Monday Check In

Welcome to another wonderful Monday!

Ok, that’s all the chipper you’re getting out of me. It’s Monday, and though the sun is out, I’m not quite feeling it.

The laundromat at our current apartment complex sucks. Dried clothes for an hour. Still wet. And of course, we were sucked into the world of Diablo III, so we didn’t notice until 11pm. We debated, and decided we didn’t want to pay to dry clothes, and have them potentially not be dry. Again.

So, we loaded the wet clothes into my car and went to his parents house, since it’s empty and we’re ‘house sitting’ anyway. An hour later, the clothes are dry and we head home. It’s 1 in the morning.

And then the dog wakes me up at 7:59 this morning. Remember that last post? Yeah… I need a narcoleptic dog. Or at least one that sleeps in with me.

So, I’m sitting at Starbucks, and looking over the work from last week. I know I kind of did this on Saturday, but I like to look at my word count from the week and sort of keep a record going here.

So last week I edited two chapters of ‘Vessels’, meeting that goal.

I blew my writing goal out of the water, not only finishing Chapter 10, but chapter 11 as well, and started chapter 12! I wrote a total of  7,637 words last week!

I’m just gonna let that sink in for a moment.

7,637 words! That’s nuts! At least for me. The entire manuscript so far sits at 35,049 words. Still small, but I have at least 5 or 6 more chapters to write. Probably more, since the last few chapters always seem to grow and add on to my outline.

I’m about 600 words into chapter 12, and we’re going to meet the bad guy for the first time. There have been other bad guys, and confrontations, but this is THE bad guy. And I’m excited for the scene.

But, I’m really excited about a love triangle that has sprung up. Originally, Cora was going to fall in love with Whit, and Whit was going to resist, due to hangups with his dead wife.

That all checks out. It’s happening, in full swing, and it’s good. And then enter one named Jesse Holt. I like this character. Someone I never planned on creating, and who suddenly has a lot to do with the story. He foils well with Mal, and he likes Cora.

A lot.

And she doesn’t get it. Can’t see it because she’s stuck on Whit, who, no matter how I try, just isn’t having Cora. He shut it down, and it’s impacted their relationship. Scenes are tense between them. Cora feels foolish, and Whit feels guilty. And Jesse just wants everyone to be happy.

I’m digging it.

Plus, Mal doesn’t care for Jesse too much, and he won’t like it when Cora and Jesse finally figure themselves out. Love it! So much witty banter and petty arguments just waiting to be written!

I love it when these sort of things happen. When characters blossom out of seemingly nothing. When someone I create out of need for consistency or realism decides that they are important and are going to step forward, to take their place amongst the cast.

Sorry, there was a lot of character name dropping in those paragraphs. Whit is the main character. Cora is his live in nanny/housekeeper. Mal is Whit’s brother-in-law. And Jesse is a co-worker of Whit’s.

Hope that helped.

I only have about 70 pages left in my critical read through of ‘The Alloy of Law’. I’ve learned a lot, and look forward to the climactic scenes ahead. They’re bound to be insightful.

I’d like to finish chapter 12 today, but I’ve got a weird day ahead of me with a shift meeting from 12-1 and then work at 3:30. So, I might get close, but will be surprised if I actually finish it.

But, I will finish it this week, easy. And probably get a good chunk of chapter 13 done too. Thursday I’m going to edit at least one chapter, maybe two if the writing doesn’t take over.

Anyway, the writing time is ticking away, so I’m gonna get to it!

 

BZ

 

Puppy Fever and New Routines

My brain was such pudding yesterday that, come today, I had to read my post because I had no idea what I wrote about.

I have a theory on why some days are mushier than others. Also, I’m really surprised mushier is a real word. Totally anticipated doing battle with the squiggly red line on that one.

See, I’ve found a pattern in my life, and it never fails. 6 hours of sleep or less, I can function. I’ll get delirious somewhere near the twelfth hour of being awake, but I can work and write and be in a good mood. The same goes for eight hours or more, though the good mood really persists through the day if I get more than eight hours of sleep.

But, it’s the grey zone that’s dangerous. Between 6 and 8 hours of sleep, and I am a zombie. Pudding brained and caffeine craving, stumbling and groaning, glowering through squinted eyes.

I think this is because I hit my best REM sleep somewhere between 6 and 8 hours into sleeping. And, my psychology classes have taught me, interrupting REM sleep is bad.

