The Writing Meme

Here’s a writing meme that’s been floating around the blogosphere. Leah Braemel (way back in May) tagged Julia Smith with it, who tagged Jennifer McKenzie, who said, “I hate tagging folks. If you want to do it, let me know you did and I’ll come visit.” So Amy Ruttan did just that, and also said, “I tag whoever wants to play.” And Ann of Fractured Fiction picked it up (and also said, “I’m not going to tag anyone”), wherefrom I discovered it, and here it is…

1. List one of your writing goals for the upcoming month. How likely are you to accomplish it?

I hope to finish and send off to the printers the first volume of The Conscience of Abe’s Turn, so that I can finally give away some copies of it. I think this one is fairly certain, as I’m just about done with the last extra chapter.

Bonus goal 1: I also want to begin work on a memoir, tentatively titled I Didn’t Think I Was an Idiot: Career Discoveries of a Veteran Software Developer.

Bonus goal 2: I need to continue work on the next episode of Abe’s Turn, which is set in April, 2008.

2. What genre or subject would you like to write about that you aren’t currently?

I’d love to write a straight, cheesy romantic comedy, just for fun, something much lighter than what I’ve been writing of late. Or maybe just a straight romance, but without all the touchy-feely character dumps.

3. What is your writing lifestyle, habits? How do you manage the interruptions with your writing? How do you stay positive? Believe in your writing success?

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I’m a stay-at-home dad, which means during school summer vacation, I’m pushed sometimes past my breaking point with interruptions. And my schedule has been thrown off completely. Therefore, I’ve been plagued by migraine and stress headaches. Dear Lord, please give me the endurance to make it until after Labor Day, when the kids finally go back to school.

During the school year, I get up in the morning and get a cup of coffee. My alarm goes off at 8 AM, although sometimes the kids wake me up earlier, and other times I sleep in until later. Sometimes, I write in the early morning, but usually my brain simply isn’t working at that time. Instead, I might watch something on TV, read email, spend some time with M., or whatever.

By the late morning, M. has left for work, and I’m thinking pretty well. I do my best creative work during the hours of 10 AM to noon. Just before lunch, I exercise. After lunch, I sometimes relax in a hot bath with a book or a movie. Just before the kids get out of school, I usually get caught up on software development projects I’m working on, because that’s when the developers I work with tend to be available to meet, even if just virtually over the Internet.

After the kids arrive home from school, I try to do work that requires little creativity or focus, like simple coding tasks or website maintenance. Then I make dinner, M. comes home, and if I’m lucky I have a few hours more to write, read, or watch DVDs before I go to bed.

I handle interruptions very poorly. When interrupted, I get frustrated, which over time stresses me out and gives me headaches, and I develop a gut fear of whatever tends to precede the interruptions. For example, now if I hear footfalls on the stairs, my head automatically starts to ache, because some part of me just knows that those footfalls are someone coming to disturb me. Therefore, I schedule periods of time when I will be free to focus on creative work. That’s why I tend to get most of my writing done in the late morning or just before bed.

See #6 below for the question of being positive and believing in my writing success.

4. Are you a pantser or plotter?

Both, actually. I tend to plan a story out in rough form and then connect the dots while I’m writing it. But I’ve been experimenting with techniques that help me to plan it out in a little more detail, in order to increase my writing speed.

5. Who are two of your favorite current authors and why?

Current authors… Hmm.

I enjoy Holly Lisle’s novels, because she tends to think like me. She also does not pigeonhole herself, which means that every book of hers that I read gives me a slightly different experience, and I like that.

I also enjoy James Bovard’s libertarian non-fiction. He makes me laugh, probably because he states the obvious so succinctly.

UPDATE: A new blog post on Jim Bovard’s blog demonstrates why I like his stuff:

“CIA More Fully Denies Deception About Iraq” – in yesterday’s Washington Post.

The subhead should have read: “This Time We Are Not Lying Like Weasels – We Swear!”

The Post article on the CIA’s reaction to Ron Suskind’s revelations included this tidbit from the CIA’s prepared statement:
“To state what should be obvious, it is not the policy or practice of this Agency to violate American law.”
Obvious perhaps to some of the bootlickers in the DC press corps.

Bonus author: Some months ago, I read Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams. I enjoyed it so much that I had one of my characters recommend it to another, and I’m hoping to read more of her novels soon.

6. How does your family feel about your writing?

They’ve been supportive, probably because I’ve been able to bill a certain number of hours as a consulting software developer. That means there are multiple income streams, and we aren’t in the poor house yet.

Staying positive can be difficult. For now, I comfort myself that I’ve done all my homework, and I do know what I’m up to. But some fears linger.

My biggest fear… Have you ever seen The Pursuit of Happyness? Remember the part just before the climax? When he was separated from his wife, living on the street, and bustling like hell just to feed himself and his son for one more day, all the while investing everything he had into a career that might turn out a bust? That’s my biggest fear. And frankly, it’s a silly one, because I know that I could get more software work if I needed to, and I can write about other topics if I need to. I have the marketing smarts. I have options.

But I don’t want options right now. I want to write. I like to write. And I want to write fiction.

I want to write about things that excite my passions. I want to share my passions with fans that “get” them, and I want to share what I discover about writing with other writers.

I don’t want to sit behind a screen churning out code for 4 hours a day anymore (plus 6 more hours a day holding meetings and doing email), or to become an expert in some new technology, or to develop a new software development methodology, or to lecture on software engineering. I do want to write books, to sell my books, and to help others sell their books. Eventually, I’d like to make story games. I still have a good 20 years to realize that dream.

And I want to become rich along the way. Or at least well-off enough to afford a house in the country, with a garden, a home theatre, and a hot tub.

And after the kids finally grow up, get married off, and move out, I want to retire with my bride and get to know her all over again.


P.S. If you do this meme yourself, please trackback to this post or to post a comment here. I’d love to read your answers.