Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

December 22, 2015

The year in narrow, blinkered retrospect

It’s been a big year for all sorts of stuff, but I’m not going to go into it. Instead, this is my obligatory look back at the goals I set at the start of the year. How did I go and what does that suggest for the future?

Short stories

The promise: I said I was going to maintain my stock of short stories available for submission at a steady level of ten, writing a new one whenever I took one out of circulation through either an acceptance or by retiring a story that had exhausted every viable market.

The reality: Definitively a failure in terms of productivity. In fact after writing my goals in February I did not finish a single short story all year, though I tinkered with a story (crappy working title “Unacceptable Losses”) all year and have left it floundering with probably about three hundred words to go for months now. In theory I could finish it tonight. I probably won’t though.

My stock of available stories went down thanks to three acceptances during the year. None of them have come out yet, though I was able to announce that “Seven Excerpts from Season One” will appear in the At the Edge anthology from Paper Road Press next year.

Acceptances are delightful, of course (all were paying markets) and absolutely what I’m striving for, but I did feel I let myself down a bit by not sticking to the plan of writing new material.

Oh, and I did recently receive notification that I placed highly (a “silver highly commended”) in the most recent round of the Writers of the Future contest. Which is not my best ever result but is still in the front-of-the-peloton zone.

silverhmbadge

Novel

The promise: Write a complete 80,000 word manuscript by the end of July without becoming a gibbering wreck.

The reality: Well, the July deadline came and went without great fanfare. Moreover as at the time of writing I have neither finished the manuscript nor reached the 80,000 word mark. But as I have about 500 words to get to the latter and maybe as little as two thousand words to wrap the whole thing up, I’m going to call this a mismatch between realistic scheduling and sustainable momentum rather than an outright failure. As I am now on holidays for a month, I predict I will at least get this one over the line before the end of 2016. Win!

(And is it any good? Well, no, it’s pretty rambly and largely incoherent. I have a mass of notes on what to fix, and it’s a good bet that the editing process will take at least as long as the first draft did, if not much, much longer. But it’s still nice to be within arm’s reach of the first critical milestone).

Community activity

The promise: Be a good treasurer, write a treasurer manual

The reality: Well, the manual is not finished yet and could do with a bit of dedicated attention for a couple of days, but on the whole I have acquitted myself well in this regard. I’ve been a committee member who gets shit done, and the books all balanced at the end of the year. I don’t tend to be a natural organiser or leader, and basically I find trying to get people to do things or get one the same page as each among the most demanding and draining activities I can imagine. But I can make a spreadsheet make sense, and I can make things happen in the background as long I don’t have to wrangle more than one or two people, so I’ll take this one as an accomplishment.

All the same, I will probably retire from my post at the next AGM, because I will feel I’ve done my bit at that time. Ditto with helping on the Conflux organising committee.

Blogging

The promise: Build a new author website so that I can phase this one out.

The reality: This is 90% done. I haven’t launched it yet, but it is live. Feel free to go look for it (it’s not that hard) but if you do happen to stumble across it, don’t bother subscribing to anything. I’m procrastinating on setting up mail accounts and the newsletter software. It will probably happen in the next couple of weeks.  (It’s not remotely fancy BTW. It’s a functional site with boring author information that I can point potential publishers and clients to if necessary). I haven’t yet sat down to work out a clear plan for what to do with the site beyond that, but it will probably revolve around building on my friendships within the writing community. Hit me up if you’re doing a blog tour, I guess.

The other stuff

Collaboration: Did not happen. The novel ate my year completely. I’m still toying with various ideas for projects but this is one area that would demand focus and attention. At the moment I just can’t even make that sort of promise to myself, so it would hardly be fair to drag someone else down.

Serialised fiction: I made a few plans and outlined some projects that would suit a serialised format, but again, haven’t kicked any of them off yet. There’s one in particular that’s burning a hole in the back of my skull, but it will certainly have to take a back seat to all the short stories I’ve spent the year thinking about but not writing.

