It’s Been A While Since an Idea Ate My Brain

There I was, minding my own business, fixating on something else entirely (if I’m going to be completely honest, it was something to do with one of my odd famous person crushes), and then out of nowhere, a scene from a story popped into my head.

It was a perfect, fully formed scene. I knew exactly how it was going to play out, but I didn’t have much other context to it. No big deal. Happens often. All part of being a writer.

Over the next few days, the context came to me unbidden. The characters revealed their names, their circumstances, their stories. It was just something that would happen when my mind would drift. Another piece of the story puzzle would be discovered and slotted into place.

The story buzzed around my brain, consuming it. By the time I hit Friday night, it was firmly lodged in there. Which proved to be a bit problematic in the dead hours of the night when the Friday night insomnia hit, a phenomenon that plagues me periodically as a nightshift worker who works Saturday mornings. If I’m able to fall asleep at a decent hour, I’ll wake up after a good two or three hour nap and then be awake for at least an hour if not more. The Friday night insomnia routinely adds up to only 3 to 4 hours of sleep for my Saturday shift. And that Friday, those awake hours I was supposed to be lulling my brain back to sleep, I was writing the damn story in my head.

Late that Saturday night, I spent forty-five minutes outlining the entire story, beat by beat.

I slept better than night.

And every night since.

Outlining the story seems to have quieted the idea. Oh, it’s still very much so in there. I can pull it up whenever I want to ponder it. But it’s not insistently gnawing on my brain anymore. Which is kind of a good thing since I do like my beauty rest.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a story idea eat my brain like this. I get ideas that I’ll think about off and on, jot down, maybe half-ass outline if I’m feeling ambitious. But I can’t remember the last time a story has actually kept me up at night. Or come out so perfectly formed in an actual outline. Even my best stories tend to have gaps. Sometimes they only have one scene and that’s what I’m writing toward and by the time I get there, I know what the story is.

This story was just there. It might have taken me a week or so to have it fully come to the surface, but it had my grey matter in its little fists while it did, yanking itself out of the folds of my brain noodles by my synapses.

It made me itch to write it because I knew it would just flow.

I held off, though. Mostly because of other commitments. I’m up to my eyeballs in projects right now. I’ve thought about doing it as a second page-a-day project, but I honestly think that once I start, I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one page. On the flip side, I don’t think I can wait until NaNo to write it either.

I found a compromise in making Sunday -usually my work-free day- my guaranteed writing day. I’m not going to set any real goals for the day. It’s just guaranteed time for me to work on the project, however much or little I want to. I wasn’t going to start until the first Sunday in September, but…I gave in and started a week early.

I had to.

Before it started gnawing on my brain again.

Adios 2021

How do you send off a year that you’re not sorry to see go?

Gleefully and gratefully, I suppose.

Especially since I can’t remember most of it. It’s all just a pandemic blur to me. So, here are a few milestones I remember.

I finished Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno and started Season 3. For the first time since the very beginning of the podcast, I’m actually ahead of the game. I think I’m finding my rhythm. I haven’t gotten much quicker in my process, but being a few months ahead keeps the pressure off. So, that’s something.

I revamped Kiki Writes About and created AKA Kiki Writes to be the home of Book ’em, Danno and my Rerun Junkie content. One of the goals of this revamp was to blog more regularly, which I’ve done. Good job, me.

Murderville came to an end and I’ve got things in place for the next project. Writing, revising, recording, and editing an audio story has been an interesting challenge.

Despite my misgivings, I managed to win yet another NaNo, though I cheated like hell when it came to the actual projects. But I got a bunch of short stories done in addition to the audio story, so that’s more writing than I’ve done in a long time.

I had the joy of discovering that there are romance books that I do like. I was very sad that I couldn’t enjoy that genre, but success! If they’ve got fat folks and/or queer people, I am in. I also read a lot of poetry this past year, which I very much enjoyed and look forward to reading more of.

One of my dear friends and her family moved back to town earlier this year and it’s been a joy to see their faces more often.

I’ve discovered the goodness that is kimchi and I now make kimchi dip on the reg. And I further expanded my culinary skills by learning to make carne asada.

My patellar tendonitis that has been plaguing me for years is under control. I’m doing a lot better, though I’m still not at 100%. I still can’t squat down like I used to. My blood pressure remains too high despite the meds and diet changes and attempts to reduce stress. I just hope the inevitable stroke kills me.

