sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Or...how to manage 22,000 words on a novel in one day. Yesterday I mentioned that I had about 40,000 words of random scenes attached to a project. Today I wrote about 3,000 words of new material, and winnowed another 21,000 words out of that original 40,000 word mass of raw dough. I might be able to salvage more--it depends on whether a large subplot stays in.

So, the final result (stealing from Cherie Priest's livejournal updates):
Project: Iron Maiden
Deadline:  October 31, 2010
New Words Written:  3,000
Total Words Written:  22,705

Things Accomplished in Fiction: There's a lot more to start with than will be the case on a daily basis (assuming I continue doing this). We meet Leah Wright, who tries to stop a crime in progress and discovers that being really strong isn't enough; Leah meets an old boyfriend to ask for self-defense instruction, and is refused, though he recommends someone else; the FBI comes calling regarding her (unintentional) violation of the Metahuman Registration Act; Leah hires a lawyer.

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 57
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 1

Novel Queries
Strange Attractors (urban fantasy): 4 queries out, 9 rejections
Repossessor (science fiction): 5 queries out, no responses

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I wrote about 1500 words today. Not a particularly good total, but it's the first day I've written in some time. I've been wrestling with my demons and losing of late. But I got back into the saddle today...and promptly discovered that the story I was trying to write is simply too long for the relatively short (2700-3700 words) limit for the market I was aiming at. That's not too big a surprise, the idea originally came to me as the basis for a novelette or novella, so being too big for a short short story isn't a shock.

It does mean I either need to rethink the story, or write it at the longer length, or write something else entirely for the short story market I'm aiming at (one that gave me a personal rejection and indicated an interest in seeing more from me).

I still haven't decided what to do for my next novel. I'm toying with several possible ideas, and bouncing from one to another. I could write an urban fantasy (mages in a contemporary world), a pulp novel (Lost World adventures in the modern day), a superhero novel (I still want to write about Iron Maiden or the Black Knight, and others), or an erotic romance like those I've done for Cobblestone--but longer. A novella or short novel.

What I'll probably end up doing is just picking one when the time comes to start writing, and then sticking with it until it's done.

I got another rejection on my first novel the other day, did I mention that? Now it's out at only two publishers, so I need to get three more copies out into circulation. Still no word on the second novel (and none is expected for a while yet).

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 46
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 2 Novels in circulation, 7 queries out
Novel Rejections: 8
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I finally got my second novel shoved out the door today. I'd planned to have it in circulation by the end of June, but what with fighting a recurring cold throughout the month of June, I lost quite a few days to brain-fog. Still, I did finally get it finished, had my lovely and talented wife read it, took most if not all of her suggestions to heart, revised it somewhat, and hammered it into final form.

As of tonight, it's either in the hands of two publishers (submitted by email or webform) or winging its weigh to three others (snailmail). Getting it to one publisher (Baen Books) was a chore because they want manuscripts uploaded in RTF format*. Which wouldn't normally be such a big deal except that OpenOffice sucks at converting any other format into RTF. It's a known problem of some years duration, apparently. (I know other users of OO who claim not to have this issue, but it's not just my imagination--there are help forums out there where this is discussed, sometimes hotly.)

I ended up having to save the document in .doc format, then opening it on my laptop (running Word under WIndows XP) and saving that copy in RTF format. Then I could send it to Baen. What a pain in the butt. I also had to resort to doing edits on my Cobblestone Press sales on the laptop as well, because OpenOffice doesn't work and play well with Word's comments feature. I think when I eventually upgrade to a new PC I'm gonna have to bite the bullet and get a Windows machine. I love me my linux, but the rest of the world is mostly using Windows and Word, and I may have to go along to get along.

I also need to figure out what my next novel is going to be. Pop quiz, hotshot!** I can't do a real poll, so just pretend:

POLL: WHAT SHOULD SINANJU'S NEXT NOVEL BE?
1. Romance
2. Science Fiction
3. Urban Fantasy
4. Young Adult
5. Some combination of the above.
6. Cake!
7. I wish to register a complaint about this poll.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 45
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 2 Novels in circulation, 8 queries out
Novel Rejections: 7

*Yeah, yeah. I know I'm writing "rich text format format". Shut up.
**If you instantly replied, "I shoot the hostage!" you win a cookie for being an 80s Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayse movie geek.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
In our last exciting episode, I mentioned getting another novel rejection--but a good one (as rejections go). I was waiting to post about it until after I met with my fellow INK (Immaculate Novelists Kult) members tonight, but that meeting fell through. Illness (on someone else's part, this time) has forced us to postpone the meeting. Besides, one of us is trying to get a book out the door tonight, so this frees up the evening for that anyhow.

So. I got a rejection on Strange Attractors from one of the publishers I'd sent it to. It read as follows:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for sending [Editor Name]
Strange Attractors. She forward the proposal on to me. While it has an interesting premise, the writing just didn't come together for me. Therefore, I must pass at this time. I wish you the best of luck in placing it with another house.

