Saturday Snippet 12th of September

Saturday SnippetWelcome to the Saturday Snippet! This is a bi-monthly column, normally posted every other Saturday, where I and others post bits and pieces from whatever we’re writing at the moment, at various stages of completion. If you would like to join us, there’s a linkup at the bottom of this post, where you can add a link to your own blog post, or post in the comment section. There are only three rules: Link back here, only post your own writing, and have fun!

From last time’s song adventure I return to a more typical snippet. It’s from a story called “The Unnamed” (which would make it named, I assume?) which currently has half a chapter. Well, really, it has half a monologue and not much more. The title got stuck in my mind, and I have some vague ideas of what it’s about, but I don’t know when or even if I’ll actually write the thing. Still, I like the idea – it might be my NaNoWriMo story (one of them) this year.

The basic premise is this: The main character is on the run from something or someone. He has been for quite a while. And when the story starts, he is evidently musing about life and being on the run. This is towards the end of his little monologue:

“The only benefit of being on the run is that it teaches you not to be overly sentimental. You cannot get to know anyone, because sooner or later you will have to leave. You cannot acquire a whole lot of things, or keep things just for the memories, or get attached to any place, person or thing, not even the annoying dog next door.

Of course, when you aren’t burdened with an overabundance of sentimentality to begin with, this isn’t much of a benefit.”

Others who wrote a Saturday Snippet this week:

I’m not dead

Well, here we are, around three months after my last update. I never intended to be absent for quite so long, but I never really did anything worth mentioning here. I did do some editing during March (thanks to Cicilie, mostly), but it was mostly trying to pick up where I left off and realising that huge things needed to change. I also had big plans of doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I think I wrote around 1.5k in total, soooo… Nope. Didn’t happen.

I have done plenty of other things, but they didn’t feel natural to write about here. With four blogs it doesn’t take long before you feel like you’re constantly repeating yourself, which unfortunately have led to my not really updating any of them. Since last time I’ve focused on getting my health back on track, more seriously (and successfully) in the past week or so. I’ve run my very first half marathon (after three weeks of absolutely no training – how much worse could it really get), and even if I walked a lot of the distance, yes, I did cross that finish line and have the medal to prove it (but on another computer, so I can’t upload it now). I did a showcase with my dancing group on Saturday 2nd, which went okay. I’ve finally started reading again, at least a little bit, and once I’ve read two more books plus the one I’m reading now, I’ll finally allow myself to buy books again. I’ve had a rule to finish all the books I own before I can buy new ones. It’s worked really well – some books ended up at the used bookstore because I didn’t really want to read them, but that’s fine. I’ve taken up running again. I’ve applied for a two-year course (part-time) in business economics, which I think will be interesting. I’ve spent quite a lot of time at work or in meetings (sort of related to work). I’ve cleaned my apartment from ceiling to floor, getting rid of quite a bit of unnecessary stuff.

But. There are also quite a few things I haven’t done.

I haven’t continued working on my conlangs, even if I do need quite a few more words before I write the second draft of Rogue Sorcery (for the place names). I did some work on them in March, but there is still a LOT to do. In that vein, I haven’t continued my worldbuilding either. I haven’t written anything new, apart from the one chapter for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I haven’t edited anything old. I haven’t painted (apart from, I think, a quick sketch a month or so ago) or drawn, I haven’t made any of the maps I wanted, nor have I played any of my instruments or written any songs or done anything remotely creative that I might write about here.

Perhaps I needed some time off from my creative pursuits (which felt more and more like chores) in order to get other things back on track. I needed to get back into dancing, to work out more, to clean and tidy my apartment, to get all those boring little things off my mind. I needed to allow myself some time to do nothing or watch trashy TV series (I have now watched more World’s Strictest Parents and Toddlers and Tiaras than I ever want to watch again), time to spend with my friends, to go for walks, and to spend enough time randomly browsing the internet to realise that yeah, might be fun to do something productive again. I think that’s been really necessary for me now – to move painting, writing, editing, conlanging, conworlding etc. from the “should/must do” category to the “want to do”. At one point I simply had too many things on my mind, fighting for attention.

So what now?

