Week 4 recap

Technically I guess it’s week 1, since I only wrote my resolutions last week, but I decided to go with the calendar, so week 4 it is. I’m not sure I’ll do recaps every week, and I’ll probably try to do them on Sundays or Mondays, but we will see.

The week started miserably, at least when it comes to actual output. The wheels were turning in my head though, trying to work out the best plot, but words? Nah.

Last Friday I visited Cicilie for what was supposed to be a write-in. Instead we spent the time eating good food, cuddling with her dog and discussing our stories. Each day I feel I am one step closer to a workable plot, but I keep doubting.

Technically I guess I did work quite a bit on my book if you count the back-and-forth plotting and plot discussions. I met a writer friend on Tuesday for a trip to IKEA, and went on a social visit to another writer friend on Saturday (turns out I have a few of those!), and both days I felt slightly closer to untangling the great plot knot. There are details to work out, but still.

Then… on Sunday I actually did something. But it wasn’t writing. I keep getting frustrated with all my timelines (particularly all the versions), and since I have to make a new timeline for Rogue Sorcery in my shiny new Aeon Timeline 2, I decided to just put in everything I’ve planned for that setting into the same timeline. It has quite good filtering options, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s full of things.

But of course it took more time than I had expected. Whenever does it not? I would perhaps have been more efficient if I hadn’t watched Doctor Who in the background, but I had a lot to catch up with. I ended up watching an entire season in less than 48 hours. I also somehow managed to finish the timeline up to the point where Rogue Sorcery begins.

It might seem like a waste of time, to plot so much that isn’t technically book plot. But it’s still relevant. The plot of RS is tied into the situation in the empire, and then you will need to know what the situation is like. Which general has been there the longest, which areas are the newest, just how much drama went down behind the scenes before the story starts?

Turns out quite a lot. There’s a lot of story material there, I think. I still really want to write about the emperor’s childhood and upbringing, but it would be a dark, dark story. Magic, murder and mayhem – kind of catchy, actually.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get some actual writing done the next few days. Cicilie and I planned to exchange drafts in what is less than a week away, and currently I’ve got nothing. Except one chapter that she’s read before. I had initially written four more chapters, but things have now changed so much that they’re out the window. Oooops?

What’s that? My plan? No idea what you’re talking about…

Well.

Apparently there was a plan. And a schedule. And a slightly overly optimistic writer who decided that YES, august would be the perfect time to finish the third draft of Rogue Sorcery. Nevermind that I have an insanely large translation job that I am already late with, plus two smaller ones. Or the fact that, after a long day at work and 4-5 hours (minimum) of non-stop translation, my brain is just a mushy ball of exhaustion. OK, sometimes I take the time to work out right after work, but without it, this kind of schedule just wouldn’t be possible. And did I mention that I’m beta reading not one, but two manuscripts?

Definitely not complaining about the last part, though. I like being able to help out, and both writers asked very nicely and had very interesting stories.

I had planned to use this weekend to (hopefully) catching up with where I’m supposed to be, word count-wise. It didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t written a single word all weekend. Friday I had work and translations, so no dice there. Saturday… I woke up at 6 a.m., strangely awake, but being that my apartment was a disaster area, I tried my best to fix that instead. I don’t regret it, because now I can actually look up from the computer screen without hyperventilating. Let me just tell you right now that being a naturally messy person while becoming really stressed if everything isn’t tidy around you isn’t a good combination. I don’t even like spotless homes.

The rest of Saturday was spent organizing some photos (another project of mine in which I’m behind schedule), reading blogs and playing Internet games, and going to bed early. Today I did more of the same, and I went for a step class at my gym. Guess who forgot to eat before going? Yep, I did. And breakfast was three hours before I left home. The choreography wasn’t hard, and I’m usually good at choreo, but I just couldn’t follow it at all. It was far easier last week.

Aaaanyway.