Best,
[Second Editor]
Editorial, [Publisher]


So I passed a first reading and the editor had someone else take a look at it. That's good. On the other hand, that's twice now that I've been told that the premise was interesting but the writing just didn't grab the editor. So I know where I need to focus on improving. That's also good--it's nice, clear feedback on what's working (the premise, plot) and what's not (the writing).

In non-writing news, I bought some tools (a hoe, loppers, anti-goo cleaning solution, turf builder, and DUCT TAPE) at Home Despot. Got away for a lot less than we had budgeted (though I didn't buy any mulch, which was on the shopping list as I need to confer with MLATW on exactly what sort to buy). Then I came home and applied the duct tape, but--alas!--it failed me. I think the item in question is beyond salvation.

I also applied the hoe vigorously to the front left corner of our lawn, digging up dandelions, loosening the soil, and generally getting it prepared for...the application of Scott's Turf Builder and water. If it works as advertised, we'll have grass there again instead of an ever-growing mass of dandelions. The Weed-B-Gon we bought and used was highly effective in killing the dandelions, so I'm hopeful that this will be equally effective at reseeding the lawn. We'll see.

Afterward, I stripped off in the kitchen, had Twoson take my clothes down to the basement, and I showered off. My lovely and talented wife is allergic to grass seed (among other things), so I tried to take care not contaminate the house, since I'd just been scattering it about with enthusiasm. It reminded of the long-ago (and unmourned) days when I was a lad in Virginia and came home filthy and stinking after a hard few hours work catching chickens*. My mother would have me (later us, when one of my brothers joined me in this exciting job) strip off on the carport, then shower in the basement bathroom while she laundered our clothes immediately.

*Nastiest job I've ever had, though far from the worst job out there. Hot, sweaty, dusty work in a big (huge, industrial-farm sized) dirt-floored barn. Chasing chickens into the corners (where they cluster in huge groups) before you plunge into the feathered mass and thrust your hands into the pile just above floor level to seize a handful of chicken legs in your fingers and snatch them up. Then you trot over and jam them into racks of cages that get rolled onto trucks headed for the Campbell's Soup factory....
Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 44
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 3 queries out
Novel Rejections: 7

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Well, the first stage is finished. I did the final cutting (and pasting--moving some sections around), as well spell-checking. Then I converted it to a PDF format and emailed it to my lovely and talented wife. She has downloaded it onto her Nook so she can read it. We'll see what she has to say about it.

I also two stories back into the mail (well, the email, to be exact) to new markets: Sniplits and Strange Horizons, to be precise.

Keen observers may note that my first novel is now out at only three publishers instead of four. That's right, I got another rejection. But as rejections go, it's a pretty good one, I think. But I'm going to save the details on that til tomorrow. I'm meeting my fellow pixel-stained technopeasant wretches (the INK writing collaborative) tomorrow night, and I want to see what they say about it first.

And now, to go start reading Kitty Goes To War, the latest Carrie Vaughn novel. Hurrah!

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 44
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 3 queries out
Novel Rejections: 7
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
This cold (or colds, perhaps) has been kicking my ass all month. I came down with it at the beginning of June, just after finishing the first draft of my (second) novel. It's been a bear. I feel puny for a while, then I improve...and then I feel puny again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I keep thinking I've finally kicked it for good, only to find myself sitting on the sofa with no energy and a gummy brain incapable of doing much of anything creative. I'll rally and get energetic, only to then find sitting through a movie (we say "Knight and Day on Saturday) exhausting, and sit around like a vegetable all evening. It's annoying as hell.

My lovely and talented wife has caught it (from me, I fear) too. She spent three days home from work (plus the weekend in between), fighting it. And we're commiserating with one another. Yup, yup--I know exactly how you feel. Exhaustion. Foggy brain. Clogged sinuses or sinus drainage and a persistent, annoying cough. The symptoms vary, and they come and go, but they won't go AWAY.
It's gotta pass sooner or later, right?

Anyhow.

I've got about 100 pages left to edit on the novel, then I'll be ready to let my lovely and talented First Reader take a look. Assuming she finds no serious faults with it, I'll send it out. I've already picked out five publishers (five specific editors, really) to send it to. This via Publisher's Marketplace (publishersmarketplace.com), where they send out daily emails about who bought what novel from whom (and via what agent/agency), and maintain a database available to paying users like me, so I can for instance see who has bought space-faring science fiction novels in the last year or so, and then see what other novels that editor/imprint has bought lately.

