I’m Raising a Monster, or, Why My Kid Rocks

Every morning, I take my daughter, just turned 7, to school.  We pull up to the door, she gives me a kiss and hops out, then blows me another kiss and goes inside, usually with an “I love you, dad!”

This morning was different.

As she was getting out of the car, she was acting as if she wasn’t going to give me a kiss goodbye.  I said, in my “Daddy is pretending to be sad” voice, “Don’t I get a kiss?” She rolled her eyes and said, in the most “aggrieved teenager” voice ever, “I’m not going to leave without giving you a kiss, dad.”  I repeat, she is seven.

As she got out of the car,  I said “I love you, sweetie,” and she ROLLED HER EYES AT ME.  AGAIN.

She immediately opened the door and gave me the most incredible “gotcha” grin ever.

Little punk.

Man, I love that kid.

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Discouraged whining? Writers don’t do that, surely!?

I’m honestly not trying to have a pity party, here, but someday this might be worth something to someone who is in the same place I am.  And, hey, I’m an over-sharer.  So:

Feeling pretty low today.

Since the new school year began, I’ve been very tired.  My insomnia doesn’t help–the last three nights I’ve had to take something to get to sleep before 1am (I have to get up at 6am; if I go to sleep after 1 I’m going to be useless the next day, and I can’t be useless as a teacher).

I’m not sleepy, I’m just exhausted.  My brain barely feels like it’s functioning, and what little juice it gets I give to my work.  So when I get home, and the Bun is in bed, and I want to write… I can’t.  Words just don’t come.

On top of this, I’m suddenly terrified that I’m writing drivel.  Not “bad prose that can be fixed,” but “oh my god please dig my eyes out with a spoon”-level work.  It’s a constant thought this week, and that makes me freeze up even more.

I keep telling myself that multiple respected writers and editors said I had something worth reading, and one even used the exact words “You’re a good writer,” but right now it’s really hard to take those statements as truth, even though I know the people involved had no reason to lie to me.

Last night I put my daughter to bed, then I sat down with my computer and tried to write. I couldn’t.  I know what’s happening in that scene.  I know what comes next.  But I simply couldn’t marshal the mental fortitude to put words on the page.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not actually depressed.  I don’t seem to fit the pattern of actual depression, but I do have severe self-esteem issues (thanks, adopted family!); pair that with the natural cynicism my life has given me, and I am my own harshest critic.

So I fight back.  And that works… but I still can’t seem to get anything written.   But I’ll keep trying.

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Still plugging away

Last week I was all fired up. Only three more chapters until this, the rough draft, is finished. And they include a battle scene I’ve been planning for eons. No problem!

Alas, that enthusiasm is gone. I’m finding myself wholly unable to focus, unable to get any words on the page that even pass the “permission to write badly” rule.

And yet, I will not yield. Three chapters. Come on, Johnston. That’s nothing–a year ago I only HAD three chapters, notwithstanding the Great Disk Death of 2012, which destroyed the 3/4 done first version of the story. I was devastated when it happened, but really, it was very inferior to what now exists.

Anyway. Back to the comma mines.

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How to come home on a hot California day, Sacramento edition

1. Stagger in the door loaded down with your computer bag and your daughter’s backpack. Drop bags in the appropriate places.
2. Recognize the fact that your house is hot; turn on the air conditioner.
3. Fill a cup with a metric buttload of ice and your favorite drink.
4. Grab your kindle and your drink. Head out to the backyard and flop into the hammock.
5. Begin reading.
6. After fifteen minutes, realize it’s way too fucking hot for this shit and go back inside.
7. Collapse into favorite chair. Pull laptop out. Start writing.

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I don’t usually reblog, but when I do…

… it’s because the post is golden.

Jim C. Hines has written a great post on writerly despair. If, like me, you’re still working towards publication, then maybe you should give it a look.

Later, a post on the viciousness of non-writers.

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The Glamorous Life of the (Unpublished) Writer

Today began nicely. Woke my daughter up, finding a new way to gently break through her desire to not get up. Took her to school, then came home, looked at the clutter of the kitchen and living room, and said “This will not do.”

Four hours later I had a clean kitchen and living room. Then I sat down and wrote until it was time to get my daughter. Once she was home, I cleaned the master bathroom (only called such because it’s in the “master bedroom” area; it’s exactly the same size as the other bathroom–smalled, even, as the other one has a tub and this one just has a shower stall. But I digress…), and then sat down to write again.

Then I made her dinner, then helped my wife put her to bed, and then began writing again. At the end of the day, I had 1,853 new words, bringing the total for the book so far to 60,122. I finished the heroes’ daring raid on an Imperial Intelligence data store and their subsequent seat-of-their-pants escape, including the hero nearly falling off the top of his hovering starship to his death (starships are not running surfaces, especially fifteen stories above the ground). That means I’ve got between 30K and 40K words left to write. Only three chapters (I write long chapters)!

My daughter usually only goes to summer camp at her school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But tomorrow is the last “water play day” at summer school, with the promise of an ice cream party and a kid’s movie, and she really wants to have fun with her friends. So I’m sending her. And since I did all the cleaning today, tomorrow is going to be six hours of nothing but writing. Well, four hours of writing, and some reading, most likely, but we’ll see how it goes.

Next week I go back to work. My curriculum is ready, and all I need to do now is get the classroom set up and print up my syllabi, then prepare for Back to School Night later in September.

And now? Now I’m tired, so I’m going to go read (I’m nearly done with Peter F. Hamilton’s The Great North Road; it’s great by the way) until I am ready to sleep.

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Just a quick check in

So, I keep meaning to write more here, but the truth is, not much is happening. I could bitch about this or that, but what good does that do?

The Damned Book is coming along. I wanted to finish it over the summer, but I didn’t for various reasons, some my fault, some due to interference from the world and other people. But I’m close–I have four chapters to finish, but I have them plotted, and now it’s all about the writing.

Once that’s done, I’ll start the beta/revision cycle.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I left the protagonist and his crew in the middle of a raid on an Imperial Intelligence datastore, and if I don’t get back there, Tajen is likely to get himself killed. And then it’s all over.

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