Shared world: No. Sensing a theme here? Though in fact I am contemplating ideas for contributing to an existing shared world. Nothing has gelled yet on that, but my contribution would just be a short story or two.

Comic script: See collaboration above.

 

That list doesn’t make for pretty reading, but I’m probably being too harsh on myself. This nearly-done draft novel has taken about nine months, which is an improvement over the thirteen months (twice over) that my previous novel attempt sucked up. Pre-plotting has certainly sped up that process, although one of the many lessons I’ve learned about that is that I could certainly stand to do more preparation next time. I’m reluctantly forced to admit that I am a better writer when I have a clear picture of what I’m going to write, and I suspect that a scene-by-scene breakdown would not go at all astray the next time I try this.

I’ll do a proper “Goals for 2016” post at some point in the near future, but I already know I have a couple of clear goals: write a bunch of short stories, edit the novel, and plan its sequels. In the margins I think I’ll build on one of my serial fiction ideas as the fun side project, but I’m cautious about holding myself to any kind of target on that. This writing biz seems to take a lot more time than I ever think it’s going to.

 

Right. I have a icy cup of creaming soda, a Pandora station tuned to 80’s alternative rock, and five thousand words or so to write in the next nine days.

I can do this.

December 7, 2015

The building of habits

I write best when I write frequently.  I’ve figured that much out about my process [1].

The last few months writing have been like extracting hen’s teeth from an angry wolverine – painful and pointless. I’ve committed maybe a couple of thousand words of new text to paper in about four months. It’s been my longest fallow period since I started taking writing seriously again. (Not, I might add, my longest fallow period ever, for which see the years 1990 to 2002 or so). Certainly it was flat compared to the preceding 18 months though.

The difference was, I let myself have days off from writing – days that turned into weeks and months and would probably have lapsed into years if I didn’t do something. And luckily something came along that helped: a few weeks ago I read this article by Mary Robinette Kowal linking writer’s block to depression. Go read it, it’s a good article.

Now don’t get me wrong – I didn’t and don’t think I was suffering from depression. I am pretty sure I know what that feels like, thanks to several years of undiagnosed sleep apnoea and a sleep debt that could have put a fair-sized dent in a herd of elephants. Maybe I was a clinical case and maybe I wasn’t, but I got a clear enough glimpse of the real thing to know its general shape. But the article did give me a none-too-gentle slap across the face, woke me up and made me ask myself: “Is there something wrong?”

Even though I wasn’t writing much if at all, the idea that I had writer’s block never quite occurred to me until I read the article. And yet MKR’s list of typical expressions of writer’s block – the tiredness, the procrastination, the busywork and the general faffing about – were a straight checklist of all the avoidance behaviours I’ve been steadily accumulating since I stopped writing. That was back around the start of August.

I realised the obvious at once, which is that I had lost all momentum. I need momentum as a writer. I need to feel like I’m building steadily, getting faster and sharper and…you get the idea. When I don’t have that momentum, the gravity’s a killer. When I have to pick myself up and get going after coming to a dead stop, I feel like Jon Snow at the foot of the Wall, wondering how in the hell I’m going to get over the top, knowing there’s an army of ice zombies at my back.

I may have carried that analogy too far. Or maybe not far enough. It’s more like I’m the ice zombie, but in that case I’m not sure how to work the Wall into this and anyway never mind that right now.

MKR’s article also included several elements of what I hope will be the solution to freezing up mid-shamble (Stop that!)

First – Mary’s article mentions Habitica, a very basic roleplaying web app that effectively gamifies habit-building behaviour. Down at its core, Habitica’s core gameplay is building checklists and then ticking things off. Boring and artificial as that sounds – and is! – it’s an idea that works very well for me. I’m someone that responds strongly to making lists of things to do and then methodically ticking them off. To put it another way, an unfinished list of even trivial importance is a source of anxiety to me. So a game that rewards me for checking stuff off and sits there glowing judgmentally redly when I don’t is an embarrassingly effective brain hacking tool.

As a bonus, slavish adherence to checklists also encourages me to make sure I get all the other work around the house done as fast as possible.

