2014: Mission Productivity

So.  New year, new resolutions, new goals.  This year’s goal is to write 6 short stories, polish 4 of them and submit 2 of them.  I’m actually on track so far: I’ve written one short story (well, actually 2 versions of it, even!), I’m in process of revising it, and I wrote it for a specific call, so once it’s polished and submitted, that will be one checkmark in each column.  Pretty cool.

I’m also very tempted to apply to Viable Paradise with the first chapter or three of The Red Box.  Even if I don’t get accepted, I’ll have revised those chapters at least, which will be more than I’ve done with the whole novel due to brain games/self-sabotage.  So truthfully I should just do it, as it’s a win-win either way. 

The short story I just wrote is a side story/prequel of sorts to the events in The Red Box so that’s got me even more fired up to work on it.  I’ve also heard that Chaperon Rouge: Art of Fairytales, an illustrated fairytale collection I contributed to about a year ago, is finally on track to be published.  So that’s exciting too.  I did some art and a retelling of The Little Mermaid.

I’m thoroughly tempted to do Chuck Wendig’s latest Flash Friday Challenge; only time is in my way.  I rolled a twelve, which made me laugh, because that’s my favorite genre. I’m waffling between retelling The Snow Queen or The Twelve Swans.  My short story Lump from Re-Vamp is actually inspired by The Snow Queen, so maybe I should try The Twelve Swans. Hmmmm…

At any rate: hopefully January is a good indicator of how 2014 might go, goal- and project-wise, and not just a flare up before the fire sputters out!  Onward, ho!

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A giddy ending

Remember how terrible I felt the first time I “finished” The Red Box?

… Well, I don’t feel that way this time!

I feel the way I usually do when I finish a story: completely ecstatic, giddy, and terrified. Terrified that when I go back and reread, I’ll discover the ending doesn’t fit or it’s really dreadful or some other horrible thing. But at the same time, completely over the moon and happy and content (as content as I get) with what I wrote and feeling like it really came together there at the end.

There’s a few things I am concerned about, but I want to do a reread before I share it with anyone, and then I want to bounce it off someone who’s already halfway through the first draft to see what she thinks, and then I will more broadly share with at least two or three other people.

Then more revisions, I am sure, likely this will go at least two or three more rounds of revisions, but…. … … !!!

It has an ending! That I don’t hate!! And it is 59,000 words!

You guys, I wrote a really small novel!

Ye Olde Word Count

Tonight I wrote roughly a thousand words! I’m now on Chapter Seventeen, where, last week, I was stuck on Chapter Fourteen. The past few times I’ve sat down to write I’ve been doing all right. I’m not sure what’s making the difference. Well–one thing that does help is that I’m trying really hard to make sure that I stop with some idea of what happens next, and write that as a sentence at the end of the document. I’m also trying really hard to resist the constant whisper of “that sucks.” I’m leaving dialogue untagged knowing I’ll come back and tag it later (I know I actually WILL do that, unlike some things that I say I’ll do later and then never do). I don’t feel like I am plunging ahead blindly, even though I do feel a little blind, it’s not the wreckless, I-really-have-no-clue feeling of before. It’s more a slight uncertainty that I might not be doing exactly the right thing yet.

I’ve been fighting against the tendency of my brain to judge “lack of something potential” as “failure.” Ie., just because I’ve not yet gotten something that COULD happen, doesn’t mean that I won’t ever.

I also wrote a rambling, fun thing for Re-Vamp, which I look forward to continuing at some point.

Asking the right questions

So, all right, I haven’t managed to post every day of December, though I’ve attempted to write every single day–some days more successful than others. Today I wrote about 1800 words and I finished the big reveal scene. One more chapter and then the story is done, and there are giant gaping holes I need to go fix. But. Done? Holy shit! True, there are scenes that just stop and don’t finish but… this is the closest I’ve ever been to an (almost) novel. (It’s at 46,355 words right now)

One thing that’s been very difficult for me is my inability to talk about the story with people. The story is definitely not in a shareable form, and I was having massive trouble articulating what problems I was having without spelling out the story. But today I had a breakthrough on that front, and was able to ask a few questions of my friend E., and get a few answers that really helped me feel much more confident in the direction I was going. It cleared up some of my fears about the themes I was possibly going to address, and it helped me finish the reveal scene.

Funny, isn’t it though, that the biggest help was the confidence boost. I wonder why it’s such a big deal–simply believing in what you’re writing. But it always is.

The snippet file

When I chop things up I try to remember to either keep an old version or take the snippets and dump them into a word doc for snippets. Sometimes I’ll end up with quite a few snippet files, or sometimes I end up with a very long word document. But I think it’s worth keeping them. Every once in a while I’ll get to a place where I’ll be like “Ohhh, now, that snippet I cut out of Chapter two could really work here!” And more often than not, it’s true–I liked what I’d written for a reason, but maybe the timing wasn’t right, maybe later I’ll figure out when the timing *is* right.

