On the Stepping Up of Game

Summer has definitely settled upon New York’s Capitol Region, and I’m feeling it. Not my favorite time of year, by any means. There are now two fans in my office: the big ceiling fan, and the small fan I repurposed from another room, and that makes a world of difference. In protest, my office chair has added “amusement park ride” to its job description, as I have somehow unlocked the mechanism that keeps the seat at its optimum level, and am now prone to sudden drops in altitude at unexpected moments. For this one, I am calling in reinforcements, aka Housemate and/or Real Life Romance Hero, who are better at figuring out mechanical things than I am.

This week, I am not slumped in front of a box fan, in full slug mode, because I would honestly rather be writing. Monday was not a marathon, and half of the pages I brought to critique session with N were printed on pink paper instead of white, my reminder that these are notes/outline only,  not what is going in the actual chapter. I will admit to some part of my brain making grabby hands at those pages and vowing I could fix them in only a couple more hours. Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Nice try, brain. I filed the pink pages under “good enough” and actually slept.

There are words a writer doesn’t want to hear in a critique session. Pointing and laughing (unless the pages submitted are comedy, then, in that case, pointing and laughing would be the desired outcome) do not count as words. “It’s okay,” however, do count as words. “It’s okay” is obviously better than “this is utter dreck, and you should give up writing,” but they still aren’t the best case scenario. They are, however, a starting place, and the right critique partner can do a lot with them, as in point the writer in the right direction. More over here, this part was the writer talking to themselves, move this thing where the other thing was, and go deeper in to Character X’s reaction to Character Y, instead of giving readers only a taste. Give Character X some sympathy to Character Y, because they are going to want to lock lips with them in a few pages, and right now, they sound like they don’t like the other person much.

Okay, that gives me some direction. Later today, I will plop my overheated self next to the box fan next to my comfy chair, not in slug mode, but with Big Daddy Precious notebook open in my lap, green Marvy Le Pen pen in hand (because it was the favorite pen of the writer who got me into historical romance in the first place) and, quite possibly, some DVR’d TV shows playing, if I don’t have my earbuds in and my playlist for Her Last First Kiss. I will kind of sort of halfway background watch the show, but my actual brain will be back in 1784, and the story will find its way from brain to page. I’ll transcribe later, fit it in with what I already have, or substitute, if this goes in a different direction. Second drafting can get into uncharted territory on occasion, and this is one of those occasions. Which is fine.

At the same time, I have a voracious appetite for planning and organizing. What other habits can I track? How can I use my planner/my office/my time more efficiently? How can I make my planner spreads prettier? How many new art techniques can I cram into my brain, because, right now, my brain is hungry for this kind of stuff. Famished, the same way it’s been sorting my TBR pile in order of how much I want to read certain types of books. Give me more of this, a grace note of that, pile all of that other thing on the plate, as high as it will go, because this hungry brain needs it.

I am taking this as a good sign, this overall desire to step up my personal game, and follow that hunger. The more I take in, the more I want to put out. This probably falls under my mother’s “the more you do, the more you’ll want to do” maxim, and she would probably not tell me she told me so, but she’d think it, and that would be okay. Right now, I’m not looking at the big picture. Not thinking about where this book is going to go when this draft is done, not thinking about marketing or future books or anything other than this scene, this chapter, applying the notes I got on my good-enough pages, after a decent night’s sleep, and, after that, we look at what work needs to be done on the next section.  Summer is still out there, but it’s not my main focus.

Instead, the focus is on my current assignment. Everything else can go grab a popsicle and a paperback and wait its turn, because that turn will come. Right now, I have two people and one moment of vulnerability that requires my full attention, so that’s where it’s going to go.

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