First I’m going to finish those two books that I have left to read, plus the one I’m nearly finished reading now. Then I’m going to take a week or two (or three) before I buy new books, to simply re-read old ones. And perhaps do some conlanging. Then I’m going to finish the maps, and work some more on the culture and history of the country in which Rogue Sorcery takes place. And then I’m going to re-plot the whole thing. Again. But it’s necessary.

That’s the plan, anyway, but you never know what will happen, so we’ll see. I’ll try to update this more often too!

Oooh, and by the way, today it’s exactly four years since I submitted my Master’s thesis. How time flies! I remember how happy and exhausted I was that day, when I finally could hand in the thing that had caused me so much frustration, after two years of extensions and delays and mental illness and whatnot. I never expected that I would work in an office, happily doing accounts and sending invoices and answering the phone and so on. Things don’t always go according to plan, and I will perhaps never know whether I made the right choice. The road to a PhD is still open, though, at least once I get a paper or two published (who knows when that will happen), but I still debate with myself whether or not I should continue with linguistics or keep working with economics and finance. Guess I should just get that paper written, and then we’ll see. There’s no point in worrying about it, anyway.

Overachieving without overachieving too much

This year’s NaNoWriMo has proven to be quite the balancing act. There’s been the usual two-day meeting at work that always happens the first few days of November, and there’s a big dance competition coming up next week that will take away four full writing days, plus anywhere between 4-10 hours of dance practice every week. Plus my regular work, meetings in my writing group, translations for my brother’s company, occasionally meeting my friends… and somehow in the middle of it all I’ve decided to write 200k (dream goal 250k).

I know I should probably reduce the goal a little to ease the load, particularly since I’m lagging quite a bit behind now, but… I really don’t want to. Yes, I am behind, and yes, I’m rather tired now, but the first half of the month was the most hectic part. I also really struggled with my novel, which I finished a few days ago and replaced with a significantly more fun one. Besides, I’ll have the entire last week of November off.

We’ll see how it goes. I’m not giving up on the 200k, though – I only need to write a little less than 7300 words per day, and unless something comes up I’m going to write more than that during the last week.

As I mentioned, I struggled with my first story. Those 50k were a chore – the story just would not come out right, and I’m neither used to writing urban fantasy nor 1st person POV, and it took me 80% of the book to discover the plot.

My current story is in a more familiar setting, while being new and fresh (I haven’t written about any of the characters involved before). I’ve only written 11k so far, but I like most of the 11k, and I enjoy writing both the characters, plot and setting. Sure, there are problems, but none that cannot be fixed in the edit. The story has princes, moody kings, war, trickery, dark secrets, mystery, a little bit of romance and quite possibly dragons. The latter weren’t in the original outline (lots of things weren’t, since it’s old and very brief), but something’s got to be in those massive mountains, after all. I think it’s fair to say that while I LOVE to read urban fantasy, writing epic fantasy is more my thing. Epic, sarcastic and dark-but-optimistic fantasy.

Writing projects 2014

Oh, my how this blog has died. I just looked at the info in the Blogger interface and saw that the last update was October 24th. That’s a long, long time ago. But then again, after October is November, and we all know what that means – NaNoWriMo. I think I updated my Norwegian blog a couple of times during November, but it was such an immensely productive year, NaNoWriMo-wise, that I didn’t really have time left for blogging. In addition, I’ve struggled to find out what to write about here and on my Norwegian blog – I don’t want one to be merely a translation of the other. And so, as I always do, I’ve just postponed the issue.

Anyway. NaNoWriMo was a massive personal success for me last year. I wrote more than 160k, which not only broke my previous record, but smashed it to bits. I rather like my stories, too. I wrote two novels (book two and three of my currently unnamed series) and 20k of a third one. Very pleased with that. I had intended to finish the third before the end of the year, but alas, I hardly touched a computer during my Christmas break, and before that there was just no time. However:

The third NaNo story was finished today, clocking in at 55k. It is particularly satisfying for this story, since I’ve struggled a great deal with it. I’ve had the idea for years, and I’ve actually written a first draft twice before. Only the beginning (kind of) remains from those earlier drafts. I’ve never really found a plot that engaged me – but now I think I do. It involves elves, monsters, magical forests, mad queens and sneaky assassins. There’s also a sprinkle of love, a tiny hint of betrayal and a dark past. I’m always in love with a story I’ve just finished, but I do think this one has potential. At least I hope so.

