Oh bother, N54 went down again and it was such a good chat too. I got up early in the morning again. Mrrowl. That is not my natural biorhythm at all and it wreaks havoc on my productivity. My RIP - Rewrite In Progress, the novel I'm assessing right now, has the physique of a sumo wrestler. Annoyingly, it's mostly muscle and it weighs that much. I read about a quarter of the way into Blood Junkie and the main plot arc, the first shot of the war thing of the later part, well, it happened fairly early on. Mrrowl! I feel like Coach Ditka telling The Fridge that he's got to peel down to 220 pounds.

The trimming if I go the trimming route is all going to have to come at the cellular level. Tightening sentences till they scream. Pruning paragraphs line by line. I also have to be reasonable about my expectations given it's standing up to that size structurally, how much I cut - well, on the up side cutting is easier than padding.

My elegant vampiric muse is standing off with a small smile running her black-lacquered fingernail along the back of my neck. "I know you can do it. You're that good."

I know I need to do it because I really would like to see this one in print. Or all of them in print. I've got some emotional security if I've got some finished work on my hard drive when it's time to send them all out trotting looking for buyers, but this got ridiculous. Fine. It's a big rollicking background big enough to sustain all the more novels I can write indefinitely, that is a good thing and makes new ones easier to write. Witness the last effort, new ones are a lot easier to write. But I really let myself go with writing larger and larger. I know that wasn't even the biggest one in that back stack.

I have a couple of them that went over what one floppy disk could hold. As text files.

Can I bang my head on the desk now? Can I laugh at myself out loud, real loud, for overdoing it?

Oh, I'm a better writer this Spring than I was last Spring or two or three or four years ago! This is so surprising. This is what I was saying to myself back then to make myself roll on through instead of just laying down to die because I wound up in the warehouse for people who can't quite make it in life. I'm a better writer than I used to be. That is a wonderful thing.

I'm not as good a writer as I will be. That's a good thing too.

I have said these things over and over to myself to make me believe them. To keep from hanging my self esteem on whether my writing is perfect. It does not have to be perfect to be worthwhile. It never will be as good as next year's novels. No matter how old I am, the older Robert that I will become will know a little more craft and his hands be a little steadier on the tools and some niggling little trouble that was always a pain will clear up or some grand new experiment work and make sense.

One big thing I learned in 2001 was better pacing. I can estimate the size and work to that size now, that's a big one. That means if I know what the project is before I start, I really can just start working to that length and do the project I set out to. I have a wonderful sense of control about future novels, because Rites of Chavateykar was aimed at 'get it over 40,000' and I got close to that, Thrice on a Blue Moon wound up just about 90,000 as I aimed, and Strigler's Succubus came out within a thousand words of the estimated length in the rough. I prefer working with roughs that are already the right size, changing length drastically is a tougher rewrite.

I honestly believe it is possible to get good enough at this craft that I won't need to do much rewriting, that I can get it right the first time. And that the only way to attain that level of habitual skill is to break my bad habits, one by one. Or assume that the polishing pass is not a rewrite - some of that 'not rewriting' was categorizing some types of rewrites as 'don't really count.' My habit of paying more attention to what I'm saying than how it's punctuated might be a permanent one. That bit of personal laziness directly relates to the techno-crutch known as Word Grammar Checker. It flags long sentences. Every time I have several good short sentences connected by commas, it will flag the clump as a long sentence. I'll read and decide if it should be a long sentence or break the clump. Some of my works have more of that problem than others.

I might overcome it, or I might not bother.

I'm not sure I care, if the rewrites start getting to be as much fun as the rewrite on Strigler's was.

But I'm not consigning thirty or more novels to the trashbin either! I need to do this. I also need to stop cringing at the thought of how bad the one I sent to Tor is. It will either get rejected, or I will get some critique. Or it will be accepted and I'll have a chance to go over it one last time. It's not necessarily that bad - and it is not the one to look at now. It's actually out on submission. Therefore, it will either come back or not. I took a chance on it the way it is. It was the best I could make it at the time.

And that is true of anything I sent out last week, or will send out next month, or will send out next year.

There are worse books already in print than the one I sent out. This is something important to remember when I'm playing Literary Lottery. If this is the time I make it the first time, and then I write more and my later works are better, that's not a bad thing. It has a chance. What I am writing now has more of a chance. It's okay to accept that in a game of skill my odds rise the better a writer I am!

I can only ever measure how good my books are in relation to myself.

They are mine. No one else in this world can write them. I can't write aliens like Larry Niven or Sheila Viehl. I can only write aliens the way Robert A. Sloan writes them. I can't even write about nature like Stephen Jay Gould, though I suck down every scrap I've read of his biological essays and they're inspirational. Hm. I could write off Natural History, Scientific American and The Smithsonian as research even if I don't try to contribute to those publications.

Where that leaves me today?

Building up energy for the next big push. I just gave myself a little pep talk. I spent the morning playing around on Deedlit's Den posting and having fun. I have a role playing game online this evening and I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow morning. After the dentist, I will have a short day because I need to stay awake during the day on Thursday when I go over to Andrew's to do First Day Covers.

This week doesn't have to be a monster productivity week, even in relation to myself. Doing Strigler's Succubus when and how I did was a little like the 'blitz' times I had at the print shop. I got intense and went pretty much round the clock working and got a lot done. I have now had two days when, even if I'm that off schedule, I did get eight hours of sleep. Maybe it's all right to go back to a leisurely reread and assessment on Blood Junkie and not expect much beyond minimal word count while I'm doing that important part of getting my career off the ground.

