Day 10 of 10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Well, my summer math program has come to an end and that means that so has my afternoons of writing time away from disruption. Now back to the full time kid time. I wrote very little today, just cleaning up the last two sections I wrote so they accurately finish Chapter 16. Alas, I spent the rest of the day negotiating a way that Grip of Dust actively becomes two novels instead of one. My word count suggests it is wise, as did the many plot lines and locations. Narrowing the focus book by book works as long as, well, it does. I have hammered out a way for Grip of Dust to exist in mirror fashion to Purge of Ashes, as in, prologue, 25 chapters, epilogue – and divided into three sections based off geography, but the question becomes what is left for this new third book? First, I need a new name. Silence of Deluge will yet remain the final book.  Second, eek. A diligent eye is required to assure I don’t screw myself over in some way. I had the whole of the book planned out before it ‘got big.’ It better stay tight and action-packed or what’s the point? I have three chief story lines to draw from for this new book, ones left out, now, of Grip. The first two happen in the city Palprazen, so they go together well, but the last one is giving me fits as to what to do: either my lead leaves Grip 75% of the way through the book to be central in book 3, or I augment who goes where to keep him and certain elements in a more… streamlined fashion. Ah, well. Time and tears will tell.

All told I got 10,000 words done, roughly, and cleaned and re-inspired some more.

My final writing grab of the summer: “The womensworn stormed around in a huff, collecting their belongings and uprooting their children. Blooded Face Eaters mounted up with all their gear in case they needed to ride. Dancetrap begged his spirits for this and that, assuming far greater importance to the events of the day than he ever deserved.”

Day 9 of 10: Summer Writing Afternoons

1,300 words again today, getting back into it. Got started late due to school duties, and will again on Wednesday as I retrieve the rest of my old classroom to move to my new classroom.

I once again hit this point of: “Must this be split in two?” I’m up to 93k words and have basically only fleshed out 60-80% of 2 of 7 story lines. I just can’t see it editing down or not feeling a tad foolish with a book so thick. Maybe that can be the gimmick that draws readers to the series? Stupidly large? Sometimes being unique is worth value all its own. Still, almost done Chapter 16. I can certainly do it by Wednesday, that is, unless it all unfolds into two. Not long now for the scene I’ve been excited for for years.

Today’s choice line: “Sometimes a moment of kinship linked two people more surely than a whole life of proximity.”

Day 7&8 of 10: Summer Writing Afternoons

1,200 yesterday and 1,300 today – and today was cut off by 1.5 hours. It does take a while to get going, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, if you only have the cracks of the day to write in, you never really get going. I’m excited to see what is produced over the final two days next week, although one of those I have to prep my classroom instead of just using it as a writing hidey-hole.

These sessions have really fattened an area otherwise non-consequential, but I am hoping it keeps as it helps the city of Csarvent feel alive. It also prepares the reader well for a character who is notable in the third book.

On that note, though, as usual, I am again beset by worries over whether I need to split this book in half. I am halfway through Chapter 16 (I skip all over the place, nowhere near that far actually) and it is 29.5 pages. I am yet to get to the second half of the chapter. If I split the book into two, this could easily be its own chapter – even ends on a DUN DUN DUN. That creates its own problems, though. Keeping it, however, the book and these chapters are getting kind of nuts. I want to maintain the same depth of scope and character as I had in Purge of Ashes, but with so many more story lines it is fast becoming insane. Insanely great? Maybe just insane.

Either way, there it is. Also cool to note, today I finally got to write about a character who I created entirely because the name I made up for my almanac of characters so long ago was so cool. Now she’s an important part of the story, having once just been a nifty combination of letters. “Kryloak.”

My favourite pull away today:

“The black ink of the round was half faded into her very skin, a mess of a pattern across her clavicle and breasts. Bruises ran the length of her right side, dark, blotchy and uniform. Kryloak’s eyes widened and stared at her slim finger as it ran a line along one of Daia’s ribs. Leaning forward a little revealed a purple welt twisted up like a whirlpool that covered near half of her skin-pressed rib cage. Its unhealthy hues rolled in and out of the depressions between bones, obscuring the smear of burst blood vessels and making a mess of a mess. The heiress’s gentle touch did not make her jump, but still sent a squeal of tenderness up her nerves. By Kryloak’s stares and Saishan’s idle hands, Daia judged that the Codine Aggregate was far more familiar with disease and malnourishment than the battle scars of fools prone to risk.”

