Thursday, November 28, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 28

Because I'm so happy to have my computer back I did a little stupid thing on the Internet and pasted a bunch of the text into an analyzer app to find out what famous writer I tend to emulate.

When I put in the entire text I got William Shakespeare. (That name is difficult to type. Who'd'a thought?)

So then I started to think - what the hell? why do I write like Shakespeare? Yes, there's a certain romantic element but I'm not trying to write like him at all. With this book I'm alternating main characters so each one has a different POV. I wondered if each one would give me a different author. Remember this is just a bit of fun. So I went in and put each chapter separately into the analyzer.

Wow - what a variety of writers I got. Here's the list

  1. Shakespeare
  2. James Joyce
  3. James Joyce again
  4. Arthur C. Clarke
  5. Lewis Carroll
  6. Margaret Mitchell (wha? Never read Gone With the Wind.)
  7. Lewis Carroll again
  8. Margaret Atwood (YES!)
  9. Arthur C. Clarke again
  10. Margaret Atwood again (YES YES!)
I've never read Joyce, either. But what I'm seeing, I suppose (and this is pure supposition) is that the book is pretty epic in scope and all the authors have written epic stuff. That I got two SF writers makes me very happy, that they both popped up the way they did makes me even happier. I'm also tickled that Carroll is in there. The two chapters he's with are whimsical and kind of sneaky-intense. 

What's weird about the whole thing was that overall I got Shakespeare. Does the analyzer understand that I'm maybe working a tragedy here? 

I dunno.

I'll do this again when I finish. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 27

I'm still writing.

It's going at a much slower pace than I wanted but it's going. I know how it ends, and someone is going to die.

I think I've said that before but it's truer than ever. The reason it's going slower is that I'm writing by hand until sometime next week. The computer has gone in for service and I'm typing this on my iPad which is tougher than it might seem. I wish now I'd invested in the Bluetooth keyboard.


Still, it's a good thing I can use pen and paper. It would have been easy to quit, especially since I won NaNoWriMo for the sixth time this year. As it is I'm anxious to get the computer back so I can transcribe what I've got and finish. I'm thankful that I love the story I'm telling and the characters involved. 

And there is so much to be thankful for this year, not the least of which is my continued drawing of breath. I refuse to let the nurses and doctors who saved me - OR my wife saved me from myself - down. I just can't do it.

That means I have to finish the story and I have to get it and the other book in the trilogy out into the world. Not sure how but that's on the list for things to accomplish in the new year.

At this time of year there are a lot of traditions. The Charlie Brown special, the parade, football, food comas... You know. My favorite one is the annual watching of the most brilliant 30 minutes of holiday TV: 'Turkeys Away' from WKRP In Cincinnati. 

It's going to be on my local cable network in a two-hour block tonight. (Channel 196) you can also find it on YouTube and Hulu if you like. It's worth the effort to seek it out because you WILL laugh your head off.

So that's where things are at the moment. I wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe and tell your family and friends that you love them. It's really important.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Things Out Of My Control

A list of things irksome and irritating with as little ranting as possible:
  • Dropped phone calls.
  • Dropped Internet connections.
  • My phone being 4G and my carrier not providing 4G coverage in my home area. Or any other I can really think of off the top of my head.
  • Huge companies buying up smaller ones.
  • The video vending machine taking up all that sidewalk space. And the people who shop for ten minutes with their car parked in the fire lane. Sorry if my cart full of groceries bangs into you or your car. I promise it's not intentional.
  • Rolling backpacks. Really, pick 'em up. If they're too heavy, you've got too much in there. Take only what you need.
  • Bullies on the highway commute. Look, riding my ass at 80 mph while I have three cars in front of me will not make me go faster. Calm down. We all want to be where we're going so don't be a dick.
  • Bookstores being pretty much a thing of the past. Some notable exceptions here but I remember there being half a dozen bookstores in town when I was a teenager.
  • Movies that should be streaming being only available on DVD. And then the DVD not being available in my local distribution center.
  • Or arriving cracked. 
  • Arriving cracked AGAIN.
  • Sudden cancellations.
  • High prices for things that are necessary. 
  • Companies taking advantage of parents who want their students to have the same experiences (or at least similar).
  • Stupid movies. Well, stupid entertainments in every medium. Let's raise the level of intelligence, eh? Parody and satire are one thing, but when they are more common than intelligent entertainment there's a problem.
  • Short attention spans.
  • Black Friday. 
  • Black Friday starting any time on Thanksgiving Day. It should be okay for all of us to take a day off and breathe, don't you think? If you work in retail that day off is important.
  • Drivers who stop with their back wheels even with the stop sign at the last possible second. Whatever happened to stopping ten feet back and then creeping forward?
  • Trolls on the Internet.
  • The obsessions with celebrity misdeeds and hijinks. Not enough going on in your own life? Then get off the Internet and go do something. Or make something. 

So yeah. A sampling of things I can't control but that often (or only sometimes) get under my skin. Agree or disagree, we all have such lists. I imagine that on someone's list is a disdain for lists of this kind.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 21

Yes, that's whisky next to my laptop.
Don't judge me.
Quick update on the progress:

You can check out my progress toward my overall goal of 100,000 words for the novel on the death bar at the left side of this here blog thingie. I'm really close to reaching 50,000 words for the month of November. If I don't get there today, it'll be early on Friday. This would be a record for me, averaging well over 2300 words a day.

The key word there is averaging. I had a couple of really good days early on, over 3000 words, and I can attribute those to the excitement of starting and knowing a lot about what I wanted to write. But every day since that opening weekend (despite a late day start for the first time in my 6 years of NaNo) I've found the words coming steadily.

