aamcnamara: (Default)
Today I baked apple crisp. I also went to Holly Black's event for her new novel (which has vampires), and I cooked carrots and black beans (with honey) for dinner, all orange and black in the frying pan.

I think it might be autumn.

I've written a bunch of letters lately and sent them off. Hopefully, people will write back! I am going to write to more people, too--I would like to have a big group of correspondents, but ideally spread out so that I'm not writing all of the letters at the same time.

It's been a good couple of weeks for reading, too, what with the part where I have a commute now. I've been rereading a lot of Dorothy Sayers lately, and my roommates and I finally finished (re-)watching Season 5 of Buffy. I got Starglass, too--which is by my VP XV classmate Phoebe North, and really an interesting contribution to the generation ship genre. I am definitely intrigued to see what the next book is like!

I also got Caitlin Kiernan's Blood Oranges out of the library, which with Coldest Girl in Coldtown makes an interesting point-counterpoint. Blood Oranges is the gritty horrible side of paranormal novels, along the lines of Sunshine except even less romanticized and (if possible) with even more gross visceral stuff. Coldest Girl is much more in the romanticized vein (ha), even though there is--as Holly Black noted today--a lot of blood in it. Though perhaps not in the romanticized vein so much as examining the romanticization?

Anyway, an interesting pair of novels to read together.

I haven't been writing much, despite good intentions. My brain hasn't been producing many new exciting ideas recently. But at the Holly Black event today I started thinking again about The Urban Fantasy Novel (which I wrote a first draft of lo these many years ago), and how maybe now that I have actually been in college, and through college, and have some small modicum of outside-of-college living on one's own--and tangentially have learned some things about plot and so on--I could attack it and actually rewrite it to be decent. Maybe. Possibly. Though it really would need a lot of work... but I am itching to start doing something, working on something, so why not try this? It may not catch, but then I guess I can just go on to a different defunct project, and yet another, until my brain gets bored enough to generate fresh concepts.
aamcnamara: (Default)
39.8 / 60

Accumulated slowly since I last posted a meter. Hundred words or so here, couple hundred words there...

Someday I will have time to sit down and work through the motivations of the characters in The Urban Fantasy Novel so I can keep going on that, but today is not that day. Tomorrow will not be it, either. Maybe next weekend?
aamcnamara: (Default)
The novellously productive thing I did today was, I sat down and went through The Urban Fantasy Novel on Scrivener, tagging all the scenes with location and characters.

My thought is that this will speed up the working-through-motives part. It'll still take sitting down and staring at it for a good long while, but this should help. Which is the main part.

Best of all, tagging things took approximately exactly the amount of time that I had free today from not going to a class where they were (reviewing, for me) learning multiple integrals in spherical coordinates. Which I a) know how to do and b) do not deeply enjoy, so yay!

Other nice things today included autumn. Weather, leaves (falling and fallen-for-scuffing-through), forests, lakes, tea... and I have a huge leaf to wear in my hat. Mostly I go for the tiny leaves, unobtrusive but maybe brightly-colored, red or orange or yellow, but I'm kind of enjoying this wide mottled-brown one.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Four colors of thread later...

Pictorial evidence of outlining process )


I have been staring at [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's post here for a while today, writing down things about structure, and frowning at them. Right now, my vague description of this novel's structure is that it's a sort of kaleidoscope, although in a different way than [livejournal.com profile] alecaustin was using the term. Another metaphor in my head at the moment is "pick-up sticks"--basically, the themes develop in larger and smaller parts, all over, sometimes parallel and sometimes perpendicular and sometimes counterpoint...

...yeah, who really knows. I need to work through making sure everyone has a motivation for everything they do, though. That's the next task, formidable because of its size.

(Related: I am trying to get into a writing class for next semester. This might be hard, 'cause I very likely will have to submit a writing sample, and I have been working on first- and first-and-a-half-drafts of novels for about the past year with very little short-story progress at all. And first or first and a half drafts of novels are still quite rough, really. I keep wanting to go "But I write better than that, truly! Just wait about two more years and I will have a passable draft of this you can read!")
aamcnamara: (Default)
It's nearly the end of October. It's been in the sixties and seventies here, warm and humid, rainy. The warm damp breezes feel good sometimes, but sometimes sitting at my computer in the evenings it's just stuffy. (Or, um, maybe that's the fault of my roommate and me making pots of tea in this weather. Though can you blame us? October and tea go together so well.)

