Friday Update: Word Counts, Summer Days, and The Sims

Not a bad week, though it was full of stressors in its own right! Thing 1 had his first in-person field day on Wednesday, which meant coordinating drop-off, packing lunches, and making sure he had everything he needed (Crap, where IS his mask?!) for the day. But it went really well, and I didn’t forget anything, and he had a wonderful time hanging out with his remote-only classmates for the first time.

Then it was also me and Andy’s 13th anniversary, which we both nearly forgot, but we’d decided early on to count the new bed as our anniversary gift to each other, so that was easy enough. We ordered take-out Thai which was…okay? Let’s just say we’re still on the look out for a fantastic Thai place.

And today is my bestie FIRST HUG SINCE THE PANDEMIC day! Can’t wait. I’m rocking some comfy hugging clothes, so I should be good to go. XD

Accomplished this week…

Finally managed to have what feels like a productive week. I hit my required word count for the novel thanks to a psychotic 3k day (WHA-?!), and wrapped up the edit on the first 5k I’ll need to submit for my novel writing course in a couple weeks. I also managed a first pass at a short story that I may try to get back out again, so we’ll see how that goes.

Inspiring me this week…

Oh, Sims, how you drag me back in. Okay, partly this is my fault because I happened to look on the Origin’s site and saw that a few of the expansion packs I’ve craved in the past were having a 50% off sale, so how could I not? Also, I haven’t played in weeks, so don’t judge me. XD It always strikes me as interesting how important connecting to a Sim ends up being in wanting to play. Like, you can create a houseful of people who are all moderately interesting, but it really takes that one specific Sim to connect to your heart and make you want to check in on them over and over and over again.

In unrelated media, I just want to give a shout-out to Zootopia, which Thing 2 just discovered this week, and which has become his go-to pre-nap viewing, as it usually holds his attention just enough to knock him out after about 20 minutes. THANK YOU Zootopia! Also,having rewatched it several times this week, I gotta say, it’s just a fantastic movie. That, and Wall-E, holy crap: masterclasses in plot and character development. And SO rewatchable, even after having seen them dozens (literally DOZENS) of times. XD

For next week…

I need to finish up a proofreading project this weekened/early next week, and keep chipping away at the novel (now, thankfully, back to 3k/week). Beyond that, probably just prepping this short story for submission in July, and hopefully not a lot else. School just got out, so I anticipate next week being a bit of a cluster as we all reorient to the new summer schedule. I need a vacation! XD


Friday Update: Bluuuuugh!

Phew, well, started to form a new routine for the summer over here at Chez Slater. Thing 2 has decided AM naps are totally lame and for babies, which he is SO NOT, now that he’s around eighteen months, which means a total schedule shake up. We still haven’t quite settled into the new iteration, but it’s looking like morning walks, as usual, but no nap, and mid-afternoon 2/3-ish naps for a couple hours. But at least he’ll take them on the couch next to me instead of on top of me, so I’ve actually still managed to get some writing done. Woohoo!

Now, I’m just waiting for some out of town friends to arrive, and can I just say how flipping stressed out about this I am? Like, just as of this morning, like WOOSH. Anxiety. I mean, I am 100% looking forward to seeing them, but I did not anticipate the pseudo-post-not-really pandemic stress of meeting up with folks again. *breathes in, breathes out* But it’ll be ok!

Accomplished this week:

Chipped away at the novel and rewrote the opening to better capture what I think I want it to do. Now just doing a clean sweep pass to get it in grammatical shape and cut some unneeded words.

Inspiring me this week:

Been watching entirely too much Married at First Sight on Hulu. Otherwise, just chipping away at the books on my nightstand and playing Minecraft with Thing 1 when the opportunity arises.

For next week:

Looking to keep adding words to the novel and finish polishing the first 5k submission for the class, which is due at the beginning of July.


Poly-Reader Notes: JUNE 2021

It’s been a busy start to June, and I’m just now catching up on my Poly-Reader notes! I started a number of new books last month/beginning of this month, but there are still some trusty standbys still kicking around.


The Power Broker – While I do have the audiobook for this bad boy, I really haven’t been listening to audiobooks before bed these days. I suspect this may just be one I have to chip away at for a while, in various formats, though reading it in print would be easier.

