Thursday, August 30, 2012

I've not written a whole lot this week, as my cold returned and I've been mostly tired and trying to sleep without a whole lot of luck. But I made a playlist for that book about A Forest That Eats Your Face. That's an accomplishment.

Tuesday at lunch I had a conversation with a friend about the truth in passes. When an editor says no, there's no use in wishing that they had said yes. If they were the right editor, they would've. Sometimes we think we know who the right editor is or we have an idea of who we want to work with, but that doesn't mean we're correct. It does not make it any easier when it happens.

I got a pass on Tuesday on a manuscript that had gone all the way to acquisitions. Honestly, it wasn't a surprise. It had been promising back in the beginning of April, but after months of nothing more, I didn't think it was going to amount to anything. And it's over, so I'm talking about it. There was a lot of hope wrapped up around this, and I was upset. But it wasn't the right home, it's still frustrating to have had to wait to be told no, but it doesn't negate the accomplishment.

An acquaintance told me while we were having coffee a week ago this story about going to a job interview and being sure that she had the job, it was hers—she could just tell. She ended up not getting the job, and it was devastating, but months later she got what was the perfect job for her. These sound like opiates we feed ourselves, feedback loops of when one door closes another one opens and everything happens for a reason, but the truth is that the wrong answer is the wrong answer. Sometimes we can't see it, so we get a lucky break and someone else sees it for us.

Once the disappointment fades, and the sting has been soothed, it's a relief more than anything. You can't survive on the edge of almost making it—dangling by a fraying maybe—forever. It's not action; it's idling. Forward or death. One step and then another.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Lodger/The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

You know what's back on Saturday? Doctor Who! You know who never actually finished her recaps for the fifth season and completely didn't bother to do ones for the sixth? Me! Why didn't I? Well, I was watching them dutifully along with the airing on Space and then Space was, like, late to air them and someone had them from CyperSpace so we just watched them early... and didn't recap so that it wouldn't spoil for people who were still watching them on BBC America or something.

So here, years later, are recaps and thoughts on the last three episodes of Doctor Who, Series 5. You're welcome.

The Lodger

The Lodger was the hysterical companion-lite episode that featured the Doctor showing up a random dude named Craig's flat, giving him a sack full of money, and declaring that the Doctor was Craig's new flatmate.

It was The Odd Couple, but with an English bloke and an alien who looks like another English bloke.

But it was very funny and there was a joke about a toothbrush, I believe and some soccer football time and then a headbutt of passing information. Because that's how English dudes share wisdom: Headbutts.

 But it was basically about how Craig never wanted anything or to go anywhere or be anyone special so the evil aliens that lived in the fake flat above him couldn't get him and his contentment with his normal life saved the day. Mostly, the reason it was so damn funny was because it juxtaposed this mad man in a box who has the ability to go anywhere in all of time and space just playing soccer football and having showers and talking to cats like the Chrestomanci. Totally normal stuff. Lesson for writings: normalcy is funny.


The Pandorica Opens

This episode was fan-frigging-tastic, and not just because it featured Rory. Well, ok, mostly because it featured Rory. But it also set-up the two-part season finale that proved Steven Moffat did have a plan and the inconsistencies were intentional.

The Pandorica was this crazy impenetrable prison thing that contained the worst monster and scariest criminal in the history of FOREVER. It is like the kind of science you do not go poke. So, of course, the Doctor wanted to go and poke it.

Did I mention Rory? As a Centurion. Then it was about how everything was being put together by Amy from bits and pieces of her thoughts. And basically all the enemies of the Doctor showed up and were like "BOO" and he spun in a circle on a rock and was badass. And the Pandorica opened and nothing terrible was inside, because it was meant as a prison for... THE DOCTOR. OH SNAP. And he totally walked right into that trap. (Causality, Peter Parker, that's what happens when you touch the science.)

Also: Rory. But it turned out he was Rory made of Living Plastic and he had a hand gun and he shot Amy after the Doctor got trapped inside the Pandorica and the episode ends with all the stars and galaxies going out one by one, because of a reason that totally made sense when I watched this two years ago.

Also... SPOILER, when you end the entire universe in your first season as a show-runner, you kind of can't top that. So don't try to be more clever or bigger and bolder... you ended the universe. Ok? Ok. Thanks. That's a note from the future.

