Tag Archives: goals

November means NaNoWriMo, but with a Twist for me

It’s November and thus it’s NaNoWriMo. Generally this means you write 50,000 words of a novel. I did that last year. This year I’m doing things a little differently. I’m going to do two 15,000 word stories and 24 illustrations. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words?

As of today, I’m at 7,265 words and 7 illustrations. That’s behind pace, but mostly due to a water polo tournament, which has a way of reducing one’s concentration to jelly for a few days (which is not unrelated to the shortness of this post).

I’m glad I did the traditional NaNoWriMo last year, to prove to myself that I could. But this year is about making the wonderful NaNo collective spirit work for me. I feel really inspired, and really excited about my eventual final product. I have two novel drafts that need reworking, and the prospect of another hulking chunk of words sitting around wasn’t very exciting. With the lower word count, I spend more time editing and creating a tighter first draft. I will come out of this month with something new to be proud of, which to me is the goal at the heart of NaNoWriMo.

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Achievements!

Today I submitted my second technical paper. I should know its status in a couple of months. I really hope it gets accepted, because I think it has some really good results.

I also finished binding a rough draft of my novel. I finished the draft itself last Thursday =). To reward myself, I bound a copy for myself. Then I’m going to reread the words and mark up alllllll the things that are wrong or that I want to change. I’ve never gotten this far before, though, so I wanted to recognize that achievement with a binding. I’ve included some pics below. 360 pages (including some blank pages for my comments between chapters) and 82,000 words. Hooray! Just simple photos for now, maybe I’ll get around to a nice photo shoot in a few days.

photo-1 photo-2 photo-3 photo

Blog changes and milestones

This post is my 99th blog post, so obviously the next one will give the big 100. I will be posting that on Monday, in the form of 100 things I find interesting. It should be fun.

I must switch to posting on this blog twice a week instead of three times a week. Work has suddenly sped up a lot, and I need to use my time (slightly) better. But I will still post a long post every Monday, and a shorter one every Wednesday or Thursday. As I approach 100 posts, I can hardly claim any kind of celebrity status, but I appreciate the people who come by and like or comment. Yesterday I reached 50,000 words on my novel draft (that just sounds crazy!). I can tell that forcing myself to sit three times a week and write about something I find interesting and trying to be clear has really improved my writing on demand. To me, it seems that this is a large component to writing a novel: shut up, stop reading writing help sites, and shackle yourself to that desk.

So I shall see you all on Monday, with 100 super awesome facts. I’ll end this post with the first fact of the next:

1. People from different cultures differ in what colors they perceive. As a simple example, english speakers deem pink as a different color than red. Russian speakers don’t, but they have a fundamentally different word for dark and light blue. In chinese, red and pink are red and pastel red, and likewise with blue. Perhaps by Monday I will find an additional example I had in mind, where 2 sets of colors are shown. In one set, Westerners can distinguish the different color 99% of the time; in the other, their success is much lower. Cultures in Africa exhibit the reverse ability to distinguish.

Writing: Maintaining Enthusiasm

Last week I started headlong into an attempt to write my first novel. This is not my first time trying to write novel, but another attempt to finish one. I suspect this isn’t an uncommon problem. It seems to be an enormous leap of faith to write something ~80,000 words long. You have to set aside that time, in the first place. And then what if it isn’t good enough, what did you do with all that time? I think in every past attempt I reached about 25k words and said, where exactly am I? This isn’t going to get read and then I will have an 80k time sink in my hands.

I think such worries never leave. But in other areas of my life I have been able to push through worries of failure. It’s that old cliché that lack of trying guarantees failure. Each time I try, I try to do it a little different. This time I wrote it first as a short story. Then I outlined it at a rough level. As I go I outline the next part in more detail. So far it seems to be working for me. I got to figure out who my characters were in the short story. I’ve also been trying to set more realistic writing goals. I used to write as much as possible on a day that felt good. That would leave me tired and sick of writing the next few days. Then when I’d come back, the material would be unfamiliar, and I’d spend time trying to pull myself back into the mindset.

