aamcnamara: (Default)
Finished and turned in my post-colonial theory paper this afternoon. Yesterday morning I had two pages out of 7-9; last night I had 6 and a half; today before lunch I finished it, at seven point five pages. Clearly I should take more English classes, or write more papers about steampunk stories with lesbians in them, or something.

This leaves me with two physics finals, one of which I have to complete before noon on Monday and one of which I have to complete between Tuesday and Thursday of next week.

Hence, tonight I decided it was time for a writing night. And since I got past 5,000 words on Whisper-Trail, methinks it's time for an Official Progress Bar.

5136 / 80000


I have been overcoming inertia by burning plot as quickly as I can. I'm not sure what will happen when I run out of the things I know. Probably I will make more stuff up. In the meantime, it's possible that this novel actually has tension, and forward motion, and so on. (Weeeird.) Of course it's also a) total fluff, b) FILLED WITH DRAMA, and c) probably far too late to catch the YA urban-fantasy/paranormal-romance boat. But those things may be unavoidable.

Also, actually making progress on a new novel feels good enough that I don't really care that it's terrible. I have pages! Lots of pages! So I'm a winner.
aamcnamara: (Default)
However much time I spend lying about making plans on how my next novel is going to be high-concept and awesome and have this structure sort of like sunlit glass...

...somehow I always end up back at, "Okay, so now I am going to write a gimmicky, queer YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy". Probably because, well, I like this stuff, and it's just fun to write. So this is self-indulgent novel number whatever I am on--complete with trickster-ish love interest, prestidigitation (which is worth it just for that word), magic, arts school students, nice clothes, queer romance...

It is currently two thousand words and rather a lot of plans. It may not actually turn into a fully-drafted novel, but on the other hand it might. Like the short story I haven't finished drafting yet, it is being written out of order; watching my brain change writing tactics is weird. Just a few years ago, it was "no, I will not write anything out of order, ever!".

In other news, I finished reading Welcome to Bordertown last night and it was splendid. Given the table of contents I knew the stories in and of themselves had to be good, but it was awesome as a whole, too. See, if the stories in an anthology are good, I always want to keep reading straight through; with a lot of anthologies, this means that I get kind of tired of whatever central concept there is by the end of it. (Zombies vs. Unicorns sort of avoided this by having two central concepts and switching off stories.)

With this Bordertown anthology, though, the only reason I kept stopping and putting it down was so I could have more of it to read later. Even though the stories were all set in the same world, they were so ridiculously different from each other--and yet clearly all part of a whole--that it was a joy to read them next to each other, find the differences, the connections...

...man, I love Bordertown. I do hope that this one does well enough that there can be another one. And maybe another after that. That'd really, really rock.

Oh! And I'm going to be at Wiscon this weekend, but I won't be on any panels (because me-going-to-Wiscon-this-year is sort of a last-minute thing). Um. Relevant information, for anyone who will be there who I have not met in real life before... I look pretty much like my icon of myself, except I am not usually wearing a tuxedo. I have lots of food allergies, but I like eating meals with people and will happily bring my packed food to a restaurant and order juice or something. Please ask before you pet my head.
aamcnamara: (Default)
So. Things.

I spent most of this past week being tired, and feeling bad about it until I realized that it was probably my body trying to recover from the massive shock of anaphylaxis last weekend. (Entirely apart from the drugs they gave me at the hospital.) But I met with some people, and came to some conclusions, so that was good and with luck it will never happen again ever.

Friday was really nice; I spent about two and a half hours in the children's books section of the library reading the first 20-50 pages of novels. (I have been thinking about Beginnings.)

Also, I read some books. The whole thing, I mean.
The Changeover, Mahy: I read this when I was entirely too young, and understood practically none of it. Now I understand a lot more! There is a time between these two, though, when I both would have understood it and would have needed a book like this. However, as is often the case, I never picked it up when I was that age.
For The Win, Doctorow: By an order of magnitude better than Little Brother. (In my opinion, at least.) I picked this up as a see-the-beginning thing, realized I was intrigued, and checked it out to take it home with me.

Last night it snowed a little. I went out to dance in it then, as it was falling, and then this morning got up at seven or so to go out and wander around a lake before it all melted. I hear Minnesota is having a snowpocalypse, and have seen many lovely photos of things covered in a foot of snow, and am envious, but... well. I will be there soon enough, and there will certainly be snow. And I did get falling snow and snow to crunch in on a winter morning watching dawn, so things could be much worse.

