Thursday, November 29, 2007

Day 29

I won! Okay, along with thousands of others, so it is not a competitive win, but WooHoo!

Now, I just have to keep plugging away until I finish the actual novel. I seem to be about half way through the outline, which sounds about right: first draft is likely 100,000, then up from there as I add bit more description etc, then down as I cut redundant scenes etc. -- first novels pretty much have to be under 100,000 to sell. I'll spend today and tomorrow still writing, having budgeted November to this task, but then I will have to go back to real life. Specifically I promised to spend the first couple of days of December cleaning house, then there is a long vacation with family, then the new year and a ton of research work waiting. But I will try to squeeze in some novelling time too. I do not wish to lose momentum on this novel, and I have at least 12 more in the files awaiting similar treatment. Well, time will tell.

Big thank you to Line Noise for comments and encouragement throughout the process (I've based about half the character of Crane on him as a result); to M.D. Benoit for giving me the final push to go for NaNoWriMo this year; and above all to my wife for putting up with it while I abandoned other responsibilities to take this on.

My wife has mentioned several times this month that she can't remember seeing me so engaged and happy before. And I'm a guy who loves his day job... Still, Dave Duncan was exactly my age when he quit his day job to write, and he's now up to, what, 42 published novels? Makes a person think!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 28

At 49,742 when I called it quits tonight...just over 250 words to go and two days, so feeling pretty confident I'll make the minimum quota.

Quit because it was bedtime, and one important lesson I have confirmed through this exercise is the importance of stopping mid-idea.

In the past, I would make the mistake of working for as long as the words were pouring out, fearful that if I turned off the faucett when it was running, it might be a long time before I could get it turned back on. So I'd keep working as long as it kept coming. correspondingly, if I'd get to a tough patch, I would take a break, rather than continue to spin my wheels until despondancy set in. But the inevitable result of this combination would be that whenever I went to start on the next day's work, I come back to a problem area. I'd have finished up whatever was working for me, and had either to start the next section from scratch -- so I'd spend hours staring at the blank page wondering how to begin and what to put next -- or be stuck facing the same problem that had defeated me the night before. Demoralization, procastination and angst were therefore the constants of this process.

In contrast, I have learned (it may have been Candas Jane Dorsey who first suggested this to me, but can't be sure) that if you stop at some arbitrary deadline (dinner time, bedtime, kids story time, etc.) in the middle of a sentence you really really want to finish, that it's driving you crazy you didn't get a chance to put down before you forget it, then what happens is that when you do eventually get back to the page, you start by furiously writing down all that pent up stuff you didn't have a chance to get out last time. So you hit the page running, as it were. So in contrast with the procastination that plagued my thesis and dissertations, I found more recent writing (and particularly the current experience with NaNoWriMo) one of hardly being able to wait to get back to it. Instead of constantly facing problems when I start each day, I start the day with momemtum working for me rather than against me. It is sooo simple a principle!

As a result, I really only had one day with a very minor writer's block. hardly even worth mentioning. A very great contrast to my previous experiences!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Another productive day as I sprint towards the finish line: 3,519 words today, total: 47,301 (94.6% to target).

I've had to ignore the need for revisions: I notice, for example, that my characters only nod, shake their heads, or shrug while talking -- obviously some need for editing there! And my dialog is filled with "said bookism" -- the dreaded tendency for some writers to use descriptive words (shoulted, exclaimed, argued, agreed, snorted,cried, etc etc.) instead of just "said". Drives me crazy as a reader, and so bit shocked to find myself doing it -- but I'm letting it go in this draft because it's easy enough to fix later when I have time to reflect on which terms should go and which stay.

Watched an episode of House tonight and wonder if my style in this novel has been influenced by it -- the fact that yet again today my heroes have come up with yet another completely wrong theory as to what is going on sort of parallel's the formula of the House series where the first 8 diagnoses always turn out to be wrong.

keep writing myself into corners, and then out of them...but each time end up diverging just a little bit more from original outline. And yet it oddly seems to be coming it turned out in today's scene that the character's previous occupations were a key to their being able to resolve their current crisis -- but I never saw that particular crisis coming nor planned that far ahead -- I just randomly chose occupations for them as I typed frantically to reach that day's quota and pulled their backgrounds out of a hat. So how does that work exactly that 8 chapters later that turns out to be crucial. But no one will believe it and just assume I manipulated it so it would work out as necessary plot coupons. (Plot coupon == where the kid goes on adventure, finds cup of swords, sword of hearts, and mystic key, all of which turn out to be exactly what he needed to kill the giant in the end.)

