Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rams Do It, Cats Do It, Giraffes Just for Laughs Do It...

Last week Newsweek published an incendiary feature editorial on the Biblical arguments supporting same-sex marriage. While the article is not as acerbic as Alex Frantz's ironic list of additional Biblical Constitutional amendments (which I blogged about here), it was still nice to see a major magazine take the Religious Right to task for cherry-picking which bits of Bronze Age mysticism are still relevant in the modern world. Along those lines, for a far more detailed study of the Biblical stance on homosexuality, check out this aggregation of entries from the Church Discipline blog. (A particular eye-opener is the July 28, 2008 entry, which includes this quite explicit National Geographic video on homosexuality among animals. Seriously, folks, once you've witnessed one dolphin giving his buddy a blow-hole job, your notion of what is and is not "natural" will be forever altered.)


Thanks go out to cs10, who just notified me that I have been using "November" in all of my December word count entries. (Before she was a kill-bot, she was an editron. In her presence, one does not fuck-up the English language... er, I meant "In her presence, the English language is a thing up with which one does not fuck.")

It's all fixed now, love! Thanks for the tip. You can retract the laser scalpel. Never mind the retina... I've got another one.

Today's writing totals:
Blog: 123 words
Novel: 404 words (character outline)
DAILY TOTAL: 527 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 9,577/15,500 words

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Again Too Busy for the Blogging and the What-Not

Been too busy to blog. Things I'm doing:
  • Writing. (See the word count. I am, if not the man, then at least a man.)
  • Hanging out with writers.
  • Preparing for a big ol' Christmas road trip of doom.
Somehow I inadvertently swapped my previous daily exercise habit for my current daily writing habit. That is not a good thing. I am now trying to do both in the morning. That basically means that I get up reasonably early, but I don't get to work until 10 AM. It is at these moments that I am grateful for my 12 years of higher education and my job. When you're the lone scientist in a small company, nobody cares what kind of hours you work.

Oh, and I resurrected two dead people. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to kill them again, though. (That may or may not be work related. I leave it to your imagination.)

Today's writing totals:
Blog: 113 words
Novel: 517 words (character outline)
DAILY TOTAL: 630 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 9,050/15,500 words

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Extra Post: The Sanctity of Marriage

While researching the previous entry, I came across a lovely, but unattributed list of proposed additional constitutional amendments to further pull marriage into alignment with the Bible. (Scroll down to Brutus' 12/10/2008 post here.) After a bit of sleuthing, I found the original author. (Hooray, Google!) Below is an excerpt from the Alex Frantz's blog Public Nuisance, August 18, 2008. If you copy this, please do credit the original author, as I do so loathe plagiarism:

So here, in support of the Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles:
1 Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women.1 Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives.2

2 A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed.3 Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden.4

3 Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce.5

4 If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law.6

1: Gen. 29, 17 - 28; II Sam. 3, 2 - 5.
2: II Sam. 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21
3: Deut. 22, 13 - 21
4: Gen 24:3; Num 25 1 - 9; Ezra 9:12; Neh. 10:30
5: Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9
6: Gen. 38 6 - 10; Deut 25 5 - 10


(Note: I desperately want to fix the Biblical punctuation in the footnotes, but that kind of goes against the whole notion of "quoting," I suppose.)

"Terrorism" Is The New "Hitler"

For the past few decades it has been well accepted that a debate has reached a pathetic low when one party equates the other to Hitler. This is known as Godwin's Law, and the consensus is that, once "Hitler" has been invoked, the party that used the epithet has effectively surrendered the debate.

Since 2001, though, the new boogieman is "terrorists."

"...then the terrorists have already won."

"...that's just what the terrorists want."

Earlier this week Pat Boone (yes that Pat Boone) dropped this gem on World Net Daily, equating California Proposition 8 protests to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai two weeks ago: "...there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists."

So, can we just call this debate over already?

It's tempting to give Pat Boone the benefit of the doubt and conclude that he's only comparing the violent protesters to terrorists (and yeah, protesters who physically harass an old lady certainly warrant that comparison), but he really is painting the entire protest movement with the same brush. Why else would he castigate Brad-freakin'-Pitt for donating money to the Human Rights Campaign?

