Saturday, January 31, 2009

Almost Superbowl Sunday

Tomorrow (well, today for those of you on the east coast of the US) will mark the second Superbowl I will have ever watched. Which is the third ever football game I've ever sat through.

I want to write. But although I will probably have a novel and a notebook near at hand, I will resist the temptation to bring my laptop along. I call it research (you never when a character might need to know what a down marker is), in addition to some quality time with my family. There aren't many things we do as a group, but last year my mother convinved us kids to watch the game with her (we'd already ended up watching the Sugarbowl that year, almost by chance, when the UH Warrioirs lost absymally), and lately we've taken to watching Psych all on Friday nights. Well, I watch Monk with her, and we make her suffer through Psych--she claims she doesn't get it. I think the pop culture and the style of humor of Psych are lost on her, but she likes Monk's quirky obsessive-compulsiveness.

Anyway, I suppose this post is about taking a break. I've been steeped in this story for weeks, if not months, and deadlines are fast approaching so I've been feeling the pressure to complete the fiorst draft so I can jump into revisions. But that's how we can get burned out. And by 'we' I think this refers to both writers and students. For me, I was starting to get tired of loking at my computer, and the busy-ness of a new semester made it easy to step away from it. But I couldn't drop it for long because, despite the hundreds of lines of translation I've already done, there is a lot I need to accomplish before March 13.

I am getting obsessed with March 13. So in a weekend surrounded by this novel, which I am luckily starting to like again after a few days of being sick of it completely, tomorrow I am taking a break and I will not begrudge myself the time away from it. Ideas may come to me, and I'll be there, accepting of them, but I will try not to fill my thoughts with working out niggling little problems with the plot.

Tomorrow I rest. And watch the Superbowl. And eat far more junkfood than is really necessary. But I will have fun, and maybe tomorrow evening I will turn on my laptop, chck my email, and slip into the writing as if all of it was fresh and new and exciting. because it's still exciting, just a little quieter than those first few paragraphs.

Cardinals versus Steelers, tomorrow will be interesting.

(On an unrelated note: I didn't find out until it was far too late to do anything about it, but Duff and the crew from Ace of Cakes was here, on Schofield Barracks--Thursday, I believe--and I didn't get to go see them. Alas. I enjoy that show.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Word Counts Unrelated to the Inauguration

I only saw bits and pieces of it anyway. I've doing reading for my classes and getting over some strange 24-hour bug I had yesterday. (I tend to get the 3-day cold, but I took some NyQuil last night and woke up able to breathe through both nostrils--it's the little things we appreciate when they're gone.)

So the final bout of word counts for the end of my winter vacation between semesters:

Day 22, Jan 8: end at 56,211

Day 23, Jan 9: end at 60,046

Day 24, Jan 10: end at 60,304 (slow day, it's how it goes sometimes)

Day 25, Jan 11: end at 63,114

Day 26, Jan 12: 66,007

Day 27, Jan 13: 66,700

No, that isn't a typo. I did about 700 words on the novel that last day before my first day of classes. But on the other hand, I wrote around 6,500 words on a complete short story retelling Rapunzel in that one night (from about 9:30-2). And I stayed up later than I meant to, because the next day, I had to finish the translation I'd put off, rush to school, spend the day there, come home at 10 pm, then run out of the house the next morning for my weekly meeting with my thesis advisor.

I am proud of that short story--it needs work, mostly editing out extraneous details--but no, I have not finished the first draft of the novel. I am close to the end, and may be be able to push through it before classes next week, but I have to be stubborn about it. I think I lost some of my momentum as soon as classes started up. I haven't typed a word yet since the 14th.

I'd like to say that I'll do a few pages tonight, but I really don't want to have to worry about any lingering assignments for tomorrow and I'm already tired. I may only have enough alertness to finish the homework before going to bed, hoping to knock out any last tiny lingering cold monsters.

I'm off.
Happy writing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not a Morning Person Doesn't Even Begin to Describe It

So says one of my favorite key chains. And it's true. Spending the past 4 weeks writing has changed that fact from joke back to truth. I am not a morning person. I an a night owl, or some other nocturnal creature. My sleep has gone screwy the past week or two. I go to bed 12, 1, 2, then wake up around 10 or 11 in the morning. Ususally I wake up a bit earlier, but I still drowse until that time, the past few days I've actually greeting consciousness at those times. Also, I reguarly go to bed or fall asleep around midnight and haven't had this problem before.

Perhaps it's partly from not needing to wake up early, since I didn't have classes, and then partly the staying up a bit later than usual--the curse of being a nocturnal person living with other people and having my own diurnal schedule. I also like to think it's partly a reaction to a general lack of rest that built up over the semester and summer, though I seem to recall learning doesn't actually happen (it was in a psych class, if people were regualrly deprived of a few extra hours of sleep, only getting 4 or 5 a night, they -didn't- then sleep for a whole day to make up for it).

