June 2013 - Posts

Days 15-17: Chapter 4
Monday, June 24, 2013 3:45 PM
I wanted to blog everyday this week, but it was just too crazy and what time I had to write went straight to the book. I've had anecdotes and more "there's always reasons not to write" moments, but what it boils down to is this: I got another chapter done. A chapter a week may not be the best pace but it's the best pace I've known in a long time and if it stays steady, I'll be happy to complete this thing sometime in the fall. The days I'm counting down (or up rather) are the days of summer. I'd like to finish this draft this summer but the lines of wishes seldom cross the axis of reality.

Chapter 4 wasn't too hard, just time consuming and it is a fairly long chapter. But I took the advice of the people I polled on Facebook in several ones. One: the chapter is deliberately long and ends with a certain punctuation. There is a reason for it being a chapter in and of itself. There is page break about a 1/3 of the way through, and as far as those commenting that they'd only be annoyed when there was a ten page chapter and then a sixty page one, that just isn't the case. If the others were ten pages, then this one is less than twenty. And it's my conceit that it's a real solid twenty.

Working on: Chapter 4, start to finish
Time Spent Writing: Day 15: 4-5 Hours Day 16: 2.5 hours Day 17: 4 hours Day 18: 1/2 hour
Writing Music: Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack, Gustav Holtz's The Planets, The Greatest Video Game Music (London Philharmonic, Battlestar Galactic Season 3 Soundtrack, Assorted Piano Music (Personal playlist) Megaman OCremix
by DMI | with no comments
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Day 10: A Day No Words Were Written & Why I Want Nothing to Do With Publishing
Thursday, June 20, 2013 3:39 PM
Gratuitously long title anyone?

After an exceptionally long wednesday (though it will be the norm for the next month) I had the hardest time waking up this morning, whatever that superlative compares to I don't know. I got here at USF about an hour later than normal and though that would have left me still two hours to write I elected to instead work on the 90 minute presentation I will be making on monday. I doubt I will be doing much writing (and very much doubt there will be blogging) over the weekend. However, I hope to spend the Monday morning before my presentation easing my mind before the big day and getting back on schedule with the book by enjoying a nice block of writing time. Yes, it's sad to be away from the novel (and very subtly stressful in its own as I've said several times that the third draft NEEDS to happen this summer). But the good news is that I know pretty much everything I'm doing for my presentation with a very detailed plan; I just need to put it all into a presentation.

Which brings me to my second point: I want nothing to do with publishing. In High School, I thought my propensity for writing and storytelling would lead to screenwriting and I would major in film. I quickly realized at my FSU orientation after hanging out with some prospective film students that I wanted nothing to do with them because their interests were completely different from mine. All they could talk about was what camera they used or what editing software they preferred. My response: who gives a ***? Let's talk about what the film says! And then I majored Creative Writing (and minored in Philosophy). Today, this realization is reaffirmed. I planned out this whole huge lesson that I think is really dope and now I'm faced with the task of "publishing." I care that it looks nice, but very much do not enjoy taking the time to pretty it all up. I'm tempted to throw it all onto base, black writing on white slides, but I do care that it looks professional. Bleh.

This is why I like writing. It's all about the words and the story. Let the readers make their own pictures. In their minds.
by DMI | with no comments
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Day 9: Onward! and stuff
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 7:38 AM
This morning, I finished Chapter 3, (Huzzah!), and after yesterday's discussion thought I would share what punctuation I believe it ends on (may have to writing more and look back globally before I can think about the novel's rhythm). So, what punctuation does chapter 3 end on? A semi-colon. Because it rounds out a thought and seems to conclude nicely, but still joins nicely with the start of the next chapter (I think and hope).

