The Wheel Turns

There are bigger Wheel of Time fans than I am, this can’t be reasonably disputed, but I’m not some farm boy fresh off the back of master Kinch’s wagon who’s never seen a book before. I’ve been reading this series since 1994, when during a bout of boredom in my freshman year study hall, I wandered to the school library and picked up the trade paperback edition of The Eye of the World. I don’t bring this up to establish cred or bragging rights, or to make it clear that I was into the series before it was on tv. I just want anyone who reads this to know where I’m coming from. If Lord of the Rings is what got me hooked on fantasy then Wheel of Time is what made me want to write.

I love these books and their characters unabashedly.

That being said, I’m going to go ahead and give you the required spoiler warning now. I will be talking about the first three episodes without any kind of filter, and a little bit about what some of the writing choices this show has made might mean going forward as the series progresses. So, you’ve been warned. Show and book spoilers inbound.

Still here? Ok, let’s go.

I’m too busy to keep track of The Discourse™ online, but the changes made with Mat and Perrin seem to be big sticking points for some folks.

Let’s talk about Mat first. I think we’ve got a depiction of Mat that is very in keeping with the core of who he is, given a couple of key stipulations. The first being that he (along with Rand and Perrin and Egwene) is aged up a few years. You can’t expect to see an early twenty-something pulling the kind of pranks that younger teen Mat had a reputation for at the start of the books. It would look and feel kind of silly given the tone they’re going for. Secondly, making him from a broken home. I don’t like this per se, but it enables Rafe and the writing team to neatly get to the core of the lovable scoundrel we know Mat to be, despite the thievery on display.

When I think about Mat I see a guy who, despite his own desire to go get a table at the inn and dice away the hours, will come through for the people he loves. At the start of this show we get a borderline destitute looking Mat, doing everything he can think of to take care of his younger sisters, short of actual labor (which is pretty in keeping for him). It’s kind of a shame that the show didn’t give us much of “fun Mat” before he gets the dagger that upends his whole existence, but the decision they made here is economical as far as how much screen time we get to establish these characters. There are millions of words and only so many minutes you can stick in the show. I get it. I think it works for the screne.

Which brings me to Perrin. There have been posts regarding Laila and her demise and how it will actually help the show lean into Perrin’s arc, and I tend to agree with that assessment though once again, I’m not sure I actually like the change.

I can’t think of a way to show that Perrin spent his adolescence learning to be cautious around the smaller kids lest he inadvertently hurt them because he’s bigger than they are. There’s no good dialogue option to convey that on screen and the show isn’t about the young Perrin adventures.

Which brings us to the axe. Given what happens with Laila I don’t know that we’re going to get the whitecloak attack from the book. Her death is a much more effective reason for his active hatred of the weapon and fear of losing control of himself than killing two nameless nazi-stand-ins could hope to be. Again, I understand the change and think it works for the show even if I don’t like the vibe. Personally, I think I would have workshopped a different way to get there. I think we ought to be better than fridging at this point.

But there are yet other changes that bring more questions to mind about how things will progress. Take the Shadar Logoth sequence for instance. My first instinct before watching was that they were going to cut Mordeth entirely, but I’m not sure now and I’ll tell you why.

Excuse this momentary burst of pure nerd speculation.

The shadow Mat sees that leads him to investigate the room with the dagger had me convinced for a split second that Mordeth was going to actually show up, but the farther I get from it the more the wheels in my head spin off. My best prediction at this point is that rather than the dagger being corrupted by the evil of the city, it’s going to be possessed by Mordeth. This again, would be an economical choice. It uses a concept that people are familiar with to get to mostly the same place.

We already see the effects of the dagger taking hold on Mat in episode 3, but knowing what we know about Padan Fain and Ordieth in the future, my bet is that Fain never actually enters Shadar Logoth and instead claims the dagger at some point and merges with Mordeth that way. But who knows? Maybe they write around that somehow and Mordeth doesn’t exist in the show as we knew him/it in The Eye of the World.

And that’s really why I’m here folks. I’ve got the books and I love them, but I’m here for the changes. I’m most interested in how they make this adaptation happen, not in seeing them capture every braid tug and smoothed skirt and thumbed earlobe. Bring me the new shit. Freshen things up. It’s not all going to be perfect, but I’m in to see how we get there.

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!

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.

Well pffft.

So, I’m typing this out on a lunch break at work (on a tablet no less), you’ll just have to forgive me any typos I may make.  Its been a solid two months since my last blog update and I’m happy to say I’ve actually been quite productive in the meantime.  My novel is now clocking in at just over 37,000 words (that’s about 37% completion for those of you keeping track at home) and some of those words are even good.  I wish I knew which ones they were…
Regardless, I plan to schedule these little updates once a week now so you can keep tabs on my progress or lack thereof.  Shouldn’t be much in the way of posts with no progress anymore though, thanks to the magic spreadsheet.  If you know about it, then you know what I mean.  If you don’t then you’ll have to wait for me to be on a device with which I can easily provide you a handy link.  Til then, have a good one! 

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Some days it’s cake, other days it’s like pulling teeth.  But doing it every day is the key.  I’ve been using a spreadsheet to track my progress and over the last twelve days I’ve added approximately 390 words each day on average.  Some more, some less, but all around there.  It’s not a ton, not quite even two full pages double-spaced, but it is forward momentum and that equals progress.  For me, it’s far more  effective to be on it every single day than it is to try and do it in dribs and drabs.

Ironically, along with progress comes feeling better about what’s actually going on the page (most of the time).  I know some of it is crap, but that’s for sifting later.  Right now, in the “oh my God too many of these pages are blank” stage, I just have to keep plowing forward, dropping words every day like clockwork.  Or a person with a high fiber intake.  Anyway, those are my tidbits for the day, back to it!

Outline is wrapped!

This project has been kicking my ass for years now.  Or rather, I’ve been letting it do so.  In one reincarnation or another I have been working on this particular story for at least five years.  Eventually you get to a place where you’re done playing at being a writer, and just decide that yes, you are a writer.  Writing is what you do, so you do it.  Quality of said writing is always another issue, but it’s something you can worry about after you’ve got the words on the page.

I can now happily say that after lots of messing around, stops and starts, revisions and reimaginings, I have finished an outline that I like, and am committed to writing.  One way or another, this is the outline that will become my full length manuscript, for better or for worse.  That having been said, I rather like the few thousand words or so that I’ve slammed down so far.

I still struggle with making the time to do this, and don’t hit the keyboard every day like I know I ought to.  But I know that quitting isn’t an option, and each day I let slip without putting new words down is another day added before reaching The End.

So, I will leave you with this today.  If writing is something you want to do, just do it.  Don’t fall into the trap of making excuses for yourself to keep you from the keyboard.  You never finish if you don’t start.

-Paul Andrew