Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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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.


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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.


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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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“Writing is the exact opposite of therapy.”

The full quote from Zadie Smith goes like this:

I never attended a creative writing class in my life. I have a horror of them; most writers groups moonlight as support groups for the kind of people who think that writing is therapeutic. Writing is the exact opposite of therapy.

Lately my writing experience has been something like having teeth pulled: nothing to look forward to, nothing pleasant. As writers and as human beings we all suffer crises of confidence. I’ve been working against a deadline on a piece I pledged to complete. Ideas were dried up, and the story I thought I’d write wasn’t the one I ended up writing.

I’m moderately happy with what I completed, though. It’s out for review before I submit, and so I wait for feedback. To me, this is the most anxiety-producing piece of the whole puzzle. I think it’s okay, but what if no one else does? What if I really am terrible at this? What if what if what if–the internal monologue is endless and not very helpful.

All I can do is shut it down and go about the business of my everyday life. That’s all any writer can do, I guess.


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Drought

I hate to admit it, but I’m in the middle of a terrible writing drought. Yesterday was the first day in ages that I actually wrote something. No, let me backtrack: I’ve been working on a collaborative project, which is wonderful and a ton of fun, so yesterday was the first day in ages that I actually wrote something solo. I’ve been sitting around bitching and moaning to myself about how lazy I’ve been, but when I look at the record that’s not entirely true.

I’ve just been disappointing myself with my own personal efforts.

At the end of March we started a remodel project. It was hard to write with all the noise and constant interruptions, so I put writing on the back burner. The project finished a week ago, so it was time to move furniture. Of course I messed up my back lifting heavy stuff (because I’d only been sitting around babysitting my house for six weeks and was horribly out of shape), so it’s been another week and a bit of recovering from that unfortunate incident.

Look: there are always reasons not to write. I can give you a million of them. Yesterday I actually got about a thousand words done, and believe me, that felt like a huge accomplishment. Today I’m not so motivated, but at least I caught up on some much-needed sleep and I’ve been processing bits and pieces of my story, so even though I don’t have words down on the page yet (and the day is still young), I’ve been working on that story. Unfortunately, I’ve only been working on it in my head, not on paper, so I’m not sure how much that counts.

This weekend I have a little bit of travel coming up. I have a writing deadline coming up. If I can finish this story in ten days, I’ll make the deadline. I know I can churn out words, but will they be good ones?

Creativity, where did you go? I feel like the world’s biggest fraud calling myself a writer lately.


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+5 Karma

We live on the edge of an entrance to the East Bay Regional Park system. Our road is lovely and wide, with plenty of parking and a fairly mild set of hiking paths into and around the park. It’s quite popular with dog walkers. When we first moved in last year noticed lots of hikers struggling to share water out of bottles with their puppies. I thought it would be nice if we got the largest water bowl we could find and put it outside for the dogs.

I fill it just about every day, and it’s been pretty popular. I see lots of dogs making a beeline for it on their way out of the park, which makes me happy (being a cat owner means I don’t have dogs now, so I have to enjoy them vicariously). When I got the bowl I wrote “For thirsty park dogs” on it, so people would know we left it there intentionally.

The other day I got home and saw that there was something propped up behind the water bowl. On closer inspection, I realized what it was — a piece of cardboard, put there intentionally, with this message written on it:

THANK YOU!
SIGNED,
THIRSTY PARK DOGS STRUDLE, HOBBES, AND BUTTERS. 5/5/14.

The whole thing put such a smile on my face.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Go on and be lovely to one another!

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