>Revising and Procrastination

>So I still haven’t started writing yet. I think I’ve learned to take procrastination to all new heights, these days. I’ll pick strawberries with the kids, play farmville, warhammer, go to the grocery store, but write? Heck no.

But a recent blog by Chris Baty has me wondering. What sort of revision efforts could NaNoWriMo help me with? He’s asking for input on the kinds of revision tools you’d like to see.
Right now, we have the barest minimum. A couple of forums, the Critiques forum, and the Novel Draft Aftercare forum. Critiques is great, but only if you have something ready to critique. Aftercare is nice, but I’m not done yet.
I had a dream the other night. Apparently, my subconscious doesn’t set its sights very high. I dreamed that I went to the mailbox, and my novel was in there. It was a paperback proof, had been retitled “Off the Shoulder” (I have no idea why) and was printed by the “Del Rey Discount Books” division. There was a contract in there… with a $1,500 advance written in. I remember the cover art being pretty cool, though.
I mean… really? My brain couldn’t come up with NYT bestseller list, or a million dollar advance, or even a fully priced paperback? Oh dear.
I’m going to take it as encouragement, though. While I don’t think Del Rey has a discount books division, I like the attainability of that dream. Million dollar advances are very rare– but what I’m aiming for isn’t a certain advance, or even the NYT list. It’s purely, and simply, publication. My book, available in a bookstore near you, where I can go and front my books, and smile like an idiot while I point to it to the other customers and say “MINE!” while they back away slowly. I’ve thought (hard) about publishing some ebooks, but I still want the real thing.
So what are your writing plans? Are you writing for you? Are you revising something to be published? Going the self-publishing or ebook routes? Trying to convince the aliens in the back of your head that they can’t destroy the planet because of your literary prowess?

>So what are you writing this year?

I’ve finally gotten my idea. I had a dream (which is where most of my story ideas come from. Mortuus Rex came from a dream) that fascinated me. It involved a mermaid, addressing Congress, demanding recognition as a sentient species, protection of “human” rights for all sentients, and demanding the cessation of unlawful experimentation on the males of her species in private corporate research.

And an idea was born.
I’ve been working on the idea in my head, and I’ve got a few points; I don’t know how I’m going to get to that scene (for starters, I have no idea how in the world random Person gets to address Congress) but I know now that this mermaid will either escape from a corporate research facility, or break into one in an attempt to free her mate. I haven’t decided which.
Mermaids will be very Amazonian; matriarchal society, warlike, and the purpose of my MC’s trip to Capitol Hill will be to attempt to prevent war from breaking out. Before you start laughing about the idea of a primarily water-based race waging war on the US, think for a moment: what happens when your sea-traffic is disrupted? International trade would be affected, attacks on ports could be catastrophic for local economies, and widespread enough attacks would wreak havoc on the national economy. I could really have fun with it. In fact, just now I thought it would be awesome if I had her attempt to convince Congress to intervene fail initially, war to start (just so I can show just how much trouble a sea-bound race could cause) and they then decide to sit up and listen.
I’ve been researching on TV Tropes for ideas and tropes (warning, DO NOT click that link unless you’re ready to wikiwalk… TV Tropes steals hours from my day on a regular basis) and I’ve decided a few things; I think my mermaids will be mammalian, which means no scales… which is kinda sucky, because my working title is Scales of Justice. Le sigh. I am accepting ideas for a new title, by the way. I’m thinking a more dolphin based mer-person.
I do know that I don’t want the males to be strictly humanoid. Originally, I’d planned for them to be vaguely sea lion-ish, but given that I might want them to be dolphinoid, I might go with that. Or maybe the idea of a non-humanoid male might be a bit too squicky, so I might just go with traditional mermen.
I’m also playing around with the idea of the females having to go ashore to give birth in human form, which might solve the mermaid problem (TV Tropes warning). I think the primary setting will be Chesapeake Bay; the mermaid will be able to swim up the Potomac for the entrance into Washington DC. I think. I need to check my map for that.
I did have an incredibly generous artist from the NaNo Artisans forum make me a cover for my novel; it’s really quite pretty. Simple, and I love the color. The Artisans have offered to make the staff covers, since we don’t qualify for 30 Covers, 30 Days, so we miss out on the chance to get awesome covers made. They’ve really made some beautiful covers… be sure and check it out!

