Almost Vacation

Writing is a long, hard slog this year. Work has been so difficult that when I have time off I just can’t bear to sit at the computer and do any more thinking. I feel like all of my creative energy, and the desire to do anything, has been sucked out of my soul.

But my vacation starts at the end of next week, so I’m hoping a week away from the insanity will restore some mental energy and I’ll be ready to pick back up on some projects. My steampunk story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology is at the editing stage, and we’re expecting to get the book out in the next month or so. In other news, I’ve been approved for Shutterstock and and I have uploaded five images so far.

I Can Has Allergies

I really, really, really need to move. Since mid-March I’ve had a stomach bug, allergies, and a sinus infection. After battling the sinus thing for three weeks and coughing so hard that I pulled a muscle, I realized that I needed more than vitamin C. So, I went up to a local walk-in clinic for antibiotics and some nasal spray. Well, that helped a lot, but I still have allergy headaches, and now I’m having eye strain headaches. I need a vacation, and I need a paradise to escape to. It sure looks pretty outside, but … achoo!

In March and early April I’ve so busy that I’ve had to let the blog “rest” for awhile. I had an encyclopedia article on howdahs to complete by the end of March, and then I had to prepare a paper for presentation on Victorian detectives, detective fiction, and journalism for the 2017 meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of British Studies. And this week I just wrapped up an entry on the cultural and historical impact of Ray Bradbury for another encyclopedia. And all this stuff is in addition to my full-time job.

Yes, I do sit at the computer for a very long time every day! And this is a problem, so I’ve joined a local gym and signed up for four training sessions. My second one is today, and I’ve actually worked out twice so far this week.

I’m slowly catching up on my writing goal of 240,000 words for this year, despite a couple of very unproductive weeks. With this blog post, I’m just about 700 words behind where I want to be, but I still have two days left in my writing work week. On the fiction writing front, I’m starting the revisions to my Steampunk story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology, to be published in late spring or early summer. Seacombe Island is next up; it’s getting a final revision and should also be published this year. I have several nonfiction projects in the queue as well, including a proposal for a chapter in a book on World War I, a book of writer’s prompts, and extending my research and writing about Victorian detectives. Oh, and there might be a cocktail book in the works, too. But that’s for after hours!

Losing Momentum

Nebble Lighthouse, which I photographed on a trip to Maine several years ago.

Cape Neddick’s Nubble Lighthouse decorated for the holidays. I photographed this on a trip to Maine in 2003.

This November didn’t exactly fill me with the drive to write, but I made myself go the distance and put in the requisite 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. My draft isn’t something that I’m happy with, so I put it aside for other writing that’s on my active project list, which includes a short story, a novel, encyclopedia articles, and a nonfiction book (maybe two).

So I’m sitting here with a basic sketch for a short story that will appear in Corrugated Sky’s spring anthology. I have the characters already, and a basic premise for the story, but I’m trying to sketch an outline for the plot before I start the writing process. I tried a bare-bones outline for NaNoWriMo but ran off the rails at chapter three. This time I’m doing a bit more planning, and the scope of the short story should help me rein in the urge to keep writing and writing.

I’m blaming my lack of concentration on a mixture of boredom, stress, and frustration. We have noisy road construction in the neighborhood and I’m pretty much the only one “in” the office through the middle of the first week of January (I telecommute). It’s a recipe for boredom and stress, and this year has been a monster at work, too. No wonder I can’t get any writing done.

I can’t take a vacation right now, but I can look through my vacation photos and do something creative with them. The Nubble lighthouse photo was taken in 2003 and was one of the first photos that I scanned. This morning I played around with cropping the image and using some Topaz filters to add texture and ramp up the details. Leave a comment and let me know how you like it. Meanwhile, I need to get back to plotting an airship race for the spring Steampunk anthology.

 

 

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 80

photo of stairwell

Stairwell at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

This time next week I will be in New Jersey for the Steampunk World’s Fair, which starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. I am going to be giving a presentation on airships in literature, which I have barely started putting together. Good thing I have a deadline looming over my head to make me get it done!

In honor of all things Steampunk and deadlines, this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt offers you five Victorian-era objects that you must work into a story. I’ll make it easy by giving you common objects instead of mystery items, and in some cases, Victorian things weren’t really so much different from the stuff we find in our homes or stores today. Except it wasn’t plastic, of course. Or polyester.

And you have a deadline, too: 30 minutes. That’s right, no cheating, set your timer for 1800 seconds and get writing. You must use all five of the Victorian objects in your story, which will be a Steampunk story, right? Okay, you can write whatever you want, but you get bonus points if you set the story in a Steampunk setting. If you don’t know what that is, do a little research before you start writing, not while you’re in the middle of crafting the perfect opening sentence.

Now, here are the five objects: a rug beater, a shilling, a candelabra, a stereoscope viewer, and a pocket watch.