Tag Archives: status update

I’m Not Dead

Crappy Internet at this crappy hotel in Reno! Still, I did make it intact and I’ve been having a great time. I’ll try on Monday to get a more complete post up—there is much to discuss!

See you then. Hopefully.

This Post was On Time

Gah, another late Friday post. What’s getting into me? Vacation spirit, probably. It’s been a busy weekend so far.

First, a quick Fugitives from Earth update. Just this morning, a full two weeks late, I finished up with Part I. That brings me to 25% complete with this draft. For those of you keeping track, I should be at 50% right now, so this isn’t really what I would call optimal. On the other hand, I just plotted out Part II and the revisions there are much less substantial. Rather than four new scenes, I only have to write two, and the updates to existing scenes are way less dramatic than I had feared.

I want to build up a good deal of momentum going into Part III, because there’s going to be some difficulty there. I’m actually suspending my short story weekends for the duration, as much as I hate to, until I get back on track. Still, I’m feeling good, feeling confident.

To keep up that momentum and keep my on task, I’m starting a new regular write-in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On those days I’ll be heading up to Case Study Coffee on Sandy Blvd in Portland, just to get out of the house and out somewhere where I can focus. I’ve done semi-regular write-ins here with Mary Robinette Kowal, Shanna Germain, and others, and they’ve all been quite productive. So now I figure, why wait? I can write there whether others are present or not.

One thing I am wary about, once all this drafting is done, is the line editing. Most writers cannot line-edit their own stuff, and I definitely count among the “most” there. On the other hand, most professional editors charge $1000 or more to do proofreading for an entire book, and it would take me many years to recoup that if I even had the cash on hand. Full disclosure: I don’t. So if anyone out there in readerland knows someone who will do proofreading for cheap or free, I’d appreciate it. They don’t have to be professionals, they just have to have some very basic qualifications.

The Tenth Word is a Century Old!

I’m not sure how I missed this, but I made my 100th post last week! Yes, that’s right, a century of posts in 10 months. Not too bad, really. While this blog’s never exactly been a paragon of timeliness and popularity, I’m glad I’ve kept it. I suspect I’ll be even more glad when I start working on the next novel, have the same problems all over again, and get to check how I solved them the first time.

And if I’m really, really lucky, I can look back here someday when I’m wildly famous and wealthy, and see the little man I once was. And then set this entire site on fire, lest anyone know I was not born a god.

I’ve actually been noticing that I’ve posted much more often on Google+, and gotten a lot more responses there than I have here. There seems to be some concensus on this point, even. Could it be that Google+ offers the perfect storm of features that will move us into a post-blog internet? Certainly, if my main goal was to connect to people, I’d be doing it there, not here. On the other hand, a lot of what I post here is pretty self-involved by its very nature, and I don’t think that most of it would get a very good response on any social network.

Well, we’re not in a post-blog state now, and I think that my two-posts-a-week status is pretty sustainable. “The Tenth Word” isn’t going away anytime soon.

Now, only your regularly scheduled status report. Good writing this weekend, although a little disappointing compared to the last. There was no way that I was going to have another 6,000 word weekend, but I’d rather hoped to be above 3,000. The final count was something like 2,750, which isn’t too shabby considering that I’ve typically considered weekends a break. At this rate, finishing a short story per month while working on the novel seems like a realistic option, and that’s really all I can hope for.

Still, I wouldn’t mind kicking it up a notch. Next weekend, let’s try 4,000. I’m not going anywhere, so I have no excuse for failure. At the very least, I should be able to sustain a NaNoWriMo-like degree of productivity. I am trying to be professional, after all.

Hmm. I may have just developed a September challenge for myself! We shall see.

In other news, I’m going on vacation next week, and will be entirely gone until the 26th of August at the earliest. The wife and I are making a road trip down south for WorldCon in Reno, followed by some relaxation (and sleep-catching-up-on) at Disneyland. Ah, summer and the great American road trip! I don’t expect this blog to be entirely silent while I’m gone; in fact, I may very well post more frequently, depending on how the convention goes. I’m a little anxious about not being plugged-in enough to really get the full experience, but we’ll see.

This week, though, your regular post should be up on Friday. Until then, have a good week.

The Story of the System

Gah, another missed post, and this time I don’t even have an excuse! Whoops.

It’s been a good week writing-wise, though. As I mentioned in my last post, I submitted my story “The Mind Killer,” and even though I haven’t heard back yet, I’m kind of addicted to submissions right now. All I want to do is write stories and send them out. It’s done wonders for my motivation, that’s for sure, although not necessarily in an optimal way. I mean, I want to write–yay!–but I don’t really want to work on my novel. I want the immediate gratification.

Really, though, compared to the problems that I’ve had in the past, this is nothing. I’ll take this problem over most others.

And I did get a fair amount of work done on Fugitives from Earth. I’m very nearly finished with the first part, just one more scene to write on this revision. Definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here, and if I can maintain motivation, I think I can easily finish by my deadline.

