Goodbye Porpoise Spit AKA Later Seattle, it’s been weird

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Knihkupectvi Academia Bookstore, Prague

I have lived all the cliches. I am one merit badge away from unlocking an unholy rom-com achievement sash. Teenage girl on a Greyhound bus to New York City with nothing but a dream? Check. Driven, career-focused woman making a u-turn for love on the cusp of 30? Check. Carefree divorcee leaving it all  behind to wander the globe? Well, 2 houses, 2 hotels and 3 countries in the last week later, check. Checkfuckingmate.

The change my life has been through in the last year is breathtaking. Yes, I learned a whole new language. Yes, I lost 78 pounds. Yes, I plotted and executed things most people only ever talk about doing.  Factor in the two years before that, and I get full on vertigo and vapors. Yes, I wrote and published a novel (and have nursed 2 other novels along but that’s another matter).  Yes, I disposed an industrial tonnage of fuckery in the form of people and patterns that no longer worked for me.

I spent 10 years in Seattle. That is most of my adult life, far longer than any of the cities I flitted through in my early 20s, and about 5 years longer than I saw myself being there. That’s a long time to wait for your life to begin. Processing my fervent desire to leave the city when I thought I was stuck gave me Girl Out of Water, and Tabitha’s whole universe. Translating that desire into action gave me total access to superpowers I’ve only ever dreamed of. I am an actual badass. I’ve crossed that threshold of hoping to be acknowledged to owning every ray of my glory.

After months of blog radio silence, grueling overtime shifts, and still no new book, I have made my great escape. The endless work of my emotional life has been accepting, acknowledging, and letting go. I know this is only the first leg of a really long journey, but I am ready to lay down the burdens of other people’s expectations and my fear. My joy is incalculable. I can exhale, take my victory lap, and look forward. For the next while I won’t be wandering the globe as much as setting up shop and looking for my niche in a very targeted area.

If you’re looking for quirky, complicated, protagonists and the universes they inhabit, we’ll all be in Norway (except for those weeks we’re in the Czech Republic, or the UK, or hvor som helst), skating through brand new challenges, forgetting the exchange rate and paying way too much for stuff, and living our best friluftsliv.

W

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Actual size, OK not really, but much smaller than anticipated

Back to Black

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Well, not exactly, Dear Reader. While I have been far from a dedicated blogger, I have been writing regulary (I picked up one of those writing partners I’ve heard so much about). My word count is anemic, but it’s still moving on up at a creep. There’s a legit reason I’ve neglected my manuscripts and blog in recent months. I won’t say more until it’s definite but my brain has been consumed with a long cherished goal and I am *this* close to having all that effort pay off. In a few months time I’ll be back, with a currently under construction tumblr no less, with more stories and less angst (witness the total absence of fucks regarding my NaNoWriMo fail). Until then, I gotta go get shit done.

Monster Hospital

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367737_630x354It’s November 4th, or technically NaNoWriMo day 4 and I’m starting the day with a word count of 2429 out of 6666 scheduled words. I have until the end of the day to hit 6666 and as ever, it’s always possible but it’s not likely. I’m not despairing however. First, because getting behind in NaNoWriMo almost immediately is the the natural order of the universe. Second, The current word count represents getting up at 5:00 am on Sunday and Monday and fitting time in during lunch breaks while simultaneously clocking 30.5 hours on the day job in that 48 hour period. Day 3 was less action-packed (just a few appointments) but definitely hampered by the wet rag level of energy from days 1 & 2. Today is even more appointments in exotic suburban climes (the glamorous adulting of it all) so I’m shooting for word count of at least 3000 by midnight tonight. All the better for Day 5, which has zero commitments or fucks to give about anything other than writing.

It was exciting to return to this novel (not Broken Wave I’m afraid) because I’d put around 24k into it and hit a wall. I could not squeeze out another word, so I closed the file and hoped it would come back to me. It has and I’m glad about it. Demigodspeed! My next check in is on Day 7 I think. If you’ve ever done NaNoWriMo, win, lose, or derp, talk about it in the comments.

