juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I'm still working on the novel: redux, and it's going well.. I can feel the text improving as I go through it—it's quite tangible. I've also already cut out one repeated bit and streamlined one confused monologue, so I would be happy with that alone. Coming up is the first big village, which is one of my favorite parts of the text—so that should be fun to correct. Even better, I'm still content with the results of my arbitrary naming spree, which is a pleasant surprise. It's strange, though: when I couldn't find if I'd named the protag's sister, I chose the came Camille; reading on to the next scene, I found I had already named her Claire. Coming from nothing twice and getting the same first letter is a decent coincidence. I'll be keeping Camille, though.

Not just the novel has been going well—I've been feeling generally productive and at peace, though I've been crashing at night. I'm reading through a novel manuscript (for [livejournal.com profile] azhure) and keeping notes as I go along, and I think I know precisely what my critique is—and better yet, it's useful. I'm back to posting daily Second Life outfits on my Flickr, and I'd forgotten how much I'd missed it. I still wish I had a better social network there, but the outfits are amusing enough for me, for now. I'm also reading a lot, and should be writing a book review now. The point is that these last few days have been pleasantly productive, but as a result I do crash hard at night. I didn't notice what was going on for a bit, but Dev and I figured out the nightly grumpy pants was indeed a trend. So it goes. Seems a fair tradeoff, to me, and my need for crash time and snuggles does give us plenty of time to watch Sex and the City, which we "borrowed" from Devon's brother. I will say, though, LJ has been suffering in the meantime. I read in between paragraphs, and have been keeping tabs on everyone and then some—but I've had little energy for posting or commenting. My apologies.

Wordcount: 7080

Previous Accomplishments: Cleaning up plot flow and dialog; removed a lot of lengthy introspection that was breaking the flow of the story.

Upcoming Challenges: The wonderful big city followed by the less wonderful balancing act of the protagonist's education—how to learn and live magic while still keep the plot going apace.

Currently Reading: The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice, Catherynne M. Valente; Marlfox, Brian Jacques; whatever I pick up tonight.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I have been working on my novel, but I've been having problems, still, with the end of the story. I've been away from the novel for a while, and my drafts are scattered over two computers and two notebooks, so I'm not entirely sure where I left off or where I was heading. Based on the notes and planning I have been able to cobble together, I was worried that the end wasn't big enough—it follows the plot to a logical conclusion, yes, but perhaps too logical. Conclusions, generally, can't be at the same pace as everything else, because no matter how much sense they make, if they don't have a sense of final action then they aren't fulfilling, and the story feels artificially truncated rather than intentionally completed. (Granted, I plan to end with a sense of "this is the end of the first chapter," because no story really ends, but the fact that life continues after this story concludes is no excuse not to give this story a strong conclusion.)

So in that line—in order to get my bearings and make sure that the climax has a certain sense of buildup and finality, without stripping away all logical aspects of the conclusion—I've gone back to the beginning of my manuscript. Devon dug out the drag that was on my laptop before we formatted it; it's not up to date with at the end, I think, but when I get there we'll grab the hard drive from my desktop and grab that bit. I'm editing it from the beginning, as of course it needed as a first draft. I'm updating it to include a few changes that I made latter on in, and I'm adding names (yeah, all of them—as I encounter characters and locations, I'm forcing myself to come up with names for all those without; worst case is, if I dislike them, I can change them later). I'm also keeping notes of each plot point in order, so that I have a list of what happens, with whom, and when. This way, I can figure out when I reveal what information (and change as necessary), cull duplicate scenes, and make sure that the end of the book is an appropriate climax.

The good news is that the work proceeds well, I'm largely happy with the names I've forced out, and I don't hate what I have written so far. This is a pleasant surprise, because I was hesitant to come back to the beginning in case I decided it was all crap and I should just give up on it forever. It's not. It needs polishing, but it's a rough draft. I don't expect this editing to make it final, since I still don't have the end all worked out, but simply reading through it has done wonders for the text so far. It'll get trickier once I get passed the introduction, but who cares? I can write, and well enough at that, and there's plenty of reason to keep going with the book.

My new wordcounts will be based on how much of the text I've gone back through, although I am also sitting on about 4000 handwritten words that need to get typed up for the end of the current manuscript.

Wordcount: 3077

Previous Accomplishments: Notes for possible conclusion; went through first two scenes of manuscript.

Upcoming Challenges: It gets messier as the plot gets going, so my readthrough will get tougher.

Currently Reading: The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice, Catherynne M. Valente; Marlfox, Brian Jacques; Lady Macbeth, Susan Fraiser King.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I worked on my book again yesterday. I've been away from it for a long time—as the ending approached, I began to doubt if my conclusion were big enough to be satisfying, or if the text were a lot of build up followed by nothing of consequence. I was unwilling to talk about the halt in my progress, and am likewise unwilling to bring it up again now that I may be resuming. I am unreliable, and follow through is not my strong spot; failure like that is harder, and more humiliating, if it's public. And the harder I fail, the less likely I am to ever try again. So keeping silent feels safer.

