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Six-Month Checkup

Six-Month Checkup

So here we are, midway through 2012, and it’s time to look back and see how those 2012 writing goals are coming along. (Expect much back-pattery in this post.)

Progress on The Ageless

My intention was to write three times a week, every week, until my post-apocalyptic science fiction novel The Ageless was done. So the first question: Is The Ageless finished? As of July 7, I’ve finished the final scene of the book, but still have yet to write the epilogue. (Edit: As of July 10, the novel is complete, including the epilogue! I’m not completely satisfied with it, but that’s what the second draft is for.)

At some point between here and January, I got a feel for how many words I could produce in a week, so I revised that promise to myself to write three times a week OR 3,000 words. I’ve met that revised goal 17 out of 27 weeks.

I also wanted to finish The Ageless by June, and I almost had! You can see on my writing calendar that I was writing the climax of the Ageless during the last week of May. But the trouble actually started at the beginning of May, when I realized the ending as outlined was no longer valid. So I reoutlined, and then started writing toward that new ending.

Something still bothered me, though. There was just this little tickle in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right. I decided to continue writing until done, then try to sort out the problem. I knew that might mean discarding a lot of writing, but it was the only thing I knew would work, being unable put my finger on the problem.

Then I went to the scifi convention ConCarolinas (see two posts back for my recap) and attended several writing panels. During the Killing Friends and Enemies panel, I finally realized recognized the problems. Of course, I can’t tell you what they were, because that would ruin the ending, but it involves the characters’ roles in the final battle (and yes, who lives and who dies).

I also wrote a short story set after The Ageless (the novel would probably be done already if I hadn’t written the short story, but it came to me almost fully formed, so I put it down as fast as my fingers could type). Now I’m just trying to decide whether to release it into the wild yet or not. If I do, you’ll see it appear here and on the science fiction story area of Wattpad.

Word Counts

When I set my 2012 writing goals, they weren’t based on word count because I didn’t know what a realistic word count was. I eventually realized 3,000 a week was very achievable, and later began pushing myself to go beyond 4,000 (which I achieved for 10 out of 27 weeks, 5 of which were the last 5 weeks straight).

Writing Accomplishments

The Crossing – Accomplishments 2011 – Challenge #16 by Bob Long Jr | Flickr

From November (when I got serious) until now, I’ve averaged 3,378 words a week, even when you factor in the weeks where I was hunting down problems instead of writing (see February and the beginning of May on the calendar). If you just count the beginning of March (when I was about two-thirds of the way through) until now, the average was 3,988 words a week.

So for my next novel, I’ll might try for something closer to 5,000 words a week and boost that average (unless I’m also working on getting an MBA, in which case I’ll probably stick with 3 to 4k).

Since November, I’ve written 114,840ish words, which means I actually can write a novel in nine months, even with a few troublesome patches slowing me down. Of course, that doesn’t include revisions.

If you’ve been keeping up with me, you know that The Ageless was already partway done before November. That doesn’t mean the novel is super long though, because I ended up discarding about six scenes (almost 20,000 words) when I rewrote the climax.

The Ageless stands at 129,770 words (approx 360 paperback pages). But I’m sure the second draft will change all that.

Other 2012 Writing Goals

Besides finishing up my current post-apocalyptic novel, my other main goal for the second half of the year was to complete two drafts of my finished science fiction novel, The Century, before year’s end. Since I’ve never revised on a time table, I have no idea if that’s still feasible, but I’m going to find out!

I’ve been bookmarking agents who like futuristic science fiction, so I’d count that goal as “eh” sort of complete. I don’t want to get set on a couple agents, only to see they’re closed to submissions by the time I’m done with The Century. But as the year draws to a close, I’ll start looking more.

I did print some awesome business cards for conventions, but really only handed out a couple (mutually). The font is smaller than I’d like, but there’s always room for another draft of those as well.

As of today, I plan to attend MystiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, and DragonCon in 2013 (as well as DragonCon this year, I hope). I’d like to go to WorldCon next year, but getting married takes top of the priority list in the budget for 2013! Hoping WorldCon 2014 is also in the United States.

My entire collection of books is on Goodreads, so that goal is complete. Come be my friend! I also started a Facebook page, which wasn’t officially on my list of goals. I still need to get the icon up top of this page, though.

As for my last goal, yes, I’ve become “more” involved in online writing and scifi / fantasy discussions. I don’t really see the value of forums (yet?), but social media is engaging. I like seeing what everyone is discovering on Google+ and Twitter especially. Much less interested in Facebook and Pinterest, but I now have a presence on both. And I’m in the process of figuring out LibraryThing.

What’s Next

The Century is a science fiction story with fantasy elements, set in the not-too-distant future. Born with a strange disease that causes her to age half as quickly as normal people, Psyche Collins has spent her life pretending to be younger than she actually is. When she meets others who share the same problem, they learn it may not be a disease, but proof they’re members of a race of supernatural humans called the Century. The more of her kind Psyche meets, the more frequently she’s attacked by a mysterious Order — a group of equally supernatural humans who seem determined to prevent the Century from learning more, even if they have to exterminate them.

The story is only about 60,000 words and probably needs a great deal of work, because a lot has changed in the almost ten years since gathering ideas for it. In 2009, I reviewed the story without editing it, I think. I need to do more research into certain areas of probable technological growth to be sure the future shown in The Century still seems realistic. I’m going to try to avoid a complete rewrite, which is what I did with The Ageless, but I’ll find out in a few weeks.