Day 6/10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Six already? But all I’ve done is… blarg!

I actually feel like I have done quite a lot, considering, but nothing’s ever really enough. Today I finished off the two scenes from Monday and had to read (read: edit) my way through a few Daia parts to get me up to speed on her story line as it now meshes with the others. How many times have I had to do that. I like reading the older parts, though. I write so slowly and carefully, constantly editing as I go, that it feels good to read over the product I came away with and find that it mostly correlates, sounds well enough. I am hoping that by the end of these sessions I am near to completing Chapter 16. I have done about 16 pages so far in 4 points of view.

Also noticed that half my quotes were Smart and half Straight? What the dilly? A F/R figured that one out pretty quick. Leftover translation issue from OpenOffice to Word, I imagine.

Favourite lines of the day: “For the weight of a conscience rests on its fear of guilt, and once irredeemable, a penitent’s only absolution lies in damning themselves regardless.”

Day 4 & 5/10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Four and five today because Day 4 turned into a day trip to the Zoo with my family. It was lovely, if less productive and secretly shackling.

Today was great as I got 1,000 words out in my afternoon session. Unlike other times, I got right to where I left off this time and only cleaned previous parts when needing to backtrack anyway. Had a fine flow going until I got a phone call, but it all worked out well enough regardless. Having spent so much time on my Gilche/Daegolor story lines compared to anything else in the past year, I will have to reread everything I have on any other story line to continue. This chapter asks me to merge with Daia’s, so… lots of backreading coming up. Oh, to write daily and keep it all in my nebula.

My favourite extract today details a warrior: “He wore his skin like a carapace, as if it toughened to stone just by constraining his immense proportions.”

Day 3/10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Today I battled with concerns oft battled – those of if I am throwing too many story lines together into this one, and if it would be better if I could split the book cleanly into two. There are certainly enough separate parts, but also many times they entwine. I didn’t get to writing until about 2:30 due to organizing, so 600 words is fine for two hours. I need to have it outlined before continuing too far, and hopefully I see to that in the next few nights. Must know the section goals!

My fav extract today is from a Sveldtlander ceremony:

 
“Dorgoga’s thirsty morning was far from quenched, yet the Joss Face Eaters stood with heads downturned, still and solemn, as Dancetrap performed the Meditation of Death.
 
More a dirge than a dance, the aged spiritflinger’s arms spread wide, satha fanned out behind him, tips brushing the meager grasses to resemble the outstretched wings of a crow. He ululated the collective mourning of the clan in a low groan akin to rolling thunder, skeletal fingers trembling mid-air and releasing minor spirits in offering for Hugulk, the endae’s chosen spiritcatcher. Dancetrap shook and occasionally flicked his wrists, releasing what was otherwise held within the confines of his reverent chain. Broad-faced Hugulk leapt about the incantation circle, snatching said spirits from the air before they could be lost to the sky. His expression a mix of indignation and unflinching resolve, the glistening veteran showed his thirst, for the minor spirits were as numerous as __________’s spirit was strong, and the sweat rolled freely.
 
A murmur ran through the mourners, whose eyes always secretly followed the spiritcatcher’s dance, as Hugulk missed three of a possible four flings in a row. A small thing, but the spirits would now nourish the yellow life-giver instead of remaining at the behest of the clan during the bloodshed that now seemed inevitable. Impatient, he waited for the impending rise in Dancetrap’s pitch that would begin the heraldry of the life-giver and mark the end of the ceremony.”

Day 2/10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Okay, so I spent most of today editing and improving what I wrote yesterday while finishing the section. It’s not my fault! I stumbled upon a beautiful parallel and had to do some surgery to include it. Now it ends with such a thump, to me, that I swapped where it was in the chapter so it can end it instead. Always good to end on a high note. Now onwards! Sidenote: has any fantasy book you know included a bestiary at the end?
 
Fav extract for today: “Turning away from the woeful celebration, a cool plains wind swirled up and tussled his hair. He found himself gazing out at the distant Lake of Songs. In the descendant darkness the water was speckled with a thousand lights, an insult of boat-faring outliers sitting back with loved ones and letting the gentle breeze skim them along. A night remarkable only in its gaiety. Nearby, the wall loomed black, its peaks illuminated by the tracing glow of more than a thousand lights within. The contrast pained his breast a second time.”

