As planned, I got up early and headed into Traverse City to get Jeeves’ tires attended to. I called the local BMW dealership and was told, despite confirmation from MINI Grand Rapids and the TC BMW receptionist, they do NOT service MINIs. His suggestion? Take my car to MINI Grand Rapids. When I pointed out a 160 mile trek on possibly bad tires was not a wise move, he suggested I head to Discount Tire (as I had originally was leaning towards) and also gave me the name of a local TC shop that specialized in MINIs and other foreign cars.
Once you get off of M-72 and start heading into Cedar and then further on to Throbbing Cabin is some of the best driving roads around, barring M-22 of course. I love this part of the drive when we come up here as this is the kind of roads where Jeeves thrives and begs to be driven on. There is a stretch of about five miles after you leave Cedar that is hairpin straight and goes up some minor hills; when you hit the apex of each hill, you can see Lake Michigan beckoning in the distance.
Uncertain to the status of the my tires, I drove ever so slowly down to TC and who am I kidding here? I was probably white knuckling it the entire way, waiting for the supposedly bad tire to just fall off and planning in my head how I was going to handle each and every bad scenario that landed in my brain.
Discount Tire was busy for 10AM on a Wednesday morning — me and all the OAPs hanging out getting our tires issues sorted. The tires are fine and the TPMS is all normalized (again). Rationally, I knew this was going to be true, but anxiety eats away at all rationality. I spent time on the deck last night staring at Jeeves as if he was a monster because I could not stop thinking of worse case scenarios of having massive car issue 160 miles from home. THIS! Despite having insurance, an incredible maintenance and warranty plan, tow truck numbers programmed in my phone, and local numbers (now) for car repair, I could not let it go until the nice man at Discount Tire told me everything was going to be fine.
I got back to the cabin several hours later than intended as I ran a few errands since I was out and about. After having lunch, I started getting settled into doing research for the book around 4PM and here it is four hours later and fuck man, I am overwhelmed.
On Monday night I started culling all the random tidbits I had been collecting for the last 18 months and began to import them into Scrivener. I broke each thing down to its own category for easier sorting and updated the research page for the project in the process.
Today’s work was much of the same as I found more locales where I had stored bits and bobs. I think in my head I always fancied myself to keep things neat and simple, but apparently I keep trying to find the best product for everything, test it out, and ultimately forget it and all the content I stored there. Today the culprit was Pinboard, which while it seems to prove useful for many, I need visualization to organize.
(Still sitting on Pinboard is a good chunk of research I found for my viking and medieval lady boners which still needs to be imported over to their respective Scrivener projects. Marginalia for the win!)
Granted Scrivener has a learning curve, but once you get in the groove it starts to really make sense. Best thing I’ve ever done? Put all my notes, ideas, and everything into a single Scrivener project.
I’ve also been reading contemporary stories while I’m up here based in the Edwardian era – of which there is surprisingly not many. I suspected with the rise of Downton Abbey that there would have been a huge influx of lit based in the Edwardian era, but no, there really isn’t. I know of less than half a dozen mystery series based in that era and handful of fiction books written in the last five years but that’s shockingly about it. Since I’m having a hard time finding contemporary books of that era, I’m going to create a bibliography over on my author site for read alikes. Because librarian, yolo.
I’m also collecting titles of works written in the era to read to get a better sense of the period. so watch it Lawrence, Forster, Galsworthy, and the whole lot of you. I am on to you. And lucky me, most of their work is available in the open domain.
(I finally finished Maugham’s Cakes & Ale, though written in 1930 much of the book takes place in the Edwardian era. Holy fuck, do I hate this book. It was just so awful for a large list of reasons I will be discussing later.)
Additionally, there is only a handful of sites dedicated to the Edwardian era and some of them are dubious in nature while others tuck that period in as very-late Victorian without giving the period its proper due. I was distressed to find that one of the sites that I had considered, due to the breadth of research and writing, to be a fabulous resource was passing on debunked knowledge as fact.
Case in point: I am supremely disappointed to discover Edwardian women did NOT pierce their nipples to make them more pert. This is repeated over and over again in many legitimate sites but apparently there is no reference other than to a correspondence page in the back of a publication from 1899 that was more of fetishism than actual fact.
I have a draft started for a blog post quaintly entitled, Who the fuck are the Edwardians and why should we care?, which I hope to write tomorrow. Because we should care, dammit.
The mosquitos are eating me alive out here and it grows late. My treat for getting work done will be a vegan white russian, dinner, and a not so terrible book.
mid late Sunday afternoon and we’re still up at Throbbing Cabin. TheHusband and I are teaching ourselves how to relax and he’s doing a fine job of it at the moment if his snoring is any indication by cleaning the gutters and other yard work.