The end of October means some other things, too, though. Halloween, of course, but entirely apart from that--I have to re-evaluate my goals as far as writing goes.

I've been proud of myself, this semester, for keeping work going on A Returning Power. Ten thousand words? It seems staggering progress.

That isn't the only work I've done, either. Over fall break I did that timeline for The Urban Fantasy Novel; today I started a proper outline (well, sort of). (Notecards and markers and masking tape and a wall and four colors of thread; you do the math.)

But at the end of the summer my goal had been a full re-draft of A Returning Power by the end of October (not happening), and at least a partial revision of The Urban Fantasy Novel by the end of November.

I'm not really disappointed in myself for my slow steps on A Returning Power. I've been busy, and I have been working on it; it makes sense to take the time it needs. I know that when I have the time to work on it, I will get it done.

What the problem is, is that I'd told the Codex Novel Contest group that I'd turn in the first 50-75 pages of The Urban Fantasy Novel in early December. Other people will read them, other people will ponder them and tell me what they think of them. I really wanted, I really want, to have the beginning at least slightly more in shape than it is right now.

...and, if I do that, if I even can manage even that on my schedule (because fixing the beginning means knowing a lot more about the novel overall than I do right now), I definitely won't have time or space in my brain for A Returning Power.

So I have to choose. True, on the surface it looks easy. People will see The Urban Fantasy Novel rather soon, and I don't even have a self-imposed deadline on A Returning Power (having tipped over the October re-draft goalpost already). But I have something else on A Returning Power, which is a self-imposed determination to Keep Working On It; and they both have equal claim on my heart.

(It doesn't help that, being in the Middles of A Returning Power, I am slightly convinced that if I lose my momentum now on that project it'll take me a long time to pick it back up again. Also, I am closer to a reasonably presentable draft of A Returning Power, and the lure of that is hard to step away from.)

... yeah. Maybe what I really need to do is resign myself to the fate of turning in a not-so-great set of pages of The Urban Fantasy Novel in December, because I have a bunch of reasons for keeping work going, at least minorly, on A Returning Power. I still don't love that, but maybe it makes the most sense when considered as a whole. (Lately I haven't been paying much attention to external deadlines--the difference here, I think, is that I chose it in the first place. Now, though, trying to push through to what I had hoped to get done just doesn't seem to make sense.)

Or maybe what I really need is to go to bed, and get up in the morning and finish my takehome midterm and go to my last ballroom dance class. How about I try that first, and then see what happens from there.
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33 / 75

Some progress! Nothing too terribly exciting today. At least, nothing as flashy as time-travel or dragons.


Today I started working with The Urban Fantasy Novel.

Pictorial proof )

Having spread it out chapter-by-chapter on the floor, I stared at it for a while from my chair and tried to make a list of things to work on... and then went off to eat brunch.

After brunch, and working on A Returning Power, and talking to my family on the phone, and seeing part of Monty Python's Holy Grail with the subtitles for people who don't actually want to see the film (remixed from Shakespeare's Henry IV)... and making dinner, and eating dinner...

...well, I realized that I had to wash all the dishes that had gotten dirty in the process of making dinner. And if I tried to carry them all out and wash them and then bring them back in wet, they might drip all over the novel pages. That would just be sad, and also wrong.

Clearly, therefore, the answer was to take them up--and, as I did, to type up a timeline of all the events in the novel.

Things I have learned by this exercise include that no one in this novel ever eats lunch, that Katie-our-protagonist only attends two classes--one of which is on Thursday one week and Wednesday the next--but studies for a couple more, and that in this 39-chapter novel mostly each day has one or two or three chapters concerning or related to it but one of them has seven. Also, I forgot to print out the last page.

So I would say that was worth it.

Having gotten all the novel up, I went and washed things. And so to bed.

I am rather enjoying this fall break.
aamcnamara: (Default)
cut for picture )

It's a good thing I don't have any classes assigning essays to be written or long readings to be printed out this semester; there's my printing quota gone...

...next time I'll probably do it eight-point font one-and-a-half spacing double-sided, in the name of Saving Paper. But I felt, mulishly, like I ought to print this one out full size; so I did. It's sitting on my bookshelf now, a physical object in this world. Even if I have no time to think about revising it--which I don't, right now, but we'll see about over fall break--it's comforting to have it there.