I’m hoping that 2022 will be kinder to me and everyone else, but it’s already off to a dubious start. I had really wanted to go to Hawaii for my 42nd birthday in January, but with the latest Covid variant and the fact that tourists remain the selfish worst, I decided to postpone until a safer, more agreeable time. Hopefully, it’ll be before birthday number 43, but we’ll see what the Universe has in store.

Adios, 2021. You had an attitude.

2021 NaNo Winner!

Yes, I officially reached 50,000 words on November 29th, so that’s another win in the books.

This year was quite interesting given that I decided to approach NaNo in a different fashion while also dealing with a different library schedule that added a challenge to the already challenging situation of me struggling to write in general.

What resulted was quite a bit of productivity actually. Writing only 1,700 words a day every day helped keep the pressure off. Normally, I write between 2,000 and 4,000 words a day during NaNo. In comparison, 1,700 words is a piece of cake. For the most part, I was able to get my word count in before I went to work, another factor that kept the stress low. I was able to work on other things after my library shift knowing that I had NaNo done.

I finished the first draft of the audio story The Found Diary of Christina Essex in 15 days at 25,000 words, half of my needed word count and more than I anticipated doing on that story. Which was good. I wasn’t exactly sure if the story was going to work out until I hit a certain point and things suddenly came together. After that, it was pretty easy writing.

As for the rest of the month, I ended up using my word count to write four blog posts, five flash fiction stories, and four short stories, including one that topped out at 10,000 words. Not bad for someone who’s been struggling to write anything longer than flash fiction for months. I was also able to clear several story ideas out of my notebook. I don’t know yet what I’ll do with all of them now that they’re in first draft form, but they are ready and waiting to be revised.

As NaNos go, this one was quite different, but it also gave me a boost that I desperately needed when it came to getting my writing done. So much of why it’s fallen to the wayside is this feeling that I don’t have time to do it because I have all of these other impending projects to work on.

But the truth is, I do have time. It’s just a matter of finding it again.

Finding the energy…that’s another story.

But at least I know that I can still win when I want to.

NaNo 2021

Here we are once again. It’s NaNoWriMo time.

I wasn’t sure I was going to do NaNo this year. It seems that podcasting takes up most of my time these days, not that writing was coming easily anyway. I’ve written plenty about that, most recently in this post.

More than that -I didn’t really have anything I wanted to work on to the tune of 50,000 words in 30 days. Yes, I have ideas I could turn into first drafts, but nothing that compelled me.

And then I got an idea for a new Patreon project: The Found Diary of Christina Essex. Aside from the title and the basic premise -an unknown narrator reads a diary they found in the attic of their new house- I didn’t have much to start with, but I knew it would be good for a Patreon tier (more about this in a later post).

In order for me to have this new project ready for a January start date, it needs to be done soon -like now. Hello, NaNo project!

The one hitch in the giddyup is that this Patreon project is going to be an audio story. I can tell you right now, it probably won’t make 50,000 words. Not exactly ideal since that’s the goal of NaNo.

So, once again I’m going to cheat.

Much like the few years that I did two novellas instead of doing one whole novel, in this case I’m going to a novella and then other writing. Meaning, I’m not only going to count what I write on The Found Diary of Christina Essex, but I’m also going to count any other writing I do. Blog posts, short stories, flash fiction, whatever. I’m going to count it. The goal for this very special NaNo is for me to hit the NaNo goal of at least 1,667 words every day.

I am still struggling to find my writing joy. Will writing a significant amount of words for thirty days in a row help me reclaim it? I don’t know. But I felt a spark of magic when I wrote the last Patreon flash fiction bonus and I feel like it’s all right there, just teasingly out of reach. I know writing is work, but I want it to feel less like work. Because it didn’t always feel like the bane of my day. I used to look forward to exploring new ideas, even if it was just a blog post.

It’s sort of like being in love. I want to feel that way again. I want to feel that way always.

And who knows, maybe this will do it. And maybe I will hit 50,000 words on just the story.

Wouldn’t that be sweet?

Don’t Fear the Changes

As you may have noticed, Kiki Writes About is undergoing some major changes. I’m bored and it’s time to shake some shit up.