But still, it's there. I've been writing again today, and even though I'm still not sure if the end of the book is adequate, I would like to finish the manuscript. I also have a number of changes I want to make on the manuscript as written, and they're bugging me to no end. So don't get your hopes up, and I promise nothing, but I am back to work on the book. Hopefully Devon and I can dredge the manuscript out of the bowels of my desktop (which is still sitting, in relative bits, in the back corner of the would-be-dining room), and I can keep up some progress and get this done.

Wordcount: I have no idea! But 1200 new words handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Getting restarted. Taking decisive action for climax of plot.

Upcoming Challenges: Further outlining conclusion. Integrating with previously written sections of draft.

Currently Reading: The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice, Catherynne M. Valente; Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin.

Meanwhile, stolen from (and written by) the brilliant [livejournal.com profile] lodessa: a Shakespeare character meme:

Comment with a character from one of Shakespeare's plays and I will reply with 3 facts from my personal canon about them. (If I haven't read/seen the play I reserve the right to ask you for a different one.)

Have at!
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I am perpetually behind on book reviews. I first though to record them for the those 50 books/15000 pages in a year challenges, but I don't review every book I read, and so those numbers are entirely inaccurate. I easily read twice that in a year, but I don't review it all. I don't review books I've already reviewed, even though I do reread books fairly often—especially my favorites, especially YA series. I don't review a lot of books just because I never get around to it. I don't review some books because they end up on my to-review stack for so long that I forget the details of what's worth saying in a review. Currently, my to-review pile is about ten books long, assuming I haven't forgotten a few. There's some guilt to that—because some of these are brilliant books that I would definitely encourage others to read (Stardust, Snow Crash, The Fountainhead). Others, not so much (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Witching Hour), but in a way those reviews are equally useful—and rather as much fun to write. But book reviews don't come easily, and they do take time, and I seem to have so little of that, lately. Strange, I know, what with my lack of work and school, but I'm always busy and rarely bored. There are always more books—to read, and as of now, to write.

Speaking of.

So, the other day, before bed, I figured out how my novel ends. To be more specific, just after I turned out the light for bed, I thought of the ever-important "what happens next," and when I turned back on the light and grabbed paper to force myself to write it down before I slept on it and forgot, I wrote one note, and then another, and then the next, until I had just outlined the rest of the novel. The end of it is still choppy, but I don't care. I know what happens, now, in the universal and complete sense. I know what decisions the protagonist makes. I know why. And I know the circumstances under which everything gets worked out. I know how to make that ending feel climactic, where the action comes from.

I am, simply said, thrilled.

The one problem is that now that I know the rest, there is nothing to stop me from writing it all save for exhaustion and a sore hand. There are no stopping points. Scenes end, but I always know the next scene, and so I itch to write that one as well, and the next, and the next. It's exhausting. I feel like the book has me between its teeth and refuses to let go. When I try to escape, it shakes me. The fact that I feel a bit like poo—depression, ear problems, back pain, fatigue—doesn't help, either. But what matters, what really matters, is that I know how this book ends. And soon, I'll have it all written down. That's pretty cool.

I expect to finish the draft in two to three weeks.

Wordcount: 118,000+ typed, 3,300 handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Figuring out how the book ends. Plus: introducing some energy and immediacy to the plot, enjoying the male characters (no, not like that).

Upcoming Challenges: Writing it all down and typing it all up without exhausting myself.

Currently Reading: Maledicte, Lane Robins; A Celtic Miscellany, Penguin Classics.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I'm no longer sick! I think the death of the cold can be timed to about midday yesterday (it's 4a? now the day before yesterday), but it was certainly gone by this morning (now yesterday morning). It left as quietly as it arrived, though much faster, thank goodness. Period has also passed, and with it my cramps. Back still hurts, but it's normal hurt now, and so easy to ignore. So, on the whole, I am back to my old self: achey and whiny and headachey, but without the chest cold or the dizzy spells. Yay! Thank you to all of those that wished me well. ^_^

On the other hand, the boy has been complaining of congestion and sneezing, and it seems to be more than just my piggies, so he seems to have picked up my cold. But he looked better today than he did the day before, so methinks he's fighting through it well enough—and definitely faster than I did. Fingers crossed.

