Business Musings: Writing During Storms and Holidays

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According to lore and the internet, either Stephen King or Ernest Hemingway first said that there are two kinds of writers—putter-inners and taker-outters. (I can’t find the quote. I’m pressed for time. You find it.)

I would add that there is at least one more type of writer, and that would be “all of the above.”

I’m getting the novel I finished last week ready for Dean to read—all 170,000 words of it. As I’ve said before, I write out of order, so my initial drafts are filled with repetition. They’re also missing stuff.

I liken what I do to making a quilt. If you look at most handmade quilts, they contain scraps of material placed in lovely patterns, and held together by other material. I cut the scraps first—one pretty piece of material and then the other pretty piece of material (or in this case, three pieces of material). Then I create the pattern, and then I figure out where they go. Sometimes the pattern holds together all by itself and sometimes it needs an additional bit of material—a border, usually—to hold it all together.

Often I end up with extra scraps, and I cut them, because the quilt is prettier without them.

I have 40,000 words left to run through—and by run through, I mean read through. It’s like setting the mostly finished quilt on the floor, standing up, and looking at it to see if it works. Usually it does.

When I hit 170,000 words, though, I had a hunch I had repeated myself. I had, although not nearly as much as I thought. I predicted I would cut 35,000 words minimum, and so far, I’ve only cut 9,000. And I missed two chapters. I added one in last Thursday—the last chapter, the one I usually miss on the first go-round because I’m so happy to be done—and then, yesterday, another chapter. (sigh)

I don’t call this rewriting because I’m still in creative mode. I’m acting like a reader (and someone who wants to stay warm under that quilt). I’m making sure that the story flows by reading it front to back like a reader would. Reading, believe it or not, for enjoyment.

I want to have this book done by Christmas Eve, so I can enjoy the holiday. The novel has been a jealous mistress: it didn’t want me to read anything else or write anything else (except the blogs). It held my imagination firmly, and only now, reluctantly, is it willing to let go.

I thought I’d have it done by my normal blog-writing day, which is today. But because we’re getting storm after storm after storm, I’ve lost time to power outages and early computer shutdowns.

We lost power for over an hour yesterday (not counting blips) and then again, this morning. Right now, it’s hailing. I have everything backed up so I can work off my laptop if I need to.

Unlike most of the United States, which is having the warmest Christmas week in decades, we in the Pacific Northwest are suffering through terrible storms. This is the wettest December on record—and that doesn’t count the windstorms. Yesterday’s outage was caused by (as the power hotline said) “trees.” The ground is saturated, and trees are falling over in the wind. It was sunny when the power went out yesterday. The good news is that I got to go on my walk in the sunshine. The bad news is that I lost hours of work.

So…this is going to serve as my blog for the week. I’ll definitely be back on track next week.

Let me wish you and yours the best holiday season, no matter what you celebrate. And I’ll see you next week.


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“Business Musings: Writing During Storms and Holidays,” copyright © 2015 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.



9 thoughts on “Business Musings: Writing During Storms and Holidays

  1. I’m another one who is, I think, both. 🙂 Author Rachel Aaron says the first draft is what you write to learn how to write the story. And I second the vote for Scrivener.

    In the meantime, Kris, have a great holiday for you and yours! Maybe your power outages are an opportunity for you to let your muse stew. 🙂

  2. The rest of your article is great, but you’re really not a quilter [g]. I am, and have been for thirty years, and that order of doing things would make one heck of a mess. But it’s a nice metaphor, anyway.

  3. For the first day in a long time we have sunshine! It’s been snowing everyday. At first we hardly at any snow and now we have it, although not a lot but definably looking like Xmas. We have been warmer too but today is colder which is okay.
    Will be looking forward to hearing about the new novel and what it is all about and I wish you and Dean and the cats the very best of health and happy writing in the new year!

  4. I don’t know if you’ve shared this before, but what tool do you use to write (MS Word? Google docs, etc.) Within the last year, I switched over to using Scrivener and it’s made my writing a heck of a lot easier so that when I miss a scene, repeat myself, not only can I easily move it wherever I want through a drag and drop, but I can also include my research and notes. Just wanted to share in case you hadn’t tried a tool like Scrivener yet.

  5. Wishing you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Your blog has helped me a lot. A keep looking for new articles almost every day. I have learnt a lot about craft and business and keep learning day in and day out. I have stopped checking my sales everyday and concentrating on writing my next book. I am finishing my first Romance Novel. I have already written 15 other non-fiction books. See you next year! 🙂

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