Me, on the other hand? I
‘m actually working but it’s the kind of work I love to do so it is actually fun, not work. Following him around the perimeter of the cabin with the shop vac on my shoulder so he can suck up all of the last years worth of leaves from the gutters. And isn’t this what the whole adventure was to be about in the first place?
Fuck. I was tricked into doing yard work.
Moving on. I am not allowing myself feel guilty for not getting much writing work done my first official week into this new venture. Domesticity had to be done and so it was and now that I have a sort of rhythm going to my day and making heavy use of my calendar, I’m sort of figuring out what direction I’m going in.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. When I’m not being tricked into doing yard work, that is.
Today’s writing task was to sort through all of my scraps stored on Google Drive and Dropbox, consolidate them and remove the duplicates, then import non-journal based things into a Scrivener project I manage for such works I titled Story Ideas. Story Ideas is my launching pad for all of my fiction writing as any idea, line, scrap of something lands up here and organized into one of seven main sections, Book Ideas, Story Ideas, Stories in Progress, Outtakes, Research, Scrivener Projects (projects with their own Scrivener project file), and Completed.
Most of this is pretty self-explanatory except perhaps for Outtakes which is chunks of writing I’ve removed for whatever reason and did not want to trash and Research, which is links to things I want to dig into more but not sure what for just yet.
This task turned into the rabbit hole of all holes as I have folders inside of folders in various places across Dropbox and Google Drive. I’ve now made a ToDo item to dig more to figure out what each piece is (journal entry? prose? short story? something else entirely?) and sort it out later. Everything that could easily sorted today got moved into Scrivener to keep it all in one location.
Right now the stats are
- 46 story ideas (various states)
- 16 book ideas (mainly first few chapters, synopsis, and related material)
- 8 short stories in progress (most are near completion)
- 8 notes in Research
- 4 completed short stories
- 2 existing Scrivener projects
This does not include all the notes I’ve made in paper journals or index cards not yet transferred, notes made in SimpleMind for an Icelandic saga cycle I’m working on, or what other treasures are still lurking on my drives.
(If this all sounds impressive, it is and isn’t. I had no idea the sheer amount of prolificness BUT a lot of it is dreck. I’ve got NaNoWriMo projects dating back to 2001 (and novels started as far back as 1999) that are very clear indicators of what I was into at the time, which isn’t the same as I am into now. 95% of this will probably never see the light of day as it’s pretty bad, thank fuck.)
The big thing I need is accountability, because this current organization in its natural chaotic state is a hot mess.
At the beginning of the month I’ll put up my writing plan and at the end, summarize what I did. I’m not going to do word counts (yet) because I have no idea how to apply it realistically. From June 28th – July 5th, on the blog alone, I cranked out 9, 724 words over 13 blog posts. That’s not including work I’ve done on note taking, story editing, and anything else since I don’t have those numbers. So word counts are out (for now).
Additionally, TheHusband wants to see some kind of timeline of my work progress so he knows when he needs me to crack the whip or for me to calm the fuck down. All very civilized in our household.
Behold! Projects for July:
- Launch lisarabey.com finally
- Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
- Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
- Start fleshing out 45th parallel story
- Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones
- Get Vol 1 of secret Kindle project completed and online
- Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
Is this a lot? It feels like a lot but at the same time it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I feel what needs to be done.
When I check in 25 days, we’ll see how it went!
This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2003
TheHusband is a snob.
So when he asks me what I’ve written lately, and I give him the word count from EPbaB for the day, he turns his nose up at me. “That’s not real writing,” he says. “That’s just your blog!”
This conversation goes back and forth every couple of months, with me defending and him objecting. Finally, it comes out to him, real writing is fiction. Preferably long fiction, a novella or even a novel. Short bits, flash, and other work such as writing a diary online are not “real writing.” But it would count, he says, if I got paid for what I did. (Which is a whole ‘nother entry.)
Writing fiction is hard work. You have to be an exceptional liar, because something you’re creating is false; a lie upon itself. You also have to have the witheral for isolation, tendency for physical solitude, and the ability to create at the drop of a hat. Doing all of this without going insane.
At least that’s my interpretation of it.
For years, when I come up with a story from my past that I was planning on working into a diary piece, he stops me and says it would make good story period. Why not turn that into something else?, he asks. Use it as a jumping off point for a bigger story concept. In the past, for whatever reason, I’ve chosen to ignore him because where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my writing seemed to be so opposite of where he tries to gently push me.