What else does no longer being sick mean? I could wear BPAL—and smell it! Today was Jack, because it's autumn (true Halloween pumpkin, spiced with nutmeg, glowing peach and murky clove; this is very light and sweet and innocent on me, almost creamy but mostly waxy, like the smoothness of a candle with a pale orange pumpkin scent) with just a dot of Casanova to bring out the spices (a rakish blend of leather, anise, lavender, bergamot and amber with tonka, lemon peel and lusty patchouli, which still makes me sneeze on the drydown but is my ideal spicey layering scent). It's wonderful what just a touch of Casanova does—it gives a spicy, deep brown edge to sweeter scents, and worked wonderfully with Jack. It's interesting—Casanova was a frimp, and yet I have a deeper relationship with it than almost any other BPAL perfume. From layering it with Antique Lace to having it bite my finger to layering it with other sweet scents like Jack ... well, it certainly has proved useful. And, since I just add the smallest little tiny dot of it, I really never have to worry about the imp running out.

Anyhow.

I went out on a walk through the nearby wetlands preserve today. Of the walk to the preserve, of the preserve itself, and of autumn and death. )

That's enough lengthy and grandiloquent wordsmithing for a bit, wouldn't you say?

Other wordsmithing is going wonderfully well, which is to say I wrote just over 2k words today, typed about 1.5k, and know where I'm going next with the novel. More than that, I'm delighted with my work, and will probably do a bit more of it before I sleep. I was surprised by how smoothly it came today—I could not write fast enough, and only got to an ending point when I ran up on a few paragraphs that I had scribbled ahead of time and now have to slightly resituate into this altered setting. I felt like I could have kept going for quite some time. I also managed to work out a surprising number of kinks without quite noticing: where they are (well, what it looks like and why; I did at least know where they were going ahead of time), how they got there, and what trouble they're in now. There is still some more dekinking to be done before the end of the novel, the biggest of all is, um, how does it end? But on the whole, today's progress was exceptional and I'm feeling confident, again, with where I'm going.

On the other hand, I killed another pen, and now only have one that's comfortable in my hand, and the ink seems reluctant to flow well for me, so—I may need to go pen shopping. I suppose there are worse evils.

Wordcount: 110,000+ typed, 7,500 handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Getting to the vampire city, getting writing in general back on track, more male characters (yay!)

Upcoming Challenges: How quickly should they get to where they're going within the city? How long does this New Male Character stick around?

Currently Reading: Dracula, Bram Stoker; Season of the Witch, Natasha Mostert; Tales of the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I'm sick! More specifically, I have a cold of some sort, causing fatigue, dizziness, runny nose, headaches, and a few chills. And yes, this is actually good news, because it means those symptoms I was experiencing earlier are neither sources nor psychosomatic. Instead, they have a source and they'll also pass. In the meantime, I'm sleeping a lot and feeling vaguely miserable. The backpain was and is unrelated to the rest—it's partially the same chronic pain that I've been dealing with every day for six years, and partially my own special brand of premenstrual cramps, which appear not in my stomach but in my back, causing spasms. Luckily, cramps too shall pass, so the end is at least in sight for this current bout of feeling physically miserable.

I do owe major kudos to the boy through all of this—he has been absolutely perfect (he even claims I'm cute when I'm sick, the little liar) and is making sure I'm getting foods and rest and other good things.

I've gotten back on track with my writing, though unfortunately I'm hugely behind in the typing and what I do have typed is spread over two computers, so I haven't the wordcount to show for it. Honestly, I have little idea how far I am along—I have 3k typed on this compy, and I know I passed the 100k mark on the other, so I'll approximate from that. I did manage about 1500 words yesterday, so that's something. I also sat down and outlined what I know of what happens next (which isn't as much as I would have hoped, but is more than I imagined), so now I have no excuses, but must simply continue to write. I do feel like I'm forcing myself at this point—forcing out the words, forcing through the plot—but I think that's the result of taking a break and feeling offcolor. I do love the characters that I'm dealing with right now; hopefully, as I warm up to the writing, it will come easier once again and feel worthwhile. I am so close to the end now—there really is no excuse to fail, now, and so I had best push forward.

Food, boy, and brother are now here, so I'm off to watch Halo 3 (I really am the world's best gamer's girlfriend, because I like watching—especially online rounds, especially ranked skirmish matches, especially territories). Oh, and eat, probably a lot.

Wordcount: 103,000+ typed, 9,300 handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: General plotting on the road to the end; introduction of male characters; resolution of early plot point.

Upcoming Challenges: Figure out how the book finally ends (vampire city onward) and get back into the flow of writing.

Currently Reading: Dracula, Bram Stoker; Ironside, Holly Black; Tales of the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I've been meaning to post for ages, I swear, but my writing has consumed me, and when I'm not writing, I'm reading (and since I made another trip to the library during their front-step booksale, I'm doing even more of that). So there's no huge landmark to announce here—I passed 90k, and haven't quite yet hit 100k, but I'm pretty damn close. Either way, the novel is proceeding apace, if by apace we mean very rapidly indeed. I've reached the wolves section, which I wrote pretty early on in the progress of this novel and marks the change from the inside safe world to the outside dangerous world and, with it, heralds the read developments and the approaching end of the novel. It's also a huge chunk, and for a while I was uncertain where the story went after that, but an epiphany and a half later, I now know precise where the story goes next—and how it gets there, and what it means. All that's left after that is figuring out the what and how of the end of the book—I've known the why since the beginning.

