I spent yesterday morning listen to the news while cleaning the basement. The physical activity helped to burn off the excess anger at what happened in Paris. But I'm determined to focus this blog back to writing. I mentioned yesterday I lost years writing and I won't be doing that again. I have to push through this time.
I chatted with a few friends via Facebook and Skype yesterday. Today I'll be following up with family ---just...because. I have some wonderful, supportive and "kick me in the ass when I need it" peeps. And the results of all those conversations is I wrote like a mad man last night.
It was as much therapy for me as it was storytelling.
I started to write last night. I'm moving through the second act and was looking forward to starting the third act this maybe this weekend.
Then Paris happened.
Things are still unfolding as I write this, but what's clear is this is the most devastating attack in France since WW II.
While we watch again as horror and terror rule our news outlets, I want to share with you a little story. Book two of the Arcana Chronicles was originally entitled The Young Practitioner. The second act of the book took place during the Boston Marathon. It was a series of scenes of my main characters looking for a terrorist for the length of the race. I'd actually finished the book and was readying it to send to beta readers.
That was in April of 2013. Then the bombings happened.
I live in Boston and remember that day and will for the rest of my life. It stopped book two and it stopped my writing for nearly two years.
What happened in Paris tonight is devastating. And terrible. And I want to scream at the heavens at the injustice of it all. I've just heard commentary about the " damn Islamists." That's like blaming all of Christianity for what the KKK gets up to.
I know....I'm rambling. Sorry.
I think one of the reasons I write is to escape from the incredibly messed up world around us. Say a prayer, light a candle, send out a white light.
It took me almost two weeks to write myself into a corner. I'm impressed. Usually by the first week, I've created the perfect no-win scenario.
So what to do...? Go back and fix? Nope! I typed a big "RESOLVED" at the end of the chapter and moved on. Usually I can extract myself from these verbal lock boxes with a few days of thought and the mapping out of scenarios. But during a word-count sprint, you keep going.
Will in bug me? Yep. Will I fix it? Yep. On December 1 when Nano is done.
Good day of writing yesterday, but as they say 'All good things must come to an end." Back to work today, but I wanted to share one of my difficulties with NaNo--I'm a self-editor. I admit it.
Nano is only successful when you plow throw the word count (okay only successful for ME I guess)--like the old Henry Ford Assembly line--"Keep it moving and we'll fix it at the end." I have a habit of correcting as I go which takes me out of the flow of the scene I see playing in my head like a movie--can be frustrating at times.
Which is why I've liked to do NanNo every year since I discovered it existed. The challenge is there to meet a certain word count while working full time and having the normal responsibilities of adulthood to attend to. I HAVE to continue to write without looking back to win. And I'm just competitive enough so that works for me.
Now that I have hit the half way mark, I know I've got this year's win in the bag.
By The Way- Comments are finally fixed. I find them sexy, please leave one.
A few words written yesterday, Long day at work, so I knew i wasn't going to get up to much.
Today is Veterans Day in the United States. It's a day off from work for me--but it's also a day to celebrate veterans of the armed services (not to be confused with Memorial Day which honors those who died in service to the country).
My father is a Navy veteran of World War II. I remember toying with the idea of joining the Navy when finishing High School. But at 6'3" I was too tall to become a Submariner--which was the only branch of the Navy that appealed.
While I'll be spending the day writing and making up for lost word count, I'll also be thinking about my dad and the number of friends and family who have served. We seemed to have gotten into a vicious cycle of wars and military actions in the last few decades. While my thoughts on these policies and political maneuverings are rather negative, I recognize that the men and women of the armed services have a difficult job. Their sacrifice is appreciated...and respected.
I'll be calling my Dad today...and enjoying the freedom our service men and women have stood for by exercising my right to write!
Back to work and back to a limited number of words being written. After this weekend's marathon writing session, I'm not that upset about last night's minimal achievement and, besides, I'm still on target to finish this year.
I'm going to forego my normal blog on writing today to write about partners of writers. Not "writing partners," but wives, husbands, significant others, best friends, supporters--whatever.
My wife is a wonderful and practical person. Brilliant, funny and incredibly sweet, but I never really thought she got my writing obsession. Last week, she asked me for my holiday and birthday list (my birthday is at the end of December. Bottles of Jack Daniels are always welcome--FYI). One of the items I put on my list--more as a joke than anything else was, and I quote:
"A Place to Write."
Now, we live in Boston which is a damn expensive city. We have a lovely home, but it's a small cape cod style. Two bedrooms, about 1100 square feet of living space. It's cozy and comfortable and we love it.
