Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Story

My Day of Getting Stuff Done (Leaving the House Edition) was mostly successful. There was just one errand I didn't get taken care of. The main thing is that I have a new watch battery, which means I can wear my good watch again. This has been an epic case of procrastination. The last time I replaced watch batteries, I had all my watches done at the same time (probably because of procrastination -- when one died, I just started using another, until they were all dead and I was forced to take action). That meant that they all died around the same time. Because the place I knew of to get watch batteries replaced is rather out of my way and in a mall that it's best to avoid these days, and because I was really busy at the time, I bought a cheap watch at Target (which was less expensive than replacing a watch battery, actually). The cheap Target watch died last week, so I was forced to take action. I found a jewelry store in the good mall that does watch batteries, so I got the good watch I haven't worn in years fixed. I'd brought the other watches with me, then it occurred to me that I was setting myself up for the same problem in the future, so I decided to stagger my battery replacement over time. That way I hope every watch won't die at the same time. (I only have multiple watches because I had one I'd been using for years, then one year at Christmas I got two watches as gifts, and then there was the "I'm too lazy to replace a battery" watch. It's not like I'm one of those "I have a different watch for each outfit" people.) Now that the good watch is taken care of, I may try different places with the other watches to see if I can find a good match of price and competence.

I forgot to mention that there was also a Weekend of Getting Stuff Done, Housework Edition. I mopped the kitchen and entryway floors, did laundry and organized a couple of dresser drawers. It's amazing how much more space I had when I got rid of all socks that were either missing a partner or had a hole in the toe. I guess I was hanging onto the widowed socks because I was holding out hope that their mates might return someday. I need to face the truth that their mates are probably deadbeat spouses who've flown the coop, never to return.

In addition to Getting Stuff Done Outside the House yesterday, I got back into writing at a serious level, with nearly 3,000 words. I feel like I'm back on track. I've calculated that I'll need to write about 3,900 words a day on the days I have available to work (I'm trying to be realistic) in order to finish a first draft before WorldCon. The plan is to finish before the weekend before the con so I can spend that time getting ready and relaxing to build up energy. There's something about having a firm number to shoot for that's very motivating. I imagine my daily target will start creeping downward if I'm very good this week and get on the ball.

Meanwhile, I'm still gradually sorting my way through my office mess. Yesterday, I found some legal pads that I'd used to take notes at conferences. Some of the notes were worth archiving. Some were of the "duh" variety. And then buried in those pages were two pages of a handwritten story that I don't remember writing (though it is my handwriting). I suspect it was an exercise in some conference workshop where you're supposed to try out whatever technique they've just been teaching and they give you fifteen minutes to write something. I hate that sort of thing because the moment you put that kind of pressure on me, I freeze. Normally, I just write to-do lists or grocery lists in that time so I look like I'm writing, and then let other people volunteer to read what they've written (because there are always eager volunteers). I don't know if I was bored that day or if whatever assignment actually inspired me. I don't remember what the assignment was. It may have had something to do with contrast, coming up with a situation that seemed the opposite of what you'd expect for a character because my pages were about a witch who was afraid of flying. She'd had a nasty broomstick accident and still had her arm in a sling, so she was forced to fly commercial, and although she'd been fine with zipping around in the sky on a broom, an airliner terrified her. I have no idea where I was going with it, but I love the pages that exist enough that now I'm wondering where I can take the story. I don't know if there's a novel in there, but maybe I could try a short story. After I finish this book, of course.

And after reading all the Hugo nominees (and the Nebula nominees earlier this year), I'm not entirely sure that writing a truly brilliant story is the key to being nominated. There were some really good works in the mix, but there were also a few that had me thinking that someone had a lot of very devoted friends or some kind of Internet fame to get them on the ballot. So my plan is to write a story, find a place to have it published, and then enlist a Legion of Minions (or create a Cult of Online Personality) to nominate it for an award. I don't care so much about the award itself, but awards are a way to get visibility and credibility.

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