Still enjoying the writing process too much...but I guess I can't give up my day job just yet...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 26

Whoohoo! Very productive day, at 4094 words, bringing my total to 43,786. Two more like today, and I'll make my target. Oh wait, I only have a couple or three more days, so I have to be this productive again tommorow and Wednesday. Let's see, I'm at 87.6% of target, with 86.6% of the time for the first time I am actually 1% ahead of schedule!

The last few chapters have been almost entirely dialog, however, I will clearly have much revision to undertake to introduce necessary description to bring this up to standard. But that is for later. I just have to keep pressing ahead, even knowing that some of this dialog will undoubtably have to be trimmed at a later date. And I like how the characters are developing, their interactions and how the plot is thickening, albeit not quite fast enough. (At current pace, novel is going to be 100,000 long since I'm only half way through the outline, and still have two more characters waiting in the wings...maybe 3).

One aspect that I am rather proud of is that the heroes are constantly confused about what is going on...I recently reviewed a book I criticized because the characters would take one look at the alien technology or one look at the situation, and immediately intuit the right answers to all the mysteries. Bugged the hell out of me. Like a guy walking into a Jumbo jet and flying it after 10 seconds. Yeah, that could happen. So my characters keep operating on the best information available to them at the time, and then they allow themselves to build up these increasingly sinister hypothesis, most of which are dead wrong. They get there in the end of course, but by then have completely changed their perspectives on everything and everyone.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 25

Only 570 words today...spent time writing other stuff (see review below) and working daughters second birthday party (for four friends from old school). But I've been told that writing even a few words each day keeps momentum up, whereas missing is a sure way to lose it. So, something better than nothing, but bit disappointed haven't broken 40,000 yet. But hope to catch up tomorrow and Tuesday. Just have 11,000 words to go, so 3,000 words a day is not impossible in the final sprint to the finish.

Alberta Dance Theater's Harry Potter

November 24-26, 2007.Lethbridge; November 29- December 2, 2007 Calgary.

The frustration of attending the opening night production of Alberta Dance Theater's production of Harry Potter was knowing that after five more performances in Alberta, this brilliant dance production would be history. It's one of those rare productions that one feels ought to be available to everyone; it ought to have gone on to tour through Canada for the next two years and then into the States and across Europe, because, by god, it was that good. Not feasible, of course, given that most of the performers are school age, but wow! Where's a CBC Arts film crew when you really need them?

Artistic Director Emily Forrest's first smart move was, of course, to pick a story that everyone knows and loves. The problem with a lot of modern dance productions is that, with the possible exception of a few aficionados, no one can figure out what the hell is going on. I have seen my share of productions of, say, "Dance of Spring" in which various figures pranced about the stage perhaps being flowers or bees or rain, or perhaps just abstractly representing their feelings about spring, but either way -- not strong on plot. Such productions are often painfully tedious, and likely not accessible to young audiences. But here we have Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which the majority of the audience has memorized and routinely recites to each other the way my generation did Monty Python skits. Consequently, the young audience knows exactly who everyone is and had no difficulty following what's going on. Indeed, the production was so accessible that it would be the perfect introduction to modern dance for young audiences everywhere, which is again why I desperately wanted it to go on national tour. What Rowling did for reading, Forrest's production could easily duplicate for dance.

Furthermore, the Rowling factor meant the young dancers really got it, in a way they might not have even with Forrest's previous productions. I gave Lost in Space a quite positive review (NeoOpsis #8), but most of the performers were too young to have ever seen the original TV series. But Harry Potter? These kids get Harry Potter, so when the choreographers collaborated with their young performers to pull out ideas for the dance routines, the level of connection, creativity, and commitment was through the roof. And it showed!