So, that’s why I’ve been all Tapioca lately. I’ve been going to bed at the usual 12:30/1 AM, but I’ve been waking up a good hour earlier than normal. Thusly, interrupting my own damn REM cycle.

What gives? I have no alarm set. I’m waking naturally, and I usually do that right at the 8 hour mark. The only reason I can think of is having the dog. Some unconscious part of my brain is worried that she’ll need to go out, and I won’t hear her. So I wake up earlier to take her out, and then head to work as normal.

And, now that it really has been an entire week of this new routine, I don’t really mind it. I get to work earlier and get more writing/editing done because of it.

So, the short answer:

I need to get a dog to keep me on an even better routine, and allow me to get a lot more fiction done! Also, to take advantage of all the dog friendly patios here in Salem. Because that’s just fun.

Anyway, with that riddle solved, I can move on to this week’s goals, and my plan of attack for next week.

I stated earlier in the week that I wanted to finish Chapter 10 and start Chapter 11. Done and done. And, chapter 11 only needs about another 1,000 words, so I aim to finish that today.

I also set the goal of editing two chapters, to make up for not editing one last week. Both of those are also done. Overall I’ve written 4,416 words this week, and will write at least another 1,000 today.

This week also found me elbow deep in ‘The Alloy of Law’. I’m on page 251 of my uber-critical read through, and leaving a lot of notes in the margins.

So, a very productive week here, and I’m looking to keep the good momentum going.

Next week’s schedule is wonky. I have a store meeting lunchtime Monday, and then close the store that night. So, while the computer will be out, the work will be interrupted, so I don’t count on too much productivity that day.

Tuesday I’m working an early mid-shift, so there will be no writing or editing.

Wednesday and Thursday I’m off, and those are the days I plan to really work on writing chapter 12 and editing chapter 5. They’re the only days I have to really get any work done, so I’m hoping the brain isn’t too mushy on those days.

Friday is another mid-shift, and then I close Saturday and Sunday.

The sun is out, and has been most of the week. It’s supposed to be in the mid-70s tomorrow, and since I’m off, I plan on sitting on a patio somewhere sipping craft beer. If I can convince Trevor, the dog will be with us.

He’s convinced that she’d be obnoxious if we took her out. And while she very well may be, it wouldn’t last for long. She’s too old to have the energy to cause a persistent fuss. We’ll see.

If you haven’t figured it out, I have puppy fever. I want a damn puppy so bad. Particularly a sable Corgi boy, named Simon. That’s what I want. But, dogs aren’t allowed in the apartments we’re going to be moving into. Plus, we want to buy a house, so we might as well wait and do all that first.

Doesn’t mean I don’t want one now, though. And look at that face!!!!

So. Much. WANT.

So. Much. WANT.

Anyway, before I get sucked into the black hole of the internet that is puppy pictures, I have fiction to write.

Have a beautiful Saturday, Blogland. Wherever you may be.

 

BZ

Sleep Deprivation at Its Finest

I really need to better memorize my schedule. I woke up at 8:30 again. Took the dog for a walk, dressed for work, and headed out. I couldn’t remember when I was scheduled to work, but I knew it wouldn’t be before 11.

I rolled into work at 10:15. I start my shift at 12:30.

My brain said, that’s over two hours! You can edit a chapter!

So, I ordered my iced coffee and left to get the computer from the car. And here I am.

I can tell you right now, I am not editing a chapter this morning. My brain is mush. My eyes feel thick and heavy.

Let’s be real, this blog post is about all I’m going to do today, besides make coffee.

And read. I plan on reading.

Speaking of reading… ‘Steelheart’. I’m not feeling it. I don’t feel an urge to read it. No pull, no magnetism. It could be that it’s slow to start, and I’m wasting perfectly enjoyable reading time by ignoring it. But…

I’m not sure.

Anyway, I’m going to go waste time on the internet now. My brain isn’t responding to the blog wake up exercise. Maybe I just need to turn off for a little while.

See you tomorrow Blogland.

 

BZ

Symptoms of the Learning Process

Mornings.

Generally, I’m not a fan. But, some are better than others. Those mornings I open my eyes, and they see. Blurry, because I don’t sleep in my corrective eyewear, but the images the magic of my eyeballs capture is filtered and understood by my brain. Those mornings my brain functions, and well. I’m filled with purpose, and ambition, and goals.

And on those mornings, I tend to achieve them.

And then there are the other mornings. Mornings like today. Where I open my eyes, and everything’s blurry, and it means nothing to me. I don’t see the ceiling of my bedroom. I don’t register the smell of the spring breeze.

