The Slow Writer

Which is kind of like the slow loris* but not nearly as cute.

I’m getting very frustrated with myself, which is one of those occupations that is thoroughly unprofitable.  Through Fire is pending my having a few days uninterrupted to just push on it, and Darkship Revenge should take me about a month after that.  They both should have been done at the very least two months ago.

And you know, I’m giving myself a massive eczema eruption by berating myself.  Okay, I was sick in February/March but it was just that.  We’re going on two months of no sickness.  (Allergies, but…) And I am not working for PJM just now (Whether I’m on hiatus or it’s a permanent “I’ll post if I feel like it” is something I haven’t decided yet, because it depends on a lot of things) which was eating my will to write anything, fiction OR non-fiction.

Of course it’s not that simple.  It’s never that simple.  Whatever I managed to do to myself last year, between illness and working on nonfiction (and it’s curious how nonfiction can “eat” my fiction away) was more than just taking up my time.  Witness the fact that for  months I couldn’t concentrate to read.  In fact, I read/finished the first new-to-me book two weeks ago.  I’ve mostly been re-reading.  (Not reading at all is not doable.  It’s an addiction.) This is typical of when I’m tired/sick.  VERY tired/sick.  The only two times this lasted over a year before were after giving birth to Robert and then moving to Colorado, and then the year I almost died of pneumonia.  But when you’re well, it’s hard not to get impatient.

And that’s been other problem.  Take Through Fire.  What it desperately needs now is for me to ground myself in the series, so I can make allusions, etc.  Only I’ve not wanted to take the time to re-read the back books.  I need to, and I need to make a book-bible, but I’ve been fighting it.

Or take the story I almost wrote yesterday.  It was all right, but it didn’t hold my interest, because I went with the first idea I had, rather than the GOOD idea I had.  I’m going back and fixing that.  Which means the story for Baen’s Giant Monsters Antho will be the second of the magical legion.  It also involves fire snails, circe and Pompeii.

BUT the point is, if I hadn’t rushed, I could have written that one, instead of trying to force the other.

My grandmother had a saying “The more you rush, the slower you go.”  Which is true and I think what’s eating me now.  What I need is to calm down and get back into a sane schedule of reading (because it feeds the writing) and of writing too.  Over the next two months, as we’re packing/fixing and cleaning to move, that’s an interesting challenge but not impossible.  Older son has suggested getting a membership to the art museum and colonizing one of their quieter sit-down places for half the day, so I can just write.  It might be a thing to do.  I’m not happy because they doubled their membership cost, but it might (still) be a thing to do.  And he says he needs it as much as I do.  He’s making progress on the YA (we outlined it together and I get each chapter to pound into shape as he finishes it) despite studying for finals and being involved in a lot of graduation stuff (It will probably surprise no one he got departmental academic awards.)  Of course his industriousness gives me a great opportunity to beat myself further…

Anyway — in a way things are getting better and I know they are.  For instance, I can write the weekly chapter on the in progress novels (even if both desperately need an edit of what went before and a world bible) which for a while there just was impossible.  And I have the ideas (heck the scenes) for the short stories I must deliver this weekend all firmed up.

And I have a good excuse this week, since I’m being insty.  Well, 1/8 of insty.  I’m more than ever convinced Glenn Reynolds is a cyborg.  It’s impossible for anyone to do everything he does and be (mere) flesh and blood.  Though maybe that too is a “scheduling and habit” thing.

Part of what is throwing me off is having to actually read the news.  Things like the FCC wishing to regulate conservative bloggers and journalists as “campaign contributions” is part of it.  We should never, ever, ever, have allowed them to regulate campaign finance.  It’s bad cess to give government any power over what you can say and whom you can support.  (And the very regulation, and the fact they publish lists of contributors kept me from donating for years.  Not that my donations are going to tip anyone’s election campaign.  Not unless they really need a peanut butter sandwich before a critical speech.  Which could totally happen.)

I mean, I read the news, normally, but only after I FINISH writing, not throughout the day.  Anyway, I still have two or three hairs left I can pull out, so it’s okay, right? I suppose if you do this for good you get used to it, but I’m still in awe of Glenn.  (More than I was before.)

Anyway, right now I’m going to do boxes and do a quick dusting (have to, or I’ll get sick) then finish the story for Baen, then the story for chicks in chain mail.  And then sit down and do that story bible and notes on the previous DS books.  We have an award ceremony this evening, and I might as well do that before the award.