I'd hoped to get several short stories written this month while my novel lay fallow for a while. I only managed to get one done. I sent it out, and got a rejection on it (both via snailmail at that) from the editor in about ten days. In line with the ancient art of Rejectomancy, I choose to take that as a good sign. Some of my earlier submissions took considerably longer to come back (with form rejections). This one was read (and rejected, admittedly) much faster. I like to think it's because she recognizes my name by now and is waiting for a story she's willing to buy. I haven't written it yet, but I will.

As for the novel--it's going about the way my rational self expected, despite the doomsaying of my emotional self. I put it aside, glad to be done with it at last, and wondering if it was really as awful as I feared. Two weeks later, as I'm going through it to clean it up a bit, and expand or trim scenes here and there for clarity, I find--just as I found with my first novel--that it's not as bad as I feared. It holds up better than I thought it would--quite well, in fact.

That's getting to be a familiar pattern, and one I suspect will always be the case. But I know that, and know that eventual success (publication, money, groupies--all that stuff) requires only that I Trust My Process. Ignore the nagging voice of doubt and just keep writing. I've finished two novels by doing just that. And I'll finish more the same way.

Speaking of which, I need to figure out what my next novel is going to be. July is almost here--and is the start of the third quarter of 2010. If I'm going to write two more novels this year, I'm gonna need to start the third-quarter novel pretty soon. Which kinda gets my heart racing as my ego starts running in circles, screaming and shouting. "Oh god! What am I gonna write now? What if I can't come up with an idea? What if it sucks!? What if I never have a good idea for a novel again? Oh god!"

Trust. The. Process. Easy to say, harder to do. But it works. I have two novels written now to prove it, when before I wrote my first one last November, I didn't really think I could do. But I have. And I will again.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 41
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 2

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

I'm done!

Jun. 2nd, 2010 04:17 pm
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I hit 98,010 words on the novel today--and that's the end. Technically I was shooting for 100,000 but I hit the end of the story and that's it. If I wrote any more I'd be adding words just to pad the count. Besides, when I'm done with the revisions, I expect to cut the word count down to about 90,000 (maybe even a little lower) anyhow. So I'm calling it done.

At least the first draft.
Then there's the clean-up.
Then I let my lovely and talented wife read and critique it.
Then I make any changes I think advisable...and then out the door it goes.


Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 40
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Tentative Title: Nine Tenths of the Law)
Words Written: 98,010 aaaaand Finished!




sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
And I'm still on track to finish this novel by the end of the month. Just under 6,000 words to go. Today I feel like the novel just doesn't have what it takes to be a worthwhile read. But then I remind myself that I thought the first one was utterly worthless when I finished it; in fact, I filed it away for a couple of months intending never to unearth it again. Eventually my lovely and talented wife convinced me to take a look at it and lo, it was a lot better than I remembered it being.

I fully expect this one to go the same way, so I try not to let my day-to-day worries/fears/insecurities about it prevent me from working on it. Sometimes it's tough. But it gets easier with practice.

In other news, yesterday I got a rejection letter on "Drowned" from Alfred Hitchcock. So I promptly sent it off to their sister magazine, Ellery Queen. And if it doesn't sell there, I'll send it somewhere else again. Never give up, never surrender!

In other other news, my plans for this long weekend include yard work. The grass really needs cutting. But listening to the steady fall of rain outside tonight, which follows a couple of weeks of frequent rain...I'm not sure it'll happen. The forecast called for sunny weather this weekend, but the weather man's been known to get it wrong occasionally. I guess we'll see.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 40
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Tentative Title: Nine Tenths of the Law)
Words Written: 94,253



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Thirty-one hundred words. It required a little extra writing time this evening, but I made my quota of 3,000 words. More is always better, but it was more difficult to write today despite my satisfaction with what I wrote yesterday. My feelings, they are a yo-yo. Up. Down. Up down up down up down. I found that I really, really didn't want to start writing today, but I forced myself to do it.

And it went slowly at first. But I persevered, and late in the afternoon the log jam finally broke and I managed to get to about 2700 words--and only stopped because I had to go pick up my lovely and talented wife at work, as I do every day. But now I've topped the 3K point for today. Three more such days and I'll have 100,000 words on this puppy.

Then, as I've mentioned, I'll let it sit for a couple of weeks and turn my attention to other projects--some short stories that have been simmering on the back burner for a while.

It's funny. When I set out to write a second novel at the beginning of March, I intended to have a second, backup project on deck just in case I needed to shift gears. That scheme fell by the wayside. I found that I wasn't prepared to actually do that. I think I was afraid that if I stopped working on this novel, that I wouldn't get back to it. I still think a backup project is a good idea, but it may be that until I have another novel or two under my belt, and I'm convinced--convinced way, way deep down in my soul--that I can finish them, it may be better to slog straight through rather than jump back and forth between projects.


Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 39
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Tentative Title: Nine Tenths of the Law)
Words Written: 91,214



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
And I wrote 3100 words today. Not as many as I'd hoped, but more than I feared about midday. Twelve thousand words to go on the first draft of the novel. That's four 3K days, or 3 4K days if I can do them. Woohoo!

