Thursday, August 30, 2012

Novelist Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia looks like it's spelled wrong, even though Google assures me it's correct. I for one am not going to question our Google overlords, so let's just go with it.

I'm in that weird place where I swing wildly back and forth between positive affirmations for my novel, to soul sucking despair. When you're doing any sort of serious editing, there's really no in between. You either sit down happy to put words to the page, or the minute you open Scrivener, you think of a million other things that have to be done right now.

I have the attention span of a hamster at the moment, so that just makes it worse. There are so many things I mean to do and forget to until I am in the middle of something else. These things range in importance from clipping a hang nail to paying a bill, so when I remember stuff while writing, the urge to take care of this other thing gets really strong. Unlike rocking my son to sleep, I can actually get up from the computer.

If I was a normal person, I could simply write this stuff down in a list and take care of it after I am finished writing. But depending on what I remembered, it turns into an itch that won't go away until I scratch it. Like that hang nail. I wish I was kidding, but it really bothers me when there's a catch on my nail. It bothers me so much that as I am writing, this is what is going through my mind:

"I really need to show how scary this zombie is...that hang nail won't go away."

*picks at the nail. It only makes the catch deeper*

"I really have to remember to cut it the next time I get up to pee. Back to the scene. But what if I forget? I keep forgetting to cut this darn thing and it's really starting to get on my nerves."

*bites nail. It only makes the nail ragged and gross looking*

"Damn, that's not any better. Now it's really going to bother me. Maybe I should just get up and cut it. No. The last time I did that, I got distracted and mopped the kitchen floor, made a sammich, and then remembered about the writing. Then I sat down and had to pee. No, I am just going to ignore the ragged nail and keep typing. Zombies. Think about the zombies."

So I think about the zombies for a little while, but the pressure to get up and cut the nail increases until it's like a klaxon in my brain...


In the case of the hang nail, I gave in and cut it (I am sure there's a diagnosis and/or medication for people like me, but I prefer to just blame it on being really tired for about nine months now (But Liz, you say, your kid is only six months old, how can you be tired for longer than he's been alive? To which I say, thank you hypothetical person, for asking and noticing how old my kid is. Also, you don't sleep that last trimester of pregnancy. You're so big by that point that when you lay down, the baby sort of pushes up on your ribs and lungs, and mine decided that kicking was a fun way to past the time at night. So there's the other three months accounted for.)).

Now I've lost my train of thought, and I keep staring at the periods and parenthesis wondering if I have enough of them and they are properly placed. So we're moving on now.

For other stuff I just have to ignore it and keep writing. It's harder when the writing feels like crap, and it's pointless, and it's never going to get better and I am never going to amount to anything and everyone is going to be so disappointed I am going to have to physically move away even though this is the Internet and global warming is probably my fault too.

But seriously, you just have to buckle down and write. Even when you feel like it's crap, writing can be like a parachute. Writer's block? Write some words. Feel like it's all pointless? Keep writing, and eventually it will feel pointy again. Don't know what happens next? Write some words and make it up as you go along. Bored with the book in general?


You write some words, but man, add in something awesome. A nuclear-virus bomb explodes in Washington. Add a llama. Force feed a character with a nut allergy some peanut butter. Shake things up.  

Above all, when you have a million voices in your head chiming in about your novel, only listen to the nice ones.

The rest of them can take a hike.

So, what do you do to quell the voices? Besides medication, I mean. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recent Google Searches

Recent Google searches...

 *What is the maximum strength Oragel for teething?

*My 6 month old ate some paper

*Is eating roadkill sanitary? How could you make it sanitary? 

*My 6 month old is constipated 

 *What is a normal bedtime for a baby?

*Why won't my baby go to sleep?

 *How long does it take leftovers to go bad?

*How do you effectively hide a dead body?

I'll let you speculate amongst yourselves which questions were related to my personal life and which ones were for the book. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Return to Normalcy (Sort of)

Four days shy of my son turning six months old, and I finally feel like life is returning to something resembling what passes for normal in this house.

Of course, this is the new normal, the normal that includes having a baby doing barrel rolls across the living room floor.