And, I was surprised to realize, dance is the perfect vehicle for Harry Potter. Forget the movies, which merely portray the parallel world of Howarts through straightforward narration and literal-minded special effects. With dance, the otherworldiness of Howarts is perfectly evoked through the smooth and fluid and natural movements of the performers, which are nevertheless still somehow not quite the way people move and interact in the real world. The hidden connectedness between the characters and their environments that necessarily underlies any system of sympatric magic is perfectly portrayed by the rhythmic coordination of 50 dancers interacting on stage.

Another smart move by Forrest was not to try to cram the entire first novel into a 70 minute dance performance. Instead, she and choreographers selected key scenes, and because there was no attempt to follow Harry's moment by moment through the book, were free to develop these from the viewpoint of other participants. For example, rather than the scene in which a mountain troll invades Hogwarts, we are shown trolls in their home environment; we see the Hogwart ghosts interacting when students aren't there; we see the Weasley brothers' antics when they are not with Harry; and so on. Consequently, Harry and his friends stagger in and out of scenes whose existence extends in time and space beyond merely Harry's witnessing of them, thereby imbuing these locales with a greater substance and continuity than perhaps that available through the books or movies.

It is difficult to identify the production's highlights, because it was all so excellent, but you haven't seem Quidditch until you've seen it live on stage; the Sorting Hat was funny and clever, as students switched from novices to their house colors; as was Platrofrm 9and ¾;and the Mirror of Erised was a good introduction of how dance can portray abstractions. But really, it was all superb and a wonder to behold.

But wait, there's more! I loved the owls that haunted Privet Drive in the opening scene, and made the occasional appearance throughout: If Albert Dance Theatre is looking for merchandizing opportunities, these owl kites would be eminently marketable! And the owls and black cats and wizards outside Privet Drive showed up before the performance started. As soon as the doors were open, stuff was happening on stage so that there was no possibility of the younger members of the audience getting fidgety waiting for the curtain to go up. And the transitions between scenes were similarly handled by projecting videotape of the girls brainstorming their favorite bits from the first book or waiting in line outside a bookstore to buy the final installment. It's an inspired solution because it not only allowed them to get up to 50 dancers and their scenery off stage and set up for the next round without ever slowing the pace, but simultaneously brought any audience members that may have forgotten some bit of business in the book back up to speed through the girls' discussion. And have I mentioned the sets yet? Inspired use of very simple props and backdrops. Indeed, the entire production was flawless.

Most impressive of all was that Alberta Dance Theater was able to get all 50 girls, some of them very young, to such a high level of professionalism. I saw very few missteps the entire performance opening night, and even those blended seamlessly into context (because Quidditch players are going to fumble occasionally, and if a student in potion's class is slightly out of step, isn't that just the reality of any classroom?) Not only the dancing, but the acting was near flawless.

This was quite simply the most enjoyable dance production I have ever attended, and I am very sorry you weren't there to see it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Day 24

A disappointing 1,023 words today, about half what I was aiming for. A combination of not getting as much time at the computer as I had hoped, a mini-writer's block as I found I had written myself into a corner, and not being very confident with how I wrote myself out of said corner. Lost some momentum because I'm less sure that the direction currently travelly in is going to work. I'm alergic to wasted effort, so hestitant to continue until I've thought through whether this is actually where I want to go, before going there.

But hopefully back on track tomorrow.

Odd how all my training and experience the last 20 years or so is how to CUT word count -- most academic journals have ridiculous word limits -- generally 6-8000 to describe your research, but in some cases, as little as 750 words (I've nver managed a submission to those journals) so I'm always trying to find ways to cut down on wordiness, Which, as I cut down a scene from yesterday by finding shorter ways of saying the same thing, I realized is not helping me with NaNoWriMo.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 23

2908 words today, total to 38,110 (76% of target; 76% of my time used, so finally caught up. Mary has promised to take the kids and give me some time tomorrow, so I should break 40,000 words.

Still too much talking heads, but I went and got get my characters stuck on a long space voyage where pretty much all they can do is talk at each other until we make planet fall. Hopefully the pace will pick up a bit there(. I'm debating whether to blow up the planet they're about to land on, for example, but then they'd be stuck on the damn ship again....)

But so far so good!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day 22

Wrote 2661 words today; at 35,202 or 70% of target, with 73% of my time gone. Closing the gap, but on the other hand, the weekend looms, the deadline approaches, and I'm not sure how much time I'll have next week to finish this.

