Sailors on the Sea

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year is Over

Well, it's year end 2009. A productive year for me, if not entirely successful. As I recently posted my accomplishments I won't go through them all again now. Suffice to say, I wrote a LOT.

What I am most proud of is that I opened myself up (or was opened up) to new types of writing. Very exciting. Creatively satisfying. This new area of creativity is directly responsible for three of the five novels I wrote this year - as well as at least a half dozen stories and more than a dozen poems.

The area continues to expand, and I currently have three or four story ideas floating around in my head right now. I've tried writing some on them but they're not really ready.

That's the nasty thing about story ideas, isn't it? It's kind of like waiting for supper, or Christmas. But no matter how much you whine about it, you just have to wait until it's there. I hope they're good stories when they finish cooking. I truly like them now. They're fun to think about.

I have a lot of goals for 2010. Not sure I will make any of them. I would like to repeat a prolific year and write another 1,000,000-words. I came a few thousand short in 2009. I would like to write at least six novels (and with my new ideas I might like to see it go higher) and complete a lot of short stories and poems.

I think I'm writing better than every before. At the same time I expect my writing is no place near what is required in order to call myself a professional. A pity. I do like to tell stories.

I have two ideas for stories which could be worked into plays, or a television series. Have had those for more than a year. But they're still cooking. Bigger projects require a longer cooking time. Like a turkey compared to a game hen.

If I had any money at all (I honestly don't have any) I would start a local theatre. I would also like to publish a small comic book for the Legion of Online Super Heroes. But that requires money, too.

Lots of things I would like to accomplish. To be honest, I'm not expecting to accomplish any of them. Probably my best shot is to simply write a lot of words. Quantity over quality. But you know what? I don't think quality is all it's cracked up to be. After all, there are plenty of cr*p books being published by reputable publishers. How does that happen anyway?

Oh, well. I will just keep on writing. It's what I do.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Play Acting

Been away from blogging for a while again. Not that many notice, I think. I have mixed feelings about that. Sometimes it's a comfort to be out of the main flow. Sometimes it can be quite lonely. That's kind of the way life is, isn't it? I call it the two-edged sword. It cuts both ways.

Been thinking about all kinds of stories, but I have done NO writing since before Christmas. Why not? Mostly because I discovered a new online community which is quite addictive: Wizard101. I think I stumbled upon it while doing research on wizards.

The graphics are cartoonish, but they work very well for me. All of the costumes and mythical creatures. Right up my alley - of which the game has many. I actually dreamed the better part of a story about the game. Few of my stories come from dreams, but some do. Unfortunately, I didn't write this dream down and now it has faded in memory. If it's any good I'll dream it again. I do that, you know. Have dream reruns. Do you do that? There are a couple of dreams I have been having since I was very young. Some of the elements of Swords of Fire were inspired by dreams.

Anyway, I think the game's worth a look see - unless you absolutely do not wish to become addicted to something new. The game - in its early stages anyway - provides enough rewards to encourage continual play and returns.

In the meantime, I have not been writing. But as I have done just about everything in the FREE version I can now, that may change soon. We'll see. For now I'll keep playing.

Have fun.

Hope your Christmas was spent well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Have a a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Addicted to Writing

Okay. Yesterday I said I had no plans to write any more this year. Well, it didn't take long for me to come up with a new plan. I've started something new. Not going to say what it is. That seems to be the kiss of death for all of my projects: officially announce them before I'm finished, or nearly finished. Suffice to say it is another novel.

Have applied to join an online critique group, too. I'm horrible at critiquing. I don't understand why most of what I write is cr*p, so how can I tell someone else how to improve their writing? I'll give it a go.

What I really need is for someone to sit down with me and some piece of writing and walk me through the analysis. Perhaps after doing that in a master-apprentice setting I can learn something and become both a better writer and a better critiquer.

Meanwhile, I will be writing my new novel. If I finish it before the end of the year it will make six novels in one year. That's pretty good, I think. Even for rough drafts. Of course, it isn't quite fair. I've got dozens upon dozens of book ideas in my head dating back to when I was in school. I just have never written them.

I like to tell stories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

That's the Way it Is

Nicola Morgan has a post on her blog (here) about writers reading the right things in order to write well. It's a good post and worth the read. I do recommend it.

Reading that post confirms some of my own suspicions about myself. You see, I do NOT read a lot of modern fantasy. I can't afford to buy books anymore, and I have never enjoyed borrowing them; not from friends or the library. So most of the fantasy (my genre) which I read dates to the 1950s, 60s and 70s, with a sprinkling here and there of more recent things.

To be perfectly honest, I generally prefer the older works to modern. This puts me out of step and, in equally honest fact, makes me wrong. No doubt my writing is affected in ways I can never fully comprehend by the fact that I keep re-reading works from the past instead of what is on today's bookstore shelves. The most recent things I can think of having read date to the 1990s: Elizabeth Willey's, Well-Favored Man (I love this book) from 1993; and Tanya Huff's, Sing the Four Quarters (read recently) from 1994.

Nicola Morgan lists 9 things a writer risks in not reading current works in their genre:

1) not knowing the rules of the genre.
  • Yeah, I'm probably guilty of this one. Fantasy Readers are no doubt expecting certain things that I am simply not delivering.
2) not knowing what's already been done.
  • Definitely so. If you were to ask me to name five, or even one modern fantasy author I don't know that I could. Unless Willey and Huff are still writing.
3) not writing in an original voice.
  • To be honest, this one doesn't concern me. Yes, I know it should. But it doesn't. My voice is my voice, and if another author is already publishing work with that voice it is my loss. I don't really see how I can successfully change my style.
4) not being passionate about what you do.
  • I take exception to this point, but I think Nicola Morgan and I may be using separate definitions for 'passionate about what one does'. There is not an hour of my waking day which does not contain some time devoted to devising plots, scenes, endings, characters, places, and so forth. But I think Nicola Morgan is talking about something else. The passion to share ideas with other creators. Not sure.
5) not being able to show or feel total commitment to a career in this genre.
  • This one I confess I don't really understand. If reading modern works is a requirement then certainly I am not showing commitment. Not sure what 'feeling' it means. Like I indicated above, I HATE borrowing books. I want to BUY them. I want my books HERE, with me. I want to return to them at whiles and refresh myself in someone else's creativity. Sometimes (often) that occurs in the middle of the night. I NEED my books close at hand. They can't be if they're not my books. And even before my financial collapse I allowed Spouse to virtually shut down my book buying.
6) failing to sell it to an agent or publisher because you cannot show knowledge and commitment in your covering letter.
  • No doubt. No doubt at all. I hope by covering letter she means query, because if I have to have a query, a synopsis, AND a covering letter I may throw up.
7) remaining outside the world of your future fellow authors.
  • I expect I would anyway. I like people. I really do. But I don't hang out with anyone anymore. Not for so many years that I have lost the understanding of how it's even done. I am the monkey who never learned to properly socialize. So even if I had a ton of money and bought every new book that came out as soon as it hit the shelf, I would still not be part of any author/writer group. Too stressful. I don't know how to do it. I don't like being at family gatherings anymore.
8) displaying disrespect for your fellow authors.
  • This, if true, would be most unfortunate, for I have nothing but respect for those who have written and attained, and for those who are writing with attainment in mind. Even those who aren't necessarily writing to be published. So many people write better than I that I am in no position to give them disrespect. But don't assume that just because something is easier than breathing for you to do that it isn't a tremendous work of effort for someone else. And it has nothing to do with disrespect.
9) displaying arrogance.
  • I have been accused of this. Often. Even by people who are supposed to know me well. But let me tell you something about arrogance. It isn't always what it looks to be. Sometimes, what looks like arrogance, is nothing more than fear. And sometimes it is nothing more than ignorance. And sometimes a person is just simple. Arrogance is an attitude, not a behavior. I was once criticized for not trading places with a co-worker who asked if I wanted to. In my mind I was doing the worse task, and I deemed the offer simply to be a good will gesture, so I declined. Later, I was reamed by the one in charge for making my co-worker do a nasty job. But my refusal had nothing to do with avoiding a nasty job. In my mind, that was why I was doing.
  • My not reading current works does not mean I think I don't need them. It's more about the money to buy them. I have always been of the mind that I can wait until I have the money before getting what I want - or even need. Two years with broken teeth because I couldn't afford to go to the dentist and get them fixed. (Now I've broken another one. Last spring. No money. No dentist.)
Nicola Morgan suggests, and I have no reason to dispute her, that not reading current works within one's genre is a sure-fire way of not getting published.

