Why am I so easily worn out?

Still not done with IF thingie, IFers. Sorry. Not forgotten about. Something to do with insecure PHP variables supposedly.

Just planted the everbearing strawberries. They arrived a few days ago, a bit early, and I wanted to get them into dirt and water.

That Carouselchain story is still basically not done. It started out well, went along for a while, and once I started having real trouble with it the writing took a turn for the worse. Now all that’s left is a climax of sorts and I even know what it is but I’m plagued by doubts that it’s lame. I think I should write it anyhow so I can put it in the ‘to be edited’ pile rather than the ‘to be finished’ pile but it’s so easy to find distractions.

While I suddenly seem to have lots of ideas for stuff that is totally experimental or a tried-and-true nonsale (like poetry), Kevin has been gently nudging me on the road of novels. I think I can start up TFN 2 again. I hope. What I think and what turns out to be true have so little in common these days, with regards to my writing.

It continues overcast here. Dante likes to chew on the peat pots I got for my seedlings, sometimes with seedlings inside. I need to get him more officially sanctioned chewbones.

In the name of writing, I’ve been exploring national tourism sites, building a list of ‘well-known features/attractions of a country’.

Cooking, sleeping, very bad housekeeping, American Idol, Disgaea 2, shouting at dogs, visiting seedlings, reading books on decorative painting, thinking about writing, scribbling bad poetry. Running errands. Coughing up breakfast and a lung. That about sums things up. Expect a pregnancy-themed post Monday afternoon, if my doctor actually manages to keep our appointment.

I’m so damn embarrassed by this– by what a gentle person would call writer’s block. So damn ashamed.

Oh yucky yucky

I’ve just realized I forgot to outline the second half of one character’s Thrones plot arc.

I’m feeling the old familiar sensation of ‘this is too hard, this is too messed up, best bet is to throw it all away and start something new’. Yucky yuck.

Edited to add: Still, I have to take some deep breaths. It’s more important to nail this part of the development cycle than the next part. Oh lord, the dogs are bickering again.

Sleepless mornings somehow work

I’m basically done with my ghost draft! Go go meeting milestones! I even got a taste of the bang-smash ending thrill.
I think I’m better at coming up with justifications and explanations than I am at being spontaneously original.  Or at least, it’s much more satisfying and rewarding.

Having a two-story house creates climate control problems!

OK, here I am again.

I’ve put together a schedule for myself. Not quite the cold hard numbers of Holly Lisle, but goals, anyhow. My instinct says that I’m way too loose on the development and way too tight on the production, but instinct wasn’t quite in tune with reality last time.

So I’m trying something new this time; it’s my goal to have every question except ‘how do I phrase this to sound good’ answered before I start writing the draft. I spent far too puzzling out details and inventing sources of tension, and while I think it turned out okay, it was slow as hell. It was also really intimidating trying to manage my wordcount when I had no idea what to write (and really satisfying when I did). I spent a long time in development last round but it was lazy work and I goofed off a lot. It’s my hope to actually put every day to use, this time. And hopefully this will also cut down on the consistency revision work, because I’ll improooooove ideas before I write them down.

As for the production phase, I’ve got a lot of words crammed into a small number of days: almost 2k, every day. Even with a detailed outline I’m dubious about getting that amount of typing in on every single day. I’ve scheduled myself no vacations, no weekends, which I think is okay for development but unrealistic for the physical demands of producing prose.But all that’s assuming I’m on the same schedule I am now. If that happens to be true, I’d add another month each for Production and Revision. But I dearly hope that by then, the Plan my housemates and I have put together will be in full swing. If it is, I should be able to get enough prose production done to squeeze some days off in there.

Development Deadline: September 1 (52 days)
Goal: 28,500 words

Today (7/11): This schedule
7/12: Revise Brief Synopsis (~500)
7/13-7/19: Worldbuild Major Locations (~5000)
7/20-7/26: Detail major character plot arcs (~5000)
7/27-9/1: Write detailed outline (~18000)

Production Deadline: Nov 1 (61 days)
9/1-11/1: Expand outline into 110k rough draft.

Consistency Revision Deadline: Dec 1 (30 days)
11/1-11/8: Read, handwrite notes.
11/9-11/30: Type In.

It’s that time again.

When I wrote Shadows on the Mirror, I recall nights that Galen and Enra discussed me as I slept. My characters don’t usually get all self-willed and disobedient, but they DO develop opinions about my life.

Kevin’s poking at original Devil May Cry.  Dante, impaled by a sword, pulls himself up it, pushing it through his body and then picks it up and does some sword kata. His sexy red trenchcoat is unmarred.

Jinriki, a character in Citadel, says, “Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Why can’t I get me some of that action?” or, in his more usual parlance, “That is precisely what I would have asked for. If you’d asked me.”

A second thought: instead of Easy, Normal, Hard, these games should have Empowered, Normal, Challenging.

A few days after

It took a few days before I remembered that I wasn’t writing the current novel to write a good novel, I was writing it to learn about process. This allowed me to restore a modicum of rationality to my life. That is, it allowed me to stop obsessing constantly over whether it was good, and whether or not the way my beta readers were getting distracted while reading it was a bad thing and if so if I should just give up immediately.

