Sunday, November 29, 2009

I made it!

I hit the 50k mark this morning. I was beginning to wonder if I had time to do it, this week's just been crazy. I've validated at 50518 and I'll leave it at that for the moment. The book's not finished. I've written a chunk of it and then this morning I skipped to the final scene and wrote that. That was enough to slip me over the 50k. I need to do some plot sketching to make sure the plot arc flows. I have to work out exactly where everything fits so I don't leave any great gaping holes in the logic - there are heaps there now. But all that will take time that I don't have at the moment.

There's a workshop on at uni next week that I really need to go to. That requires a whole heap of reading and 'serious thinking' and I have only two evenings to do it all in. Normally I'd take a couple of weeks to do it and feel prepared but I don't have that time.

Today is another family day. It was my birthday last week so Lauren has been spending lots of time with me. We went shopping yesterday. It was only going to be for an hour or so but it ended up being for most of the day. We both hate shopping, particularly close to Christmas, so it was a real feat to do it. I now have a new chair for my office - a nice red leather one that makes me sit straight. And I have new eyebrows. Lauren says I'm at the age now where I looked washed out so I needed to get my eyebrows coloured. Lovely child.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 26

The last two weeks have been all up and down. Last week I struggled to fit writing in with the research and this week I've had a killer headache. Serves me right for sitting at the computer for five hours straight on Sunday, I suppose. All my muscles are still frozen solid but at least the pain's gone for a while. Just over 46000 tonight. Only 4000 to go to target.

This week is also my birthday so I have a lot of family-oriented stuff happening. Last night Lauren took us to dinner. I walked into the Modern Thai restaurant and she had everything organised. She works at the restaurant so she'd set the table herself, chosen the wine and the food and tea. It was wonderful. All I had to do was sit there and enjoy the company. I know I've said it before but I'm so lucky she's mine. I can't think of a better daughter or a better friend. She's fantastic.

I floated an idea with Lauren at dinner last night. I've been thinking of selling all my property and consolidating, buying two houses in the same street so she can live in one and I can have the other. She looked at me in total disbelief, then snapped, "We had that and you left." She's right. When she bought her first house and moved out of home, she bought a house at the other end of the street from me. Then a couple of years later I moved to another suburb. She's obviously still not happy about it! Now that's love. ;)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 21

I went to the library yesterday and borrowed about a dozen books for my research. By the end of the weekend I'll have a list of others I want to buy. I figure if I'm going to spend three years analysing them I'll want to writing notes in the margin - can't do that with library books. When NaNo finishes I'll begin compiling the annotated bibliography and doing the literature review. I'm really looking foward to it, but I've made myself put it away for a while. I'll keep reading and making notes but it won't be my focus until after NaNo.

Making that decision and getting that little bit organised has helped me get back into my book as well. I've struggled all week to write anything and have only managed around 600-700 words a day. Last night with the issue of the research decided, I wrote 2440 words. Much better. I'm hoping for 3000-4000 each day this weekend to get me back on track for hitting the 50000 by the end of next week.

I created another wordle from what I wrote last night. I like the wordles: they give you an idea of what is happening without showing how bad the writing is because I haven't thought about it much or edited it.
Wordle: Starr 2

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 19

I've had a week of 600 word days. A lot of that is because I've been focused on some research and trying to pull a proposal together out of thin air. I've reread a lot of material from a year or two ago and started working on the context and purpose of the study but there's still heaps to do, and an interview to get through tomorrow.

As far as my novel is concerned, I've been playing with Wordle. What a fantastic procrastination tool. I think it could also be used to help with quicksand plots too. Just putting a couple of paragraphs into Wordle and letting it do its thing could bring a whole new idea to light. Check out the wordle I created from the first couple of paragraphs of the novel. What pictures does it bring to mind? What assumptions can you make about where the story and characters are heading?

Wordle: NaNoWriMo Star
Image (cc) Wordle.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 15

I wrote just over 3000 words today, going just past the 30000 word mark. I probably could have done more if I'd forced myself to stay at the computer but I work better if my mind gets to percolate ideas for a while in between writing jags. Today I've written both a sex scene and a panic attack, both highly emotional things. I haven't portrayed the emotion at all well and I'm not looking forward to editing it to put it all in.

Sometimes I think there's just too much emotion in the world and not enough of just sucking it up and getting the damned job done.

