August 31, 2003
Weekly progress report
Weekly word count: 8319
Last week: 5142
Highest day: 2231 (Monday)
Monthly word count: 29,473
Last month: 30,537
Highest day: 3379 (August 12th)
On to a new week and a new month. I was secretly hoping that September might see the end of this first draft. We'll see. It'll be a near thing, if not.
I've had a fragment stuck in my head since Write Club on Wednesday, and I finally sat down and extracted it this afternoon. The end result was a little 500 word bit of flash fiction currently titled "The Weird Sisters, 2003". I like the story, but I'm going to sit on it for a day or two before I look at revising.
August 29, 2003
Have I written anything yet today? No. Have I been lazy? No. So far this morning I've been printing and packaging up submissions again, since everything came back from Glimmer Train with pretty much the same note on each. So, "Computer Dating" goes off to Fantasy and Science Fiction so JJA can reject it (although hope springs eternal than someday I'll get a rejection from Gordon Van Gelder instead), and "An Eye for an Eye" goes off to Cemetery Dance--I admit I have some high hopes on this one.
You know you're getting the hang of this writing thing when you can rank the type of rejections you're getting. And hey, I had a handwritten note on my last F&SF rejection, so who knows!
August 28, 2003
Quiet, but good
I'm having an awesome week in terms of writing, but there's not much to say about it other than that. The work is happening, I'm getting into another major plot point--so things have definitely picked up. At just over a thousand words today, this is the slowest day I've had all week. I blame an afternoon attack of the sleepies because I was up about an hour too late last night. Don't forget, kiddies, sleep is a valuable thing!
August 26, 2003
Two insanely productive days in a row. If I make it three, I just might have to reward myself somehow. Bake cookies, or something. 2200 words yesterday, 2000 today. Go me.
August 25, 2003
Out of the house
I'd forgotten how nice it is to get out of the house to write. I spent the afternoon writing in a bookstore cafe, and got more done in two hours than I've managed in any three here at home lately. I'll have to keep this in mind.
I decided to take the weekend off from writing, and I think it was one of the best things I could have done. Writing everyday is an admirable goal, and I'm definitely not giving up on that notion, but it's good to get away--to purposely get away, not miss writing through accident or laziness or whatever--every once in a while. I'm eager to see what happens tomorrow, if getting out of the house will continue to be a productive thing.
Weekly progress report
I realized I forgot to post this yesterday, probably because I spent a huge part of the evening trying to figure out what crawled into my laptop and died. Something must have, cause it's screwed. :P Probably going to reformat tonight, but that's beside the point.
Weekly word count: 5142
Last week: 5385
Highest day: 1952 (Tuesday)
I can't decide if taking the weekend off was a good thing or not. I'm waiting for a rush of motivation this morning. Well okay, I'm not waiting for it, but I'm wishing for it, that's for sure.
August 22, 2003
Closing in on 50,000
In the next day or so I'll cross the 50K word mark on The Exile's Daughter. It's a nice feeling, almost better than NaNoWriMo, because it hasn't felt frantic--largely because it's taken most of two months to do it instead of one.
I've slowed down a lot compared to last month. I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm trying not to mind, because well, I'm still working consistently, and the story is moving along, just at a slightly slower pace. I haven't had as many exhilirated "wow, I wrote a LOT" days as I had before, and I have to admit, I kind of miss that. Still, an average of about 5,000-6,000 words a week is nothing to sneeze at, and I deserve to get kicked for thinking otherwise.
August 21, 2003
I think I've successfully conveyed, here and elsewhere, how much I enjoy writing dialogue, especially when it's crisp and snappy, but also when it's really revealing stuff. I've noticed, in this novel particularly, characters seem to give speeches and have monologues quite a bit. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but they're usually tremendous fun to write. Today had a monologue that just made me beam for hours afterwards. I love that feeling. Love it love it love it. It's what makes me keep fighting.
Typo or my subconscious intervening, you decide...
Wrote a combat scene earlier this morning. Was a little concerned that bits of it were cliche or too simple, you know, that my heroine was making an obviously stupid mistake that no one in their right mind should make. In rereading a bit of the scene I found the following typo that made me laugh:
"The evitable finally happened."
I looked it up. "Evitable" is a word. It means "avoidable".
