Cat Rambo tells me all about how even old writers can learn new writing tricks. In this case, it was about writing fast. No. Faster than that. And now double it. There you go, you get the idea…
One of the things I learned from this book is that writing fast, and doing so in a (mostly) chronological fashion worked beautifully for me, and paid off so much when it came time to edit. But man, it was hard work.
I wrote You Sexy Thing over the course of a month, in which every weekday I got up at 5:30 AM, went to the gym and worked out while thinking about what I was going to write, and then came home and wrote furiously in half hour sprints that were a mix of rapid typing and sometimes dictation when the words were coming too quickly for my fingers to put them down. And—this is a key point—I did not allow myself the Internet in any form till I was done. No checking email, no looking at social media, nothing in virtual space until the words were done, which was usually sometime between noon and one.
I averaged 5-6 thousand words each day, and every day I amazed myself by being able to hit my target. I did give myself the weekends off from writing, since I teach most Saturdays and Sundays, and the respite was welcome. I made myself go out to enjoy the world.
It was exhausting. I snagged more than one 15 minute nap midway through mornings when my energy flagged. It wasn’t a pace that would be sustainable for me on a daily basis, but I used a similar process to write the second book, and I know I’ll do it again with the third. I have an inchoate idea, a vision of a blue and steel installation hanging in space, and once I am done jotting down notes and embark on my journey, I’ll find out what the crew is doing there.
Something about that pace helped me hold the book in my head much better than happens when I’m writing slower, picking various scenes to focus on according to my interest rather than where they fall in the text. That’s what I’ve done with the Tabat books and they are a much harder edit, pulling out repetitions and echoes, removing places where I’ve contradicted myself.
It is perhaps that immersion in the book that happens with this process that has enabled something to happen with these characters than has with other, past ones. These characters live in my head and express their opinions much more readily—and frequently—than any other cast I’ve dealt with, and I love them for it. I know these characters, but they also have plenty to tell me in forthcoming books, and that is truly exciting.
Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Their 250+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In 2020 they won the Nebula Award for fantasy novelette Carpe Glitter. They are a former two-term President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Their most recent works are space opera You Sexy Thing (Tor Macmillan, November, 2021), as well as an anthology, The Reinvented Heart (Arc Manor, February, 2022), co-edited with Jennifer Brozek.