Something today clicked. I was thinking of something, which leads to another, as it often does, when I recalled an event from my childhood that upon my nearly 30 year removal from the incident, seems quite extraordinary. I was indeed going to write about the incident in its natural form for EPbaB, but something stopped me – the idea that this bit from my childhood would indeed make a grand launch pad into a fictional world. Why attempt to explain what happened and why when time has eroded the more fragile of the concepts of the period? Instead I could create another world where I can fill in the details as they were meant to happen or as I wanted them to happen or as I thought I had remembered them.
In short, make shit up.
This dawning of clarity of how this world works came to me at 4:45PM as I was in the bedroom taking my afternoon pills. When the dust cleared from this acceptance of truth, I checked the clock for the time so I could recall it back to TheHusband for I wanted this moment to be ingrained.
And just like that, the beginning of something came and within an hour, I had slightly over 1200 words (or the equivalent of 43 tweets) committed to paper in some kind of coherent series of events. When I told TheHusband I had committed 1200 words on fiction today, I got a “That’s nice, dear. Is that about two pages?” I huffed and corrected him on the page count.
It was the first time since the beginning of the year I have written anything resembling a fictional story.
A couple of years ago, I purchased Scrivener and last year, I started organizing my work. I have roughly over 40 story sparks, ideas or lines that could be the basis of something, which also includes a couple of ideas that are formatted for novel length. In addition, I have five pieces which are in progress and more than a dozen completed. With the exception of the odd submission here or there, none of this has been shopped around anywhere.
It’s always been painful as I could come up with ideas, I could take notes on these ideas, but getting those notes into a fully formed idea has mostly failed. One thing is for certain, I keep collecting ideas and my tenacity to see them through exists regardless of past experiences.
Another truism that has occurred over the last couple of weeks, as my come down from the drugs has taken place, I’ve started to seriously wonder why I haven’t been using writing as a way of my own escapism from this chaos in my head. Isn’t that what I’ve done before? Why is it so different now? And why wasn’t I exploring a fictional world to give some peace to the conflicts that keep occurring?
I have no answers.
If one thing is for certain from going through my archives in the last year, I am my own worst enemy.
P.S. The one thing I do know, is when I was able to do what I did today, the first thing I wanted to do after telling my husband was to tell you.
This day in Lisa-Universe in:
Today’s word count: 507
Total word count: 1368
Note to self: A dinner of Lucky Charms, chased with a half bottle of Witches’ Brew, is probably not one of my more ingenious ideas.
I want to thank everyone for reading, sharing, and commenting on yesterday’s post. We’ve been having some really great conversations on Twitter as well, and I’m loving all the thoughtful commentary. The page is also been shared quite a bit across the social networks, which is also a bonus. Thank you to everyone for participating in this very important conversation.
While TheHusband is one of my biggest champions, he’s often one of the least likely ones to read my blog. This mostly has to do with how sporadic my updates have been over the last few years as compared to the last four days where this will be post #6. I also calculated the word count those posts are at about 5,000 words. My NaNoWriMo piece, well, not so much, but I’ll get to that in a second.
This morning while we were getting ready to head out for the day of errands, he seemed pretty excited by my story idea, which of course got me talking about what I wanted to do. We spent the better part of an hour with me verbally walking through some things about the story, what I liked, my ideas, what wasn’t working. We continued this later, over lunch, where we started drawing up an outline so that I could work from that.
His hypothesis was there were two types of writers in the world: Those who outline and need the skeleton before the flesh, and those who write and need just the flesh. (He listened to every episode of CBC Writer’s and Company from the last three years, thus the basis for his explanation.) He says my problem, or style, is that I write from the flesh AND I over edit. A paragraph could take me four hours. There is a beauty in that, for word precision is very important to me but that is obviously not going to work for NaNoWriMo.
To which I agree.
As we had left late in the morning, our errands were done by mid-afternoon, which would give me about six or so hours to write before Sunday night television kicked in. I was pretty excited about having that much time blocked off with all of my day’s chores done.
Except, I didn’t write. I read Facebook, Twitter, mailing list emails, Google reader and as well as wrote postcards. I had opened up Scrivener as soon as I sat at my desk and kept in running in the background, tabbing to it every so often to stare in petulance at it before tabbing back to whatever I was doing.
I even started answering the political robocalls.
But I wrote nothing.
Nearly every interview or piece I’ve ever read about writing, the author in question always, always, always mentions that in order to write, you must read. Read in your genre, your interests, outside your interests. Doesn’t matter, just read. A particular situation that worked in one story, could be tweaked for yours. As I noted in June , I knew I was depressed when I stopped reading or listening to music. I used to read 10 books a month, now I’m lucky if I will do that every six. I found when I started reading Game of Thrones this week, the connection to reading and writing became clear. Ideas were coming, sometimes fast and furious, as I traveled around Westeros. I got what those authors were throwing down.