This thing will kick butt when I get it Done.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Woolgathering, cat hoovering, ruminating on jet lag and how, if I get thrown so far off schedule that I happen to get up at eight in the morning after approximately eight hours of sleep, the day feels shot. Now what is this? Muses are vampires? My muse is a vampire?

Okay, maybe that is an appealing image, my Muse grandly sweeping in the door looking like Dracula's Daughter, casually dropping her black velvet cloak off her white shoulders like a queen, dancing across the room in the cold moonlight to press her pale lips to my neck and get my juices flowing. Yeah, I write vampire stuff. Often.

Some of this is that 'needed R&R' thing. I did just put out an enormous effort on Strigler's Succubus and I got a pretty good book out of it! Yesterday, I took time off for a roleplaying game. Definitely a busman's holiday, an unpublishable fun little adventure that I'm enjoying a lot.

Then this morning I wrote a little thousand word story that was just for fun, something offstage. No relation to serious writing. It didn't take long either, and I put it through a quick rewrite before I sent it. I am looking at a day when I still have a significant amount of chores on my To Do list, none of which are that exciting, when I'm tired by way of being way off schedule and have to go to a dentist tomorrow and do not actually have anything gripping my mind at the moment. Ruminating about being bored between topics is not quite pointless, because I can feel that's getting my fingers moving. This blog itself is a freewrite. This blog itself is brainstorming "Okay, I've got the rest of the day and I'd really like to write something, writing is what I feel like doing and I don't have a project in hand..."

I'm considering doing another article for SelfHelp, but I'd rather do a How To on something specific than another psychological booster. None of my series characters are screaming for attention, and I don't have some rocking opening situation that would create an MC by whoever I stuck in it having to deal with it. So what I'm really brainstorming toward is the Starting Point: specifically the Starting Point that fits exactly what I'd like to read as it reels off my keyboard this afternoon.

I am looking at the bookshelf of books I haven't written yet and vaguely narrowing it as to genre, type, style, mood and whether I can get a significant chunk of it, or the whole thing if it's a short, done this afternoon. An article might be a nice warm-up. But if I get another novel opener I might tear off with it anyway. Moods pass, and I'm so familiar with this one.

Back before I could write, this mood would hit my entire gaming group at any point that a Major Campaign ended. Usually the final game session was exciting, the end of the story of that group of player characters was powerful and sewed up everything so tightly there wasn't a sequel, it was End Of Series time. It isn't for the Strigler's Succubus series, not at all, they're set to go off into whatever I toss at 'em next but I don't know their next theme. What would happen is that I'd sit around with the players and we'd just keep tossing things back and forth. If we'd been meeting once a week for a superheroes game like Wild Cards, which did turn out to be a very long campaign and with the creative minds in my group, easily could've been written up as a series of several Wild Cards books if that series was open at the time, we might change tracks completely and go for a space epic or a high fantasy world or something completely different.

If I relax about it and just accept the next direction that sounds good, I'll get excited about it and get something done. If not, well, then this is just some of that awkwardness that comes when very dedicated people who love their job are stuck with time off!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Sunday afternoon. Wow. An hour to just... relax?

Finished rewriting Strigler's Succubus. Rereading the last chapter closely - it didn't fit that she was Dorayan's mom, so that didn't go in, it works better the way I had it. End spoiler. That was a good example of one of my 'abandon this outline' notes.

I'll do it sometime to some other character. hehehe.

The silly thing is I've got this awkward feeling at the moment. I've focused so intensely on this book and now I've run out of book. Meep? I've got a fun roleplaying game in about an hour. That really isn't time to do anohter whole writing project, even a short story. I have to... relax?


Nosing around looking for my book. No more book ahead. Mew. Ran out of chapters. It's very bizarre not to be writing. Blink, confusedly... er, what did I do for fun back before I knew how to write? I played a lot of role playing games. Okay, that works, I've got one in about an hour.

I have a few more chores to do with it. I still need to write up the synopsis and some other housekeeping chores, get it ready so that if I get a nibble on the queries I can shoot it right out. This is a good thing. I'm happy about the big ticket submission. But, I don't feel like doing chores. Feel pouty like a little boy. Sticking my tongue out at the chores. I'm sure I'll have fun writing the synopsis later, when I get into a mood for synopsis writing and get thrilled about the Big Ticket.

I feel as if they all just got up, cleaned off backstage and decided they were going out for a steak dinner or something. Snif. They cleaned up and went out. They are taking a vacation. The cast of Strigler's Succubus is holding a cast party and they didn't invite the author. Mew.

I feel as if the sweatshop just closed its doors. There's this 'lock on the stage door and even the janitor left' feeling that's utterly silly. I'm pretty sure if I didn't have an RPG in less than an hour, I'd get rushed by a gang of hopefuls. They have a series ahead. They didn't all go on strike or anything, they'll be back.

I've run into this before. It's something I think of as a little like the bends. If I'm that focused on a novel, coming out of the novel into the real world is pretty rough - it's shifting my mental balance drastically. One of the little things I need to work on in my continuing effort to break into publishing and still live a happy life is creating the habits that really work for that life. I need some kind of pressure chamber routine for coming out of big fat novels that grab me that hard while I'm working on them. A set of habits that'll let me shift gears easily and come down and do something else - all the something elses that I've procrastinated on to get this done actually - and I think I will be able to do it.

But the rewrite was fun and that's something I've gained on this one!

Robert and Ari >^..^<