Sunday, July 31, 2011

Literary Links

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  
Filed under "The Sunday Paper: SFF Links"

I confess, when I go to read the news, I often get side-lined by tabloid headlines and pictures of royal wedding clothes. The serious news is too damned depressing, and my brain is all-too-ready to be distracted. So, in an effort to add some non-Posh, non-royal, non-gossipy "news" reading,  I've been trying to include more book-news.

Here are a few of the articles I've come across, hope you enjoy the links:

  • Apropos of the legalization of gay marriage in New York:  The Huffington Post gives us a list of great gay couples in literature. I've read a couple of these. Do you have any additions to the list?
  • Just when I thought I couldn't feel more disheartened by my fellow citizens of the planet: More book banning in the US. I simply can't understand why anyone would spend their time in banning books - any books. The last thing people need is fewer voices in their reading material. Scroggins' quote, near the end of the article, where he expresses his concern about exposing children to "such immorality" made me laugh. I wonder what he would have thought of the reading material of my teen years. What did you read as a teen? Should children be limited in what they can read and who makes the decision?
  • Validation for the sf&f fan and writer: I found myself nodding in agreement when the author describes the moment where he tells a stranger that he writes fantasy. The message is, be proud my fellow sf&f fanatics! Do you feel like you are judged for your addiction to Battlestar Galactica and write your fantasy novels in secret?
  • More controversy: I've started studying linguistics on my own, a subject becoming nearer and dearer every day, and I've come across some of the work of the controversial John McWhorter before. Here's an article where he talks about language and Shakespeare,  and whether or not the language should be modernized for readability. I find this stuff fascinating and while you may cry "sacrilege" at the thought of changing the bard's words, I can't say it isn't worth thinking about some of McWhorter's arguments. Read the comments, too, which offer some nice observations, criticisms and more links. Do you read Shakespeare? See it performed? Would you prefer some modern language?
  • Nominate your favorite book for inclusion in 2012's World Book Night.
  • The popularity of thriller novels: This article at the Telegraph explores the popularity of the thriller novel. The information and stats on the thriller novel's popularity were interesting, but I found his discussion on the reasons for their popularity a little shallow. What do you think?
  • Hope for the debut novel: There are four debut novels on the Booker longlist this year. This article highlights the stellar success of Stephen Kelman's first novel. Twelve publisher bidding war, high six-figure advance - are you going to read it?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

Some pictures from our recent trip to Scotland. I think I took nearly four-hundred pictures, and these are my favorites. Somehow, we had bright, sunny, and warm weather every day but the last. I can't wait to go back.

To participate in Snapshot Saturday, just follow the rules from Alyce's blog:

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken... Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy

I went to the used book store yesterday, looking for some inspirational reading. Actually, it was a very specific sort of book I was hunting for, an illustrated book with lots of interesting images of different fantasy/magic creatures. There’s a lot of research to be done for my next novel, and I thought that a nice picture book would give my brain a rest from words while offering inspiration and instruction.

The sf&f section in the local used book store is huge, probably the largest section in the store. However, it didn’t have a single reference-type book or illustrated book. So, I moseyed to the children’s section. Nothing quite fit the bill.

Then, I found the Encyclopedia of Fantasy by John Clute and John Grant. It has no pictures, but I flipped through it anyway. What a great reference! Books, films, authors, directors, creatures, magic, history - you name it, it’s probably in here. I started reading the sections on different themes in fantasy, which gave me a lot to mull over for my new project’s plot and themes. Here’s the first couple of lines from the one-page entry on “Thinning” (one of the authors' own terms, I believe):

THINNING: Fantasy tales can be described, in part, as fables of recovery. What is being regained may be (a) the primal STORY that the surface tale struggles to rearticulate, (b) the TRUE NAME, or home, of the protagonist, (c the health of the LAND (>> FISHER KING) through a process of HEALING, or indeed (d) the actual location of the land itself (>ARCADIA; OTHERWORLD; POLDER; TIME ABYSS).

I like that it gives me a nice summary of things across different traditions, media, etc., plus references to specific works as examples. As for the fantasy/magic creatures research, it does have listings for some creatures, with their myths of origin from different cultures and examples of specific literature, TV and/or film where they appear. It is a start and gives me some good ideas for where to direct my research. However, it isn’t the book’s focus, and some relatively common creatures are missing. In short, I still need that creature book.

Anyway, the encyclopedia won the Hugo and you can find it on Amazon. I look forward to spending some time deep in its 1,049 pages. I’m quite pleased with my find: hardcover book in new condition for seven-pounds-eighty at the used bookshop.

