90,000 words

Last night I reached 90,000 words on Princess of Shadows. I have a sense that the struggle for a draft of this novel is entering its terminal phases, not quite to the mopping-up operations, but I’ve got the bastards on the run. I say this while being fairly sure that I still have about 40,000 words left to write, give or take, with several major sequences either not on paper yet or only in fragments. Think the liberation of Paris, rather the crossing of the Rhine.

So, perhaps, another two months and I will have a draft in hand. After that at least two months to edit and format, and maybe, maybe, a complete novel by April or May. That’s pretty slow, but I’ll feel better about the end-product than if I rushed.

Once I have Princess of Shadows finished, I may take a break to possibly write one of the other novels kicking around in my head– either a space opera, for which there exists an unsold/unproduced TV pilot, or a fantasy novel based on a character that I’ve been carrying around in my head since the summer of 1977. Once I have that off my chest, it would be on to Princess of Fire, and then Princess of Stars.

In the meantime, I am working on a personal webpage through Gutensite, to which I may move this blog. In addition, I will probably be adding my stories to outlets like Smashwords and Nook, now that I am done with Kindle Select. I expect 2013 is going to be very busy for me.

Later.

At 82,000 words…again…

I recently told some friends of mine that writing Princess of Shadows has been like taking two steps forward, one step back, one step sideways, spin in place, and repeat (see “the Seattle Crawl” from a previous post).  I am once again at 82,000 words on this novel.  I say “once again”, because I reached 82,000 words several weeks ago, shortly after my last post, and then spent the last month ripping out about 13,000 words that no longer worked, were obsolete, or just didn’t fit anymore. For the first time since I started writing full-length novels I’ve had to begin distinguishing between extant versions of a work in progress– I am currently on version three, and there is no guarantee there won’t be more versions to come.

Having said that, my confidence continues to slowly grow. For the first time I can see how the narrative holds together as a whole, and I think I finally, genuinely have a handle on all of the major characters– and some of them (I hope) are real characters. If I can maintain a good pace, I can probably finish the draft in another three months. That may be a big if, but I can try.

Once again, the link to my Amazon Kindle author’s page–

http://www.amazon.com/Douglas-Daniel/e/B005UEWLCQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Later.

The turtle trudges on….

A brief note, because I am ‘way tired at the moment– I have made it to 81,000 words with “Princess of Shadows”.  I’d thought I’d be celebrating that milestone, but I don’t seem to have the energy– Kathy is dodging bad guys in a wilderness again, and I seem to be as stuck in the badlands as she is.  There are at least three major sections (maybe four or five) that I need to write for this book, plus connecting passages and stuff to round out or complete previous sections, and that’s all got to happen before I can call this a complete first draft. I think I’ll have to re-title this story “The Never-ending Composition”.

In this instance, I have to wonder if my habit of skipping around the narrative, of writing where it’s easiest and bypassing (temporarily) the difficult parts, is serving me as well as it usually does.  The next 50,000 words will tell the tale.

Later.

 

 

Another brief update…

I have made it to 70,000 words on Princess of Shadows.  Many writers at this point would be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, but my darkness is currently unrelieved– there is still a lot of ground Kathy and I have to cover before we sew up a draft.  My definition of a “draft” is when you can read the entire manuscript and see it as a comparatively coherent and complete narrative, without major breaks or jumps.  It’s okay if minor characters change names or motivations or gender midstream, or if there are inconsistencies in the logic of certain scenes– all that can be rectified in the second draft.  By this definition, I am still a long way from a first draft– perhaps as much as 60,000 words.  With the number of incidents and scenes I have in my head that I haven’t written, that could be a reasonable number. Or it could be more.

In the last few days on the Kindle author boards a certain very prolific author was boasting that they had written some ridiculous number of novels in the last twenty months or so– something like 16.  I believe him, he’s got the published works to prove it, and the sales, but personally I have never been able to work like that.  It takes me one to two years to write a novel from blank page to ready for submission.  Quite aside from holding a full-time job (and more than full-time– I was just told this week that I’m going to be working this Saturday, too), it takes me a long time to write the basic narrative, and then to tweak and straighten and resolve inconsistencies and problems.  I hope the effort shows, but it does make for long periods between completions.  Once again, bear with me.

Later.

PS– just in case anybody wants to look at my author’s page on Amazon without having to scroll down through all my posts, here it is again–

http://www.amazon.com/Douglas-Daniel/e/B005UEWLCQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

A quick update….