The White Spider – Haven’t chipped much out of this one yet (still in opening chapters). I like the style, but I just haven’t been all that motivated to read it just now. That may change, though, as the weather gets hot and reading about ice on mountains starts sounding fabulous.

How to Write Funnier – Haven’t picked this one up in a while, either, in part because I really wanted to establish the habits recommended in How to Write Funny, but that’s been out of my reach lately. May pick this one up again in a few weeks, when I have time, but I’m not in a rush.

Harriet the Spy – Swapped The City of Lead and Gold for this one after the former just draaaaaaged. The pacing was just too slow for an almost seven year old, so we dumped it for this one. This seems to be much more in his range, and he seems very curious about the story and the sneaking around.

The Dark – Love, love, love this collection so far. I mean, I’m always a sucker for ghost stories, but these are just awesome. Haven’t picked it up recently, because I’ve been plowing through some other things, but looking forward to jumping back into it!

The Luminous Dead – Charging through this one, and am almost halfway done. I suspect this will be one of the ones I finish this month. I’m enjoying it so far, though it’s taken a little while to get itself off the ground. At times it *almost* feels like a short story/novelette that outgrew itself, but I do like the caving. I think the challenge is that the main character is wearing an all-encompassing suit, which dramatically limits descriptive detail of the caves, and therefore can make generating a sense of place difficult. I might have liked it if the author had included more interspersed scenes of the before-times, so we could get to know Gyre a little more in-depth. But it is picking up, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. The spookier the better!

Before and After the Book Deal – Making progress through this one, and its snarky tone is a wonderful balm. It definitely answers a lot of questions about the publishing process that I’m learning I’m quite ignorant about, despite perhaps knowing a bit more about small press and its processes. Hoping this will be a finisher this month, too.

Writing in the Dark – Haven’t picked this up since finishing the last short story, but I need to, because it’s fantastic, and I really want to ingest–I mean, finish–this one. And major congrats to author Tim Waggoner for his Stoker win for this one! I knew it’d win. I’m so smart. XD

Notes from a Small Island – Haven’t picked this up for a few weeks, just haven’t totally clicked with Bryson’s style. It’s fine, and soothing compared to some of what I’ve been reading, but it’s not yet a book that I’m dying to read. So we’ll see how it goes.


Freezing People is (Not) Easy – I forgot to add this one to my current reading list on Goodreads, and forgot to post it yesterday. This is the first of a huge pile of books related to cryonics and lunar colonies I’m reading to gird my loins (ew) for a novella rewrite that may become a novel. So look forward to looking for more cryonics books in the future!

(And I’ve already learned it’s “cryonics” when referring to freezing people, not “cryogenics” which has some slightly different meaning. Curious!)


Friday Update: Official Sales, Doldrums, and Shots

This week has been…abnormal, to say the least, but not the worst. Mostly, it was a combination of things all hitting at the same time that just made planning to be at all productive almost impossible. For one thing, the long weekend meant writing off getting any work done on Monday with all my peeps home. Then Wednesday, I got my second Covid shot, and had figured I’d feel pretty crummy after it (Andy was knocked flat for a day after his; neither of my folks had any negative reactions at all, so I wasn’t sure what to expect), but I actually got 500 words done that day, and only had a few minor periods of shivers and then some significant (but short-lived) body aches the next day that ibuprofen took care of well enough. I’m back to feeling good again today, so that’s a relief.

I only had a little panic yesterday about how I should probably replot the entire second half of the book, but came to my senses when I started to realize that the plot already in place is surprisingly functional, and that changing it dramatically (at least at this point) might make it more complicated than it needs to be. We’ll revisit it on the next rewrite (sob).

Accomplished This Week:

I got back on the horse, novel-writing wise, and chipped away a little over 2500 new words on it. Really, I need to probably focus on writing 1k/day for the next couple weeks to get where I need to be by the end of June, but I’ll worry about that next week. I also need to rewrite the opening sequences to make sure it’s captured some of the things I need it to do/people it needs to introduce before I need to submit it at the start of July. But-! That’s word “to do,” not work done. I got back on the horse. That’s the main thing.