But before beginning work on The Century, I want to leave myself some editing notes on The Ageless while it’s still fresh in my mind. I’ll also want to study up on editing techniques from scifi authors. My guess is that I’ll end up writing some new scenes for The Century, rewriting some others, and then I can start rereading, focusing on different aspects (character, pacing) for each read-through.

If you read all of this, congratulations. If TLDR: I met some goals, sort of met others, and failed on a few. The Century is next on my to-do list!

2012 Writing Goals

The abridged version:

  • Write three times a week, every week
    • except around certain vacation times
    • until The Ageless is done
  • Finish the first draft of The Ageless 
    • by June
  • Let The Ageless rest
  • Revise The Century
    • starting in June
  • Finish at least two drafts (?) of The Century
    • by year’s end
  • Find agents to submit The Century to in 2013
  • Print some cool business cards for conventions
  • Plan which conventions to attend in 2013
  • Scan my entire book collection using the Goodreads app
  • Become more involved in online writing / SFF discussions

I’ve never really worked on a true deadline for a story, so I think finishing The Ageless by June seems reasonable. No idea how long drafts of The Century will take me, so two is really just an arbitrary number. We’ll see how these goals evolve throughout the year!

Looking Back

2011 changed everything. It’s hard to pinpoint what motivated me to start writing like I meant it, but whatever it was, it happened in 2011.

Looking Back...

Looking Back… by cindy47452 / Cindy Seigle | Flickr

After college, my writing meandered along. You can see from my Projects that I dabbled in a few different stories, from End Word to Natural Selection.

But in 2011, something finally sank in, and that was that thinking about writing, talking about writing, reading about writing… none of that counts. Only writing is, well, writing. You can keep thinking and hoping that one day your stories will be published and read by tons of people, but until you take real, measurable steps toward that goal, it’s just a dream.

And as any schoolteacher will tell you, we all need our dreams. But having a dream and striving to accomplish that dream are two very different things. That’s what 2011 taught me.

In the last seven weeks of 2011, I wrote over 20,000 words (you can see my 2011 daily word counts on my calendar). To put that in perspective, from the time I graduated to the time I started this blog, I wrote about 50,000 words. That was over the course of about four years, give or take a few months.

Yes, this post is a bit of self-backpatting. But I’m also putting it out there as inspiration to anyone who, like me, is an aspiring writer. You can do it—but you have to make yourself. All the good intentions in the world are useless until you get Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.

So I’m definitely looking forward to fun times in 2012! Come join me in exploring new SFF worlds.

Changing Gears

Yesterday I worked entirely too much on this website. So last night, in preparation to write today, I:

  • closed all browser windows (I’m a tabaholic)
  • opened my story folder
  • turned my laptop off
  • tried to get a good night’s rest (I love sleep and need eight hours to function)

I’ve found the lure of the Interwebs is strong, so usually when I know I’m going to write, I keep Chrome closed to avoid the distraction. Then while I’m writing, the only time I’ll allow myself to open a broswer is to look up a word in the dictionary.

The last few weeks, I had been working on the subplot of my current project, The Ageless, which you can see on my calendar notes.

However, last week I wrote a chunk of the main plot and finished that part this week. It’s a relatively boring scene (to me as the writer), in which the characters are just moving through the world. But it’s also the first scene with Nyr as the viewpoint character, which made it fun to write and, hopefully, to read.

On Thursday, I wrote about 900 words on that plot line and realized I wouldn’t be able to go any further until I knew what happened in the other plotline. So that’s what I started on today.

To get into the mindset after all my random activities this morning, I tried to listen to an episode of Writing Excuses. That didn’t work out (crazy router / internet connection), so I just dove in and got started. I can do that, but only sometimes.

Got through about 1,200 words on the subplot today, but I was feeling drowsy from a mixture of not sleeping well last night, medicine for my cold, and sitting in the sun, so I had to stop there. I did do a little research and setup for the next part whenever I take up the quill next week. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t go any further, but when I read the same sentence three times, I knew it was definitely quitting time.

So, overall, not too shabby this week. Completed my goal of writing twice (Thursday and today). Came to around 2,100 words.

In other news, if you look around, you’ll see the website is finally past its “first draft” and is starting to look somewhat professional, if I do say so myself. I’ve never worked with CSS before, and it is quite interesting! So much easier to maintain consistency compared to back in the day when I used to handcode the HTML for my old Geocities sites.

I definitely enjoy experimenting and learning through trial and error. In the past couple decades, I’ve taught myself HTML, VBA, and now a smattering of CSS. They are useful skills to have.

Announcement: It’s official! The new name is Worldbinding, with a subtitle of Binding science fiction and fantasy worlds to the page with words.

I wanted to convey the sense of discovery I feel when I’m creating a world or character and it almost seems to already exist, just waiting to be bound into book format. I oftentimes don’t feel so much like a worldbuilder as a worldbinder.

Naturally, I did a couple of weeks’ worth of research before settling on the name. Other possibilities involved the mind’s eye, quills, chronicles, and other ideas revolving around worlds. But there’s not much SEO competition on worldbinding, and as my brother said, it just seems more original. Thanks to all those who provided feedback, advice, and suggestions via personal channels. I promise your names will appear in my first book, even if it’s self-published!