A lot of my friends and family shake their heads at me and tell me I have too much testosterone to be a real woman. I wonder if I'm supposed to go through life on an emotional roller coaster, never be able to make a logical decision and be totally drained at the end of every day. I much prefer the ordered routine I have where I have plans of action for possibilities and fix problems logically and calmly.

No excerpt again today. The writing's not good enough to share.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 14

I missed the deadline to add my word count to the NaNo website last night. I wrote until about 12.30am and my word count for the day added onto today's record. That's disappointing, mostly because I don't like seeing that records show I didn't do any work one day but also because I passed the magical half-way mark (25000 words) and when I put my entry in tonight, there's not going to be a record of exactly that time. I know - build a bridge.

At my writers' meeting last night we talked briefly about what to do when the plot stalls and you don't know where to go. One of the girls suggested changing the morality of one of the characters. I thought about that for a while, trying to decide who it would work best with, what way their morality could change and how it would work best. That's where I got 1500 words last night in just on an hour. That small change has also given me the set-up for the next chapter and a way for all the major characters to begin to deal with their internal conflicts. What a fantastic way to get things moving again.

I'm not putting an excerpt in today. As I've become less sure of where I'm going with the book, my writing has become less ... less everything. There is the occasional phrase that's pretty good, but the rest is telling, not showing and, basically, absolute rubbish.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 13

I'm to the stage where I'm so tired I can't remember what day it is. It took me a full five seconds to realise that the date is also the day we're in on NaNoWriMo. I suppose it goes with putting my Berocca tablet into my cup of tea this morning instead of in the glass of water beside it.

November is one of the busiest months at work and having my book stuck in my head constantly has made it more difficult to concentrate and get things done. I'm also not sleeping well, barely getting five hours a night this week. I think I'll sleep in tomorrow morning before going to a write-in. I'll be in a place where I have no choice but to sit and write. Hopefully that means I'll get a lot done.

What I wrote last night is rubbish so I'm not putting it up here. Today's extract is from the middle of a previous chapter. As usual it's not great writing but it's not the rubbish I wrote last night either.

When Starr came here, he came face to face with his childhood. Every time. He knew Natch loved to play with that. When Starr walked in there Natch would be sitting behind his desk with the thick crop beside his hand.
Starr entered the corridor, strode to the end and went down the stairs. He never hesitated. Not now. He had once. Only once. He knocked briefly on the double sized black door and pushed it open. Once he was in front of Natch’s desk he stopped, hands clasped over his crotch in a futile attempt to protect it.
It was long minutes before the fleshy man on the other side of the desk looked up.
“You’ve been busy Starr.”
Starr nodded but kept his mouth shut. Natch had plenty more to say yet and Starr needed to find out what he was supposed to have done wrong this time.
“I’ve been getting reports in from all over about you and your pyromaniac tendencies.”
Starr frowned. He had no idea what Natch was talking about. He hadn’t set fire to anything since his last visit here. Not unless you counted Freema’s ship.
“Those were your pirates?” When Natch glared at him, Starr realised that one question had earned him a beating. Not that it took much to convince Natch he should beat Starr.
The crop was snatched up as Natch pushed himself up from his chair. Starr almost didn’t feel the first slice; his suit protecting his upper arms. The second one landed across his chest as Natch rounded his desk. The third, across his abdomen and crossed forearms.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 11

I almost didn't write anything today. I had a super busy day at work and then a job interview that I'd only had 24 hours to prepare for and was exhausted by the end of it. Not having a clue where my story had to go from where it was didn't help either. Then I get onto my blog and find my widgit from a few days ago has gone. I'll worry about it later.

But I sat down at the computer about an hour ago and told myself that I was going to write 500 words, even if it was all rubbish. So I've now written 1400 words and moved my characters forward another step. It's not great writing but the bones are there.

