aamcnamara: (Default)
Today was my last day at the archives, which was kind of awesome, and kind of not. Awesome in that I finished my third box of political cartoons, bringing me up to a sum-total of 7 years and over 1800 unique cartoons; not in that there are still years and years of cartoons left I didn't even touch. Awesome in that my boss-person brought in cupcakes 'cause it was my last day; not in--well, you know the drill. Food allergies, which are irrelevant enough to library work that I hadn't mentioned 'em, but the thought was really nice.

On the writing front, it's possible that reading the last of Delany's About Writing while in novel-withdrawal mode wasn't the greatest plan ever planned. But I read the rest of it! Weirdly, he talked about Alphabetical Africa and then it came up in conversation with [livejournal.com profile] epicrauko this weekend/last week, and then a copy of it came across my desk at the bindery yesterday... so maybe I'll pick up a copy sometime, who knows.

Anyway, About Writing was good. Delany makes me think about writing in an orthogonal way to the way a lot of writers do. A few key things of his, so I remember them: each word building on an image--add things to the image, don't cut away what you've already caused the reader to picture; structures and patterns create plots; a story about a man going into a store and buying something can sideways-talk about []ism as easily as science fiction can (somehow I hadn't quite gotten that before, and I still don't quite believe that it's as easy, but maybe my brain just works in speculative fiction because I have read so much).

Yesterday--maybe the day before?--I sat down and thought, via a pen and notebook, about where I am in the novel-rewrite process. What's going on, and why, and why it matters to the plot and the themes and all those fun academic writer-y thinky thoughts. I didn't end up actually sitting down and working on it, since I didn't have a ton of free time by a computer that day and I want to at least skim through what I have so far before I go on, but...

...today I sat in the park after the archives, and the rewrite grew a title. So it is officially no longer Mad Library Hermits (which it was until I realized that that was problematic), and it is no longer Badass Library Hermits--both of which were joke-titles off a throw-away one-liner not even in this draft so far. Instead, it is A Returning Power.

Which might be a terrible title anyway, and will likely change, but it's actually about the novel, not my jokes about it. That's a step in the right direction. The fact that I know enough what the novel is about to make it grow titles is proof of a step, too.

Sometimes I feel like one day I will actually be a Real Writer. (The rest of the time is evenly split between "I'm a Real Writer already!" and "I will never be a Real Writer." In case you were wondering.)
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It turns out that waking up at five-thirty and working on novels means that I am in Hardcore Writer Mode all day, and that makes it difficult for me to interact with people normally. I don't know if other people notice a difference, but I don't quite feel like myself.

...so, the past couple of days, when I've woken up at five-thirty I've just gone back to sleep for an hour or so.

Last night, aware that I'd do this, I started thinking about what the beginning of that novel I wrote last summer needs. I'd been planning to print it out to look at it first, but really it needs so many structural changes that it makes more sense to restructure it first if I can, and I may have given it enough time now that I can actually look at it sensibly. And I figured out sort of what might work for the first act, and now I just need to figure out how the implications of that ripple through, and how that changes everything, and how to work out the rest of the structure stuff.

Today I scribbled that down before breakfast, and wrote some more of The Urban Fantasy Novel between classes. Writing can happen in the interstices, I think, or at least I'll give it a try.

(Although having one's head in a project as large as a novel kind of by definition kicks you out of yourself at least to a certain extent. But we'll see if I can balance all this stuff I call life.)
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(Only three pages or so of that are from today--I wrote some last week after the last update.)

Writing is a very calming, satisfying thing to do on early, rainy mornings. Or at least it is for me.

Yesterday evening I just spent some time writing down ideas and thoughts for the novel revision I'm avoiding. I think I have to blow up the library earlier. Maybe. We'll see. But at least thinking about it is thinking about it, and not avoiding the subject entirely.
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: (alena)
One could call that an outline of the rough draft of that novel I wrote this summer. Ten pages, each chapter divided into scenes and noted for content, time, characters, setting. It's a little amazing how many new things I saw while going through it this way. Things like where the major events fall, both within chapters and within the structure of the novel. ("Chapter endings being major turns" starts happening near the end of the novel.) Things like how many scenes it takes for a specific character to fall in with Our Heroes (less than one, in some cases), how many scenes a particular character is in overall... there's a lot of stuff in here that I wouldn't have seen otherwise, that it'll take me a while to sort out and recalibrate.

So far, this month in college, my writing work has been pretty scattershot--I'll spend a day and a half one weekend revising a short story, not do anything for several days to a week, poke at the novel-in-progress to the tune of a few hundred words some day, do the last ten chapters of my novel outline the next evening.

After the ritualistic write-some-on-the-novel-every-day of this summer, it takes some adjusting to. I still would like to get back into the habit of writing every day, but some concession has to be made for various things. (Like having classes and homework and friends to hang out with, none of which were particularly urgent points this summer.)

In other news, I discovered in my first day of the Awesome Job that I need a watch to keep time with while I'm sitting in the rare book room (or I'll just stay there all day). Therefore, I will soon be the proud owner of a pocket watch.
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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. )
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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!)
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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 )
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Well, I have 70k. And I'm back to thinking "oh no I will not have enough for the rest of this novel!". But clearly I just spent a thousand words, well, not doing all that much--I mean, it was important, just that there were not tons of things happening--so I probably will be all right.