Issues of quality aside*, I remember when the idea of writing an entire novel struck me as impossible. I didn't believe I could ever eat that elephant, not all in one go. And of course, I can't. Nobody can. But I can eat it a bite at a time. It will have taken me about two months to produce this many words. It took me two months to produce the first novel. Eight more of these (that's sixteen months, or just under another year and a half at my current rate of production), and I'll have written a million words, just in novels. That's the legendary "million words of crap" They say you have to produce before you can start writing anything worthwhile.

And that doesn't count the short stories I've produced in the last year, or all the other fiction writing I've done over the years. Of which I like to think that at least some of which counts against my million words. So I'm very pleased to be so close to the end of this novel.

*As for quality...about halfway through my day today my mood changed. I had been slogging through the writing feeling decidedly uninspired...when suddenly I saw a way to tie the final section of the novel back into one of the earlier scenes. I can bring back a couple of minor characters to help with the resolution of the final conflict. And as I write about that just this moment, it occurs to me that that is a perfect example of something I've read about the nature of "inspiration". Which is, that inspiration didn't come to me like a bolt out of the blue while I was daydreaming, or doing chores, or watching television. It came to me while I was standing at my desk, writing. If I hadn't been actively working on the story, and actively trying to improve it, that idea never would have occurred to me.

So I'm happier with the novel again. (But, as usual, that's ultimately irrelevant. It's the process--stand and write (or sit and write) consistently, whether I feel inspired or not--that is what makes it possible to finish the story. I'll let my inner critic out of his cage in a couple of weeks, when the first draft is done. But not yet.)

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 39
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Tentative Title: Nine Tenths of the Law)
Words Written: 88,098



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I wrote about 1600 words today (the first writing I've done since Wednesday), what with all the chores I did today. Ordinarily those chores get done on the weekend when I'm not writing anyhow, but this weekend my lovely and talented wife and I had a mini-vacation. I spent a good chunk of Thursday running around getting our ducks in a row. Friday I packed in the morning, picked up Snippy from work at noon, we ate lunch, packed the car, and hit the road to the coast. We got a later start than intended, then got lost on the west side when a detour to avoid the I-5 traffic went poorly.

We stopped at the Spirit Wind Casino, as planned, where we killed time by eating dinner and doing a little business with the one-armed bandits. (Or she did. I just watched. I'm not much for gambling.) Then we saw Penn & Teller, whose show was the impetus for the whole trip. We had the cheap seats--we bought "best available" and that's what there was left by the time we learned of the show. But the show was in an event room, like a big hotel conference room with a stage. Bleachers in the back, and rows of chairs on the floor. We were in the back row on the floor--and it wasn't that bad. Maybe a couple thousand people all together.

Penn & Teller were fabulous. Some of their gags we'd seen before in various television appearances, but a lot of it was new to us, and all of it was wonderfully entertaining. They really run the gamut of magic. Sleight of hand, prop magic, levitation, mentalism, and of course, lots of comedy. If I ever get the chance to see them again, I definitely will. After the show, we hit the road to Lincoln City, where we checked into a cabin at the KOA camp ground.

Saturday was a glorious day at the coast (for values of glorious that included occasional rain storms). Snippy rose with the sun, went out for breakfast and a walk on the beach, then returned. We went out to lunch, then spent a couple or three hours at one of the small beach access points watching the sky and the surf and enjoying the sun and the sound of the ocean. Afterward we repaired to the cabin again, where napping and sex occurred. Later on, we discovered that we were both satisfied with our beach experience and ready to go home.

Ten minutes later we had the car packed. We checked out, had dinner at Moe's on the way out of town, and headed home. Another stop at Spirit Mountain, where Snippy played Roulette for the first time--just to check it off of her list of things to do, and she won a little money. Bonus! Then we drove home, where we enjoyed having the house to ourselves for the rest of the weekend. There was much lounging about, snuggling, and more marital arts action.

This morning, alas, it was back to business as usual. I did all the usual weekend chores a day late, as well as a few other chores, and wrote a little around the edges. I received a personal rejection letter for "First Impressions", a story I'd sent to a romance magazine. They'd decided that the story wasn't quite what they were looking for, but they liked my writing and urged me to send them other stories--so yay! (A sale would've been better, but an encouraging rejection isn't bad.) There aren't a lot of markets for that sort of story, so I'll probably rework it it a little and submit it to Cobblestone or some similar publisher.

Today was an "I'm not sure about this novel" day. Nonetheless, I kept writing. I'm within 15,000 words of my goal now--that's one good week's worth of writing. With a little perseverance, I can have it finished (first pass, anyhow) by the end of the month. Then I'll probably let it sit for a week or two before going back to clean it up and let my lovely and talented first reader have it. That'll also give me a couple of weeks to work on short stories.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 39
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Tentative Title: Nine Tenths of the Law)
Words Written: 84,950



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I wrote about 3,000 words of fiction today--all on my novel. I have a couple of short stories I'm mulling over. One needs about a thousand words more to make it long enough to suit me (right in the sweet spot for the market in question). The other needs to be written, as in zero words on it currently. It's just an idea.