In other news, I rediscovered how much I love writing to classical music, and rediscovered in particular my absolute adoration for Bach. Thanks,
August 19, 2003
Today was good. Today was more like the early part of the month. Crossing fingers that I'm back on track. Go me!
August 18, 2003
Slow and steady
Trying to get back into my usual routine today. I was partly successful. Which is better than last week, which was barely successful. Managed about 1100 words today, and the good news, people are talking to me again. Tomorrow should go much more smoothly than today. I was despairing of my much-vaunted newly-discovered self-discipline this morning. The afternoon was better.
August 17, 2003
Weekly progress report
Damn that apocalypse. I'll blame everything on that. Never mind that I've spent the entire day watching the Gene Kelly marathon on TCM.
Weekly word count: 5385
Last week: 5803
Highest day: 3379 (Tuesday)
It's been a slow slow week. Between the blackout and my own weakened motivation, I didn't do much. I sort of choked after Tuesday, I think. Ah well, tomorrow is anothah day, not to mention a brand new week.
August 16, 2003
Well, obviously, I didn't do much of anything on Thursday or Friday because of the power situation here in the northeastern corner of the country. My schedule is completely off. Next week is going to be a real struggle to get back into writing regularly and in real amounts, not bits here and there. :P This morning has been pokey, because I've mostly been doing housekeeping work--getting submissions ready and such.
I ended up chopping about 10 percent of "Computer Dating". The tech wasn't so much the problem (although I really do still need to clean a bit of that up) as the writing. I'd forgotten, I started writing that story two years ago! It's not horrid, but I really have improved as a writer since then. Most of the chopping I did came from my tendency to overexplain and weigh down dialogue with lots of extraneous crap. I think it improved the story quite a bit. Once I get the technical aspects straight (I so should not write science fiction), I'm optimistic about it. It hasn't gone to F&SF yet, so that's where it's off to next, once I'm happy with it.
Also did a little bit of cleanup work on "An Eye for an Eye", which also came back from Glimmer Train last night. However, since I just wrote that last summer, there didn't seem to be nearly as much to clean up. After a little bit of actual (gasp!) market research, that one will be going out to Cemetery Dance once I buy some envelopes.
And finally, on a whim, I signed up for the Virtual Studio at Zoetrope Studios. While they seem to be geared towards filmmakers, there is a section for short story writers. It's the usual thing, you critique stories and in turn have yours critiqued. I submitted "Midsummer", mostly because I'm curious to see what non-genre readers think of it. I read a couple of the stories there, and was impressed. There's definitely spec-fic tinge to several of them, but some of them were fairly literary in their approach. This looks promising.
Okay, I've put off starting Chapter 9 of The Exile's Daughter long enough. Back to work!
August 14, 2003
This is why I avoid the magazine rack at Borders...
Right now I'm dealing with a profound sense of dissatisfaction that just hit me from out of nowhere.
We were talking tonight at Write Club about some of the drawbacks of being a genre writer as opposed to a mainstream writer--a popular topic of conversation. It was spurred this time by a selection of genre-fic magazines that I'd picked up to flip through since my laptop battery was dead. Just checking out possible markets and such. I rediscovered why I very often don't bother to read magazines before submitting to them.
Most short genre-fic is crap.
(Note, if you are an aspiring genre fic writer who writes short stories, rest assured, I don't mean you. I mean everybody else. You're probably marvelous. This is not entirely facetious. Most of the writers I actually know are quite good.)
I sat there and read a few stories and cringed, CRINGED at the writing, at the plots, at the characterizations... and these weren't minor markets. These were some of the biggies. Then, for shits and giggles, I flipped through a non-genre market that I'd also picked up. The difference in the quality of the writing nearly knocked me out of my seat. The non-genre stuff was good. Well-written, thought-provoking, funny.
It depressed the hell out of me. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I read those stories in the genre magazines and thought, "I am a much better writer than that." Then I read the stories in the non-genre magazine and thought, "I'll never be that good." Maybe I'm not better. Or maybe I am. Maybe I am as good as the non-genre stuff. Or maybe I'm not. Maybe it's not writing ability that I'm missing. Maybe it's just luck. Maybe, an insidiously arrogant part of my mind insists, I'm just casting pearls before swine.