And I am thrilled with the progress, and having one hell of a great time writing it, even it part of me is still itching to start that next novel.

I am constant pleased by how this novel exposes itself to me, and I'm not sure who to be impressed with--the novel, or myself. )

Worries like that sure won't keep me from writing it, though.

I've finally named another character: Adora, the vampire. I've been playing with two names for a while, but finally decided on one because, um—to be honest, the boy likes it more, and I've been at a draw, so that's a good enough reason for me. I was considering the name Delilah (Hebrew: languishing, lovelorn, seductive) for the story of Samson and Delilah, but went instead with Adora (Greek, Old German and Latin: a gift; beloved; adored) for the Leanan Sidhe, the fairy lovers and muses of artists with, as popularized by Yeats, vampiric tendencies. Leanan means sweetheart, as does Adora, and is a fitting name for the character and her role in the story. Plus: it sounds pretty.

This leaves me with just the protagonist (currently NAME) who is in dire need of a name. She's a cat-hybrid, apprentice witch, and is (self-)isolated, insecure, somewhat haughty, and afraid to admit her mistakes. The whole story revolves around her, so her role is wide and varied, but basically: she must go to the palace, untrained and uninformed, to discover the threat to her kingdom and how to save it. And (as I'm sure you've been expecting): name suggestions for the protagonist are more than welcome. Any language root, any length, any meaning, any sound—I just need starting places.

In non-novel related news, I'm in love. This is no new big thing because I'm just in love with the same boy I've been in love with for years now, and it's not a huge revelation, and things aren't perfect. But, lately, they've been good, and that's enough for me.

Wordcount: 94,223 typed (377 pages), 3,400 handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Reached the wolves, which means that the first two thirds are now officially and completely written and typed. Figured out where the story goes after the wolves, and how to get there; began writing it.

Upcoming Challenges: Figure out how the book ends, and try to write the final third in fewer than 5k words.

Currently Reading: The Rose and the Beast, Francesca Lia Block; War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells, Tales of the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Fuck!)
Adventures in BPAL: I wore Casanova today and lord almighty but it nearly killed me. Casanova (A rakish blend of leather, anise, lavender, bergamot and amber with tonka, lemon peel and lusty patchouli) was a frimp from my last lab order. It's one of their more masculine scents, but the forums mention layering it with Antique Lace (A soft, wistful blend of dry flowers, aged linens, and the faint breath of long-faded perfumes, a fairly sweet, white scent) to help bring out the feminine qualities. So I think: perfect, sounds great. In the bottle, Casanova was knock your socks of strong, so I dotted it on (literally: poke with end of the application stick). Let try, layered with my usual double swipe of Antique Lace.

All was well. Wait five minutes.

Downstairs, working on my desktop, and all the sudden it's hard to breathe. Spices--anise in particular--so strong they were billowing around me, making my throat burn. I'd never had a BPAL scent ... "blossom" so hugely before. It was like a swarming mass. I thought I was going to die. I'd heard of this phenomenon, but never have I wanted to scrub off a scent quite so desperately.

Breathe shallowly and infrequently. Watch the clock. Consider scrubbing. Wait five minutes.

The good news? After it had some time to heat, develop, and then even out—really just the five minutes, I swear, but it felt like longer—the scent was wearable. More than that, it was quite lovely. The solid sweetness of the antique lace on top had a lovely underscent of spices and shadows that gave it a great depth. Was perfect for what I wanted to wear today, actually. And about twelve hours later, both the Casanova and Antique Lace are present. I can smell them without even sniffing my wrist, and they're pleasantly combined. But, for the future, now I know: Casanova is one strong, spicy bugger, and the drydown period is not for the faint of heart.

In other news: I'm considering the title The Twilight Prophecies for the book. I don't know yet even if I'll use it as a working title, much less if it'll stick to the end, but I do know that I like it so far, for both sound and themes/reference to text. The catch for me is that I'm not a huge fan of "The ____" titles, and this is certainly one of those. Anyway. Feel free to let me know how you like the sound (and, better: would it make you pick up the book off of a shelf at your neighborhood bookstore?) and I'll sleep on it a bit more and then see if I like it enough to use it in place of "the novel," as I've so fondly been referring to it.

Speaking of sleep: it is about time for me to try just that.

Wordcount: 76,608 typed (306 pages), +400 handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Research on court roles and etiquette; brainstorming on title, current events, and the (possible) end of the book.

Upcoming Challenges: Filling in the gaps between the parts I've already written; bringing the prince back out from the shadows.