Guess how far I’m behind? 28k. And that’s my small goal, if the story ends up at 100k, which it won’t. The optimistic goal of 120k is more likely, and in that case… 35k behind. Hooray. It also turns out that I’ll have no time to write next weekend, since I’m going away with my new job. I haven’t even started yet, but it will be very useful when I do start. I can get some writing done on the airport, though. Didn’t think of that…

Still, in order for this post not to become a total downer, I have vacation towards the end of the month, directly before starting my new job. I’ll try not to take on more translation work, so I can get a lot written then. I do think I’ll have to talk to my writer friend/beta reader about the draft though, because our plan to exchange manuscripts by the end of the month might be a bit optimistic. Just a tiny bit. I am able to write 100k in two weeks, but not while doing other stuff. I think. I did do 250k last November, with a work conference and stuff during the month, so maaaybe it’s still possible… At least she’ll need to get a draft where the end is actually written out instead of just being a summary (I ran out of time last time, too).

 

Somehow I feel I’m too disorganised and scatter-brained to ever have any hope of becoming a full-time writer. I certainly have some work to do in the “being organised” department…

 

Writing progress! Woohoo!

Well! It’s finally under way! As you may remember, the editing/third draft for Rogue Sorcery kept being postponed, but finally. It’s being written.

I decided to take the NaNoWriMo approach to it, since Cicilie will have to get the entire draft at the end of August anyway and that’s less than a month away. So I found my trusty statistics spreadsheets again, and customised the different goals (you can have several different goals, and you can also adjust them so that you have a small daily quota on very hectic days, but a far larger one on days when you’re not working, for example)

Technically I’m a bit behind schedule. BUT: That’s because I didn’t technically finish the plan before day 2, and day 1’s quote was written the day before. But the stats don’t capture that, unfortunately, and I can’t be bothered to change the spreadsheet. It’s not nearly important enough, and I’ll catch up soon anyway.

So far the entire story is 12k, approximately, (2k written yesterday) and I expect it will be around 100-120k. I also have a feeling I will be wrong, in which case I will be lucky if I can give Cicilie a finished draft. Even if I have changed (but not actually written) the ending since she read it last.

On the other hand, it is a third draft. There will be sections where I don’t have to rewrite very much. I always write better when things get a bit more tense. The beginning takes time, mostly because there’s a lot of things I have to add as it was a bit too rushed and choppy.

Anyway. I hope I can report being back on track very soon 🙂

Wherein plans are changed

Cicilie and I have been reasonable for once – more incredible for me than for her, frankly – and adjusted the original deadlines for our spring projects. Not only does it allow us to have a finished story to post on Wattpad sooner, but it will give us more time to edit our novels (RS in my case) before exchanging manuscripts again. That last point is particularly important since I am a part-time student now, and have to study for exams in the first half of May. I can’t use my regular strategy of bullshitting my way through it either, since it’s business finance and I have to know stuff. Anyway, the new and updated plan (let’s all just pretend that I don’t actually love revising plans just as much as I love making them, which is a lot) is below:

April

  • Write the short Wattpad story, somewhere around 5k. (It’s fully plotted though! Yay!)
  • Edit the short Wattpad story, and actually post it (deadline 30th of April)
  • Enter the new ending for RS into the timeline in Aeon
  • Edit at least 10 chapters of RS

May

  • Edit the rest of RS (deadline 29th of May)
  • Re-read again
  • Finish the plot of the Wattpad novel

June

  • Write the Wattpad novel
  • Revise/edit the Wattpad novel (deadline 30th of June)

In the original plan I had some painting goals as well – they remain the same, so I won’t repeat them here. Except with the caveat that I’m not allowed to, you know, overwork myself, so I’m only going to do two of the six goals. One of them must be the goal of making a map of Wirun, since I need that for RS, but apart from that, as long as I finish one other painting goal, I’m happy.

So there it is!

Ready for Camp?

Since it so happens that my deadline for writing the next draft of Rogue Sorcery coincides completely with the deadline for Camp NaNoWriMo, I have decided to officially participate in it, even if it’s not a full rewrite and definitely not a first draft. To compensate, my goal is 80k, not 50k. In order to prove that I am sometimes a responsible adult I won’t even make any super-ambitious goals this time around. Mostly because I cannot bend the laws of time to my will yet. (I wish!)

Perhaps participating in Camp will help me stick to my deadlines. Because so far this deadline thing isn’t going very well. (I’ve only committed myself to following the main deadlines of my plan, right? Right?) I am supposed to have revised the ending of Rogue Sorcery fully by April 1st, but considering I also have two translations due before the weekend… Yeah. No.

