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In Other News...

Since my whirlwind trip to California last month my creative work has been scattered and inconsistent. I have had some much-needed moments of random insight that have helped make sense of plot elements that were just...there...in my first draft. For me, one of the most fun and interesting parts of discovery writing a first draft is going back and making sense of things, as if my subconscious had handed me a half-filled sudoku and I had to fill in the rest. Of course it's much more interesting than blocks of numbers, and of course every once in a while I find that something my subconscious had penciled in is wrong, but that's part of the fun. And maybe if I get all the numbers right the puzzle will magically transform into a flying unicorn that I can ride to fame and fortune.

(Clearly I'm tired.)

In other news, I have only seven weeks to go before Baby Girl is due to arrive, and so much of my time, energy, and attention has been taken up with things that need to be done before her debut, not to mention things that need to be done on a daily basis but are increasingly difficult and time-consuming, such as dishes. Dishes are ridiculous. Why on earth does emptying and filling a dishwasher have to require so much bending? In any case, I've also been trying to spend more time out and about and having fun with my toddler in the few weeks left before he no longer has me to himself. Oh, and writing my dissertation. That I haven't actually started writing, but that needs to be a few pages long within a month so I can have something to build on when I eventually emerge on the other side of having a newborn. In, say, January. Or so.

My goal this week is to spend some time each day with my Bridget document open. I'm pretty sure I can manage that.

Traveling Thursday

As I type this, I am sitting in an airport I've never been to before trying to figure out what to do with a layover on my way back (across the country) to campus so I can get my dissertation prospectus approved tomorrow. It is so strange to be traveling alone. The only upside I can really come up with is that it will give me a chance to get work done, collecting research material for my dissertation and, hopefully, writing. Writing that isn't my dissertation.

Work on Bridget has been moving along steadily for the last few weeks. I've transcribed everything I'd written (that is, everything that was worth transcribing) and started filling in the gaps. I've plugged my chapter and scene outline into the actual working document so that I know where the gaps are and what needs to be accomplished in the blank space.

I've also read two (whole!) books since I last posted. The first was Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, which is her book on writing, and I read a little of it every day just to get me into a writing frame of mind. It worked. Every time I picked it up, I found something--a thought, a question, a problem to address--that got sparks going and got me writing. Of course I've been writing by hand, which means I'll have more to transcribe, but when it comes to first drafts, my writer-brain just works better with a pen. The second book I actually just finished on the plane a couple of hours ago, and it was Shannon Hale's Princess Academy. Highly enjoyable. Much younger in feel than what I'm writing, but that's naturally because her protagonist is younger than mine. As one of the reviews on the dust jacket says, it's not a "predictable fairy tale"--but it ended perfectly. And I love perfect endings. I was also trying to pay attention to how she established the world and the main character at the beginning, since my beginning is still unwritten and I want to get a sense for different ways to do it. On that note: do any of you have book beginnings you love?

Overall, I'm learning that the HOK thing really works: the more I write (and read), the easier and better the writing gets. The more I write, the more I get surprised by ideas for characters and plot and world while I'm sitting in the car or making dinner. And, of course, the more I write, the more I, you know, write. It starts to actually go somewhere. And I get to enjoy the ride.

Starting Again, If a Bit Late...

I have worked on Bridget every day since last Friday (Sunday excepted), and I am loving it. The document I'm transcribing/pasting/editing everything into currently has over 37,000 words. There are still significant chunks to add that are already written as well as, I'm realizing, significant portions that still need to be written--like the things I didn't know how to approach or the things I didn't realize had to happen until I was well past them in the storyline. I'm thinking I'll get to the new material once I've finished assembling what I have and actually read through it to get a sense of it all. I'm pretty excited for the reading-back-through-everything part. No doubt there will be both cringing and grinning/giggling; hopefully more of the latter, and hopefully I can convert the cringing-about-the-writing parts into cringing-because-I'm-supposed-to-cringe-at-this parts.

So here's to starting in again. With my prospectus mostly off my shoulders, it's been fantastic to get back to fiction and fantasy. The goal, then, is to keep going, and work on it every day. Because these days, I really have no good reason not to.

