Night Writer

It looks like writing in the middle of the night is becoming my new “normal.” I’ve been working on my short story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology and this seems like the best time for me to sit down and get some writing done without interruptions. I’d much rather sleep and keep a consistent routine, but this fall and winter I’ve been plagued with bouts of insomnia, so now I’m forcing the issue and trying to make it work for me rather than lay in bed and toss and turn and get nothing done — except worry that I have too much to do!

The story is going slowly. I seem to be writing it as though it’s going to be novel-length, but for some reason I can’t seem to put on the brakes. I guess I’ll just have to let it play out on the page in this draft — Draft Zero — and trim and prune for the first draft. It’s much easier to condense and cut than to go back later and add material in. What’s the story about? Well, it involves airships and the South Pole, and that’s all I’m going to tell you for now.

In other news, I’ve set up my Author Page on Amazon and will be adding to it periodically. At the moment it shows two anthologies that I’ve contributed to, but I have also written more than a hundred encyclopedia articles (whew!) in various publications and I’m trying to get some of those set up to display on my page. If you’re curious, check out my Publications page here on Focal Plane.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 138

My "explorer" photo added to a virtual bus stop.

My “explorer” photo added to a virtual bus stop thanks to PhotoFunia.

My husband calls this picture of me my “Richard Attenborough” photo. Not the bus stop — just the picture of me in the window. It’s from Yellowstone, when we visited back in 2010. The cloud behind my shoulder is steam from a volcanic vent and my hair is tousled by the wind. It’s probably the wildest place that we’ve visited and the closest to being an explorer that I’ve been. What can I say? I’m an urban/suburban child. I might manage to do a short survival trek, but I like my coffee, hot water, and soap, thank you very much. And — the mosquitoes like me just too much.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about travel. Pick a location and write a paragraph or two for a travel brochure that describes the place in glowing detail. Now here’s the twist: the place is somewhere you’d never want to visit. Whether it’s just rough country or an urban area infested with traffic jams, identify that place and put your fiction-writing talents to work selling that locale to some unsuspecting would-be tourist. Have fun, and don’t forget to inject some humor into this. It shouldn’t be all doom-and-gloom.

But see those white posts next to the road? I bet you think they’re some kind of traffic bollards, don’t you? Well, they’re not. They are the spiky teeth of some gigantic monster that’s about to devou….

Midnight Writing

Holiday decorations, New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. I took this photo in 2015 with a point-and-shoot infrared camera, then applied filters for a more artistic interpretation.

Holiday decorations, New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. I took this photo in 2015 with a point-and-shoot infrared camera, then applied the Topaz Adjust cross-process III filter in post-processing for a more artistic interpretation of the scene.

I slacked off writing last week and didn’t get very much done, so I had to do some late-night writing on Sunday to keep up with my weekly word-count goals. I know it’s too easy to fall behind and then not be able to catch up, and this past year’s NaNoWriMo I found myself continually treading that path between staying on par and falling behind. It was one reason that I found this last challenge so difficult. This year I’m determined to keep up my word count on a weekly basis so projects don’t get dragged on from one week to the next.

Last week I watched a Lynda.com video on food photography. It was pretty interesting and I especially liked some of the tips that the presenter had for setting up light reflectors. He used a floral frog, which is a metal or plastic circle with a bunch of pins stuck in it, like a porcupine. Of course I went to the hobby store this weekend with the idea of buying one and was unable to find them, so I ended up buying a set of six fancy place card holders that were clearance-priced.

They’re fairly heavy and they have a coil of wire designed to hold papers or cards, so I think they’ll work for holding the reflective papers that I have as long as I don’t use a large sheet at one time. On the plus side, if I keep them with my camera gear I won’t stick my hand into the bag and get stabbed the way I would with one of those metal floral frogs, so maybe it was a good thing I couldn’t find any of them!

I’ve been getting into cocktails and I have some ideas for taking photographs of the drinks, so I bought a bunch of printed papers to use as backgrounds for the photo sessions and some metallic-coated papers that should work well as reflectors. I have tomorrow off work for the holiday, so I’m going to take the time to do some creative photography and writing. I’ll post whatever works, but I suppose I’ll have to drink the failures. Get rid of the evidence, and all that. Ah well, all creatives must suffer for their art!

The Year of Numbers

numbersThis year I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for my writing and reading. I need to set some exercise goals, too, but that’s more difficult for me because I’m less fluent in knowing what exercises I need and how much. So far I’ve decided to read 50 books this year and write 240,000 words. I’ve signed up for the Zombies, Run! virtual spring race, too, so I need to get back into running training.

I’ve found that the more I slack off the less I get done. Maybe it’s because there is no sense of urgency because there are no deadlines. Crochet projects fall to the back of the closet and get forgotten. Other art projects disappear under piles of paper. The one thing I am really good about is maintaining my reading schedule, but I find that when I push myself to write every day I tend to find ways to avoid doing it. I don’t think it’s writing itself, but if I am working on a particular project and I get stuck then I just find ways of weaseling out of the task. And the more frustrated I get with other things in life the more likely that writing and other productive things get ignored.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t meet my writing project deadlines. I’ve only asked for two extensions on more than sixty encyclopedia articles, and I gave my editor a heads-up. It’s not the same as letting deadline go by without taking notice of it. I’ve never been late on term papers, either. When I need to I can pump out some words. It’s just a matter of lighting that fire under my chair and typing, typing, typing, until the work gets done.

So, my ambitious goals mean that I need to plan out my work and set reasonable numbers for myself. Nearly a quarter of a million words seems ridiculous, but it will include editing. I’m just not ready to count 1,000 words per hour as recommended by the good folks at NaNoWriMo; perhaps 500 would be more reasonable for me, judging by past rewriting and editing experience. I’m calculating on doing NaNo again this year, so that will be 50,000 words. Then I need 190,000 words in 48 weeks, so I’m setting a weekly goal of 4,000 words. I’m doing well despite a few days of ignoring the keyboard: I have 6743 words written since the beginning of the year and I’ve finished reading two books. Here’s to determination!