Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Step Away from the Keyboard

Going through a bit of post-NaNoWriMo withdrawal, here...

For nearly a month, I thrashed around, figuring out characters and world info and plotlines.  I wound up with 58,000+ words that I didn't completely despise, arranged in a manner that could be called storylike.  At least half of it will require extensive rewriting to achieve any consistency.  As for the ending, I admit I already had to fix that. I did that Turkey Day morning, actually, the day after I technically "won" NaNoWriMo 2009.  No, the characters wouldn't leave me alone long enough to go to the family get-together until I'd straightened out their final moments.  Unfortunately, though I like the new ending much better, it still begs a sequel, which I don't even have the vaguest notion of a plot for.  I can't even begin to work on it until I establish a more consistent framework to work in: character histories, the world geography, a quick-sketch history of nations and races... In short, I need to get this story edited into a more cohesive second draft before I can begin the rough draft of Book 2 (of what danged well better be a two-part series.) And editing will take some time.  Significant amounts of time.

December is staring me in the face, with a host of Xmas shopping I haven't done yet and ornaments I haven't finished (or, in some cases, started) and various holiday things that need organizing and deciding and doing.  I also have a nagging feeling that I'll be able to do a much better editing job if I don't have other projects breathing down my proverbial neck... and if I let the story settle for a while after the vigorous stirring and boiling it underwent in the greater part of November.

I've tried distracting myself.  I immersed myself in ornament work most of today.  I've played Solitaire and poked at Sacred.  I weeded old e-mails.  I messed with my blog layout.  Anything to keep me from committing to a premature rewrite, one I just cannot spare the time and energy for until the holidays are over with and I get some creative breathing space back.

Of course, it couldn't hurt just to go back and tweak the dragon's description a bit.... or maybe rework that one scene... rename a town or two... or figure out a less awkward way to fill in backstory on the main character, one that wasn't created to keep my nightly page count quota intact...

I'll just tweak a word or two.  Honest.

I think I'd better step away from the keyboard...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The End... For Now...

I already know I need to do some serious rewriting.  The world lacks integrity and structure, my characters aren't the greatest, the action's all over the map, and I may even have to scrap the ending.  There's also the nagging hints of a sequel, which I'd rather not feel obligated to write.  But I wrote the words "THE END", so that means it's a finished rough draft.

It feels good to finish a draft.  Even a rough one.

It feels even better to accomplish a goal, such as winning NaNoWriMo 2009.

Now, I just need to step back for a while and let it simmer on the back burner before picking up the Hatchet of Editing and having at the thing...

(For the curious, yes, it's a fantasy.  Yes, there's a dragon in it.  No, it's in no fit shape to be shared, unless you like your stories rough-edged and raw in the middle.)

Oh, and Happy Turkey Day to any fellow Americans! (Not that anyone else is forbidden to have a happy day, or to eat turkey on it... or to consume a happy turkey, for that matter.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Milestone Down...

I may not have reached the headwaters.

I may have barely cleared the nearest river.

But, like the salmon returning to the local creek after many years of absence, I'm struggling up the final stretch into the unfamiliar territory of the finished draft.

Tonight, I crossed the 50,000 word mark of my NaNoWriMo novel.

I think I have about a fourth of a story left to write, and I still hope to actually write the words "The End" on this draft before December 1.  But at least I won the word count challenge part of it.

Now, let's see if I can one-up the fish and live to do it all again...

TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE -  Argh... up to 56,000 words and counting.  I think I only have a little bit to go, but for some reason the stupid thing decided to have all the earmarks of a potential sequel.  And I'm still not positive how it'll end... dang it. (Of course, it has to sit on a knife-edge at the end of a writing session on a work night... couldn't have done this earlier, when I could stay up and push it one way or the other.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wayward Salmon and Other Milestones

What with holiday projects, scuzzy weather, and overall laziness, I haven't managed to make myself go for a walk for a few weeks now.  Today, I saw a window of sunshine amid the gray clouds as I ate lunch, and I figured I'd better seize the opportunity.  Besides, my workbench projects needed more drying time before I could move on to the next step in their completion.