As I indicated at the top of this post, that kind of confirms a suspicion I've had for some time. But for now I will continue to hold off. I just do not have the money.

In the meantime, I write. I write with the voice that I have. I write the stories I enjoy. Perhaps some day after I am gone somebody will take them and rewrite them. And then they will be okay.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Million Words, And I Wasn't Even at Full Speed

So December is about halfway completed. We are most of the way to Christmas. As I am not planning on writing anything new in the next three weeks, nor finishing anything in progress, I thought I would post the final year's accomplishments now. Why? Because I haven't got anything else to talk about right now.

According to the time stamps on my computer files I have worked on 111 writing projects this year. This, of course, does not count blog posts, nor anything I have written which failed to get into the computer. Fourteen of those projects failed to reach completion. The rest are all in at least a completed first draft mode.

I wrote 58 poems. Many of these wound up here and on Tales From The Great Sea. My poetry pretty much s*cks, so I don't know if it's worth going to that blog to search for what I posted. Two poems did attract comments. If you're interested in those, here are the links. One is titled "The Girls" from August 2, and the other is "Kadassa, Tahk and Brills" from June 8.

I also wrote 29 short stories, of which 24 have been completed. Included in that are my eight Hero Stories, of which five were finished. I never finished "The Taming of Pelage", starring Panthera and Pelage; "Twice the Fun", starring Feathered Guy Anthropist and the Inamore Twins; or "Flaming Hot", starring Fire Red and Thunderbolt.

There were 10 entries to other blogs, including: Evil Editor; Whirlocher (I actually won an award for this entry), Writtenwyrdd, and Kiersten Writes. I suppose technically those are not true writing projects, but I enjoyed them. They were longer than some of my poetry.

And finally, I worked on 14 novels, finishing five: Shadow People, Summer Shade, The Sweet Girl, Swords of Fire: Traitor, and Swords of Fire: The Prophecies of Madatar. Those last two probably shouldn't count as they are both well past 100,000-words and were begun long before 2009.

White Wolves of Dawn could have been finished, but I let myself get sidetracked to other projects. It is still only a third to half finished.

I only submitted two projects for publication: Swords of Fire: Traitor (a novel) and Apprentice (a short story). Both were rejected, but I was given notice that Apprentice had gone to a second reading. Not sure exactly what that means as I do not know the number of submissions they received, nor how many readings a work must go through with them before it is accepted. But the story certainly carried some merit. Personally, I think it may be the best thing I've written all year, and possibly the best since I wrote the poem after Daddy died. (I don't have it anymore. I gave it to Elizabeth.)

I mentioned part of this list on a comment to T.Anne's blog. She commented that it looks like 2010 might be a big revision/edit year.

Not too likely.

You see, while I am producing more than I ever have before within a given period of time, and I think I'm writing better than I ever have in all of my years, my personal confidence in my ability to write - and certainly edit - is at its lowest ebb ever. Never, in all of my 50+ years have I felt more worthless and incompetent as a writer. And never have I been with so little hope of accomplishing anything with it.

I love to write. And I guess that, as long as I am able to, I will continue to devise new stories, and possibly rework old ones. But I have found that, after my most productive year ever, I am left with the very real sense that the last planted dream of my life is never going to sprout. Like all the others, it, too, has died, and I merely delude myself by trying.

One hundred and eleven writing projects. Just under 1,000,000-words. (If I were to finish White Wolves of Dawn I would break the 1,000,000-word mark for 2009.) It's very possible I can best that mark in 2010. Assuming I see 2011. We'll see. I am planning on rewriting Swords of Fire: Book I and Book II, and finishing Book III. If I make that I will have half a million words right there.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Songs Which Touch the Heart

Songs are tremendous things. They reach inside of us, slipping past the walls and barriers we put up to protect ourselves from emotional pain, and touch the real us. It is not unusual for me to find myself in tears at such times.

There have been a few people in my life who have done the same thing and d*mned if I know how they do it. It's like there are no walls. They begin speaking to me and suddenly I find they are inside, touching the real me, and I don't know how they got there.

They don't touch me physically. (At my age and appearance that never happens anymore. [smiles]) It's all on some kind of spiritual level. I guess you could call them my songs.

I was in the big car today, driving alone. I was meeting a sister about half way between our respective dwellings. She had purchased a new car battery for our small car. A complete idiot had left the car door open for four days and the battery died forever. We have no money to purchase a new one and my sister insisted on doing it for us.

But I had the chance to put in some music dvds I made up a few years ago on the computer that died. Most of the songs on these self-made musical compilations are not enjoyed by Spouse, but some have intense meaning for me. Some mean nothing at all to what was intended when they were recorded, I'm sure. Several make me cry.

The song selection followed no particular artist or group. Neither were they all 'up', 'down', 'energetic', or 'slow'. They were whatever I happened to have been feeling like at the times of their creation.

It is this kind of musical collage which often gets my inspirational circuits firing. And so it was again today. As I listened to a Moody Blues song, from their Threshold of a Dream album, I found myself envisioning an ending. Most often that is where my ideas for stories begin. They ending.

Story endings are precious to me. Often, my story endings contain a note of sadness, and loss. For every victory comes at a price. Everything we have, not matter how precious it is to hold, came at a price. So with joy their is sorrow. One cannot truly know one without the other.

I have a new ending now. What I do not have is a starting point to reach it. On the way back from my rendezvous I arrived at a possible climax, which will proceed the ending by mere moments. I have the premise of what the struggle has been. The ending is one of tremendous gain. And tremendous loss. But with the tears there is the sense that all is as it should be. To not have that loss would somehow be wrong. Oh, if I were only the writer to put the story together so it could be shared.

Do songs inspire you to new stories? They do me. I love my songs. Both physical and spiritual.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Desert of Learning

I'm long-haired right now. I'm not being metaphorical or anything. I actually do have long hair. My bangs have dropped down to my nose and it keeps bugging me.

Need a hair cut.

I've never liked getting hair cuts, even when my hair is much longer than I like. A couple of times I have let it grow down to my chin.

Some people love to fuss over their hair. They're constantly changing styles (and even color). I had an aunt who made herself go bald because she was using so many different things on her hair it all fell out. Took months to grow back. Then she wore wigs.

I'm not much for wigs either. I've worn a few in plays and they're not comfortable.

My problem is I don't like to fuss over my appearance. I want to look nice. I just don't want to work at it. And so I look like sh*t. That's the opinion I've been given on more than one occasion anyway.

I got to thinking that I'm kind of like that with my writing, too. I very much want to be known as an excellent writer. Even more so, an excellent storyteller. But d*mn! I hate working at it. Work is so - hard.

