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?

A teeny tiny little update

I finally found back to this blog after my unplanned three-month hiatus. Some things have changed – for the better or for the worse – and instead of writing paragraph after paragraph, I decided to go for a simple list of news, resolutions and other updates:

  1. I won NaNoWriMo 2016 as well, with barely more than 50k. I had very little energy and focused on the class challenge at my gym (which I nailed, btw, I even won a backpack and some other stuff). But I won, and I’m happy.
  2. Rogue Sorcery is just as unfinished as it was when the autumn began.
  3. But I have fixed some fairly important plot issues. And made some more work for myself, but that’s to be expected. I really like the changes. Should also be mentioned:
  4. Without my writer friends I would… well, I might have gotten the same ideas, but it would have taken much longer. They are awesome people, all of them.
  5. Mental health took a nosedive and is now on its way back up.
  6. I finished the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2016, but not without drastically reducing my goal. Still had to read a lot for the last two days of the year to make it, so I’m happy.
  7. Stuck in a job I had high hopes for but which is less rewarding and more stressful than I thought, becoming a writer – an actual, nearly full time writer – has become more important than ever.
  8. As being a writer has gone from something I want to do to something I desperately need to do (not because I think it’s particularly lucrative, but because it’s what I want), I’ve realised that I really, really, really need to make time for writing, and get the ball rolling again.
  9. I would really like to make the literary version of a webcomic (literary as in “just words and no pictures”, not because a webcomic by default isn’t literary – I’ve seen several examples on the contrary). At least something ongoing that I can keep adding to and which I can share online with minimal fuss.
  10. Aiming to start setting aside more time to write during the week. Surely I can cut down on some of my “watch pointless stuff on Youtube” time.
  11. Also aiming to blog more. Granted it doesn’t take much to blog more than once every three months, buuuut still. I’m hoping to be able to blog once a week or so. I have missed blogging. And writing. Frankly, I’ve missed lots of stuff.

I don’t remember if this was all I had intended to say, but here it is. What have you guys been up to? (If anyone is reading, still)

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…

 

The Grand Editing Adventure, Day 6

After my previous, rather jubilant update, this one is more… meh. In other words: I haven’t written a thing. And that means, people, that I need to write 10k today. I’ve been more optimistic in the past, and I’m not sure I’ll manage to catch up today.

On one hand, I do write very fast, and 10k days are usually no problem at all if I have the day off from work. Besides, I know (mostly) what I’m writing and some sections won’t need much of a rewrite this time around. On the other hand the list of reasons why it might not be possible to catch up today is a bit more extensive:

  1. I really need to clean my apartment today. It sounds like a bad excuse, but it’s gone past the scope of the word “hot mess” and moved into “catastrophic”. And when I’m already stressed out and exhausted, a messy apartment makes it ten times worse. Not a good thing.
  2. I’m a bit more than a week into my huge translation job and it’s taking a toll. Even if I try to take enough breaks, that many hours of the same type of content is very, very exhausting. I’m not actually sure my brain will cooperate today.
  3. My poor wrists. I’ve had several large translations in a row without breaks in between, and that many words for that many hours for that many days… hurt. They feel better today than yesterday, but if they start acting up I might have to stop, just in case.
  4. My neck. My posture is abysmal when I’m in front of a computer, and since I’m in front of a computer most of the day, and the bad habits have started to carry over into other situations, my neck has begun to act up too. Besides, I tense up when I’m stressed, so the muscles are really stiff. I’m working on it, but I will have to take more breaks than I usually would.
  5. “No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished” (book 3 in the Heartstriker series) by Rachel Aaron came out yesterday, and is already in my Kindle app. I’m not even sure I’ll feel bad about reading it instead of writing. Well, OK, maybe a little.

Today’s original quota was 5k. I will definitely have to write that today, and if I can’t catch up today I’ll have to do it tomorrow. If I start next week by being behind, I’ll definitely not be optimistic.

Still, to be fair, I haven’t reached the “I hate my story” point yet, so that’s good.

Changes!