I just know that I’m awake, and I am not amused.

These mornings are slow. They start sluggish, with me lying in bed for much longer than necessary, blinking away the remnants of interrupted dreams. I flick through techno-news, but don’t really understand, or form thoughts about the things I read.

Because my brain isn’t there yet.

I’ll get up. Dress. Brush my teeth. Drive to work. It’s the drive where I seem to come to. I think it’s the music. Today’s wake up song was Johnny Cash’s rendition of ‘Hurt’. A depressing song to start my day to, but sitting in the warmth of spring sunshine, it wasn’t so bad.

So, two and a half hours after opening my eyes, I’m sitting, freezing in the Starbucks lobby. Seriously. It’s 55 degrees outside, why in the dickens is the AC on? And everyone else is wearing shorts, trying to get as much UV as their pasty skin can handle.

Anyway, I’m up. I’m here. And it’s time to get to work.

In my last post I made some lofty goals. I planned to finish chapter 10 of ‘Cards’, as well as edit both chapters 3 and 4 of ‘Vessels’.

I’m here to say that I killed it!

Chapter 10 is done, and awesome, building characters and the world. And it was FUN. A new-ish character has asserted himself, and it turns out, he has a good sense of humor. And he’s good natured. He helps temper all the darkness in my other two leading men.

And, I edited both chapters, as planned. It’s been an awesome week.

Yesterday I took a day off from writing and editing, and focused on my ‘Alloy of Law’ experiment. I’m just over halfway through the book, and I’ve learned a lot. Mainly, I am way, way, way too critical on my writing. And it’s keeping my word counts low.

A typical Sanderson chapter

A typical Sanderson chapter

I could write a six page short story and not have a single adverb, ‘was’ nor ‘as’. And I could make it work. But, trying to do that with a 50,000 word novel is just brutal.

Sanderson averages four ‘-ly’ adverbs per page. Now, I haven’t actually done the math to say that, but, it’s the number I seem to write the most. I’ve been a circling fiend, and I figured out something.

There’s a difference between using passive voice and bad writing.

Passive voice isn’t inherently bad. Sometimes you have to say how it WAS. There is no other way to say it, unless you take all the voice out of your work, and create these clunky sentences that just don’t quite work.

But, if your entire story is in passive voice, then that’s bad writing. There is a balance to be struck. A line to be walked.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to delete ‘bad writing’, that I didn’t see that the sentences I crafted instead, though technically stronger, weren’t actually helping the story.

I’d forgotten that I chose to leave the literary short fiction world behind. I’m reading and writing ‘popular fiction’, aka slumming it. And I love it!

Sure, my prose isn’t the most poetic. But, my writing is clear. You can read it and see the world, know the characters and be transported. That’s what I want.

I’m a little bummed that this realization has come after editing 4 chapters of my manuscript, because I fear I’ve done more harm than good, but I refuse to go back. All the chapters need to be in Draft 2 before I go back to chapter 1.

Ready for Retype!

Ready for Retype!

That’s the deal I made, to keep from getting caught in the editing loop. And, despite what I’ve learned from my critical approach to ‘Alloy’, I’m still going to circle and count these potentially offensive words. Because, while they aren’t synonymous with bad writing, they could be symptoms of it. I still need to be aware of their presence, and just how many I have. But, my perspective on how to use them, and how many can be in one chapter have changed dramatically.

I’m looking forward to editing future chapters.

Also, while I like ‘Vessels’, and think it’s good, I don’t think it’s good enough to publish. My mother will despair at the idea that Val and Ethan won’t someday be in print, but I see ‘Vessels’ for what it is.

It’s my first novel. It’s the start. Where I made all the rookie mistakes that I can’t quite see right now. It’s where I learned to write a piece of any sort of length. And where I learned and developed a writing process that works for me.

And that’s why I’m going to continue to edit it. I’m going to get it as close to ‘done’ as any other piece I’ve worked on, and treat it as if I want it published. Because, let’s be honest, you never know what you’re sitting on.

Ready for Retype!

This chapter took some work!

And because, if ‘Vessels’ taught me my writing process, it can teach me my editing process. It’s a learning experience.

And I won’t throw that away.

Anyway, my brain has finally caught up with my day, and it’s time to get some fiction in!

 

BZ

Treading Water, But It’s a Good Thing

Yesterday ended up being a great success. I wrote 2,303 words, finishing chapter 10 in one sitting.

