Fall is Coming!

As I write this, it’s been raining and there is more rain on the way. Here’s hoping for lots more. A couple weeks ago we had brutal heat. It reached 109F/43C here at the house and that is absolutely unheard of here. I’m hoping the plants that look dead or damaged from the heat come back . . .

tl;dr: Despite everything below, Bound in Smoke is going well and I have been steadily adding words that need to be there.

What about the Writing?

Yes, I am writing. I have spent the last several weeks attempting to be honest with myself about why it’s going so slow. I have worked through my grief about family losses — where “worked through” means accepting that grief is a never ending and always transforming condition. The issue I’m grappling with now has to do with a crippling internal editor. For some reason, when I’m writing, my head fills up with every single criticism ever made about my books and all the people who are just sure that the writing process that has seen me through nearly 50 stories is wrong and if only I would change my process everything would be smooth sailing. It’s hard to write when you think your writing is terrible and you’re also doing it wrong, and I just haven’t tried hard enough with a “mature” process.

Process Process WTF and Also Shut Up.

Anyway, I am not an outliner or pre-writer. A structured approached has never ever not once resulted in me finishing a book. So it’s easy enough for me to set aside process doubts. Besides, I’m fairly certain those doubts are tightly connected to the writing doubts, a side-effect of which is this: no one but me can criticize what I don’t publish. Entertaining process doubts sends me down rabbit holes of “writing” that doesn’t actually put words into a chapter. Verrrry convenient there, subconscious. Fortunately, I know that’s baloney. The bigger obstacle has been what feels like a disconnect between the joy of writing and the actual writing when all I can think is this is terrible terrible terrible. And I spend my time re-crafting sentences etc or just distracting myself with anything that’s not writing and maybe when I come back to it, I will see it’s not that bad. I know this typically means there is something wrong with my story concept–more to the point, I haven’t found the spark between the characters that drives the story.

It’s helped a lot that over the last year or so ideas about the story have come to be more and more often instead of hardly ever.


I had a private conversation with myself about the world I want for Bound in Smoke, and the books I want to write before I am too old and decrepit to write.  I told myself, fine. That is the world I will actually write, and that decision was freeing. And now the spark I need is showing up.





4 Responses to “Fall is Coming!”

  1. Liam says:

    Oof, that sounds so much like my internalized perfectionism it’s brutal. It doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, for me — it just guarantees that whatever it’s rearing its head about will NOT get done. Can’t write that email for the job offer until I do x/y/z… oops, now it’s been too long, they likely aren’t interested anymore. Can’t release this update, there are still over 500 bugs in the github (spoilers: after fixing those 500 bugs I will have spawned 1500 more because that’s just science at this point). Nobody is as hard on ourselves as ourselves, and half the time I need someone to point out to me that maaaaybe avoidance is due to perfectionism, which is really just another excuse to procrastinate.

    Being diagnosed with PTSD late in life has made me more aware of when I’m expressing avoidant behaviour, and it also means I get to hash out with my therapist or close friends if it’s trauma avoidance or perfectionism or a nifty mix of both (as my trauma included my safety and stability being dependent on the demands of being “better than perfect”). It’s a brutal wall I’ve been banging myself against like a bee against a pane of glass with about the results you’d expect from that behaviour. Heh.

    So I feel you, and can empathize so much. It’s not just us being our harshest critics — that internal critic will simply never be sated, and even if you change how you do things completely, it will still be just as critical AND now you’ve spent all this time and effort doing things the way someone else said you should.

    “Should” is a terrible word, and a terribly powerful one. It’s on the list of banned words from therapy, and I try to make it so from my life entirely. It’s too powerful, too judgy, too imperative, and entirely unreasonable. Especially with the word “just” tacked on after.

    These are things that, once you get the underlying ideas, you might think you’d have a nice epiphany and then be done with them. Unfortunately, my battle with plate glass occurs despite being fully aware I do it frequently and it never ever has a different outcome.

    I love your books, and your writing — all of them, across genres. I’m always so excited when there is a new story of yours coming out, and I have never been disappointed. Just delighted. Knowing that the 50th is as hard as the 1st, to create and put out there, only makes me appreciate them more and makes me so very grateful you continue to do so. It’s a very vulnerable thing, writing — at least, it can be, and I’ve noticed that the authors I love best are the ones who allow it to be, even though it really does hurt when people unfairly criticize it. Or the process used to create it. Or that it even exists.

    I’m a game developer. I work on a really well-known franchise, and when people find out, one of the first questions I get most often is “When are you guys going to make a GOOD ___ game again?”

    It’s always hilariously offensive and utterly in earnest, but what I’ve found fascinating is that when I ask them which game they thought was the last “good” one we made… the answers are absolutely all over the board. Games that were universally panned are some peoples’ favourites, games that I feel especially proud of or have more investment in due to how much and where I contributed are dismissed as “garbage”. It’s fascinating, and generally not tactfully put, but it’s because they love the series so much that they want to talk about the next one and what they want to see from it.

    I think that matters to me most because their having such strong feelings about it means that the games have touched them, and while 300+ people working on a game is nothing like one person (for the most part) writing a book, but… maybe there’s something of that in it, too.

    It’s still not a cool thing to say to anyone, heh. There are much better ways of talking about passion, but the gaming community is still working on “basic human being 101” so it’s going to take a while. The fact that they EXPECT we’ll make a game they will really enjoy in the future is kind of cool, if in a backhanded compliment kind of way.

    I wouldn’t ask that from you, though, even if it WAS an okay thing to say. I’m excited and looking forward to whatever you write next, whether or not it’s anything like anything you’ve written before. Are the Demons/Mages books my personal catnip? Oh, definitely, and everything you’ve put out about this new book just has me thrilled. Because if these are the books you want to write and to put into the world, I am right there for every single one. I’m so, so glad that deciding on pursuing that course is what’s helping you break through, because it’s both utterly right and also utterly you. I don’t think you do anything with less than your whole heart, and while that’s exhausting, it also has incredible results.

    Thank you, for all of it. Not just the books and stories and incredible worlds and characters, but for your vulnerability and your willingness to be so open about it.

  2. Danita says:

    I love your writing ??. May peace and love guide your tomorrows.