Second – I’m back to exercising. I have a fairly light workout routine that mostly works the abdominal core. It only takes a few minutes and I can easily do it a couple of times a day. Supplemented with walks of thirty-plus minutes, which I manage a few times a week, I have a decent basis for at least building a bit of strength and endurance, if not necessarily shedding the winter kilos. It’s a tone-up, not a crash course in muscle building and cardio bullshit. Keeping it tight.

Third – At my height, I was writing 750 or more words per day. When I stopped, that dropped to not much more than a couple of hundred words on the few days I could manage anything at all. In the months when I was blocked, I would berate myself for not coming even close to what I knew to be an achievable target. But what I’d forgotten is that it took me months of gradually acceleration to get to that pace. It was deeply unrealistic of me to expect that I could just tool up to top speed without starting in first gear again. I’d stall, and be surprised and disappointed in myself, instead of acknowledging that stalling is the only outcome I should have expected.

So I’m giving myself a break – 100 words a day. I know that as I ease myself back into the habit of daily writing, I’ll start cranking out more. But I’ll start with the consistency, because I know that it works for me.

Fourth – I’m playing musical instruments. I have access to ukuleles and a bass guitar. I’m teaching myself how to play them using fingering charts and Youtube videos. It’s surprisingly fulfilling, even if my fingers hurt very much at the moment.

So that’s me. That’s my summer planned out. I’m getting my words back, I’m going to finish this damn first draft of the novel, and I’m going to replenish my short story stocks. And I’m going to be able to play along to the Gorillaz’ “Feelgood Inc”, even if it costs me a finger or two.

 

[1] I promise not to describe it as a process again, at least not until I finish my MFA and the lobotomy bandages have been removed.

November 9, 2015

Suffering from acute ennui

Filed under: Uncategorized — lexifab @ 2:46 pm

Please send motivation. Stat.

#yesicouldhavetweetedthiswhatisyourpoint

August 3, 2015

Progress report – The whooshing sound they make

Filed under: books of 2015,books read,Uncategorized — Tags: — lexifab @ 2:27 pm

Per Douglas Adams’ famous observation “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by,” I have predictably failed to type THE END on the A Flash of Black Wings manuscript before my self-imposed target date of the end of July. C’est la vie. To be fair to myself, I did pass the 75,000 word mark with a day or two to spare. It’s just that the story isn’t quite done yet. I estimate it will probably be closer to 90 to 95 K to get to the planned conclusion. So I am not as bad at keeping to a writing schedule as I am of estimating a project’s scope (or controlling scope creep, which I think is the likeliest culprit in this case).

So I will continue to plug away with a revised estimated completion date of the end of August. That’s a pretty good target to aim for, since I will be travelling overseas for work (briefly) at the start of September. I’d like that to be a nice clean transition point between this writing project and the next [1].

Forget about that, I’m going to talk about what I’m reading:

I have a stack of physical books next to my bed and a (much larger) stack of ebooks which is, um, also next to my bed, on the kindle. Feeling the tremendous shame of having a tendency for impulse purchasing that far exceeds my reading time, I have decided to concentrate on at least knocking off all the books by Australian writers in the TBR pile before the end of the year. I also have a vague plan to review all or most of them, but that will definitely have to wait until after I’m done with the novel. (My traditional Month of Relentless Positivity daily blogging project in October may well be a succession of book reviews and not much else).

So far I’ve knocked off works by Andrea Höst, Andrew Macrae and Alis Franklin, as well as a couple of issues of Aurealis and some anthologies.

(No, I’m not working through the list in alphabetical order).

I expect to be done with that before summer, after which I’m planning to embark on a Reading Project.

The next reading project (help wanted)

Paying attention to various podcasts and other discussions on the history of science fiction and fantasy, it has become appearent to me just how wide the gaps are in my reading of “the classics”. I’ve read, for example, bugger-all Heinlein (probably because the Heinlein I have read is from his baffling later years). I’ve not read Bester. I’ve not read Samuel Delaney or Octavia Butler or Joanna Russ or Poul Anderson or Frederick Pohl or James Tiptree – well, you name someone outside the biggest names in genre, and I probably haven’t read much of their stuff.

