August Writing Update

My last post was some time ago, so I thought I would update everyone on my writing progress.

Um. Well. You see. It hasn’t been great.

I did participate in NaNoWriMo 2016, and I did win, so that was something. I wrote 50,000 words on a historical fiction novel set in Belgium during World War I. I’ve never written historical fiction before so it was a big stretch. I felt completely unqualified, but I pressed on and tried to stick with what I knew and avoid obsessing about the little details that I was sure I was getting wrong.

For most of the writing, I felt like it was terrible, but I thought there were some good moments here and there, particularly toward the end. (There was no end to the story. I just stopped at 50,000 words.) Perhaps one day I will read it again and try to edit it.

Since then, I have been telling myself that I will work on editing a fantasy novel I wrote in 2012 called Kubak Outpost. I haven’t gotten very far on it. I don’t seem to have a very good workflow for writing anymore. Since I’ve moved into my new house everything feels very temporary and chaotic and taking the steps necessary to make permanent work zones feels like a monstrous chore that I don’t know how to tackle.

Anyway. I’m attempting to move this blog to a different location. There should be no change for visitors, but it’s hosted somewhat differently. I’m trying to consolidate a bunch of disparate online things together so I can perhaps save some money and make things easier to administer. This is the first post under the new system, so we’ll see if it publishes correctly.

It’s July!

It’s July again and I’ve completely forgotten about Camp NaNoWriMo.

Oh crap! It’s July! This is Camp NaNoWriMo month, and it’s Day 3, and I haven’t started writing–haven’t even thought of an idea. Didn’t even realize it was July until this third day.

Should I write something?

Coincidentally, I’ve had a story in my head for the last few days. Actually, I should say I’ve had a setting in my head for the last few days. It’s from an old idea I wrote down years ago, which was rekindled by running across The Conjunction Of The Spheres in the The Witcher 3 which I’ve been playing.

My idea was about the modern world being taken over by an invasion from a magical plane, and what that would look like.

Before that, I had also been thinking about another sword and sorcery idea that’s been floating around my head for years, which revolves (hyuk hyuk) around a single scene: A sorcerer conjuring a hurricane as a weapon in some king’s war against a rival country. (I like to go big and scary with magic.)

Years in Westeros

It occurred to me: The seasons in A Song of Ice and Fire are many years long, right? In the show, Old Nan said that men were born, lived, and died all without seeing the sun (presumably in winter, in the north). But when the characters talk about how long the seasons are, they use the word “years.” (At least, I think they do. I would have to comb through the books to be sure.) But since for us a year is defined as one revolution around the sun, or one cycle of seasons, how do the people in Westeros know how long a “year” is, since it would be some fraction of the length of their seasons? Why would they even have a concept for a fraction of time shorter than a season?

And how does their crop rotations work? Do they have to harvest and store food all through summer and fall because no food grows for years during the winter?

These kinds of things go through my head when I’m worldbuilding my own worlds. Things like, “Why are there 12 seasons months in a year? Why aren’t there 10? Or 15? There’s no astrological equivalent for months so somebody must have just made it up out of thin air. How would 5,000 years of civilization be different if that person decided to use 20 months? Or no months at all? Oh yeah, why did that guy pick 7 days to put into a week? Why did we need a week at all?”

Hrm. Maybe when they say the word “year” they mean a unit of measurement similar to our word for “month.”

April Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m off to a bad start in the April Camp NaNoWriMo event.

I am off to a terrible start in the April Camp NaNoWriMo event. I set myself a modest goal of 30,000 words (since I don’t think this story is a full novel), and I’m already about three days behind schedule. I’m just not “feeling it.” My story idea seems like an awful idea again that makes no sense. (Exactly what happened to me the first time I started writing it.)

Still, I’m hoping to get into the swing of things pretty soon. I spent a month preparing a reasonably complete (well, 75% complete) outline to work from, so that should help a lot. While working on the outline, I was pretty excited about the idea, so I’m trying to hold onto that sentiment and trust that this story will turn out better than it seems right now.

 

February Status, Part 2

How my writing went during February.

My last post was a “February Status” but it was posted at the beginning of February, so in reality it was more of a “January Status.” It’s now the beginning of March (sort of), so this writing update will actually cover February.