I haven’t been using the blog like I used to. I used to make a lot more posts about a variety of different subjects, but over time, that creative flow slowed to a trickle of have-to posts about what writing projects I was working on, Murderville posts, and Book ’em, Danno posts. Part of the reason for that is that Kiki Writes About was starting to feel a bit cramped. I started second guessing anything I might post because it might not fit with everything else.

With my creative productivity already at its lowest, I ended up even more stifled.

This is my attempt at un-stifling myself.

The biggest change is that I’ve created a whole new site that will be going live on August 1st.

aka KikiWrites will be the new home of Book ’em, Danno, any and all other podcast ventures, and Rerun Junkie. I’m not deleting the first two seasons of Book ’em, Danno or the Rerun Junkie posts from Kiki Writes About. In fact, the last episode of Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno will show up here right before the new site goes live. But from Season 3 on, everything will only be found on aka KikiWrites. The Book ’em, Danno page and the Rerun Junkie page will also be disappearing. They’ll be replaced by a page for aka KikiWrites to help direct traffic to the right place.

The Writing for Tips page can now be found under the Read Me tab. I wanted to consolidate all of my available stories in one space just to clean up the look a little bit.

As of now, the Murderville tab remains the same, but if I decide to do another Patreon project, I’ll end up creating a main Patreon page for all of those projects. So that could be moved in the future. Heads up!

Also, no more monthly writing project posts. There’s really no need for it while I’m taking a writing break and even before the writing break, I was working on the same project for months at a time, so it was sort of pointless. With Book ’em, Danno moving and Murderville coming to an end, those updates aren’t really necessary either.

What I’m hoping is that these changes will inspire me to get back to writing on whatever is on my mind and allow me to better explore a variety of topics that I’ve been wanting to write about, but don’t really have the motivation. And I mean that for aka KikiWrites as well as Kiki Writes About. There’s been Rerun Junkie posts I’ve been meaning to write for months, but haven’t gotten around to it.

Let this be the kick in the ass that I need!

July Writing Projects

I thought I’d be done with the revisions on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse by the end of June, but I severely underestimated the amount of rewriting necessary to finish it. I’ve got less than thirty written pages and a few more rewritten chapters to go, so I’ll be wrapping that up this month.

And then that’s it.

I’ve decided to take a break from writing for now.

I don’t know how long the break will last or what it will look like exactly. My inability to completely stop writing is known. But what I’ve been doing for the last year (and actually the last few years, if we’re going to be honest) isn’t working for me anymore. I need some time to just exist and see what happens. Because right now, I’m not going anywhere.

I do feel another site redesign coming in the very near future. I’ve got some ideas I’ve been sitting on and I think they’re about ready to hatch.

But you can still enjoy the fruits of my labors!

Episode 7 of Murderville: So Long, Neighbor will go live on July 13th. It’s the second to last episode of the last season of Murderville, so become a patron before the fun runs out. $1 an episode let’s you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month.

The season finale of Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno will go live at the end of the month. In the meantime, enjoy episode 25 and all of the previous episodes as well. Then do all the things you do to show love to a podcast. Let this be the summer of podcast love.

June Writing Projects

It should be no surprise that I didn’t finish revising The End of the (Werewolf) Curse in May. I’m almost half-way through the manuscript, so it’s entirely reasonable to assume I’ll have it done this month.

Yes, I know. Best laid plans.

The thing is that I’m really enjoying taking my time with this. I haven’t looked at this manuscript for about three years. This round of revisions is going to take a few heavy rewrites to make the changes I want that I think will improve it. I really like this story and I want to take my time with it. Maybe reacquaint myself with a time when I used to be good at this.

Speaking of being good, I submitted a couple of poems to the Writer’s Digest Annual Contest at the beginning of May and then a couple of weeks later got the rejection from the 100 Word Story Contest I entered last September. Sunrise, sunset. One day I’ll feel that victory high again.

Maybe.

Season 5 of Murderville is quickly coming to a close. The next episode of So Long, Neighbor goes live June 8th. There’s not a lot of time left to become a patron. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode also gets you a sweet bonus, like the one due on June 22nd. Don’t miss out!

 

Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno is also winding down. Episode 25 should go live at the end of the month. In the meantime, entertain yourself with the most recent episode, which was just released at the end of May. Or entertain yourself with past episodes. Hell, go back to the beginning! I’m not the boss of you. Listen, like, subscribe, share, comment, love, and enjoy.