NaNoWriMo Inspo Song of the Day

Monster Hospital by Metric doesn’t have much to do with anything in particular, but it’s a nice jolt every now and then.

I’m Gonna Be Free and I’m Gonna Be Fine

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Y’all I am tired. Not of writing, but of the obsessive overwrought hand-wringing Writer Pain that has paralyzed me off and on for the several last months. To be fair, my off-page struggle has been especially severe recently, but even before then, I’d tied my creative self in knots. I’m officially cancelling that bullshit in an effort to lighten up.

I’ve been doing all kinds of things to make that happen, the best of which was read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Twice now in fact. My overall sense of joy is anemic at the moment and my creative process has been akin to using a dislocated shoulder to arm-wrestle a giant. It didn’t go well, it hurt, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t keep at it. In a way that’s admirable but it’s also a bit mad to keep trying in the exact same manner. The price of creativity doesn’t have to be paid with suffering. I’ve always known this in theory but to put it into practice I’m switching up my rituals and calling upon something other than incessant insecurity to get the job done. Maybe now I take up toe-wrestling instead. My toes are mighty (that got even more weird than anticipated)!

So I’m doing what all writer types do when the rainbow has been enough. I’m bringing my bucket to the NaNoWriMo well, and I’m not stopping until it comes up full. I’m using the buddy system with a writer friend. A volunteer even. I said “you’re doing NaNoWriMo with me right?” I’ve dug out every note scrap I have for both WIP, and I’m excited about what’s going to happen. Girl Out of Water was both a 2011 and a 2012 NaNoWriMo project. I didn’t “win” the first time but I kept hacking away at it until November 2012 and with 15 minutes to spare, I’d written a total of 100,548 words for it, 50,000 of them in one month. This time I’ll blog my word count, any Seattle write-ins that I attend and what I hope is a mental shift toward inspired and away from spite via personal accomplishment.

My first NaNo Song of the Day is Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) by Florence + The Machine. I’ve always loved her/them but after seeing the live show I am a tambourine-carrying devotee. The video is a kind of ecstatic pagan-lite mime of a song that could have had a much darker visual interpretation.

Murder in my Heart

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The point here is, Amazon is ticked off and emailing about how I’ll never preorder in this town again, and that’s bad but, if I kill just one more person, this all hangs together for me in a way that I’m happy with. As is, not terrible. With the death, or is it deaths? Better. Be patient folks if you don’t see a book by August 11, unfollow and turn off the lights. I’ll just write in the dark.

W

p.s. if you’ve read the excerpt from Broken Wave at Goodreads, you know I start the bloodshed pretty early…

p.p.s. follow me on Twitter already

World’s Greatest Procrastinator

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I don't know if this is true, but this obviously means I'm Mozart.

I don’t know if this is true, but this obviously means I’m Mozart.

Since I am less than three weeks from the release of Broken Wave and I have a pile of life to maintain until then, I will not be posting again until it’s time to celebrate at the finish line. In the meantime, enjoy this, ebook versions of Girl Out of Water are still on sale for $0.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo and if youh aven’t already, add, review, and rate Girl Out of Water on Goodreads.

Procrastination is a talent.

I’m doing it right now. Blogging is a way for me to share the insides of my brain with people who might enjoy it and therefore enjoy my writing, but let’s be clear: blogging is not writing novels.

There are many things that take me away from the page: social media, texting, midsummer tax projections. There are days when I will go to great lengths to avoid confronting my fear that it’s all pointless, my writing is horrible, and that I will fail again. As I said last week, every writer battles this, but it’s so validating to hear, so it bears repeating. Right now I am banging my head against these notions daily in the run up to the release of Broken Wave, and I was pleased and encouraged to see a series of tweets from the intellectual powerhouse Ta-Nehisi Coates about his The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir with writing and the release of his latest book, Between the World and Me.
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I really, REALLY needed that.

So rather than more kvetching Writer Pain, I give you how I trick my demons into getting out of my way long enough to write words that I like well enough to keep going.

