Intuition and Instruction

They say the writer’s brain was eaten by aliens…

…but really, her perceptions were modified by an increased intensity in practicing her art. She thinks.

The writer in question used to rely primarily on intuition to guide her through her story planning. She felt that this organic approach was channeling a story. Now, the writer in question plots and plans. Her intuition is useful when she writes a first draft and has light bulb moments, and when she revises with the right turn of phrase.

Does this make the writer less artistic? The writer has become capable of approaching writing from two different directions, which certainly makes the writer more versatile. Also, during those times she has difficulty with her intuition, the other tools can help her carry on, and even trick her intuition into working.

This makes the writer who may or may not have alien-nibbled brain reflect on other writing beliefs she has modified in the last year.

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Boy Meets Hulder

Manuel flickered the flashlight beam among the trees. The stump had moved from its customary spot. That’s where Manuel let the light beam rest.

He stamped his cold feet, and they crunched in the snow. “Don’t worry,” he said softly. “It’s just me. No one else will come out of the house this time. Did you need something?”

The stump unfolded itself. At first it was a stump, and then it was the nut brown hulder bundled into itself like a barrel. It unfolded arms, legs, and untucked a broad head on a short neck. The wild bright eyes, like an owl’s, blinked in the light, and it put up its stubby hands to block it.

Manuel lowered the flashlight at the ground. “Do you speak Spanish?” Manuel asked. He really didn’t know what a nahuale looked like, and abuela saw Mexican spirits, so he thought it should cover his bets.

The little creature scratched its flossy cloud of hair. “Spanish?” it repeated, its broad lips and flat teeth forming carefully around the word. “Spanish?”

“What I speak,” said Manuel. “I mean, right now, we’re speaking English, but I speak Spanish.”

“English,” said the hulder. “I speak what I speak, and they understand me. You understand me. Maybe I speak Spanish?”

Manuel tried a different tactic. “I’m Manuel. I’ve brought you some puerquitos. They’re like cookies.” He held out a hand with the bread. The troll inched forward cautiously, and reached up its hand. It brushed Manuel’s as it took the treat, and Manuel was surprised that its skin was soft and downy.

Crumbs fell from the hulder’s mouth as he smacked the gingerbread noisily. “Fank oo,” he said. “I like this.”

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The States of…


Hulk Hercules: Professional Wrestler: The copy edits are back in Sonya’s hands. Essentially, my job is done.

The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick: We keep plugging along. About 30K in. Entering the lonely dark making up new stuff zone. HIGHLIGHT: Decorah Nordic Fest is this weekend. Will take research pictures of Luther College and Norwegian culture. Will NOT eat lutefisk. Meeting up with fellow Viable Paradise author Matt Hughes and his wife.

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Blood; Mahabharata Generation 3, Part 2

Finally! It’s been hard getting here this week, but here’s a very short Blood is Thicker than Water.


Last time, I talked about how Pandu the king had to give up being king because he was cursed not to sleep with his wives. No heirs pretty much meant you were out of the running to be king.

BUT (there’s always a but in Indian mythology)

Pandu was married to two women, one named Kunti and the other named Madri. Kunti had a gift. She could become pregnant by summoning gods to make her so. She’d even tried this out before she married Pandu, and had a son named Karna with Surya the Sun God. Remember Karna for later.

When Pandu found out he was forbidden from fathering children, Kunti told him about her ability. Pandu encouraged her to call the gods, saying that he would take the children as his own. So Kunti gave birth to Yudhisthira, whose father was Yama, the god of judgment; Bhima, whose father was Vayu the god of wind; and Arjuna, whose father was Indra, the king of the gods.

Madri asked Kunti to share the trick with her, and Madri was the mother of two twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, whose father were the Ashwins, the horsemen of the gods.

Bhisma, the great uncle of the Pandavas, the five sons of Pandu, invited Kunti and her sons to court shortly after the deaths of Pandu and Madri. Rivalries and conflicts between the Pandavas and their cousins, the Kauravas eventually led to a great war.

Potpourri for One Hundred

No, really, I’m pretty sure I’ll get to Blood is Thicker than Water tomorrow. At work today, suddenly I have to staff 17 classes and hire about 5 adjuncts, so that’s more or less where my day went. But Blood is the first in tomorrow’s stack. I also plan to write another Mahabharata excerpt.


Today’s philosophical question:

If the chief rhetorical techniques used in your journal/blog are to create drama, or to jump on a drama bandwagon, does that somehow diminish your professional image to future agents and editors who come looking? Discuss.

No plans to create drama or jump on a drama bandwagon today, by the way. Just asking.


Tonight is a writerly night. Here’s what’s going on.

