The cliche of loving fall.

Yup. I love fall. The trees stop producing chlorophyll, allowing their more interesting carotene and anthocyanins to show… then the leaves fall and get crunchy. It’s scarf and layers weather, rather than big bulky coat weather. Various root vegetables come into fashion. I start to think seriously about making pies. The only thing not to love about fall, as far as I’m concerned, is football. October seems to be the sharpest demarcation of this season, and it just so happens this year that several other exciting things are happening on or around October 1st as well.

1. As I’ve said before, and will probably say again because I’m self-absorbed (and hey, isn’t that what blogs are for?), I have three publications coming out on or around October 1st – in M-Brane SF #9, the final issue of Farrago’s Wainscot, and the SF queer anthology Things We Are Not. This queer anthology is going to be especially awesome. You can pre-order the book starting on 9/28!

2. My beloved Clarion West classmates and I will begin our second annual writing contest on October 1st. Spearheaded by the dashing Shane Hoversten, this contest involves a rigorous set of rules, a complex point system, and an addendum that I added yesterday which requires the competitors to good-naturedly heckle each other. The basic gist of the contest is to write as many “structurally complete” short stories or novel segments as possible between midnight October 1st and 11:59pm New Years Eve. Extra points for submitting the story to markets during the contest window.  The winner will receive the prize of his or her face on a coffee mug, which all of the participants will buy. That way everyone wins, but everyone also knows who really won. Last year, the prize was a t-shirt where the winner was depicted behind bars “in the prison of his own genius.” (Pam has some nice pictures of herself, Kira, and An in these shirts, which you can see here). Shane was the big winner last year because he cranked out an 8000 word story a day for the last week of the contest, stunning us all into silence. Not so this year! I will triumph and they will all drink out of my face!

3. To be fair, this is unrelated to fall or October 1st, but it is related to writing. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie Grove of hownottowrite fame. He was in Chicago at a big fancy conference for his super-awesome job, and we met up at a bar downtown.  We talked about the stuff writers talk about — you know, writing — and tried to hear each other over the terrible 90s music that was blasting from the speakers. The reason I bring this up is actually two reasons. One — Jamie is awesome. Two — he just wrote an interesting  blog post about meeting other writers. It’s so easy to make connections online, and yet sometimes it feels just as hard to take that first step as it is to introduce yourself to a stranger at a bar.  I’m terrible at it, personally. But we need each other. Plus it’s no fun to toil away all alone in your dank apartment. This way, you can toil away in your dank apartment… with lots of Twitter friends. And everyone wants Twitter friends. So check out his post. And then check out my “Writers” links to meet some great writers and awesome people. Tell them I sent ya.

4. Oh, and one last thing to look forward to — as we speak, Mr. Jeff VanderMeer is making his list and checking it twice, judging who will be the winners of the Brain Harvest Mega Challenge! So keep an eyeball on the Brain Harvest page… we’ll be posting the winners very soon!!

New-fangled time management skills

So I’ve been trying this new thing called “time management” recently. It’s kind of a new idea so I don’t know if any of you have heard of it. It involves scheduling the things you want and/or need to do, and then doing those things within an allotted time slot. This is complicated, I know, so here’s an example. I go into work at 11:45am every day (I know, lucky me, right?), so I have my mornings free to write, piddle around, make coffee, what have you. Previous to my “time management” plan, I would sort of vaguely assert that I wanted to “write” in the mornings, but what this usually entailed was opening a file at 9am, staring at it for 5 minutes, going to make coffee, staring at the file and/or writing 2 sentences, piddling around on the internet, watching cars get towed on my street, tending to my plants, making gluten-free frozen waffles… you get the idea.

NOW, however, I am a model of efficiency. I have decided that from 10-11, I will write, and that is all I will do. The compromise is that from 9-10 and from 11 until I bike to work, I can fritter away the precious moments of my life however I choose. This technique works surprisingly well. Now, two-plus hours is not a terribly long period of time to manage, and I have a whole day off coming up soon, which I usually spend roaming around the city, drinking too much coffee and “trying to write.” Can I manage a whole day? Can I actually save some of that day for doing OTHER things I enjoy? I shiver with excitement at the prospect.

Here’s an unrelated question (does anybody actually read this thing, or am I just talking to myself?) I was thinking of documenting the weird things that happen at the sex shop, both for my own enjoyment and possible future mining of ideas… but y’know, if there’s an audience to consider, I’m happy to consider their preferences.  The stories are funny, usually, but can involve some naughty language and salacious content.

Also, today is the last day of Clarion West. I can’t quite believe it, and I’m not even there this year.

Yes, thank you, I would love some cheese with my whine.

I certainly don’t want to start off this blog sounding like a complainy-puss, but you have no idea how hard I’ve been fighting for those meager 1300 words. And here’s a little secret – *they’re from two different stories*.  But! Words are words, and maybe I can make my weekly goal after all.

I think my problem is this: I’ve gotten into some really bad writing habits recently. I’ve been starting things, freaking out, and then not finishing them, which then puts me in a mindset that finishing stories is hard or that I’m going through a phase that I should just wait out or… something. So yeah, I know I should just push through, or at least, that’s what I always tell people, but y’know, it’s different when it’s you.

The story I’m working on right now is part of an incomplete idea that came to me while I was watching the nifty little indie film Wristcutters, which is about people who commit suicide and then find themselves in a sort of purgatory for people who have committed suicide, which essentially amounts to a slightly shittier world than the one they came from, where the landscape looks like Nevada and nobody smiles. Anyway, this is neither here nor there, as my idea has to do with a person who wakes up every morning in a different house and has to clean that house from top to bottom. Only when she’s finished does the sun set and she can go to bed, and upon waking up again, finds herself in a different house.

It’s a premise I enjoy, but as with most new ideas, it needs more to it to make it a story. Hence my frustration, as I haven’t figured out what that story is yet.

My other theory about my current difficulties is that I’m not reading enough fiction. In fact, since Clarion West, I have had a very difficult time finishing full-length books of fiction. I’ve done okay with short stories and even a YA novel or two, but the stack on my bedside table keeps getting taller and more gruesome. I’ve begun to avoid looking at it altogether.

Or maybe I just need a break. Maybe I should go look at things other than this computer screen for awhile. That might be the best option. Nevertheless, I will have 1700 more words by Sunday, mark my… er… words!

Clarion West Write-a-Thon, Day 3

I made a promise to myself and to all those reading my page for the Write-a-Thon that I would write 3000 words a week, or the equivalent of six stories.

Well. Here we are, nearly halfway through the first week, and I’ve written approximately zero words. I can make excuses – I was out of town on Sunday, I had to work my other day-job-that-shall-not-be-named (not this job, which I love) on Monday, and today, well, today I just had to stare at a blank screen for three hours waiting for inspiration to strike. I don’t think I have been this bereft of ideas since the first week of Clarion West last June.

A psychological connection, perhaps?

In any case, I’m going to catch up, starting tomorrow. I will be writing a story to submit to the Shine Anthology, which my dear friend Raj pointed out to me, because it’s good to  have concrete goals.  The story is going to be about… something something climate change something something geoengineering. But really, it will be about relationships, because aren’t they all?

If you have faith in my ability to get my shit together, won’t you please sponsor me in the Write-a-Thon, so future generations can also get writers’ block? Every little bit helps.  And if you are lacking in faith, try some of the other writers who are more disciplined than I.