Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Day 7
1 am 61,475
2 am 62,275
3 am 62,809
(Break to 4 am)
5 am 63,341
(Break to 6 pm)
7 pm 64,307
7:46 pm 65,324 The End


Much happier tonight, even if I am half ill. I finshed a few hours ago, but I had to go rest for a while afterwards.

Now it sits for a few weeks while I finish up the edits of Muse, and then I'll edit it and be well and truly done.

Day 6
1 am 52,877
2 am 54,140
(Break to 4 am)
5 am 55,154
(Break to 6 pm)
7 pm 56,372
8 pm 58,064
9 pm 59 072
10 pm 60163
(Break to midnight)(8316)

This is the last day of the dare. The novel is actually up to almost 64,000 words, and I suspect that it won't go more than 67,000 or so. I'm almost done. I could stay up and do the work, but I'm going to get a few hours sleep and come back to it so that I have the after time to celebrate.

And then it will be back to work in the real world... but at least I'll have something I desperately needed to work on ready for editing -- and it was fun to write. You can't get much better than that, really.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Day 5
1 am 42,652
2 am 43,393
Break to 4 am)
5 am 44,641
6 am 45,300
(break to 5 pm)
6 pm 46,452
(break to 7 pm)
8 pm 47,647
9 pm 48,682
(Break to 10 pm)
11 pm 50,629
12 am 51,847

I'm closing in on the end. I might get there tomorrow, somewhere around 60,000 words. Not bad at all, especially for a first draft. It's fun to write these YA length novels.

And I still like this story. I keep coming up with wonderful little bits and pieces for it. Watching one of my characters, who has been in all the previous four novels suddenly trying to come to terms with his place in this mess has been a lot of fun. It's one of the things this story truly lacked until now.

The problem is that even though I have to stop writing by about 5 am, that doesn't always mean I'm really tired out. I just know that my arms need a rest.

I think I'm going to go watch something tonight. And then go to bed and think about the rest of this novel. Only a few steps left.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Day 4

1 am 34,149
2 am 34,713
3 am 35,461
(break to 5 am)
6 am 36,244
7 am 37,293
(break to 5 pm)
6 pm 38,847
7 pm 40,285
(break to 10 pm)
11 pm 41,632
(break) 8215 for day

Not bad for such an odd day. Things are looking pretty good for the story. The old ideas and the new pieces are melding very well, and though I have had to go back and add in pieces every now and then, it's still going well.

I've had a good few days. It's been fun, too. I haven't had a fun book so far this year, mostly because I keep getting stopped in the work. This little bit of madness has reminded me of what I'm supposed to be doing.

Maybe I should take three days a month to do marathons just for me. I'll have to consider it.

Right now I'm just a few hundred words short of 45,000. I've been trying to make sure I keep an average of 10,000 a day, so getting as much done early as I can helps a lot.

I might get this novel done. It's not going to be particularly long -- I'm now hoping for anything over 60,000 in this draft. And if I do that I'm going to be a very very happy person. This book has plagued me for years. This is my fourth rewrite from scratch, three of them in the last two years. I finally have the story and the words.

I am a happy person.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Day 3
1 am 23245
(break to 3 am)
4 am 24,264
5 am 25,044
6 am 26351
(break to 4 pm)
5 pm 27715
(break to 7 pm)
8 pm 30 051
9 pm 30 605
10 pm 31686
11 pm 32764
12 am 33,414 (11,242)

I'll likely have about 35,000 when I finally got to bed. I just wrote out the stuff for two new upcoming chapters, and I hope to get them typed up before bed. We'll see. I am getting worn out, and the nice long relaxing bath where I wrote the stuff didn't help in that respect.

I have no complaints. I've had three very good days of writing. If I managed to do half as well for the remaining four I'll be happy. I've got a good lead on this book.

Oh, I just checked. I'm already over 35,000. I guess it's even better than I thought.

But it is also six in the morning. I'm going to have to sleep soon. Really...

After I finish this chapter. And maybe the next.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Day 2
(Break to 12:30 am)
1am 14701
(Break to 3am)
4 am 16032
5 am 17398
(Break to 5 pm)
6 pm 19223
(Break to 8:00 pm)
9 pm 20240
(Break to 11 pm)
12 am 22175 (8160)

As I had predicted from the start, I had work-related things show up today that slowed me down, but I'm still doing quite well. I also got a little frustrated toward 9pm and stopped to watch a movie (Jackie Chan's Medallion -- lots of fun!). Oh, and I have to remember to check something -- the name of the black guy who was the driver. I think he's the same guy who was the pilot in the second Mummy movie. I had to close my eyes and listen to him once before I caught it.

