I wrote therefore I am

Here I am, back again with my periodic proof of continued existence. I did some more outlining, just some generic birds-eye-view scene building really, but it’s progress.

I have a problem, or maybe a quirk, where whenever I spend too much time editing any given photograph I dislike it more and more. It’s like the character creation sliders at the start of Skyrim, where the more time I spend on a photo the less patience I have to continue working on it and the less joy I derive from the finished piece.

I get the same thing with writing.

This can be a blessing sometimes. It means I don’t often get bogged down in trying to perfect a sentence or a paragraph or a scene. But it also means that I struggle with polish, with taking my prose beyond functional and mundane and making it sing.

I wrote a trunk novel a couple years back, and though it had larger issues than the prose itself, when I edited it I basically just ran through the thing and moved some punctuation around and fixed spelling errors. I sent it out to some agents and got exactly the reaction it warranted, which is to say none, with the exception of a couple form rejections.

I don’t know that I’ve got any real point here, except that maybe it’s a good thing to know your weaknesses so you can attack them. Developing a sense of your own ability is tough, and I’ve known folks who’ve over and under estimated their writing. Developing that sense and the perseverance to deal with what you determine from it are probably the keys to learning any skill.

So, fellow nerds, stick with it. Here’s a photo I took the other day down at the lake in Tempe.

Between the bridges at Tempe Town Lake
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Not quite left yet.

This space has been dormant for quite a while. I pruned some politically charged entries, not because I believe I was wrong about any of them – Trump is a liar and a crook and fuck him sideways forever – but I’d gotten to a point where this place that was supposed to be me talking about my writing was me ranting about shit that really pissed me off in real life and I just didn’t get anything from doing this anymore.

Not to mention other life changes that sidetracked me from giving this page any attention, like having another kid who is adorable and awesome. Or like a promotion at work, which is a challenge for me and of course more time consuming and life swallowing than my previous position. Whether I actually make any more money at it is currently up for debate.

All that being said, I started a new story that I’m pretty excited about. It takes influence from the stories that grabbed me as a teen when I became a fan of science fiction and fantasy and everything in between. Things like Final Fantasy and Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time. The plan is to be working on it at least a little every week, so theoretically there should be more consistent things to post about, even if it’s just “I outlined more.” And now that I’ve got a shiny new laptop that doesn’t lag with every keystroke I’ve got one less barrier to writing and posting more often.

Not necessarily super interesting stuff on its own, I know, but I’m thinking about using this space to show off some of my photography. I’m not a professional, I’m not even sure if much of it is any good, but it’s a thing to throw on a blog when I don’t have a more interesting thing to talk about.

So, here are a few shots I really liked from a trip to Iceland that we took a few years ago.

A black sand beach at the town of Vik
Outside a greenhouse where tomatoes are grown
The Harpa Concert Hall

First Form Rejection!

Well, the title says it all.  I’m not in the least bit bummed about it – they are part of the game.  When you’ve been as plugged into writerly culture (if such a phrase is even the correct term for it) as I have been you understand that rejections are part and parcel of the whole deal.  If you’re not getting rejections you’re not sending out work. Gotta go through a lot of ‘No’s to get your ‘Yes’.  And so on, etc.

So the first thing I did was send out some more queries. To be honest I’ve no great expectations for this first novel. I don’t really think it’ll ever see the light of day (from a publisher anyway) but I wrote the thing so I’ll be damned if I’m not going to submit it to hell and back before trunking it.  I did the work, the least I can do is send it out into the world and see if anyone will give me money for it.

In other news (which is to say not really news at all) I’ve been slowly poking at my new WIP, seeing what pokes back and what fades away into the nether reaches of my brain.  Hopefully I will have an outline to work from ready in a month or two, and in the meantime I’m still waiting for feedback from some beta readers on Thief of Souls.

As an aside, if you’re a writer and not getting everything you can from the internet there are a few things I suggest.

-Listen to podcasts about writing. Two of my favorites are Writing Excuses and I Should be Writing.  You probably have a commute of some kind, or at the very least 20-30 minutes a week somewhere. It will do you good. Trust me.