Still, I do have enough of the novel written that I'm positive I'll eventually finish it, win or lose NaNoWriMo. I'm still generally happy with the way novel is developing, though bits here and there need revision. Too much dialog, not enough action or description. but no angst about it being awful, yet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bad Christmas Gift Ideas

Stolen from Derryl Murphy's blog: Star Trek Putter I'm not sure whether this shows that the ST generation is aging, or if it means golf has become too mass market to remain a sport of the elite...but either way, it can't be a good sign.

Day 21

Still moving forward. 3032 words today. Transitional scenes to get everyone in place for next bit of action, but again worried that they are too wordy, slowing the pacing. (And again, that sort of reflection is for later. Just need to get everything down on paper and keep moving forward.) Dr.s appointment does not bode well for tomorrow's productivity, but I need a couple more days like to day to catch up. I'm 65% to target, but have used 70% of my time. I need to average about 2000 words a day for next nine days to make target, but I know that Friday and the weekend are not looking promising for productivity. Still, might make it yet.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 20

2013 words today, plus a fair amount of revision to previous section -- which doesn't push the word count forward but plugs some of the holes in the plot. Bit disappointed didn't hit thirty-thousand words today -- still 500 short.

I keep having to remind myself to check what each of the characters is doing at any given moment...I get a couple of the leads in dialog and forget that there are a couple of others in the room who may have quite different priorities and motivations. What are they thinking, doing, have to say?

Worst of all, I keep having the hero do this or that, and have to remember that I need to motivate him for these adventures -- why not just say, "On second thought, maybe I should just resign now and do something else," rather than continue to take these outrageous risks. Thankfully, once I thought to put the question to myself, I was able to come up with anwsers and hopefully write more interesting scenes as our hero finds himself constrained by this or that factor into digging himself deeper and deeper into the thickening plot.

Of course the OTHER problem I'm having is a tendency to have the characters say everything they're thinking -- once I've figured out their motive for doing this or that, damn if they don't insist on mentioning it /explaining themselves to each other, or at least the reader. I strongly suspect that I am insulting the reader's intelligence by constantly making everything explicit immediately. So far I only have one scene where the characters figure something out and the reader has to wait three scenes to have it explained. But toning down explicit explanations (or making implicit stuff clearer) is a task for revisions, not NaNoWriMo.

I'll also have to make some decisions about the swearing in the novel at the revision stage. I have some when the characters get upset, but that's a bit of a problem for the SF market where a big chunk of the market is under 12 and book purchases are funded by disapproving parents. further, a lot of common swear words are anachronistic in my future. So, I can either tone the swearing down (somewhat changes the characters) or change it to swear words not currently in our vocabulary (one of the characters uses 'crank' and 'cranking' a lot which sounds a bit rude in context) or just go with the ageless ones. Similarly some of my threat vocabulary seems bit cliched and anachronistic.

On the whole though, still pleased with general direction, quality of the story. Nobody else may care for it, but its the sort of book I would like to read.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day 19

Another productive day: hit 27,500 words. (Couldn't believe that word count came out an even 500, but that's not an estimate or rounding thing, its the actual number.) Bit concerned the pacing is a bit slow, since its taken a lot of pages/time to set the situation up, but that is a matter for revisions after the first draft is complete. And I do kind of like how each step in itself is almost logical, though the end result is completely in(un?)credible.

Picked a working title: The Flight of the Illynov. It's a bit of a pun since its about the voyage of the spaceship Illynov, but also it is fleeing the collapse of the frontlines. I don't know though, doesn't have the elegance of "Slow Fall to Dawn" or "We all Died at Breakaway Station", two of my favorite titles. Comments Floght of the Illynov its potential as a title gratefully accepted.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day 18

Smooth sailing today, with 2460 words and two complete scenes, in spite of only having a couple of hours to write.

