Reading Deprivation

Gaaaaaaaaah!

I’m not reading.  Starting about an hour ago, I’m NOT READING.  Anything.  Especially not books or the internet (goodbye facebook 🙁 ), but also not email (as much as I can avoid it) or user manuals or anything.  (Not blogs! 🙁  Goodbye Robin McKinley, until next week!  Not the awesome book by Tanya Huff that I just started.  🙁  How will I survive?)

So far this means that I’ve started writing a presentation I’m giving in a week and a half, which I otherwise might have procrastinated for far longer.  It also means that I found myself scrolling through the MS Word options, just because I wanted to disable spell check!, and technically was reading ALL of the options, looking for ones I might want to change.  Because that was an important use of my time.  *facepalm*

I’m not counting IMing or texting with friends in this “not reading” category, because that’s communicating with real live people who happen to be on the internet instead of a phone or in person.  Also, writing is not reading.  Duh.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve started doing The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron, and I’m up to Week Four, which mandates Reading Deprivation.  Since I haven’t been blogging much, this seems like a good time to resume.  I’m not allowed to read the internet, but I can still talk to it, right?

Fortunately, this only lasts a week.  I can make it.

Whew, third draft rewritten.

Today being the first day of my holiday vacation, I just finished editing the third draft of my vampire story, “The Organville Vampire”. It’s a lot better now, nearly a real story!

When I type in the changes I’ll call it the fourth draft, and I’ll know how long it is.  And then I’ll print it out for my beta readers!  Should be ready by the new year…

(Now I need to go buy Christmas presents… at least my priorities are in order?  :-/ )

Last Fairy Godmother Wordle

I’m a little behind on NaNo. This week is kicking my butt, with too many things to do. But I’m not worried, I still have plenty of time to catch up. Meanwhile, here’s a wordle of the story:

Wordle: Last Fairy Godmother NaNoWriMo2011

Detritus of my craft

The detritus of writing
I just noticed these things lying about my living room.

(It’s a bit grainy, because it’s night-time.  And I won’t remember to take a new picture in the morning.)

I know that I’m in the writing spirit because I have many important bits of the writing craft lying around my living room.

From top to bottom:

  • The most awesome, portable, roll of fine-point markers, by Staedtler.
  • My previous LFG notebook, Clairefontaine because I love them, and quad because it’s more versatile than lined.  Cloth-bound.
  • My new LFG notebook, also Clairefontaine, also quad, but spiral-bound. (I just started this one, so the previous one is still hanging around.  It will move onto a shelf once I’m settled into this one.)
  • The stack of pages (held together with one of my favorite pens) that is my Vampire Story printed out.
  • The large spiral unlined notebook I use for brainstorming when the small quad paper isn’t working.
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter*, which I loved the first half of years ago, and which I decided to pick up again this weekend.  I’ve just learned (again, since presumably I learned it the last time I read it) what a canon is and what a fugue is.
  • Very large (ok, “very” in my little non-artistic world) drawing paper, for extra-large brainstorming.  Not often used: but used this weekend.
  • And finally, chocolate.  Duh.

(The picture does not include my laptop, because I am using it and didn’t think to include it as one of my writing-things, even though it is.  I have selective blindness, sometimes, often without explanation.)

——

* I swear I don’t usually have so many^ things with the odd^^ “dt” sound pairing just lying around near each other.

^ i.e. greater than none

^^ odd for English, obviously.  I assume “dt” is German in Staedtler and Hofstadter?

writing update

I just noticed I haven’t posted about my writing in a while, and you might think I’ve quit.

