I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

I’ve got a sibling who’s been sampling the joys of online dating. (but, no, not using known and more reputable ones) These sites are so effective at something, the prospective dates all ask for money before a date. The latest has chatted for 2-3 weeks. But a first meeting has been postponed twice and they are demanding that sibling say the “ILoveYou” before they meet face to face.

Being romantic, I believe you can fall in love without a F2F connection, but demanding that is just way too soon. Are they that messed up? (Misery– Get away!) or are they greedy, using that as a feeder to start extorting money from a lovesick target?

I really can’t think of anther reason to demand a declaration of love before you meet. Bueller?

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Organizing My Thoughts

I write. Sometimes I write a lot. When my inspiration is running high, like during a NaNo challenge, I run 2000 draft words a day. That is a respectable pace, so I’m happy with that.  I used to do more before health issues interfered, but that 2k a day is as much as I can physically manage on a steady basis.

Some things, like most fanfic, I only do light editing or fill in missing facts, like the name of a specific space station in the setting.  Some fanfic requires more work to check on continuity in the 100k project. Fun stuff and parodies like a Gilligan’s Island piece go up faster.  But original work, especially heavy world-building make for a whole other kettle of fish. I feel fairly confident in my core ideas, my lead characters, and my overall plot. It’s the rest that I’m kind of wobbly on. I know theme and secondary characters are weaker.

So it’s revision for original works are my problem area, especially as I can’t afford an editor. So I want to have something top notch before I send them out.  A second opinion and noting brain-farts is more important than spelling and grammar at this point. Finding that honest opinion without giving away the cow is an issue. I have two original novel drafts, and I’m reluctant to start another novel until I figure out a better way to revise and finish those novels. I still want a thumbs up or down before I decide whether to seek a real publisher.

globe clear light bulb

old style light bulb, from pxhere

I’m still looking after ten years for a method better for editing than flailing about and running through a piece until the thought of one more pass makes me want more to shoot myself than look at it one more time. I’ve read articles and done classes, and I’m actually happy with a major revision I did last month. That is the exception, and the longer the work, the lower the confidence.

Sadly, several instructors I’ve found who seem compatable, are still in the 20th century, where piles of dead tree pages and huddling over a dining room table chaos is part of the writing package. People today, are more mobile, moving from place to place, and in between meals don’t have that luxury of spreading out and static resources.  Why can’t I apply digital analysis and tools to my work? This is organization and analysis if my work, not the raw rush of creation.  (Yes, I looked at Scrivener and yWriter but the latter just got in the way)  I want a tool that I can drop my finished draft in and let me organize and note things easily. Maybe  notice oopsies like the best friend only has 20 lines but a minor villain was featured for twenty pages.

I think something that lets me tag sentences, paragraphs and scenes with characters/roles/themes with checkboxes, and like a good modular code inherits from the higher level.  I may have to design my own database. It’s been a long time since my last and I am not looking forward to the timesuck. But I really want a better way to revise and work without scattered piles of dead tree pages.

Insights

I was reading a wikipedia entry on a book I virtually wore out as a teen (Gordon R Dickson’s Dorsai book Tactics of Mistake) and wishing I hadn’t misplaced my copy. (yeah, the electronic replacement copy is priced at least four times what I paid for the paperback that is missing)

As I read the entry I realized that I used the novel’s core concept in a fanfic I started writing three years ago. Are the Dorsai that different than the Fett clones? How long do concepts ferment in your mind before they come out to play?

Your Focus is Your Reality

I’ve been writing since ’07. I probably could have started writing before that, especially if you considered the thousands of books in my household and the writers’ track panels I thought a hoot at SF conventions.  But I hadn’t.

I didn’t like writing even short fiction in high school. Family lore says there was an elementary mocking incident, but I don’t remember it. I do remember hating any kind of writing, and perpetually tardy at best for any assignment. I got reconciled a little by high school when I wrote a 30+ page paper on mass drivers as a potential replacement for rockets to orbit. They now are used as rail gun ans amusement rides. I wrote a couple short stories for a friend desperate for material for a college SF magazine… I really do not want to dig those copies out, even if  one was my first fanfic snippet. I enjoyed the griping and successes of writers, cover artists, and editors at SF cons. I highly recommend the ’98 Buccaneer Liar’s Panel audio if you can find it, I didn’t get at the time that a missed meal would have been better than missing the recording.

That snippet was the last non-academic, non business writing for over twenty years. I still had creative outlets in crafts and RPGs, along with a serious reading addiction. I’d sit at the breakfast and read the box. Sometimes I’d even read the fine print for OTC meds. I’d read during commercial breaks and while waiting in lines. Then came a weird skin infection or two, and new books dried up and gas to visit the library was tight too.

I missed new books by favorite authors and decided to boot a game that had been sitting on a shelf for a couple months. I reached the end, outraged that the writers cheated, for blatant meta reasons. Clearly they wanted to clear the deck to have a tabula rasa for a sequel.  There were no convincing reasons in-world for that obnoxious ending.