Looking ahead to other problematic chapters (I, happily, think I should be able to soar through chapters 4 and 5), I think I may need to almost completely re-do chapters 6 and 7. Again, this is where a lot of material from draft 2 and even the working draft 3 (that didn't work and I only got a third of the way through before the babies were born) is getting scrunched together and rearranged and even new stuff added and... the point is, there's a lot going on and I think it may behoove me to just plain rewrite these chapters. Of course, I'm saying this because I think it'll be easier to just write as though I were first drafting it. I know I said in yesterday's blog that I should always approach my writing with that mindset, that this doesn't have to be perfect, but the question is which will be more effective: trying to use the writing I've already generated, adding and cutting and changing as needed (with a lot of adding) or just start from scratch? Can I even start from scratch? Should I write from scratch then compare and revise? That last option sounds like the most work.

Working on: Finished Chapter 3, Started Chapter 4
Time Spent Writing: About 2 Hours
Writing Music: Star Trek, Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
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Day 8: Breaking Chapters
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 8:15 AM
Just about finished chapter 3 and the only thing that's keeping me from moving on is seeing how long the next chapter potentially is. I wonder about chapter balance. Plenty of books I read have short chapters and long chapters. Only when they are in the extreme one way or the other do I really notice at all. I posed the question to facebook and this is the response I got:

Thanks for the responses, y'all! Ultimately, I think I need to focus on the function of the chapters, but out of courtesy to readers make sure that there are page breaks in longer ones (this tends to happen naturally, I've noticed). This is easy and relieving though to a degree ignores the idea of rhythm presented in the last response, although as far as novel-rhythm goes, I may be unready to tackle such an issue. What I can definitely do is make sure that chapters end for a reason and not simply exist as arbitrary sections. The first draft was very guilty of this. I would write about 5000 words, wrap things up nicely and close it out. When I reread the first draft I realized (and I can't remember if my wife helped me realize this or if I just had a conversation with her about it) how crappy that was. That chapters needed to end on notes that kept people wanting to read. This isn't a new idea, having a cliffhanger. I like the way Calvin put it: "punctuate a book." That punctuation doesn't have to be an ellipsis, a question mark, or a exclamation point (though I think those would be the most common). 

The only reason I don't feel I can tackle rhythm is that I'm still parsing out so many other issues, but this is always the writers problem. Even in a novel, everything serves multiple functions. You don't take one sentence to establish mood, another character, another setting then you go into plot. Everything is dynamic and intertwined. I guess I just don't feel like I have a feel for the rhythm yet, especially when I'm consciously working to maintain the same narrative voice (important even for an unseen, omniscient narrator), style and mood. Will have to ponder rhythm more in the future. Just one more thing... THANKS DIS-ROBE-A-TELL-HE!

Working on: Finishing Chapter 3, Starting Chapter 4
Time Spent Writing: about 3 hours
Writing Music: Favorite Piano Music Playlist, Firefly, OCRemix
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Day 7: TBAWP
Monday, June 17, 2013 9:29 AM
That stands for Tampa Bay Area Writing Project. I am and will be for the next four weeks attending their summer institute for writing teachers. I'm expected to create a demonstration lesson to take back to my school (and district) to share with my peers about the teaching of writing. It's from 9 AM to 4 PM. Monday through Thursday. For four weeks.

BUT I'M STILL GOING TO GET THIS NOVEL DONE!

How? You, a blunt but reasonable, though possibly annoying, person might ask.

Well, today I showed up here at USF (where the institute is held (I get grad credit for this! one less class!)) at about 6:30 AM and began to write and got a nice chunk done. I may be able to finish chapter 3 tomorrow! Really! EXCLAMATION POINTS AND FIREWORKS AND GRATUITOUS DISPLAYS OF CAPSLOCK (why isn't "caps lock" in all caps on my keyboard?)!!! (p.s. google interbang)

One way I think I'm growing as a writer already is in versatility of environment, though like so much growth, this is one of necessity. I've been able today, to write in a courtyard and a hallway as the building was not open when I arrived and after that, the room was still not. And I got plenty done. I also have to constantly remind myself, that though I'm working towards perfection and perfunctory publication (perfunctory because it will be so perfect), when I'm too conscious of this, my work gets worse and worse and when I'm writing new material, even if the book as a whole is in its third incarnation, that particular paragraph is in draft 1 and that can be polished later. It's necessary or I'll never move on. And boy do I need to move on from chapter 3.