But there isn't a lot of room for my kids, who come visit quite often, or other guests who visit from time to time--My wife's dad stays with us every summer, for example. There certainly isn't enough room for me to have a regular, quiet place to just write. My point is, when I put on my list "a place to write," I was being a bit facetious.
Writers are weird people. We wander around most of the day in a world very different from normal people. We live our character's emotions, we talk to ourselves and we throw keyboards around when we've written ourselves into corners.
Well, that last bit might just be me.
Anyway, my wife knows I struggle to get "into the zone" in our cozy, but very busy house--we also foster and house many cats. Animal rescue is my wife's passion.
Today, I got home and my wife pulled me into the basement. Half bemused, half hoping for an interesting sexual experience, I followed. She then walked me through the design for my new library and writing space that she and a contractor had discussed today.
"It won't be ready by your birthday, but it should be done by February," she concluded.
"Um....what?" I asked her, wittily.
"Your library. Your writing space."
"I was kidding...." I started, still amazed.
"I know. I'm building it for you anyway. You deal with my cat obsession, I can do this for you."
I guess she gets me after all. I'm a pretty lucky guy. To my writing friends, go thank your partner today. To the partners of my writing friends, Thank you for understanding our weirdness.
Writers spend a lot of time thinking. Since I started down this author road, I find myself pondering stories, scenes, character "development" (otherwise known as "how can I torture her/him next?"), setting, tone...well you get the idea. I never stop thinking about writing.
I mentioned that over the weekend I did some location scouting. Spent a lot of time on trains--and I find that (barring idiots yelling on their cell phones) trains are a great place to think. So, as well as snapping a few photos and getting location notes down, I thought a lot about my current NaNo story, and some deep personal things that have happened.
One of my main protagonist's struggles in the first book was trust. I've had reasons to think about trust myself over the last couple years...and today I enjoyed writing a little ironic reversal. I tapped into my own feelings, doubts and anger and wrote the confrontation I'd been planning for a while. It's pretty powerful, even for a first draft. Once I'd gotten that out of my system and had a bit of a cry, I jumped into the first of two scenes involving trains. It was very different from the emotional bit I'd just typed. More adventure, intrigue and action ending in...oh wait. No Spoilers. You'll just have to read the final product for yourself.
Taking that day to think really energized me for week two of National Novel Writing Month. Normally by now, those great ideas for the first week have turned into a bit of a panic in week two. Not this time. It was a really good weekend for writing.
Only a couple hundred words written yesterday--but what an amazing day! Took some amazing photos--specifically of the T system in Boston (and others that would be more spoiler-ish, so I won't post those). I have a scene in mind where my protagonist is attacked on the Green line when the train is out of the tunnels and trading the streets. I also did a tour of some of the abandoned tunnels and stops for a later scene. Traveling the T lead me to some very interesting parts of Boston and spawned a few more ideas--even went as far as the Aquarium and the Blue line.
Research is so important when writing urban fantasy set in a real city. I've always found that when the setting is spot on, it grounds the more fantastical elements of a story. And, although word count was impacted, it was well worth the time spent. Spoke to a few train fanatics and explained to them what I was writing about. I guess my "sales pitch" was pretty good--that couldn't wait to help me explore the T--both what's operating today and what's been lost to time. I'll be crediting them in the forward to The Lost Empress, assuming I get the book done, of course! Hopefully all the ideas born from my journeys yesterday will keep the momentum of the first week going. I'm excited about the direction I'm running in, so hopefully, when completed, will the readers. They've waited a long time for The Prodigal's Foole sequel. I really want to ratchet up the tension in book two--and the train components, and who Symon meets because of the trains will have a lasting impact on the series.
Sorry for posting a bit later this morning. Last night was a late one and my darling wife let me sleep in a bit this morning. Many people use the weekends to "catch up" on their word count. And I'm now a couple thousand words behind. I really want to get to 20k words by Sunday night. However, as planned, I have a bit of a research day ahead.
The weather in Boston has been amazing for November--73 Degrees (23C for you more metric minded folks) yesterday. It'll be a bit cooler today, but still warm enough to head into town to do some location scouting. I want to take some photos and check out a few spots I've written about already. I'm also riding the rails for an upcoming scene that I'll be working on tomorrow that takes place on the "T" (The Boston rail system). A conversation is planned with a rather obsessed man who loves trains, specifically Boston area trains. He's even going to try and get me into one of the old abandoned stations to research a pivotal scene for The Lost Empress.
Going to be a busy day. For all you fellow NaNoWriMos--keep writing!