I could do better.

grains falling through hourglass

In Search of Lost Time by Alexander Boden on flickr, without changes, per Creative Commons.

So went my first fanfic plot, first chaptered story, first novel-length story, first NaNo attempt, and first time my characters grabbed control. (they rarely do anymore, and I’m not sure that’s good or bad)

But after a time creating new adventures with existing universes, I started wanting to do my own and maybe get a half cheese sandwich on occasion. So I’m coming at learning the craft very late and in a hit or miss manner. Some techniques for writing do not help, they strangle my muse. But I keep looking, as I have the most trouble with finishing the story, revisions to pull it all  together.

I backtracked into fanfic, due to RL reasons, but I’m not sure why I almost seem to have a block about writing original stuff again. I should work on two stuck novels, but I spent so much fiddling with them to the point of pain, that going back makes me nauseous. I still believe in the concepts, but… Flash stories dried up too. I do file new story ideas, but have no urge to type.

So I want to finish one of two active fanfics, and use that time for original works. Post more here too, to remind me of that goal. Fanfic is seductive, as you get rapid and sometimes spirited feedback, and this new writer gets very few cheese sandwiches and no feedback. It does affect your motivations. I really need to focus on original stories more.

Coming up with new topics for this blog is another challenge. Today I found an essay collection by R L Stevenson on writing. Whether inspirational or neolithic, it may be useful… Coming Soon.

What are we forgetting?

In the hullabaloo about the issues we seem to be fighting about far too often, we should make a greater effort to remember what has been best about our culture in the US. Yes, we’ve made bad decisions and even horrible ones, but we’ve also done some great things.  We are obsessing about the wrongs, which never fixes anything. Too many cheer about the edgy non-heroes, cheer about the heroes who fall, and go on rampages because the older heroes have warts.

Broken Incandescent Bulb

Broken Lightbulb by Kevin Galens — Used under Creative Commons

Heroes are not cardboard or two dimensional. At their best they transcend the current situation and lead in a better direction. And some make deliberate actions that ruin any legacy.  It’s not just of fair to judge them too harshly from another era, as people in future eras will judge you as harshly for your inhumanity. No one likes Carrie Nation, even if she accomplished things.

We all need to list what works about the Great American Experiment, which is having a terrible self induced turbulence. Everyone’s list will differ, but I’d like to see other’s lists.  Mine are today: Enthusiastic, boisterous, not hide-bound, Trying new philosophies, new religions, new traditions even if they sometimes get rejected.  Land of opportunity that even a newly retired Kentucky Colonel can start a new business and finally find success. A land where every minority has equal rights with other groups, A place where empathy for a pig may run amuck and harshest criticism may fall on cowardice in a crisis. A place that looks to a cooperative future, but still gets far too caught up in mob hysteria and riots forgetting old lessons.

Remember. Most of these crises happened before. How did we forget?

Nano Scorecard

swirlsof neon light

NaNo whirlwind 2017, original neon whirlwind by Creativity103 without change, used under Creative Common 2.0

Well, NaNoWriMo 2017 is over, and I’ve caught up on a little sleep. Between Thanksgiving and an HMO issue, this year was unusually challenging. Oh, I put out 51k of writing, but focus was an issue. The words flew out at times, but too many of those were were ideas that belonged in side stories or a much darker and bleak story.

Health issues during Nano cannot be ignored and don’t care that I am on a deadline.

I wrote a very nice scene for my lead and a character they never met because they died five years ago. Writing was easy that day. I heard a song on the radio and wanted oh so badly to write a songfic, but that would break plausibility so badly, I might as well have written a chapter from Hogwarts. But once the muse grabbed me, the I could not go back to my sketchy outline or notes. So my 51k was fractured, and today I attempted to see how much of my intended story got written and where it ended up.

Identifiable chunks of the 51k:

  • Original story intended +20k. On the good side I got through a section I’d been having problems with for months and have snippets that will be easily expnded later.
  • side story +5k. This feeds my fondness for redemption arcs and gradual/non-miracle change.
  • coming of age story +4k
  • Just plain breaks something A +5k  Might be salvageable for main story but is perhaps six months later in story-line.
  • Just plain breaks something B +2k  Cannot use, as there’s no vampires or staffs of resurrection. I did write a nice insight of a major character so that bit will be recycled.
  • Just plain breaks something C 11k. An AU of the original story. This one has some plot conflict that only needs minor revisions to serve as part of the original story’s climax. It also made a nice character dev event that got similar request from an early reader. That bit will be nearly perfect for the original as well.

For the last three I need to link these snippets into the original’s notes so I don’t forget them. Let’s see, that’s about 47k of my Nano efforts. The rest is notes, ideas, babbling that could not be salvageed into actual prose.

Next year I am not letting other stories jump on my muse.