Today I have no idea how many words I wrote because I ended up using a few snippets I’d cut out of an earlier version of a scene just before. So I’ll just give a more general wordcount: 45,249. The other day I found an old journal entry where I’d written out these summaries of various stories, given the start date and the wordcount at the time. The Red Box was at 35k; it was June or July.

True, 10,000 words in six months isn’t much. But it’s more than I thought I’d written. Especially considering at the beginning of this renewed effort on the story, I was barely at 40k, maybe just under it.

It’s pretty cool, sometimes, to look up and realize you’ve come a lot farther than you thought.

We believe in tomorrow…

…But we’re stuck in today.

I’m so close to the ending. I wrote a big part of the “big reveal” scene. I didn’t finish because I think I want to change what characters are present, to amp up the intensity and provide better motivation for the reveal. There’s still, I think, one last big choice for the main character to make. But I think I have a much clearer idea of how this is fitting together.

I wrote a little over 2000 words and to be honest, they’re rough and awful as hell, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to rewrite most of them. But I think getting them down is so important. It’s forcing me to make the decisions that I will stand by when I revise. It’s making me realize where the holes are.

This is really tough for me, but it’s good. It’s tough for me to keep going when I know I’m not writing at the top of my game, when I know things are out of order or lack true motivation and when I’m worried that there may be some serious plot problems. But I do think I’m at that point where I have to keep pushing. Maybe I’ll write an ending that moves too quick, or too slow, but that can be fixed. It can all be fixed.

I know I keep repeating that, but it’s because I have a hard time believing it, and I know, to keep going, I have to.

For now I want to remember that I wrote 2000 words and I am very close to the ending, and I did this over a weekend where I was feeling pretty off on both days, so I didn’t even write as much as I could’ve or should’ve, and I am so. Close.

Almost there. I can’t let up now. I have to do this.

A Merry Band of Excuses

All right, so not very many words today, maybe 400.  I could blame having to stay late at work, a long detour in the cold to pick up a shiny new phone, the distraction said phone brings, the vague feeling that I’m getting sick… As the subject line says, a merry band of excuses.

But really I’m just not quite sure how to get going with the next part, what really ought to come next.  I know the general, but the specifics aren’t quite in place yet.  I want the protagonist to pursue certain avenues of investigation, but the plot path I’ve got him going down doesn’t exactly lead that way.

So I’ll take the 400 words and some time to think.  Sometimes, that’s what’s needed, I suppose.

Hooray!

Another 1000 words, more feeling of progress, more confidence.  I hope this can last all month.  Oh man!  I feel like I am getting really close.

I’m waffling about a planned plot point–one I had in mind since the early drafts, but may not be necessary any more–I don’t know.  I’ll finish up the scene I’m currently writing–a spur of the moment twist that’s working out really well–and then see how I feel.

I was also talking with a friend about double or multiple climaxes (in a story, you gutter-minded folk!) and whether or not they make a story turn out anticlimactic.  My fear is yes, but her feeling was no.  I don’t know if my story is really going to work out that way, but during our discussion, I do feel like there are several angles to the story that must be resolved in multiple Big Moments.  What I had thought was going to be the big climax may not be.  Or it may.  We’ll see when I get there, I guess.

Current wordcount: 40604 (finally broke the 30 thousands, where I’ve been stuck for ages!)

Puzzle pieces

After worrying that I wouldn’t be able to write at all (ended up watching MI-5 all day, argh) I ended up with about a thousand words, though I also trimmed out a small chunk.  I feel like things are beginning to fall into place–I wrote a rather important moment and for now at least, it feels like it’s time. I had written a version of it in an earlier draft of Chapter Thirteen and it just wasn’t working.  This is all so rough but I’m glad I’m not fussing and fussing with trying to make it sound perfect.  I know it doesn’t even sound close to what the final wording will be, but that’s all right.  The skeleton is there, the sketch, and I know I’ll be back to ink and color.

So, today’s wordcount: 39,596

The witty subject line, she eludes me

Last night I mostly sorted thoughts out. I’ve got a document where I’m jotting an events summary as I work and it’s helpful for me to sort out what’s going on when. It’s like an outline, but written mostly as I write, just a thought or two ahead usually.

Today I wrote a bridge improving the flow of events between Chapter Twelve and Chapter Thirteen. I feel a lot better about Chapter Thirteen now, even if that bridge is rather ugly, shaky and built with the verbal equivalent of duct tape. It was only around 500 words though. Tomorrow I hope to do a bit better. I miss the times when weekends meant thousands of words.

I realize though I’ve been posting wordcounts for the day, I have not been posting wordcounts for the entire story. So to check in: today, 38,808 words.