The Path

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve posted no updates about my novel progress since the beginning of November. That is easily explained, because there has been no novel progress at all. In fact, there has been more a novel pit of despair, especially in the last few days.I started thinking about how I was going to approach my Untitled Alternate World Fantasy (UAWF) novel for November, and I realized quite clearly that I have no real idea where I’m going with it. I kept running through different approaches, ways to start the book again from a different angle, a point of view that might make everything come together and function. But then I came up against the fact that I don’t have even the foggiest idea how large the whole thing is supposed to be. Part of the problem is that I’m afraid the vague notion I have for an ending would not give the proper sense of resolution. It might not be enough — well, it would be enough for the character perhaps, but not enough for the reader. So my UAWF might constitute two books, or even a trilogy. And how the hell am I going to figure out how a second and third book works, if I can’t even figure out how the first one works.

It was all to big to think about, and I could picture myself writing and rewriting those first few chapters that I’ve already written in an attempt to find pathway through the plot, but never finding it. This endless loop of chapters that never amounted to anything.

So, okay, fine. What other novels can I work on? There are plenty of ideas vying for interest in my head, surely I could work on one of those. But there again, I ran up against the same problem. I didn’t know where I was going with them, and if I couldn’t find my way into a real plot with my UAWF, then what made me think that I could possibly get a different result simply by jumping to another storyline.

It began to feel utterly pointless to even try. I will never be a published novelist, I began to think. Why, oh, why do I bother? It’s all just such a waste of my time. I should just give up completely. This fatalistic feeling began to infect even my poetry and my poetry journal, which is normally a safe haven for me.

But of course I won’t give up. All these feelings come and they will go. I know this feeling is only temporary, and even now it is already beginning to dissapate.

There is no such thing as a waste of time in writing. All writing is good writing, if you believe that even the crap is a necessary part of the process and practice of writing. I know this. Unfortunately, I just can’t feel this right now.

I’m still not sure if I want to continue to focus on my UAWF or if I want to try out a different novel idea. If I stick with the UAWF novel, then I definitely need to sit down with a stack of notecards and map out the plot, so that I don’t feel so stuck in this loop. I don’t know if the novel works. I don’t know if it will be any good. But I know I need to keep writing. I need to keep going whether I finally finish this novel or another. There is nothing else to do.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Is it really November already?

I’m a little stumped as to how the year warped by. Christmas decorations are already out (granted they’ve been out for a considerable while now, but still). And Nanowrimo has begun. I can hear the clacking of keyboards as frenzied writers get to work.

Unfortunately I’m not one of them. Nano is too much for me this year. I’m traveling to Alaska to visit my grandmother and moving into a new apartment. But the bigger issue is that I do not have my laptop working, and without regular and easy access to a computer, it’s very difficult for me to work at that kind of a pace.

I am, however, participating in anti-nano (set up by[info]naomi_jay), in which we set our own smaller goals for whatever project we want to work on. My goal is to write 10,000 words on the Untitled Alternate World Fantasy Novel that I started last November. (Hopefully, I can finally figure out where the plot, if there is such a thing, wants to go.) My plan is to head to the library every Tuesday and Thursday and use their computers to get writing done. I may also borrow a family member’s computer and head to some write ins because I enjoy the collective writing experience.

To do in the coming week:
— write/edit 2-3 poems
— submit something for publication
— post a youtube video
— draw anything
— write 2,500 words for anti-nano

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

The New Year – A Grand Symbolic Gesture

Even though I know that the possibility to change, grown, and improve one’s situation exists every day, there’s something about the symbolism of a new year starting that helps to inspire me to help me refocus and to get my rear in gear and jump start my goals again. So here I am publicly setting my goals for the new year.

Last year, I didn’t set any year long goals, and instead tried to stick to weekly goals (which are posted on my livejournal). I only sort of succeeded. I still intend to set weekly goals this year as a way to keep me constantly aware of what I’m up to, but I also have some BIG things that I want to get accomplished in the course of this year, so I’ll go ahead and post those, too.

2010 Goals:

  • Finish draft 0 of my Untitled Alternate World Fantasy Novel (currently at 51,189 words). In order to accomplish this, I plan to set aside time to write. There’s a local coffee shop, where I know there’s no wifi, so I can go there and get some focused writing done one to two days a week. Otherwise there are just too many distractions at home. It’s the same way I was able to complete Nano.
  • Actively write poetry and short stories for submission to anthologies (which will give me focus and a deadline), preferably a minimum of one submission a month. This is rather scary for me, because completing that many stories and poems on top of completing a novel feels like a lot, not to mention the possibility of facing rejection. However, I’m trying to look at it this way: if I complete a story that’s rejected by an anthology, then I will still have a story that can be reworked for submission elsewhere.
  • Train for and participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. I’m not putting “lose weight” as a goal, because I don’t think that’s a good thing to focus on for me. But running in a marathon with my mother and sisters will be a lot of fun, will challenge me physically, and will probably achieve the “lose weight” thing in the process.
  • Attend a convention of some sort. This is just something that I’ve been wanting to do and talking about doing for quite some time. I think it’s about time I actually did it.
[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 30 & Win!