As for the illustrated book of magical creatures: Anyone have any suggestions?

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon there's a word. I wouldn't want to meet it in a dark alley during the small hours of the morning. I know it's out there, waiting for me, armed with reproachful stares.  That's enough.

The problem with accountability and writing is, there is none. Not really. No one cares if I don't finish my projects. No million dollar deal hangs on my rewrites. Paychecks aren't waiting to be cut. People won't starve if I don't finish my book.

In fact, the only person I have to be accountable to is, well, me. I'm the one who will be disappointed, diminished, and regretful. So it's time to grow up, shape up, get-it-together and all that.

I did lace up my shoes. I did limp through one pathetic mile. The rest of the distance had to be completed on an elliptical, but it was logged. Finally, I did return home, eat a quick dinner, and return to the hot seat. I finished a flash fiction story and started on a second. I put BIC and FOK, and I battled it out.

Time to get serious. I've seven weeks until my race and god-only-knows how many days above ground to develop into a writer. I've toyed with the idea of posting my daily word count here. Maybe I should.

For now:

Daily Word Count Goal: 1,000
Daily Word Count Actual: 1,103

Now I can get some sleep.

Shh... Don't tell...

I’ve been busy rearranging my blog today, adding a new gadget and a page for links. I really dislike my blog’s three columns, but try as I might, I can’t seem to get it down to two. This morning I wrote a couple of critiques for other writers, then the afternoon was spent in blog-land.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I’ve futzed around so much with my blog today, that I’ve completely blown off today’s writing. Eek. There, it is all out in the open now, my terrible shame. It is nearly five o’clock here, and I’ve got nothing to show for it (although, I do like my book widget… see how I am?).

Of course, I could still get some writing done. My husband doesn’t come home today for at least another hour. However, I’ve also been injured and missing out on my runs. September is fast approaching, and I’m supposed to run a half marathon. See? Even my running has a timeline that I’m shirking.

Why do I do it? Why do I put off the work that must be done? I’ve promised myself a minimum of one-thousand words a day, and what do I go and do? I spend an afternoon playing with widgets. Writers, the Internet is a tricksy friend. It lures you with its promises of camaraderie in this lonely profession, then it grabs you by the wrist, yanks you under water, and when you surface, hours of your life have faded away. Eyes are bleary and strained, fingers are numb, but not because I've written my novel. Oh no.

I spent five hours resizing panes on my blog.

I admit it: I am weak. Self-discipline is not my strongest quality. But, being a writer is all about self-discipline, so I have to make a better effort.

Well, now the question is, how do I salvage this day? I’m going right now to lace up my running shoes. Don’t know if my leg will hold up to a run today - it hasn’t in seven days - but I’ve got to try. Perhaps I can get the blood flowing, work out the kinks in my back, and return to my desk and get in a thousand words before bedtime. Sometimes, I could just kick myself, but then I'd probably just pull a hamstring.

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Women of Fantasy Book Club: June's Book

 I’m very behind in reading and posting for the Women of Fantasy Book Club. June was a bad month for getting anything accomplished, including keeping up with my reading list.

This was my first book by Marillier, so I really looked forward to reading it. I’m going to start with a brief synopsis, followed by a brief list of the things I liked and disliked, and ending with my general thoughts.

*Spoiler Alert* This review does contain spoilers. Do NOT read any further if you wish to read the book. You’ve been warned.

The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier

The novel starts with the installment of our protagonist, Bridei, into the home of King’s Druid, Broichan, where he will be trained and educated to fulfill a secret destiny. Bridei is the future king of the Fortriu, a sixth century, Pictish kingdom in Scotland. He does not know this, his identity as a candidate for the throne is kept from him until adulthood, in order to allow him to grow and develop without the heavy burden of what will be expected of him.

One day, Bridei discovers a foundling on his doorstep, but she is no ordinary girl. She is one of the Good Folk. Despite this, Bridei sees her appearance as divine intervention by the Shining One and takes the child in, names her “Tuala”, and installs her in the household while the master - Broichan - is away.
The rest of the story follows the development of both Bridei and Tuala as their lives intertwine, coming together and drifting (seemingly) apart. In the end, choices must be made, secrets are revealed, and we see them reunited and installed, happily, as the future leaders of their realm.

First, What I liked:
  • I appreciated the research undertaken by the author, as it shows through in the details of the households, political structures, and religious rites.
  • The writing is clear and strong, the characters well drawn. There were no obvious technical faults with the writing that detracted from the reading.