>So it begins

>It’s starting. The NaNoWriMo forums are starting to buzz. There’s a few more posts in Character and Plot Realism, there’s a few more private messages, the activity is ramping up in Games and Procrastination.

People are getting excited. Ideas are flowing, people are starting to ask if it’s okay to start now… it’s an energy that’s difficult to describe. I have a unique perspective on things; I am able to see things from behind, where HQ starts sending out more planning emails, the MLs start posting more often in the private forums… it’s just amazing.
NaNoWriMo is an event that’s unlike any other. There’s a freedom to it, a sort of rebellion against the traditional views of art and writing and creativity. Instead of a methodical, meticulous crafting of a masterpiece… it’s a mad dash to the finish line, the end being more important than the means. Where no one cares if it’s great… it’s the accomplishment, the completion, the fact that you finished at all that counts.
There’s a mad abandon that is absolutely infectious. I started dreaming of what I wanted to write, spawned almost entirely by reading the increased activity in the forums!
It’s amazing, it’s fun, and I love it. It’s this energy that has kept me coming back every year, for eight years.
I think it’s why, when other nonprofits sputtered and failed, falling by the wayside, NaNoWriMo continues to be supported by your donations. Why people love it so much that they’ll chip in their $10, their $25, in a way that raises hundreds of thousands every year. (We still have more plot bunnies from our summer donation drive available!)
It’s amazing. And I’m so amazed to be a part of it.

>So what to work on now


Now that I have (gratefully) taken my post-NaNo break, I’m ready to start writing again; however, this is the first time in many a year I desire to write with a purpose. You see, I posted a list the Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary things forum, and on this list involves two primary goals:

Completing my 2009 novel, and completing my 2008 novel. I’d like to complete the 2008 novel for CreateSpace’s free proof offer for NaNo winners. I’ve missed this offer (or the similar one from Lulu) every year, and dangit, I want this book in my hands, even if not published yet, for sheer vanity’s sake.

Now, I’m struggling with the desire to finish my2007 novel, Heaven’s Bounty. It’s such a GOOD story, and now I’ve finally figured out where I want to go with it, after letting it sit for a year or two.

This is why I’m not a published author yet. It has nothing to do with the quality of my work; I’m convinced that my prose is as good or better than anything you’ll see in Barnes and Noble. It’s the fact that I don’t finish novels, and therefore am unable to submit them for consideration.

So that’s my goal for the coming year: to complete a minimum of one manuscript, and polish it well enough for submission to agents.

Not a publisher, mind you; Like Editorial Ass, I believe firmly in the power of agents to help authors in more ways than just finding a good editor.

But to do this, I have to not only finish a novel, but polish it well enough to put through my critique group, and then polish is MORE into perfection.

But now my dilemma is I have multiple novels that I want to work on. I’m going to finish them all, but in what order?

What I have:

1) My first love, my original. The Story that Had to be Written. I’m currently working on handwriting the second draft, which I’ll then transcribe into the computer. This is the one I’d like to have for the CreateSpace offer.

2) The sequel to the previous one; I know, I know. In all fairness, I HAVE finished the first one, when I was 15 or 16… I know how the first one ends.

3) This year’s. This one is the one about the widow who ends up as a Queen, and then has to take her husband’s assassinated soul, memory, and skills and avenge his death and take back his kingdom. It’s FUN, but it’s lying fallow again, victim of 50k disease. Mortos Rex.

4) 2007’s novel, Heaven’s Bounty. It’s a sci-fi piece about a winged bounty hunter who is captured, wing-clipped, and raped (dark stuff) and set free by her friends, then seeks to find the source of her deceased captor’s freakish shapeshifting powers, powers her love also seems to possess. This one is so much fun, and the voices for all those characters have started up in my head.

5) Of course, Double Edged Sword, though a good chunk of it has gone missing. That’s a hard one to write though, and when I get back to it, it’s going to be like pulling teeth. Good story, just delicate work.

