Archive for December, 2011


New Years Resolution

Down under, in Australia, my critique partner will have already celebrated the start of the new year. I’m celebrating the fact that I finally started Skyrim (the real reason why I haven’t posted all week) and that I matched all the socks that came out of the dryer.  It seems like a good way to end the year.

I completed all 12 of my resolutions in 2011.

Instead of deciding on a huge amount of resolutions in the beginning of the year, I pick one thing I really want to do the entire year (finish my novel) and keep that in my head. I try to contribute to this resolution a little more each month. Each month, I also try and come up with a small resolution that I have roughly 30 days to complete. This year, I had resolutions that were mostly exercise related. Some of my resolutions were very personal, but here are a few I’ve completed:

  • Finish my novel before 2012
  • Go to the gym regularly for 4 weeks
  • Read at least 10 non-fiction books
  • Use 8lb weights
  • Go to Skirmish and Survive

I always have an optional resolution, one that I treat as a bonus round. If I complete this resolution, I reward myself with something nice. If I don’t complete it, no big loss. In 2011, my bonus-round was to learn a dance. I was delighted to find out that my college was offering a 2-weekend course with salsa and waltz dancing. Unfortunately, I ended up with mono and missed both the deadline and event.I’m thinking about keeping this resolution for my bonus-round in 2012. We’ll see how it goes.

My all-year Resolution for 2012: Pull back by Bow before the end of the year.

I have arms like twigs. (Alright, twigs with some fat on them, but for the most part they’re still twigs.) My lack of arm strength has prevented me from doing a lot of things in my life: climbing ropes, lifting the serving trays at work, dealing a good punch, helping people carry in large amounts of groceries, water ski, and so on and so forth.

About two years ago, one of my father’s friends dropped off his son’s old hunting bow. His son is now  a strapping giant and I’m still a terribly short, twig-armed half-elf. Father took me outside, handed me the bow, pointed to the target, and in delight I pulled back on the string and—-

nothing.

Because I couldn’t pull the bow back. Even on the lowest setting, I lack the arm strength and the right stance.

So, for 2012, I want to pull back my bow.

And maybe dance.

 

Finishing a book in ten Days: Day 6

I’m done.

It’s official.

I’m not thrilled with the ending, but that’s what rough drafts are all about. I’m staring at the last line on the page, and even though my brain and fingers both know I’m done, I can’t really believe it. This is a rough draft. I’ve got editing to do. But I did it.

I feel a lot like I did when my college acceptance later came in the mail. My fingers tore open the envelope and my brain registered what the paper said, but I didn’t get it at first. It had to sink in.

I wanted to write a novel since I was 7 years old. I wanted to do this before I turned 20. Then, I wanted to finish it before 2012.

I did it. I wrote a novel.

I celebrated my reading the second to last chapter in my critique partners novel, then blew up her facebook page demanding the last chapter. This new year will mark the end of so many things in my life, and I’m vastly excited about seeing what’s in store for next year.

I want to write another novel. I now know my pitfalls. I’ve done it once. I can do it again.

The Complete Rough Draft:

18 Chapters.

68,088 words; Approximately 70, 100 words due to missing chapter.

 

You’ll notice I skipped day three. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I had planned on skipping Day Five, since that’s Christmas, but some unexpected events mean that I’ll be on my computer tonight and tomorrow.

I started Chapter 16 Thursday night and nearly finished it until I realized something.

I had deviated from my outline.

While not necessarily a bad thing in itself, it meant that I skipped some explanation and events I really can’t do without. I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out how I could remedy this. I like the new parts, but I need the old parts.

The new parts are extremely short, too. If I kept the chapter as it is, it’d be under 2,000 words. While not a bad thing, that means my super epic awesome climax has only 2 pages of action. The fight scenes in the middle of the book are longer than that, and the stakes are higher. I hate books with bad climaxes, since I feel like I (the reader) was just jipped.

Two of my favorite YA books, Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver and Barry Lyga’s Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and GothGirl, don’t focus so much on action. The climaxes in these books had little to no fighting, but I was turning the pages as quickly as I could to see what happened. Since these books had little action, I found myself looking back to R.A. Salvatore’s Legacy of the Drow collection. In these books, the climaxes center around action. The whole books have fighting, but the last fight is the biggest and the stakes are the highest.

Honestly, I can’t remember jack shit about how Drizzt or Cattie-brie fights. I knew they had to fight, even if they didn’t want to, because they’d hate the alternative. I knew Fanboy was fighting to save Kyra by using his intellect. I remember Grace was fighting the weather to save Sam. I don’t remember every single sword stroke or path they took to reach the end, only that they did.

I suppose it doesn’t matter if everything catches on fire or happens on the edge of a cliff. It just has to happen.

Chapter Sixteen, Version Two:

Progress: 10%

 

Update, 10:58 pm EST

Progress: 100%

Onto chapter 17!

I completed Chapter 14 last night.

Technically, it was at 1 am this morning, but since I didn’t go to bed I considered it yesterday.

Today, I need to finish chapter 15. My usual 3-5000 word chapters are now averaging about 2000 words. I’m okay with this, since not only does it make the chapters easier to label, but it makes them easier to send to my critique partner, Anjulie. I feel more motivated when I can call something quits after 2000 words. I don’t get hung up on feeling like I need more words then, either.

These last 15,000 words or so are all part of the climax, so this should be my favorite part of the story. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay for these last few chapters to not be as polished as the first few. These are rough drafts. All I need to focus on is getting the words on the paper.

1000 words now, then I’ll bake some cookies for Christmas this weekend, then 1000 words tonight. It’s a lot easier to sleep knowing its finished.

Chapter 15:

Progress: 2%

 

Update:

9:54pm, EST

Chapter 15 Progress: 100%

Goal reached. Chapter 16 started.

Finishing a book in Ten Days: Day One

Back in November, I toyed with the idea of trying to finish my novel in a month. If people could write an entire rough draft, surely I could finish a few chapters. Unfortunately, I had other priorities, such as teachers realizing we only have a few weeks until finals, so let’s cram everything into these few classes. Finals week came up, I scraped by, finished my lats catering shift, hung up my uniform, and went to bed.

Now, it’s officially the first day of my winter break. I want to finish this novel before 2012.

That gives me ten days, though it’s technically less than that thanks to Christmas Eve, Christmas, and new Years Eve being large family/party days. I wonder if I can host a party and somehow still type out the last 15,000 words.

So my plan for Day One:

Correct and finish Chapter 14.

My progress: 20%

Here we go…

 

Rabbit Kick-Ball

Today, I watched Rabbits play kick-ball.

In an attempt to fill the big, empty feeling in my gut when I walk into my living room with my shoes still on and then realize I don’t have a dog to take out, I signed up for the SPCA. I figured I can cram my exercise and community service into one bundle: I can walk dogs a few times a week. I promised myself when I signed up that I wouldn’t take any animals home with me. I’m there to volunteer, not adopt.

But those damn bunnies.

I came in, went through the orientation session, and was shown the small animals room. A wall of fluffy bundles of fur with huge eyes and droopy ears looked at me. Stuffed animals come to life.

There are two on the floor.

Immediately, they stop what they’re doing and rush up to us. The man in front of me stares down awkwardly as both rabbits hop onto his shoes and viciously sniff him. Behind me, a rabbit is making a strange affectionate sound in his cage. The man in the room who was handling the rabbits rolls one of those blow-up childrens balls I see in the grocery store all the time.

The rabbits batted it back and forth together.

I had to look away and remind myself that I’m a broke college student with two cats, two turtles, and a very obese goldfish.