I’ve hit a sort of ‘grey zone’ in the book. See… I knew the beginning, and I know the ending… but the middle is a bit hazy. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen to get the characters where they need to be at the end. I have an idea, but a lot of things have changed over the last few chapters, characters gone bad, new characters demanding to come out and play.

So, I’m ready to write chapter 11, and I have only a vague idea of where it’s going. Which is fine. I know these characters. I know how they’ll react in any given situation. I can handle whatever plot twist this book decides to throw at me.

Because that’s how it feels. I created the characters. I know their origins, and I created the basic scenario of the novel to get them all to come together and get shit done. And I created the ending. I know it, and I’m excited to write it, but I have to get there first.

I learned that lesson the hard way.

Some writers suggest that, when you’re ‘stuck’, move on to a scene that’s exciting to you. A scene you want to write.

So, the first novel I ever tried to write, I followed that advice. And it was all fun. Until I wrote the ending before I’d actually gotten there. And then, to my mind and heart, the story was over.

To this day I have no interest in working on that novel. It’s over. And that’s ok, because it was a shit book anyway. Though I love those characters, and the piece will always have a special place in my heart as the first novel I ever tried to write.

Anyway, I’m sort of treading water in the grey zone right now. But, I’m not too concerned. I’ve got enough editing to do that I can let ‘Cards’ marinate for a couple days before I tackle chapter 11.

On the docket today is editing Chapters 3 and 4 of ‘Vessels’. If I still have time once that’s done, since I start work kind of late today, I’m going to write a 100 Word story about aging, for Illeandra Young’s Birthday competition.

I think it’ll be fun, and a challenge, because 100 words go by quick. I don’t think I’ll win, and I won’t be heartbroken if that’s the case, but if I do $10 to Amazon would be cool.

Plus, it’ll be the first time I ever submit writing for some sort of prize. Other than publication… is that considered a prize? I kind of think so.

Anyway, I’ve got a busy day ahead of me, and a lot of time to stop wasting!

 

BZ

Welcome Back

Ahh… It’s like clocking in to work, opening a fresh, blank page for blogging. This is how I get the creative ball rolling, and help myself focus on what actually needs to happen.

See, when I wake up, my brain tends to be full. It’s like a thick stew being stirred constantly. I can’t grasp any particular thought, and I have about a million of them before I even brush my teeth. By the time I actually get in the car I’ve had about 20 different ideas for what to blog about, but once I sit down to it, they will all have disappeared, leaving me to think of something fresh.

So, what’s today’s fresh thought?

Let’s start with the fact that I met my writing goal for last week. Friday morning Trevor woke up at a quarter to six, to take his parents to the airport. I woke with the alarm, and couldn’t fall back asleep. I tried, like hell, but as my brain came to I felt flushed with writing. The spur of creation. I knew where the scene was going. It had marinated, and on Friday morning, the metaphorical timer had dinged. It was time to write.

By the time I reached Starbucks it was 7:30. My shift started at 9. Account for setting up the computer and eating breakfast, I had about an 1 and 15 minutes of solid writing. Notice, I didn’t write a blog that day. In that time I wrote 1,553.

I believe NaNo Campers call that a sprint.

Let me also say that ‘sprinting’ felt good. It didn’t leave me exhausted, my brain comparable to pudding. Instead I felt energized. Thrilled, and in love with the scenes I’d written. And, after reading them today, I still feel that way. They were good scenes.

Those 1,553 words ended chapter 9, and put a solid intro into chapter 10. But, as I imagined, I got zero editing done last week. Which means I need to edit two chapters this week.

My Starbucks schedule this week isn’t ideal for writing, but it’s a good compromise between the Write Life and my personal life. Off today, which is always nice, a whole day to myself to really get good work done. Tomorrow I close, Wednesday I’m a late mid, so I get to have dinner at home. Thursday I close, and Friday’s another late mid. And then Saturday I close, off Sunday.

So, today I’m going to try and finish chapter 10. That’s a tall order, because it needs another 2500 words or so, but I’m sure gonna try. Tomorrow I want to edit at least one chapter, but I might get to two. That way Thursday can be a finishing/starting a new chapter day.

Also, and this is more for my entertainment as well as learning, I bought a paperback version of ‘The Alloy of Law’.
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I love this book. It’s everything I could ask for in a sort of Steampunk detective story, and I won’t lie, it’s a major source of inspiration for the novel I’m working on. I own a hardback copy that I bought from when the book originally released, and it was one of the books I took to the signing. I just finished rereading it for the third time, and I think I’ve fully absorbed it now.