1. Turn off the Internet

Yeah I laughed too, but it can be done. I can afford nice things, on occasion but I live without a data pipe coming into my home for a very good reason. The more internet I have, the more opportunity I have for ignoring my will to create. I love information, I love finding out new things, and revisiting old things. Pinterest? The actual Mirror of Erised brought to life. I can get lost in it for days. I cannot bring myself to unplug via willpower. I deny myself broadband so that I don’t have to. I pay my cell phone carrier to use on-demand smartphone tethering for a limited amount of data each month, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s a primitive solution to curb a primitive addiction. It’s not foolproof but it’s a start.

2. Ditch the Mouse.

This won’t help you necessarily if you use a laptop with a built in mouse, but I discovered writing Girl Out of Water (Cryptid Coterie Book 1), that when I took the batteries out of my wireless mouse and I couldn’t wander away from the page with a single click, my word count shot up. This tip is not as helpful if you’re a wizard with hotkeys, but it made me more mindful of just how often my fingers were unconsciously running away from where they needed to be.

3. Read Something

It’s better if that something is work you’ve already done but someone else’s work is good too. I’ve read old non-fiction essays or an especially good quip on a WIP and thought, damn. I wrote that? Sure did cupcake, now sit your ass down and write some more. My inner motivational speaker is kinda harsh y’all. It can be inspiring to read fiction that you view as the epitome of skill, but if you’re afraid of intimidation, find work that you despise and rewrite a page of it as an exercise. If you’re reading a book and thinking I can do better, invoke your inner Morpheus: “Show me.”

W

Superpowers & Secret Identities

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Seattle Public Library, well done

Seattle Public Library, well done

I’d long suspected that my superpower was talking for hours without ever stopping to breathe, or maybe having just the right piece of unexpected trivia to sprinkle into a conversation because I am promiscuously curious about absolutely everything. Turns out, it wasn’t these things at all. It would appear that my gift is giving the outward appearance of calm and confident determination 97% of the time.

I  suspect the perception percentage varies on how well you know me, but for the sake of accuracy I’d like to correct that average to 56.6~. That contains a confounding factor of  +/- 12% relative to how clueless I am about what I’m facing. Everyone is confident when they don’t know their parachute is empty right?

It’s been a year since I pulled the plug on the release of Broken Wave the second in the Crytpid Coterie series, and in that time I’ve been functioning as though I did not choke and that I will write dozens of novels any day now. I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve blogged some, and I’ve gone back to my paranormal Seattle universe again and again, hoping to see it clearly. Some days, I would consider a single sentence a success, and others I would cut a whole chapter and sigh with relief because it needed to be done. And all that time, I was still a writer.

I am once again stepping up to the plate with Broken Wave, and putting Girl Out of Water on sale today in the meantime. What I’ve learned in the last year, through my own experiences and reading other authors, is that the tortured Writer Pain of “I suck, I don’t know what I’m doing, and I am a terrible fraud” never goes away for anyone.  OK maybe a few people, but nobody likes them. The rest of us are humming along, secure in the knowledge that we’re fucked but making a go of it.

When I started writing novels  (working on my third at the moment), I thought the woman at the keyboard was my alter ego. I believed she was my juicy secret that made me interesting. The more comfortable I’ve gotten with creating and owning my identity as an artist, I figured out that I’d bought my own cover story. The rule-abiding goddess of multi-tasking efficiency who works too much and runs my life? She’s the real secret identity.

Theres a danger in believing your own facade. Just as those who know me perceive my perfectionist streak as the real me, when I believed it too, I limited my growing process as a writer and took the setback of a missed deadline way too hard. Writer me wants to give that Winifred a cookie, a cup of coffee, and a very short pep talk: “Writers write.”

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. If you’re doing that, at whatever pace, you’re a real writer, no matter what you tell yourself on a bad day.

This writer will be celebrating her second book release with a meme worthy video post, and merchandise you can use to express your love for Tabitha, her friends, and her nightmares. There’ll also be an exclusive free download of the story of Minnie Gagle Yesler. Subscribe already yeah?