Walls and Momentum

I’m still pounding away at the second draft of my novel, but I wanted to share something. I keep a word log of my progress. I find it to be my most important tool when it comes to motivation. It shows my effort compiling toward something bigger, and it reminds me how important it is to write whenever I have the chance. It all adds up. As long as I make progress, I’ll eventually reach the end.

Last year, I posted the word log of my first draft. Some people found it interesting, so I wanted to post the current word log for my second draft, with one highlighted exception. For those unfamiliar with the format, it goes

(word-count start) : (word-count finish) total

 

Jan 22: Chp 1 (0) : (1250) 1250

Jan 23: Chp 1(1250) : (2670) 1400

Jan 23: Chp 1 (2670) : (3655) 1000

Jan 24: Chp 1 (3655) : (3880) 150   3.8k start… not bad. Hope to go faster though

 

Jan 29: Chp 1 (3880) : (4870) 1000

Jan 29: Chp 1 (4870) : (5620) 750

Jan 30: Chp 2 (0) : (150)

Jan 31: Chp 2 (150) : (200) 50 … 2k 😦

 

Feb 10: Chp 2 (0) : (800) 800

Feb 10: Chp 2 (800) : (1300) 500

Feb 11: Chp 2 (1300) : (1750) 450

Feb 12: Chp 2 (1750) : (3150) 1400

Feb 13: Chp 2 (3150) : (5750) 2600

Feb 14: Chp 2 (5750) : (5725)

 

Feb 20: Chp 2 (5725) : (5750) 50 just tiny tweaks, low effort

Feb 21: Chp 2 (5750) : (6100) 350 but lots of edits

 

Feb 25: Chp 1 (5620) : (5600) Chp1 touchups and notes

Feb 25: Chp 2 (6100) : (6110) tweaks

Feb 25: Chp 2.1 (0) : (750)

Feb 26: Chp 2.1 (750) : (2150) 1400

Feb 26: Chp 2.1 (2150) : (2575) 425

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (2575) : (3575) 1000

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (3575) : (4250) 675 (pre-clean) (3890 post clean with saved section in place)

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (3890) : (4090) 200 and a 4.4k week of total writing. Well done!

 

Mar 5: Chp 2.1 changes (4090) : (4300) 200

Mar 6: Chp 3 (0) : (1230) 1230

Mar 6: Chp 3 (1230) : (3500) 2300

Mar 7: Charlie (0) : (200) 200

 

Mar 11: Chp 3 overhaul (3500) : (4200) 700

Mar 11: Chp 3 (4200) : (5100) 900

Mar 11: Chp 3 purge (5100) : (2700)

Mar 12: Chp 3 (2700) : (3500) 700

Mar 12: Chp 3 (3500) : (4700) 1200

Mar 13: Chp 3 (4700) : (6000) 1300

Mar 13: Chp 3 edits (6000) : (6450) 450

Mar 14: Chp 4 (0) : (680) 680 Chp 4 basically unchanged from its original draft… kinda cool

Mar 14: Chp 5 (0) : (2450) 8.5k week? Damn…

 

Mar 20: Chp 3 rework (6450) : (6825) 375

Mar 21: Chp 3 rework (6825) : (7100) 275

 

Mar 25: Chp 3 rework (7100) : (7340) 250

Mar 26: Chp 3 rework (7350) : (8150) 800

Mar 26: Chp 3 cleanup (8150) : (7830)

Mar 27: Chp 3 cleanup (7830) : (8160) too long

Mar 27: Chp 5 (2450) : (3300) 550

Mar 28: Chp 5 (3300) : (3500) 200 but decent tweaks

Mar 28: Chp 3 again… (8160) : (8220)

 

Apr 2: Chp 3 split (8220 : (7220) + (1470)

Apr 3: Chp 5 (3500) : (4125) 625

 

Apr 9: Chp 5.1 (0) : (1500)

Apr 10: Chp 5.1 (1500) : (4000) 2500

Apr 10: Chp 5.1 (4000) : (4375)

Apr 11: Chp 6 (0) : (1625) 6k week

 

Apr 16: Chp 6 (1625) : (1700) 75 so sleepy and did a FF

Apr 16: Chp 6 (1700) : (3700) 2000 (good job)

Apr 17: Chp 6 (3700) : (6250) 2550 4.6k week… train kept a rollin’ all night long

 

Ask me if I got sick and tired of working on Chapter 3. Go ahead. Ask me.

