Night falls, the world goes still

I’m still here, and in spite of the lack of blogging, I’ve been busy.

First and foremost, I’m still working to finish the YA fantasy novel. I got to about the 70% mark and hit that point of doubt that so many other writers talk about. One of my favorites is this essay by Neil Gaiman. It is just so comforting to know that a master of the craft hits a point of “nobody will ever read or care about this and there’s nothing good about it” the way I do! It took a 2-hour rant to Sarah for me to figure out my issue.

Sometimes I just get stuck; I think all writers do that. For me, sometimes the stuck is mental/emotional fatigue and I just need to take a break from writing. Sometimes it is my own doubt throwing up a boulder in my way and I need to shove it aside so I can keep going. And sometimes that stuck is a sign that there is something wrong with my story and I have to stop to figure it out. I know other writers who just write and solve their problems as they go, but that’s rarely worked for me. I like an outline, a chapter-by-chapter sketch of my scenes and beats. And sometimes the outline I have isn’t the one I should be telling.

This time, it was very much that. And the only way I get loose is to sit down and talk it out. Out loud at Sarah, usually. She’s very patient. I begin at where I’ve stopped and work backwards, twisting and turning the story like a Rubik’s cube. I question my characters, their motivations, their plans. If I had been assuming X is a villain for Y reason, I extrapolate how the story changes if X isn’t a villain, or if their reason isn’t Y anymore. I leave nothing untouched, perfectly happy to rewrite everything not yet on screen and anything already in the text. And after 2 hours (and, for some reason, it is ALWAYS 2 hours), I find my way to the right twist that lines up all the blocks and the Rubik’s cube is complete — and so is my outline.

So, plus side, now I have a path to the end that I’m excited about, that does several things I really wanted to do and didn’t know how, that feels like the right conclusion for everyone while yet leaving plenty of threads open for sequels. Now I just have to write it all down.

Second, I’ve been querying. Sadly, nothing to report. But I’m not feeling discouraged. My list of agents to query is long and full of amazing people I would be thrilled and honored to work with on my journey. The rejections aren’t landing as painfully as they did on the last book I queried, and I think it’s because I’m in a better place for myself. Also, I have a better relationship with my writing vs with the business of publishing. I know this isn’t my only shot. I’ll keep writing books. There’s no deadline to finding my way here. The process does take up effort and spoons, but I’m okay expending them and I feel hopeful and excited still.

Third, work is a lot, but nobody comes here to read about that.

(Nobody comes here to read anyway, but I appreciate you if you find me someday!)

Fourth, we have been watching A LOT of hockey. With the Buffalo Sabres, the Minnesota Wild, and the Columbus Blue Jackets — and a subscription to ESPN+ — there is usually at least one game a night, and often two. They’re not all *good* mind; all three teams are struggling this year. But when they play well, even if they lose, they’re fun to watch. And with college football ramping down, having hockey is a constant source of excitement and fun.

Fifth, it’s holiday season, so there’s a lot to do. I hosted Thanksgiving for 9, watched the parade (of course!), and basked in the afternoon of good food and better company. Sarah and I even got our gift shopping done already! We have a million things to wrap and send, but at least we don’t have to figure out any more presents. Are we going to bake this year? Make cookies or something special for Christmas Day with friends? Who knows! Not me, anyway. It depends how we feel about it next week, probably. But maybe!

Lastly, it’s the part of the year where it gets dark early and stays dark long into the morning. Every part of my body thinks I should be hibernating right now, and naps are common. I also find that I’m more introspective and less outgoing as the darkness descends. I like this time of year, the cold, the quiet, the stillness. I like the night of the soul leading to the solstice and the celebration of Yule when the light returns. There’s a peace in the solitude of the late nights lit only by our electric fireplace and my laptop. It’s restful, and restorative, but not very productive.

If you want to find me being active these days, visit me on BlueSky. It has replaced the bird site for me, and while I’m not much more prolific there than I ever was on Twitter, I’m making some attempt to have a presence. Of course I’m still here, too, but I don’t really post memes here and such. I figure if you want the silly, it’s going to be on the spur-of-the-moment site. This is the long-form me, and I am inherently less amusing at length.

Anyway. I’m here, I’m writing, I’m doing okay. I’m busy, and my attention is going many directions at once, but I’m centered and grounded where it matters. And although we’re not quite to the point of looking ahead to 2024, the view from here has some light on the horizon.

As this is a season where there are almost no songs written for me and my spiritual affiliation (I do not do Christmas carols), I thought I would share this one instead. This is a wonderfully entertaining meditation on that space between traditional religious music.

I give you “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs” by Steve Martin:

Stay safe, all!

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