peartreealley: (writing)
A few months ago, I began feeling a bit disenchanted of word count-oriented challenges, and thought I might skip out on NaNoWriMo this year. That overall feeling hasn't really changed.

But now it's October and NaNo prep season. (Also, my NaNo profile shows a streak! I can't break the streak!)

I'm swaying.

Part of the issue is that I don't feel like my current writing process fits the NaNo mold. These days, my first drafts almost feel like an afterthought to a lot of brainstorming, daydreaming, freewriting, journaling, exercises, practice runs, and other activities usually lumped into "prep." But for NaNo the first draft is the only thing that counts. I don't want to worry about "what counts." I just want to unearth a story.

I could rebel. It wouldn't be my first year as a NaNo-rebel by far. I could play along "unofficially," but then I wouldn't be engaged with the community. It's mostly the energy around NaNo that I love. I can write a 50k first draft any month of the year.

Will I or won't I? I'm not going to decide today... but I'm pondering.


Aug. 24th, 2017 09:47 am
peartreealley: (tea)
It took something fancy to draw me away from my utilitarian Lamys.


Aug. 23rd, 2017 12:49 pm
peartreealley: (tea)
In which our heroine tries to get stories written on the road.

Additional for DW: hanging in a pub in Surrey while G attends an interview.
peartreealley: (travel)
For months, we'd been hoping to get up to the Peak District, and the plan kept getting pushed and pulled due to various outside influences--but once G had freedom, we decided to go for it. We planned to go for three or four days and stay with friends to maximize our countryside exposure (we've been itching to escape the city for weeks), but then had to cut it down to two days, in part because it's August and the height of the holiday season, and the time when our friends were available, both our cat sitter and back-up cat sitter were unavailable for any stretch of that long weekend.

Anyway, the Peak District! Since moving to the UK, most of my hiking has been flat, or at best, gently rolling. The Dark Peak isn't mountainous by Pacific Northwest standards, but my legs definitely got a workout. We began in Edale/Hope Valley, and then climbed our way out, up Jacob's Ladder, and to the plateau moor of Kinder Scout.

Jacob's Ladder

Once we reached the moors, navigation got confusing and the terrain became treacherous, climbing in and out of little ravines, getting trapped by boggy, sticky peat, and other adventures.

Our friend, C, turned his ankle on the moor. We limped on. Eventually, we made it to the edge of the plateau, and back down into Edale via a path that was not the one we had intended (this was basically true from the moment we hit the moor). G and I left C to rest his ankle and self-medicate in a pub while we continued on the remaining trek to get the car and pick him up.

All in all, we did something like 12-ish miles (of a planned 8-9 miles) through conditions much more difficult and dangerous than the ones we've encountered on the Ridgeway (and I was not shattered the next day), so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself--although I'm itching to get back on the Ridgeway. And, actually, the Peaks. It was just as magical as everyone told me it would be. I'm already looking at property pr0n in reach of the Peaks just in case....

Because just before our trip, a company in Liverpool contacted G for an in-person interview. He was like, "uh, can you do Tuesday because I'll already be in town." So with the cat situation as it was and a looming deadline on PS1, I took the train home on Monday (discount last minute First Class seat, FTW), while G stayed in Liverpool with our generous friends until he'd completed his interview.
peartreealley: (journal)
I've been having a dawning reality check the last couple of weeks, which finally crested over the horizon yesterday. I did the FateNet series (five novellas, total of 190k words) in 14-15 months from planning to publishing the last installment.

And I've been flogging myself with the Persephone Station series (three novels, estimated total of 180k) feeling like a total slacker because I'm not meeting my goals, with the delusion that I should be able to have it all out in... six months?

I mean, I understand somewhat where that delusion came from. It's only three books, my brain said. And you've gotten through some of the learning faff from the last series! But I didn't seem to taking into account that those three books were twice as long as the ones that came before them and so they might take... twice as long? I'm not actually sure if that's a straight multiple or if it's longer (more narrative complexities) or shorter (less shifting between activities). Twice as long is at least a somewhat realistic estimate that I can adjust from.

So I was talking to G the Project Manager about this yesterday, and he said, "While I do believe you can increase efficiency from the last series you did, perhaps you should consider a 10-20% increase in efficiency? Not... 60-70%?"

A long story short, I'm now aiming for twelve months from planning to final installment publication. (For my editors reading, don't worry--I still plan on having the first book to you in the timeframes agreed on. I'm just not also planning on having the first drafts of the second and third books also done by October.) If you're wondering, I'm counting twelve months from June to June. I technically started PS in April for a couple of weeks, but then shelved it until July to finish off FN, so I think that splits the difference.

Well, you learn. Eventually.

And twelve months is a lot friendlier for being derailed by relocation than six months.


G has three job interviews next week, only one of which is in London. I'm making peace with potentially relocating this autumn.


Jul. 31st, 2017 02:37 pm
peartreealley: (tea)
Monday mornings are for tea shops and writing....
peartreealley: (Default)
Sharing to share. And because I want to keep this one. (Yes, the image seems broken, but it's the text I wanted.)