Mood swings! We've got yer red hot mood swings! Feeling better about the novel again. It's moving again, which--surprise, surprise--always makes me feel better about it. Or, you know, because I feel better about it, maybe I write more freely. Go figure. The important thing is that I just keep plugging away at it whether I'm happy with it or not.

I'm closing in on 90,000 words, which...yay! Never mind that I reset the goal to 100,000 words. I'll reach that shortly after I hit the 90K mark. That'll make two novels in six months, which means I'll still be on track to complete four novels this year. Which means once I actually start selling them, I'll be doing good! But I'm getting ahead of myself just a bit, so...

Tomorrow: another 3,000 words on the novel.



Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 38
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Tentative Title: Nine Tenths of the Law)
Words Written: 83,328



Things Done In The Novel Today: Reworked a scene to introduce a character earlier in the story. Continued to deal with reactions (by various and sundry) to the nuclear annihilation of Elizabethtown (capital city of planet du jour)*. Our Hero was stopped while driving a stolen bus full of passengers and promptly kidnapped arrested and brought to the local airport, where he's about to be drafted to fly a shipload of refugees from the ongoing civil war to safety, always assuming the Humperdinck** airport doesn't suffer the same fate that struck Elizabethtown.

*Which I didn't mention before because, well, I haven't been describing what's happening in the novel until now, partly because I've been jumping around in the novel, adding scenes as the spirit moved me. But Elizabethtown blowed up real good.

**Yes, Humperdinck. When I need a name for a person, place, or thing, I throw out whatever first comes to mind. When I'm cleaning it up afterward, I can search & replace any that don't make the cut.

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Persistence, baby. And a reinforcement of yesterday's lesson. To wit: that my feelings about the novel have nothing to do with the objective quality of the work. Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about it. Today? Not so much. And I got bogged down, and only managed to produce about 2,000 words.

Until just now. I planted my butt in front of my computer and kept writing until I reached 3,000 words for the day. Go me!

Heinlein's Rule # 1 at work: You must write! I have writ! And I am pleased by that.

Another 20,000 words or so and I'll have this baby ready to give a good going-over before letting my lovely and talented wife read it and tell me what she thinks.

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 38
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Title TBD)
Words Written: 80,267

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I'm up to 73,000 words on the novel. I've added almost 8,000 words this week, and it's only Wednesday. On the other hand, I didn't write word one yesterday, and if I had it would be more. I had 60,000 words done as of the end of April, so this month my pace is almost exactly half of what it was last month. Boo! On the gripping hand, despite having a bad day yesterday and a slow start today, I'm still 8,000 words closer to the finish line at the moment, and that's something to be happy about.

Of course, I also moved the finish line. Regular readers may note that I've upped the word count for the novel from 90K to 100K. Mostly that's because I suspect I'm going to have to cut some of what I've written, so a higher goal means that when I've pared it down to something closer to the right words, it'll still be plenty long enough.

This week I've received two rejections, one on my first novel (Strange Attractors), and one on the short story, "In Adversity". I'll get them both back out soon, but I haven't done so yet.

I'm experimenting with a new mindset when I write. I'm trying to find the zone I wrote in when I was participating in some online games. I wrote many, many tens of thousands of words over the years in those games (which were closer to collaborative writing than gaming per se). And most of that I wrote on the fly. I wrote fast, I wrote without editing for the most part, and I didn't worry overmuch about anything but whether what I was writing was fun to write (and, I hoped, to read). I didn't think overmuch about the nuts and bolts of writing, I just trusted my process.

And I still like to go back and look at a lot of that stuff. I find a lot of stuff that's really fun to re-read. Could it be improved upon? Of course. But that attitude--writing the story I want to read without paying too much conscious attention to technique or salability or "what my mother will think"...that's something it's too easy to lose, and which I think is valuable.

I'm still using the 60-minute timer approach too. Start the timer. Write til it chirps. Take a few minutes away from the keyboard. Lather, rinse, repeat. It helps--especially on days like today, when I had a hard time starting. Start the timer and just WRITE. It helps to drown out the critical voice, 'cause I've got a goal to meet. Words to accumulate and only an hour to do it.

And I still find that nothing promotes creativity like wanting to abandon a project. My mind lights up with ideas for OTHER things I could be writing. So I take note of those ideas...and then I work on the current project. Those ideas will still be there later, when I'm ready to actually start something new. Take THAT, treacherous subconscious!