Tumblr Tuesday

I don't even know how to begin describing this last week but here it goes.

Last Monday I entered Chrysalis into a Secret Agent Contest and got chosen by the random number generator. From Tuesday to Friday other participants, along with an Anonymous Agent offered critiques on the first 250 words. By the end of it, Chrysalis had fourteen comments from people I didn't know and one comment from an agent.

I know I say this every time, but getting feedback is so freaking important and helpful and wonderful--even the advice that's badly put. I've got some editing decisions to make and some ideas on how to work on my glaringly obvious weakness with description.

I'm also taking into consideration that 250 words isn't a lot and some of the critiques become moot within 50 more words. Deciphering feedback and clearing it up is always an adventure. >.>

I didn't win the contest but I'm very okay with that. I still feel like I gained something awesome.

While this was going on and I was compulsively checking my comments, Writing Like A Girl went live with reblogs. I quickly learned how to tag (because Audrey noticed I wasn't ^^;; ) and I put together a month's worth of queued quotes, commentary written by other people, and gif sets. Then I worked on my first, original character commentary. It went up last night.

As of this post my Master Tigress post has exactly 200 notes. To put this in perspective I thought I'd get maybe ten. I'm a new blog with very little history. I picked an old, non human character and through together 500-ish words about how awesome it is Tigress, the hardest kung fu animal style, is a girl. I didn't think it would get 200 notes--a lot of them reblogs. I'm certain this is because I tagged it really well. (Thank you, Audrey!)

The last 24 hours have felt really good.

This might not happen again for a while. The next two commentaries I have planned aren't with major or popular characters. But coming right out of the gate, it felt amazing. I'm really excited to continue this project.

For this next week I have three goals:

  • Chrysalis Edits (attack that passive voice!)

  • Write two character commentaries!

  • Have fun with 9thEvent histories

Hehe.... whoops.

Well, not so good for this week. I guess inertia (and Resistance) are hard to overcome after a month of inactivity. But I'm still working at it. I did a practice sketch one day, which took about three hours and turned out really dismal. Then I despaired and blew off the rest of the day on video games. I wrote one day--a different day--but that actually went rather well. (It was quite late, though, and I have yet to reread it. We'll see if it sounds as good in the daytime.) I'll post my word count tomorrow.

This week's goal: better than last week.

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Long Silence

First of all, I'm sorry for my rather long absence. I think I've been in a perpetual state of being overwhelmed for the past three or four months. But the end is finally in sight! I can't promise that I'll really be any more active here for the next two months, but I'll be back with a vengeance in September.

There's not much to update on the creative front. I've been too busy and under the weather to get anything done beyond what was absolutely necessary. And I'll be too under the gun to do anything in the upcoming weeks. I am making progress on wedding and other life stuffs, though. So overall, things are looking up. And that's all there really is to say. Wish me luck!

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Back in the Saddle

Brittany's back from the dead! And it's still Wednesday!

I've spent the last month largely offline, at home in Arizona. I spent a few days at home hanging out with my brother, then traveling with the family to Utah to take him to the MTC (and back again the next day). There was some SWTOR and some Doctor Who involved, too. Then we focused on wedding preparations for my sister, and the family convened. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't been here to help, my mom would have gone nuclear from all the pressure and craziness. Frankly, I spent most of it cursing weddings in general and vowing not to do it myself because it's too dang much work, and my contributions were pretty miniscule. (Brooke, I wish you luck. I really do.) Gwynne popped in for a couple of days and saved me from the insanity for a while, which was joyous and welcome. Now my sister's married, and the family has gradually dispersed again.

Except for me. Yesterday, my flight back to Georgia left without me. I decided I wasn't ready to go back, and got a new flight for later. But now that the craziness has subsided, I've promised myself to get back to work even though I'm still at home. I've drawn up a list of things to get working on, and I'm going to implement them in the next couple of days! Things like writing daily and drawing daily, plus actual projects that I mentioned last time. I'm without my Muse site files, so I can't fix the website from here, but I can at least get back to work on the story/pages. Also, sample pages for Marvel, my Scarlet Pimpernel short, and some rough children's book illustrations. A bit of freelance work, too, if I can swing it, because even being at home where food is free, my summer finances are going to be tight.

