Business Musings: Buried (A Process Blog)
I am deliciously buried in work, and it is my own damn fault.
I decided in the spring that I would take two classes per semester, because I need to think about things other than writing to help my writing. Otherwise, I get too lost in writing/publishing/reading to be fresh and creative.
Trust me, the two classes are working for me. Spanish inspires me to think about science fiction, particularly the way that language shapes us and changes us. The other class, Entertainment Law, teaches me just how little I know about something I absolutely love.
Reading for both classes is slow, which is annoying. Reading is my superpower. I can read fast and well—except when I’m reading in another language, which both Spanish and law are. Grump. I can’t assume I’ll read fifty pages of legal text in an hour. (I made that mistake in September. Not happening again.)
I also, sadly, care about doing well. It’s built in. So I can’t just slough off. I know that now. Taking classes got me through lockdown, but also released my perfectionist tendencies. Fortunately, not with writing.
Writing: that’s where I’m buried. I asked my readers for help with getting the Fey off the ground. I’ve been promising I’d return to the series for twenty years. Seriously. Twenty years.
I finally decided (last spring) that I needed a deadline, and we did a Kickstarter that gave me one for a novella.
Here’s the rub: the Fey novels are long. A novella in the Fey world is a novel in any other world. Or so I thought as this project kept careening to larger and larger page counts.
But no, that’s not what’s happening. What happened is this: I asked for a kick-start, literally, on the Fey, so I could write the bigger project. I knew I had some worldbuilding to do on the next books and that was what the novella would be.
Or so I thought.
Instead, I find myself writing at least three books at one time, and maybe a novella, maybe a slightly sideways series, and all of these books/projects are not the Place of Power series. That will come later, because this is just background and worldbuilding.
Diving readers, you’ll recognize this, because The Falls and The Renegat are all necessary background and worldbuilding for future projects.
I write out of order. And, sometimes, I write several books at the same time. Yes, my creative brain is a mess, but it knows what it’s doing, and that irritates me.
I write the sections of books this way: If I write about a character discovering something, I’m discovering it at the same time. Which means that sometimes, a character discovers something in the past and that’s cool. That’s in the right chronological order.
Sometimes, though, a character will discover something in the story’s future, and then I write that section, and circle back to describe the actual something.
It makes for messy writing, and big projects.
Right now, the main draft of whatever I’m writing for the Fey clocks in at 108,000 words. It’s not done. And that doesn’t count the 40,000 words of novella (novel?) that I wrote first, but isn’t in the 108,000 words, nor the 5,000 words of a short that isn’t done, or 20,000 words of yet another novella.
Yes, I’m writing. I’m just not finishing. I’m discovering, which is fun, but scary as hell.
It also contributes to the feeling of being buried.
I also promised myself that I wouldn’t give up writing short stories just because I’m writing a long project. So I took some writing assignments with clear, hard deadlines. I have the time to write short stories.
How? you might ask. Simple: Writing the Fey requires me to stay in my office. I need to be able to look up something scrawled on paper or in an old book or in old files. I need full concentration.
But short stories are a different matter altogether. I’m taking in-person classes right now, and one of my days is hellaciously long. I arrive on campus around 10 and don’t leave until 7:15 in the evening. I have three hours in the afternoon for lunch and something else.
That something? Short stories. I’ve hit all of my deadlines so far, and plan to hit the rest of them. I actually love that little bit of freedom to get away from the longer, messier work. I also like finishing some fiction, so that helps as well.
Also on my schedule? Blog posts. The problem is that I’m having trouble doing an in-depth post because I really need some think time. So I have a list of pieces I’ll be writing starting around the first of December. I almost started one of those today, but realized it would take me hours and I have some Fey to finish this evening, in addition to cooking dinner and y’know, getting a full night’s sleep.
Why am I writing a post right now? It’s on my almighty schedule. I’ve got posts scheduled throughout the fall, because I knew I’d be this busy, but I also needed to add some each month.
September’s was easy to add. But October—well, technically, this is October’s post, even though I’m writing it on November 1. I started some of the longer posts and got pulled away by other projects. Some of the longer posts I quit writing halfway through because they really need my full attention.
I’m going to go there. I am. In December.
I have a lot to say about the law class—some of it minor (which will mostly appear on my Patreon site) and some of it major. The major stuff are things I’ve covered before, but I finally found a better way to frame much of it.
I know how to communicate it better so all of you will get some benefit from the class as well.
A professional writer friend asked me why I’m “wasting my time” taking an entertainment law class when I “already know that crap.” Well, I don’t know all of it. And, as I told the prof on the first day, when she asked us all why we were in the class, I need to get a framework for what I know.
I’m discovering that the gaps I have are considerable. When I know something, I know it very well; when I don’t, I’m surprised. I’m learning a lot in retrospect. Meaning, I now understand why this clause was added to that contract in that year or why this company was shocked that I even understood that thing way back when.
Some of the hard-luck tales my older writer friends told me back in the day make even more sense now. Then there’s the lawsuit happy writer/director/producer whom a friend of mine tangled with. We read another lawsuit of that producer’s and I got angry all over again, because I saw what the writer/director/producer learned from my friend’s lawsuit. He learned how to lie better.
Interesting and eye-opening.
Why am I taking this class? Because I know that I don’t know everything. Because everything, particularly the legal stuff, is constantly changing.
Just like the industry is constantly changing.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming break so I can submerge myself back into the publishing changes. I have a lot of articles stored up in my Pocket reader, ready for me to think hard about them and write even more about them.
But I’ve still got 5 weeks of class ahead before I can delve deeply into some meaty blog topics. I’m hoping I only have 5 weeks of intensive Fey out-of-order drafts too. I’d like to have a breather over the holidays—and by breather, I mean time to think about other things before I dive into more Spanish and the second half of the law class.
It sounds like I’m complaining, I know. But I’m not. I’m enjoying in-person classes. I’m enjoying meeting people that I wouldn’t meet in my writing life. I’m enjoying writing these projects, even though they are challenging.
I also feel like I’m stretching my brain—not just in learning new things, but in organizing myself.
I had a blog on my schedule. I had hoped to write something a bit more current, a bit more relevant. Instead, I had to meet my deadline.
Because that’s as important—maybe more important—than discussing something current.
I’m relearning that old lesson: It doesn’t have to be perfect; it does have to be finished.
That could be, in fact, the mantra of my entire fall—and is, in some ways, the best cure for the perfectionism that reared its ugly head during the pandemic.
And I’m having fun.
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“Business Musings: Buried (A Process Blog),” copyright © 2021 by Kristine Kathryn Rosch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / ra2studio.
After reading this, I don’t feel bad about working on multiple projects and winding up with novellas sprouting out of my novels. Glad to hear this process works!
If one isn’t having fun whole one is buried, then what’s the point of burying oneself! 😀
I’m happy you use the term “messy writing,” you write out of order, and you work on more than one project at a time. Thought I was one of the few.
If you’re interested in how language shapes thought, you should read the Jack Vance novel, The Languages of Pao.
It’s a very idiosyncratic novel. The current eBook cover of a levitating man in front of a harem does show two actual plot points but otherwise it has nothing to do with the plot.
How does language shape culture, thought, behavior? It’s all there in the Languages of Pao.