Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson

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Don’t pay attention to Polonius

…go on, be a borrower and I’ll be the lender by proxy.

You can now borrow both Dragonthology and Happily Ever Afterlife from Amazon if you’re an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle account.

(Sorry, for taking your character out of context, William Shakespeare. But imagine if Polonius had an e-reader: would he still have spent all that time eavesdropping from behind the tapestry?)


What writer’s block.

Every now and again we hear something we really need to hear in that particular moment, something that wouldn’t have the same impact at all if we ran across those same words in another time or place. What I heard the other day was this, from a friend:

“It’s always good to remember that writer’s block is basically a response to stress.”

She was speaking of her own situation, but those words made so much sense that I’ve decided to keep them in my pocket at all times. I don’t have to scold myself or penalize myself or be angry or mortified with myself for not having had the focus to write for a while. I have plenty of ideas, I just haven’t been able to muster the self-control I know I need (or put aside the time) to make anything of them.

I suspect that most of us who write have trouble finishing things. One thing I loved about NaNoWriMo last year was the sense of accomplishment when I hit that 50k word count. Of course, that was just the beginning before the hard part started. I’ve been lucky enough to have received varied feedback from the not-so-helpful (“you need more characterization”) to the extremely useful (“this paragraph doesn’t work for me, but here’s a way it would”). Synthesizing it all isn’t easy, but I’m finally at a place where I believe all the comments have sunk in as far as they’re going to go. That means I can move forward.

Between then and now I’ve taken a few online workshops and while I didn’t agree with all the feedback I got, I do agree with the sentiment behind it and can see the common threads from different people. As summer ends and the toughest things (a death in the family, many hospitalizations — though luckily none for me — and the resultant continual travel) lose their sting, I look forward to getting back to my very own rhythm. I’m not sure I’ll put the word count tool back up as a motivator, but I hope to be back to slow and steady, improving this book. I still have faith in it and believe with a little TLC it will be submission-worthy.

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I’ve been so sadly neglectful. My apologies.

Due to some critical family matters, I haven’t been keeping up with the goings-on here. I haven’t been doing much of anything aside from the family stuff. It’s tough to want to carve out time to write and be creative, but all my emotional energy is drained and I feel about as creative as my shoe. No, wait, I feel less creative than my shoe (it’s a pretty snazzy shoe, to be honest).

I actually wrote a little yesterday, about 1500 words based on a prompt from my friend Megan. Every word was a struggle, so I know I’m low on flow. I’m low on flow because I haven’t been sleeping well or enough. The creative juice will come back, but I am just out of ideas and energy.

At least I got a new sketchbook and some pens. I ought to try them out and see if anything comes of it. Wish me luck.


Time for Something New

I’ve been dragging my feet long enough: it’s time to start writing a new book. Recently I’ve received some valuable feedback on my writing and that’s rejuvenated me. It’s a gift to know where my strengths and weaknesses lie when it comes to the stories I choose to tell.

What will I write next? I don’t know yet. Ideas come to me at unusual times. I sit on them for a bit, parse them, and see what comes of them. I believe I know which direction I’d like to go, ultimately, so I’ll see what I can do.

Wish me luck.


A Little Tropical Storm Travel Story

Before I left for NYC last week, I had this thought: What if the zombie apocalypse happens while I’m flying back to California, and I’m stuck with the things in my backpack, a ratty pair of contact lenses, a few electronic gadgets, and the $20 in my wallet? That would’ve been something.

When I went to LaGuardia airport on Thursday, I fully expected to leave and make it back. I’d been in upper Manhattan with my sister (Washington Heights, for those of you who know my birth city) and figured since my flight left at 3 we would be able to get out before the thunderstorms. Tropical storm watch, they said. Hurricane Arthur.

We were actually on the plane (I was flying back to San Francisco through Denver) and ready to push off just about on time when we got word of a maintenance hold. They had to check the air filtration system, which they’d done in Chicago but neglected to record. About 15 minutes later, we headed out to the runway.

Then Air Traffic Control shut down LaGuardia.

Then they opened it again. We taxied out to the runway where we were 13th for takeoff. By this point I had long since missed my connection in Denver, but I wasn’t worried. It’s not hard to get to San Francisco from just about anywhere. Planes started leaving.

Then they shut the airport again.

Then they opened it again. 40 minutes to takeoff, the pilot said.

At just about the 40 minute mark (no air conditioning, by the way, in the 90+-degree heat) we headed back to the gate. There’s an FAA regulation that says you can’t keep passengers on the plane on the ground for more than two hours any more, and we were approaching the two hour mark. We got back, disembarked (they said to leave luggage, but yeah, no), and watched as people poured in and poured back in from planes that like mine had been ready to go.

It wasn’t until around 9:30 that night that they finally canceled our flight. The storm was horrendous and it sure wasn’t anyone’s fault, so I cabbed it back uptown to my sister’s and discovered I’d been rebooked on a Friday evening flight out of Newark. Thank heavens for that, because I had to get home before my sweetheart left for a trip to Europe… because he had my car and my keys.

I have to say, though: despite LGA being a pretty crappy airport in general (overcrowded, not enough power outlets these days, no wifi, crappy food selection in Terminal C), people were just wonderful. Out of the thousands of displaced travelers crammed into Terminal C, I only heard two people lose their temper and both of those lost it with someone on the other end of their phone. Those of us going to Denver formed a little solidarity group. The people traveling with kids seemed to be running an impromptu day care: the kids all played together, sang, took care of each other, laughed, danced around, and had a great time in general. One guy who looked the part of an IT expert took a couple power strips out of his computer bag and offered free outlet space to people desperate to charge their phones.

It could have been a lot worse. Despite having to pay my way back and forth a few extra times, I was lucky because I had a place to stay. There are no hotel shortages in Manhattan, but I’m sure the airport hotels were booked to overflowing. The storm was brutal. Friday was much better – I got to Newark some five hours early because my sister & her partner were leaving for the weekend, tried to get on every other flight to SF only to find out they were all overbooked, treated myself to a diner comfort-food lunch, and did a good job biding my time until the flight was scheduled to board. Then–

“We can’t board yet. We’re waiting for the Captain, and we don’t know when he’s going to get here.” That announcement was made five minutes before boarding time.

All I could do was laugh.


Fanfiction Exchange

For the fifth year, I’m co-moderating I Need My Fics, a fanfiction exchange hosted at Archive of Our Own. Right now we’re open for nominations. If you think you’d like to sign up, check out the nominated fandoms and see if there are any you’d like to add. You must be a member of AO3 to participate. If you don’t have an account there already, I can provide you with an invite code.

The window for nominations closes on the 28th of this month, with signups opening immediately after. If you have any questions about participating, let me know.

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I Should Feel Something

I remember the first time I submitted a story to a prospective publisher. For the first few days I was a nervous wreck, jumping every time an email came in. After a week or so of that extremely tiring behavior, I took a deep breath and settled down. I didn’t really forget about the submission, but I mellowed about it.

After my long drought, I did submit a story last week. I’m pretty relaxed about it: whatever’s fated to happen with it will happen whether or not I’m anxious, so I’m just kind of relaxed. It’s a much nicer feeling than being at wit’s end over a story.

I don’t want to wear myself down over it, you know? How do you feel after you send a piece off for submission? Do you celebrate? Bite your nails? Have a drink? Take a long walk? Or do you just keep right on going? If you’re wondering, I took the time to read a few books. Sometimes I still feel like the world’s laziest writer, but I know creativity and inspiration happen (for me) in bursts. Might as well go with the flow.


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