September 4th, 2011

a-links

[links] Link salad lazes

Endurance gets a starred review in Publishers Weekly — W00t! (Thank you to my good friends at Subterranean Press for the tip.)

Book-a-Minute — Hahaha. (Snurched from The Bloggess.)

Classic Covers: Fabulous Dust Jacket Facsimiles to Novels by Vonnegut, Woolf, Kerouac and More

In the Shadow of Saturn — Wow. APOD strikes again.

Sunscreen pills from coral reefs?Scientists have discovered a natural compound that protects coral reefs from sunlight, opening the door to sunscreen pills and UV-resistant crops. (Thanks to [info]bravado111.)

Your End of Days: Would Life-Length Testing Save the Government Money? — “Lifeline” much?

APA Rebuts Santorum’s Dismissal Of Research On Same-Sex Families — Those pesky facts, so inconvenient to one’s cherished worldview.

G.O.P. Stands on Health Mask Records as Governors — When you campaign as absolutists, hypocrisies matter.

Obama’s betrayals offer lessons we can’t deny — (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

?otD: Busy much?


9/4/2011
Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (3,900 words on Sunspin)
Body movement: urban walking to come
Hours slept: 7.75 hours (fitful)
Weight: 223.6
Currently reading: Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

writing-Endurance

[books|contests] Endurance ARC contest

As mentioned elsewhere this morning, the next Green novel, Endurance, has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. That being the case, it seems time for another Endurance ARC contest.

Leave a paragraph or two in comments about Green — who she is, why she is the way she is, some adventure or misadventure of hers. You can frame it a fanfic snippet, as criticism, or blank verse. Just tell me something about my character.

I’ll leave this open a few days, then sort out how to judge. Might not be practical to do a poll, so I may have to rely on celebrity judging. But lay it on me!

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

writing-leopard_cow

[process] Drafting speed, and the perils thereof

There’s been a bit of chatter over Twitter the last couple of days about drafting speed, sparked by my daily updates on Sunspin productivity. As it happens, when I am in novel drafting mode (as I am currently), my goal is 2,500 words per day at least five days per week, or 12,500 per week. My ideal is higher, but that’s my basic target rate. Worldcon and chemotherapy have conspired against me somewhat these past weeks, but I’ve kept close to or on target nonetheless.

However, by being so public about my throughput, I think sometimes I risk creating problems for other people. I’ve been criticized in the past, both publicly and privately, for sharing these numbers on an ongoing basis. For my part, I do them for my own accountability. Rather like posting my weight every day on my blog. Except I am certain that no one reading here gives a rat’s patoot about my weight, while a fair number of you look at my wordcount production and think, “Hmmm…”

So I want to reiterate something I’ve said a number of times:

The only writer you can compare yourself to is you

It doesn’t matter that Jay Lake is writing 2,500 words+ a day on his current novel. It doesn’t matter that Elizabeth Bear is writing 1,000 words a day on her current novel. It doesn’t matter that anyone is doing anything, except what you are doing in the context of your commitments, goals and (if they are useful to you) your metrics.

I do a couple of things here that aren’t bog standard for writers. First, I draft at an unusually high rate of speed. When I’m really clipping along and have things well in hand, I can hit 2,500 words per hour. When I’m poking along but being productive, I still run about 1,800 words per hour. That practically qualifies me as a freak of nature. I’m weird.

The fact that I even know those numbers is also perhaps slightly unusual. I’ve been working in high tech since the mid-1980s, in various capacities. IT management, development, marketing, sales, etc. I’m very, very accustomed to both the requirement for contracted metrics and the practice of reporting on them.

This is publishing. The only metric anyone cares about is whether I deliver a worthwhile manuscript on deadline. Everything else is my internal process. But since I’m such a pathological extrovert, I conduct a lot of that process in public.

Because I measure things and do analysis both proactively and reactively, at this point I’ve written or co-written almost twenty novels, I know it takes me 50 to 100 hours to write a novel, depending on target length. I know that with my parenting and Day Jobbe commitments, absent health concerns or other schedule disruptions, I can count on consistently putting in about 10 hours per week on a novel project. This knowledge in turn allows me to schedule myself up to several years in advance for projects, making contract commitments with a confidence that my publishers share.

That’s just the way I do things. I count words and time, know my baselines, and hold myself accountable accordingly. The intersection of consistent access to my creative impulses, a decade-long data set for baselining, and the habits of accountability, means that I talk about this stuff in public, and do things with the resulting information.

Should you be doing it that way? I doubt it. I’m kind of anal about some stuff. I’m kind of unusual about some other stuff.

In my opinion, the only way you should be comparing yourself to me, or to anyone, is to ask yourself if you’re living up to your own goals and commitments. If some of my practices turn out to be useful in your own goal-setting, terrific. But the only aspect of my writing I intended to communicate to others as an example is the metapractice of professional commitment to craft and productivity.

Whatever that means to you.


All of the above makes me wonder if I should put together a workshop session sometime for writers on goal setting and productivity management, to help people do their own goal-setting and get a handle on their practices.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

writing-bookshelf

[books|writing] Keeping score on my novels

Not that anybody was asking, but in an attempt to corral my own thoughts, here’s a list of all the novels I’ve ever written/co-written or am committed to writing, time and my health permitting. I make this seventeen completed manuscripts, two in-progress manuscripts, and six on the table to be written. In addition to all of the below, [info]kenscholes and I have discussed doing a YA gonzo SF trilogy together, once he’s done with the Psalms of Isaac.

Who has time for cancer?

Written but unpublished

The January Machine (time travel/millenial SF, project abandoned)
Rocket Science (zero draft)
Death of a Starship (zero draft)
The Murasaki Doctrine (space opera/military SF, could not sell)
The Heart of the Beast (with Jeff VanderMeer, project abandoned)
Our Lady of the Islands (with Shannon Page, at my agent)
Other Me (YA lost colony/identity paranoia SF, awaiting rewrite)

Written, in progress or planned

Rocket Science

Death of a Starship

Mainspring
Escapement
Pinion

Green
Endurance (forthcoming)
Kalimpura (forthcoming)

Trial of Flowers
Madness of Flowers
Reign of Flowers (not a committed project)

Calamity of So Long a Life (in progress)
The Whips and Scorns of Time (to be drafted in 2012)
Be All Our Sins Remembered (to be drafted in 2012)

Original Destiny, Manifest Sin (American Old West fantasy/AH, to be drafted in 2012 or 2013)

Black Tulip (Dutch historial thriller/mystery, to be drafted in 2013)

The Rockefeller Plot (1970s diplomatic thriller with Ambassador Joseph Lake, in progress)
[untitled Biafran war novel] (1960s diplomatic thriller with Ambassador Joseph Lake)

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.