As of now my manuscript from November is over 80,000 words, and Scrivener says I wrote nearly 12,000 words in February. Not great, but better than nothing.

A couple of interesting story twists occurred in February: 1) I killed off a character that was no longer doing anything interesting, and 2) I came up with a new idea for an interesting group of people to encounter in the post-apocalyptic wilderness.

I feel like this story is no longer a book, but rather a series of short stories. There are very distinct “phases” that the main character goes through, and they are not necessarily connected to each other by an over-arching plot. Perhaps it might be time to take a break and dissect what I’ve written and figure out what to do with it.

In the meantime, Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up for April, in which I plan to resurrect my dismal failure from NaNoWriMo 2013. This time, I’m going to plan out an outline and make sure I know where things are going. Even though I hated most of what I wrote last time, I always felt there was still a kernel of a good idea in there. To prepare, I’m re-reading what I wrote in 2013. It’s not as bad as I remember it being, which is a good sign.

February Status Report

Continuing work on my post-apocalyptic novel, slowly but… surely?

Perhaps if I update my blog more often, it will inspire me to do more writing, so that I’ll have more to talk about in my blog. So…

As February begins, I’m still working on my post-apocalyptic novel that I started in NaNoWriMo 2014. I’m up to about 70,000 words, so you can probably figure out that I’m not writing very fast–typically I only put down about 500 words a night, somewhere around four a five nights out of a week. (I went from 50,000 words in one month to 20,000 words in three two months.)

On the plus side, I’ve discovered that 500 words is a very good “session size” for me. Sitting down to write 500 words does not feel daunting to me, even if I have nothing in mind to write. I can usually knock it out in a half hour, more or less. And by the time I’ve written 500 words, mentally I’m usually ready for a break. So chalk up another self-discovery finding there. For the next NaNoWriMo I participate in, I think it will go better if I plan to try to write three 555 word sessions per day, instead of one 1667 word session per day.

I’m pleased to say that I wrote the ending of the novel. By which I mean that I wrote what I think the final scene should be–at least the final one related to the main character. This was a tremendous accomplishment because for most of the lifespan of this novel I’ve had no earthly clue where anything was going. I wasn’t even sure who the main character was. This first draft has basically been a very, very long brainstorming session. I think it would be more appropriate to call it a zeroth draft, actually.

The biggest story problem I have now is somehow connecting where I was in the middle of the novel to the ending, which could be challenging considering that the middle part has nothing to do with the ending. There are still some issues to work out, in other words. I’m not very adept at solving problems like this, either. I think I’m just going to have to put my head down and power through it.

My Writing In 2014

I recap of my writing adventures in 2014.

Well 2014 wasn’t my greatest writing year ever, although compared to some years where I didn’t write anything I suppose it was still pretty good.

I started the year trying to revise the Sovereignty manuscript, which ended in miserable failure. After a lot of fiddling, I still couldn’t figure out the story I wanted to tell and basically realized I needed to start over. By June I had hit rock bottom, so to speak.

Then I tried writing something new in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. It started well, but then things got really crazy at work and it derailed everything. After August, I ended up with about ten thousand words of a short story called Moving Day, but it still needs work.

In September and October, my biggest writing accomplishment was a series of episode reviews of the television show Continuum.

Then came NaNoWriMo in November and things got somewhat back on track. Apparently I completely failed to blog about it, but I successfully completed 50,000 words to win the event, however I have not yet successfully finished the novel since I have only completed about 10,000 more words since November 30. The novel is a post-apocalyptic adventure, currently dubbed Raccoon Mountain. I am still plugging away on that manuscript, a few hundred words at a time, trying to find the story. (I started with little or no plan for it.)

And that’s where we are at the start of 2015. Depressingly no closer to sending manuscripts to publishers. But I feel like I’m zeroing in on “my process,” for whatever that’s worth.

The Killing, Season One

Why didn’t anyone warn me about this show?

Why didn’t anyone warn me about this show?

Don’t start watching The Killing unless you’re willing to put in the time to finish the entire thing in one sitting. Because it’s really addicting.

And in case you’re thinking you can get away with just watching one season at a time: The murder is not resolved at the end of the first season. The story just keeps right on going into the second season.