Day 1/10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Though I was woefully tired for the first few hours, it was so nice to actually write new content again after 1.5 years of tending to Purge of Ashes. I wrote 600 words, but reread/cleaned 16 pages to get there while remembering everything, so I should be ready to go Wednesday. Of course, the scene only has about a page left before I have to hop somewhere else, so… we’ll see. But overall: a great start! Hooray!

Fav extract, at duel’s end: “There was no taste of victory. Only heart-pounding fear and the certainty of death. A part of him still shrieked awareness, unable to shake that certainty. It was so recent. So fully true in his mind, he could not shed its veracity. Trembling hands dropped his weapon and seemed to turn to face him, asking the price of what they wrought. The necessity of his actions did not accustom him to their execution, and as ________ hefted him into the blazing night, amid swarms of brethren crying his name in triumph, _______ floundered in his fortune while his other self thrust both knuckles together, howling delight to the white smudge of the moon.”

My Book is Out…

…and what a feeling it is.

Anxiousness.

It was supposed to be joy, right? Bliss? Balming relaxation? Squeaky giddiness?

Nope, just anxious. My publisher imploded a week before the release. Everything was late. All my traction from my efforts in the months prior fizzled like the lit fuse of a dud grenade while I scrambled around getting the job done instead of celebrating the victory. Even now I wait on a proof for the final version to arrive, certain it is great but unwilling to assume again based on the digital copy alone. Eventually it shall be as it was meant to – but the span where the iron was hot came and went with more than a few sleepless nights.

It has been rough, what should have been wonderful. The only fortunate aspect was that the novel itself has not been harmed and remains as it was: a debut sweat for.

Going forward I shall do as suggested me by author Graham Austin-King. Get on with writing Grip of Dust, read, and let the traction sort itself out. Anxiety and authorship were never estranged to begin with.

JM

30 Days of Balance #12: The Cracks of the Day vs. Money

On the Fantasy Faction group of Facebook the question recently went out: what do you find most difficult about writing? The answers ranged from not being able to express oneself properly, to not finding the time, to writing certain types of characters, to loneliness. I thought about it for a moment and answered thusly:

Dealing with the contrast between my proven track record of producing day in day out for weeks without hitting a snag and the current financial limitations that prevent this from becoming a day by day reality. Aka the one thing that takes precedence over the work: supporting a family simultaneously.

Writing in the cracks of the day sucks. But if authors have any form of life responsibilities they need to make money. Unless your books are selling like proverbial hot cakes, this eliminates the possibility of writing full time all day every day – and yet this type of time and attention press is exactly what young authors need to see whether they can actually do it. Dabblers write here and there. Authors can fill a day with no reservations. The problem then becomes overcoming that feeling.

For five straight weeks in 2013 I drove my wife to work by 8:20am, got to the local library by 8:30am, read a few chapters in the car (I think I was finishing up Wheel of Time upon Sanderson’s third release), and then at 9:00am found my own space inside. I would write until sometime near lunch, eat a bagged lunch while watching a Futurama episode, then write until 4:15pm. I would pick my wife up at 4:30pm and drive home. Every day except weekends.

Now, plenty of authors can brag this sort of devotion. Devotion by itself does not make for excellent writing. What these weeks did do was prove that I could be productive and happy while writing 40 hours a week while giving Imbalance the unprecedented rate of focus it demands. Achieving this was important. I also got about a quarter of the book done.

I was a full-time teacher. I was paid over those summer holidays. I was paid as if working full time and yet I could write the day away.

It’s a hard habit to kick.

Now the pressures of the day are many, I have no teaching contract that extends over the summer, and my daughter requires attention above and beyond all manner of previous duty. Whenever I work on Grip of Dust I get hit with this malaise of frustration that such boundless time and focus may never again be available to me – that such a blissful writing set-up may never again provide such design alacrity. It casts doubt that I can once again compile such a mass of details during the cracks of the day with so many distractions abound. I know other authors feel my pain – even ones halfway famous. The distance between designated writing time and forced writing time is enough to sink a war galley.

Yet up paddles.

JM