Novel progress: 2nd draft. (Writing updates!)

It’s been over a month since my last writing update post!

Work on the second draft of my novel continues, and I’m having to remind myself every day to be patient with this process. This part is truly fun and exciting, as I’ve said before. I want to enjoy it without stressing over the passage of time. It’s a weird clash: Hurry up. But enjoy it. Hurry up. But enjoy it. Hurry up….

Do you know that feeling? When your own impatience threatens your fun?

Earnest intentions to discipline myself have led to naught. Bizarre and unexpected things keep happening. Last week Sunday, I concocted an ambitious plan to start out the week’s writing, but the very next day, my plan was literally derailed by a tortoise. You can’t plan for these things. I couldn’t have seen the tortoise train coming, because it came out of nowhere.

(That would be a story for another time.)

Neither could I make this stuff up if I tried. Mark Twain’s words come to mind: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

That being said, there’s also an element of difficulty to this second-draft business, which balances out the fun element. It’s an old difficulty that carried over from the first draft to the second. I’m not complaining. We can’t have too much fun, now, can we?

Challenges are good. Moreover, challenges are necessary.

 

Favorite light: early-morning daylight. Beverage of choice: water.

 

Overall, work on the second draft is going well… just not as quickly as I’d hoped. I have to be patient with myself. The work will be done when I love it.

September writing updates!

I last came to you with an official writing update on August 4. It’s one month later, and I’m back to report my progress, as promised. This is where I fill you in on big-project writing developments, with numbers and everything. (SNOOZE-FEST WARNING for those not interested in dry details.)

So let me tell you where we stand.

Last month’s challenge/goal: to “control the pace and manner of unraveling” in this final stretch of the project.

This month’s challenge/goal: having gotten a grip on last month’s, I’m now focusing on creating and sustaining the tone and mood I desire for the completion of the story. At this point, I want to demand more from you, the reader. This means that I have some intensified atmospheric building to do. In other words, I’m ramping it up.

(When I started this project, I had no idea that I was essentially writing a mystery novel, of sorts. But here we are.)

Last month’s completion status: my word court as of August 4 was 56,952. My goal word count, I said, was “a moving target.” I was done trying to nail down a goal word count; I speculated that I was between 80% and 90% finished.

This month’s completion status: I’m back on the word-count train! Surprise! I didn’t think I’d bother with this nonsense again, either… but I did some projecting, which is much easier to do at this point, and I came up with a rough estimate. I believe I’ll land somewhere in the neighborhood of 75,863 words. This means that the project is about 84% complete. (I will not be changing this word count goal again. It’s a rough estimate, and I’m leaving it at that.)

Breaking it down: I currently have 64,462 words. Roughly 2,137 of those words belong in future chapters (I tend to write ahead a little bit, now more than ever), so about 3% of my 84% completion is made up of future content.

Looking at just my current, finished work, I’ve got 283 pages, and I’m on chapter 26.

I’m also projecting that I’ll have this first draft completed by the end of November.

 

manuscript, 84% complete (minus 3%) (Sept. 5, 2017)

 

So that’s where we stand! Thank you for reading and for sticking with me, as always.

Writing Q and A: habits, music, status. (Writing updates!)

My last writing update post was on 30 June, so it’s time for another one, I reckon!

Every writer’s habits and rituals are personal, right? And, for many of us, in flux. Things flow and evolve. We go with it.

I still wish I was a writer who could stick to a schedule. The best I can do – more importantly, what works for me – is to protect my optimal writing time. Currently, that’s one full weekday (Mondays) + all early mornings. The rest of the time is for flexible writing, meaning, I can write around going to the gym Tuesday-Saturday, as well as occasional appointments, errands, and lunches.

At this point, there’s never a day that I don’t write at all. I write something every. single. day.

Speaking of which! My Tuesday/Friday blog-posting time here in TALC has officially changed: I’m now posting within the mid-morning to noonish window.

With all of the above, I’ve started off this mini writing Q&A. I’m happy to answer some of these recurring questions:

Q: Can you multi-task while writing?

A: It depends. The deeper I get into a writing session, the more scarce I am on social media. When I’m in a “deep sleep” stage of writing, I’m completely incommunicado.

I can’t be off-line, though, because I refer to the dictionary, and I’m always researching something or another.

Q: Do you listen to music while writing?

A: Not usually, but sometimes.

When I started working on this novel, I’d listen to certain songs to invoke a memory of a time. I haven’t done that for a while. Now, I can write with music playing on a low volume, choosing music that creates a background soundscape.

A current favorite is by Rachel’s: “To Rest Near to You.” It’s moody and eerie with voices whispering “I thought the sea.”

It’s perfect for this last stretch of the novel.

Other good background songs of the moment: “With More Air Than Words,” “Night at Sea,” and “Letters Home” (Also by Rachel’s, from their 1996 album The Sea and the Bells.)

I wish I could provide you with “To Rest Near to You,” but I get my music from Soundcloud, and you have to have a Soundcloud GO+ account in order to hear that entire Rachel’s album. Here’s their song “Stark Sea,” though, also on my current writing playlist:

 

 

I like this sort of music while I’m writing. It’s atmospheric without distracting my creative brain cells with melody that wants following.

And when I say I play the pieces with the volume down low, I mean very low. The planes taking off and landing at Sky Harbor are louder.

Q: Do you take breaks?

A: Yes. Many. I have to stop often in order to put distance between what I’ve written and what’s in my head from having written it.

There’s actually a pattern: on an average day, I go through three writing stages and two break stages, beginning and ending with writing. (I take smaller breaks within the writing stages, usually to eat. In the afternoons, I eat often.)

Q: Distractions?

A: I do get up to wander around the house. I have to unfold myself from the floor every once in a while.

Incidentally, I have Nenette, who is not a distraction. She’s the opposite of a distraction. She puts her nose on my forehead to transmit inspiration.

 

Nenette in her crow’s nest tree in the corner of my office.

 

These days, Nenette is apt to sleep on the floor next to me while I’m writing, but she still spends time up on her crow’s nest.

Q: Current project stage and status?

A: I’ve reached, as noted earlier, the final stretch.

Things are accelerating. That doesn’t mean that my writing’s accelerating, though. I have to focus now more than ever in order to control the pace and manner of unraveling.

As for current status, my word court at present is 56,952. My goal word count continues to be a moving target, so I’m just going to say that I’m between 80% and 90% finished.

That’s it for the monthly update! Thank you all for reading, once again. Happy Friday… or whatever day it is when you read this. =)

Another month has passed. (Writing updates!)

Is this going to be a regular thing, this monthly writing update posting? It’s been a month since the last time I sat here to write out loud to you my big-project progress.

Progress has been even slower than usual this last month. I’d say about an eighth of each writing session goes to research, which is par for the course, but it makes the writing seem slower, yet.

I tend to dream whatever I’m writing about at the moment; ergo, I’ve had some nightmares in the last few weeks.

It’s still strange to me that work can be so grueling and satisfying at the same time. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, no. I’m everlastingly grateful that I can do what I’m doing – what I love – and it’s worth the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears.

As far as word-count, I’ve altered my goal yet again. Surprise! Last time, I’d decided on 80,000 words. As of now, a target count of 70,000 makes more sense. This puts me at approximately 75% done, and I think that sounds accurate.

That’s right… this is my first novel, and I really have no idea what I’m doing. I never took a fiction class. Maybe I should have. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t. I don’t know.

I’m not going to concern myself further about whether this work is a novel or a novella in terms of word-count. This thing will probably end up being considered as a novel, regardless.

Thank you all once again for sticking with me throughout this process! Thank you for bearing with me as I present these reports. I know that they make for dry reading, but as I may have mentioned, writing them allows me to hold myself accountable while considering the situation in a big-picture frame.

Speaking of frames, Callaghan came in to hang out with me while I was working yesterday (I’d set myself a big deadline for late afternoon, and at some point, I realized the time and had to crank  it up), and while he was in here, he took my phone and walked around me taking pics while we chatted. I was at the point in my chapter where I could afford to talk while working… and he was at the point in his day, apparently, where he wanted to take pics and talk.

The lighting was poor (late afternoon daylight + the lamp sitting here next to me), and I wasn’t sitting still, so the pics are a little blurry. In fact, I didn’t even know he was stalking me when some of these pics were taken.

Beyond that, though, I do believe that the camera in my phone is heading for life support. Of late: my hair is dark, and it comes out light. There’s black lettering on a sticker, and the sticker comes out solid white. The sky is blue, and it also comes out solid white.

I’ve given up on trying to color-correct anything. Here, I just stuffed the pics into frames to wrap them up in neat little packages. (There.. that was my point when I said “speaking of frames.”) Does this mitigate the camera’s declining health? I may start doing this with all of my pics from here on out.

Yours truly, working and talking:

 

I don’t even remember what we were talking about here. (06/29/2017)

 

Writing update. (06/29/2017)

 

With that, I wish you all a happy weekend!

Writing updates! (Part 2, aka The Real writing updates.)

This morning, I looked at where I’m standing with my main project, and I thought I’d put the conclusion here to share with you who may be interested in such a thing. Consider this a “writing updates part 2” post, since Tuesday’s “writing updates” post was about my office.

For me, this is a major reassessment/self-evaluation/progress report. I knew from the beginning that I’d one day take stock and then adjust my targeted word-count accordingly. That day has come! My updated word-count target is 80,000.

The break-down goes as such:

  • According to my hitherto targeted word-count of 60,000, I’m now 83% finished; I currently have around 49,823 words.
  • Based on my word-count average for completed chapters, I’m fathoming I still have somewhere around 20,000 words left to write.
  • Hence, my targeted word-count of 60,000 becomes 80,000.

This new target puts me at 62% finished at this moment. Thinking broadly of the material I have yet to cover (numbers aside), this seems more realistic.

Incidentally, a finished count of 80,000 words would place my project at the low end of a minimal word-count range generally accepted for a novel, and at the highest end of a word-count range for a novella.

I’ve been walking the line between novella and novel all this time. If the project does indeed end up at 80,000, it could be accepted as either. This wouldn’t be for me to decide. If anyone who could publish this work actually wants it, they would make that call.

The idea of a novella pleases me. Some of my favorite works are novellas: Albert Camus’ The Stranger. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. There’s also Animal Farm, Billy Budd, Heart of Darkness, Ethan Frome, A Clockwork Orange, A Christmas Carol, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I Am Legend, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The War of the Worlds – all of these and many more popular titles are novellas.

Mind you, I’m not comparing the stature of my project to that of the above-mentioned fine literary titles! I offer these titles as examples because they’re well-known.

At any rate, my project will be done when it’s done, and it’s not really my business to predict when that will be. It’s my business to tell the damn story. (The story has become something of a beast, therefore warranting strong language.) These projections help to keep me on track, but the work will get done, regardless.

And so the writing continues.

How am I feeling about all of this? As indicated in this selfie I took on the freeway last night:

 

Blurry, yet determined.

 

Blurrily determined, yes. That seems about right.

On that note… Happy Friday!