-Check out Absolute Write.  The forums are a veritable treasure trove of information on everything from plotting to prose to agents and submitting. I’ve had nothing but good experiences there and the people have always been willing to help newbies.  That being said, as with any forum read the FAQ first.  Many things are covered and have handy links. It’s worth the time to peruse.

I can’t think of anything else pertinent to say so with that I will sign off!

50k.

Yep, skipped right over any possible Warhammer jokes and went to 50,000 words. I don’t have much to say about it really, beyond that I felt very little as the wordcount tipped over last night.  I got a very tiny jolt of “Oh, that happened.  I guess that’s a thing that I did.” and then it was gone.

Granted, that particular number was never the intended finish line, and only serves as the loosest basis of the idea of a halfway point.  There’s still a lot of mountain to climb, after all.

So, looking onward from this point what have I got left to do?  I’ve moved all of my players onto trajectories that will lead to THE END in one way or another, and that is actually kind of exciting.  I’m still skeptical about reaching 100,000 words with this draft though.  Not that missing that target would be the end of the world, I could end up with a tighter and more concise 90,000 word novel and I suppose I’d be just fine with that.

Alas, I think my brain is starting to get ahead of me.  Reality check, I’m still only halfway through a first draft.  I’ve still thousands of words to go, and revisions and rewrites on top of that.  Back to it, I reckon.

 

7 Days, 7k

Well I’m seven days into my rush to the end and I’m seven thousand words closer to it.  It’s forced me to think a bit outside of my outline and start making some decisions I’ve been putting off.

The biggest problem with my outline is that while the first 3rd of the book is pretty detailed, it gets progressively less so the deeper I get.  The second act is largely hashed out, but things are popping up that I hadn’t considered early on and I’ve been finding myself scrambling to address them in the best way possible.

Due to this issue I’m finding myself about 60% through my outline and only sitting at about 47000 words.  Which doesn’t exactly work out if you’re planning a 100,000 word novel.  So, I’m getting creative (as creative types are wont to do) and finding things I can expand upon, plotlines I can further develop, characters I can play with a bit more, to fill out what I’ve been shooting for.

After all, plot is about characters overcoming interesting problems in interesting ways.   So when all else fails give the character more problems to deal with.

Getting Out of the Way

I finally eclipsed 40,000 words this week.  It took a little longer than I anticipated (what doesn’t?) but I did it.  Forty percent of the way to completion, by standard measure, of a manuscript.  That’s not quite halfway, but it is a significant chunk of text.  At this point in the game I find myself thinking that at a hypothetical pace of one thousand words per day I would be done in two months.   I could be finished with a first draft in sixty days if I could maintain that pace.  IF.

Today I’ve written not quite six hundred words.  It took a little over an hour.  A thousand words a day is a doable thing, but looking up at it like a mountain is daunting.  Even as I write this I see the words ‘sixty days’ and wonder what the hell I’m thinking.  For me the secret of finishing a task of herculean proportions is to attack it in small chunks, until I have devoured it en masse.

That having been said, six hundred words is not one thousand, so after a little sustenance break I suppose I’ll get back to it.  After all, in sixty days I’ll have either done it or not, but sixty days will still have passed.  It’s pretty exciting to think that the only thing keeping me from a finished draft in the next two months in myself.  Hope I can learn to get the fuck out of my own way.

Dragging my damn feet

I’ve been effectively dragging my feet for the last week or so with my writing, getting my minimum daily words down most days but little more.  I’m not sure what the funk I’m in is all about, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to fix it.  Or if I’m even supposed to fix it for that matter.

I know the advice I would get if I asked for it:  Barrel through.  Get your minimum down and keep going every day.  So that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Doesn’t make it much easier, but it gives me the perspective I need.

I’m closing in on 39,000 words right now, and should hit it in the next day or two.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm at the moment, it’s still a wondrous thing for me to watch the ticker and realize I’m only about 10,000 words from what would typically be the halfway point (100k words being the target).

10,000 words is a thing I can do.  I’ve done it three times already, nearly four now. Thinking of my goal in terms of repeating things I’ve already accomplished reminds me that it is indeed something I can make happen.  I’ve already done it, after all.  I just have to do it a few more times, and I’ll have written a book.  A BOOK.  WRITTEN A BOOK MYSELF WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS.  And it’s a thing I can do.