Today’s writing was philosophical… and probably a bit expository. Which means what I wrote today is probably going to get heavily edited during the revision.

But I learned something big about my novel’s world today — something that has been creeping into the back of my brain in bits and pieces for the last couple of novels, but that today met me face to face and said, “Hey… this is what I am. Deal with it.”

Again, I might end up dealing with it by cutting a fair amount of today’s words during the five-book one-pass revision.

But right now, it’s still hot. For me, there’s no objective way to judge the value of first-draft words while they’re still fresh.

And the MOVEMENT I got from what I wrote today, in the form of taking the story forward, and in the form of opening up the whole damn story universe, was just magnificent.

This was lightning, and the words flew off my fingertips so fast I could barely keep up.

I worked for just a bit over an hour, and got 1401 words. For me, that’s flying.

And I’m looking forward to walking off my main character’s field of green grass and dandelions tomorrow, and taking what I’ve learned from today’s words back into the fight that’s waiting for her back in her small town that has temporarily achieved out-sized importance.


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I needed to explore the significance of the thing that happened yesterday, because it’s a big damn deal, because I didn’t expect what happened, and because I don’t know what’s waiting for me when I take my character down to the end of the hall to look at what’s changed.

So today, I ran with that. Pulled my character out of the situation that filled her with fear and stress, let her back away long enough to get hold of herself…

And allowed her to show herself (and me) what she’s afraid of, why she’s afraid…

And I let myself watch her react.

I really like the bit with the mirror, but a lot of the rest of this is, I think, going to hit me as an unreadable chunk of worldbuilding and backgrounding when I re-read it during the one-pass revision.

However, I learned a few important things about my MC that I didn’t know. Learned a bit about what she fears might be waiting for her.

And tomorrow, I can pick up with the situation I left hanging so I could run her to the bathroom to get hold of herself.

I can take what she told me today and use that to make how she deals with this new and frightening situation more compelling, and more practical. I can pull in the folks who appeared in her memories of the past, and her discoveries from the very recent present, and while I have no damn clue yet what she’s going to find when she opens this terrifying door in her life (in this case, LITERALLY a door), I certainly have some new material on her to make her reactions and response interesting.

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I was building a really nice writing-tips email list for my writers. Every Thursday, (or mostly every Thursday), I was creating one new writing tip, answering a writer’s question, demonstrating a quick version of some technique I’ve found helpful…

And then the HollysWritingClasses.com class software died. Hard.

And we spent six months installing new software, moving all the classes on the old software over to the new software before the old site stopped working entirely, and managed to save all the classes.

Of course, because they were ONLINE classes, built as PDFs, all the links in them that referred to the site itself are broken. A lot of links that went to OTHER sites are broken.

And I figured out that we’ll fix those by posting the corrected links in each lesson right into the classroom, so that things can be easily updated.

But almost all the links in the Thursday emails referenced posts on the site, or classes on the site, or freebies on the site…

AND ALL THOSE LINKS BROKE, TOO.

During the six-month Save-The-Site complete overhaul, I didn’t have time to do any Thursday emails. I was squeezed managing to get my daily fiction words (and sometimes I just didn’t).

But the dust is settling (not settled yet… not by a long shot).

So I headed into the Thursday Emails to start fixing links. I got through the first several emails, and will work on these a bit at a time every weekday until I finally have the existing list updated. (It’s an ever-green list, filled with techniques and processes and tips that I’ve figured out over the last thirty-something years. Writers can join at any time, and get the first email, and keep getting them as long as I write them.)

I won’t be doing any NEW tips, though, until I have all the existing ones fixed.

And I’m having to do this in between writing the current novel, and doing my work over in HollysWritingClasses.com. 

It will all get done. It’ll just take some time, and I can’t write any new tips until I have everything already written fixed. But now that getting those links fixed has made the priority list in my daily bullet journal (it hit the Priority List at last when we stopped having to put out HollysWritingClasses.com fires) I figure I can correct about five emails a day after I get my fiction done and check in on my writers taking their classes), and be ready to start writing new tips in about a month. Maybe a bit more.

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There’s been this small, ongoing mystery in these books since Book One. And I don’t mean a mystery for the reader.

I mean a mystery for me.

I built this one set (a set in fiction is a place you use frequently that contains important secrets and other elements your characters need to use to get through the story)…

And today, my main character stepped into the set and the last key piece of that set became available to her.

I didn’t know this was going to happen. I sent her in there for something else, but fingers and back brain collaborated against me, and BAM!

She and I saw the change in the set at exactly the same time, and AFTER I’d already gotten my words for the day.

I have NO CLUE what’s there.

I have NO CLUE why it matters, or what’s going to happen tomorrow.

She has been working her way through her past and the present trying to learn a damn difficult job while dealing with pieces of her past that are missing, or were lies all along.

And now this… thing… is suddenly accessible to her, and I’d already run long getting to it.

So tomorrow I’m going to find out what’s there, and maybe start understanding why it opened up to her now, and maybe figure out how the hellacious problem she’s trying to resolve is related to that piece of the set suddenly opening up….

Tomorrow is going to be really damn interesting.

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This was one of those “I love my job” days. 

I got a late start because we were dropping presents off at a friend’s house, but when I picked up where I left off yesterday, the parts of the scene I needed were waiting.

Actions of others have had massive, epic consequences, and something that’s been mostly stable for a really, really long time just got broken.

My MC is in the position where she’s having to sort out the pieces.

And she’s facing one of those moments that would make heroes in capes and professional politicians all weep.

She’s not feeling so great herself. But she’s doing her best, and while her upcoming month is likely to be five kinds of nightmare…

It’s gonna be a LOT of fun to write. 