This afternoon, I finished my last midterm. Now all I have left in the semester is one day's worth of Greek homework and to Take All The Finals. Yay?
aamcnamara: (Default)
98 / 350


No progress yesterday, due to making pancakes and taking long parky walks and seeing two different kinds of music (Schubert and Weill and a guy on the ukulele--okay, I guess that's three, but in two concerts). Today: progress!

A hundred pages before Wiscon looks imminent. Hooray! I am making everyone's misconceptions and assumptions even more complicated than they already were, and not bothering about describing places or the weather adequately. That will come later.

I'm still drafting in MS Word, but copying into Scrivener as I go. We'll see how this works out for me. Plausibly, I'll spend some time this week putting the novel I wrote last summer into Scrivener and see if that gives me any ideas or inspiration for revision.

Speaking of Wiscon: it will be awesome. Somehow I am on two panels. Which are... )

Hopefully, I will not die! (Or say anything terribly stupid.)
aamcnamara: (window)
The past couple of days proved to me that novels will tell you how to write them--you just have to listen very closely.

The scene I was writing earlier in the week was sort of fun, but it didn't quite seem to fit the rest of the novel. So yesterday I sat by the lake for a while, thinking about large-scale plotty aspects, and came up with, among other things, the big motivations for pretty much all of the major characters.

This morning I dragged out a notebook and wrote down a list of numbers for chapters, sketched in approximate wordcounts, and put in the major plot events. You should probably understand in this that I don't tend to work with outlines. For the novel I wrote this past summer, I did a couple of very very brief outlines, after about half the novel, just to get what was in my head down on paper.

This, on the other hand, was very much "all right, so this event should happen about twelve chapters in, and it should last about this long--okay, so there's a big blank space between these major events, what can happen here?". I invented new plot points, planned out what events would happen in which order and how many chapters they would span.

In the course of this, I discovered what the main hinge of the chapter I'm writing ought to be. Which necessitated a delete of the scene that I was writing earlier this week--about 800 words--and a new direction for the chapter. (At the moment I'm stalled on what the intermediary scene between this and the end-scene of the chapter ought to be, which probably means, Go back to the outline.)

It's sort of disorienting, working with an outline. In the normal way of things, I never would have thought, "Hmm. This scene isn't working, how about I write an outline?". But I was very quiet this morning, and the novel snuck up and whispered in my ear.

For posterity (that is, me at the beginning of the next novel, when I'm going "how could I possibly outline?"): the trick is, I think, that I like the characters enough as people that I'll follow them even though I know what's going to happen to them.

(In other news: It's snowing.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Word-count-y update: 30 pages, 7430 words.

This novel is just plain fun to write. It has so many things I think are independently cool, and then they all interact and create, like, a stew of awesome things.

Hopefully it'll keep working this well once I get back into the weekly schedule of classes and homework.

---

Recently Audible had a free audiobook promotion, so I downloaded METAtropolis, which if you are reading this you have probably heard of. (If not: SF audiobook anthology.) I have not been much of one for audiobooks, but when it came out I kept thinking wistfully about it, it was free, and I had two plane flights looming in my future, so there you go. I like looking out the windows of planes, but it can get a little repetitive after the first hour and a half of cloud-landscapes.

I only got through two and a half stories between my two flights; I'm not sure if I'm going to finish listening to the whole thing, since my routines don't tend to have much space that works well with audiobooks, but it was a fun exercise. Well, I might finish the one I got halfway through.

So since there might not be an "after I finish this" time to post about it, I should say now that while I may or may not finish listening, as audiobooks are not my favorite medium, it was definitely interesting and an enjoyable way to spend the time.
aamcnamara: (window)
I have been thoroughly convinced that I ought to print my novel out before I try to rewrite it. I have not yet actually printed it out, mostly from hesitating before the sheer size of the undertaking. I have to figure out when no one is likely to be using the printer for about an hour, haul my ream of paper down there... Probably the sensible solution would be to nip down and print out a chapter at a time or so, so of course I haven't even considered that option.

In the meantime, while I fret about printing out my novel, I decided I ought to work on something else, and promptly didn't do anything on anything for a week and a half. This morning, though, I was thinking about what the sort-of novel-in-progress needs, and came to a Realization. So that was good. I may actually be able to take it somewhere now.

(If you're curious, the solution was more cute girls.)

Unrelatedly, I got to come home for Thanksgiving. I like this for many reasons, one of which is that the dining service at college, though awesome and amazing, does not do me baked goods and my parents do. The weather cooperatively become November-like just for me on Wednesday when I flew in. Today it was nice out again, though, so I walked to Uptown and purchased presents, and that is all I am going to say about that. (Also a book which I probably will just keep for myself. I clearly should have left more room in my suitcase flying out.)