I keep telling myself that working for a thing hardly means I'll achieve. After all, I've never achieved anything I've worked at before, so why should this be different?

Don't know. But I do keep working at it. D*mn it's hard.

That's what I'm finding with my Swords of Fire military history, although "hard" is not precisely the word I'm looking for. Tedious. Boring. Those fit much better.

Learning to write was easy. As easy as falling off a log. I did that at a very early age. (Learn to write. Oh, and I fell of a log, too. Several times.) Learning to write well is like crossing the desert. I'm constantly plagued with thoughts along the line of, "Who in the h*ll came up with this plan anyway?" And, "I'm going to die out here and nobody will even know."

Did I say that learning to write well is hard?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Changing the World

I have returned to establishing the military history of Swords of Fire. I've started it several times, became unhappy with the progress, or discovered significant errors and/or omissions, and resorted to starting over again. So this is yet another attempt. But I'm happier with the effort than previous tries.

For one thing, I have been forced to do some rethinking on the structure and rules of military service. According to the old rules the family's military force used to drop to virtually nothing. Not realistic when one considers this is a warrior family. Changing the rules and then projecting those rules across the Compound's entire 352 year history will help with the actual story. I don't have to feel uneasy about the likelihood of Sayla being an officer, or Shello being High Marshall. I will have the data behind those declarations - or I won't, and those declaration will have to be abandoned. That would be a nuisance. But it's happened before.

That's the double-edged sword effect of establishing real rules and extrapolating them through the backstory. Cool passages, written before the implementation of said rules, suddenly become contradictory. Sometimes, with modification, they can be saved. Most of the time they cannot.

There was a time when I was having the Elves travel by sea to the world of Verona, where all kinds of cool things happened, including the final confrontation between Madatar and Shatahar. But then I had my last major rewrite and suddenly, the Elves weren't going to Verona. No less than six books got squashed because of that single change. Six books. Cool stories, all of them. But they could no longer happen because the Elves weren't on Verona.

That's the hard part about writing stories and planning ahead before all of the extensive background data has been completed. Or even just writing the stories. You see, it wasn't Book I's rewrite that changed the Elves' destination. It was Book III. But the overall story is much better this way. And Madatar's confrontation is far more intense. Or will be. Assuming antoher major rewrite doesn't make that passage go away, too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The World as I See It

Well, it has been a busy day for me and I have accomplished a lot. Unfortunately, it was mostly rework.

While compiling my time line of events I began to see several discrepancies in my Swords of Fire database. I've always known they were there, but I have always put off the repair job until later. Well, today was later.

The good news is that I made the repairs. The bad news is that all of the time line work, AND the military history work I have already put in is garbage and must be tossed. Got to start over. Pity.

I told my friend that working on all of this historical data makes me feel like I'm working on a giant model railroad set. Everything has its place and the pieces fit perfectly. I made the remark that while I may not write well enough to suit the people who matter (everybody but me), I am laying one heck of a solid foundation. Names. Dates. Events. It's all falling into place better than knowledge we have about our own history. My Daddy was a b*stard child from the 1920s. Back then that was serious shame and people tried to hide that. Daddy, being such a child, was tortured by his older relatives. Nearly killed several times. But the end result of all of that is all I have now to trace my blood history is a name. And I have not been able to find anything on that name.

So I can't even trace my own lineage back two generations through my father. I have fifteen generations put together for Swords of Fire. I know nobody else is impressed, but I am quite proud of the effort and the results. It isn't finished. It may never be finished. That's the thing about building a history. Until I've accounted for every moment of every day for every person there is still something more which could be done. Kind of cool.

God created mankind in his image. I believe that includes the power of creation. And, like any good offspring, I try to emulate what has been done before. I guess you could say Swords of Fire is my own version of creation. I just haven't done as good a job is all.

But it's still lots of fun.

Do you do world building? I've never met anyone who has to this extent. I wonder if there are others, or if I am truly alone.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Hard

It's a pity there is no room in this place to take out my archives and reread some of the things I wrote fifteen, twenty, thirty, and even longer ago.

Much as I need to still improve my writing it is interesting to read things I wrote long ago.

When I was in high school I was still throwing away the things I had written when I was finished. I mentioned this to my creative writing teacher and she chided me and told me to stop doing that. She said even those things I began but did not finish had value, and that some day I might even want to go back and finish those stories. That was the beginning of The Archives.

A lot of my writing has still been lost. Some of what I have written has only existed on a computer hard drive, or disk backups. The computer died and the backups can't be read by newer computers. My luck, huh?

But a lot of what I have written over the past forty-some years remains. Every once in a while I come across something. Some of it has been copied to this computer. When I look at what came before I am filled with mixed feelings. When I wrote it I believed it was good. Now I read it and find myself appalled that I would write like that.

One the one hand it makes me feel good that I write better now than I used to. On the other hand, I am left with the nagging feeling that I still write like crap. Getting better? I think so. Writing well now? Apparently not.

I find myself envious, and even jealous, of young writers who got published at very young ages. There are teenagers who are published. I still don't write that well. It's very depressing.

So why keep writing?

Because some things can't stay inside, and writing is my best way to express those things. I love music, but I don't play any instrument well (nor do I practice enough to change that), and I have a voice like beef jerky. Emphasis on the jerk. My drawing, painting, and sculpture does not satisfy.

So it's writing. Putting words together to express ideas and feelings which boil up like an eternal underground reservoir. And like Old Faithful, I regularly puke out the pressure. I suppose it wouldn't matter, except that for some vain and selfish reason I would like to share my stories. But in order to do that I have to write better. I have to make it to the top of the game. A difficult and often depressing journey which I can't even make myself abandon.

It's no fun being a writer.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another New Idea

I came up with a new idea for a story yesterday. Although posting it on the internet constitutes publication I decided to post it on a new blog, a little at a time as I write it. If you are interested in reading it you will need to email me and let me know, though. Several of my blogs (including this one) have been getting hit with garbage comments. I have moderation turned on so I just reject them, but it is a nuisance. This blog has been hit every day now for six days running. So the new blog will only be viewable by those who are invited. If you want to be invited let me know. []

Oh, and if you do wish to read the new story, Across the Sea of Time and Water, feel free to critique, if that is what you like to do. Or just read, if that suits you better.

I won't post every day, but hopefully often. It's easy to start something and then let it fade. We'll see. But I'm not posting to Tales From The Great Sea anymore, and very seldom to Faith in Forgiveness and Cat in the Buff. Haven't decided about Legion of On-Line Superheroes. Interest fell off for the heroes during NaNo. We'll see if it picks up again.

This blog and A Voice in the Wind will probably remain reasonably active for the next while, too.

Lately I have been working on the time line for Swords of Fire. It began at -100 years before the founding of The Compound. I have only been dealing with births, deaths, and weddings in this go through, but I just completed Year 7. Only 345 years to go to catch up.

Didn't work much today though. Son has the day off from school and has been taking up computer time. So I have been reading (Well-Favored Man, by Elizabeth Willey) and taking naps. Heck of a day.

Let me know if you're interested in the new story.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Like Model Trains - You're Never Finished Creating

I've decided to take a completely different approach to Swords of Fire. So I'm not writing right now.

Hey, that's a novel approach! [collective groan over bad pun]

Actually, there is madness to my method. I have to let things 'cook' for a bit. It's almost like writing a new story from scratch, only worse. I know what has to happen almost all the way through.