For the last couple of days, I've been watching the Lord of the Rings with my brother (who somehow hadn't seen them), and it's been reminding me of my love for art and writing. Looking forward to getting started again. :)

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Tuesday's Duck Arraigning

"I read Chrysalis," my father says to me this afternoon. He's the first of the three people I've let into my written soul to get back to me. "It needs more words."

I know exactly what he means. I'm well acquainted with my inability to physically describe characters and setting. I tried really hard but I'm not Tolkien or Jordan. Or Sanderson.

I hate description. Dialogue is so much more fun.

"It can't have more words. It's at it's limit." Just barely over 91,000 words. "I've got to cut plot if I want to make room for more words and I'm too close to it to see what can be ripped out."

Which brought me to a new problem. Well, several new problems.

  • The last third of the book is still really weak. I ripped out a few chapters from Brandon's point of few and it's turned it a bit clunky. I warned my sister-in-law about this when she texted me to say she was halfway through and so far things were looking good.

  • I need more people to read it but I'm afraid to ask. As I said above, Chrysalis is a written peak into my soul. I know everyone's novel is like this. I'm much better at understanding feedback and I hope I'm better at knowing what will help the book and what won't because accepting feedback and using it well is tricky. The published authors I follow have made that very clear.

  • I need more people to read my book but I'm stuck between throwing it at everyone I know and hugging it to my chest like my precious stuffed panda, Albuquerque.

  • Query Letter Writing Sucks. Pitch Writing Sucks.

  • writinglikeagirl is set to go live on July 10 with my first character commentary that I haven't actually written but thought lots about going up on July 15. I decided to start without a buffer. Panic will hit sometime in August and I'll fix that.

  • Korean Dramas are bad for my heart. Is it Thursday yet?

If my goal is to start submitting by the end of the summer, then my query needs to be crafted, polished, and ready by the end of July. This is duck #1. Duck #2 is writinglikeagirl. I've started a calendar listing out the characters and their week so even though I don't have my commentary written, I at least know who's up and I won't be scrambling to find someone. Duck #3 is more Chrysalis editing. Duck #4 is my website but that'll be easier to work on when ducks 1 & 2 quack on through.

I hate Duck #3. But, there you have it, my ducks carefully placed all in a row. Duck. Duck. Duck. Goose.

Goose is 9thEvent prewriting. It isn't a duck. It's not a priority. But it'll probably waddle to the front of the line pretending to save my sanity.

No one will ever be able to accuse me of not committing to a metaphor.

Icky Transitions

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with The Dying Shrine recently. (Just 1,442 words since the last post and 3,703 words for the entire month.) I’m stuck at the transition point between Act 1 and Act 2, and it’s those icky moments of change that have been stalling me.

The problem is that I really have no idea what the middle of the story should cover other than characters 1) running for their lives, 2) bonding with each other, and 3) getting ready for Act 3. I’m at the point in the story where I’ve already written so much that I can feel my options narrow under the weight of the 33,190 words that have come before. It’s a weird and unsettling feeling, especially since I continue to make things up as I write. Writing without an outline is scary.

But then again, when I looked back at my posts earlier this year, I realized I started this book with nothing other than a handful of scene ideas and laughably broad character sketches. I’m much better off now with character, world, and plot foundations already laid. I’ve done a pretty good job of making things up as I go along; perhaps it’s time I trust the skills I have and words I’ve written and just go for it.

A mess is at least more interesting than a blank page, right?

Another fake Thursday, but with Good News

I have not worked on Bridget in weeks (about as long as I've...ahem...not been posting). But that's not the good news. The good news is that I may have actually FINISHED MY PROSPECTUS.

Which deserves all caps. I just have to finish pulling together the bibliography, which will be done within the next few days so that I don't have it hanging over my head when I take my toddler across the country for vacation (while my husband has to work--sigh).

You can be sure there will be much more to report on the fiction-writing-and-editing front once the bibliography is taken care of.

I am SO EXCITED to have it done and to get back to work on the fun stuff. (Not that my dissertation won't be fun...)

Oh! And I almost forgot: I had an ultrasound a few weeks ago. It's a girl. :)

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