before charging on. Because right now I want to charge on (I always do), but the next draft will go better if I don’t let myself do that quite yet.

Where I’ll be the next few months: Arizona, Oregon, Nevada

Thursday, August 16, 2012, 7 p.m.
Young at Heart Bookclub
Bookman’s Mesa
1056 S. Country Club Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85210

Thursday-Sunday, October 11-14
Sirens Conference
Skamania Lodge
Stevenson, WA (near Portland, OR)

Sunday, October 14, 2 p.m.
Powells YA Fantasy Signing
with Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo, Mette Ivie Harrison, Janni Lee Simner, Sarah Rees Brennan
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR 97005

Friday, November 16, 2:30 p.m.
Fae-Tal Attraction: The Timeless, International Appeal of Faerie Folk in YA Literature
panel with R.J. Anderson, Aprilynne Pike, Janette Rallison, and Janni Lee Simner
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Convention
Las Vegas, NV

“We move to grow and learn to know / what the world was always supposed to hear”

“[We] don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.

“Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.”

–Olympic Weightlifter Zoe Smith

Two other strong women at the Olympics this year:

Holley Mangold
Sarah Robles
(who, since this article was written, has indeed gotten a sponsorship)

Makes one want to take up weightlifting, it does.

“Cause I don’t wanna waste another moment / in saying things we never meant to say”

Dear Final Scene,

This should be easy. There’s nothing new to set up. All you need to do is bring this thing home. You know that, right?

So why, exactly, are you digging in your heels like a child throwing a tantrum and insisting on making every last paragraph feel like work?

It’s not like you’re a young chapter. You’re living out here beyond the climactic scenes, with the experience of an entire book behind you. You’ve been around the block a few times. You know what you’re doing.

With just a little cooperation we could wrap this thing up and both get some sleep.

What do you say?

Me

Come chat!

ETA: Correction: This chat is at 9 EDT/6 PDT! Coulda sworn I double-checked, but there it is.

I’ll be joining a whole bunch of other writers for Eve Fan Garden’s annual summer author chat at 9 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. PDT (also 6 p.m. Arizona time) today. Participants include Holly Cupala, Elizabeth Eulberg, Jennifer R. Hubbard, Nina Malkin, Elana Johnson, Eileen Cook, Joelle Anthony, Lisa Magnum, Torrey Maldonado, Darby Karchut, Tom Leveen, Carol Tanzman, Kendare Blake, Jeyn Roberts, Sarah Darer Littman, and others.

If you’re online this evening, come join us!

“And though the darkness may come our way / We won’t be afraid to be alive anymore”

Patty Griffin’s No Bad News is on the playlist for one of the mixes that’s been getting high play for this book–though not on the specifically book-themed mix–and it’s become my latest go-to feel-good songs. (lnhammer has, of course, rightly been telling me I need to pay more attention to this song for some years now.)

You can’t have my fear
I’ve got nothing to lose
can’t have my fear
I’m not getting out of here alive anyway