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Is it wrong to send (as a joke) a series of seriously creepy clown photos from 1923 to a friend who is a coulrophobe?

I thought so. I guess I'm bad to the bone.

In other news: There is no other news. Work is busyfrickingbusy and home is all about paint. Benjamin Moore gold leaf semi-gloss paint, to be exact. However, another chapter (28) of Charged with Folly is done—and really—only one more to go. Okay, maybe two. But there's almost no more plot left so they can't keep breeding like they have been. Yay!
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I've got nothing to complain about. I live a privileged life, all told, and so far my health is holding up. I have a roof over my head, more than sufficient to eat, a job to pay the bills, a second job that I mostly love except when novels refuse to finish themselves without my assistance.

I even managed to write 1000 words this morning. It fought me every step of the way (or I fought it, hard to say which). It was, in fact, a fight scene and I'm bloody sick of writing fight scenes—but it's written now. From this point on it's just writing the heart of the book, the thing that I've been aiming at for 484 pages. The thing that makes the entire enterprise stand or fall. (Mommy!)

I don't know why I should be nervous about that, especially not after the disaster of Night Warrior/The Making Blood. No, I'm sure that failure to stick a clean landing isn't playing any part in this refusal to take that final jump and finish the course. Nope, nope, couldn't be that.

I'm going to go to the post office and do some other errands, then maybe I'll come back home and try to write some more.

Spread the lolbook:


(courtesy [livejournal.com profile] nikwdhmos)
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I'm doing everything possible to avoid finishing my novel this weekend, including—gasp!—housework. I don't know why I'm so determined not to focus. I finished a rousing next-to-last or next-next-to-last chapter on Friday and was sure I'd finish the book over the three days I have off. But it just isn't happening. I had a little bit of insecurity about how I'd resolve a certain plot point, but in the shower this morning, I figured that one out. I'm not dreading the ending, it has a nice sweep (I think), my energy is good, its energy is good, all systems appear to be go, but...

Also in the shower this morning I came up with a name change for the novel. Charged with Folly referred to a plot point that has since been "overtaken by events" and isn't quite relevant anymore. I knew I'd probably have to change it but wasn't actively worrying about it at the moment. But the new name popped into my head and it is all about this book: A Rain of Angels.

If I can just get over myself and finish.

There's one or two chapters to go and if I allow for my normal chapter length, the book will clearly go over 120k, but there's a great deal that needs to be fixed and slimmed down in the early chapters, so I'm quite confident I can bring that total back down.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
119,750 / 120,000

Finish, finish, finish!
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Okay, ow, of the day: Three rejections in three days. Universe, could you please space them out a bit more? Thank you.

But it's not so bad of the day: That just means I'm sending more stuff out, and once the initial blech was over, I moved on fairly quickly and sent more stuff out.

And finally of the day: I'm finally starting to get excited about closing in on the end of Charged with Folly. I finished off chapter 27 (redux) with a flourish and am actually anticipating the final chapter (or two) with eagerness. Huzzah!

It would be nice to finish this weekend, but I can't guarantee that. I'll just do the best I can.

Books I've just finished reading and will admit to in public of the day: Territory by Emma Bull. Hmm. Not sure what I think about it now.

ETA: Duh! Territory is the first of two books. Everything makes sense now! This book is definitely worth the read: rich and complex characters brought vividly to life; a marvelous melding of Old West and magic without any of the hokeyness I feared might take place; good writing. One of the most original books I've read in awhile.

Random quote of the day:

"For dreaming may be the only method of initiation left to us: each night brings a 'little death' by which we acclimatize to the Otherworld, rehearsing the journey that all souls have to take in the end."

—Patrick Harpur, Daimonic Reality
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Oracular liberation of the day: I swore up one side and down the other that I would not be returning to Dr. Quacky McQuackenstein for my eye care after the last time. The guy was slippery and slimy and I'd lost all confidence in him. (I hadn't had much to begin with.) So I went to a new guy, highly recommended by a colleague whose father was an optometrist. What a refreshing change: calm, professional, an air of competence, no name dropping and bragging about his Mercedes and plush Brentwood home, no bombastic conflation of every minor problem, no scare tactics trying to get me to buy higher end consumer goods.

"Have your current lenses bothered you a lot?" the new doctor asked me. "Yes. Almost since the day I got them." "Did you go back for your refittings?" "Yes, and the doctor told me they were fine. Later, when I complained of discomfort, he said it was probably due to calcium build up." "I see," said the eye doctor, and turned back to writing on my chart.

Later, when the exam was finished and the new lenses ordered, he said in the calmest, most professional manner, "Your eyes are in good health, and now maybe you'll have some lenses that actually fit your eyes."