(I’ve also read enough interviews of authors where they are often asked, “What are you influences/where do you get your ideas?” and they come off with a flippant reply that ideas are everywhere / from their brain / I make everything up or some other they-think-is-clever response. These authors, some very well known, are full of shit. You read, you get ideas, you make your own connections, you write. It’s cyclic. It’s simple. It’s not magic, no matter how much you want it to be.)
But today! Today after talking and walking through ideas, nothing came to pass. I was worried, I told TheHusband, for I started in one direction and now I have to change it fit this new theme. I’m even changing point of view (first to third) and that means I have to re-write everything. He argued with me, of course, for he said that you should continue in the new path and worry about the opening stuff later.
But I need to read what I have written in continuity to make sure it is making sense! He told me I was procastinating and sent me back to my desk.
I huffed in indignation like a three year old, grabbed my laptop, the notebook with story notes, and with Wednesday trailing behind me, came down to our dining room. Why I thought changing location, where TheHusband was arguing the Internet was possibly my real detrator, would help, I had no fucking idea. I thought perhaps liberal liquid lubrication would be helpful, so I uncorked a bottle of cheap wine and sat down.
And I began to write.
The take away from all of this: I need to develop a drinking habit to get things done.
There are a couple of things about this NaNoWriMo that are important to me: Finish a story, possibly in book form, write it in third person, and make it interesting. I know I can do this, I know that I want to do this, I need to stop allowing the oooh shiny from distracting me.
Or start visiting my local adult beverage store more often.
Today’s word count: 861
Total word count: 861
One of the projects I worked on over the summer was consolidating my writing into a manageable organization to figure out what needed work, what didn’t and so on. I found all of my Scrivener files floating around various locations, consolidated them into one central location, and was pleasantly surprised to see how much notes and writing I had done on previous existing works. I spent a couple of hours reading and making mental notes because truthfully, I had no idea what I was going to write this time around other than I knew I had to write. I was hoping to put together ome kind of outline or plan, but even with some works in progress, this felt like it needed to be more off the cuff then researched based. Plus, I’ve also been bursting with so many ideas that it is hard to decide which one needs the love most of all.
I found a couple of pieces I had started writing from way back when and pulled bits of what I liked from them, using those ideas to craft something new. I cranked out almost 900 words in about 1.25 hours, which is pretty awesome I say. I know tomorrow, Friday, is going to be hard to steal time to write and I plan on making up most of the slack this weekend. I also need to start constructing something resembling a plot so I can get this project moving forward.
Here is what I’ve come up with: Unnamed female (so far), whom we’ll call Jane Doe for now, wakes up to the looming faces of her best friends to find out she’s lost several days. In panic, and concern, they reach out to one of Jane’s family members, a great aunt, who owns a store of some sort in norther Michigan, specifically on the 45th parellel. Her friends pack Jane, her dog Gaston, and most of her belongings into Jane’s car to send her to this mysterious to figure out her life.
Here is what I know:
- From the 900 words, with very little written description I know Jane is a blonde, ex-smoker who cheats like mad, and likes old technology. She’s angry, confused, and brave. She doesn’t know what happened, but she knows she’ll find the answer sooner or later. She has a dog named Gaston who is trained to respond to unique keywords. For example, “Chocolate chips” is his cue to go into attack mode. All of her immediate family is missing/presumed dead and she is an only child (this part may change).
- Her aunt is going to be Nanny Ogg from Discworld mixed with Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company. Her store (yet undetermined) will also act as a meeting place for the local supernatural/paranormal world. Jane doesn’t know it yet, but her family has some special skills. This also will help explain her missing/dead parents.
- A year or so ago, I was digging around for conspiracies about the 45th parellel and came up with, well, quite a bit. There were once thought to be magical properties and a major ley line, so if there is any good place to have a paranormal world, this would be it.
- A couple of years ago, I wrote a very detailed sequence of events of how one of my characters lost time, but it doesn’t quite fit in here. I’ll see what I can beat into submission.
- I recently read about when the British moved from Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752, that Wednesday September 2 moved into Thursday September 14 to make up for the drift of time over the centuries. I’ve been toying with the idea this “lost time” as it were, plays into my story. Think of something along the lines of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels, except significantly less funny.
- I’m debating on creating a new village in the area I am placing Jane or usigng an existing one. Jury is still out on this.
- NaNoWriMo doesn’t have genre to fit this but it will best be described as paranormal/mystery/magical realism with a dash of quirk.