On March 6th, I started working on that damn thing, and I didn’t put it away with satisfaction until April 2nd. Almost a month of working on the same chapter again and again and again. You wanna talk about hitting a wall… I hit a wall. On top of that, not only was I spending this time reworking the same chapter, it was an early chapter. At the beginning of the year, I had hopes of having this second draft done by July (not gonna happen). Now it’s taking one month to fix one chapter?

Double wall. A wall of time that ultimately brewed a substantial wall of doubt. My mood got darker. I fell into an emotional funk. Not depressed or broken or anything, just bleh.

But I pushed on. Partly out of spite, but mostly because I’ve already come too far to stop, and now I’ve put in two weeks in a row that are well above my weekly goal of 3 thousand words. The damned wall is behind me (for now), and I can build momentum again. Hopefully it’s enough to plow right through whatever wall waiting for me in the future.

I don’t really know why I’m posting this. Partly because I’m proud of myself. Partly because it’s almost 5am. Mostly though, I want others to see what happens when you keep trying. I know I’m not the only one struggling to reach a goal. I know others are out there climbing walls. All I can say is just keep climbing. Keep climbing, one day at a time if you have to. You’ll get there.

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The Old Lady Next Door (Writing Prompt)

I finally stumbled on a Writing Prompt that clicked for me (after weeks of casually searching).  Hope you enjoy it. From Reddit:

 

I still remember the first night I ever really saw her, the night I call the beginning of her oddities. I was in the kitchen grabbing another beer and it was rainin’ like hell outside, wind and lightning and the whole works. A bitchin’ storm, really. Hadn’t seen one like that in a while. I had my curtains open to watch the rain and even cracked a couple windows to better hear the thunder. The window over the sink was one of them since the wind was blowing the other way.

So I’m cracking the top off another soldier and looking at the night sky, all black and writhing with clouds, lightning flashing like paparazzi, and there she is in the side-yard just rummaging around in her trash can. I had to blink at first, thinking the shadows were off from the storm, but no. It was her alright. I don’t know why, but I flipped off my kitchen light fast as I could so she wouldn’t see me. I knew someone lived next door, but I had no idea who. This was the first time I’d seen who it was, so I was pretty curious.

She was dressed for the occasion, no doubt. Yellow rain coat that hung so low over her body it almost scraped the ground and a big, yellow cap to match. She was a tiny little thing, barely tall enough to reach into her own garbage can, and she had long, white hair that hung out from under her rain cap and draped over her shoulders, sopping wet and sticking to her coat, the clumps hanging down streaming rivulets.

I took a drink thinking, the fuck is this old lady doing out in the rain? Trash trucks weren’t coming the next day, so that wasn’t it. What kind of garbage could be so important you gotta deal with these elements? She was dropping in small, black bags, and not just one or two. She had damn near a dozen of these things, apparently trundled them out by the armful, and was dropping them into the bin one by one.

I leaned over the sink, the thick smell of rain blowing through the screen, and watched. Each plastic bag fell in with a thump. Heavy, whatever they were, but with the bags being black, I just couldn’t tell. Just one after another, thump, thump. Then she turns and waddles off down the side-yard between our two little houses. I lean way over the sink and watch until she rounds the corner to her back porch. When I turn to leave, I notice she’s left the lid open, and only one thought occurs to me: She’s coming back with more.

Sure as shit.

But this last bag wasn’t little, oh no. Now she’s got this heavy-duty piece of plastic that looks like a body bag, dragging it over the slick grass. I can still remember the sounds her boots made as she struggled, these sloppy, squishing, sucking sounds like the flooded lawn was trying to swallow her up.

The hell is this now, I’m thinking, watching her hunched shoulders pull on something that must weigh as much as she does, if not more. I remember hearing her curse a couple times, a raspy voice like sandpaper over asphalt. Her grip kept slipping because of the rain. Once she slipped so bad she almost fell right on her ass.