However, while I am not writing at the moment I am not completely wasting time. Well, not in my mind. (Oooh, another pun.) I've put together a PowerPoint presentation of every character who was even named in the latest Book I. Believe it or not that's 171 characters. Yeah, I know. Too many. Nearly all of those names showed up for a single sentence and then were never heard about again. Still, I took the trouble to add a PowerPoint slide for them indicating their basic demographics. Later, I will add biographical information. Call it a glossary, or Companion Piece. If I really get carried away I might add objects and places, too.

What I'm working on now is a time line. Still using PowerPoint. I'm adding births. The earliest recorded birth took place 100 years before Khirbah founded The Compound, and 452 years before Book I begins. The plan is to record all 6,762 recorded birth record into the time line. After that I will add the 2,455 recorded weddings and 2,364 recorded deaths. Then comes the really fun part: recording events.

While all of this is going on the revised story will continue to cook. And when it is ready, I will begin writing again. Assuming I have time.

So it looks like my string of consequtive months for writing complete novels is going to come to an end at three.

I wish that I could go backward in time to when I was young and just starting to write my own stories. There is so much I would tell myself that would make such a big difference in how my life would proceed later. But if I did my young self would come to one of two conclusions: My older self was either a scary ghost, or a crazy old coot. In either case, the message would fail to get through.

Sometimes I wonder if that wasn't me who haunted The Old House way back when. The size would be just about right, I think.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Byproducts of Writing: Honey or Crap

So today is the final day of NaNoWriMo. A good many people who's blogs I visit have participated. I am aware of two who have announced they achieved their goal: fairyhedgehog did; and so did T.Anne. Congratulations to both of them.

There are others who, for this reason and for that, weren't able to get the time. I know how that goes. Sometimes it's there and sometimes it isn't. And just because one has the time it doesn't mean they know what to write.

I, of course, was not officially part of NaNoWriMo. I was part of a blog started by Writtenwyrdd which was like NaNo, but I bailed on that a couple of weeks ago. The idea of having to write was too distressing. That constraint made me want to do anything but write. So I bailed and finished up my word count in short order.

My November word count was a little on the low side. I attribute this to the holiday, which resulted in less alone time. But I got a lot done.

Overall, I wrote more then 64,000-words. I tallied this up by using the Word Count on the eight things I wrote in November. The biggie was Summer Shade. That's over 50,000-words, but I only wrote 45,000+ in November. Summer Shade was begun in October. White Wolves was begun in September, and I added another 5,700+-words to it, before setting it aside in favor of Summer Shade. I began a new novel, Hexagon, but soon set that aside, too, so I could rewrite Swords of Fire. That will probably pick up the pace in early December, only to stall for the Christmas holiday. And I wrote some short pieces, including one of the more erotic things I've ever put to pen or computer. That was a sudden inspiration.

In all, I worked on eight November projects, finishing five. This makes three months in a row that I have finished a novel. I am not writing as many words as I have ever written in a short burst (that was 30,000-words in a single day), but I seem to be writing more consistently. It's a pity the stories aren't being shared. Nobody except me has read Shadow People or The Sweet Girl. Part of Summer Shade was read by others, but not the whole story.

It's funny, storywriting. Some of the things I am writing now I thought about forty years ago but never got around to writing. Back then I wasn't able to. There are things a ten-year-old just doesn't understand. But the stories were there. They never go away. They just continue to cook.

Anyway, if you participated in NaNoWriMo I hope you achieved your goal. If you haven't then I hope you are within range. You have the rest of today. If not, I hope you don't become so discouraged as to give up. Perhaps these kinds of deadline things don't work for you. They don't for me. If you never seem to be able to make NaNo, then why not try this?

EVERY month is a kind of NaNo month. But there are different rules. Write what you want. When you can. As much as you can. There are no word limits or requirements. Write when you can. That's all there is to it. Just write. Oh, and don't give a damn about whether anything is well written, or even makes sense. Just write. Tell the story. Get it out there. Once you've done that you can always change it. If you feel like it.

Good luck.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When You Got It, Flaunt It - When You Don't, Dont

My work on the Swords of Fire rewrite is a leisurely effort. To put it simply.

Actually, it's quite the understatement. I've written less than 5,000-words.

But it isn't my fault. Son is on holiday break and it's impossible to write with him vying for computer time. So I dabble at this and that and wait until such time that comes when I can actually write.

Did most of my writing in the middle of the night. Actually, that's always when I seem to find the alone time I need. Spouse has been working evenings, which means I am not alone during the day. Son is at school during the day which means I am not alone evenings. That leaves the middle of the night. Assuming I wake up in time for it. I often do.

Some people are able to schedule time every day to write. It's the same time, too. I never know when I'm going to have the time. And energy. Just because it is the middle of the night and everyone else is sleeping that's no guarantee I will be awake. Of course if Spouse is snoring it's a safe bet. And if my legs hurt especially bad. But there is no guarantee.

I'm not worried, though. Guess I'm accepting more and more that what I write, and want to write, doesn't mean jack sh*t. I'll keep working at improving my technique, but I have no reason to believe anymore that any of that work will ever amount to anything other than an exercise in futility. My choices are to either write cr*p with contentment, or write cr*p without it.

Do you ever feel that way?

I do. All the time now.

All. The. Frikkin'. Time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Same Story Different Eyes

Stories are amazing things. Emphasize this and you have a love story. Emphasize that and you're making a political statement. Quests, personal growth, action, adventure. All of these things are part of the same story. We, the storytellers, simply decide which elements will be emphasized and which will be minimized - or even ignored.

I have always known this, but it is with Swords of Fire that it is really brought home to me. Particularly this time. All of my previous story-shattering rewrites involved making major changes to the story, the time line, and a host of other things. Not this time.

This time I am telling the same story as last, but I have changed the angle at which I look at it. And now it seems to be a completely different story. It's the ten blind men and the elephant thing.

By concentrating on aspects I had kept in the background, and pushing to the background things I had focused on, I now have a new story. And yet it's the same. Hopefully, I will be happy with what I wind up with. Writing it, I feel a greater sense of intensity, urgency, and danger than I did in the previous version. In the previous version those things built slowly over time until they reached the climax. Now, beginning the story about a week later than Traitor, it feels like a different animal. And so I have given it a new name: Fire Mountain. It is appropriate, because the new focus is on the mountain and not the treason. The Mountain, and its surrounding lands and waters, contain the prize. It is the prize. The stakes are high and the risks are higher.

The rewrite is also going to bring forward characters who otherwise were not even mentioned. Now they will play a role. Some significantly. Of course, this means other characters are going to have to fade into the background.

Something else to come out of this is an epiphany of how I can create a database table containing an instant list of who is descends from who, instead of having to search and do time consuming calculations. Creating the table will take time, too, but not more than a few hours. But it really is useful. Trying to figure out if Bordan is descended from Bolar is a bit of a pain in the a*s. And then I will have the data henceforth.

I like The Great Sea. I guess if I could go anywhere it would be there. But I suppose that only makes sense. After all, I'm the one who created it. Kind of.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It Never Goes Away

Well, it turns out yesterday was more than a strange chance. Today I began an earnest rewrite of Swords of Fire, Book I.

I have rewritten the story literally dozens of times, but only a few have been of the nature to change the story's basic flow. This is one of those times.

For the first time in more than ten years I am not just rewriting the story, I am changing nearly everything. Ultimately, the start and ending will be the same, as well as certain key milestones between. But the actual road map has changed.

Maintaining the travel analogy, instead of traveling from Minneapolis to Los Angeles by means of heading south to Texas and then west to California, I am going to cut through the mountains and take the Denver route. Both routes allow me to visit Kansas City and Las Vegas, but each also presents its own places of interests.