Never fear, I haven’t!  I’ve been working slowly, but steadily, on the same New! Shiny! project I mentioned in January, THE LAST FAIRY GODMOTHER.  And it’s rolling along.  No angst, no bashing head into the wall, no pulling teeth.  I know what’s going to happen later in the story*, and so I keep writing until I get there.  My characters keep surprising me–there was a funny bit with a tea kettle I didn’t see coming–and a few things that showed up as throw-away lines have turned into plot points.  The coolest thing is that I’m still interested in the story.  I know that in a little while, they’re going to reach a whole new place and it’s going to be fascinating (to me) to find out who is there and what miscommunications will turn up.  I know there is plenty of room for miscommunication, and I know things will go horribly wrong, but I don’t know the details yet–and I can’t wait to find out.  I’m hoping it’ll be funny and meaningful, all at the same time, and hopefully not too much like watching a train wreck**.

At my current writing pace, I  might finish this (draft of this) novel in about 3 years.  o_O  I’m hoping to pick up speed somewhere along the way–NaNoWriMo would be an excellent opportunity–but in the meantime, it’s going along.  And I keep having new things to add to this story.  Until that stops, it’s all good.

* Not that I’m going to tell you, of course…

** Incidentally, you can spend hours watching train wrecks on youtube.  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=train+wreck&aq=f.  I wish I were kidding.

Google Book Settlement overturned!

I’m not a published author. I have no works in (or out of) print. But I hope to, some day. And this decision now will affect what can and will happen to my books (and my rights over them) when I am published.

Here’s how I understand the Google Book Settlement.‡

First, Google decided to borrow lots of books from libraries and digitize them, without asking the copyright holders for permission, and then made them searchable online. To go with that, Google would display ads to the people searching those books–effectively making money by presenting works they don’t own, without giving any money to the copyright holders (or asking for permission).

Then, some copyright holders and the Authors’ Guild got mad at Google and said, “hey, you’re a big bully!”* So Google said, “Oh, you’re right, I’m so sorry. Here, let’s settle this out of court. I’ll give you lots of money, and you let me keep doing what I’ve been doing. And you let me know if there are any books you don’t want me to digitize.**”

The Authors’ Guild’s eyes glazed over at the sight of the piles and piles of money, and they said, “Sure, ok!”

Then lots of other authors, who realized suddenly that the Authors’ Guild wasn’t actually representing them personally, took notice and said, “Wait a second. You want me to tell you that you aren’t allowed to digitize my works that I own? But I own them!” And then people started wondering, “Wait, what about copyright holders that we can’t find? Aren’t we just stealing their works?” And people in other countries said, “Uh, our works aren’t covered by U.S. copyright, so you’re not allowed to take our books without checking our laws.”

Then Google came back and said, “But this is the future, people! Can’t you see the future? A world where everyone can find exactly the bit of works they want, and they can check in advance whether they want to buy a book, from the comfort of their own livingrooms! (In their underwear!) Authors will make more money, because we’ll be selling more books! You can’t stop the progress of technology!” They also said, “This helps disabled people who can’t read have another way to access your work! This is all about the disabled people***! You’re hurting the disabled people!”

A lot of people (including me 😉 thought about this and said, “Ooh, the future is shiny. I likes it. I want the future!” And they also said, “I want to help the disabled people! Of course I do!”

But then they shook their heads and said, “Wait a minute. Why do we need to agree to this crazy thing just to help the future appear? Why do we need to give away people’s ownership of their own works in order to help people access those works? Why can’t we do this in a sensible way that benefits everyone? Let’s have an opt-in system!”

Lots of people joined the settlement with objections, lots of others opted out of the settlement with objections. Lots of people had no idea what to do, so they did nothing. And there were probably some people who liked the settlement just fine, and accepted it.

Finally, it went before the court, who, taking over a year to do so, had to decide whether this settlement was “fair, adequate, and reasonable.” It (by which I mean he, Judge Chin, my hero) concluded “that it is not.” See here for his full opinion: http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/cases/show.php?db=special&id=115. Judge Chin gives a remarkably open-minded response–in other words, he explains exactly why this isn’t fair or adequate or reasonable.  Yay!†  Score one for the rights of the little people!