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 37
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Title TBD)
Words Written: 73,238




sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've eked out about 4,000 words on the novel this week. A little under two thousand Monday, a little over Tuesday. Today I didn't write anything on it. But that isn't to say that the day was wasted. I've been feeling like the novel wasn't working lately, and not just in the "today I think it sucks" way, but in a more serious fashion.

So I spent today reading it over. I started a "bible" file for the novel, including all the names of characters and their occupations, as well as where they were first introduced. A lot of them are spear-carriers of one sort or another, so that's about all I need. Only a few are major characters, so I may add more detail later. But for now I've got a list of characters. I also wrote down all the names of places (planets and starports, mostly), ships, organizations (companies or corporations) and gear (types of tech*) mentioned or used in the story. I caught the same name used twice for different characters, as well a character whose name changed in mid-scene (probably from one day to the next while writing).

I probably should have started the bible when I started the novel, but I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer and it didn't occur to me, though I've certainly read about doing that. Live and learn. It's in place now, which is the important thing.

I also now have a better grasp of who some of the characters are. I know that I'll need to go back and plant more clues earlier in the novel to support that. One section of the novel--it's episodic in nature--is very short. Too short. I'll need to flesh it out considerably. And now I know to think about how to do that.

The end result is that I feel better about the novel. It hangs together better than I feared, though it's definitely a rough draft at this point. It needs work in addition to still needing to be completed--but I have a clear idea of what some of that work needs to be, and it's stuff I can do. It's no longer a vague sense that there are problems I can't quite articulate and thus can't fix. It's stuff I've identified and that I know I CAN fix. Which is a great relief. But I still need a name for the novel. "Starship Repo Man" just ain't cutting it.

*And those decisions, made on the fly, sometimes come back to affect your plot. In this case, the idea that starships (at least those small enough and aerodynamic enough that they land on planets at all) take off and land like jet planes, and thus require long, long runways has turned into a plot point in the latter half of the novel. Who knew!

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 36
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 62,786




sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
April is over. We're into May now. I started my second novel at the beginning of April, and now I'm just shy of the 60K mark, or about two thirds of the way through it. That's an average of pretty close to 2,000 words a day every day (though I didn't actually write every day). Not bad. If I maintain that pace, that would leave me the latter half of May to clean up the novel, get my first reader (aka my lovely and talented wife) to read it and tell me what she thinks, and then make any fixes she suggests that I think are sound.

This hasn't been the blazing pace of my NaNoWriMo effort, when I had 50,000 words done in eighteen days. But that was motivated by a) the lurking fear that if I didn't pound it out as soon as humanly possible, I wouldn't finish it at all, and b) wanting to have it done by the time Orycon started (again, fearing that if I stopped work on it during Orycon I wouldn't finish). If nothing else, that effort taught me that I can, in fact, finish a novel. As a result, this effort has been more measured. I still prefer to get as much done as I can as quickly as I can, but I'm not so worried about being able to produce enough words. Quality is still an issue, mind you, but I'm pretty sure now that I can achieve quantity.

As usual, I seesaw between thinking I'm writing something pretty good and the fear that I'm kidding myself, and that when I let my wife read it, she'll think it's awful. Or worse, boring. And realistically, that is a possibility. The only way to assure that it doesn't happen is not to finish, which is not an option--the only way to get positive feedback is to finish it. So I write it as best I can, then let the chips fall where they may. Absolute worst case? I shelve this novel as unsalvageable nd start the next one (which might be a redraft* of this one). But as I plan to write another one anyhow....

I'm definitely trending toward higher word counts these days. What used to be a high (3,000-3,500 words) is more like a typical day's production now, with about 5,000 words as a new high. Which puts a 3,000-3,500 word story within range of a single day's work. I've heard it said that if you can't write a story in a day, it's not something you can really hope to make a living at. I don't know about that, but if I can produce 3.5K story in a day, it certainly won't hurt my chances. Writing is a skill like any other, and it requires practice. The faster you can write, the more practice you can get in a given period of time. I've gotten enough "close but no cigar" rejections over the last year that I think I'm close to figuring out what I'm doing that's not quite working**. So the more practice I can get, the sooner I hope I'll iron out some wrinkles.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I think I may try to do some one-day stories when I don't/can't make any headway on the novel for one reason or another. That's a very salable word count in a lot of markets, so if I can produce something readable, I can get that many more stories circulating.

In other news, we went to a gun show in Vancouver on Saturday. It was rather disappointing. Usually we attend the shows at the Portland Expo Center. Those gun shows are huge, filling the cavernous space to capacity. It's hard to really see the whole show; you get tired and overwhelmed before you've traversed all the aisles. The Vancouver show was tiny by comparison, and we wandered through the whole thing pretty quickly. But we'd wanted to see a show soon and discovered that one was happening this weekend, so we went. There'll be one of the big shows in June, and we'll go that.

