Writing Progress: Week Ending September 22, 2012

I’m covering two weeks’ worth of writing progress reports, which means twice the math to figure it out.  Just bear with me while I crunch the numbers, will you?  Ah, yes, there, that’s it:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

What can I say?  The past two weeks have been especially busy.  Let’s see: there was a substantial family engagement that took a lot of time.  There was some vaction-time built in there (with bonus Tourist Sight-Seeing).  And Dear Wife and I put in a handy effort on the old Home Project, nearly finishing some things we’ve been working on for ages (but did sort of take a break from for several weeks).

All in all, there just wasn’t much time for writing.  It’s not like I was waffling around being unproductive.  I was just being productive in a very non-writing way.

Of course I like being productive in a writing way.  It’s one of my greatest sources of “feel-good” and “doing-what-I-was-put-on-this-earth-to-do”.  So hopefully the week ahead will afford me more opportunities to get some writing done.

Incidentally, and on a somewhat related note, the whole “light-blogging” thing is still in full effect, at least for the next few weeks.  I anticipate that I’ll still be doing my weekly writing progress reports, but beyond that I don’t expect many other posts for the next few weeks.  I’ve got some posts in the hopper that I’ll finish someday: you know, some actual content.  But most of them are just rough sketches or ideas for posts.  In the meantime, other things are on the plate.

So, while we wait, why don’t you tell me about how your last couple weeks were, writing-wise or otherwise, if you feel so inclined?

Light Blogging Ahead

Just wanted to let you all know to expect some light blogging in the next few weeks.  I mean… lighter than usual.  Lighter even than it’s been these past few weeks, with their sparse updates.

I’m anticipating a high probability that next week there is no weekly writing update.  The following week will probably see the return of my writing progress report, but right now I’m not expected much, if anything else.

It remains to be seen, but hopefully during this period of light blogging there will be some work done behind-the-scenes.  No word, for now, on what that might be (because I haven’t done it yet and don’t know if I’ll actually have time to do it).

I’ll catch you all when I’m more-or-less back.

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 8, 2012

I didn’t make my official “goal” wordcount for this week, but it was still the best week in writing I’ve had in many weeks:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 1,367 words

Grand Total: 1,367 words

And this was despite several factors against my having a good week for writing (including ongoing work on the Home Project, which doesn’t look likely to abate any time soon, simply because even after the conclusion of the main part of the Home Project, there are still so many little and medium-sized things that need to be done to finish the job).  I managed to do so well mainly through the mechanism of staying up way, way too late on Friday night, which is not a feat I want (or am able) to frequently replicate, as my body can’t seem to handle a lot of sleep deprivation.  (And besides… I’ll get plenty of that sleep deprivation again soon enough, though I’m certain not to get any writing out of that.)  I expect the next two weeks will be substantially worse on wordcount, due to some significant family engagements.  Should be fun and happy but also very busy. 

While my writing last week was notably productive with respect to the wordcounts of the last several weeks, it does come with an important caveat: this is likely one of the few times I’ve come away from what I’ve written knowing already that I will probably be deleting a large chunk of what I wrote: by my best-guess, probably some 300-400 words worth.

It’s unusual, when I’m editing a story, for me to delete large chunks of wordcount, or to reduce the length of a manuscript.  Typically when I edit I’m either rearranging material I’ve already written, rewording what I’ve written, or adding brand new material.  So the end result is most often a longer manuscript than what I started with in the edit phase.

But I also haven’t tackled a project of this size and complexity in years.  So at first it might seem surprising that I’d already be thinking of such a large edit here, but everything about this process is likely to be surprsing.

In this particular case, I was having trouble with a transition.  (I’m sensing a theme here.  Learning to handle transitions with more grace and style might be one of the major skills I’m developing with this project.)  The characters were waiting for the arrival of something they’d recently spotted coming their way.  (To wit: the aforementioned airship.)  They didn’t really have the option of escaping (if such were their desire): the airship was faster than they were, and they are located in a vast, featureless desert.  But there was an interminably long time between their first spotting the airship and its inevitable arrival.  At the time I wrote it, I was operating under the assumption that the airship would’ve been between a half hour and an hour away.  A little research on airships and some number crunching suggested it would actually have been about 10-15 minutes away.  Either way, they had some time to kill.  And I had to try to kill it gracefully in the story.

Which was painfully hard to do.  What came out was boring, pointless, and didn’t really advance the story.  It was such that, immediately upon completing that section and having written the arrival of the airship (which I liked very much), I stopped and commented on my manuscript: “I may have to delete this entirely.”

My plan was to let it stand and keep chugging on with additional wordcount and let my hypothetical future alpha and/or beta readers (someday) help identify the problems with the passage (if any).  But by the next day I’d had enough time to think about what I’d written that I’d figured a way possibly to fix it without waiting.  So I may do just that.  I’ve done enough edits and fixes on my manuscript already that I’ve created an extra folder named “Draft 2” so I can keep track.  With this problematic little passage the only thing I wanted to keep was the description of the airship when it’s finally close enough to make out the details, and I think I can fix that.  Or I might still just chug ahead: forward momentum has been elusive in this project of late.

Well, that’s all I can say about my week in writing.  How was yours?

