An Inauspicious Start

One of my goals for 2014 is to blog at least weekly.  While this is a weak goal compared to previous years (every day, anyone?), take a look at the calendar.  It’s already the third week of the year, and only my first post.  Ah, well, I’m not going to give up because of an inauspicious start.

Another goal I have for 2014 sounds a lot like last year: I want 12 reject letters for Dragon.  That means I’ll at least have a few Query Count updates I can use for posts! :)

Believe it or not, even though the gap is gone and story has taken a backseat to life, a few new ideas are perking in my head.  There are still some scenes I want to write for Mara’s tale.  A young dragon has raised his head and suggested that perhaps another novel in the same world as Dragon is in order.  I would also like to go back and revise Unexpected – there are some good bones there, they just need a little more meat.

So perhaps 2014 won’t be a banner writing year, but at least I can make some progress on a few fronts.

Considering 2013

On the last day of the year, it feels like a good time to think about what has happened in my life, good and bad.

My life this year was dominated by work.  I worked hard, and a lot, at a job that I love, and fortunately I got some recognition for it at the end of the year.  We don’t talk about work, though, so let’s move on.

Personally, 2013 was somewhat mediocre.  I didn’t travel anywhere exotic, I didn’t see any new birds.  However, my sister got married, which was pretty awesome; I made some friends outside of work (which is nearly impossible); and I did get to go see my Houston friends, even if only for a few days.  As the year began to end, I also met someone who I’m crazy about; it’s very new, so we’ll have to see how it turns out in 2014.

2013 was not a good year for writing.  Sure, I got eleven rejections for Dragon and started the process of re-writing Butterflies, but I didn’t finish a book, I didn’t complete NaNo, and you know how well I blogged this year (not so well).

With any end of the year reflection comes a chance to turn my gaze to next year.  I don’t know what it will bring, but here’s hoping that it exceeds 2013!

The Gap is Gone

For many years, writing filled a gap in my life.

When they came into my life, the characters kept me company in the dark as I tried to fall asleep in my new apartment, totally alone for the first time.

Later, my brain explored their world as my body did physical tasks long since gone mindless.  Their conversations kept me entertained through the boredom of lines, their adventures gave my mind a place to wander when it had nothing else to do.

A lack of challenge, a shortage of stimulation, led me to writing.  A hobby soon grew, becoming a passion, and I was hooked.

For the past year, I’ve barely written.  Blogs are sparse, characters are quiet, and it’s been perplexing to me.  These are my children, this world one of my own making, a place I am always welcome.  There are still lines to stand in, still quiet moments in the dark, still tasks that don’t require my brain.  Where has the story gone?

This week I realized – the story is not gone, but the gap is no more.  Those empty moments are now occupied with work, with stress, with the many things to which I’ve committed my time and energy.  The chatter that filled my mind now dims in down moments; what was once a fairly level din is now peaks of intensity followed by valleys of quiet.

In searching for and finding a more challenging job, I fear I’ve reduced writing back to an occasional hobby.  I’ll have to decide if I want to pursue ways to bring it back; perhaps I’ll find quiet moments again, as this job becomes more routine, and the characters will speak once more.

NaNo Update, Day 15

Given the fact that I haven’t blogged for two days and assuming you’ve read my NaNo advice this week, you can guess how Mara’s Tale is going right now.

Some of you are probably being generous and thinking “you’ve written a little bit, every effort counts,” because you’re nice people.

Sad to say, you are wrong.  I have written nothing on Mara’s Tale since Sunday.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I have not written since Sunday.  I’ll also be blunt and point out that I’ve only blogged once in that time as well.

I’m not sure what the reason is, other than it’s likely not just one.  I’ve been busy (theater ticket on Wednesday, social event Thursday) and as usual work has been somewhat stressful.  I’ve gotten more involved in a local group that I’m part of and I’ve been playing “pen pal” via email with someone from another state.  There is also the element of setting myself a challenge; I knew going in to the project that dismantling and expanding Butterflies would be difficult.  Even though there is an argument to be made that a new novel would have been easier, I suspect that the story itself is not the problem.  I haven’t had much (any?) inspiration to write this year, Mara or otherwise.

Honestly, my heart isn’t in it, and unless something drastic changes, I will not be finishing this year.  I’m sure I won’t be the only one.

This wasn’t meant to be a pity party, just a statement of fact.  Maybe a little abrupt reality will give me some impetus to get going again.

NaNo 2013 Advice, Part 2

My advice for this week is simple.

You actually need to write.

Needless to say, I have not been very productive recently.

Is your NaNo going better than mine?

Learning to Read

I had to do a little research and a little decision-making tonight for Mara’s Tale.

She’s starting to learn to read, which is awesome and will set up several other scenes to come.  However, she’s learning to read in a fantasy world with technology similar to the middle ages or Renaissance, from a herbalist in the poor district of town.  This means I can’t have her using lined paper and a pencil, the way I learned to read and write.  What would she use?  Slate and chalk?  Charcoal and… what?  The little research I could do online turned up quill pens and ink on paper, or even pencils.  I’m not sure that the poor herbalist would have access to those, at least not to waste on a child’s practicing.  For a few moments I was stumped.

Of course, this isn’t historical fiction, so in the end I decided to use a variation of it.  Rough paper, probably made nearby, and a charcoal stick seemed to work well for the tale and feel like something that the herbalist would have at her disposal.

Additionally, I remembered that spelling wasn’t standardized until much later (at least, in real history) so I made it a point not to have Mara spell out words or refer to letters explicitly.  It made the section a little trickier to write, but it worked out ok (at least for now).

Chapters

As I’m working on Mara’s Tale, I’ve discovered that chapters aren’t really important.

If the year changes (and it does several times when she’s small) I will note the year in the way that one would usually denote a chapter heading.  Other than that, though, I’m just marking changes of scene/time with a hard return and a triple asterisk.  (***)

I’m sure that the book will eventually be split into chapters, but right now that’s not really high on the priority list while I work.

How do you handle dividing a story into chapters?

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