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Accountability check in 11/23/15

Yesterday, I finished the chapter I wanted to have done by the end of the month. It's gone back and forth from being referred to as "chapter 14" and "chapter 13" multiple times. Currently, it's chapter 14 again, because I realized there was an additional scene I needed to insert earlier in the story. That earlier scene isn't written yet, and I don't know when it will be written. By some of my previous standards of "done," chapter 14 isn't technically finished either, even though I'm calling it "finished."

Let's face it, no amount of perfectionism is remotely useful in the first draft. I have had way too many experiences where I slaved over the prose, research, technical detail, and plotting of a scene in a story, only to find that once I analyzed the plot after the first draft was done, it just didn't serve a useful role. Then you have to jettison it, but you don't want to because you worked so hard on it.

The interesting thing about actually "finishing" chapter 14 this week is that it is about four times longer than I had planned. It was supposed to be a transition scene between one setting and the next, the "quick road trip", so to speak. As I started writing it, however, I saw that the relative isolation of travel (in this case, in interplanetary space) was actually a good opportunity for the antagonist to ambush the protagonist and ratchet up the action while also forcing her to face some of her inner story issues head-on.

At the same time, bringing the antagonist in at this juncture makes it all the more obvious I really need to add a few more scenes to establish my antagonist's evolving motives better for the reader.

Which means changing the outline, and the schedule, because what’s coming out is good stuff that is both a logical plot development and more exciting as well.

Outline? Who needs a bloody outline. It's the first draft.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27 28
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 15
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 15
This month's goal: Chapter 14 15


In other news, I am sticking with the audio books. I finished The Girl in the Spider's Web in about three days and am currently "reading" Saturn Run by John Sanford and Ctein.

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Accountability check in plus, 11/16/15

I have almost finished chapter 12. I'm starting chapter 13 this week, which, because of the reshuffling, is actually the chapter I've been referring to as "14" in all my weekly goal references. So technically, today I'm starting the chapter I wanted to finish by the end of this month. I don't want to use that as an excuse to get overly ambitious. In fact, it would be good to cut myself a break this week. I have at least one day when I will be go, go, going from before dawn to after dusk on non-writing things.

Besides, chapter 13 promises to be just as involved as chapter 12.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 12
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 13
This month's goal: Chapter 13

In other news:

(1) A bit of a shake-up at work-work as my supervisor of eight years and another team lead were "let go" a few weeks back. In my sup's case, I think it was a mutual decision. He seemed pretty miserable there the past few months. But he was basically fired for incompetence--"not having the skill set his job as it is now under the new CEO regime requires." Did I mention our old CEO sold his business back in July, and we've had a new Jefe for a while? A lot of the changes I've been trying to convince my ex-bosses of for years are part of the new bosses' business-as-usual. One can only hope that after putting up with eight years of chasing my tail the craziness will level off.


(2) I have been discretely noting my writing friends' Nano progress, and what is interesting is I've noticed my feelings on NaNoWriMo have come full circle. A decade (!) ago, I wrote a skeptical entry about the utility of writing 50,000 words in a month. Then a year later, I did Nano. I did it a few more times, and one year, I did Camp Nanowrimo in July. I always felt free to change the rules to fit the moment (a different word goal, writing fan fiction, writing more than one piece, writing a story I already started).

But now I'm right back to the opinion that me and word counts are unmixy things. Mostly because I'm a born over-writer, and my forward momentum on a story is usually in an inverse relationship to the number of words I write on it. I cringe at what the novel I am working on now would be like if my goal wasn't the concrete "finish chapter 13 by the end of the week" and instead was the nebulous, "write 500 words a day."

Anyway, your mileage may vary, yada, yada.


(3) I have recently started listening to audio books. On the plus side, lying quietly in the dark in the position of your choice having the story read to you? So much more comfortable than the contortions I normally have to do to read eBooks, or God forbid, paper books. On the minus side, audio book readers consider themselves performers and you get the story through their oral interpretation of it, rather than just a straight prose reading. That can be distracting. I am encouraged, though, as I whizzed through The Girl in the Spider's Web, the latest tome in the Millennium series in about three days.

That book, I'm happy to say, ended up reading like vintage Steig Larssen despite the fact that he's been dead for years and it was written by a successor. The only quibble I have is SpoilersCollapse )

Accountability check in

Finished chapter 10, although I reshuffled a few things and chapter 10 became chapter 9 and vice-versa, but both are drafted. My old chapter 12 disappeared, and chapter 13 has been split into 12 and 13, so same number of chapters, same schedule. Welcome to the fluctuating world of the first draft.

Note to self: When you're still working out the plot, don't worry about perfection.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 11
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 12
This month's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 14.

Birthday girl! !

Happy Birthday, merlinmaus!!!

NoNano check in

I've reached that point in my first draft where the story is getting bogged down and going in a million directions at once and I'm not sure which way it ought to go, or if what I have outlined for the middle and end is right for the story. Certainly, a lot of the "directions" it wants to go in would involve scrapping the later planned scenes (oh, hell, I'm a pantser, who am I kidding? "Outline"? It's just an empty golden idol there to appease the story gods).

