Saturday, September 17, 2005

On my plate

I haven't posted in a while, and I have photos from Portland I want to share, but from the moment I arrived back in Fairbanks early Monday morning, I have been putting in a string of 12-hr days, and things won't lighten up for another week. The good news is I'm making a little money.

It seems to me that a writer's job is to write, but this year has been my worst year for writing since I started way back in 1986. First I suffered a total writer's block beginning on Jan. 4 when I turned in the final manuscript for the novel. That lasted till May. I didn't beat myself up about it because I figured that after working on one project for five years I was bound to need a transition or recovery period. Then I began to write in fits and starts.

I experience writing as a cumulative effort. That is, I build up a momentum, day by day, and that after a break it can take a week or so to get up to speed. I was building that momentum when I left for Glasgow in August, which required I start all over again this month. But I had to prepare for my PNBA event in Portland, where I was required to speak publicly, a very stressful prospect for a stay-at-cabinner like me. But what is life if not constantly pushing one's boundaries, right? I spent an entire week prepping myself instead of writing, as well as putting together my press kit for the next event, The Adult Readers Round Table in Chicago. (more on that when I get a moment).

I put the final touches on the press kit this week, including blowing an ENTIRE afternoon at a local copy shop helping them troubleshoot a software glitch involving their Xerox production center and my latest version of InDesign so that I could even get my press kit printed. I was up most nights till midnight gluing, stuffing and tabbing the kit and mailed it off yesterday. Whew. At least I got to check in with Leno and Dave, who I hadn't seen in quite a while. (Dave and I share not only a name but a gap between our front teeth.)

Meanwhile, classes started, and I'm teaching an online course on Photoshop for the university. A LOT of handholding to get my students up and running. But the biggest time sink is an extra-rush job I accepted at my graphics design company--producing FOUR full-color brochures in two weeks. I'm only halfway through that one, and that's the one that pays the bills around here. Teaching doesn't (where I'm essentially a piece worker who gets paid a pittance for each lesson I grade), and writing hasn't yet (though I'm told my advance was above average for first SF novel). On the back burner is a semi-annual journal for the Anthropology department at the U, and another online course I have till January to create from scratch on InDesign. At least the paying work is available, and I won't have to worry about cash flow till early next year (knock on wood).

Nevertheless, I am proud to say that I've written four days this week, usually only for an hour or two, and that I will write today, Saturday, right after posting this (and then back to the brochures. I'm working on Book 2 of what could be a Counting Heads series, depending I guess on how well the first one does. I have ideas for three or four books out. I have a hundred or so pages sketched for the second one, but I'm taking time out from actual writing to work on the outline. I'm not an outline kind of writer. My work is more "organic," which means that so much of what I write gets cut out. At least trying to work out the story arcs will, I hope, allow this one to be written in only two years instead of five.

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