I know a guy who loves to gesture at his screen and the eighty-bajillion tabs that he has open in his browser and invite people to marvel at his multitasking genius. I once pointed out that he’s still only looking at them one at a time, and he looked at me like I’d just kicked his puppy. I don’t particularly want to work with multitaskers; I’d be happy to work with people who can concentrate on getting one thing done correctly. What we really need is people who have mastered the art of not interrupting other people unnecessarily.
I suffer daily interruptions from people that go something like this: “I have a question… wait… oh… wait… never mind, I just realized this isn’t your problem… thanks.” Do you know how long it takes to refocus after an interruption? They’ve done studies. They say it’s about 25 minutes. If it’s even half that, then… quit freaking interrupting me, dammit!
(I was interrupted twice while writing that last paragraph. How does anyone ever get anything done? Good grie
I shit you not, that just happened.
This is only the second time I’ve gotten a BSOD on this computer. I’d actually been planning to tell you about that, I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
The first time was a few months ago. I was doing another front-to-back editing run on the first book; when I was finally finished, we were going to ship copies off to a couple of people for feedback. I made one last change, saved the file, and was about to skim through it again when I heard thunder in the distance. I paused and cocked my head, listening. The sun got mugged by a bunch of unruly clouds and the world went dark. Then my computer BSOD’d, and I thought, “Ok, ok, geez, I GET IT! I’m stopping!”
So… I’m going to take this as a hint, and quit talking about interruptions.
I was working on the second book the other day, and two of my characters were talking. The main character for this chapter (Vanessa) was having a conversation with a woman she had previously thought was shy, retiring… and frankly, kind of weak. I thought that, too, but Vanessa was discovering that we were both wrong. Vanessa was about to ask her a question, when the other character tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Psst… [spoiler].”
I said, “Really? I didn’t realize.”
The character proceeded to explain a bunch of stuff to me (and later, to Vanessa). She has something that she needs to tell her mother, but she has yet to overcome her fear of what will happen when she does. I don’t blame her. Her mother’s kind of a scary person. Not long afterward, the mother tapped me on the shoulder and started whispering some really messed up stuff in my ear, and I thought holy shit, lady, no wonder your daughter’s afraid to tell you anything!
Derek is always shaking his head over my writing process, but it’s the best way I know how to write. I sit down, and I let it go. I had no idea that [spoiler] was going to happen in the first book until the moment that I wrote it. I also didn’t know that [stuff], [stuff], and [more stuff] was going to happen. Not a clue.
I’m not making this up — I have no idea what’s going to happen next on any given day. Sometimes, I sit down with an idea or two, but they usually spin off in surprising directions along the way. I just let the story tell itself.
I do know one thing. One pretty damned big thing. And I have an idea about how it fits into the big picture, but I could be wrong.
I think it’s more fun for me to write this way, and I hope it’s fun to read. Or disturbing. Or maybe just crazy-making… who knows? I can’t help myself, and I think that’s ok, too.