Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Character. Traits.

I had this idea for a character who rearranges reality based on emotions of the moment. As if I need more ideas for things to write, still, I got all happy and excited before realizing James Thurber beat me to it by probably around 65 years. I cannot write The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But Thurber felt much of what he wanted to write had been written better by Robert Benchley many decades before Thurber thought of it.

The upshot of which is that I want to spend the rest of the night reading Benchley and Thurber.
I am so appalllingly sleepy. This is when normal people who had been up since 4:30 after going to bed at 12:30 would take a nap, but I am not normal.

Last night I wrote the article due today. I'd only intended to start it, but all the interviews were fresh and recent in my head and it started so I did - 650 words too much of it, which I managed to reduce to only 125 words too much of it this morning.

Today I finished the novelette! 10,360 words, which is probably close enough to 10,000 and anyway, this is first draft stuff, not being handed in yet. But it does mean I wrote 4040 words yesterday and 1228 by 8:00 a.m. today, which I'm pretty pleased with.

But sleepy. Dreadfully sleepy. And listen, is it just me or is it rude in a 24-hour state to edge the lawn at 8:15 a.m. on a Wednesday? ... probably just me.

OK, I give. Brief nap. After all, I'd given myself till noon on the fiction today and that still puts me 3 and 1/2 hours to the good, which I want to use cleaning another bookcase in my office (office is broken into 10 sectors for sanity during a once-a-year sanity and cleaning spree which is now a year late) and starting another story and maybe previewing the nonfiction I'll be doing post-lunch date. All that, and, but wait, there's more! But not until after the nap.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pavlov loves me

Today was officially fiction (so far, and that's my point here.) It started late, because I started late, and even though I got in to my office at 8 (it used to be 7:30 I aimed for, and before that it was 7) I didn't leap into action as I'd intended, but did some email-y things. I'd meant to do the (billable hours) nonfiction bit until Rick left to go measure the roof his mother wants repaired and I'd start fiction. That didn't happen, though I did an interview for an article and cleaned up the transcripts, so that's something.

Rick left at 10:00 or so. By 10:20 I was writing. I wrote for four hours straight, getting up only to make more tea and, once, try to get the head-cold-snuffling cat out from under the bed so I could give him antihystemine and milk. He wasn't having any of it and I couldn't get to him.

So I worked on the under-contract novelette, due officially October 1, and I wrote 4000+ words in 4 hours and stopped at 2:30 to shower and run stupid windy-day errands (the day isn't stupid, it's just any day that includes a trip to Wal-Mart, the bank and the post office is.)

And when I got home, still needing to do 1. nonfiction 2. a different nonfiction project 3. a third nonfiction project 4. seal up article queries in the 9x12 envelopes I went to Wal-Mart for (dinner ingredients were an afterthought) Rick was home. He's been out of work for 19 months now, with odd jobs and seasonal and part time things. So what does my brain do? Fast-backwards 19 months, says "My husband is home! I'm done for the day!" Programming - I has it.

And now I need to work on the article and email varoius peoples and work on at least one of the two nonfiction projects. Tomorrow Rick is heading out at some horrible hour like 5 a.m. and I will be writing again. No point feeling sulky now. 4000+ words is a good day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lunge for the Ending

Recently, a week or two ago, I lunged for the ending of Kaleidoscope Window, the novel -- and missed. Much like one of my cats doing something squirrely and flying across the room only to run into something rather than making some fantastic ballet-like cat move. I was surprised. Kaleidoscope Window remained unwilling to end. It's one of the first novels I've had to instruct that it was time to end - Yes, I know, we could go on with the build up forever, but I really want to get to the ending now -- instead of heading there on its own.

Wednesday night, we got there. I wrote 17 pages that night (11.5 handwritten in my sort-of speedwriting partial code, in gel ink, in a blank book, yep, that's the process) and got over 4700 words and found the end, at which point I went to bed giddy.

And? And yesterday I was irritated that the only writing I did was nonfiction and the fiction remained aloof, like a cat stating I sat on your lap yesterday. Don't be greedy. (There are many cats in this post.)

Today, having completed the typing and printing of this first so-full-of-holes draft of Kaleidoscope Window, the fiction came back and mushed on my calves and wound its tail around my knees and we wrote 5 pages or so of Angelica's Room, which is the Next-Novel-Already-in-Progress, since it was impatient and unwilling to wait and I've been toying with it (or, really, it's been toying with me) all summer. Five pages in that blank book is only 1500 words, not the 1875 it would have been in the Big Blank Book from Wal-Mart that supported KW. But we mustn't be greedy.

...Think I'll go see if the fiction wants to play s'more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Once upon a time

Once upon a time I started at the beginning and kept going, fairly certain where stories were leading me (or where, sometimes, I was leading them.) If the middle and end evolved to make the beginning no longer make sense, I changed it later. Grudgingly, but I changed it. Names changed, habits of characters changed, precipitating events changed.

Now I've changed. I'm a bit boggled. Probably this is a step forward, some kind of improvement.

Or so I hope. Maybe it's just different. Different as in not the same rather than different as in somehow better.

The weird thing is? I don't mind so much. I am impatient. I have more novels and stories and even articles that I want to write than I will ever get to put on paper, because even if I have 5 ideas, before I finish the third, more have come and, impatient, I've rearranged the order of importance and am moving on to a new idea. I complete almost everything I start, for better or worse and ignoring the file on my computer labeled Lame Novel Starts -- those only got a paragraph or two or a description. They don't count. But only Harp's World and City remain from very long ago as unfinished novels. Southern Lights and Shifting Sands are both from 08, the later from October. They were simply preempted by something more pressing.

But the change? The beginnings. I think I'm figuring out stories earlier, having a better grasp of where they're going when I start, or at least what I want from the character or what the theme is or ... something. Because I'm starting beginnings further in, insisting things happen right away, not panicking that I will have a -- gasp! -- flashback if that serves the story. Learning how to get across the most information as quickly as possible, enough to say "Here's what you need to know to move on."

So I'm writing beginnigs over and over. Tonight I started a novelette for a market with a distinct deadline. Lot of words. Not a lot of time. I've written a proposal on it and I know the general story, but I had two different ideas for starting it. I tried to combine them. I tried them separately. I tried another idea that came from nowhere. The voice didn't hit me. It just wasn't there. There was nothing happening. A description in one version alluded to events that would shortly unfold, but not very interestingly and the situation left me not liking hte characters much, which I find untennable.

The fourth start (I think, thought perhaps fifth) fit. And it was from the other character's point of view. Didn't expect that at all. But I like it and I've got my usual 600 word start or so (at 600 words into a new story I apparently panic and have to go have tea and cat sympathy and, tonight, Advil. The next day I can write around 1000 to 1500 words much more calmly. Weird, that's all.)

And now I must go do some nonfiction and pay the bills and all that. Yes, it's 10 p.m. And yes, I'd actually rather sleep. But much of this day was lost to nonsense, oversleeping (because I was up till 3 and awake again at 5 and then out till 8:30 because either I slept through the world's most annoying cell phone alarm [not likely] or because I was tired) and driving and a run (! Not nonsense!) and lunch with a friend (very nice, and involved free writing) and not much that pays the mortgage.

And as a reward, after some nonfiction, I'll do my best to find The Very End of the current novel. And also, tea. And Advil.