Back in my government days, we dealt with a lot of what’s now called “Big Data.” That’s a fancy term for an unholy amount of information that needs to be parsed so you can get meaningful results. Parsing it is no mean feat, and there are tons of software tools that sift through the data in different ways.
And each of these tools was complicated in its own right. Which meant training. Hours and hours of training. I would lose entire days of work sitting through class after class, inundating me with information that I would almost never use regarding tools I would almost never use. Those classes were long, and they were boring, and 99% of the information I got in them was irrelevant.
But I always went to them, and I always paid attention.
Because, sometimes a tool would be helpful. Sometimes, somewhere in the 8 hours of crap, there was 15 minutes or so of critical information that could help me do my job. I could never tell when that golden 15 minutes would arrive. The only thing I could do was show up, pay attention, and be ready.
So, yeah. Writing.
I had a major breakthrough on BREACH ZONE the other day. There was a character arc problem (the toughest kind for me) that had been dogging me for months. I was beginning to despair of ever solving it. I had to keep throwing myself against it again and again and again: talking and talking and talking it through with my beta-readers.
Because, you never know when that breakthrough will come. All you can do is keep trying, and be ready.
Ron Collins once told me that writers have to live life like they’re hunting it. How long does a lion hide in the tall grass, silently waiting for its prey to show up at the watering hole?
As long as it takes.
Get to work.