Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Counting down to the end

Here we go. It's the last day of Nano and I'm up early hammering the keyboard.

It feels like deja vu all over again. If I remember correctly - and I think I do - I was doing this yesterday, and the day before...

I'm onto the third book (Oracle 4), which I don't have a hope of finishing today because the first and second took longer than expected. I did write in Canberra, this book is flowing much easier than the other two and my fingers only cramped up a few times. The shoulders, well, I'll treat them to some down time tomorrow - I promise.

I'm not a fan of leaving a book half written, but other obligations, like shifting stuff, finding a place to live and starting the new job is going to put a stop to any concentration or writing for a while. Which is why I'm abusing the poor keyboard. The further into the book, the easier it will be to pick up the threads when I do return to it.

So, enough stuffing around on the 'net, it's time to pound those words out until the keyboard ignites from friction!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's the potential

We're in the last week of Nano, and most of us struggling to reach the goal.

It's not necessarily the 50K goal,  but the goal we set for ourselves. We're tired, we have other things to do, a month is too long, we are so over it!!

But should you feel that your entire manuscript - be it 10, 20, 30, 40 or 100k words long - is a load of over-dramatic, derivative twaddle, you need something to keep you going, something to encourage you to reach the end.

Well, there is one word to hold on to - no matter that you think all you've written is absolute crap; no matter that the family is pissed at you for spending all your time in another world, another land or another time, with other people, who are probably having sex or a fight to boost the word count; no matter that your work colleagues have given you the gimlet eye because you're verbalising Olde English/Magical/Alien dialogue under your breath - the word you need to remember at this stage of Nano is... potential.

Every first draft has the potential to become so much more.

But you need to write it first. It may be crap. It may be a little confused. It may need a serious rewrite. But the potential is there. What you've written so far is the first impression of an idea, and once out of your head and on the computer/notebook, it has potential. It needs more than the first rush of temper to write it down, it needs flesh on those bones, it needs emotion, soul. That can wait until December, for now the bones are the most important aspect.

November is about the bones, the structure, the basic frame of the work.

So, if you're thinking of throwing in the towel and calling it quits, think of the potential of your manuscript-in-progress; think of the ending you're nearing, and dream of what might be...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Moving on

I'm off to Canberra today, so I was up early to write before packing. A few hours later, I had nearly three and a half thousand words More than I expected.

The second book is going well, so well, I might sneak in a few extras once I get to the Capital.

I'd like to think I can find somewhere to live over the weekend, but the reality is, I don't think there's enough time before I start work in ten days. After that, it's all down to time management - at which I suck.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey was the first fantasy author I read. I fell in love with the Dragons of Pern and had to have the entire series no matter what.

The Crystal Singer was also one of my fav reads. I've read her work repeatedly over the years, and I found inspiration within those pages.

Anne, along with the late Andre Norton, sparked my imganiation to write on my own stories. I've never written of dragons, nor of telepaths or sentient ships. I chose my own worlds to build, but it is thanks to Anne that I first felt the urge.

Ms McCaffrey was a great exponent of paying it forward, guiding careers and co-authoring with Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey and Jody Lynn Nye to name three.

I always thought she should have been made a Grand Master of the genre years ago rather than in 2005 - but that's just me.

Today, an astonishing talent has passed and leaves the world poorer. But her body of work will live on.

As my Nano reward, I'm going to re-read her collection and appreciate her art all over again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nano done, but not over yet.

A mixed day today, of the good, the bad and ugly.

First, the bad and the ugly: I have a... let's cal it an aversion, to particular eight-legged beasties. I have no idea why I decided that spiders would be a part of this book, let alone giant ones. I think it was a subconscious thing, since they are, not complex, but a simpler organism to clone. (Long story.)

And so it came to pass that I had to do some in depth research on the little beasties. [Insert shudder and a quick glance around the room - just in case.] I doubt I'll ever be comfortable with them, and confrontation therapy is so not happening. But I did the research and that led to...

...the good news. Which is the first book is done. It's come in at 123,000 words, but I know there is some absolute tripe that needs removing and/or rewriting.

The important fact about finishing Nano, or any brilliant idea you might have for a story, is to sit down and write it.