I’m happy. I love what I got, I’ve left myself in a good place to pick up work again on Monday… and WEEKEND!!!

I’m ready.

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I have only the vaguest idea of where the story is going right now. I’m a long way off of the planned outline, writing into the dark, following the conflict, and asking always, “What could go wrong?”

“What could go wrong?” is the right question for this section, for this book, for the aftermath of the resolution of one enormous problem I came up with over the past week or so… and for the whole slew of problems that resolution has created.

I love this story, these characters, this world… and I am fascinated by what’s going on now. And because I don’t know what’s going to happen next, it makes going in to work each morning really damn easy.

Because I get to let my fingers put words to page, and I get to find out.

I don’t usually write this way. I usually have a line-for-scene outline built, and while I get spontaneous material and outright surprises writing that way, everything more or less fits within what I planned.

This… doesn’t.

This is something that happened that… well… took me completely by surprise, changed the nature of the story universe I’ve built, and makes what happens next wildly important.

And while I can definitely bring the series to a permanent close in this novel, what happened with my characters over this least week does would make it really easy to write a whole lot of future novels in the same world. 

Gut says I want to do that. Gut says that this world is a world worth staying in for as many books as I can make time for. Because this world keeps surprising me, catching me off guard, throwing challenges at me that I have to solve, and pushing me to think outside of boxes and systems to solve them.

A helluva lot of years into this gig, I’m still finding new ways to do things.

That as much as the stories I get to write is the thing that keeps this job delightful, and enchanting. And just really damn fun.

And that my Ohio world is pushing me into so many corners and forcing me to fight my way out of them is what makes THIS world worth writing in for a lot more than the four novels I’ve already written and the fifth one that I’m now halfway through.

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I don’t usually start with a lot of backing and filling. I read what I wrote the day before, and then I pick up from there and start writing.

Today, though, when I started writing the first time, it went wrong on me. 

I had a vague idea what I wanted, and the only thing I really  knew that what I was getting was that it WAS NOT that.

So… I figured out what I did want, and counter to what I generally recommend, I then went back and started over. (Fresh chapter, new page — it was pretty easy to delete and move on.)

And I came out of it with 1209 words I’m happy with.

And left myself in a good place to pick up tomorrow.

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I’d written myself into a corner yesterday, and I had absolutely no clue what was going to happen next.

See… Brain writes the outlines and the overall planning. Gut, however, writes the words, and Gut — like a willful horse — is entirely capable of getting the bit between his teeth and galloping straight toward whatever suddenly looks good.

Over the last few days (my time, not hers) my main character has experienced an appalling revelation, a near-death experience, and an unexpected triumph combined with a terrible loss…

And I thought she was still heading toward the same basic end-story objective, but getting there by some strange side paths.

I was still having to get there by pure pantsing, because I left my line-for-scene outline a couple chapters ago in pursuit of The Better Idea.

But today I found myself staring at a wall where I realized I’d just caused the utter obliteration of the ending I thought I was going to write.

Brain was muttering…

“Right… That thing you blew up yesterday was supposed to be the heart of your conflict for another five books after this five, and now… BLAMMO? You sure you want to save what you did yesterday? You can go back. Back is SAFE. Back in KNOWN. Back is the PLAN… and you liked the PLAN when you wrote it.”

Gut held firm. Gut said, “Don’t be a chicken. You knew yesterday’s stuff was cool when you wrote it, and now you want to wuss out and go with what’s safe? C’mon! Grow a pair!” 

Small side note here while I point out that my gut is kind of a jerk sometimes… but it’s almost always right about the fiction, so I have learned to look past the taunting to the meat of the argument.

Which is that what I got yesterday was really cool. Gut is absolutely right about that.

It isn’t what I planned, but it’s better than what I’d planned. It isn’t Safe. But Safe in fiction, the Known in fiction, the Expected in fiction… are always okay.

They are NEVER fucking amazing.

And today I had to look at the loss of some words to return to the Safe Known. Or to keep moving forward in pursuit of the hope of bringing home something fucking amazing…

With the acknowledged very real possibility that I will fall on my face, absolutely wreck this story, and then have a gruelling, long slog through it when I go back through to do the One-Pass Five Book Revision <shudder> that waits for me at the end of this process. Where I will end up turning it into the book I’d planned to write.

I’m choosing to chase the chance to make this fucking amazing.

This may be a serious tactical error on my part, and if you find me in here next month muttering, “Yep… should have got back to the outline…”

Then…

You’re invited to say, “Well, I thought you were nuts when you veered away from your plan into fresh new territory.”

Not yet, though. Let’s see where this goes.

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Not bad for a Monday. I mostly like the words I got — and the ones I don’t like can sit there and think about what they’ve done until I come back around for the revision.

877 for the day, 40,225 total for the book, and I did manage to get a piece of one mystery in there, and I left myself in a good spot to pick up tomorrow.

So now… 

Laundry.

And then the other Activities of Daily Living that get us all from today to tomorrow… when I shall write again. 😀

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I’m at the midpoint of Ohio 5, the stakes are high, my MC has just discovered for the first time in the series HOW high… and, to rearrange some Rush lyrics that THEY borrowed, I’ve just discovered, from John Barth’s The Tidewater Tales, 

My characters will pay the price, but they will not count the cost.

I’d love to write further on the book, but today has not been easy, and brought with it both cause for a headache and the headache that followed. 

So I’m going to take my 701 words, and my nearly 40,000 total, and say “good enough.”

And disappear for the weekend, where I will play video games, and read books, and nap on the couch if the mood strikes me.

And Monday I’ll come back, bringing new words to the story.

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