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I’ve been watching, shall we say, a fair amount of YouTube. You can learn anything there, from post-apocalyptic building techniques to curly hair care to why the face of Venus is so obscure in that painting by Velazquez. You can learn how to keep a plant alive. How to clean your house. If you’re vegan, there are beans and cream-free sauces and waifish young people assuring you that baby steps are cool. You can listen to music and watch short films, and hear all manner of art dissected by people who don’t make art themselves but are pretty sure they can tell you how it’s done.

For my writing, it’s been wonderful. I love hearing how other people work, how they outline and get a draft down, and plan a series and so forth. I’ve always thought of writing as an ugly process, but these young people are kind of beautiful with their sweaty faces and unwashed hair, the hunted, manic look that precedes a deadline. I adore their giant glasses, their planners and kanban boards, their colored pens and highlighters and sticky notes all over the floor. I like to play along with their pomodoro live streams and awkward chats. I’ve even completed a Nano, because why not? I’ve got nowhere else to be.

In spite or because of all this YouTubing I managed to finish a book. The first draft has always been hardest for me, so I started dictating that part, in order not to see what a goddamn mess was turning up on the page. In fact, the mess is the point, because voice-to-text is bound to make one anyway so there’s no use trying to be precious about it. You dictate it, get it on the page, and give yourself something to edit. Thanks be to the gods of modern technology.

However, I’m old and wise enough to know that what unsticks me once might not do the trick next time, so I’ve been loading my pockets with all kinds of new tools: writing sprints, schedules, word counts, index cards, notebooks. The different methods are a comfort. They give me a fallback plan. As I start to work on book two of this series (it’s a sci-fi romance thing), I’ve already deployed the notebook and index cards, and I’m giving heavy thought to the post-its. Plain yellow or multicolored. These are the questions that vex me.

What have you learned lately?

10 responses

  1. Remember on Star Trek back in the day when they had a video screen from engineering to the bridge, and we thought that was soooo next level? I still feel like that sometimes. I can’t believe we’ve traveled from curly telephone cords to Zoom already.

  2. That I want to read your sci fi book! Also I can go back to a full-time job and not lose my soul and freedom (yet). I’ve learned so much about my current self vs my early 30s self.

    • You’ll have to read it with a grain of salt, Indy, otherwise you’ll find yourself with all kinds of sciencey qualms and whatnot. It’s sort of light on science, heavy on the fiction.

  3. Most recently, I learned that I love the word VEX. I am imagining all the ways in which I might use it, and soon. From the humble “I am so vexed right now,” we might quickly progress to “Vex you!” Soon we shall arrive at “Completely and absolutely vexed.” And for sexytime, what about “Vex me, baby!” Who am I kidding? Most of my vexability was vaxed long ago. (Not anti-vaxed, let’s not go there…”)

    I’ve learned that there’s LOTS of time. It’s everywhere and everywhen. It’s constant. Wherever, whenever I are, there time be. We all get the same 168 hours each week, and it’s plenty. What we too often do is bemoan our lack of time — thereby wasting some during said long and whiny bemoanment — and do a whole lot of shit we don’t really want to with half of whatever time’s left. There’s HUGE amounts of time — Focus, Fuckers, and you shall own time, not the other way round.

    PS: I love that you are finding All The Ways to keep going. My own current vexation is that a bell does not ring sufficiently loud in my ears at intervals of 25 minutes, 5, 25, 5, 25, 5, through the day. But the music, I now have that sorted. I am now somewhat unvexed.

    • I love how much mileage you got out of that word. It is a cool one, what with all the points and spikes and Scrabble value.

      My intervals are 20, 10, 20, 10, because I’m a lazy bitch. Which is totally vexing.

      • I actually lied about my intervals, which are currently 33, 6, 33, 6, 33, 6, 33, then the long break of 33.

        I lied because the 25, 5, 25, 5 is so easily understood.

        The only interesting part of that is that it’s actually sorta what we do, when we write for ordinary readers who don’t want to work too hard, and just need entertainment. Tell the lie that makes it well understood, then go wild elsewhere. The more Fi and less Sci your Sci-Fi is, the more enjoyable it will be to the average Sci-Fi reader. And those looking to work hard will find their type of book elsewhere.

        If I did 20, 10, 20, 10, I’d soon be doing 10, 20, 10, 20, 5, 30… Lazy, lazy man, me. 2, 58, 2, 58 anybody?

        Also, I’m changing the spelling of invection to invexion. That should vex a few grammar nerds!

        • I hope you’re right about the sci-fi reader, because I’m definitely going wild on the fi. I’m having too much fun with it to get bogged down with the sci.