But anyway, watching the movie really helped. I got about 3000 more words after that and felt much better. But then it hit midnight and I slowed down again. Then I hit a real and true problem spot and had to get up and sweep the kitchen and bother the cats for a while to work it out.

I am, over all, pleased with the change in this book. While talking to Mar in chat tonight I did a little checking with the last version (which came in, first draft, just a little over 40,000 words. Way too short, besides not quite being right.) Following the basic plot line, without all the additions and turns that I've put in, it looks as though I've added 10,000 words to reach the same spot in the plot line. I would be very happy if I can keep doing that well.

I hope to make it at least to 25,000 before I go to be tonight. It's looking good so far.

It's fun to be able to do this kind of stuff again. I'll likely pay for it when MM is done with a pile of work that must be done RIGHT NOW, but sometimes it's good to play around a bit again.

Friday, March 26, 2004

So yes. The first day of March Madness went well.

Day 1, 03/24/04

1 am -- 1033
2 am -- 2784
3 am -- 4012
4 am -- 5174
(break to 5am)
6 am -- 7075
(break to 5 pm)
6 pm -- 8396
(Break to 8 pm)
9 pm 9914
10 pm 11007
11 pm 12019
12 am 14015

I have slowed down now, of course, but it was a wonderful rush for the first day.

and the story is going well. I just a few moments ago came up with another scene that I want to add in. One of my characters is going to be playing a very dangerous game with someone far more powerful than him. I'm not sure if I'm going to let him win at it or not yet.

But I do think I have the story figured out this time. I'm having fun, too.

Back to work...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

At midnight tonight I'll be starting the Out Like a Lion/March Madness dare at Forward Motion. I've cleared away as much other work as I can in order to clear the next week just for writing. How much will I get done? I hope for about 50,000.

In the last week I have been tearing apart Elliora's World to see why I just don't think it works. I've rewritten this novel three times already, each time from scratch. The idea is there. I knew what I wanted it to achieve and I knew all the important interactions that will come from the story....

But the story itself just would not work.

However, I think I have finally worked out the problem and it is in three pieces -- worldbuilding, the actions of one of the characters, and a change in the rather too predictable outcome.

You know, I'm actually excited about this. I have notes all over the place. Even though I started the novel a few days ago, I only got 1500 words into it before I felt something was still wrong and stepped back. I'm going to ditch that opening and start again.

What's really great about this is that I have to write the book soon anyway. This is book 5 of the Dark Staff series, and it's the next one on the list for publication. I am usually one or two books ahead, but this one just kept stopping me. It also didn't help that I had a lot of other distractions. It's not like I was really writing any other novels. So far this year I've only finished one short story and nothing else. Okay, I wrote almost 30,000 words in two months on the TV stuff, and over 40,000 more on the novel class stuff -- and both of them have possible other applications, so it's not wasted words. But I really do need to get some fiction writing in before I go totally crazy.

And in a few hours I'll be doing a lot of that, unless I hit a spot and find myself frozen on the story again. I don't think that's going to happen this time. I can see the story clearly for the first time in years.

You know, there is always some book that gives a writer fits. This is the first one of mine -- at least of mine that I've had to work on, whether it wanted to be written or not. It's not even going to be a particularly long book. The others in the series run from about 75,000 to 90,000 words. If this one goes to 70,000 I'll count that good in the first draft. I will be forced to do something I don't like to do though -- that's edit it almost immediately. But hey, my own fault. I just didn't take the time to sit down and really work this out until I absolutely had to.

I have to admit that it makes it kind of exciting though.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Busy few days, but I am actually getting caught up on work and looking forward to the March Madness week of writing. I counted over seventy people signed up for the single week event. That's going to be a lot of words written. (grin)

I've still have a few other things to get done. The big one is to get the new two month dare set up, which I completely forgot about and didn't put on my schedule. Since we consistently have 100 or more people involved in that one I think I had better get it done before I have a rebellion.

I did finish and post the last of my Back to School classes yesterday. I'm several days early, but with so much else going on right now I thought it important to get as much work out of the way as I could.

