Writing Progress: Week Ending October 27, 2012

Look, I can explain this:

Book of M:

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

Super Secret Project:

  • Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

Yeah, I wrote nothing.  Zero.  Nada.  Bupkiss.  But I can, in fact, explain.  Remember the “super-extra double-secret” project from last week?  Well, just re-read last week’s writing update and you’ll know what I’ve been doing all week.

Literally, every single free moment this past week was devoted completely to fashioning an airplane for B.T.’s Halloween.

And, if real-life were a video game, I would (to borrow a running gag from Pat Rothfuss’s blog) be able to say the following:

Achievement Unlocked:

Fashioned Halloween Costume By Hand, From Scratch, For My Kid

That’s right, the airplane itself is done.  To be fair, that wasn’t the whole of B.T.’s costume.  Since he can’t reasonably wear the airplane itself all the time, there’s a secondary element to his costume: the pilot’s uniform.  And that area wasn’t my domain, but instead Dear Wife’s.  She fashioned a cute-as-a-button U.S. Air Force-style flight jumpsuit from things we had lying around (and including some actual flight patches courtesy of an ex-Air Force pilot in our extended family).  He looked as completely convincing as a 3-foot 2-year-old can be.

So it killed the week, but I’m a proud and happy dad just the same.

I’ll probably post more, later, about the airplane with pictures when I get a chance.  Maybe even by Halloween itself.

So, how was your week?

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 20, 2012

I was perhaps premature in declaring an end to my “slump”:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 157 words

Super Secret Project:

  • Wordcount: 0 words

Extra-Double-Super Secret Project 2:

  • Wordcount: Eleventy Bajillion words

Grand Total: Infinity words

Okay, obviously I’m joking there, about the Extra-Double-Super Secret Project #2.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  On the other two projects: Well, “Book of M” saw little productivity this week.  This wasn’t entirely unexpected on my part.  I could’ve done more, I think.  I should’ve done more.  But it still wouldn’t have been a whole lot.  If I’d been more efficient and a better writer in the time I had, I’d probably be looking at 500-ish words this week, instead of less than 200. 

I fully expected, on the other hand, to have little or no measureable productivity on the Super Secret Project. As I mentioned in the comments on last week’s update, the Super Secret Project is a non-fiction literary analysis sort of piece.  It’s my proposed contribution to a collection of such essays, the collection itself being likewise a proposal itself.  I don’t know whether the collection is a sure bet or not.  But my proposal for it isn’t a sure shot at all.  I’m told to expect to hear back near the end of the month.  Until then, there isn’t much to write on the essay.

But there’s research – of the reading kind, of course.  So I’m busy reading up on different things that touch on the topic of my proposed essay.

Meanwhile, there’s Extra-Double-Super Secret Project #2.  I jest in including this among the “writing projects” I track here.  The Project does exist, but it’s nothing whatsoever to do with writing.  Rather, it involves the manufacture of a costume.  You know, like you do this time of year.  Allow me to illuminate through the telling of a story.

Dear Wife and I had assumed for months now that B.T. would dress as a Fireman for our perennial festivities.  He’d developed an obsession for Firetrucks to accompany his obsessions for Trains and Planes.  We had a Fireman-themed raincoat and a little toy plastic Fireman’s helmet and gollashes.  Some black pants with reflective tape attached and voila!  We’d have a Freman costume.  The shortcoming in our plan?  We hadn’t stopped to ask the man himself what he wanted to be for Halloween.

You see… he wasn’t exactly vocal about his opinions in prior years.  He pretty much happily accepted whatever silly thing we decided to dress him in (a dragon and a puppy in the past two years).  But this year he’s bigger, more self-aware, and vocal.

So it was that one day when Dear Wife was reading to B.T. a recently checked-out library book that was seasonally-appropriate, she asked the little tyke what he wanted to be for Halloween.  B.T. had just been exposed to questions of dressing up as any number of traditional Halloween characters: ghosts and cowboys and whatnot.  B.T.’s totally unexpected response: “I want to be an airplane.”

Repeated inquiries have not swayed him from this planned course of action.  We’ve tried different ways of asking him “Wouldn’t you like to be a Fireman for Halloween?”  No dice.  We’ve tried asking him right after he’s just watched a little Fireman Sam or some other Fireman-themed program, or after reading a book with Firemen and Firetrucks in it.  This doesn’t change his mind.  His answer is always the same: “No, I want to be an airplane.”  The only change, in fact, has concerned the specific color of the airplane in question.  He’s gone from preferring a yellow one to preferring a red one.

So, what’s a father to do?

In part owing to some of the circumstances of the recent and on-going “Home Project”, which continues to drain time away from writing and other leisure activities, we are, shall we say, replete with cardboard boxes at the Casa Chez Watkins.  With those materials at hand, I hied myself off to the hardware store for some spray-paint (candy apple red in color) and duct-tape.

I may share pictures of the work-in-progress, if I get the opportunity.  But I spent a not-insignificant amount of time laboring with a box cutter over bits and pieces of corrugated cardboard.  There’s still lots to do.  But it’s been fun in it’s way.

So, how was your week, in writing or otherwise?  Planning on dressing as anything particular for the season of spookiness?