I'm the first one to yell about how spec fic gets a bad rap as a "lesser" genre than literary fic (which IS a genre, damn it). I've defended sci fi and fantasy in my literature classes many times. But Jesus Christ, reading some of the bad prose I've seen published under the heading "speculative fiction" I sometimes have to wonder if the lit snobs have it right.
I don't know. But I'm frustrated as hell. It's not even that I've been at this for that long. I think part of my frustration stems from the fact that at least two of the magazines that had the crap have turned me down on multiple occasions. I kept thinking, "You turned me down for THIS?!" Moral outrage is bad for the complexion.
On the one hand, I'm proud of the stuff I write. I'm proud of my faeries and myths and fantastic worlds. But on the other hand, part of me doesn't want to be associated with the crap just because we use similar (only remotely similar, in some cases) tropes. I don't know. I guess right now I'm just experiencing a weird sense of dissonance, wanting to be published but having very little respect for a lot of the publications I want to be published IN.
This isn't to say there aren't some quality spec fic publications out there. There are. Black Gate comes to mind. Strange Horizons. There are others as well. But there aren't enough. Eventually you run out of the 'good' ones to submit to.
Grar. It's late, and I'm rambling now. Maybe it's all sour grapes. I don't know. But I'll tell you, I'm starting to get whiplash vacillating back and forth between arrogance and insecurity about my own abilities.
August 13, 2003
Well, "Computer Dating" came back from Glimmer Train last night with just a note attached that said it wasn't right for the magazine. I kinda knew that. I'm so bad about doing magazine submissions. I sort of send them out willynilly sometimes. I really like the story, but I know my tech knowledge is weak in a couple of places in it. I should really take the time to fix it before I send it back out, but I hate taking time away from The Exile's Daughter to work on it.
Also still debating if I should send "Midsummer" out somewhere again or not.
In other news, I was up a little too late last night and my brain is foggy. Grar.
August 12, 2003
After doing some math (and after a seriously productive day--holy 3400 words, Batman!), I realized that here, at the 41K mark, I'm almost halfway finished. I'm guessing the final first draft will wind up somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 words. 100,000 words!
That sounds so enormous. I've been trying and trying to find out how many words per page your average paperback novel is (short of ransacking my bookshelf and counting), just out of curiosity. You know, trying to imagine how thick this thing will be once it gets published. ;)
Yes, it's true. I'm having an optimistic day as far as writing goes. After the day I had, who wouldn't?!
Well, I successfully managed to dodge the Sims this afternoon, resulting in another 1600 words this afternoon. Yes, you read that right. I managed almost 3400 words today without even breaking a sweat. I keep rechecking my word count because that can't be right. It was too easy. The secret, of course, is that I got to another section of the story that I was really eager to write, so I blasted through it. I think it came out well, but I think it's going to mean getting rid of the prelude I originally tacked on at the beginning. Later. I'll get rid of it later.
I am so psyched. I've gone from being three days behind my 1500 words a day schedule to just being two days behind. Piece of cake. I can catch up. However, taking another look at my outline to see how many chapters I've projected are left, and going by the lengths of my chapters so far, this is going to be 90,000-100,000 words. I never would've believed that I'd write something so long! You know what that means? It means I'm right about at the halfway point. Heaven help me. Half done. Woot!
Well, I managed to cross the 40K line today instead of yesterday. Yesterday afternoon I was hit by an attack of the Sims, and never quite managed to get back to writing yesterday afternoon. This has resulted in a new rule in my house about Sim-playing: not until after 7pm. I swear that game's a black hole, not even light can escape it.
Still, an excellent morning of 1700 words. I'm still feeling very geared up as well, so I think after lunch I'll dive back in and see how much more I can do.
August 11, 2003
Goal for today
I'd like to hit 40,000 words on The Exile's Daughter by the end of the day. That's another 1700 words. I think I can do it, if I push a little. We'll see what happens after lunch.
Hold still, damn it!
My characters are trying to rearrange themselves. Three characters that I thought of as close friends are trying to tell me they're actually brothers, even though that's completely at odds with the rest of the plot. I may reach a compromise with them and make two of them brothers, but that doesn't fit my sense of symmetry. I may just have to put my foot down and remind the three of them that I am the author here, and what I say goes. I'm not sure that will go over well.
Then again, I think one of them is already threatening to stop speaking to me after the whole impotence thing, so...