This is the point writers start getting frustrated and want to give up, and you need to keep going until you figure out what the story is really all about and the best way to tell it. Then you will see how to cut the crap out.

So, with that in mind, I am going to start a little accountability journaling.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned (cough) # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 10
This week's goal: Finish chapter 10
This month's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 14.

NoNoNaNo

I am not going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year, ironically, because I am busy working on the first draft of my new novel. I have a rhythm down and it really isn't compatible with cranking out as many words as possible every day for 30 days. Plus, next month, I have a three-day work conference, a new writing class starting, and plans out of town for Turkey Day.

I've been doing my writing first thing in the morning. That is about the only time of day I have any energy, as work has been really busy for the past couple months (if you don't understand the reference "ICD-10", count yourself fortunate).

And I have other sources of social energy besides NaNo. The writing classes, including a course following Julia Cameron's Artist Way got me going on morning pages. And the Twitter hashtag #WriteChain has continued that by giving me a place to keep accountable for my daily writing goals.

My main excuse, though, has been physical pain. Unless a quip is short enough that I can peck it out with a finger or short enough for my voice-to-text not to get lost mid-sentence then crap out on me, I don't post it much. Hence my continued presence on Facebook.

I might try doing a November blogging thing if there are folks still around here in LJ/DW land. Roll call?

Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, mamculuna!!!

Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] a2zmom!!

Birthday Boy!!!

Happy Birthday, cactuswatcher!!!

Birthday Boy!!!

Happy Birthday, atpo_onm!!

Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, ann1962!!!!

Hope you have a great day!

Birthday Girls!!!

Happy Birthday, etrangere!!!

Happy Birthday, gehayi!!!

Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, chaos_by_design!!!

All the Masq news that's fit to print

Welcome, September. I for one will be glad to see summer go. It's going out like a lion rather than a lamb--the monsoons--but "bye bye."

I tend to hibernate in summer, and this one was no different in that respect. We also got mega busy at work in the past month or so, and I have veered between long days at work and sleep. OTOH, I found out recently I will lose a week's accumulated vacation if I don't take it before mid-November. So I will have 5-6 three-day weekends in the next month and a half. Can't say I mind. I was saving up days for next year's Australia trip and possible days off due to my back procedures, and have not nearly had enough days off.

Watched Season 4 of OUAT when it came to Netflix. Still poorly executed, but it makes more sense the second time through when you know they aren't throwing free will off the table.

Anyone seen the new Star Trek online movie, Renegades? I just started it. Planet and ship special effects are much better than 90's series, but the ship interiors and some of the characters look like amateur YouTube Trek. This despite it being a collaborative project of several Trek veteran actors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE2Wgop9VLM

GF and I are watching Farscape. First time for her, second time for me. Enjoying it more the second time around. I guess seeing it before changes my expectations for it.

In writing news, I sidelined the novel I've been working on for the past few years because it was spinning out of control and not getting finished. Started a short story in a writing class that has now turned into a novella. How does this happen to me? Plan: learn the art of plotting for brevity.

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Hablas espanol?

I am working on a short story with a main character who is Spanish (as in, from Spain). I would like to have her thinking in Spanish at some key moments in the story, but I do not trust online translators.

Anyone willing/able to translate a few English phrases into Spanish (bonus points if it sounds genuinely from Spain)?

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The solar system is a much more interesting, complicated place if we throw out the classical "Solar System has 9 planets" model we learned in grade school. And Pluto is just as special.

 photo 20150714_pluto-nh-ehealth1_zpsudf2x5i3.png

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Birthday Girls!!!

Happy Birthday, midnightsjane!!!


Happy Birthday, bhadrasvapna!!!

Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, astrogirl2!!!

OMG

So apparently today was a big news day. Something about the Supremes and a Potus that sings.

Meanwhile, I'm all, OMG, the Principal Investigator of New Horizons liked my Tweet!

 photo sterntweet2_zpsbjkn6yuo.jpg


In other news, this. <3 <3 <3





Outer space!

So D and I had a good time in Northern Arizona last weekend. Drove up Sunday afternoon and spent Sunday evening and most of Monday lazing around our hotel. Monday afternoon, we went over to Lowell Observatory. They actually have a lot of things to do during daylight hours. Solar observation (which we didn't do), hiking trails that show you the relative distances of the planets, solar systems, and galaxies, and the busts of famous astronomers and mathematicians.

They also have a display of the history of humankind's interactions with Pluto. Lowell Observatory is where Pluto was discovered, and they let you fondle the no-longer used Pluto telescope, still berthed in the tiny stone observatory where Lowell did his observations.

Tuesday, we drove up to the Grand Canyon. We had three hours to kill until they'd let us into our hotel room, so we had lunch, then went to see the IMAX show that I missed five years ago. Not sure that was worth whacking my back out on those uncomfortable theater seats.