The Big Bang

So after everyone and everything you know and love dies... it doesn't. Because the Doctor had a clever plan. As another Note From The Future: The Doctor Has A Clever Plan really only fools us once. After that, we're pretty sure you're going to pull something.

But in this instance of it being the first time and emotions are running high and Rory has sat outside the Pandorica for nearly 2000 years and waited for Amy... shut up. I'm totally not crying. It's allergies.

But yeah, then the Doctor reboots the universe and tries to close all the cracks in time and space and wears a fez and it's just brilliant. River disagrees about the fez.

As the Doctor is closing all the cracks in time and space, he realizes he will have to be closed on the other side. But he gets Amy to use her brain-powers of having lived by that crack in her wall for all her life to remember him back into existence and it's every thematic thing ever that makes me happy. Mostly because she remembers him back into existence at her wedding reception to no longer plastic-but-still-awesome Rory.

And the Doctor comes back and he's dressed fancy and there's cake and dancing and the Ponds go off to have adventures with him. ADVENTURES!

I tip my hat to Steven Moffat for this one. Really, this episode made it so that I could look back on this series and see that construction-wise, it's perfect. Individual pieces may not work super great or may not have been my favorites... but as a whole? Wow, what got pulled off here is amazing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Sunday Metrics
A Forest That Eats Your Face
Words: 1185
Total: 3543
The doubt: What is quickly summarized in an outline is not always so easily written in the draft.

Also, apparently the main protagonist doesn't like to speak—which means the challenge of this book will be learning not to rely on dialogue to carry scenes. Third person narration that doesn't read like exposition for everyone? Well, I always say I want to learn something new with each manuscript I write. (The one previous to this was taught me that an emotionally honest story resonates far deeper than a clever one. Also, that my agent doesn't like it when fictional kids are put in car trunks.)

But I wrote this anyway: Sorrow had hazy, half-formed memories of mountains; his dreams were haunted by feathers and songs no instrument in the palace could accurately replicate, so it was likely the king spoke true. No other explanation had been offered, and Sorrow found questions in general to be bothersome things.

I went out for brunch with a friend and her boyfriend, and we spent a few hours having intelligent but very irrelevant conversations. (At one point, we were considering the ramifications of a parallel world where the moon was really made of cheese.) When you spend a couple hours at ease, with that quiet welcoming happiness that envelops a table and hushes attempts to be discontent, it's as restorative as a full eight hours of sleep.

My friend would probably argue this feeling of contentment was more a result of the Hollandaise sauce.

I also built a pinboard that has the Best Books of 2012 I've read. That is all the ones I've given 4 or 5 star ratings to on Goodreads.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I have a solid three chapters. I wish I had more, but I spent most of this week sick. Honestly, the kind of ill I haven't been since last Christmas. We had a killer cold go around our office, which I probably had the week previous to this but didn't succumb to until this week.

I am go, go, go and I will keep at it even when ill. It's something that happens when you freelance or work part time/contract positions—you learn to function without the luxury of sick days. Years later, it doesn't occur to me to go I am sick and I must stay home until I am unable to function. My level of unable to function is a considerably higher threshold than most.

This week has been a lot of not doing anything and taking care of myself first. I watched the last four episodes of season two of The Vampire Diaries, and will be ready for season three when it comes out on DVD. I read a few books, one that was good but ultimately couldn't hold my fuzzy-around-the-edges attention, one that was just more of the same, and one that kept me up much later than I intended to because I accidentally read it all in a single sitting.

Drafting, as a result, didn't really happen. I was able to reread the three chapters I wrote, and they're solid. They may not survive to a second draft, they can probably be better, but for what they and what they needed to do... they're good. Far less padded than I thought they were as I wrote them.

The draft has over 12,000 words and I'm debating if I continue or if I switch to drafting something else up to three solid chapters. There's a potential, as it has a solid outline, that it could be a proposal... but the idea of selling on proposal is both exciting and uncomfortable. With the right editor and collaborative atmosphere, a proposal book could evolve into something amazing. But the suspicion of selling a book to be one thing and realizing later that it's actually something else hovers at the edge of my mind.