She drags this damn thing all the way down the side-yard, and I’m just watching and thinking, there’s no way. She’ll never get that in. Then the damnedest thing comes out of my mouth, like I said the words before the thought even formed in my head.

I just blurt out, “Hey, you need help?”

She stops. Not a freeze, not a type of stun or surprise where you find out someone’s been watching you and you stop what you’re doing to turn and see. No. She stops dead like she’s turned to stone, like she’s a fucking statue in the garden now. She stops and just stands there, shoulders hunched, stretched plastic in her hand, water streaming off the bend in her elbows, off the rim of her yellow cap.

I wait. She doesn’t say a thing. Doesn’t move.

“I said, you need h—”

NO,” she says before I can even finish the words, and this time her voice ain’t all raspy and thin, hell no. It’s a boom, like the thunder, like someone just pounded a drum. I can still hear it to this day. NO. Thank god I was leaning over the sink cause I damn near dropped my beer. I caught it before it really fell but some of it still spilled.

She never turned. Never looked. Never even moved. Freaked me the fuck out, no joke, so I just backed away. I didn’t say sorry or okay or anything. I just backed away.

After that, I only saw her two more times in maybe six months, and both only at night. Once it was late, like 2 am or something, and she was out near her shed. I didn’t see her, but I heard something coming from her yard. I wondered if it was her, so I slipped out the door real quiet and crept across the grass.

She was digging. I could hear the little spade she was using chopping at the dirt, hitting the rocks in the soil. When I finally got the nerve to peak over the fence all I could see was her tiny little body hunched over, her arms working, white hair hanging over her slumped back.

I didn’t say a damn thing to her, just watched for a while then went back inside.

The other time was right at the end of dusk, just as the last bit of sunlight was fading from the sky. I was grabbing something from the kitchen again, windows open, and got this funny feeling. I looked up expecting to see someone outside, but no one was there. Side-yard was empty. I kinda glanced around, no biggy, then just as I turned I saw her. She was inside, standing behind her curtain, one faded-yellow eye staring at me, one clawed little finger pulling her drapes back just enough for a peek. Most of her face was shrouded, but I could see that one eye looking through, looking right at me with the same kind of raw power her voice had when she told me NO after my dumbass offered to help.

Haven’t seen her since, but she’s still living next door. Gardeners still mow and manage the bushes. Packages still get dropped on the front porch and disappear by morning.

I keep the curtains closed on that side of the house now.

 

 

A Rainy Day (Writing Prompt)

From reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/85fv72/wp_just_write_a_nice_story_about_someone_having_a/

Warm blankets on a Saturday. A gray morning that comes in casually, glances through a window, and quietly passes. She rolls, stretches, and feels the softness of wool on her skin. There’s no alarm to respond to, no reason to rush. Idle thoughts pass through, orderly, one by one, and not a single idea imposes stress. Life simply is. There’s nothing to overcome. Plunging her toes into fluffy slippers, the day has begun.

Coffee by the windowsill. Spatters of rain on the glass. The paperboy was kind enough to wrap the morning news in plastic, and his arm was strong enough to send it fully up the path. She unfolds pages that crinkle in her hands, and the front page is a rare display of brilliance. Girl scouts made a killing yesterday in front of the controversial dispensary. *You go, girls*, she thinks.

No texts, no emails, no social media notifications. She watches storm clouds rush by her sliding glass door. Finches wiggle their wings under rushing droplets, twerp and tweet with enjoyment, and give her a vicarious outdoor moment while she stands safely inside with a warm cup. Blood-red carnations flex their petals, daring bold colors against the gray sky. Rather than clash, the colors embrace, yin and yang.

She considers an outing, something quick to gather a sense of accomplishment, but the soft robe stays on, a comforter is taken as ally, and a good book is read. A few candles lit, some music in the background, and all the while, rain drops tap at the windows and tap at the vents and tap at the siding in lulling intervals. A fictional love affair unravels, and she’s enthralled.

She soon nods off, thumb saving her page. An hour slips by, then two, ’til she’s awoken by a soft buzzing. A close friend is calling.