Over to the topic of this post. 2014 seems to be the year of overly optimistic writing ambitions, and I’m not ashamed of it. I will say that I’ll be overjoyed if I manage even half of my goals, but how wonderful wouldn’t it be to finally have written all the stories that’s in my head? I also need ambitious goals in order to break the barrier and actually write those three second drafts that I’ve delayed for ages.

Anyway, here’s the list* (please ignore the hideous titles):

– January 1st to February 15th: Border Forest (1st draft): DONE
– February 1st to March 15th: Rogue Sorcery (2nd draft):
– February 1st to March 15th: Article based on my MA thesis**
– March 1st to April 15th: The Exiled Prince (1st draft):
– April 1st to May 15th: Forgotten Sorcery (2nd draft):***
– May 1st to June 15th: The Shopkeeper (1st draft):
– June 1st to July 15th: Natural Sorcery (2nd draft):
– July 1st to August 15th: New beginnings (1st draft):
– August 1st to September 15th: Border Forest (2nd draft):
– September 1st to October 15th: Noirinu Athiar/Foen Eiunei (1st draft):
– October 1st to November 15th: Inadhra (1st draft):
– November 1st to November 30th: The Academy (1st draft, NaNoWriMo novel):
– November 1st to November 30th: Apprentice Sorcerers (1st draft, 2nd NaNo novel):
– December 1st to December 31st: The Misplaced Dragon (1st draft):****

Extra stories (if somehow this list isn’t enough:
– Secret Society 1st draft
– Chamiroun 1st draft
– City Wizards 1st draft
– Mining Camp 1st draft

*I know that most dates overlap; that’s on purpose in case I write faster than planned one month and not the other.
**Not fiction in the slightest, but it’s good to have the deadlines there. Not sure how I’ll juggle two projects in one month, but if I can write two and a half novels during one month this should absolutely be possible.
***Just realised that if I follow this plan, I won’t actually write any first draft in either of the Camp NaNoWriMo month. Might have to reconsider the dates, but it would be nice to alternate between first and second drafts. Mostly because I’m not used to rewriting and editing anymore, so it might be too much. As if this whole list isn’t already too much…
****Yes, I realise this means one novel per month, plus an extra one during November, plus a huge article, as well as four “bonus” stories. Would be cool if I succeeded, but I’m not expecting it.

I… won?

I joined Camp NaNoWriMo very spontaneously, because my friends were going to do it. And the first few weeks I didn’t exactly write very regularly. But then suddenly my story started to really grab my attention, and these past few days I’ve been writing and writing, not really thinking of the word count. Yesterday I wrote 10k. Today I wrote 5k – and thus reached 50k and won Camp NaNoWriMo.

I really can’t get over the fact that I did win, with all that’s been going on this year. New job, upcoming surgery, plenty of things to distract me. But I feel my story is good this time, I’ve really found how I want it to be, on third attempt. There’s still a lot left to go – it will probably take at least 20k before I’m done, so I’m aiming for 75k. Preferrably I’ll finish before November, when NaNoWriMo starts, and it would be even better if I got two weeks “off” before that.

But damn, I won. It was unexpected (probably not for everyone else, but it was for me), but I won’t complain!

Writerly realisations: Novel length

I am, as you probably know, participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m a little behind at present, but I don’t think finishing on time will be a problem. I’m at 35000 and need to be at around 38000-39000 or something like that. But I realised one thing… There is no way I’ll be able to finish the novel in only 15000 words more. No way. I haven’t even written half of my plot!

I could of course cut it down, but the most important things are from now and onwards. The two main characters will have to finally meet and they will have to slowly realise that they might not need to be on opposite sides and that, well, sometimes you have to change your mind, they will have to find another character and so on so that the magic in the area won’t destroy everything and everyone there, and they have to sort out the sticky situation that caused them to meet each other in the first place. That sorting out will have to take quite a lot of words.

I would have hoped that I’d have a finished first draft at the end of the month, but it seems it will be a bit more extensive than that. Oh well… I guess I’ll finish it someday. At least I’ll get the 50,000 words. I hope.

Now I only have to find a working title for the thing.