Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mostly Bullet Points, Some Filler

First, in case you missed it:
Three more reviews have been accepted but not run; a fourth has been accepted but not yet written; a fifth has been written but not yet accepted. I like books.

Also, I put up a six-word story on Medium the other day.

It seems like book reviews and reading therefor are all that's kept me from sleeping through the days I have off. The world is hard to bear right now (fires, literal and figurative) and I am tired and processing the last of jet lag and fighting off viruses from all sides. I'm writing largely on deadline instead of writing ahead, and the time I don't spend on deadline is spent reading and pitching. (The one is lovely and the other is exhausting.)

To keep me honest, here's a list of projects I need to work on for the rest of December and in the year ahead. It's a long list because I'm so behind on everything except reviews. This is about half stuff I should've been working on since summer; some of it is definitely for 2018's spring or even summer, not now; some of it is new to me as of fall 2017 but I should've started on it by now.

  • Essay involving Gayle's book
  • Zine (written)
  • Essay about Five Million Years to Earth (solicited)
  • Essay about a film that never was (solicited)
  • Bits and pieces story for the Cupboard (not solicited) 
  • Celebrity story for Enumerate (not solicited)
  • Casablanca novel
  • Conceptual novel 
  • Essay about blurry love
  • Medium story about YA
  • Medium story about eating disorder
  • Essay about Apocalypse Now
  • Essay about Jeanne Dielman
  • Essay about Last Tango in Paris
  • Collaborative thing with Higgs (part done) 
  • Outline for Plan 9 novella
  • Outlines for two workshops (happening by March)
  • Book reviews: nine (9) for now, more next year, surely
  • Endless, self-renewing pitches and queries and proposals and submittals for essays, stories, book reviews, craft book, Highbinder, secret project, whatever else I finish
  • Put together writing about the following topics:
  1. The tree where I left the blue stone
  2. Visit to Santa Fe and all I saw
  3. The Salton Sea and the St. Andrews Cathedral
  4. Trip to Oregon and the fires there
  5. Meow Wolf
  • Interviews with
  1. Duncan
  2. Samantha
  3. Tomas
  4. People who haven't gotten back to me
  5. Whoever else says yes, later
Damn, that is a long list. No wonder I'm stressed out.

Maybe this is a moment for me to reiterate how I work. Once I get going, I am a fast writer, and according to an external observer I'm a very fast reader (though I don't tend to think so). I can turn around a read and review for a book in about a week. When I'm writing other stuff, I need several months (how many of them depends on the project) to get my thoughts together, but once they are together I can write an essay in just a few sittings. For example, "The Girl on the Bike" came together very quickly, in two drafts a couple weeks apart, but I'd been thinking about the stuff in it for years. I wrote Highbinder (93,000 words) in I think five or six months, where I know many (most?) writers take years to write books.

So even though this list looks really goddamn long, even to me, it'll take me probably a month to write, finish, or execute half of the stuff on it. Which I should really just do, in most cases, instead of sleeping and avoiding it because finishing is scary. The other stuff is longer-term, or I haven't even come up with what to write for it yet, but that's the nature of my profession: some projects cook along in the background, like beans, while others get sauteed and eaten rapidly.

Did I say finishing is scary?

I do this thing where I get hung up immediately before the finish line on a task and then dawdle and stall before doing the rest of it. This is true in all areas of life: cooking & cleaning, my day job, writing projects, reading books, correspondence, research, shopping, thank-you notes, et cetera. Like, I'll get through 47 pages of entering my attorneys' billing slips and then my brain tells me to take a break and eat something and maybe nap before doing the last three. Three pages! After I've been working two and a half hours on the first 47! Whyyyyyy do you do that, brain?

Maybe "scary" is why. If I finish, I won't know what to do with myself. I'll have to start a new task that might not go as smoothly as the almost-done one is going (since it's almost done, after all) and then I'll have to work harder (or be more anxious) and if I sit in this almost-done moment for as long as possible, I won't feel anxious or guilty or frustrated.


This may be an explanation, but there's no excuse for letting my to-do list get as far out of hand as the above is. Get to work, Coldiron. Butt in seat. No solitaire. No YouTube. Get that zine printed up. Update your website. Write a list. Write a pitch. Just do what you gotta.

(secret confession: I get a bit turned on when dudes do that hand-mouth gesture.)

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