“Let’s meet for lunch.”
“Okay!”

She opts for a stroll instead of a cab. Her shoes scuff old concrete and skip over older cobblestone. Falling rain kisses her umbrella as she reaches the cafe and embraces a dear friend.

131

I draw inspiration from a lot of sources: musicians, writers, athletes, even the occasional politician. It’s amazing how far some people have come and the dedication they’ve committed to their dreams. That dedication often helps to get me off my keister and get going on my own dreams when I’d rather lounge around or throw myself a pity party.

This last weekend I witnessed another example of amazing dedication.

One of the few sports I follow is Supercross. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the motorcycle racing they do in large stadiums, the ones with the complicated tracks and big jumps. It’s an entertaining sport to watch and great to see live if you ever get the chance. It’s also very competitive. Usually only a handful of guys are fighting for that top spot while the rest struggle to keep their jobs and earn a living. It’s also very demanding physically, and injury is a constant concern.

This last weekend was Daytona, and the winner was a rider by the name of Justin Brayton. This is significant for two reasons. First, Justin set the record for being the oldest rider to win a 450cc main event at the age of 33 (almost 34). Supercross is a young man’s sport, and if you’re over 30, you’re old. In that respect, it’s quite the accomplishment.

But here’s the kicker (and the inspiration):

It’s his first victory in 131 starts.

It took 131 attempts for Justin to grab his first win. A supercross season is a total of 17 races. If you never miss a race due to injury or illness (a rarity), it would take almost 8 seasons to start 131 times. For 8 years, this guy practiced, trained, worked with mechanics, traveled to cities throughout the country, struggled with doubt, rode through pain, and left his family at home to try yet again to get his first win.

8 years. 131 starts.

And it finally happens.

That’s incredible to me. Astounding. I can’t imagine the amount of doubt that can linger in a mind that goes 8 years without a win, especially in our culture where the term “success” is so heavily associated with winning. 131 attempts to finally get there. That’s persistence I can’t even imagine.

Congratulations to Mr. Brayton to his first victory, a win well deserved, and a huge thank you for displaying the amazing power of persistence.

That Was Fast

A thought occurred to me the other day, one of checking my quaint little webpage to see when I last posted. Probably been a couple weeks, I thought.

Yeah, no… try 2 months.

“Oh. Whoops.”

Anyway, still here and still working, though it certainly doesn’t show to the outside world. The second pass of my novel has essentially turned into a second draft. The good news is that it’s going very well. The chapters I’ve reworked are improved by quite a bit, far more fleshed out than the first versions were. The pacing is better. Descriptions are better. Character interactions are much better. All good things.

The bad news is that it’s going really well… so I’ll be doing it to the entire book, and that’s a lot more time and effort than I expected. I don’t mind (that’s a bit of a lie). There’s no point in doing this if I don’t do the best I can, but it’s daunting. To know that I’m on Chapter 3 with another twenty-something to go does put a slight damper on enthusiasm. I have a path though, that being the same path I followed last year in writing the first draft. Keep a weekly goal for word count and try to meet it. Chip away at the mountain, and it eventually comes down.

I want to say I mean to write more Flash Fiction, but I’ve said that a good dozen times over the last year and it hasn’t amounted to anything. I do have a short story rolling around in the brain right now. I may try to push that out.

Either way you cut it, words are still being pounded on the anvil. Someday they’ll see the light of day.

Reading the First Draft

After giving myself a couple weeks off for the holidays and as a break from writing in general, I’m finally sitting down to read my first draft. The idea is to read it as a reader (as well as I can) to see how the pacing feels, check for plot holes, how it holds my interest, so on.

So far, things aren’t going as well as I’d hoped.

Not to say the story is bad. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. What stands out to me the most is the pacing. Through ten chapters of reading, the book has a feeling of most things being ‘glossed over.’ Details are thin. There’s a layer of impatience to everything, as if I’m hurrying to get to the next scene.

Honestly, I’m not surprised.

Writing a book is obviously much different than reading one. A scene that can take an hour or more to write and tweak and feel satisfied with can take six minutes to read. That kind of time distortion is hard to account for when deciding whether I’ve written too much or too little. On this story, I feared writing too much and boring the reading, so I tried to streamline the story as much as I could.