And so it will be with this new version of Swords of Fire. The title will change.

Of all the stories which pass through my head this is the one which matters most. I will keep working on it until I find a presentation which works for an audience.

I have to. There's no other way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Long Story is Made of Short Scenes

Just finished doing something I haven't done in a long while: wrote something new for Swords of Fire.

The entire Saga has been put on hold while I explored a new realm of creativity with Apprentice, Ekundayo, The Sweet Girl, Panthera, and Sassy. But I think about Swords of Fire every day, even if I do not actually write on it.

Now I have only completed the first two books - and neither of those is ready for prime time. (Probably never will be.) I've started Book III, but I'm no where near the climactic battle. So why I should be concentrating on something that occurs in Book V or VI I don't know. But it's something I have been thinking on for more than a year. Nearly two years now.

I guess when a thing's ripe you harvest it. Whatever.

Typically, I do not like writing scenes from the future. I've done it. Many times. But nearly so often as smart writing says I should. You see, I like writing to a milestone marker, and these scenes in my head become those milestone markers. They're my inspiration to keep writing when a thing is going slowly. Without the milestone marker I lose interest and fade away.

Generally, the markers have to be close enough in the future to realistically be reached in a few days. This gives me my childish immediate gratification. And to write them early often results in the equivalent of eating one's dessert before the main course.

But today I just had to write. It didn't come out exactly as I wanted, but I was kind of rushing it, I think.

I have to laugh. Everything I've ever read about writing tells me that whenever I come up with one of these scenes I should write them down. Get them out of my head. I have so many on Swords of Fire alone I suspect I could easily produce a 100,000-word volume just on vignettes alone. Anyway, this little scene took a couple thousand words, and I was rushing it. Left out some things because I am short of time and I wanted to finish it before I had to leave. I could have written more. I still have ten minutes.

Oh, well.

I wish I could go back in time and make up for all the wasted years in which I wrote, but failed to learn my craft. At my current rate of decay I often wonder if there's enough time left to get it done.

So maybe I'll add these vignettes to my legacy. Maybe after I'm gone somebody who actually has the skills can put things together and fix them up into something for the world.

Until then, I write.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When Writing Fails

So remember how I posted about starting a new story - Hexagon? Telling people what I'm going to do seems to be the kiss of death.

After two forced days absence from writing in order to visit with some professional people who didn't have a lot of good things to tell me I have had three days in a row in which I had three straight hours to write. I haven't finished the first chapter.

I'm reasonably close, but the inspiration has faded and I find playing computer games to be far more inspiring than doing anything creative. So either I find new inspiration or I forget about this book and start another.

Ever do that? Start a story and find you don't care anymore? My archives are filled with stories ranging from several chapters to mere titles. That's one problem with having a lot of ideas. There always seems to be a new idea ready to push out current ideas.

Maybe I'll keep writing it. It's actually a good story. Perhaps the problem is so many days where I just could not write. I did wake up early this morning, around four, but I wasted my time playing games instead of writing. Since seven this morning I have not been able to write. That's the way it goes sometimes. Isn't it?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Something Fun to Do

Writtenwyrdd has new story idea. You can find details here. In essence, it's a progressive story, in which one person comes up with the first sentence or two, then another continues the story. I'm not clear if she actually intends to do this or if it's just an idea she's tossing about.

We used to do something like that when I was young. We would sit around in the living room and someone would begin a story. They would talk for up to two minutes. Then they would create some sort of cliff hanger, or decisive moment, and pass the story to their right. Eventually, the story would return to the originator who would have to find a way to tie up all the loose ends and end it.

Some times it was quite fun(ny). Some times it didn't work.

We did a lot of stuff like that. Mother would also write stories and remove several nouns and replace them with blank lines. She had made up a stack of small cards with names of nouns on them. These would be shuffled and dealt out to whoever was home that evening. Mother, or Gayanne, would then read the story out loud. Whenever a blank was reached the reader would pause and let the next person in the circle flip over their card and read the noun.

The first time we played it we had no idea what the nouns were, so the game was hilarious. Especially when we got to Mother's favorite joke noun: Sour Owl Sh*t. Mother had no trouble with being earthy.

Don't know how many readers this blog has, but if you enjoy things like that you might want to give Writtenwyrdd's blog a few visits. See if it's something she plans to actually do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A New Story

So, Summer Shade is done. What to do now?

Well, yesterday I was inspired and now I am at the beginning of another new novel. I'm tentatively calling it Hexagon. It's a fantasy story, of course. But I'm taking a different approach than my normal method. It's following the format of Swords of Fire: Book III (Bonds of Love), in which I follow more than one character. I don't normally like to write that way (or read that way either). But some stories lend themselves to it. Bonds of Love does because I have important events happening simultaneously on three separate worlds. (I need to get back to my epic series soon.)

Hexagon will be kind of like that, except all of the characters are going to be reasonably close. But I'm going to experiment with POV. Probably not a good idea as I have often been criticized for accidentally shifting POV. So to do it on purpose may be a mistake.

But it seems like a cute story. Got interesting characters anyway. And it's a survival story. Five teams struggle to overcome the Temple Master, a powerful Enchanter who has devised a maze filled with dangerous obstacles to be overcome. The teams will be pitted against not only the obstacles, but each other - whenever they encounter each other. Only one team can survive, and not everyone on the winning team is guaranteed to make it. In fact, it's been a long time since any team did.

I'm only a thousand words in, but I think I've got extra writing time on Thursday and Friday, so I may just make a good-sized dent in this thing before the weekend. Hope so.

Anyway, if all goes according to plan I should have another novel drafted before the end of November. That would be cool.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Summer's End

Well, I did it. I finished the first draft of Summer Shade this morning. Or was it early afternoon? Whichever. It's done.

I did it by writing over 30,000-words in the last six days, including more than 9,600-words in the last two.

Even with leaving out a whole lot of pieces I forgot to include early on it came in at 50,800-words. That's a bit light for what I had wanted, but I let myself get distracted by the NaNo thing and lost a lot of focus. That's how I wound up leaving out so much. Ultimately I just wanted to get it done. But once I quit Nano the words began to flow and I did over twenty thousand words in four days.

Of course the story is crap. That's the way first drafts are, you see. And this one is particularly crap because of all I left out. But it's done. For now. Some day I may return to it and add in the things I forgot. I may smooth out the rough edges and better explain why certain things had to be the way they were. Ultimately, I need to find a way to make it interesting to readers.

Unfortunately, I do not have the power for the last. I can only write what I like, and that does not seem to conform to the modern reader. Ceste la vie.

I will continue creating my legacy. I have now completed three novels in three months. I wonder if I can write another one before Christmas. Well, that's easy to answer. Of course I can. I wonder if I will. That is an entirely different question.

Oh, and I just checked. Between Summer Shade and White Wolves of Dawn I have written 58,491-words in sixteen days. A pity I quit NaNo. I would have made it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Summer's Nearly Over

Well, I have come close, but the cigar will go to someone else. Summer Shade is nearly finished, but not quite. The pivotal fight scene has concluded and I have but to wrap up the loose ends. To have finished today would have mean finishing it with the month only half done. Oh, well. I will finish it soon.

However, thanks to my abortive effort with NaNo I have actually left out several important scenes which explain the ending. Wasn't that brilliant of me? I can't think that I have ever done that before.

The completion of Summer Shade means I will have written three novels of 50,000-words or more in three successive months. I haven't ever done that before either.