On the other hand, I have now reached the part of the outline where I introduce the fourth character. It was only as I was writing the scene and settling some of the details in my own mind for description, that I remembered that this aspect of the novel had occured to me as a result of listening to a talk by Sean Stewart on why nobody could write this type of character into an SF novel. So I had one of those, "Hey, I wonder if I could do that" reactions, and some elements of the story line did work better by adopting that motif. But, um, I may have overlooked the part where Sean listed the 27 reasons why almost no author could make it work. And now I'm into it, um, yikes! Talk about presumption! And I thought I'd chosen this novel, out of the dozen outlines I have lying about, because it was the most straight-forward action space opera narrative with no redeeming values or literary merits to get in the way of output. What was I thinking?

Oh well, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Or something like that.

Day 17

Another tough day rewriting that one scene, but I think I finally got it all to click. Tension, humor, romance, potential violence. And cut down from its original bloated size, though that in no way helped my word count. But I needed the scene to work before the characters could go on to the rest of the book. I think the scene advanced the characterization a bit too. So, 21,687 and holding.

Oh, and an email from Neil Gaiman today. How cool is that! Again, it of course went to everyone doing NaNoWriMo, but hey, I'll take the pep talk!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 16

Made my quota, 2,240 words, but tough tough day today. Mostly working on a single scene, a key one for this part of the book, that introduces two of the three key characters, has all three interacting for the first time, and with my having to achieve the right balance between romance, humour, and sudden, explosive violence. The scene is premised on a ticking timebomb type deadline, that only two of the characters know about, and a complete misunderstanding of what is going on by the third character, for whom the whole thing is alternately terrifying and infuriating.

My problem as the author is that when I get the pacing right for the humour, the violence falls apart. When I work out the logic of the violence, the romance becomes kind of icky. If I beef up the romance, it becomes too explicit and flops. If I tone it down, it vanishes altogether, because, did I mention the implicit violence? It's one of those situations that has its own internal logic, but keeping track of what each character is reacting to second by second, and getting that down on paper correctly, without making the scene so long and overdrawn as to collapse under its own weight...well, this writing business is HARD. But then one of the points of doing this NaNoWriMo exercises is to place myself in this situation -- I write a lot of reviews taking potshots at various authors for their sloppy writing, so it is important to walk a mile in their shoes once in a while to be a little more sympathetic for just how hard this all is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 15

Good productivity today, 2406 words. I also spent (wasted?) a lot of the morning revising what I wrote yesterday. This appears to be a necessary step for me to get back into the story, but the end result is that I am fairly satisfied with what I have so far.

I have taken Line Noise's advice, which was that whenever one runs into a block on one storyline, switch to another. I am now working on an SF novel I started outlining, according to my records, in 1975. But the last outline was 2000, with a scene written in 2002. I am not counting any of the existing scenes (not that there was much more than a couple of short fragments) for my NaNoWriMo word count. of course, but the existence of an outline seems to be helping my forward motion considerably. I probably should have started this novel at the outset to see if I could finish it, but I didn't learn of NaNoWriMo until too late to get organized, so had to start with the short story then at hand. So I have two and a half linked stories completed, with two or three ideas for follow ups if those turn out to be successful. And if I continue on with this novel, I should have a considerable chunk of it done by the end. That would be way cool. Perhaps the momentum will continue into the new year.

Current SF novel is straight-forward adventure novel, so relatively straight-forward to write. No redeeming literary values to worry about at this point, no complicated artistic structures, no unsellable pretensions. just action adventure. Well, given the strictures of NaNoWriMo, that's still aiming high.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 14

Back on track today. Running total hit 16,257 or 32.5% (1/3) of the way to the target. With 46% of the time gone. So still behind, but catching up. I have to make 2108 words a day on average from now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 12

No progress on Saturday or Sunday; today was also a holiday, but I was able to sneak in a few minutes, 631 words. That brings my total up to 13,431, so now quite behind.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day 10

No progress at all yesterday; family responsibilities on weekend pretty much preclude any chance of writing. What free time Mary and I were able to generate went to Mary's working on a tight publishers deadline -- a paying contract with a tight deadline has to take precedent over spec writing every time.

Plus, I only have the next half scene worked out in my head -- not sure where the story goes after that. The trouble with writing mystery is that after working out the characters, setting, set up, on-going conflicts and snarky dialog, I still don't have an actual crime for my heroine to solve yet.

Got an email from Sue Grafton this morning. Okay, probably all the NaNoWriMo writers who listed their genre as 'mystery' got the same email, but even so, Way COOL!