Oooo! And I’ve got the contract, so I can announce that my dark/weird story about the pros and cons of living your best life on social media, “Candyland,” will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of Apex Magazine! Woohoo! Can’t wait to be in Apex’s pages again, and thrilled to have another pro-sale under my belt! ^_^

Eh, it’s been a rough week. I’ve been mainlining Married at First Sight which is bizarrely interesting in terms of personality study and what makes a good relationship. Usually when I start mainlining TV, though, it’s a sign the depressive slip is starting to kick in, so I need to be a little more cognizant of that moving forward.

I did watch an amazing documentary on CuriousityStream (we finally cracked and got a subscription, because Thing 1 and I are suckers for documentaries about volcanos and extreme weather) about fungi, which was incredibly fascinating and made me realize how little I actually know about mushrooms and that whole category of life. Very interesting.

Also got to listen to my own music when I drove in and back from my vaccine appointment on Wednesday, which made me realize how rare it is that I get to listen to that sort of thing anymore. Driving to and from work used to be my major “writing think” time, largely driven by music to suit a mood or a theme or a story, and I miss that a lot. I’ll have to try to find a way to fit that back in.

I also started my research reading about cryonics! I’ve got a novella that needs some love and attention, and I’ve realized that to write it the way I want to, I need to know a lot more about both cryonics itself, but also about the stories that have already been written about cryonics and life on the moon (tip: there are a LOT of books about these things, so I’ve got a STUPID amount of reading to do, but I’m excited about it). I also have a stack of space opera classics I need to chug through, so we’ll see when THAT happens.

Also been enjoying playing Minecraft in Survivor Mode with Thing 1, which often involves a lot of reminding him not to be too bossy about what everybody’s doing at any given time, and also reminding him that if someone’s spent a lot of time building something, and he goes in and changes it a bunch without telling them, it *might* make them annoyed and not want to play. Minecraft life lessons, folks.

For Next Week:

This weekend is a madhouse because it’s Thing 1’s birthday (at long, long, long last–he says), so we’ll be pretty busy. But starting Monday, I’m going to aim for 1k/day for a week, and possibly look at reworking that opening scene. I need to read what I’ve already got, and make some notes about what I need to change about it.


Friday Update: An End to May

And the month of May is just about over! What a whirlwind. I covered a lot of the writing related achievements in my Monthly Goals Review – May 2021 post, but to sum it up: I wrote a lot. Like. A LOT.

I managed to wrap up three short stories, one of which is already on submission, one of which will *hopefully* be on submission as of this weekend, and one which is cooling its heels until it’s ready to be revisited. It’s actually pretty rare that I write a story that I also end up submitting in the same month, so I’m pleased!

I made good progress on the novel, hitting 50k of the rewrite, which I’m hoping will put me in good stead for progressing into the second half over the next few months.

I also managed to finish four books (hooray!): Gideon the Ninth (A), Dark Tales (A-), Your Seven-Year-Old (C+), and The Accidental Creative (B: a reread, but worth revisiting).

Gideon was so good it drove me into a depression for a few days because HOLY CRAP, to be able to write like that-! The first act is a touch slow, only because (like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) it has a FREAKTON of world-building to accomplish in that space, but once the download lightens up, it really flies.

Dark Tales is a wonderful collection of Shirley Jackson’s short stories, so if you like her work, you’ll like this one. “The Summer People” is one of my new favorite short stories. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything but “The Lottery” in high school, do yourself a massive favor and try some of her other short work, which in my opinion is just as good, if not better.

I picked up Your Seven-Year-Old because I’ve read several of the other books in the series, and taken lightly, they can be pretty helpful in determining what of your kiddo’s behavior is considered age-appropriate and what not to freak out about (like grumpy gloominess and an obsession with fairness at seven: check and check!). But there are a lot of things in these books that are pretty darn out of date, gender-wise, and some psychology things that I’m not entire sure are things anymore (ectomorphs?), but your mileage may vary. Generally worth it, not quite as eye-opening as the last few were.

The Accidental Creative is one of those books I thought I ought to come back to someday, like Work Clean and Atomic Habits, but I’m not as impressed the second time through. I feel like there *are* very useful things in here for writers (unnecessary creating, for example, and establishing a study habit), but they’re heavily buried in the corporate creative mindset (geared towards managers and marketing executives) which really slows the pace down. It might be more useful for a writer to dive into The Artist’s Way or The Creative Habit which both touch on a lot of the same things, but without the obsession with minute goal-setting. Not that there’s not merit in that and I like the idea of quarterly reviews/determining where and how you’ll spend your energy, but I think TAW and TCH both tackle it from the truly artistic POV better than this one does. Worth reading once–not sure it’s a repeater, like Atomic Habits is.

