Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Change of Scene

The notorious Chapter Ten is finished--has been for about a week now. So that's one piece of good news. And even though I overwrote one part of it by accident, I think the new stuff is just as good if not better. The scene turned out fine, and it put me over the mid-book hump. Things should be much easier and much faster from here on out.

I was having a conversation with my kids (okay, I was lecturing my kids) about why they have some difficulty in settling down to their schoolwork. Public school kids leave the house and their familiar home environment every day during the school year and go to a building devoted to just that purpose. They don't have access to the time-wasters and recreational temptations (like TV and computer games) that homeschooled kids have. The trick for a homeschooler is finding a way to put himself into the mindset of "when I go into this home office, I'm at school. I'm on school time, and I don't have access to my time-wasting activities." That's harder than it sounds, however. Easy to say, but not so easy to do. It takes a lot of mental discipline to pass up that computer game or online fanfic, especially when/if it's more interesting than the assignment due.

And what about writers? Most of us have our time-wasters, too. Minesweeper, Spider Solitaire, surfing the net, reading all the websites for hopeful fellow writers, reading all the websites of our favorite authors, and on and on into white page oblivion. Intentions are good, but they don't look like much on the page. Morale might be low due to not having a publisher's contract on the table, but a finished work at least has a chance at publication, while a blank page has none. I, for one, am out of excuses.

What have I wasted time on lately? Oh, for starters, watching DVD episodes of kids' shows I loved when I was nine--back in the 1970's. Oh, Mighty Isis! (Yeah, I know, I know....) Sometimes I just need a blast from the past, so I can keep things in perspective--sort of see where I've been so I can focus anew on where I'm going, I guess. And then there's something from the present...a fantasy novel written entirely in Irish Gaelige, which I'm laboriously translating so I can find out what the story is. (This exercise actually has some relevance to the book I'm writing, since I use some Irish in it, but still...) Two to three hours deciphering two paragraphs is a steep price to pay if it takes up all of my writing time for one night.

I admit I've been struggling with this rewrite, kind of like a motorist with half a roadmap, but I think it's safe to say that I've finally recognized enough signposts that I'll be able to find my way from here. Many thanks to the Moxie for helping me pull myself out of the ruts along the way! Most of the time, I just needed a soundboard to bounce things off of-- a talking, thinking soundboard--or two. Even the Huz got drafted into listening while I talked myself into the right plot direction. Funny how that never works as well when I'm talking to the cat, the dog, or myself....

Today I had another new scene to write, and I decided that another day of poor progress was simply not acceptable. So I loaded up my laptop and left. Stopped off for a dentist appointment, had lunch with the family, and then just took off and left them to fend for themselves (gasp!) I went to a quiet, unobtrusive Moxie Java, ordered an iced tea and hit the new scene running. It wasn't easy--but it was a lot easier than trying to do it at home with all the time-wasters calling. By the time I treated myself to dinner at a nearby restaurant, I had a thousand words, and they painted a decent picture. I have to say, I hate the laptop keyboard. It's not ergo, and it hurts me. But for that thousand words, it was worth it. I'm so close to finishing that scene that I'm going back to it now. I think it's safe to say that the logjam is finally broken, and if it takes going to the Moxie with the laptop every day from now until Chapter 20, then that's what I'll do.

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