Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Goal (Makes Me Feel Fine)

School got out last Wednesday, the solstice and my birthday have passed, and The Son began camp this morning. My summer has officially begun.

I've been doing 300 a day for the last few weeks, with the goal of making it to the halfway mark by 6/26. Now I'm bumping that up to 500/day for the 9 weeks of summer vacation. That's not enough to finish the draft by Aug. 28 (the official end of my summer), but it's enough to put me deep into the final Act with the end in sight.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Halfway There!

I'm 50% done with the second draft!

From now on, I will have more of the draft behind me than I have still to write.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Out of the Weeds

I've got a few weeks of daily writing under my belt, and so am no longer concerned about jinxing myself by announcing that I am truly back in the swing of things, with Goals and Plans and word counts and little plot-related notes scrawled on index cards. It feels really, really good.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shelf-Sitter Challenge: Book 11

The eleventh book for my Shelf-Sitter Reading Challenge is Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and, sadly, it is another DNF. I really thought I would love this book. But 200 pages into a 1,006 page tome, I have no desire to continue with it.

I've been having a hard time putting my finger on what exactly is not working for me here. I really enjoyed the first few chapters-- the style, the subtle humor, the slowly unfolding mystery of the magic. But then the action shifted abruptly, leaving behind all the characters I was interested and invested in, and followed the path of the one I cared about the least. I've been waiting for Jonathan Strange to make his entrance, hoping that when he did he'd take the story by the balls and make it go somewhere, but now I feel that 200 pages is more than enough time to introduce a character with a goal, and I no longer trust that Clarke understands what a plot is.

I'm very conflicted about quitting on this one-- similar to how I felt about Outlander. I expected to enjoy this book, I respect the author's writing skills, and loads of smart people seem to love love LOVE it. And I certainly COULD finish it, if I set my mind to it. But is it worth the effort? If I'm going to slog through a thousand pages, shouldn't all that work be for an actual classic?

In an effort to achieve peace with my decision, I read a bunch of reviews of JS&MN on Amazon and Goodreads. What I found was that people either loved this book or hated it-- lots of 1-, 4-, and 5-star reviews, with very little in between. The 5-star reviews mainly praised the style and tone and tour de force-iness of the book (while remaining suspiciously silent on the actual story), and often included a smugly snide remark along the lines that such a long and challenging book isn't for everyone, so if you're not smart enough to get it perhaps you should go reread Harry Potter instead. The 4-star reviews tended to admit that the reviewer hadn't enjoyed the book while they were reading it, but now, looking back, they believed it was a good book. The 1-star reviews assured me that the story doesn't pick up, and that no one comes along to grab it by the balls.

So I'm letting it go, with one last pissy retort to the snide 5-star-ers: The length and style of this book are not "too challenging" for me. I regularly read 800+ page books, and I've read many of the authors whose style Clarke is imitating here. I was not wowed by the footnotes (I've seen it done much better), but nor was my tiny mind confuzzled by them. If this story had a relatable protagonist with a clearly motivated goal and an obstacle to achieving that goal, I would continue reading it. But I'm not reading 1,006 pages just because the writing is period-appropriate and footnotes = cool.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review x2

Sharon and I are co-reviewing the YA Fantasy novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone over at her fabulous review site. Check it out!

The Things I Do for Fiction

I had to write a few bars of a mildly bawdy drinking song for a scene in TOB.

"I met a girl across the sea
Her hair was fair and bright.
And though she spent the day with me
She would not spend the night.
Liddle-lee-lee and liddle-lee-lo
And diddle-dee-die-de-lay!
I went back down to my ship
And sadly sailed away."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Goal, Minus the Capital G

I have set a small, time-specific word count goal. And so far, I am meeting it.

That's all I'm going to say about it for now. My ability to write has been such an elusive and tenuous thing these past few months. I don't want to jinx anything.

But the story is unfolding again.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

250 Done

That's something, at least.

I've been all over the place all this spring. It's not just writing; I've been having trouble staying focused on anything. I can't tell you how many movies I've begun and abandoned 30 minutes in.

I even went rogue on the Shelf-Sitter Challenge and read a whole bunch of stuff off-list-- all from the library, so not technically breaking the rules of the challenge, but still. I've got 14 more books to get through, and a few of them are monsters!


Enough of this start-and-stop crap.

250 words a day.

Starting today.

Starting now.