But, as I was reading my hardback I found myself noticing that Sanderson breaks some rules I’ve been living and writing by. As I flipped through page after page I found myself itching to circle ‘-ly’ adverbs and ‘was’. Also, he teaches against using dialogue tags, but he does it.

I needed to know how often he breaks the ‘rules’. So I spent the eight bucks to get a paperback copy that I could write all over and not feel too guilty. So, for my pleasure reading I have a hardback copy of ‘Steelheart’ sitting in my box at work, and for my editing, I’ve got ‘The Alloy of Law’. While I waited for the computer to wake up I started my ‘was’, ‘as’, and ‘-ly’ circling, and let me tell you, Sanderson definitely bends the rules.

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And that’s just page two! What does this mean for my writing? Not too much. I think Sanderson’s stories and his clear writing allow him to get a little lenient with the ‘rules’. Also, when you take into account that the book is just under 100,000 words, there’s more room for scenes that bend the rules. Also, the circles and counting don’t help me actually analyze the sentences. I have to go back, make notes in the margins, and see if the sentences themselves are strong, even with so many circles.

It’s going to be a fun exercise. And that’s how I’m treating it, an exercise to see how Brandon’s finished work looks. Something to compare my manuscripts to and to learn from.

Anyway, I’ve killed enough time here. It’s about time I started writing!

 

BZ

A Setback

Let’s try this again. I started this draft on Monday, and am just now coming back around to it. So far this week I have written ZERO words, and there’s been just as much progress on editing ‘Vessels’.

What happened? Oh, let me tell you all about it.

Sunday night we found out that Trevor’s grandpa died. And not the one we were expecting. My mother-in-law’s father died unexpectedly, and we were the unlucky ones that had to break the bad news. I’m not going to go into details, but it wasn’t good. In a span of 15 months the woman has lost both of her parents.

So, Trevor’s on bereavement leave all week. He’s not really all that bereaved, as he never really knew the man, but it’s a good thing. He’s able to help his parents and be there for his mother. I, on the other hand, am working my life away at the Bux.

With Trevor on a mini vacation my daily routine has been shredded. It’s hard to leave the house when he’s home, especially when we haven’t had much time together lately.

Today he had a phone interview for a new position at his current job, which he’s basically got. They talked about pay rate and training during the interview, even though he has an in-person interview tomorrow morning. That’s really exciting, since it comes with an almost $2 pay increase.

But, he’s still trying to get the 911 operator job. In fact, he’s at the critical testing for it right now. If he passes this test, he’ll get an interview. So, exciting times in our lives.

But, the writing has suffered this week, and it’s starting to tell on my mood. Initially, when I wrote part of this post on Monday, I felt optimistic about finishing chapter 9. I did admit, however, that editing probably wouldn’t happen.

Now, I’m not nearly so optimistic. I’m going to write, and write hard today. I hope I can finish chapter 9, but I realize it probably won’t happen. And editing? I’m not even going to worry myself with the idea this week.

I want to give a shout out to my mother. She texted me today to tell me that she’d reread all the chapters of ‘Cards’ so far, and that she really enjoyed them.

And it was exactly what I needed. Otherwise I would have sat on the couch and played Titanfall (which is fantastic) until it was time to go to work. But, here I am at Starbucks, explaining why I vanished from the social media train for a few days, and about to redeploy into a world of my creation.

So, thanks Mama!

Now, for more realistic goals. Today is the only day I plan on writing. Tomorrow is our anniversary, and Trevor is going to be off, so we’re going to really spend time together. Aside from the requisite Facebook post about how happy we are, I plan on ignoring technology.

So, I’m off tomorrow, work a mid-shift on Friday, then off Saturday, close Sunday. I’m off Monday, and Trev’s officially back to work that day, so I plan on making great strides then.

This week, I want to write another 1500 words or so. I should be able to, and that will wrap up chapter 9. Then I can start fresh on chapter 10 on Monday, and hopefully try and edit two chapters next week, to make up for the lackluster performance this week.

I think that’s the plan.

I was mad at myself, and still am a little, for letting this hit to my routine effect my productivity. But, I know that I’m not being very fair to myself. I didn’t want to not write, I wasn’t looking for an out. Life threw me a curveball, and it worked, for a couple days. It’s all right.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But, I’m back in action, and ready to get this chapter done!

 

BZ