Today's writing totals:
Blog: 202 words
Novel: 0 words (sorry about that)
DAILY TOTAL: 202 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 6,471/15,500 words

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bad Robot

My dear friend, the beautiful but deadly android known only as "cs10", sent me a link to the Writing Gifts section of Shakespeare's Den.

cs10 and I have long enjoyed congenial debates on the nature of evil. I sit in her lair and drink weak tea while she rinses the viscera out of her extensible talons. We are particularly interested in determining which actions constitute "evil", and which are merely "wicked." Our consensus is that wickedness is when one acts in a manner that is considered morally wrong but which does not directly harm others. Evil, on the other hand, is when harming others is pretty much the whole point. cs10 falls on one side of the divide, and I on the other.

This is why her email missive is so morally intriguing. On the surface it seems like a harmless act, perhaps even considerate. However, things are rarely so simple in her coiled chrome cortex, and any doubts as to her intentions were dispelled when her email ended in the villainous laugh: "muah ha ha!"

But is her message evil? Tempting me to disenfranchise my family and instead spend all of my Christmas savings on quill pens, sealing wax, and Jane Austen action figures... well that's certainly wicked, but it doesn't actually harm anyone. At worst I might be tempted to pickpocket, but I'm not likely to kill anyone. Even if I did go on a mad killing spree (and I doubt my knees are up for that), all of that blood would be on my hands, not hers.

Perhaps cs10 has decided to slip over to my side of the divide... to try a lighter shade of darkness. Wouldn't that be a delightful lesson for the holiday? At this magical time of year, even a blood-drunk, murderous android can set aside her arsenal of field surgery tools and embrace the common values that unite the disparate forms of life on this planet.

Erm... no. She just sent me a follow up email explaining that what she meant by her previous message was that she has killed my family, and that I may now spend my Christmas funds however I see fit.

Her early Christmas gift to me.

Oh, and she attached pictures. How thoughtful.

Well, at least that clarifies things.

Today's writing totals:
Blog: 372 words
Novel: 500 words (actual text of the actual novel... none of that planning crap)
DAILY TOTAL: 872 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 5,844/15,500 words

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Circus Ponies

Another writing tool that I have found really useful is Circus Ponies' Notebook. It is, in essence, a digital version of a paper notebook, and it is remarkably fun and intuitive to use. You can write in it. You can draw in it. You can stick things to the pages. More importantly CP's Notebook builds an easily searched table of contents as you go. Furthermore, unlike a paper notebook, you can make backup copies so that you're not completely fucked when you leave your life's work propped under the table at Starbuck's.

The way this relates to novel-writing is that novel-writing is a very messy business. With CP Notebook you can keep all the bits and pieces in one location. The notebook for my novel has all my research notes (including hyperlinks and pictures), as well as separate sections for character summaries, plot summaries, and an idea journal. It's all very transparent and "just works" in a very Mac-like fashion.

Today's writing totals:
Blog: 163 words
Journal: 568 words (memoir & character notes)
DAILY TOTAL: 731 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 4,487/15,500 words

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Morning Word

For the past few days I have been writing first thing in the morning. I have noticed two advantages. First, getting up to write lessens my morning-dread. (Good GOD! how I hate getting up in the morning.) Second, I write rather than poke around on the Internet. Hooray productivity!

Speaking of productivity, I have been testing out WriteRoom, the über-minimalist word processor that BC-S recommended a few postings ago. It truly is a terrific focusing tool, and I fully endorse it. For those who need a sharper kick in the pants, though, check out Dr. Wicked's Write or Die in "kamikaze" mode.)

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 467 words
Blog: 105 words
DAILY TOTAL: 572 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 2,055/15,500 words

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bi the Way...

Apparently I'm bisexual. You are at least as surprised as I am, gentle readers. However the Internet told me so, therefore it must be true. (I don't recommend answering this questionnaire unless you have a disposable email account, by the way.)

The exam only asks questions about the readers sexual interest in members of the same sex. I... um... scored kind of high on that. Now you'd think that would put me squarely in the "MO" category, but the test doesn't HAVE a homosexual category. In the end there are only three categories: heterosexual, bi-curious, and bi-sexual.

Boy, it feels GREAT not to exist.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 646 words
Blog: 104 words
DAILY TOTAL: 750 words

DECEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 750/15,500 words

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Got My Monkey Back!

500 words per day, every day, for two months straight now.

Hooray for good habits!

