Progression and Insight

Before we get to the more usual writing portion of today’s blog entry, I would like to announce two personal things. One, I get to keep my job for a while. I’m in a temporary contract position that started in the Fall of last year, was supposed to be six months long and keeps getting extended to my general delight. I mostly like my job, the majority of my coworkers and my boss. The pay is fairly good and it’s a 15 minute bus commute between home and work. Working could be worse, except that every couple of months I get to have the angst of not knowing if I will be extended. Given the tough economic times, though, I’m counting my blessings. I have a job, which is a big blessing that many out there lack. And today I got word that I am being extended another couple of months. That makes me happy. The other announcement is that I am again looking at my beautiful iMac on my desk. Yes, it is finally fixed and I am grateful for warranties. Always nice not having to fork over 1170 bucks for repairs.

Now on to what you’re all really here for, the writing news. It’s been a good past couple of days as I put the weekend’s post-draft-completion panic further behind me and think things through. More insights have come, including some fundamentals. One was so big that I wrote it on a piece of paper in big letters and taped it to the wall where I can see it from both my desk and my bed, which is where I tend to write. Yes, major stuff. What’s really funny about this insight is that it seems so basic, and I mean the earth is round kind of basic, but I had never quite thought of it before, not so directly, and it’s making me re-examine some of my favorite books and stories in this new light. It’s that stories are at least partly about the choices made by those in it. And I’m not just talking about the main characters, even the minor characters and villains, their choices help fuel and tell the story, to shape it. I have to remember that when I’m thinking stories up, outlining them, and telling them. I have to ask myself what choices are they making and why are they making that choice rather than others. And the answer can never be any variation of “just because” either. Like I said, seemingly basic, but it has changed Dark Mirror a lot, and is helping to shape other projects too.

I didn’t do any writing, didn’t read anymore of the first draft of DM, but notes and a new outline for the second draft are coming along well, and that’s awesome in my books. Some for the old events are going to be in it, though in different order with some details changed due to the very altered nature of the story I’m telling now, and others will be gone entirely. Some characters are being relegated to the background, others made more prominent. It’s almost like watching a Rubick’s Cube solving itself, except it really is me turning things over and finding ways that pieces fit better now. I think I have a better idea of what this story is about now and whose story it is. It’s Fay’s story, though Tavis is still very much part of it and has his own story interweaving with hers. This is going to change how I tell it a lot. The sub-plots are clearer, and will be apparent earlier. It’s also going to be a more active story, just by one single change I made that unravelled the old story into something better. And I’m really glad that I’m doing this, because it’s teaching me more about writing, story construction, all of that. I think something way better is going to come out of this, even if it means writing another 100k plus in 30 days. That’s fine, I can do that. I’ve already proven that much.

While I’m doing all this work on DM, I’m also still doing some of the same work on The Ailing Tree, though at this point that’s mostly world building, getting to know the characters better, things like that. I’ve only got a couple of items in the outline so far, and they’re only the very start, but that’s okay. I don’t plan on writing AT for a while yet, not until it’s ready. Maybe for Camp NaNoWriMo in either June or August, for the first draft. We’ll have to see if it’s ready then and if I’m still head down tinkering away at DM. Heck, I might just welcome writing the first draft of AT as a break from working on DM.

Right now, though, all of this just means that my iPad is living with me and getting a lot of love. At least I feel fully justified in giving it to myself as an early Christmas present this year. It kicked me back into writing in a big way, gave me a great tool (yay, omnioutliner) to work out my stories, and I find that just looking at it seems to make my brain want to think about story. Definitely no regrets there.

I think that’s it for now. It’s certainly all I can think of. Back to working on writing. Second draft doesn’t plan or write itself anymore than first draft did.

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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