- No romance unless it somehow moves the plot forward and pairing will not be the end all/be all for the final.
- This will not be the great American-Canadian novel and I’m okay with that.
This should be enough to get me going for awhile.
Apparently, I’m pretty prolific. In addition to upping my writing here, I’ve also been writing every day in DayOne, which I mentioned here, and also actually working on my fiction. There is one thing to be said for a humanities scholar: We know how to crank out verbiage like no one’s business. Between the three, and this is including the re-writes of public blog entires and the fiction, I’m cranking out about 5,000 words a day. And that is being conservative. Now how much of that is “good” writing? Hard to say, really. My writing in the public sphere tends to be tighter since I obsess over the editing, the writing on the private journal has better readability (because I an writing more freely and more about the minutia of my life), while the fiction writing is still uneven in a deckled edged way. Some of what I produce for the fiction side is dreck and other times, it’s pure gold.
(Also, I decided to style myself as a modern day Samuel Pepys, at least in my head.)
I think one of the reasons why this is becoming a lot easier is that I have finally figured out a system that works for me to keep all of this organized which was so problematic for me for years. I know, it’s crazy considering that I organize shit for a living, but I couldn’t organize my writing to really work for me until now. Finding the Day One app was probably the tipping point, and also being a heavy user of Evernote and Scrivener also helped.
Here’s the status of my current projects, and which will find it’s way to Readers. The main landing page for my writing will also have all posts about this topic on the page, and if a project has their own landing page, those too will have posts updated on their landing page. Thus, if you’re hot into Edwardian good times but not Viking gore, you can skip directly to the landing page for the Edwardian projet instead of slogging through all the posts about Vikings and everything else.
Project Name: Cabinet Particulier
Details of the project on its own page, so I won’t repost them here. I started collecting the research in July and currently haven’t moved forward yet other than doing the readings. Ideally, I see this as a pretty big project (read book series) so I want to get it off to a good start and I have a vague idea of how the first book will go, I want to dig deeper into her world before I begin writing.
Project name: Unnamed Medieval project
Status: Idea formation and preliminary research
Details: At this point I know it’s going to concern a woman, possibly in Scotland, sometime before 1066. Possibly containing Vikings.
Title: PETITIONS OF THE GODS
Status: 80% finished
Summary: From my notes: Anonymous protagonist gives background on the invitation, a brief history of the Althing, and beginning of the world creation.Our protagonist is losing power and she knows this. The struggle with her, and with others like her, is how to remain relevant in a world when less number of people are believing in them. What would you do to stay relevant?
The beginning and ending are strong, but I’m floundering in the middle. It’s already at 2500 words with some heavy revision in the last week, so much so that the outtakes have their own folder in Scrivener. TheHusband read one of the first drafts and liked a lot of the clever uses for explanation of things but I can’t unstick the sticky at the moment. While I think this is at 80%, I would not be surprised if I end up ripping it entirely apart and restructuring all of it.
Title: AD LIBITUM
Status: 80% finished
Summary: What happens inside the Sistine chapel when no one is looking? Answer: Sex, drugs, and disco.
Idea sparked a “what if” when reading an article tonight about Russia’s Golden Ring and the author wrote eloquently about the medieval cathedrals and churches they were visiting. The line, “Jesus jumped off the cross, stretched, and went to light a cigarette.”, which sparked the idea of what in the hell happens in a cathedral at night when no one is around? Within minutes, I found this gorgeous virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel and the story started writing itself.
So far, I have nearly a dozen people signed up for Readers, which is awesome. I haven’t decided if I should close the request at this point or keep it open. I had planned on start pushing some of my older stuff through the list to get those cleaned up and publishable, but after reading through many of them decided not to. They are that wretched or I am not into the genre as much anymore or the story just doesn’t appeal to me. So they will stay buried in the digital trunk.
I’m so motivated to be creating again but I keep thinking what do I want to do with the stuff that I create? I definitely want it to be read by the world, but how to go about that is tap dancing in the back of my brain. Having been a bookseller for many years, I work now as a librarian, and then throw in all the writers, literary agents, artists, booksellers, and other people in the publishing world I either know personally or stalk online, I feel pretty grounded on the back end o the industry. I just want to make sure that I do the right thing by my work.
I was pretty thrilled to discover Duotrope yesterday in my quest to sort out submission organization for at least the short pieces because my librarian-fu was actually failing me looking for a comprehensive source for magazines, literary zines, and other such publications to submit my work to. At the very least, I know this is the path I want to take with my shorter fiction. I’m also thinking of some kind of crowdsourcing shenanigans might also be in place too. This is going to be amazing.