Anyway, so then I have nights like last night when I went to bed at 2, didn't fall asleep until after 3 and woke up about 10:30 or so this morning. I would've gone to bed earlier, but I got on a roll, some time after 9/9:30. Between about 10 and 2 I wrote almost 3,000, most if not all of the writing I did yesterday in fact. I had a few chores that mornig, but not much, so I could've written much longer earlier in the day, but couldn't find the motivation. Day winding down, others are asleep, and my fingers are tapping like crazy.

Today I didn't even try to write much. I checked my email, LJ, some blogs I like to frequent, then shut down. I ran some errands, came home and booted up the computer intending to write, but my stomach was giving me trouble (I still feel the slightest bit of nauseous, but it's nwhere near as bad as it was this afternoon), so I eventually shut down without typing a single word. so here I am now, having already wasted about an hour online. I'm going to see if I can get another 3,000 words done or so.

I have 98 lines of translation to do tomorrow, but other than that and an hour or so of reorganizing my room for greatest effectiveness when classes start this Wednesday, I will be spending the day writing. I don't think I'll finish the whole plot, but endings take a lot of time for me, so I'll get as far as I can and finish the first draft while editing the beginning. Hopefully there won't be too much overlap. Maybe just a week or two, depending on how big the workload is the first two weeks.

Okay, books don't write themselves, so I'm off. Happy writing everyone.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Updates and What I Dread Naming Writer's Block

Day 18, Jan 4: ended at 48,176 word count for the day--2298

Day 19, Jan 5: end at 51,191, word count for the day--3015 (My goal for this day was to pass 50,000, which I did, and then to reach 51,000, which I also did. It was a good day.)

Day 20, Jan 6: end at 52,677, word count for the day--1486 (Less good, but over 1,000 is generally okay.)

Day 21, Jan 7: end at 52,934, word count for the day--257 (Abysmal, I'm trying to reverse this now, but I'm not doing too well so far.)

Yesterday was a scattered day, and I couldn't concentrate. Changing where I typed didn't seem to help.

Today was a run-around day for the first half. I could go out again in half an hour, but that would just be for the drive, the air, and I might do better to really sit down and focus on the writing.

I have this feeling that being able to talk to someone about the story would help (went to writer's group yesterday and I can say that critique does not help or motivate when I'm knee-deep in writing a first draft)--just throw ideas at them, toss 'em around. But I'm always hesitant to bug people, on AIM and the like. I feel like since I don't know what they're doing, it's an intrusion, and I don't like asking if they're there repeatedly and being rebuffed or ignored (not deliberately, just because the person on the other end is busy or not at their computer). Mnn, anyway, so I'm here, in an almost full house, but feling a little lonely. Go figure.

I'm just wandering the internet trying to find some bit of inspiration that will catch me and propel me into pages of writing. Until then, I work sentence by sentence.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Word Count Updates and a thought on how I organize my novels

First post of the new year.

Maybe it's a good sign that it's about making progress on the current novel.

Day 13, December 30, 2008: end of day--42,699, total word count for the day--2,567.

Day 14, December 31 and Day 15, January 1: 0 words both days. My second chunk of allowed lack of writing. It was a good rest.

Day 16, January 2, 2009: (I'll have to get used to writing 2009 now) ended the day at 45,878, for a total word count for the day of 3,1979.

Day 17, January 3, 2009: o words. Saturdays are my bane.

Today is Day 18. I'm working on it now, though I am finding that it's hard to start in the morning. as in, I get little to no writing done until after noon. I do, however, make pretty good progress in the evening and night, sometimes getting 2,000 words or more done between 9/10 pm and midnight/1 am.

The past few days I've hit a bit of a rut, good word counts aside. I tend to have a very (very) general idea of where a story needs to go. Herein lies the problem with that style of organization--reaching the point of specific scenes that don't fall exactly along the line of that main arc. This one has developed a number of twists and subplots. I just introduced a new character, Detective Sam Emerson. Briefly: my protagonist was arrested for something he didn't do, but he can't really explain what really happened without looking like a loon. He's being framed by two people with otherworldly powers and thus are influencing some of the cops. Samuel Emerson already has a bit of a compulsive personality--he might not even need magic to make him obsess over a case.

The question is whether to develop his character and the police case, or keep it vague. It isn't the main conflict of the story, but it throws a wrench in the protag's plans. He's tried very hard to completely stay out of the cops' radar. Sam's interesting and already creating a voice in my head, which I'd like to explore, but then it becomes a trick of when to us a scene which furthers this arc or another.

More generally, when do I bring in one of these twist characters. Not enough and the few scenes they show up in and one wonders why they're there. Too much and there's no tension, the reader might get bored, or here isn't enough time to focus on someone else. Im a bit worried I have too much going on. Now that i think about it, though, I felt that way with another novel, too. So maybe it's just 'part of the process,' well, my process at least. I just need to keep writing and see where it goes. Afterwards, I can look at it as a whole and see if anything is off-balance.

Just keep writing. Okay, I'm off.