May Writing Projects

Since I managed to write a few decent poems last month, and since I also found some even more decent poems that I’d written previously, I’m going to submit those to the Annual Writer’s Digest Contest. I don’t expect anything to come of it, but I’m in the mood to waste some entry fees.

In addition to this questionable decision, I’m going to go back to the Outskirts Universe and do another revision on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse. In theory, I would like to be done with all three of the Outskirts novels one day and the only way I can do that is if I actually revise them. To Tell The (Conjurer’s) Truth needs a heavy rewrite and I should do it first, but quite frankly, I’m procrastinating on it because I know the amount of work it needs and I don’t feel like it. So, I’ll do this one first and then see how I feel.

I’m also ruminating over what to do with my Patreon after Murderville ends. Do I want to do anything with it? It’s kind of nice having a dedicated project that I get paid for, but at this point in my existence, I’m not sure what I’d want that new project to be. Another writing project? Something more in line with podcasting? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions at this point. But I’m thinking about them.

I’m also thinking about Episode 5 of So Long, Neighbor, which goes live on May 11th. Become a patron now just in time to bid farewell to Murderville. $1 an episode lets you read, $2 an episode lets you read and gets you a sweet bonus every other month. It’s not too late to see how it all ends.

Episode 24 of Book ’em, Danno will go live at the end of the month, but you can pass the time by listening to an extra long Episode 23. Dan Budnik joined me to talk about “Cry, Lie” and “Most Likely to Murder” and I can assure you that there’s enough fashion discussion and facial hair talk for everyone. Give it a listen and then go give Dan a listen over at Eventually Supertrain, which contains all of his wonderful podcasts.

April Writing Projects

Last month I managed to finish the sixth (?) revision of (Vampires) Made in America. In a perfect world, I’ll be done with this manuscript and I’ll be able to send it out to agents. But I don’t reside in perfection, so. It’s entirely possible that I am done with it. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with it. I should probably try researching agents again, but that’s another struggle. One I’m not in the mood for at present.

Instead, since it’s April, I’m going to be working on some poetry. Not a poem a day, like I’ve done before, but there are some poems that I’ve been wanting to work on and I’ve been putting them off because I’ve had other things to do.

I like writing poetry even though I’m not good at it (as my poor $2 patrons well know). It’s a nice creative exercise for me, using words in a different way. I don’t know that it’s helped my prose, but it’s a nice break from it.

The big Writer’s Digest Writing Competition is looming again. I’ve placed tenth in genre fiction and fifth in scripts. I’m really thinking about entering something again. Maybe a couple of poems. I’m always seeking to recapture my second place in state glory. Maybe something else. I know there’s not a lot of time before the deadline, but I’ve done that before. Granted, I’ve never done it while completely lethargic and lacking motivation, but hey, what’s a little challenge, right?

And how about the challenge of the last season of Murderville? Episode four of So Long, Neighbor goes live on April 13th, so become a patron now. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month, like the one going live on April 27th. Yeah, it’ll probably be a poem. Sorry.

Episode 22 of Book ’em, Danno just went live at the end of March and Episode 23 will happen at the end of this month. A special guest will be joining me. So, while you wait in trembling anticipation, give a listen and then do all the things -like, subscribe, rate, review, share, follow, whatever- to show a little love.

March Writing Projects

Last month I decided to do a couple of minor fixes on a few projects. I fixed my issues with the Ivy Russell novellas. And I sort of did the minor revision on (Vampires) Made in America, which I suspected I had already done, and I kind of had, but this just clarified it further. I think. I hope.

But since I’ve already done the minor fix on the manuscript, I might as well give it another once over, just to see if there’s anything else that needs tweaking. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be lucky enough to call it the final revision.

After that…who knows?

Speaking of an uncertain future, I have no idea what’s going to happen to my Patreon after the final season of Murderville, but I do know that right now, it is the place to be. Episode 3 of So Long, Neighbor goes live on March 9th. Become a patron just in time for the send off. $1 an episode lets you read; $2 an episode let’s read and gets you a sweet bonus.

The latest ep of Book ’em, Danno just went live and the next ep is due at the end of the month. Episode 21 features three season 2 episodes of Hawaii Five-O. What three? Is that a trick? Yeah, it kind of is. But you’ll only understand the magic if you listen. Also like, subscribe, favorite, share, and otherwise show a little love. My ego needs the boost.