Writingness of the day: Yoiks! Rereading the old ms. of Rough Magic has not been the (relatively) happy experience of rereading the old ms. of Venus in Transit. Magic is older—and I apparently learned quite a bit between Magic and Venus. (Then again, I ask you, who doesn't?)

The writing in Magic is cringeworthy, but fortunately, the characters and the basic situation are still sound, still hold my interest. This one will have to be rewritten from the ground up. Since I'm redoing the whole substructure of the story, I guess that would have been unavoidable even if the writing held up. Venus is much further along the path than Magic (oh the possible puns are endless), but the idea doesn't excite me as much. Such is life.

In other writing news: probably no more than two or three chapters left on Charged with Folly. Yoiks, again! There is much speechifying and twirling of moustachios amonst the villainous types. Except nobody has mustaches, but if they did, those suckers'd be a-twirlin'!

Random quote of the day:

"A different language is a different vision of life."

—Federico Fellini
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I've always wound up hating my novels by the time I'm writing the last of them, in a I-don't-want-to-do-this-anymore way. Not uncommon, I think. I'm literally within chapters of finishing Charged with Folly, but each writing session is a force myself situation, and I can barely eke out 500-750 words. I don't know why. Usually I get swept up in the "Oh! I'm almost finished!" excitement by this time, but it refuses to come. I know I've probably hated finishing other novels this much, but my perception of the moment (always an untrustworthy narrator) says this has been the worst.

Which is not at all the same as hating the novel as a piece of work. Even though this one has problems and will need some fixing, I'm overall happy with it. I think it will wind up being a decent piece of work once I whip it into shape. Flawed, but they're all flawed in their own way.

I've just got to get over this last little recalcitrant bit.

Okay, all done whining now. For now.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
116,500 / 120,000


Jul. 23rd, 2007 02:20 pm
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What I did this weekend of the day: Cooked and cleaned and read.

What I cooked: Saturday I made some roasted root vegetables—some wee, darling little baby yellow potatoes, young carrots and parsnips, onion, dredged in EV olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme from the herb garden. To. Die. For. I also made a nice salad with baby butter lettuce (yes, I eat babies), feta, walnuts, green onion, and these wee, adorable little grape tomatoes from the vine in the back yard. Also. To. Die. For. Vegetarians don't read this bit: I served this with some lovely six ounce steaks grilled to perfection.

It was happy tummies all around.

Yesterday I did a stir fry with chicken. That was good, too, though no babies were consumed.

What I cleaned: My closet. I washed all my fat pants and stuffed them into a bag for the Goodwill, et al. I put some of my fat shirts/blouses in there, too, but not as many. It's possible to "make do" with blouses that are two sizes too big, but not so much with pants.

What I read: Part of a lovely pirate novel, and The Passion of Mary Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham, a pagan-feminist version of the Magdalen story which I'm thoroughly enjoying. But it's huge, like 700 pages with small print huge. And I don't read as fast as I used to, or don't have as much time as I used to, or something. It's taking me forever.

What I did not do this weekend of the day: Write.

There were several things I wanted to write, but time seemed quite elusive, as in everything I was doing took much longer than expected. There were some short stories I wanted to work on as a countermeasure to The Novel, but that didn't happen. My word count on The Novel is decent one week, lousy the next. Last week was not one of the decent weeks. I did 1000 words at lunch today, but realized that most of that, and what I'd done on chapter 27 last week was actually the real end of chapter 26.

I'll see if I can kill everybody off this week and have done with it. Kidding. I'm such a kidder.

What do you know of the day: Clearly, my Monday Pollers do not have Seinfeld episodes memorized.
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Chapter 27 is well-launched, but I just couldn't stand to look at the story on Friday, so I took the writing session off, and wound up taking Saturday and Sunday off, too. (Busy weekend.) But I'll dive right back in tomorrow. Swear.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
113,750 / 120,000
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In the early chapters of Charged with Folly there was this thing that came up, and then I pushed forward with the story and completely forgot about it. The last couple of days as I was finishing off chapter 25, however, this thing came roaring back—and what I thought was just a clumsy way of describing an emotional state turned out to be a key plot element. Huh. What do you know.

Not only that, but it solved a particular problem with the ending that I've been worried about for months. "How am I going to fix that? I can't let that stand as is." "La di da la di da, tomorrow is another day. Something will come to me."

Some day this idiot trust in my process may not come through for me, but in the meantime I'm grateful it still does.

There's still a heap big bunch of ugly in this draft, and I'm not going to let anyone read it until I've made at least one pass through to reconcile some things, but I think...I think the major problems have been solved.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Random quote of the day:

"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door."

—Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
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So back in the day when I was writing on my lunch hour in longhand, I produced an average of 500-750 words a day (but more often 500), and that included the time it took me to reread and "correct" the previous day's session (a good way to get my brain back into the writing space quickly). It wasn't uncommon for me to hit 1000 words on a given session, and on a really good day I could produce 1250 or 1500, but the average was 500-750.

Now that I have technology on my side (go, Neo!), I'm producing 750-1000 words a day (but usually 750). On good days, I produce 1500 or 1750, sometimes even 2k. So the Neo has provided me with an extra page a day on most days. Not a blistering pace, but it's definitely an improvement.

I have bad weeks, of course, but overall things have improved. Technology is a good thing.

And since I'm on an Anne Lamott kick this week, here's another one for you:

"One writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, 'It's not like you don't have a choice, because you do—you can either type or kill yourself.'"

—Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter
103,250 / 120,000
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So I know how to fix Venus in Transit now, and I finally know how it ends! Which is really too bad, because now I want to work on it. I should have known better than to take up with that hot young thing waiting in the wings while trying to work out my relationship with Charged with Folly. I'm torn, torn I tell you!

This is why I never consider any of my moribund novels truly dead unless I lose all desire to fix them, completely stop wondering what the characters are up to, and what they did on their vacation. I just never know when an idea is going to come charging back at me, rested up and full of vigor.

Don't get me wrong: this draft is ugly. It's nice to know my writing has improved some in the last eight years, really good. I wrote this before I joined the Online Writing Workshop and started getting rid of my bad habits. It's kind of like a smorgasbord of all the crappy things I used to do. "Used to"--that's the phrase I like.

But I am still plugging away at Folly. I'm getting in my requisite 750 a day, sometimes more, and it is progressing. There was much speechifying and description in my session today, but I'm going to rise above those petty concerns and keep moving forward. Say amen somebody!
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I don't know how near, but at last I can see the end of Charged with Folly looming on the horizon. And it caught me all unawares!

I've been worried the last month because it seemed I was veering off onto another one of my infamous tangents. I wasn't at all sure how it related to the main body of the story. I kept writing, hoping that I would either quickly find its relevance to the story, or it would become evident that I'd tricked myself. If I had tricked myself, it would mean chucking a lot of work, but fighting this thread of narrative wasn't working, either. When I fought it, I got stalled. I just had to go with it.

Then late last week everything fell into place. I knew where the tangent was taking me, how it related to the larger story, and, it turns out, it wasn't a tangent at all, but an integral part of the puzzle. Once I saw that, the ending rose out of mists and dark waters—and it's not all that far away!

There may yet be snags ahead, but right now it looks like "Land ho!" and clear sailing to port. Arrrr!

Random quote of the day:

"We have a habit of turning out to be what we're supposed to be, regardless of whether we like it or not, or know it or not."

—K. J. Parker, Shadow

Note: Until I did a google image search to illustrate this quote with filters off, I did not realize how many online porn stars were named Destiny. (Do not try this at home unless you really do want an eyeful.)
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I guess I'm back on track. I've gone off on a whole weird area that I've sort of been thinking of doing for several chapters now but I wasn't sure how it related to the main story. But that's all right. A new character started blabbing away, and I very shortly saw what all the fuss was about—and how to make it work for the climax.

100k is definitely a joke at this point, but 120k is looking good. (Not 150k as some have suggested. You know who you are.)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter
96,000 / 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter
96,000 / 120,000
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The evil Chapter 20 is finished, though I pulled many teeth out to get it done. I'm thinking of pulling Charged with Folly off of OWW after chapter 19 (whenever I post that--gotta write chapter 21 first). I have a diminishing amount of time to do crits—which doesn't exactly encourage people to crit me. If I do that I'll continue to crank out chapters (I'm projecting about 30), I just will be doing it without any instant feedback. Scary. But probably the next phase. Or not. Dunno.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
88,250 / 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
88,250 / 120,000
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First, I had to write a self-evaluation today, an exercise in hyperbolic conflation if ever there was one. And I had to carve time out of a over-busy morning schedule to do it. That'll lead to chocolate bingeing every time. Then, I've been denied writing time two days in a row. Four if you count the weekend. I usually get some writing in on the weekend, but that didn't happen this weekend. More chocolate! Next, some people who had to do the same self-evaluation as I were having whiny snivelly fits about having to do it and I was not in the mood. Be a man! buck up! CHOC-O-LATE!!

Adding to all this, I've reached a point that I reach in every novel, what I call the panic point. That's when I've got a sufficient bulk of novel behind me to know I'll probably finish, but still have a ways to go before I type The End. This is also the time when the passages through the story start narrowing as I draw closer to the denouement. Alternate possibilities disappear on the horizon, never to be seen again, and I begin to wonder if I'm going to be able to pull off the vision thing as, well, envisioned. Do I really know what I'm doing? Is the ending as viable as it seemed when I thought of it, or is it just an absurdity echo in the gag factory of my mind? Am I about to make a really big fool of myself? Did I write the correct novel after all? Or should I have turned the story in a different direction and written that other novel?