I don’t know what I’ll do to become sane again when I can’t use the excuse ‘I wasn’t trying to produce a great salable novel anyhow.’.

In any case, I’m taking a bit of a break to decompress. I found the new Inform 7 language for writing more Interactive Fiction and it’s quite fun to read and play with. And I’m already thinking about the new Neverwinter Nights toolset. And in a few days I’ll get back on the horse and start seriously outlining Book 2. Which I really need a name for. I think I’ll even give myself a wordcount daily quota for the outline stage. In this version, my goal is to outline enough that the flow of my writing is never broken by trying to figure out what happens next. I spend enough time choosing the right words even when I know exactly what I want to happen. Oh, and to add more exposition. Apparently I’m weak on exposition. Too much show, not enough tell. Can you imagine? Oh, and to remember that tension doesn’t always mean conflict.

Massive Mysterious Procrastination

So, more weird quirks of my hand-edits:

Sometimes I write new lines above an existing paragraph. I don’t scribble out the old paragraph. Do I want to replace the paragraph? I think so. And if not, I draw a line pointing at where I want to insert it.

I do a lot of big scribbling out. I scribble out words, I mark out lines and paragraphs. I draw lines pointing to the back side of sheets.

Oh, so the massive mysterious procrastination was screwing around with titles. I have two sets. I’m not really happy with either of them, although I did decide that, in keeping with the codename ‘TFN’, the set of books will be called ‘The Trilogy of X’. No dancing around it with ‘Chronicles’ or ‘Song’ or ‘Saga’! Well, at least in my personal notes. I am aware that agents and publishers change titles with calculated abandon.

The first set:

  1. Citadel of the Sky
  2. Thrones of the Firstborn (not perfect, as is also title am using to refer to series at the moment)
  3. Sword of the Eldest (also not perfect but has some subtle appropriateness)

The second set:

  1. Phantasmagory
  2. Aegis (kind of… bland and short)
  3. Tenebrescence (I think the problem with this one is apparent, even if it fits)

I have a WIP called Xiphotologos. I invented that word, sort of. Unlike any of the above. Honest.

The current trilogy name I have poked at is ‘Trilogy of Ghosts and Shadows’. Which isn’t grrreat, partially because it’s not quite what I want and partially because there are like a million Knights of Ghosts and Shadows out there. No joke. Try google. But hey, it’s not Creatures of Light And Darkness!

Type-in Sucks

So, first of all, I revised the setting a tiny bit after I started the type-in.

Second of all, I locked myself out of my computer all day on Sunday, by accident.

Third of all, writing the new scenes is a lot harder than I thought it would be, even with my outlines. At least, the first one was. It stalled me for 2 days. I’ve added about 2500 words just from that. I’m not sure if it has enough tension or contributes enough to the plot, but I wrote it for sharing more about the setting so… guess we’ll see.

Fourth, it’s all too easy to slip into simply rereading and editing on the fly. That is, not looking at my handnotes. I’m having to force myself to skip any text without ink next to it. This isn’t a final polish; it’s wart-removal and tightening and consistency. If I didn’t think it was worth writing ink on, I can’t allow myself to spend time thinking about rephrasings now. I have a deadline. It may be a personal deadline and I may have to extend it a couple of days but it’s a deadline. Gotta stick to it.

Fifth, my notes are incomprehensible. I can usually puzzle out my handwriting, but sometimes I’ll come across three different revisions for the same line scribbled in the margin, or a random expository note with no indicators or hints as to where I wanted it to go (and it doesn’t really seem appropriate anywhere).

Sixth, I’m going through a massively insecure phase right now, because of the clusterfuck my interview turned into– oh yes, it got bad. I didn’t go into detail at first because, you know, burning bridges is bad and all– but on Friday an epilogue to the whole mess occurred that made it clear there weren’t many bridges left to burn. I was officially categorized not as not just ‘not as much what we wanted as this other guy’ but ‘totally worthless to us’.

Now, I know rationally it was politics of a sort at work. That I was a shoo-in for the role, if not as first choice then as second choice. But politics and social confusion reigned, the person who made the final decision had no interest in my qualifications, and I got pushed aside. However… I don’t really run on what’s rational. So… I feel pretty bad. I’m wondering if my estimates of my own competence are way off base. I thought I was in a good position for that job, right? Just like I think I’ve got what it takes to be a pretty good writer.

Anyhow, such crazy irrational fears are also slowing down the type-in.

Hand edits done.

I had a job interview at Flying Lab today, as a mission designer on Raymond’s team. The content lead and one of the other mission designers interviewed me. Unfortunately, I got the ol’ ‘cut the interview off long before it was scheduled to end’ and indeed, they decided to hire the person they interviewed yesterday instead, because he had industry experience, and apparently I wasn’t giving the answers they were looking for.
I’m upset. Kevin and Raymond have a plan, though. It’s one that I suggested, but not one I’ve been able to really wrap my head around yet. We’ll see if they’re still willing to go through with it in a few days.

Anyhow, I finished my hand edits on the manuscript. Now the type-in. It feels good to reach a milestone, though, to come once again to the end of the story. Might have more to say tomorrow on some of the complications of ending the first book in a tightly-connected trilogy, if I remember, but for now it’s 2 AM and I’ve had a long day.