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Friday, December 31, 2010

Phase Two: Laziness

Haven't written anything since the almost-20,000 word mark. Other than end-of-year laziness and the welcome distraction of long-lost friends, I have no excuse! I apologize to my goal. Time is running out and I shouldn't be dawdling.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Phase Two: Reboot! ...and an impromptu Twilight "blargh!"

Haha! I have placed my hands on my hips and now defiantly proclaim that I have worked on my novel tonight! It is an accomplishment I will continue throughout the evening. Just digging myself out of a verbal rut.

EDIT UPDATE: WORD COUNT 19,592 (Done for the night.)

And speaking of rutting... I received the gift of Twilight: Eclipse the movie for Christmas. My mother had read the book but hadn't seen the movie, so I made sure she watched it with me. (Poor Dad!) Now I'm not on Team Anything regarding Twilight, but Robert Pattinson looked rough, and not uncut diamond rough, but straight up give-the-boy-a-hot-meal rough. And no, that's not a blood-sucker joke. If his sickly more-tortured-than-usual look was a directorial decision, then it's unfortunate. If it was a makeup oopsie, then shame on the techies!! He does have the potential to be an attractive Brit. :)

And on a strictly editorial note, I've cast Taylor Lautner in the role of my novel's protagonist, if I can get the book published and optioned for a movie somewhere between Mr. Lautner's baby-face stage and rugged manly stage. This is a known fact among my friends and family since the first Twilight movie came out. I turned to Brandon in the theater and said, "Oh my goodness! I've found ________!" That means I'm not cyber-stalking the young man... I'm legitimately scouting him!

(I'll be waiting on the indignant responses of "But Edward looked sickly in the Eclipse booooook! He's 'posta be all tortuuuuuured!" I love the nasal ring of the whiny voice translated to type! Look-- been there, read that, bought it and the movies, and almost carved a tiny wolf for a charm bracelet. Don't preach!)

A Resounding Argh!

And then there was snow again, and no one could make it to the Christmas dinner I so lovingly prepared. But everyone's all right and safe, if not a little worse for wear. I would say we've got six inches of snow, and more in places due to drifts.

I need a real kick in the pants for lazing about when I should be working on my book, product development, graphic novel art, and my health. I'm tempted to make that latter option a public affair to shame myself into accomplishment. When it's all said and done, I'll probably need to find the dreaded "gainful employment" by mid-February, or risk my relative comfort and bill-paying. So, here's to a little over one month of hard work. I know I said that one before (*cough* NaNoWriMo *cough*) but it's getting harder to be lazy. Unrestful, even.

Unfortunately, I made it to a turning point, AKA "good stopping place," in my novel and I'm still drifting around the 18,000 word mark. It's the mortal wound to progress, to stop in such a place. But I'll just take a few "Cure Minor Wounds" potions, otherwise known as Pepsi, and ensure my full recovery and restored momentum by the end of the month... when I give up the hard stuff for a few months. It'll be those first few Pepsi-less days that are the hardest, no?

So, how to repair a stalled story? Fall back on the loose outline I made, of course! Just boot up the file, tap my fingers on the home keys for a few minutes, and get to work! Save all the shiny stuff for the polish. As the great Moe Conn once pounded into my recovering perfectionist skull: "Done is good!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Sad Time

All that I want to accomplish seems so trivial sometimes, in the face of reality. I like that my characters act logically, at least in their own minds, and that there's always someone willing to be the good guy-- unshakable and capable of winning. I like that good and evil fight and will continue to fight ad infinitum.

Reality taught me many things:

1. People die, and only a few people care.
2. People that matter don't always communicate when you offend them or hurt them, or when they need you, or they do communicate, but passive-aggressively.
3. People are not always smart enough to figure out the latter, and perhaps worse, we're not always capable of righting the wrongs. Or we're too exhausted with the behavior to help fix it.
4. Some people hide behind their faith instead of standing firm inside the armor of their faith.
5. Walking in someone else's skin is impossible if people are too caught up in their own drama.