Mission super-duper accomplished.

Along with that, I can tell where the shortcomings of my preparation are. A lot of the characters I have were created as I went, and I didn’t spend a lot of time developing them before plopping them into the story. Because of that, they sort of evolve as time goes on. Normally, you want that kind of thing, but it doesn’t work so well for my story as it all takes place within the span of a few days. Characters don’t generally do a lot of changing in that short of time.

There are some silver linings though. I still like the story. A lot. In fact, I’m pretty happy with how it’s unfolding. My goals of creating questions and intrigue work (in my opinion). There are reasons to continue turning the page. I’m also comfortable with how it all sounds, my ‘voice.’ Though the prose still needs improvement, I only want to tighten rather than change it completely. That’s new from a couple years ago.

However, all of this means my second revision will likely take more time than I anticipate. So be it. I’m self-publishing this thing, and I want it to be the best version I can create before posting it online. I’ll do myself a huge disservice if I don’t put the proper time into it. I’d love to be done with everything before July, but with a second pass to do, more feedback from beta-readers, covers and formatting and copy editing to do… I don’t know how realistic July is. It’s a goal, one I’ve broken down into little milestones. Only time will tell if July is realistic.

Either way, I’ll keep working toward that ultimate end, and then it’s on to the next one.

Word Log

When I started working on my novel back in January, one thing I did to help keep myself going was keep a word log. It allowed me to track my progress (my goal being 3k words a week) and helped me realize how quickly words add up. I’m glad I did it. If you’re struggling with progress or motivation, I suggest keeping a log for yourself. It’s a nice tool for seeing how productive you have or haven’t been, and it shows you two very important things: how quickly words add up and how quickly time goes by.

I’ve left my notes intact just to give a glimpse at my own process. I initially combined Jan/Feb for reasons I can’t recall, but I stopped doing that as soon as I realized how important seeing daily progress was for me. You’ll also notice some monthly/weekly totals along with other random notes. Let it be known that I tried to I log all words written, even if they weren’t all used or some were edited out later. Work is work. If you do a log, give yourself credit for the work you do. It can feel pretty deflating to sit for two hours, write 1,400 words, but only see a net gain of 300 because of heavy editing or changes. Give yourself credit.

The format is as follows: Date (start count) : (end count) session total

 

Jan/Feb total: 14400 – Chp 1-3

Mar 12 (0) : (840)

Mar 13 (840) : (2350) 1500

Mar 14 (2350) : (3350) 1000

Mar 20 (3350) : (3850) 500

Mar 21 (3870) : (4760) 900

Mar 26 Chp 5 rewrite (5460) 700

Mar 27 Chp 6 0 : (1560) 1560

Mar 27 (1560) : (2790) 1230

End of March total: 23,263 (good fucking job man. Keep it up)

Apr 3 (2790) : (3375) 600

Apr 4 (3375) : (4500) 1225 (chp6 done)

Apr 5 chp7 (0) : (1525) 1525

Apr 10 (1525) : (2980) 1460 (chp 7 done – update count after final review)

Apr 11 (0) : (900) 900

Apr 12 (900) : (1230) 330

Apr 17 (1230) : (3280) 2050

Apr 19 (3280) : (4220) 940

End of April total: 32,293 (Pretty good considering two weeks of no writing @NJ. Keep pushing)

May 7 (4107) : (4430) 300 – lots of rewriting chp 8 though

May 8/9 (4430) : (5825 end chp 8) 1400 + 300

May 10 (300) : (1380) 1080

May 16 (1380) : (2380) 1000

May 17 (2380) : (2570 end chp 9) 200

May 17 (0) : (1900) 2100 for the night

May 21 (1900) : (3250) 1350

May 22 (3250) : (4590) 1340

May 23 (4590) : (5260 end 10) (880) 1500 night total

May 24 (880) : (1980 end 11) 1100 (5.3k weekend!!!! Good fucking game! You are proud of you!)

