Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Momentum is so hard to keep. After a week of making good progress with writing every day, along comes an evening like this one. I get the computer turned on and I have to hand it over to my daughter for an online math test. After that, it's help with homework for the other two kids. Then, I had to respond to one of my infrequent invitations to the "Saturday Soundoff" in the local paper. Finally, I'm sitting with my computer and it's already after 10:00PM. Time to start writing. So I've got about 80 new words into the novel so far today. I'm not done, but this won't be a 1000-word night. 10:00 is pretty late to start when you have to get up at 5:00.

Part of the problem is that I'm still struggling with the story line. I burned through the last novel so fast I forgot how much of a struggle writing can be. David Gerrold says writing never gets easier, it's just hard in different ways. I'm only starting to appreciate that statement.

I think the reason that is true is writers tend to push their own envelope. For a writer to develop, it's a necessity. There are a lot of writers who are happy selling in the semi-pros, and do very well in those markets. I'm not one of them. I'm not satisfied with that. Despite 21 fiction sales, I'm still a beginner in many ways, and I have to push my skills to the edge to grow as a writer.

The novel I'm struggling with is something I want to get right, and I have a certain look and feel I'm trying for. It's the foundation for an entire series of related novels and what I do today affects what I will do a decade from now. Entire societies and cultures are difficult. Keeping an alien point of view is difficult, particularly when you don't really know the aliens very well yet.

That was the difference with Neanderthal Swan Song, I knew the characters and the story so well that it was like relating something I actually witnessed. Rigel Kentaurus is more like trying to repair a cassette tape after thirty feet of tape has been eaten by the capstain. You get a physics-defying twist that has no other side to twist it back, and the tape is all crumpled through the good part of the song. Couple that with all the demands on my time and energy and I have every excuse in the book to quit. Not me. Back to the novel.

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