Writing Work Day #2

After a rather odd February, March has arrived, which means consecutive Writing Work Days will be had! For a refresher, here was the progress report from last official writing work day, and here’s the last progress report (Con Nooga doesn’t count since I wasn’t actively working on something).

So, a reminder, where am I in my official plan?

3) Use notes and questions to determine what changes need to be made to the current draft of Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Ultimate goal: reduce word count from 132,000 to around 115,000 words, if possible. Consider:

  • Does it need a total rewrite?
  • Does it need a partial rewrite?
  • A very surgical rewrite?
  • Or just a super-hard final polish?

Deadline: tentatively, Sunday, April 5th. Deadline dependent on what kind of rewrite/polish the draft really needs.

I’d decided that in order to do this, and while waiting on feedback from my two readers, that I would go ahead and sit down and read Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days book as a means to narrow my focus on Codename: Telepathic Soulmates, because before I start cranking out revisions, I want to make sure I know what I actually want for the novel. That way, if/when I get conflicting advice from my readers (which has happened long before now), I know what direction to lean towards.

So after some errands this morning, I settled down and did a few things differently:

1) I moved myself into my husband’s office. I thought it would be good to work in a place where I’m not used to messing around on the internet, or where I watch television, or read, or get sleepy. So that was was useful.

2) I usually listen to the Writing Excuses podcast during the week in my car, and this week was no different. However, this week some of the advice (episode 10.9: Where is My Story Coming From?) I wanted to hear again and take notes, so I think in the future, I’ll hold off listening to the podcast and start off my writing work days by listening to it. I know I’ve missed out on REALLY internalizing good advice because I’m not in a position to take notes when I listen, so this should be a positive change.

3) The BIG thing I wanted to do today was start character sketches. Now, mind you, I’ve already written this novel. The idea for character sketches is to make sure I understand at least my main three POV characters and make sure their character arcs through the book MAKE SENSE. Wiesner’s book starts with an introduction and then proceeds to glorify outlines. I’m not sold on that part yet, because I’m more of the Writing Excuses way of thinking, which is that outlining is a spectrum, and most writers do SOME form of outlining, but not necessarily the full-blown, rigid method we all think of when we hear the word “outlining.” But after all of that, the book settled down and talked about character sketches and things to fill in. Fortunately, I’d been informed that Scrivener’s 2.0 version offered these near-exact templates, so I started filling stuff in for my three POV characters. I’ll admit: some of this involved looking up pictures of models for my characters, and I have no shame in admitting it’s fun to look at the pretty.

But how useful was the act itself? Useful…. but not in a tangible way, not yet. In the past few weeks since my first official writing work day, my brain has settled down and I feel mostly confident that I need to do a very deliberate, very surgical rewrite. I need to make sure each scene is performing on all cylinders and doing the best it can for the overall story and themes. As a result of this, my brain’s been storming all over the place and I’ve been taking notes on things I can feather in, and I used those notes to help with the character sketches today. But sketching is different than actually breaking everything down chapter-by-chapter and making sure everything is operating at peak efficiency, you know?

So what does this mean for next week? I want to fill in what I can for the other secondary and tertiary characters in the novel to make sure I’m not missing something useful or obvious, so I think this character-sketching thing may take at least one more, if not two more weeks. Then it’s on to setting and plot, where I intend to break the book down chapter my chapter and really map it out and make sure it’s working the way I want. By then, I suspect I’ll have all of my feedback from my two readers and will have had ample time to pick their brains.

From there? Surgical rewriting, yo!

I will say, I didn’t get started as early as I wanted today due to early morning errands. That being said, I started around 11:00-11:30, and I found the day moved surprisingly slowly. Not in a “I’m bored!” way, but in a way that just surprised me. I suspect my sense of time will change depending on what I’m doing in the process, and when I get to a phase where I’m actually writing, I suspect if I’m in the groove, I’ll lose all sense of time and will need an alarm to remind me to eat. I’d tell the cat to remind me, but I don’t think he’s very dependable in such matters, unless he’s the one wanting to eat.

Today’s musical accompaniment was the following:

1) Chasing Ice Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by J. Ralph because the music is so very lovely, haunting, a Philip Glass-esque to my ears. Also, the setting is very close to my heart.
2) [Soul] or [System] by Skytown Riot: I picked up this EP at Con Nooga, and I saw them perform a few years ago when they opened for Filter. I’m officially in love with this band.
3) This Is War by Thirty Seconds to Mars because of course.

One of These Days….