So I’ve got a plan: on weekdays, I work on Fugitives from Earth. I’ll sometimes casually think about short story plots, but when I actually sit down to do the heavy-duty writing, I work on the novel. The weekends, on the other hand, that’s short story time. I’m hopeful that I can finish shorts at the rate of one a month for the foreseeable future, increasing in pace once FfE is on its way out the door.

I’ve had great success in getting involved with other local writers, thanks largely to writing get-togethers arranged by Mary Robinette Kowal and Shanna Germain. Excellent writers and excellent company, they really encourage me to get my best game on. When I’m writing with published authors, I’m able to utterly focus on my work. It works very much in the same way that a hangout does, but meeting in person is always better than meeting online, even if the online part works well.

Also, I didn’t mention it last week, but my Hugo votes are in! I voted for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms  for best novel; it definitely was new enough and different enough to grip me. For short stories, “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the entrants in this category, and two of the stories disqualified themselves for either excessive mundanity or excessive weirdness. For the Campbell award, Dan Wells’ I Am Not a Serial Killer. This book did a better job of getting in the head of a smart but “different” kid that I could really identify with.

Achievements Unlocked

So, your Monday post is a day late, but I have an excellent excuse! Several excellent excuses, as a matter of fact.

First, the big news: Yesterday, I submitted my very first piece to my very first paying market EVER. For such a simple thing, it’s a huge accomplishment for me, an event almost as momentous as it was surreal. Even if it gets rejected–and judging by the stats for the market I chose, it probably will–it’s filled me with motivation. I’m not just blindly stumbling around, wistfully hoping for a writing career. No, now I’m actually making one happen.

The second bit of news, which might be a bit of a letdown after the first: I spent more time writing yesterday than I ever have in a single day, by FAR. I wrote steadily from 9:00 to 2:30, and then from 5:30 to 7:30. Seven and a half hours. For a professional, that might be an average day. For me, it was a marathon. A good one, too, because I accomplished all of my goals.

I think I’m going to make these weekend short story sprints a routine thing. Not necessarily the six-hour days, of course, but I want to take regular breaks from my novelling project, and write some stories to sell. Nothing will help me get a few writing credits under my belt than sending a shotgun blast of stories out into the market, and nothing will help my skills more than continually stretching them.

One small step for a man, one giant leap for my career. My accomplishments yesterday were tremendously satisfying for me, but only insofar as they don’t stay singular. I need to build on them, make them routine. So, back to the grind. My motivation is through the roof, and I want (need) to milk that for all it’s worth!

Progress…and Soyuz

Get it? HAR!

Week one of the revision is drawing to a close, and, while I’m not thrilled with my progress, I am at least satisfied that progress is being made. There’s always an adjustment period when switching between projects, and I’m just starting to overcome that. You all saw my list of things that I wanted to get done throughout the novel; I’ve converted a lot of that to more specific suggestions to myself for specific chapters, and I’m just starting to put my nose to the grindstone.

One lesson I learned from my first revision phase is to start at the beginning and work in a roughly chronological order through the rest of the story. That’s doesn’t mean that I can’t touch chapter 2 until chapter 1 is finished or anything like that, it just means that I want to work on one plot element and all that it entails at a time, in order. Last time, I wrote a lot in Part III and Part IV without even re-reading Part I and Part II, and it gave the novel a really disconnected feel that I had to spend additional time fixing.

Also, I had a few extra, boring minutes, and I made myself a cover mock-up. Let me know what you think in the comments! All images/fonts are licensed under Creative Commons or are in the public domain.

Cover Mockup

As pretty much every American knows, the last Space Shuttle flight just ended, and already the Russians are saying “it’s our space age now.” Sure didn’t take them long to start crowing, but it’s their right. SpaceX has said in the past that they could go from government approval to flying astronauts in three years, but that approval hasn’t yet arrived. Boeing’s CST-100 and others are even further behind.

I have nothing against the Russians, mind; their space program has been much more consistent than ours has, if more single-minded. You certainly don’t hear about Russian robots visiting other planets; NASA and ESA have the market cornered there. It’s not as though the egg is entirely on our face.

And the good news is, once the new ships start to arrive, we’ll have lots more options, and once the rockets that will carry those ships are ready, we’ll be able to put even more things in orbit. NASA might not be looking so good right now, but, in the grand scheme of things, spaceflight is doing okay.

Oh, except for the James Webb telescope. Every scientist ever wants it. Will Congress let them have it?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back to work. See you on Monday.

Gotta Have Some Flash

This morning, I started working on my re-read of Fugitives from Earth for what might be called “Phase 1.5” of the revision. It’s kind of slow going, mostly because I have to keep reminding myself and my inner editor that I’m not doing line editing, I’m not editing for style or even clarity, I’m just trying to get the character and plot continuity straight. So no matter how it makes my eyes twitch, I’ve got to skip right over the awkward phrasings and questionable metaphors.

My inner editor hates that.