This next week I’m REALLY going to try to get this book off my hands and into Toni’s.  Anyone who has a hankering to guest at ATH this is your chance.  Send me your guest posts.

Now I’m out of here, and to do my duty for Glenn for the morning.


Here’s a baby slow loris to cheer you up.

And this is the story about the loris if you need it.

97 responses to “The Slow Writer

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Take care.

    Oh, thanks for the slow lori story. [Smile]

  2. Cool. A new Darkship book. No pressure, but I will definitely enjoy it when it comes out.

  3. Sarah,

    What was the weather like in Richmond? is it possible you were (in addition to con crud) exposed to unfamiliar pollen?

  4. I think it’s amazing that you get so much done. I can’t do a daily blog, just no way I can come up with a daily topic. As far as the books, I think you’re going to do just fine.

    • No kidding. Doing one a month for rotating Fridays on MGC is about my limit. Speaking of which, Sarah, I’ll proof it and get it to you early, so if you need to use it Wednesday (And you’d better be busy writing, Miss Evil Mistress of the Solar System!) instead of Friday, you can.

      • yes, ma’am. Right now I’m busy with cat boxes…

        • *cough*
          I am of the understanding that most folk nowadays prefer water closets, lavatories, loos, toilets and other such modern conveniences. I cannot easily believe you are using the cats’ boxes.

          • Under things one should probably not discuss in polite society, but possibly useful for emergency situations anyway: back when I lived in the old apartment where the toilet got clogged regularly – well, actually cat litter in a bucket does work reasonably well for human use too, if it’s an absolute emergency and very short term use (you just need more litter than a cat does, and remember to line that bucket with a plastic bag before pouring the litter). 🙂

          • Hey, people pay lots of $$ for human litter boxes, aka earth toilets, for indoor use. (Not for use in multi-story apartments, however.)

    • I get tired out with three times a week. You rock Sarah.

  5. Christopher M. Chupik

    Don’t worry Sarah. You’re not so slow. I’m a slow writer, unless I have a deadline. A long stretch of bad sleep, a new position at work and a convention have really disrupted my writing. I’ve only done two short stories, started and put a third on hold, and started something for the Baen contest. Speaking of deadlines, I have about six weeks left . . .

    • [ears perking on the HonoraryCat**] Baen contest? Dang, I need to check in at the Bar, don’t I?

      (“I am not a ‘cat person’. _I_ am an Honorary Cat”

      • For those viewing this from under a rock, the Baen short story contest is here.

        TL;DR version: Fantasy, 8k words or less, and give us bloody heroes to root for!

        It’s got me thinking.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          It’s got me writing. I’ve thrashed out the setting and characters so I can start working.

          • I’ve got the characters, and the idea for setting (need to do some walk-about research) but some of the opposition is giving me fits. Stubborn, that’s my brain.

          • It’s got me going too. Last Sunday I knocked out 2000 words, and I’ve been able to steal enough time during the week to slip in another 700 or so. The story has gotten into my head enough that it’s ALMOST pushing out this damned earworm I’ve got (Some South Korean Girl group thing that had a really cool animated video I watched too many times. Nothing worse than an earworm in a language you can’t understand.) I’m really pleased with it, although It’s not exactly an epic adventure.

            And I’m not going to let all the pros who are giving this a shot stop me.

            (Although once it’s written, Formatting might need a little help. Last time I did Manuscript format into RTF with Open Office it went a little wonky.)

            (And a beta reader once it’s done wouldn’t hurt.)

            • Yep, I have to set aside all the folks I know are considering participation, less it be daunting.

              • Really, the other people don’t matter. Don’t look at me like that, it is true!

                You’re really competing against yourself. Is this the best this story can be? Only you can say.

                And if you don’t win, that doesn’t mean awful things and desolation. You have a story. Something that, if polished and formed well, might turn into money someday. Smidgen. Little bit. But, it’s a step. Enough of those put together makes a journey (and a bank account).

                That said, there’s not the slightest chance on this green earth the story in my head will win, but it’s entertaining *me,* and that will suffice for now. *chuckle*

                • Christopher M. Chupik

                  I don’t have high hopes, but I figure if I get in the top three, I’ll be happy. I’ll also be happy if it doesn’t get rejected for formatting issues, too.

