Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

2005 is here, whether we're ready for it or not. I feel optimistic about a new year for the first time in a long, long time. I'm finally making some progress in my life, accomplishing some things that I have always wanted to do, but have been too scared to try. What a wonderful feeling! After forty-mumble years of being weighed down by fear and sadness, I feel like I'm getting a whole new chance at life. Snoopy dance!

Finis!

Finished the first draft of the new and reborn "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". Still don't know how many words it is. I'll find out after I type it in, rewriting as I go. I think it's a damn fine story. It now has multiple layers and three pretty interesting characters.

Sidetracked

Started American Psycho. It's chilling, though I think a lot of it would be lost on somebody who was not a part of the 80's. As I was straightening up yesterday, I came across a copy of The Art of War by Sun T'zu. It's one I've wanted to read for many years, but never got around to it. For some reason, it demanded my attention las night. Damn good stuff. Anyone even remotely connected to military affairs should be required to memorize it and lve by it.

Another re-read added to my TBR stack: If You Had Controlling Parents by Dan Neuharth. Full of sound advice about what I am and am not responsible for in my life. I have to remind myself of these things sometimes.

Hit the ground running

I'm off on the Great Rewrite Quest. Margaret Fisk at Forward Motion started an e-mail crit groups for those of us signed up for the Short Story Rewrite Dare for January/February (I signed up for Apprentice Level to start with: 4 stories rewritten and submitted). I think first on my list will be a rewrite of "A Time To Every Purpose".

And finally...

A couple of links I found interesting:

Lake Superior State University Banished Words List for 2004
American Dialect Society Words of the Year


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Back to basics

Got a lot done on "TYSBAS" today. Don't have a word count, because I've been working the old-fashioned way. Pen on paper. It's been a long time since I wrote by hand, and I'm noticing a great difference. Using pen and paper, I can't write as fast. That forces me to slow down and think about what I'm doing. I have time to consider words and sentence structure, dialog, foreshadowing, all the stuff that often gets lost when I'm banging out words on the keyboard. The down side is that my hand hurts. Those muscles are way out of shape! I think I'll try this periodically just to keep from getting stale.

DUH!

It's The Interior Castle, you big Dummy! Mea culpa. I'll have to ask Saint Theresa to excuse my all-too-human blunder.

I have no idea where that Haunted Castle shtick came from. Sometimes I scare myself.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Readin', writin', and...uh...what's that other one?

Finished reading Rising by Brian Keene. The fact that this novel won the 2003 Best First Novel Stoker fills me with dismay. It's mediocre at best. Stereotyped characters following a predictable plot to an obvious and unsatisfying ending. If this is the best new novel in an entire year, then the horror novel is in a sorry state indeed. Maybe Washed in the Blood can start a new trend toward excellence. :)

Next on the TBR list is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, followed by The Haunted Castle by Saint Theresa of Avila. No, it's not a ghost story. St. Theresa was a Catholic nun and mystic who had some interesting things to say about a person's relationship with God. After that, it will be time to re-read Writing the Breakout Novel with highlighter in hand.

Today's writing work was mostly preparation. I worked up character development worksheets that suit me by combining elements from 2 that are on the Web (1 from Eclectics.com and 1 from Inspiration for Writers). Just for laughs, I went over to facade.com and generated Tarot readings for my 4 major characters. I'll look at them over the next few days and see what gives. I'll do my own readings, of course, this was just for fun. I may even run horoscopes on them, we'll see.

As a change of pace from all the paperwork, I started writing the new version of "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". This time, I'm going to take a real good look inside everybody's head. It promises to be lots of fun.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!

And so another year dies a slow and agonizing death. Yes, it's time for the Post-Party Depression. The week after Christmas is always bleak for me. Everybody has been so jolly and giving and smiling and happy for the last month. Then, on December 26, it's back to the same old grouchy, rude, inconsiderate asshole-ness. That kind of hypocrisy is one of the reasons I don't really like Christmas. Where's the giving spirit in February when that needy family you gave toys to has to decide whether to have lunch the rest of the month or pay the gas bill? It's not the Christmas spirit, people, it's the Christian spirit. A true Christian would celebrate Christmas year-round and in all aspects of his/her life. Sadly, true Christians are in desperately short supply.

"What would Jesus do?" is one of the catch-phrases of today. Jesus told His disciples to give everything they had to the poor and travel the world preaching the Gospel and depending on the kindness of strangers for their sustenance. That's what He did. Draw your own conclusions.

Oh well, bitching ain't gonna fix it. Let's start looking ahead to 2005.

I am declaring a new start on Washed in the Blood. I have to lose about the first 8-10k words off the beginning so I can start with a bang. I'm thinking either the scene in Polly's kitchen or the discovery of Maggie's body would be good starting points, then bring in backstory as we go along. That means a new outline, etc. First, though, I am going to actually put together a "writer's notebook" on this project. I have resisted that so far, but I have learned that a first novel is just too big a project to run off-the-cuff. First step is character building. I will start on my charts tonight and try to have at least John, Maggie, Polly, and Thomas done by Monday. I already know them reasonably well, so it should go fairly quickly. Ultimately, I am shooting for a finished first draft by the end of the year.

Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet is also undergoing some radical changes. A friend offered me some insight on the story (Thanks, Dawn!) that has led it into new territory and new depth. Re-plotting is under way, and actual writing will commence apace (Monday, if not before).

Actually, I feel pretty good about 2004. I have learned a lot and pushed my writing to a new level. I feel like 2005 will be a breakout year for me. Anyweay, that's my dream, and I'm sticking to it!

Specific goals:

  1. Finished first draft of WITB: average of 2k words per week. I can do that.
  2. Finish and submit one short story per month. Also eminently do-able.
  3. Finish and submit one article for each issue of Vision (6 issues). No sweat.
  4. Minimum 25 points in the Great Rejection Slip Contest at Forward Motion. Made 10 points in 4 1/2 months this year, so that seems reasonable.
Lunch time's over. Back to the "real" job. :(