It’s still early, but this time feels better and different. I just reached 8,000 words. The idea that I have 90% or so still remaining is really daunting. Each day will help. And really, what better to do than work to improve?

Some other possibly helpful posts, since what do I know… I keep quitting each time (I thought there used to be a related articles function,  but it isn’t showing itself… so I’ll link them myself):

A quick Friday post

Today’s post will be brief. As I mentioned Wednesday, I have dived head-first into a novel-writing effort. Since then I have written 3500 words, which is a pretty rip-roaring pace for me. I work in such fits and starts I have to take the inspiration as it comes. We all work differently; above all else we have to find what works for us.

This weekend I’m taking a science fiction class by Edward Lerner. 7 hours, Saturday and Sunday. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to say. He worked in the tech industry for many years before becoming a full-time science fiction author.

Next Monday it will be 16 years since I started writing about Vironevaeh. I’ll have to think about something fun to post for that. Happy Friday!

A novel attempt

I finally decided that I will try to write and finish a novel. Of course, I’ve been entertaining such ideas for years, as I suppose a lot of people have. So why do I feel like I can do it now, when I’ve only failed before? You gotta keep trying, but there’s that old Einstein definition for insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So I am trying again, but I’m doing things differently, and hopefully this will lead to more success.

1. I first wrote the plot arc as a short story. It was originally meant to be a short story but there were so many things I wanted to touch on that I didn’t have time for, even at 7000 words in length. I know how I want the characters to develop, how they feel about each other, and what their motivations are. I know all kinds of societal details that play into the characters actions and motivations.

2. I’m in a writing group now. I know a bunch of people who might have suggestions on how to do better, or what to do if I hit a wall.

3. I’m approaching the writing differently. In the past I said, whelp, 100,000 words, here I go. Around 25k, I got bored, felt like my work was unfocused, and quit. This time I’m thinking of it as a series of short story ish chapters. I have a bunch of little stories to tell in 2-5k words or so. Per point 1, I already have a rough outline of the overall story. As I go, I’m outlining a few chapters forward with further details– what scenes happen in each chapter and where do they happen. So I have a macroscopic outline of everything and a microscopic outline subject to the flow of events. We’ll see how it goes. I’m planning on writing one chapter a week, with weeks off allowed for alternate projects.

I’ll continue to post my progress. It will be interesting to see what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. Any suggestions are welcome too! But basically, it’s time to just write. Chapter 1, here we go…

Learning about Graphic Novels and Publishing from Barbara Slate

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I attended a talk by comic book writer Barbara Slate (at the VA Book Fest). She was one of the first female comic book writers, and has since branched out to her own graphic novels. After her talk I picked up one of them, “Getting Married and Other Mistakes“. It looks like a lot of fun, and like Slate herself, seems to have a nice sense of humor. She also has a book about how to write graphic novels.

She also spoke about the process of getting “Getting Married” published. She said that she was rejected about 60 times. I didn’t pay attention to that detail much that day. I wrote Monday about my own excitement, that I perhaps had a publisher interested in Zish and Argo. After further research, it looks like one of those pay-to-self-publish rackets, dressed up. I felt so duped! I was so excited, and they misled me. Fortunately, I figured it out quickly and for free. I channeled my frustration to overcome my fear of sending the manuscript off; on Monday after my realization I sent the manuscript to 5 places. Afterwards it occurred to me–if a woman like Slate who is familiar with the industry, knows publishing and knows people takes 60 rejections to place her book– then people aren’t going to be jumping out of bushes to publish me. It will take sober, dull work for me to get published, just like her. As it likely will for all of us. Please, may some eager publisher fall from the sky and praise me, but it’s not something I can expect or even take at face value. So last night I thought up a new story for Zish and Argo, and I will continue the slow marathon towards my goals.