Now something I want to reiterate here is that not all of these words are good. I'm just blasting away at getting the story I'm writing down in a form that can be shaped and edited. Think of it as carving a piece of marble out of a wall. That marble will then be sculpted into something more representative of what I want to present to the world.

Or maybe it's like the blob of dough that gets shaped into individual loaves of bread, then baked and sliced for consumption.

There's not a lot of worry about overusing words (dammit 'just' keeps creeping in on me, I don't know why) and there's even less worry about things like passive verbs ('was going' will be replaced with 'went' in the first revision). I'm just throwing words down to get it out of my head. It still needs massaging, sculpting, some trips to the gym to make it more muscular.

But the purpose of NaNo isn't to write a complete, ready to sell novel. It's to prove to yourself that you can do this, that you have a talent for writing and for telling a story. With that in mind, as fast and steady as I'm writing, 50K words is easy to achieve.

And I'm in love with my story. Getting another 50K should be just as easy and I've got a routine down now. I may even have a couple of good days over weekends and the coming holiday. Even with serious distractions like the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who coming up on Saturday.

But now I've got writing to do. My new nemesis is really challenging me and I have to stay ahead in my word count.

How's your writing going? Tell me about it in the comments, would you?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 16

This year is going very, very well. I'm several days ahead of the established pace (more than 10,000 words ahead) and the story is shaping up nicely. I know where it has to go and how it has to happen. Someone has to die and probably one or two others will have to go, too.

That's the nature of storytelling. Learning what has to happen in order to tell a compelling tale. I learn more and more every year I attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

At 46 and having only been at this (meaning writing prose) seriously for seven or eight years I'm making significant progress all the time. Two books are published (both with Actionopolis), a third is waiting to publish and I've got outlines for three more approved. All I have to do is write them. 

NaNo teaches me the discipline I need to do these books when it's not November. Plans are being made for the new year and il discuss them here as I get closer to launching that phase of my writing journey. Stay tuned...

For the rest of the month, though, I've got this novel that I'm falling in love with to finish. That's going to take until mid-December and then I'm going to take a couple weeks off, enjoy the holidays.

But this month is certainly inspiring me to tackle next year with a lot of vim and vigor. Watch what happens next.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Pep Talk

Cross posted from the NaNoWriMo forum:

I'm going to keep this short because I've got writing to do and so do you:
I struggle every day. Every single day I write I wonder if what I'm writing is any damn good. Yesterday was not a bad day writing, just a slow one. Missed my word count by a significant number but still got over 1300 words in. I'm approaching the dreaded Middle of the Story and so far I'm off the plan I had for the book. That doesn't mean I won't get back on track and that the writing won't continue to be a struggle but I've got a goal.
So do you. You can do this. All you have to do is sit down and stop thinking and start writing.
I know it sounds hard but that's the point, isn't it? If it was easy everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great. (Plus there's no crying in baseball, remember that, too.)
Do what you have to, but don't give up. It's not impossible. You're not the only one who has to work hard at this. Ask anyone in the group or on the forum. They'll tell you, too.
You've got this. Now get to it.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

NaNoWriMo #6 Day 7

Quick word count update:

Total words: 14512

Average Words Written Per Day so far: 2073

I STILL like my story and my characters. I feel really great about where this is going and there should be two big climaxes - one in the middle and one near the end. I'm about two days ahead on word count so I'm very, very happy.

On Monday morning I heard an interview with the great Stanley Jordan, a virtuoso jazz guitarist. If you know of him, his new album sounds amazing. If you don't, look up a video of him playing Stairway to Heaven, your jaw will drop.

It's not his playing so much that got me in the interview, though. It was his attitude about playing. Near the end he said that one of the reasons that he enjoyed teaching guitar so much was that moment when he could enlighten a student. Say the student is playing a piece he knows and knows well but is having trouble with. Jordan looks at everything the student is doing EXCEPT playing. Is the student breathing? Are his eyes closed? Is he feeling the music?

If, when the student is playing a gig, the thought is "Oh I've got ten more minutes to fill, what am I going to do?" he posits that that is the worst possible motivation to play. Filling time. If, instead, the student has a goal of creating the most heavenly music ever heard he will likely play amazing stuff.

It's all about the goals and the things you do to get there beyond just practicing. That's why it's important for us writer-types to get up and walk around every once in a while. See something else, let the problems we're having in the writing work themselves out by allowing our brains to take in something else.

I've always known this. If I'm distracted in what I'm trying to accomplish, it's time to move away from it for a short time (or longer if need be) and then come back fresh. Sometimes it's twenty minutes other times it can be several days.

The beauty of NaNo is that it forces you to confront those problems, especially in the dreaded Middle. At that point, going for a walk or taking a break to watch a TV show or a movie is a good idea. Let your brain work it out.

And now that I've done that, it's time to get back to writing.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

NaNoWriMo #6 Day One

Relax, there won't be daily updates here. You'll have to follow on Twitter or Facebook for those and even then they'll only be really word counts.

No, here you'll get some insight into my process and how the writing's going. This year's my sixth NaNo and I've won all five previous years. This year I'm writing the sequel to the novel from two years ago now.

So Friday was the first day of NaNoWriMo and what was different this year from the previous five is that I did not start writing at the crack of dawn. My work schedule prevented it and there were things that had to be done immediately when I got home so I didn't get to start writing until after dinner.

Which ended up being fine. I hit my daily goal of 2000 words plus a little more and I'm trying out a new style in the novel itself. Nothing major, just using Scrivener to separate each scene in each chapter.

I've got the big beats ready to go, I know the characters, I have great villains and everything that goes on has room for improv. There's an ending in place and even if it's not the ending that comes out I'm ready to go.

I'm excited to get rolling on The Silent Well. Signing off to get some writing done.