I plan to fix that by going back and investigating some of the great classic works of science fiction. Twelve of them to start with – perhaps one a month, but more likely I will binge – and exclusively skiffy for the first round (I’m better read in fantasy, although I’ll probably undertake an equivalent project there as well). But because I am a proud desktop social justice warrior, I have no intention of allowing the content of my reading to be dominated by dead white guys, so I am going to attempt (to the greatest extent possible) to include non-white and non-male authors in the mix. Since I have to cherry-pick what constitutes a classic anyway (because it’s impossible to read everything) I figure I might as well read as broadly as possible.

Thus far I have determined that I will include Dhalgren by Chip Delaney (which I tried to read in high school but gave up on for whatever reason), at least one of the C J Cherryh Alliance-Union books (probably Downbelow Station, but I’ll see what I can find), The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin, something by Joanna Russ (probably The Female Man), something by Octavia Butler (not sure what yet), something by James Tiptree Jr aka Alice Sheldon (son’t know what yet), something by Alfred Bester (probably The Stars My Destination, but maybe The Demolished Man, and no, I haven’t read either of those) and something by Robert Heinlein that isn’t Stranger in a Strange Land or The Number of the Beast (because fuck The Number of the Beast sideways; what a shitty book that was).

I’ve set some rules for this project:

  • I can’t have read it before (I’ll give a pass to Dhalgren because I know I didn’t finish it, and because it was the book that prompted this line of thinking)
  • Only one book by any given author
  • Novels only (I do read a lot of short stories, but for this particular project I am shoring up my novel background)
  • Science fiction only – I’ll do fantasy classics later
  • Only books published pre-1985 (arbitrarily picking the publication of Neuromancer as the point at which I started reading science fiction semi-widely, and 30 years seems like a reasonable period to establish a work’s classic-ness)
  • I am seeking parity between male and female authors (counting Tiptree as female for the binary purposes of this exercise)
  • I am seeking parity between white and POC authors.

I have a feeling that last criteria will be hard to live up to but I will do my best.

So, I’m after suggestions: given the criteria above, what do you recommend I add to my reading pile of the classics of science fiction? What do you think are the landmark works of great science fiction that I should have absorbed into my brain-meats before now? 

(Doctor Clam, I feel quite sure you have something to contribute here!)

[Edited later]

Here’s the list as I settle on it (not yet in a particular order):

  • Samuel R Delaney – Dhalgren
  • Ursula K Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Alfred Bester – The Stars My Destination
  • C J Cherryh – Downbelow Station
  • Frederick Pohl – Gateway

[1] The next writing project will be the small to medium-sized stack of short story ideas that have accumulated in my notebooks since I started the novel manuscript. It will be at least three new stories, plus two revisions, before I go back to revise the novel.

July 13, 2015

Progress report – Bad ideas abound

In retrospect I should have realised that aiming to finish my novel in July would be a terrible idea. That’s the time of the year when I have to manage my abnormally complex tax affairs. Work’s never busier than around the end of financial year. There’s school holidays. I’m the treasurer of a club with non-trivial membership and assets. And – oh shit, I completely forgot that the Ashes are being played in the UK at relatively viewable times of the evening.

Thinking about that now, and making the observation – obvious with hindsight – that I tend to approach complex jobs (like writing a novel) with a foot-dragging air of desperate procrastination, I probably could have planned this better. As I should have expected, I’ve left myself with a fifteen to twenty-thousand word sprint to complete in the next two-and-change weeks.

That would be challenging enough, but on top of that the process of writing the novel has (also predictably) caused me to depart from my original outline in fairly significant ways. So now instead of racing towards the finish line on a well-mapped track with safety rails, I’m rallying about in the dark with dodgy headlights and a drunk navigator. I could still cross the finish line on time, but it’s difficult to see how it might happen on purpose.

