Thursday, July 21, 2011

Breaking the final (round) frontier!

Contrary to appearances, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I haven't been blogging here mostly because I was concentrating on real life stuff while also maintaining my 500 words a day quota (which I'm happy to say, I've been meeting).

Also, I'm preparing to start a "real" author's blog soon, one that is a lot more focused on establishing a platform than this rather inward-focused tool has been.

At any rate, the word count stands as follows:
Yay! I'm almost 37% finished with my first draft.

In other news, I learned late last night that I'm a finalist in the NYC Midnight Screenwriter's Challenge 2011! We started with about 425 screenwriters divided into 25 heats. The top five from each heat were chosen and divided into another five heats, and the top five of of those were selected as finalists.

I was really happy with the second script I wrote because, unlike the first one, the genre prompt was fantasy rather than--ugh--romance. Now I wait until 9:00 pm Pacific tomorrow for the final prompt, which will give us a genre, a required subject, and a required character type. I will then have until 9:00 pm to turn in a five-page screenplay. Yes, that's a 24-hour turnaround! Sounds terrifying, doesn't it?

All 25 of us will be writing to the same prompt this time. Please join me in praying that the randomly-chosen genre is NOT romance.

And just in case you're interested, feel free to check out the screenplay that got me into the final round.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Matter over mind

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been dealing with more or less constant migraine or migraine-related symptoms that have seriously impeded my ability to concentrate. We get so accustomed to thinking of our brains as multitasking miracle organs that it comes as a bit of a shock when some of that multitasking performance is reduced by illness or ailments. Yeah, so my heart is still pumping well and my various autonomic functions are proceeding properly--so what? I can't seem to form complex sentences on the first try! I'm trying to comment on someone's blog and I'm completely missing my own point! This, frankly, SUCKS.

Even in dealing with my own blog, my mind is in disarray. I want to put up a post every day--and normally, I can--but this week, it was not to be. This is not even the topic on which I wanted to write today, but the actual topic is both too complicated for my fractured mind to do justice to and too important not to get right, so instead, you're getting this. Please accept my fervent apology.

The good news (thank God, there's some good news) is that I have managed, in spite of it all, to keep up my daily word count. I've been hitting about 550 words a day and allowing myself to be satisfied with that. The plot is marching along and the writing feels good. By that, I mean that I feel that I am producing fruitful material, not that the material I'm producing is necessarily great or that it will even survive past the second draft. It's just that what I'm putting down now is at the very least seeding the plot down the road and possibly seeding the second draft.

I have no idea if that last point is at all clear, but in case it is, I'll leave it in. I hope that over the weekend, I'll get back some of my missing cognitive abilities and can write a post that better illuminates what I'm trying to say.

And before I forget to mention it, I have unceremoniously crossed the 30% completion mark on the first draft and continued right to 31%:
Feel free to celebrate as you see fit. :D But please, no fireworks. I've had enough of those, inside and out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of ice picks, brain cell failure, and 500 words

Yesterday, my eye exploded.

I jest, of course, but only in a literal sense. My eye didn't actually burst--it only felt as though it was about to. For a couple of hours.

And the eye pain was just the central gem in a complete jewelry setting of head pains in the form of "ice pick headaches," for which the official term is "primary stabbing headache." Both names are sufficiently and accurately descriptive; these are sudden, sharp headaches that seem to be focused on a specific point in the head that feel exactly the way I imagine it would feel to have an ice pick thrust into the skull.

Apparently, ice pick headaches are predominantly experienced by people who also suffer from migraine *raises hand* and cluster headaches, but they are not actually migraines or cluster headaches, so treatments for those ailments don't work for these. There is, in fact, no known treatment yet for ice pick headaches.

The eye pain was repetitive, but variety was provided by the fact that the other ice picks were scattered around at various cranial locations. It was a lot like having a fireworks show taking place inside my head.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Write, don't edit

I am happy to report that I am back on the writing wagon, after a brief stumble late last week. So, hooray for the resumption of forward progress! That progress is a bit slower than it has been up to now, but I've averaged at least my 500 word quota per day over the weekend.

Said weekend was fraught with serious problems on the personal front (which are still ongoing and shall be for the foreseeable future), and in the course of dealing with those problems, I managed to lose track of exact word counts, but I do know what the overall word count of the WIP was as of last night, and it has put the first draft over 28% complete:
It's always interesting to see how confronting problems in my non-writing life affects my writing progress. Sometimes, I will use the writing to "self-medicate" by diving into it even more obsessively, finding a measure of comfort, I suppose, in my complete control over the fictional world I'm building and certainly a healthy dose of escapism.