Unfortunately, the first list is short.

Second, What I disliked:
  • Bridei, the precocious child, was too perfect to be flesh-and-blood. Such a goody-goody, I just couldn’t like him. Perhaps this says more about me than Bridei. I'll confess, generally, I don’t enjoy stories of precocious children. This was the same issue I had with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Long descriptions of how a genius child excels at training for an exalted, secret destiny…just leave me flat. I can’t relate to these children and their perfection is grating. Oh sure, I love characters with abilities beyond my own, fantastical or otherwise, but stories of over-the-top savants, especially if they are set up to be morally superior, well where’s the interest? Where’s the character development? With Bridei, there is a slight shift. As he comes into his own, he starts to question his foster father, Broichan, but it is too little, too late. I couldn’t see any other change in him. He’s essentially the same throughout the book.
  • The relationship between Bridei and Tuala. It turned romantic, and it turned on a dime. I saw it coming, but because it is endlessly foretold by two Fae. We see her pine for him, but it isn’t until they are separated that she begins to understand her true feelings for him. In fact, that may be my main issue: they develop their romance independent of one another and when they are separated by quite a lot of time and space. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, it just wasn’t compelling or satisfying to me, especially since they are not together, minus one brief scene, once they’ve realized their romantic feelings.
  • Tuala - she is a very weak person. She seems to float on the whims of those around her - the Good Folk/Fae, Broichan, Bridei, and later Fola and her priestesses. I know she is a woman in the sixth century, a Fae, and an outsider. Marillier sets all this up very well, so we know why she is treated poorly.  I even understand Tuala’s reaction to her treatment. She’s downtrodden and frightened, a victim. I just don’t like her. I wanted her to do something, be something other than Bridei’s shoulder-to-cry-on in order to earn her place with him. I want her to throw a shoe at the Good Folk. Just do something that isn't completely passive.
  • The Fae - they seemed there just to TELL me what was happening in the plot, like I was too daft to see it myself. I don’t like the device with the Fae - they are like a bad chorus in a Greek tragedy. I found them distracting.
  • The star-crossed lovers, thwarted by misinformation because they just don’t think things through. Again, with the romance, they are confounded by Broichan’s machinations - which seemed so obvious to me. I know they are supposed to be young and easily manipulated…but it doesn’t make for interesting reading to me. Give me more of the consequences of her heritage and less of misinformation as a hindrance to their relationship.
  • In general, too much description, too little dramatic action or emotional development. There was a lot that could have been focused on, but I felt my head was held in the wrong direction, forcing me to focus on the things I cared the least about.
I don’t know that this story is bad. The technical writing, character drawing, descriptions - they are all very lovely. However, the story didn’t resonate with me.

In spite of this, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. It just wasn’t for me, for the reasons I’ve stated above. Even with my reservations, I am still tempted to read the sequel (this is book one of a trilogy). That should tell you something about the quality of the writing. However, the sequel won’t go to the top of my towering reading pile. Marillier goes into the “some day” pile for now. After all, you have to find the writing that excites you as a reader. Too little time for anything else.

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Monday, July 25, 2011

Liquid Wisdom and Flash Fiction

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Jimmy Buffett said “There is a lot of wisdom in a bottle of whiskey.” I didn’t end up sipping wee drams of Scotch last night, but I did have a couple of glasses of wine while contemplating yesterday’s post. The wine told me that it really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re writing. Who am I to argue with Buffett or wine?

Anyway, I’ve been productive before noon, today. What a great feeling. I should try to recapture it - daily.

But, I have to back up, just a bit, before I tell you about today’s successes. Saturday, I finally started writing flash fiction. I visited AW’s Flash Fiction Challenge thread to find the daily prompt, and a few hours later, I had my first flash fiction piece of the challenge. Today I picked up the next prompt and had twelve-hundred words only an hour or so later.

Today's prompt reminded me of a scene I’ve got rolling around in my head for my next novel, and I thought it would be a good pre-writing exercise to write it as a flash fiction story. It was a really fast write, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not sure what POV I want to use in my new novel, so I let this be an opportunity to try out first person (I always write in third person limited).

At first blush, the scene seemed…perfect. I felt really pleased with the result. The scene came together so nicely, the characters sparked to life in their debut. I love them already.

But, that’s the problem with being the creator - it is sometimes too easy to become enamored with the creation. So, I forced myself to take a deep breath, drop the self-satisfied grin from my lips, and read more critically. It was difficult.