I dunno. I’m going to work on them all… but which first? My bones tell me I need to finish this year’s novel FIRST. It’s what’s most recent in my mind, and dammit, it would be nice to finish a NaNo novel the same year I started it.

But Heaven is calling…

>Looking for a great way to boost word count?

The wildly popular NaNo Word Sprints are going on over on Twitter. It started out simple enough, with a couple of word wars on the main NaNoWriMo twitter. It’s proven to be so popular that we’ve got a ton of people doing it, and I even volunteered to run a few myself during the day and when I’m writing. Before, it was just on the west coast time, which is exhausting for us east-coasters.

Most common is 10, 20, 30, and 40 minute word sprints.  It’s a great way to sprint through and get some fast words racked up and see how you compare to others. Some people are insane writers, one even managing to pull off over 1,000 words in just ten minutes!  Most people write at a more reasonable, less wrist-breaking pace.

It’s fun, and be sure and check it out.

>With great inspiration, I write


Last night, I got inspired. You see, the night before last, I hada dream. It was a dream that hung with me all day, and I started thinking about it.

So I started writing. After a total 2.5 hours worth of writing? I’d jumped from 21,705 to 30,474. I hit my stride, and this story has exploded. It’s not really related to my current NaNo, but I did the cheesy old trick of “meanwhile, in another part of the universe.” This one, I fully expect to hit 50k before the month is over, so I’m keeping the words. To see my erratic performance this year, click the widget to open up my progress report.

I love this. This is how NaNoWriMo is supposed to feel. 8,776 words in 2.5 hours, so excited I can barely contain my enthusiasm or stop writing. I was up till 2 AM last night. That’s what I missed. I will post an excerpt from the piece I’m working on, and tell you more about it as it gels soon. For now, I must WRITE.

Today, I’m about to embark upon the terrifying prospect of upgrading my computer from Windows Vista to windows 7. I found a deal that offers a copy of Windows Home Premium or Windows Professional to students for $30. So I’ve downloaded it, and now, all I have to do isfinish backing up the rest of my files. I’m uploading all my non-music stuff to dropbox (which, by the way, thanks to all of you who checked it out… thanks to those referrals, I now have 5 gigs of free storage instead of 2. It’s going to take about five hours to upload all of my remaining photos, but they’ll all be safely stored, and in no risk of erasure by the upgrade.

I’m moving all my music over to the desktop PC. It’s got over 200 gigs… it can handle it. I love modern technology. I can’t believe I’m sending over 12 gigs of music through the air to the PC nearby, while I sit here and type, and while I’m uploading pictures to another storage site. how awesome is that?

So I’m going to take advantage of my remaining hours of backups to write, write, write, and see how much further I can go.

And here, for your interest, is my progress towards my goal of 100k. I’m still a bit behind where I should be, but a couple more nights of writing like last night, and I should be caught up with no problem.

Let’s see if we can’t get a little less red in there, whaddya think?


>Back up your novel, RIGHT NOW!

One of the worst things that can happen to any artists is to lose your work to a corrupted file, a power outage, or storage device failure. It’s happened to me several times, and now I back up my novel in several places.

1) I have Dropbox set up on my computer. It automatically syncs my files stored in its folder, without me even having to think about it.  I can access it across multiple computers, or log in online anywhere I have net access. 2 GB free. If you get referrals (such as with my link right here) you can earn another full GB of free storage. They also offer paid accounts up to 100 GB, I think it is.

2) USB stick.  I keep a 2 GB drive handy at all times.  It’s nice to have, but they’re losable. In fact, I’m missing one now, and it’s annoying me.

3) Google Docs – it tends to muck up your formatting, but it’s perfect for writing from anywhere, and making backups. better to have to redo your tabs than to lose it completely, eh? It’s also great if you want to share your writing with a few people for critique or collaboration.

4) Backup to another partition on my laptop.

5) Email it to myself.

Backing up is vital… I lost over 30k on my original NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m missing about 20k on the one from two years ago.  It makes me very annoyed, and if I’d been more diligent about my backups… I’d still have it.