Still, it is do-able, and I have something that at least resembles a plan. I will allocate at least part of every day – typically lunchtimes – to rebuilding the outline. That will help to make sure that when I sit down to write each session, I won’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about what the  scene will be about etc. And because the act of writing invariably steers me off-course with respect to the outline, I need to make sure that the re-outlining process occurs as regularly (or almost so) as the writing sessions themselves.

Currently I am writing at a rate of about 5000 words a week (on the novel). To get to where I want to be that number will have to rise to about 8000 a week.

I can do that.

 

In other news

I am currently reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty for a couple of reasons: one, because the library sent me a recommendation to do so; two, because I know enough about economics to know what an economic illiterate I am and I do like to have a better grasp of why the world works as it does; and three, because I have let my non-fiction reading skills atrophy over the last few years and this looks like a serious workout in that respect. So far I am following it pretty well – Piketty takes the time to explain his terms and then remind the reader what they meant, but otherwise does not refrain from diving into fairly complex matters. It also helps that I am at least passingly familiar with the last three hundred years of European history, so I understand the basic context that he is examining. I’ll get back with a proper book report after I’m finished.

I know eight chords on the tenor ukelele now. Not all of them are single-finger chords. (Two of them are). While I can feel myself making good progress, I haven’t advanced to the point of trying to work out how to play an actual song yet. STILL I am being a musician again for the first time in more than ten years. Assuming it continues to feel good, at some point I will promote myself to learning to play the bass guitar (ie an instrument that does not sound terrible to play).

I devoted four late nights to the cricketing debacle in Cardiff last week (and would have thrown last night’s sleep into the mix as well had the Australian capitulation not be so complete). Even though the prospects are grim of a reversal of fortunes for the Lord’s Test starting on Thursday, I will be doing to same again this week. I fear that if even the lumbering doldrums displayed by the likes of Watson and Haddin cannot break my addiction to watching cricket, then my condition must be both acute and incurable.

May 11, 2015

Progress Report – The sticky middle

Filed under: Uncategorized,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 12:18 pm

I’m a writer. I am, really.

Only, I’ve barely written a word in the last fortnight. Since Easter weekend – a month ago – I’ve written maybe five thousand words on A Flash of Black Wings. But really, if I were to look at my spreadsheet, I would probably be forced to acknowledge that it’s not even that much.

I put the intial problem down to bad timing. The expected disruption over Easter coincided with the part of my outline that has the vaguest plot points (“there’s an attack by mysterious people”, “our heroes go from here to there, encountering difficulties”). Up until that point in the writing process, I had a pretty firm idea of what was going on, even as my plot-as-written was becoming more complicated than the outline-as-planned.

Then I had to make some decisions. Uh oh. Decisions are NOT my strong point. I am an Olympic-level indecisionist.

I’m stalled on a plot point, being roughly “how do I move the characters from their current predicament through an exciting and essential action scene to the next phase of the story without completely breaking my own suspension of disbelief?” I need them to be somewhere else, but I’ve trapped them in a situation that it makes no sense to escape.

Agh. Structure is hard.

The solution, as far as I can see through the fog of self-doubt, is to just hammer out the scenes I need. Regardless of whether the scenes are justified by or even follow logically from what’s gone before, I need a complete draft. Once I’m finished, I will have something to edit.

That’s the lesson that this novel is teaching me all over again – finish the thing first, edit the thing later. Don’t edit it while you’re writing it.

My own process baffles me sometimes. A big part of the whinging I do on this blog is just trying to figure out how my own brain works and why I keep getting in my own way. And hopefully using the latest insights as a launchpad for resketching my internal road map (to mix my metaphors into a grotesque and unpalatable word-gruel).

So, a plan:

1) Keep writing. I need to get my streak back, because the write-every-day model is one that clealrly works for me. But on the other hand I also need to lower my expectations of my own productivity. When I was at full flight, I was writing an average of 750 words a day. Until I get back into the habit of daily writing, I should accept that 400-500 (a bit over a half-hour’s work for me, typically) is more reasonable.