I suspect too many people are concerned about numbers rather than the story. If you're involved in the story, the numbers will create themselves. Write. That's all you need worry about.

Now, I shall wander away from the keyboard with vague thoughts on the book I'll start tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

100k and more to go

Finally, finally, a 10+k day. Which tells me just how difficult this book has been to write.

When you're struggling, you are struggling all over a book. It has taken fourteen days of toil and struggle and frustration and monumental cursing to reach a day were everything flowed nicely. I don't expect it to last.

Even those who plot will find sections of writing leads to the grinding of the teeth, the look around the house and think it needs cleaning, or the dog needs walking, or something, anything! to take you away from the torture.

It's about here I would suggest a fight, some sexual activity, taking or giving something from/to a character, or even wax lyrical about if you want to succeed at Nano, you need to get your butt into the chair and fingers onto the keyboard, but I'm just too shagged.

I guess the good news is that I've popped over the 100k mark for the book and the bad news is that it isn't finished and the end is nowhere in sight. The worst news is that real life is about to intrude and I doubt I'll get much more writing done. I'm pretty sure that packing up and moving an entire household will take most of my time.

I've done enough for one day and there's another one - day, that is - tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

No one died today

So I promised my sister I wouldn't kill anyone today.

A difficult task when writing about Marines in combat, complicated by a vast array of ravenous, self-aware little horrors on an alien planet.

However, in not indulging in the high word count of battle, it forced me to think more carefully about the direction of the book rather than writing about wholesale slaughter.

I have found that there is more to this book than I thought. Ideas like 'why' and 'when' and the more intriguing 'consequences', the 'what next' of events.

I shall most definitely get to kill lots of things tomorrow, and that will take me over the 50k mark. And from there, it will be a twisting, writhing journey to the ending I have planned.

Time to end the day, it's been a long one.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The little things

I'm having dongle issues, so I have to rely on dial-up until the new one arrives and it takes an annoying and frustrating amount of time to even log on.

Anyway, I am motoring along with the book - and waiting for the Nano techs to create the word count meter.

I do not plot, so Nano is true pantster writing for me. Sometimes... I hit a road block, which I have currently done. So I've stopped for the day to allow the subconscious to come up with a way through.

It occurs to me that the subconscious is the best tool for completing a task like Nano.

With the rush of the first few days, we manically set fingers to the keyboard and write whatever pops into our head - be it structured by plotting, or free writing - and move on to the next scene. But... our subconscious tells us everything we need to know about the work.

Usually, it is little things, things we don't consider important until much later when we decide we are brilliant. Most of the time, that's absolutely true. We come up with genius phrases, intriguing clues, dynamic characters who start off as total wankers we want to kill.

As we begin the next slog, those 'little things' become important; that wanker of a character suddenly saves the day, or provides an important foil to someone we've created in their place. That genius phrase becomes integral to the overall theme, and that intriguing clue we were so chuffed about... leads absolutely nowhere, but excludes a suspect.

By the end of the first week, a lot of writers have decided, "nah, bored now... oooh, Rage has been released!" And their bright and shiny work remains unfinished. It's a shame. With a little intestinal fortitude and patience, the work could be completed.

There is always time to write. Always. The daily amount of 1667 isn't so much when you're in the depths of action, or conversation or describing an alien world.

The little things we think so unimportant at the beginning are our subconscious giving us the carefully planted clues tocontinue writing and finish the book, even beyond 50,000 words. But it has another name, one that is sometimes derided and disdained as foolish. Pay attention, because it is the reason we write, the reason we go on. It is... the Muse, and one of the most valuable tools in a writer's arsenal.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Done for the day

Stick a fork in me, I'm done for the day.

I didn't stay up late and start Nano at midnight, but I did find myself waking early. So. I've been at the keyboard since about six a.m with a couple of hours off throughout the day for breaks. It's now just gone 7pm, and I suspect the parent wants feeding. I'm also tired.

The total word count is 8260. As soon as the Nano site has a widget organised, I'll post it here for word count updates.

The death toll so far is one marine and one rodent. I expect the toll to rise in the coming days.