Now I get a quiet evening, which I might just use to work on the novel-in-progress. Okay, okay, Thanksgiving, holidays, hanging out with my family--but on the other hand, time and a room to myself (I am not sure I am built for constantly sharing space) and all the books I didn't take to college.

(Edited to add, page/word count: currently at 25 pages, 6240 words.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Okay, so I have a theory about the novel-revision thing. This theory goes as follows: part of the reason why I can't seem to get my head around it is because I have only been looking at it on the screen.

However, it seems silly to print out 320 pages of novel if I'm just going to change a bunch of them.

(On the other hand, if it would be a useful exercise, it'd probably be worth it.)

So here's the question.

When you're revising a novel, do you print it all out? When? To what purpose? If I were to print it out, would you advise me to print out 320 full-sized pages, or cramp it in eight-point single-spaced two-pages-on-one-sheet to save paper?

(I realize that at least some of this, and probably all, is deeply personal--maybe one writer has to have it printed out double-spaced in Courier, and someone else can do it six-point font four pages on one sheet so they do--but I thought I'd get an idea of the range out there anyway, and an idea of where to start.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
A two-parted post.

First of all: My show went up this weekend! Is going up. (Verb tenses?) Today was the first day, and tomorrow is the second and last day. I have not fallen over. Yet. --Actually, it's quite fun, and people seem to be enjoying it, so all is well.

Secondly: Okay, so at the beginning of November I was all "Okay, I'm going to skip NaNoWriMo this year and edit the novel I wrote this summer instead!". Unfortunately, I have done exactly zero hours of work on it so far this month. Which, all right, I've been busy, and all my creative energy has been going toward the play.

Part of it, though, is that I just have no idea how to go at revising a novel. I have this novel--thing--draft-- and I know that it's not perfect, I can see at least some of the flaws. But I've never revised a novel before. And while learning to rewrite novels might in the end be very similar to learning to rewrite short stories, my process of learning to rewrite short stories involved rather a lot of trial and error. Which is a legitimate strategy with novels too, I suppose, it just seems like it would take rather a lot of time.

On the other hand, a certain amount of mistakes are probably to be expected, and I should probably just roll up my sleeves and try something, already.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Now I have 5000 words on the new novel. Still fun to write. It feels a lot like a lot of things I've read, but I am definitely putting some new plot twists into it, at the very least, and the style is easy to write at least.

I keep not having homework in the evenings. It's disconcerting, because a bunch of my friends do have homework and so it's difficult to figure out who's around to hang out with. However, it gives me time to write, which I am all for.

Also, my classes continue to be good. My calculus professor explained vector properties much more clearly than my math teacher last year did; my sociology professor talked to us for a while about what we would do if he threw a chair at us; in philosophy class we debated about virtue; in physics it's still review, but still interesting.

I finally got my calculus textbook off reserve from the library to do my homework, only to receive the copy I'd ordered online the same day. At least I have it now? It's a very pretty textbook, slim with a nice-feeling binding and some tasteful violins on the cover. Physics textbook still not here, but I can deal with that.

Hanging out with one's college friends is an entirely different matter once classes start than during orientation is entirely different from during pre-orientation, I've discovered. I keep having to wander across campus to see if people are in, and have a backup plan (usually a book to read) if they aren't. Also, uncertainties about if they are trying to do homework. I'm sure I'll get used to this way of life, but it's something new to get used to.

I procured a hat just before leaving for college, and have assimilated it thoroughly into my wardrobe. I have learned that hats are handy for keeping the sun out of one's eyes. Sometimes I forget I'm wearing it.

...yes, this is my random updates post for tonight.
aamcnamara: (alena)
Okay, so that other novel I was talking about in August? Has tripped me up and demanded to be written.

I now have 3300 words (not all of which were written tonight) and much excitement for continuing on.

Of course, I haven't finished the outline of the draft of the last novel yet. Um. So I should do that at some point. But it feels good just to write.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today I made about 400 new words on the story I started working on yesterday. A lot of it is filler, but now I have a few more characters to use when I tighten everything up later, and know a little bit more about my main character. (Including that I need to do a bunch of research to get his narration right. Ouch.)

