Monthly Archives: November 2009

And I’m probably not going to make my reading goal either!

Officially, I’ve thrown in the towel on this year’s NaNoWriMo. The last word count was 28,673. A few thousand of those word might end up in some manuscript written in the near future. I’ll get back to this version of the Alterverse in January. For the remainder of November and in December, I plan on doing a “final” polish on Model Species, writing a new query letter, and sending it out to a half dozen agents. I need to follow up on Pas de Chat queries as well.

I’m not overly disappointed about not “winning” NaNoWriMo. The Alterverse is at the awkward stage that occurred about six months (?) after we started the Weordan project. I couldn’t continue on in writing-abandon knowing that so much of it is way of- base from where it needs to be. That’s not a bad thing. Unlike NaNo of 2004, when we started Weordan, I can see the flaws. Not just the superficial detail flaws, but the deep cracks in the world-building. But, these 28K words are a stake in the ground, and that’s worth a tiny bit.

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Book #20 – The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
(I have a month to read ten more books. Not likely to happen.)

The re-read at Tor has been moving at syrup-in-January-in-a-cold-climate pace, so I decided to go ahead and finish The Two Towers. Honestly, without looking at the table of contents, I couldn’t remember what all was included in this book. First off, meeting the Riders of Rohan and Treebeard were a long time ago (June and July, according to the blog). Second, “Shelob’s Lair” alone puts the rest of the book to shame. Maybe it was tainted for me, knowing who Shelob is before reading, but the tension that Tolkien built in that chapter really got to me.

I’ve started taking craft notes again and the lesson I’d like to take away from “Shelob’s Lair” is this simple thing: (Possible Spoiler Ahead)
Possible Spoilers

The Other Half of Life

This journal has almost become a writing blog. How did *that* happen?

In the land of ultimate frisbee, fall league playoffs were yesterday, and aside from a web page update or two, it’s all over.

This season was not ideal.

Around the week of draft I realized that Eric had a class on the Saturday of finals. We decided to captain anyway because there were very few Thursday volunteers and there was a chance he could skip class, drop the class, somehow work around it, etc.

First week, Kathi broke her elbow. Fourth week, Bob broke a bone in his foot. While we were able to get a replacement for Kathi, not-so-much for Bob. Around then, Bryon also let us know that he’d miss finals due to a trip he was taking. Therefore, it became less likely that Eric should miss his all-day, meets-six-times class. Short Flick/Looong Hammer ended the season with a 6-4 record. Our first pool play game was Thursday, a rematch against Town Tricycle. Like the first meeting, we lost. On Saturday, minus Eric, Byron. Bob, and Barry, we lost our first game against the #1 Tuesday team and eeked out a win in another rematch against Midnight Passion.

Despite the short-handedness and the losses, playoffs were better than I expected them to be. My team still played hard and kept in good spirits. Overall, my play this season was decent, though I threw quite a few away in that last game. Games yesterday were at Scottsdale Sports Center, which is a lovely venue if nothing else, and we couldn’t have had better weather. I caught a ride with Reif and was able to hang around for the semis and finals games. It was good seeing people. As JT put it, VOTS is like a big family. Occasionally, family reunions are nice. Even for a disc hermit.

I’m only 3578 words behind…

Meant to post since Sunday. I’ve…uh…been busy.

Around Wednesday of last week, it was becoming obvious that the direction we were going in with the NaNoWriMo project wasn’t working. Eric wasn’t happy with what I was doing and I wasn’t happy with what I was getting from Eric. And, to clumsily extend the relationship analogy, when you both fall out of love at the same time, you’re in trouble. I went through a day and a half melt-down which reaped a whole 749 words when I needed 3334. Eric and I have reformulated and since Sunday I’ve somewhat started over. Coming into week three I’m a bit behind. I should hit the halfway point on the word count today (and handily pass it).

To some extent, it’s been a long time since I’ve been an every-day writer. I tend to be a binge-and-fast writer. I work like mad to the deficit of everything, burn-out, and then avoid writing like the plague for longer than the binge lasted. Maybe that’s the way I work, or maybe that’s unhealthy. I’d like to try and find a more sane way of being a writer. If I come away from this November with a daily habit and half the ability to balance the rest of life, I’ll be happy. I don’t count on it.

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Several things to file under “Don’t Complain to Me About Your Lack of Flying Car”:
Consumed – The Hype Around Augmented Reality – NYTimes.com:

For example, Yelp, the online service that reviews restaurants, bars and small businesses, has added a feature to one mobile app: point your (properly enabled) phone at a row of restaurants as if you were going to take a picture of it, and in addition to seeing what’s really there, you’ll see the Yelp ratings hovering in front of each.

Digital Tattoo Interface Turns Your Skin Into A Display – Gizmodo
How Much Power Does The Human Brain Require To Operate? « Derren Brown Blog
Those last two are on the concept end of science, but are still interesting.

As a note to myself concerning a theme that should be prevalent in my NaNo novel:
Infinite Summer: Dracula » Blog Archive » Dracula Postmortem, Part IV:

At times the book was a novelization of the worst fears of the anti-immigration crowd, a depiction of malevolent foreigners skulking into a Western country, siphoning off valuable resources, and converting people over to their side.

And lastly, something I will make a concerted effort not to be neurotic about:
Ecstatic Days » Blog Archive » How cover art influences book sales (at least, for one picky reader)

Contradiction and Complications

It occurred to me, after reading a comment by sophierom  (who has a lovely blog about writing), that my last two posts might seem to be contradictory. In one, I claim to have no “muse,” and in the other, I talk about inspiration. Nothing exists in a vacuum. The bits of “inspiration” that get chucked into my writing are the things influencing me at the moment. And sometimes those bits aren’t what should be influencing the work.