                  • Thing is, even if you don’t even get an honorable mention, you have this cool story, all polished up that you can submit or Indy publish. Without the contest, you might not have even started it, let alone finished, and then polished it up ready for public viewing.

                    • Christopher M. Chupik

                      Indeed. I realize I probably sound WAY too cocky, but I like to aim high.

                • You’re really competing against yourself.

                  That’s how I’m treating this. I’m having quite a bit of fun writing! If nothing else, I’ll have a little story I can expand into a novella (or a light novel, if I’m ambitious), and self-publish as an e-book, and maybe read to my children.

                • You can always try. If you then lose it’s no worse than if you hadn’t tried at all. It’s not as if the losing stories would be displayed on some sort of wall of shame. So it’s way less scary than self-publishing where ending on that wall of shame is a possibility (if unlikely, there is plenty enough competition when it comes to the worst of all too).

            • The FIRST thing I did was bang out a formatted document that I can copy-paste the story into. I THINK it’s correctly formatted (went by Brad’s guide to manuscript formating.) I use Libreoffice, and it’s saved as both .ODT and .RTF. Want a copy?

              Actually if anyone would like to look at it first and check I’d be very happy. If it’s all correct, I’ll upload it for everyone to use as a useable template, take a bit of headache out of the whole thing to let us all focus on writing.

              (Trade you for beta reading, Doc?)

          • Oh same here. I’m not likely to get anywhere near the ‘consideration pile round 2’ but if nothing else, the contest has gone and given me a nice brain-jolt to plot and start writing. Nearing 3k words. I’m planning on writing out the story first, then editing and trimming before I give it to someone who wanted to proofread ‘just for the chance to read something new and not so grimdark.’

  6. Are there any public libraries that have tables you can use? I know there’s often a homeless problem, but some branches might be better than others.

  7. Last year was really bad for me — one chapbook of poetry and one collection of short stories. This year at least I have done much better. Still you write faster than I do–

  8. My favorite quiet spot in your email, because I am not ruining it by telling this crew…

  9. Last year, and the year before that, I ruined my own health by trying to work out how to bring in more money, to cover medical expenses. It kept me from sleeping properly, and other things, which made my day job harder to do. Once we get moved, I’ll be closer to work, so I’m going to have more time to work on other things, and a place to work on some stuff like woodworking, so that should help, plus the overall cost of living will go down. I can hardly wait.

    • It’s a bit like that. Part of what’s working at me is how in hell to bring in more money. Which is stupid because if I stop worrying and write the fracking books, Baen will pay me. But unfortunately the subconscious IS stupid.
      Once this house is sold and we’re moved, hopefully to a cheaper/more controllable place, or even while we’re renting a small and more “cleanable” place, I’ll be able to work better.

  10. *glares at laptop* The @#$# thing won’t finish writing articles for me.

    • Don’t panic. Follow the first rule of engineering: If you can’t fix it, you’re not using a big enough hammer.

      • I’ve always been told that booting a computer fixes 90% of problems.

        • They didn’t mean with your foot…

          • Worked when the fan on the big box was going out. (Note: putting the CPU on the floor of an airport office that has a mouser on 24/7 patrol tends to shorten the longevity of cooling fans.)

            • That’s why I’ve been an advocate of taping shop rags loosely over computer air intakes that are on the floor. It’s porous enough for good airflow, but it’ll stop anything larger than a speck of dust that would normally go through unimpeded anyway.

              Just change the rag every so often.

              • many if not most half-decent cases these days come with removable filters.

                Unfortunately, many if not most cases these days also have the power supply on the bottom, drawing air in from below the case… I need a new case, but certainly do not need a ‘vacuum cleaner’ design…

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Muttering about throwing it into the river/lake/pond helps sometimes. [Evil Grin]

          • sabrinachase

            When I worked in a big honking computer test lab, I advocated hanging the guts of a dead computer from the ceiling and telling the others, “that could be you.” Pour encourager les autres

            • The funny thing is, such threats and displays seem to work.

              On that related note, computers are strange, contrary things. I remember one afternoon, my friend David; who worked at the time as a network security and server admin, decided to slap together a computer out of all the broken parts he had lying around, to see if he could make it explode. For science! of course. They were truly terribly broken and slapdash things – the power supply had a butter knife serving as a rail, I recall, the mobo was held together by sticky tape and blu-tack, the graphics cards were damaged in one way or another… He stuck it all together in a beat up old case a customer had left, plugged it in and turned it on, naming it The Gillard, expecting Epic Failure.