Also, here’s SFWA’s announcement: http://www.sfwa.org/2011/03/judge-rejects-google-book-settlement/

‡ Does the internet need another person describing the issue and talking about it in public? Of course not. But I’m happy about the recent court decision, and so I’m going to talk about it.

* All dialogue^ and actions described herein are invented by me, and probably bear little resemblance to the actual events. Particularly the bit about glazing, in the next paragraph.

^ And, uh. Chrome’s spell-checker is telling me that “dialogue” isn’t spelled that way. Really? It prefers dialog. Dialog is only a valid spelling (in my Not So Humble opinion) for dialog boxes, those things that pop up and ask questions. If actual people are talking to actual other people, then it’s a dialogue. With a “u” and an “e”. *sigh* What is this world coming to?

** This is known as having to opt-out of the settlement. It puts the burden of administration onto the authors and publishers, instead of putting it onto Google who would be benefiting from the settlement.

*** I’m just certain there’s a more PC term I should be using here, but I’m failing to think of it. If you can suggest a better way to phrase this, please let me know. I don’t want to detract from my otherwise funny story by offending anyone.

† Ok, seriously?  Chrome thinks “yay” isn’t a word, either.  Nor “ok”.  This, right here, is why I usually disable spell checkers.  And grammar checkers.

I am up Early

It’s 6, and I’ve been up for an hour, and it only just occurred to me that I should blog about this.  Liza, awake before the butt-crack of dawn?  On purpose?

The idea was that I would wake up an hour early today, and go for a walk before getting ready for work.  (Ben would wake up early, too, but he doesn’t hate mornings as much as I do.)  Now, “an hour early” is a variable thing, since I wake up anywhere from 7:30 to 8:30.  But I figured 6:30 seems reasonable, until I remembered that the sun doesn’t rise until about 6:40, and we have a big ol’ hill that hides the risen sun for at least an hour.  So, 6:45, then.

And I don’t keep an alarm clock, or any clock, in the bedroom.  Which may explain my hour-long variation in typical waking-up time.  So I moved a nice analog clock with a charming bell into the bedroom last night, even though it’s been losing time for quite a while.  I reset it to “real” time last night, and set the alarm for 6:30.  But while I was lying in bed I thought, wow this could go really wrong when that alarm doesn’t even try to wake me up until 9am.  Not to mention that I can’t tell whether it knows the difference between AM and PM, or if it’ll just ding twice every day.  If it does know the difference, it probably thinks it’s PM now, not AM, and so we extra won’t get an alarm.

In light of this clock-problem, last night as I was falling asleep I told myself to wake up around 6:30 or dawn, whichever seemed easier.  (This often works for me, I just don’t usually bother.  I mean, who would want to be awake then?*)

So this morning when I found myself awake, and it was dark out, I scrunched up my eyes to tell whether it was really dark out, or just nearly-dawn and getting lighter.  (By the way, it’s just starting to get lighter now.  Charming, really, like watching sunset in reverse.  Huh.)  The house across the street has rather bright lights, and just over the hill from us is a greenhouse that keeps lights on most of the time, and we have these huge dark pine trees behind the house that look pitch-black against even the night sky, and the moon might have even been out.  So, there were lots of explanations for a light-colored sky that don’t involve it being nearly-dawn, but I was awake, so it must be close, right?

Wrong.  It was 5.  But I was already awake, and going back to sleep for an hour (or an hour-and-a-half, or two hours) would just make me not want to wake up again**.  So I got up.

And I worked on my vampire story revisions.  I’d had some pretty useful ideas as I was falling asleep last night (there’s something a bit disturbing, though, about falling asleep while thinking about a vampire story, even if I do know how it turns out), which I hadn’t gotten up to scribble down then because I was going to be waking up early and wanted to be rested.

It has yet to be seen whether this “walking” thing will be effective, or whether I’ll just be zonked all day.  (And I still have half an hour before I’ll feel justified in making Ben wake up to keep me company.)

