Raise The Net

So….

Recently, I’ve been discussing NaNoWriMo with others.  The thought they have had (there were several of these) was that NaNo is a made-up sort of deadline, and thereby rendered without teeth.  

I give my NaNo teeth.  I give it teeth by telling my family, friends, you guys, my cow-orkers, posting a NaNo flyer in my cell cube … I give it teeth of Embarassment.  Worst of all will be how I feel when, a year or a decade from now, I read through my blog and note my enthusiasm, my grand plans, my optimism … and how I let it dribble away without a word.

*shudders*

The worst thing I can imagine is adding things I regret to my life.  So, NaNo has teeth for me because I’m horrified at the thought of how I’ll feel if I’m slack and let ennui or inertia master me.

This year, NaNo is going well.  I started with “50,000 words … but if I hit 45,000 and wrote well and enjoyed it, then I win, because this year I’m shooting for sustainability instead of endurance and ultimate effort.”  That’s fine, but not quantifiable.  Goals without quantifiable measures of attainment are … toothless.

I will say that, so far even with lack of sleep and several days of social activity taking the place of writing, I am writing well and much and enjoying the process.

So.  I told Lisamentor et ami sans reproche

I will, working daily, complete an editable first draft of Self
Sacrifice by January 19 and have a revised manuscript based on
that draft ready to be uploaded to the Amazon Breakthrough
Novel Award Contest
 website NLT February 5, 2009.

And, because I am a masochist, I will publish this to E&S and
install a countdown timer indicating my two deadlines.

Uhm.

I must be ready for this, because I am very aware of what I
just committed to do and it seems perfectly reasonable to me. 

Yikes.

Countdown timers will be forthcoming.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

State of the Writer

Ambercon was this weekend, which warrants its own post.  Ambercon eats wordcounts.  However, I am sufficiently recovered that yesterday I wrote a few hundred words, this morning I wrote a few hundred words … I’ll write a few hundred more at lunch, and again on the way home.  Progress is happening.

Surprisingly, I didn’t seem to feel a need to self-flagellate over not having written for three days.  Just recognized that I had enough brain power to stay awake on the commute and pulled out Jarvis.  I keep omitting drama that I used to have regularly.  You’d think I’d be used to having cut it out, but it still surprises me.

My synopsis sprung the tiniest of leaks this morning; my protag glared at me from the middle of a drunken conversation with the Victim of the story and asked me sharply just what the hell I thought I was about; wouldn’t it be better to just get on with things.  

“I mean.  I mean … listen, I’m not sht … not stupid.  [This thing] just happened, and [that thing] has been happening, so … and I’ve got more’n two brain sh-cells to rub together.  I think I should [undertake next action scheduled for three chapters later].”  I was lacking in convincing arguments, so let him go.  

Which was an odd conversation.  I’m  a little bit sorry that it will necessarily have to be omitted from the final draft.  

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

New Toy

I went to the Romance Writer’s Workshop, and became learned in the ways of storyboards. Fiddling with the storyboard let me know what was wrong with my novel. Good.Industriously making post-its and moving them around did not fix the problems, though. I concluded two things; the storyboard only permitted me access to the whole novel at night, at home, when I was pooped, and that I needed to murder a huge number of my darlings — but couldn’t tell which ones had to go. Shannon suggested last week that I tell her the story, which I did in brief, maybe a dozen sentences. “Which parts have to be there for the story you want?” First and last plot points. Which meant all the others had targets on their heads. Way to go, Shannon. That was a strangely liberating outlook. I changed from “something has to go” to “it will be interesting to see if anything stays.” I looked at the storyboard with loathing, and switched to tinytinytiny post-its and a notebook — portable storyboard. I was still not moving with anything approaching speed. It’s easy to move the story elements around this way, but still takes attention. Changing the writing on the notes takes time. And the sticky wears out. Then, Lisa, on whom be praise, suggested I look into Consistency. It won’t do much for me, I think, but that company also produces Flying Logic. My world shook. Yesterday I had a beginning and an end, and some very nice GMC notes. I put them into entities in Flying Logic and started making lines … which demonstrated when I had multiple scenes in the same scene; corrected that … which showed holes; corrected that … which revealed why my major plot points weren’t working; figured out what they had to be … which showed new scenes that had to be there … and where the tension had to build … and then discovered that I could customize the boxes in the program, changed them to match my post-it notes so I could see where I had too much of one element clustered …. I spent three hours of a train ride yesterday steadily creating a plot that works. I did not have a cat exploding kind of day. I had something better. I had a “knew my work and did it well” kind of day. It felt terrific. I could blow up cats for the rest of my life and not be professionally published, not make a living of it. But if I can, when I have no idea how to do what I’m doing, identify my work and do it well, then all I need to do is persist. Exploding cats are a perk of the job, not a requirement of the job.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Sandwiches

I’ve been, since the romance writer’s workshop, working on a storyboard of my novel so that I can rewrite with some sort of a clue. At first I thought my slow movement was stalling, was self-sabotage, was a sign of alien possession — I didn’t know why it was going so slowly, nor why I was becoming more despair-ridden with each work session.