In fact, except for a brief time in the 1980s when I was especially inspired with creative ideas (few of which were actually started, much less finished), this has been my most prolific year ever in my life.

I am creating a nice legacy to leave my son. Maybe he will be able to earn some money from it. It doesn't look like I ever will.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Process

I had a post written and all ready to go, but I deleted it. What the hell. Right?

Been writing on Summer Shade. More then I thought I would. On Thursday I was still in Chapter Nine. Now I'm in Chapter Twelve and building fast to the climactic fight scene.

Not all of my stories have a climactic fight scene. The Sweet Girl didn't. Neither did Shadow People. But they had their climactic moments. There just wasn't a fight to mark it.

Summer Shade did not go as well as Shadow People, or The Sweet Girl. I attribute that to getting involved with word counts. Word counts are important, but they should be left to the editing process. That's when they matter. When writing a draft what difference does it make if you use 1,000; 10,000; or even 100,000 words? The story's the thing. Even established Authors agree that getting the draft out is the most important first step. But some required (and actually enjoy) the pressure of word counts during the drafting process.

For me, it's all about storytelling. I come up with an idea. I suppose you could call it a "What If" scenario thing. That's how Shadow People and The Sweet Girl came into being. It's how virtually all of my stories come to exist.

Sometimes the idea is nothing more than a character or two. That's how Summer Shade came to exist. I spent several days thinking about the two people and wondering what they were like. What was their conflict. Having decided that, I wondered what they would do about it, and how it would ultimately be resolved. This gave me my "Ending". I knew how the story was going to end.

Now my problem was - how did it begin?

The problem I have with beginnings is that stories don't begin at the place where the teller begins. They begin in the background. The history. It's history that influences, or even dictates, the present and the future. So finding the beginning is virtually impossible. But that's not the challenge anyway. The challenge is where to begin telling the story. (Yes, I know you're supposed to show the story, but you know what I mean.)

How much of that history and background needs to be revealed up front? Can some things be shown later? Can some things be left out entirely?

Determining where to start the tale (not the story) gives me a beginning and ending. Now I begin the journey. I start writing.

Sometimes I have milestones between the beginning and ending I wish to reach. It's like taking a trip from Minneapolis to Duluth. I can take the freeway and be there in four hours or less. There isn't a whole lot to see which is interesting driving up Freeway 35, but if I'm in a hurry it works.

But perhaps the goal is more than just arriving. Perhaps I am hoping to enjoy the trip as much as the destination. In this case I take the so-called back roads. These are the roads which expose the details of the land and communities which span the space between my beginning city and my destination city.

Of course, in a story, there has to be a purpose in these back roads. Yes, Forest Lake and Pine City are nice cities, but why are we there? What makes stopping at Hinckley necessary to get to Duluth? Well, for one thing, it's about halfway and that's where we refuel.

What I find in writing stories, is that if I give the characters enough freedom they will show me the reason why the story must go to this place or that. Why does this event have to happen? And if I finish a draft and never do find a reason then I dump that scene.

Story writing is fun. I'm never wholly sure about what is going to happen. The ending I had originally planned for Summer Shade has been changed by the addition of a character I hadn't known was going to show up. Two characters, actually. That's what makes it so fun. It's as much a surprise to me as to the Reader.

But that's what a draft is for. It's the honeymoon process. Editing comes later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNo Ends Early For Me

So it's been a slow week for writing. I've completely set White Wolves aside and have no plans to continue it until after I finish the other story, which I'm calling Summer Shade right now.

White Wolves, which was started in September, is in Chapter Eight and at 23,920-words. Just over half of those words have been written in November.

Summer Shade was started in October. It is in Chapter Nine now and sitting at 28,593-words. Nearly all of those words have been written in November.

This is the third time White Wolves is being set aside so I can write something else. The first time was when I wrote Shadow People. I was greatly inspired and wrote the whole thing in less than two weeks.

Shadow People was followed by The Sweet Girl, another spur of the moment inspiration. I began it in the last week of September and finished it in about two weeks. Then I worked on a rewrite for Apprentice. I've got another rewrite scheduled, but I'm waiting on the chance one of my readers will send a critique after NaNoWriMo.

FollowingApprentice I started a novel I'm still calling My Life as Charise. Only got a few hundred words into it, though, before I was struck with a new inspiration: Summer Shade.

Before Charise I had already committed myself to finishing White Wolves of Dawn in November as part of the NaNo blog thing. But I have run into something I knew was a very real possibility: I hate the commitment thing and regret agreeing to it. In fact, I hate it so much that I have consciously decided NOT to finish White Wolves of Dawn in November.

I guess it's my non-conformist, childish rebellion, streak surfacing.

Since November has begun all I have thought about is word counts. The result is that I have not enjoyed writing White Wolves of Dawn or Summer Shade. A very good friend of mine suggested I just bail on the whole NaNo thing. And so I kind of have.

White Wolves of Dawn is set aside. I intend to push forward with Summer Shade and finish that. Assuming I can recapture the inspiration I can be finished quickly - also assuming I can consistently get time to write. I haven't been. This week has been horrible. I have not had a single morning to myself. Morning has become my writing time. But I know if I could just get four or five days in a row I could finish Summer Shade. And once Summer Shade is finished I just might return to White Wolves of Dawn. But I won't be giving any word count updates after today until Summer Shade is finished. Then I'll give you the final first draft word count.

But I am counter-inspired by the "write so many words in a day/week/month" pressure. It makes me NOT want to write. For me, writing is 100% inspiration. Word counts are NOT inspiring. Not to me.

In a way I feel like I'm letting down other writers who are feeling the pressure of word counts and trying to achieve the 50,000-words in November goal. But I don't need that kind of encouragment/pressure. I wrote two 60,000-word novels in just over four weeks. So I have no real need - or motivation - to participate in things like this. I joined because I wanted to belong to a group of people I greatly respect. Only I still don't feel like I belong with them. The truth is, they're better writers, better educated, better read, and generally better people. So I'm bailing. It's the only way I can write and enjoy it.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Off Day

No writing today. Pity.

I'm thinking of putting White Wolves on hold again while I concentrate on The Other Story. I have this sense that - if I could just be given the time to write it - I could finish it within a week. Getting time to write can be a nuisance when people are home with me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 9

Got lucky today. Wasn't able to sleep in the middle of the night and put in a couple of thousand words. So when I got two more hours this afternoon I was able to up my total word count for the day to 5,733. It's my biggest daily output this month.

Unfortunately (or otherwise, I don't know), NONE of the words are for White Wolves of Dawn. I wrote everything for The Other Story. Maybe tomorrow I will change that. We'll see.

But I took the weekend off. Too many distractions anyway.

White Wolves of Dawn: is at 23,920 words total.
The Other Story: 20,039 words total.

Today's totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 0 words
The Other Story: 5,733 words

Total words for the day: 5,733 words

Monthly totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 13,225 words
The Other Story: 14,505 words

Total words for the Month: 27,730 words

So, it looks like I'm putting more effort in on my second story than my first. It goes that way sometimes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

No Progress

Didn't write at all today, although I did have a couple of hours early when I could have. But I had a nasty headache. And I just wasn't into it today. Even bad writers need a day off now and then. Well, perhaps bad is too strong a word. Sloppy. Yeah. That sounds better.

Did some reading and researching. Lots of ideas floating about, but nothing sticking right now. Just as well. I've got two stories I should finish.

While it's possible I could (should) finish both White Wolves and the other story in November, I'm not so sure I will. But if I don't I should finish them both in December.