* Aside from at least 3 of my favorite people, plus my father, who are all decided morning people. I don’t get it at all.  It’s still night-time.  I could be asleep.

** Not to mention that I suspect I’m allergic to our forced-air heat, and that part of my trouble with mornings has to do with the heater being on for an hour before I wake up.  And at 5, the heater isn’t on yet.  It’s on now of course.

New year, new project

Happy New Year!

Since last we met, several exciting things have happened.  Haven’t you missed me?

First, I wrote THE END of my Vampire Story.  Again.  This is THE END of the Second Draft!  Not the final draft, I have a major revision to go, but it will be a revision not a re-write.  I’m planning to start revision at the beginning of February.  I got burnt out figuring out how to get to “the end” so I could move on to the next story bouncing around in my head, so I’m giving myself a good bit of distance before picking it up with my Editor Goggles on.  But any later than February seems like procrastination.

Vampire Story, Second Draft
7500 / 7500 (100%)

Second!  I started my next story!  This one has been bouncing around in my head for a couple of years, just as a vague idea for a fairy tale that ends (or maybe starts) with the fairies getting the upper hand.  Why is it that Rumpelstiltskin never wins the first-born child?  This is the story where he does.  Well, not Rumpelstiltskin himself, but some other fairy creature.  That was all I had, a bare premise.  I wrote a short story called “Wing Stop” a while back, which ends wrong but I couldn’t ever figure out why*.  A couple of months ago, I suddenly developed a plot and characters.  I don’t know where they came from**, except that I was given this fabulous poem called “Bad Day” by Kay Ryan about an elfin tailor.  And suddenly I knew how the child was taken, and a bit later I figured out what came next, and then–BLAMMO!–I had a whole*** novel-lengthed† story arc.

This has never happened to me before.

I suppose it still hasn’t quite happened.  I mean, the story was brewing in the back of my head for yearsSomething must’ve been going on back there.

And eventually I discovered some characters and stuff, too.  So, I’ve started writing!  See?

The Last Fairy Godmother
2000 / 100000 (2%)

Ok, I think that was only two things, even though I said “several”. You could invent a few more for me if you wanted.

* Proof that I do and have finished things, despite the trash I talk about myself.  Just not “final draft”, “ready to be published” finished.  :-/

** Maybe from reluctance to find the end of my Vampire Story.  Funny how procrastination can have some fab fringe benefits.

*** Well, whole by my definition.  There are a whole lot of blurry details and not-so-details that I haven’t figured out.  And I do still have to write the whole thing.

† At least, I hope so.  What if it falls short?  Hrm.

Getting the scene right

Why is it that every scene I write seems to require at least two versions to be even remotely close to what it should be?  The first scene in this second draft was fabulous coming out of my pen, really fun when I read through it again, and then fell flat when I came back to it a week later.  Fortunately, I figured out how I can step up the creepy factor (dude, it’s a vampire story, it needs to start out at least a little creepy), so that’ll take a serious revision.  (Not until after I finish this whole draft, however.  I’m not rewriting whole scenes until I hit The End [again].)

My current scene has taken one and a half passes, and I’ve just realized I’ll need another.  The first pass was half done, and then I couldn’t quite figure out what to put next, so I stopped writing and went away for a few days.  Driving home one day, I figured out that if I rearrange it like so, and have the conversation go like this, then it’ll flow better, and I can get where I need to go.  So I wrote it out yesterday, and it was ok, there was a sort of banter between the two characters in the scene–banter much like that I have with my friends, except I think it isn’t as much fun when you’re reading about other people.  But it wasn’t right, it didn’t make me feel jazzed.  This morning I set my brain on it and realized that there’s too much of the MC saying, “I want X”, and me (the author) responding, “Ok, here ya go!”  Bah*.