So, I'll be busy over the next 3 weeks, but as my friend JC pointed out when I was in college and doing the internship at Rowland Publishing (when I started this blog), I get more done the more busy I am. I wrote for 2 + hours this morning and almost an hour during lunch. I feel good. Lots to do, but I feel good. Especially since I volunteered to present first so I'll be presenting on Monday and after that, every afternoon will be all about the writing (as much as I can. Still need to participate and help my peers make their presentations). So....wake up, write, TBAWP in the morning, writing lunch, TBAWP in the afternoon with writing starting next week. Potentially I could get more done than at home and still have the evenings with my wife and babies. I'd say 'let's do this!' but IT'S ALREADY BEEN BEGUN!

Working on: Chapter 3
Time Spent Writing: a little less than 3 hours
Writing Music: Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack, Various OCremix, Classic Western Themes
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Day 5: It's Late
Saturday, June 15, 2013 9:04 PM
It's always a struggle, man. They say you need routine but that's not all. Writing at the end of the day is no good. They say Hemingway wrote at the beginning of the day. He got up early and wrote until noon. I've heard people say you should write in the morning, as soon as you get up, because your subconscious or unconscious or whatever is still close to the dream-state. That it's like harnessing the power of your dreams. I've never been one to buy into that sort of thing, maybe a little, but not really. I like writing in the morning because I'm refreshed and new. I may be tired, but it's a waking up rather than a winding down. Writing at the end of the day like this, just too damn exhausting, or rather I'm too exhausted already.

It's never a good writing session when your just skipped around wildly, but not doing much in any particular place. At times, I couldn't tell if it was really late or if this book was just broken beyond all repair. I came up with a few good (I think) ideas for how to reconcile the changes I'm making now with later chapters that will need to be doctored to fit accordingly.

The real difficulty at this juncture is trying to figure out what the reader knows. I know so much that won't ever really need to be revealed in this book, or possibly ever, with character backstory and history and what-not. Trying to seperate myself and understand my audience is a unique challenge. So unique that I've created a table in a word doc that lists the chapters then I write in what is revealed to the reader in each chapter and, in the last column, what the reader might infer from this information. It's been useful, though this evening I may have spent too much time staring at that instead of chapter 3.

Anyway, it's late. I look forward to the days when I don't start off each post with how hard writing is. That's getting old. Man, it's so late, I'm not even proofing this. Deal with it, imaginary reader.

Working on: Chapter 3 (and looking ahead to 4, 9 and 10 with some planning and writing)
Time Spent Writing: 1 1/2 hour or something
Writing Music: Battlestar Galactica Season 1 and 2
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Day 4: Word Working
Friday, June 14, 2013 8:07 AM
No, there wasn't a day-three. Not sure yet if I'll be posting everyday that I do writing, but sadly, yesterday was completely consumed by working on our old house and getting ready to be rented. 10+ hours. Good stuff. Going back today for about an hour / hour in a half. But this isn't a blog about not-writing...

Today, I write! And, since someone asked me on facebook and I haven't mentioned it here yet, I am no longer using Storymill, my beloved writing program. Storymill was awesome, potentially is still awesome, however, it is broken and their technical support failed to actually do anything for me. After updating the software, one feature stopped working in a very malicious way that did result in the loss of someof my writing (a very small amount, just what I had done in that particular writing session, but there is nothing more discouraging or frightening to me as a writer than the simple disappearance of my work, having my hard-wrought time amount to nothing). So Storymill is out and a folder with lots of other folders inside of it and each of those full of word documents is serving as the sad, but effective replacement.