May 30 (0) : (270 end 12)

May 31 (0) : (1100) 1100

End of May total: 45,185… fuckin’ A. Amazing job. 3k short of schedule. Maybe we can make that up in June…

Jun 6 (1094) : (3550) 2500…. Booyah

Jun 7 (3550) : (4020 +rewrite) 500 – 3k total for the week (two days)

Jun 12 (0) : (750) 750

Jun 13 (750) : (2250) 1500

Jun 14 (2250) : (2300 end of 14) 50 (0) – (800) 850 total (3.1k week)

Jun 20 (revision work 13:4005) : (4216) 200

Jun 20 (revision work 14:2300) : (2756) 450 : 650 total words for 20th

Jun 21 (revision work 14:2750) : (3220) 450

Jun 21 back to chp 15 (800) : (1840) 1000 (2.1k for the week, not great but father’s day and lots of revision work. Good effort. Have a beer or four)

Jun 27 (0) : (1360) 1360

Jun 28 (1360) : (2630) 1300

Jun 28 (0) : (200) 200  2.8k week

End of June total: 56,184… You’re doing it. You’re literally writing a book. 4k words shy of your timeline goal, but so the fuck what. You’re. Doing. IT.

Jul 1 (215 chp 17) : (975) 750

July 2 (975) : (1420) 450

July 5 (1420) : (1837) 400 end 17 (1.6k week, not good, but keep going. I blame 4th of July)

July 10 (2828 chp16) : (2733… yay revision word count loss!) end 16

July 10 (1837 chp 17) : (2500) 660 …not bad, lots of work done with 16 at least.

July 11 (2500) : (3440) 1k-ish. ..maybe the end of 17

July 12 (3440) : (3560 end chp 17) 120

July 12 (0) : (790) 2.5k week…. Not bad. Still under the goal, but things are getting tighter. More planning required. So it goes.

Aug 6 (3576 – 17 rewrite) : (3649)

Aug 7 (3649 – 17 rewrite still) : (4170 – 17 rewrite done) 600 added to the chapter

Aug 7 (788) : (1460) 700ish, 1300ish for the night

Aug 8 (1460) : (2090) 600

Aug 8 (0) : (950) 2850 words for the week

Aug 21 (950) : (1870) 900

Aug 21 (1870) : (2630) 750

Aug 22 (2630) : (2600) end 19

Aug 22 (0) : (980) 2600 ish for the week. Not bad for two nights of writing (important to get 3)

Aug 27 rewrites… : Chp 17 – 50ish words, chp 18 (2060 – 2600 – 2230) about 550ish written, chp 19 (2610 – 3100 – 2740) about 120… so total rewrite count is, call it 750

Aug 28 (0) : chp 20 (1550)

Aug 29 (1550) : (2800) 3550 for the week

Sep 5 (2800) : (3630 end 20) 1000 written after rewrite

Sep 5 (0) : (200)

Sep 6 (200) : (550 end 21?) 475 written after changes

Sep 6 (0 chp 22) : (1380) 3050 for the week

Sep 18 : 200 for attempting another version of 21

Sep 19 (chp 21 vr3 – 0) : 150 + (500)

Sep 19 (1380) : (1580) 200

Sep 20 (1580) : (2600) 1000 2k week

Sep 24 chp 22 rewrite (0) : (1850) 1850

Sep 25 (1850) : (3600) 1750

Sep 26 (3600) : (4600) 1000

Sep 27 (4600) : (5510 written, 5050 total) 450

Sep 27 (chp 23 0) : (275) 1300 written for the day

Sep 27 (chp 24 0) : (575) 1800ish daily total? Almost 6k for the week… fuck yeah (‘murica)

Oct 2 (chp 25 – 0) : (1750) 1750

Oct 3 (1750) : (2070) 300

Oct 3 (chp 24 575) : (1175) 600

Oct 4 (chp 25 2070) : (3105) 925 …3700 week, thumbs up

Oct 17 (3105) : (3470) 370

Oct 17 (chp 26 0) : 170  450 night total… and kinda stuck again 😦

Oct 18 26 merged into 25 (3670) : (4840) 1150… 1600 week

Oct 23 (4840, back into 25) : (5500) 650

Oct 24 (5500) : (6022) 525    1175 written (5290 actual end)