I fantasize that one day, someone will pay me to read for a living. I have all these reading projects I want to embark on in addition to all the other stuff I want to read, and there’s simply not enough time in the day.

But if there were enough time in the day, and ESPECIALLY if someone were paying me to read for a living so that I could embark on these projects, this is what I’d like to do.

1) Re-read the Harry Potter series. I re-watched the movies over Christmas, and it was a lot of fun re-watching with the series’ end informing the scenes. I can only imagine how much fun it will be to do the same with the books.

2) Read Charles de Lint’s Newford series using his recommended reading order. I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, and I’ve got quite a few of the titles. I just need to start!

3) Read the Norton Book of Science Fiction edited by Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s a BEAST, and I know I won’t like every story, but I think it’ll be well worth the effort.

4) Blame this one on the Writing Excuses podcast and Cherie Priest: I suddenly have a desire to give H.P. Lovecraft another go. I tried reading At The Mountains of Madness but the writing style did me in. However, listening to Writing Excuses episode 10.3, “Lovecraftian Horror” and learning what Lovecraft did and how he did it and how it was effective really has me wanting to track down a “Lovecraft for Beginners” reading list and make my way through it. Problematic the writer definitely is, but his lessons on horror might be quite fascinating.

5) This is an easy one, one I might actually start putting in my rotation: return to my original passion of reading women who write SF. Not just fantasy, but SF in particular. Because women writing SF need more love, and there’s tons of titles I still need to explore.

6) I’m sure there are other reading projects that have taken root in my subconscious, but they’re not rising to the surface at the moment. But even if I could do these, I’d have more than enough to keep me busy, and that doesn’t include the very necessary need to climb Mount TBR and whip it into submission!

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Today’s headline comes from “These Days” by Foo Fighters, from the album Wasted Light. You can hear the song here, and you can blame both Jaime Lee Moyer for using a lyric from this song for her blog post (which is far more interesting than this one, you should read it) and my husband for watching HBO’s first season of Sonic Highways and getting the Foo stuck in my head.

Cat Be Nimble, Cat Be Quick

Today was my first physical therapy session of 2015. Somehow and miraculously, I’m getting stronger, which is news to me, since I’ve done a shit job of taking care of myself the past three months. Of course, 2015 is a new year, and I resolve to do better, but I assumed my session today would kick my ass.

But apparently I’m getting stronger. My therapist wanted to try some new exercises with me today, and while he was setting up one of them, I made the smart-ass remark, “Oh great. You’re gonna make me jump those, aren’t you?”

“Oh no,” he said, “But we can do that next!”

And despite my protests, he set up two jumping exercises while I attempted this balance and coordination thing with a four-pound ball that’s apparently supposed to be strength-training.

The jumping exercises: in one case, I had to jump up on a step. “Light as a cat!” he kept telling me, and I told him that was a bad analogy: my cat is a 17lbs cat, and there’s nothing light about the way he jumps. As I practiced the exercise, he kept reminding me, “Light as a cat!” and I decided to think differently: spry as a kitten. Yes, that works. Funny that last night, one of the lines I wrote a few times during my free-writing session involved my heroine thinking she’s weak as a kitten.

There’s some kind of irony in that, me thinking I’d be weak as a kitten before my session, and then being a spry one instead.

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Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 1,217 words
Total word count: 3,833 words
A good session last night, despite writing in bed. Since I’ve got a laptop now, I’m trying to mix up the writing locations a bit, keep myself from getting into a rut or settling into super-bad posture, which is what I think sparked the migraine of DOOM back in October. And after hearing the 12/21/14 episode of Writing Excuses, I think it’s an even better decision: all too often, we forget that writing is supposed to be FUN. I think more thoughts are coalescing about this topic, so they’ll get their own post, but the point is, I’m trying to mix things up this year, writing what I what, when I want, how I want. We’ll see how it goes.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Enjoyed the Alexie, but now it’s time to start nibbling at my pre-Hugo reading pile. Finishing up VanderMeer’s weird-but-wonderful trilogy is a must.

Next up: tonight we finished up the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises, and I have some THOUGHTS about the re-watch. Those can come later. We’re saving tonight’s new episodes of Gotham and Sleepy Hollow for later this week, but tomorrow, I’m super-excited to be watching the two-hour premiere of Agent Carter live. What’s Agent Carter, you may ask? Just put Marvel, the television show Alias and the year 1946 in a blender, and that’s Agent Carter. I can’t wait. I hope to hell it’s worth it.