NOVEMBER FINAL TOTAL: 15,312/15,000 words!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Beauty of Frankenstein

Today's enormous word count may be considered a bit of a cheat, but it's a productivity trick I figured out during graduate school. What I did was gather all of the plot and character summaries that I have already written and then cut-and-pasted them into a text-heavy outline. I call these things my "Frankenstein" drafts, because they are a monstrous hodge-podge of text from different sources. Technically I wrote almost no new stuff, BUT by taking all of the stuff that I have written and pulling it together in one spot, I get a very rewarding view of how much work I have actually done. Furthermore, when I already know that the draft is ugly, I feel no qualms about visciously editing.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 1,752 words
Blog: 126 words
DAILY TOTAL: 1,878 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 12,804/15,000 words

Thursday, November 27, 2008


If one were charitable, one would say that the word count is meager today. If one were not charitable, one might call me lazy. That may be so, sir...


I have an iPhone 3G now.


just watched the fantastic new Futurama movie, Bender's Game.

Not so smug now, are ya?!

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 20 words
Blog: 53 words
DAILY TOTAL: 73 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 10,926/15,000 words

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Poem: "Shell"

I am a shell... remnant of a dead thing.
You could lift me with just one hand.
You could press my pale lips to your ear,
and imagine an ocean
in the void.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 449 words
Journal: 393 words
Blog: 33 words
DAILY TOTAL: 875 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 10,853/15,000 words

Monday, November 24, 2008


In response to a posting on Elevate the Ordinary, I wanted to write a heady intellectual treatise on my views of the difference between belief and faith. Unfortunately it's about two hours past my bedtime. I've put it in the queue, though. Perhaps it'll show up on another evening, when the novel isn't moving.

Instead, here's a link to Bean, my favorite "light" word processor for the Mac. It's free, easy to use, and remarkably full-featured.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 985 words
Blog: 73 words
DAILY TOTAL: 1,058 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 9,978/15,000 words

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Overdone Is Still Done

I tend to overdo things. Today's objective was to write a five-sentence plot summary of the novel I'm rewriting, but instead I wrote a 900 word summary. The writers out that will recognize that writing 900 words when 60 should do is not exactly commendable. That being said, it sure feels good to see the sprawling 50,000+ words of my first draft re-envisioned with some coherence within two pages.

For those keeping score, I have now completed steps (1) and (4) of the Snowflake Method, while skipping (2) and (3).

Normally I am so very good about following rules.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 854 words
Blog: 98 words
DAILY TOTAL: 1,052 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 8,724/15,000 words

Friday, November 21, 2008

What the Cookie Said

I love fortune cookies. They're the closest thing I have to a religion.

Today's fortune cookie:

Be mischievous and you will not be lonesome.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 267 words (I found the ending!)
Blog: 25
DAILY TOTAL: 292 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 7,672/15,000 words

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Queer Eye for the Protester Guy

[update 21 November, 2008, 11:42 AM: more detailed photo credits]

Above are some photos of the Rochester, NY rally against the passage of California Proposition 8. (Thanks for the pics, Gerry Szymanski and Bess Watts!) The crowd ended up filling the entire block, despite the rain.

There was a lone counter protester, and I'm afraid that he wasn't really up to the task. We probably should have sent a gaggle of gay guys across the street to gussy up his message. Here are a few pointers for future counter-protestors:
  1. COLOR! You are competing against a freaking rainbow flag. Now is not the time for minimalism. (Partial credit, though, for the yellow rain slicker and red hat.)
  2. VISIBILITY! That Sharpie isn't working for me, and let's not even start with the penmanship.
  3. SPELLING! If you love marriage so much, please learn to spell it.
  4. FACTS! SaveMarriage.Org is not a real website. (Neither is SaveMarriag.Org, if we're going to be sticklers.) You can't just wish a website into existence.
  5. LAMINATE! How do you think God felt when you gave up after 45 minutes just because your sign fell apart?
The sad irony is that you were only two blocks away from the best art store in New York. Next time God calls you to heckle, stop into the shop beforehand and ask the nice folks to help you. Yes, they're artists. Yes, lots of artists are gay. God is totally OK with that. You don't see him complaining about the Sistine Chapel, do you?

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 786 words (I found the ending!)
Blog: 247
DAILY TOTAL: 1,033 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 7,380/15,000 words

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Too Busy Writing to Blog

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 663 words (gnosticism notes)
DAILY TOTAL: 663 words

NOVEMBER RUNNING TOTAL: 6,174/15,000 words

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chicken Rights? Yes! Human Rights? Not So Much...

California's controversial "Proposition 8" to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California has received scads of news coverage. (No links. Google it yourself, you lazy bastard.) Although votes on Proposition 8 are still being tallied, the consensus is that Proposition 8 has passed.