I also sent off my box of books to college--14" x 14" x 14" box, pretty much completely full. Sending it off terrified me. I was glad that the postal workers didn't start heaving it into any bins while I was still there, because if they had I probably would have walked around for several hours looking at things without seeing them. (I attach to books as physical objects. Also--those are fifty of my favorite books, right there! If that gets lost, what do I do? Cry and then buy new ones, I suppose, but still.)

Revisions on the dead people in lakes story are still pending, because I have too little brain for them tonight, but just enough brain for outlining the rough draft of my novel. I'm seven chapters into it, out of thirty, and already seeing many, many things that are wrong. My brain keeps going "Alena! Why do you need to outline the draft you have already written? You know what happens in it, after all..." but I cannot let myself listen. Even though it's painful, I figure I'd better keep going, because I'm guessing I'll find as many things wrong again in successive chapters.
aamcnamara: (window)
So this is my NaNoWriMo Does (Not) Teach You To Write Novels post.

I have conflicted feelings about NaNo. While I'm glad I've done it, and it definitely taught me some things that helped me to write this novel, there are some things that I needed to train my brain out of to make it work.

To tell the story properly, I think I need to start at the beginning. )
Overall, it can be useful to do NaNoWriMo. It teaches you that you can in fact write something that long, with that many pages. It teaches you how to pace events in a work that long--if you crunch all the main events down into five or ten thousand words, you'll have to go on a lot of tangents to get to 50k.

But there are three things that are pretty essential to relearning to write novels after NaNoWriMo: first of all, set your own goals. Second, have or find a community that'll hold you accountable to these goals you've set for yourself. And third, follow the story, not the wordcount.

Rewriting is, again, a whole different story.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today I fiddled with the beginning of my novel for about fifteen minutes and it was a glorious time. Then the scenes I needed to fix were fixed, and I closed the file sadly.

The novel is now going out, tentatively, to a few people to read. I will need more readers later, when my intent is less "tell me it's okay!" or "tell me what it's like!" and more "tell me what is wrong".

On a happy note, a few first scenes worked their way out of my head yesterday. Doubtless they will all need editing, but for now I am happy they are here. Next task: middles. (I don't like writing middles.)

I have also compiled a beginning list of Books Which I Plan To Bring To College. It has thirteen books on it.
I think that this list says something about me. )
aamcnamara: (dance)
80484 / 80000


I believe the technical term is OH MAN DRAFT YAY YAY YAY.

(The last line is bad. But I can fix that. I can fix all of it! I can fix anything!)
aamcnamara: (alena)
77919 / 80000


I need sleep. Maybe I will finish the draft tomorrow, and maybe I will not.

Today was a very excellent day. This made it harder to write when I finally did get home and sat down, because my head was full of that excellence and not of the novel. So I wrote a draft LJ post to get the excellence out of my head so I could write the novel. Because I have nowhere better to save it, it's going here, under an LJ cut.

What I wrote earlier tonight )
aamcnamara: (Default)
77069 / 80000


I love it when the Big Action Scene and the Big Revelation Scene are the same thing.

(I have been using the "writing is not rewriting" tag a lot. However, I expect that soon enough I will be using the "writing is rewriting" tag far more. The thought of revising a novel terrifies me, but I intend to do it anyway.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
74508 / 80000


It is really hard to write endings.

Also: when I cut all of my hair off again yesterday (all, er, half an inch of it), I missed one spot a little. I have been toying with the slightly longer hair this resulted in all morning and trying to decide if I want to trim it off. I am still not certain.
aamcnamara: (Default)
73545 / 80000


Another Struggle day.

I spent way too much of it watching A Very Potter Musical. Warning: it is literally two hours long. This is a fact which I did not realize until I was ensnared (ensnared, I tell you!) by its awesome.

Then I spent way too much of it angsting about having to write.

Upsides: I got a thousand words done, eventually; I queried about a short story submission that's been out for a while; I made a new submissions spreadsheet which will keep everything much more organized than before, if I can figure out just a few more tricks in Excel.

Also, I learned that Cicada magazine is now accepting electronic submissions. I have had it in the back of my mind as a good market for a while now, but the whole process of printing it out and mailing it in and waiting for a while never seemed worth it enough. (I know, arduous.) In fact, it's sort of amazing that they survived this long without e-submissions, seeing as how they actively want teen submissions. But hey, their bailiwick.

This whole day, I was itching to work on short stories, not the novel. I plan to follow that impulse this evening, starting now.
aamcnamara: (Default)
72514 / 80000


These pendulumic feelings of alternately "There will never be enough to take up the rest of this novel!" and "There is way too much left in this novel for the next 7.5k!" are not going to go away, are they.

August 2015

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