Last night, as the minutes ticked closer to midnight, I began to get a twitch in my eyelid — a sure sign that something in my brain was going to over heat and explode. It wasn’t so much any lack of words that was causing the problem, I had a clear sense of what I would write once I got to a computer. And that was the problem getting to a computer.

Every Monday night my mother, my sisters, and I take a 3-mile walk around the local track. Due a completely failed sense of time that night, I figured I could take the walk, head on home, and get to writing with plenty of time. I was clearly delusional.

By the time I got back to my sister’s house, it was drawing near 10 p.m. and I had 4,000 more words to write. Worse was that it would take me half an hour to get home where my lap top was sitting idly by waiting for my command. There was no way I could head home first and still have time to finish.

Fortunately I was able to use my sister’s laptop to finish off the novel. While my family watched Intervention and Hoarders, I typed away frantically, caring less than usual about the bad, bad sentences and the repetitive phrases. I eeked through the finish gate with 50,189 words and 5 minutes to spare.

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 30,184 (Over the course of 5 days with 4,000 written between 10 p.m. and midnight on November 30th.)
Current Total Word Count: 50,189
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Mitra tumbled off the boulder. Her shoulder stuck the stones as she fell, and her arms and hands were cut up by the rocks beneath her. She realized with perfect clarity what the vision had been telling her. Sonia had been sent to her for help and Mitra had failed her. She lay on the ground and wept.

Notes: So, here’s the score. While I have completed Nano, there are many upon many more words to write before this story will be complete. In fact, I think I’m not even a quarter finished, in part because of the natural fluff that goes into first drafts. Therefore, I will be continuing with this story. For the time being the goal will be extended to 100,000 words, but I think its going to take more than that.

[X-posted from my livejournal.]

Nano -day 24

I would like to say that the reason that I have no posted over the past several days was a sign that I’ve been writing wildly away at my Nano novel. I would like to say that, but it would be a lie. I have written nothing, well, next to nothing, in the past few days.

There are several reasons for this. One, I am currently car-less due to a blown head gasket. I’m also currently in an internal debate of whether or not its worth it to get it fixed or find a way to get a new used car for myself that might run better over the long haul.

Two, I started reading Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest (a.k.a. ), which not only has an awesome cover, but is a fantastic read. Furthermore, while it combines two of my favorite things (steampunk and zombies), the storyline is totally addictive and the characters totally believable. The result was that I was totally absorbed in the book and could not think of doing anything else until I finished it, at which point I was promptly upset that it was over.

Three, as happens occasionally, when I overwhelm myself with creative projects and life, I get to the point where I burn out and can’t do much usefull until I’ve unwound enough to return to making progress. Hopefully, during said unwinding (involving much TV and movie watching), I don’t lose any come back just as inspired as I was previously.

All that being said, I’ve managed to come back to the computer and make some progress today. So, here are the stats.

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 3,303
Current Total Word Count: 28,434
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Sonia watched him, slightly disturbed by the flash of his yellow teeth and the way his skin shook when he talked. had an instant distrust of really old people. Her mother would have smacked her upside the head if she could have read her thoughts. Sonia clicked her tongue, imitating the sound of her mother’s hand connecting with her skull.

Notes: I found that I have written entire scenes that I already know will be thrown out at a later date. I’m jumped back one scene, simply restarting it so that I can be on steadier ground as I continue. I expect that changes like this will continue to happen throughout, but I suppose it matters little as long as progress continues to be made.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 17

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 5,126 (Two days worth of writing.)
Current Total Word Count: 25,131
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): The children ran up the rows collecting the stones, laughing and shoving and pushing. It was a race and the children threw the stones into separate piles, which their father would count at the end of the day. To the child who had carried the most stones, the father would award a prize. Sometimes the prize was to be carried into the house on his shoulders for dinner. Sometimes the prize was an extra story when they went to sleep. Sometimes the prize was simply a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the head, and a well done. These were the only gifts he had to give them.

Notes: Passed the halfway mark! *joy*
Of course, that’s halfway for Nano, not halfway for the novel itself. In fact, up until the 20,000 word point, I’ve only been dealing with the first three chapters, which I know will be much shorter in the final version. I’ve kind of been feeling stuck in those chapters. Part of it has been because the chapters have been especially long due to all the back story that’s been slipping in as I figure out who exactly these people are and what exactly are the rules of the world in which they live.