Here's today's excerpt:
“We’re not stowaways,” exclaimed Freema indignantly. “You rescued us.”
“You didn’t leave at Tolifax, told no one you were here. In the eyes of governmental law, that makes you stowaways, whether the pilot is aware of you or not.”
Lonnar nodded. This obviously wasn’t news to him.
Freema looked devastated.
“What?” Starr asked. “Didn’t you consider you might be breaking a law just by staying on board?”
She shook her head, her eyes welling. Then she broke down into noisy tears, her hands covering her mouth, making the sobs echo weirdly in her mouth.
“Jeesis.” Starr landed on his knees beside her, leaning over her lap, drawing her body close to him.
Lonnar leaned around her from behind, his arms looped over her shoulders and around Starr's head, holding them all in a fierce embrace.
And overhead, a haunting melody began. Eventually Starr recognised it as Bussey’s Luna, the prelude Starr often played to go to sleep by. He almost broke out of the hug to tell Brett to turn it off, but he felt comfortable; comforting and comforted at the same time and he didn’t want to move.
Manipulative bastard.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 9

Today's been difficult. I realised at lunch time I'd totally forgotten about applying for a job I wanted to apply for and had to write responses to ten selection criteria in a bit more than two hours with about one hour to plan. I don't expect to short-list, but that's not because I rushed the application. I don't have the experience they want, just the qualifications. We'll see.

Anyway, after all that writing I couldn't stay sitting at the computer and switch to NaNo. I needed a break. And then I needed a longer break. Consequently I haven't written a lot tonight. I pushed myself til I broke the 20000 word mark and then I stopped. One more chapter down. It's a dreadful chapter - all choppy and missing bits but it's the best I could do today. I'll work on it again tomorrow before starting the next chapter, maybe fill in some of the missing bits - as soon as I work out what they are.

And today's excerpt:
 “Starr, you need to come back to the bridge.”
“Kryste, can’t a man take a piss without being interrupted?” Starr finished, then squirted cleansing gel on his hands as he left the bathroom. “This better be important Brett because I really don’t want to have to deal with anything more from you three right now.”
“It’s important.” Brett’s voice sounded more serious than it had since they’d lost nearly half their ship in the fight to rescue Freema.
Starr started running.
Three ships filled the view-screen. “What the fuck is this about?” Starr exclaimed.
“They were waiting for us,” Brett said.
Jeesis. They weren’t where they were supposed to be. They’d told no one what they were doing beyond the first jump, yet three pirate ships knew enough to be sitting there waiting for them when they came out of the second unplanned jump.
“Can you read anything, Brett?”
“They’re Natch’s men.”
Starr flicked a look at Lonnar but the older man was standing beside Freema staring out the view-screen. He had a fierce frown on his face and his fists were clenched by his sides.
Freema slipped into Starr's chair and pushed her hands into the control manacles. “Brett, what do you think their reaction would be if we did this?” She punched in code as she spoke.
“I think at least two of them would shoot each other and the other one’s pilot would probably shit his pants,” replied Brett.
“What are you two talking about?” Starr demanded. “Freema, get out of my seat. And Brett, stop encouraging her.” He began to walk over to his seat but at that moment an orange light flared on the hull of one of the ships.

Dog people

I'm not a dog person. I think dogs are fine and friendly and all that. I've owned a dog and absolutely adored him. But dogs are time-consuming and smelly.

I much prefer cats. I love their independence and their dominant nature; their absolute acceptance of their superiority. According to David, my cat, Bridgit is very dog-like. She comes and tells me when she's hungry - usually every 10 minutes - and waits until I get up. Then she walks in heel position, checking on me constantly until we get to her bowl and I give her more food.

I can't see what's dog-like about that. She's not the one in heel position - I am.

I love widgits

I'm stuck with my writing at the moment - trying to make a fight scene different from the other two I've already done - so I've been browsing the NaNo page. I found this fantastic widgit. I love widgits. It's like having a new toy to play with. The pale blue isn't one of my favourite colours but the choice isn't mine. I just love having a visual to see how I'm going. It's supposed to update every five minutes so I'll come back tomorrow to see if the word count has changed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 8

I went to a write-in today. What an interesting exprience. I was torn between chatting with people, some I have met before, some I haven't, and writing to get my word-count up. As being social isn't one of my strong points, I chose the latter. It was really good - I wasn't at home so I couldn't be distracted by all the things at home. My seat was surrounded by others so it was difficult to get in and out, so I just had to sit there in front of my laptop and write. I wrote over 3500 words before I left a few hours later. That makes something like 4200 for the day so far. I'm going to spend another hour this evening on it. I'm looking for another 500 words to get over my personal target for today. I think I have the scene forming in my head so it should work.

I'm a slow writer, probably because I don't plot very well. I can't seem to see what will happen next unless I have what has happened before mapped out. I know it will need some serious editing before it's good but one scene has to be on paper before I can move onto the next one. I can't even visualise the next one until the previous one is done. That slows me down.

