Alderpod #23 – Chapter 21: Kaythra Bav

After much delay, Alderpod #23 is here. The lateness is regretful, but necessary. As you may have read, my sister is fighting Hodgkin Lymphoma, so I–as well as my family–have been out to California. I’ve been twice since March, and my parents have been going on alternate weeks.

That said, there’s been little time to record.

Your continued patience is appreciated!

I am determined to finish this edit in a week, and so, I’m up now, and I have a dizzying scene in my head, trying to weave in my ends (to use a knitting metaphor).

As you know, The Aldersgate is told in a multiple-POV. Every chapter, a different POV. This, of course, can’t last forever. I’m not as clever as George R. R. Martin, and I need to bring them together, and shift perspectives now and again within one chapter.

But boy, is this hard. I’m in the pre-climax. The chapter before the Big One, and all of these characters are coming together, and it’s like a thunderstorm; hot air, warm air, hail and rain. Toss in a gunfight between three factions with a fourth there for good measure, and you’ve made for one exciting little maesltrom.

I have geared bullets that bore holes into you, and keep boring, unless you get them out (and someone is currently working on getting said bullet out of someone elses’ thigh). I have blood and fear, I have betrayal and anger. I have a demon (of sorts) on the loose. I will not say more at the risk of being a total spoiler for those of you following along, but let’s say this… I’m juggling a lot of things. And some of them are knives, or fiery brands, or whatever dangerous things jugglers throw into the air. I started this chapter this morning, and I’m at the halfway point as we speak.

It’s 11:30, but I feel like I’ve got days of work before me if I ever want to get to sleep.

A moment’s reflection on the hard numbers of The Aldersgate as it stands right now.

  • Total completed chapters in current draft: 22
  • Total chapters in original draft: 30
  • Total current word count: 119,115 (not a word less)
  • Total P.O.V.’s: Cora, Brick, Emry, Ellin, Sylvan, Kaythra (six even; half gals, half gents… listed in order of ages)
  • Total chapters expected in final draft: 30
  • Total chapters podcasted: Twelve (thirteen counting the prologue)

Just in case you were curious. Suffice it to say I’m ten chapters ahead of where the podcast is. As the New Year approaches I want to start getting the podcasts out every week to week-and-a-half, and try to keep it on a more strict schedule. I have some other projects brewing, including finishing my NaNoWriMo book but I’d like to see the next eight chapters written as soon as possible. We shall see. This “Editing” section is the most difficult, as the end of the novel is vastly different than the original–such things happen.

But I can do this. The end is in sight. I tend to pick up my pace a great deal when I know the end is near. Last time I finished (the first draft, that is) I printed it out at Kinkos, double sided, and read the thing to myself over a couple of days. I plan to do the same this time. Then, comes a resting period. Then, more editing. Then? Well, hopefully we’ll have made some good progress, and I’ll have something ready to submit.

Movin’ right along. Footloose and fancy-free.

So, status report: in spite of the crazy holidays, and the end of NaNoWiMo, things are going well. Podcast 14 is almost set to go, and only needs some music and minor editing. I’m having some issues with my microphone picking up some odd noises, though… I’m going to give it a listen, and if it’s really bad I may have to re-record the whole darned thing.

As to editing status. I went back to AGC with guns blazing, pun–of course–intended. I’m right in the middle of the action, right when things get really exciting, and I’m trying to iron out the right wrinkles for the final draft. This is both thrilling and terrifying, because not only is it where the most happens in the book, it’s also the most informative. Lots of questions are answered, mysteries revealed, etc.,–finding that balance is a challenge. I’m contemplating going back to the single-strand edit technique for the end of the book, or at least, single-even (at this point quite a few of the POVs are coming together).

Yes, enough rambling from me, I know. The best part is that I was able to look at my NaNo work–the bulk of which I’m extremely happy with–and know that I can apply that boost to AGC and get it MOVING. I will be quite thrilled when that happens… when I can print it out and read it (again) from cover to cover, and know it’s that much closer to finality.

Although, it’s never really final. Just ask Walt Whitman.

I wish I could tell you that I had a magic formula for writing. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? That alchemical balance of heat, light, and air, with perhaps a dash of electricity to evoke the perfect environment for creative ecstasy.

But unfortunately, save for a scarce few writers in the world, writing is just work. Oh, sure it’s fun. It’s fun to think about, and fun to create–but the actual act of sitting down and putting the ideas in your head in verbal format is just hard work. That’s it. End of story.

Mostly, anyway. I have my routine. Sometimes I can woo the words with candles, music, and beverages (this sounds… rather seductive, but I promise you it’s not even remotely that exciting). Green tea, for instance, if I’m feeling sleepy; wine if I’m writing certain other characters. But when the rubber meets the road, there’s nothing that will decide what happens other than my own fingers.

That said, and the NaNoWriMo month being over, the most important thing to remember is… well, don’t get in your own way. There are always going to be distractions. Billions of distractions. And the more you give in to distractions, the less you’ll write on paper.

See, I happen to think that writing isn’t just about physically telling the story with words. It’s about a state of mind. The more you think about your book, the more you let your mind wander (in those spare moments which, as the mother of a two-year-old, I know the scarcity of) into the depths of imagination, the easier it will be to write when the time comes. I think many new writers don’t make a habit of this. They consider time at the computer as their only writing time. But I see it more like an iceberg. There are billions of words, feelings, descriptions, and nuances beneath the surface of a book–that’s what’s in my head. What’s peeking out is the best, the easiest to share; I can always delve deeper if needs be.

