WIP – January 2015

WRITING IN PUBLIC

January makes it look as though 2015 is off to a rough start, writing-wise. I started a new project and only got about 2500 words into it during the entire month. But there was a lot of traveling and some family obligations and a few developments on the day job front all happening in January as well, so I never got a chance to build up some momentum. And when I know my momentum is going to be broken, such as by a weeklong family vacation, it makes it very difficult for me to even get up and rolling, especially with how long I’ve gone without writing.

Fortunately, my discontent has finally outpaced my complacency, and I’m going into a much more stable February with a solid plan and an ever-growing reservoir of determination. Plan for the year is to work on two projects simultaneously at all times. One old, one new. And to carry both of them to completion at whatever pace they require. This way, I’m still making good on my goal to practice finishing things, but I can reinvigorate myself semi-regularly with new projects.

Hopefully it works.

So for the start of the year, here, I’ll be working on (finally) finishing the PARADISE REMNANTS book, which should be feasible within the next two months. And then I’m also writing a book about a girl named LYSANDRA, so that’ll be the working title. And that could take me anywhere from three to four months, depending on how the pacing works out.

As a part of this whole “maintain interest through multiple projects” plan, I’m also going with a “set reasonable expectations” plan for the year. My goal is to write (at least) 1,000 words per day on each of my two active projects, but only maintain a 5 day writing week. This allows me a little bit of flexibility and forgiveness when I miss a day for some social or work-related obligation. An entirely feasible plan, in my estimation, and yet also one that gets a lot of writing done if I stick to it.

Granted, I’m woefully “behind” if I started counting from January, but I’m not going to sweat that too much. My new year can start now for all I care.

So, status, in summary.

PARADISE REMNANTS (novel) — 28,000 words, estimated to be 1/3 done
LYSANDRA (novel) — 2,500 words

CURRENTLY GEEKING

January was a much better month for geekery. Read some good books, watched some good movies/shows, and visited OLD THINGS!!!

On the reading front, FIREFIGHT, book 2 of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy came out. This is a big deal for me, not just because I love Brandon’s work, but also because these are books that my brother and sister and I have been reading and discussing together. I can’t remember the last time my siblings and I read the same books, so it’s been a real pleasure to have them to geek out with me about a book, especially when it’s coming from an author I enjoy so thoroughly.

(BTW, for those who don’t know, the Reckoners trilogy is Brandon’s take on the superhero genre. If that simple summation does not get you excited, then you need to read more Brandon. And these two books [STEELHEART is the first] are a great place to start.)

Before and after reading FIREFIGHT, I worked my way through HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON, the first novel in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s the Napoleonic wars but with dragons. Complete with systematic military organization and tactics and such. A good and proper air force in the 1800s. And she just runs with that idea.

Now, I’ve had people recommend the Temeraire books to me before, and they’ve always sounded interesting. But they’ve always sat on that list of “get to it eventually” books until recently. And I’m glad I finally buckled down to start reading them. What people failed to tell me in the past is just how early on in the series/book she manages to make this whole thing personal AND classist. Once she established the prejudices that exist between the navy and the air force in her world, and then gave the titular dragon to a navy man, thus forcing him to face down his preconceptions, I was hooked. That’s a pretty straightforward setup for a protagonist to undergo some growth, but that’s exactly what I needed to root me in the world of “Napoleon plus dragons.”

I thought there was another book I read, but the memory escapes me at the moment. Moving on.

Two notable things in the watching category. First, FATE/ZERO, another anime from Gen Urobochi, who wrote PSYCHO-PASS, which I loved last year and continue gushing about anytime it comes up. This one, however, is an urban fantasy about a secret competition between seven mages over the omnipotent wish-granting power of the holy grail. I had seen this one pop up in my queue a few times, but the description never really grabbed me. When I eventually found out that the Urobutcher had written it, however, I knew it was going to be a must-watch for me. And I was not disappointed in the slightest.

To be honest, I’m really digging this trend of self-contained anime that I’ve been watching lately. They have a story to tell, they tell it, and then they’re done. They don’t drag things out or overstay their welcome or anything like that. So much as I wish there was more of some of this stuff (and much as I’m looking forward to more seasons of PSYCHO-PASS, KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA, and ATTACK ON TITAN, eventually) I’m glad the creators take the time to put these things together deliberately, rather than filling out time with filler.

Right, second thing. Saw THE IMITATION GAME in theaters a week or so ago. Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing during World War II, as he attempts to break the Nazi Enigma encryption. I’ll be honest, I was equally excited and worried to see this movie. Benedict Cumberbatch is an actor who I both very much enjoy and yet also find to be somewhat samey in terms of the roles he performs. It’s not necessarily a problem, considering he excels at the whole “snarky, self-confident intellectual” act. But I wasn’t sure if this movie was going to be anything more than “SHERLOCK vs HITLER.”

Happily, I was proven wrong. Not only did Cumberbatch display a greater range than I’ve come to expect from his performances thus far (both in nuance and emotion, easily earning him the Oscar nomination), I found the film itself to be surprisingly well-written. It had a lot to say about how we as humans communicate (or fail to communicate, as the case may be) with one another, as well as highlighting the contributions that the marginalized members of our society can make (and have made, in this case) to “the mainstream.”

On top of that, the script was downright funny in parts, which I was definitely not expecting. It’s hard to pull off funny in a dramatic script like this one, especially in such a way that it doesn’t throw the viewer out of the story. Bravo. I will be looking forward to whatever this writer does next, just to see if that style persists.

-j