Oct. 11th, 2007

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I know it's been a while, but life kind of got away from me. Since the beginning of September, I have experienced crises on pretty much every level of life, with the latest being a bout with a relatively serious flu.

And that's actually why I'm writing this note, which is a partial writing post and a partial Con Shirt update.

First of all, proof positive that when a story grabs hold of me, nothing will stand in its way.

During September, I was working more than forty hours a week, with no weekends off for good behavior, trying to recover from the disaster that was the Jatol hosting company going under. Both Forward Motion and Holly Lisle's sites were affected, as well as a smattering of other friends. The initial transition went rather well all told but then the problems just keep rolling in. Those disasters resulted in a second host move that had to be completed before October 1st and then involved a series of changes to comply with the new host's (TigerTech) requirements, something I was happy to do because those changes made both sites more stable and less vulnerable.

Anyway, for a stay at home Mom/full-time writer, you can imagine how much time that left for my writing tasks. But that's the whole thing. Sure, a lot just didn't happen. Con Shirt, however, rarely let a day go buy without words.

This novel that didn't even exist until the last two weeks of August is now in its final stages and at a whopping 71k and change.

However, if programming and hosting and surgery can't slow the writing down, turns out the flu can. I learned a lot about my writing in these last couple of days, about the mechanics of it.

I've always felt a little like a cheat. I sit down for my writing time, open my mind, and the story pours out as fast as I can get it down. It may not be perfect, but it's there with full sound, shape, color, taste, and texture. My only role is translating that into words on the page.

Now I understand how crucial that role is.

Sitting here during my writing time with my temperature spiking and molasses for brains, I discovered the existence of an actual translation process. It's something I never noticed, seeing myself more as a transcriber, because the translation happens smoothly and unnoticed normally.

The flu broke all that.

I could feel the story, see the story, even hear the story, but I could not translate it. The words remained outside of my grasp, occasional trickles slipping through, but nowhere near my normal speed and agility.

Yes, it was frustrating as all get out. No, I never hope to experience this again. But, on some level, it was a good thing.

This experience has revealed (something that may be obvious to the rest of you, but I can be slow about such things ;)) that I am an integral part to this process, that there's more to my involvement than opening limited headspace to characters and their tales.

Anyway, I just thought I would share this revelation. Having had it, having learned more about my process, I'm ready for the flu to vanish now, thank you. I'm ready to get back my 1k+ productivity that will allow me to start working on my next idea in time for NaNo :).

And current stats for Con Shirt in case you're curious:

New Words: 663 words
71 scenes
64 complete - 90% of the novel
7 Scenes remain
7,805 Remaining word count
79,162 Estimated length - with an average of 1,115 words per scene.
71,357 Current Total

Note that the 7,805 is based on an estimated 1115 words per scene. In actuality, the next 3-4 scenes are all mini-scenes of shifting POV within a single battle and are averaging 250-700 words, so I suspect I'm within 4k of the end.

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Margaret McGaffey Fisk

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