Stories and Plans

The Grand Canyon

I feel a little strange not writing on my blog every day! Though actually, it’s both nice to not have the obligation (however voluntary), and less good not to have the discipline. The only problem I have with writing a blog post every day is that it takes up both writing time and creative energy from my fiction. Some days I don’t have enough for both, so if I spend my hour of writing time writing a blog post, then I don’t get to my stories.

Over the course of the A to Z challenge in April, I was willing to make that choice. I wanted to get in the habit of writing much more frequently and consistently on this blog, and I wanted to discover some new writers, and I was hoping some new readers might discover me — on all of which criteria, the challenge was a success. Now I’m faced with deciding how frequently I want to write going forward, and whether I want to set up a strict schedule or not.

This is surprisingly difficult. It’s not so much that I dislike having a schedule — I am the sort of person who generally likes having a routine of sorts — but I do find that I can easily over-schedule myself, be over-optimistic in terms of how much I can consistently get done, and burn out — or at least feel decidedly miserable. I don’t like being miserable (obviously!), especially when it’s my own fault.

The balance between structure and spontaneity is not one, I think, that ever becomes static. It’s a balancing act, needing to be responsive to changing circumstances. Right now, with spring inching its way along, my gardening work is picking up. However, since the weather continues to be erratic (or, you know, the normal spring rain-sun-rainshower-all-day-rain-peekaboo-sun sort of thing), I find I don’t want to schedule too much for any given day in case I can hare off to a garden for a couple of hours.

Nevertheless, I am sure that I can commit to an hour of new fiction writing every day. My challenge for May is to make that my new habit, to write for at least one hour of new fiction. That will make two hours of daily writing, as I write in my journal daily too. I don’t want to give that up, and I’ve found over the past few days that I don’t really want to drop it down to half an hour or forty-five minutes, either; it’s almost a form of meditation for me, a way of sorting out my thoughts and feelings, aspirations and fears, and planning out stories and publication schedules and what I’m going to do with my One Day House.

This means finding another solid hour to write in … again, not an impossibility, since my schedule is flexible, but I definitely want to try making it a morning thing. I always feel better if I write in the morning; then it doesn’t matter what else I do with my day, I’ve gotten some creative work in. This is as important as getting outside for a walk every day to me. It’s not that I don’t work on my stories now — I do try to work on them every day — but that I am going to be deliberate about making sure that work includes new writing, along with editing and plotting and cover designing and all the practical publishing ends of things. The new words are the first step … well, second. First step is feeding my imagination with reading and living and thinking; second is writing. Third is editing and all the other work involved in finishing a tale to the point I want to share with people — and then all the other work before I’m willing to share it with the wider public.

All this is to say that I am going to try writing frequently on my blog, but I’m not going to commit to another daily challenge here while I’m trying to establish this new fiction habit. However, the accountability of the A to Z challenge was very useful, so I’m going to report here (not daily, but every once in a while) on my habit-forming progress. Maybe you’ll be intrigued by what I’m working on?

Over the weekend I started in on a second short story about Scheherezade the Storyteller, called “The Glassblower.” I’m hoping to finish the rough draft of that today, so I can move on to finishing the draft of my next novel, The Coming of Fitzroy, which has been languishing somewhat while I’ve been doing the blogging challenge but which I very much hope to finish over the course of May. I’m also halfway through a second story about Shakespeare (this one being about what he discovers in Fairyland), called “Avon-under-the-Hill.” I have a plan for three stories about each, plus one where their respective paths cross — I came up with the title a few months ago and it keeps making me smile, even though I’m not entirely sure what it’ll be about. Still, I am looking forward to “Scheherezade and Shakespeare Go to a Bar” — along with the six stories about how they got there. They (Shakespeare and Scheherezade, that is) are both characters in Till Human Voices Wake Us; these stories basically explore how they come to be there and know Raphael, the main character of the novel.

Here I was thinking I didn’t have anything to write about today! Well, I’ve got about forty minutes before an appointment, so I’m going to see what I can do with Scheherezade, who is rescuing trouble in 18th-century Venice …

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