(Hey. Hey look. I made this.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
345 / 345

It seems improbable, no less because I thought the novel would be slightly longer. Five pages off on my estimate from the beginning of the summer isn't too bad, although I keep feeling vaguely guilty for some reason that I didn't write those five other pages (which would be wholly unnecessary, and I don't even know what they would be).

At any rate... it feels unreal. Not like I actually just finished a novel. But I have a first draft, and I have officially Closed The Files until I get to school and can print a draft and start ignoring it in person.

So. Um. What'm I supposed to do now?
aamcnamara: (Default)
338 / 350

I want to be done with this novel so badly that I keep rushing the pace accidentally. This is bad. Slowing myself down = in some ways, pacing the writing of it out. So this is going to be good for tonight. I have... some time, at least, to take with this.

In the archives, I got into 1907. I am going to rather miss this job--okay, it can get a little tedious, just cartoon after cartoon after cartoon, but I won't get the tidbits of history. Particularly Minnesotan history, like "Fish" Jones who started a fish stall in the downtown Minneapolis market.

He bought a front-page ad in the paper, a picture of him with oysters for wings. With the money he made from the fish business, he bought some animals--a tiger, I think, and a camel and a bear, and some other things--and started a zoo. When the neighbors complained, he sold the land (they built Basilica cathedral where I had some high school choir concerts, this grand huge thing with lovely acoustics, on the spot) and moved out to Minnehaha Creek and built a sort-of mansion there to keep all his animals.

You can't make this stuff up. Or, well, you could, but no one would believe it.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today I finished off the notebook I've been keeping since June--the notebook that has most of my plot outlines for this novel, in fact. So I have to keep it around for a bit longer, but I bought a new one--a Macalester notebook, like the ones I started keeping writing-notebooks in when I had my summer creative writing classes on their campus--and I took some notes in it for the maybe-story my watchfob is giving me. That was good. I also got a book about the International Space Station out of the library. There aren't very many of them, which seems odd, but I guess it is not as flashy as some other space things.

Also, I wrote.

335 / 350

End of this (shortish for my short chapters) chapter. Two chapters left, I think.

(This novel is going to end. It is going to end rather soon. I don't quite believe it. Not yet.)
aamcnamara: (magician)
Yesterday I acquired a very nice item from [livejournal.com profile] elisem. It was one of her watchfob commissions, and due to living in the same city I got to bike over and watch her make it. Which was awesome. It's pretty much the geekiest watchfob ever--it starts out with a meteorite bead by the watch, and then there are four dinosaur-bone beads on the chain, and it ends with a tektite. I asked her what she would call it, and she came up with "Strange Meetings", but so far I've just been calling it "Consequences". It is very, very pretty, and very, very geeky, and I like it lots.

It's the first piece of hers that I own--I've been to the haiku earring party, but only on behalf of other people; I've poked through her Current Shinies posts interestedly, but nothing ever leaped out at me as something I Had To Have or would wear all the time.

I am, by the way, getting better at this "buying things for myself" thing. When I was little I did that thing where you say "oh yes certainly I shall wear that, parents of mine!" and then it gathers dust in your closet, because it wasn't quite you or it didn't quite fit or you don't really have anywhere to wear it and don't quite care little enough yet to wear it anyway. But this is... well, not practical, but a mode of adornment I can very much get behind, and I've been wearing my pocket watch again mostly to have an excuse to wear the fob.

It gave me a nubbin of something that might turn into a story, too. We'll have to see--anyway, it makes me happy when I get possible-story notions and have to go off and research things like the ISS. The ISS is cool. (And watch NASA TV, aka my favorite television channel ever. I used to watch it at the dentist's.)

Other than that:
The Female Man: Very interesting. Not of my time. SF turns into past and the cycle continues.
Flashpoint (not a book, TV show): The SU boards told me I should watch this, and they were right. I finished the second disc of the first season today--and whatever will I do when I go back to school and have no Netflix again? Be sad and watch things streaming or download them from iTunes, I know. Anyway, this show is quite well-made and well-put-together.

Progress on first draft of The Urban Fantasy Novel:
332 / 350

One of the things I hate/adore about writing (...especially SF/F) is that by the time you reach the 332nd page of your novel, if someone asked you "So, what's happening in the book right now?" your summary of the current scene would necessarily sound completely ridiculous.