I've gotten into a decent routine of picking up as I go along, and taking care of housework in short bursts. Writing comes in short bursts as well, but it's a little more of a stretch for me. I used to simply write for hours, and then go off and do other things. 

Now I might have fifteen minutes there, and ten minutes here. It's harder to keep track of what I was able to write, what the scene was about, and the general thread of the book. Writing's slowed down to a crawl and it feels like this book is Taking Forever to Write. The "this sucks, let's burn it and dance on the ashes" period is lasting longer as a result, and things are generally difficult. 

So, in addition to using nap times, I've decided to out source for help. My mom's going to watch the baby every Monday, and I am going to get some serious writing done. Today was the first day of this schedule, and it was glorious. I wrote for hours, got some plotting done, and had time to spare to make dinner and straighten up. 

You see, it's hard to justify spending money on a babysitter when I am staying home to be with the baby. I feel like it will be easier once I have an agent and a book contract, because I'll be bringing money into the house, but for now it just feels...weird.

It's just me; my husband and family aren't making me feel this way, but it's there just the same. My mom watching the baby seems to be the best solution, since she gets to spend time with her grandson and I get to spend time working on my book. 

This got me thinking about what people do to make their writing feel more legitimate. I think it's really important to not only tell yourself you're a writer, and act like a professional, but practice habits that reinforce that notion. At the moment my desk is in the living space, but when we move into a bigger house, I am going to have a separate room for an office. I've arranged to have the baby looked after so I have time to work. All of these things are scary in a way, but they feel necessary to ensure that I take myself seriously. 

But like anything else, this is a job, and I should act as such. It's easier, working from home, to feel like I am just playing around. There's no clear mark between when I am done working, and at home, so I have to make that mark myself. Part of that is finding a baby sitter, or once I am done with my word count for the day, walking away from the computer. 

Of course, this sense of routine is going to be short lived since we're moving in November. 


But until then!

What do you do to make your writing feel legitimate?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Best Analogy for the Query System

This is quite possibly the best analogy I've encountered for the query system, and literary agents in general. 

A Right Fit.

I am not saying I agree with every single point in this article, but it was certainly a different way of looking at queries. 

On that final note, for those about to query, we salute you. 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Something awesome happened yesterday!

James Scott Bell, one of my writing heroes, posted about how to write a novella yesterday, directly quoting a comment I made a few days ago.

How awesome is that!

Also, the advice on writing a novella is much needed. 

So go forth and read the article. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Drive

I am sure other, more witty, better looking, and smarter people have made similiar parallels between Olympic athletes and writers. 

But those people are busy right now, so you're stuck with me. :D Sorry about that.

Anyway. My family and I were talking yesterday about what it takes to be an Olympic athlete, namely the sacrifices.

Consider how many hours of practice it requires. How many missed outings with friends and family. The amount of money spent it takes for them to even be considered for the team.

N0, seriously, think about this.

Because there's a lot of decent athletes out there. Talented athletes, who might have had the chops to go for the gold, but instead made different choices. There's nothing wrong with those choices, but it takes a certain amount of sacrifice to keep working at something day after day.


These athletes going to the Olympics aren't guaranteed anything. They aren't guaranteed they're going to make the team, or place, or place high enough to win the gold medal. They do all of that work, on the hope they might win a gold medal (or settle for the silver or bronze, if you can call that settling).

So why bother?

I'm not an Olympic athlete, so I don't know what drives them. I watched one of the road races, as they cycled in the rain (SHOCKING in London, right?) for three and a half hours. I just kept thinking, "No way. No way. I would have stopped after the first half hour."

Because that's not my passion. Writing is. 

Writing is the thing I can do, day in and day out. When I'm tired and the words won't come, and when I am typing lightening fast in a white hot fire, word-drunk. Why? Because it's my passion. It's the thing that gives me release and challenges and makes me feel alive. 

And even though like an Olympic athlete I have no guarantees of an agent, a book deal, of selling to more than just my mom, it's going to keep me going.

Plus, the cool thing about writing is you can do as much practicing as you want by yourself. Because seriously, the first time I fell off a balance beam I would just die from embarrassment.