Summer Darwinism

Yesterday, I cleaned off my desk. I don’t think I’ve seen the surface of it since about mid-June, and it took some time to shovel off the build-up. It has been an absolutely insane summer so far. I knew it was going to be a challenge to get writing done regularly with Bee-Bug around the house full-time again, but it has been so. much. harder. And Bee-Bug’s presence is the least of the distractions!

In mid-June, we housesat close-by for some friends of ours for two weeks. It was lovely, because they live right on the lake, and we were able to just kick back and enjoy the view and the kayak and just chill. I managed to keep up a little on the writing during that time, but it was sporadic and I was hitting that 20/30k wall on the novel HARD. Then about halfway through that stay, I realized with certainty that the draft I was laboring on just *wasn’t* going to be able to carry the story the way I’d envisioned. I’d managed–through some decent plotting–to completely eliminate the soul of the story I wanted to tell, which left everything puppet-like and lifeless, despite better world-building and better “theory” of the characters. Discouraged, I had to sit back and regroup. I reread a few chapters of the original draft, and liked that SO much better, that I decided what I needed to really do was take all the world-building and all the plot-fixing and see if I could install it into the first version, saving the heart of the story, while fixing its underlying issues.

About this time, I was also mid-first trimester pregnant with #2 (Codename: Goldbug, for Bee-Bug’s pal in Richard Scarry’s Cars, Trucks, and Things That Go), and working through some possibly pregnancy-hormone-induced depression as well (wee! It could also have been just that usual period of the beginning of summer where such spells tend to hit me anyway, and add crazy pregnancy hormones to that, too, and whoa mama…). Needless to say, I was nauseous (difficult to write scenes about someone being chronically ill when you ALSO feel like horking on the carpet), and exhausted, and completely emotionally wiped-out. I was also planning Bee-Bug’s b-day party at the time, so I was DONE.

I realized I needed to take a break. I wasn’t getting any writing done, and even writing a hundred words a day was sometimes just too daunting. So I cut myself the slack I needed, recognized the symptoms I’ve often tried to ignore in the past, and picked up a few extra counseling sessions, which got me through the worst of it, thank G-d. I did NOT want a repeat of the end of last summer, which was what finally drove me to get counseling in the first place.

That started resolving by the end of June, and then we spent about two weeks up in NH with my folks while my sister and brother-in-law and nephew visited, which was great (though again, no writing). We attended my cousin’s wedding, and went all over NH (Note: Polar Caves is FANTASTIC if you’re not scared of narrow spaces. I managed to get through about four of the nine caves, but pregnancy thickens up your abdomen really fast, which made it a bit too “I’m going to pull a muscle” for some of the twisting manouvers, so I left “The Lemon Squeezer” and “Orange Crush” to Bee-Bug and his more physically able aunt and uncle and cousin!). I managed during this time to at least print the first draft out and put it in some presentation folders so I could at least carry it around like I meant to get to it. I do think I actually managed to knock out a chapter or two re-read, adding notes in delicious red ink.

After my sister and her fam left on Friday, we came home Saturday afternoon, only to realized that my mother-in-law was coming to stay with us for a week on MONDAY not on WEDNESDAY like I’d somehow gotten into my head, so the rest of the weekend was a rush to get the house in some semblance of order, and no writing got done. My mother-in-law is a pretty easy guest, but I was so exhausted from all the socializing and activity from the past five weeks, I was probably running on socialization fumes by this point. I picked through a couple chapters, made more notes, felt a little better about how the fixed plot might actually slip into the old draft rather smoothly, and that was about it. Got a lovely personal rejection from Analog the other day which just about made me shriek with delight (I’ve never gotten a personal rejection from them before), and then just today I got a less than 24hr rejection for the same story from Asimov’s, so…yay writing life. XD

We’re going to be visiting my sister in California later this summer, actually, as it suddenly became clear with the arrival of Goldbug that we WON’T be going out to visit again for a while, and Ry’s been dying to do Disneyland and Legoland, and for once we actually have some expendable funds available to do something like that. SO THAT’LL BE FUN. It will be good, actually, because we’ve been meaning to for ages. The last time I went out was for my sister’s wedding five years ago, so it’s WELL past time. But again: major time loss on writing work.

I’m starting to accept that this is just the Summer of No (or Very Little) Writing. It wasn’t how I’d planned it, and it wasn’t what I’d hoped for (I’d assumed I could write in the evenings like I did for Draft #1, but with Goldbug, I’ve been so flipping exhausted by the time I put Bee-Bug to bed that my brain just doesn’t work at all). But I’ll have a couple weeks in August to tackle the read-through and make the rest of the notes and hopefully at least a preliminary rewrite plan for September. The nice thing about going back to Draft #1 is that there are a lot of scenes I can essentially keep for now, so it’s not a total “from scratch” job. (I think I have a problem reviewing first drafts and thinking: EVERYTHING MUST GO! It’s something I’m going to have to review and see if I can somehow short-circuit that tendency…) Bee-Bug will be in full-day school this year, so I’ll have a bigger chunk of time to myself to work than I’ve had since I was pregnant with Bee-Bug, and Goldbug isn’t due ’til after Christmas, so hopefully–barring enormous amounts of school sick days–I might actually be able to get Draft 3 done. I’d LIKE to say I’ll also wrap up a couple other short stories I have waiting for revision and submission, and I’d LIKE to say I’ll make some time to bang out a few new story drafts just for fun, but I know I tend to way over-estimate how much I’ll accomplish in a work-period, so for now, I’m just shooting for a completed Draft 3 (…and maybe one story polished and out…) If I can get more than that tackled, so much the better, but a completed Draft 3 is good enough.

But that’s what’s up with the radio silence for the past several weeks! I’m finally getting back into reading more, too, so I may try to do a Polyreader post here in August sometime if I’m really on my game. And who knows, if things go smoothly in September/October, maybe I’ll even jump into NANO again this year. I’ve got a few other new drafts kicking around in my head that might be nice to exorcise before pregnancy brain really kicks in (it’s a thing, folks!).

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