Wonder what I'll write next. Maybe I'll try resurrecting The Animal Kingdom. Tried writing that several times. Each time I get a bit further. But I struggle with inspiration now. Not sure why.

Right now I have 26 novels in various states of completion. Four are done. When I complete these two that will make six. So, if I wish to complete something I started earlier, I can choose from up to twenty different stories. The oldest is Legions of Encarrah.

Legions of Encarrah is a quest story. As I remember, Encarrah was a large land on a mountain. It was walled off from the surrounding low lands by a high wall with only two or three access gates. At one time Encarrah had been the fortress where the Guardians lived. There were three Guardians, and each had his/her own legion of warriors. For generations the Legions of Encarrah would come forth to protect the surrounding kingdoms from invasion. But something went wrong and Encarrah went silent. The gates were closed and no one was allowed to enter.

Now an army marches against one of the kingdoms and a young man determines to seek the protection of Encarrah.

I only wrote a little more than 2,000-words, so clearly this was a one-day inspiration. But it might make a nice story to finish. Who knows?

Anyway, I may take Sunday off, too. Don't know.

Friday, November 6, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 6

So, for a day in which I expected to get nothing written, did all right. It meant waking up early, and taking advantage of Spouse's library trip. But I had a decent day's writing.

White Wolves of Dawn: is at 23,920 words total.
The Other Story: 14,306 words total.

Today's totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 2,479 words
The Other Story: 3,003 words

Total words for the day: 5,482 words

Monthly totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 13,225 words
The Other Story: 8,772 words

Total words for the Month: 21,997 words

Got some interesting things going on, but neither story is even halfway yet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 5

Woke up early and wrote before the rest got up. Here are the new totals.

White Wolves of Dawn: is at 21,441 words total.
The Other Story: 11,303 words total.

Today's totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 2,116 words
The Other Story: 1,383 words

Total words for the day: 3,499 words

Monthly totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 10,746 words
The Other Story: 5,769 words

Total words for the Month: 16,515 words

The stories are coming along.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 4

Did okay today. Didn't have as much time as I hoped, but enough to gain on my goal a little. I made a mistake on my Excel document so my numbers might be a bit off. What I know is this:

White Wolves of Dawn: is at 19,325 words total.
The Other Story: 9,920 words total.

Today's totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 3,005 words
The Other Story: 2,121 words

Total words for the day: 5,126 words

Monthly totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 8,630 words
The Other Story: 4,386 words

Total words for the Month: 13,016 words

I may actually write some more tonight. Not sure. Not likely.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 3

Well, considering I hadn't expected to get any words written today it was a good day. I got more written on White Wolves, but less on The Other Story. The trade-off was that I was about as productive today as yesterday.

White Wolves of Dawn: 2,710 words
The Other Story: 654 words

Total words for the day: 3,364 words

The good news is that I have mostly caught up on my projected word count. I'm just 253 words short.

The bad news is that I'm over 7,000-words behind on my goal. Maybe I can make some progress on that tomorrow.

Monthly totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 5,625 words
The Other Story: 2,285 words

Total words for the Month: 7,910 words

To make the monthly goal of 50,000-words I need to be at 3,333-words.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 2

Hello. Just my daily NaNo Blog update.

Had some time to myself today, but the inspiration wasn't flowing as well as I would like.

White Wolves of Dawn: 2,144 words
The Other Story: 1,156 words

Total words for the day: 3,300 words

That's more than my daily average but only about half of what I was hoping.

Monthly totals are as follows:

White Wolves of Dawn: 2,915 words
The Other Story: 1,631 words

Total words for the Month: 4,546 words

To make the monthly goal of 50,000-words I need to be at 3,333-words. According to my daily average I should be at 5,442. And according to my personal goal when in the middle of writing a novel I should be at 10,000.

So I'm slightly ahead of the NaNo schedule, slightly behind my daily average, and less than half-way to my personal goal.

Ceste la vie.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNo Blog Day 1

I woke early and thought I might get a couple of hours without interruption so I could write for the NaNo blog. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Spouse was up right behind me and Son soon after that. The entire day has been one interruption followed by another.

I am working on two stories simultaneously. Later, I may add a short story or two.

In any case, this all I managed to accomplish today.

White Wolves of Dawn: 771 words
The Other Story: 475 words

Total words for the day: 1,246 words

That's less than half my normal daily average. Maybe tomorrow will be better. It's unlikely I will write anymore today.

Oh, and Writtenwyrdd's Halloween Contest is ready for judging. Follow this link to read the entries and register your vote.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Writing Contest

Writtenwyrdd has an October contest in honor of Halloween. Write a horror story in 1,000-words or less. The details are here. And here is a picture of the grand prize. I wouldn't mind winning that. So, even though I am not a horror writer, I wrote a horror story and submitted it.

A Log Jam of Ideas

Just got a look at Spouse's tentative schedule for next week and it does not look like I will be getting ANY writing done in the first week of November. Spouse will be home during the day all five days during the week, and Son will be home Sunday and the following Saturday. This means no uninterrupted time for writing. I might be able to sneak in a little here and there, but not much.

Having nothing better to do with my time last evening I went through the files on this computer, listing all of the writing projects I could find, when I last worked on them, what their word counts were, and if they were finished projects. Don't know if the numbers are impressive, but I'm impressed. The past twelve months have been the most productive twelve months ever in my non-illustrious writing career.

Here are some of the 'cool' numbers, dating back to October of 2008.
  • Total Projects Worked On: 146
  • Total Projects Finished: 112
  • Types of Projects:
  • ..... 1 Editorial
  • ..... 1 In Remembrance
  • ..... 2 Plays
  • ..... 9 Hero Stories
  • ..... 15 Exercises
  • ..... 26 Novels
  • ..... 30 Short Stories
  • ..... 62 Poems
  • Finished Projects just in 2009: 107
NOTE: Monthly word counts are taken from the last date a project was worked on. Projects ending in April, May, and June, were not written solely during those months, but do fall within the 12-month span. The September and October projects, however, were begun in September and October, and the July and August projects were begun in July and August.
  • OCTOBER Words Written: 85,096
  • SEPTEMBER Words Written: 78, 527
  • AUGUST Words Written: 18,452
  • JULY Words Written: 2,886
  • JUNE Words Written: 235,673
  • MAY Words Written: 300,838
  • APRIL Words Written: 146,300
  • MARCH Words Written: 9,016
  • FEBRUARY Words Written: 2,920
  • JANUARY Words Written: 6,205
  • Average Words per Day: 2,721
  • Average Words per Month: 81,622
  • Total Words in One Year: 979,461
Since I'm only 21,000-words away from One Million, if I were to add all the words from my blogs, and from drafts which I didn't include, I easily wrote more than One Million Words in the past 12 months. I guess that makes the fact that I may not be writing much at all over the next eight days all the more significant.

Probably the most significant number of all is the one that isn't displayed on the list, and that is, How Much Money Did All of That Writing Generate? A big fat ZERO.

I don't earn anything from my writing, but I keep on doing it. Guess that's how it goes sometimes, isn't it? Well, I've always said it isn't about the money. I think those numbers kind of support that statement.

The past 12 months have been very good for my writing, although I have (literally) shed many tears over it. When I am writing I am happy. When I stop and look back at what I've accomplished I am filled with a feeling of loneliness I can't explain.

I don't know how much longer I have in this world, but I guess I have created a legacy of some sort. That's assuming this computer doesn't crash like the one before. I lost a LOT of work when that happened as my backups proved to be faulty. What I wish is that I could afford to at least print single copies of what I have, as well as back it up digitally, so that the legacy will survive me. The poems and exercises are what they are, but the stories could all possibly be beat into shape.

