Monthly Archives: February 2009

What I Read This February

Murder Most Royal Jean Plaidy
Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb
Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith
Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susannah Clarke
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
Victoria in the Wings by Jean Plaidy
Lady Grace: Feud by Grace Cavendish (Patricia Finney)
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
The Book of Air and Shadow by Michael Gruber

Orchestrated Overview

It didn’t really take very long at all to complete this. Here’s the breakdown:

12 May 2008: Original exercise (brainstorm a story idea, write a back-of-the-book synopsis)

May 2008: Expand 200-word synopsis to a two-page descriptive outline (same day, actually)

July-October 2008: begin writing once or twice a week (about 30K or 60pp)

Nov 2008: approx. 30K done over the month

Jan/Feb 2009: ten writing sessions to finish it

So overall, if one leaves out the day in May where I brainstormed the idea, it took eight months of part-time work on it. If one includes May to give a better overall idea of the development time of the idea/prep time for headspace, ten months. Eight to ten months is a very, very respectable timeline for a part-time novel.

Now, could I do it again? That’s the question. It would depend on the idea and how fully it was worked out in the synops(i/e)s.

Orchestrated Update: Ladies And Gentleman…

… as of 14h20 today, we have a complete first draft.

Yes, the damn book is finished. (For now. There will be revision, but let us celebrate the big huge first and most important step, yes?)

New words today: 1,713
Total word count, Orchestrated: 69,787

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
69,787 / 60,000

Look! I made it in under 70K! And I love my 116% with much love. (Yeah, so 60K was arbitrary when I started; I knew I’d go over.)

I knew I was making cake today for a reason.

Friday Morning

The boy bounced into my bed at about a quarter to seven this morning and announced that it was a Grandma day, as indeed it is. We cuddled a bit and then he said:

    SPARKY: What if someone took all the Star Wars movies in the whole world? Then we wouldn’t be able to watch them at Grandma’s and we would be very sad.

    A: We would be.

    SPARKY: And they would have taken them out of all the movie places and the schools and everything, and no one could watch them, and everyone would be very, very sad.

    A: But then you and BunBun could fly all over the world and fight them and get the Star Wars movies back, and you could give them back to everyone who was sad, and everyone would say, “Yay, Sparky and BunBun!”


    SPARKY: Well, that would be impressive.

He was so totally humouring me. HRH and I nearly died of laughter.

I noticed last night that Nixie has become extremely thin. I know why this is: Gryffindor bolts his food and then moves to her bowl because she has a couple of mouthfuls then walks away, expecting it to be there half an hour later. We’ve begun feeding all three cats less and Gryff and Cricket have lost weight, which is a good thing, but so has Nixie, who really can’t afford it. So this morning I gave her an extra bowl of food in my office, behind a closed door, and she ploughed through it like she was starving (erm). Afterwards she came and found me to purr at me and rub against my legs and hands, then tried to entice me into my office ahead of schedule. It was like she was saying, And now we’re best friends! We’ll play, and cuddle, and later we can braid each other’s hair! When she was born she was the tiniest of the litter, and we gave her an extra feeding every day to make sure she survived; that extra bit of nurturing and bonding time was one of the reasons she evolved into being my cat. Starting that up again isn’t a hardship at all.

There is warm air outdoors, there is melting snow, there was sun for about five minutes till it got above the overcast line, work on the anthology continues apace, and I have a single two-part scene to write before the Orchestrated will officially be a complete first draft. That’s today’s goal, and then it’s out of the way for when the anthology kicks into high gear next month as more completed submissions pour in. That’s not the only reason it’s today’s goal, of course: I’m really excited about the idea of actually finishing the novel. Usually my books get stuffed into a metaphorical drawer because I can’t decide how they’re supposed to end. Actually that’s not entirely true; thinking back, over the past four years only two have done that, the Poppy book (or Creating the Muse or the GCN or whatever you might remember it being called in its vast variety of temporary names) and the Pandora book. And I think about the Pandora book a lot, trying different resolutions in my mind. Many Names got finished, Balsamic Moon was finished (albeit in a two-page summary of the final chapter), Il Maestro e le Figlie di Coro is technically a complete first draft, although I think it needs an epilogue (I’ll confirm that if and when I ever revise it). Swan Sister is ongoing, as are the non-fic twins Harpsichord Dreams and the as-of-yet-untitled cello book, although all three are hibernating at the moment.

So yes: very exciting. I suspect starting with a brief synopsis, expanding it to a detailed synopsis, then writing from that synopsis is to be thanked for the actual execution of the project. (See how I cleverly avoided the word ‘outline’ there?) I usually prefer to write blind and discover what happens as I go, but I have to say, knowing the end helped a lot on this project. There are a half-dozen places where I would have stalled otherwise.

More tea! And I must see if those scones are still edible. And I should probably put a batch of bread on to rise.

Exercise In Frustration

Yesterday was, quite simply, an exercise in frustration. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but by the end of the day I’d had quite enough. And it seems to have seeped into this morning, too.

The momentum of the previous day’s writing didn’t quite carry over, so I spent a lot of time bashing my head against the end of the book. Hydro decided to play footsie with the neighbourhood, resulting in intermittent power through the afternoon followed by a solid hour of nothing. I finished knitting the boy’s lightsaber, and then everyone came home and the boy clicked into Irritating mode right around the time I was attacked by a nasty headache.

I got through dinner, packed up, and left for orchestra. I felt odder by the second but figured it was low blood sugar, which would be remedied any moment once dinner kicked in. Didn’t happen. I hung on through the first half of rehearsal, determined not to pass out, and left at break.

Here’s the thing: I remember telling my principal that I thought I should go home, and she told me to do it. I remember being dressed to go and saying goodbye to the second desk people. And then I don’t remember anything until I clicked back in halfway home, on the highway. It was not a good thing at all. Took me about five minutes to get out of the car and inside the house, too. Very shaky; very dizzy. Bad all round. It wasn’t blood sugar, it was fibro reminding me that although I have had months of good or only-slightly-off days, a couple of hours of Very Bad can still wholly and successfully screw me up.

Then this morning, when I was trying very hard to be in a good mood, I got an email that made me absolutely livid (I keep telling myself it’s not my problem, and it really isn’t, but it’s hard to let go when you put time and energy into something and people do things that indicate they don’t value that time and energy), and the boy pulled the whiny poky I-don’t-hear-you act when I was trying to get him going. I treated myself to an iced cappuccino while I was running errands; it’s warm enough, and it was exactly what I needed. (Also, I used a gift certificate to buy it, so I feel smug.)

While I was out I picked up the yarn and needles I need for the music-patterned wristwarmers knit-along I and a bunch of musicians on Ravelry are doing in March. The colours are really lovely: a warm peaty brown for the main colour, and an Irish cream colour for the contrast work. Kind of a reverse of what antiqued ink on old parchment paper would look like. The black and white is so stark; I wanted something warmer.

And now, to work. Once I go rescue the rest of that iced cappuccino from the car where I parked it across the street, that is, because there was a two-foot high and wide pile of snow across the end of the driveway when I got back with groceries. Yay for snow removal; boo for the time lapse between the steps.

Orchestrated Update

New words today: 869
Total word count, Orchestrated: 66,436

Kind of frustrating, as the power kept cutting out and my laptops were only at low battery charge and were therefore pretty much useless once they’d booted up. Also, deleted four hundred words before the end of the workday; if I’d left them in it would be more like 1,200. And I think I lost a hundred or so in the last power outage.

Still, more words than were there before. Inching closer to the end.