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 13, 2012

As promised, I’m out of the slump… at least for now:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 553 words

Super Secret Project:

  • Wordcount: 507 words

Grand Total: 1,060 words

As it turns out that whole idea I had about spending October writing a short story?  Yeah, so far, it hasn’t happened.  Instead, this week, I started work on my new “Super Secret Project”, which I’m both excited about and terrified of.  The “Super Secret Project” isn’t a short story.  But a potential opportunity came up and I had to move to try to take advantage of it.  I’m excited because it’s something I’ve been wanting to work on for a while.  I’m terrified because I’m not sure I’m up to the task of doing the job right. It’s a pretty ambitious and difficult project.

Right now, though, the Super Secret Project is pretty tentative: there’s no guarantee I’ll “get the job”, so to speak.  I’m hopeful, of course, and excited, but I’m keeping my expectations in check.  What I wrote last week on the Super Secret Project was really just my proposal for the project, what I’m planning to do.  It wasn’t a typical query, really, but like I said this isn’t a short story – it’s not even fiction.   Even if this project doesn’t go forward , I’m happy to have had the opportunity to start fleshing out my idea for it and start expanding my knowledge of the subject.

If the project does go forward, then my November will be about the Super Secret Project instead of about “Book of M” – so no “Novel Month” for me.  “Book of M” will be on the back burner until I finish the Super Secret Project.  On the other hand, if the project doesn’t go forward, well… I’ve still got “Book of M”, don’t I?  And that’s not a bad deal either.

Speaking of which… after four weeks of nothing, I finally got in a word edgewise on the “Book of M”.  That felt good.

So, not a huge week, but a good one nonetheless.  How was your week?

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 6, 2012

I think I’m officially in a slump

Book of M:

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

Grand Total: 0 words

I did manage to do a little bit of editing on some existing stuff I’d written – which if I tallied would actually result in a negative wordcount for the week.  But I did that while somewhat distracted, so I can’t be assured of the quality of the edit.

ETA: I should add, for completeness’ sake, that I lost one potential day’s writing to the machinations of U.S. politics, which was likely obvious to anyone who may have followed me as I live-tweeted the Presidential Debate last week…

In more positive news, my next week’s wordcount is bound to be better.  That’s because I did do some writing on Sunday evening.  I calculate my Writing Weeks from Sunday to Saturday, though, so that wordcount won’t show up until next week’s run-down.  We’ll see if I can add to it between now and then.

Incidentally, I bookmark my weeks that way just of the purposes of this post.  I’ve found tracking my wordcount can be a time-consuming enterprise all on it’s own.  I have to actually go through and add up what I’ve done.  I use this to help me track it all, but the spreadsheet is very large and highly taxing for my already-on-its-knees home laptop.  And so, anticipating that I’ll be updating my weekly progress on Mondays sometime (unless time doesn’t permit, and it slips to a Tuesday), I make sure I have my weekly numbers crunched by Saturday, because I don’t want to be caught too late on Sunday evening having done some additional writing (which itself is rare, as I don’t often write on Sundays) and then having to re-crunch my numbers.  Easy solution: cut it off on Saturday.

As for the writing that Sunday brought me: it was on Book of M, and not, as it turns out, on the Short Story I’d planned to work on in October.  Another writing opportunity may (or may not, as the case may be) have come up, in which case I’ll be focusing on that soon.  But I don’t really know yet whether to shift my attention or not.  So, in the meantime, I’ll just keep chugging, when there’s chugging to be had, on Book of M.

So that’s my world of writing at present.  How’s  yours?

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 29, 2012

This week looks an awful lot like the last two weeks…

Book of M:

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

Grand Total: 0 words

Even without the significant family engagement that kept me busy during the two weeks prior, last week was still a no-show on the writing front.  What free time there was to be had I spent with Dear Wife, mostly working pretty hard on some of those long-overdue Home Projects.  We’ve got a list of several more things that need to be addressed in the next few weeks.  I expect to be substantially busy with much of that this week and next as well.  I still hope to get some writing time in, though.

So, looking forward, then, I’ve been thinking about the impending arrival of that perennial month of writing madness called NaNoWriMo in November.  If I’m realistic with myself – and I often am – there’s no way on God’s good green Earth that I’m going to be able to output some 50,000 words of novel this November – even if I cheat and use my current novel project as a “NaNo”.  The most I’ve written in any given month this year has been about 9,000 words.  In the last two months I’ve average about 2,000 words for the whole month!  Even if I am somehow able to crack down in November and really give it my best efforts, I don’t see it being reasonable to expect that I do anything better than 10-12,000 words in November (and that’s stretching things a bit, IMO).

Yet still, I feel inclined to mark the month in some way.  50,000 words may be a wholly unattainable pipe-dream.  25,000-words (a NaHaNoWriMo, if you will) still seems beyond unlikely.  Can I do 10,000 words?  (A NaIncMyWoCoWriMo – National Increase My Word Count Writing Month… but now we’re just getting silly.)  I don’t know, but I can stretch for it.

But there’s my plan.  In October, I’m going to switch gears, a little: I’m going to focus on a short story for a little while.  Hopefully that’ll give me some writing progress to talk about (and feel good about), provided I actually find time to write in October.  Then in November, assuming my October Short is done, I’ll switch gears back to Book of M to see if I can stretch for 10,000 words for the month.

So, what about you?  How was your writing week?  Are you looking forward to NaNoWriMo?  Will you be participating this year?

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?

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?