I know this all sounds absolutely insane, but it feels remarkably sane. This is the largest cast of characters I've ever tried to juggle. Sometimes it feels like I'm trying to arrange seating at a dinner party, but half the guests hate each other and I have to remember who's not speaking to who. And in the middle of it all, they keep coming up and tapping me on the shoulder and rearranging allegiances. Is it any wonder I sound insane? ;)
August 10, 2003
Weekly progress report
I think it's easier to keep up with all the statistical stuff on a weekly basis, so I'm going to try that for a while--if only to spare you the daily "1,000 words today, blah blah blah". If you want that, you know where to go.
Weekly word count: 5803
Last week: 10,031
Highest day: 1765 (today)
That should tell you what sort of a week I had. I tried to push myself to get this week's count up to 6,000, but ultimately I couldn't do it. Well okay. I could have, but I would've had to start the next scene, and I want to tackle that one when my brain is freshly scrubbed and caffeinated, not dealing with the after-effects of too much Sunday dinner.
The plot is progressing nicely, with little subplots springing up like crazy weeds all over the place. A new one popped up just today, resulting in the bizarre LJ post I made earlier. One of the drawbacks to being a monomaniacal (or is that meglomaniacal? I should ask
I'm definitely going to have to go back and rework some of the earlier chapters, because I'm starting to get a clearer sense of the world I'm working with here, and some things I threw in at the beginning just don't quite jibe. I can't decide whether to try the reworking now (as I've done when Major Contradictions show up at my door), or just wait and fix it on the rewrite. As I'm trying to build up the momentum I had two weeks ago again, I'm thinking the latter.
Feeling ready to jump in and tackle things anew tomorrow morning. Whee!
Well, lazy weekend, really. I took yesterday completely off, but managed about 1700 words today. I figured out that I'm about three days behind my "1500 words a day" projection. Considering the horrific week I had last week, that's really not so bad. I'm just dealing with a little touch of frustration, because I feel like I could be pushing myself harder than I am. I mean, on the one hand, that's silly. I'm getting myself into a regular writing schedule, and I'm doing it almost every day, for at least three hours a day. I guess I feel like I could be doing MORE with that three hours, or that I have more than three hours to spare, given my uniquely open schedule at the moment.
Before you all comment and smack me upside the head: I know. I know I'm probably expecting too much of myself. There're just days when five pages a day doesn't seem like a lot of output. On days like that, I end up taking too far of a step back and look at the wall I'm building, then look at the brick in my hand and get discouraged. Labor Day is looming. I really want the first draft finished by then. I have to start accepting that it may not happen, that September 30th may be a much more realistic goal, if only because this is going to run longer than the 60,000-70,000 words I'd originally envisioned. And in the long run, it's better to take longer to turn out a good quality first draft than to spend the extra time ripping my hair out over a crappy first draft.
If only I could continually remain convinced of that fact...
August 08, 2003
1500 words this morning, BAM! I'm baaaack!
I'm not being cocky, really. Things just came clearer to me, and my brain was much less foggy this morning. It feels good to write again. I'm about 3000 words behind my schedule, but I can deal with that. I'm just glad to have all my characters talking to me again.
August 07, 2003
Grar. Tuesday and Wednesday were rough. I spent a lot of time staring aimlessly at the computer screen. I felt pretty stuck. Write Club last night was an enormous help in getting me unstuck, but today has still be kind of slow going. I'm hoping this afternoon will kick off a little faster.
It's like I hit the middle of the story and just got mired in little details, details that I couldn't figure out and didn't want to gloss over. But, after a pep talk with Mer and the prudent purchase of a map of Philadelphia, I feel a little less unstuck. I swear, I think the map purchase was more symbolic than anything else. I mean, I'm really using Philadelphia more as a basis for the setting than the actual setting, but having something concrete to look at gave me a sense of security.
Still at an average of about 1,000 words a day, but hoping to improve that to 1,500 before the month's out.
August 05, 2003
To steal (and probably paraphrase) from Lawrence Block once again: "Some days all you can really do is just go to the movies."
Having one of those days. I hit a road block on The Exile's Daughter. I've hit the dreaded middle chunk of the book, where stuff happens, and plot gets advanced and subplots become important--but nothing really gets resolved. I just don't know how it all happens. I don't have the same point-by-point outline that I had for the first section, and that I have for the last section. It's this big nebulous blob of questions and possibilities and scene ideas. I've spent a good part of the morning trying to clear some of the fog. (But only part. I also admittedly spent a fair chunk of the morning curled up in bed with the cats reading The Feminine Mystique.)