First off, I wrote a scene, not a complete story. Second, it is nearly twelve-hundred words, not my target of one-thousand. Third, the POV is all over the place - not surprising as I haven’t written fiction in first in recent memory. It is a great rough draft of a scene, but it is no flash fiction prize winner. Bummer. This is just as tricky as I imagined…and trickier.

I thought about revising and rewriting the scene, but I don’t think I will. It will be saved in a folder with my other pre-writing tasks for the novel, and I will move on to the next prompt.

It is very tempting to jump into these prompts with little or no preparation, after all, it is only one-thousand words. But, that is a bit of a lie. It is an entire story in one-thousand words. If anything, I need to plan more and tighten the structure till it sings when plucked. I need more control, not less. Next time I will use the plotting techniques I’ve been studying and map out the story in a diagram.

Now it is time for lunch, but what should I work on after? I missed Sunday’s prompt, so I may write another flash fiction piece. Of course, there is also the remainder of my pre-writing for the next novel. Something to contemplate over my curry.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fish or cut bait...

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Over at JeffO’s blog, he asks this question: How do you know when you’ve really reached the end of all you can do with a particular story? Now, I don’t know the answer to this question or even if there is one right answer, but it is something I’ve been wrestling with in my own writing process.

Actually, I don’t really have a writing process. Not yet. It’s a work in progress, just like my stories.

But, back to the question. My first response was:  to see a story through to the end is the best course of action for a beginner writer. But, do I really believe that to be true? Or, is it more a manifestation of my own fears around failing to complete a novel and failure in general? A writer can sure get herself in a twist with this kind of reflection.

This led me to think again on my plans for juggling two novel projects. It isn’t an original tactic, but one I’ve read various published authors’ advice about.

Right now my first novel is in the fermentation stage (warning: whisky analogy ahead - just got back from a trip to Scotland. I blame you, JeffO, with your gambling and Kenny Rogers). The draft is finished, and I’m waiting for it to germinate before I try to make a proper novel out of it. I figured that I would go ahead and start on my second novel, complete my pre-writing tasks and write a full first draft, while I wait for the first novel to sprout.

Here’s where I am torn. Part of me, high on the excitement of all that I’ve learned in my first novel writing experience, is desperate to get in there and re-write the whole thing, right now. I’ve been reading about plot structure, story telling, and grammar. Reviewing others’ words on the AW site has helped solidify what I’m studying on craft. I know the conventional wisdom is to let it ferment, I believe there is truth to that wisdom, but I want a more complete first draft. I wants it NOW!

Then, there is the other part of me. (Why do writers have split personalities - is it just me?) She is sick to death of that first story. It is a tangled knot of plot mishaps, purple prose, cliche, and tell, tell, tell. She looks at that mass of misshapen clay and feels…fear, overwhelmed, dizzy. This part of my psyche wants to jump to the shiny new toy, the story that is exciting, as-yet-unblemished by bad writing, and full of possibilities and new places to see.

Now my impatience comes in. I want it all now. The polished 2nd draft, the second finished novel - I want them both. My greediness is tangible; I can feel it in my bones. Ick.

I’m trying to remind myself that writing and developing as a writer is a process. I can’t have it -being a better writer- today. The journey would be over. Where’s the fun/torture in that?

As for the process: Will writing a second novel, infused with knowledge from my experience with the first, allow me to better edit/rewrite that first novel? OR, will revising a first novel completely better prepare me to start anew on the second? Does it even matter? Does anyone else get tied up in knots with this stuff?

Hope you enjoyed today’s trip through my mindscape.

Gonna go find the Scotch, now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Playing with flash fiction

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Lesson learned. Writing a blog post is more easily accomplished if undertaken before writing of any other kind. I’ll try not to ramble, but my fingers are wobbly and my brain is fuzzy. Coming out of a good writing stretch feels like waking from a deep sleep, the kind induced by total physical exhaustion. I know I had an idea for a blog post, but it is all hazy now.

I’ve been writing today, not on my new novel, but flash fiction. I’ve been poking my browser around various flash fiction sites, forums, etc., and I’m hooked on the concept. The idea of writing an entire story in one sitting is very appealing. I like instant gratification as much as anyone else. Not to mention the benefits of learning economy of words, a lesson for which flash fiction promises to be a great teacher.

