What’s In a Number?

Last night I finished the book I was reading (The Moon and the Other, see Reviews page), and started N.K. Jemisin’s Fifth Season for the second time, so I can review it here. I loved it the first time, got so lost in it that I forgot to watch for style and plot points and whether or not she was breaking “the rules.” (I’m pretty sure she is.) This time, though, I hope to maintain a bit of distance (yeah, right) from the story so I can observe her technique. Before I was even a full chapter into it, I could see Jemisin’s genius on every page. She fully deserves the Hugo it won. Now the third book in the series is out, of course—The Stone Sky—which occasioned my decision to re-read and review the Broken Earth series here, for all of you, but once I’m done with that, I think I’ll go back and read her earlier works, to see if I can track her evolution. Maybe I can reverse engineer some of her methods and adapt them for my own use.

Every published author touts their own process. Many emphasize that a daily word-count goal is a requirement, but that doesn’t work for me. Frankly, I’m not sure how it works for anyone who has a day job and no personal secretary. Even with Bobby shouldering most of our household day-to-day chores (kitchen duty, most laundry, grocery shopping, etc.), I find only a couple of hours most week nights to put toward writing, marketing or reading, not to mention website upkeep, or any number of everyday errands that I can’t foist off on my loving husband.

But we’ve talked about this before.

Still, I have to admit to having written nothing to speak of in over a month. (sigh) No real excuses, just riding the currents. Not sure where they’re taking me, but I’ve decided to go along, for the moment. We’ll see what happens. I haven’t been idle, though. Most evenings of late, the time I would normally sit down to write has been spent researching targets for my short stories. A few may not be publishable—I like them, I think they’re good, but I can’t seem to find the right e-zine or print magazine where they’d be a good fit. Research like can’t be rushed.

In the meantime, I’ve gone back to work on book two in my novel series. To my annoyance, I found there was a gap between notes I’d made when I first started planning this thing and the draft outline I’d pulled together, so I had no idea what I’d been thinking when I wrote the outline. Sheesh. Me, married to the Back-Up King, and I’d lost my notes somehow. I managed to put it back together, with one or two holes that can be filled as I go, and it might even turn out better than I originally intended, so it isn’t a total loss, but it took my entire Sunday to get that far.

I suppose I had naïve hopes of getting “discovered” and being able to quit my job and write full-time … sort of like when I was a kid and dreamed of finding Mr. Right, and living happily ever after. But Life is not a fairy tale. There are nitty gritties involved—every city, no matter how beautiful or sublime it looks on the surface, has sewers and traffic grids and urine or dog poop on the sidewalks and trash in the gutters. And all of that is part of the city’s character, part of its personality. It’s part of the Whole Experience. Learning a trade or a craft or an art is just the same.

So writing isn’t this romantic thing I’d envisioned. It’s messy. It’s hard. It takes over a lion’s share of your life. It’s both joyous and discouraging by turns. It’s maddening, but I love it so! It makes my heart sing….and right now, I can’t imagine anything else taking its place.