Writing about Reading: The Cairo Affair

January 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

Okay, I just finished Olen Steinhauer’s brilliant new novel, The Cairo Affair, and I want to tell you about it, but first some good news: I am unstuck! I guess writing that blog post helped me break loose of the muck and get going again, because I’ve been working on the novel since the day after posting it.

And I’ve been reading, which always helps inspire me to write (and helps your brain). I recently finished Kill City Blues, the latest in the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey, and if you’re a fan of that series, you won’t be disappointed. I thought the last couple books in the series sagged a bit, but this one has Stark back in top form. I’m definitely interested to see what happens in the next one.

Halfway through Kill City Blues, I received an advanced review edition of The Cairo Affair in the mail. It was a fantastic surprise; I’d signed up to win it in a Facebook contest staged by the publisher, but thought it had gone to someone else. Opening the padded envelope and pulling out a Steinhauer novel that’s not due out for another two months was Christmas all over again. Seriously, I was giddy.

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Stuck

January 14, 2014 § 7 Comments

I’m back. Well, sort of. I’m not promising a flurry of new blog posts, because — well, because I’m stuck.

Things were rocketing along in November. I was using NaNoWriMo as the kick in the pants to finish the first draft of the book I’m writing, and it was going well. Going into that final week, it looked like I would finish the draft with no problems. No sweat.

And then I got stuck.

Stuff happened. Life always intervenes. Or, in this case, death. My dear friend Sherry Spurlock passed away, and I had a hard time with it. Sherry was instrumental in getting my writing going again after far too many years of not writing. She more or less introduced me to NaNoWriMo. She was one of those rare, wonderful, kind, funny, smart, beautiful people that you’re lucky to meet in life. So yeah, her death hit me pretty hard.

And then there were the holidays, and things started getting busy — parties on the weekends, friends in town for the holidays, etc. I thought I would take a break, and get a fresh start on January 2. So that’s what I did, and I enjoyed my time with family and friends, and January 1 I sat down to get a jump start on the starting over. And I fiddled with it and stared at the words I’d written back in November, and nothing came.

“No problem,” I thought, saving the file and shutting the computer off. “I said I’d start again January 2, so I’ll hit it tomorrow.”

The same thing happened the next day. And the next. And suddenly it’s the middle of January, and still nothing’s coming.

It’s not writers block; I know exactly what happens next. It’s that when I sit down at the keyboard, I just stall out. I can’t get going.

I thought maybe I needed to read through what I had written so far to get back into the flow. I started fiddling with scenes, adding a character I’d planned to add in the rewrite. But even that wasn’t flowing too well.

Now I feel like a car in mud, spinning my wheels and trying to get out, but going nowhere. Just making a mess.

But I’m not going to stop spinning those wheels. I’m going to keep making a mess until I get out of here and get moving again. And once that happens, I’m not stopping again, not for anything. When the first draft is done, I’m jumping right into Draft 2. And then Draft 3, and Draft 4, and every draft it takes after that until the book is ready to go out the door to publishers and agents.

Sorry for the noise and the mess, but if anyone can give me a push, I’d appreciate it.

Where Am I?

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