Some days ago I made the abrupt decision to switch webhosts. It wasn’t a new idea, since I used several different webhosts and registrars and whatnot, but I couldn’t really be bothered before. I had also thought about moving my photography over to this site, but I never got around to it. So now I’ve made quite a few changes:

  • Made a hosting account with Bluehost instead of JaguarPC – I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with JaguarPC, but had heard good things about Bluehost. There was a Memorial Day sale with a really good price for the first year, so I just did it.
  • I’ve pointed my ciuva.com website to that domain, and let me tell you, I had some nerve-wracking hours when I tried to upload the website contents to the new host via ftp and couldn’t get it to log me on. Turns out I had been too impatient and the changes had not properly propagated yet. If you visited my website and saw that it was down yesterday, that was the reason.
  • I have cancelled the hosting for my csandal.com website, as well as cancelled the domain renewal. No point in paying for something I don’t use, and if I’m moving my photography to this site anyway…
  • I have also cancelled the renewal for my first domain, which for some reason has kept going even if I thought I cancelled it years ago. The most clunky URL ever – tales-of-charbakin.com. I chose it because Tales of Charbakin was, at the time, the name of my series, but I didn’t really think it through. I am thinking of using Tales of the North for something though…

So now, or at least as soon as all the changes go through, I have everything in one place. Just one single cpanel/hosting account to log into. It’s great! All the verification and security and information that Bluehost provides is a bit overwhelming and feels a bit too much, but I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I have some more visible changes in mind, but I am not sure when I will implement them. I will have to decide what to do first. I think I have decided on a theme, but I want to make sure it looks good first, and that the way I have organised things is good enough.

I’m sure none of you are really interested in this, but somehow I apparently had to write it, so… Well.

Tomorrow I’ll finally start editing Rogue Sorcery again. I could have started today, of course, but I have had five and a half hours of dance practice today, plus two yesterday and three the day before, so I feel too sorry for myself. Really painful feet are quite distracting… As is the Irish dance music that is stuck in my brain. I’ve tried listening to metal and disco (of all things) (not at once of course) to drown it out, but it still sticks. Perhaps k-pop works. 😛

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!

2015 wrap-up

2015 isn’t quite over yet, but since there’s only two days left, I figured I might as well do the 2015 summary post now. 2015 has been an intense year. I had some health-related breakthroughs, I started a new part-time teaching job in addition to my regular job, I started studying again (only part-time, but still), and dance class and working on Rogue Sorcery were still top priority. Apart from that there was very little time for other creative pursuits in the autumn, though I’ve tried to make up for it now during Christmas break.

Writing and NaNoWriMo

It’s been a productive year when it comes to writing, and this year’s NaNoWriMo was record-breaking. I wrote 211k (my personal best was 175k) and finished three stories. One of them is my old shopkeeper story which keeps evolving, but which finally has a completed first draft. Hopefully it will end up on Wattpad very soon. I also wrote a brand new story (only based on an old beginning, but still) which I really like.

Rogue Sorcery has been my main project, and I revised and refined the plot. There’s still a lot to do. I also wrote a second first draft (with all the changes), which has now been handed over to Cicilie as per our agreement (she reads my manuscript and I read hers, and then we will give each other feedback). Just giving the manuscript over to someone else is a major mountain that has been crossed.

 

Painting and drawing

While 2014 was an utterly miserable year, drawing-related (I didn’t upload a single thing to my deviantART gallery that year), 2015 ended up being a little better. Well, actually, when I look through my gallery there are quite a few new pieces there. I think I uploaded some of them here, but here is a list of all of them:

Nell Black-haired girlPencil portraitWinter’s child remadePurple portraitWitch queen remake WIP

 

The first two are from earlier in the year, while the rest are from the Christmas holidays. One pencil drawing (plus a lot of random sketches and doodles, mostly ball-point pen though) and the rest digital, most of them remakes of older pictures (wonderful when I don’t know what to paint). I finally re-installed some custom brushes on my laptop, which made everything a LOT easier.

 

Summary

All in all it’s been a good year, everything considered. I would have liked to have been a bit more active on various websites, other blogs and deviantART (not to mention this blog), but it is what it is. After NaNoWriMo began, the Saturday Snippets apparently and unfortunately went on an unplanned hiatus, but they will resume after New Year’s. I also started a character drawing gig at Fiverr (here), but it’s very recent and it’s too early to say anything about it yet.