But I’m past them now. There are still one or two more introductory kind of chapters to do. Writing from multiple points of view means getting to know each character and what they mean in this world. But these chapters should hopefully goes smoother. And beyond that I’m into other chapters that deal more with the progression of the plot, which is far more interesting than figuring out the whole back story thing. So, now I’m starting to get excited again.

I’m figuring this excitement will continue until I begin to reach those points where I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. Hopefully, those answers will fill in as I work my way up to them.

The one worry that these long opening chapters give me is that this will probably mean that my draft zero will require a monsterous amount of writing before I call it done. I imagine it to be well over 100,000 words. But that’s just my inital impression and who knows what will actually come about.

Oh, and I’ve discovered one major inconsistency in the “rules” of my world, but I’ve also fixed it as soon as I discovered it. So huge sigh of relief there.

[x-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 14

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 7,633 (This is over the course of several days since I last posted. About 3600 was written today.)
Current Total Word Count: 20,005
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): She looked out across the valleys and the other seven peaks. The sky was bright blue and clear and the sun had not yet dipped down behind the mountains. She could feel its warmth on her back.

Notes: Hey! I passed the 20,000 mark. Sweet!
I’m still far behind, and I’ll have to write 5,000 or more words tomorrow to be totally caught up, but I’m feeling good about this whole thing. Using Write or Die today really helped me put out some words despite all the distractions that there are in my house.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 8

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 5,577 (This is over the course of several days since I last posted.)
Current Total Word Count: 12,372
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Mitra found the girl was nestled in outcropping further down the mountainside. The snow had melted around her in a circular ring. There were not footsteps in the snow leading into the circle and Mitra could not figure how she had got there. It was a most curious thing.

Notes: I fell behind on Friday and Saturday. The staying up to one a.m. several nights in a row had taken a toll and I was exausted both nights to the point that I didn’t bother writing. This gave me 4400 words for catch up today. I drove down the hill to a local coffee shop to get some work done, because it was far too distracting to try and write at home. I am now only 1,000 words behind, a more reasonable number, which I should be able to catch up in the next day or two.

[X-posted to my livejournal]

Nano – day 3

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 2,659  (Sweet tasty words.)
Current Total Word Count: 6,795
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Once someone somewhere had told her that there was more space between the particles in an individual atom than there was space between galaxies in the universe, that the world we perceived as solid was actually more empty than full. Sonia knew this intimately.

Notes: I basically wrote to the end of what I’m calling Chapter 3. (i have not written Chapter 2, by the way.) My chapters at this point are determined by the switch from one character’s point of view to another. The “keep writing until the end of the chapter” concept is working well for me. It gives me a defined stopping place, when I can then decide if I want to keep writing. It also keeps my writing longer than I might otherwise, because I cannot stop until that point.

Nano – day 1

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 4,136 (Yay! A damn fine start, if I say so myself.)
Current Total Word Count: 4,136
Goal: 50,000 words

Random Sentence: As the sky began to lighten, Jahine felt a sense of purpose grow within him and the doubt that had cajoled him the dark early hours fled.

Notes: A lot of this came out in backstory. This is just fine, because while I know that much of this will be cut in edits, it is helping me get a better sense of this world and how it all works. Though I do keep trying to bring what I’m writing back to the immediate action of the story, since that makes it all feel more alive to me.

I’m feeling rather good about this start to the novel, since it feels to be the most coherent of all the Nano novels that I worked on over the years. Of course, this could just be the excitement of starting out a new story, but I have a feeling deep in my gut that this one, for once, just might work. Here’s hoping.

[X-posted to my livejournal]

the muse mosquito is tickling my ear

Well, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month once again this year. For those who may be staring at me funny, Nanowrimo is that wonderful time of year when novelists  come together to each write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. It’s a great challenge that shoves away the inner critic for a while. I’ve participated for many years, completing the challenge sometimes and failing others. Always it’s a good experience, though this is a challenging year for me to be attempting such a thing. Ah, well.

In the mean time, I am itching to start Nano. Right now my novel idea is almost constantly in my mind, and it’s driving me a little nuts that I have to wait until tomorrow midnight to begin. I have most of the opening scenes mapped out. Some of the middle scenes are there, too, and I have some general ideas of where I want it all to end up, which is nice. And although I don’t really have names yet, my characters are starting to blossom with wants and desires and motivations, which will help keep the main force of the story going.

All of which is very exciting. I would love to have a novel readable enough that I would feel comfortable sending out to family and friends for critique. I would then dance and sing and be merry.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]