Honestly, the outline is the most extensive I've done since The Tarot Cafe novel. But there's a character connection that bubbled-up during the first scene not in the outline. Do not let anyone convince you that outlining robs all writers of the thrill of discovery. As someone who used to say outline was a terrible thing, my experience is I didn't outline because I believed I had the luxury of eternity to finish writing the draft. I didn't have to know the plot; it could be discovered months later, because I believed I had months to find it. (Also, I wasn't trying to sell it to anyone.)

And there's nothing wrong with that belief. Writing is what works for you and gets the words on the page/screen/tablet. I have a friend whose process is to think out most of her draft before she commits to sentences. I throw words on a page, fast and move on, because I'm writing through the story as I go. Consequently, I do the majority of my work in subsequent drafts. Doing an outline create an opportunity to reduce the number of drafts.

Total: 12,807
Sample: The air is wrong when I come to; it smells of a party that ended too late for anyone to want to clean up. It feels like old money being wasted. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wide Awake

A Forest That Eats Your Face
Words: 630
The doubt: Most of this is finessing what was already there—just adding flesh to bones so the story still hasn't really gotten going.
But I wrote this anyway: To the Stars within the Capital, magpies were pretty pets; the villagers and farmers and travelers who had seen them in the wild knew the complacency was only feather-deep. Magpies had not forgotten what they had been before the Stars tamed them, and memories were closer in the borderlands between the Heavenly Kingdom and the realms beyond.

Requiem's Tale of Woe and Jokes Pt 2
Words: 523 
Total: 11,527
The doubt: I'm just trying to get through this muddling chapter of all the feelings everyone has so the plot could move forward. Also I spent the day out and about, but still didn't accomplish all my errands.
But I wrote this anyway: The air is wrong when I come to; it smells of a party that ended too late for anyone to want to clean up. It feels like old money being wasted.

I have a confession, the only reason I hope someone publishes Requiem's Tale of Woe and Jokes is so that the internet will be inspired and make me a "Call Me Maybe" parody. Yep. Those are my ambitions. Not suitcases of money or film adaptations. I just want someone to realize that pop song parodies and Requiem go together like high school and musicals.

I told this to a friend today, and she made up a parody chorus on the spot. Because she is awesome.

Hey we just met
And this is crazy
Do you eat dreams?
They're very tasty

In my mind, this is all filmed and edited well by passionate fans—or more likely just people I know who decide it sounds like it'd be awesome—and we find attractive people to be in character and run around Toronto for a couple days while we all have an insane amount of fun. The publishing comes in so that there are more than 3 people who find the final video as amazingly awesome and funny as we do.

Here's a Katy Perry video! It's like you get to experience my playlist one video at a time. I like this one because it's a misleadingly catchy song about being disillusioned. Pop songs and Requiem.

Friday, August 17, 2012

We are never ever ever getting back together

My wifi network at home and I have been having a passionate on and off again relationship. We finally broke up this week and I have started a new relationship with a new network.

I've also been listening to that Taylor Swift song a lot. It's good that I listen to it via youtube at work or I'd be terrified to look at the play count.

But is this not a brilliant lyric video? I like the part where the spoken bridge comes out and goes back in the phone. Also where the words do a little dance on the stage. Words should dance. Dancing words are the best. I'd like a stage with velvet curtains where my words could dance for me.

I even switched it up and because I couldn't sync my files on Mr iPad, I have some words on one draft and some words on another. But they never dance on a stage. LIKE. EVER.

Anyway. Metrics.

Requiem's Tale of Woe and Jokes Pt 2 
Words: 593
Total: 11,004
The doubt: I don't remember Tuesday, but I don't think I was feeling really well. Yeah, I basically sat there and poked at the keyboard until something happened and the number count was high enough that I could drag my butt to bed and sleep for not long enough.

A Forest That Eats Your Face
Words: 1,222
Total: 1,222
The doubt: I have the loveliest opening line for this, and then I had to write myself into the actual story. Actually, I think my doubt is more that people have to stop referring to this as a story about a forest that eats your face when that's sort of a feature and not the focus. By people, I mean me.
But I wrote this anyway: The only things of value Barrington had were the magpie, a scarf given him to by the woman who had loved him until magpies had come for her heart, and his wits. It looked that he was going to lose at least two of the three before the day was out.

