Fools End

May. 2nd, 2007 10:51 pm
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Well, April is over. It’s been over for a couple of days, but I’ve been busy at work and for some reason I've been otherwise avoiding my computer. ;)

The last thousand words came out in a lump about twenty minutes before I had to leave for my grandmother’s birthday party, and I’m all done with massively optimistic writing challenges for another month. Hurrah, hurrah, but I'm a little bit tired of writing, for the moment. I'm planning to take the next few days, at least, to relax a bit.

Shifting Sands is… definitely not finished. )

I’d happily keep going with it this month, at a slightly less frenetic pace, but there’s something else weighing on my mind... you all saw me affix the “Do Not Resuscitate” sticker to Return to Sender’s laboratory table, didn’t you? Well, it seems that even without my worrying about it, it’s been managing pretty well breathing by itself. Not only that, but… well, we had a thunderstorm the other night and, not long after lightning had struck the street’s transformer, I found it sitting up on the slab, looking around, and asking if Igor was its mother.

And I’m just going to leave that metaphor before it gets any worse. Those who’ve read Return to Sender will probably recognise the main character’s voice – it seems I’m getting into his skin already. In any case, Return to Sender will return. The fact is, it hit me about half way through April, when I sat down to procrastinate actually read the whole thing again for the first time: it actually has got potential in there. It needs a lot more than just oiling of the squeaky bolts, but it'll get there. ;)

In any case, you can all expect to see some more re-examining, re-plotting, re-angsting, and re-writing coming soon, starting with the currently half-written Mega Post Of Death in which I talk about not only the reasons it sucks, but the reasons it’s worth saving and the ways I can mitigate the former while extending the latter.

Hurrah for getting one step further towards novel completion, even if the path there is remarkably circuitous!
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I've only written 500 words tonight - and in actual fact, if I count the words I'm officially making redundant, I've gone about ten thousand into the red - but think I may have actually written more tonight than in the past week. I've pinpointed a problem I've been having and solved it, which means that masses of what I've already written will be discarded (it stays in the word count, but moves down to the end of the document where it won't be an official part of the story), but it also means that a whole set of wonderful possibilities and plot points have opened up to me.

The problem was, I'd grown to like one of my protagonists too much. I'd grown to like the way he ends up so much that I'd forgotten that he actually starts as a selfish, ungrateful, blind little shite, and the reason he's so fascinating is the learning process he goes through over the course of the story after he makes a seriously bad choice for minor, selfish, petty reasons.

But because I made him start too smart, he managed skip all the angst and do all his learning in his first on-screen appearance, never makes his character-defining bad choice, and he's been aimlessly wandering around, looking for a plot, inner monologuing about his own greatness, and being generally admired by everyone - even those who really, really shouldn't - ever since.

In other words, I've just written my very first Gary Stu. Urgh. I think I need a shower. A long shower. And then I shall write him again, but properly.
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I'm still having trouble writing, so rather than indulging in another session of incoherent sobbing, let me think out loud for a moment.

I have two possible courses of action that will affect three different plot threads, and I really need to stop delaying the moment I choose one. (The fourth plot thread continues to meander around on the other side of the desert without reference to any of the rest.) Reaching the half-way point of a 50K story having only just finished the character and problem introductions was not so bad; reaching the half way point of a 75K story still without having really moved on from there is not so good. Don't worry: they're proper, plotty character introductions, where Important Stuff Happens and People Try To Reach Their Overall Goals, not finishing five character biographies of enormousness and then pondering the start of the actual story. Introductions probably isn't the right word, but I'm having trouble describing the feeling of From Now On (Or More Likely About Ten Thousand Words Ago) It Must Engage A Higher Gear.

In any case, I think this is the root of the problems I've been having, so it's time for me to make a choice.

Plotty Alphabet Puzzle Within )

Which makes things rather obvious, all in all. The only reasons I'm avoiding possibility number two are that I don't know how to make it happen, and the reasons against possibility number one are much more deeply story related. Possibility two it is, then. Best thing about writing, really: although I've been writing this story in order to date, I don't actually need to keep doing so, as long as I'm sure where I'm taking it is the right direction.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for helping me out on that one.

Edit: I did mention that, right? I'm at the half way point? I've actually just passed 40,000 words pretty much exactly one day ahead of schedule. Whoooooo! *showers self in confetti*
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It's Friday the thirteenth, and I've got the week two blues so bad.

I'm tired, and I'm procrastinating so much that I'm ready to rip out my own innards and use them to chain me to my desk, and I want to spend time polishing my remix to a shiny shiny gleam when frankly it's damn good enough already, and I really really want to post about the results of the Orion Awards, but I can't get put how I feel about On Becoming an Axiom into words that don't sound like completely sappy tripe or completely horrible OMG-she's-an-emotionless-freak. And I don't have time to spend on rephrasing it, because I just need more words and more words and more words...

... and I just want to break down and cry.

I missed my target for the first time this month last night. I missed it by 131 words, and even those few words are getting me down. I didn't let myself go on after midnight to make it up - that way lies madness - but I ended up awake until two am nonetheless just procrastinating, so I'm tired and I'm cranky and my eyes are burning and blurry with unshed tears and tiredness.

At least I can sleep in tomorrow.

I just have to keep telling myself: I'm an athlete. A mental athlete, working with words rather than physical prowess, but an athlete nonetheless. And this is the pain barrier. I know the pain barrier, I've hit the pain barrier before, on almost everything I write because my best work lies on the other side of it. All my abandoned fics lie on this side of it.

All I have to do is break through that pain barrier. And then break through the one after that, and the one after that.