Month-wise, we’ve finally started getting a taste of summer weather. We had a wonderful thunderstorm the other day, with proper wind, rain, and lightning + thunder. We’ve attempted a bit of planting our garden, only to have the wood rat decimate our lettuce (not precisely unexpected), and Thing 2’s naps have gotten squiffy.

That last bit has been the biggest challenge this month. Whereas before, I could pretty readily count on a nice 2hr nap at minimum, he’s really started flaking out on me. Sometimes he sleeps crazy long (4hrs the other day!) and sometimes he doesn’t sleep at all, or only for about ten minutes. The unpredictability has made getting in my usual run impossible, since I don’t dare leave him with the folks at home and run for 30 minutes, just to return home to find he’s woken up and any writing time is gone. So instead, I started flaking out on my run, just so I’d be home and could focus on writing for a bit even if he woke up a half hour later.

That’s…not great for me. I really need the running to regulate anxiety, and without it, I tend to get a lot more wound-up and cranky. But if I got the run in and skipped the writing, that’s a proven recipe for swinging me (especially at this time of year) towards a depressive episode. So it’s been tough. I need to get the run back in; I need to make sure I keep steadily getting words on the page, neither are all that easy right now.

But at least I can look back at May and recognize that I got a FLIP-TON written, which does help a little.



Halfway through the year and already two annual goals are done!

May has been the month of getting things done. I started out wanting to do a Chekhov month (write a short story a week), and then got off to a wild start by writing two stories that first week (one flash, one about 3k). I also wrapped up a third short story that had been partially written a month ago, but which I hadn’t had a chance to finish at the time.

While I didn’t *officially* hit four new short stories this month (I mean, who knows, it’s only Tuesday, so we’ve got a couple more days in there where something could pop out), I spent that time editing the heck out of a short story to submit by the end of the month. I’m still not done with it yet, but we’re (I think) getting closer, and I’m optimistic it’ll be ready on time.

And if I *do* get it submitted by 5/30, then that will officially complete my goal to submit four new stories this year! Oh, that’ll feel so good. Last year, while I had a lot of things come out, writing new things and getting them submitted was really difficult (uh, duh, new baby), but that also means that this year I may not sell as much. There’s a lot about short fiction success that requires you to do the legwork the year *before*so that the current year has a lot out and in the works, so not getting prepped last year hurts this year. That said, at least *this* year, I’m getting things moving again, which was the point of the new submissions goal.

Hitting that goal doesn’t mean I stop submitting new things, though. Four new submissions was my minimum that I’d be happy with, so I’m relieved to reach that watermark, but I’ve got a number of other stories that could maybe go over the next few months. And you never know when that story is just going to explode almost whole out of your head, begging to get out into the world (hey, it happens occasionally!). The more I get out this year, the better my odds of having work come out next year.

Moving right along: I’ve surpassed my goal for new rough drafts, which feels fantastic. Not only have I currently found a work method that I enjoy and keeps me on my toes, but it’s producing a lot of new work. Boy, how I love the smell of printer ink on rough drafts. I have no intention of stopping that production, either, though we’ll see how it evolves over the year.

Still no summary draft yet, but it’s been pretty well back-burnered these past months with the current book project raging forward. That said, letting go of a Chekhov month to focus on a summary draft is a total possibility, and may be how I get that done over the summer.

Total word count! Total world count! TOTAL WORD COUNT! Holy crap, it’s only May, and I’ve already written over 100k words. In part, that’s thanks to the short fiction churn-out that’s been happening lately, but a good solid half of it is from the book-in-progress, which feels great. Another 50k on that, and we’ll hopefully be wrapped on Draft 2 (*cough*five*coughcough*) of the book!

In Books Read, I am squeaking up on the end of the month and scrambling to finish two more books. I *think* I’ll be able to do it. I’m finishing up a re-read of The Accidental Creative and I’ve picked up the very short Your Seven Year Old which is a great glimpse at what behavior and development may be coming down the road this year for Thing One (aka B-Bug). Now, NEXT month, I feel like I’ll be pretty well-positioned to finish at least four books, so we’ll see how it goes.

