Leaning In.

Fourth Street this year gave me three new projects to work on.  I cannot, of course, split my attention in three NEW directions and hope to get anywhere.  I have a finished novel & short story in revisions, two commissioned projects (one very close to finished, one barely begun), five unfinished short stories, one serial Patreon project, and one novel.  The idea of adding a short story, a novella, and a novel on top of that is absurd.  I do that, and I never get anything done.

So what do I do, when my cup overfloweth?  I write brief intros, take extensive notes, grit my teeth, and file those projects in the back.  Then I turn back to The Hellion Prince, my novel in progress.  Fourth Street also showed me that I need to re-pace the third act, insert falling action, stop delaying revelations and burn story, stop writing connective tissue and quilt again.  I re-outlined act three with two new one-chapter scenes that trace an important character arc, and if I write 1000 words every day on The Hellion Prince, I’ll be finished by the end of September.  So the new Arthurian novella; the FBI-profiles-vampires short story, and the Incrementalists spinoff novel that looks like Ocean’s Eleven, the Thomas Crown Affair, and Inception had a baby – those wait.

I just have to lean in, let those beautiful, exciting ideas marinate a while, and eat my vegetables.

Today I finish my commissioned project (science fiction poetry by the spiritual heir to Gabriele d’Annunzio) , and I get to that first new scene in Hellion Prince. Tomorrow I work on finishing a Byzantine short story about demons, and I work on the next scene.Starting new projects is like dating someone new – there’s that NRE, new relationship energy, a spike of elation that makes you want to focus everything there. But I’m married to my novel. And finishing projects is way, way more important than starting new ones.

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Autohypnosis.

One year, one 4th Street, and more than ten thousand words later, I’m teaching myself not to be intimidated by the blank page – or the amorphousness of a blog with only one post to define it.

At 4th Street this year, Jon Singer taught me how to induce a light hypnotic trance, and I’m writing to you now from the tailing end of it.  It’s immersive, encompassing.  Tricky to describe.  The best I’ve managed thus far is that I have a sense of being the work I’m doing – there’s a perceptual lensing, discarding awareness of self and surroundings for awareness of process.  This is both encouraging to a flow state in which I can move words quickly through my fingertips, and, I hope, beneficial to the words themselves – I had an utterly different post composed a moment ago, and I erased it, because the ideas didn’t compress the way I wanted them to.

I’m going to be doing this every day – the trance induction, I mean, although hopefully there will be regular blogging, too.

I’m very curious to hear from anyone else – do you experience trance or flow while writing?  Does it come naturally, or do you bring it on?  And what does it feel like?  generally, in a writing flow state, I’m too intensely directed at the words on the page to think about the shape or heft of the state of mind, but here I’m more introspective – I can’t be sure if that’s because I’m writing about the experience, or if the state of consciousness itself is different.

Anyway. Enough navel-gazing for now.  Time to go commit acts of fiction.

Following the Bellwethers.

I read a lot on WordPress, but I haven’t kept a blog off Dreamwidth in ages, and even that one’s been collecting cricket noises for a few years, as other social media devoured my attention.  Still, when I was at 4th Street this last weekend, at least three or four of the interesting and admirable writers and fen I met had WordPress accounts, and so, social animal that I am, I’m following suit.

Okay.  That’s enough warm-up to take away the blank page anxiety of a new blog. Time to go back to pretending to be fictional people, and save the labor of sounding my barbaric yawp over the rooftops for later.

Coming Soon: What I learned at 4th Street this year.