Tonight I was too tired to work on it, too bleah to care — so I did anyway. Good for me.

And I discovered something. Let’s say that there are two main storylines. A is the action line, B is the romance line. The book, originally, went:

AAAAAAAABBABABABABA
BBBBBBBBABABBAAAAAB

Okay, so a little bit of shuffling would fix that, but it was too simple, too short. It needed something more than a walk-through of the plot, so I added conflict; I is the investigative storyline, P is the deep soul seeking storyline. The complete first draft of this novel went:

AAAAAAAABBABABABABA
IIIAPPPIIIPPPPIIIIA
BBBBBBBBABABBAAAAAB

The I’s and P’s couldn’t be shuffled into other parts of the book because the first line led to the I and P line, and the I/P line leads to the third line — and is violently ended before the third line starts. The upshot is, I have two stories; one I start and then dump, then tell another. I complete the second one, then go back to the first long after any sense of continuity is gone.

Well. No wonder there’s been some problems with the rewrite. And it would explain what I noted a few weeks ago, that my major plot points seemed to belong to different books. They do. They are. Two novellas, one nested in the other.

Good grief. When I complete this book, I will be able to write ANYTHING.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Oh, wretched.

My first draft of Self Sacrifice had some problems, the most major of which is that it wasn’t a story. It was fragments of several stories, but no amount of retrofitting was going to put them together, as the characters were fundamentally different in Part B than they were in Part A. Sometimes the laws of the world changed. So I backed off, and determined to start fresh, from a storyboard and then a blank-page rewrite.

I have been fighting with organizing my storyboard. The storyboard is SUPPOSED to make things clear, easily modular, contained. All I had was a huge mess of post-it notes on cardboard.

Okay, that mindset usually means I’m trying to solve too many problems at one time. I tried to limit myself to part of the book, then a smaller part. Then I decided to collect the post-its together that were obviously related, make them tidy, and hold to one side those that I wasn’t certain of.

When I was done I discovered, underneath it all, the bare outline of my first draft.

Well, that explains why I couldn’t fix the storyboard.

So. Tonight I will remove all but the very beginning and very ending post-its, and then meticulously add in points that I know must occur to get from the one to the other. Then I will add in the points between the points. Slowly. Carefully. And with no care for things that I have written and therefore “know” have happened in the book.

Good, I guess, to know what I am doing. Still, I am ridden with ennui.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

The weekend

I have just spent a weekend of romance, just me and fifty women. I was the only man.

Yes, I was awake. Yes, this really happened.

I attended this, at the behest of my mentor, Lisa. She told me I had desperate need to go to this, to take part, to absorb it all, and she was right. I’ve been unable to revise my completed first drafts (the problems are too HUGE — and I didn’t know what they were, just that they were HUGE), only able to go and create another first draft…and the most recent one was going all drifty, just as the other two had. No clue how to stop it from following them on their rambling, unexciting ways.

And now I have. Debra Dixon is my hero. Lisa is up there, too, for dragging me to the workshop. And Shannon, for enduring a weekend of solitary confinement while I was off gallivanting with 50 strange women.

I go now, to eat and create the GMC and storyboard that will make my first drafts mutate into second drafts.

Dare I envision a final draft? I dare.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Whoosh!

Pshaw. Easy stuff. I’m at 2,862, and nearly 2,000 of those took place today. I spent part of yesterday finishing the outline that Lisa, on whom should be untold blessings and told ones, as well, suggested strongly that I write, and which I wrote along the lines of the Monomyth which Lisa, upon whom etc, suggested I fiddle with.

2k was a joke. I wrote for 20 minutes this morning, 35 at lunch, twenty minutes on the way home…I assumed I was making decent way. If I wasn’t tired, if I wasn’t writing in tiny chunks of time — who knows how far I’d go? I’ll find out in the next few days.

Writing with an outline filled with dialog highpoints and stage directions is SO EASY. I think, if I get some sleep and some time, I could actually be writing at CatiespeedTM, which is simply ridiculous.

2862 / 50000 words. 6% done!

CatiespeedTM metric for 11/2/2007: 1,900 words/day

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry