August goals

Talkin’ ain’t doin’

Here it comes: actual, concrete goals to hold myself to. I’ll have to start with arbitrary numbers as I get back into the swing of things, and adjust as I go along. Naturally, I’ll try to push myself harder.

In terms of writing, I’d like to have a new novel outlined before August is up. That gives me three weeks, so I’ll set myself a goal of ten chapters outlined per week.

Revision is a little harder. I’m due for another reread of Yggdrasil to see what needs editing, cutting, and where new material needs to be fitted in. I can manage a reread in one week, then a second look over another week to target problem areas.

Of course, I’ll want to make hokey index cards to put on my corkboards to illustrate my progress with these goals. It helps to have them there, staring at me at all times.

I’ll be back next week with updates on my progress!

 

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Planning the future

There is a fine line between allowing myself time to set my life back in order and loafing around. It is useless to wait for things to fall into place while I play Final Fantasy XIV for hours and hours on end. While it is acceptable to work on one thing at a time, actual work must be done.

There are several things that I want to keep in more or less good condition if my life is to be a happy one. When I run out of motivation or energy, work is the only one I can really seem to keep going, and only thanks to necessity; I screw up work, I cannot afford to eat. Yet there are many other important elements that add up to a good quality of life: getting enough sleep, maintaining a clean home, a healthy body, continued creative expression, and I could go on.

plan 2015

I’ve selected four of these areas that I’ve been neglecting: cleaning, exercising, blogging, and playing guitar. Notice “writing” is distinctly absent from the list, more on that later. I’ve already done a mad blitz in my room, vacuuming while a load of laundry washes downstairs. I even moved my bed away from the wall to vacuum underneath it, and briefly considered rearranging my furniture; that can wait until another time.

Jogging was the easiest to schedule. The couch-to-5k program I’m following calls for three days a week with rest days in between, so before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is perfect. This has been the plan since the new year rolled around, but I’ve been lax in getting to bed at a decent hour on Sunday nights, and once Monday is skipped, it’s all-too-easy to put the whole thing off till next week.

For blogging, I’ve always favored Thursdays. I’m going to work during the week to have a post queued up to go live on Thursdays at 6:00pm Eastern (GMT -5:00). VoilĂ ! Here’s the first of many more to come!

Music should be often enough that my fingers retain their calluses. It’s so annoying wanting to play guitar a little more but having to stop because of the pain. Pain caused by my own negligence, adding insult to injury. I really enjoy making music and I think some new songs would help me get back into it with gusto.

Writing is a little trickier to plan. I’ve decided that Climbing Yggdrasil is coming out this year, and to do that I have to make some major content edits. My sister asked some questions, my friend Jess made some suggestions, and between what they said was a brilliant idea that ties up a few dangling threads and changes the shape of the story for the better. This makes it a bit difficult to say, “I want to have five chapters a week edited!” I suppose a good starting goal would be to identify which chapters need to be changed and where new content needs to be fitted in. For this week, my writing goal is to reread Climbing Yggdrasil paying special attention to this.

Come back next week to hear how well this worked or how it all fell apart!

Losing touch

Life is full of odd little twists and turns, isn’t it? I’m up against a major one right now, and in the process I’ve let myself lose touch with my inner writer. I’ve written only a few hundred words of Destiny, I haven’t been updating here regularly, and I feel sad because of it. I need to get back on the ball.

I have decided the tack to take with Yggdrasil is another full read from start to finish before coming back for notes. I had written a few things in the opening chapter, little bits of awkward and character inconsistencies, before I realized that I need to give the flow another look. I’ve got my fancy proof copy in my bag and will make my way through that during the commute to and from work. Honestly, sometimes I just take it out and look at it. I love the cover. I love the glossy finish. I love seeing my name in that impressive font.

I’ve given myself a three-day weekend, which I intend to use to carve out a huge chunk of Destiny. I’m thinking 5,000 words or more, I’ve certainly got the time. I won’t beat myself up if I don’t manage to quite make 5k, but I’m going to give it a serious effort.

I’ve really got to get my head back into this. It makes me happy, it makes me feel more like a proper person. This is what I want to do with my life. So long as I’m not doing it, I’m not really living, am I?

Second draft proofs are in!

Wow, I got all excited about my milestone, and then I just disappeared… sorry about that, folks. I’m back!

I got my proofs for the second draft of Climbing Yggdrasil! They came in much more quickly than I expected! I went with the glossy cover this time, the matte one looked all greasy even after a person with reasonably clean fingers handled it. Here’s a picture of the new proofs, complete with new cover (thanks again, Ellie!):

2nd draft proofs

I have to admit, I had a little emotion when I saw them. There was only one witness, however, and she didn’t manage to snap a picture. They’re gorgeous and I love them, but I wanted a little more time to distance myself from the revisions before launching into a new round of editing. There’s no law that says that I have to start editing as soon as I receive proofs, though. I’m likely going to sit on them for a little while, then crack one open and break out the vicious highlighters.

