31 Days of Blogging – Day 6, Knowledge pt. 2

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Hi, everyone, I’m Tad.

Josh is sick, so he can’t be here today, but he made a list of things he wanted to say and asked if I’d write the post instead.

Here’s what he says,

  • Write what you know can be limiting in fiction.
  • This creates an excuse to learn more.
  • Imagining ourselves as other people/in other places can be just as valid as our own experience.

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, we can move on to what I want to say.

Continue reading “31 Days of Blogging – Day 6, Knowledge pt. 2”

31 Days of Blogging – Day 5, Knowledge

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The problem with clichés is that we don’t take the time to unpack the nugget of wisdom that led to these phrases becoming clichéd in the first place. We just rattle them off as if everyone knows what we’re trying to say.

Write What You Know is another one of those that’s been tossed around without consideration for what it means. But the wisdom inherent to it remains evergreen even now.

Continue reading “31 Days of Blogging – Day 5, Knowledge”

31 Days of Blogging – Day 4, Flow

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Whenever I restart my writing habit, the words come haltingly. Sparingly. In fits and starts.

Reaching 500 words on my first blog in this series took an effort of will and concentration brought about only because I had made a commitment to do this challenge.

When I start writing fiction again after a break, my brain feels cobwebby. I find my characters to be redundant and repetitive, my prose dull.

(Later, I can’t often tell what parts I wrote when I was tired/bored/cobwebby vs when I felt fully engaged with the text. But in the moment of writing, all of my resistance comes to bear on those early days.)

Continue reading “31 Days of Blogging – Day 4, Flow”

31 Days of Blogging – Day 3, Mornings

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I’m no stranger to the power of mornings, even though I’m more often a stranger of mornings themselves than not.

My family tends more toward the night-owl nature.

Whether they would completely agree with me on that, I can’t say, but it is my observation that we all struggle to get up in the mornings and happily chat our way to midnight or later.

(For you true insomniacs and night-owls, realize that midnight really is quite late for those who have to be up at six or seven in the morning. Sometimes even earlier.)

Continue reading “31 Days of Blogging – Day 3, Mornings”

31 Days of Blogging – Day 2, Why

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It’s the most important question you can ask whenever you set out to do a thing.

Why?

Why do it?

Why go to the trouble?

From an unmotivated perspective — one I myself had not too long ago — it can sound like a discouragement.

Why would you even think of doing the thing you are about to do?

What’s the point?

And in that mindset, you want to keep the question as far from your mind as possible.

When trapped in lethargy, motion of any kind is a positive act.

But once you get the ball rolling, and action is automatic (or near enough to), then you need to start asking the most important question.

Why?

If you don’t have a satisfactory answer to this question, you’ll never be able to sustain your efforts. You might survive for a week or more on sheer willpower, but that’s an easily-exhausted resource that you’ll run out of eventually.

Trust me. I know from experience.

Continue reading “31 Days of Blogging – Day 2, Why”

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

2014 Year in Review

WRITING TOTAL – 83,490 words

A not-unimpressive number. I’ll admit that I’m not satisfied with it. But I’ll also admit that (a) I’m not likely to ever be satisfied in this department, and (b) this number is actually better than I expected it to be, considering I didn’t write anything for basically half of the year (as documented below).

Unfortunately, my list of completed projects total exactly three, all of which were finished in the first half of the year. Considering I tried to make “finishing things” a goal for the year, this is a discouraging number. But… that’s three more stories I have finished than last year. So that’s still a win of a lesser sort.

As I move into 2015, I now have a baseline to surpass. And that should be a powerful motivating tool, even if it takes me a few more years to build up the writing muscles to actually reach my stated goals.

Here’s the list of completed projects, by the way:

THE RED VAULT — short story, 7,200 words
THE BREMEN STREET SWINGERS — short story, 3,600 words
A TEN-YEAR GOD — short story, 7,650 words

And the list of production-by-month:

December – 0 words
November – 0 words
October – 0 recorded words
September – 11,735 words in 12 days
August – 4,505 words in 9 days
July – 0 words
June – 11,300 words
May – 13,900 words
April – 16,300 words
March – 2,300 words
February – 9,650 words
January – 13,800 words

GEEKERY TOTAL

This list is a bit more challenging for me to assemble, as I didn’t really keep a record of the things I read, watched, played, etc. throughout the year. Moving into 2015, as I track my writing, I will be tracking my geekery more consistently as well.

That being said, here’s what I remember consuming in 2014:

BOOKS

GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, by John Green
WOOL, by Hugh Howey
ENDURANCE, by Alfred Lansing
PROMISE OF BLOOD, by Brian McClellan
THE NAME OF THE WIND, by Patrick Rothfuss
WISE MAN’S FEAR, by Patrick Rothfuss
ALL YOU NEED IS KILL, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
WORDS OF RADIANCE, by Brandon Sanderson
ANNA KARENINA, by Leo Tolstoy
THE MARTIAN, by Andy Weir

MOVIES

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
EDGE OF TOMORROW (a.k.a. LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.)
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
GODZILLA
GONE GIRL
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1
INTERSTELLAR
THE LEGO MOVIE
MALEFICENT
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PASTPLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES

BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
KISS KISS BANG BANG
UNLEASHED (a.k.a. DANNY THE DOG)
YOU’RE NEXT
ZOOLANDER

TV (a.k.a. NETFLIX) SHOWS

BATMAN BEYOND
BEAST WARS
BLACK MIRROR (Season 1)
BREAKING BAD
COMMUNITY (Season 5)
DEATH NOTE
DIGIMON (Seasons 2 and 3)
DOCTOR WHO (Season 8)
GAME OF THRONES (Season 4)
HOUSE OF CARDS
LEGEND OF KORRA (Books 3 and 4)
KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA
PSYCHO-PASS
RWBY
SHERLOCK (Season 3)
SWORD ART ONLINE

WIP — 29 September 2014

WRITING IN PUBLIC

Another day off means another productive day. Though it took me longer to get started than I’d planned, and so thus not as productive as I’d planned. Went over to my parents’ house for a change of scenery, which brought with it certain advantages and challenges.

Progress: 1940 words on SHOTGUN GUNSLINGERS in about 2 hours. Likely still 10-15 hours worth of writing still left on this project. It really has ballooned out from what I’d originally expected.

-j

WIP — 26 September 2014

WRITING IN PUBLIC

A whole day free meant I was able to focus on making some more significant progress. It also meant that I could actually spend some time with several friends that I haven’t really seen in the past few months. So a balanced day, and a good day.

Progress: 2000 words on SHOTGUN GUNSLINGERS in just under 2 hours. Would like for that to be everyday (2 hours, that’s all it takes), but I’m still working my way up to it.

-j