I’m now at 65,000 words, and I’m feeling better about some of the material I’m getting down. This weekend was a bust, though– between yard work yesterday and a massive headache last night I didn’t get much done.

One of the odd things about my writing process is that I have to spend thirty minutes to an hour doing other things on the computer (like playing Halo, or updating this blog) before I can commit to adding words to my current work in progress. It’s as if I have to make myself sneak up on actually facing the real work. More and more as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that writing is really a fearful thing– I have nudge myself into position to write. The one writing book I actually recommend to people is Ralph Keyes’ “The Courage to Write”, which discussed just that idea, that writing is frightening and the mastery and utilization of that fear can create great prose. It was an concept that profoundly changed how I thought about my writing.

Okay, I think I’ve gotten myself into the right frame of mind. I’m off to put Kathy into more tight situations. Later.

Finally back…

In the unlikely event anyone noticed, I’ve been AWOL.  The last two months have been one thing after another, including turning 55 and the death of my father.  He died only hours after Gore Vidal, in the wee hours of August 1st, and that alone makes you wonder about some sort of cosmic balance– you could not find a man more diametrically opposite to Gore Vidal– a redneck’s redneck, unintellectual, racist, right-wing, mechanical rather than academic, unsubtle, painfully straighter than an arrow (yes, I know, Vidal defined himself as “pan-sexual” rather than gay, but that would have been a distinction lost on my father), and religious to the end.  My own relationship to my father was complicated, as it would be for a son who would rather read than hunt or fish or throw a ball, but he was my father, and he has left a big hole. 

Aside from that, a myriad of other events have taken my eye off the ball of writing Princess of Shadows– a vacation (on the heels of my father’s funeral, but we had already bought the plane tickets and couldn’t get a refund) that I didn’t enjoy, chaos in my work-space (when people make me look professional, it’s bad), and distractions with other projects, and in the end, the result is that I have, to-date, only made it to 62,000 words on Shadows.  I have never had this much trouble with a novel to which I have been emotionally committed to completing. 

There may be a few rays of light breaking through the gloom, though.  Part of the reason I have struggled with this book has been that, aside from Kathy and Wolfson themselves, I did not know the main characters, nor the world through which Kathy would have to move– despite having created Jauthur years ago, I realized that large parts of it were not colored in.  While I struggled with composing Shadows, I have also been taking notes on the Val, their world and the Empire.  I also cogitated long and hard on the action of Shadows, particularly how Kathy gets out of a very sticky situation with at least reasonable believability.  I am not clever writer, which is one reason I don’t do detective stories– I can never create a storyline with enough clever twists to make it interesting.  It took me a long time to think my way through to a solution for Kathy (solutions involving the 101st Airborne or Dr. Who were entertaining, but lacked a certain plausibility), but I think I have finally gotten there. 

Along with that thought process came a clearer understanding of the other characters, so I think, finally, I’m poised to make serious progress on Shadows.  Ironically, this will mean finally getting around to re-writing long stretches of the story, since the concepts and characters have evolved, and some parts are out-and-out obsolete.  I don’t usually re-write as I go, but the act of straightening out the narrative in the light of my new understanding of the characters feels like the right thing to do this time around. 

Aside from that, I am looking into setting up my own webpage, which everyone says is essential to any indie writer’s self-marketing strategy.  It’s the sort of thing that I have struggled with since starting to publish with Kindle– self-promotion goes against the habits of a lifetime for me.  But I want to learn, because I want an audience (or a bigger audience). 

I’ll try to post more regularly here in the interim.  Those of you who have encouraged me to keep writing Shadows, hang in there with me.  I appreciate it.    

Slowly, slowly, slowly….

After nearly a month I’ve finally topped 50,000 words on Princess of Shadows.  I seem to be making progress on this book by doing the Seattle Crawl– two strokes forward, one stroke back, and one sideways.  I wish I could emulate Ray Bradbury (RIP, Ray, I will always treasure your Moby Dick) and consistently do a thousand words a day, but it seems more like 300 on average.

I originally thought 50,000 words would be the halfway point, but as this story has grown more complicated, it feels now like 1/3.  Added to that is the certain knowledge that some of the existing text is obsolete because the story has evolved.  I see a long road ahead.

Today’s writing effort was not helped by the fact that I had to work 6 hours at my job (to help resolve a problem I had no part in creating, ahem) and then, after dinner, replace the kitchen faucet.  Me attempting to use a crescent wrench is a pathetic sight.  I am, quite possibly, the most hand-tool challenged adult male in the Western World.  There was cussing involved, and some weeping, and I’m not sure I got the cold water connection completely tight.  I’ve put a bucket under it for the evening.