Also, it turns out that just physically manipulating a 110-sheet (445 pages at 4 pages per sheet) hardcopy is pretty awkward. I don’t even know where I’d find a hole punch big enough to handle the massive stack. At this point, I’m pretty much praying that the dog doesn’t jump on the pile of sheets on the table.

The other thing I’ve been working on today, as the title suggests, is another piece of flash fiction. This time, it’s something a little random: a little post-singularity ditty inspired by one of my all-time favorite games: Minecraft. If you’re curious, stay tuned tomorrow; I’m going to try to post it then.

And So It Begins…Again

The Manuscript!

And there you have it: the very first actual hardcopy print of Fugitives from Earth. With this printing, we enter phase two of the revision. As I mentioned in the last post, I need to re-read it for continuity and plot tweaking (in some cases, more than a little tweaking) before it goes out to the beta readers. This will, I hope, be a little easier than phase one turned out to be; a four-week project turned into ten somehow. Funny how that works with books.

But I’m still making progress, and that’s what counts. It’s very gratifying to see this hefty thing that I’ve constructed entirely out of my imagination. There’s an entire universe between those pages.

Let’s Go Back to the Beginning

I remember saying, at some point, that I was going to start posting twice a week here. That doesn’t seem to have worked out. I’ll need to put some thought into that.

Now, regarding Fugitives from Earth. I got to within about four scenes of the end and just couldn’t continue. Sound familiar? Turns out that concluding plots, whether the main one or just a subplot, is hard business. This time, though, I’m backing up far, far toward the beginning of the story.

My plan always was to print the second draft off and read it as a reader would, in the hopes that it would make the progression of the plot, and the problems with that progression, a little more clear to me. The only thing I’m doing differently now is not actually writing those last few scenes before changing them. Everything should be a little more tidy that way.

It’s funny how my motivation vacillates between extreme enthusiasm and utter ennui based on how good my story is. To be creative is to be prone to a certain degree of mental strangeness, I suppose, but that doesn’t make it any more fun. It’s not as though I’m some neo-Bohemian channeling my personal psychosis into timeless prose; I just want to tell stories. I can do without my own brain fighting me.

As long as I don’t develop fatal alcoholism, though, fair’s fair.

Another reminder: the Northwest Independent Writer’s Association is accepting open submissions for their first annual short story collection. I’ve submitted mine; don’t you think you should do the same?

Busy Busy Busy

A very busy week this week, and a much better one than last week. It turns out that having my hours slashed means some financial constraints, but it generally leads to a happier, more relaxed life. I got some baking done, for heaven’s sake. I made doughnuts. You think I’d do that working 48+ hours a week? I think there’s some sort of saying or aphorism about this, but I can’t quite remember what it is.

Last weekend was the third meeting of the Northwest Independent Writers Association. It seems bizarre that it’s only the third meeting; we’ve come so far as a group that it seems like I’ve known these people for years. As someone who suffered through numerous group projects in college, let me say that there’s a galaxy of difference between group work for school, and group work in real life. In real life, people actually care.

By way of example, I know I mentioned before that we’re doing a short story anthology. Well, we are now officially accepting open submissions of speculative fiction and poetry–no prior experience or references necessary. Check out the submission information, and if you’re interested, submit away!

I’ve already submitted my first story, which turned out to be quite the endeavor. I meant to start on it two weekends ago, and I did kind of fiddle with the first 700 words or so, but it didn’t really gel. Next morning, I found out that my hours were getting cut. Next morning, I found out that my wife might get furloughed. And then things went downhill. It wasn’t until Friday that I’d rallied myself, and it wasn’t until Saturday that I actually started writing.

So, a complete, 5,000 word story in twenty-four hours would be a reasonably tall stretch for me anyway. But I got it done, gosh darn it, even though I had to write 7,000 words instead.

Let me explain: I was about 2,000 words into my story when my word processor crashed. I use a program called Scrivener to organize my notes and scenes and so forth, and it includes a little fullscreen text editor that I end up using just out of convenience. The program is still in beta, but I’ve never had any problems with it…until then. It crashed. It recovered, reopened…and my 2,000 words were gone. Just wiped out. Despite the little autosave ticking away, they had never been saved at all. This wasn’t just a case of me forgetting to hit ctrl-s, no. This was the program messing up in the worst possible fashion.

I’ve never lost writing to computer problems before. I back everything up twice, and I’ve rigged my various accounts and programs to do it largely automatically. Great for me, but all that meant was that the shock of losing all of my words hit me like a sack of hammers. I was on a deadline, but I was doing well, but I was…not doing at all. Great.

Not to worry; as I said, I got the thing submitted, and I actually think it’s one of the better stories I’ve written. But seriously, that was the worst pain ever.

Quick Fugitives from Earth update: I’ve gotten about 2,000 words per day done this week, and I’m closing in on the finish line. Hopefully I can finish the broad changes within just a week or two, and then I’ll do one last read-over before it goes off to the beta readers. After six weeks of stagnation, it feels good to have the end in sight again.