I won't say I don't use characters with these idiosyncracies. It just hurts when I do, because it reminds me of something I'd rather not experience. But when all the failings of the human race get dumped into one story, or one life, I can't help but want, beyond all things, to have that perfect hero emerge and save the day. I want the good guy to win over evil. And I want to look out on a bright day, knowing that the pieces will all fall together and that my path is not just a series of stumbling blocks that end against a brick wall.

Maybe that's why I tell stories...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Phase Two: Attention Deficit Dis... Snow Before Christmas???

Given the state of the world's climate, and the global warming debate, (or the reneg to "global climate change" *cough, cough*), one would expect a great deal of subtle changes, mostly to warmer days and milder winters. But alas, I spent my outside time today trudging-- trudging to walk the dogs up and down hills, trudging to the basement to retrieve my winter coat (it's not even January, for crying out loud!), trudging up and down my zig-zag path to my friends' place.

All that trudging was thanks to the ugly-hiding, ground-slicking, school-closing, old-injury-aching snow. The flakes were fluffy for a while, but then shrank to those bits of shiny flat shards that sparkled like crushed vampire. And by a little after 11pm, it was a combination of that and the little dots that make good snowballs.

The ground is covered. My tracks and my dog's tracks are long filled in, three times for the dogs and six times for me. We're going to get more than the forecast 4 inches max. With any luck, I can hole up here and not have to leave. Except for the cabin fever...

So, you may ask, why don't you use this shut-in time for productive pursuits? To this, I give an obvious answer: I plan on making Snow Cream! (It must be an Appalachian thing, since I've had to explain it so often to "outsiders.")

Snow Cream Recipe

1 Person Willing to Brave the Elements
+Big Bowl of "Clean" Snow (Off the car is good... Don't scrape the bottom!)
+Sweetened Condensed Milk (or the traditional cream and sugar)
+Vanilla Flavoring (A teaspoon or so. Eyeball it!)
+Stirring... Not a lot! (SCM makes a firmer, less sugar-gritty Snow Cream that is more like Ice Cream.)
= Snow Cream!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Phase Two: Mannerisms and Details

In my story, I realized I hit a derivative, bland dead end with a creature I introduced. When my plot screeched to a halt and my characters were treading some seriously unnecessary and whimsically-inappropriate literary water, I realized that my train-of-thought had completely derailed. I've had trouble reconnecting since then.

I can't even call it writer's block. I just felt so dumb for thinking that any of that huge block of prose mattered. It was suddenly bedtime. I slept in a haze of stupid and woke to the bright early sunlight of enlightenment... I think! I think the tangent-purge is important to figuring out what actually matters in the story, and what will never matter. And when I'm ambling along at a snail's pace with no deadline to keep me true to the story, that's fine. But here there be deadlines! The rule is that you get to cut out whatever doesn't advance the story. But that's for the Editing Phase!

I realized that I used my tangent to develop missing traits in my characters. I was searching for the defining psychological features that would connect them with the audience, make them sympathetic and worthy of caring. I explored their habits and vices a bit more. I did this for the sake of the story. Now that I "know" my people better, they'll "act" more naturally and true-to-self even when all the crap is cut out. Otherwise, the remainder of the story would be hollow in some way, just a string of facts.

In Christopher Pike's Remember Me, the main character is a ghost who, when alive, constantly broke her hairbrush handle when brushing her hair. (I was confused until I started to do this myself. It just happens!) Anne McCaffrey's Robinton has a penchant for fine wine and Menolly is too tall and lanky for a proper girl; Anne Rice's Ramses eats delicately without ever touching his food to his lips and Louis shuffles his feet in a very human fashion. In a Jane Lindskold novel, the main character speaks only in literary quotes and converses with inanimate objects. Stoker's Dracula has blond hair and a heavy handlebar mustache.