Twenty-six novels in one year. I suppose that doesn't mean a lot when one considers that only four are finished.

Probably the number which surprises me most is the Short Story number. Thirty listed, but the Hero Stories are technically short stories, too, so that makes 39. I never saw myself as a short story writer before, but all 39 were begun in the past 12 months, and 30 have been finished.

But there's a lot of work in this archive. Nothing of what I've written is fit for publication, And maybe that's what makes me feel so lonely about what I've written. I don't know. It just seems a shame to have 34 stories not being read except by perhaps one or two people.

Meanwhile, my mind is already preparing to add to the short story and novel lists, and there will be other exercises I attempt, and the poems just come when they will.

Oh, and I've also written 1,107 posts for Blogger in the past year, too - not counting those I deleted.

Friday, October 30, 2009


It's Friday. Barely. Come Sunday I join a team of writers over on a NaNo blog to give a go at writing 50,000-words during the month of November.

The blog is the brainchild of Writtenwyrdd, who frequently posts writing tips and helps.

Currently there are 19 writers and 21 projects. And in case you're wondering, I am the weak sister writer, by which I mean I'm not in the same league as the others. So I am quite honored to be included.

White Wolves of Dawn is my project. I began it in September but put it on hold in order to write Shadow People and The Sweet Girl. Now it's waiting for November.

Two weeks ago I believed I would have no problem meeting the 50,000-words. Now I'm not so sure. There is an ugly chance my computer time is about to be serious curtailed again.

What a pity. And for once it kind of matters, too.

Take a visit to the blog. I'm not sure how that will go, but Writtenwyrdd put links to all the writers so you can check on them and see some real writing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Manta Ray is a Cool Fish

Well, I'm sleeped up again and back to what I would consider normal for me.

I've sent Apprentice off to my two Readers. The one ahead in the earlier time zone has already sent back a critique. Why is it that others can see the obvious and I can't? The other reader is in a later time zone and may not even be awake yet.

Which brings me to a bit of a dilemma. With only two readers there is a point at which they will have read the story too many times to critique it as they would like. Reading the same story five or six times with input on the revisions eventually brings one too close to see the problems. Just as I could not see the glaring things raised by Reader in the East.

So where does one go to find readers? It seems tacky to be begging for reading favors when I've got nothing to give in return. And this isn't a great place to ask because, according to StatCounter, I have had six visits in six days. I don't exactly draw the people in. As a writer that is truly depressing.

I suppose my subject matter is just too dull for others. But I have no famous names to drop. I don't know any agents or editors or even authors. I've never been published. I'm not that witty and I'm certainly not well educated. Searching for anything online is a struggle for me so I rarely have cool sites to link to.

I like to write about what I'm feeling, but generally only when I'm not feeling good. Tolkien wrote about that in The Hobbit. I hope I don't get in trouble for quoting from the book, but this is what he wrote.

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. (The Hobbit: A Short Rest)

I find that to be exactly true. There have been few (if any) people I have personally known who's lives were all sunshine and happiness. The few who have tried to make me believe they do live such a life have struck me as phony - even shallow. Misery is a part of life, and while it is certainly desired to maintain good spirits in the face adversity, some of the finest people I know are suffering the worst. Meanwhile, the shallow people don't seem to be suffering at all.

Either life is completely cruel and unfair, or there is something about suffering which makes a person a real person, as opposed to a shallow shell of a human being.

All the same, if I could I would take away the pain and misery from the people I love. I suppose that would be the wrong thing to do, which is why I do not have that power.

Oh, well, to me. Right?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When a Star Lands in Your Pocket

Good news. For myself anyway.

I have completed the Apprentice rewrite. Huzzahs and felicitations galore!

As hoped, this rewrite went along fairly painlessly. The critiques I received from two separate Readers were most helpful and gave me clear direction on what I needed to do. Now I just need to put the story back in their hands to learn if I achieved what I was supposed to.

My software project is moving along nicely, too. I've done some beta testing and discovered pieces which worked just ducky by themselves aren't ready to collaborate with each other as a piece of a whole yet. Been dealing with that. Nearly ready for another test.

Been a bit depressed of late, though. That comes from lack of sleep. Been kept awake a night or two and it's taken its toll on my emotions. So I'll try to get in lots of sleep and soon be back to my usual cheery [right] self.

And my Hero Story is posting, too, over on the Legion Blog. It's no great shakes, but the Hero Stories aren't meant to be. Basically, they're all first drafts.

But it's celebratory mood. Well, not really. But it could be. Something else is done. Which leaves more time for the things which are still on the cooker.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Performing a Story

Well, Son's back in school, Spouse is back to work, and I am back to being busy with writing projects.

The Apprentice rewrite has begun. Barring anything unpleasant I should finish it this week.

I have a new story. The first chapter is completed.

The software I am creating for my soon-to-exist-new-blog is ready for beta testing.

White Wolves of Dawn is waiting eagerly in the gates for Sunday, when the NaNoBlog kicks off. (No link at this time because my understanding is that it is going to be recreated.)

Have written some more poetry.

The words are flowing. But then that's never really been a problem for me. My problem has never been about the quantity of water flowing through the dam, it's more about the quality of that water. Every time I think I'm finally making real progress and becoming worthy to be called an honest-to-goodness writer (authors are published) I discover that I don't know Jack Sh-t (not that I think I want to know somebody by that name) and have further to go than I did the last time I realized I had far to go.

Spoke a little with Son about this last evening on the way home from his saxophone practice. He's very good. This is especially so when one considers he only began playing it last June. But he's not ready to be selling any CDs yet. And last night his instructor was less tolerant of minor mistakes. Mistakes that I, as a listener, wasn't always able to pick up on. Why? There's a recital coming up in about six weeks and Son is slated to play The Pink Panther. For a little more than two months Son has been working on this piece, and he's taken it from simply playing notes to performing.

It's difficult to explain, but anyone who enjoys music knows what I'm talking about. To perform a song requires more than just playing the right notes. There's a feeling which is required. A life poured into the music. This is difficult, and it isn't easy to teach, although I believe it can be taught. Encouraged may be a better way of putting it.

It's the same with writing. Storytelling can be quite hard. It can also be quite easy. Just putting words down on paper or into a computer. But if you really want to give a story to an audience, let it perform, you have to put feeling and life into it. It isn't easy. Not to learn and not to teach. People who don't write don't understand it. But it is work.

It's the difference between a first draft and a polished story.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Better Mouse Trap

Got a new tool for confining my writing to a certain size. Unfortunately, it isn't by words. It's by characters. But it works well enough.

It's easy enough to make.

Open up a new Word document.
View Toolbars-Control Toolbox
Choose a Text Box and put it on your Word document
Right click on the Text Box and choose Properties
Set EnterKeyBehavior to TRUE
Set MultiLine to TRUE
Sex MaxLength to however many characters you want

I set mine to 3,000 characters, which results in 500-600 words, averaging about half-way.

What happens is that I am typing along, and when I reach 3,000 characters I can't enter any more. This works fine for times when you need to restrict your word count. The rule of thumb seems to be: Take the maximum characters and divide that by 5. The result will be what you can expect as a maximum word count. Not 100%, but pretty good.

While I find this works well for Hero Stories, Evil Editor assignments, and things like that, I isn't nearly so good for book writing.

But it's cool. I've been using it for a couple of days now.


A Tentative Schedule

Monday - Progress Report
Where am I with regard to the Current Book

Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real

Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing

Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions

Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing

Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write

Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think