Currently Reading: The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft; oh, I have to pick a new book—will probably be Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
New color scheme over at [livejournal.com profile] juushika. I've been intending to change it for a while, now that I'm updating my overall journal layout to reflect my friends only to public changes. It is brown. It is still pretty close to the previous layout. It makes me want chocolate.

Oh. Good Lord. I spent all day typing up the handwritten draft of the novel. Why? Because now that I've hit the middle third of the story, I need to know where I stand regarding my fictional court and its appropriate etiquette, which means knowing where I stand in the book, which means unifying all the various drafts and versions a bit. In the attempt to avoid getting wrapped up in idea vs. action, I don't want to do more research than necessary, so knowing where I am in the story is crucial.

It also lead to an entire day spent pounding away at the keyboard, rushing through pages upon pages upon pages of the handwritten draft. 10,000 words worth, to be a little more precise. All of that, while battling the worst back pain I've had in about a year—so bad I took meds for it. (I don't take medication, OTC or otherwise.) It was worth it, because I'm now a mere 1.6k words away from the end of the handwritten manuscript, and then I can get back down to business as usual.

Things I have learned from the massive typeathon:

I will lose a big chunk of the wordcount when I edit, especially in the first third of the book. This is actually somewhat of a relief, because this would be an exceptionally long book without that editing. As it is, the first third is quite repetitive, a result of not plotting out the story in too much detail before I began writing. Characters repeat themselves, themes repeat themselves, plot points repeat themselves. Also surprisingly, I'm actually looking forward to streamlining this section because now, in retrospect, the changes that need to be made are quite clear. I'm not doing a word of editing until the first draft is completely finished, though, so that will just have to wait.

At my current rate, I expect the finished first draft to be around 120,000 words long. As stated sometime previously, plus this new massive typed update, I now have the entire first third of the book, the beginning of the middle third of the book, and the beginning of the third third of the book written and typed. Taking into account the length of the current draft plus the fact that a lot of the repeating waffling bulk is done, now, I figure there's about 50k left in the story—enough to fill in the gaps and get to the end. 120k is longer than I want the finish text to be (no, really?) but I'll lose a lot of that in editing.

And now. I really deserve some sleep.

Wordcount: 72,060 typed (288 pages), +1.6k handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Typing, typing, typing some more the written draft into the typed draft. 10k of it. Also: determining how the beginning has progressed and figured out some more pieces of where the end will go.

Upcoming Challenges: A little bit more typing, and then some research, and then I get back to the text. Filling in gaps in the story without getting too bogged down by streamlining may be difficult, but mostly because it conflicts with my anal-retentive nature.

Currently Reading: The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft; Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
There was a little bit there (a week?) when my writing flagged somewhat and I was worried that I was losing interest in the book, despite every attempt not to do that this time. To my pleasure and surprise, I've now swung back to the other end of the spectrum. I am totally engrossed by my novel and loving it. I'm back to writing a strong 1.5k words each day, typing a good 1k each day (the difference there explains why the typed draft gets further and further behind), and thinking about the novel constantly and with great pleasure. All of which means that this entire entry is dedicated to blather on the working novel. My apologies.

I just finished reading Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely (review forthcoming ... I have so many of those to catch up on, once again) and I watched the film The 13th Warrior. The former, especially when combined with the fact that I read Marr's LiveJournal ([livejournal.com profile] melissa_writing) gave me that much needed sense of "I can do this." That why writing is a skill, it is not magic. Not everyone can do it well, but authors are still human, writing is still work. And that much, at least, is accessible—yes, even to me. And that renewed my interest and dedication. The latter, which draws on Norse culture, had a few little atmospheric and informational tidbits that made me want to spread along to the final third of the book, and so it renewed my passion as well.

It's been interesting to see, as the book develops, the location and the culture/atmosphere of the book develop. The setting is based loosely on the Pacific North-West, the world is based loosely on Pre-Christian Celtic lands, in particular Scotland. I chose the Pacific NW for setting because I live here—and so I understand the what and why of the land layout, weather systems, etc. I need a river, some farmlands, at least one mountain range, and a cold north in the story, and I get bonus points for a nearby sea—so this territory adapted itself well. It also means that I know why the farmland is fertile, and why the royal city is a port city. This allows me to add some realism to the book without tying up too much of my time in research.

The culture and overall world is based on the ancient Celts because I've studied them—which the intention of following the religions therein, which provides a lot of relevant information for the story. The days of power follow Celtic holy days, it explains the major presence and roles of the fey... Although the book takes place in a very different world from our own, and also fairly different from the world in ancient Celtic myth, that sort of basis provides a wealth of ideas and makes it a bit easier for me to figure out how all of the competing powers and roles interact. And since I just worked in a bit of Norse influence, well—that aspect is really knitting together.