I guess the upshot of the one post is that I prefer that writing have an minimum amount of mysticism attached to it. The heart of the fiction process is very difficult to quantify, but that doesn’t make it less work.

But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, “Well, now it’s writing time and now I’ll write.”
~Frank Herbert

Eric has further thoughts on process: BlogWriMo: Some Complications. He is infinitely better at quantifying.

One of the things he touches on is the work that goes into collaboration. I often feel like I’m cheating with the way Eric and I do things. He provides the plots, the “high-end” elements. I do the writing; trying to make it look pretty without worrying (too much) about where the story’s going. But I forget about how much work it is to have someone else involved in the process. What I write isn’t exactly Eric’s vision of things, and even if his communication with me was perfect, what comes out is still an amalgamation.

There’s is also, as Eric mentioned, the task of getting and keeping me interested in a project. It takes me a while to sink into a project and sometimes (like the case of an earlier Alterverse incarnation) by the time I do, Eric’s interest has waned. Sometimes, he really has to sell the idea.

NaNo is going fairly well, I suppose. I’ve been wandering a little plot-wise and Eric is zeroing in on things that are going to need work world-building-wise. My schedule has been hairy, as expected. Saturday was Casey’s second annual pig roast/tailgating event which went of without a hitch and was quite enjoyable. A much needed break/change. I had built up some padding on my word count which was perfect. Now I’m keeping pace and will use the next few days to build up padding again in anticipation of league finals, etc.

Inspiration

While Eric approaches storytelling and world building from a systematic point of view, my end of the process is much less quantifiable.

I don’t know how many times I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley and Se7en while writing Model Species. Not every project has such a recurrent and apparent playlist, but if I think hard enough about it I can probably come up with a few things that factor into every book. These aren’t direct influences, but little pieces of inspiration that feed into my mushy, vague writer’s brain.

So far this NaNo project, the RCJ471 project, has several inspirational tidbits:

For the first two days of NaNoWriMo, I wrote in the mornings. That quickly changed, and I’ve swung to a later afternoon/evening schedule. Not ideal, but there’s nothing for it. I want to hit 12,500 by about noon tomorrow.Getting to 11,669 by the end of today would be nice, but is ambitious.

Confession Time

I have a confession to make: I have no muse.

While I’m at it, I’m going to admit to a few other things:
I never wrote a story until the week before classes of my freshman year in college.
Stories do not call to me, forcing me to write them.
If someone were to ask me what my best advice for becoming a writer is, I’d say, “If you can be happy doing something else, do that.”

In fact to many outside observers, it seems that I don’t like writing very much.

But in many ways, writing is like a relationship. It can be…utterly awesome…and also the most draining grinding work known to man. Writing and I are like an old married couple. All you might see are the snarky arguments, but really, we love each other.

I write because, at its best, there is absolutely nothing I would rather do.

A piece of one of Seamus Heaney’s poems comes close to describing:

To work, her dumb lunge says,
is to move a certain mass
through a certain distance,
is to pull your weight and feel
exact and equal to it.
Feel dragged upon. And buoyant.

As for NaNoWriMo, Eric has posted some thoughts of his end of our writing process. As contrast, I offer the title and synopsis I put up on my NaNo profile Friday or Saturday night:

The Adventures of RCJ471 in the 25th Century

RCJ471 sees all, knows all. It’s his job. He knows when errant shipments appear in the Tubes. He knows how big the Tallstair harvest is and what the Biggheds are keeping from the Econmen. He even knows about that star that fell a week ago, if you think to ask him about it.

But RCJ’s asset is that not many think about him at all. Would you give a guinea pig a second thought?

This is…not really what I’m writing. This novel deviated almost immediately. And that’s how it goes.

Two Days Down

Halloween passed without much note. I didn’t dress up, I didn’t go out. Eric handed out candy. In a few months I’ll regret missing Halloween, but for now it feels like one more thing out of the way. I didn’t even stay up and start my NaNo novel. Eric and I did have another good talk about the new project and then we watched the “final” director’s cut of Blade Runner. The final cut doesn’t add much, but the movie seemed to flow better. Maybe I’ve just seen it enough times not to notice the things that originally bothered me.

I’ve gotten 1700 words done both yesterday and today. That puts me well on track, but by no means ahead. Eric read and said he was pleasantly surprised. He’s pretty excited about this project. It may be time to reap what we’ve sown with Weordan, and work in earnest on a new project.

On the subject of writing and NaNoWriMo:

Creative Review – The Art of Persuasive Writing:

Banknotes365 is a brilliant collection of notes pushed threateningly across counters in banks around the world – all juxtaposed with photos of their authors.

It would make a great case study in a copywriting workshop. Here are a few examples…

Steampunk Wallpaper has some NaNo desktops. Because word count goals should be inescapable.

Also, I need to remember Serendipity, a site full of name generators. I hate naming characters. My standby name, Eltimo, has already been used in this novel. Every novel has an Eltimo. If my novels were the real world, there would be even more Eltimos. I went through grade-school with another Kathy (hence my gradual change to Katherine) and I know at least a half dozen Erics (I can name seven without trying hard). I say, more Eltimos are in order. (Kidding, just kidding. I understand that novels are not quickly visual and therefore two characters with the same name and no qualifier can be confusing. If fact, in high school I read both Dracula and A Room with a View in close chronological proximity and confused the Lucys in each book.)