After we checked into our hotel room and dragged all our stuff indoors, we headed up to the canyon rim. We had about four hours until sunset, so we tooled around the rim and made friends with a hungry mamma squirrel.

The Grand Canyon star party is awesome: several dozen amateur astronomers who love nothing better than telling you the brand, size, and capabilities of their telescopes. D and I want to pool our $$ and buy our own telescope for Christmas, so this was a good place to do research. Among the things we saw through the telescopes: the stripes on Jupiter and three of its moons, Saturn's rings and three of its moons, a crescent Venus, half a dozen galaxies, such as Needle Galaxy and the Sombrero galaxy, the International Space Station (OMG geek out!), the Cigar Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, and Ring Nebula, M15, M4, and M5.

Sitting in a car for all that travel was not fun for my back, but I survived it with lots of memory foam.

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Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] cornerofmadness!!!!

Birthday Girl!!!

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] rahael!!!!

Birthday Girls!!!

Happy birthday, [personal profile] ironed_orchid!!!

Happy birthday, [personal profile] sculpturelle!!!

June

Ugh, it's like the weather gods glanced at the calendar and decided today was the day to turn the temperature up to "furnace." After eight years of this, yes, I am used to it, but it's become my daily habit to take a walk at work to exercise my gimp knee and give my back a break from all the sitting. My walk has been pushed back earlier and earlier in the day. Soon, it may not be possible at all, except before dawn, before aforementioned knee and back actually need it.

The up part of the summer is Pluto, Ceres, and Light Sail, among other things. I am on vacation (yay!) in a couple weeks, and D and I plan to drive up to Flagstaff to visit Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was originally discovered, then perhaps venture up to the Grand Canyon where the yearly amateur telescope festival will be going on at the rim. Haven't been to either place (Flagstaff or the GC) since I was up there for our burnin' Buffy ATPo weekend--when? 2010? Eesh.

This is all assuming my back can put up with hours of car travel. Dry run trip to Prescott this weekend to deliver my nephew to summer camp.

Also, there will be writing this summer. I have about three short story WIPs in process, and it's indoor weather from here on out.

Here's some stories I wrote recently:

The Beast
The Book of Barry

What is 'play'?

I am reading a book that's been on the back shelf for years and years, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book has its pros and cons, but one of the most vexing-though-valid concepts in it for me is the notion of the "Artist's Date." This is an hour a week you set aside to let your inner child out and give it freewheel. The idea is, soundly enough, to feed that creative part of you without goal or expectation. To simply play.

But what, for me, is "play"? It's a bit of a family joke that I was born 40 years old. It just took a while for my body to catch up to my intellectually-inclined mind and serious personality. But looking back now, I can see ways that wasn't true. I was a kid, once. I did kid things. I "played" in a way that's difficult to do now.

Is writing "play"? It's my favorite activity, but a lot of time, it feels like work. Cameron's "Morning pages," for example--free writing every day for 15-20 minutes--still falls in the "wait and see obligation" category, and so feels like work. God knows composing a story or essay, or editing same can be a LOT of work. Is "I pretend I'm writing even though what I'm actually doing is looking at pretty pictures on the internet and calling it research" play or work?

Usually when I'm tired at the end of the day and too sore to write, I collapse in front of the TV, or grab my kindle. But many (my momma included!) would say passive absorption of someone else's content, as relaxing as that can be, isn't "play." Play is Active.

When I was a kid, I hated sports and bored easily of bikes and roller skating. I spent oodles of time in my room with the door shut inventing my own planet complete with its own language. That was play for me. Or my brother and I would build entire cities out of blocks and Little People buildings. We'd work hard on our cities, then when bedtime arrived, we played "It's the end of the world!!!1!" and tear it all down.

Nowadays, it would be unthinkable to engage in an imaginative activity that was so light-hearted I'd nonchalantly tear it all down when I was done! No, all imaginative activities must have an end goal! They must be precursors to writing or writing itself. But that makes them work more than play. Letting the imagination run wild for no reason whatsoever….

Sometimes, I tell myself stories without writing them down. I even act them out. That's play, right?

"Play," I guess, is whatever random calming or enjoyable activity I do that makes me feel guilty because "I should be working on something where the goal is productive and obvious." Play may even be all those times I fool around at whim/randomly and even make a record of the results, intending to go back to them and "do something with them," but never do.

INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.

Two videos of awesome

TV

Anyone watching Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)? It's a period drama about a team developing what is, in essence, the first laptop computer (I have a feeling it's going to be that clunky brief-case sized box with the pop-up screen). It' no Mad Men, or The Americans, but it's drawn me in.

Maybe it's an '80's computer geek thing.

Life, unbounded

A piece that is neither essay nor fiction nor memoir but all of them and none of them I wrote for a writing class (390 words).


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TV

So was this season of network TV lackluster at best or what? I am enjoying Orphan Black now, though.

Also recently enjoyed the Netflix series Daredevil. Very well written. I would expect no less from Buffverse alum. However, I could never figure out Read more...Collapse )

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