When I finish this draft I want to print it out and do a first-pass edit before I send it to too many people to read, but I kind of think I will want at least one person to skim through it as-is and tell me if it actually makes sense at all.
aamcnamara: (magician)
327 / 350

I had been working on this in bits and drabs, and then I didn't write for a few days--I'm not sure why, except that it was far too hot out and I needed a break. Also, endings are hard.

But it rained and other happy things happened and anyway I made a bunch of progress today, and hit 80k words, and I am reassured in where I am going and how fast. There's a hidden subplot I never really put in, but... well. That's what revisions are for.

Some books I read in the meantime:
Stepsister Scheme: I had thought for a while I should read one of Hines' books. It was entertaining--some dark material, but done up in a fluffy wrapper. If the library had had the sequel when I went to look for it, I definitely would've checked it out--I still might reserve it, though I seem to be running out of summer.
A Game of Kings, on recommendation of [livejournal.com profile] csecooney. Delightful! I was saddened by some parts of this book (why?!) but entertained by many others. Overall, though, I quite enjoyed it. I would like to read the sequels--I suspect that I can get them at my college library, so I will try to do that.
...I feel like I read something else recently, too, but I can't remember what it was. Maybe I'll think of it. That's the trouble with not writing things up right after you read them.

Right now I'm reading The Female Man, and rather liking it. It's like a post-modern feminist The Dispossessed, with less physics. (I just went to see what history thought of this summation. Apparently they were published in the same year, but Female Man was written first. Which sums up a lot of how I've been reading SF literature from the past.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
314 / 350

One page of this was actually yesterday, I think. Anyway, yay progress. Emotions still running high and deep. This chapter's main revelation has already happened so I'm not sure what point there would be in trying to make it longer. Someday I will learn how to actually structure chapters. Maybe?

The draft gets sketchier as I continue. But you can't argue with 36 (or so) pages left, or at least I can't.

On we go. La.
aamcnamara: (Default)
310 / 350

The night before the Big Climactic Battle (or Appropriately-Coordinated Battles, as the case may be), no one's sure if what they're doing is right, emotions running high... can't back out now, though. And there are some neat little moments that apparently I've been setting up through this whole novel. So that's nice.

Between progress on this novel, learning that I don't completely fail at driving (road test in a week, eep! But I'm less worried after practicing tonight), and Prop 8 being overturned (anyone out there to whom that's news? If there is--yeah, it was)... pretty good day.

Also, I read A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend yesterday/today. It's by Emily Horner and a few years ago it would've totally rocked my world. I've figured out enough about the world and myself by now that it didn't have quite the same effect on me now, but that part of me that's always thirteen or fourteen on the inside (which will always be thirteen or fourteen on the inside) kept shying up to the text and skittering away again as I read, staring.

Queer YA is awesome--this adds in the questioning part, and the part where you aren't even questioning because that question hasn't even occurred to you or because you don't want it to. Wanting things without knowing their names, or thinking about them, or wanting to know their names, because you just can't be there yet.

And then it says that that's okay, and that you can have friends and relationships of all sorts without knowing Absolutely Right Now What You Are Go. Which I think is a really really good message for people to take away from a book, and not one that I see very much.

Additionally, there's a musical about ninjas and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Being a nerd, and not-quite-a-theater-kid--oh, so familiar--as well as, you know, the whole dead-best-friend part. Et cetera.)

Okay, okay, so maybe I'm still going "eeee! They wrote a whole book, just for me!". So sue me.
aamcnamara: (Default)
304 / 350

"There is too much stuff! I will never fit this all in fewer than fifty pages!"

...humans (/writers) are so predictable. Forging onward!

Highlights of today include but are not limited to Free Hugs, passing a guy playing guitar in the park, and working on old sheet music at the bindery.
(Lowlights include walking a mile and a half in the heat-index-91-degrees early afternoon. I didn't drop dead. Go me?)

The King's Peace: Interesting--not certain I will pick up the sequel, but I might.
Pale Fire: There are a few stories behind me reading this. One of them is "So I was reading Nabokov on the bus today..."*. One of them is "This morning I thought I wanted to read some SF-y, maybe space opera, novel, and then Nabokov lured me"**, and one of them is "Aaaaa, Nabokov"***.

All of them are true!

Spoilers, reading-protocols, slush )

**Reader/writer (at least in my case)
***Writer/reader (ditto above)
aamcnamara: (Default)
301 / 350

49 pages left (or so) and I will finish this before the end of August, I swear.

