Cranking Down Into The Grit

I can’t believe I haven’t had my coffee yet and I’m blogging.  That’s either about commitment or being a glutton for punishment.  I’m not caffeinated enough to tell which yet.  I’m having a happy Saturday morning though where I’m in love with my life just the way it is, so that seems to be holding me over for the moment.  All I keep thinking is why can’t every morning be this?  Oh right, stupid bills that need paying…

As you might have guessed, Camp NaNo is still going well.  I’m still writing away, even though I won, because Where The Ether Flows isn’t done yet.  And I’m fine with that, since I’m having way too much fun to stop now. I still have a ways to go, but the tendrils of the end are starting to weave themselves in.  Last night, I wrote one of the parts I added to the outline just before I started writing and it turned out even better than I could have hoped for.  At least, I think it did.  I haven’t reread it.  Maybe later today as I get started on whatever word count I put in today.  I suspect it’ll be good, given the next couple of parts I have coming up and that I have all day to write.  Oh dear god, I’m looking forward to this.

I’m definitely resisting the temptation to try guessing how long this book will be, as I’m always wrong anyway.  So I’ll distract myself by telling you how it has been going instead. 🙂  It’s a good plan, I’m telling you.  Thursday night I put in a very nice 3,089 words.  I was happy.  I mean, my personal pace is 2k per day, and I did 3k, which kept my streak alive for the week.  I also got through a scene I’d been anticipating since I thought of it.  Poor Devan.  Oh well.  Last night, as I said, was another good scene, but it was one that could have so backfired on me, as it requires some finessing.  It may still require more of that when I go to edit, but it’s a good draft of it, and led to 3,781 words, so I will seriously not complain.  This, of course, has brought me to a total of 57,703 words on Ether Flows, and still going strong.

Today will be interesting, as I’ll be writing a part I’ve known about since the beginning.  I’m a bit unsure how this will go. I mean, it’s got potential, but I have to handle it right, and it’s kind of built itself up in my mind.  I’m sure I’ll be able to get down into it though, I generally do.  It’s about letting the words just be what they’ll be and clean it up later if it isn’t just right.  It’s a gritty part where people get things they want, even though those things aren’t quite what they believe and just might be a bit… poisoned (not literally).  That’s kind of where the post title comes from.  The last couple of days, I’ve been really down in the gritty parts of the story, where I’m breaking my characters, making them work and pay for that better place in their lives that I try to lead them to.  There’s definitely more of that to come, and someone has a price to pay that they never expected.

Of course, in the midst of all this yesterday, I happened across a post from Discover Magazine in my Facebook feed (it’s the only magazine I’ve ever voluntarily subscribed to), and the title of it sparked an entirely unrelated story. Yes, another idea.  The nearly over-inspired writer had another.  As a friend of mine said after I mentioned this on Facebook, “Are you going to leave anything for the rest of us?” 🙂  Honest, I’m not trying to be greedy.  They keep stalking me/jumping me/otherwise insisting on being there.  Those of you who pop into my Project Status page from time to time have probably noticed that I update there without warning, as I have stuff to put in.  I’ve done so again, adding this new idea that’s as fleshed out at this point as what I started out with for Necromantic.  I can feel The Queen and The Raven leading me to some interesting places, but it too shall have to wait it’s turn.  There’s already quite the line up for time with my brain, and it’s the new kid in this neighbourhood.  I need more time.  I need more brain.  I need to write full time.  I’m never going to keep up with these ideas.  I fear I might not be able to even if I were to write full time…  But damn if I don’t want to try. 🙂

It’s funny, I’m looking at my word totals and realizing I may never be the kind of writer who produces massive door stops tomes in the Robert Jordan/George R.R. Martin tradition.  The thing is, I’m okay with that for two reasons.  First, I can only write what’s in me to write and I refuse to drive myself crazy and sabotage myself by attempting to force something else out of me or lament what isn’t there.  I’m doing well and shockingly proud of myself for it.  I shall not be ungrateful.  Second, I think there’s likely a market for stories that don’t involve committing to that much reading time for a single book.  I really do.  When I was a bookseller back in university, I’d hear people who said they wanted to get into fantasy but were intimidated by those enormous books, and others who said they just didn’t have that kind of time.  Now, I read those and I find that you just read them over time, but not everyone sees it that way.  So, I would guess that, in the view of these kinds of people, my (relatively) little 90k word-long books would be very digestible and the whole trilogy sort of adds up into one of these giant tales.  I think I understand the difference, why mine are much shorter, but that’s a subject for another post, as I’m not done mulling that enough to talk about it yet.  I’ll get to it when the thoughts are ready for human consumption.  You know you’ll all hear about it when I’m ready.  I’ve never had that skill for shutting up anyway. 😉

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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8 Responses to Cranking Down Into The Grit

  1. Celtic Forest Dweller says:

    Go, go, go!

