Monday, May 24, 2010

When Goals Go Bad

Still doing the early thing, but not quite as early today. Even so, I've already had an eye exam and picked up some groceries to fill in the gaps of what I bought last week (there's one store that's best for meat and fresh produce and another that's best for canned/packaged foods). And I'm still about an hour ahead of my usual schedule.

Friday turned out to be oddly non-productive, in a way. I got seriously lethargic -- not really sleepy, but not really alert. I ended up doing a lot of brainstorming, as I realized that I had gotten into that mode of plowing ahead instead of really thinking about each scene. I'm more than a bit goal/task-driven. My mom would say I get that from my dad. I remember family trips when I was a kid, where we'd start out saying it would be nice if we could make it to Wherever by dinner time. Somehow, that then became "We MUST make it to Wherever by dinner time." And then when we got to Wherever before dinner time, it was like we'd get bonus points if we could make it to the next town. Vacations were more about setting and then topping goals than they were about seeing or doing stuff. Goals are good, as are deadlines, even if they're self-imposed, but it does become self-defeating when you're doing revisions and your mindset becomes "this isn't quite right, but I guess it's okay, and if I stop to fix it, then I won't go ten pages past my goal for today." I have to remind myself that the bonus points are for having the best scene possible, not for making it to page 150 before dinner time. Nobody will know how long it took me to write this book. They'll only know if it's good.

So, I stopped to review the last few chapters and I came up with a Big Idea that made everything else fall into place but that required going back to the beginning to make little changes along the way. I skipped the writers group meeting Saturday on the premise that writing was more important than talking about writing and spent the day doing more revision. I stopping working when I caught myself ignoring the plans I'd made to revise a scene because it was okay as it was. And it wasn't okay. Since then, I've come up with something that makes it a lot more exciting, so there will be rewriting this afternoon.

I did make it to the booksigning on Sunday. Sarah Rees Brennan, who shares an agent with me, was in town on book tour with Holly Black, and since Sarah was here all the way from Ireland and since she's one of the most entertaining people I know, I figured I could drive across town to say hi. It turned out that Ally Carter, another one of my agent's clients and someone I know from the Old Days, before she was a big, bestselling author, was also there. After their talk, I hung out and waited for the adoring masses to finish getting their books signed and then got a bit of a chance to catch up and chat. During the wait, I talked to some of their fans and found a group of the coolest kids. They were at a booksigning as part of their prom after-party (one of those "no-slumber" slumber parties). I've never wanted to relive my teen years or be a teen again, but I found myself wishing I could go back in time so I could have been part of that group in high school. We chatted about Doctor Who and various related subjects, spinning off into things like Dalek opera and nightmares. The recent weeping angel episodes gave me nightmares, and we were wondering what the episode Neil Gaiman is apparently writing for the next season would be like. We figured with that one, we wouldn't dare go to bed right afterward. We'd have to turn on all the lights and then watch Enchanted and sing along with all the songs first. But then I figured I'd combine the two in some bizarre way. And then I figured that actually sounds like something I'd write. Now I kind of want to try that as an experiment -- watch a scary Doctor Who episode, then watch Enchanted, and then go to bed and see what happens.

Then after the fans were all gone, I went on a bit of a bookstore crawl with everyone and we hung out in a bookstore cafe and chatted for a while and explained American food to Sarah before I had to go home and collapse (after having to sing for two church services) and they went to check into their hotel. I have serious book tour envy now. Not only did they have actual fans at the signing in large numbers, but they had a tour escort to ferry them around, and they were staying in a four-star hotel. It sure beats my "tour" involving my Saturn and the Econolodge. I guess I need to up my game and write something that will draw enough fans to make a real tour worth it.

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