Archive for October, 2014

PBWQ14 Week Four Update

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

As I write this, there are about three days and nine hours left of Week Four and, by definition, Month One of PBWQ14. This will be a quick update. You ever have one of those moments where you're looking all over for your keys only to realize they've been in your pocket the whole time? It's so easy to miss the obvious sometimes if your brain is in the wrong place.

So it was with me. As I watched this week's deadline approach, I was starting to feel pretty good about my progress. The backstory and prep work had picked up the last few days and I was starting to think, "You know, I might get this all done by Friday." That's when it hit me. I would be done with the backstory work. Not the story story.

At midnight Friday, the calendar would flip over to November 1, and I would sit there with a really good idea of what happens in my story from 120 million years ago up until 1864 or so and have NO idea what happens after my opening, "It was a dark and stormy night..."

And now I'm back in panic mode.

At least I found my keys, though.

Posted in Progress |

PBWQ14 Week Three Update

Friday, October 24th, 2014

I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous. I'm nowhere near as far along as I'd hoped to be by October 24. I have no idea where this last week went (though, to be fair, I know that some of it definitely went here). I have three things today: a progress report, an explanation, and a soliloquy of sorts.

Progress Report

Things came together a week ago, in a big way, for the over-arching story. It wasn't until a couple days ago, that I finally zeroed in on what I'm supposed to be doing right now: planning the immediate outline/synopsis for book one. It's picking up speed a bit, but where I am now is where I should have been last Friday.

An Explanation

I was looking through old blog posts here, specifically in the Progress category, trying to remember which book I was working on each NaNoWriMo season. My first one was in 2009 (which I've won) and I've tried (and died) every year since then.

Anyway, what struck me was how cryptic my posts were. I seemed to go waaaaay out of my way to actually talk about what I was working on. There are reasons, I suppose: spoilers, protecting my intellectual property, general embarrassment. But as a historical archive, they suck. So I'm going to fix that.

I still won't post spoilers. But I really don't care about my IP being stolen because: 1) nobody visits the blog and 2) there's nothing worth stealing anyway. And being embarrassed from time to time is just part of life. I'd rather share too much and have something enjoyable to look back on in the future than end up with more of what I've done so far.

So, here it is in plain language. My current project is part of something I'm (for now) calling The Underhaven Trilogy. The first book is called Elsewhither (yes, the same name as this here blog.)

It's 1864. The story begins in London. It's about a twelve-year old girl who, until recently, lived in a wonderful orphanage. The home lost its sole benefactor and consequently she's been turned out onto the streets. She runs into an old blind woman in a horse-drawn carriage who takes her in. The carriage pulls away and the two begin to talk. Upon arriving at the old woman's estate, the girl is chased off as "riff raff." In spite of the old woman's objections, servants send dogs after the girl. She spies an odd shack while running and makes for it. The shack contains what looks like a manhole cover. She heads below for safety. While below, she realizes that she may have stumbled into an opportunity to find buried treasure: treasure that could be used to restore her home. She moves forward and eventually encounters an ancient subterranean world where all sorts of adventures await. Does she ever find her treasure? How should I know! I haven't written the stupid book yet.

A Soliloquy

I've made it no secret that I've been at this (not this particular story but "this" in general) for over two decades and I have yet to accomplish anything. Sure, I spat out several "how to" books on video editing. I wrote that diet book. I've authored hundreds of blog posts (a fair number of them pretty good, if I do say so myself). I've released three major versions of my pet project Timekeeper. I've written some music. I've drawn a few pictures. I've carved a lot of pumpkins. But I still have yet to write that Mediocre American Novel.

I'm not sure why I'm still at it either. Part of it is momentum. I've spent (literally) thousands of hours on backstory, world-building, invented languages, research and development, and so on. Apart from The Underhaven Trilogy, I have Tenner Heed, Winter's Gate, and Ronald all in various stages of development.

It's not like the world NEEDS another book. In fact, I'm pretty sure we've crossed the point where, for the first time in history, there are now more people writing books than reading them. Plus, I still have my music and art interests waiting for attention. So why do I keep clinging to this notion that I've got some sort of story in my head that I need to put onto paper when all the evidence? Why do I keep at this?

The answer is simple. In fact, it's so simple, that it's only one word: because.

Okay, that's a bit too simple. Here's more words: because it's me. It's just what I do. Some people are compelled to photograph everything, others to weave baskets, others to plant trees, and still others to make peanut butter (for which I'm forever grateful). I firmly believe we don't get a say in this. The one hundred billion cells that make up your organic central processing unit make that call for you. There's a layer of consciousness in there which is aware of the decisions they're making, but that's about as far as our control goes.

I don't consciously decide that I love peanut butter and hate mushrooms. I don't sit down with a spreadsheet and think, "Hmmm, now let's list all the pros and cons of something, assign a score and weight to each attribute, then exclaim: It's official! I'm not a fan of The Godfather. Whew, glad I finally got THAT worked out." There's no logic or active thought process that says, "I like onions. I hate spiders. I love beer. I can't stand the color yellow." These things just is.

And so too with this writing thing. It just is. It's not whether or not the world needs another book. Or if I'm trying to cross something off some stupid bucket list. Or just spending a bit of free time noodling around with a hobby. Nope, my brain is wired in such a way that I always have to be producing something. I'm not happy if I'm not producing. I possess a modicum of talent in a few creative areas and if I'm not spitting something out, then I actually experience something approaching internal torment. So sure, it'd be nice to finish a novel someday. (Heck, I'll start with just one.) And it'd be nice if someone bought it. And even more nice if someone enjoyed it. But in the end, it's really just about me. And my sanity.

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Posted in Musings, Progress |

PBWQ14 Week Two Update

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I know it's only been three days since the Week One update. However, that update was late and Week Two officially ends tomorrow, October 17. Sure, I could wait until after tomorrow to post an update, but there's no point because I've already peaked. And I mean that in a good way.

So here's the scoop. I'm still working on the long timeline. This timeline includes key dates (years, actually) for both the backstory leading up to the main stories as well as key milestones within the stories themselves. The timeline begins at a point 120 million years ago. Yeah, yeah. This is pretty far back for a three-volume story that begins in 1864. But it's important to me.

Now, I'm not sure which definition of "it's important to me" I should use here. There are two:

1. Exploring the geography and geology all the way back to its (relevant) inception provides the author with key details and clues that will ultimately shape the story and improve it in ways that couldn't be accomplished by just "winging it."

2. I have to touch the light switch seven times with my right hand and five times with my left hand before entering a room.

History will be the judge.

Anyway, back to today's breakthrough. I got to a point in the timeline (specifically, 6,200 years BCE) where three different things all came together. And it was wonderful. I can probably describe this experience best with an analogy.

It's like I had spent a great deal of time crafting the letter "D". I worked on it, and poked and prodded it, and made it just the way I wanted it. On the side, a few years ago, I was also working on "E". I dusted that one off, cleaned it up, and made it presentable. Then I had an "R" going as well. Suddenly today I lined them up and said, "Whoa, I can spell RED with this!"

The uninterested observer standing over my shoulder would have seen this a long time ago. This observer would be highly unimpressed by my epiphany. But I'd been working on the individual trees for so long, the forest was effectively invisible.

But just like that, in a flash, I tied the three stories together in a very small but potentially significant way.

I'm still behind overall in my October plan. But this goes a long way to me not caring. 🙂

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Posted in Progress |

PBWQ14 Week One Update

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Just a very quick update now that the first week of PBWQ is behind us.

"Week? Today is the thirteenth!" you say.

Yeah, yeah. But I'm breaking up October into four weeks for psychological reasons. The first week went from October 1 to October 10. The second, third and fourth weeks end on each subsequent Friday. So, the first week is done and we're now just into the second week.


I've noticed the past few years that my PBWQ posts have gone like this:

Post #1, before it starts: IT'S TIME! IMA GONNA DO IT! YAY ME!!!

Post #2, after it's over: I failed. I suck. I'm never going to do anything.

So I vowed that this year will be different. This year I shall post at least four times between "IT'S TIME!!!" and "I failed." It's a whole new me.


The update is that things are going mostly well. I set a first-week goal for myself of having all my way, way backstory done: the part that lays the foundation for the stories to build on. I think I'm close, maybe another day or so. But it's all progress. I haven't missed a day yet working on this stuff. And that's saying a lot.

Posted in Progress |