Until yesterday I was not at all excited about March Madness. I think I didn't feel that I would get caught up on enough of the other work to really take part. But now not only do I feel like I might make it, but I think I even have a project. I'm behind on the fifth Dark Staff book, which I really should be turning in soon. I've been doing a lot of notes on the rewrite (and yes, I'm rewriting from scratch yet again!), plus handwritten material to add in. I started working on it the other day but only got about 3,000 words before I was distracted by other things that MUST BE DONE NOW and I haven't had a chance to go back to it.

So I am thinking that March Madness is going to be a perfect chance for me to make a real run on it. Not only will I be able to do a lot of writing, but it will be on something that I must get done anyway. Seems like a really good combination to me. Russ has been worried because I've not been at all excited about March Madness this year, and it's always been one that I really enjoy. My year has sort of gone that way, though, in general. I think if I can sit down and concentrate on something -- anything -- in writing, I'll get excited about it. (grin)

Of course, by the time the 25th arrives, I'll probably have some other novel to work on. It's been that kind of year for me. I do have a couple other works that I could be writing on, but I think Elliora's World is going to be the one. Really.

I have to admit that it's been exciting to do the 2YN class. It's difficult to decide how to lay out the work, of course -- because it is forcing a pattern on a process that would normally be more chaotic and free flowing. But a class has to have some structure, and in the end you can only make what seems a logical decision to yourself and stick with it. Others will not find it logical at all, of course (grin).

The class is into the 12th week. During the next couple months the people working there will start to take more and more divergent directions as some get done with types of work (worldbuilding and outlining) ahead of others.

A large part of this class is going to be helping people get all the way through their novels. All this work leading up to the writing is an attempt to give a strong set of notes and background material to help see them through. I've started reading through all the posted material so far so that I am acquainted with what the story they want to tell. That's also why I'll be culling out the people who have not been around for six weeks or so. I never expected everyone to make it all the way through the two years, of course. My ideas and the stuff that I present is certainly not going to suit everyone.

But the one thing I can bring to others is the determination to see the work all the way to the end. The only story that can't be fixed is the one a person never writes and completes. If I can help people get to the end, then all this work is going to be well worth it.

(Oh, and Joel -- we're waiting on some paperwork on the house. We weren't in any hurry to get anything going until after all the snow melted anyway. If the owner has changed her mind it's not going to bother us all that much. We'll just have to wait a while longer and see what happens.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Yes, that's the snow from yesterday. And it snowed all day today, too. We have a couple feet of snow on the ground again. At least this time of year you know it won't last for long...

There's something I've known about myself and the way I work for a long time, but every now and then I kind of ignore it. I work very well if I have solid 'reach this number' goals. The number doesn't have to be high. I want to do 500 words a day on one of my novels, and having that rather low goal is enough to kick start me into work. I hate missing a goal. It happens -- after all, life happens and can interfere with writing schedules for good or bad. But 500 words isn't such a problem that I can't do it every day. Sometimes I drop into the Writing Only chat at FM and do 100 word spurts while I chat with others. Sometimes I just sit down and write it out before I allow myself to work on anything else.

At the moment the 500 word work is The Wind and The Sand. But it might be 500 words of worldbuilding for something, but I make it writing-related, rather than class or article material. It's too easy to give over all my time and energy to things that are not part of my own writing career. Having a 'I must work on this' item just gets me focused and into the work. After those 500 words I'll often work on a number of other projects -- class stuff, writing stuff, board updates. But sitting down and doing that initial bit of writing has become a real help at a time when I can be so easily distracted by all the other things going on.

I once tried working to time goals rather than specific word counts. It absolutely did not work for me. It was far too easy to use the hour to write a couple little paragraphs and play around with the idea of writing rather than doing it. I found that in an hour I can change character names a few times, maybe sketch out a small map (which I almost always lost before I actually used it), make lists of things to do for the story... but rarely actually write. As long as I didn't have a number I had to reach, it didn't matter. And those couple of paragraphs were no better than if I had sat down saying I was going to write X number of words.

The trick, though, is to give yourself a low count number of words as your goal. If I sat down and told myself I had to write 2000 words before I did anything else, every single day, I'd have to give up. I do usually write 2000 words, but there are days when I only write 500. There are days when I write 10,000 or more, too. But I don't aim for those numbers. I aim for a very manageable number that I am sure to make, even on difficult days. Then anything over that just makes me feel better.

I should say that my minimum writing number for the entire day is at least 1000 words, averaged at the end of the month. 500 is the absolute minimum per day, and the amount I try to write before I start working on other things.