              To his shock, the computer, instead of exploding, gave him the proverbial stink eye and booted up instead.

              Sure that he could get it to at LEAST fail, he installed a demanding game. The box decided to play it for ten minutes without failing, whereupon David decided he would wire the thing up properly and treat it a little better, putting in old secondhand parts that weren’t as likely to blow up. He also renamed it and gave it away as a basic browse-email-write box. The computer’s still working today, as far as I’m aware.

            • {{ When I worked in a big honking computer test lab, I advocated hanging the guts of a dead computer from the ceiling and telling the others, “that could be you.” }}

              I once won 3rd in a Halloween costume contest portraying “Murphy, Patron Demon of Computer Programmers”. Murphy’s staff was the cardboard core of a carpet roll with a (very) dead IBM mainframe harddrive read/write assembly duct-taped to the upper end…

        • At IBM, we called it The Poughkeepsie Reset — a little documented feature that solves 90% of all hardware and software problems at the cost of losing some state data.

  11. Must be something in the air (literally. Bits of NM have been waving as they pass this week). Until yesterday, if I got 3000 words done it was a near miracle.

  12. I have discovered a stimulant of doooooom! Apparently there is such a thing as powdered ginger concentrate. Koreans put it in their ginger tea and other ginger drinks, like that cinnamon persimmon punch. So I’m awake. Very awake. Very very very awake. (I really needed it too, because there’s a front moving through and just caffeine wasn’t going to do it for my sinuses today.)

    Unfortunately for those whom carbs disagree with, Korean ethnic teas and drinks usually come preblended with tons of sugar, or random grains as an emergency calorie supplement. You’d also better like having ground-up nuts and seeds and bark floating on top of your tea as a garnish and emergency calorie supplement.

    Most stuff sold in the US does have an English ingredient list on the side somewhere, but finding it and making out the description can be difficult, much less being courageous enough to try it. I’m still very much afraid of “corn silk tea,” especially since that is really what they make it out of! (Though apparently that’s a diet drink without sugar in it. Apparently.)

    • That sounds… interesting. I may have to look next time we’re at the specialty store. I like ginger. I bought a rose-bud and black tea blend in a lovely apothecary jar last time we were there. At least, I assume that’s what it is, the label is in some Asian language. 😛

    • I recommend medicinal quantities of horseradish. Unhappily, the list of food items with which horseradish is properly served is limited. A couple tablespoons (well-drained) make a decent start on a Roast Beef & Swiss on rye (or kaiser roll) although some foolishly adulterate the horseradish by cutting it with mayo to make a horseradish sauce which, while easier to spread and offering super anti-soggyness protection, typically reduces the medicinal benefit.

      Pot roast, gefilte fish and shrimp cocktail are also suitable methods of horseradishization.

      Horseradish, an effective sinus unclogger, high in fibre and it probably has some vitamin in there somewhere.

      • fresh grated horseradish and cheese sandwhich. Of course horseradish is good on about any sandwich.

        • With the qualification stated, I would agree. Otherwise, if you had left off the “about”, I would have to point out that horseradish probably is not that good on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

          Nut adding horseradish to the mayo on a cucumber sandwich would likely be awesome.


            This recipe won First Place at the 1994 International Horseradish Festival. “It took me tons of apples and $100.00 to get my horseradish jelly correct.” But, gee, was it worth it!

            3 lbs. tart apples, cut into chunks (do not core or peel)
            2 cups sugar
            1/2 cup prepared horseradish, drained well
            Place apples in a large, heavy saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 min. Strain juice through a colander into another saucepan; discard solids. Line colander with a double layer of cheese-cloth and strain juice again into a clean saucepan. (It will take about 1 hour for juice to drain). Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring juice to boil. Add sugar and cook gently until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer or until a few drops gel when placed on a plate or in a freezer. Stir in horseradish and simmer 1 minute. Skim foam and discard. Pour jelly into sterilized jars. Seal and store in a cool, dark place.

            Yields about 2 pints. Serve on crackers with cream cheese.

      • Very efficacious: wasabi coated, dehydrated peas. A small handful in the morning does astonishing things. Caveat: not for the faint of heart.