On reread, it's occurred to me that that above paragraph may not make one word of sense to any one—and still might not make sense if the book is ever published. Ah, oh well. My journal. My rambling place. And trust me—it makes sense to the author.

I would like to note that the major downfall to all of this productivity is that my back hurts. It hurts to sit. It hurts to stand. It hurts to lay down, hurts to type, hurts to bend over, hurts to lean back, hurts to walk. It just hurts.

Oh! I also finally got around to my first major character name. I have this bad habit of 1) not naming characters (so that they're called NAME and OTHER NAME in the draft) and 2) using my working titles for final titles ... which is why my website is "Title Here" and this journal is "Working Title."

The character I finally named is the protag's mentor, a practicing and learned witch that I've been referring to as, um, OTHER NAME. And since ON starts with an O—I looked for O names in my baby name index of choice. There are blessedly few O names, and surprisingly many of them are lovely. I picked Orane, for the O beginning, for the sound, and because the name (French, with Latin root) means "sunrise." The setting and rising of the sun and moon is a major part of character construction, timing, and themes in the book, so this was a really lucky find. I'm pleased with it.

And I lost about 204 words when I transitioned from OTHER NAME to Orane. Yes, the book is that long.

Speaking of wordcounts...

Wordcount: 62,717 typed (250 pages), +7.8k handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Catching up to more and more already-written section; by handwritten text, protag has moved onto second third and is now in royal city; by total written length, the first draft is about half done! I am so excited about all of this. Also, named one of the major characters, finally.

Upcoming Challenges: Have a lot of typing to catch up on and the next section takes place in the royal court. May need to do some research on court etiquette to make it seem the smallest bit realistic. Still need names for protag and vampire.

Currently Reading: The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft; Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
My back hurts. This is my own fault for working on the laptop in the bedroom (on a mini-bookshelf working as a table, used while sitting on the edge of the bed), but I'm more productive on the lappy, so. Interestingly so, this holds true even with Guild Wars installed—probably because Guild Wars is both full screen and pseudo-real-time-ish, so no multitasking there. And a good thing, too, because Guild Wars is like crack. It's good not to be able to play it all the time.

But more to the point.

Happy very very belated birthday to me! My birthday was on the 18th, although it stretched out on and off over three days, and all of it was wonderful. Saturday the 18th, Devon and I went to Salem for lunch at a real, good Mongolian grill. The food was great, and goodness have I missed it. (There was one in Portland that we loved, but since the move—no good Mongolian). Then we picked up a copy of Guild Wars, then we went to my parent's place for dinner and dessert (chocolate cupcakes, which improved also with freezing). That evening, my first of my two most recent BPAL packages arrived. Talk about good timing. Sunday the 19th we went to see Stardust which was quite good. I disapproved of the little changes from the book (Hello, Captain Shakespeare? What happened to you, man?) but approved of the major changes because, as was the intent, it made for good movie watching. Um. Except that Tristan's mother looked like a cheap whore. On Monday the 20th, we went to Borders to spend the gift card that my grandfather and his wife sent me for my birthday. This gift card purchased:

Persuasion, Jane Austen
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson (three quarters of the way through this book and entirely and absolutely blown away)
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Call of Cthuhlu & Other Weird Stories and Dreams in the Witch House, H.P. Lovecraft (finally! and goodness but he is good)
Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
& just enough left over to purchase my next impulse book.

It was one very productive $100 gift card. Between it and the library, I am reading about 4 books a week and loving it. I'm keeping a list of all the stuff I want to read in the back of my moleskine and working off of that. May I say: I have marvelous taste.

All in all, it was a wonderful birthday. I turned 22, for the curious, and I am now a successfully unemployed & unpublished would-be-author & college dropout. Yippee! Also I am well loved and tolerably spoiled, and although 22 isn't a landmark year, it was a surprisingly fulfilling, happy birthday.

I mentioned above that I made a new BPAL order. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is, for those that don't know, my drug of choice. It is the only line of scents I have ever worn and probably will ever wear. I love them. For my birthday and because I, um, "needed" some warm-weather-friendly scents (most of my favorites are dark, rich, incensey, slightly sweet scents, none of which work for warm days), went and bought some more: one shipment of six imps from the lab, one bottle and two imps from a user through [livejournal.com profile] sinandsalvation. These I will put behind a cut, because I know that not everyone is interested. Needless to say, I have now received both packages and am super-duper-freakishly thrilled with both.

My new BPAL smellies! )

As it goes, that wasn't a bad way to spend $26. It's certainly made me happy (over and over and over again) and I still have scents left to try.

Still writing the book. Working mostly by hand, then typing, trying to catch up with the handwritten stuff. Have been slacking a teeny little bit but aim to change that this week. Am a bit bored with current section, but looking forward to the next, so may get through just by pushing myself forward to the palace. Then comes the time that I need to start plotting the fullness of the journey afterward (I have one section written and vague plot concepts, but no detailed understanding of what after what after what is supposed to happen).