Oct 24 (chp 26 0) : (990) 2160

Oct 25 (990) : (1900) 900  3.1k week

Oct 30 (1900) : (2850) 950

Oct 31 (2850) : (2950) 100

Nov 14 Chp 25 rework (5317) : 5860 (550)

Nov 14 Chp 26 rework (2930) : 3300 (350)

Nov 15 Ending section (0) : (1280)

Nov 21 Wynn’s morning (0) : (550) 550

Nov 21 Ending Section (1280) : (2070) 700

Nov 23 chp 25 rework (5863) : (6030) 150  (final 4440)

Nov 23 chp 26 rework (3300) : (4125) 825

Nov 24 chp 26 rework (4125) : (5275) 1150   about 3.3k week… back on track

Nov 27 chp 26 (5270) : (6230) 950

Nov 27 chp 26 all additions and cuts made (3930) : (4060) 150

Nov 28 (4060) : (4330) 300 : (5745 section added) : (6070) 325: 625 total

Nov 28 chp 27 (0) : (600) 2300 week

Dec 4 chp 26 change draft (0) : (1410)

Dec 5 26 change (1410) : (1450)

Dec 5 freewrite (anna dreams) (0) : (330)

Dec 5 Wynn’s nightmare (0) : (1000)

Dec 11 chp 27 rewrite (0) : (1340) before dream addition

Dec 11 chp 27 (2345) : (2800) 450 + 1350 – call it 1800

Chp 27 final count (2617)

Dec 12 chp 28 (0) : (290) 2.1k night… good job, almost there

Dec 13 chp 28 (290) : (1520) 1250

Dec 13 chp 29 (0) : (740) 4.1k week

Dec 18 chp 29 (740) : (1760) 1000

Dec 19 chp 29 (1760) : (3290) 1550

Dec 19 chp 30 (567) : (560)

Dec 20 chp 30 (560) : (1270) 700

Dec 20 chp 29 (3290) : (3420) 150  3.4k

The End

I’ve done it. I’ve completed the first draft of my very first novel.

I’d love to express jovial excitement, but I’m pretty tired. It’s just after 6AM. I’ve been working for the last five hours. I’m happy but tired. This is a journey that began back in January, and though the first draft is done, more work remains. Another pass. More details added. More feedback. I’m still months away from self-publication, but holy shit… this is pretty amazing.

Total word count for the first draft: 95,222 across 30 chapters.

 

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to posting it since the holidays are in full swing over the next few weeks, but I’ll post my writing log when I can. I purposely kept track of my word count per session, each day, each week, to both track my progress and give myself motivation to keep moving forward. Looking back, I’m so glad I did it. Hopefully it will inspire others to put in chunks of time here and there, as it all adds up in the end.

Tuesday (Flash Fiction)

In the summer heat, flies buzz in dazed loops, circling, searching for a pocket of relief never found. The shades are drawn, long stretches of manila that glow like bricks of gold under the relentless sunlight pounding through the windows. A man stands at the counter, waiting, looking through a thick pane of glass laying atop post cards from every place in the world one would rather be—Hello from the Grand Canyon, Christmas in Denmark, a bright red thong strolling along a white beach in Costa Rica. Again, he rings a tarnished bell, and the sound coming from it is flat, dull. Perhaps even the metal has succumb to the heat.

The space behind the counter remains empty. The wood-paneled door stays closed. Bob leans forward to sneak a peak at an old television monitoring two security cameras. One is fixed on the gasoline pumps, the black and white screen turning his silver coupe a dull gray. The other stares at an empty lot in back of the small building. Dying weeds lean and wilt. Dust lies in waiting, anxious for a breeze or trudging boots.

He leans back, rings the bell again and again, and sees a sticky note. It’s yellow color is faded and layered with dust. Failing adhesive struggles to keep it stuck to the wall. Scrawled across the paper is a single word: Tuesday.

Below the note, a light switch flipped off.

Bob looks around and waits. The air inside the old, neglected shop is heavy and stale. A confused fly buzzes by, buzzing left, buzzing right, questioning the meaning of life. His eyes land on the note and switch again. Tuesday stares back, and curiosity grips him. Bob searches, sees no one, and leans over the counter. Stretching, reaching, he flips the switch on.