I cut the grass this afternoon. Didn't really feel like it, but today was the first really dry day all week around here, and the forecast is more rain all week, so...I cut the grass. I don't dare let it get too long for the reel mower or I have to use the weedwacker to hack it into submission, which is a pain in the butt.

Tomorrow: Laundry. A donut run. (My lovely and talented wife has a yen for donuts from Helen Bernhardt's Bakery, and her whim is my command.) Back to work on the novel.

*Not a rewrite, where I try to "fix" this one. A redraft: I round file this manuscript and start over from scratch, hopefully having learned something from the first attempt.

**Well, except on those days when I think I'm wasting my time.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 36
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 58,555




Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I didn't write anything on Thursday, but Friday saw not quite 3400 words. Not my best day, certainly, but as my lovely and talented wife pointed out to me when I said as much, time was--a year or so ago when I started writing seriously--3400 words would have been a very good day. So I'm progressing even when it doesn't feel like it.

That said, I'm still in the "I'm not sure this is working" doldrums with regard to the novel. That's not going to stop me from continuing to work on it, but it certainly makes it less fun. On the gripping hand, the unproductive time I spent on Thursday did give me breathing room to come up with a plot twist that allowed me to get back to writing on Friday. That twist may mean some revisions later on, to make sure everything hangs together, but that's okay.

One of the lessons I've had, and sometimes remember but which slipped my mind recently, is that it's often a good idea to have two or more projects lined up at any given time. Then, if you find yourself blocked on one, you can switch to the other and keep working. (The legend of Isaac Asimov and his several typewriters, with a different story in progress on each one, so he could switch stories anytime he hit a stumbling block, is instructive here.) I didn't have a backup project in mind this past week, so I wasted a couple of days. This week, I'll have some other projects lined up in case of trouble with the novel.

My most recent (and last) Cobblestone story, The Wild One, just went live on Friday. There are no more in the pipeline at the moment, so I'll probably try to produce one periodically to submit. It's a good way to keep my pen name out there, and maybe I'll figure out this self-promo thing and the stories will sell better. Plus, the more stories I have out, the better the odds that someone who likes one will buy others. But as the Cobblestone experience has been less lucrative than I'd hoped, it's a lower priority than it was when I started. I also intend to target other short story markets when I'm not working on the novel.

Something I read today (on [livejournal.com profile] benjamintate's livejournal) struck me as very useful info for would-be writers:

I don't know about other writers out there, but nearly all of my ideas come to me while I'm actually writing. Something strikes me, or the characters do something interesting or unexpected, or the story is moving along and some connection I hadn't thought of before hits me, etc. Sometimes the idea that arises is perfect for the current situation and it gets melded into what I already knew was happening in that scene. Sometimes, the new idea supplants what I thought was going to happen. And sometimes the idea doesn't work for that particular book or set of characters and it gets filed away for potential use elsewhere. But in the end, nearly all of my ideas come to me while I'm actually physically writing something else.

So how do I suggest you come up with good ideas? Write. Even if it isn't something interesting, once you kick your brain on and start writing, your brain is going to want to WRITE something interesting, so it's going to come up with a cool idea.

I wouldn't say that "nearly all" of my ideas come to me while I'm actually writing, or even most of them. But I find it indisputably true that a a lot of them do. Partly, I'm sure, that's because I'm a seat-of-my-pants writer. I don't plot out stories; I've tried it repeatedly and it never works for me. I start with a character or a scene and just start writing--and then it goes pretty much as he describes it. New ideas occur to me and get incorporated or, sometimes, saved for another story. But it's true that I might never have had those ideas if I weren't already writing.

I sometimes (secretly) worry that I'll run out of ideas. Or at least, ideas I can turn into stories. Reading that post, though, made me realize that I only feel that way when I'm thinking about writing; when I'm lying in bed at night toying with ideas, or sitting around with a notebook trying to come up with ideas. When I'm actually standing at my computer (I use a standing desk) writing, that isn't an issue. To the extent that I can successfully stifle my inner critic, the ideas just flow.

Anyhow, tomorrow I climb back up onto the horse. I'm already past the halfway mark on the 90,000 word goal, and less than 2000 words from the 50K mark that represented the finish line on my first novel last November. I'll probably end up writing rather more than 90,000 words before I'm done, since I expect I'll have to do some redrafting afterward. But that's for later. Tomorrow I just have to have Devin and company deal with the armed mercenary company who are cooperating with them--for the moment--to escape their mutual enemy. Then they can fight over who gets to keep the ship....

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 36
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 48,969




Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Or, an update for my lovely and talented wife. No writing Monday. In the immortal words of Holland Manners (and later, Angel), "I just couldn't bring myself to care." And thus endeth the geekery for today.