I say effective because I'm getting stuff done! Definitely feeling warmed up today and wrote a lot though I noticed that many people might look at what I'm doing as actually containing very little writing. Mostly, at this phase, I'm reading and revising. Though there is definitely some rewriting going, the closest I come to just straight up writing is when I have to craft a new section entirely to tie things together or act as a replacement. Chapter 3 has, in the end, been so difficult because it has been the confluence of several chapters from the first draft being boiled down, distilled and other cooking-related metaphors for reduction and simplification. I know some writers fear the blank page, but I long for the days of the first draft, just writing along, whatever came to mind, free-wheeling, fast-typing with the wind whipping through my care-free knuckle hairs. Whoa, that got weird.

Anyway, it's good news. I could see myself being done with Chapter 3 in another good session (good meaning, nice amount of time, like today).


Working on: Chapter 3
Time Spent Writing: 4+ hours (though with many baby-related interruptions)
Writing Music: Tchaikovsky ("Little Russian," "Winter Dreams," etc.) and Battlestar Galactica Soundtrack Season 1
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Day 2: 'Chapter 3, You Old ***' or 'Still Chilly and Sputtering'
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:14 PM
Well, I failed at writing this morning. Not in the getting up and getting start part but in the isolating myself from family part. I've got to have my space to write, especially when it's something like this, where the ideas and inspiration aren't as fresh and you have to force yourself into the chair a bit. Then there was a whole day full of stuff to do, including a grad class from 5:15 to 9:00. But there are always reasons not to write. After I came home and ate dinner, I got right to it and though I may not have gotten all I wanted done, it's something and be able to say I tried and did something is very important at the end of the day.

As for the writing itself, still plugging away at Chapter 3, trying to work through this log jam. This may be the third draft of the book, but chapter 3 has seen more than it's share of renditions and revisions. At this point, I"m taking stuff from all over the second draft and these super messy chapters as part of this internal third draft processing and revising. It feels a lot like sewing as I cut and then try to pull this material back together. I hate to be so vague, but I don't want to go into the details of the book. Suffice it to say, the second draft was a lot longer and several attempts have been made around chapter 3 and the subsequent installments aimed at reducing that word count and delivering the reader to the action and the drama. So far, I've literally (in the novel sense) rearrange solar systems to get this thing to work and now, in many ways, I'm putting a lot of it back, but still trying at all times to shorten the text. Challenge indeed .

Working on: Piecing Together Chapter 3
Time Spent Writing: less than 2 hours, divided
Writing Music: Phillip Glass' "Mad Rush" and Zelda Playlist (OCRemix, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jean Carlo Emmanuel Gonzalez Cruz)
by DMI | with no comments
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Day 1: The Cold Start
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 8:39 AM
Here it is, the first day of summer. Let me say, I'm already starting off by having failed in my goals a bit. I'm not even talking about the numerous other attempts I've made to get Draft 3 started that go back more than a year at this point. No. That's far too depressing to talk about in a blog about a grand new beginning. I'm just talking about how I wanted to get ready for today and this summer. I wanted to get a little momentum, use the last week of school (at the least), and the weekend before post-planning to start writing, at the very least do some prewriting. I wanted to sit down on my first day of writing and really be able to start cranking out the words, baby! YEAH! (think John Dean, not Austin Powers). Well, "if wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak." None of that happened. Heck, I'm nowhere close to "ready." The office in the new house (oh yeah, Mary and I moved, so there's another giant reason why writing hasn't happened) is still in complete shambles, boxes everywhere, things that need assembling and hanging (and in one case re-hanging).

But there are always reasons to not write. Too many actually. I could use the fact that Mary had to interrupt me for help with the babies several times this morning as an excuse, but I always came back to the office (she did a good job of kicking me in the right direction, the wonderful woman). I could have stayed in bed: 'hey! it's vacation time!' or 'I didn't sleep well last night.' Sure, I'd love to spend the morning playing Civilization IV or take the girls for a walk. There are always reasons not to write and that's why this blog is a good one, about hope and victory and tacos and all those good things. I got up. I wrote. Tomorrow I'll do it again. 

The goal is simple: finish a complete third draft that is really frakkin' good.

Working on: Chapter 3 / Ton of Prewriting
Time Spent Writing:about 3 1/2 hours
Writing Music: Donkey Kong Country OCRemix
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