I'm enjoying this book, although I enjoy all of them when I'm writing them. It's very different to anything I've written before in that it's set mostly in space, in a confined area and the four main characters are tripping over themselves with nothing to do. It's a challenge to make it interesting and not fall into a rut. Speaking of ruts, I'm coming up to my third attack from pirates. I'll have to handle this one differently, make sure the reason for the attack is different from the others, make the stakes higher, otherwise it will read like I'm in a rut. That's the reason I haven't just written the 500 words I'm looking for. I need to get the beginning of the scene clear in my head before I can begin. Once I start, it seems to flow fairly smoothly until I run out of scene in my head, then I have to stop and think again. Sometimes that's 3000 words, sometimes, like last night, it's 200.

Below is today's excerpt from what I wrote today. I'm trying to choose dialogue as it's more difficult to stuff up dialogue and it's more likely to be a little bit interesting. I think it also shows the characters better than exposition. Total so far: 17767.

“Starr. Starr, wake up. She’s doing it again.”
Starr heard the words and groaned. “Who’s doing what, Brett?”
“Freema’s hacking me.”
"I thought you had that under control.”
“She won’t stop.”
Starr pushed himself out of bed, wincing at the tightness in his skin. The pain was better, just an ache in his muscles when he moved. Moving around would help that.
“Alright. I’m coming. Don’t get your knicks twisted.”
Starr pulled on his ‘recovery’ clothes; a soft cotton knit shirt and almost threadbare cotton knit sweat pants. They hung loose and didn’t rub. He’d wear a suit tomorrow. He padded barefoot to the bridge and found Freema sitting in his seat.
He tilted his head, trying to see around the back of the seat, to the holo-screen, wondering what she was doing, or trying to do.
“Starr, make her stop.”
Freema jumped and spun around. If her skin was lighter, Starr thought her face would be bright red. He leaned on the back of the chair. “Watcha doing, Freema?”
“She’s hacking me, Starr. I told you.” Brett interjected.
“I am not,” retorted Freema.
“Are to,” returned Brett.
“You started it,” she exclaimed.
“Did not.”
“Did too.”
“Enough!” Starr exploded. “Jeesis, what’s wrong with you two?” He reached over and pulled Freema’s hands out of the control manacles. He kept hold of her wrists as he turned her to look at him. Her dark eyes were wide, wary. “Freema, this is my ship, not yours.” He thought of revealing that he knew she was a soldier but decided not to. He’d play this cool and see how she reacted. “I don’t know what sort of thing you’re used to doing but on my ship we respect privacy and ownership.” His thumbs circled on the skin of her hands, warm and smooth. “You’re here as a guest, under my protection until we can sort out why those pirates wanted you and get you to safety, but that doesn’t mean you can upset Brett.” His thumbs circled and circled, the warmth from her hands filling him, calming him. “If you can’t respect that, then you’ll have to leave my ship.” He looked deep into her eyes and forgot what he’d been saying. He dropped her hands and stepped back. “Do you understand?”
She stared at him, her hands still resting in front of her where he’s been holding them.
“Freema? Do you understand?”
She swallowed and lowered her hands and her eyes. “Yes, I understand. No more hacking Brett.” She didn’t sound happy about it. “But he started it.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 7

I've written every day for a week. The last two days feel like I've been unravelling my small intestine to get words on the paper. What I've been writing is absolute rubbish. I keep forgetting particular character quirks and have to go back and try to make them sound the same all the way through. I also have absolutely no idea where the plot is going. The really worst part is that the really good interaction between the characters, particularly the computer with separation anxiety and his pilot, has gone flat. The moment my pilot was beaten and raped, I lost it.

I'm still ahead on the daily word count (sitting around 13500 words) but that's the only good thing happening with it today. I'm going to a write-in tomorrow. With a bit of luck some interaction with real people and other writers (I mean both, not either/or) will help me work out not only where the plot is going but how to get there in the most interesting way. All the pieces are in place, I just need to know what to do with them.
And just to bore people to tears, I'm putting another poorly-worked extract below.

His wrist beeped. The sensor he’d set two days ago told him he had nine hours oxygen left. He stared at it, willing it to change. Grimly he released the belt and floated off the bridge. His suit, in the forward hatch, would give him another three hours. He settled again in his seat on the bridge, the legs of his suit snugged under his thighs and jammed the torch into one of the drive manacles. Across the useless control desk the blackness outside ate at his sanity.