A Forest That Eats Your Face
Words: 506
Total: 1,728
The doubt: Tired again and suspecting that most of this scene will end up junked.
But I wrote this anyway: Dressed in a robe the color of a summer sky over the mountains, the sash the grey of a storm cloud, Barrington had to admit it was an improvement—the magpie looked strange, but at least it looked like a strange child and no longer a creature.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ok, so instead of writing tonight I finished reading that book I had to read and then spent way too much time making bad jokes on Twitter. Possibly because my brain had nothing more to give after yesterday.

Also, I am questioning if there is a line in what I wrote yesterday that someone remarked to me in conversation. I am capable of writing lines without conscious intent that just work, but this one sounds familiar. And I don't like borrowing from conversations unless it was something I said. It's a trust thing.

I only wonder if it's happened because very good things have happened recently to people in my life and made them happy and it's wonderful. It is so good to see the happy. Spread that contagion around. Light some more candles from the single flame or whatever it was Buddha said.

Anyway, I could just be over-analyzing because I'm tired and my brain's spinning circles in lieu of productive thought.

There are already things in the 10,000 words I have that won't be in the next draft. (I'm pretty sure something else from yesterday later in that chapter was something I said, but it's filler/lead up dialogue that is going to change.) But I liked this line. It worked. And if it doesn't belong to someone else, then I'd like to keep it. And if it's not mine, well, then I'll find a different way for the character to say it.

I may have to ask Leah Bobet for a threat for the Tuesday wordcount.

Total: 10,411
Words: 275
The doubt: Send plot, because this needs forward motion.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And then there was 10 (K)

Before I share metrics, as the post title really reveals the important details, I have to comment on something that I really don't enjoy seeing in a book I read.

Girl: Hey, you're kind of a stalker.
Guy: I'm just trying to make you love me.
Girl: Oh, well then it's ok. Let's kiss lots because we are obviously soul mates.

This is a little bit of harsh reality, but you can't make someone love you. You can show you love them; you can display your affections through actions or speak them in words. But you do not have power over how someone else feels. You can say and do things in an attempt to change their feelings, but that's still about you and your feelings. It's not about theirs. They will decide they love you; maybe it will be partially because you love them, but there are hopefully going to be other reasons, too.

It's comforting to believe you have control over the world and other people, and we all need to feel comforted. But go get a hug from someone who thinks you're neat instead of pining after someone who doesn't.

I'm going to climb off my soapbox now.

Words:  3038
Total: 10,136
The doubt: I should get a plot for this, as at this rate I'll soon be in need of one. Also, much of the redraft is going to be spent crafting these sentences better.
But I wrote this anyway:  
         No, it’s a secret that wants to remain mine for a while longer, until I can think of the way to express it to her without it being too much, too fast.
            It’s not that I can’t imagine my life without her; I just don’t like the way it looks.

Here is a song that is kind of appropriate for the 3000 words I wrote.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Amazing what you can accomplish when you aren't on Twitter

Both today and yesterday consisted of writing dates, so the wordcounts look amazing. But remember it means I sat in a cafe for a minimum of 3 hours to get these wordcounts. It was terrible. I had to eat crepes and drink iced hot chocolate or milk tea. Really. You should hear my wallet's cries of pain.

Also, every line I love in this draft is cruel. The beautiful thing about this as opposed to Requiem's Tale of Woe and Jokes is that I don't feel like the story is stabbing me in the face when I try to write it. The cruelty isn't personal anymore, but the emotions are just as honest.

Probably because I shouldn't be writing this book for bullshit logical business reasons, so the indulgence isn't so much all-my-ennui-let-me-stab-it-in-your-face as much as it is "OMG THIS FACE-STABBING IS SO MUCH FUN." It could be, as I tweeted, that I've just become a terrible person; I hope I've become a not-terrible person who doesn't flinch when it comes to writing terrible things happening to fictional people.

Metrics, oh my metrics

Words: Approximately 1200
Total: 5281 (ish)
The doubt: I wrote these words by hand, expected them to be awful and wasn't sure that I'd actually get 500. What I learned is that when I can't go on Twitter or anything because I only have a notebook but the person I'm with is committed to staying until she gets her 500... well, I get words written. A hell of a lot of words.
But I wrote this anyway: I know it doesn't work because it hurts too deep, the kind of hurt only a still-beating heart can experience.

