I’m almost done with Ray’s book, and for some reason this morning when I woke up (after a strange dream about DC being on an island, paying museum admission with heart-shaped silver dollars, and Ray falling asleep as soon as we got there), I knew I had to figure out right away what I was going to write next.

No, I didn’t eat anything weird for supper last night.

One of the lessons I learned early this year is that writing nonfiction only keeps the muse at bay; it doesn’t actually feed it or play with it or anything like that.  If there is no fiction, all is not well.

And writing a short story a week doesn’t do it for me, either; while short stories can sometimes take a long time for me to subconsciously noodle around before I’ll write them down, there has to be writing.  Brainstorming doesn’t feed the muse.  Only writing feeds the muse.

So I’ve been trying to get some fiction writing done every day, unless I’m in “nuts” project mode (another lesson learned:  if the client wants overdrive, charge them for it in writing), in which case I may or may not shower, let alone get any fiction written; I can last about a week in that mode before I go off my rocker.  So far, anyway.

The most satisfying amount of long fiction to write on a daily basis is 5K right now; the plot moves forward in a fairly big chunk.  Less than that, and I feel frustrated at things moving very slllloooooowwwwwly.  The way I’ve been writing lately, I have enough constraints (a very loose outline) to keep me sticking to a plot, yet I’m eager to find out how things actually play out.  It’s almost like reading someone else’s stuff.

So here’s my conundrum:

1) My happy place is 5K a day, or about 3-5 hours of fiction writing.

2) I still don’t have contracts for two of the projects I want to work on and are taking up large areas of my brain, so I’m not going to start them.

3) I need to do more research on the Alice Z. project before I can start on it.

4) I have to wait for Ray to grow up some more before I can write the next book in her series.

5) I have a lot of editing to do, but that doesn’t cut it.

6) Right now, one of my weaker spots is coming up with things that I want to write about, or rather, how to figure out how to put my own particular twist on something.  I have plenty of ideas, but I have to reject a lot of them, because they bore me before I even start.

I have several nonfiction projects that may pop up at any time, but when that happens, I don’t seem to have a problem working around them.  The muse is okay when the project goes on hold for a brief period of time or when I can only write a couple of K, again for a brief period of time.

I’m going to Oregon for a week, and there’s supposed to be “a lot of writing,” but I suspect it’s going to be synopses and things.

So what next?  Write short stories until one of them gets out of control?  I have a lot more insight on what Stephen King goes through…you have to feed the beast, every day.  It doesn’t matter whether the story’s good or bad or whatever.  You have to feed the beast.

So, working through all that, I suspect the next thing is to start picking up crappy ideas and just running with them, to build my ability to make stories out of anything.  There will probably always be some ideas that are better than others, but unless I stretch my range, I’ll be limited as to what kinds of stories I can write.

Ahhhhhhh.  I haven’t answered the question, but I’ve opened up the range of answers.  Kind of scary…like having the waitress show up at a restaurant before you’re really ready to order, and you surreptitiously drop your forefinger onto the menu and order whatever you land on.  If you’re at a good restaurant and have a fairly adventurous palate, it usually works out, but there’s a moment of frisson

Well, I guess I’ll see what happens tomorrow, then.