Stephanie Burgis
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Back in motion...
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Well, surprise, surprise: I got sick. Really sick, for a day and a half. I should have learned better by now, but I keep forgetting: every single time I work through a weekend without giving myself a break (which always happens in combination with setting huge and un-doable academic deadlines), I get sick. Luckily, I managed to hold it off until I got back from university on Wednesday afternoon, after a challenging round of teaching. I got back at 5; by 5:30, when I took Nika out for her walk, I was starting to feel grimly sinus-y and exhausted; and by 6, I had chills, a raging sore throat and a major fever.

Must Not Set Unrealistic Deadlines. Must Take Weekends Off!

Oh well. We'll see how long I remember it this time...

The nice thing was, laid up on the couch with a minor fever and no energy yesterday, it did occur to me how much I was missing writing. Taking a week off from our early-morning writing sessions sounded like a good idea (vacation!) and was, in terms of sleep deprivation...but I think it contributed a LOT to feeling run-down and physically unhappy in the past week. Yesterday, feeling horribly sick, not even able to stand up without dizziness, I lay on the couch with my laptop on my stomach, wrote the first three pages of a new short story/novel/??? (chick lit fantasy, here we come!), and did a major rearrangement/resorting of my Istanbul historical fantasy novel, Thief of Souls, which, to my amazement, is now about 68 pages. (Of course, I started it last June, but lots of other things have gotten in the way since then...)

I wrote the first four chapters, set in 1753, last June, intending them to be Part One of the novel, which would be followed by Part Two in the late 1750s, and then Part Three in the late 1760s. The problem was, I was massively uninspired about Part Two, to the point of fatal boredom, so I abandoned it for about eight months, and wrote another novel instead. (The Music of the Stars.) Then it occurred to me that I could just start the whole novel in the late 1760s, so I wrote a new opening set in 1769, about a month ago, and planned to carry on from there, introducing the second main character in a new and exciting way, etc... And I promptly ran into another brick wall. No interest in Chapter Two, no motivation, nada, nada, nada...

Until, yesterday, I went back to the original four chapters just to remind myself what names I'd picked out for various characters, and I realized: I still really, really like the first four chapters. They introduce issues that are important to me and thematic to the book. And I think (???????) that, if I shift just a few things to set them in 1759 instead of 1753, then they actually still work as Part One--and the new opening chapter I'd written, which I also really like (it's exciting, there's a big magical fight, etc.) can be the opening of Part Two, which will open with a bang.

Aack. I'm really really nervous about this. I can't swear that it works. I'm afraid the transition will be too awkward, or that people will be bored by the first few chapters. All these technical issues are worrying at me, and I know I don't have the objective perspective to say that yes, because this combination works for me, it will work for other people.

But as soon as I opened up a new document, made the small changes, and fit the two different sections together into a whole, I knew what I wanted to write next, how the characters would develop from it, and I cared. And, at the moment, that's enough for me.

I'm writing again, and it feels good, and I'm feeling an awful lot better.

Nika and I are about to go on a small, limited walk (for the sake of low physical energy) with a friend, and then I'll do a bit more work on the thesis chapter before sending what-I've-got-so-far off to my supervisor for comments.

As usual, I'm learning all over again (and will continue to re-learn, I guess, for the rest of my life) that being perfect and getting Everything Done At Once, Perfectly, doesn't work...but doing a little bit of work at a time, the best I can manage, is actually really helpful.

Happy coming weekend, everybody.

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