After some time, he realised that one thing on this ship did still work. He retrieved the torch and shoved in between the manacle and the gauntlet it secured so the beam shone on his face. He lifted his wrist and tapped in a code. The small square screen flashed green, then a face appeared on it.
"Hey, Momma,” he said, smiling even as more tears burned his eyes.
“Nalen!” His mother’s face turned away. “Papa, it’s Nalen.” She turned back to him. “He wants to see you too. Rogan, go get Papa. It’s Nalen.” Finally she settled and looked at him. Went silent. “What’s wrong?”
“I was just sitting here and thought I’d give you a call, that’s all.” His voice was as even as it usually was, betraying no emotion.
“Nalen Lonnar Pedrig, don’t you speak to your mother like that. I can tell when something’s wrong so you just tell me and we’ll save a lot of time.”
The screen on his wrist band split and his father’s face joined his mother’s. “Nalen boy, it’s good to see you. I told Momma you’d call and let us know when you’ll be arriving. It’s family day soon.”
“Hey Papa. I just rang to talk for a while. I won’t be coming home.” He wondered if they heard the finality of that statement the way he did.
Silence greeted him. They did.
“Where are you? We’ll come.” Momma’s voice had gone still and quiet, just like his.
He shook his head but couldn’t get the words out.
“How long?” his father asked, sitting on a chair and pulling Momma with him. They didn’t know exactly what he did for a living but knew he faced danger every day. That was the reality of space travel.
He sucked in a breath. They were there for him, just as they’d always been. He wouldn’t be alone. “Twelve hours.”
Momma gasped, smashing a hand over her mouth to mute the sound. When she lifted it away, she was calm again. “What happened?”
“I ran into some pirates.” He huffed a laugh. “I managed to escape just fine but they hit me a few good ones. Directional control was gone. I crashed onto an asteroid which managed to destroy everything the pirates didn’t. I’ve tried everything but there’s nothing left to do.”
Their breathing was the only thing Lonnar heard for a long time then his Momma sat up straighter and patted her hair.
“Mother Meecham down the road was telling me the other day that the farmers were having trouble selling their crops in town. Old man Goo insists on putting his pigs on top of the hay when he takes it in to sell and punches anyone who complains about the smell.” And so it began. After a while Papa joined in and soon they were all laughing and reminiscing. Gods, he loved his family.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNoWriMo, day 5

I think I've lost my momentum. Either that or the headache I woke with has mushed my brain. I've written maybe 50 words so far today and those took me all day to think of. Still, I'm happy with my progress. It's so exciting to push myself into achieving a certain level of writing every day. I'm proving I can do something I'd always told myself was impossible.

My excuses have always revolved around lack of time and too many things to do and to a degree that's true. I'm not accomplishing anything else, that's for sure. The headache is probably from too many hours at the computer and not enough time doing something else - anything else that gets me moving. Poor sleep because I keep thinking about the book has probably contributed to it as well. My response? Too bad. I had a massage and a rest and now I'm getting back into the writing. I want to write at least 1000 words tonight to make sure I stay above the daily target.

I've been posting the first 200 words of each day onto the nano site but I thought I'd start doing that here too. Here's the excerpt from Day 1 - it's probably the best thought-out part and therefore the best written. Expect it to go downhill from here.

The blast knocked Starr sideways, wrenching his wrists against the drive manacles. The ship lurched, evening out as he regained his seat and settled his grip on the controls. Too close.
“Brett, we’re going to have to disengage.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?”
Starr gritted his teeth against the annoyance rising in him. Seven years and he still couldn’t get the control system to volunteer information.
“Tell me why disengaging when we’re under attack would be a bad idea in this instance.”
“There’s a life form on board. Faint.”
Fuck. He sighed and released his wrists from the drive. “Brett, hold position and protect us the best you can until I get back.”
“That’s it then? You’re leaving?”
All that programming and the only thing Starr’d managed to achieve with Brett was a slight lisp in the system’s morose tone. “I’ll just grab this person and come straight back. You’ll be monitoring me so you won’t be totally alone.” The words came automatically as he snapped a blaster into his hip holster and checked the position of his knives and explosives. “I’ll be back soon. Try to keep them from destroying us.”