It clicks up.

A humming passes through the walls, low and distant. Somewhere nearby, a door opens with a thump. Bob looks to the cameras again, hoping for a glimpse of what could be. His car waits, gas nozzle dipped into the tank but not pumping. The back lot remains empty, the dust still waiting.

Then she’s there, stepping through the small shop like a ghost thrust back into the land of the living, awkward and confused. Her plastic hands articulate. Her legs, metal rods with humming servos and tiny hydraulics, thump-thump across the worn linoleum. The lenses set within her eye-sockets adjust and focus with subtle clicks. The robot stomps through the small shop quickly and exits, the small doorbell clanging with her passing.

With his mouth hanging open, Bob stands and blinks. He looks at the security monitor and sees the robot approach his car, test the nozzle, and turn to the pump. He watches in amazement as the robot begins servicing his vehicle.

“The hell!” shouts a voice as the door behind the counter slides open. A middle-aged man appears with sandbags under his eyes and confusion on his face. “What’d you do!?”

“The pump,” Bob says, struggling with the words, his eyes locked on the aged television. “I needed gas.”

“No shit,” says the man. “Didn’t you see the sign? We’re closed!”

Bob shakes his head and moves his lips, but no words follow. Outside, the robot checks his tires, cleans his windshield. “That’s amazing,” he finally says in an astonished whisper. “Do you call that Tuesday?”

“No, numbnuts,” the man behind the counter says. “I call it trespassing. Now get the hell outta my shop!”

Seeing the robot diligently remove the tiny spots from his windshield, Bob nods. “Yeah, sure.”

Seeing his words unheard, the man glares. “Did you hear me!?”

Bobs nods again.

“That’s it,” says the man. He leans down and speaks into a microphone behind the counter. “Tuesday, perform operation Scratching Post!”

“Scratching Post?” Bob asks.

The man smiles and mimics a cat clawing at invisible furniture. Bob looks to the screen and sees Tuesday pause in her windshield cleaning, re-orientate, and then drag metal fingers along the side of his car. On the monitor, the deep gouges in the metal appear as white lines. From the windows, slipping in through the manila shades shining like gold, he hears the shrill shrieking of metal on metal.

“Helluva Tuesday,” Bob says.

 

In Regards to Flash Fiction (and other things)

Over the last week or so I’ve made several attempts to write up a flash fiction, and while some ideas have come along, nothing has made it through my normal process entirely. I have a couple drafts done, but when I read them, I dislike them. They seem flat. Typical. A bit mundane.

I normally wouldn’t care about this, or bother mentioning it, but my postings have withered away to almost nothing, and that’s something I’m attempting to remedy (with no success). I’d like people to have a reason to swing by now and then, but I’ve not given them that reason, and no one else can. It obviously falls to me.

I’ll keep trying. Effort eventually leads to results.

As far as writing in general, I continue making progress on my book. I’m closing in on the final chapters now. Exciting stuff. Last week was a bit rough for progress, but this week has made up for it. It’s been interesting to see the story become more difficult from a writing point of view as I come closer to the end. As more things lock in and become permanent, I have less freedom. Fewer options. It’s been interesting struggling with that.

I’ve also been going through a bit of personal revelation. I’m starting to understand why I’m bothering with any of this at all. I’m beginning to see what I would like to become and the reasons behind it all. The more I think on it, the more I realize I want to write words that eventually reach people and help them, comfort them. I want to touch people’s lives (as pompous as that may sound), give them reason to believe in themselves, and inspire them to follow their dreams, whatever they may be.

How ironic that I’ve come to realize this at the tail end of my first book, a horror story. Oh well.

Also a little ironic that I’ve already decided on writing a second book to go with this first one in order to explore some of the characters further. Although, as of now, the path I’m on makes sense to me. I can see where it goes from here, where I am and where I want to be. Let these two horror novels be what they will. Let them teach me more about my processes, what I shouldn’t do and what I can do better. Maybe by the time I start moving into the literature I feel I’m supposed to write, would really like to write, my ability will be enough to find others.

And if not, I’m no worse for the wear.