    And that’s actually a good thing you’re not writing door-stops — there are lots of them out there already 😀

    In other news, I’m quite proud of myself for writing 2500 words yesterday! 🙂 I should do that more often…

    • Julie says:

      Congrats! That’s excellent news, and I agree, you should do that more often, especially if it makes you feel awesome, as it should.

      And there’s always room for more door stops out there, as long as they’re full of good story. But I’ll talk more about that when I get around to posting my thoughts on the matter.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    Now I draw the line at blogging before coffee. That just isn’t right. 😉

    There’s a strong market push for all genres to be “shorter” these days. I’ve read plenty of massive fantasy books in my day, but as long as the story is well-written, I’d be happy with a shorter one, too.

    My sci-fi novel probably won’t exceed 75,000 words, and that’s another genre that can be “wordier.” But I’m a firm believer in telling the story in as many words as it takes. If more are needed, that’s fine. But if fewer work, that’s good, too.

    Forcing a book to be something it isn’t is often the “kiss of death.”

    • Julie says:

      So you’re voting for me being a glutton for punishment. Duly noted. Sadly, not even a first for me, though it usually involves a lot of enthusiasm and only happens on Saturday mornings, sometimes.

      My view on length actually hasn’t changed. The story takes as many words as it takes to tell and should not be lengthened or shortened to suit what are largely arbitrary measures. I totally agree with you that forcing it into those measures would destroy the story. In some ways, I think that’s going to be a long-term positive of ebooks and to a lesser extent self-publishing, the freedom to let the story be the length it needs, rather than what others think it should be.

      It definitely all comes down to the quality of the writing and story.

  3. Katie says:

    You’re right, there seems to be a tradition for fantasy novels/series to stretch out for a long time. And while I usually want more from almost everything I read, a complete story that I can also carry around with me comfortably is delicious. Congratulations on your continued victory!

    • Julie says:

      Thanks! The other upside to shorter books is the they take less time to write, which means less time for you to wait around for the next book, in theory. I’ve had authors where I’ve waited four or five years for the next book, which is excruciating when it’s a good series. It’s often worth the wait, but the waiting itself drives me nuts, and I’m often afraid they’ll die before finishing the series. Sadly, that’s even happened. 😦

      Leaving your reader wanting more is a good thing as a writer, up to a point. As with all things, it’s a balance issue. As long as they enjoy the story and only want more because of that, rather than there not being enough there to begin with, it’s a fabulous thing, since careers are built out of there always being a next book. My favourite writers always leave me that way, drooling for the next book as soon as I finish the last one, even if their not in the same series. I just want more all the time because they’re that good. 🙂 Maybe if I work hard, one day I’ll cause that myself. I can hope and work toward it.

      • Katie says:

        I’ve been in the waiting boat many-a-time. Fortunately I have somehow managed to find a series just before its next book is coming out, so I have it easy compared to the fans who came before me. Authors dying before they finish their series is devastating, but at least they can plan to have someone else take their notes and finish it (although I can’t even fathom…). The flip side is that readers can also pass away before the series is done (I heard J.K. Rowling received letters urging her to write faster for that reason).

        Writers frame what they write about, so I’ve always had a lot of fun thinking about the story. Where it begins, where it ends. Perhaps we choose certain moments in time, but people will wonder about what came before and after and what’s going on in the meantime. I suppose that’s where prequels and sequels come from. It’s about creating an interesting world that people want to know about and characters that readers can hope for (whether it’s to succeed or not). Whenever I ask people what they like about the stories they love, it’s usually the characters they want to tell me about :).

        It looks to me like you already have a wonderful following with plenty clamoring for more. I know I’ve been reading your posts since I joined WordPress in December, and you’re one of the few that I check up on regularly, which is funny because you’re careful never to reveal too much. Juuuust enough to keep me coming back (so looks like you hit that balance, too!).

        • Julie says:

          Aww, thanks. I’m glad to know that I keep drawing you back for more. I know I’m a horrible tease, but it’s that way for two reasons. One is definitely that I want people to read the book, not just some blog posts about it. But more than that, it has to do with me getting to the end.

          Once upon a time, I used to share my stories with people either when I was still making notes about it or while I was writing it. Telling them the story, however, killed me burning need to write it. I have no idea how many stories I lost to doing this before I figured it out, and I try not to think too much about it. That might lead to tears. I’ve realized that my core nature is a storyteller, but that once it’s told, I have less need to tell it again. That means I need to tell the story to my computer, rather than another person, because the computer presents me with a manuscript and people don’t. 🙂

          I agree that it’s often the characters who keep us coming back for more. When I reread books I’ve loved, I call it “Visiting with old friends”, and I’m definitely referring to the characters. Maybe that’s part of why I will hint here about my characters, though not too much because that would reveal too much story. Who my characters are is always very wrapped up in the story, or vice versa. Maybe both. Mutually entwined. That works. 😀

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