I’m writing this paragraph to avoid spoilers, but my full thoughts are way down below: I had an idea of who the murderer might be after four or five episodes, based on my award-winning strategy of “picking the least plausible person it could possibly be.” Through the whole first season I was more and more convinced I was going to be right, because they never showed anything that directly refuted my theory. Once, it was close, but I can think of a way to explain it. At least until they arrested that dude in the last episode of season one. But then some evidence surfaced that made me think my theory could still be plausible, so I’m sticking with it as I start watching season two.

In many ways, The Killing is a stereotypical cop show. It’s got the cop obsessed with finding the murderer at the expense of her family. It’s got the victim’s family coping with the loss of their daughter and the morbid depictions of how a victim’s body gets back to the family after the crime. It’s got the cop who went too far undercover and got hooked on drugs. It’s got the crusty police lieutenants. It’s got the city hall with their political agendas that are more important than the truth.

But somehow it’s still a compelling show.

Continue reading “The Killing, Season One”

Two Days In A Row

A new record for most days writing in a row!

I’ve written about 1200 words a day for two days in a row. That may not sound like much, but it makes me feel like a rock star.

I’m working on adding the middle part that goes between the beginning and ending of Moving Day. I couldn’t just leave it hanging the way it was. (Also I did some brainstorming and came up with some neat ideas for it.)

It’s sort of morphed from a science fiction story to… I don’t know… horror? But not the frightening kind of horror. It’s like the later-era Stephen King kind of horror that is really more of a plain story with some external supernatural forces that put characters into conflict, but it still gets labeled horror because he’s Stephen King. I’m not sure what you’d call that. “Fiction” I guess.

August Writing Update

An update for August, my first sabbatical month.

With August coming to an end I thought I would release another writing update. Being temporarily unemployed (which I prefer to think of as a short sabbatical), this is the first month in forever (aka. 2000-ish) where I have had nothing but time to write. So you would think that I would have written tons of stuff, particularly when I’ve had this ongoing crazy notion that I should someday get paid for writing.

Alas not so much.

Being unemployed isn’t as easy as you might think. First there is the problem of maintaining some kind of schedule. For me, this is fairly important, because I tend to flop around like a fish out of water if I don’t have a routine. I still have to eat, sleep, and occasionally take a shower, but without the structural certainty of a 9-to-5 job, I tend to forget about things like that while I’m focused on whatever I happen to be focused on.

I have to devote some time toward a backup plan in case someone doesn’t walk up and hand me ten million dollars. I have a finite amount of money, and it will run out one day, and I need a plan to deal with that, no matter how annoying the prospect might be. So I spend a portion of most days looking for boring old 9-to-5 jobs. And it takes a surprising amount of time to sift through a bunch of web sites.

I also spend time looking for part-time or freelance work that I can do from home, which would serve to extend the length of my sabbatical from 9-to-5 work. This also takes a surprising amount of time combing through web sites, sending emails, sending applications, setting up profiles, etc.

also have to build in some non-working down time. When you work from home, it is very easy to fall into a trap of working all the time. I’ve already experienced this in August. I’ll be busily tapping away at my keyboard, lost in what I’m doing, and then I’ll notice that my eyes are tired and my back hurts and it’s 10:00 at night. So I try not to do anything that uses creative energy before 8 am or after 6 pm. (He says, writing this paragraph at 6:41 pm.)

Despite all that, I’ve done some writing this month.

I sort-of wrapped up what was going to be my July novel Moving Day. I really like the first ~4000 words that I wrote at the beginning of July, and I like the final ~3000-word sort-of climax that I just wrote. The problem is that there is nothing in between the two. I suspect this story is destined to become a short story at or below 10,000 words. I just need to figure out some way to connect the beginning to the ending.

I wrote and continue to revise a series of non-fiction “re-watch” articles for the television show Continuum, which is currently my favorite genre show. As of now it is somewhere close to 15,000 words of material covering the first season, including screenshots. I sent a query to Tor.com to see if they were interested in publishing it, but so far I haven’t heard anything back, which makes me think they aren’t interested. It was a terribly-written query upon reflection. Or maybe they’re just more into Under The Dome than real science fiction. Zing!

I have written a handful of blog posts here and elsewhere, of which this is one.

I’ve done a bit of work revising my Kubak Outpost manuscript, which I personally think is my strongest manuscript to date. Or at least it’s the one that I keep returning to think about. My revisions are focused on cutting down the number of points of view from five or six to two or three.