I had a wonderful, involved, complete, even plotted dream that is begging to be another book (it's too long for a short story). Have the dream written down, and refuse to touch it at least until this book is nearly done because, seriously, I want to get something done, not just skip from project to project. But, if all goes well—that dream will make it in full form to paper sometime, even if it is a little too close to The Fountain for my sense of originality to handle.

And soforth.

Wordcount: 56,089 typed, + 4k handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Training plus some more training, and managed to interweave some interesting moments alongside. Also caught up with two sections I'd written way early on.

Upcoming Challenges: I'm bored of training, so finishing it up may be a pain. Oh, and, surprise of surprises, characters still do not have names.

Currently Reading: Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson; The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft; The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I sat down and wrote by hand to day with exceptional success. Finally using a blank lined book I've been sitting on for about a year, now, and it's a pleasure to write in. But moreover, I think I may have to write by hand more often. It is a little more time-consuming because I have to type it up after, but it's worth it: the trade off is that the writing comes faster and smoother and that there are far fewer distractions. I used to write all my drafts by hand, everything from fanfiction (including every bloody word of The Bonded) as well as essays for school. I stopped because of the time lost in typing up handwritten work, but now I find it hard to believe that I did. Handwriting is far more fluid for me. The daily 1k words came in about an hour and a half, rather than the usual minimum of three hours that it usually takes. Moreover—this was a section I was having problems with, and it yet came out as easily as my favorite completed parts of the story. Now that, I think, is a good sign.

But I'm really writing mostly to say that I broke 40k today. That's about 170 pages and, while not a huge gigantic landmark, is still a significant one, and I'm happy with it—and look forward to the next, what? 60k+ of the book.

Wordcount: 40,975 (actually a bit more, but I haven't typed up the rest).

Previous Accomplishments: Conquered the verbal battle and with much success at that; have introduced some doubt and a whiff of danger.

Upcoming Challenges: Developing a new pacing style for the long time in short text that follows next. Oh, and my characters could still use names, as we can add SISTER to the list of the unnamed.

Currently Reading: The Robber Bride, Margret Atwood.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
The stats that follow are a tiny bit out of date because I wrote them on Friday before my day of writing began, and it is obviously now Sunday. But that's how it goes.

Took the weekend off from writing again, and it's not as painful as last time—even with Devon out and about for most of the day. My interested in Second Life wanes and waxes these days, but lately it's waxed pretty full as a result of some wonderful new releases and the fact that the grid is actually operational (to think!), so I've been spending my weekend time making outfits and going shopping, yay. ^_^ I also get more interested in SL when I'm feeling a little less antisocial on the whole, so that's probably been part of it. But the text keeps sitting in my head, and I know where I'll go with it when I start again on Monday. I am at the cusp of a verbal battle between the protag and her sister, and even though I know where this battle needs to end up, I'm not sure when or how to bring it there. But because we write best when we write what we know—and since I've a sister of my own—I shall do my best.

Speaking of writing what we know: it seems a bit bizarre to apply that truism to a story where the protagonist is a cat-human hybrid studying magic under a witch in order to help save the kingdom from a vampire threat, but I'm amazed at how true it constantly turns out to be. The plot events are one thing, and honestly I think those are the easiest tales to spin. The magic. The twists, the turns. The nature of the world it takes place in. Races, spells, study. It's things like place and person where we are best served by writing what we know. The first few sections of the story take place in a fertile valley bordered by plains on one side and mountains on the other. A river runs through it and slowly veers west, towards the sea. And while making my reference sketches of the place (and reminding myself why I'm neither artist nor cartographer, because WOW are they ugly), I've been basing the landscape very loosely on the Pacific Northwest--where I live. Why? Because I know this place. I know the weather patterns, I know the landscape, I know what valleys are like and what makes them fertile.

More importantly, the protagonist and some of the important secondary characters are also true to life. This isn't to say that they physically resemble anyone (except that the protag shares the cat ears and tail that I have in Second Life, although if I'm honest I found the freedom to grant the to her in Gaiman's Stardust). In fact, the whole of their mental/emotional responses aren't based strictly on a single person, either. Rather, the key interactions and key traits are often based on things that I have seen happen in my own life. When the protagonist, to use the above example, has a fight with her sister, it's because her sister feels like something else is overshadowing what she believes should be important (and she has a point). Instead of saying "I just wish you loved us/me more" she says "I think you have your priorities wrong." And that's not quite what she means, but anger gets in the way. Does that make sense to anyone else? But the point is, I've seen arguments like that play out ... moreover, I've been in arguments exactly like that with my sister. And while I'm changing subject, character, setting—the things that need to ring of truth are still drawn from little aspects of my own life.

