Writing Progress: Week Ending July 23, 2011

It wasn’t my best writing week ever, not by far.  But all things considered, I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished.  Here’s how I did:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 368 words
  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 1,548 words

Idea Journal:

  • New Story Idea Notes: 433 words

Grand Total: 2,349 words

Of course, my big accomplishment was finishing the first draft of “Story of G”.  I’m positive I’ll have this story ready to submit to the WotF contest by the close of the current quarter (at the end of September).  My goal from here on out is to continue submitting at least twice a year to that contest until such a day as either I have won it outright or am no longer eligible to enter.  Yeah, I’m aiming for the whole enchilada.  I don’t know that I actually expect to get the whole enchilada, but, well… I like enchiladas. 

In the mean time, I’ve entered my “personal quiet time” for “Story of G”.  I’ve already gotten some feedback, which I’ll look at soon.  But I need a little distance to gain objectivity, so I can edit it with the appropriate level of ruthlessness.  Thanks, everyone, who’s volunteered so far to give it a read!

Finishing the short story, however, was a given this week.  I was just so close that I barely needed any time at all to do it.  Considering everything else, though, I’m surprised I got as much other writing done.  I lost a total of three writing days this week.  On Monday, I took the evening off to sit and watch “Where the Wild Things Are” with Dear Wife, which we’d been waiting to see for a while.  I had a profoundly deep reaction to that movie – it touched me on a personal level and also reflected on my writing, which I wrote about earlier this week.

Then, mid-week, disaster struck!  Due to my poor planning when I did the grocery shopping last week, we had run out of chocolate and chocolate-related goodies.  (I only bought one small box of chocolate chip cookies.)  Running out of chocolate in the Casa Chez Watkins is like unto Sauron obtaining the Ring.  It’s just not something you want to have happen.  I mean, as long as you value Goodness and Light in the world.  Both Dear Wife and I are serious chocolate fiends – it’s apparently a genetic trait in both our families.  We don’t need much on a day-to-day basis, but we need some.  Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a serious problem, because Dear Wife enjoys baking, and she’d just bake us up a batch of brownies or cookies or something.  We had ingredients.  Except, this particular night, Dear Wife had a pre-planned evening with some friends.  They were meeting up for a “knit night”, where all the ladies who enjoy knitting get together and, presumably, knit.  So, this task fell to me. 

To meet our imminent needs, I baked a chocolate cake.  No big deal – it was a cake mix we had in the pantry.  Just add eggs and whatnot else.  But then, we didn’t have any icing for the cake.  So, I made that from scratch.  Dear Wife was impressed.  Let me tell you: it’s worth it to take an evening off from writing if it means both chocolate cake and impressing Dear Wife.

And then, I lost another night of writing when I was invited over by some guy friends to play some board games.  Over the last few years of pounding out my MBA, I didn’t do much socializing with anybody who wasn’t Dear Wife, B.T., or our dog Shasta.  Now that I’m not in class all the time, I thought I should take the opportunity to hang out and play games when those opportunities arise.  I got to try out a new strategy game that I’ve never played before – I mean new to me, not new new, because it’s been around for a while.  It was called Dominion, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Anyway, with all that going on, how did I get any writing done?  Well… I cheated this week.  Most of my wordcount comes in the form of a long list of names.  I was thinking about the world of “Book of M” and about the language and about the different groups of people – and I thought “hey, wouldn’t it be useful to have a list of acceptable names ready-to-go.  Then, as I expand the story and add secondary characters, I can just check my list of names, find an available name that hasn’t been used, and I’m good-to-go.”  So, I made a small spreadsheet divided into sections for each of the major cultures, pulled up “Behind the Name” and started going down the list for the real-world cultures that were serving as inspiration for the imaginary cultures.  As I found names I liked, I converted them into in-world names using the phonetic rules I’ve been working out for those language groups, and voila!  Most of the given names I also made up short-forms or pet-names for, so the wordcount multiplied pretty quickly.

Actually, my name list is only a little over half done.  I’ve finished two cultures out of four that will be represented in this particular novel.  But it was a fun exercise. The two cultures I did are related, so I was able to build in some cross-seeding of names – a base name takes one form in one culture and a slightly different form in the other.  A third culture has had some influence on one of those two as well, so I built in a little cross-seeding with that one into the surnames.

Next stop on “Book of M”: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the history leading up to the current state-of-affairs.  So I’ll be spending more time writing that history down.

The last thing I did this week was write a short entry up in my “Book of Ideas” for an interesting “literary”-style fantasy story that was inspired by listening to a review of a “literary thriller” that was recently released.  It made me think I might like eventually to try my hand at something that’s a little different, but still classifiable as “epic fantasy”… or more precisely “literary epic fantasy”.  This one will have to be two or three books down the line, though, because I have other novel-length fantasy ideas that I want to tackle first.  In the mean-time, I’ll be code-naming this one “Book of H” for the time being, for if and when I get around to doing anything more with the idea.

So that was my week in writing.  How was yours?

6 thoughts on “Writing Progress: Week Ending July 23, 2011

  1. I shall get to the Story of G this week! Sometimes life gets in the way, but that’s ok. My word count for the week’s about 3k. We went camping, and it was nice just to unplug from everything and relax. Gearing up to get back into things.

    Literary epic fantasy? How would you define that? You’ve got my curiosity piqued!

    • Nice. Camping is good fun. I hope Dear Wife, B.T. and I can go in the not-so-distantish future. Right now we have a nice alternative to camping, though, that’s almost as good. And don’t worry about the time-frame on getting to “Story of G”. I’m in no big rush. As for how to define “Literary Epic Fantasy”… well… that’s a good question. The specific idea I wrote about in my idea journal this week accomplishes that by relying on “Literary” techniques that maybe aren’t typically employed in most Epic Fantasy: i.e. it’s not a straight-forward linear narrative with a reliable 3rd-person-limited narrator. The idea is sort of to subvert the core tropes of the Epic Fantasy genre, or maybe not subvert, exactly, but do something unexpected with them. Right now it’s just the seed of an idea. It needs a lot more flesh on its bones if it’s going to be a novel-length work.

  2. Got quite a bit done this week. Got some very good feedback on the first chapter of the WIP, and I have the second chapter about ready to deliver to the readers (2,571 words, if it matters) and got 1,032 words of a subsequent chapter written as well.

    It’s an interesting thing to get feedback as I go (I’m always fighting the urge to jus rewrite Chapter One endlessly), but it’s the best way to solve the particular problems I’m going after. Mostly I’m learning what things can be removed that were in Draft #1 (even things that seemed vitally important four years ago).

      • As I say, I’m only doing it this way because I’m trying to solve a specific problem (or, really, avoid a specific problem), and there’s no point in going too far down a wrong road if I can change course earlier. I’m writing a sequel to two other novels (one of them quite long, with a lot of world-building of a particular type), and I want the new one to stand alone, so that it can be read by itself or after the others. That’s something I (and my regular readers) can’t really evaluate, since we know all the back story. So, I needed readers who have never read a word of my stuff (and I managed to come up with four good ones 🙂 ), and if they say something isn’t working, I don’t want to write another 25 chapters of it.

        I don’t think I’d have done it this way otherwise, though the feedback is very interesting so far.

      • That is, indeed, a fairly unique circumstance – although, I think a lot of writers are attempting a similar thing with ongoing series, to have any given novel in the series serve as a viable entry-point. I wonder if those writers are all able to find new beta readers who are unfamiliar with their previous work as you did? It seems, after a while and the more you’ve written, that might get harder and harder to do… I’m glad you were able to make it work for you, though!

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