2) Rework my outline. This is the job I’ve been putting off and putting off (see indecisiveness above) but I really can’t avoid it. My outline doesn’t work any more and I really don’t think I can end the novel where I was planning to. Too many characters have developed in directions that pull against the ending I’ve been aiming at, and I doubt I can get them back there without breaking them. So I need to redraw the map and see where I’m going (or if I need to kill someone I wasn’t planning to kill)

2) Mix it up. I have that half-edited short story (formerly known as “School Hall”) I was talking about above, plus another one that’s about a thousand words from a complete draft, plus another one that needs a rewrite, plus another one that’s been outlined in detail, not to mention a couple of others that are ready to start writing. Except for the “School Hall” edits, I was pretty determined to put off everything else until I finished my novel draft. But I think now that it would help if I have another project or two in my back pocket, for the (inevitable) times when I get really stuck and/or disillusioned with A Flash of Black wings. It’s bound to happen again, and better that I be working on something that wallowing in self-doubt and indecision for the better part of a month.

And with that, I’ll go back to the draft and hammer that bastard into submission.

January 5, 2015

Quarter finalist

I’m rather excited that my story “Mnemo’s Memory” [1] has been selected as a quarter finalist for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition. My name appears in this press release and everything! My gleefully science-ignoring adventurous yarn of airships, steam automatons and an evil villain with an Antarctic lair will be, at the very least, read and critiqued by a luminary of the field. (Seriously, the Big Names associated with WotF are people whose work I’ve been reading across the last thirty years. I am dead-set thrilled that someone like Tim freakin’ Powers or Larry freakin’ Niven might read my work). And that’s before you look at the prize of a week-long intensive writing workshop in Los Angeles with a host of said luminaries, followed by a gala award ceremony to pick the overall winner. Not bad. My friend and CSFG colleague Shauna O’Meara was a finalist in 2013 and blogged about it at length.

Like the quarter-finals at the Olympics, only the top three of eight stories go through to the finals, while everyone else goes back to the drawing board to try again next time. Mind you in this case “next time” is pretty much straight away, since they run these competitions every three months. Anyone who has yet to make three professional sales (defined as a minimum payment of 6c per word) is eligible to enter. That definitely includes me.

Does my little story have the legs to make it all the way to the finals? Eh, I dunno. I’d like to think so, but I’ve written and learned quite a lot since I penned that one over two years ago. I think I could do even better now. Even if it doesn’t make it, I’m still happy. This is a definite signal that I’m moving in the direction I want.

 

[1] …which is a title I have *never once* typed correctly the first time, which is probably a lesson of some sort.

November 27, 2014

NotNaNo Day 27 – Isn’t editing supposed to take words away?

Filed under: news of the day,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 11:46 pm

I just came off a two hour editing stint on Third Violin, which has cleared out all the first draft dross and filled in all the connective tissue to make the story work (I hope). I seem to have been less successful than I hoped I would be at reducing the word count. Before the editing pass it was 4700 words and I was hoping to cut it back below 4500 or even lower.

Instead, it’s now almost dead-on 5000 words. Uh, whut?

So I’ll definitely be doing at least one more pass on that to whittle away at the extremities. I ought to be at least able to knock off the ten percent or so I just added. Maybe.

In other news I am now bitterly regretting my self-imposed rule about not counting editing as new words, because it’s just gone eleven pm. I’m going to kick in a writing sprint and get back to you in just a minute or thirty.

[/musak]

So, yeah, I wrote the opening of a rather fervent council meeting, invented some architecture and cultural structures, and introduced a couple of supporting characters in thirty-five minutes. Things started to speed up towards the end when I started writing dialogue, but now I’m sleepy so it will have to wait.

Tally: 360

New fiction words for the month: 13, 380

“Countess Tessa Strickland,” Soffatt announced, stiff and formal.

 The introduction was unnecessary. The four men and two women assembled were intimately acquainted with Earl Strickland’s wife. Some of them knew her from childhood.