In other stats, those submission attempts are slooooooowly crawling upwards. Hoping to bump those up a bit more now that these three (almost four) stories are getting out and about. Still no personal rejections (aw), and still one sale (yay!) which I’m hoping I’ll be able to announce soon. HA!


How about your month? What goals did you set for yourself? Were they reasonable, reachable goals or were they stretch-goals?

Did you meet any of these goals, or was May a tough month to make progress? If it was a tough month, what could you do next month to make achievable goals?

If you hit your goals, will June be a month when you can push your goals just a little bit further? Or will June be a pull-back and reflect month?


Friday Update: NOPE.

I finished that body horror story rewrite this week, and I think the universe is punishing me for writing it! XD In the past week, I have had not ONE but TWO wolf spiders crawl into bed while I was lying there reading by booklight and can I just say, very loudly, NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE!

Once, you can rationalize and say, Ok, what are the odds that’ll happen again, huh? When was the last time you saw a giant hairy OMG big wolf spider in your bed? Huh? Yeah, like never. You’ll be fine. It was a fluke.

The second time? Oh shit, that could be a trend.

And I totally get that some times of year we get more of them indoors than at other times, but that doesn’t mean I want my face to become Wolf Spider Highway 32, THANKS.

This has since prompted Andy and I to get a REAL BIG KID BED, instead of sleeping on the floor like college kids, which we’ve done for…oh, the past 7+ years. BUT. It won’t come for a couple weeks yet, so I have to figure out a way to prop up my bed off the floor so I don’t hyperventilate every time I go to bed until then. Yaaaaaaaaay…

Have I ever mentioned I hate spiders? Trust me, I get it, intellectually I fully admit they’re beneficial little bastards, but I really, really, really, reeeeeally hate them. It’s the way they move. I have a theory that people typically fall into one of two categories: snakes or spiders. And it seems primarily movement-based, because it doesn’t matter to me whether a spider is actually venomous or fanged or not: it’s seeing it scramble over things that freaks me the FLIP out. And for my mother who hates snakes? Same deal: doesn’t matter if it’s a garter snake or something without teeth, it still FREAKS HER OUT. It’s so visceral, so illogical, and yet there it is.

And I married an aracnophile. So I have worked on it. I more often than not try to catch and release them (but if they’re uncooperative or rush me, f* it, they’re dead, I tried, but NO). I have even learned that I’m actually chill with jumping spiders and that they’re rather cute, and that cellar spiders don’t bug me too much.

BUT F*ING WOLF SPIDERS MAN. I just cannot with them. I will try to spare their lives (in fact, I VERY BENEVOLENTLY let a baby one outside just the other day when my son found it, and it was FINE, and I’m happy it’ll go on to kill less beneficial bugs), but there’s something about those legs, dude…

It’s funny, because I actually write about spiders a lot, in large part because I hate them so much. I don’t want to hate them. In fact, on more than one occasion, I’ve written fantasy stories that include talking spiders or giant (nonbiting) mega tarantula-type beasties. I’ve even got some ideas for stories that include a LOT of spiders, but in real life…whoof.

I’m working on it. But we’re not there yet, folks.

Accomplished This Week:

Added 4k to the book-in-progress, and passed 50k on it, which feels great. About halfway now.

Also finished Draft 2 of the body horror story involving wolf spiders for which the universe is punishing me.

ALSO finished Draft 1 of “Catching College,” which is a short story set in the Behemoth universe, so THAT’S nice. All in all, a pretty productive week, despite some skipped naps.

Inspiring Me This Week:

Have I told you all how much I love Gideon the Ninth? No?! CUZ I DO. A LOT. I finished it yesterday night (right before Mr. Spiderpants thought he could just sidle on up into bed), and it was pretty fantastic. I’m seriously looking at getting Harrow the Ninth sooner rather than later, but I do want to switch it up a bit, first.

Beds. Beds off the floor. That’s been inspiring me a LOT lately.

For Next Week:

Another 3k on the book-in-progress, and finish and submit the body horror story for once and all. And if I get frisky, maybe I’ll punch out another story to hit my four for the month, but that’ll be a big leap unless it’s flash.