I can plot an ending by then, no problem, but a good one? That’s a bit more problematic. Same goes for figuring out the problems with the old one. Currently it’s a bit too “whoops, look who happened to be in the right place at the right time!”. I feel a bit hesitant to change things around too much at this point, especially since the rather vague changes I have in mind will add a lot more words, but I might have to. The main question is: Will they all end up in the same place in the end as I had planned (which is a bit too convenient, really), or will they actually do stuff separately? But then what will Group B do (the ones who are not fighting the main baddie)? Are they even travelling? Perhaps something happens in Village A that means they will go back there? But then who does that? Does it have something to do with the plot in Forgotten Sorcery? Or perhaps C’s background, which has been sort of an unresolved issue? Do they even go to Fortress A? Isn’t it a bit too convenient that they reach the city where Group A is exactly at the right time?

Clearly there are some issues going on here. I could of course just say that it’s my good old perfectionism that rears its head again, but it’s better to tackle potential ending issues now rather than later. My gut feeling isn’t happy about it anyway. Besides, I have a couple of ideas. Some are rather easy to implement, others are more extensive and require changes to be made almost throughout the book. And some carry more weight, plot-wise, than I would really like. Still, everything’s up in the air right now. I haven’t found any one idea that really work, that ties everything up nicely while leading into book two, that is sufficiently dire and not too conveniently neat… Why are endings so difficult?


 

I am also working on my website nowadays. I have an unused photoblog and I’m not too happy about the layout of everything, so I’ve been thinking heavily about it. My current idea is to have one subdomain for my art and one for my photos, with separate wordpress installations (so that they can have themes customised for the content (For example a photo header for the photo section, while the art will have a painted one) and can be reached neatly and easily), but I haven’t completely decided yet.

I could of course put everything inside my current WP installation, but I don’t want it to become too cluttered, and then I would have to find a layout that works equally well for my photos and art and writing and blog and everything. In other words, I would never actually get it done. I just discovered that there is a plugin that allows you to have a completely different theme for certain pages, but I expect there will be a significant amount of tweaking there too. For example, the gallery pages will probably not have a sidebar or many widgets at all, or they might have a featured image section and so on.

Also, wouldn’t it be easier to direct people to art.ciuva.com than to a page address? If I link from my deviantART account it would be more sensible to link directly to the art section rather than the front page of everything. I can link to the gallery pages in the menu anyway, and there will still be only one blog (this one).

Or would it be confusing with three different themes? I cannot decide! The art and photo sections will most likely have the same theme, only with different graphics, in order to look similar, but they will all look different from the main site. Unless I change that too… Ideally I would find a theme or a design that works for all three sections, but I somehow doubt it.

Of course, to add to the problem, there are no themes I am 100% happy with. Either they don’t have the right fonts, or the right colour options, or they don’t work completely right, or I get frustrated because I cannot tweak that tiny little thing I apparently really, really need. Typical.

Anyway I think I have decided to stick to the subdomain idea, now if I can only decide on a theme…

Deadlines galore

Sorry for the lack of updates here in what seems like forever. I’ve been completely buried in work and have hardly had any time off whatsoever, neither for blogging nor writing. Cicilie and I had two write-ins, I believe, but neither of us was able to write anything at any of them. On the positive side: Extra money.

Lots of work or not, 2016 is the year I’ll do things with my writing. As such Cicilie and I (well, mostly Cicilie, to be honest) have come up with some deadlines to help us reach our goals. I also made some sub-deadlines for myself:

  • Goal: Finish second draft of Rogue Sorcery. This time Cicilie will be able to read a fully finished draft. I hope…
    • Revise the ending. Something feels off, and I don’t know what it is. Finish by 1st of April
    • Write the entire draft from start to finish. Finish by 25th of April
    • Double-check the new scenes and hand the draft to Cicilie. Finish by 30th of April.
  • Goal: Publish a short story on WattPad. I’ve had an account since sometime last year, but I’ve never posted anything. Mostly because I’ve been writing Rogue Sorcery, which I’ll try to get published, and because I haven’t finished much else and suck at writing short fiction. I also suck at actually uploading my writing. Time to do something about all those things!
    • Plot the story. Finish by 15th of May. Wanted it to be on the 10th, but considering I have an exam on the 9th… Not gonna happen. (Look, I can be realistic!)
    • Write the first draft of the story. Finish by 23rd of May.
    • Revise and publish the story on Wattpad. Finish by 29th of May.
  • Write a novel to be published on WattPad. This has quite tight deadline, but the idea is to plot it so carefully that the actual editing process will be relatively short and sweet. In addition I have already started the plotting, so I might just have the first draft done well before June starts. Famous last words, I guess, but at least the actual deadline isn’t overly optimistic… I hope.
    • Plot the novel completely. Finish by 15th of May, but preferably in April.
    • Write the first draft of the novel. Finish by 10th of June.
    • Revise the novel fully. Finish by 30th of June.
  • Aaand what would this blog be without overly ambitious painting/drawing/misc. goals? They’re all related to my stories anyway. I’ll not write individual deadlines for these, but a collective one of 30th of June:
    • Finish the new version of Queen of Sorcery
    • Paint illustration of Shanni’s cottage
    • Make an artsy map of Ayamar
    • Paint Arodhi’s fortress OR Wirun OR Whitebridge OR the village in the forest.
    • Use up my sketchbook (mostly because I want a new one :P)
    • Make a city map of Wirun and/or the village. Doesn’t need to be fancy, but I certainly need to know what’s where.
  • And finally… DON’T accept so much translation work that I don’t have time for any of this, and/or work myself into another breakdown. In other words, the most important goal of them all. 

I know this amount of goals seem overly ambitious and probably are. But most of the things need to be done anyway in order to meet the three actual deadlines (30th of April, 29th of May and 30th of June). I work far better under pressure, and the specific deadlines are the tools I need to ensure that I spread the work over a reasonable period of time instead of just the week before the main deadlines, as well as to make sure that I actually get the work done AND prepare properly. I won’t have time for endless rounds of editing for the Wattpad projects. Besides, I really like detailed lists (who hadn’t guessed by now…?)

To be honest I don’t intend to be too firm on the painting goals. I would like to get everything done, and these deadlines make sure that I actually work for it, but I’m not going to panic if I’m unable to paint/draw everything on the list. I do need the city maps, though.

 

Plotting time!

image

OK, I just had to test if posting from my mobile phone actually works. (What evidently didn’t work was to remove myself from the computer in the hope of removing distractions. Hello, phone! So far I’ve read about how to brew tea in a teapot (yes, I had to Google it), made myself a cup of coffee and written one line.)

Anyway, I decided to share a little photo of my plotting process. Here I have the original timeline, recently printed in list format from Aeon timeline, the actual scenes from the latest draft written down in keyword format by hand, my notebook, and a printout of the feedback I got from Cicilie. I have to admit that I feel a little intimidated by having to coordinate them, but it must be done. There were some huge changes in the last draft, and it skews the entire timeline. Part of me just wants to get on with it and start writing, but we’ve tried that before. Making the changes in advance is far less work, actually.

This timeline process of the last week has made one thing clear to me: I need a second computer monitor. Yes, my monitor at home is wide-screen, but still. Perhaps I should simply use my work computer for this (after work, of course), as it does have two monitors. Which is perhaps why I feel like I need it. Besides, I can’t afford a second one at the moment anyway.

Well, enough procrastination – back to work. It’s not like the whole thing needs to be redone after all… Just the middle. It’s always the middle though, isn’t it?

EDIT:

You know what, screw this. I had planned far too many steps and I cannot find the motivation to do them. I’ve revised the timeline and know what goes where. I have my notes on what I need to flesh out more. I’m not convinced that, at this stage, working endlessly on re-plotting the scenes is necessarily a good idea anymore. This isn’t NaNoWriMo. If I encounter a problem when writing the next draft, I can take the time to stop and plan that part. Frankly I just want to write the thing while the changes are fresh in my mind. My gut feeling tells me to skip all those extra steps and start writing. It’s not like the next draft will be the last anyway, and if there’s some worldbuilding missing or something that’s not quite right, I’ll discover it just as well when writing as if I’m plotting. I also think it’s a good idea to start writing while I remember the new scenes.

This, of course, brings me drastically ahead of schedule. I didn’t plan to start the third draft (or second?) before around the second week of April, but now it’s the second week of February. The good thing about this is of course that it gives me some time to edit another story of mine as well.