Which means that either I can’t give the MC what she’s asking for (not without an extra big thorn) … or she doesn’t want what I’m going to give her.  I think I have an idea of how to rearrange it so she isn’t getting what she wants, as such, but … I’m not sure it’s all that conflictive**.  I want her to end this scene in a particular place, having seen a particular thing, but I’m not sure I’ve figured out how to make that conflicted yet***.

But this still leaves me with the question: Why can’t I ever write the right scene on the first try?  Why is it always that right after, or the next day, or several weeks later I realize “Oh, this would be so much better if …”

Or maybe the more important question: Am I going to reach a point where I stop thinking of the better versions, and can just call it finished?  I really don’t want to write a third version of this story from scratch.  :-/  (Barring another change of MC, I’m not going to.  It’ll just be heavy revision.  But still.)  And I’m tired of  knowing that the story as-written is quite different from how it will be in the next draft, so I can’t go back and read the way it’s going to be.

*sigh*

* Kicking puppies.  I’m supposed to be kicking puppies.  That’s my job.

** It is too a word.  See? en.wiktionary.org/wiki/conflictive

*** Which is why I’m not rewriting the scene until the end.  For now, it suits me to know that I have a better version in mind (described in my notebook, where I won’t forget it), which I can write later.  So if I come up with an even better variation, that’ll get added to the pile of notes, and I’ll only have to rewrite (again) once.

Bad lessons my brain teaches me

My brain is determined to teach me bad lessons about my body.

Last night, I had a caffeinated beverage at about 7.  I don’t usually, but I decided to risk it cuz I’ve been pretty tired lately, and I was at my writing group.  So, I didn’t end up leaving until after 11, and then had an hour-long drive home.  I put on some nice classical music* and set to pondering stories, both my own and those of my friends.  By the time I reached 92, I’d completely reworked the (new) beginning of my story so that it will be much more dramatical.  It was a totally visual experience, I could see all of the scenes that need to happen.  Once I can see them, they’re usually right–though my ability to transcribe them onto paper is often imperfect.  Then I had to pay attention to driving, because it was nearly midnight and very foggy and 92 is twisty.  When I got home I scribbled for another hour, completely wide awake and buzzing, totally jazzed about making my vampire more creepy and my MC’s problems more troubling.  (And I may have figured out a theme.)

Finally I went to bed, and as I tried to fall asleep, I figured out what will make the climactic scene with the new MC unique from the last version–and more powerful, I think**.

So apparently being tired and drinking caffeine when I should be winding at the end of the day is the right way to get breakthroughs.  Just as I’ve been fearing.  That needs a warning label with it: WARNING: USE DRASTIC MEASURES ONLY WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, AS IT CAN CAUSE SLEEPINESS, POOR PERFORMANCE AT WORK, AND ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES TO CONCLUDE YOU ARE IRRESPONSIBLE OR DON’T LOVE THEM.  Or maybe it needs indications. USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. USE ONLY AS MUCH AS NECESSARY.  DO NOT USE MORE THAN ONCE EVERY 6 HOURS, AS IT CAN LEAD TO INTERNAL BLEEDING AND HALLUCINATIONS.  DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY [sic] WHILE USING DRASTIC MEASURES LIKE SLEEP DEP AND STARVATION TO INDUCE CREATIVITY.

Yeah.  Or as Ben said when I described the effect this morning–“Oh, you’re an artist.”  :-/

* Ax, Stoltzman, Ma : Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart : Trios for Piano, Clarinet, & Cello, which is currently one of my favorites.

** One of the nice things about not sharing the first draft^ with anyone is that no one will be able to gainsay me about whether the second draft is actually better than the first.  They’ll have to take it on its own merits.  🙂

^ Or at least the ending of the first draft–I realize I did share a lot of the beginning with my writing group.  Fortunately, when I shared the new beginning with the group last night (not the one I re-envisioned while driving home, the first version of the new beginning with the new MC), everyone agreed the MC has a personality.  Yay for small victories!  Yay for main characters who aren’t wet blankets!