        • Skip the wasabi ice-cream. I tried it. I didn’t like it. The cream cancels the heat and I tasted more bitter than anything.

  13. Sarah,
    Just put the price of a family membership to the Colorado Springs Fine Art Museum in the tip jar.
    Did check and if you meant the Denver museum that amount would cover that one also.
    In any case, y’all have a good one on me.

    • I meant the Colorado Springs one. The problem is we’d probably only use it for 2 months, since we’re hoping to be renting elsewhere by that time. :/ But thank you!

      • Memberships like that are often transferrable or at least provide discounts at similar facilities, so it may still pay off for the entire year.
        Call it my way of supporting my favorite clan of subversives.
        On another note, hope you keep on with PJM. I suspect the added visibility gathers in a whole different crop of potential fans and readers. I have recommended your series on writing to several budding writers of my acquaintance as a good primer on getting started in the field. Always helps to broaden that footprint as long as it doesn’t wind up using you up.

        • Possibly, but I’ll have to come to terms on time/compensation. It was eating ALL my time.
          And yeah, I think Denver Museum has a trade of membership and stuff.
          Thank you again.

  14. The very best thing about the slow loris is Poisonous Elbows! Yaaaay!

    • wait, the cuteness is poisonous? Like the poisoned spurs on the platypus?

      G-d has a really, really interesting sense of humor….

      • The loris has poison glands on the insides of it’s elbows, which it licks and mixes with saliva. Note that poison is NOT venom. I don’t know how lethal it is but I know it causes anyphylactic shock. An epi pen would probably be a good thing to carry if you kept lorises. Lori. Whatever.

        • Does it speak for the trees? ❓

          On Fri, May 9, 2014 at 10:19 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > Og commented: “The loris has poison glands on the insides of it’s > elbows, which it licks and mixes with saliva. Note that poison is NOT > venom. I don’t know how lethal it is but I know it causes anyphylactic > shock. An epi pen would probably be a good thing to carry if yo” >

        • *writes up a creature for the MHI RPG- the ‘fast loris’.

  15. Arwen Riddle

    Hmm. Glenn Reynolds as a cyborg. I can see it. I just figured that he never slept.

  16. Hmmm, so you’re a pint of Instapundit?

    Time nor energy permit a guest post, so I offer a topic for others’ use: I realized this morning that Science always looks much tidier in the rear-view mirror. We forget (or never learn) about all the messiness associated with alternate theories, counter explanations and just plain dead ends. Like an artist’s preliminary pencil sketch, the finished product tends to seem an inevitable conclusion which obscures the confusion with which it started.

    Science in the oncoming lane, however, does not reveal its conclusions and seems threateningly impactful. Nowadays the battle of VHS vs Beta seems wholly irrelevant and the greatest effect felt was demonstrating the market for home video.

    Expand and discuss.

    • The irony of VHS v Beta is that the battle was repeated twenty years later, and went the opposite direction.

    • Galileo! Whether in his own person or in cunning disguise, no one ever considers that his opponents had actual arguments and not religious bigotry.

      Indeed, since none of his “evidence” is now regarded as evidence for heliocentrism his opponents had the better arguments.

  17. About that Glenn duty. I just spent the last several hours after following Mrs Hoyt’s link to opening a champagne bottle like Alton Brown watching various videos of and by Mr. Brown.
    I’d love to have either interview the other about random things. Then after we got over that, we could lose a month or so by having them discuss Media in general and Publishing especially as it is today.
    He said he is now working on E-books with Video enhancing and mentioned the troubles just sorting a legal bits and just what is this actually going to be in the end etc.
    I also like he had the stones to jab at Google about patents and books while giving a talk for them.
    I really loved his mentioning he taught his daughter how to make napalm and blow things up (but they did toss the bigger booms into the pool first).

  18. Glen Reynolds isn’t a cyborg, that’s his wife you are thinking of. He might be an AI, though.

  19. Ha. I wish I were as slow as Sarah.

    • Ayup — it is all in your baseline. George R R Martin is slow but does actually complete books (sorta. eventually) so set him as a three … John Ringo in Winter is probably about where the eight should be, so Sarah is not slow in comparison to other professional writers, merely in comparison to where she is wont to be.

      The simple fact is that is always going to slower writing them than we are reading them.