How I write doesn't work for everyone. And I'm still experimenting on some aspects -- and will likely experiment forever because it's fun to try new methods. But I will stick to the word count goals because that actually gets the work done, and that's the most important part of writing. If you don't finish, you're just wasting your time.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Having a schedule of work posted on the wall beside me has helped keep me up to date on the work that absolutely has to be done. I am virtually done with the class that is posted later tonight and most of the way through the one that is posted Monday night. I've edited one short story -- I'll go over it again today -- and gotten much farther on Muse (final edit on chapter six right now). The new novel is going well at the 500 words a day rate. As soon as I get at least one of the classes done I'll pick that rate up a bit. I have not gone on with the Sangre story, though it's still playing at the back of my mind.

Mostly I've been fighting off massive headaches and trying to keep up with other site stuff -- not easy when your head feels like it's going to explode if you try to do one more thing.

One thing that has amazed me is that I've edited every single day so far this year, a total of 351 pages as of yesterday. Some of it is only a page or two, but every now and then I get on a role (64 pages on two projects yesterday) and I love it. I will have a short story in the mail on Monday.

Reminds me... I should schedule in a day each month just to check on the status of stuff that's still out.

Okay, yes, the scheduling stuff might be getting a little out of hand. But if it gets some of the work done... well, I'm all for it.

I took a Claritin about half an hour ago... and I feel better than I have in days. A shame it was the last one I had. I'm going to be sorry when it wears off. I had better get some work done before then.

I'm not, normally, a very organized person. I've nothing really against organization, and I take advantage of it when I need the push (like getting things done for FM). However, for the most part my life is free of structure. I work well that way because I know what I want and I get it done. I will always get the writing done because that's important to me. Housework is less likely to be finished, but I'll get to it eventually.

But here's the thing... I see people all the time who say that they want to be writers, that it's their goal to be published, that they want to make a living by words... and they do everything but actually write. They'll spend an hour watching a TV show they don't even particularly like rather than sit down and write 500 words. The words might not be perfect! They're not in the mood, and how can you write if you're not in the mood?

Writing when you are only in the mood is for people who have no intention of making it their business. Even if you really can't come up with the next scene for your novel or the opening to the short story eludes you, you can still spend that hour doing writing-related things like outline, character creation or even writing exercises.

If you don't make yourself write with some sort of regularity -- it doesn't have to be every day -- then how do you expect to get the work done when your new publisher gives you a contract and says they want the next book in the series by a specific date?

The odd thing is that once you get into the knack of doing a little work on a regular basis, the 'muse' comes to you when you call, not the other way around. You are training your mind to be open to ideas, rather than having to go and hunt them down and club them to get them on the paper.

So, the schedule on my wall may be a little odd, but every time I mark something else off the list for that day, I know I've accomplished something, and it's all writing related. It makes it easier to work through the things that have to be done, and allows me to concentrate on the work itself rather than worrying about what I might have forgotten to get done.

What have you done for your muse today? How have you made it easier to write?

Friday, March 12, 2004

I have a schedule. I've actually kept up with it for three days so far, and I'm getting work done. It's made my sleep schedule even a bit more goofy than usual, though. I had osmething on the list from yesterday, and one of the programs would not work. And I refused to give up until I got it done. That was some time around seven this morning.

But I did it.

I am doing the new novel -- The Sand and the Wind -- just like I said I would, as a 500 word exercise first thing each day. That's proven to be an interesting way to work. I don't know if it will keep going like that once I get some of the class projects finished and have more time... but for now working through little sections has been fun.

My only real problem right now is that this cold and flu stuff will not completely go away. I wear out easily and I just have to go back to bed and sleep sometimes. I hope it all clears up soon, but in the mean time... I'm finally getting things done again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I'm going to be taking on a major cataloging job soon. One that puts the 12,000 entry video catalogue to shame. One that makes the idea of catalgouing the book collection look like a good diversion to get out of this one.

I'm going to catalogue my photo collection, and save them all off on cdrs. This means scanning the prints or negatives, and the slides, and copying all the pictures from the old FD7 and FD91 disks, as well as the CD1000's small cds.

Thousands of them. Really, thousands. A trip to the zoo for a few hours usually nets me over 200 pictures. Imagine what it was like when I used to go on vacations!

My main decision right now is what sort of DPI I want to use to store the scanned stuff. I'm thinking I'll go for just 200dpi. That's good enough for the sort of computer work I do, and it's not like I'm going to get rid of the originals. I just want to be able to look at those pictures, to have them on file... to play with them again.