By the time I'd eaten, dressed, and gotten my tail out the door, the window of blue had moved further into the distance.  A light sprinkle fell from increasingly gray skies.  But I'd put it off too long.  I'd do at least an abbreviated walk; not to both stop signs that I usually go to, but to one stop sign and a little creek I cross.  It's a small thing, too small to run full time, but it was recently restored by one of the local groups that restores streams, on the theory that it would help the salmon; you know, one of those "every little bit might help, but probably won't" civic things.  In any event, it's a pretty little stream, and it made a decent landmark.  Every bit as good as a stop sign for turning around at.

By the time I'd come to the stream, the skies were more than a little threatening.  But I was too far from home to turn back and stay dry anyway, so I made it to the banks.  As I turned around, I saw a splash.

No way, I thought, but I stopped to look closer.

Another splash.

A wriggle.

Yes, a late season salmon had made its way up the little creek, and as I watched it was making its way even further up.

Back before this area was a growing, light polluting, and overcrowded city, there used to be salmon in this stream.  I heard stories of a neighbor whose sons liked to take home salmon in their wagons; one year they got a female who laid eggs in the bathtub before Mom got the thing out of the house.  But I'd never seen one there myself.  Until this year.

Maybe that restoration project worked, after all.

I only saw the one lone salmon making the run, so I don't know if my little finny friend was simply a loner or searching in vain for a mate with whom to repopulate the restored stream's salmon run. But if I saw one salmon swimming there, this late in the run, then others might very well have done the same.

So swim on, wayward salmon.  Best of luck to you and yours.


In the Other Milestones department, I'm disturbingly close to hitting my self-imposed deadline for my first round of holiday projects.  As in, the major sculpting phase is done, which is the part that takes so long.  Of course, I have more stuff chomping at the bit to be started as soon as I clear these from the workbench, but that looks to be happening round about the time I had hoped it would happen.

Helps that I started in early October...

And, if you care to glance at the NaNoWriMo 2009 widget, you'll see the next milestone I crossed tonight.  If the widget isn't displaying, I'll just say that I crossed the 40,000 word mark of the 50,000-word goal.  I'd say I have at least another 10,000 words, likely a fair whack more, worth of story to tell.  I want to finish it by the end of the month, though, no matter how many words it ends up being.  The characters just hit their next little snag ("little" as in "potentially lethal"), so tomorrow I find out how they get through it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halfway There

Just a quick post, to say that I'm halfway there!

25,000 words down, at least that many more to go!

Track my NaNoWriMo progress via the little widget on the sidebar (at the top over there, just above "About Me).*

So far, so good... I'm getting to the point where I can start doing evil things to people and I haven't run out of things to say yet.

Wish me luck...

* - Sorry, the thing seems very touchy about when it shows up... Anyway, I'm past 27,000 words now, and things are about to take a fairly nasty turn.  About time, too... (11/10/09)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fall Behind - Er, Back

So, tonight's the night we finally get our magic missing hour back.  The relief of sleeping in one hour late only lasts about a week, but it still feels nice.  Besides, I could use all the extra time I can manage to scrounge, which makes the magic hour all the more welcome.

I started holiday-related projects in early October - much earlier than usual - and I'd hoped to be further along than I am.  By my estimates, I'm about half a week behind where I wanted to be by now.  I may have to come up with a way to shorten Paperclay drying time, so I can squeeze in extra work sessions.

I also did something stupid and impulsive on Friday Night.  I signed up for NaNoWriMo.  This, for all none who don't know of it, is the National Novel Writing Month challenge to produce a flawed but finished 50,000 word  novel (rough, rough draft, obviously) in 30 days.  The 30 days of November, to be precise.  Which, if you're counting, started today, two hours ago.

Oh, wait - one hour ago.

Thank you, magic hour!

Why?  Well, why not?  I feel like I'm making minimal progess in my "regular" stories (the fact that I call them my "regular" stories shows just how long I've been stuck on them), and the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to crystalize the "sit down, shut up, and WRITE!" mentality that actually gets stories finished as opposed to picked at and muddled and ultimately lost.  Besides, my unofficial participation last year (which netted me a 30,000+ word novel, which was my goal) felt oddly invigorating, so I thought I'd up the stakes this year.  So far, I have 2000-odd words written.  Only 48,000 to go...

Here's hoping I don't fall further behind.  Now that we've fallen back, there aren't any more magic hours waiting up ahead to save me.