Saturday, November 28, 2009

A larger story

I reread the novella that I’ve been trying to condense into a shorter story, and it was immediately obvious to me that there was too much going on in it to fit into one story, so I’ve been trying to split it into two separate, but connected, stories.

This, however, has not been working.  The different events are interwoven in the original version (more by accident than design), and separating them into two distinct stories seems to weaken both.  They need each other.

And so it is that I suddenly find myself working on a novel instead of a short story, which means doing a bit of outlining first to figure out which areas to expand and where new material needs to be added, etc.

I never expected to be the sort of writer who outlines novels before writing them, but in a way it’s turned out to be my favorite part of the process-- dealing with the plot as a single, fluid idea, rather than concentrating on the details.  It’s like sketching out the composition for a painting with broad, free strokes, working fast and loose.  It’s the part where I get to figure out what happens; writing the novel itself is usually a task of translating the vision into language (though there are still surprises, such as when I discover a character can’t follow the original plot because it requires them to do something that they wouldn’t actually do).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books and more books

The local library had a huge book sale this week, and today was bag day ($2 for as many books as you could stuff into a paper bag).  Somehow, despite trying to keep in mind the fact that I was already out of shelf space and didn’t have enough room for the books I already had, I ended up getting six bags.  That’s in addition to the forty or so books I’d already picked up at the sale earlier in the week.

I really need to build some bookshelves.  Er, except that would require cleaning out the garage....

Speaking of books, I found myself overcome this weekend by a sudden strong desire to reread Jeff Smith’s Bone, which I’m enjoying immensely.  One of these days I’d like to get a set of individual hardcover volumes; what I’ve got right now is a one-volume edition, which at more than 1300 pages is thick enough to be a little awkward.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Doing the library thing

I recently joined LibraryThing.  This is one of those rare situations where my tendency to hang on to practically everything because “it might be useful someday” has actually paid off:  I happen to have an old CueCat USB barcode scanner that’s spent the past eight years or so sitting in a box of miscellaneous stuff; I got it when the CueCat company was giving the things away in malls, essentially pushing them into the hands of everyone who passed by.  So I dragged it out, declawed it, and started scanning.

Of course, a number of my books are too old to have barcodes, or ISBN’s, so entering a shelf of books is rather time-consuming.  But not necessarily in a bad way.

Now, it’s probably self-evident that time I’m spending on LibraryThing is time I’m Not Writing.  But this is one of those cases where the distraction (frolicking through my library, so to speak) is happening because I’m not writing, not the other way around.  Real-life stuff has been interfering with my writing time the past few weeks (I really hate it when that happens).  It’s mostly (but not entirely) an issue of having too many other things bouncing around in my head to devote proper attention to my stories.  Which is a good time to do stuff like cataloging things and blogging and redesigning web pages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Newer project

I haven’t quite got the novella rewrite off the ground yet.  It’s one of those things where I’ll sit at the computer with the file open for several hours but will mysteriously fail to accomplish anything.  I think it’s mostly an issue of not being able to get my imagination really into the story, so I’ll probably give up my plan to rewrite it without looking at the original first.

I’m also working on a new short story idea, something that occurred to me a few days ago.  It’s pretty bare-bones and needs some creative development before I can start really writing it; I’m hoping to switch back and forth between the new idea and the rewrite, concentrating on whichever seems to be working best at the time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New project

I’m writing again.  Well, more or less.  I haven’t got back up to full speed, but that’s not unexpected with a new project.  Actually it’s something of an old project -- I’ve started rewriting a novella I wrote about six years ago.  This is my second attempt at rewriting/revising it (the last attempt didn’t get anywhere).  I expect it to end up as a short story, rather than a novella--which would probably be a good thing, since I have the impression that novellas are particularly difficult to sell.

This one’s being rewritten from scratch, in the sense that I’m writing a new version without even looking at the old one.  Right now I’m working on the beginning, and realizing I may not have a strong enough idea of the setting.

Okay, technically right now what I’m doing is writing a blog post, obviously, and trying to stay awake (I’ve just made coffee).  But you get the idea.

Also, I seem to be over the flu.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cough, cough, cough

Since last post I did in fact begin cleaning my studio (with partial success).  But then I was slowed down somewhat by catching a cold (second one in the last two months).  Then I spent a few days in Ohio for Franciscan University’s Alumni Weekend.  No sooner had I returned home, however, than I came down with the flu.  Which I still have.

So.  Progress on pretty much everything has ground to a halt, and will no doubt stay that way until sometime next week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What I do when I’m not writing

I had a blog on another site for a while, which I kept primarily on the theory that if I made semi-regular posts announcing the progress I’d made on my novel, I’d be sufficiently embarrassed by my “zero progress” posts that I’d step up and get some work done.

It worked (for the most part), and I finished the novel.  Finding myself thus between projects, I decided on a brief hiatus in order to get some other stuff done (such as cleaning my studio), and I shut down the old blog at the same time.

I figured I’d get the new blog started early, partly so that I could announce a getting-back-to-writing date (the most effective self-imposed deadlines are the publicized ones), but mostly because I’ve had time to do things like get my Blogger account functional.  (I’m still experimenting with the layout and design aspects, so bear with me for a while).

In mid-October I'll settle on my next project and start writing again; that gives me just under a month to clean out my studio and garage, get my hard drive semi-organized, and work on a number of other little non-writing projects.  I was planning to do some new work for an art show that’s happening in October, but the time’s getting kind of short on that and my studio area is currently unusable.  So we’ll see.