I really hope to have the next draft be the final one. I really need some external feedback, though. I’ve reached out to a few people, asked them to be as cruel as possible, expose all the flaws that are there. We’ll see what they turn up.

Next week is a return to my usual schedule: posts every few days ranging a variety of subjects, such as: goals, Yggdrasil, Destiny, etc.

Second draft of Climbing Yggdrasil

The second draft of Climbing Yggdrasil is finished!

yggdrasil ending

I had broken one chapter into three, in order to give the events of that chapter time to build and breathe. I really struggled with the second and third of those chapters, then I went off the scripted path and discovered meaning there, I ran with it, and it worked.

I came up with a “final” version of my blurb to send off to Ellie for the cover. Now that I have a page count, she can set the spine so that my next set of proofs has the proper cover.

I’m excited. There’s a vague sense of worry that maybe this excitement is premature. Maybe, once I read the second proof, I’ll see that this isn’t that much of a leap forward, that so much more work needs to be done. That’s tomorrow’s trouble, though, and the beauty of drafts is that I can take all the time I need to get it right.

I’m going to have a new proof copy in my hands within a few weeks! With my beautiful cover!

The finish line is in sight

The second draft of Climbing Yggdrasil is all but finished. What remains is to fix the ending, which all happens rather quickly in the first draft. I did not build the suspense and let the events of the finale ring out as much as I should have. Upon reviewing the final chapter, I have found that it needs to be broken up into at least three chapters.

yggdrasil ending

Each of the colors except blue is getting its own chapter. The blue sections represent a different point of view that occurs at the same time as the action in the pink, green and yellow chapters. Notice that the green section takes up half a page, despite being the most important event of the novel. I remember being ready to just get the damn first draft over with, and so I hastily wrote the end instead of giving it the time it deserved.

New lesson learned: laziness in the first draft makes more work for the second. There is no getting away from doing what is necessary.

I drafted a new version of the blurb and have asked a few friends to give me their opinions. When I have taken all of their advice and used it to create a “final” version of the blurb, I will likely post it here and ask for comments. Once the blurb and second draft are finished, I can send the blurb and spine dimensions to Ellie to get a useable version of my cover. Then it’s off to CreateSpace to print up proofs of the second draft! I could have copies of my book with the new cover in my hand by early August!

In the interest of brevity and being better able to tag my posts accurately, I have decided to try to focus on one subject at a time. This means more posts! This also means categories will now contain more accurate posts going forward, so that I (readers) can find exactly what I’m (they’re) looking for instead of a bunch of posts covering two or three topics at once. This move has been inspired by my previous post, which I reblogged from Winter Bayne (thanks again!).

Typing is faster

I am nearly halfway done making edits in Climbing Yggdrasil. Progress has slowed somewhat as I’ve encountered elements that need a bit more work. Plot inconsistencies were easy enough to fix, but altering entire scenes and adding new content are a bit more difficult. Also, the blurb is tormenting me, though I have come up with a new angle of attack.

I had been feeling a bit off about not having done any writing lately. My efforts to write Project Destiny in a journal had ground to a halt. It had been difficult from the outset; I would spend most of a train ride home (which takes a little over an hour) writing only to discover that I had 600 or so words. Words I had to count. Writing in Scrivener is much more rewarding because of session targets. Every time I open the program, my goal is to write at least 1,000 words. Two days of writing have yielded a total count of over 6,000 words: the prologue and first chapter. I printed up a calendar to have a handy motivational tool pinned to the wall next to my desk. (It’s Wednesday evening as I write this, so no word count yet. Check the sidebar for more up-to-date progress.)

destiny words per day july 9

I also learned from my proof copy of Yggdrasil that I wanted an image to separate blocks of text, because images won’t be missed if breaks fall at the ends of pages, be they print or digital. This time I didn’t have to go hunting around online for an appropriate one: I’ve had eight of Destiny’s symbols tattooed on me for years now. This book (as I expect there will be more than one) will use the orange symbol. In the world of Destiny, orange represents the human soul, language, blood ties and oaths.

orange destiny separator

Getting proper narrative out again is wonderful. Editing remains, of course, rewarding and an integral part of the writing experience. No one wants to pay to read a rough draft. But let’s face it, spilling out those words is just more fun, especially when we get into the flow and they seem to tumble forth so easily. This is another advantage of using Scrivener over a pen, I can almost keep up with my thoughts. I don’t write longhand nearly fast enough, and when I try the words become an unintelligible jumble that I would find difficult to edit.

It feels weird to be steaming on ahead without being part of Camp NaNoWriMo, which is going on currently. There’s no reason why I couldn’t sign up now, though.

I neglected to mention this last week, but I created an author page for myself on Facebook. My posts from here are Publicized there, and I post random status updates here and there between posts. You can also check the sidebar here for the latest updates.