Words:  1772 or thereabouts
Total: 7053
The doubt: It was the first day of writing on the iPad (I've had for more than a year.) I wasn't sure I liked it and I had to type up the pages and pages of longhand from yesterday. But the beauty of the iPad, even though it's a little awkward and doesn't have my nice formatting options and doesn't autosave, is again—I can't easily navigate between Twitter and the writing app.
But I wrote this anyway: The chiming of imprisoned dreams isn't a distinct sound; sometimes I think I hear it when people clink glasses in celebration.

The glamour: This draft is going to clear 8000 words in its first week. That is more than double the agreed upon goal. I am in full fuck you, everything, I'm just going to write mode and it's glorious. I haven't been this consistently happy in months. Those kinds of numbers say I could have a draft by the end of the year.

Harsh reality:  Rarely does a story talk to me consistently for 8000 plot-advancing words a week during its zero draft. It's not a sustainable momentum, because I like having a life, too.

And fuck you, everything, I'm just going to write mode gets in the way of my 9-5. (It means I have no interest in reading books because I'm busy with my own.) I have two more ARCs to read for September and then all the October–December titles. About four of them don't have ARCs, so I can't read ahead which is going to mess with my momentum.

Oh noes, so many books to read when I just want to write. I'm grateful that these are my first world problems.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

I can't think of anything clever to call this post because I had about four hours of sleep last night due to insomnia. When I go to BC within a day, it's I'm home and everything is the time that it's supposed to be and there's no questioning it internally. I return to T.O. and I spent a week not knowing what time it is and my internal clock refusing to reset.

I had insomnia for a week after I visited home in April, too. It's apparently a thing. It's also a tiny whispering thing that likes to pontificate that one day I may go and just not come back.

A friend proposed that I join her in a pledge to write 500 words a day, and since she's the same friend who knows exactly how many words I've been writing a day for the past year, I've decided that she can probably hold me accountable.

New Words: 2281
Total: 2281
The doubt: I shouldn't be writing the thing that just vomited a chapter onto my screen. There are at least three other things I should be writing before it. One of them is even fully outlined.
But I wrote this anyway:

“No. Other people don’t make your dreams happen. You might be the focus, but it’s all intrinsic motivation.” I might’ve given him a dirty look. He grinned. “Come on, Hipster, you’re too smart to think your shiny feelings made this happen.”

New Words: 1204
Total: 3487
The doubt: I forgot how to write this character's voice.
But I wrote this anyway:  If I were someone he’d created, I couldn’t be shapeless and unknown. He’d have made me specific, purposeful.

New Words: 0
Total: 3487
What happened: It didn't occur to me as I lay staring at the ceiling until nearly 3 AM that I could've been doing something other than staring at the ceiling.

And none of this counts towards my 500 words tonight, so I leave you with two songs that are on heavy repeat for this thing.

EDIT 10:14 pm

New words: 592
Total: 4081
The doubt: I am so, so tired. This is not the character's voice at all. I will probably end up throwing all these words out.
But I wrote this anyway: The figure moves a row closer. Shuffling the clumsy creep of something with bones and blood and weight.
It is late and I should be sleeping, but there is something I am desperate to tell you. We talk, we creative types, about the importance of using our art as coping as processing as language and communication. We talk a lot about the output, about putting our art into the world. We talk a lot about putting inspiration back in to ourselves so we can continue to put art out.

But what we sometimes don't talk about, and it's vitally important to our well-being and the good of the world, is the importance of enjoying other people's art. Not for inspiration, not to give us ideas or reactions but for the simplicity of giving us feelings.

Whether they are good feelings or bad feelings or all the feelings. There is a world full of people doing what they love, so surround yourself with them. Find them, appreciate what they do, and don't worry about what that means for you and your path and where you are in your life.

Just for a song or a book or a movie, for a smile or the time it takes to click on an instagram link. Appreciate. Let it fill you up. Hold it inside. You can do something with it later, but for those heartbeats just let yourself feel it.

Good night, city full of talented people. Thanks for the past twelve months, whether they were good or bad. I probably won't able to tell until it's all just stories told about that first year in Toronto.