I imagine this as a job that will take years. I suspect that I'll never really get it completely done... but I'm going to give it a try.

Oh. I had a thought -- I can name them in much the same way that we did the video collection. Huh. Use Access drop down lists... just have to remember how to do that. Query, I think, might be best so I can have it add something to the list if I need to add one. Thumbnail copies of the pics. Links to the originals would be wonderful, but since the originals won't be on the main drive, I think I'll end up coding where they'll be. Disk numbers. Yeah....

The big problem right now is that my cdr drive died. Not a surprise -- it was kind of old, and we'd scavenged it from a former computer. Ah well. I know we'll have to replace it soon, so I might as well start considering what I want to do.

Oh, writing is going fine. The new novel is starting out a little slower than I expected, for some reason, though. On the other hand, I had a great opening idea for a new Sangre story, so I started that tonight and I'm already over 1000 words on it. I haven't written a short story in a while, so that's nice. And this is really fun. I think I needed fun.

Time to open Access and play a little, I think. And maybe scan in a couple slides....

Monday, March 08, 2004

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...


And for my birthday I am taking a few hours away from home and computer. I am going to go look for eagles and deer and wild turkeys at my favorite wild life refuge. And then go to Omaha and have lunch and look in bookstores... maybe even buy something!

I still have a horrid cold, but I'm feeling better than I was. All should be well. I intend to have fun!

Oh, and I already did my writing for the day -- as always, I started a new novel on my birthday. The Wind and the Sand is now sitting at 548 words. I plan to do about 500 words a day for a while -- enough to feel like I'm getting somewhere on it, and not so much that I don't have time to get other work done.

Things are looking good.

Have fun!

Friday, March 05, 2004

I got up at some ungodly hour this morning and wandered into my office where Russ was working away on an article he has due today. I tapped him on the shoulder.


"I want you to find the place in the rules of the universe that says I have to be sick on my birthday and delete it."

"Find birthday dot illness and delete. Right."

And he went back to work.

Actually, I'm feeling far better today, so I may be mostly past all this before Monday. At any rate, I am determined to enjoy the day, even if I have to drag myself out of bed sniffing and coughing. I'm going to my favorite wildlife refuge. I'm going to take pictures. I am going to have fun.

And then I'll come back and crawl into bed and pull the blankets over my head again.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

It's been an odd few days. I've spent a good many hours in bed, fighting off the resurgence of the cold from hell. Not a big surprise on that -- this happens nearly every year right at the end of winter, when the weather starts getting odd. The weather bounces between the 20's and the 50's, and the snow comes and goes, and with that kind of weather you're apt to not be dressed the way you should be, one way or another. I also tend to hold on to colds for a long time, and though they subside, they just sit there waiting for me to stop paying attention...

We're sitting here with a winter storm closing in right now. Rain at the moment, which means it will change to ice and then snow -- the worst of all types of winter weather, because it puts patches of ice under the snow, and you just don't know when you are going to hit one, either on foot or in a car. This could be a bad night to be out. (Hope Russ gets home soon...)

I am getting caught up on work related stuff. That's kind of amazing, really, considering how awful I've felt. I feel so organized! I've even put a To Do list on my new Sony Clie (early birthday present). I don't know why I never did that with my poor, departed Visor. I usually do well with lists that I can work my way through. Just checking it, in fact, reminds me that I need to write an email. (There, that's done. Check it off the list! The fact that it's going to lead to more work is hardly the point... Really.)

(And there's another one off the list! Yay!)

(I lead such an exciting life...)

I can't really believe that I'll get caught up, but it's nice to see things going as well as they are. I still have some hope for at least getting the line edits done on Muse this weekend, even if I don't get them all typed in. I am organizing my notes for my new novel, and that's looking very good. I've been jotting down the outline in the Clie while I was stuck in bed, too ill to get up. A line here, a line there... it even started making sense after a while.

So, off I go to get some of that work done. And then... take a nap. I am still tired!

Monday, March 01, 2004

I survived February.

I'm not completely caught up, and I am still having horrid back problems, but I survived to reach March. I plan to take a week off from all but writing this month, sometime... if I get closer to caught up, or maybe even ahead. (Laughs at the joke.)

Vision is posted. It's a good issue!

And although I had many things to say when I signed in here, they have all fled my poor little tired brain. I am reduced to realizing I have to go wash the dishes.

Maybe, if the thoughts come back, I'll try again later.