But somebody explain to me how I, a guy who has been reading and writing nothing but SF for over 40 years, suddenly finds himself writing a mystery? And with a retired housecleaner as my heroine?

Even stranger, this stuff is flowing out pretty well -- no real writer's block, no real obsession with revision, just steady progress getting stuff down. I always nag my students to "write what you know" and so far, that advice is working well for me. The completed stories are based on a guy I knew, an anecdote Karl told me, aan incident I observed at an SF con, and two guys/incidents that have annoyed me lately. Great catharsis, if not great literature. I guess the setting and the heroine are based on the fact that Mary and I have spent a lot of time lately in assisted living facilities -- but still, odd that its coming out this way rather than something more like my usual SF reading/daydreaming.

Spanish Lessons

Last night Kasia was -- as very night -- resisting bedtime, and blurted, "I hate you!"

I adopted a hurt expression and told her that 'hate' was a strong word, that it hurt my feelings, and it wasn't appropriate to say she hated me just because I was the bearer of the bad news that it was bed time. And proceded to put her to bed regardless.

After the usual stalls ("I need a glass of water"; "I need my other pillow"; "I need my other blanket"; "I need more water"; Can I have a kleenex?"; "I need to go to the bathroom"; "I don't want a blanket, I'm too hot"; "Where did you put my blanket, I'm cold"; "Can I have more water?"; "Where is my good pillow, I don't want this pillow any more;" "I am sleeping Dad, *snore* *snore*) I kissed her a final goodnight and told her I loved her.

There as a long pause and then, "I love you too, Dad."

"Oh great, because you said earlier that you hated me."

Kasia sits up in bed. "Dad! I think you completely misunderstood me. When I said I hated you, I was speaking Spanish! 'Hate' is Spanish for 'Love'. So when I said I hated you, I was speaking Spanish! I love you Dad!"

What could I say to that? Another kiss, "Okay!" and "Goodnight".

And out of the room as fast as possible before bursting into laughter....
That was a new one on me, but the last month or so I've been getting, "When I said I hated you, I wasn't talking to you, I was talking to Doego! Doego was bugging me. Did you think I was talking to you?" Doego being her imaginary friend. So disclaimers, but no actual apologies or taking responsibility for her temper.

Kasia, coming up on her fourth Birthday, does not approve of anyone saying the word 'no' to her. I have never come across anyone so single-minded. We could always distract Tigana and get her to choose a different option, but if Kasia has decided to, say, stick her fingers into a toaster, you have to practically sit on her to stop her from doing it. Then her feelings are hurt (which we always studiously ignore so as not to reinforce) and only eventually will she come back and say, "I'm happy now", for which she is duly acknowledged and we can move on. But we have to put the toaster out of reach, or she'll simply wait until we are not around.

But it is getting slowly better -- I take Kasia's making excuses as at least an implicit acknowledgement that she gets when her behaviour was unacceptable, and we do get the occasional spontaneous apology from time to time if she thinks she hurt our feelings. I figure she will make the final transition to taking responsibility and being polite about the time Tigana moves into her final 'bitch teenager' stage (we're already well into the pre-teen 'attitude' stage), to maintain the household karmatic balance.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Day 9

Made 1921 words on story #3 today, plus some minor edits on the end of #2. Total so far is 12,801.

I am unlikely to be able to get anything done on the long weekend. And tuesday is my daughter Kasia's Birthday, so probably nothing much again until Wednesday. But still hopeful can make the quota in the end.

Hanging with the Simpsons

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Day 8

In spite of many other distractions and obligations today, managed to finish second story. The morning was very slow, less than 500 words, as I had to go back and insert a key missing scene to make the story work. But that meant breaking up an existing flow, which I always find hard. And the scene was a hard one to convey.

The evening session, while shorter in length, was very productive and I finished the story with a nice twist and a good last line (I hope.) I am well pleased with the story, though only a first draft.

I am now at 10,880 words. 22% to target, but 26% of my time gone. And I am likely to have no opportunity to write on the long weekend, so I'm worried I am falling behind.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Day 7

Reached 9,245 words today = 18.5% of target; but I've used up 23% of my time. Given that the long weekend is coming up when I am unlikely to have many opportunities to write, I have to consider myself behind. Still, over 9,000 words is good.

