NaNoFeed: Live from the Northern Tour! (Lunch is a many-splendored thing)

So now we’re at Geek Partnership Society here in Northeast Minneapolis, where we have all unpacked our lunch and are nibbling and/or crunching and/or typing/scribbling away. There are cozy sofas and cold northern light out of a Vermeer still-life blessing our long white coffee-table, where a variety of chips and snacks and power-strips and assorted peripherals are making their own American modern still life.

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Cozy digs for writing at the Geek Partnership Society’s Event Horizon. Comfy couches are a positive aid to the muse.

I’m looking at the transition from fiction to non-fiction, the jump-start to a project in preparation for most of this year. I’m still “behind” in both relative and absolute terms, but I also know that writing (like all creative process) is non-linear.

Some projects are born in the fires of pure improvisation. Some are pre-meditated and do their silent growing-bones-in-the-dark in the form of outlines, chapter names, character interviews. Some don’t come to life until they have a title; others require concept covers before they feel real. One of the things I’ve learned as a writing veteran is trust in the shape and internal intention of a project, as well as willingness to treat first draft as “raw footage”: an initial capture of the idea or the scene, which can be cut up, re-shot, or left on the cutting-room floor. The film/video editor is a respected member of the creative team that makes movies; the revising author and/or professional editor take their place as part of the novelist’s team.

First-draft time is like no other time: it’s terrifyingly open-ended, full of wild energy and gateways to multiple universes. That’s one of the great things about the writing tour: positive peer pressure, the silence of a group all engaged in their own creative work. The sound of fingers on keyboard is an invocation to the Muse as powerful as anything ever sung in Attic Greek.

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Painting of Doctor Who’s TARDIS, writing tech that unfortunately is still fictional. We bend space and time in write-ins enough as it is.

Right now I’m in the place between worlds, and the place between projects. One of the scariest things about being a full-time writer is the unstructured time. Over the last months of illness, I’ve lost the shape of time. Hospital time is like monastery time, I said of a visit to a seriously ill family member. Sick time generally has its own rhythm, where recovery is the task at hand and everything else is subsidiary. I spent this time reading, mostly space-opera and multi-book series.

Now I know that was preparatory work: as I’ve been doing structural work on my novel projects, I realize that I’m creating the skeleton, the big shape. Once it’s safely in place, I can climb inside and bring the dinosaur to life, one brilliant feather at a time.

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Dancing with Daleks: Some Muses are scarier than others.

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