Somewhat lost in partisan noise was "Proposition 2", which passed overwhelmingly and which was not covered by CNN. Proposition 2 (to be enacted in 2015), makes it illegal to confine calves, hens, or pigs in a manner that prevents them from lying down, standing up, extending their limbs, or turning freely around.

Proposition 2 and 8 both received almost the exact same number of "yes" votes—6.26 million for Proposition 2 and 6.16 million for Proposition 8. Now the similarity in those numbers is almost certainly coincidental, but it's fun to speculate that all of the people who voted to add legal protections for certain animals also voted to strip legal protections from certain humans. That sort of jives with my stereotype that all that sunny weather has addled the average Californian mind just a bit. Or maybe that's just bitterness on my part, given the 7 months of winter we endure up here. (And, mind you, I'm not opposed to the animal rights thing... I actually wouldn't have learned of Proposition 2 if it weren't for our subscription to Veg News.)

Interestingly, Governator Schwarzenegger is now encouraging gay activists to fight the constitutional amendment in court. That's a really... um... interesting statement coming from the guy who twice vetoed legislation to legalize same-sex marriages formally.

Tomorrow I'll be taking part in the national protest against Proposition 8. I'll let you know how that goes.

Join the Impact!

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 102 words
Blog: 272 words
DAILY TOTAL: 374 words


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blasphemy, Blas-for-you

In reading Pistis Sophia, one can't help but notice that crucifixion, death, and resurrection has had some deleterious effects on Jesus' cognitive functions. Compared to the pithiness of the canonical gospels, now the guy rambles. No wonder it took eleven years to make his point.

(An interesting observation... although yesterday's post is currently titled "Pistis Off", the URL is based on it's original title: "Poop of the Gods." I'll let y'all ponder the meaning and significance of the original title.)

I need to write eighteen more words to make it to five hundred today. This will do it.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: nada
Blog: 98 words
Journal: 402 words (actual creative writing)
DAILY TOTAL: 500 words


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pistis Off

Pistis Sophia is a gnostic gospel recording a lecture that Jesus gave to his disciples about eleven years after he died. Yeah... it turns out that all of the years following Jesus around while he was alive just earned them a Masters thesis. To get the full-on "doctor of divinity" required another decade. Oy-vay! I thought my eight-year dissertation project was interminable.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 575 words (gnostic research summaries)
Blog: 66 words
Future blog: 72 words
DAILY TOTAL: 713 words


Monday, November 10, 2008


You can now post comments to the blog anonymously. Huzzah!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gno Means Know

I am currently studying the gnostic texts of G.R.S. Mead as background for my novel, specifically his massive summary, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, and his translation of Pistis Sophia (from Latin, rather than from Coptic). I'm taking copious notes, and it's tempting to just regurgitate them onto this blog, but seriously, folks, you're better off reading the stuff yourself, or, barring that, just read Wikipedia.

It's also tempting to write my personal thoughts about the significance of these texts.

Instead, I am going to write about the dangers of outsourcing one’s brain.

A few weeks ago one of our maple trees dropped a limb and snapped our phone line. Although the phone company replaced the line relatively quickly, our Internet connection has never been the same. Today has been especially bad with slow download speeds and frequent connection breaks. It drove home the fact that I have become so accustomed to searching the Internet for information, that I am almost at a loss without. This has got me wondering about how much I really know. Not just in the existential sense (great big universe... frail human mind... insert sophomoric college bull session here). I mean how much of the stuff that I think I know, is actually just stuff that I know how to look up. I have always disdained memorization in favor of reasoning—Why memorize an equation that I can look up, when the real issue is knowing how to solve a problem by using that equation? I am beginning to suspect that my viewpoint has been cripplingly narrow. Specifically, what happens when I can't look up the equation? Isn’t it absurd to say that I know how to solve the problem in that situation when, in fact, I can’t?

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 231 words (gnostic research summaries)
Blog: 299 words
DAILY TOTAL: 530 words


Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Physics

I have decided that I need to do more research on the metaphysical setting of the novel. Just writing about writing does not count as writing, so in order to accomplish something creative I started a brief essay on the physicist Emil Wolf that I have been kicking around. Here's a teaser:

If you have any knowledge of Quantum Mechanics, then you are probably familiar with the name Max Born. You may even be familiar with the encyclopedic book Principles of Optics, which he wrote with his young student Emil Wolf. But unless you are a theoretical physicist working in the rarefied field of optical coherence theory, you probably know nothing about Emil Wolf. In particular you probably do not know that he is alive and well and (at the age of 82) still publishing dozens of paper every year. Even more importantly, you probably do not know that many of the things that you think you know about light are wrong... and I am looking at you, physicists.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 567 words
Blog: 169 words (Yeah, I counted the essay excerpt twice. Sue me.)
DAILY TOTAL: 736 words


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Elevator Pitch

My goal this month is to repeat the 15,000 words from last month. That's 500 words/day, which is pretty easy, actually. I'm also restricting blog time to 15 minutes, as I don't want this to eat too much into creative endeavors.