Discovering that has been pretty cool—and it gives me more hope in that story, because I want the veracity to be there. "I still have this uncontrollable urge to go up to people and say: 'My mother left me when I was seven' as though that will explain everything." (from The 10th Kingdom)—which becomes one of the most meaningful moments in the story because it is true—it may be created, it isn't only true in the world of the nine kingdoms, but one of many essential, human truths. And so it has meaning.

Ah, but where was I?

The other roadbump that I really need to get over is character names. I'm bad with names, which is why it always amazes me that Dink, Kuzco, and Alfie all worked out so well. I'm unimaginative, picky, and uncertain. So, currently, my characters are NAME (the protagonist), OTHER NAME (the mentor, and no, I'm not kidding, I really do call her that), VAMPIRE (the... vampire, of course), and tidbits like WOLF and WOLF 2 or GIRL. So far, one single character has a name: the protagonist's mother, whose name is Madge. I've been brainstorming (sometimes with help) on some names, and I think I have VAMPIRE and WOLF [4] pinned down. If y'all want, I can give some character info/sketches and you can throw out names ... or you can throw out names regardless ... or I'll just struggle through them in due time. ^^ But it will be nice to go through the 40k and change all my all-caps to actual words.

Wordcount: 38,229

Previous Accomplishments: Finished with the wolves. Figured out where, and at what pace, to begin the story, so I've jumped back to the very beginning.

Upcoming Challenges: I have a verbal battle to write and I see it posing some difficulties; wouldn't it be nice if my characters had names?
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
Taking a quick break from writing by doing... some more writing. But here, which is substantially different. ^_^

After taking the weekend off and noticing, very suddenly, how empty the days were, it has occurred to me now much writing has become a large part of my day to day activities. I am currently writing a minimum of 1000 words a day, and usually more (1500 to 2000). I can't say how long that is in hours, because my schedule is a little different every day and the writing comes faster on some days and slower on others. I write in 500-word bursts, sometimes 1k at a time, which is around the length of a scene. At that point my attention and energy starts to flag, so I take a break (like now) and them come back to the text, refreshed. I write while listening to a mix of Rasputina and The Dresden Dolls (and when listening to this mix on Pandora, I add Poe and Tori Amos), and usually work on the laptop (which is giving me all amount of back problems, but it's worth it). I am currently 34,500 words in, including a page or two of notes. That's approximately 140 pages. I had no idea how long the final text will be, so I can't say how far I've progressed in the overall book.

All of these technical notes aside: I love the sense of productivity and purpose that writing gives my daily life. And unlike other "productive" endeavors, it doesn't leave me exhausted. It's not easy work by any means, but I don't come out of it feeling sorry that I got up that morning. That's more of an achievement than you probably realize it is. I love it. I love this story, although it is unlike anything I expected I would write, especially as a first novel. I love the writing process. I love how the story is developing in front of me, how smoothly pieces are fitting together and how exciting it is, even as the author, to see the plot evolve.

I've been a bit hesitant to talk about the novel because I have a bad habit of getting myself so worked up about the idea and the work that the idea implies that I never actually get to the creation. The concept scares me away from the act itself. And this, of course, frustrates me to no end, because it leaves me feeling like I've failed my own brain-children as well as myself. I am such an INTJ/P split, oh yeah. But, to the point: I'm far enough along on the story, now, and comfortable enough with the creative process that I don't feel quite so nervous about finally talking about the novel.

Some of you have expressed interest in it, and that makes me really happy—if also somewhat intimidated. If you are still interested, the very bare plot of the novel is as follows:
Faeries deliver three prophecies to a witch: A vampire will seduce the prince. The kingdom is in danger. The witch must take on an apprentice, and then apprentice must go to the castle. This apprentice, a young woman and the story's protagonist, learns to use and to practice magic in a world where magic exists but is rarely studied. When she arrives at the castle and meets the vampire and the price, she begins to suspect that the prophecy may not be as simple or as direct as it seems.
The story follows the protagonist's journey through her training, to the castle, and on her adventures after that as she attempts to determine what the prophecies really mean and how to protect the kingdom. I'm trying to make this more like 10th Kingdom than like another bad fantasy monstrosity—I'm not quite sure what distinguishes the two, yet, but I think I'm managing well enough so far. Currently, all of my characters remain unnamed (I call them NAME and VAMPIRE and OTHER NAME and WOLF instead, which does interrupt the flow of the sentences a little...), and I need to fix that before too long. I'm content with both the writing style and the characters. I'm skipping around a bit—I've written some of the apprenticeship, some of the time in the castle, and most of the first league of the journey that follows—but the overarching plot is coming together surprisingly well.

Not bad, for 35k of a story.

Wish me luck! And I shall now scurry upstairs for a few more words and definitely some reading (currently: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, which I checked out from the library yesterday).

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