Thus my writing goes by fits and starts, interrupted by the necessary distractions of life.

Finally….

I’ve made it to 40,000 words on Princess of Shadows.  This is a milestone I should have reached weeks ago.  To all the other blocking issues I’ve been having I must add distraction– I’ve found my attention straying to other projects.  I have a series of alternative history stories that I keep wandering back to, thinking they would be comparatively easy to re-edit and publish in a different format– but which would inevitably take major time away from Shadows.  I also have another fantasy novella I’ve been doodling with.

In all honesty, though, I think I am frightened of Shadows.  If I write it the way it needs to be written, I will have to delve deeper into the society of the Val and the world of Jauthur than I did in the first two books, and the little censor/critic in the back of my head keeps whispering that I am not up to it– that my creativity (such as it is) isn’t up to creating a vivid alternative culture. One of my favorite books on writing is Ralph Keyes’ “The Courage to Write”, which talks about how fearful a task writing actually is, and this feels like some of the show-stoppers he talks about.

My pace has picked up this last week, however, and I think I am finessing the fear by writing ahead and getting down some parts that seemed more ready and complete in my head.  I am also reminding myself that its easier to edit a work once the words are actually down.  If they stay stuck in my head they are useless.

At about 500 words a day (a pace still much slower than what I’ve wanted to get to), I should be able to complete a 110,000 word draft in about 140 days, or just shy of 5 months.  Add three months to that for editing and we’re talking January, 2013 for Princess of Shadows to appear on Kindle.  That sounds terribly long, but I want to do this right.  Now I just need to keep my hands off other projects….

Later.

Princess of Shadows: I’ve seen snails move faster than this…

In about 10 days I have only made it to about 32,000 words, a pathetic pace. Eleven hour days at work, spring cleaning (when you have a house that was built the year Truman whupped Dewey, house cleaning takes on a whole other dimension), dinners with friends, and a host of other mundane things have conspired to deny me writing time.  I’ve remarked in other forums that to be a successful writer, it sometimes seems that you need to have no life.  It doesn’t help that we’re a one-computer household and my daughter insists on spending significant screen-time watching anime and playing the Sims.  I try hard not to be a demanding father, but sometimes you just have to say that three straight hours of Japanese cartoons is too much by anybody’s standard.

The real  solution, though, may be my own laptop.  Such are my dreams.

In the interim, I am probably going to have to get creative about finding writing time, maybe even (shudder) composing stuff long-hand.  However you cut it, I need to increase my output.

The novel itself continues to be scattered scenes, but I have closed a few, small gaps, and I am getting a better handle on some of the characters.

One problem is that I laid this story down for about nine months to work on other projects, several of which are now or have previously been on Kindle (I’ve unpublished a couple of stories that were not selling), and now I am still trying to re-kindle (no pun intended) the energy to write Shadows.  That should be a lesson for all writers– if the energy is flowing, use it.  Unfortunately I diverted mine to other stories and now it seems I am paying a price.

But no one said writing was easy.  Later.

Princess of Shadows Progress report (gotta come up with a better title….)

Now at 29,000 words, which is deceptive, because I’ve taken out almost as much text as I’ve written over the last three days.  Many of my first 26,000 words are obsolete– the concept has evolved since my first start, so I have had to remove several scenes and re-write others.  I am making progress, though, and it looks like I am so far holding steady at about 600 words a day (net).  That would make reaching a hundred thousand words about a 5 month proposition, give or take. I’ve taken longer to create a draft, so I’m feeling pretty good about that.

I won’t be discussing details of the plot or the action of Shadows here, in order to avoid spoilers, and because so often I write something and then have to go back and change it.  At some point in the future I will probably upload a version of Princess of Secrets with an except from Princess of Shadows.  This will probably happen when I have a chance to carve out some time to take a pass over the stories to correct those pesky typos my reviewers have mentioned.  Like most indies, I am not a professional copy-editor, and even after five or six edits, people are still finding problems.  Sigh.

I’m getting a small but steady daily number of additional sales on both novels since my last free promotion.  Thanks to everyone who has bought the novels.  If you enjoyed them, please leave a review!  Conversely, if you see a problem or have a question, please leave a comment here.  Any help is appreciated.

My Amazon author’s page–

http://www.amazon.com/Douglas-Daniel/e/B005UEWLCQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Pray and Write

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