Oh, slather me in chocolate!

Knowing this panic happens with every novel, I should draw comfort from it, but I never do. This time around I've got a fresh failure to remind me that I don't always pull it off at the end: the overly ambitious Night Warrior/The Making Blood—three, three, three novels in one! I expect that one's going to continue haunting me until I either do a successful rewrite or successfully finish another novel. I'm hoping Charged with Folly will be that successful finish, but one never knows.

I do like the ending of CWF. I took a mechanism I used at the end of my first completed novel, a sort of generic quest fantasy with a science fiction twist which will never see the light of day again, and will apply part of it to this ending. Then I took another piece of science and added it to the mix with a bunch of metaphysical/philosophical crud to finish off the concept. It seemed like a viable resolution. But some days there isn't enough chocolate in the world to reassure me—until the damned thing is actually done.

Random quote of the day:

"I'm here because I was born here and thus ruined for anywhere else."

—Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York

Something for the boys (of both sexes):

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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I did better this week than last, but still not the dizzying speed as when I first got my Neo. As I said before, I don't perceive of this as a saggy middle, but it's got saggy middleistic aspects to it. Still, if I can roughly keep up a chapter a week that's still twice as fast as the days before the Neo. And that's a good thing.

This week:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
62,000 / 100,000

Last week:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59,000 / 100,000

(These colors are both pretty ugly, especially together. I may not try them again.)
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Well, the Work Project From Hell has finally wound down and I've spent the day trying to catch up on everything else.

Somewhere in there, chapter 14 got finished, as Charged with Folly hit 62,000 words. I'm thinking this middle of the book may be suffering a bit from plot flatulence. There's a certain aroma which reminds me of Plotting By Stupidity, but we'll see if it airs out over time.

Maybe what's wrong isn't plot flatulence but worldbuilding flatulence. The thought occurred to me today that perhaps when I do the rewrites I need to put in more shiny steampunk machines or exotic critters. The middle of the book hasn't seemed saggy to me because for the most part it's been chugging along quite nicely and I haven't felt that middle book fatigue (yet) because I struggled so much with the beginning. But plot or worldbuilding gastric distress...yes, that's a possibility.

Or maybe I'm still just obsessing on last week's stomach virus.

Random quote of the day:

"Always listen to the experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."

—Robert Heinlein

Which quote I find somewhat ironic considering how often he's invoked as The Voice of Authority.
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Some day this big, ugly Work Project From Hell will be over, but probably not in my lifetime. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so mind-numbingly detailed.

In other news: I realized during my writing session at lunch today that I was modeling a character after Brock Samson from The Venture Brothers. She's a really righteous broad.

Until things lighten up, here's the

Random quote of the day:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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Between being laid low for several days with stomach virus (which I'm still trying to get over), and taking a day off the usual writing slot to think through the plot point chapter I'm working on, production has been abysmal this week. Alas, alack, maybe next week.

This week:

Last week:

pjthompson: (Default)
Chapter 14 is a plot point chapter. Plot point chapters always give me fits because they're the places where the Maguffin happens, where the wrench goes into the works, and you've got to make sure that when they're done, your book is still aiming in the right direction.

Not that I tend to think of my fiction writing in moviespeak terms or plan things out that thoroughly (though once a film student always a film student). Once I know the characters fairly well and the general worldbuilding has taken shape, once I know how the thing is supposed to end (however I get there), then I take off running and jump from rock to rock. I don't say, "In chapter 14, plot point C happens." I just write like a hellion until I reach one of these pivot points and then I squiggle and squirm until I work my way through them. These chapters always take longer then the headlong dash of story between the pivots.

I'm still squiggling and squirming even though I know, essentially, how chapter 14 turns out; how, in other words, it turns in the direction I want it to go. And for once, it's being cooperative and agreeable about turning that way.

It should be clear sailing, but instead, to cloud this entry with yet another metaphor, I'm like a horse that refuses the jump. I stop dead, and the vision quest of my story goes sailing over my neck, or into the jump itself, or crashes to the ground. But the dream is hearty. It gets up, brushes itself off, and starts riding me again. Points off for balking, but I've been taking the rest of the course well. It'll head me around for a new approach to the jump. Maybe this time I'll go over it without a hitch.

But not today. Today I read some more of Warped Passages by Lisa Randall. But that's another post.

Random quote of the day:

"Death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight."

—Rossiter W. Raymond


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