I realized that part of why I didn't want to work on it was the thing that happens at this point of writing a novel--"I don't have enough stuff left to fill all that much space!". So I sat down and wrote out all the things I needed to happen before the end, and look at that, there is at least one event for each chapter left.

With luck I will also finish the redraft of the other novel by the end of August, but that's shakier. Mostly I want this done.

Yesterday was the sort of busy day in which I did no writing: by the end of it I was all peopled out and had no brain left. But I had a birthday party, and we rode the carousel, and I got some comments to someone relatively on time, and I ate a lot of berries and talked with neat people.

Today was the sort of busy day in which it all gave me energy to write--I went kayaking this morning, did laundry, fixed my bed so it will sit upright as a couch (I've only had this bed for what, four years now?), et cetera. And read the new Shadow Unit, because I could. Now it is time for bed.
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Second draft of Badass Library Hermits:
27.9 / 70

First draft of The Urban Fantasy Novel:
297 / 350

Not a super amount of progress on either one, but hey, a bit on each is all I ask. (And slush for Ideomancer, which is good because I had been feeling guilty about being behind on that batch and not doing it on my birthday.)

Last night we went to see A Streetcar Named Desire. Somehow, I had both a) not seen this before and b) not gotten spoilers for it. Though really it's the sort of thing where even if you technically knew the ending or had seen it before it'd still be a good watching experience, I was glad (and a bit amazed!) that I hadn't gotten spoiled.

It was at the Guthrie; my main reason to go was "I want to see something at the Guthrie while I'm in town!" The set lived up to their reputation (er, their reputation in my head)--it wasn't as flashy as some, but well-built and impressive nonetheless. The lighting probably was only noticeable because I am a techie (or possibly because I was sitting far enough to the side that I could see the scrim behind the set, which was lit a clear sky blue throughout--still not sure if that was on purpose or not).

Anyway, apart from techie details, it was a really nice production of a play which I now understand the 'classic' status of. It showed how complicated people are, and how we try to live with each other and with the systems of our society, and how many things have changed since the time period of the play and how very terribly many have stayed the same. This last is maybe best illustrated by the fact that the program had numbers for sexual-abuse and domestic-violence hotlines (though none for [spoiler]). And overall it was a well-constructed play, dense and intriguing.

If I hadn't wanted to just "go see a Guthrie play" it probably would've been a while longer before I saw it, so that all worked out very well.

(Spoilers could lurk in comments. Like I said, it's the sort of play where you might not care, but it'd be a different experience going in knowing.)

Tonight we have free Omnitheater tickets, courtesy of my library volunteering. Score!
aamcnamara: (Default)
293 / 350

More progress! Figuring out the last couple of plot points! Life lesson from writing fiction: there are always complications.
aamcnamara: (Default)
288 / 350

Back to The Urban Fantasy Novel! Hooray! This was all today. End of chapter 32, part of 33. (They're, um, shortish chapters.)

(I also wrote a bit more on the story I started a couple of days ago with those sixty-four words. Currently... 211? Or so?)

I seem to have a penchant for big climactic magical duels. This will probably turn out to be important in my life somehow.

Today I gave a copy of The Last Unicorn as a present: birthday, graduation, going-off-to-college combination. It's a good leaving-home book, I think. The only problem with giving it is, I don't own a copy so I kept wanting to just sit down and read it instead of wrapping it up. Oh well.

One of the things I've been enjoying this summer is taking the buses. They don't always go exactly where I want them to, but I can do a fairly good approximation of most places--and they don't always go exactly when I want them to, but that means I have a little extra time before things, to wander and explore in places a bit too far from home for me to go there offhand.

So this afternoon I got to sit under a Minnehaha Creek bridge for a while, watching the water and pretending to write. Going over the bridge, it was as wide as a usual road, fairly anonymous pavement--but underneath it, the ground was all sand and dirt, rocks leading down to the water, the sort of place a troll might live, and looking out a hazy golden afternoon, the only motion from insects and little birds and the ripples of the creek as it rolled by. Just--lovely.
aamcnamara: (Default)
The Urban Fantasy Novel, first draft in-progress:

280 / 350

The ridiculous revision dash (by wordcount in thousands), novel I wrote last summer:

6.4 / 80

Other tasks accomplished: made blueberry-strawberry pancakes, baked raspberry muffins, slushed for Ideomancer, read part of Jo Walton's The King's Peace. (Can you tell that one of the things I enjoy most about summer is berries?)

We could call that a day.

May 2017



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