Because it is late, I am stopping in the middle of a Very Active Scene. Possibly the most Active Scene so far, or at least the longest. At least tomorrow there will be very obvious things to happen next. I hate it when I've stopped writing the day before because I wrote everything I knew about, and then I have to sit there and figure out What Happens Next.

Also, I am not entirely certain how this is all going to work out in the end. There is one key element which got lost earlier in the novel, and... well, let's just say it's going to be interesting.
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Turns out there probably is, in fact, enough in the rest of this novel to get to 80k. At least, if the current pace is anything to go by.

I discovered a terrace at my local library. It is rather bare, but it does have a table and some chairs which one can move around and sit in the sun with. I am not sure if I would use it again, or recommend it, as it is not nearly as enjoyable as sitting under the tree on their front lawn--no shade, no trees, no grass.

However, it was a good expedition. And clearly I've been getting something done, so all is well, even if I have had to squint at the screen because of the sun.

The end of the novel is coming up rather sooner than I had expected. Both wordcount- and story-wise. I am not sure if I want to be done with this world. I know that I should probably enjoy this feeling while it lasts, because eventually the point will come in revisions when I hate it, but it is still going to be sad when I have to type "the end".

All I can say is that I'd better have something else lined up to start working on when I finish this, or I will be lost.
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Somehow in all the excitement I got at least a little bit done on my novel tonight.

Now I am going to bed because there are too many things I need to think about and reply to, and if I get started I'll be here all night. In the meantime: you are all awesome.
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And the end of a chapter, and another plot point falls into place.

Now we just need to collect the protagonists, stick them into an intellectual debate, and defeat the big evil. Then everyone can have doughnuts and go home.

...with thorny bits along the way, but hey, what would a novel be if it didn't have thorny bits?

And after that, I get to stop thinking about this novel for a while and just write some other stuff, until I figure out what I'm doing with it enough to come back and rewrite it.

In the meantime, there may be a short story in my head. I am going to go and encourage it to come out.
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65039 / 80000


I like this milestone better than 60k. For this reason: I started July with 50k and fully intend to finish the 80k first draft of the novel by the end of it.

As of today, and 65k, I am halfway done with my goal for the month. Two days early.

(Which is with skipping three days to go out of town over the 4th of July, plus not writing yesterday for a variety of reasons which seemed excellent at the time. Like the Last Ever Grad Party I have to go to--this year, anyway--and going to see a play, and mounds of blueberry pancakes.)

For today? I am going to eat some cookies, maybe read part of a book, and hang out with [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae.

(You know, when I come up with a title for this thing I will have to go back through all these entries and retroactively tag them with it. Because right now "everyone has a novel" is the catchall tag, but there will be other novels. Unfortunately, I am the sort of writer who can't come up with a title until there's at least a draft, sometimes several.)
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20k (or 17k) feels like less when it's at the end of a novel than at the beginning, but it still feels like a lot.

In other words, when I had the first 20k of this novel, I was very pleased with myself. I felt like I had gotten a lot done.

Now, with 20k (or rather 17k) left of the novel, it just feels like I have the last few events to put into place and then it will all be done and over with. Which is... not really true.

On the other hand, I can't think of this 20k (17k) as being A Lot Wow, because if I do, I will start to panic and never get anything done.

I thought it was supposed to get easy near the end?

I guess if it turns out to be shorter I can just add in a few thousand words of Epilogue where they all apologize to each other for being mean and everyone reconciles. Or don't reconcile. And in the next draft I will actually describe things instead of just being vague, and that will make up for it, and no one will ever know.

(Yes, this is known as bribing myself with the promise of Easy to get myself writing, because probably my length prediction of 80k will turn out to be right anyway.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
(I am going to run out of verb phrases to use as writing update post titles eventually, but not for a while.)

This was yesterday's progress bar which I did not post.

60066 / 80000


There was brief celebration of reaching 60k. Also I went to the library and finally saw all of The Dark Knight. (Yes, I'm slow.)

This is today's progress bar so far.

62426 / 80000


I may or may not do more today. I know what happens next, that most important of questions to be able to answer, but I don't want to push it too far or go too fast and miss something big. I might take a break and, oh, actually write thank-you notes for graduation gifts or something.
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Again, late-night post before bed.

Got 2k done. Went to a tiny coffee shop, where there were nine (I counted) laptop people sitting in a line around the edge of the coffee shop, their backs to the walls. There was a tenth laptop person, who had to sit next to the fireplace. All of us could see his screen.

The part I dislike about coffee shop writing is when they play music over the speakers. Drowning it out with my own feels rude, but their music rarely helps me to write.

Just after I got 2,000 words for the day, it was time to have dinner and go off to the local SFF-y writers' meetup [livejournal.com profile] snurri organizes. Which was fun! I like hanging out with writer-types.

...yeah, all right, I am too tired to even be properly excited about meeting other local writers. Bed for me.

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