Making cuts, not second-guessing myself

The long weekend has been great for writing, I plan on keeping up the goals notebook as a source of motivation. I got the bulk of my work done on Saturday, which gives me hope that I can keep this up during ordinary weekends. I have five of those before my next stretch of time off.

One item on my list that I didn’t realize was such a tall order is the blurb for Yggdrasil. I have agonized, I have ask the advice of friends, and still I am not satisfied. I’ve poked around online and found that most writers hate writing blurbs, which comforts me somewhat. Comfort won’t get this damn thing written, though. I struggle with the idea of drawing in potential readers, and I can’t exactly write, “This story is interesting, trust me.” My name carries no weight to the vast majority of readers out there. This makes the blurb more important than the book in some ways.

I did a fair bit of work on the book itself. I finished importing my Yggdrasil notes to Scrivener and began working on the second draft. I scrapped a lot of text from the first chapter, so I combined it with chapter two to create a slightly longer introduction to Captain Renwright and her daring crew. Originally, I had a lengthy description of a mural in her bunk, the artistic representation of the central star Yggdrasil as a burning tree, complete with descriptions of the various worlds orbiting it. I suppose it was fine when I wrote it, but when I have a finished draft in which the crew of the Sylphid actually visits the worlds I blather on about in chapter one, it seemed redundant. So it’s gone. Forever.

Only… not quite. The great thing about using Scrivener is the ability to create snapshots. I created my first snapshot of each chapter as I finished it last year. I created a second after my notes were added, and a third to those chapters I’ve edited. It’s great for keeping me from second-guessing myself. It could be that I never roll back to a previous version, but knowing I can makes me braver about cuts and changes. After every major change, I take a snapshot of the chapter and move on.

One seemingly unimportant change I’ve made is to add a small graphic to separations of text. During editing, I stumbled across a break that happened at the bottom of a page; when I started the next page, it took me a moment to realize I had changed scenes. This is a common annoyance when I’m reading books on my Kobo; there is no symbol to indicate a separation of text, so when they end up at the bottom of the page they’re difficult to immediately notice.

It was a bit of a pain to find all such breaks in the text and insert the graphic I had chosen. Then I had to figure out how to tell Scrivener to keep the graphic centered when I output the file to eBook formats. That’s another lesson learned. Next, I’ll probably figure out how to make Scrivener output a perfect Word document formatted for upload to CreateSpace, with table of contents, headers and footers, etc.

The power of goals

Setting concrete goals for my writing this weekend has already helped me get off my ass. I feel this desire to one-up myself, to do better than what I said I would do. The only thing I haven’t touched so far is blog prep, because I feel like I have a lot of time left and I want to focus more on advancing my books. Yet here I am posting my second extra blog post of the week because I’m excited about goals.

goals progress

I’m especially pleased because it’s only Saturday, I haven’t even got to the extra days of this long weekend. I’m going to keep going and smash my original goals to pieces, then set more for the next arbitrary time period. Soon I’ll be setting word-count goals for Destiny (more on that later).

Now to go spend more time agonizing about Yggdrasil’s blurb. Folks, blurbs are difficult.

Time to get organized

I’ve been very good about getting work done on Yggdrasil, but I have been neglecting Destiny for the past month. I think I finally got too discouraged with my snail-like writing; the journal is lovely, but I really fly when I’m behind the keyboard and I think that’s what I want to do now. There are plenty of things I can write out longhand to fill the journals I’m so intent on collecting.

I think I need more organization in my writing life. To that end, I have purchased yet another journal to write specific goals in, so that I can make these promises to myself and either congratulate myself when I succeed or kick myself in the pants when I fail.

writing goals journal

This coming weekend is a long one. With Canada Day on Tuesday, we’ve taken Monday off as well for a solid, relaxing four days off. We had a similar situation last weekend for la Saint-Jean. With this in mind, I’ve drawn up a long-ish list of goals to accomplish:

goals canada day weekend

One goal I thought about adding was “write author bio for back cover” of Yggdrasil; I keep going back and forth on whether I want one. I’ll definitely include a brief bio inside the book, but maybe a bio would go nicely on the back cover of my first book. What do you guys think?

The reason for all this dilemma about whether to include a bio is that I have the final version of my cover from Ellie at Creative Digital Studios. I haven’t finalized the details for the back cover, but here’s what I’ve got:

Climbing Yggdrasil cover

I love it, and Ellie Augsburger has been a joy to work with. I’d be too embarrassed count how many questions I sent her before deciding to work with her, but she replied promptly and professionally and helped set my mind at ease about the whole process. I’m thrilled with what she came up with and her responses to my requests for changes. I look forward to working with her on future projects.

And, of course, I most eagerly look forward to seeing her cover on a physical copy of my book. I’ve promised myself I would have the second draft ready before I send off for more proofs, though.