I am 3/4 of the way through my second short story, which is linked to the first one -- same characters, different mystery. I'm surprised to find myself writing mystery, since that is not my genre.But thanks to a suggestion from my wife, I already have an idea for a third story in the set, so will probably stick to that through to the end of November.

I'm generally pleased with what I am writing, allowing always that I am leaving editing and revision until December and on. I have already detected a tendency to run on sentences and too many asides, but I'll deal with these later. I remain nervous about investing in story sequels when I do not yet know if the original short story is any good, but I guess ultimately that is no different than wondering whether the novel one is writing is any good...50,000 words is 50,000 words, and in the long run, if I can sell even half the short stories from the series, that would be more productive than finding the all or nothing novel was a no sale.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Day 5

So, I finished the short story I was writing tonight, at just under 5000 words. So I guess I actually have to start writing a novel. Unless I continue to develop the adventures of the protangonist of my short story. My wife just gave me a great idea for another in the series, if that is what it turns out to be. But they are both mysteries, which is not normally my genre. Decisions decisions....

The NaNoWriMo rules suggest not using previous partial novels, but rather starting fresh. I'm torn, because although I probably only have a few fragments and an outline for each of the six or seven novels that I have been writing in my head the last 40 years, I have been writing these in my head for the last 40 years. Part of me thinks that it is obvious that thisis the opportunity to finally get one of these down on paper, But another part of me accepts NaNoWriMo logic that if you use previous materials, you care too much about the characters to do the blind stream of consciousness writing required here.

But it would be great to see one of my long term projects finally down on paper rather than just in my head. But which one to go with?

Kasia art

These two pieces represent significant landmarks in Kasia's art development, and I thought I would share them because they are such textbook examples of developmental stages.

The first shows the first actual figure that Kasia drew -- everything up to that having consisted primarily of random lines, dots and squiggles, though she would readily identify such scribbling as pictures of family or trees or planes or etc. I was astonished that she went from scribbling on a page to this clear figure in one go. But note that the arms and legs emerge out of a single figure -- its all head. This is absolutely typical of this initial stage of figure drawing.

In the second drawing (annotated by her Mom) we see another figure, but in this case there is an attempt to identify a separate head, body and foot.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Day 3

Not much luck at finding time to write, it being a weekend and the kids underfoot. So, grabbed a few minutes whenever I could to look through some of my existing novel / short story outlines, to see if there was anything worth recycling. Had I thought of doing the National novel writing month thing before, I would have sorted through all that ahead of time and been ready to go with something, but it was only mentioned to me the last couple of days of October, and it was only Nov.1 I decided to go for it. So I just started writing the short story that was currently in my head. That should be good for at least one more session, but then I will have to start working on an actual novel or at least some other stories.

Looking through the files, I was distressed to find my most developed novel so far is missing. I'll have to see if I can track down a hard copy out in the garage somewhere. But there are still five or six others that I have in more or less complete outline form, so will have to choose which to go with for the rest of the month. I was a bit shocked to see that some of these outlines are dated from the 1970s or earlier. I know that one of my novels I actually started back in junior high and have been thinking about off and on for the last 40 years. Not sure that is the one I would go with, even if I could find the scribblers full of grade 9 notes (that was pre computers afterall, so no chance of that being in the computer files) but I do have a certain fondness for it, and it is odd how my hero in that book all those years ago was the age that I am now....

Spent half hour this evening rereading and revising short story so far...probably bad idea in terms of hitting 50,000 word quota by end of the month, but will help get momentum up for writing the next two scenes which are less developed in my head than what I've already got down. I went to see if my revisions had actually reduced my word count, but the NaNoWriMo is down just now.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day 2

Only 955 words today, but still averaging the required 1500/day. I'm relatively pleased with story so far; although rough and in need of editing, it is generally holding together.

One day poster

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Kasia (as unicorn, sans head portion), Tigan's friend Emily (as dead cheerleader), and Tigana (as Hippie).

National Novel Writing Month


National Novel Writing Month has started (November 1) and I have taken the plunge and signed up, my family responsibilities and crushing day job commitments notwithstanding. Made 2000 words today, a decent enough start, but we'll have to see if I can keep that up.