May Inspirations

This month, I thought it might be nice (for my own sake as much as for anything else!) to pull together a list of all the things–reading/viewing/experiencing–that have been inspiring me lately. This post in itself was inspired because lately I’ve been coming across some really wonderful short stories, and I wanted a place I could collect them all (and their links) so I and others could find them more easily.

Also, I like a LOT of different things. Sometimes, this space may be occupied by things I’m researching or looking at to inspire the current book or short story project. Like these images of old Glasgow or this rustic cabin, which I’m using to kickstart my imagination on several settings for the book-in-progress, a dark fantasy about a techno-magical vanished empire and a sinister conman’s plot to make his fortune running an exclusive (and haunted?) sanatorium for the wealthy.

Sometimes it’ll probably be about art. Like these lovely watercolor paintings of abandoned houses. Or I might ramble on and on about my obsession with Charles Dana Gibson’s line-work. Or miniatures.

I’ll probably highlight some fun watches/TV shows/movies I’ve been taking in, too, like this docu-series on Netflix about the Isabella Gardener Museum robbery, or The Barkley Marathons (a secret, ultra-difficult ultra-marathon), or The Social Dilemma about social media and how data is collected on us, or You’ve Got Mail because good grief, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are the best.

I’ll definitely be talking about books I’ve read recently, and articles I’ve come across that are interesting, and I will absolutely list any short stories that I think are well worth checking out. And that’s primarily what I’m obsessed about this month: fantastic short fiction. Specifically, new favorites like:

“Safe as Houses” by Avra Margariti

“Remote” by Kaoru Sakasaki

“Build-a-Grudge” by Joy Kennedy-O’Neill

But also old favorites I come across again, like:

“Mimic” by Donald A. Wollheim

“Only Partly Here” by Lucius Shepard

“The Summer People” by Shirley Jackson

“The Red Tower” by Thomas Ligotti

And that’s really just scratching the surface! Over the course of the next month, I’ll try to keep a little better track of what’s on my mind and what’s caught my attention. I’ll also list books that have blown my mind here, too (at least once I’ve finished them). Like the wonderful Breasts and Eggs, or Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver, or Saga: Book Three.

So we’ll see how it goes! I hope something here snags your interest the way it’s snagged mine.


Friday Update: Napless…

Well, I’m just going to throw this up here now, even though I typically only post it AFTER I’ve gotten my daily words, but as that seems less and less likely today (T_T)…

It’s been a rough end to the week. Yesterday, Goldbug only napped for about 35 minutes, which was just long enough for me to get my run in, and manage about three sentences before he woke up. I’m blaming canines. I did manage (thanks to B-Bug and Grandma entertaining Little Grumpus) to get about 1k in yesterday, despite everything, but today is looking like a lost cause. I’ve still got a few scenes left for the body horror short story I’m working on, so I may need to take some time this weekend to get it wrapped up into a second draft (if only to be within shooting distance of editing it up on time for the end of the month…)

There were other disruptions this week, too, in the form of annual checkups and other schedule-shuffling events like birthdays and anniversaries, so it was just kind of a tough work week. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get *anything* done:

Accomplished This Week:

I’ve written about 2k on the novel this week, which stalled out when I got a brainwave on the short story rewrite, and wanted to capitalize on that while I could. I’m glad I did, because I’ve really gotten a great start on the story’s reworking. Next week, I’ll just have to crank out 4k to make up for it.

But at least I’ve skirted the hydra of figuring out whether I need to rewrite the entire first half of the novel. There were some deep, horrified thoughts on it yesterday, but after sleeping on it, I’ve decided to continue as-is for now. The changes I was considering end up making about four dozen more problems that I can’t solve right now, in addition to setting me back 45k, which replacing would cost me weeks of work at a semi-unsustainable pace. It may be another major rewrite lays in store for this one in coming (years? *sobs*), but the major deciding factor is the solution creates more problems than it solves, requires Herculean effort to implement, and I’m already borderline sick-to-death of this book. The desire to scrap-and-start-over also looks suspiciously like what’s happened both to other book projects in the past, and which have already happened to this book at least 4-5 times. While, yes, editing often requires one to be bold, I sometimes think it’s a self-sabotaging habit that I just need to break and move on. Maybe this story is unfixable, but I don’t totally think the version I’m on now is completely wrong, even without the changes.