As usual I have some New Year’s resolutions, but I will write a separate post about that in a few days. Suffice it to say that I have plans, but I will try to be realistic this year. Try.

How has your year been?

The victory update

Here it is, the most important of all NaNoWriMo updates: The Victory Update. This year, when my goal of 200k (or my ultimate dream goal 250k if things went extremely well) seemed overly optimistic even for me because of work commitments and travel and studies and whatnot, I thought I would do worse than last year. I had far less time, for one thing. I was suddenly a student. I had a work conference, plus an extra job. On the other hand I had planned out two and a half stories (well, three and a half, but one just didn’t work, hence the half one which I didn’t have the time to finish plotting before November started). One of them was the second first draft of Rogue Sorcery – since everything had to be rewritten for scratch because the plot had changed so much, I do consider it an entirely new first draft. And Cicilie will have to read it in December, as per our agreement. Poor soul. Anyway, I thought that would be quick and easy and wordy.

Turned out things didn’t go exactly according to plan.

It should perhaps be noted that this is the third year I have tried to reach 200k. Two years ago I reached 163k, then 175k last year, and both of those were… difficult. So I didn’t really expect to succeed this time. Still, I made a rule for myself that I wouldn’t validate until I reached 200k. Or it was the evening of 30th of November and no more time to reach that goal. Well, I validated yesterday.

These are my stats:

stats

Very happy with those. My last story did get stuck fairly early on, but thankfully I managed to make myself change the plot, and voila, I think it improved. The main reason that I got unstuck, however, is that I finally realised that 250k when I was 50k behind and stuck was too much. So I adjusted my spreadsheet goals down to 200k, and suddenly, with that pressure gone, the writing flowed again. You can see pretty clearly at which point things got stuck and unstuck. I have to blame that one on work too, since I was at a conference for a week, but still. Lesson learnt.

If I find any time to write today, I’ll try to bring my wordcount over 210k. My goal for next year is already set – bring my Lifetime Achievement past the million. At my current wordcount that means 212k, which is perfectly doable. Especially since I want to try for 250k next year. I haven’t decided yet, but I really, really, really want it.

 

Now I just have to try to find a balance between actually finishing my story (at least writing out the plot) and studying for my exam. The exam should win, but…

What a good example I’m setting for my students.

The “Help, I need to catch up” NaNoWriMo update

We are now more than halfway into NaNoWriMo, and I’m behind. I managed to keep up with my wordcount goal, barely, until a couple of days ago, despite having rather too little time in which to write. But, surprise surprise, the combo conferences+translation jobs isn’t extremely good for getting large wordcounts – any free time was eaten up by getting the translation done. I guess it didn’t help that I finished my second story 10k before I was meant to (plotting led to a better story, but alas far less padding).

This year my goal is 250k. It’s overly ambitious, since I am far more busy than last year, when I got my personal best at 175k. 250 is equivalent to 8,333 words per day, and currently my average is 7,461 words, if I don’t count the zero words I’ve written today. If you consider that the regular NaNo goal is 1,667 I’m very happy – and 7,461 adds up to more than 221k in total, a lot more than my personal best. Besides – I have vacation next week, in which I intend to write a lot.

I have three stories lined up this year, where I have written two. The first was a fantasy story of a guy and his revenge plot that didn’t quite go as planned. The revenge that is, not the story. The second was an urban fantasy story, about a man who isn’t quite who he seems and who gets in a rather big problem (which would describe half of all stories ever, perhaps). I have tried to write this story for years now, and finally I found a plot that worked.

The last story is a second draft, actually, or rather a second first draft – the plot is so drastically changed that there is almost nothing left of the first draft except the beginning (which is already written and won’t be counted in my wordcount). I have written about the story quite a few times – it is Rogue Sorcery, which i initially wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2011 or 2012, I think. It is about a sorceress who has lost her powers, an emperor who tries to protect his country and someone who is wreaking all sorts of havoc. I am going to exchange manuscripts with Cicilie on the 12th (eeeek, less than a month away), at which point the 2nd draft probably should be somewhat finished… The main problem now is that it will probably not end up at 130k, which is what I need to reach 250k, so I might have to improvise a fourth story. We will see!