These are all random details and mannerisms that are burnt into my memory. They reveal everything and nothing about the characters who exhibit them. How do authors burn in such random details? Maybe it's the result of a tangent. Well, if Peter Pan can sleep on his way to Neverland because he's now light as the air, then Lancelot is physically ugly but charismatic because he's so dang chivalrous. Arguably, it's the fault of those stupid top-hat nests made by Never-birds...

And I learned about horcruxes and the like from Elric long before Harry Potter tried to corner the market...

See? A tangent. Welcome!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Phase Two: Writing... Still???

I'm still going... Promise! Not going strong, just going.

I've started working on several different pursuits that keep me busy! At some point, I realized that my sleep schedule was crap. Today, I turned over a new leaf. I woke up before double digits today. Being "between real jobs" is a good excuse to be "planning a business" and "writing my next novel." :) Except I'm really doing those last two things because of that first thing.

So far, I've spent some time looking for a plausible job along my lines of qualification. The Master's degree has hurt me more than helped me. So, among my many "things to do" right now, let me present a list for accountability:

1. Write first draft of second novel. (Revise, Edit, Complete... Submit!)
2. Plan business and develop products.
3. Develop characters and story for my graphic novels.
4. Exercise and Diet! (I'm a Health-By-The-Wayside Warrior!)

That should be enough to keep me busy for a while!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Over 18,000-- At Last!

That is all... I just hit 18,000 words. A paltry accomplishment, I know. But I'm still not done with Part One. I'm close, though. Just a bit more...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Progress Tonight...

17, 561 words. Not much, but I dug myself out of a verbal rut. Blah! Things are happening now! I will take a short break. (Watching Conan the Barbarian special features. Hey! Don't judge!) Then I plan to finish Part One. An undertaking which I have avoided... since it's very upsetting.

I am convinced that if I get through Part One, the remainder of the novel will be a breeze by comparison. A lot of work, of course, but not as strictly tied to what has become the sequel. The whole second part is just alluded to, in very broad strokes, in the sequel. Yay, pure literary fabrication!

Phase Two: Gear Up!

All right... Settling down with less than four hours left in the night. Minus mandatory dog-walking time, this gives me a little over three hours to write. I gotta get somewhere in this story tonight!

Although I don't plan on requiring the NaNoWriMo 50,000 words, I have one goal. I may write more or less. My goal is to finish the story without using shortcuts. [These procrastination devices include 1) Typing a Chapter Title with a short description and skipping onward without finishing that part of the story, 2) Writing up part of the story in vignette format in present tense... which makes more work later! and 3) Jumping around from POV to POV to explore others' brains. Wastes time and energy when I'm trying to explore my worlds!] Now, number one is the method I use to throw an outline together. Very effective. :) But it kills the flow when I skip around in the story.

Now, regarding word count: I had left in all my ramblings and notes while participating in NaNoWriMo. Really, it helped to do some chain of thought rambling sometimes, but now I don't want that stuff to get in the way of a cleanly completed novel.

17, 228 words down, after the minor cut.

Phase Two: Beyond NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo was a partial fail. I didn't finish by the deadline. My fault completely. I won't say I failed completely and the world will cave into a black pit of despair and nothingness with my lack of accomplishment. That seems a little dramatic. I accomplished something, at least-- a solid start. Becoming a good writer, like many things, requires practice. (Yeah, I know... Obvious!) So on that note I will refer you to the following bit of advice: I guess that part of finishing a novel quickly is WRITING EVERY DAY!!! :-D

The good news is that I'm over fifty pages into my first draft of book 2 (which will be volume 1), but nowhere near 50,000 words to "win" NaNoWriMo. No big deal, however. NaNoWriMo was just a springboard to make me focus and at least get started. I've added an arsenal of additional daily activities that'll pressure me into the kind of hyper-focus I need to be productive. I'll be working on the novel and improving my drawing skills; I'll be planning a business and working on an inventory. That's in addition to the regular household things I need to do daily. I'll put off finishing my video game list until after Christmas. Maybe.

I've set a new deadline for Christmas Eve to finish the rough draft, no matter the word count. After I wake up today, my clock's tickin'. I have 24 days and counting. Wish me luck!