Only an hour or two after my last post, in which I mentioned an absence of rejection letters...I got a rejection letter. On the other hand, it was a nice rejection. The editor said that the story was well written (yay!) but that it felt like the opening to a much longer story, or a novel. Which I suppose it could become, though that was not my intent. And I sent it out again as is,

Tuesday I produced just over 4,000 words on the novel. Today I hit the wall at a little under 4,000, though I then went on to write a few hundred words on a story opening, for a total of 4,425 words today. This puts me at the halfway mark on my 90,000 word novel, which is a nice milestone.

And right on schedule, according to Kris and Dean, I'm struggling with the fear that it's no good, that it's not working, that maybe it should be set aside in favor of starting something else. Something different. I know not to let these fears stop me. They say that every writer they know has to work through this every time, and I believe it. I'm continuing to plug away at it, but damn--it's hard sometimes.

They also say that when you're done with the book, you won't be able to tell by reading it which parts you felt good about and which parts you were sure were crap. And it's true--I know this from personal experience with the first novel. It was (when I finally dug it out of durance vile and reread it a couple of months after burying it, swearing never to unearth it again) better than I remembered/feared, and pretty much all of a piece. I know it's the same thing this time.

But dammit, I feel like I'm wasting my time. I feel a little depressed. I've been at this writing thing for a while now (about a year!*) and I'm not selling anything.** My lovely and talented wife encourages and supports me, and I appreciate it greatly. But I know she also worries about money, and so far I'm not making much at this gig. Which we knew would be the case when I started, and might be the case for quite a long time. Years, even. The end result, we hope, will be that I can make a living at this. Ideally, a very good living, enough money that my lovely and talented wife can retire from her job and live in the manner to which she would like to become accustomed. But even just making as much as she does now, so that we're doing better than we were when we were both working would be great.

Ah well. Unlike many human institutions, the universe doesn't run on credit. You puts in the work first, and THEN you gets your payday. Right now I'm gonna go read some short stories. Tomorrow I'll get back to work on the novel.

* Yeah, yeah, I know. A whole year. Wow. I should be Stephen King by now. Or Nora Roberts. Or some other household name with ridiculous amounts of money and fame from their overnight success. Except, of course, I know that it wasn't overnight. It took many years of practice and work. I like to think that I've done some of that work already--I've been writing for a long time, but doing it with this kind of consistent, organized effort is new. And on my good days, I'm sure I can succeed eventually. But at times, like right now, in the middle of a book I'm convinced is no good, I wonder if I'm wasting my time and should just give up. I won't. But the thought is there.

** I've got six stories published, and a seventh goes live this month. That's nothing to sneeze at. But they're all royalty-based epublished shorts, with no upfront money. And I'm not making much from them. So I suspect I have a tendency to discount that achievement. I try not to, but...selling something else to another publisher, especially something for which I get paid up front would be really nice. And it will happen eventually, dammit. But not today.



Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 36
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 45,575




Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've been averaging closer to 5,000 words lately than 3,000. Part of it is a more concerted effort to write, write, write everyday. Part of it is that I've gotten better at stifling my internal critic and getting into a flow state where I just write without worrying about whether the story is going anywhere or is any good. In short, I'm better at trusting my process, or my subconscious, or however you want to phrase it. I can always consciously try to improve the story later. But when I'm writing, I'm trying to just write fast and hot, staying in the story. It seems to be working.

That doesn't mean that I don't have doubts. I do. Over the last couple of days I've had serious doubts about whether this story is going to work. But I've learned to just have the doubts and keep writing. I had those same doubts about my first novel and it turned out better than I expected. This one will too, I expect. And it'll be one more novel under my belt; that much more practice, and I'll be one novel closer to selling.

If you're following these posts, you may notice that I haven't written a word on the back-up novel, the urban fantasy. That's because I'm finding that it's easier to keep plowing along on a single story so far. That could change, but I confess to a fear that if I find myself stalling on the current novel and try to start another, I'll never get back to this one. That may or may not be the case, but as long as I can keep plugging away on this one, there's no harm in not finding out yet.

In other news, no news on any of my outstanding short stories or novel submission packets. No acceptances this week, but no rejections either.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 35
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 37,771




Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I wrote 8,700 words in total yesterday and today. About 5,300 words yesterday, and 3,300 words today. I'd hoped for another 5K day today, but it went more slowly today. I kinda lost the thread of the tale for a bit and wasn't sure where to go with it. But by mid-afternoon I'd worked out what story I wanted to tell next (it's looking to be an episodic novel) and got a start on it. So that's good.

Overall I'm pleased with my progress of late. I'm definitely averaging more words in a given day, which is good. I'm applying myself more consistently and I'm better at getting into a flow state where I write without letting my inner critic slow or stop me. That's good.

I'll have several days to myself this week, while my lovely and talented wife visits out of town friends. So I won't have to drive her to and from work. On the downside, she won't be here. On the upside, I can sprawl across the bed as I see fit, or read for a few minutes after I go to bed--not an option when she retires before I do.


Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 35
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 28,455




Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0



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