Wednesday, August 06, 2014

What I read -- July 2014

“Tenth of December: Stories” by George Saunders. I read it on the subway, giggling. People kept moving away from me but whatever. Delightful. I went back and read some of the stories twice, to feel why they worked.

“Thieftaker” by D.B. Jackson. I’ve known about this series for a while, maybe even since before it came out. The author must have used to be part of a group blog I used to read. With my current Puritan New England project, I’m curious what other people do with it. Though this takes place a bit later than WWS, and the magic is different, etc. It has thriller pacing, so it didn’t last long. The only thing that annoyed me was I suppose the author’s style – he didn’t use past perfect where I would have. If I didn’t want to use past perfect I probably would have found away to write the sections differently. More descriptions of characters than I normally do, but that might be my flaw, not his.

“Steles of the Sky” by Elizabeth Bear. Book 3! So what to say about Elizabeth Bear? She was an instructor at VP when I was there, and it’s hard to comment on someone you hero-worship. I’ve bought pants because she recommended them (they’re fantastic pants). I’ve made recipes she posted. She does handstands and wall-climbs, and so do I! I approve of her use of past perfect tense. These books are really good. You should read them. Also, I will always associate this book (and therefore the series) with “Constellations” (the album not the specific song) by the Moulettes.

“World of a Thousand Colors” by Robert Silverberg. Short stories, and fabulous. I read “Lord Valentine’s Castle” in high school and it had a huge impact (right up there with, oddly, AE Van Vogt’s “Slan” but whatever). I really should read it again. Elizabeth Bear mentioned RS a month or two back, so when I was casting about for something to read and this was sitting on the shelf, I pulled it down. Glad I did. There was one story I remembered reading before: the man who couldn’t forget or something like that. I must have read it in an anthology. But I don’t think I’d read the rest before. One story had misleading confusing use of past perfect. These stories were mostly published in the 50’s and 60’s, and reflected gender attitudes of the time, which grated after a while. The story about the guy who named all his trees was a standout.

Friday, August 01, 2014

In process -- July 2014

First Draft
Limering”. Around 74,000 words.  Trying to wrap things up.

“Wind/Water/Salt”. The end really needed a lot of attention. I deleted more words in the last quarter than in the other three quarters combined, I bet. Things seemed adrift, and like I just wanted the first draft to be over, kind of like the second. Which isn’t a good sign, perhaps. Some stats:

  • I started this process with a full read-through of the first draft in January, pen in hand. I began actually editing in February, so the second draft took six months.
  • The first draft ended with 48 chapters, and the second has 45 chapters, even though the second-last chapter got divided in three.
  • The second draft is over 13,000 words shorter than the first, clocking in at 143,139 words, a loss of 8.4%. That’s not quite the 10% I was hoping for, but there are probably three drafts to go (hopefully they won’t take as long) and if I lose 8.4% each time, well, that takes me down to 110,085, which isn’t quite the taget 90,000, but it’s better than just cutting whole plotlines or something. Not that I could.

This is the plot revision draft. It’s much more logical than it was before, at least the way it looks in my head. I’ll let it “rise” for a few weeks, or maybe age or ferment (but not foment), and then read it again and I’ll know. 

Last night I opened the file just to clean up a revised outline, and it didn't look as genius as I'd thought, and I went through a pile of notes to see if I could throw any away (I could!) and found some good ideas that still need to be implemented. I'd like to get back to it, but I'd like to do a few other (small) things first. Short stories! They're like knitting socks. In that they always take far longer than I expect, being so small. 


“Kaffeklatsch” (self-designed).  Finished. It was a bit of a death march to the end.
“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Three inches into the first sleeve, I had to make a chart to progress. So it sat for a couple of weeks until one evening I just did it (took about ten minutes, what with counting the stitches, looking at the previous chart, and doing some very rudimentary math). Looking at the colors, I’m not sure I like them, but whatever, I guess it will be so ugly it’s cute.
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed). Finished the first sleeve. Started the body. Fixed the edge chart. This is going to take a while.
Octopodes socks. Knitty Spring 2014. MC is leftovers from Tenney Park (knitty deep fall 2011), with some brown tweed Kroy for the contrast. It works surprisingly well. I was so sick of all those old projects, I just started these one day. The pattern was difficult to follow, or maybe error-riddled, or maybe I’m just not used to following patterns anymore. I'm a third of a cuff and a heel away from having the first one done.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I said I would finish by the end of July, and...

Good news! July can end now. Last night, just before midnight, I finished the second draft of Wind/Water/Salt.

Which is a good thing, because the first weekend of August is an extra-long (4-day) weekend, and we wouldn't want to delay that, would we?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

In Process -- June 2014

First Draft
“Limering”. Around 67,000 words. I discovered about a week ago what happened during the big mystery at the heart of the story, so I’ll be able to end it eventually.

“Wind/Water/Salt”. I’d like to say I got fed up and just finished the second draft, but alas that didn’t happen. I think for July I will just finish the damn thing. There are about 110 pages to go, so that's reasonable. Let's just say July won't end until this draft is done! 

What happens is I go along, and I find something big that needs changing -- a character needs to be somewhere else than where I have her, and this has impacts across various chapters until things right themselves and I have a few clean sections. In order to make this stuff work, I have to gut some chapters, and then I just write these dreadful one- or two-sentence fillers. "Her hands were still in shackles. He had the tools lying around, and so he cut them off." And move along. But I have managed to cut a few thousand words out, which is good. Though I feel like a slave to the 3-POV organizing principle I started with. 

Scott Westerfield had an essay up on the NaNoWriMo website about revising, and how this is a great chance to outline (or re-outline) your novel, and that’s what I’ve been doing, so I guess I might be going about this the right way. 


“Kaffeklatsch” (self-designed).  Finished the second sleeve so I could use the DPNs on a sock. I never started that sock. I am a couple of inches from done this garment. 

“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). So, I started the first sleeve, but then after two inches I ripped most of it out and ordered more yarn. I didn’t have the right color to finish this project. I’ve knitted back to about where I was before with the new yarn, and it looks much better now.
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed). I decided the reason I never work on this is that it’s not working, so I ripped out to the first row and added more stitches to the cuff. This sucked, because the sleeve was up to the elbow (8/13 done). But it was too tight and I would never have worn the wretched thing that way, so I guess it’s all for the good. Sometimes the reason I don’t work on something is that my subconscious knows it’s not going to work, and I started this in December, and it really hadn’t progressed. I’ve got 5/13 of the sleeve done again now.

I had intended to sew a skirt and a dress and start another dress (too ambitious, perhaps) but then the boy had the incident with the police, and I had to make him something to carry his arrows in instead. So, I did a leather-working project that took many, many hours, and then worked a bit on the skirt.