Monthly Archives: July 2012

Fun With Maps

20120725-235018.jpgToday I downloaded a drawing app for the iPad because I’ve reached a point in the novel where I need to figure out where everything thing is in the town where my main character lives. Using the free fingerpainting style app I came up with a 3-year-old’s version of a town map. Fortunately, however, my lack of drawing ability has no impact on my writing and despite my pathetic map I now know where is what and how big the town is.

Oh, and I added 730 words to the novel.

Today’s Lunch: Salad and uncured back bacon (lomo).

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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Am Writing


A Plot Explosion

While doing the dishes today, a plot exploded in my head. For other artists out there, you know what that feels like and I don’t need to describe it. For non-creative types, I can only tell you that it’s like the apex of a drug trip or that moment just after sex – bliss, tranquility, possibility, energy, and a desire for more. And yet nothing at all like any of that.

Suffice to say, it made my day.

The best part of the explosion? The idea will make me stretch myself as a writer. I tend to write single protagonist stories with relatively straightforward plots. This new idea, which would be a direct sequel to a finished novel of mine, would require seven point of view characters (at least) and interweaving plots that draw them together as a three thousand year old social structure collapses down around them.

Scary? You bet, but as Patricia C. Wrede often points out on her blog, one of the reasons artists create is to do things we have never done, to reach past our (self-imposed) limitations and discover what we are capable of. Or as Wrede puts it: to learn something new each book.

P.S. I also added 1000 more edited words to the current novel.

Today’s Lunch: Stew and sponge cake (not at the same time) made by a friend’s mother given to us for fixing her TV reception.

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Am Writing


The Future Really Does Take Care of Itself

A few posts back I had a panicky moment when I realized that I’m going to run short on the novel if I keep up the same average chapter length. I got over it by telling myself to focus on the moment – the future would take care of itself if I took care of the present.

For someone who lives in the future as much as I do, this was a huge leap of faith. I am committed, however, to this new in-the-moment way of life, so I jumped.

And surprise, surprise, I’ve landed safely.

On Friday, while looking at chapter seven (another mostly written chapter), I decided I wanted to add another piece of world-building, something about the greater events that are going on outside the main character’s knowledge and for that I need to add a scene that hints at these external events. If I add it to the chapter, however, it will make it far too long. So, I cut the chapter in two and made notes about adding in other new material that would add depth to the characters.

Yes, that’s right, in one stroke I’ve added another roughly 4500 planned words to the novel. By focusing on what was necessary in the moment rather than on possibilties in the future, I’ve gone a long way to solving my word count shortage problem.

Then, when I started writing today, I whipped through nearly 2000 words of editing and new writing, leaving me in a good spot to start the new conspiracy-hinting scene tomorrow.

That leap of faith? It’s turning into a bridge of confidence.

P.S. That confidence got an added boost last night when talking to one of my first readers who had read a second short story set in the same world as Kitchen Ambitions. This reader is a very good friend who has never had a problem with honest criticism, and anyway, she said that she sees significant progress in my storytelling between the first and second stories. Woohoo!

Today’s Lunch: A chicken and cheese bocata on the train to the beach in a nearby town because sometimes it’s more fun to do the same thing as always somewhere else.

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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Am Writing


I Like It So I Leave It

Last month, in her wonderful business-of-writing blog, Kristine Katherine Rusch wrote a great piece about perfection and writers over-editing their work. Since I have an overly active lazy nature, I actually no nothing about it seeking perfection. I have always been a firm believer that great is good enough.

Over on her blog, Patricia C. Wrede also recently wrote about reading like a writer and how she never understood what it meant. I’m with her on that one. I read to enjoy books. Like Wrede, I only read like a writer when I want to learn how someone has done something specific. For that I go back to books and read individual passages.

What do these two things have in common?

My approach to writing, that’s what.

Today, I edited another chapter instead of having to write it from scratch (adding another 4800 words to the completed novel). Some things had changed so I read like a writer looking for those instances, but otherwise, I read the chapter the same way I would read any book – as a reader hoping to enjoy it.

And guess what? I did!

My approach to editing is this: if something makes me “fall out” of the story, then it needs to change. If I am happily pulled along, then it’s great and I leave it as is. Could it be better? Could I make it more exciting? More dramatic? More whatever? Probably, but if I like what I’m reading, I assume others will so, I leave it alone.

After all, why mess with something that’s already great?

Today’s Lunch: I woke up late this morning, so couldn’t come back home for lunch and I bought it again. So, instead, I’ll tell you about breakfast – grilled slices of polenta smothered with a French walnut cream cheese (that’s a French cheese with walnuts, not a cheese with French walnuts). A yummy way to start the day!

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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Am Writing


A Big Leap Forward

I’ve created a new category for the blog called “Am Writing” so that the automated hashtag generation drops these writing journal updates into the Twitter-stream where others might see it. (One of the reasons why I consider blogging a tool to reach my writing goals, and not a form of writing in itself).

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about here. I only mention it because today I did very little actual writing. I did, however, add a whopping 4300 words to the novel’s word count and leapt forward a whole chapter. And no, I didn’t steal the words from someone else. I reached a point in the novel where this particular chapter from my exploratory draft (thanks Bonnie for the term – I love it!) fit well with the revised outline. It only needed a few tweaks and a bit more description added. In total, I wrote about 900 new words, but I don’t really care about the exact number. It’s the final word count that matters – the novel currently stands at 20,000.

Yay me!

Today’s Lunch: I ate at the local university today because I had errands to do over on the work side of town. Although I used to eat there all the time, today’s meal of squash soup and cod-filled peppers didn’t taste very good. They haven’t changed – I have. Now that I’m debt-free and not so penny-pinching, I don’t put up with lower quality just for the sake of saving a few euros. From now on, if I am stay over in that area for lunch in the future and haven’t taken anything with me, I’ll splurge the extra five euros and get a decent menu from one of the neighborhood restaurants.


Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Am Writing


A Slip into the Future

More words than usual today – over 900 when I’ve been averaging 700 – which made me happy. Also I finished chapter 4 – another reason to be happy. But then I made the mistake of adding up how many words I have written in these opening chapters, then added in the average of the four chapters for the remaining chapters – and got depressed. From this calculation, I’ll be about 15,000 words short of my goal for the novel.

But then I remembered that I agreed not to look into the future with this novel and felt a lot better. If I’m short I’ll deal with it later – or maybe celebrate the compactness. Who knows? That’s the future and it has nothing to do with the moment.

Today’s Lunch: Spanish melon with cured ham followed by chicken breasts with havarti and spearmint (the best part of which was that it was all waiting for me on the table when I got home from work).


Posted by on July 17, 2012 in General Babblery


It’s All About the Writing

Routines and I are not the best of friends. I’m not as bad as my mother who actually gets dizzy if she does the same thing at the same time for more than a few days, but I’m not so good on following up on things. For example, I told myself that I’d do an update on the blog every day that I wrote, and yet on Friday I added another 700 words to chapter 3 and then said nothing about it here.

But know what? It doesn’t matter. This blog is just one of the tools to help keep me writing regulary. The goal itself is to write. Did I write? Yes. Nothing else matters.

Today I wrote too, 800 words of almost pure description that explored the main character’s newly discovered magic (which she is going to have to suppress from now on if she wants to keep her family safe and sound). For someone who supposedly hates description, 800 words of it all at once without making me fall asleep is a pretty good achievement, I’d have to say.

Yay me!

Today’s Lunch: A duck confit and spinach salad with homemade passion-fruit caesar salad dressing. Mmmmm…


Posted by on July 16, 2012 in General Babblery