At any rate, and in spite of my rambling… if focus is your problem, consider scheduling some time for yourself. I’m personally awful at this, but I find if I can mentally pencil myself in for writing at some point in the evening. I don’t always do it, but sometimes I can trick myself into thinking I will–so, even if I don’t get to the actual act of writing, I’m thinking about writing. And for me, that’s often as productive as anything else.

But according to Scrivener it was 50,486. Still:

Yes I Did!

Yes I Did!

I’m about 2800 words from “winning” NaNoWriMo, and I have a muddle of mixed feelings. This weekend is still being spent with the family, and it’s extremely difficult to get concentration right. Mind you, there are two two year olds in the house, and three dogs. Escape is not really an option.

Problem is, too, that my mind is not on the NaNo novel. It’s difficult because I know 50K won’t finish the book anyway. It’s likely that I won’t progress from the point I’m at, and the remaining words will be additions to scenes already in the book.  We’ll see how it all goes. Altogether, I’m proud of the novel itself, it just needs some time to cure a bit before I consider editing/writing in it again.

What’s funny is that as December approaches (maybe it’s the approaching New Year, too) I really want to finish the edits/rewrite to AGC. I mean, if I managed 50K on an unplanned unexpected novel in one month, I can only imagine what I’ll be able to do with the book I have written and have planned. Granted I’ve written over 200K in the series so far… I’m not exactly suffering from a lack of words. But I am suffering from a lack of focus.

So here’s this. I’m making December my Aldersgate month. I’m going to finish the edits by the New Year, and then come the real writing resolutions. Last year my writing resolution was to be published, and hey, I did that. WIth the right focus, with the right drive, I know I am capable. That’s the best thing I’ve taken from NaNoWriMo; the knowledge that I can write 13K in two days. At that rate, I’ll be moving on to the second AGC book by the new year, and catching up with the podcast.

Here goes something!

Well, NaNoWriMo is quickly approaching, and as such I’m working to get a few podcasts finished so that I can concentrate on Pilgrim of the Skies. In some ways this is gravely disappointing, as I’ve been on a roll with The Aldersgate. But I signed up and I will do it; it’s a good idea, and I’ll be happy to get something new put together. It’s been almost two years working on the AGC, so, well, breaks are important. I’ll be better for it, for finishing, after NaNoWriMo, I hope. I’ll just need to be better about keeping notes and ideas. My “writing process” is so random and unpredictable I can only imagine what’ll happen.

I’ve spent the last week in the company of my son, who is two. He’s a remarkable two, and I’ve been able to really enjoy the time with him, time I haven’t been able to spend due to work, school, or a combination of both. And you know what? He’s happy. He’s deliriously, wonderfully happy. Instead of screaming before bed and naps, he goes happily, contentedly even. He’s talking more, expressing more, listening more. I can’t help but notice he’s just happier with his mommy around. Not that my folks aren’t wonderful as caretakers, but in the past I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that they know him better than I do.

We’ll see what happens on the job front. But suffice it to say, I really wouldn’t mind the opportunity to spend even more time with him. He’s growing up into such a little gentleman, one who loves blue cheese, PT Cruisers, and, of course Blue’s Clues.

Anyway, I have a large post coming up soon about steampunk, which is more of a critique about some recent trends and whatnot… But I want to make sure it comes from the right place, and therefore need some more time. So I’m waiting for when I don’t have a two year old climbing on me (like right now) and shouting, “CARS AT TRADER JOE’S!” Because, apparently, my desk is where its location now is.

There’s no surprise in mentioning that I spend a great portion of my time listening to the opinions and perspectives of characters I’ve altogether made up, and live nowhere but in the confines of my own brain. Writers understand this, but many others will doubtless find it slightly discomfiting and perhaps just odd. It happens. I can accept that.

I was just going through my LJ account, reading posts, trying to get a good idea of when the AG folks started up their conversations with me, and how long it took me to write their story the first time. It turns out I wrote it a lot faster than I thought: just over seven months, almost from start to finish. The first draft was done in March 2008, so I’ve already outspent my editing time rather heftily.

But the story has changed, and that isn’t my fault. I don’t have control over them sometimes. I swear.

Thing is, as I was perusing old posts, it occurred to me how odd it is to think that these characters once didn’t exist. Other than driving me to the near point of madness, this whole multi-POV approach has brought me closer to this batch of characters than through any other endeavor I’ve attempted before. And as such, they’re like friends, or personas, aspects of myself/themselves that I’m really comfortable with, familiar with.

I don’t think I’m getting this across very well, at all. Ah, well. At any rate I thought it would be amusing to post the piece I wrote the day after I was set on by this new menagerie of characters. It amused me, anyway.

August 7, 2007

So, today, in spite of the insane amount of work I’ve been doing as part of my job, I’ve been practically assaulted by a whole new series of characters. All throughout the day today, scenes and snips of dialog have been flitting through my brain.

In some ways, this is disturbing. I have a book. I have two books, in fact. This was not one of the ones I was planning on, but yet it’s like an itch I can’t scratch.

So, well, I sat down after things calmed down a little this evening, and began writing. Four pages ain’t bad at all. Then, I got to the end, and realize someone’s going to die. And die soon. And ugh. That’s a little depressing.

But anyway, I’m actually excited to write this. I was feeling the story in a way that hasn’t happened in a very long time. Michael asked me to go to bed, and instead of abandoning it, I said, “No! I’m at a really good part!” That’s pretty awesome.

… but Kelly McCullough did first, and did a fine job of it. So, that takes care of that.

Read his post Don’t let Writing get in the way of writing.