–A couple more scenes of The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick
–The first couple of chapters of Hulk Hercules copy edit
–Some brainstorming with some friends for a new project, since Blood ends in five more installments.

I’d better get to it.


The Carrot

Lately, I find myself a little more motivated to write in the journal than write on the novel. In an attempt to nip that habit in the bud, the journal becomes the carrot that I get to do after the day’s writing.

And, you know, I feel pretty good after the writing, so I don’t get the reluctance on my part. Right now, I feel great. I guess it’s like working out, how sometimes you don’t want to do it, but you’re glad you did after.

In spite of reflux, I have know finished chapter five (neener, neener, heartburn!). I also added a new godmother scene into chapter four. I’ve been from fairly lighthearted to very dark today.

Here’s where things get a little complicated. I’ve got chapter six outlined and rough drafted. Highlights of Chapter Six: undercover frost elves, an alliance of two flavors of godmother, and Manuel goes to see the hulder in the woods.

Chapter Seven gets complicated as it begins a good chunk of the expansion that has to go into this thing to make it bigger. I’m currently thinking of it as the young troll angst chapter. I hope the subconscious makes good gumbo. Overall, though, the percentage of story rewritten will go down, because of all the added scenes.

Well, statisticians, for you. First, scenes.

26 / 54 words. 48% done!

Now, word count.

25959 / 60000 words. 43% done!

Off to book group.


Meredith Holmes on Summer

Today and Tomorrow, Meredith Holmes visits Writer Tamago. I’m over at Heather Ingemar’s place. See you there!

It’s summer in Southeast Texas. At the best of times, this means heat–the kind that makes it difficult to walk barefoot outside, even on grass, that makes cicadas rattle in the trees and sends even the hardiest of dogs inside, away from the fences and towards the nice, cool kitchen floor. Right now, though, we’re in a drought (rumor has it that that will be relieved soon, but no one is sure if it will be a lasting relief or just a tease of better weather, cooler temperatures). In July, we usually don’t experience things like weeks of 100 degree or higher heat but this month (and last) has been exceptionally Hellish. I told myself it’d be the perfect opportunity to sit inside, to write, but with the heat came lack of inspiration. I have two manuscripts to send in, one I’m feeling strong about and another which I am holding off on sending until I can get another beta-reader to look over it. Perfect, I thought–the heat will keep BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keys for the uninitiated…). I’m wrong. The heat seeps through the windows, through blinds and curtains, sunshiny rays sapping my creativity and inspiring only naps, as if I were a giant cat (who knows? I might be… I’ve never been tested).

Two very good reviews, one for Widow’s Walk and one for Unseelie have given me a shot in the arm and I’m re-editing Wild Hunt (the sequel to Unseelie ) and a super secret demon novel to submit asap, hopefully by the end of next week, but the summer is still draining. The ice cream trucks, which came in midday and early evening when I was a child, seems to only come between 8 and 9 pm now, avoiding the worst of the heat and taking advantage of the summer twilight that seems to stretch forever. I sit here at the computer and wonder why I never suffered from lack of inspiration when I was younger. The heat would lead me to run outside in my grandparents’ backyard, play baseball (my own rules, of course), try to climb trees, drink from the hose–never caring that it was 100 degrees or a drought. Is it growing up that takes away summer creativity and magic? Is it a lack of drive? Or is it maybe the heat this year is special, magical in its own way, making us rest and stay inside, keep from racing on the melting asphalt and laughing with the cicadas under the blazing sun? The summer is going by so quickly that maybe it is trying to make itself last a bit longer, keep autumn a distant dream and push away all ideas of cool, damp weather, of turning leaves and early darkness. Maybe we’re meant to cocoon inside, make the days last against the winter and wetness. Or maybe, just maybe, my creativity is sapped by the heat and there’s nothing magical to it at all, just blessed air conditioning and a body that can’t climb trees anymore.

My Little Disease

I had this day mostly off today, and I’d planned to study Russian and then come home and write. Except that I got to spend the day with my little disease.

Because talking about medical stuff doesn’t interest many folks, and because I know people who know about my little disease, I’m going to hide the rest of this. For most people, aches and pains are no fun to discuss. But if you have GERD, or acid reflux disease, you might be interested to see if we have similar cycles.

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It’s been a few sessions since I updated the actual stats on the troll story. I butchered one of the scenes of the story from its very first incarnation, and used what I could from it that still made sense. I integrated the first of the emotional conflicts that Grant and David, the Heierdahl brothers, will have over the situation. This should lead David down a troublesome road, and give Grant some room for growth as well.

Here’s the current word count:

22485 / 60000 words. 37% done!


23 / 54 words. 43% done!

I expect, though, that there will be many new scenes added to expand out the story.

And that’s it for tonight.