Two flash fiction sites, a blog here and a forum thread here, have given me lots of inspiration and plenty of prompts to get started. In fact, I’m trying to convince myself to join in the F3 blog and start posting a “Flash Fiction Friday” post every week. Just need to find the courage to start posting some writing samples. Might as well jump off one more cliff, since I’ve seemed to develop a taste for it lately, and put myself out there.

Sometimes I long to click that little red “x” in the corner of my screen, grab my now-cold cup of tea, and slither out the door of my office to find the TV remote. Ah yes, to get lost in mindless daytime TV, to waste more hours of my life hiding from the computer screen, it almost seems easier than continuing with this writing madness.

So, yeah, I’m a little nervous about posting my fiction writing samples. It took me six months from decision day to the first post on this blog; here’s hoping it takes considerably less time to get to the next step.

I'm all tapped out - catch y'all later.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back Again...Again

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

We arrived home Sunday night, back from a trip abroad. However, it’s taken me longer to get back to my blog than it has to get back to my house. The blogging was going so well, so consistent. 

I hate breaking a routine because the reestablishment of the routine is such a bitch. I was finally settled into a plan and then Life couldn't help but meddle. It put a little crack in my view of my world as a chess board where I control all the pieces, my carefully constructed schedule being the board. Maybe that’s my inner control-freak rearing her red-faced and scowling head. Maybe she’s not so “inner.” I’ve always struggled with…flexibility. Not sure if that is such a good trait in a writer, or anyone.

Thankfully, the delay in returning to blogging does not mirror a delay in returning to writing. I allowed myself Monday “off,” so that I could sleep in and unpack the bags. I intended to do a little housecleaning, but the cat-fur bunnies and spider webs will have to wait. They often have to wait. But, I digress.

Still riding high on the completion of my first novel, the energy kept my fingers twitching and yearning for a return to the keyboard. But, I wasn't quite ready to dive into the next story. I spent some time reviewing the notes I took on plotting and story structure and notes on this AW forum thread here. I also finished reading the novel for June’s Women of Fantasy book club, and yes, I realize it is halfway through July. As I said, Life has been interrupting my schedule, and there is just no arguing with Life. It wasn’t exactly writing, but I did accomplish some writing-related activity that satisfied my urge to get on with it.

Tuesday, well, it was glorious. I decided to go forward with my new idea for an urban fantasy novel as my next project. Several ideas jockey for prominence right now, but this one I simply felt drawn to. I thought that was as good a reason as any to make the choice, and once I did, I knew it was the right one. My excitement at getting started lit a fire. 

I started with the character sketch for my main character. I even selected a name right away, which I’m taking as a good omen. Using some of the ideas and methods I’ve been reading about, I sketched out a plot diagram and started a list of the themes from my story ideas.

For world building, I got going with a simple background sketch. Not really a scene, but a run-down of the backstory up to where this story begins. I think I will work out a general plan for the magic and complete a little research for the main magical creatures I’ve envisioned thus far. This is where I’m sort of stuck. Do I dive headlong into the world building? I just don’t know. There is a lot of research to be done, but I have this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach and a tingling-crawling sensation in my limbs. I am impatient to write the story, but does that override my need to build up my new world? I think it should, that’s my instinct. The only reason I question it right now is that I found myself flailing about in my last novel’s first draft because of some pretty serious holes in my world building. It has become an internal chicken-or-egg kind of argument. I’ll start with more world building than last novel, but less than a full work-up. Perhaps I will do more world building as I go, being careful not to let the world building overtake but-in-chair-writing time. “Research” sounds an awful lot like “procrastination” when coming from a writer’s lips.

The one thing that eludes me still in my preparation for the next novel: the title. Titles are a weakness for me. The last novel still doesn’t have a satisfactory, permanent title; the new one, well, I can’t even come up with a decent working title. "WIP #2" just doesn't do it for me.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Travling Once Again

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

I'm off again, on the road for the next week. Posting will be sporadic, if at all.  I'm taking notepads and pen this time, going to get some good brainstorming and free writing done.

Lessons Learned from Draft 1

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Completing the first draft of my first novel has been a rush. It took me a full five months of writing (plus a three month hiatus) to finish this draft. It was difficult, but perhaps not as much of a mountain as I made it out to be in my mind. Also, I went into this in a rush of enthusiasm about last year’s NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have a plan, outline, or any idea as to how to go about writing a novel length fiction. I started with four character sketches, some notes I’d made over the years, and a few pages of world building. My second draft will be almost a complete re-write.

I’m not unhappy about any of this, but I’m already thinking about what I can do to make the next novel writing experience a better one. This draft is way too long to be as rough as it is. There is a lot I have to wade through.

Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been writing this first draft:
  • Need better world-building: For world building, I had been daydreaming about this story and its setting for so long, I figured that the world building would be easy and automatic. So, I didn’t write down a lot of my world building. I quickly realized that it is one thing to visualize your story and an altogether different thing to write it. Next time, I want to make sure I have the magic worked out (assuming there is magic) beforehand. I also want to have better character sketches and make some sort of list of key points that make my world special. My initial thought was that I needed to know more about what happened in the story to complete the world building exercise. I still think that’s true for me, but a little more information at the start would make the writing flow smoothly and save me time in the re-write.
  • Need some sort of outline: I’m not an outline kind of gal. I knew how my story began and a few of the major points, but I think some sort of outline would have helped, especially in the middle. I think I became bogged down in getting from the beginning to the middle because I wasn’t sure where my story was going. A high level plot outline, would help me with pacing.
  • Need to think more about the plot structure: Kind of goes along with the need for an outline. I’m studying up on story structure and plotting for my re-write. I think having a better idea of a successful plot structure and sketching out a preliminary diagram with key plot points will help me. Much like the outline, it should help keep me on task, allow me to build appropriate suspense/tension, and keep the pacing tight. In the end, this should make for a more compelling story, and once again, make the re-write a little easier. 

I'm already thinking about the next novel, so I'm going to implement the above ideas as a trial. I'm sure the process will continue to evolve.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Something wonderful has happened. Something that’s been a long time in the making. For nine months I’ve planned, agonized, arm-wrestled inner demons, and daydreamed over this story. I’ve developed interesting finger twitches from hours at the keyboard. My house is a mess, I drink too much caffeine, and it’s summer but I don’t go outside. 

I finished my first novel. My grin’s so wide, I must look insane.

I mean, I actually finished something. I wrote a novel.

I don’t know what to do with myself right now. I’m fighting the urge to immediately denigrate my accomplishment, to make a show of false humility. But, for once, I’m going to own this moment of victory. Yeah, that’s right, this is a victory. I think you have to celebrate the victories in life when you get them, so time to chill some champagne.

As for the nitty-gritty, well, the word count today stands at 92,505. It is a very rough, first draft of a fantasy novel. I’m actually excited about the re-write, as strange as that may seem to some. So much has changed since I started writing: the characters have developed in ways I hadn’t anticipated; the plot and themes have matured into something better than what I started with; and I’ve learned so much through reading, writing, and critiquing.

Short post today. You’ll have to excuse me if I’m all typed out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing, Interrupted

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

I did have great plans to write while I was traveling. When packing my carry-on, I made sure I had my laptop and its accoutrements; pen and paper; and my flash drive with my writing folders. It wasn’t for a lack of equipment or tools that I did not write a single word.

Nor was it for lack of a plan. I knew that the places I would be visiting wouldn’t allow me a lot of time alone to write. So, I concocted a rather simple plan: I would alternate between the local library and a nearby coffee shop. Both were within a few miles of my main port of call. But, despite my good intentions, I never made it to either place. The morning would slip by and it would be after noon before I’d realized that I’d missed my opportunity to write, yet again.

Even before I left my house, I knew that my plans might go awry. I’m not so naive. However, I figured that even if I didn’t write much while away, that I would certainly write while in transit. There was two-five hour bus rides, two-nine hour plane rides, and a “short” three-and-a-half hour flight between my two destinations. Wouldn’t you know it, for the first time ever, I slept soundly on all legs of travel.

Of course upon my return, there was the jet-lag to contend with. It is pretty damned hard to write a coherent sentence when you can’t keep your eyes open during daylight. I’ve slowly worked back to my pre-travel writing schedule, but I don’t like all the time I’ve missed.

Over at the AW Water Cooler, I read a post by someone in the same situation - someone who is enjoying a writing streak and about to be interrupted by travel. There was some good advice given there, some that I wish I had asked for before my trip.

I think that I was so wrapped up in the idea that I had to continue with my same writing schedule while traveling, that I closed myself off to other possibilities. Perhaps “flexibility” is a virtue a (successful) writer should possess. If I had gone with a notepad and pen and just set my goal to brainstorm for ten minutes each day, sketch a scene, or daydream about a favorite idea, then maybe I would have been more successful. Instead of seeing a break in my writing as a catastrophe to be averted, I could have used it as time to refuel my creativity.

So, with that in mind, I bought several new notepads and found a new favorite pen. I’m going to be traveling again in a few days. It shall be an experiment!