NotNaNo Day 26 – Editing is the hard kind of writing

Filed under: fictionchunk,news of the day,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 12:34 am

I spend most of my spare time today editing the back half of Third Violin, rewriting about two-thirds of 2000 words.

I find editing incredibly difficult work. My mind still resists it. “No, don’t change that clunky run-on sentence with four adverbs and two tenses!” my brain shouts. “It’s prefect!” [1]

Even knowing there are passages that contribute little or nothing to the character development, the themes or the advancement of the plot, I still struggle to wield the word-cleaver. It’s not just that I overvalue every pristine textual pearl I’ve scattered through the manuscript, though for sure I suffer from an undue attachment to my own blathering style. It’s the concern that I might cut away good flesh along with the necrotic zombie-stained garbage. Worse still, that I might do that and then not notice, creating some sort of story-ruining, reader-offending vacuum in the heart of the piece that sucks so hard joy itself cannot escape.

And what about that witty exchange of dialogue, or this insightful narration, or that evocative description is too clever, two original, too brilliant to lose? Well, those bits are gold, aren’t they? I mean, sure, it’s gold that’s sort of dull brown and not so much metallic as nutty and smellier than gold usually is and oh my god my story is full of excrement, isn’t it?

What I’m saying is that editing confirms all my worst suspicions about how much of a derivative, cheating hack I am. Better to not edit at all than to confront an awful truth, right?

Right?

Okay, fine. Mutter, mutter. Tomorrow I’ll go back and explode the first page and a half of the story, reinsert the one or two bits of essential information, and then pretend like I wrote a much tighter story in the first place.

(But that’s tomorrow. Tonight I’ve done a good job, dammit, and I deserve some play time. So I am going to start writing a new fantasy short story which I outlined some time ago. Its codename will be The Countess until I come up with something better. The tally will refer to that new story, because I’m not counting editing in my ‘new words’ totals, even if the editing involves substantial rewrites as they it did today).

Tally: 350

New fiction words for the month: 13,020

This is how the new story starts:

Soffatt was waiting on the rain-soaked dock, guttering lantern in hand, as the Countess’ punt emerged from the mist. 

She kneeled at the fore, still and composed; the veteran poleman behind her did not need to compensate for her weight. Charcoal, her falcon, sunk his talons deep into the shoulder of whaleskin slick-jacket. The bird turned its head one way and the other, watching the punt’s master and Soffatt in the same smooth movement.

 

[1] sic

November 25, 2014

NotNaNo Days 21-24 – The wheels are wobbly but they still turn

Filed under: news of the day,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 12:04 am

I’m in full editing mode at the moment, so while I am still hitting my absolute dead-minimum writing targets, the blogging has suffered a little.

I should clarify that “full editing mode” means, in practice, that I have printed out a copy of Third Violin and am drawing all over it. I more or less know what I have to fix from the first draft, but my concentration span when I try to focus on it line by line has been…not good. I am slowly building a rhythm, I think. I hope so. Third Violin has a deadline of sorts, since I wrote it for a specific market that closes on the 30th of November. I am reasonably confident I’ll have it in good shape by then.

Over on the new-words front, I am adding new scenes to the dog’s breakfast of Serpentine Precipice. I’m still poking at the setting, adding new ideas and chopping off old pieces. I had a breakthrough this afternoon about what it is my protagonists wants to achieve. Character motivations FTW! Until now all I knew was that he was not especially invested in the job he’s been given to do. Now I know what direction his moral compass is pointed, and why he seems to keep wandering off-course from the plot. It’ll be a tricky job to marry his secret motivations up with the plot as it stands. If it comes down to a question of plot versus character, the plot can look forward to a rocket-propelled jettisoning.

Tally: 420 + 250 + 250 + 620 = 1540

Total new fiction words for the month: 10,740 + 1540 = 12, 280 (on track to make an acceptable, if not inspiring, 15,000 words for November)

“Swagger, bluster and a full purse will get you far in life, it’s true, but they will not lay open every door in your path. And we both know you lack one or two of those characteristics these days.”

 

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