I'm still working my way through the Snowflake Method. I wrote a one sentence summary of the novel, which currently goes like this:

A free-spirited preacher’s daughter tries to hold her family together when millions of people, including her mother, vanish in the autumn of 1988 in an event that resembles the Biblical Rapture.

That's probably all that I'll say about the story until I have a second draft completed.

Right now I'm working on summarizing the plot into a paragraph that describes the situation, the basic crisis points, and the ending. I am finding this extremely difficult, which is probably symptomatic of deeper plot problems. When I wrote the novel, I had a clear vision of the characters and the situation, but I didn't know what would happen. The story grew organically out of it, which is good in many ways. Now, though, I need craftsmanship rather than creativity, and that involves disassembling what I wrote before. That's just not as easy as it sounds.

Oh, and I also need an ending... somehow I neglected to really find one in my previous draft.

I'll take another crack at the paragraph summary tomorrow.

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 552 words
Blog: 234 words
DAILY TOTAL: 786 words


Sunday, November 2, 2008

No No NaNo

I decided to bail out of NaNoWriMo this year, and instead focus on revising my first novel. My goal is to average at least 500 words/day, and maybe crank that up to 1000 words/day. To do that I will need to make more effective use of my time. Specifically I can't spend quite so much time staring at the keyboard without writing. Another productivity boost will be to reduce the volume of blog and journal entries, so that non-creative writing doesn't eat up quite so much of my daily word count. Specifically, I'm going to limit my blogging time to 15 minutes/day. The goal of this blog is really just to post my word count, and inform a few interested souls about what it's like to write a first novel. (Those of you seeking a schadenfreude fix will particularly enjoy the future entries, where my self-esteem will be crushed by a steady stream of rejection letters, first from editors and later from publishers. Boy, I know I can't wait for that!)

Today's literary find: Fragments of a Faith Forgotten by G. R. S. Mead (1900).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plot Crystals

I found an interesting website on plotting a novel. The process is called "The Snowflake Method", created by Randy Ingermanson. He proposed a "crystallization" process, in which the author begins with a one-sentence summary and builds upward from there. I really like the systematic nature of the approach. I don't think I have time to use the process for NaNoWriMo this year (which starts in exactly 24 hours... it being 12:00 AM the morning of October 31 at this moment), but I think it could be a valuable tool for rewriting my first novel, which has had me stymied since the spring of 2006.

It's interesting to note that Ingermanson is a Christian physicist who writes Biblically-inspired science fiction. That's an extremely small pond. Mind you, he is no longer a practicing superstring theorist, but he's still a scientist with a Ph.D. from Berkeley. It's been my experience that very very few physicists are able to bridge the cognitive distance between the Biblical and the scientific. For me nineteen years of religious education unraveled after only ten weeks of college education.


I have added the ability to subscribe to this blog via RSS. The URL you will want to use is here. The next task is learning how to "fold" my blog entries, so that only an excerpt appears on the front page. That requires mucking about inside the HTML.

Today's writing totals:
Journal:528 words
Blog: 236 words
DAILY TOTAL: 764 words


The Plot Thickens (but hasn't quite gelled)

I have a novel idea that seems to be going somewhere. We'll see. For me, it's all about finding the characters. If I get a few really interesting characters, and I can put them in an interesting situation, then the plot flows pretty naturally. That being said, I'm going to put more work into plotting this year. Last year I had a mathematical rule for the character interactions—that made for a really intriguing experiment, but the plot never quite happened.

So this year I have a heroine that I like, and I have a setting to explore with her. Now I need to develop a few plot points.

Incidentally, my method of fleshing out characters is taken from Chris Baty's book No Plot? No Problem!, which is a distillation of his experience on how to successfully make it through National Novel Writing Month.

