writing

NaNo Dix

Yes, it has been ten years since I did my first NaNoWriMo. My son was a toddler (nowadays he is disconcertingly tall). That first effort was intended to break me out of a rut of endlessly writing and rewriting the same high fantasy trilogy I had been working on since my college days; that November’s efforts were eventually self-published as Tisiphone’s Quest.

I haven’t looked at those trunked books in years. I do have a further stack of half-finished novels and a couple of finished ones that have yet to find any homes. Most of them are standalone stories, and none of them have much in common with one another, so I’ve certainly gotten out of any ruts in terms of material. I’m a little surprised to find that I’m still cheerful about the whole thing. Sales or not, results or not, it’s fun just to do it, to throw yourself headlong into a story for a month and see what happens.

Day 2; so far, so good.

writing

Eureka…?

After weeks and weeks of getting nowhere with this book, I think I have finally figured out what I need to do. I’m very excited about this, since I was about to throw in the towel and start learning how to write again from Square 1. It’s going to require some replumbing of the current draft, but I don’t think I have to start it over from scratch. The week ahead should be a relatively quiet one, so I look forward to figuring out a plan finally.

(The problem is with the antagonist. I have a terrible time with those, which is a vexing situation for a genre writer. And, I am mildly chagrined and equally amused to say, the solution involves me following advice I have sagely dispensed to others in the past. There’s nothing like art to keep one humble.)

This past week I have been experimenting with the popular “morning pages” practice. I am not sure whether or not I can credit that with this morning’s breakthrough, or if it’s just that I am finally over the Cold from Hell, or that things needed to simmer and sort themselves out in my subconscious for exactly this long before the issue surfaced. I am going to keep up with the pages for a bit longer, and see what happens. They do eat up a fair amount of time, but the experience of writing longhand is meditative.

Long-range goals remain elusive, but I continue to put out feelers while I try to determine what it is that I am looking for. In the meantime, I’m going to finish this book!

garden, life, reading, writing

Happy Readercon!

After a bit of dithering (surprise), I decided to go this year. And we got an extra day off at work, so I’m even going to the Friday daytime programming, which is a first. I’m a little nervous about going solo, but it’s all part of the “leave room for things in happen in” practice, and there is a lot of interesting stuff on the schedule.

The summer is passing quickly and without much drama. We did a lot of traveling last week, hence no update–I was tired! with three days in NH at a family Fourth of July, and two in CT visiting friends. I take a picture just like this every summer at the lake, because I am a creature of habit and like to get up early while everything is still.

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Fairy Hills just hit 40k words after a few weeks of steady progress. I am making deep changes to this part of the story, so this really is like a first draft all over again. Which is annoying, I confess, because that means that there will be yet another draft in the near future, and I would like to put this project to bed someday. I bought an app called Word Keeper, which is delightful if you enjoy looking at progress charts–sort of like the NaNoWriMo wordcount tracker made perpetual and a bit shinier.

Writing has been going well enough that I have tried off and on of late to turn off the laptop and read in the evening. I’ve read 24 books so far this year, which is frankly amazing (for me). I’ve been reading a lot of new-to-me nonfiction stuff: Thinking in Systems, Liminal Thinking, How to Change the World–you may be sensing a theme. In fiction I have been visiting old favorites. Tea with the Black Dragon is just as charming as I remember it being, as was Who’s Afraid of Beowulf?

In other news, the driveway garden is flourishing. Already considering ways to expand next year, since I haven’t managed to entirely kill anything so far this summer (the basil bolted while we were gone, and a few of the sunflowers aren’t going to make it, but everything else is hanging in there pretty well). I had no idea potato plants grew so big!

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And this was a longer update than I expected to write. Have a great weekend!

monthly updates

Work in Progress – June

The end of another month; time for another progress report. This book is, as is its wont, taking far longer to move along than I consider ideal, but there has been motion, and the past week has actually been pretty good. Total wordcount is just shy of 26k.

June

Other areas of life continue to poke along in more or less unsatisfying ways. I’ve lost a little bit of weight. I’ve done a little bit of knitting (another hat–I’ve got this bulky yarn to use up). I’ve had another job interview, and it was very promising, which has spurred me to sit down and really think about what it is I’m looking for, which is… probably not this job, so back to square 1 there. The weather has been a little better, and at least we haven’t had to resort to the A/C very often this season.

I think I mentioned in an earlier update that I bought a bike, which is definitely a bright spot. It’s been a good many years since I rode one, and I’m still getting used to it, but I’ve found a nice half hour route I can ride in the mornings, when there isn’t much traffic yet.

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writing

Out of Runway

AKA, the part where my loosey-goosey drafting style comes around to bite me in the ass.

I’m 73k words into draft 2 of this book, and things have been going pretty smoothly so far–when I’ve had time to write, at least, since there have been more days when I would have liked lately when that was not the case. Alas, at this point what had been a reasonably tight draft 1 has turned into a gap-laden string of scene fragments, self-directed monologues, and notes — and those aren’t even in order.

The result is that I am sitting at my kitchen table on a damp Saturday afternoon with the mixer running (I’m making bread), staring at a blank line of my document with no idea how to fill it. Maybe, I find myself thinking, I should go fix Fairy Hills now. That would be a good, productive thing to do. Or maybe I should read one of the [redacted] books I bought in the past week. Or work on my career plan. Or….

Except that would leave me with 73k words of draft that still won’t have an ending, putting me in the exact same place when I come back around to this book someday, which would be a really shitty thing to do to Future Me. So I am going to slog through the rest of this, however long it takes, before I turn my attention to any other projects.

Next time we write a first draft, though, Future Me, maybe write an ending to the damn thing?

writing

A Break for World-Building

Sorry for the lack of update last week — after two weeks of heavy productivity on the new draft, my brain was leaking out my ears. I needed a break, and I had come to a point in the story where I was a lot less certain about what needed to be done. I had a change of setting to navigate, a raft of new characters to introduce along with that, and a conspiracy of antagonists to keep in motion while my protagonists tried to figure out what was going on.

I had handwaved a whole lot of that while writing the first draft. Now I had to work out what was actually happening behind the scenes, and which of the new characters were on what side, all while delivering sufficient exposition on my version of the ancient events of the Arthurian universe that the reader would understand what happens later.

For me, working through this kind of problem always means reaching for a piece of paper. I have a lot of pretty notebooks, but over the years my go-to has turned out to be the Moleskine unlined ones with a paper cover. 2019-03-15 08.30.16They are pleasant to write in, and they don’t have the “too nice to use” factor, which is important because any notebook I’m actually using will get beat up rather a lot in the course of a project. They have to be unlined, because along with text notes I’m going to be drawing family trees, relationship webs, maps of Faerie, and house plans in them, along with the occasional graph of plot beats.

I know that some writers have A System for their notekeeping, but this is as close as it looks like I’m ever going to come. So I spent two days this week without adding to my wordcount at all, but scribbling notes and drawing maps.

(Also I saw Captain Marvel, which was excellent, and got to hang out with some friends, which doesn’t happen nearly enough, and made an absolutely amazing beef ragu.)

At the end of that time, I felt both rested and like I knew where I needed to go for the next few chapters, and got back to work. The pace has slowed from that first mad rush, but this is probably more sustainable. Wordcount is currently at 32,400.