A reader named Molly asked me "you seem so confident in your 'you-ness" - how do you get to know yourself so well? I feel like I don't know who I am." Here's what I said: Dear Molly, If I tell you something like "your sense of self is entirely in your own hands," would you consider that good news or bad news? Hopefully it's the first, because it's true. In the 1960s, this dude named Daryl Bem came up with the theory of self perception, a theory of attitude formation. The theory says our sense of self is formed by our actions, not the other way around. I know that seems counter intuitive. We think that if you're an inherently brave person, you do brave things. But Bem's theory says it's the other way around. If you do a brave thing, you think of yourself as a brave person. I can hear your eyes rolling, but wait up, listen, it holds water as a theory. Let's imagine you're afraid to hang glide because you think of yourself as a coward. Now imagine your friends badger you into it anyway. You do it, and you're successful, even though you didn't choose it for yourself. Now you've done this brave thing, and you decide maybe you were wrong, you actually are a brave person. Subsequently you begin to think of yourself as someone brave. Later you tell the story of hang gliding to a stranger and they gasp—"you're so fearless," they say. Yes, you think to yourself, I guess I am! The story is confirmed. But IT'S NOT WRONG. You are what you do. Tell a story about yourself, you become that story. Good or bad. What does this have to do with your question? Maybe you've already figured it out. If you decide to go digging to find out who your are, all you'll find is an empty hole waiting to be filled. Who you are isn't a concrete entity waiting to be uncovered. You don't have to wistfully think, I wish I was a gentler person, but I'm just not: you can decide to be a gentler person. You don't have to sigh and wish you were braver: you can do brave things & grow into them. You don't have to say, I wish I was bad ass: buy a set of good sunglasses and live it until you are it. Is it easy? No. But I guess that's why they call it character-building. urs, Stiefvater

A post shared by Maggie Stiefvater (@maggie_stiefvater) on


Jul. 20th, 2017 09:02 am
peartreealley: (tea)
The other night, around 11PM, G and I were settling into bed when we began hearing an intermittent disturbance outside. The property next to us is a derelict, abandoned warehouse that tends to attract misbehavior from the local youths and seasonal squatters, so G bellowed out the window "who's out there?!" as we believed someone might be trying to use the dual-gated side passage between our house and the warehouse to gain entry to one or other properties, possibly were trying to break into our car (parked in front of the passage), or perhaps that someone had fallen off the roof--where we've seen squatters try to access the building before. It went silent for a while, and then the noise of attempts to climb in the side passage began again.

Eventually, we called 999 about a potential intruder and the police arrived to investigate.

We explained to the police officers what we'd been hearing and about the side passage. As we were explaining, the thrashing and noise started again. The police officer with us motioned us away, readied his taser and threw the gate open.

And then started laughing. And closed the gate again quickly.

In addition to the squatters, we also have at least three neighborhood foxes. That's a picture of a fox climbing the wall in between our house and the warehouse (taken level with the second storey balcony), and disappearing over the top of the side passage. We think they also go to the warehouse roof because the only other option is our enclosed patio and we know they're not going there. (We're not sure why they go to the roof, but hey.) We suspect the trapped fox had fallen off the wall into the side passage. Anyway, everyone relaxed and we wedged the forecourt gate open for a while so the fox could get free.

We apologized for wasting the police officers' time, and they pointed out that there's no visibility into the side passage and we had couldn't have known what manner of desperate, living creature was inside. But I think we were all glad in the end that it wasn't a person, and we were able to free the fox.


Jul. 9th, 2017 12:32 pm
peartreealley: (tea)
Basically, this was where I spent my week. Pure heaven.


Jul. 3rd, 2017 09:21 am
peartreealley: (tea)
Today's work station: a room with a view in Devon.


Jun. 28th, 2017 03:24 pm
peartreealley: (tea)
It's not all tea shop glamour... Journaling at a kitchen sideboard while making chicken soup for my sick household. (Me included.)


Jun. 26th, 2017 09:12 am
peartreealley: (tea)
Monday morning at the office. #amwriting #writersofinstagram #thepoweroftea #matcha #tea #fountainpen #travelersnotebook #handwriting


Jun. 24th, 2017 08:43 pm
peartreealley: (tea)
Just a flaming tuba. Nothing to see here. #thamespath #southbank #london
peartreealley: (tea)
In Beynac, we camped for a few days... with toilets, showers, and a bar with Wi-Fi underneath the shadow of Chateau du Beynac, I can't exactly call it the "roughing it" of my American youth. #camping #france #beynac #travel #writersofinstagram
peartreealley: (tea)
Writing alfresco with a friend on this hot London day. #howiwork #fantasy #fountainpen #writersofinstagram #moleskine #amwriting #notebook
peartreealley: (tea)
This story is starting to span across many notebooks.... #notebooks #travelersnotebook #moleskine #leuchtturm1917 #writersofinstagram #amwriting #fountainpen #fantasy #howiwork
peartreealley: (tea)
Up, up, up a steep alleyway on a cliffside village. Believe me, it's worth it.⠀ ⠀ (View from Beynac, the Dordogne River)⠀ ⠀ #travel #france #dordogne #beynac
peartreealley: (tea)
It feels like a strange magic when you step into a place that looks a lot like the one you had been imagining in your stories...⠀ ⠀ (Tower Hamlets Cemetery)⠀ ⠀ #amwriting #taphophile #cemeteries #magnificentseven #graves #tombs #travel #london #writersofinstagram⠀
peartreealley: (tea)
This week, I'm excited to finally be returning to my necropolis moon story that has been haunting my mind for years...⠀ ⠀ #amwriting #taphophile #cemeteries #magnificentseven #graves #tombs #travel #london⠀#writersofinstagram
peartreealley: (tea)
Life finds a way.⠀ ⠀ (from Tower Hamlets Cemetery)⠀ ⠀ #taphophile #cemeteries #magnificentseven #graves #tombs #travel #london

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