However, no neurotic worthy of the label would sit still indefinitely for creating something positive out of a negative experience; it's contrary to the by-laws of our guild. Accordingly, as the excrement has impacted the air circulation device, I've found myself periodically drifting toward really unproductive thoughts about my novel. Contrary to the approach I've been espousing in this blog and trying valiantly to live up to, I've found myself spending time editing the old rather than churning out the new. Part of that is due to my brain being filled with a lot of extraneous worry and more chaos than normal--it's damned hard to map out where I want a scene to go (or even start) when three or four real-life crises are pounding on the window and screeching like manic owls.

But another factor in my reversion to revision over slogging forward through new territory is that my personal difficulties have simply made me more vulnerable to the host of fears that tend to plague most writers, especially we of the unpublished variety.  I know this, and I've tried hard over the past few days to keep my editorial busyworking to a minimum, but I was still grateful for the timing of today's entry on Kristen Lamb's Blog, Editing-Meet the Novel-Killer.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In which I admit to being a Very Bad Girl

Bless me, readers, for I have sinned.

Yes, it's true. Yesterday, I fell off the writing wagon. I did not write on my novel at all. Not a single word. I feel slightly soiled, as though I'd directed a sneeze into my shirtsleeve that really should have been sent into a strong, name-brand tissue.

So, I failed to meet my word count. I feel incomplete. Plus, I need a clean shirt.

It's not like I didn't think about the novel yesterday. I spent quite a few hours mulling over the re-plotting I now have to do, since the completion of Scenezilla deposited the story in a place somewhat to one side of where I had originally intended to go from here. What's more, this replotting required me to think in somewhat deeper detail about the circumstances surrounding the story's climax, which I had been putting off until later.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The battle against Scenezilla

Sorry to be so uncommunicative this week, but you see, I've been fighting a monster. I call it Scenezilla.

You see, I started working on a scene in my novel--a pivotal scene in which the protagonist is forced to make a decision he doesn't want to make--waaay back on June 30. Now, I realize that June 30 was a mere week ago and that it might not seem like a long time to be working on such an important scene.

But you see, I've been writing at a deliberately breakneck pace up till now. The idea is to reach the end of the story so that I will have a Completed First Draft (cue celestial choir). The near-term goal of this undertaking is, in fact, the Completed First Draft. It's the name of the game, the water under my raft, the wind beneath my wings (cue Bette Midler, then club her in the throat with a two-by-four before she finishes the first bar).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This is what a psychotic break looks like

I approach this blog in an unusually chaotic frame of mind. And that's really saying something, because on a good day, the inside of my head is roughly like a combination of the hallway closet and the kitchen junk drawer, with the leftovers from the last 7 yard sales and a pair of snow boots I don't even recognize and three unmated gloves tossed in for lack of anywhere else to put them.

And the odd thing is, as I glance back over the entries I've made to this blog since I started it way back 31 days ago, there is very little evidence of this internal chaos here--or, indeed, of any of my actual personality. Instead, I've been frightfully earnest about the challenges I've faced as I boringly chronicle the writing my novel. This is more or less by design, actually, because I have been using this space as a) a public declaration of  my intent to write a novel, and b) leverage to shame myself into continuing the novel even when I get discouraged.

In other words, I wasn't writing so much for outside consumption as I was holding a knife to my own throat. "That's right, just keep typing. You make your word count today or, I swear, I'll do it!"

(It's possible that I could do with some medication, yes.)

I wasn't even concerned about how boring this blog is until other bloggers such as Laura Stanfill and JoEberhardt and Emerald Barnes started coming by and leaving comments and even linking to my blog on

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gotta get out more... and go to bed earlier!

Somehow, I have apparently skipped 23% with the 1126 words I added yesterday! I now have a grand total of more than 24,000 words. Pretty crazy!
Of course, my progress is not without a price. I decided to go out and do a couple of things again last night and stayed out until well after 10:30 pm, and still wanted to do another 400 or so words before going to bed. Needless to say, this was not a prudent decision. Today I have a persistent mild migraine to deal with.

But I don't regret going out one bit. I went to Powell's to attend Scott Sparling's reading from his newly published book Wire to Wire, and am so glad I did. Scott lives here in the Portland area and this is his first novel, although he has been working on it for twenty years. It was fascinating, and very entertaining, to hear his tale of this literary journey. I am eager to read his book now!

After that, I visited a friend on the way home and wound up staying for a couple of hours. Don't regret that, either; the lack of prudence was in staying up late to continue writing. Should have cut myself some slack and made up for it on the long weekend.