As ThorneQuest told me on the April Fool's forum, if my muse won't speak up for me to take his dictation, all I have to do is keep guessing what he would say for long enough that it makes him mad enough to correct me and then I'm up and flying again.

Right. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just a few more words, and then a few more.

And no more procrastinating, none at all.

Not even writing this LJ entry.


Edit 2: I made it, although I seriously can't deny I write carp when I'm like this. I ended up with seven hundred word nonsensical pacifist soliloquy from a character who's already dead, justifying something that's already obvious to everyone. You know, like, let's try to avoid a situation that might lead to war if we can, because entrails and rotting flesh smell really gross and, like, war is bad, dude. Gaargh. At least I'm still writing.
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So, I haven't really been keeping my LJ up to date with the progress on my novel.

Rest assured, however, that it's continuing to go extremely well. Eight days, and I've just pushed the word count over 20K, and am about to up my April Fools goal from 50,000 to 75,000. Yes, I'm insane. No, I don't care. I'm probably aiming for around 100,000 words complete for this novel, so finishing off a version about the quality this one is aiming for at 75,000 would be just about perfect.

The world in my novel is turning out a whole lot more political than I'd originally imagined: the major culture, it turns out, is a clan/guild based structure, with each of the major powerful family groups controlling the knowledge of a particular skill-based trade or set of trades. Rival clans protect their secrets ruthlessly against spies or turncoats, alliances are made and sealed with political marriages, or broken and the hostage spouses abandoned. The story takes place during the midst of a renaissance of learning and culture within the society - where scientists, inventors, and scholars are sought after, courted, and prized - or kidnapped or assassinated to prevent them adding to the power of a rival clan.

Add my clan of thirsty, violent desert nomads into the picture, and suddenly we've got a set of fireworks in a frypan over an open flame.

The closest thing in style that I've read to what I'm currently writing is the Empire Trilogy by Janny Worts and Raymond E. Fiest, which is an absurd comparison to be making because those books are totally, amazingly brilliant, and I am only an egg. Still, if I should try to write what I love to read, I'm definitely succeeding - and while, now I think about it, my current novel shares a number of features with the Empire trilogy, it's in no way a ripoff or a remotely similar world or plot.

Also, my title - Shifting Sands - keeps rocking in more ways than I can say. I haven't felt so good about a title since I hit on His Son's Father, and I felt pretty darn good about that one.

All in all, Hurrah for April Fools, Hurrah for Week One, Hurrah for 20,000 words, and Hurrah for Extra Long Weekends which give me time to play with all my worldbuilding. :)
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End day 1: Wordcount: 3516 words. BAC: Oh, I don't know, but definitely not driving a car for 24 hours, anyway.

So, I've got a Prologue and a Chapter 1. I've got an antagonist thoroughly set up to be sympathetic (I've still got to work on ruthless and evil, but that's all set to happen in The Disaster Of Chapter 2), and I've got two protagonists thoroughly set up, having had the last conversation they'll have with each other for a few tens of thousands of words.

Have I mentioned I love my characters in this story? Wow, these characters have potential - and they're surprising me even as I write them, with how awesome they are. I'm thinking that's a good sign.

Another good sign is that this time I'm coming out and describing the action to Hubby every now and then. It's particularly great, because both the suggestions he's made so far have been spot on as far as doing a bit of sly character development is concerned. I'm thinking of employing him as an auxilliary assistant, and passing him on 10% of my earnings as a writer. Or, you know, I could just put said hypothetical earnings into our joint bank account.

Amazingly, at least so far, I'm writing in order. Usually, I write totally out of order, but this time... I've got no idea where the story's going yet, so I'm stuck with just writing the beginnings for the characters! I'm doing a little bit of backweaving to poke bits and pieces into earlier bits of dialogue, but hopefully I'll be able to control that by tomorrow when I need to start writng after work (and thus Super Fast).

But so far, it's all working out rather well.

Hurrah, insane writing challenges! 3.5K, signing out.
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I've been getting increasingly stressed over the imminent arrival of April, and April Fools (the writing challenge, that is, not the day of bad practical jokes).

Today being the thirtieth of March means that tomorrow, I get to start on my new novel.

But the end of this week is so busy it's ridiculous - Hubby's mum is having a not-quite-retiring-but-pretty-close party and I'm catering half the deserts for the up to seventy people she's invited, Orion's Toolbelt is a pest and a plague upon humanity, my remix is too - well, what it is - to let me be satisfied without obsessively rereading and tweaking, the house is so dirty as to be ruled unsuitable for human habitation by the health department (no seriously, I haven't cleaned it since January), and...

There's this thing called worldbuilding... )

Fortunately, about half an hour ago, in the middle of thinking that I was doomed and frantically preparing various bits and pieces for tomorrow's writing, I realised that I could afford to be quite a bit less stressed.

March has thirty-one days, after all. Does this make me the victim of my own April Fools prank?
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I'd been starting to get a little depressed at the absense of April Fools - when I went to sign up for this year a couple of weeks ago, they were down with a little note saying they'd been hacked and didn't know when they'd be up again.

Can I write a novel without a support framework for write it NOW, I wondered?

Of course I can! I told myself. Yes. Obviously. Particularly since this novel is totally at the stage where I feel like I might burst if I don't get it out of me. Really, I can.

But... would I? I mean, seriously, I've been considering putting off this novel until November - seven months away - because NaNo was such an awesome buzz, and I wouldn't want to risk not making it without the t-shirt and the fake tattoo and the friends to go waaaaaah! to. I've been neurotically checking back every now and then to see if they were up again, watching the approach of April 1st with a wary eye, and now... THEY'RE BACK!

Yayay, April Fools!

So will anyone join me, or must I go off and make a whole new set of friends?


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