The first bit of advice is to make a list of people that you would like to spend some time with... say one or two hours every day for a month. For me it's usually friends that I am out of touch with. To a lesser extent there's sometimes a celebrity or two on the list... usually a writer of some sort. Once I've got that list together, I start smashing the personalities together until I have some hybrids that intrigue me. I then start asking myself basic questions about their lives and personalities, until I have a pretty good notion of what they're like. Chris Baty's particular questions deal with gender, age, jobs, relationships, home, hobbies, recent past, and values. I find that as I start answering these questions, connections among the characters begin to form, and those start to lead to plot ideas. Like I said, this year I intend to put a bit more effort into plotting to see if I like where that takes me. Mind you, my good friend nerkymarg wrote her debut novel with no plot in mind at all, and you'd never know it, so there's something to be said for Chris Baty's approach: no plot really is no problem.

Today's writing totals:
Journal:1,220 words
Blog: 351 words
DAILY TOTAL: 1,771 words


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Panic on the NaNo-scale

I've been doing lots of doodling today, trying to figure out whether I have a novel in me for NaNoWriMo. I'm starting to feel that NaNoWriMo is actually a way of procrastinating from rewriting the novels I have already written (a task that has so far stymied me). Still, there's nothing quite like a writing death march of 1667 words per day.

While researching my story idea I stumbled across an amazing resource of classic literature. If you're a lit geek, you could spend the rest of your life at I actually ordered a DVD of the site, which contains all of the content as of September 2008. There's something about having 1500 obscure titles on my hard drive in searchable format that makes my blood tingle. Would it be pretentious to include them in my LibraryThing account (should I ever get around to cataloging my books)?

Today's writing totals:
Journal:652 words
Blog: 130 words
DAILY TOTAL: 782 words


Monday, October 27, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Every time I write a novel I start with Chris Baty's advice of creating a list of things that I love and hate about books I have read. I post those lists on my wall and use them to guide the book as I write. Every year the lists are a bit different. Here are this year's lists:

Things I LOVE in a Novel
  • re-interpretations of mythology
  • wit
  • humor
  • dark modern fantasy
  • well-researched details
  • descriptions that bring an environment to life
  • magical realism
  • “what-if” fiction that starts with a seemingly simple premise and reaches surprising conclusions
  • Stuff that makes me think
  • Stuff that rocks my perception of the world
  • Stuff that makes me uncomfortable
  • Books that seem disjointed, but in the end come together like a perfect puzzle
  • Books I can read over and over again
  • Beautiful language
  • Flawed characters
  • Books that make me feel clever
  • Pop culture references (Simpsons)
  • Short chapters
  • A fast-paced story that I hate to put down
  • Strong female characters
  • Natural “voice”
  • Sex
  • philosophical and spiritual themes
  • Hope
  • Richly detailed worlds
  • Really complicated plots that still feel natural

Things I HATE in a Novel
  • uninspired Tolkien knockoffs
  • bad fan fiction
  • poorly researched novels
  • unsatisfying endings
  • Too much beautiful writing
  • Utterly evil characters
  • vampire anti-heroes
  • heck, nowadays, I’m just sick of vampires
  • Books that insult the readers intelligence
  • A heavy-handed agenda
  • Logically flawed science fiction
  • Too many pop-culture references (Family Guy)
  • Boring plots
  • Most romances
  • Very technical science fiction
  • Forgettable characters
  • Anything with “Dan Brown” on the binding
  • Clumsy stories that drag the characters from plot point to plot point
I probably won't say too much about the novel as I'm writing it (if, indeed, I do write one), but here are some quotes that would go in the preface.

“I speke of many hundred yeres ago.
But now can no man see non elvès mo”
—The Wife of Bathes Tale, Chaucer

“Do you believe in fairies? Say quick that you believe! If you believe, clap your hands!”
—Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie (the play, not the book)

“Mary, it takes a fairy to make something pretty.”
—The Boys in the Band, M. Crowley

Today's writing totals:
Journal:785 words
Blog: 362 words
DAILY TOTAL: 1147 words



It's become a tradition for me to create a private blog when I'm working on a novel. I've got a handful of friends who are very supportive, and furthermore they seem to be genuinely interested in the whole messy process. Writing the blog is nominally more efficient than writing (or more generally complaining) to each person individually. When the first draft of the novel is done (none of my novels have survived a second draft yet), I have taken great pleasure in ritually closing out the blog.

This month I started a blog to track my day-to-day writing, even though I'm not writing a novel. It has been enjoyable to produce something for public view every day. Furthermore, because I post a running word count, I feel embarrassed if I skip writing, and humiliation does wonders for my motivation.

The problem with my previous blog is that, although it looks sharp, it's actually a pain to maintain because I can only post to it from my home computer. For that reason I am looking into moving my blog here, to Blogger. I'm not committing to it yet, but I'm going to give it a go.