Sketchbook Saturday

Here’s a new Sketchbook Saturday! I haven’t really drawn a lot lately – this is mostly the product of last week or the week before – but have focused on my writing. I am officially one week ahead of my revision plan, as I finished writing down every scene in the current draft yesterday (my deadline is the 14th). There are some scenes or info I had planned that are missing from the draft, so I’ll find the timeline file today and start tweaking it. The start of the book is supposed to be in early spring, but I’m thinking of changing it to late autumn. It will explain some things better and make other things a bit more logical. I also need to figure out how the rather sudden plot changes I made during the previous draft affect the timeline.

IMG_20160207_125340But enough of that, I have sketches for you! This time my project was to practice shoulders and anatomy. As you can see I started out diligently, but veered quickly off track. In the end I just sketched some random portraits because, well, I couldn’t just leave the page half-empty.

I’ve also reached the conclusion that even if slightly rough paper is supposed to be good for drawing (texture and whatnot), I really don’t like it. Perhaps it’s because I naturally draw very small pictures – possibly a heritage from my days of doodling in the margins of my schoolboks. You can’t get really small and intricate details right on rough paper. At least I can’t, so I prefer really smooth and fine paper. Which means that all those “proper” sketchbooks are out the window… Not that I can afford to spend money on those anyway.

Have you sketched this week? Share a link!

Game plan, part… uh… a lot.

So! The grand manuscript exchange went mostly according to plan – it was handed over on the correct date, but alas not quite as edited as I would have liked. Poor Cicilie who had to juggle two different storylines in her head while reading – I don’t envy her that. On Sunday we met and gave each other feedback on the other’s story, also according to plan, so now I’m kind of afraid of breaking the streak. Our new goal is an edited draft by the 1st of May, which means I have some work to do.

In order to procrastinate and feel like I am doing something useful without actually doing what I’m supposed to, I’ve come up with a plan. Frankly I’m all about planning nowadays, since it has worked wonders for my work and studies, and well, if I want to avoid spending every waking moment editing before the deadline (which I don’t have the time for), I need to do this properly.

So I have created a list of what I need to do on Rogue Sorcery before handing the manuscript over again, or before I consider it to be done(at this stage, of course there are several rounds of editing left):

  1. Write down every scene in the current draft. Things always change from the plot to the actual draft, and I need to make changes to certain things anyway – but the details are kind of fuzzy. Also, note down time of year, characters involved and where they are. Deadline: 14th of February
  2. Make a new timeline from scratch, including the info above. Deadline: 21st of February
  3. Adjust the timeline according to things that came up during the rewrite and feedback. Note and implement the changes from Cicilie’s feedback. Deadline: 28th of February
  4. Note down in which scenes there are plot changes or new scenes, i.e. where the new timeline and old draft diverges. Deadline: 2oth of March
  5. Go through and write down where information or additional worldbuilding is needed. Deadline: 27th of March.
  6. Do a last check of the timeline, characters, plot, tension and so on again. Deadline: 10th of April
  7. Write a proper second draft, filling out all the missing details. Deadline: 1st of May.

No work at all, in other words… And in between this I have another story to work on.

The plan may be overly optimistic (when are my plans not?) but as long as I manage to stop procrastinating I think it’s completely doable. I have a feeling that I have said the exact same thing before, but there’s a time to stop dawdling and just get the thing done, and I believe that time is now.

Art Comparison: Winter’s Child

When inspiration runs low and I cannot think about a single thing to paint, I often redo old pictures. The “right” thing to do would be to start from scratch, but I simply continue working on the original picture. Still the two versions often end up being very different.

This is a comparison of two pictures you’ll find over at my dA account (I haven’t added any of my new pictures to my gallery here yet) of the main character of Rogue Sorcery, Shanni. At the time the first picture was painted, she was still called Shanouna (though Shanni sort of was the short form), and I had wanted to paint her in the snow. In danger of sounding pretentious, many of my stories have oppositions that relate to the seasons or elements. Shanni has always been winter. One of the story beginnings, which I wrote about in this post, starts in an unnamed valley in the winter, and has sort of become the picture I always have in my head of her. But also personality-wise – she is not really cold, but she often seems like it. She’s both dark as the night and yet bright as the snow at the same time. Both beautiful and dangerous, mysterious and scary. At times.

Anyway, I’ve written far too much. Here’s the picture – there’s around ten years between the two pictures, so there of course should be quite a bit of a difference, but I am always glad to see it… 😉

Winter's child comparison

What do you think?