The Visitor


The Deer in our yard

The Fawn walks past the gate to the backyard

We’ve had a little visitor wandering around our neighborhood, lately.  He’s a bit of a sad and lonely-looking fellow.  Several weeks ago I spied a pair of deer in an oversized front-yard not far from the Casa Chez Watkins (oversized enough to be called a small field): a mother and her fawn.  Later, a little over a week ago, I sall a solitary deer in the front yard (of regular size) a few houses down.  It was a small animal, but I only barely saw it from a distance, so I think it was a fawn.

Then a few days ago while Dear Wife and B.T. were out on a walk with our dog Shasta (and I was en route from work to home) they saw a deer.  B.T. was excited to tell me all about it.  “I saw a deer outside, daddy!”  I presumed it to be the same fawn I had seen recently.  (And I was so proud of little B.T. that he’d apparently learned the word “deer” after a single encounter.)

Yesterday, as I pull into the driveway at home, I spot him (or her, it must be said) again: this time in our very own front yard!  He (or she) was nibbling away at some grass.

I made my way quietly inside (choosing not to grab the recycling bin, reasoning that banging around the big plastic bin might spook the fawn).  Inside, B.T. was just about to start watching a little TV.  But his show hadn’t started yet (that is, he was waiting for Netflix to finish loading), so I excitedly asked him: “Hey, B.T., do you want to go outside and see a deer?”

The proposition excited the little tyke, and he jumped down from the couch.  (He warned mommy not to start the show without him.)  I scooped him up and we headed outside.  The deer had passed through a few bushes marking one edge or our yard and was now down in the side yard.  I managed to catch a few pictures on my cell phone (while holding B.T. in one arm.

The deer wasn’t too interested in us (he or she put on a brave face, tried to ignore us, but moved slowly away whenever we crept too close).  Later, talking to Dear Wife she suggested something bad may have happened to its mother.  It dawned on me that it was probably from the small deer family I had seen weeks ago, and I felt sad for the little fellow. It was like the plot of “Bambi” were playing out in my own backyard – literally. 

Did I mention that I live near a major metropolitan area – in the suburbs, mind you, but a good half-hour’s drive at least from the rural or the wild?

Here’s one more shot of our friendly neighborhood Little Prince of the Forest.

The Deer in the side yard

The Deer in the side yard

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 1, 2012

Still another slow week on the writing front:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 597 words

Grand Total: 597 words

Things are slow but moving.  I’m seven chapters in, and I’m just happy to be writing.

But, frankly, I just don’t have much to say about it right now.  I wish I was a faster writer and that I had more time for writing.  But I’m not and I don’t.  So that’s that.  I do the best I can with what I have.

So, in lieu of my taking the time to talk about stuff, how about you take the time to tell me about what’s going on in your projects?

Toddler Speak

It’s fun watching B.T. learn language.  He’s a very talkative little tyke.

When last we saw B.T. on the virtual pages of this blog, we had found ourselves astounded at his language development and  his love of books.  Well, his language skills have improved dramatically since then.  He speaks in complete sentences.  He has nearly all his pronouns down pat (barring the gender differential on third person pronouns: he doesn’t always understand gender differences, and frequently resorts to using names in place of pronouns when making third person references) – and that includes more complex things like possessive pronouns.  There are amusing errors, though, that make sense when you think about it.  Instead of “mine” it’s “mines”.  I figured “Well, it’s yours and his and hers.  Why not mines for first person?”  Or the plural: a large quantity of something isn’t “a lot of them” but “lots an’ lots of dems”.  When there are a lot of people he loves to point out the “peoples“.  Some of those little oddities of English that he’ll learn in time.  For now, we laugh and gently correct him by repeating him with the correct pronounciation.

Pronouns are just one thing.  But he’s got tons of verbs, some (but not all) of of his prepositions, names for all kinds of things.  Not only does he speak in complete sentences, but his sentences are increasing in complexity and thought.  He can count, and he can already do basic math with very small numbers (less than 5). 

Some other gems worth sharing: B.T. often likes to apply his own “ointment” – and he can say the word almost perfectly.  We’ve been trying to teach B.T. about things like sharing and empathy: when he hits or bites or pinches (as I understand all toddlers inevitably do) we tell him that it’s not very “nice” and frequently feign greater injury than we recieved.  So now whenever we’ve hurt his feelings or done something he disapproves of he sternly says “No Mommy!  No Daddy!  That’s not not nice!”  Double-negatives are an odd thing.  Some words he seems to savor the sound of: like “bluuuueeee“.  When he hears a plane but can’t see it he delights in pointing out “It’s hiding in the clouds!”  He has a toy cellphone that says the names of colors in English and Spanish (as well as greetings from “Grandma” and “voicemail” notifications in both languages).  So he’ll sometimes spout “Roja.  That’s means Red!”   For the longest time he loved his “Nama and Papa”, but his pronounciation improved in sudden leaps in the past few weeks, through “Gama and Gampa” and just as quickly to “Gramma and Grampa” – although he’s inconsistent in using these.  There’s just so many, and Dear Wife and I have to savor it all, because we know this phase won’t last long. 

His pronounciation is still mostly age-appropriate, but since it’s been a while that means that he’s so much clearer and easier to understand than mere months ago.  Taken as a whole, though, his language skills are roughly on par with kids two or three months older than him – which at his age is still a big difference, developmentally.

It’s good he’s learning this all so fast.  It won’t be long, now, and he’s going to have to learn another very big lesson.  Very big lessons come with the territory when you become a very big brother.  As he often points out to us, there’s a baby in mommy’s belly…