Monday, April 08, 2013

Habits, on making

Writing first drafts has never been a problem. In fact, maybe it's been the opposite problem -- an overabundance of first drafts. So, a while back I decided that I needed to do a little bit of editing every day.

This has, I guess, worked, in that there are two stories circulating right now, which is a big win for me in itself.

This weekend was Ad Astra, and my brain is a little writer-baked. So, I'd done my page and read the whole internet, and it was 12:45, so I was just going to go to bed. But then, as I brushed my teeth, my brain told me to go delete the first paragraph because that would make a stronger opening, and that the first interstitial needed to say something else. So I went back downstairs and made the edits. It took about five minutes. And then I could sleep.

This habit thing, I might be too good at it.

Monday, April 01, 2013

In Process -- March 2013

First Draft

“Meet my Mother, Miss Cegenation.” Finished first draft, around 6000 words. Too long. I was actually considering a different approach with this, editing as I go. I write first draft stuff in the morning before work, and normally edit before I go to bed. So my idea was to start editing the beginning as I worked on the back end, since this story doesn’t seem like unmitigated crap like so many of them do. Butt, I worked on DCA in the evenings instead. 

“The Fruit of the Summer Tree.” Part of WaterLeopard I think. Might be the first time ever, I started too late in the story, didn’t realize it was about a love triangle and I needed to set that up earlier.


·         “Don’t Choose Astronaut”. Two more drafts. 

Back last year at the Ad Astra Sunday morning writing workshop I said something about kept cutting and cutting a story until it became a sad, thin little thing. Last night  I might have figured out why. You see, I take all the crap out, but I don't replace it with anything. 
Last night I also grokked the telling detail I think. DCA (the sadly shrivelling short story) has a vague, unspecific opening sequence. It needs specific objects! That's world-building! My characters need actual things to chase, not a statement that they're chasing things! 
I worry that I generate tremendous amounts of first draft -- more than I can ever edit. So, the rules for the daily page need to change. Fresh content for an editing project counts -- if it's more than a page. Win! 

·         “Lucky Kate”. Typed. And typing involves putting [bracketed] comments where they belong, which is sort of like editing. Lopped off the fish head (the first two pages), removed some other words. I think I need a scene at the beginning of this one, too, and I need to drop like half of the middle.


Chizine reading series March event. Peter Watts was reading, so Ed was willing to come, too. It was pretty cool. All the readings were great, as was Kari Maaren singing and playing ukulele, but the best moment for me was during PW’s reading when he said “sea star” (I completely forget the context). Because even years later, when I was explaining to the boy who PW is, and I said “He wrote a book called Blind Sight, and another one called Starfish,” the boy shouted, “Sea star!” So there you go. 


·         2 out there.
·         4 rejects for 2013 so far. 


  • “Biohazard”. (pullover) Worked a bit on the second sleeve, revised FI portion. When Simone is done, before I start something else, I think I will push to finish this sleeve so I can finish and move on to something else.
  • “Ceremonial Armour”. KF cardigan. Half-finished upper body. 
  • “Seaport Skirt”. from Modern Top-down knitting. Done! 
  • “Simone”. Based on a garment in “French Girl Knits”, except I don’t like cowls and wanted something for spring, and I’m going to run out of yarn and didn’t particularly like the sleeves. Top-down, I’m six inches from the bottom of the front, then I’m going to do the first lace insert, then the back, then the side lace panels, and it will be done. I put in a fair isle strip as well, to help deal with the yarn issue.

What I read -- March 2013

“Soulless” by Gail Carriger. Book 1, after reading book 2 in Jan. So much fun! I wonder if you have more freedom to do omniscient when you’re writing something somewhat historical.

“Blackout” Mira Grant. The boy finally finished this so I could read it. He said we needed to talk. The divergence of the two Georges was fascinating. And the little interstitial emails conveyed so much story. Without them, the book would have had to have more POV characters I think. It really worked.

“Blameless” by Gail Carriger. I’m addicted.

“The World of Jeeves” by P.G. Wodehouse. I apparently received this for my birthday in 2003, and while some of the stories seem familiar, I’m seeing them with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, so I think I saw some of the episodes, but didn’t read this before. There are 34 short stories in this collection, and the formula is very clear. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! The writing is so entertaining, the voice so clear, it proves that formula is only bad when it’s done badly. It’s totally understandable how these came to be a TV series, also. It’s like they were written for it. Still, after binging on the first 6 or so, I started reading one or two a day more as an appetizer for something else, because you do get the idea pretty quick. How Jeeves saves the day every time is still pretty entertaining, and how previous solutions provide future fiascos. Kind of glad I’m done this, though, because I didn’t really want to start another volume of short stories while I had a 600+ page one going.

Also, Ed, me, and the boy were talking about stylized accents and stuff, and I held this up as an example of it working well. Bertie uses abbreviations and truncated words a lot, and it works, not like when people try to write accents. But then, Bertie was quite prescient, as this is how we type when we’re IMing or texting now.

“The Big Con” by David Maurer and Luc Sante. I’d bought this because of Holly Black’s curseworkers, and I started it because I wanted to write a short story about a con artist. She turned out not to be that, but I read the book anyway. The sheer scale of these cons, the number of people involved, was fascinating, as was the way the book was organized, which made it easy to read in short chunks. The cons were ones that took place in the 20’s and 30’s, but I can see a lot of applications to now – for example drug deals and catfishing and other online scams that might require less people and maybe even less risk. Fascinating book.

“Relic” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. A colleague with whom I often talk books lent me this. It was surprisingly fun, with a great ending.