Friday 30 August 2013

Breathing in

Right now, I'm on the quiet side - or "breathing in", as they say. Usually after finishing a book, I feel everything go flat. I become listless and unable to focus on productivity or even a daily wordcount. If it's one day, that's fine. Two days - all right. It's now nearly a week, and I spent the majority of that time in denial. If only I'll push harder, I'll be able to . . .

Screw that. No writing happening. The well is not exactly dry, but so low as to be functionally dry. My bucket can't reach the bit of tepic, stale water that's still there.

So I'm gorging myself on stories. Reading and watching as much as I can. I'm making a biggish attempt at getting back into the research for the birds book, for one.

I've also read a book on American Muslim Men, to check whether a seculiar Muslim we've been writing is portrayed correctly (he is - or rather, I found nothing that went against what I read in that book). I also read LA Witt's Distance Between Us series, for reasons that will be disclosed soon. Often, in between projects, I fall back on reading about writing, and I enjoyed Scalzi's blog posts on writing and being a professional full-time writer, so I bought his book on that (basically a collection of blog posts).

Right now, I'm watching Secret Army, a tremendous, hugely intelligent WWII BBC series, which is, in turns, rivetting, poignant, sad, underhanded. It's embarrassingly well written. If I ever manage to plot and pace and structure like these guys did, I'll die a very very accomplished (and smug!) writer. Terrific TV, of a quality and moral complexity that's simply no longer being made. It's got everything I found missing in, for example, Breaking Bad, which is also about "good and evil" but by orders of magnitute more slapstick and grotesque. Secret Army has none of that. No humor breaks the tension. If anything, every scene tightens the thumb screws, until the inevitable catastrophe (which can be as "small" as a single death or a mission failure, or the "bad" guy closing in one further step) releases the tension in a gulp of "oh shit, noes!" So, so glad we discovered that.

I'm also reading David Leavitt's "While England Sleeps", which is "literary" historical gay novel that has a scandal attached, as Leavitt borrowed heavily from Stephen Spenders autobiography.

Here's Spender's take on the debate. And here's Leavitt's.

Reading both, I think the interesting point is - how much can we use biographies of existing people as "source material" for our own writing? And, is an autobiography a work of fiction that CAN be plagiarised? (In a way, an autobiography is halfway between fiction and non-fiction, as the artful touch, the refinement and the "making sense of the past through the wisdom of hindsight" puts it at least halfway into the realm of fiction.) And - is adding sex scenes "pornography"? And how strange to see a gay writer accusing the gay/bisexual/ex-gay model for his character of "homophobia".

The mind boggles.

I found the book had some distinct modern bits/places where the voice/sensibility shifts to that of, I feel, a later age, but there are enough gems in it to keep me reading. I'm reading this for my queer book club, and of the three books assigned so far, this is the one I can actually stand and will likely finish. (The others were just dreary.) Should be an interesting discussion, too, considering the controversy, and I'm not sure I'd side entirely with Leavitt, either.

Then I've finally started Liar Moon by Ben Pastor, a gift from my friend Alina. It starts with one of the most wrenching, visceral scenes I've read in a long time, so very much looking forward to reading that once I'm done with Leavitt (who wins purely on account of having to finish his book by next Thursday).

And I've started the second edition of Josh Lanyon's book on writing m/m. I contributed some quotes and an essay on historical fiction to it, but this is the first time I'm reading the whole thing in toto, after I'd enjoyed the first edition. I think Josh did an excellent job, and there are points I'd like to add, so maybe I'll be writing my own version of that book at some point. When I find time and can organize the jumble of thoughts. It's an excellent resource overall and heartily recommended, on account not of my own contribution, but the effort of drawing from dozens of publishers, readers, reviewers and authors.

Writing-wise, I have two chapters (about 5k) of Scorpion3, Lori and I are working on an edit of a new Market Garden book, and we're 90% done with another hot contemporary romance.

Job-wise, insecurity is still very much in the air and we're openly exchanging job leads and job postings among the team. As it stands, I'll likely duke it out and if my job vanishes, I might try for a year to go full-time as a writer, and if that doesn't work out, I'm going back into banking or CorpComms. I'm also considering acquiring a number of skills that go more towards coaching/healing work, which I've been drawn to since I was little (writing combines both, and there's a LOT of overlap). I think it might just be time to open the next chapter and start with a new plotline in my own life.

Regardless, I'm happy to see Capture and Surrender do so well (it went as high as #2076 on, which is my highest ever) and continues to do well. Needless to say, if I end up without a job, every single sale puts me a small step closer to the big goal, so I'm watching all of that maybe more closely than is healthy.

But, yeah, it's a "breathing in" phase. I'm just filling myself up again to get ready to write again.


  1. Keep breathing. :) Never hurts to take a little time to recharge and reset.


  2. I think you'd rock doing coaching work. Good thoughts for the job situation. I know how that feels.

  3. I'm not surprised, given your output of late, that the well is low on water. I have Josh Lanyon's book on my wishlist