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Writing Process

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I love getting reader questions as blog prompts, and given the sort of people I hang out with, I get some really fascinating ones! Here's a question that Riia sent in for the blog. I've known Riia through the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) for a very long time and have been following her professional travels and adventures from Alaska to California to Tasmania (am I remembering that correctly?) to Italy to Sweden doing research with lasers and garnets (among other things).

My friend Karen periodically holds a "backyard writing retreat" for a small circle of friends. The idea is to set aside the day for actual writing, not chit-chat (though we do some of that) or web surfing (though that happens too) or getting caught up on ancillary tasks (yup, check). So for this past Sunday's writing retreat, I committed to actually starting the revisions on Floodtide, which has been "fermenting" in messy first draft since...oh my goodness, since before last year's Worldcon? I'd have to check.

It’s funny how some stories just demand to be written while others are content to noodle around in the back of your brain for a while. I actually have a handful of in-process short fiction at the moment that is waiting for me to decide that a specific story really needs to get finished. But “The Language of Roses” wasn’t quite as patient. It’s also a different length than I’ve ever written before, though goodness knows, when I’m not paying attention to length, any of my short stories has the potential to turn into a novella!

I set a goal to finish the first round of revisions to “The Language of Roses” during November—my variant on NaNoWriMo, as it were. And although I’ve made significant progress, I’m not going to meet that goal. Oh, there are various reasons. Several projects cropped up at work that used up a lot of creative energy. I’m finding more and more that I can’t do creative-type writing while traveling, so Thanksgiving week was spent on relatively mindless computer housekeeping projects rather than on editing. And various other projects that I wanted to front-load into my priority schedule.

Readers and writers both have strong opinions about point of view, even when that strong opinion is, “Any point of view can work if you’re skilled enough.” I’ve heard authors proclaim that they’ll only use one specific type of point of view because that’s the only one that works for them. Fair enough. One can’t argue with what works.

Sheena (our fearless leader at The Lesbian Talk Show) was chatting with me on facebook about how I write characters, after the review of Mother of Souls came out at The Lesbian Review (her other project), and it ended up turning into an interview for her series The Write Stuff.

I have a list of blog prompts that people have suggested, and though I always mean to address them first in/first out, usually some other intersection causes one to pop up to the top. In this case, when I mentioned dictating stories during my commute, Sara Uckelman asked: When you dictate, do you write like you talk? Do you edit a lot when transcribing or is it faithful? How much is it "these are the ideas I want to convey" and how much "these are the words I want to convey the ideas with?"

Today I have a reader question from Andrei, who has kindly allowed me to answer in this blog:

I really enjoy your books. Lately I've been reading a history book on pre-Revolutionary France and it noted that the Christian message that was preached to the masses by the post-Reformation Catholic Church was one of a angry God, a God of vengeance and wrath that demanded penitence and misery. This sermon that Yves Michel Marchais delivered to his congregation in Western France in the 1780s is quite illustrative:

Yeah, it's been a while since I've done a writing progress update, isn't it? I confess I've gotten a little knocked off the tracks with respect to blogging in the past month and I keep reminding myself that one of my New Year's Irresolutions was not to beat myself up about that. (Poor Abiel LaForge is sitting there on the front lines waiting for the war to end.) So where are we...?

Except for the book release re-boot series, I haven't been blogging as regularly as I like to. May has been a bit crazy in terms of travel/conventions and work pressures (you know, the job that pays my bills). I've had enough LHMP posts in the can to carry my through (though I need to record a podcast tonight that I haven't finished writing yet! The Civil War diaries have been a dropped ball for the last couple weeks. But I keep plugging away at the first draft of Floodtide, day by day.


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