So for now, we press on, because I have a deadline in December that I will not miss, and the perceived problems may be fixable another way once I see the whole thing laid out in front of me.

Inspiring Me This Week:

Holy shnikiez, go read “Safe as Houses” by Avra Margariti at Daily Science Fiction. It just about broke my heart.

I’ve been blasting through Gideon the Ninth. My brain is on fire with this book, and I’m loving it to pieces.

Also picked up a copy of horror author Tim Waggoner’s book Writing in the Dark, which so far has been an AMAZING read on what constitutes horror writing, and what kinds of things to think about when approaching a horror story. It’s flipping brilliant, and though I’m only a couple chapters in, I have a feeling it stays good. Waggoner is great at making complex concepts simple and approachable. Very glad I got this one.

Oh! And I’ve been reading The Dark edited by Ellen Datlow, which is chockfull of creepy ghost stories, and I love them so much, though I really shouldn’t read them right before bed…

For Next Week:

Picking up what got dropped this week. So 4k on the book, and if I manage to wrap up the rewrite on the short story this weekend, then hopefully get started on the intensify, smooth, and polish phases.


On Professional Envy

I’m embarrassed to even admit it, but damn all, I’m jealous of Tamsyn Muir. I’ve finally gotten my shoulders into Gideon the Ninth, and it’s now a whirlwind of blood and bone and evil hauntings and it’s just FABULOUS. I’m loving the hell out of it, and it’s flying, and HOLY CRAP–she’s my age?!


This happens a lot less than it used to, to be honest. Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, I used to have convulsions of envy over other writers’ careers, particularly people who started around the same time or a little after I did. I remember thinking almost hysterically about the career of one person I was in an anthology with early on, appalled to discover how much they’ve gone on to do, how successful they’ve become, how many starred reviews and award-nods they’ve received. It was hard not to shovel that kind of shit into the gaping maw of my self-doubt, feeding the inner critic until it was bigger than a rancor and about as drooly.

Intellectually, I knew that no one’s path to writing was the same. I knew that certain people hit on what they needed to know earlier than I did. Some people got the opportunity to take excellent workshops. Some people had an intrinsic understanding of story and how it worked.

But the most painful truth–and indeed, the only cure for professional envy–was that I wasn’t doing the work. I was writing all the time, pouring words onto the page. I was even finishing rough drafts of things to set aside and “let cool.” But I wasn’t submitting anything. Whenever I’m talking to folks who dream about being published writers, I tell them there are only four things they need to do: Read. Write. Edit. Submit. (And then do that ad nauseam.) Set small goals, and start forming the habits that will help you get there.

It’s surprisingly hard to do sometimes, but that’s the job. That’s the work. I can guarantee to you Tamsyn Muir has done the work. She’s read. She’s written. She’s edited. And she’s submitted. Maybe she’s done that on an elevated level to me. (Duh.) Maybe there were craft lessons she learned faster, or understood more easily than I have. It’s very likely, in fact.

But if I’m not doing the work, I’ve got no legs to stand on, envy-wise. I have nothing to complain about, because I haven’t done even the baseline of what a career like that requires, and they have. I’ve known people who worked and worked and worked and read, and written, and edited, and submitted, and their stars are rising. But it requires work. It requires effort. It requires learning and trying things and doing the best work you can and taking the risk of getting it out there in the world. It’s literally the only thing you control.

It’s not attractive to admit you’re envious. It’s not fun to admit to yourself that you haven’t done the work that others have. It’s not enjoyable to feed the beast in one’s own soul, to doubt your capabilities, to doubt your potential.

All you can do is work. All you can do is make sure you’re getting things out there, over and over and over again. All you can do is remember (and if this is all you ever remember about this post, let it be this): be your own friend. Don’t tear yourself down. Don’t pick away at your self-confidence; don’t undermine and devalue what you’ve done so far, even if it’s at a slower pace than other people. They’re just doing the work.

So today, when I was getting a little envious because HOT DAMN this book is so good–and it was written by somebody who’s my age, who’s a genius, and holy crap, how come I haven’t been able to produce something even close to this good, will I ever produce anything even half as good, oh shit oh shit oh shit–I put on my friend hat. Instead of the rancor, I was Chewbacca. Sometimes you just need a giant, fuzzy shoulder to cry into when you feel terrible.

And then you know what I do?

I get back to work.