I guess I shouldn't complain too loudly. This is my first major roadblock and I'm 115 pages in so far. I just get that tingly, tense feeling on the back of my neck, that tip-of-the-tongue feeling whenever I look at my notes. It's right there, the outline I need, I just can't figure out how to coax it out today.
So I'm going to the movies. I'll try again this afternoon.
August 04, 2003
Presents for ME?!
The Plot Fairy visited me this morning with all sorts of goodies. She sprinkled my outline with lots of scene and conflict ideas, but unfortunately most of them had to do with the final act of the novel. The act I'm diving into right now is still pretty skeletal, but it's getting better. My characters are starting to tell me exactly what's important to them and what they want to do, which in some ways, makes plotting much much easier.
I very much like the world that I've created here, but I'm finding that I need to fill in a few more basic details. However, the more I think about it, answering some of those questions (like, how does Jack's merry little band survive?) can provide a lot of scenes for the act I'm about to start working on.
I seem to alternate between two states of mind when writing this. For lack of anything better to call them, they're the intuitive state and the construction state. The intuitive state is when the characters take off and I write and write and don't seem to have anything to do with what's actually going on the page, like I'm transcribing. The construction state seems to happen most often when I'm outlining or when I'm plotting out a scene, where it's much more conscious. I'm deliberately weighing bricks of plot and dialogue in my hands, trying to figure out which ones to use, arranging and rearranging them to see how things fit together. I always hated that part before. I'm finding that I'm actually really enjoying it (most of the time) on this project.
I have this vision of my plot in my mind like a great big net. Right now, the space between the weave is kinda loose in places, the holes are big enough for things to slip through. When I have a day like today, where the pieces all start to click into place, I envision that net drawing up, the weave getting pulled tighter and tighter by an unseen hand. I don't know that The Exile's Daughter will ever be woven tight enough to be waterproof, but I'm thinking that even at this point, it's already starting to hold a little water.
August 03, 2003
I wrote 10,000 words this week. That's almost NaNoWriMo levels of productivity. I'm kinda wondering how long I can keep this up. I don't feel stressed and tired and burned out, quite the opposite, in fact. Scary, but not having anything else I need to focus on is apparently making all the difference in the world. This is so the way to live, I swear. If I were actually making money, I'd think life was perfect.
Aha. Writing this afternoon was
Aha. Writing this afternoon was much smoother. I don't know if it was the caffeine, or just that I'd had a small nap or what, but I managed to get through most of a new scene I'd been sort of dreading. All things considered, I'm still feeling wonderfully optimistic about this whole project. :)
After a very drowsy morning, I managed just under 900 words this morning, most of it finishing up Margaret's story about what happened to Jack's father. Knocking off a little bit before noon today because, heck, it's Sunday. I'm sure I'll jump back in to writing this afternoon, anyway.
August 02, 2003
Famous last words...
That minor character is stepping up to at least supporting character, I think. She's going to tell Alex everything she needs to know about the history of Jack's little group, including what happened to Jack's father. In the meantime, she's amusing me greatly. Another 1,000 words this afternoon, putting me right back on track for my 1,500 words a day. Woohoo!
The faerie research paid off today, if only to get an amusing anecdote about a minor character. Of course, she's minor NOW, but who knows what she'll be fifty pages from now.
Speaking of pages, I crossed two big milestones today: 30,000 words and 100 pages (I average about 300 words a page). In my mind, I have the storyline divided up into thirds. I've also just crossed into the second third of the novel. I don't know yet if my 'thirds' will actually be equal in size at all, but it's nice to have some sort of concrete reference point for where I am.
I didn't get to post yesterday since my site was down. Yesterday was pretty interesting. A nifty subplot or two revealed themselves, and I made myself cry while writing one scene--it was all very sad for one of the characters. Word count has been down a little bit this week, but I'm thinking I'll regain some ground this afternoon. Heck, I've already regained some ground.
And speaking of milestones, yesterday was the two year anniversary for this journal. I can't believe it's been that long! Looking back through the archives, I was a little sad to see that I was still working on some of the same stories back then as I'm struggling with now. Yikes.